Thursday, 24 February 2011

Battle - The Plan Unravels

If you are going to have a plan, it had better be a good plan. In this particular case, my plan was an indifferent one, and its implementation was equally lacking. The key to its chances lay in the performance of the left flank cavalry: Kurassiere Regt Hohenzollern. These worthies had the job of blocking the enemy's right wing when it tried to come to the assistance of its left: against whom the rest of my army was supposed to hurl itself.

Kurassier Regt. Hohenzollern Loses Badly

Unfortunately, van Erp chose the simple remedy of masking the Hohenzollern's by charging them with his own Dragoon regiment. As I had formed my cuirassiers into a single formation this left me with nothing to halt the progress of his remaining right flank units.

With both sides fielding twelve sabres in their front rank, it seemed to me that the melee between the Hohenzollerns and van Erp's dragoons was exactly equal. The dice, however, saw things differently and chose this moment to pass severe judgement on the relative quality of the forces of the Reichsarmee. The result was that I lost seven troopers in one round of melee without inflicting any casualties on the dragoons in return. While I couldn't blame the dice on grounds of historical authenticity I did feel rather let down by this turn of events.

Van Erp's Dragoons repeatedly charged, and although the Hohenzollerns held their own in subsequent rounds, they were finally forced off the field of battle, leaving the Dragoons still in fighting trim and positioned to the left rear of my crumbling battle line.

Preparing To Charge

Meanwhile, on the far right, my Cuirassiers had charged the enemy infantry battalion and had come off worse. It had taken some casualties from musketry as it charged and then failed miserably in the subsequent melee. I had never expected to overcome a full strength line battalion with a cavalry charge, but was hoping to enfeeble it sufficiently for my following line infantry to have little difficulty in overcoming it. In the event, the enemy infantry emerged almost unscathed while my cavalry had taken a serious knock. In subsequent turns I split the cavalry in two, one part charging to red ruin against the same infantry battalion to halt its progress for a moment, while the other part attempted to punish the enemy light infantry company that had advanced without any care for its flanks. Even here the dice throws were indifferent and the enemy light infantry survived.

With my attack plainly failing. My line infantry halted and attempted to make some form of defence. With van Erp's succours arriving from his right this was never going to last long. My artillery did finally show some fighting spirit, with a couple of sixes removing a full company of his grenadiers. But its supporting infantry proved feeble and at last the gun was overrun by a charge by his light infantry company, who took some hurt in the charge but showed the by now customary Hessian superiority in the melee. Having reached half strength, the Freikorps then withdrew taking the sole surviving gunner with them: Jim informed me they had spiked the gun although, with no-one left to man it, this mattered little. No doubt, adding insult to injury, they left behind a rude note too.

A Plan Unravelled

By this time there was no doubt that the battle was a decisive victory for van Erp, and so we halted proceedings. I could feel a little let down by the dice, but there was no doubt that van Erp richly deserved his victory. I shall console myself by reflecting that I had simulated the performance of the Reichsarmee only too well.

Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Battle - The Plan

Viewed from the Imperial side, the features of the battlefield presented a fairly simple subdivision into contrasting halves. To my left, it seemed that any attack I made would be confronted by a strong defense resting on the stream. The right was largely free of such obstacles and so it was to that side I decided to throw all my weight.

My left flank cavalry would therefore operate as a blocking force should my opponent attempt to move forces across the field of battle. The rest of the Imperial army would move against the right, led by the Gensdarmes attacking the enemy infantry battalion on the extreme right, my two infantry battalions pressing home their attacks as soon as they could close upon the enemy. My artillery would take up position in the centre where it could fire in support of my attack or else gall any units moving from the left.

The Imperial Army Advances

Well so much for my 'plan' such as it was. There seemed some hope at first that the enemy would fall in with it. There was some milling about by the Hessian units behind the stream, and their artillery seemed about to deploy on the stream's banks. But van Erp came to the realisation that such a position would be too far from the action for the guns to have any great effect, and any force esconced there would be relegated to spectators. And so the Hessians crossed the stream and then, seeing the point of pressure was moving towards their left, began moving in that direction.

The photo shows the battle after the first moves. The entire Imperial army is in the shot (save for the artillery, which is hidden behind the buildings). I'll conclude by relating what actually happened in one final post.

Sunday, 20 February 2011


Readers of Charge! are aware that Catherine of Hesse Damall was the Helen of her age - notable not only for her beauty, but also for her ability to act as a Casus Belli. In the present case it seems that Catherine, while visiting the baths at Vichy, had made unkind remarks to the Markgräfin von Baden-Durlach who repeated them, with some embellishment, to Madame de Pompadour. A letter full of recriminations was sent by that lady to the Empress, who made it her business to goad the Emperor into taking action. An Imperial army was soon tramping its weary way into Hesse.

Of course, the real reason for any battle in these parts is a visit from Jim Wannop. As time would be short (Jim's relatives had the idea he was in the neighbourhood to visit them) I set up the terrain, and split my forces into two roughly equal halves, deploying them both with no great thought as to their dispositions. I then gave choice of sides to Jim when he arrived. He scanned the set up, pondered the relative strengths of the forces and how the terrain would play out. He then decided to roll a dice and discovered he had been appointed to command of the Hessians.

Initial Set Up - From Hessian Left Rear

The orders of battle were:

Hessian Army (Gouert van Erp)
Dragoon Regt. von Platen
Infantry Regt. Hessen-Darmstadt
Infantry Regt. Prinz von Preussen
Garde Grenadiere Regt.
Freikorps von Noble
Artillery (1 gun)

Imperial Army (Graf von Arlitz)
Kurassiere Regt. Hohenzollern
Fusilier Regt. Wied
Kreis Infantry Regt. Furstenburg
Artillery (1 gun)

The Imperial Army had two cavalry regiments to the Hessian's one. It was, however, weak in infantry with only two battalions to oppose to the Hessian three line and one light battalion.

Gouert van Erp

The rules were essentially Charge! basic rules, with some slight modification necessary because my line infantry figures are mounted with six figures per base.The light infantry were allowed a nine inch move when in open order, and could fire up to a maximum range of nine inches while so deployed.

Ah, an orderly has just entered with the casualty roll: there are despatches to be written. My narrative of the battle must be delayed until my next post.