Sunday 13 December 2020

Postponed Leuthen refight goes ahead after bad back stopped play.

Saturday 5 December was as  many will know the anniversary of Frederick the Great’s victory over the Hapsbergs at Leuthen in1757. I had been planning to stage a refight of the battle with the Virtual Burrowers but a mega spike for much of last week in my ever present neuropathic pain in my back and all points south knocked that idea on the head.

Thankfully I was sufficiently recovered to consider staging the game yesterday so that is what I did. However, prompted by a brief conversation last week with Jim Purkey (Der Alte Fritz) and then some photographs of his tabletop all set up as seen in his blog this last week, I decided to refight phase 1 of the battle where the Prussians fell upon the exposed and outnumbered Hapsberg left flank corps under Nadasdy at the village of Sagschütz. Plundering some of Jim’s ideas and those of Charles S Grant from his scenario in one of the 'Wargaming in History' series to add to my own thoughts I opted for a scenario that put all the pressure on the Prussians to win, and win quickly and with minimal losses. They had to have driven off the Austrians and reached the opposite table edge with at least half their force by turn 8. They also had to ensure losses were kept to a minimum, with no more than four broken units and/or 20% of the army's stamina value lost

I took a few liberties with the Austrian order of battle, insofar that there was a chance they'd receive reinforcements in the shape of the Saxon cavalry brigade. Conrad and Mark were the Austrians/Reichsarmée respectively while Paul and Neil were the Prussians. We used BP2 with my usual house rules and stats. On to battle, described in the time-honoured way by a series of blurry yet cold looking photos.

The table from the Prussian left. Very bleak looking.   
Rather a lot of Prussian cavalry on their right wing. Thirteen regiments in all under Zeithen.                  
The Prussian left and centre begin their advance.

Two battalions of Reichsarmee troops were left rather exposed to the potential of Prussian cuirassiers hitting them in the rear.
The Prussian cavalry advanced slowly as the brigades became intermingled as a result of some poor command rolls..

On the Austrian right, two battalions of Austrians joined the two already on the table to face the advancing Prussians.

The Prussians failed to hit either of the two exposed Reichs battalions, which were able to pull back and adjust their line to face the threat.

Paul ordered his leading cuirassier brigade to charge. Now the Reichsarmee troops aren't very good but  lost the melee by a single point. The break test that followed saw them head back to the box! The Prussians charged on and defeated a regiment of Austrian dragoons, forcing them off the table, but as the Prussians were by now shaken they had to pull back quickly to rally.

Neil ordered this battalion to advance as far as possible towards the enemy cannon.  He threw very low so they ended up under the muzzles of the guns.

Predictably the Prussian battalion was hit by canister and destroyed.

The reserve Prussian artillery spent a couple turns getting into position, but after a few largely ineffective shots and also due to the absence of decent targets, they advanced closer to the village.

The Prussian centre heading towards the village.

The cavalry combat on the Prussian right became extremely complicated.  Conrad's cuirassiers held their own against odds of three to one against, pushing back or breaking several Prussian regiments. It certainly wasn't going to plan for the Prussians on this flank!

The far left of the Prussian line.

Another segment from the cavalry scrum on the Austrian left. 

Neil wasn't satisfied with ordering one battalion to certain death  by attacking the Austrian cannon, so ordered a grenadier battalion forward. The grenadiers were made of sterner stuff and after surviving the closing fire (which was ineffective this time) they overran the battery and captured the guns. 

A prompt counter attack by the Austrians piled in against the weakened grenadiers.
The grenadiers beat off the Austrian attack. The lead battalion broke, and in doing so took the one behind with it. Disaster for the Austrian right flank.

In turn 4 the Saxon cavalry brigade arrived behind the village.

The Reichsarmee garrison of the village was still holding firm despite taking a few losses from the Prussian guns.

On the Austrian right the remaining Austrians faced off against seven battalions of Prussians.

The Wurtemburg fusilier battalion had been providing support to their mounted companions in the shape of enfilading or traversing fire each time the Prussians rode past them!

The final straw on the Prussian right. Another regiment of cavalry takes to its heels.

At the end of turn 5 it was clear that the Prussians had failed in their objectives, and had taken very heavy losses in the process. Even though their cavalry had to attack on a narrow frontage of just three regiments we were all amazed when four (three really) Austrian regiments beat the stuffing out of 13 Prussian ones!  Paul was very unlucky with his break tests though!

So, although it was obvious that the Prussians would eventually be victorious, their losses and the time it would have taken indicated a significant Austrian victory.  I thought it was always going to be a tough one for the Prussians, and the Austrians admitted afterwards to being convinced the game was a stitch up, which as events indicated it certainly was anything but!  Everyone enjoyed the game, as did I of course.

Although the Austrian cavalry performed very well, it was very much a team effort. On that basis the individual 'Regiment of the Match' goes to the Prussian combined grenadiers who captured the Austrian cannon and broke two infantry regiments for little loss to themselves.


  1. Super looking game there, Colin! Isn't funny how some games can be over very quickly once the troops come into contact?

    Best Regards,


  2. Looks wonderful Colin. Never an easy thing to try and replicate what Freddy did!

  3. Absolutely marvellous. It does not get much more impressive than masses of colourful figures on a snow-terrain.
    Regards, James

  4. Good looking game and report. I haven’t played my version of the scenario yet so it’s interesting to see how your game played. BTW, I’m pretty much using the Charles Grant scenario for my game, just a couple of minor changes.

  5. Wonderful. Most impressive, I love your SYW armies Colin and this looked to be an exciting game. Not easy photographing against the white snow background and the photos have brightened up really superbly - well done!