Much to Mrs Fawr’s disgust, I’ve been playing with myself on the dining-room table again…
Earlier this month I found myself at a loose end, with a dining-room table miraculously clear of Mrs Fawr’s sh…precious things and a pressing need to refresh my knowledge of the rules we used to play mid-18th Century battles some 20+ years ago. These rules are an adaptation of Arty Conliffe’s Shako, which is a solid, fast-playing set of Napoleonic rules. The 1st Edition rules did include rules for the Seven Years War, but I didn’t like them, so instead wrote my own version (which needless to say, we called Tricorn). We found that Tricorn worked very well indeed; retaining the flavour of the period and allowing us to play both fast-paced campaign battles within the bounds of a four-hour club-night and big historical refights such as the Battles of Kunersdorf or Kolin within a single day.
A couple of months ago and during our brief respite from lockdown restrictions, I played a game with my mate Phil using Shako 2nd Edition, which sparked my renewed interest in the rules. Chris Leach, one of the co-designers of Shako also kindly posted his 2nd Edition 18th Century playtest rules on the end of one of my recent posts and that gave me some more ideas to further adapt Tricorn. I will post my Tricorn 2.0 rules here soon, along with a play-sheet.
Anyway, a lot of braincells have died since I last played the rules in 1998, so a playtest was needed. I thought I might play a game based on the Battle of Mollwitz 1741, from the War of Austrian Succession (aka 1st Silesian War) at club when Covid allows, so as a playtest I set a rather cramped version of the scenario up on my dining-room table. The scenario really needs at least a 6×4 foot table (our club has 7.5×5 foot tables, which are ideal), but my table is only 4×3 feet! 🙂
Here’s the historical map of the scenario. I’ll write up the full scenario soon. Thanks to my cramped playing area, I had to straighten up the opposing battle-lines and the fancy Austrian flank-attack would instead have to be a frontal charge! 🙂 In the actual battle, knee-deep snow slowed a lot of the movement and swirling snow severely reduced visibility at several key moments. The snow also probably degraded roundshot performance quite considerably, but to keep things simple for the purposes of play-testing, I casually disregarded these facts!
Above: Here’s the initial scene, viewed from the Prussian lines.
Above: The view along the Prussian lines from the left flank. Due to the cramped nature of the infantry deployment area, Oberst Posadowsky’s cavalry (in the foreground) have crossed over the Kleiner-Bach stream in order to find space to deploy.
Above: King Frederick and his staff supervise the deployment.
Above: Neipperg’s Austrian army is waiting for the Prussians. The Austrians are weaker in infantry and artillery, but stronger in cavalry.
Above: The view from the Austrian right flank.
Above: The battle opens with two strong Prussian batteries hammering the Austrian centre. The Austrians realise that their best chance of victory lies with Römer’s strong cavalry division on the left flank and this is immediately hurled forward to smash Schulenburg’s mixed division of cavalry and grenadiers.
Above: In the centre of Schulenburg’s line, the ‘Winterfeldt’ and ‘Bolstern’ Grenadier Battalions make a brave stand, but are utterly smashed by the charge of the Austrian cuirassiers. On their right, several squadrons of the ‘Schulenburg’ Dragoons and a single squadron of the Gens d’Armes are thrown back by Austrian dragoons. The Prussian Leib-Carabiniers make a better show of it however, and succeed in repulsing one of the Austrian cuirassier regiments.
Above: The Prussian Leib-Carabiniers charge on to glory, but are in turn thrown back by the second wave of Austrian cuirassiers. Schulenburg’s entire wing suffers a crisis of confidence and flees the field! The Austrian horsemen wheel to their right and bear down on the Prussian infantry.
Above: General Römer urges his men on to glory!
Above: On the right flank of the Prussian infantry, the Leibgarde Battalion, the ‘Kleist’ Grenadier Battalion and a battalion of the ‘Prinz Dietrich’ Regiment prepare to meet the charge.
Above: Although the Austrians are getting the worst of the unequal artillery battle in the centre, a single Austrian battery posted on the left flank makes life miserable for the Prussian Leibgarde Battalion.
