Monday 8 May 2023

Anniversary game: The Battle of Prague 6 May 1757

Well. Here I go again, back from our jaunt to India, in another anniversary refight of a famous Frederickian victory which has yet to be repeated on my wargame table over the years. 

Despite or perhaps because of the coronation we had an almost full house. Conrad, Shaun and Nigel were the Austrians and John the Red, Dave and Paul the Prussians. I umpired. We used Black Powder with our normal changes to the turn sequence (Initiative/Shooting/Commanded Moves/Melee which everyone believes gives a better game. Hopefully these photos will give a flavour of how the day went. 

Silly and anachronistic hat time for the Prussians.

The battle at the start of the action. All the cavalry in the far distance, with the thinly held heights on the right, reinforcements on the way.

The Prussian army has marched to turn the flank of the Austrians and caught it napping. The Austrian commander Charles of Lorraine reacted to the Prussian manoeuvre and his cavalry had made it over to cover the right flank of the army, and some artillery and combined grenadiers were already on the heights, with more Austrian infantry following closely behind. The clock was ticking for the Prussians who had the unenviable task of gaining the ridge and defeating the Austrian infantry while hoping that the Prussian cavalry could at least slow down if not defeat the superior Austrian horsemen to ensure the infantry had the time and space to carry out their battle winning objective. All the Austrians had to do was ensure their cavalry beat the Prussians as quickly as possible while the infantry raced to reinforce the troops holding the heights. In the previous refights of Prague the Prussians had been unsuccessful so their hopes were high for a final chance of victory. The Austrians won the initiative so got to move first. In retrospect the Prussians should have automatically won the initiative due to the scenario but I just went with a dice off with plus one to the attackers, who still lost. That might have been a clue for setting the scene for how the game developed. Read on….

The heights, thinly held by the Austrians at this stage. The Prussians can be seen massing in the distance.

The Prussian attack spearheaded by their grenadiers and best regiments about to take fire from the Austrian artillery and infantry.

Shaun ordered one of his battalions on the heights to charge the Prussian grenadiers. It all went terribly wrong and they were broken by a combination of closing fire and cold steel. Could the gap be exploited?

As noted earlier, the Prussian first turn had seen the leading brigade get three moves which they duly took, leaving them right under the Austrian guns. They were also unsupported as the second Prussian brigade had not arrived on table, so they were dangerously exposed and were to pay the price for their enthusiasm. Marshall Schwerin was in command of the leading brigade and as in the real battle he was cut down during the attack, leaving the brigade leaderless.

Austrian reinforcements - in the nick of time I’d say!

With their first assault on the heights driven back the Prussian reserves make a belated entrance onto the table.

More of the Prussian reserve brigades.

Meanwhile over to the cavalry. The Austrian move had the Prussians  backed up against the edge of the table, which was not good.

Seemingly endless numbers of Austrian cavalry lined up to drive the Prussian cuirassiers and dragoons off the battlefield, which they duly did!

Austrians rally after defeating the Prussians. At the cost of one brigade broken they had destroyed all of Paul’s heavy cavalry - reminiscent of the Kolin refight a couple of months ago.

Austrians manoeuvre to be able to roll up the flank of the now exposed Prussian infantry.

A futile charge by two regiments of Prussian hussars failed to even reach their target and  canister from the pair of 6-pdrs broke both units.

The last of the Prussian reinforcements who will be able to cover their comrades’ retreat.

We were actually in danger of finishing before lunch so catastrophic was the defeat of the Prussian cavalry. Thankfully the Prussian infantry threw itself against the Austrian army and were blasted back from whence they came. Mutiny in the rank of the Prussian command saw the attack fizzle out as a sense of defeatism grew in the ranks. Even direct orders from Frederick (Dave by tradition is always Fred) were disregarded. All the Prussians could do was admit defeat and retire.

Now then, were he not already full of grapeshot on the slopes he failed to capture, John the Red would be en route to a damp dismal prison fortress somewhere on the Baltic coast for his insubordination.  This is a really difficult one for the Prussians as they really must hold the Austrian cavalry long enough for their infantry to get to grips with the Austrians. I admit I probably should have allowed the Prussian reserves on earlier, and I ought to have made all the Prussian commanders rash and build in some rule where the Prussian infantry have to attack regardless of the circumstances. Maybe next time?

Anyway, a great game to mark my return from holiday. I think everyone enjoyed themselves, although perhaps the Austrians enjoyed the outcome more.


  1. Fantastic looking game Colin a splendid feast of 18th century eye candy that heralds your return.


  2. Cracking looking game, lots of loveliness to pore over and take inspiration from.

  3. Well up to snuff for games from the Burrow!

  4. Entertaining and informative account Colin, thank you. Superb looking game only spoilt for me by the ubiquitous sheep!