Tuesday, 20 June 2017

AMG17 weekend - a tale of two battles of Leuthen.

So, as both my readers will by now be well aware, last weekend was the AMG17 get together. I offered to put on a Seven Years War game, and after some discussion with Robbie, it was decided to stage Leuthen. Now, We've played Leuthen a few times at my house and it's never gone especially well for the Prussians, even on the occasions when they were victorious, so this was going to be a bit of a challenge.

The  Saturday and Sunday games were fought out with different players, with the exception of my lovely assistant Robbie who ended up (through choice I thought) commanding the Reichsarmee contingent and the Austrian left wing cavalry. The games could NOT have been more different in how they unfolded and in the final results. The terrain, buildings and all the troops were from my collection. We used Honours of War.

Prussian Army

C-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia DASHING

Right Wing Cavalry:  GL  von Zieten DASHING (Lt-Gen)
GM Scipio Baron von Lentelus DASHING, on table
Cuirassiers                            5 x 12*
GM Czettritz DEPENDABLE, T1 behind Lentelus
Dragoons                                3 x 12
Hussars                                   2 x 12    

Left Wing Cavalry: off table SW short edge and enters after the right wing Austrian cavalry have exposed their flank, come within 30cm of Butterberg, or T5 on roll of 4-6 on 1D6 (+1 for each subsequent turn).
GL von Driesen DASHING
Cuirassiers                            3 x 12*
Dragoons                                2 x 12

Infantry Centre:
Advance Guard: GL Prinz von Wurtemburg DEPENDABLE
Grenadier Btns                                     2 x 36* (No battalion guns)
12pdr Battery                                       1 x heavy gun***

Independent units
Hussars                                   2 x 12

1st Line:  GderI Prinz Moritz von Anhalt-Dessau DASHING
Guard/Musketeer Btns                                    3 x 36*
Fusilier Btns                                                    1 x 36    
12pdr battery                                                   1 x heavy gun     ***

2nd Line: GL Frederick William Quirin de Forcade de Biaix DEPENDABLE (T2 right half of baseline)
Musketeer Btns                                     3 x 36*
Fusilier Btns                                          1 x 36
12pdr battery                                         1 x heavy gun***

****Artillery: Colonel Moller DEPENDABLE (T3 left/centre of baseline)
12pdr battery                     1 x heavy gun
Howitzer battery               1 x medium howitzer
Fortress battery                 1 x super heavy ‘Brummer’****

* superior troops
* *All line and the Guard battalions have battalion guns.
*** Deployed heavy artillery can be manhandled and moved to new positions after unlimbering but CANNOT limber up again.
*****the ‘Brummers’ are fortress guns. Treat as heavy artillery. Cannot move and fire.

Austro Imperial Army

C-in-C:  Prince Charles of Lorraine DITHERING
Assisted by FM von Daun DEPENDABLE (off table, 2D6 to recall – any double needed then he takes over command in D3 turns)

Right Wing Cavalry:  OFF TABLE TO NORTH WEST enter right of Leuthen T4
Gen der Kav Lucchesi DASHING
Cuirassiers                                         2 x 12*
Imperial Cuirassiers                         2 x 12**
GM Esterhazy DEPENDABLE T5 as above
Dragoons                                            1 x 12*
Cuirassiers                                         2 x 12*
Imperial Dragoons                            1 x 12**

Right wing reserve: GM Herzog von Arenberg DEPENDABLE
in column behind Leuthen.
Infantry btns                                     2 x 36 (no battalion guns)

Right Wing Infantry: FzM Kheul  DEPENDABLE (enter behind Leuthen in column T3)
Infantry btns                                     4 x 36 (no battalion guns)

Left Wing Infantry: FzM Colloredo DEPENDABLE (deployed in and around Leuthen)
Grenadier Btn                                               1 x 36 (no btn guns)
Infantry Btn ‘Rot Wurzberg’                        1 x 36* (no btn guns)  IN LEUTHEN CHURCH
Infantry btns                                                 2 x 36 (no btn guns)
Artillery battery                                            2 x 12pdrs* (on windmill hill)

Independent units
Hussars                                              2 x 12**

Reichsarmee Bavarians/Wurtembergers from Nadazdy’s Corps:  Marshal von Spiznatz  DITHERING (On table withdrawing to Leuthen)
Infantry btns                                                  4 x 36** (No battalion guns)
Grenadier btn                                                1 x 36  (no battalion guns)

Left Wing Cavalry: Gen der Kav Serbellini  DASHING (off table NE corner enter T2)
Cuirassiers                                         2 x 12*
Dragoons                                            2 x 12*
Marshal O’Donnell DEPENDABLE (off table NE enter T3)
Dragoons                                            4 x 12*

* superior troops;  ** inferior troops

Day 1: Saturday.
The Prussians were led by no other than Der Alt Fritz himself in the person of Jim Purkey, ably assisted by Chris Gregg (von Zeiten) and Tony Dillon (Forcade de Baix). The Austrians were command by Dave Hall (Lorraine), assisted by Robbie Rodiss (Serbelloni) and Gary Philips (Luchessi). I umpired and offered 'consultancy services' to the Prussians on occasion.

