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...........


  1. That is a vey interesting battle, tense. Think it's one I shall have to adapt for my French and British.. Great stuff and where is Frederick? :)

  2. Terrific looking game and write up as always. A scenario I will adapt for my own I think.

  3. Report scribbled from under the wheels of an abandoned cannon, whilst dodging Habsburg dragoons ...

    Another enjoyable clash at Colins. I was officially tasked with holding Hochkirch til the end of move 5, a rather generous condition we agreed afterwards, but we continued to battle in the murk. The extra blunder rule was most effective and enjoyable (mostly)

    My departure conicided spookily with that of Fredrick, who may or may not have survived the encounter but was no longer in command at the end of the battle

    I think the dice gods smiled on the Prussians, who were able to react much more rapidly than the original rather complacent Fredrick, barring my Guard who marched off in completely the wrong direction! (in the post game debrief we discussed classing the Prussians as 'in camp' and in need of forming up and possibly having a temporay command penalty to reflect the lack of seriousness that Fredrick took the attack.

    A less unfavourable misdirecting of my reserves behind HochKirch, led to a pretty effective counter attack which threw the Right hand column of Austrians into confusion, as their ranks were too packed to respond effectively.

    The left hand column however broke into the village and it took a stiff close range fight to evict them. It was then, that Zeithen and Seydlitz yet again saved the day (mostly) by launching a series of charges against the supporting Austrian infantry outside of HochKirch. The first couple of charges were replused by musketry (disorder results rolled) but the second wave of charges were too much, which shattered the left hand column of the Habsburg attack on Hochkirch (the brigade was spent and had to withdraw). As further Austrian forces emerged out of the fog, even further to their left, Seydlitz siezed the moment and swept them back into the woods in rout. The weary troopers then looked to roll up the centre and crush the attack on Hochkirch altogether, but the fog and grenzer prevented a decisive intervention.

    I felt victory could have been snatched at Hochkirch, as the other attack seemed to be well contained by the Guard. I was unaware of the Austrians moving into the centre of the battlefield, essentially threatening to split my force into two. however Prince Wuttemburg succesfully marched to the guns providing a covering force.

    In retrospect, as i hide under the cannon, i feel concentrating on pushing forces out of the village to counter attack, without securing the field works, was over bold, as was having the King right at the front, rallying and encouraging the men ...

    it could have been far worst for the Prussians

    1. "Hände Hoch Fritz! For you zee war is over!"

  4. Excellent account Colin. Another very exciting scenario ! If the 'Barbarian from the north' is apprehended, please let us!

    1. Fritz is wounded and a prisoner. Watch this space!

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