Above: The rest of the Prussian and Austrian armies await the outcome of the battle on the far flank.
Above: As Römer’s cavalry charges home they are subjected to a withering hail of musketry!
Above: Braving the hail of lead, Römer’s cavalry press home their attack, but are unable to make a dent in the wall of Prussian bayonets. The Prussian Leibgarde Battalion (1st Battalion of the Garde Regiment) on the corner of the line, comes within a whisker of being swept away, but the guardsmen hold the line! If there had been any other battalion in that spot, the line would have been broken.
Above: While things get exciting on the Prussian right flank, the artillery continues to duel in the centre.
Above: Göldy’s Austrian left wing is suffering badly from the cannonade (the casualty figures indicate a ‘Staggered’ unit and the dots indicate the number of hits suffered (figures/bases are not removed in Shako. Instead each unit has a morale level (e.g 4 for line infantry) and can suffer that many hits (increased by 1 for large, 16-figure units as here) before being broken. One of the battalions in the second line has already been broken by the amount of roundshot bouncing through the formation.
Above: Römer’s first wave is beaten off and falls to the rear as the second wave charges the Prussian lines.
Above: Two more cuirassier regiments smash themselves fruitlessly against the corner of the Prussian ‘box’, though Römer’s personal dragoon regiment does somewhat better and breaks the ‘Prinz Dietrich’ Musketeers! However, upon breaking through the line, they run into the 3rd Battalion of the Garde and are soon falling back to join the cuirassiers.
Above: With casualties rapidly starting to pile up and with two of his four cuirassier regiments already broken, Römer has a crisis of confidence and his cavalry falls back to the safety of Austrian lines. However, the Austrian horse quickly rally and a messenger soon arrives from Neipperg, telling him to get back into the fight! The Austrian cavalry are soon surging forward once again, though this time with a great many empty saddles.
Above: With the Austrian cavalry driven off for the time being, Prinz Leopold starts to wheel half of his second line to the right, in order to protect the right flank of the advance from any further interference.
Above: the Prussian artillery has torn ragged gaps in the Austrian left wing and the time is ripe for the Prussians to mount a general assault.
Above: Schwerin is already leading the left wing forward against the Austrian lines and the Prussian guns start to fall silent as the infantry pass through.
Above: Posadowsky’s Prussian cavalry moves forward on the left to cover the flank of the infantry. A light battery positioned on the flank also continues to pound the Austrian horse.
Above: As the Prussian right wing advances it isn’t long before Römer’s cavalry reappear.
Above: However, Prince Leopold hasn’t yet completed his redeployment to protect the right flank!
Above: The ‘Kleist’ Grenadiers, having been left behind by the main body and unsupported by Prince Leopold, are soon overwhelmed by the Austrian cuirassiers!
Above: While the ‘Kleist’ Grenadiers keep the Austrian cavalry busy on the right flank, the rest of the first line of the Prussian right wing pushes forward to engage the crumbling Austrian left wing more closely. This is all too much for the Austrian infantry as having already been crushed by the Prussian artillery, they flee the field.
Above: The view of the whole battlefield from the Prussian left flank.
Above: Having broken the ‘Kleist’ Grenadiers, the Austrian cuirassiers fall back to rally. In front of the Prussians, Göldy’s Austrian left wing, dismayed by the heavy losses suffered from artillery, has broken and fled the field! The Prussian gunners have now swung their guns around and will soon be sending canister into the packed ranks of Austrian cuirassiers.
Above: Not waiting to remain stationary under artillery fire, the Austrian cuirassiers charge once again, aiming for the vulnerable end of the Prussian line. However, the cuirassiers run into a withering hail of fire from Prince Leopold’s infantry and are broken. Römer’s Austrian cavalry division again falls back to consider its options and the Prussian right wing resumes its advance.
Above: Schwerin’s Prussian left wing, with Kalckstein’s division in the lead, finally engages the Austrian infantry.
