As mentioned in recent posts, I’ve been steadily working toward completing the Reichsarmee and last week I finally had enough finished to field all the Reichsarmee units present at the Combat of Strehla. For the Prussians I managed to do the first few units of Kleist’s Freikorps, including Kleist himself and for the Austrians I refurbished a few units, sprucing up their bases for the game. As I was on a roll, I also spruced up around thirty pieces of earthworks (breastworks, flêches, redoubts and batteries) that had lain unloved in a box since they were ripped off the terrain-boards for W.A.S.P.‘s Bautzen 1813 demo-game over 25 years ago!
So with the troops and terrain-pieces ready to go, we convened last weekend at the Carmarthen Old Guard‘s monthly Big Game Saturday. I detailed the historical background and scenario for Strehla last month, so I won’t repeat myself here. Follow the link if you haven’t already seen it. As usual, the rules to be used were Tricorn, being my SYW adaptation of Shako Napoleonic rules.
We were sadly a man down on the day, leaving only three players. I had hoped to lead my beloved Reichsarmee to a glorious victory, but instead took the Prussians, while Andy and Kirk took the Reichsarmee. Bah.
Having initially set up the troops in their ‘map’ positions (as shown in the first few photos below), each side made some minor adjustments to their deployment, as permitted in the scenario. The map after redeployment looked like this (below):
Above: The battlefield as seen from the south (the same orientation as the map above). Although it’s not that obvious in the photos, the first contour of the larger hills is actually formed by a layer of polystyrene placed under the terrain-cloth. The second contours of the Dürren-Berg and Otten-Berg were then placed on top of the cloth. I decided to leave off the very small ring-contours of the Liebschützer-Berg, Sittel-Berg and Latten-Berg.
I’ve also just noticed that the hamlet of Zausswitz (represented by the large house in front of the main Reichsarmee corps) is in the wrong position; it should be further out to the west, due south of Sahlassen. Ah well, it didn’t make any difference to the game.
Above: The view from the western edge of the battlefield, with the Austro-Imperial flanking columns in the foreground, aiming to assault the Prussian outpost on the Dürren-Berg.
Above: The view from the eastern edge of the battlefield. This flank of the battlefield was anchored on the wide River Elbe and the large riverside town of Strehla.
Above: Zedtwitz’s Austro-Imperial cavalry division forms the right flank of Zweibrücken’s Main Corps, comprising two Austrian and two Imperial cuirassier regiments. However, while this deployment made good sense during the approach-march, they’re now stuck facing Strehla and the entrenchments, with the Elbe blocking any attempt at a flanking move. The very first order transmitted by Zweibrücken during the game would be to order Zedwitz to move his cavalry to the centre.
Above: Zweibrücken’s Main Corps consists of seventeen Reichsarmee battalions and five Imperial auxiliary battalions. While they do look pretty, they are mostly bloody awful! Two batteries from the Reichsreserveartillerie have deployed in front of the army, but they are heavily out-gunned by Hülsen’s Prussians, who have 36 heavy guns (six batteries in game terms)!
Above: Another shameless view of my very pretty Reichsarmee. Zweibrücken and his staff observe the Prussian lines and wait for the flank-attack to start.
Above: On Zweibrücken’s left, Guasco’s Grenadier Corps has deployed onto the Otten-Berg feature and is meant to be launching an assault on Clanzschwitz and the Dürren-Berg beyond. However, he has deployed his guns and seems content to wait while the gunners do their work.
Above: The crest of the Otten-Berg was fortified during the previous century by Gustavus Adolphus’ Swedish Army. However, the old earthworks were not occupied by the Prussians and will play no part in this battle.
