The Combat of Zinna 1759: The Refight

In my last post I presented a scenario for the Combat of Zinna (or First Torgau) 1759, fought between Prussian and Austro-Imperial forces during the Seven Years War.  As mentioned in that post, my mate Andy James and I played through the scenario last month, so here’s how it went. 

If you haven’t done so already, have a look at my last post for details of the background history and the scenario itself.  You’ll also find an outline of my Tricorn conversion of Shako rules in the next-previous post.

The role of Austrian Generalfeldzeugmeister Friedrich Daniel, Freiherr von Saint-André in this feature will be played by Andy, while the role of Prussian Generalmajor Johann Jakob von Wunsch will be played by a cross-dressing Welshman with a pitchfork…

Above:  The Austro-Imperial forces are shown in white and the Prussians in blue.  Only the Trautmannsdorff Cuirassiers and the Grenzer were Austrian Army units.  The rest of the army was made up of units from the Imperial Reichsarmee of dubious value.  The Imperial cavalry were particularly bad, though the Pfalz Garde zu Fuss Regiment and the Hessen-Darmstädt Regiment were reliable troops.  On the Prussian side, this bunch of Frei-Battalions and high-numbered Fusilier Regiments would normally be assumed to be the worst of the Prussian Army, but in fact, these units repeatedly proved themselves to be the equals of the better-regarded Prussian regiments.

Above:  The Reichsarmee deploy as per the map.  They are essentially in their camp positions and have just formed up from their tents, so if you’re planning on refighting the battle, I wouldn’t allow any form of flexible deployment for the Reichsarmee.

Above:  The Reichsarmee are also limited in that they have enforced Defend orders.  Under the standard rules, ADCs cannot be sent with fresh orders until the end of Turn 2, so they can’t do much except passively react to the Prussian attack until Turn 4 at the earliest.  They can however re-deploy within their allotted sectors of the line once the Prussians come within 12 inches.

Above:  A close-up of the Reichsarmee cavalry.  The Austrian Trautmansdorff Cuirassiers (on the right of the first line) are the best regiment on the table, in either army (Morale 6 and a large unit, meaning that they can take an extra hit).  The rest of the cavalry is awful (Morale 3).

Above:  The view of the Reichsarmee from Zinna.  There is only a single cavalry regiment, the bloody awful Kurpfalz Cuirassiers, posted on this flank.  The remnants of the Grenzer skirmish out in front, haven fallen back from the Ratsweinberg.

Above:  I did actually manage to find a lot of the necessary Reichsarmee regiments in my collection and also managed to paint some battalions in the week leading up to the game, but the part of the four-battalion Kurmainz Regiment in this feature is being played by four battalions of Bavarians (on the left of the first line).  On the left of the second line I also used a freshly-painted battalion of the Baden-Durlach Regiment and a battalion of the Kurtrier Regiment as stand-ins for the 1st and 2nd Battalions of the Ernestinisch-Sachsen Regiment (an interesting unit from many contingents, which historically included at least four different uniforms, with coats of both blue and white cloth!).  With its dozens of contingents and bewildering array of uniforms, the ramshackle hullaballoo of the Reichsarmee certainly does make a very attractive wargames army, if a bit rubbish… 🙂

Above:  The painfully-thin line of Wunsch’s Prussian army deploys on the forward slopes of the Ratsweinberg.  Lossberg’s combined unit of hussar and dragoon squadrons is hidden beyond the Zinna Ridge, formed up in column and preparing to ride around the enemy’s left flank.  While I did have the option to completely change Wunsch’s historical deployment, it seemed perfectly good as it was, so I went with the historical line-up.

Above:  Unlike the Reichsarmee, I had hardly any of the necessary Prussian units for this battle; just the Willemy Grenadier Battalion (4/16) and the Hoffmann Füsiliers (IR 41), plus a couple of Lossberg’s hussar squadrons.    However, the Wunsch Frei-Regiment wore very similar uniforms to my two recently-painted Frei-Battalions and the rose-pink saddlery of the Meinicke Dragoons (DR 3) in my collection looks very similar to that of the Plettenberg Dragoons (DR 7), although the Plettenberg Dragoons had coats with red facings.  I just used random Füsilier and Grenadier Battalions for the remaining units. 

Above:  Wunsch’s Jäger Detachment moves forward to engage the Grenzer.  I actually had some very similarly-uniformed regular Fuss-Jäger waiting to be painted, so quickly knocked these up before the game.

