Sunday 27 September 2015

Prussian army surprised in dawn attack at Hochkirch! Frederick missing!

This week's game was Hochkirch. John (the Red) came up and volunteered to play the Prussians, which made sense as he had no idea of the scenario details and where and when the Austrians were supposed to come onto the table (big emphasis on supposed to!). I used the excellent information on the battle that can be found on the Kronoskaf website amongst other sources and pillaged a few ideas off the 'Olicanalad' blog as James has played the game a few times in the past.

The timing of the attack and the weather played a big part in the Austrian plans and ultimate success as they attacked at around 5:30 a.m. and a thick fog covered the battlefield for much of the fighting. Visibility was therefore reduced to 12" in turn 1 and 18" from turn 2 until the end of turn 10. To add a little extra 'interest' orders for units that couldn't 'see' the enemy would blunder on ANY double, recreating a degree of confusion in the fog. We used Black Powder with the usual amendments to make them more accurately (IMHO) reflect my understanding of the period and the battle, and used 66% distances (due to the weather conditions). I decided to play the whole battle as it just fit onto my 12' table. In the original battle the main Austrian attack was from the South and the attack from the North East was intended mainly to pin down the Prussian left flank and stop them reinforcing their right. To give the Prussians a better chance I gave them a slight chance of being reinforced from the North West by a detached corps. In reality these troops were unable to break through the Austrian encirclement but did assist in the Prussian retreat, which was left unmolested by the very tardy Austrians.

Map from

Prussian ArmyC-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia (9) Aggressive, Assisted by FM Keith (9) Headstrong/Decisive

GL  Freidrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz (9) Aggressive/Decisive   NORTH OF RODEWITZ
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Dragoons                    1 x 12
GL von Zeithen (8) Aggressive/Decisive NORTH AND WEST OF HOCHKIRCH
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Dragoons                    1 x 12
Hussars                      1 x 12
GL von Manteuffel (9) EAST OF RODEWITZ
Grenadier Btn            3 x 36
Guard Btns                1 x 36
Jager companies        1 x 8 (small unit)     
Heavy artillery           2 x 12pdr gun (Entrenched)         
GL Prinz Karl von Brandenburg (8) BETWEEN RODEWITZ AND POMRITZ
Musketeer Btns         3 x 36
GL von Kanitz (8) HOCHKIRCH
Musketeer Btns          3 x 36
Grenadier Btn            1 x 36
Heavy artillery           2 x 12pdr guns (Entrenched)


In order to give the Prussians a fighting chance I decided that there was a small possibility that some of their outlying detachments might fight their way through the Austrians to support Frederick. In reality they were unable to do so but did help with covering the withdrawal.

GM Prinz von Wurtemburg (8):
Cuirassiers                             1 x 12
Dragoons                                1 x 12
Musketeer Btn.                      1 x 36

Austrian Army :CinC: FM Count Leopold Daun  (8) Hesitant
GL Count Franz Moritz von Lacy (7) ON TABLE Timid
Grenz Btns                 1 x 12
Grenadier Btns           2 x 36
Line                             2 x 36
Artillery                      1 x medium howitzer
Artillery                      1 x 8pdr gun
GM Count Igniaz Forgach (8) ON TABLE Aggressive
Grenz Btn                   1 x 12
Grenadier Btns          1 x 36
Line Btns                    2 x 36
Field artillery             1 x 8pdr gun
GM Baron Ernst Gideon von Louden (9) Decisive TURN 2 1D3 South West Corner
Hussars                      1 x 12
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Dragoon                     1 x 12
Infantry                      1 x 36
GM von Weisse (7)  TURN 3 1D3  South East Corner
Grenz Btn                   1 x 36
Dragoons                    1 x 12
GM Henry Count O’Donnell (7) Irresponsible TURN 5 1D3  Western edge South of centre
Infantry Btn               1 x 36
Dragoons                    2 x 12
GM Count von Colloredo (8) #4  TURN 3 1D3 Eastern edge in centre 
Infantry Btn               1 x 36
Cuirassiers                 1 x 12
FzugM Count Charles Marie Raymond d’Arrenburg (7) Hesitant #5  T3 1D3 North East corner
Grenadier Btn            1 x 36
Line Btns                    5 x 36
Field artillery             2 x 12pdr gun
Gen Der Kav Adolf Nickolaus Baron von Buccow (8)  Hesitant #6  T3 1D3 North East corner
Cuirassiers                 2 x 12
Dragoons                    1 x 12
Hussars                      1 x 12


The field of battle. Hochkirch in the centre while stretching out to the North is the rest of the Prussian army, unaware of the impending Austrian assault.
Zeithen's cavalry in the centre with two battalions of von Kanitz's command in reserve on the right just behind Hochkirch.
Hochkirch from the rear, with the garrison and Zeithen's cavalry unprepared for what was to come.