Above: Guasco’s Grenadier Corps includes a dazzling array of colours, including as it does, grenadier companies from 24 different regiments; most in bearskin caps, but some wearing Prussian-style mitre caps. Historically these were organised into six four-company ad hoc grenadier battalions, but as these were very weak, I’ve rationalised this into four battalions for game purposes; one Austrian and three Imperial. Guasco’s Corps also includes the Austrian Pallavicini (2 bns) and Sachsen-Gotha (1 bn) Infantry Regiments, the Imperial Hohenzollern Cuirassiers (with some attached Austrian elite Carabinier and Horse Grenadier companies) and a detachment from the Reichsreserveartillerie. However, it’s just occurred to me while looking at this photo that I completely forgot to deploy the battalion of the Sachsen-Gotha Regiment on the table! 🙂
Above: On the western edge of the battlefield, the Prince of Würzburg’s Reserve Infantry Division is deploying onto the Liebschützer-Berg feature, above the hamlet of Liebschütz. Würzburg has the Austrian Luzan and Macquire Regiments (1 bn apiece), another Austrian grenadier battalion and the Imperial Kurtrier (1 bn) and Pfalz-Zweibrücken (2 bns) Regiments. However Würzburg, like Guasco, has opted to halt his infantry while his gunners (limited to just a few battalion guns) soften up the Prussians on the Dürren-Berg.
Above: On Würzburg’s left, Kleefeld’s Auxiliary Corps is made of sterner stuff. Kleefeld had the Imperial Blau-Würzburg Regiment (2 bns), two Grenzer battalions and a weak grenadier battalion under his command. His mission is to circumvent the Dürren-Berg position via the Laas woods and attack the Prussians from the rear.
Above: On the extreme left flank, the Prince of Nassau-Usingen, Colonel of the Austrian Pfalz-Zweibrücken Chevauxléger Regiment, has been tasked with cutting off the Prussian lines of retreat. For this task he has his own regiment, reinforced by the Austrian Baranyay Hussars and the Pfalz Kurfürstin Dragoon Regiment.
Above: So to the Prussian side of the battlefield: At Strehla the southern end of the town is prepared for defence and occupied by the Wunsch Frei-Infanterie. The Manstein Grenadier Battalion meanwhile, has occupied the hamlet of Klein-Rügeln, supported by battalion guns. The Wunsch Frei-Infanterie Jäger Detachment, the Prussian Feldjäger-zu-Fuss and elements of the ex-Saxon Hauss Fusiliers are deployed as picquets along the stream-bank.
Above: The bulk of Hülsen’s Prussians (9 battalions) are dug in behind a strong line of entrenchments on the high ground just to the west of Strehla. This position was built by Prince Henry’s of Prussia’s corps during the previous year’s campaign.
Above: The main Prussian position is very strong in heavy artillery and will be a very tough nut for the Imperial troops to crack.
Above: Another view of the Prussian entrenchments. I must say that I’m really pleased with how the refurbished entrenchment models look! 🙂
Above: The Prussian regular cavalry forms up to the west of the earthworks. This consists of the Kleist (or ‘Green’) Hussars (HR 1) and the Schorlemmer (or ‘Porcellain’) Dragoons (DR 6). Both regiments had ten squadrons apiece, so were very large and are represented by two tactical battalions (only two Prussian dragoon regiments had ten squadrons; most had five squadrons). Dragoon squadrons were around one-third stronger than hussar squadrons, so the dragoon battalions are large 16-figure units. However, I don’t yet have one of the two large dragoon regiments painted, so I’ve used two different regiments to represent the Schorlemmer Dragoons.
Above: To the rear of the regular cavalry regiments are two embryonic regiments of Kleist’s new Freikorps; the Dragoons in green coats and bearskin caps and the Hussars, in their nausea-inducing uniform of orange-red and vomit-green. These are the two most recently-raised units in the army and are the most recently-painted units on the table… They’re doomed…
Above: Out on the far Prussian right flank, Generalmajor von Braun has reinforced his detachment atop the ancient hill-fort of the Dürren-Berg with several battalions and a detachment of 12pdr heavy artillery, in response to the detected Imperial flank-march.
Above: In front of the Dürren-Berg, the hamlet of Clanzschwitz has been occupied by the Lossow Grenadier Battalion (IV. Standing Grenadier Battalion) and prepared for defence. On the high ground behind the village, the 12pdr battery, protected by the Lubath Grenadier Battalion (GB 7/30), is positioned to engage Guasco’s Imperial Grenadier Corps on the Otten-Berg.
