Friday 14 August 2015

Rossbach 5 November 1757, refought.

Robbie, John and Dave Jarvis game up on Thursday for our long-awaited Rossbach refight. We used my Prussians and Robbie kindly supplied his gorgeously painted French (the Irish were masquerading as Swiss for this game). Specially for the game I had repainted some 'retired' Prussian dragoons, cuirassiers and a spare infantry battalion as Reischsarmee units. I used a re-flagged Austrian unit as the Blau Wurtzburg regiment and a Saxon battalion as the final infantry unit. 

Robbie wanted to be French (Soubise) and as I hadn't played Prussians for quite some time in a major battle I got to be Fred. Dave and John diced and John joined me as von Seydlitz while Dave took the role of  von Saxe-Hildberghaussen.

The Allied army were strung out on column of march in an attempt to catch the Prussians by surprise in the flank. The latter were not in the least surprised and rapidly redeployed to counter the Allied attack. An account of the battle can be found here.

I adapted the scenario in Charles S. Grant's Wargaming in History for the game. We also  fought down the length of my table.

C-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia (9) Aggressive/Decisive (ME)
2-in-C: FM The Hon James Keith (9) Aggressive/Headstrong

Cavalry: GM Freidrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz (8) Aggressive (JOHN)
Cuirassiers                 1 x 12
Dragoons                    2 x 12
Hussars                      1 x 12
GM Freiherr von Schonach (8)
Cuirassiers                 4 x 12

Infantry Right Wing:
1st Line: GdI Moritz Furst von Anhalt-Dessau (9) Decisive/Headstrong
Guard Btn                               1 x 36
Grenadier Btn                        1 x 36
2nd Line: GL Frederick William Quirin de Forcade de Biaix (8) Decisive
Musketeer Btns                    2 x 36

Infantry Left Wing:
GL Heinrich Prinz von Preussen (8) Aggressive
Grenadier Btn                        1 x 36
Musketeer Btns                     2 x 36
Artillery: Colonel Moller (9):
12pdr battery 2 x heavy guns

If any Prussian commander, incl Frederick, was killed or wounded then Keith would take over with the stats etc shown. All line and the Guard battalions had battalion guns. To represent the fact that the Prussian guns redeployed in the battle, the heavy artillery could be moved to a new position once after the battle commences.

Both cavalry brigades and the artillery were visible and on the table with the exception of the hussars who were off table to the north. They would enter at the end of T3. All the Prussian infantry was deployed out of sight behind the ridge and would be free to move from T3.

Joint C-in-C:
FM Joseph Frederick Prinz von Saxe-Hildburghausen (6) Hesitant (DAVE)
Gen Prince de Soubise (8) (ROBBIE)

1st Column: GM Ludwig Freiherr von Brettlach (7) Aggressive
Austrian Cuirassiers             1 x 12
Austrian Hussars                   1 x 12
Reichsarmee ‘Cuirassiers’    1 x 12
Reichsarmee Dragoons         1 x 12
2nd Column:  GM Prinz von Hohenzollern (6) Hesitant
Austrian Cuirassiers             1 x 12
Reichsarmee ‘Cuirassiers’    1 x 12
Reichsarmee Dragoons         1 x 12
3rd Column: M. le Duc de Broglie (8) Hesitant
French Horse                         2 x 12
4th Column: M. le Duc de Mailly (7) Hesitant
French Horse                         2 x 12

1st Column: M. le Comte de Montbossier (6) Irresponsible
French btns                           3 x 36 (incl 1 Swiss)
French artillery                     1 x 12pdr
2nd Column: M. le  Comte de Lorges (7) Decisive
French btns                           2 x 36
French artillery                     1 x 6pdr
3rd Column: M. le Comte Bauer (8) Aggressive
French Btns                           2 x 36 (both Swiss)
French artillery                     1 x 6pdr
4th Column: GL Prinz von Hessen-Darmstadt (7) Timid/Hesitant
Reichsarmee btns                 3 x 36
Reichsarmee artillery           1 x 12pdr

The cavalry started on the table in columns of march. The heads of the infantry brigades started on the table (for convenience) in columns of march but could not move until T4. The artillery was at the rear of the columns. To reflect the overall tardiness of the allied army, Infantry/artillery were unable to deploy into line until within 24” of the enemy.
Infantry did not have battalion guns attached. The role of CinC alternated between the two joint commanders.

