Thursday, April 14, 2011

Refight: Hochkirch

This was actually just a section of the battle of Hochkirch, with the scenario drawn from Kriegskunst (a lower-level SYW set of rules, in the GdB family).

The scenario involves the Austrian assault on the village of Hochkirch itself, with the Prussian main battery and infantry defences. Due to constraints (I didnt have a suitable terrain piece), the hill that the village should surmount has been omitted.
The Kruppfalzen command was in the hands of Prinz Heinrich, and consisted of a pair of heavy batteries, GM von Roentgen's grenadiers (Manstein, Kanitz, Kreytzen and Kleist's battalions), and  Graf von Schwartzchild's brigade (IR1 Winterfeldt and IR20 Zastrow). He was fortunate in that the GM von Ohm's brigade (IR4 Kalnein and IR16 Dohna) was marching through the town at the time the Skyrian threat emerged, and he was able to bully Ohm into submitting to his command (after variable resistance)*, and he anxiously awaited the arrival of FML Lentulus with promised reinforcements (which turned out to be GM von Heisenberg's brigade, IR2 Ostergotland and IR3 Anhalt-Dessauer.

The Skyrian assault was masterminded by FM Erherzog von Spatlese (Chichi to his intimates), assisted by FML Markgraf Curacao. The latter led an attack from the west (left), consisting of GM von Muscat's brigade (Kaiser and Jung-Wolfenbuttel regiments), the Tokaji Grenzer, and Speckwuerfeln Jager, with accompanying artillery batteries, while Spatlese led** the main attack, spearheaded by FML von Traminer's grenadiers (Waldeck, Daun and Argenteau battalions), followed by FML Graf von Liebfraumilch's brigade (Nederlander and Isenburg regiments), and GM von Rieslings (Deutschmeister and Ferraris regiments), followed at a small distance by GM Tokaji's Ungrians (Gulyas and Pandour regiments).

The attack led off with Liebfraumilchs Brigade and the Grenadiers assaulting the breastworks atop Kleinfeldberg, and Rieslings Brigade assailing the Kreytzen Redoubt to the east, while Tokaji manouevres his Ungrians towards the open plain east of the town, looking for opportunities to turn the flank of the fortifications. Prince Heinrich meanwhile, hastened the leading elements of IR4 Kalnein into position to shore up the eastern defenses, and reduce the exposed position of his heavy batteries.

Meanwhile, Curacao led his forces spurring up the Vierblatten road to the west:
Liebfraumilch, finding his command overlapping the fortifications, attempted to swing the Nederlander Brigade to outflank the Krupp grenadiers, but accurate volleys drove the initial advance back, and rapid handling by Oberst Manstein kept the grenadiers facing successive threats as they developed to front then flank. The Skyrian grenadier column made hard going of even reaching the walls, swept by musketball and canister each time, the first two battalions were each forced to retire to reorganise, while the third battalion did manage to cross bayonets ... with unfortunate results for them.

Eventually, of course, weight of numbers told, and the Manstein Grenadiers were caught front and flank by Liebfraumilch's battalions, and sheer attrition reduced their fellows to relative impotence, and permitted further assaults on their front by the Daun Grenadiers. Von Riesling was encountering some trouble getting to grips with the Kreytzen Grenadiers, cramped for room to deploy: and repeated if erratic bombardment from the heavy Krupp guns kept disrupting his attacks before they could mature. However, he was cheered (and Prinz Heinrich worried) by the progress made by Tokaji in probing the open flank.

Fortunately for the good Prinz, von Heisenberg overcame his uncertainties and his brigade came hustling south in march order to counter the Ungrian posturing.

The view looking south of Curacao's attack, with the Grenzer outflanking IR20 esconced in the western perimeter, and the jager pinging away at the Winterfeldt regiment being held back in mobile reserve. In the left distance you can see the iron trap crushing the Manstein battalion of grenadiers, and the dwindling ranks of defence there.
Eventually, the Waldeck grenadiers forced their way across the breastworks and drove the Kanitz battalion back in tatters to lurk in the Visconti di Palmetto's townhouse on the edge of town, then wheeled to face the artillery (Cezanne's company), who let out a mighty blast of canister ....
that completely missed. Von Riesling tirelessly reorganised his men for another attempt to assail the fortifications to his front, cheered by the diversion the Ungrians to his right were providing for the Krupp heavy guns.

And indeed, the right wing got itself shaken out eventually, with the Deutschmeister regiment managing to exploit the opening on the hill to start flanking the redoubt, while Tokaji's men shook out into a single line of battalions, to reduce the bombardment they were receiving, and to face the approaching Schwartzchild.
 The Manstein grenadiers also eventually cracked under the weight, and attrition, and fled back to join their compatriots in the townhouse, and the whitecoats poured forward, eager to exploit the opening. Von Riesling's men, however, suffered a worse fate - the continuing dribble of losses to bombardment and musketry gradually reduced his battalions to relative impotence, and his final throw of the dice, an assault on the hopefully outflanked Kreytzen Grenadiers, was bloodily repulsed despite the FeldMarschall himself approaching and urging them on with waved hat (from a short distance, of course!)