Above: The view from the top of the Dürren-Berg. From right to left, the position is occupied by the two battalions of the Braunschweig-Bevern Infantry Regiment (IR 7), the Beyer Grenadier Battalion (GB 11/14) and the I. Battalion of the ex-Saxon Hauss Fusilier Regiment (IR 55). After this photo was taken, Braun pulled the 12pdr detachment up to the top of the hill (facing west) and placed the Lubath Grenadiers at right-angles on the right of the line, essentially forming three sides of a square. Braun was later to regret not pulling the Lossow Grenadiers in from Clanzschwitz…
The sharp-eyed will of course notice that the Hauss Fusiliers on the left are incorrectly wearing grenadier-pattern mitre caps. These were actually the very last SYW troops I painted prior to losing my SYW mojo in the late 90s. I needed two battalions of this regiment for a refight of the Battle of Kunersdorf back in the 1990s and painted them according to the Osprey book description of the ex-Saxon regiments wearing grenadier caps to mask the fact that they were rather unreliable… In fact they didn’t even wear the fusilier caps described by Duffy in his book and instead just wore ordinary hats. Ah, well… 🙂
Above: General von Hülsen and his staff wait for the enemy to make their next move. Observing nearby is the ever-present correspondent for the Times of London, Sir Aiden Catey, who has survived numerous cavalry charges, ‘accidental’ bounce-throughs and blatant assassination attempts over the years.
Above: In front of Sir Aiden, a Prussian field-postman accuses a cavalry Flügeladjutant of ‘looking at him in a funny way’.
While observing this amusing altercation, Sir Aiden completely forgot to take watercolour sketches of the opening moves of the battle…
Above: In the meantime, most of the Austro-Imperial commanders on the left wing had opened their packets of orders, turned to their aides and said “Ficken das für ein spiel auf soldaten!”
As described in the scenario, the flank-marching Austro-Imperial divisions are required to roll dice to execute their orders at the start of the scenario. Otherwise they simply sit and engage in an artillery-duel (as per the historical events) until new orders are received from the C-in-C and acted upon. Somewhat remarkably, the dice-rolling exactly mirrors the historical events! Guasco and Würzburg fail to enact their orders, leaving Kleefeld to carry on alone. The cavalry on the left flank executes its orders after a delay.
Above: As Kleefeld’s Grenzer begin to make a nuisance of themselves on the north side of the Dürren-Berg position, the 12pdr battery (in the foreground) opens up on the Hungarian Nikolaus Esterházy Regiment (IR 33). The Austrian battalion gunners return fire, cutting down some of the Prussian gunners, but the Prussians slew their heavy guns around and load canister, quickly annihilating the impertinent Austrian guns.
It’s probably worth mentioning at this point that we had a power-cut for about 20 minutes, so this photo and the next three are a bit gloomy!
Above: On the other side of the Laas Wood, the Prince of Nassau-Usingen leads the Austro-Imperial cavalry forward against the Kleist Freikorps. He orders the Baranyay Hussars to fall back to the second line and the red-coated Imperial Kurfürstin Dragoons (another freshly-painted regiment!) to take their place on the left flank.
Above: Kleist meanwhile, has turned his regular cavalry around and they are now riding to assist the Freikorps. However, the enemy cavalry will get there first!
Above: Nassau-Usingen wastes no time in launching his charge! His own regiment, the blue-coated Zweibrücken Chevauxlégers (ChR 39) charge the green-coated Kleist Freikorps Dragoons with the Baranyay Hussars in support. The Kurfürstin Dragoons meanwhile, hit the Kleist Freikorps Hussars.
Above: Despite having a slight advantage, the initial clash goes badly for the Austro-Imperial cavalry and both leading regiments are beaten off, though with only light casualties. Sensing victory, the Kleist Freikorps follow through, launching a charge on the Baranyay Hussars. However, the Hungarian horsemen prove to be made of stronger stuff and having been unfazed by their retreating comrades, succeed in beating off the impetuous Freikorps cavalry, who fall back over the stream. However, with large numbers of Prussian cavalry bearing down on them, the Baranyay Hussars wisely decide to fall back to rally near Laas, where their comrades will (hopefully) be rallying.