Above:  Wunsch’s 12pdrs deploy on the Ratsweinberg and prepare to fire.  The enemy are only just in range, but the 12pdrs should be able to shake the nerves of the inexperienced Reichsarmee troops.

Above:  As the Prussians move forward, Major Lossberg’s cavalry move quickly to outflank the enemy.

Above:  The Prussian right wing moves forward to engage the Reichsarmee left.  

Above:  Wolfersdorff’s left wing has delayed its march by a turn, in an effort to refuse the left wing.  Pogrell’s Dragoons wait to see what the Imperial cavalry do.

Above:  An overview of the battlefield at the end of Turn 2.

Above:  The 12pdrs have started to do their work, causing casualties and disruption among the Kurmainz Regiment.  

Above:  Lossberg makes his move and charges over the ridge!  

Above:  Historically, Lossberg’s attack came as a complete surprise and fell upon the flanks and rear of the Reichsarmee.  However, I was feeling generous as Andy hasn’t played since the 90s and allowed him to turn the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers to face when Lossberg came within 12 inches (a fleeing Grenzer must have shouted a warning as he came sprinting past…).  I was going to attack with Lossberg in column to maximise speed and surprise, but as this was going to be a frontal mêlée, I formed Lossberg’s lads into line before charging.

Above:  Not that it mattered, as the Dice Gods were with the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers… (The small dice show the starting factors (5 v 3) and the large dice show the subsequent roll (3 v 6), making a total of 8 v 9 to the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers!  With a difference of 1, Lossberg takes the casualty and retreats… Bah!

Above:  A Breakthrough charge takes the victorious Kurpfalz Cuirassiers to the top of the ridge, where they will have a +1 defensive advantage when/if Lossberg charges again.  However, they now take 1 casualty for cavalry fatigue, so Lossberg won’t have the -1 disadvantage for having more casualties.  It could have all gone horribly wrong if Lossberg failed to rally his cavalry, but he thankfully manages to halt the retreat (by rolling less than their MR of 5).  The cavalry of both sides now mill about rallying for a turn, shouting insults.  Even if Lossberg finally wins, the taunting afterwards is going to be intolerable…

Above:  Near Zinna, skirmisher fire also starts to find its mark as both the Jäger and the Grenzer suffer casualties.  The battalion guns are also now starting to do damage.  In the Imperial 2nd line, Ernestinisch-Sachsen Regiment refuses its flank, in case the Prussian cavalry reappears.

Above:  By the end of Turn 5, the Imperial cavalry are on the move!  One ADC carrying the order had failed to arrive, but Saint-André had wisely sent two ADCs with the same message.  The Prussian 12pdrs slew their guns around and open fire from the Ratsweinberg, but only do very minor damage to the Trautmansdorff Cuirassiers.

Above:  Having seen the ADCs galloping toward the enemy cavalry, Wolfersdorff wisely decided to refuse his left flank with the 2nd Battalion of the Wunsch Frei-Regiment, the Burgsdorf Grenadier Battalion and the battalion guns.  Expecting the Imperial cavalry to attack the flank of the infantry, Wunsch sends an ADC to Oberst Pogrel, ordering him and his Dragoons t0 attack!

Above:  However, the Imperial cavalry don’t seem interested in Wolfersdorff’s infantry and are instead making a bee-line for the Plettenberg Dragoons.  The arrival of the ADC with his packet of orders now seems somewhat superfluous…

Above:  At last, the Prussian line closes to within musketry range…

Above:  As the two lines open fire on each other, the field is suddenly wreathed in strangely-fibrous powder-smoke…  The 2nd Battalion of the Kurmainz Regiment take the worst of it and are already close to breaking.

Above:  Anticipating the forthcoming assault, Saint-André shifts his second line over to the left and brings the Alt-Wurttemberg Regiment (in their funky little yellow hats that they decided to wear against all historical advice) across the river.

Above:  The Kurmainz Regiment might be getting hammered, but they’re also dishing it out to the Hessen-Kassel Füsiliers.

Above:  On the Prussian left flank, the 2nd Battalion of Frei-Regiment Wunsch fires a volley at the Imperial cuirassiers, but to no effect.

Above:  Having shaken the Kurmainz Regiment with firepower, the Prussian infantry launch their first charge, as the Willemy Grenadier Battalion and both battalions of the Hessen-Kassel Füsiliers charge into the 1st & 2nd Battalions of the Kurmainz Regiment.  At Zinna, Frei-Regiment Wunsch has cleared away the last of the Grenzer, so the Jäger switch to harassing the Ernestinisch-Sachsen Regiment in the Imperial second line.

