Monday, 16 November 2015

Kunserdorf refought

The next episode in my headlong dash through Frederick's battles of the Seven Years War was Kunersdorf. Robbie, John R and John Mc braved the elements and my man flu and came up on Saturday for the game. This was a difficult battle to recreate on the table but in the end with a bit of stretching and squeezing I managed to get it to something I was happy with. I had plenty of reference material on the battle and as usual Charles S Grant's scenario in Wargaming in History Vol 5 proved to be invaluable in helping me bathtub the orders of battle down to something manageable.

(Map from Project Seven Years War at

Robbie quite sensibly doesn't like being Prussian so he took the role of  the Russian CinC, Saltykov, supported by me as Golitsyn, commander of the Observation Corps. I was as usual also in charge of tea/coffee, lunch, dog control etc etc). I was also a bit under the weather. The two Johns were Prussian. John Mc was Frederick, (recently released from captivity - see the Hochkirch post).

Prussian Army
C-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia (9) Headstrong/Decisive

Left Wing Cavalry:
GL  Eugene von Wurtemberg (8)
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Dragoons                    1 x 12
GL von Platen (8)
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Hussars                      2 x 12
Infantry: Main Body:
Advance Guard: GM Schenkendorf (8) Aggressive
Grenadier Btns                      2 x 36
1st Line : GL Hulsen (9)
Grenadier Btn                        2 x 36
Musketeer Btns                    2 x 36            
2nd Line: GL Itzenplitz (8) Decisive
Musketeer Btns                    5 x 36
12pdr battery #1                  2 x heavy guns (Kleiner-Spitzberg)
12pdr battery #2                  2 x heavy guns (Klosterberg)
12pdr battery #3                  1 x heavy gun, 1 x Howitzer (Walk-Berg)

Right Wing : GL von Finck (8) Commands infantry bde.@
GL von Seydlitz (9) Aggressive/Decisive
Cuirassiers                             1 x 12
Dragoons                                2 x 12
GL von Schormeler (8) Aggressive
Cuirassiers                             1 x 12
Dragoons                                1 x 12
GM von Putkammer (8) Headstrong
Hussars                                  3 x 12
Infantry: GL von Finck (8) Hesitant @
Fuslier Btns                2 x 36
Artillery                      2 x 12pdr guns

Russian Army
C-in-C: General Count Piotr Semionovitch Saltykov (8) Hesitant

Observation Corps: GL Furst Golitsyn (7) 
Observation Corps Btns                               3 x 36
Artillery                                                        2 x 12pdr, 1 x Shuvalov Howitzer
Left Division:  (6) GL Count Willem Fermor  Hesitant
Musketeer Btns                                             3 x 36
Grenadier Btns                                              2 x 36
Artillery                                                         2 x 12pdr, 1 x Shuvalov Howitzer
Right Division: 
Infantry:GL Count Rumiantsev (8)
Musketeer Btns                                                         3 x 36
Grenadier Btns                                                          1 x 36
Cavalry: GM Piotr Jeropkin (7)
Cuirassiers                                                                 1 x 12
Dragoons                                                                    1 x 12
Horse Grenadiers                                                      1 x 12
Austrian Corps: FML von Louden (9) Decisive T5
Austrian Btns                                                             1 x 36
Austrian Dragoons                                                    2 x 12
Austrian Hussars                                                       1 x 12
GM Homiakov (8) Timid T5
Cuirassiers                                                                 1 x 12
Dragoons                                                                    1 x 12
GM Todleben (8)T6
Hussars                                                                      2 x 12
Cossacks                                                                     1 x 12

This was going to be a difficult game for both sides. The Prussians were faced with attacking entrenched Russians, well-supported by artillery, over difficult ground. Their cavalry superiority was unlikely to be used to any advantage but they would be able to concentrate their infantry attacks and hopefully win through overwhelming force at the point of the attack. The Russians obviously had the advantage of their entrenchments but the dead ground approaching the Observations Corps' position to the North would give the Prussians some protection. The Russian troops were as usual pretty stoic/stubborn in defence and this was reflected in the characteristics for the game, but the Observation Corps' morale was wavering to start with. The overall command levels of the majority of Russian commanders was mediocre to say the least, so redeploying troops once the attack began would prove difficult.