Above: However, disaster strikes as both Austro-Imperial dragoon regiments fail to rally from their retreat and suddenly discover that they have urgent business to attend to in the rear! Despite the loss of over two thirds of his command, Nassau-Usingen manages to keep control of the Baranyay Hussars who despite the appalling odds, prepare to charge again. On the Prussian side the Kleist Freikorps Dragoons managed to rally, but the hussars (being the most recently-painted) headed for the hills.
Above: At Liebschützen meanwhile, new orders arrive for the Prince of Würzburg. Zweibrücken is this time taking no chances and has sent both of his ADCs!
Above: Honour (and the rules…) demands that Nassau-Usingen has no choice but to comply with his orders and therefore leads the Baranyay Hussars once more into the fight. They are met by the Prussian Kleist Hussars who, despite some sniping from Grenzer in the woods, manage to comprehensively defeat the gallant Hungarians.
Above: This time Nassau-Usingen is unable to prevent a rout and his entire command quits the field.
Above: Despite the success of Kleist’s cavalry, the situation for Braun’s infantry atop the Dürren-Berg is deteriorating. On the edge of the woods, the Lubath Grenadiers are getting the worst of a firefight with the 1st Battalion of the Imperial Blau-Würzburg Regiment and Kleefeld’s grenadier battalion (formed from the grenadier companies of Blau-Würzburg and the Grenzer). Braun sent the Hauss Fusiliers across to reinforce the firefight, but they immediately suffered heavy casualties from the Grenzer, who also managed to finish off a section of Prussian battalion guns. With things starting to look dicey on the right flank, Braun orders the Beyer Grenadiers on the left flank to turn about and be prepared to stabilise the situation on the right.
Above: Würzburg’s Reserve Infantry Division finally advances past the Hungarian Nikolaus Esterházy (on the left). The Prussian 12pdrs on the Dürren-Berg have inflicted massive casualties on the Hungarians and have knocked out another Imperial battalion gun section, but the Prussian 12pdrs have finally been silenced by the combined fire of the 1st Banal Grenzer and the remaining Austrian battalion guns. The loss of the 12pdr battery is a massive blow to Braun.
Above: With the defeat of the Austro-Imperial cavalry, Kleist considers leading his cavalry in a wide ride around the woods, to overrun the Imperial left flank. However, this request is vetoed by Hülsen, who orders the incredulous Kleist to resume his defensive posture in the centre. While his hussars rally following their combat (all the while being sniped by Grenzer), the dragoons turn about to resume their former positions.
Above: The reason for Hülsen’s caution soon becomes apparent; Zedwitz’s Austro-Imperial cuirassier brigade have arrived in the centre, having marched from their former position on the right flank. To add to Kleist’s problems, the Schorlemmer Dragoons are reporting that they are suffering a constant trickle of casualties from the Imperial heavy guns at Zausswitz. However, the Imperial infantry are also getting a pasting from long-range Prussian heavy artillery fire.
Above: As Würzburg’s division advances, the jaws start to close on the Dürren-Berg.
Above: Even though the situation is turning in their favour, Kleefeld and Würzburg still need Guasco’s Grenadier Corps to join them in crushing the Prussian position. But where are they?!
Above: Guasco has spent all this time stationary on the Otten-Berg, observing the fall of shot as his artillery hammers the Prussian Lossow Grenadiers in Clanzschwitz. However, Guasco’s two right-hand grenadier battalions have been suffering heavy losses from long-range Prussian artillery fire. But as it happens, an ADC has just arrived at Guasco’s headquarters, demanding that the Grenadier Corps advance at once on the Dürren-Berg!
Above: It’s entirely possible that the battle for the Dürren-Berg may well be over long before Guasco’s grenadiers arrive! The Austrians are moving into position for a massive, coordinated charge, but for now seem content to trade volleys. However, they don’t have it all their own way, as the 1st Battalion of the Hungarian Nikolaus Esterházy Regiment is broken by fire from the 1st Battalion of the Braunschweig-Bevern Regiment.
Above: At Clanzschwitz, the Lubath Grenadiers, having suffered heavy losses from Guasco’s artillery, make a break for it and attempt to march to Braun’s aid. However, Würzburg spots the move and sends his grenadiers and remaining battalion guns to interdict their march.
Above: At long last, Guasco’s division starts to move forward. Having driven the Prussian grenadiers out of Clanzschwitz, Guasco’s artillery switches its fire to the Dürren-Berg.