Above: Having been largely ignored by the Prussian artillery, Browne’s Austrian right wing has only suffered very light casualties thus far and now looses a devastating volley into the advancing Prussians.
Above: Kalckstein’s infantry very much get the worst of the opening volleys, suffering heavy casualties. However, they reorder their lines more quickly than the Austrians and launch a charge into the disordered whitecoats!
Above: Although outnumbered and outmatched by Berlichgen’s Austrian horse, Posadowky crosses the stream and launches a charge to support the infantry attack.
Above: The leading Austrian cuirassier regiment (here with the blue standard) has already suffered heavy casualties from a Prussian battery and is swiftly broken by the charge of the Prussian cuirassiers. The Prussian cuirassiers break through, but are in turn repulsed by the next Austrian cuirassier regiment. The Prussian ‘Platen’ Dragoons meanwhile, recoil from the phalanx of Austrian dragoons.
Above: Following up their success, the Austrian cavalry break through to strike the second line of Prussian cavalry and throw those horsemen back as well!
Above: However, the two leading Austrian cavalry regiments are now on blown horses. Some of the Prussian cavalry quickly rally behind the guns and charge again, throwing back the over-confident Austrian horse!
Above: The infantry combat meanwhile, is a similarly mixed affair. As expected, the two grenadier battalions on the Prussian left flank do well, breaking one Austrian battalion and throwing back another, forcing Browne to commit two battalions from his second line. However, Prussian battalions, already weakened by musketry, are also starting to break, forcing Prince Leopold to feed some of his reserve battalions into the combat. However, the Prussians have a significant numerical advantage and are poised to roll up the Austrian left flank.
Above: However, Römer’s Austrian cavalry remains a significant threat and instead of rolling up the Austrian infantry with his full weight, Marwitz is forced to wheel several battalions to the right to meet the renewed cavalry threat.
Above: Nevertheless, the Browne’s Austrian infantry are slowly being crushed by the Prussian assault and Neipperg is forced to evacuate his field headquarters!
Above: However, there is still a slim chance for an Austrian victory, as Kalckstein’s Prussian infantry have suffered very heavy losses and are starting to waver. The cavalry battle on the flank is also still far from decided.
Above: As the Austrian cuirassiers charge the Prussian grenadiers on the left flank of the line, a Prussian infantry battalion from the second line moves forward to support the grenadiers’ flank, with the Prussian cuirassiers charging again on their flank.
Above: The Prussian infantry successfully beat off the Austrian cavalry, though the Prussian cuirassiers aren’t so lucky and are forced to retreat for a second time! The Austrian dragoons this time wisely choose not to follow up and instead fall back to rally out of Prussian musket-range.
Above: Browne’s infantry start to crumble as both flanks fold up under assault from Prussian infantry. By some miracle, Kalckstein’s Prussian infantry manage to stay in the fight, despite having suffered very heavy casualties. Prince Leopold meanwhile, keeps plugging gaps with battalions from his second line, as Marwitz overruns Neipperg’s former headquarters.
Above: Posadowsky once again rallies his cavalry and is now in a significantly better state than Berlichgen’s Austrian horse, who have suffered heavier casualties.
Above: Over on the opposite flank, Römer’s last-ditch attempt to disrupt the Prussian assault has failed! The Prussian Leibgarde Battalion (with the musket smoke in front of it) once more comes within a whisker of being broken (for the second time today!), but again manages to hold its ground and drive off the Austrian cavalry! Römer’s lads have finally had enough and flee the field.
Above: As his division disintegrates around him, Browne makes his last stand with one resolute Austrian battalion.
Above: Posadowsky moves forward again to complete the rout of the Austrian army!
Above: With two cuirassier regiments broken and two dragoon regiments in full retreat, Berlichgen mounts a desperate rearguard with the ‘Württemberg’ Dragoons, though they are soon sent packing by the Prussian dragoons.
The young King of Prussia has won his first battle!
Anyway, it sounds like the turkey is finally out of the oven and we’re about to take it to the daughter’s house, so I’m signing off now to get stuffed! Everyone please do have a very Merry Christmas and stay safe! 🙂