Above:  Assisted by battalion guns, the Kurmainz Regiment halt the 1st Battalion of the Hessen-Kassel Füsiliers, but the 2nd Battalion charges home, as does the Willemy Grenadier Battalion.

Above:  Although one battalion didn’t make it into contact, the remaining two Prussian battalions smash the Kurmainz Regiment; the 2nd Battalion is destroyed outright, while the 1st Battalion flees with heavy casualties, disordering the Ernestinisch-Sachsen Regiment as they do so.  The 1st Battalion then fails to rally from its retreat and the survivors flee into the forest to the rear.  Some very startled regimental gunners also take to their heels!

Above:  Back at Zinna, Lossberg has issued a tot of brandy to his cavalrymen (he rolled a 6 on his initiative die and was able to restore the lost casualty) and charges back up the ridge against the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers!  Again, the basic MR odds are 5 versus 3, but the cuirassiers are now defending the ridge, so bump their number up to 4.  However, as the Prussians have made good their losses, the Imperials suffer -1 for greater losses, so the odds go back to 5 v 3.

I didn’t record the actual dice-rolls, but the Prussians won by a considerable margin and the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers were swept from the field, though secure in the knowledge that they would always have bragging-rights for beating off a Prussian cavalry charge…  

Above:  On the opposite flank, Pogrell and the Plettenburg Dragoons, full of confidence in the Superiority of Prussian Arms (except in the Artillery Arm, who can’t hit a verdammt barn door, it seems!), charge into the Trautmansdorff Cuirassiers, who remain largely untroubled by the Prussian 12pdrs…  In a show of solidarity, the Reichsarmee’s Bayreuth Cuirassiers also throw themselves into the fight.  

(To go all gamey for a moment; the Prussian Plettenburg Dragoons have their base MR 5, while the Austrian Trautmansdorff Cuirassiers have MR 6.  However, they’ve taken a hit from the artillery, so take a -1 for more casualties, bringing them down to 5.  The Bayreuth Cuirassiers have MR 3 with no modifiers.)

Above:  It might have been an even fight between the Prussian Dragoons and Austrian Cuirassiers, but the Dice Gods inflict a crushing defeat on Pogrell and his dragoons flee with four hits (one more hit before they break)!  Having defeated the Prussian dragoons, the Imperial cuirassiers decide to make breakthrough charges in order to get out of the 12pdrs’ arc of fire.

(Note that I made a mistake here – the breakthrough charges should be made at half speed (5 inches), whereas I let them move their full 10 inch move.  C’est la guerre…)

Above:  The right wing of the Reichsarmee infantry waits for the battle to come to them.

Above:  As the Prussian infantry begin breaking through on the Reichsarmee left, the rest of the Reichsarmee infantry slowly start wheeling back away from the breakthrough, in an attempt to prevent them from being rolled up.

Above:  Another view of the same action: On the left, the 2nd Battalion of the Ernestisnich-Sachsen Regiment is utterly smashed by the combined weight of the Willemy Grenadiers and the 1st Battalion of the Hessen-Kassel Füsiliers.

Above:  On the right flank of the Reichsarmee infantry, the 1st Battalion of the Franconian Hohenlohe Regiment crosses over the stream to more closely support the rest of the first line.

Above:  Spurred on by the success of the first line of cavalry, the second line now has a crack at Wolfendorff’s left-flanking battalions.  Carefuly staying out of the line of fire of the Burgsdorf Grenadiers, the Hohenzollern Cuirassiers (manfully ignoring the fact that they’ve already taken long-range hits from the Prussian 12pdrs) charge the 2nd Battalion of the Wunsch Frei-Regiment…  and are slaughtered…

Above:  The Prussian right wing charges again, this time victimising the 1st Battalion of the Ernestinisch-Sachsen Regiment and their supporting battalion guns.  The other three Füsilier battalions move forward to engage in a sharp firefight with the 3rd & 4th Battalions of the Kurmainz Regiment.  The Jäger and Lossberg’s cavalry meanwhile move down from the ridge to assist with rolling up the Imperial flank

Above:  The Ernestinisch-Sachsen Regiment is overwhelmed by the assault, but on the left of the Prussian line, the Hoffmann Füsiliers are being shredded by fire from the Kurmainz Regiment, the Pfalz Garde zu Fuss and their supporting battalion guns.

Above:  Wolfersdorf could really use his two remaining battalions about now, but they’re busy fending off the Ansbach Dragoons, who have wisely decided not to attack the angry Prussian infantry!  Wolfersdorff’s battalion guns are busy banging away at the threatening Imperial right wing, but are most surprised to see a pair of Austrian ADCs galloping through their position (note to self: add a rule, stating that ADCs must stay at least 6 inches away from enemy units)!