Above: The situation for Braun’s Prussians on the Dürren-Berg is grim. On the right flank, the ex-Saxon Hauss Fusiliers, under intense pressure from the Grenzer in the woods, perhaps unsurprisingly, break and run. Rather more alarmingly, the 2nd Battalion of the Braunschweig-Bevern Regiment, ordinarily a good, solid unit, were holding their own against the Austrian Macquire Regiment to their front despite losses caused by ‘overs’ from the earlier artillery duel. However, the sudden storm of shot from Guasco’s artillery finally breaks them. The Beyer Grenadiers wheel into line on the left flank to hold the line, but the sudden loss of two battalions (on top of the previous loss of two artillery units) demoralises Braun’s command.
[Note the Stagger/Disorder marker next to Braun’s figure. In game terms, Demoralisation of a command means that a -1 modifier is applied to all morale, formation morale and melee rolls and any retreating unit will immediately flee the field.]
Above: Another view of Die Kleine Rund-Spitze. In the background, Kleist’s cavalry are returning to their original positions, but are being battered by Imperial heavy guns and Grenzer. But where is the Imperial cavalry threat…?
Above: Kleist curses foully in Low German, as it soon becomes apparent that the enemy cuirassiers are content to sit and wait for the artillery and Grenzer to soften up the Prussian cavalry!
If you’re interested, the two leading regiments are the Austrian De Ville (red flag) and Bretlach Cuirassiers, while the second line is formed by the Franconian Bayreuth Cuirassiers (red flag) and Kurpfalz Cuirassiers (white flag).
Above: As expected, the main Prussian position remains completely un-engaged. It would be suicide for a good army to mount a frontal assault on these earthworks, let alone a poor-quality one like the Reichsarmee! The Prussian heavy guns have done some damage to the Imperial lines, but nowhere near enough. In the meantime, the Manstein Grenadiers, garrisoning the outlying fortified village of Klein-Rügeln, have been taking a pasting from Imperial guns.
Above: At last the Imperial infantry begin to move. The Imperial Right Wing has formed columns to the right (indicated by the MDF arrows) and is marching off to the flank, over the Reussen-Berg. Although they’ve attracted a lot of long-range gunnery, only one unit, the 4th Battalion of the Kurmainz Regiment, has been broken by the artillery and casualties are otherwise light.
Above: Two excellent units lead the columns; the Hessen-Darmstädt Regiment (single-battalion regiment with Swiss-style flag) leads the 1st Line, the remained of which is formed by theKurmainz Regiment. The 2nd Battalion of the Pfalz Garde-Regiment zu Fuss (blue flag) leads the 2nd Line, followed by the two battalions of the Pfalz Effern Regiment and two single-battalion Köln regiments; Nothaft (Leib) and Wildenstein.
Above: The Imperial Left Wing remains stationary for the time being. The 1st Line is formed from the three battalions of the Kurbayern Regiment (nearest the camera), then the 1st Battalion of the Swabian Alt-Württemberg Regiment and the two battalions of the Rot-Würzburg Regiment. The 2nd Line is formed from two battalions each of the Swabian Rodt Regiment, the Swabian Baden-Baden Regiment and the Mainz Lamberg Regiment.
Above: Back at the Dürren-Berg, Würzburg and Kleefeld, increasingly frustrated at the dogged resistance shown by Braun’s Prussian infantry, order a general assault. On the left, the 1st Battalion of the Blau-Würzburg Regiment charge out of the woods, but are stopped dead at the wood’s edge by the fire of the Lubath Grenadiers. The pattern is repeated all along the line, as the surviving battalion of the Bevern Regiment halts the charge of the surviving Hungarian battalion and the Beyer Grenadiers throw back the Luzan Regiment. On the right of the Austrian line, the Macquire Regiment look certain to capture the last detachment of Prussian battalion guns, but they are frustrated by the Lossow Grenadiers, firing in support of the gunners.