The main Austrian assault closes on the town. They were slow to get moving, especially the artillery which blundered to the rear on its first turn! Nevertheless, 7 battalions of infantry (including 3 of grenadiers) and 2 of Grenzers are a fine sight to behold emerging from the dawn mist.
Entrenched Prussian artillery defending Hochkirch.
 On the other flank, far away on the Prussian left, jagers, heavy artillery and 4 elite battalions of Guard and grenadiers hold their position. One battalion did get lost in the fog and marched off in the wrong direction. Luckily for the Prussians there were as yet no Austrians to take advantage of this.
 Two battalions of Kanitz's command held in reserve reacted very quickly (too quickly in my view but....) to the Austrian attack and move round to the Eastern side of Hochkirk.
 Von Zeiten's cavalry in disarray with confused regiments facing in different directions!
 D'Arrenberg and von Buccow's troops appear out of the mist opposite the Prussian left.
 Frederick's headquarters becomes a hive of activity as the King realises his army is under attack on both flanks. Frederick orders Brunswick's command in the centre and Seydlitz's cavalry on the left to support the garrison of Hochkirk. He orders Keith to take command on the left while he gallops over to Hochkirch to take personal command and rally his troops.
 The Prussian left flank responds slowly to the appearance of the Austrians. The battalion in the background is the one which had become disorientated in the fog and wandered off in the wrong direction.
 At Hochkirch the right-hand Austrian column is halted by the appearance of Kanitz's reserve.
 The Austrian left-hand column fared better and grenadiers swept over the earthworks driving the Prussian defenders back in front of them and overrunning some of their artillery.
 The Prussians counter attacked at once. Their grenadiers drove the Austrians out of the town while Zeithen and Seydlitz's cavalry attacked the massed Austrian infantry in a desperate attempt to slow them down. They were able to break one unlucky battalion but were then forced to retire as von Louden's command finally  made an appearance after an unforeseen delay of a couple of turns. John then ordered his cuirassiers and dragoons to charge Louden and despite taking some significant losses, including a regiment of hussars who wandered off the table in the fog, managed to drive the entire command off the table, a shattered and completely broken force! I was not impressed with Louden. His (i.e. my) cuirassiers lost heavily to their Prussian counterparts, the hussars were driven off and Louden's own 'Green Grenadiers' were caught in column of march and quickly destroyed.
 Prussian reinforcements arrive. They head towards Hochkirch as fast as they can. I was by now confident that by pushing almost all his troops towards Hochkirch John was stripping his centre and left, which would be to my advantage assuming the rest of the Austrians arrived where and when they were supposed to!
 Frederick reorganises the defence of Hochkirk before the next assault.
Coloredo's command deploys on the Eastern table edge. If they can get across the river they will be in a position to cut the Prussian army in two.
 Zeithen's cuirassiers drove off the remains of the Austrian left-hand column but were unable to exploit their success as they were almost exhausted and became disordered by the harrying fire from the Austrian Grenzers and the artillery which turned to face them.
 Coloredo's command cross the river. Facing them was single battalion and two regiments of cavalry.
 O'Donnell's command appears (late) on the Western table edge behind Zeithen and Seydlitz's cavalry.
 Grenzers close on the town and target the remaining gunners. Frederick joins the gunners to rally them. In the following turn the Jung-Modena dragoons swept over and into the earthwork, overrunning the gun position and wiping out the gunners. Frederick was last seen surrounded by jubilant Austrian dragoons before they were forced to withdraw.
 Far away on the Austrian right D'Arrenburg and von Buccow advance on the Prussian left to pin them in position, which they do despite taking heavy casualties from Prussian artillery and close-range musketry from the Guard.
 Seydlitz ordered his cuirassiers to charge O'Donnell, driving back one of his cuirassiers regiments. The combined horse grenadier regiment then countercharged and drove into and through the Prussians, shaking a regiment each of dragoon and cuirassiers, and putting Seydlitz's and von Zeithen's commands out of action. The Prussian cavalry had done a fantastic job in rapidly responding to the Austrian attack and destroying Louden's command and Forgach's left-hand column moving on Hochkirch before they were themselves taken out of the battle by O'Donnell's fresh troops.
 O'Donnell's horse grenadiers about to defeat Zeithen's dragoons having already driven off a regiment of cuirassiers.
 Zeithen and Seydlitz's commands recoil shaken and find themselves trapped between two bodies of Austrians. 
 John's last regiment of cuirassiers in combat with Colloredo's command. In the background a further unit of Austrian cuirassiers from von Buccow's command emerge from the woods having crossed the stream.
 After driving off the John's cuirassiers the Austrians (combined Carabinier companies) turn on a regiment of Prussian dragoons. In the background the fire fight between the Prussian and Austrian infantry reaches its climax when the former become shaken. With the majority of the units in his command shaken, Wurttemberg must retreat with his men. Over half of the Prussian army is now spent and FM von Keith orders a withdrawal covered by the Guard and grenadiers from the left flank.