Above:  The ADCs are on their way to the commander of the Imperial cavalry, who is now once again engaging the rallied remnants of the Plettenberg Dragoons at the foot of the Ratsweinberg.  Saint-André has realised that the cavalry orders only told them to attack the enemy dragoons and then the Ratsweinberg battery.  He needs them to come back urgently and attack the rear of the Prussian infantry!

Above:  The Prussian 12pdrs try to save the Plettenberg Dragoons, but to little effect.  The Dice Gods are not with the Prussian gunners today.

Above:  The Imperial left wing has now been completely destroyed by the Prussian assault.  However, the Prussian Hoffmann Füsiliers, on the left of the Prussian line, have been broken by Imperial fire.  And the next two battalions are also being heavily damaged by the surprising weight of fire from the two surviving battalions of the Kurmainz Regiment!

Above:  Both Imperial infantry commands are now demoralised, which means that all units get a -1 mêlée modifier and will automatically break if they are forced to retreat from combat.  The Imperial infantry are split into 1st Line and 2nd Line commands, so have both suffered roughly equal casualties (3 battalions plus guns from the 1st Line and 2 battalions plus guns from the 2nd Line).  If they had been split like the Prussians, into Left & Right Wings, the Left Wing would now be completely broken, while the Right Wing would be completely intact.  The best Imperial troops, namely the Pfalz Garde zu Fuss and the Hessen-Darmstädt Regiments, have yet to be seriously engaged, though the Garde have suffered casualties from artillery.

Above:  The Ansbach Dragoons retire from the threat of Prussian musketry (not really in the spirit of ‘Attack’ orders! 🙂 ).  This gives Wolfersdorff the opportunity to get those two battalions moving and attack the Imperial infantry.

Above:  Sadly it wasn’t to be Oberst Pogrell’s day, as his dragoons were finished off in short order by the Trautmansdorff Cuirassiers.  A slightly panicking General Wunsch orders his artillery commander to start slewing his 12pdrs around!

Above:  Lossberg’s cavalry now re-enter the battle, launching a charge deep into the Imperial flank.  The 2nd Battalion of the Baden-Baden Regiment stands no chance as the vengeful Prussian horsemen hit their open flank.  The Alt-Württemberg Regiment fires a volley in support, but to no effect and the Badeners are annihilated!

(Lossberg’s cavalry use their frontal MR of 5, reduced by 1 for having greater losses = 4.  The Badeners use their flank MR of 0 (so +4 v +0).  Cavalry against infantry not in ‘Solid Line’ only need to beat their opponent to break them. so even if the Badeners roll a 6, the cavalry only have to roll 3 or more to break them, which they do.)

Above:  Having broken the Badeners, Lossberg launches an immediate breakthrough charge against the Alt-Württemberg Regiment.  The Württembergers have already fired a volley, so present bayonets to receive the charge. 

The Württembergers are clearly made of sterner stuff and repulse Lossberg’s cavalry with ease!

(Lossberg again gets his frontal MR, minus 1 for greater losses = 4.  He’s still at an advantage against the Württembergers’ frontal MR of 3, but still manages to lose by three points on the dice roll, so takes the three hits and retreats.)

Above:  Near the bridge, Wolfersdorff has cunningly used his infantry’s superior abilities at foot-drill to insert a column behind the Imperial infantry’s right flank (note the use of MDF arrow markers to show that the Prussian infantry are in column).  However, the Ansbach Dragoons aren’t going to let them off the hook that easily!

Above:  Back at the Ratsweinberg meanwhile, the Imperial Bayreuth Cuirassiers have a rush of blood to the pallasch and charge the guns!  Wunsch has a spectacular view of the action as the Prussian gunners pick up rammers, buckets and worm-screws to comprehensively defeat the Imperial horsemen!

(The gunners have MR 3, +1 for defending the hill = 4.  The Bayreuth Cuirassiers also have MR 3, but have already taken a casualty, so take -1 for greater losses = 2 (so 4 v 2).  The Bayreuth Cuirassiers only have to beat the gunners by 1 to destroy them, but fluff their roll and are themselves destroyed)

Above:  “MARIA THERESA ON A VELOCIPEDE!”  What’s happened here?!

Above:  The Prussian centre has completely collapsed in a single charge by the Reichsarmee infantry!  The 1st Battalion of the Baden-Baden Regiment took revenge for the loss of their 2nd Battalion by routing the 1st Battalion of the Hessen-Kassel Füsiliers, while the Kurmainz Regiment routed the Hessen-Kassel 2nd Battalion and completely destroyed the Salmuth Füsiliers!

