Friday 27 August 2021

The German War of 1866 Returns to the Burrow.

Spurred on by the arrival of the new Perry plastic 1866/1870 Prussians I thought this week’s game should act as a kick up the bum for me to finish the unusually for me not too numerous figures I have in the lead and plastic mountains for this period. We shall see…..

Anyways, Conrad, Richard, Neil, Nigel and Paul arrived not knowing what I had in mind and were launched into a wholly fictitious and probably unlikely scenario set in the Western theatre of war, with Bavarians, Hessians and a few Austrians were trying to hold up the advance of a mixed Prussian and North German Confederation corps to buy time for the rest of their forces (VII and VIII Federal Corps) to concentrate and then overwhelm the outnumbered Prussians. Mmmm?

We used Black Powder 2 with several house rules better to reflect the nature of the tactics and weapons of the period and the character of the troops and their commanders. Not saying they’re right but they are more satisfying than using BP2 as writ.

Let’s get rid of the sentimental puppy shot straight away. Nigel enlisted Fudge as his  aide and military advisor, which could explain why his troops behaved as if they were commanded by a 12 week old Shitzu! But they did fight doggedly.....

The battlefield from the east, with the Hessians and Bavarians deployed waiting for the arrival of the Prussians. Several units were hidden from the Prussians

The battlefield looks very sparsely populated by the Hessians and Bavarians.

Neil's North German Confederation brigade (Lippe, Saxe-Coberg, Anhalt, etc) advanced quickly to the river under heavy fire from the enemy rifle fire and very accurate Austrian artillery on the ridge line.

Neil's troops form a skirmish line on the river bank while a battalion crosses under fire from Hessian jäger in the cornfield.

The Lippe-Detmold Fusilier Btn at the sharp end.

Paul's Prussian dragoons on the extreme left flank of the army.

On the right flank Nigel's Prussians have driven a Bavarian battalion out of the sunken roads and are engaging the remainder of the enemy brigade.

Paul’s Prussian Dragoon brigade made it over the river and onto the flank of Conrad’s Hessians. 

Nigel ordered three battalions of Prussians to drive the Bavarians out of the church.

The battlefield seen from the West.

Prussian reinforcements arrive in the form of a brigade of cavalry.

Fierce fighting around the church as a regiment of Prussians makes several attempts to expel the Bavarian defenders.

While the fighting around the church rages, the Prussian cavalry pushes around its rear to face the Bavarian cavalry brigade.

Two regiments of Bavarian cuirassiers and one of chevau-leger with horse artillery in support.
Richard struggled to get his Bavarian cavalry brigade to advance but they finally  made it  after the CinC intervened, and they headed off to attack the Prussian cavalry.

Opposing cavalry on the western end of the table.
Bavarian Cuirassiers versus Prussian Hussars. Not the title of a new Osprey book.  History tells us the Bavarian Cuirassiers were pretty but useless when committed to the campaign in reality, and pretty useless they were too in the war game, as they were quickly sent packing.
The Hessian sharpshooter battalion are finally driven out of the cornfield.
Prussian reinforcements arriving along the more easterly of the  roads  facing the Hessians on the ridge.

Meanwhile Paul’s Prussian brigade which had arrived the previous turn is following his dragoons around the  enemy flank.
The Prussians survived long range fire as they manoeuvred around the flank of the Hessians, and when Paul ordered a 'follow me' they also survived the closing fire, taking only one hit!

The Prussians overran the Hessians who were cut down and broken (the picture shows their dice scores for the melee).  

Conrad had been reinforced by a Federal cavalry brigade of a regiment each of Hessian and Baden Reiter. Both brigades charged and in the melee the Federal cavalry were driven off or shaken, but both Prussian regiments were also shaken and forced to withdraw in a case of 1866-style MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction!) 

On the other flank the Bavarian cuirassier had been defeated, but the Prussian hussars were about to meet their match in the Bavarian chevau legers, who broken them. Unfortunately the Bavarian cavalry were now 'spent' as both cuirassier regiments were shaken, and had to retire.

An Austrian infantry brigade arrived in the nick of time to shore up the wilting Bavarians, and went straight onto the offensive.

Richard’s Austrian infantry brigade pushing forward to relieve the pressure off the beleaguered Bavarians. The Prussian battalion in the sunken road (between the house and the church) was broken.

Neil pushed his remaining Confederation battalions and a full brigade of Prussians forward to attack the Hessians on the ridge.

Neil's assault on the ridge was very photogenic.

The Hessians are broken.

The Hessian brigade has been driven off and the ridge secured by Neil’s  victorious Prussian brigade.

General von Clawswitz surveys the aftermath of the battle.

I think it was a pretty good game. Asymetrical sides and also armies able to exploit their areas of superiority, eg the Prussian Needle Guns versus the superior Austrian artillery worked out ok. Richard and Conrad did well to slow down the Prussian advance and did so long enough to secure their main strategic victory condition, even though tactically they had lost three out of six brigades and were therefore going to have to retreat.

I think my amendments worked quite well, but I may revisit the ranges (which may have been extended too far) and troop characteristics. Either way, both sides stuck to the tactics of the period as closely as they could, and the Prussian reserve artillery barely made it into action which is an accurate reflection on their performance in 1866.  I just need to work out how to depict the thick skirmish screens used by the Prussians but I think I'll use the Perry plastics for this as a cheap option. Black Powder as always gave us an enjoyable if not always perfect game, but everyone was playing the period rather than the rules so it all worked out rather nicely. The figures used are a mixture of old Foundry, ex-Helion North Star 1866, Irregular and some American firm who produced the figures used for the Hessians who's name escapes me it was so long ago that I bought them.

Next time I shall put on yet another different period, but what......?  


  1. We found the Glory Hallelujah! supplement a good starting point for the 1866 and 1870 conflicts, with a few tweaks here and there.

  2. I enjoyed your BATREP.Thank you!

  3. As ever a splendid looking game from the Burrower-in-Chief and an exhausting AAR!