Thursday, 22 January 2015

The Battle of Gross Jagersdorf 30 August 1757 refought.

John and Neil came up on Tuesday for this week's game. Neil had asked to play a Seven Years War game, so as I (currently) only have Prussians and Russians I decided to refight the Battle of Gross Jagersdorf. This is a really tough one for the Prussians as they were outnumbered 2:1, although they did have an advantage in decent cavalry and the quality of their troops was in the most part superior to the Russians.  Rather than describe the historical background you can access a complete account of the buildup, the battle itself and orders of battle, by clicking on this link.ägersdorf

We diced for sides and John ended up with the Prussians. Neil took the Russian left and was CinC, and I took the troops in the wood and on the right. The forces were obviously scaled down by about half but the relative proportions remained the same and were as follows:

Prussians: CinC Lt Gen Lehwaldt(9)
Cavalry Brigade Duke of Holstein (9): 1 Dragoon, 2 Hussar
Cavalry Brigade Lt Gen Schorlemmer (8) 1 Hussar, 2 Dragoon
Infantry Brigade von Goltz (9) 1 Grenadier, 2 Line, 1 Garrison, 2 heavy guns, 1 btn gun
Infantry Brigade Graf zu Dohna (8) 1 Grenadier, 1 Line, 1 Garrison, 1 btn gun

The Prussians all had platoon fire and the Grenadiers were 'Valiant' while the Line were 'steady' and 'crack'. Both had 'superb drill' and were 'reliable'. The Garrison battalions were 'untested' but had 'platoon fire'. All Prussian infantry had 'first fire'.

Russians: Field Marshal Apraxin (5) Yes a 5!
Advance Guard General Sibilski (6): 2 Line, 1 Grenadier, 1 Hussar, 1 Cuirassier, 1 Horse Grenadier, 1 Cossack
Brigade Fermor (6):1 Grenadier, 2 Line, 1 heavy gun, 1 'secret' howitzer
Brigade Lopuhkin (7) 1 Grenadier, 5 Line, 1 btn gun
Brigade Browne (8):1 Cuirassier, 1 Cossack, 1 Grenadier, 2 Line, 1 heavy gun.

The Russian Grenadiers were 'Valiant' and 'stubborn' while the line infantry were 'Valiant'. This made them harder to break but they were to given first fire so were at a distinct disadvantage to the Prussians. Clearly the Russian command was abysmal. The CinC was a useless paltroon and his subordinates were little better except for General Browne.

The Prussians had surprised the Russian army as it was about continue its invasion of East Prussia. They were caught either in march column or waiting to form up. On seeing the Prussians appear out of the mist General Lopuhkin's brigade entered the extensive but not very dense woods. Fermor's brigade was behind the woods to the left and Browne's was acting as the rearguard behind the woods. Sibilski was already almost over the river apart from one battalion bringing up the rear.

Holsteins cavalry had not crossed the river and were facing Sibilski's troops. Goltz's brigade was over the river within musket shot of the woods. Dohna and Schorlemmer were on the Russian right facing Browne's brigade. The Prussians got the first move as they had caught the Russians on the hop!

 Above: Dohna's brigade advances on the Russian right sported by (below) Schorlemmer's cavalry.

 Browne's brigade awaiting the Prussian attack.
 The rest of the Russian army; Fermor's brigade behind the woods to the left, Sibilski's brigade in the distance and Lopuhkin's brigade in the woods.
Above and below: Goltz's brigade and the Prussian CinC Lehwaldt face the Russians on the edge of the wood and pour in some very effective fire which forced one battalion of Russian infantry to withdraw shaken.

 Another shot of Browne's brigade. His cuirassiers (seen at the rear) had been charged by the Prussian cavalry and forced to retreat shaken. Grenadiers can be seen in the background moving up in support.
 Above and below Holstein's cavalry attempting very well to keep Sibilski's brigade from interfering. They broke the Russian Hussars very early in the battle although they had been unable to take advantage of catching the Russian infantry in the flank while they were in line of march. Neil had trouble getting this command to move due to ineptness of the commander.