This permitted the Prinz to release Ohm's men, who brightly turned and started driving on the exposed flank of the Skyrian attack. Liebfraumilch's men were rather stalled, finding the stout stone walls of the mayoral palace (and gin emporium) too daunting when defended by the stout Winterfeldt regiments (a succession of 6s plagued them with an inability to launch charges here), so there were driven to relying on some fairly desultory musketry to reduce the garrison. To their west, you can see the extremely dilatory Curacao urging his men to assault the rest of the perimeter, with indifferent results.

To the east, Tokaji's men had engaged with the Heisenberg brigade - while their greater width gave them some advantage in outshooting them, this was signally countered by renewed bombardment from the heavy batteries (and from the guns of Ohm's brigade, which were left behind in the rush of light)

The weight of metal, and the superior drill of the bluecoats, quickly told, and the Ungrians were quickly broken up and outflanked.
At this point, with the Skyrian right dissolved, and his centre disintegrating under flanking pressure, with no real progress made on the left (other than the Grenzers who had slipped into the village, looting the town hall and stealing the church plate and Prinz Heinrich's favorite bay, Emeltrude), Feldmarschall von Spatlese directed his men to fall back upon the uncommitted forces to south and west, to await further instructions.

Prinz Heinrich's men, much satisfied with their days work, settled down to enjoy the dubious delights of Hochkirch town, while the good Prinz himself walked, roundly cursing the damn skirmishers of course, to the remnants of Manstein's Grenadiers and praised them for their stern and agile defense against insuperable numbers, coming close to actually shedding a tear***

*Dice roll to activate the brigade each turn until succeeded.
** using the word rather loosely
*** a Courtmartial offense in the Kruppsarmee, of course.

Post scriptum - upon reading some more of the battle, it is apparent I gave the whitecoats far too little advantage for surprise and catching the bluecoats in bivouac. Oh well, next time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Refight: Sittangbad (of course)

Naturally, after venturing into Charge! territory, I had to follow up with the battle I've probably refought more than any other except Waterloo, the Last Stand at Sittangbad, or as one of my friends once dubbed it, Bridge Go Boom.

The opening position, for Graf von Kirchwasser to conduct a fighting retreat, covering the rapid disassembly of the Imperial Magazine at Sittangbad, and its' removal over the Moldau river to more convenient southern positions. In the village of Eisenburg, the rather battered Bavarian brigade of GM von Pilsener, with Kurprinz and Herzog Klement regiments. In the plain to its south, FML Herzog von Mosel's cuirassier brigade, in hasty bivouacs, and the Hesse-Darmstadt Dragoons, half of GM von Muller-Thurgau's brigade, while in the foreground is Gm von Riesling's brigade of foot (the Deutschmeister and Ferraris regiments)

Further south, Sittangbad is a swirl of activity,confusion and foul language, with GM Spaeburgunder having his brigade (Moltke and Saxe-Gotha regiments) spread around the town, mixed in with the Wurttemburg Dragoons, and FML von Traminer's grenadier brigade -altho the Waldeck Grenadier battalion is still posted in the breastworks hurriedly thrown up by Oberst von Knall's engineers.

In the town, and dotted around the field, are a number of wagon trains full of supplies. Kirchwasser's challenge is to get as many of these across the bridge as possible, before von Knall is forced to blow the bridge up to avoid it falling into the hands of the advancing Kruppfalzers*

The full battlefield view:

The forces of Krupp were being driven on by the harsh words and blows of Die Altenburger (Landgrave Leopold von Altenburg), and consisted of GM von Heisenberg (rather uncertainly), GM Freiherr von Fahrenheits, and GM Bohrs musketeer brigades,  GM von Hahn's Fusilier brigade, GM von Roentgen's Grenadiers (positively glowing with schnapps), GM Lavoissiers Cuirassiers, GM von Zastrows Dragoon brigade, and GM von Oppenheimer bringing his explosive temper and the Bayreuth Dragoons: and a pair of heavy batteries.

First on the field were Heisenberg's brigade, with the heavy artillery gamely keeping up, and their flank covered by the Cuirassier brigade

Von Pilsener took one look at the advancing foes, and the distant support, and pulled his Bavarians out of Eisenburg tout de suite, leaving a battalion of Herzog Klement esconced in the chateau to delay the pursuit (rumours that they had found their way to the weinkeller and were incapable of leaving are obviously just propaganda).

Die Altenburger then pressed forward, sending von Hahn's Fusiliers in march columns to sweep around the far east of the position, and massing his cavalry on the west, while Heisenberg's lads briskly swept the Klement battalion out of the chateau - the latter, after giving one drunken volley into the sky, took to their heels with the barest attempt at resistance

Meantime, the chaos in Sittangbad was finally being sorted out, and the first wagon trains were plodding across the bridge, while the grenadiers were being esconced in the fringe of the town.