The Prussians were still almost all very good troops at this stage of the war so benefited from this by the application of few appropriate characteristics from the rules. The Austrian cavalry were pretty good, the French troops were just average and the Reichsarmee units were pretty awful, or worse! For fun I gave some of the commanders personal traits out of the rulebook, which in some cases was to prove very frustrating, mainly for the Allies. As usual we used Black Powder with the LAoK supplement together with some minor house rules and appropriate amendments for the game. So without further ado, here is the account of the game.

 The Austrian and Reichsarmee cavalry columns strung out on the march. To their rear are the French cavalry and in the far distance the allied infantry. Robbie, Dave and John look on, poised to start the game.
 The Prussian cavalry in position ready to attack the allied cavalry. Colonel Moller's guns are deployed on the Janus Hill while the infantry are out of sight behind the ridge.
 Two columns of allied cavalry, lead by squadrons of the Franconia Bayreuth cuirassiers. 
 Way back in the distance is the mass of the allied infantry in four columns, with a brigade of French horse which had blundered enthusiastically backwards at the start of the game.
In turn 1 John launched von Seydlitz's cuirassiers and dragoons into the allied cavalry who were unable to deploy into line. Both the leading squadrons were defeated, one being broken completely while the other was pushed back.
 Seydlitz's cavalry ploughed on into the mass of allied horse.
 Meanwhile the allied infantry were still nowhere to be seen.
The allied rear units were able to shake out into line but the Prussians were undeterred.
 On the left of the picture the Swabian Wurttemberg Dragoons charge the Prussian von Kyau cuirassiers while the Austrian Brettlach cuirassiers face Prussian dragoon regiment Graf zu Waldenberg. To the rear can be seen the surviving shaken squadron of the Bayreuth cuirassiers and the Franconia Ansbach dragoons.
 Austrian hussars try to escape the whirling cavalry melee and find some space to deploy.
 Guess what? The hussars were hit in the flank by waiting Prussian cuirassiers and pushed back to the top of the ridge, but they weren't broken.
 The Prussian cavalry reform having seen off the Austrian and Reichsarmee troops. In the distance the French horse deploy into line.
 Meanwhile, the Prussian infantry begin their advance. The leading brigade led by Anhalt-Dessau was slow to move but that of GM Forcade de Baix sped ahead of the rest in an attempt to gain the ridgeline before the French could get there.
 Saxe-Hildberghausen caught wondering what to do. There would probably be just enough time to do something before the rest of the Prussians caught up!
 The Prussian second line about to advance.
 de Mailley's French horse get moving and climb onto the ridge.
 Seydlitz crashes into the remains of the Reichsarmee cuirassiers and drives them off broken. The Austrian cuirassiers to the left were forced to withdraw.
 A last the allied infantry is getting closer while French horse and Austrian hussars occupy the ridge.
 The bulk of the Prussian infantry advances menacingly but a bit too slowly towards the allied line.
 GM Forcade's brigade reaches the ridge held by French horse.
 Prinz von Anhalt-Dessau's and Prinz Henri von Preusens's brigades move slowly forward.
 French infantry deploy while in the rear the Reichsarmee brigade is still on the march.
 The Allied commanders paused deep in thought. Will they get their troops deployed before the Prussians are on the ridge?
 French and Prussian cavalry clash. The French are driven off.
 The Prussian IR19 Markgraf Karl enfilades the ranks of French horse on the ridge, but without much immediate effect. The French horse did however retire to avoid another volley.
 French infantry moving up.
 French and Reichsarmee infantry deploy ready to face the Prussian attack.
 One of my Saxon battalion doing duty as a Reichsarmee unit for the day.
 The Prussian infantry mount the crest with no opposition other than some distant French infantry.