 The Prussians in the centre withdraw in the face of the Austrian advance.
The last Prussian battalion holding Hochkirch under intense fire from field guns (out of picture) Grenzers and infantry to their front and a howitzer on their flank, with dragoons readying themselves to charge. Their supports are retreating or sheltering in the village, shaken. Ultimately, casualties mounting, they fail a break test and are forced to retreat.
On the Prussian left the line holds in the face of pretty overwhelming numbers of Austrians, but the Austrians are unable to to make any impression on the elite battalions facing them.

So there it was. The Prussians had done extremely well in halting the initial Austrian attacks, but numbers prevailed and they were unable to contend with more fresh Austrians appearing on their flanks and to their rear. The arrival of O'Donnell's command sealed the Prussian's fate as although initially stalled, they soon gained the upper hand against the battle worn and almost spent cavalry of Zeithen and Seydlitz. Louden on the other hand is soon to be posted as Postmaster to some shit hole in the Carpathian Mountains following his utterly hopeless and lacklustre showing when his entire command was driven off in the space of 2 turns!

John had to leave before the game reached an absolute conclusion, although the result was not really in doubt as much of the remaining Prussian commands were hanging on by their fingertips! However, his departure coincided with the demise of Frederick so his timing was impeccable. I fought the last couple of moves solo, with Katherine overseeing the dice rolls to ensure fair play.

A very hard-fought Austrian victory. I probably allowed the Prussians to respond too quickly but at least this way the Prussians were able to make a (very good) fight of it. They would certainly have been able to get their remaining troops away as their elite grenadiers and Guard were intact, while some of the Austrians were in no condition to pursue.

Great game. I'm happy with how it played and my interpretation of the scenario. And we both enjoyed the day thoroughly.

And still no word on the fate of Frederick...........

Friday 18 September 2015

The Battle of Zorndorf - an exhausting affair!!!!

Robbie and Dave (Jarvis) came up yesterday for this game. Zorndorf was Frederick's first personal experience of the Russian army and they fought him to a bloody draw in the original battle. Prior to the battle Frederick had marched his army right around the Russians who were forced to do a 180 degree about face. This left the difficult terrain they had originally deployed behind in their rear. Two steep-sided and marshy streams cut through their positions, one on their right and one through their centre. A wood covered their centre and any Prussians coming through it would exit to face close range musket and canister theory.

The game required almost all of my Russians and a large proportion of my Prussian army, especially in terms of cavalry, where the Prussians outnumbered their opponents almost 2:1 in squadrons (88 to 50 squadrons, excluding Cossacks, which I ignored for this game). As I noted in an earlier post, the Prussians also had the edge in field artillery but were outnumbered when it came to infantry. More importantly, the Prussian infantry were not as good as those that took the field in the first two years of the war.

Robbie elected to take the Russians while Dave and I shared the Prussians, me in the persona of Frederick while Dave was Manteuffel. Our plan was simple. Use our superior artillery to try and soften up the`Russians a little then refuse our right flank while Dave pushed ahead with Manteuffel's and Kanitz's commands to destroy the Russian right. Seydlitz's cuirassiers were also to move to the centre in order to punch through any weak points in the Russian line. As usual we used Black Powder, with a few modifications for the scenario. Cavalry units were of 12 figures and infantry were in 36's.

Prussian Army

C-in-C: Frederick II King of Prussia (9) Aggressive/Decisive
Assisted by Gen Der Inf Moritz Furst von Anhalt-Dessau (9) Decisive

Left Wing Cavalry:
GL Freidrich Wilhelm von Seydlitz (9) Aggressive
Cuirassiers                 4
GM Malachowsky (9)
Hussars                      3            
Right Wing Cavalry:
GL von Schorlemer (8)
Cuirassiers                 2
GM von Bredow (8)
Cuirassiers                 1
Dragoons                   1
Independent command: Von Reusch (8)
Hussars                      2
Reserve Cavalry: GM Marshall (8)
Dragoons                    4

