Monday, 16 March 2015

The Combat of Reichenberg, 21 April 1757

This Saturday saw the second of my self-imposed odyssey of attempting to refight every Seven Years War battle involving the Prussians in chronological order, in 28mm using Black Powder. I used the set up as described in Charles S Grant's 'Wargaming in History, volume 9' with one significant change as I decided that as I had a table large enough and the troops available it would be fun (?) to replay the action with every battalion and cavalry regiment represented on the table. Robbie kindly provided most of the Austrians, supplemented by a few of mine, and we used my Prussians. I realised at the last minute that I didn't have enough Prussian dragoons so had to press a Russian regiment into service for the day.


A good account of the action can be found in Charles' book or by referring to the excellent Kronoskaf website (from which comes the map). Essentially a Prussian force under Bevern are moving into Bohemia when they encounter the Austrians, dug in and blocking their way between the mountains on one side and the River Neisse on the other, at Reichenberg.  The Prussian objective was to drive the Austrians off, while that of the Austrians was to delay the Prussians until 3pm real time, thus giving me time to get settled for the England-Scotland game!

Rob and I took the Austrians while John (M), John (R) and his son Neil took the Prussians. The forces are detailed below. This being 1757 the Prussian infantry were probably at their best and superior to their Austrian counterparts. The Austrian horse were more numerous and included a regiment each of cuirassiers and combined horse grenadiers/carabiniers so had a slight edge over the Prussian cavalry. I decided to use 66% movement and ranges for this game as the armies started quite close together and I wanted the game to last beyond lunchtime!

AUSTRIAN ARMY
C-in-C FZM Christian Moritz Count Königsegg und Rothenfels (8) (ROBBIE)
In Reichenberg:
1 medium gun (entrenched
Main body:
First line ,Major General von Lacy (7): 4 infantry battalions, 4 medium guns (entrenched)   
Second line (under control of  Konigseg):  2 grenadier battalions, 2 infantry battalions 
In Franzesdorf: 1 Grenzer battalion (2 x 10/12 small units), 1 x regiment Hussars 1 x 12

Cavalry: Lieutenant-General Count Porporati (8)  (ME)
1 regiment Cuirassiers 2x 12
1 regiment Carabineers/Horse Grenadiers 2 x12
Dragoon brigade (8)
2 regiments Dragoons 4 x 12
 Extreme left in woods: Major General Count Wurben (7)
1 Grenzer battalion (2 x 10/12 small units)
3 infantry battalions, 1 grenadier battalion

PRUSSIAN ARMY 
C-in-C:  Lt-General August Wilhelm Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern (9) (JOHN M)

Vanguard:
1 Hussar regiment 1 x 12
 Main body: Lt-General von Lestwitz (8) (JOHN R)
Right ‘brigade’ (8): 1 grenadier battalion, 5 infantry battalions
Left ‘brigade’ (8): 2 grenadier battalions, 5 infantry battalions (JOHN M)
Second line (8): 2 infantry battalions (NEIL)
Artillery: 4 medium guns (NEIL)
Cavalry: Major General Prinz Eugen von Wurtemberg (8) (NEIL)
3 Dragoon regiments (6 x 12)
John and Neil watch as the Prussian right wing appeared on the table edge then refused to budge from behind the crest of the ridge for most of the battle, leaving little or no space for Neil to bring his reserve infantry and dragoons into action.
The Austrian right wing commanded by Robbie spy the Prussian left (all 7 battalions of it!) advance over the ridge line. John M has been 'elected' CinC and the Prussian plan was to overwhelm the Austrian right while the Prussian right 'pinned' the Austrian left. This 'pinning' business only partly worked and that largely due to the inactivity of my Austrian cavalry, which I had pulled back behind the ridge.
Above, the Prussian main assault, 7 battalions of my finest, start the game with a blunder but thankfully for them it resulted in an advance towards the enemy anyway. Below, Rob advanced his line and a fierce fire fight developed. Sadly the superior Prussian musketry proved decisive and Robbie's first line was broken and forced to retire, but not before causing some damage to the Prussians which was to prove crucial later in the game.