 The table from the North (garage doors end). The Russian position looking particularly impressive.
 The Muhl-berg, defended by three battalions of the Observation Corps and two batteries.
 The centre of the Russian positions, the sunken road represents the ravine that split the defensive lines along the hill.
 GM Itzenplitz blunders in turn 1 with the very first throw of the dice. Thankfully for the Prussians nothing drastic occurred as a result.
 The Prussian advance guard of two grenadier battalions begins its assault on the Observation Corps. The are they are marching through was designated as dead ground so this afforded them some protection from the ineffective Russian fire.
 GM Finck leads his troops across the stream. It took 1D3 moves to cross for each unit making the attempt so progress was slow, aided by some really bad command throws.
 Another view of the Observation Corps in their entrenchments.
 The Russians had little in the way of cavalry on table at the start. This was it! The grenadier battalion in the foreground had just blundered right into their path.
 Long lines of Russians behind their entrenchments.
 The Prussian artillery spent several turns giving the Observation Corps a hard pounding, and their supporting artillery was particularly singled out for attention. One battery which can be seen on the right of the picture was put out of action.
 GM Finck's forces, including Seydlitz and Schomeler's cavalry are across the stream ready to support the imminent assault on the Russians. The lead infantry battalion, IR40 Kreytzen in the pink outfits, were badly hit by some excellent shooting from my artillery and put to flight.
 Near the burning village of Kunersdorf Prussians from GM Hulsen's command advance cautiously towards the entrenchments. The other half of this command was forgotten by the Johns for several turns as they each thought it belonged to the other, before I chivalrously reminded them that they actually belonged to Hulsen!
 The first of the reinforcements arrive, Louden's Austrian Corps. The cavalry moved towards the Russian centre while the infantry (Louden's Green Grenadiers) advanced out of the entrenchments and as far as the swampy ground to engage the Prussian cavalry lurking on the other side.
 The Russian cavalry was terribly slow to get moving but eventually got into a position where it could offer support to the Observation Corps troops.
 Robbie redeployed some of the defenders, knowing that the Observation Corps might suddenly break. A battalion of Grenadiers (the same one that is featured in an earlier shot after blundering) moves along the ravine, survived a torrent of Prussian artillery fire without loss and deployed at the mouth of the ravine.
 This is where I think I started to loose the plot (blame the opiates I am taking for my back) and charged the Prussian cuirassiers with my Horse Grenadiers. I won the melee and drove the Prussian back but became shaken in the process and a sitting duck for all sorts of badness coming from the Prussians.
 The Observation Corps battalion guarding this sector of the defences broke under the pressure of the Prussian artillery and musket fire, enabling the Prussian grenadiers to scramble over the earthworks.
 The departing Russians did manage to set fire to the abatis in front of their position thus delaying the Prussians for a couple of turns.
 This is the next example of my loosing the plot, as I forgot to turn the Observation Corps battalion seen above around to face the oncoming Prussians. When I did remember it was too late and they were taken in the rear and bundled away in rout in pretty short order. Their supporting battery didn't last much longer. The Prussians then turned their attention to the remaining Observation Corps battalion just to the right edge of the picture and drove them off leaving them on total command of the Muhl-Berg.
 Louden's Austrians arrived in the Russian centre and proceed to sit around and do nothing.

 Robbie desperately tried to feed in reinforcements to hold the Prussians at the ravine. The grenadier battalion he had rushed forward had become locked in hand to hand combat with Prussian grenadiers and broken.
 A view from the North, along the length of the Russian positions.
 The Prussians assault the Russian defences behind the village but are held for the time being.
 I then sent the remaining Russian cavalry, including some reinforcements, in a frankly daft attack on the Prussian cavalry. I didn't need to take the battle to them as I was at an immediate disadvantage once I left the security of my position as I came under artillery and musket fire almost at once. Also, I would have been hard to get at if I'd held my position and the Prussians had chosen or been forced to attack. The end result was that I lost five regiments of Russian cavalry for no purpose. I did manage to break one Prussian regiment led by Seydlitz, who unceremoniously routed off the field with them.
 The Russians at the ravine just about holding on. Not for long as the grenadiers were broken and the brigade became shaken under the pressure.
 The area of the cavalry action after the fighting had died down. Guess whats missing? My Russian cavalry!
 Robbie then had a bit of luck and successfully ordered a regiment of Austrian dragoons to charge along the face of the entrenchments and into the flank of the Prussian grenadiers. 
 Unfortunately the Prussian grenadiers were made of stern stuff and survived the charge. 
 GM Itzenplitz surveys the Russian defences as his troops begin to cross the marsh and ponds.
 The very colourful and stationery Austrian cavalry, and beyond them newly-arrived and equally colourful Russian hussars and cossacks. 
Louden's Green Grenadiers on the edge of the marsh facing several regiments of Prussian cavalry that were unable to get to grips with them.
 At this point it was clear that with half our army destroyed the Russians had lost as we were in no position to take back what we had lost or hold what we still had.
Even my resident group of Orthodox priests' influence failed to change the tide.