Infantry Centre:
Left, 1st Line: GL von Manteuffel (9)
Grenadiers                 1
Musketeers                2
Left, 2nd Line: GL Kanitz (8)
Grenadiers                 1
Musketeers                1
Fusiliers                     1
Right:GL von Dohna (9)
Grenadiers                 1
Fusiliers                     1
Artillery: Colonel Moller (9):
12pdr battery           4 x heavy guns
Howitzer battery      1 x medium howitzer
Fortress battery        2 x super heavy ‘Brummer’


C-in-C: General of Cavalry Villim Villimovitch Fermor (6) Useless T**t

Left Wing Cavalry:  Maj-Gen Demiku (8) Hesitant
Cuirassiers                                         3
Hussars                                              4
Right Wing Cavalry: Maj-Gen Gaugreben (7) Timid
Dragoons                                            1
Horse Grenadiers                                1
Hussars                                                1

Infantry Front Line: Lt-Gen Petr Semenovitch Saltykov (8)
Infantry btns                                     4
Grenadier btns                                  1
12pdr bty                                          1 x heavy gun
8pdr bty                                             1 x medium gun
Howitzer bty                                      1 x medium howitzer
Infantry Second Line: Lt-Gen Galitzin (7) Hesitant
Infantry btns                                     4
Grenadier btns                                  1
Observation Corps: Lt-Gen Browne (8)
Musketeer btns                                 3
Grenadier btns                                  1
8pdr bty                                             1 x medium gun
Secret Howitzer bty                          1 x medium howitzer

Back in 1758, Fermor mysteriously left the battlefield for much of the day. To replicate this from the end of turn  Robbie had to throw 2D6, +1 for each broken or shaken Russian unit. A score of over his command level would result in him leaving the field ‘to get a wound dressed’. Fermor would not have the chance to return until 1D6 + 2 turns but then would have to roll under his command level to do so, +1 for every broken or shaken unit. While he was away Saltykov would  act as CinC .

I introduced a bombardment phase to the game as the Prussians spent quite some time and much shot trying to soften up the Russians before launching their assault. Predictably, in the game little damage was caused. We also elected to use our first turn to try this again, with similarly disappointing results (we did knock a couple of Russian battalions about a bit but it was hardly gratifying having fired the equivalent of over 100 heavy guns at them!).
Robbie decided to take the battle to us and on his first turn flung four units of hussars at my outnumbered and outflanked right wing. Even from our perspective the rank-upon-rank of Russian hussars looked very pretty as they thundered closer!
Two squadrons of HR5 von Reusch failed miserably trying to stem the tide of Russian hussars. Both units were bundled backwards in yet another scintillating display of dice throwing by yours truly. Never mind, Robbie had fallen into my trip and left his Hussars dangerously exposed. Ha!
Above, Schorlemer's and von Bredow's cavalry on my right, poised to pounce on Robbie's hussars, while below, the Russian hussars about to charge again. Not so exposed now that Robbie's cuirassiers had caught up with them!

