Sunday, 16 June 2019

The 17th May 1742, exactly as it was historically, only the complete reverse

The Battle of Chotusitz, the second, large battle of the War of Austrian Succession (First Silesian War) was the 'subject' of our most recent game set in the mid-18thC (aka 'Mark's period'). Fitting then that his newly 'rediscovered' (i.e. cleaned out) shed was venue for the game that he planned using information from Jeff Berry's marvellous 'Obscure Battles' blog and single-handedly staged using his now extensive Prussian and Austrian armies and his/our version of Zimmermann's 'Wargames Handbook'.

The historical action, began as an encounter battle in which Prince Charles Lorraine of Austria saw an opportunity to attack with his army of around 25 000 and destroy Prince Leopold's isolated advance guard of around 12 000.

 Leopold's command, with a 'sea' of white in the distance.

 Not bad odds; if you are Austrian.

 Cavalry on the Austrian left/Prussian right.

The Austrians began with my favourite, subtle tactic, 'advance everywhere'. I advanced my infantry slightly, so as not to be pushed from the board.

On the Prussian right, I pushed the cuirassiers forward slightly as I had a 'cunning plan'.

 Good news for we Prussians as the lead elements of the heavy cav. arrived on the left.

 Jeetze's infantry awaited the arrival of the white horde.

The following events left me feeling pretty happy with things at this early stage.

Waldow's lead 7th cuirassiers managed to deploy, with the 12th behind. Still outnumbered, but at least not in road column.

A sneaking unit of infantry loaned a hand, unseating some of the Austrian heavies who opposed Waldow's men.

Ha ha! My cunning plan. Prussian heavies on the right charged the Austrians, ensuring the advantage of the charge impetus not afforded to their foes. 
The Zimmermann rules operate in two 'cycles' in which the first player moves half distance, second then follows, any artillery/musket fire occurs, then second player moves second half, followed by the first and any mêlées are conducted. Troops that did not move in the first cycle may conduct a full charge move. This is what I did with my cuirassiers, fortunately getting the '2' to '3' on the die required for each of the three right-most units in photo. The Austrians did their part and 3/4 units failed to loose their carbines effectively.

Four mêlées in which we had the advantage, surely it should go pretty well?

What the phuck?! Apologies dear reader, but I was astonished and full of 'blue' language as 3/4 mêlées were lost, two Prussian units retreated in disorder, two standards lost, to one captured, while the only defeated Austrian unit retreated in order. So much for the cunning plan...

This was repeated on the left, admittedly where the Prussians had the lower odds thanks to the failure of the 12th cuirassiers to assist their fellows. This also left them (the 12th) 'stuck' in place (and effectively blocking the bridge, at the crossing of the creek).

At least the first exchange of volleys had not gone too badly for our 'boys in blue'. We had, however, taken more casualties where we needed to inflict more.

Back on the right, I sent the 3rd dragoons against the nearest Austrians (dragoons). Needed a '2' or better. Rolled '1'. Oh dear, that left them ripe to be charged in the next turn.

At this point the Austrians were, rightly, feeling pretty chuffed with the situation.

Then, the greatest captain of his age sprung his trap. On he came with the main Prussian infantry. Look at all those lovely grenadiers. Wvenge, wvenge, time for me to have some fun! In a turn or two we'd be smashing through that Austrian centre, I thought.

Not again? On the left, the 5th cuirassiers (heavily disguised) at full strength, charged the formerly victorious, now somewhat undermanned Austrians, who were unable to get the impetus bonus. I have to stop rolling '5's in mélée (two dice). Even though my opponents were only rolling '8's or '9's it was sufficient. More 'blue' language...

Perhaps a 'fit of pique'?
I figured that it was better for what remained of Jeetze's infantry to charge against the weakest Austrians rather than to stand and get 'blown' away or to withdrawal, since that would have left them ripe to be charged in the rear in the next turn.
It wasn't.

Another cavalry mêlée on the right. Combat factors around 70 to 60, so we were behind, but it only needed a few 'pips' more on the dice to win.
 Nah. *And* Buddenbrock was captured.

Of all things, it was a unit of pesky hussars that victoriously charged into the rear of the beaten Prussian cuirassiers. They panicked, as did three of their mates.
The language was bluer than a West Australian summer sky!