 Von Schonach's cuirassiers drive off the battered Austrian hussars and a regiment of French horse, thus clearing the ridge of all allied cavalry.
 Prussian and French (Irish masquerading as Swiss) lines face each other at point blank range. Both sides take heavy losses.
 Robbie decided he wouldn't win a musketry duel with the Prussians so ordered a Swiss battalion to charge the Prussian line. After a protracted melee the Swiss were broken taking one of their supporting units with them (the one on the left of the picture). Meanwhile, John had charged a French battery which was still limbered up and destroyed it. Disaster for the allies!
 Robbie then hurled a regiment of French cavalry against a battalion of Prussian grenadiers. The cavalry weathered the closing fire but although they scored seven hits on the Prussians, they were all saved! The French lost the combat and fled.
The French centre now had a massive hole in it and as the army had lost half of its brigades broken or spent they were forced to admit defeat. 

So, did it meet my expectations? Yes. The French started the game in a very bad position but their cavalry did well in slowing the Prussian advance, albeit at the cost of two entire cavalry brigades. The French cavalry bought some time for their infantry to move up and deploy, but  they were no match for the Prussian infantry once the latter had completed their march down 8 feet of table. At this stage of the war its fair to give the Prussians an advantage in musketry, certainly against the French and Reichsarmee. Being outnumbered almost 2:1 they needed it but we shall never know if they would have been able to defeat the remaining allied battalions. Interestingly neither side's artillery, with the exception of the Prussian battalion guns who's effect is more moral than lethal, was at all effective. The Prussian heavy guns never really caught up with the advance of the rest of the army and the allied artillery never even unlimbered!

The Prussian cavalry were almost intact and although one battalion was knocked about the rest were unscathed, so the task of extracting their army would have been a difficult one for Soubise and Saxe-Hildburghausen. The allied line was going to struggle in the face of fresh Prussian units and the menacing cuirassiers just waiting for a weakness to exploit,especially as the three Reichsarmee battalions were very brittle and would be unable to stand toe to toe with the Prussians. Overall though it was a tough one for both sides and it certainly wasn't the crushing walkover that was the outcome of the real battle. Still an impressive victory for the Prussians though. The rules worked really well. I know Black Powder as a set are bit like Marmite, you either like them or hate them, but when used by us at least produce a lively and not unrealistic game.


  1. Good stuff Colin, their are some rather impressive photos of the game, especially the French March columns!

  2. Colin,
    This was the best game of the series up to now. The French can win, but it is a hard one to crack. Still a great game,
    well done, Robbie.

    1. Thanks Robbie, it was certainly a great game and I agree the best of the series so far. Hard work for us Prussians tho'. Only goes to prove you only need to add a few Frenchmen to improve the 'class' of the game.

      Leuthen soon!

  3. Colin, it was a cracking game to be part of. I agree with Robbie's assertion that the French CAN win but there is little margin for error. I will have nightmares about those fearsome Prussian Grenadiers. If only my artillery had got unlimbered in time. Sigh... :)
    Thanks again!


    1. Thanks Dave. Glad you enjoyed it and also glad. You were able to visit. Welcome any time.

  4. Terrific looking game chaps. Good fun and well done

  5. Very impressive. Looks really good and the AAR is interesting and informative.


  6. Lovely looking game and excellent write up.

  7. That looks superb Colin, really mouthwatering and encouraging. Thank you

  8. Colin,
    Excellent report and photos, sounds like a really good game.

  9. Splendid report and armies, thanks for sharing...

  10. Lovely looking armies, beautifully presented game, and very informative report, thanks a lot.

  11. Another inspirational AAR full of wonderful photos of your collections Colin! I always leave feeling I need to do better!

  12. Thanks for posting this - a most enjoyable read. I have only ever used BP for SYW games, and have always enjoyed the result, though I was unconvinced by the LAOK supplement.

    Cheers, Keith.

  13. Thanks for posting this - a most enjoyable read. I have only ever used BP for SYW games, and have always enjoyed the result, though I was unconvinced by the LAOK supplement.

    Cheers, Keith.

    1. Thanks Keith. Looking forward to seeing your new rules later this year.

  14. Well done, this was a treat to read and for the eyes!

  15. going to use the scenario for my own Rossbach refight, this thursday, using Black Powder thanks, for all the detail.