 The armies at the start. The Prussians have already driven off Nadasdy's corps and the Reichsarmee corps is in retreat towards Leuthen. The Austrian main line stretches off to the rear at 90 degrees to their baseline roughly where the windmill can be seen. More Prussians are on the way, and more Austrians will appear as they race from their positions in the original line.
 A Gypsy encampment in the woods.
 Do Kings **** in the woods? Frederick having a moment of thought accompanied by his staff before the battle.
 The Prussian hussars were  a great target for the Austrian guns on windmill hill and took some damage as they tried to avoid the rain of cannonballs landing around them! They chose to advance towards the Austrian hussars, seen above to the left.
 Von Seydlitz Hussars (HR No 7), the famous 'Red Hussars', venerable 1970's Hincliffe one-piece castings.
 In the distance Zeithen's cuirassiers are engaged with their Austrian foes under Serbelloni, while Czetritz's brigade holds back. In the centre Dessau's main body has pushed forward, driving back the Reichsarmee and to the right Forcade's command has entered the battle.
 The Prussian close with the Reichsarmee and Rot Wurtzberg which has left the safety of the churchyard for some reason.
 Leuthen church.
 Zeithen and Serbelloni's cuirassiers locked in combat.
 Behind Leuthen Austrian reinforcements pour onto the table.
 Zeithen's leading brigade under the splendidly name Scipio von Lentelus has been pretty much destroyed, so the reserve of dragoons and hussars has pushed forward to fill the gap.
 A conference. 
 Robbie and Dave laughing in the face of the Prussian assault!
 Lucchesi's cuirassiers enter the fray (two regiments each of Austrian and Reichsarmee troops)
 Der Alte Fritz himself moving the Prussian guard forward.
 Much of the Reichsarmee units and Rot Wurtzberg have been driven off and the Prussians are now fighting for control of the church.
 Prussian reserves moving forward in the centre.
 Colonel Moller's reserve artillery, together with guns from Wurttemberg and Dessau's commands.
 Von Driesen's cavalry had been hidden on the Prussian left, and they charged into the flank of the Austrian cavalry.
 Austrian reserves filling the streets of Leuthen.
 Lucchesi's cuirassiers swing round and threaten the Prussian centre, but dare not advance into the teeth of the Prussian grand battery.
 Meanwhile Esterhazy and Driesen's cavalry thrash it out on the Prussian left.
 Prussian grenadiers take possession of the church. It was to be a temporary occupation as they were bundled out the following move as a result of an Austrian counter attack.
 Prussian cavalry hit in the flank by Imperial cuirassiers.
More Austrian cuirassiers pile in against von Dreisen's depleted cuirassiers and dragoons.

At this point the Prussians conceded defeat. Their right wing cavalry had been pretty much demolished, taking much of the Austrian cavalry with it, and the left was struggling against superior numbers of Austrian cavalry. In the centre the attack had been repulsed, and although the Reichsarmee contingent had been crushed, the Prussian battalions had been ejected from Leuthen, were spent and in no state to fight the reinforced Austrian centre. We agreed that the Prussians would withdraw, covered by what was left of their cavalry and the heavy artillery, although to be fair the Austrians were in no fit state to mount much of a pursuit.

Day 2: Sunday

On Sunday we had a different cast, except Robbie who reprised his role of Serbelloni. Guy Barlow was Frederick/Zeithen and Steve Pearse played Forcade/Dreisen. We could've taken another player but everyone else was hooked into the other games. The Austrians were commanded by Angus Konstam, assisted by Mark Dudley as Lucchesi.

The Prussians adopted a totally out of the box approach to the battle, as will become apparent as this narrative develops.

 The armies deployed for battle.
 Austrian hussars advance on the open Prussian left flank.
 Wurtemburg's advance guard marches straight at the combined grenadier battalion to the side of Leuthen church.
 The Prussian hussars can be seen to the left of the wood, having been extracted from their exposed position in front of the Austrian artillery, where they are well positioned to counter any moves by the Austrian hussars. In the centre Dessau's brigade is forming a column of battalions to follow the grenadiers towards Leuthen, avoiding the church. Rot Wurtzberg have again left the safety of the churchyard to try and take the Prussian in the flank.
 The Reichsarmee battalions all shuffle to their left to counter the move of the second Prussian brigade under Forcade which has also marched to the right of the battlefield. 