 The Prussian line holds back the advancing Russians who are unable to move from the safety of the wood for time being.
 Holstein's cavalry had a pretty daunting task in trying to tie down Sibilski's troops!
 Von Dohna's brigade advancing on the Russian right, taking heavy casualties from the Russian artillery to their front.
 Schorlemmer's cavalry drove off their Russian counterparts and smashed into the infantry who were unable to stop their charge and in the melee were pushed back shaken.
 Prussian dragoons seeing off a bunch of Cossacks!
 Russian Grenadiers from Fermor's brigade charge out of the wood, survive the closing fire and hit the Prussian Grenadiers. That wasn't part of the plan!
 Dohna's brigade converging on Browne's Russians on the edge of the wood.
 The same in sepia!
 Prussian and Russian Grenadiers battle it out before the former were broken exposing the flank of the Prussian artillery!
 Prussian Hussars hit by Horse Grenadiers; there could only be one outcome and the Hussars were broken. As the Dragoons had already been lost this meant that all of Holstein's brigade, i.e. a single remaining Hussar unit, was spent and would take no further part in the game.
 After breaking the Prussian Grenadiers the Russians tried to assault the Prussian battery but predictably were driven off broken after the Prussian Garrison battalion intervened, but not before one gun was destroyed.
 Dohna's brigade was suffering from the Russian artillery fire. The regiment with the orange/white flags (IR16 von Dohna) was shaken and forced to retire, leaving the battalion behind exposed to close range canister fire. Luckily (?) the canister fire was wholly ineffective!
 Prussian Dragoons supported by Hussars clash with Russian Cuirassiers and push them back shaken. The entire Russian right flank was broken and forced to retreat and their commander General Browne (the only decent one on the Russian side of the table) was a casualty early in the battle.
 Neil and John both with the same thought: "I wish I could throw some decent dice scores!"
 Russian cuirassiers made it across the river and crashed into the flank of the remaining Prussian artillery, overrunning it. They then swept the Garrison battalion away before retiring. John wasn't helped by the fact that Garrison battalion were 'untested' so their stamina was decided on a dice roll; he threw a 1! Not good.
Above and below: The wood was historically no real obstacle to troops, and Prussian Hussars supported by Dragoons moved through the wood to charge the flank of the Russian line, hitting a Grenadier battalion. Amazingly the Grenadiers held and the Hussars recoiled shaken, forcing their supporting Dragoons to retire as well. Prussian Grenadiers then charged and finished the job, routing the Russians.

 Above and below: The Russians counter attack.  

 Prussian infantry regiments Prinz von Preussen and von Braunschweig attempt to hold the Russian counter attack at bay, but to no avail as their brigade became shaken and had to withdraw, signalling the end for the Prussian army.
 The survivors of the Duke of Holstein's cavalry.
Cossacks from Sibilski's brigade about to cross the river.

Well, it was a right old see-saw of a game. Things hadn't gone quite as well as I thought they would have for the Prussians as John's command dice were appalling. He was unable to get Holstein's cavalry to charge into he flank of Sibilski's brigade and Schorlemmer's cavalry on the other wing made heavy going of disposing of the Russians facing them. In the centre some good saving rolls by the Russians prevented them from being overwhelmed by massive Prussian firepower. The Russians proved hard to shift as usual but the saving rolls were pretty impressive.

The Russians struggled throughout the game to get their troops to move thanks to their historically useless commanders. Nevertheless, even the CinC managed to get an isolated battalion of Grenadiers to do a 'follow me' order. Sadly this ended with him falling at the head of his troops as they charged the Prussian artillery! Once both sides were within 12" initiative range of each other this handicap ceased to be as much of a problem until it came to trying to rally troops!

In Black Powder terms it was a Prussian defeat as over half their brigades were out of action, as opposed to just one Russian (although two other Russian brigades were just one step away from breaking). However, the Prussians actually broke or shook more Russian units than they themselves suffered, so in terms of the victory conditions for the game the Prussians had achieved theirs. So on balance it was a draw, which was the historic outcome. The Russians were diverted from their invasion plans and Berlin was saved. 


  1. Great looking game Colin and a well written report. Many thanks.

  2. Always enjoy seeing your spectacular games and reading your AARs.