Above: However, Prussian jubilation is short-lived, as the supporting Austrian battalion gunners soon destroy the Lossow Grenadiers with point-blank canister fire! The vengeful Macquire Regiment soon overruns the Prussian guns and wheels left to turn the Prussian flank. A battalion of the Imperial Pfalz-Zweibrücken Regiment reinforces this success. The rest of the Austro-Imperial line charges again without success, but with their flank turned, the Prussians are now doomed.
Above: With his position collapsing, Braun looks behind him, hoping to see salvation in the form of Kleist’s cavalry… However, Kleist has his own problems. His dragoons have suffered heavy losses from Imperial artillery fire while attempting to hold the centre, while his hussars have also suffered losses thanks to stray rounds bouncing through the dragoon lines and the ever-present Grenzer sniping from the woods. Kleist judges that Braun is doomed and that the army will now have to retreat. Hülsen will need Kleist’s cavalry to screen that retreat, so it would be folly to waste them now on a doomed charge.
With a heavy heart, Kleist orders his cavalry to cross the stream, away from the Dürren-Berg. As he rides away, he fancies that he hears Braun’s voice above the din of battle, calling him a coward…
Above: However, Kleist’s assessment is correct… The Austrian and imperial infantry charge for third time and once again receive withering fire from the Prussian defenders as they climb the slopes of the Dürren-Berg. The 1st Battalion of the Blau-Würzburg Regiment this time is completely broken by the fire of the Lubath Grenadiers and they are soon followed by the 2nd Battalion of the Nikolaus Esterházy Regiment, who have dashed themselves to pieces against the indomitable 1st Battalion of the Bevern Regiment! The Italians of the Austrian Luzan Regiment are halted once again by the Beyer Grenadiers.
Above: However, despite having destroyed the enemy to their front, the Lubath Grenadiers are surprised to find themselves suddenly attacked from the rear by the Macquire Regiment, who have charged over the crest of the Dürren-Berg! There is little quarter for the grenadiers as they are completely destroyed. The Beyer Grenadiers meanwhile, are charged in the flank by the Pfalz-Zweibrücken Regiment and are similarly annihilated. The Pfalz-Zweibrücken Regiment has the dubious honour of being judged the worst regiment in the Reichsarmee, but every dog has his day…
The 1st Battalion of the Braunschweig-Bevern Regiment meanwhile, has beaten off every assault and has barely suffered a scratch, but surrounded and alone, they are at last forced to surrender.
Above: With the Prussian cavalry retiring, the Grenzer keep on the pressure.
Above: “Weglaufen!” Thankfully for Kleist, ADCs arrive from Hülsen, telling him to do exactly what he’s already doing… Kleist ensures he gets his orders in writing and deposits them safely in his sabretache for future Courts-Martial…
Above: At last, the Imperial Left Wing, plus Zedtwitz’s cuirassiers, begin to advance past Zausswitz.
Above: The Imperial Right Wing continues its march out to the right flank. Zweibrücken has assessed that the town of Strehla is the weak-point in the Prussian line; it’s only lightly-defended and although fortified, doesn’t have anything like the concentration of artillery that the main line possesses.
Above: The Imperial artillery meanwhile, has massively reduced the defences of Klein-Rügeln (represented by the half-timbered house forward of the main Prussian line). The garrison, consisting of the Manstein Grenadiers are on the verge of breaking and their supporting battalion guns have been silenced.
Above: All that stands between the Imperial infantry and the town is a single battalion of the Wunsch Frei-Infanterie-Regiment and a few companies of Jäger. If they can take the town, the entire Prussian line will be severely compromised.
Above: However, with the fall of the Dürren-Berg, Hülsen has already accepted defeat and with Kleist’s cavalry largely still intact, his army should be able to disengage and withdraw unmolested to the next defensive position at Wittenberg.
Above: An overall view of the final situation. All-in-all a total balls-up by the Prussians… As is patently obvious, I should have been FAR more aggressive with Kleist’s cavalry and give them orders to attack on the right; either from the outset, or as soon as Hülsen could get an ADC to them, once the Austrian flanking cavalry had been defeated. Instead I allowed myself to be distracted by the Imperial cuirassier division, which to be honest, had no chance of making it through the storm of 12pdr shot that would have been heading their way, had they advanced!
As always, I end this game report in wondering if this really is the hobby for me…? 😉
My thanks to Andy and Kirk for making it such a great game!