Above:  Obviously, this was all part of Wunsch’s plan… Inspired by Hannibal at Cannae, he’s planned for his centre to give ground, allowing his elites to then crush the enemy flanks inward… Obviously…

What wasn’t part of the plan was that the retreating battalion would fail to rally and that both Prussian infantry wings would now become demoralised…

And it had all been going so well…

On the plus side for the Prussians, the loss of the Bayreuth Cuirassiers meant that the Imperial cavalry wing was also now demoralised.

Above:  We might be demoralised, but we’re determined to give those uppity Imperials a damned-good taste of our Prussian spunk!  With that in mind, the Burgsdorf Grenadiers insert themselves into the Hohenlohes’ rear!

Above:  Meanwhile, the 2nd Battalion of the Wunsch Frei-Regiment successfully fend off the unwanted attentions of the Ansbach Dragoons!  

Above:  I’m not sure what they are worried about, but the Alt-Württemberg Regiment and Pfalz Garde zu Fuss back away to the riverbank, along with the last remaining battalion guns.

Above:  The two surviving battalions of the Kurmainz Regiment advance and deliver a crushing volley into the surviving Prussian battalion guns.  The gunners flee, taking with them two more morale points… With a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach, Wunsch checks his roster and realises that his right wing has now reached exactly 50% losses… 🙁

Above:  Back at the Ratsweinberg, the Trautmansdorff Cuirassiers might be demoralised, but they’re more than a match for those Prussian gunners!  

(The cuirassiers start with MR 6, -1 for greater losses and -1 for demoralisation = 4.  The gunners have MR 3, +1 for defending the hill = 4.  So an even fight, but the cuirassiers only have to beat them by 1…)

Above:  Which of course they do… Then followed up by a breakthrough charge, which destroys the second 12pdr battery, right in front of the horrified Wunsch!

Above:  Lossberg has taken casualties, but his men are still keen for a scrap.  However, there’s nothing he can do to save the situation.

Above:  The Wunsch Jäger continue to take pot-shots at the Württembergers.  While not exactly battle-winners, this tiny group of skirmishers has been a constant pain in the arse to the Imperial left flank throughout the day, rolling a remarkable number of sixes!

Above:  However, with the 50% casualty threshold having been reached (two elite battalions with MR 5 and the battalion guns with MR 2 = 12.  The remaining units are the grenadiers with MR 5, the Frei-Battalion with MR 4 and the Jäger with MR 3 = 12), the Prussian right wing requires a morale-check.  We roll a 2 and the right wing disintegrates! 🙁

With a formation having been destroyed (the second formation, in fact – we lost Pogrell’s small command earlier), an Army Morale check is required.  We add up the total MR value of all the lost formations (24 for the right Wing and 5 for Pogrell = 29) and then add the MR value of the lost Army-level artillery (6) = 35.  We’re well over the maximum 50% threshold, so it’s Goodnight Vienna (or Torgau?) for Wunsch’s Prussians! 🙁

Above:  The gleeful Reichsarmee jeers the fleeing Prussians on their way… We’re never going to hear the bloody end of this… 🙁

This entry was posted in 15mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Games, Seven Years War & War of Austrian Succession, Shako Rules, Tricorn (18th Century Shako Rules). Bookmark the permalink.

14 Responses to The Combat of Zinna 1759: The Refight

  1. Steve J says:

    Well, what a beautiful looking game and a great AAR. I love the whole feel of the Reichsarmee, but in my games they have never done anything of note, other than disappear faster than Summer mist! However they do look great. So a win for them in your game is a delight to see:).

    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks Steve! Yes, but that’s only because they were playing for someone else against me! The traitorous little sods will collapse faster than a Russian invasion plan if I ever try to command them…

  2. Ian Wilson says:

    Quite the epic!
    Thanks for sharing such an exhaustive AAR and well done on the layout and the figures. Love big battles in this big period.

  3. David says:

    Great game and AAR! I love the Reichsarmée (the absolute underdogs of the SYW) so am delighted they did so well. 🙂

    (Must get on with doing flags for the Reichsarmée too!)



    • jemima_fawr says:

      Thanks David! 🙂 Ah, well if you are planning on doing the Reichsarmee flags, start with the cavalry (particularly the Kurpfalz Cuirassiers and Ansbach Dragoons), so I can replace my stand-in Austrian standards. 🙂



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