HR5 von Reusch just before they were unceremoniously swept off the table by another charge by the Russian hussars. For a moment my right flank was in serious peril as I had Russian cavalry occupying the ground just vacated by the famed and mainly dead Death's Head hussars.
Manteuffel and Kanitz advancing towards the Russian right flank. A battalion of Manteuffel's command is in the wood.
Manteuffel's command took on the Russians in a prolonged and deadly musketry duel. Though much weakened the grenadiers held on long enough to kill off the Russian gun crews and break the Russian musketeer battalion to their front. The grenadiers were to hold the line all day despite taking crippling casualties.
The Russian centre behind the wood.  Gaugreben's cavalry can be seen treading a path over the stream and past the baggage train. This was the last we saw of Fermor (on the grey by the icon-toting priests) as he had to leave the field on urgent business, or something.....
Robbie's second line of infantry under Galitzin marched round to extend his left flank and threaten my right. There were no Prussian infantry available to counter this move, just cavalry and artillery.
One of Manteuffel's battalions can be seen on the edge of the wood, emerging on the flank of the Russian Apcheronkski regiment who were engaged to their front.
Seydlitz's cuirassiers in position after moving from the left flank to the Prussian centre, poised to either plug a gap or deliver a coup de grace, or both as it turned out.
Schorlemer's cuirassiers (the Garde du Corps) hit a regiment of Russian hussars and break them. They followed on and hit another hussar regiment which was also driven back shaken.
IR40 tried to move over to the right to offer some support to the embattled Prussian cavalry and artillery but were hit hard by the Russian artillery and were shaken and disordered, unable to move. Von Marshall's reserve cavalry en route to bolster my right flank.
Robbie launched a regiment of dragoons in an attempt to break the Prussian attack. They survived the closing fire but were driven off in the ensuing melee, out of the battle for the remainder of the game, a spent force.
Von Marshall's dragoon in position to fill the enormous gap between the Prussian centre and its right wing. A gap that Robbie was trying to fill with the Observation Corps.
The Observation Corps advancing and putting my centre under serious pressure.
The Prussian left, with the main attack still stalled by stubborn Russian resistance.
Finally one of the Russian battalions facing the Prussian left broke, but the gap was soon filled by a reserve battalion.
On the extreme left, Robbie ordered his Serbski hussars to cross the stream to occupy the attention of the Prussian hussars. It took several attempts to get them to cross, and when they did, Dave ordered his hussars to charge them, but they failed to reach their target! The next turn the Russians charged, and broke one Prussian unit and drove another back, effectively putting the Prussian hussars out of the battle. Unfortunately Robbie was unable to exploit the situation as his hussars were also shaken.
A large gap appeared in the Prussian centre where von Dohna was facing the Observation Corps when a battalion broke under the pressure of close-range artillery and musketry fire. Worse than that, Frederick had been with this battalion trying to rally it and was swept away in their rout! Anhalt-Dessau to the left of the picture can be seen gazing heavenwards. Donna's command had now reached break point and would have to withdraw out of contact as the remaining battalions were all shaken. In the woods, the Prussians were also forced to retreat as Manteuffel's command was also spent. A grenadier battalion from Kanitz's second line can just be seen moving forward to plug the gap.
The fight on the edge of the wood ended after several turns, with the Prussians being forced to withdraw while the Russian battalion was broken, leaving a nice gap to fill, or exploit.
Von Bredow's cuirassiers charged their Russian counterparts who were unable to countercharge. Hit at the halt they were broken. The Garde du Corps had rallied back but the Gen's d'Armes regiment can be seen in the distance on the Russian flank. 
At this point it is worth noting that four Prussian commands were out of action either spent or in rout. One more and it be all up for Dave and I. Robbie had by now I recall also lost both his cavalry brigades to the battle and also had only to lose one more command to be forced to retreat. The difference was that the Prussians had only a single brigade of infantry remaining (Kanitz) while the Russians had all three of theirs, which were all bigger than ours. We did have all our cuirassiers and dragoons left however, but cavalry are no good trying to hold ground against advancing infantry, the only options being to pul back, stand and get shot, or attack with a good chance of being shot to pieces! Dave is not sucking his thumb, honest!
The view along the length of the table. Lots of gaps have appeared in the Prussian line.
The Observation Corps pressing forward into the gap that was the Prussian centre. In an all or nothing gesture, the Prussian cuirassiers in the distance charged the Observation Corps, survived closing fire and crashed into them. Being lower-class inexperienced troops they the broke, allowing the cuirassiers to follow up into another battalion which was also broken.The dragoons also attempted to halt the Russian infantry. The first unit was forced to recoil due to the effects of closing fire, but the second made contact and was locked in melee with the Russian infantry.
The Prussian cuirassiers smash into the second battalion of Russians; steadier than the Observation Corps they were still caught unprepared and broken. The Russian gun in the picture is shooting at one of the surviving Prussian infantry battalions in the wood.
Meanwhile on the far right the Prussians swung their cuirassiers round the Russian rear and overran a battery of secret howitzers.
At the end of this turn, fortunes had changed massively. One moment in very real danger of suffering a defeat, the Prussian cavalry under Seydlitz had broken the Russian centre, causing their attack and indeed the army to collapse.  
The Russian baggage train.
The Russian acting C-inC after Fermor's vanishing act. The latter never did return to the battlefield.
General Malachowsky who commanded the three regiments of hussars on the Prussian left and who was so ignominiously defeated by a sole regiment of Russian hussars!

So, there you go. Robbie played the Russians masterfully. The Prussians had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in what proved to be the last turn of the game. The Prussian superiority in artillery wasn't really evident in terms of results, and the toughness of the Russian infantry certainly made a very big difference, even if the Observation Corps were classed as untested. I honestly thought it was going to be another ignominious defeat for the Prussians and am not sure how the Prussians managed it as two of our three infantry commands were retreating shaken and all our light cavalry was also out of the game. I guess it was all or nothing at the end when we launched our death or glory cavalry attacks. In the real battle Seydlitz's actions/interventions saved the Prussians from defeat, twice; in the refight he managed to turn a potentially bloody defeat into a bloody victory. As always the rules worked really well, and we managed to achieve the usual cluster of annoyingly badly-timed failed command rolls and blunders.  We all enjoyed a fast-paced, enjoyable and challenging game. 

Next time back to earth with a bump as its Hochkirch.