 The Prussian infantry can be seen in the distance having redeployed to their right. The cavalry under Zeithen has not moved.
 The battle rages in the centre where the Prussians are assaulting Leuthen. Austrian and Prussian hussars clash to the left of the wood, the former being driven off and relentlessly pursued.
 Guy moved Czetritz's dragoons and hussars to the centre of the Prussian line, while the infantry readied themselves to take on the Reichsarmee battalions.
 Prussian grenadiers assault Leuthen. They break in, driving off the garrison and hold on for several moves before being expelled. The Austrians were unable to exploit their success and the Prussians brought up reserves to replace the shattered grenadiers in the town.
 IR 40 covers the flank of the Prussian attack. Rot Wurtzberg have been destroyed and there is now a massive gap in the Austrian centre which Angus was horridly trying to fill.
 The problem for the Austrians was that the Prussians had managed to assemble a grand battery of sorts in the centre which denied the Austrians any opportunity to counter attack in the face of so much artillery without taking unsustainable casualties. 
 Serbelloni's cuirassiers move up behind the Reichs contingent.
 Zeichens cuirassiers are held back in reserve as the Prussians didn't want to squander them needlessly.
 Guy's dragoons and hussars are now behind the gun line ready to emerge and fall on the Reichsarmee from the flank or continue their move to the left to counter the Austrian superiority in numbers in that sector.
 The Prussian assault, completely ignoring the church.
 The Austrian battalions emerging from the town were broken by a combination of artillery fire and later, musketry from the Prussians.
 The Prussians have been ejected from the town but will soon reoccupy it before the Austrians.
 Overview of the battle at the height of the Prussian attacks.
 The Austrians are feeding units into the town, only to have them driven back to reform.
The Prussian artillery continued to dominate the centre.

 On the Prussian right, the opposing cavalry have worn each other out in a series of melees and the Reichs battalions have collapsed. O'Donnell's dragoons have arrived to shore up the Austrian line but are immediately under fire from the Prussian guns.
 The Austrians have recaptured Leuthen again. (Well this part anyway).
 Meanwhile, on the Prussian left, the Austrian hussars have been driven off or in the case of the unit above are  about to be! Lucchesi's and Esterhazy's cavalry have appeared on the Austrian right.
 The fighting still goes on in the centre.
 The destruction of the Reichs contingent.
 Prussian dragoons emerging through the gaps in the gun line to counter the Austrian dragoons that are advancing to support the dissolving Reichs troops.
 O'Donnell's Austrian dragoons. Very pretty and cannon ball magnets.
 The Austrian cuirassiers sweep into the centre and charge the Prussians to the rear of the town. They close to contact but are driven off in pretty short order.
 The Prussian right seen from behind the church.
 O'Donnell's dragoons clash with the Prussians. One regiment managed to charge a battalion of Prussian infantry in the flank, but they in turn were charged in the flank by Prussian dragoons. In the very confusing fight that followed the Austrians were broken. The opposing cavalry then got down to it and despite an early success the Austrians were unable to exploit it and were driven off, a spent force.

The end. IR40 in the Prussian centre with nobody to fight as the Austrians all dispersed. At this point,  with Dreisen's cavalry appearing on their right, the Austrians conceded defeat. A great Prussian victory!

This was a clinically executed victory for the Prussians, and quite Frederickian as well. The decision to ignore the centre of the Austrian line, switch the infantry to attack each side of the church and hold the cavalry back (and redeploy some to the centre) was a smart move, although at the time both the Austrians and myself were a tad puzzled. The decision certainly avoided the usual mutual destruction of each side's cavalry wings in melee which has been the norm for this battle. The massed battery was also pretty effective and despite protestations from many quarters I am sure, was a perfectly acceptable move to make for a Prussian SYW army. Grand batteries were not the invention of Napoleon.

Two superb games. Everyone threw themselves into the games and I know enjoyed themselves. The rules worked well even with me having to take account of the slightly different interpretations of them by different players, and forgetting which rules were were even using at one point as I tried to enforce a decision based on Black Powder! It all worked very well. The banter was great. The sledging was furious and harmless. A true Fellowship of Gentlemen Wargamers! I was worn out I would do it again tomorrow. Indeed I shall be no doubt doing it again next year.