So there you go. Somehow the Prussians had managed to turn a crushing historical defeat into a convincing victory. Of course, the Johns took a great deal more care of their troops than Frederick did on the day and my drug-fuelled tactical ineptitude certainly went a big way towards the Russian defeat. If I'd not thrown my two cavalry brigades away needlessly the outcome may have been more favourable. If. Of course, making the Observation Corps so brittle didn't help either seeing as they all ran away in pretty short order! At least having so many Russian units break meant that putting the troops away was a little less onerous as half of them were already back on their shelves!

Never mind, I enjoyed the game even if it didn't go quite as I had expected. I know Robbie did too and I am sure the same goes for the Prussian commanders.

Our next planned game is Rossbach at the Battleground show on 28 November. I do want to play a small weekday game using the new Honours of War rules as soon as possible, an advance copy of which I received last week. They look quite good. 


  1. While I am always happy to see the Prussians win, I don't think that you gave the Allies enough infantry - they outnumbered the Prussians, historically by approximately 10,000 men. That might have made a difference. Also, whatever rules adjustments you made for the Observation Corps seemed to generate an historical result as they were swept out of the way by the Prussians in the early stages of the battle.

  2. Hi Jim, yes the Observation Corps kept to the historic precedent as you say and legged it. Its true that the Russians outnumbered the Prussians but I understand that not all of their troops were engaged, hence the less evident disparity in numbers. Actually I wonder if any extra battalions might have made that much difference to the game. Maybe next time.

  3. Actually I should annul the results and void the game as I did actually leave a Russian battalion off in error!

  4. Great looking game Colin as always. Hard to go wrong though with so many good looking figures to use.

  5. Colin,
    One battalion wouldnt have made that much difference on the day. John's artillery would have made short work of them. I was amazed the Observation Corps hung on as long as they did. Great scenario, tough battle and a bad head from too much thinking, so we lost, maybe next time.

  6. Once again a marvelous feast for the eyes and a splendid report, despite the drug fuelled haze!

  7. Greetings from Fredrick the Escape. I only managed to temporaily lose one famous Prusssian General this time out ;]. I must say, from the Prussian side of the table, it did look rather daunting. Our plan was to overwhelm the defences at the far end of the Russian line, whilst feinting at the main positions beyond the ravine. A thankless task, John GL Itzenplitz volunteered for. Once in, Fredrick was to signal for a general advance. We also had our suspicions that the two Russian commanders would not be able to sit behind their defences and would be tempted to emerge. Which is what happened, perhaps from the frustration of constant poor command rolls!. What the pictures dont perhaps fully bring out, was that the Prussian heavy guns were sited (by our host) from the start so as to lay down quite a cross fire on the Muhl-berg. This was the key to breaking into the Russian defences. The guns blasted out the hapless foot and guns in the corner, allowing the waiting Grenadiers to scramble in unopposed and make short work of the remaining occupants. The Russian horse made valiant charges but may have been wiser, to have held back as a force in being, rather than taking on in a series of unsupported attacks, the combined foot, guns and horse awaiting them in the deadground and along the banks of the river. Seydlitz reverted to type and made an overbold counter attack and will have some explaining to do. If the Russians had held back in both the centre and my wing, it would have been more difficult to break them and a constant worry was the gradual build up of casualties in GL Itzenplitz's command. Or it could easily have gone horribly wrong. Another enjoyable game, well hosted as ever

    1. The big guns were whee they were in the real battle so sadly I had little choice but to follow history in that respect, although they did do much better in the game than in the original. Now if only my dogs could have caused the same mayhem as they did in your last visit things might have been very different; at least having changed her food I can't use Minstrel as a WMD any more when she farts!

  8. Perhaps compared to the original battle, it was our greater patience and reliance upon the great guns to make the way for the infantry, rather than hasty infantry attacks into the teeth of Russian entrenchments and artillery and we had the advantage of hind sight !!

  9. Cracking game and outstanding post. Great to have you on the HoW forum as well Colin.

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  11. A great looking game & a good report to read. Your lovely painted Russians remind me of my next years to-do project. I have inherited a large collection with a near complete Russian army. Many figures, though, will need a painting treatment to improve their looks to make a better match with my figures. A lot of work to do. I kind of like the composition and organization of the 7YW Russians. I guess it will be worth the effort.
    Regarding your scenario, I also had the feeling the Russian army could well have been more numerous. With our Kunersdorf refought scenario we had 9 Prussian guns opposing 8 Russian. Prussians did have an arty edge, but not so much as with your orbat.

    1. Thanks Christian. In the game all the Russian infantry had battalion guns while only the musketeers and fusiliers did on the Prussian side.

    2. The Russians are not my favourite army in the SYW as I hate painting red! They do look good though once they're all done. That accolade goes to the Saxons funily enough