Above, the battalion of Croats holding the woods on the extreme right flank of the Prussians were slowly driven off by one of John's battalions followed by a charge by his hussars. The wood was fairly open as it must have been as there were several Austrian battalions deployed in it, so I allowed light cavalry to enter with reduced movement.  Below the surviving and shaken Croats skulking behind the village.

Above, Robbie pushed his second line through to replace the shattered first line and added to the damage being received by the Prussians who were unable to make any headway. The 'plan' had called for Neil's reserve brigade to come on and support their attack but this was much delayed by the congestion caused by the Prussian right wing. Father and son had words about this but in the end the reserves made their appearance. The infantry moved off to support the left while the dragoons passed through the still stationary infantry. The Austrian cavalry moved over the hill to face them.

While I was out sorting lunch Rob took command of a squadron of my combined carabineers and with a 'follow me' order hit the flank of the Prussian line. The cavalry survived the enfilading fire of the Prussian artillery and crashed into their target. They beat them but didn't break them; indeed both units became shaken. The Prussians withdrew and the Austrians, unable to exploit their success, did likewise. However, this did result in the Prussian left wing going over it's break point due to the number of shaken units (4 out of 7) so the attack fizzled out and the entire wing had to retire.
Above, the Prussian left wing withdraws while below my cavalry failed in their attempt to hit the Prussian dragoons. They were subsequently hit in the front and the flank and driven off shaken.

Above, Austrian cuirassiers hit the Prussians (actually Russians masquerading as Prussians) and drive them off while below the Austrian hussars recover after seeing off a flank attack by more Prussian dragoons.

Above, the Prussian reserve covers the retreat of their left flank but are badly shot up by Austrian artillery and grenadiers and forced to retire. Below, The Prussian right finally advances and threatens the Austrian cavalry.

Above, Prussian dragoons (those Russians pretending to by Prussians again) hit the flank of the Austrian grenadier battalion but are unable to break them and recoil. Below, a final shot  of my new unit of Croats; like all new units they didn't perform especially well.

So, the Prussian attack had faltered and the somewhat battered Austrians were able to withdraw at 3pm as required. I don't think Robbie or I had expected the Prussian attack on our right to be turned back, but I for one are not complaining. I doubt the Prussians expected their plans to go belly up either, and they certainly weren't helped by their right wing and reserves being held up by some dreadfully unlucky (ha!) command rolls. Then again, my Austrians in the woods failed to move more than once the entire game so I mustn't gloat. It was also a really bad day to be an Austrian cavalry commander as both of them were killed leading glorious charges in defence of the Empire!

I enjoyed the game and hope that the guys did too. It was certainly a tough one for both sides given the need for a head-on Prussian attack. Poor command rolls scuppered the Prussian plans but also stopped the Austrians from any rash moves.

I now have to get some more Austrian cavalry painted so we can do the next game, which will be the Battle of Prague. Now that will be fun!

7 comments:

  1. Another terrific looking game and a superb write up. I can just imagine "words between father and son"!

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  2. Great photos and report.

    Thanks for Sharing
    John

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  3. Great looking game Colin and wonderful report.

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  4. Greetings from August Wilhelm Duke of Braunschweig-Wolfenbüttel-Bevern

    Another triumph for Prussian arms, as the Austrian screening force is driven from the field and the road to Prague is opened for his illustrious Magisty King Fredrick.

    Our victory may have been more complete if the rest of the advanced guard had actually done some advancing rather than watching and skirmishing from the right hand side of the battlefield. As it was our left hand column mauled the Austrian right, before falling back to better align with the rest of the army. Our losses were not excessive and we smashed a couple of Austrian regiments.

    I commend our artillery commander to the forces ear marked for the siege of Prague, his accurate shooting will soon bring their defences down,

    From the road to Prague

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    Replies
    1. With that kind of spin on the results you should get a job with Jabba the Hut Farage! lol!

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  5. I did nt get to be a Duke for nothing ;]

    I look forward to the siege of Prague

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  6. i think technically you DID get to be a Duke purely through the benefits of birth, i.e. nothing ;-) Prague will be great once Ive worked out how todo the bloody big hill!

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