In what was to be the final act of the day, most of the cavalry on the left decided to withdraw along with the defeated 5th cuirassiers. Basically putting them back to the starting positions.

With only one unit of Leopold's (Jeetze's) infantry still on the board and five cavalry units gone, the Prussian losses required an army withdrawal test at over 1/4 losses. There is a 2/3 chance to pass. I rolled a '2'. Game over.

While basically decided by the die roll, it would have been a sensible decision for Frederick, as the photos below demonstrate. Leopold's command was shattered. In a repeat of the historical Mollwitz, the Prussian heavy cavalry had performed dismally. By withdrawing, Frederick could fight another day, keep his developing name intact, while laying the blame at the feet of Leopold.

The game statistics add weight to the sense of the die in this decision.

Captured two flags, lost 158 figures.
Victory points 8

Captured four flags, captured General Buddenbrock and suffered 89 figure losses.
Victory points 19

So, the game lasted four turns (hours) and ended with one army withdrawing. As Mark quipped, " was exactly the same as the historical action, only the complete reverse"!

I don't usually like to blame the dice, so reflected on what I did wrong. Since it was the accumulated losses that were the Prussian undoing, I guess my mistake was to leave Jeetze's/Leopold's men under fire for too long. I should have manoeuvred to form two lines and enabled a withdrawal/exchange. This may well have worked as the Austrians would have taken too long to outflank the Prussians, perhaps...


  1. Looks very nice, lovely battle lines...glad to see we can change historical results!

    1. Thanks Phil. To 'change history' is one of the big draws to wargaming isn't it?

  2. What a great looking game James. I think you can wuite rightly blame the dice fo this loss!

    1. Kind of you Ray. I had a good first shot with the artillery and rolled really well for the units' initial morale, but that ain't much good to them of they don't want to win a mêlée! :)

  3. Well, it looked magnificent despite the Prussian dice failure. Perhaps you were using yellow and black "Hapsburg" dice?

    1. Actually black and blue, but they mis-fired; hahahahaha!

  4. A magnificent looking spectacle - I just love the Airfix Cuirassier conversions.

    The result? Without the dice we would never have half the fun.

    1. You are of course absolutely correct Matt.
      I was not fully appreciating the fun at the time though!

  5. I think this part of your collection has eluded me thus far!
    Always a pretty period - nicely done!
    Best wishes

    1. Thanks Jeremy.
      Being 'Mark's period' there are quite a few reports of games from the period mixed amongst the blog's pages.

  6. if it had gone on one more turn I might well have retired myself, as Charles - those lines of Austrians were looking decidedly shaky. Very bad luck, James - all the more honourable to have produced such a good battle report.

    1. Cheers Julian. Clearly I can make up stories better than I can move figures around and throw dice!

  7. AMAZING battle, James! Chotusitz is on our summer battle list as well.

    1. Thank you Jonathan. I look forward to seeing your version of the battle!

  8. Hello from France,
    Nice game and great website.
    Was it the first battle of the new 7YW Austrian infantry from Hat?
    Thank you again for sharing and giving plenty of ideas.

    1. Merci CPN.
      Je pense que tu as raison, c'est le premier fois pour les autrichiens du chapeau! :)
      Thank you for dropping by and for your encouraging comment.

  9. Just discovered this blog. What a great incentive to return. I love the sense of space and depth of your table. Even with masses of troops it doesn’t look crowded. Looks ‘proper’.

    1. Most kind of you to say that. The tab 'Austrian Succession & Seven Years' War' at the top of the page will lead you to links of other games in the early 18th C.
      We are most fortunate to have space available and at three venues.
      You comments lead me to your blog, which is excellent!

    2. Wow! How many sets of airfix Washingtons army were used to create the section of cavalry with the Washingtons army officer..12? Great conversions and a great Looking battle.
      Happy X-mas James

    3. Thanks for commenting Paul and for the Christmas wishes. I hope that yours was good.
      I'm not sure how many equivalent sets there are. Mark accumulated them over many years, including a lot of mixed sets and 'job lots' from Harfields when Andy was running his store/e-list. It looks great having so many arrayed on the table though, I agree!