The good Herzog von Mosel, eyeing the cavalry piling up in front of him, ordered his own troops and the dragoons to commence withdrawing, while keeping up a front to deter over eager pounces. He failed to notice Oppenheimer leading the Bayreuthers in a heavy column.

The view from GM SPaeburgunder's command, with the remaining dragoons filing out of town at last, and the first wagon loads completing their passage over the bridge. On the far right you can see von Riesling's brigade falling back beside the Sittangberg, while Hahn leads the fusilier brigade in long dour columns aiming to flank him
 Von Riesling, seeing the fusilier columns outstripping him, and another column of musketeers (Bohr's brigade), while Fahrenheit's men tested the temperature of his troops frontally, frantically sent a single battalion of Deutschmeister off to try and slow the progress of the Fusiliers. This was asking quite a lot, even of the inheritors of the Teutonic mantle.

 To the west, the Krupp cavalry force back their opposite numbers, finally pouncing and catching the retiring Portugal Kurasserie and driving them back over the redoubt, while the Bayreuth Dragoons sneak down the gedecktergang circumventing the Sittangwald.
 With the Styrian cavalry being driven back dishevelled over the Knall Redoubt, Spaeburgunder hastened more garrison troops forward into it, to prevent utter ruin. In the midground, the bedraggled Bavarians are now being menaced by the Herzog von Wurttemburg Dragoons**, after leaving the second Herzog Klement battalion behind to try and slow the onrush of Heisenberg's infantry.
 with the Styrian cavalry now rallying beyond the redoubt, the Liebgarde zu Pferde spotted the open flank of poor von Riesling's brigade, already being pressured by masses of Krupp infantry and pounded by the heavy batteries. Shrugging off the panicky volleys of the Bavarians, they pounced, and caught the Ferraris regiment unprepared.

While the cuirassiers made hay on one flank, Hahn put the fusiliers into line and surrounded the hapless Riesling's men.
The valiant Deutschmeister and Ferraris regiments put up an all-too-brief resistence, before being utterly shattered - a few scattered remnants ran into Sittangmoor seeking safety.

To the west, with Oppenheimer having outflanked the Sittangwald, von Mosel ordered von Muller-Thurgau's dragoon brigade to face them off (after a brief and heated exchange over seniority and chain of command, and a proffered duell). In the background, Roentgen's Grenadier brigade stalks forward towards the redoubt, determined to sweep the Styrians out
Kirchwasser, picnicking atop the clock tower, considers the onpouring blausaeulen, and nibbles another sachertorte.
Von Knall, charged with both demolishing the bridge and supervising the magazine's withdrawal, contemplates the plodding wagon trains with some satisfaction, having half of the wagons safely over the river now.
Oppenheimer, having led the Bayreuth Dragoons all the way round, then attacked north into the nervous Skyrian Dragoons (in the background you can see the Truchess Dragoons also outflanking the Sittangwald in support).
The (skyrian) Wurttemburg Dragoons managed to hold on, but the Hessen-Darmstadt Dragoons were driven back by the Bayreuthers, and replaced in combat by the Serbelloni Grenadiere zu Pferde - however, this gave time for Zastrow to lead the Truchess Dragoons into a dashing charge into the Wurttemburger rear, with predictable results. To the right, the Manstein Grenadiers are just visible forcing a passage over the breastworks, after sending the Waldeck Grenadiers reeling back.

Leaving the cursing von Mosel to supervise the ruin of his cavalry command on the left, von Kirchwasser decided to decamp, and descends the clocktower (centre), to the jeers of the 
watching Bavarians. To his astonishment, he is caught up in a swirl of Kruppfalzer cuirassiers, who have broken the defending von Moltke regiment and hotly pursue them towards the bridge. The triumphant Margrave Friedrich cuirassiers gladly accept Kirchwasser into their ranks, pausing only to relieve him of his sword, wallet, watch, and gold-chased cigaret holder.

With his chief captured, the Moltke regiment being driven into the river, and enemy Cuirassiers galloping onto the bridge, von Knall decided it was high time to light the fuses, and hustle the remnants of the magazine towards Heidelburg. To his satisfaction, the explosion caught the overeager cuirassiers and dashed their ranks into the river.

With his line of retreat destroyed and facing overwhelming force, von Mosel commanded the remnants to lay down their arms and surrender.

Counting the cost: Die Altenburger surveyed the scene in some satisfaction - personally sated at having destroyed the Styrian remnant (5 out of 5 brigades) and only a little rueful at having captured but two wagon (9 points). 

The Emperor, considering that his troops had rescued 80% of the magazine, and managed to mangle an elite Krupp cuirassier brigade (9 points), expressed considerable satisfaction, and claimed a moral victory, having been rid of the egregious Kirchwasser from future command considerations.

*Scoring for this was determined to be:
Skyrians, 1 point for each of the 10 wagons gotten across the river, 1 points for each Krupp brigade reduced to 50%
Krupp, 2 points for each wagon seized, 1 point for each Skyrian brigade reduced to 50%.

** Yes, the cunning Duke of Wurttemburg managed to have dragoon regiments in BOTH armies, and they are both here in battle.