Background: King Frederick of
Forces: The armies were comprised of reduced sized forces from the typical Might and Reason (M&R) armies. These essentially were 3/4 the normal size points forces in a typical game, with the same proportions in each army and the table was reduced to a 6’x4’ table, which suited our table space. This reduction enabled us to keep the proportion of forces to table size about right, as would be appropriate for a ‘normal’ M&R game.
King Frederick: rating - Great
1 x Hussars (10)
2 x Dragoons (20)
1 x Grenadier (12)
4 x Musketeers (40)
2 x Fusilier (18)
1 x Freikorps (5)
Marshal Broglie: rating - Average
2 x Grenadiers, Guards (20)
3 x Foreign & Vieux Rgts (24)
3 x Other French Regiments (21)
2 x Volontaires (10)
1 x Elite & Guard Cavalry (10)
4 x Cavalry Regiments (36)
2 x Dragoons (10)
1 x Hussars (5)
3 x Heavy Artillery (30)
Prussian: Attack! Advancing as rapidly as possible, refusing the left flank, take out the gun battery and shoot the enemy infantry into submission!
French: Mindful of the fearsome musketry of Prussian infantry and their equally capable cavalry the plan Marshal Broglie decided upon was to use his Vieux infantry as his first line as a buttress against which his second line troops could maneuver behind and flank his opponent – in support the tough Swiss Guards and Grenadiers of France were the final line to ensure the Prussian infantry so engaged were fixed to their front. In addition the light cavalry would charge immediately at the enemy forces, force them to slow down and deploy and then evade away from the subsequent attacks by Prussian cavalry. This would hopefully draw the cavalry into the centre of the French army by which the strong right flank heavy cavalry force could fall upon the exposed left flank of the Prussians. The artillery would place itself centrally and thus play on the enemy troops which he would not be able to ignore. A young staff officer upon hearing of Marshal Broglie’s plan described it as a ‘soft centre’ defense.
The battle opened up with a rapid movement by
On the right flank the fine mounted regiment of the Maison de Roi and supporting cavalry units took up their position just behind the Stoltz stream line. This obstacle, whilst restrictive, did not prevent infantry and cavalry forces crossing it. To their left the grand battery moved up under Broglie’s eye and dropped anchor as the Prussian Grenadier battalions of 17/22 Kremzow and 37/40 Manteuffel seemed intent on rolling over the top of the battery – the fire increased in intensity and holes started to appear in the Prussian ranks. The Fusilier battalions of the Prussian left wing seemed intent on holding off the French cavalry by defending the stream, the lone freikorps brigade protecting their flank should any French horse move to the north and attempt an encirclement.
Meanwhile in the centre the French light cavalry moved directly at the Prussian line. The Prussian cavalry immediately responded to clear the way for the infantry brigades to deploy. Unable to hold back, the Prussians charged and luckily all the French light horse were able to evade away from the attack, leaving the Prussian cavalry ‘swinging at thin air’ as no other targets presented themselves.
Now the action heated up – the Prussian grenadier brigade throwing caution to the wind charged directly at the French heavy battery. Because of the battery’s position
Looking toward the infantry positions the din of musket fire could now be heard all along the line. Broglie had moved from the eastern to the western side of the field to closer control the deployment of this wing. The Prussian battleline, four brigades, shook out and moved into range to do their deadly work. The French opened up an equally brisk response and casualties on both sides began to mount up – as was expected the French got the worst of it, but not by much. The strong Vieux regiments of the French army gave a good account of themselves. Behind the pall of smoke now descending along the frontline the French second line regiments continued to march and deploy to the north seeking the flank of the Prussian infantry. However as time wore on the regiments of Picardie withered under brutal Prussian musketry and their units withdrew from the field – their formation shattered. Sensing the danger Broglie, active all over the field, immediately ordered the red coated soldiers of the Swiss Guards forward – these fine soldiers would be much harder to defeat.
Looking toward the centre of the field, the cornflower blue coated Prussian dragoon regiments and the black coats of the death’s head hussars –
The battle had now reached its high water mark – all significant forces were engaged. The French flanking move around the Prussian infantry line had matured and the Prussian forces now sort to shoot their way out of trouble. Musketry continued unabated. One more French brigade suffered at the hands of Prussian lead – unable to withstand the fire the unit broke, shattering the centre of the French line – all reserves now committed. Like pillars the Grenadiers of France and Swiss Guards stood firm. Fortunately for Broglie numbers of muskets started to count with what he had left. The Grenadiers of France moved into line and began a brisk fusillade on their opposite in the Prussian line. Further to the north the Prussian brigade, made up of the regiments Meyerinck and Markgraf Karl, was now receiving fire from three sides – the unit grudgingly held its ground and fought back as best as possible.
In the centre the sabers of both sides lunged forward at one another, thousands of horsemen charging into combat. The Death’s Head hussars locked horns with the French heavies supported by a brigade of dragoons that had been reforming adjacent to the Werdner marshes on the southern extremity of the battlefield. Assailed from three directions the Prussian cavalrymen fought ferociously but could not withstand this weight of horseflesh directed at them – much to
Broglie then unleashed his own light cavalry reserve against the Prussian Czettritz dragoons which now fought for control of the centre of the battlefield - the French dragoons being defeated as was to be expected. This action was largely used to draw the attention of the Prussian ‘heavies’ to prevent them from attacking the flanks of the infantry line, as a decision with these regiments was now sought to decide the day.
However, just after the command for the infantry line to charge was dispatched a thunderous sound and a dust cloud formed to the eastern side of the battlefield. Finally
Broglie not willing to tempt fate against the fearsome musketry of the fusiliers ordered the remaining French heavy cavalry to hold the line of the Stoltz stream as a force in being. Equally the light cavalry, now poised for pursuit, held their position to cover the flanks of the French infantry.
As the sun began to lower on the horizon, sunlight pouring through the thick smoke hanging over the battlefield, confusion everywhere, the French infantry advanced forward, bayonets fixed, flags flying to the cadence of the drums, hoping their numbers in the end, would make the difference. Committing two brigades of infantry to the attack (the third failing to close) the Prussian regiments of Meyerinck and Markgraf Karl fought hand to hand to hold off their attackers – such was the tenacity shown by these brave men. Whilst losing the combat they held their ground teetering on break point. Such a contest was not lost on
At this point the French had lost two batteries of artillery, three units of cavalry and three infantry brigades. The Prussian losses stood at three brigades. Both sides had reached their break point. Now turn 5 (of a 7 turn game) the day was drawing to a close. As the dice rolled the French scored low keeping them in the fight but for
Now, with the Prussian light cavalry defeated, the reformed French dragoons were released to do their deadly work – the victory was complete.
Postscript: This was the first battle (of the last four) where the much feared Prussian army was finally beaten. As it was both sides reached their break point at the same time and the luck of the dice fell to the French – thus the French with a light cavalry superiority would’ve prevented a Prussian pursuit and their light cavalry superiority in victory, enabled it to be complete. Had not the French horse been shot to pieces by the Prussian fusiliers (something Broglie could've avoided) the defeat would've been more marked in the favour of Louis XV's forces.
In review, the Prussian army seemed to have made spread itself to thin and likely would’ve had more success refusing their left flank with their cavalry reserve and attempt to smash the French line with a solid line of infantry – as it was they tried to cover the entire front and inevitably got surrounded by an aggressive French force under a leader capable of keeping his army going, though not without a few unintended pauses in movement and action. The French plan largely worked as hoped but the Prussian forces played into the plan Broglie had set, such is the game of war.
A great game had by all……….