Friday, 14 May 2010

A Bridge Too Far?

After a diversion to 17thC Poland for last week's battle, this week saw the return to the Annexation of Chiraz and the continuing efforts of the Electoral League to thwart the ambitions of the Grand Duchy of Lorraine. The Prince Elector Wilhelm von Schlangen-Augen, commanding the forces of the League, was determined that the less than competent efforts of Lord Percy would not hinder his, (Wilhelm's) military ambitions. Anxious that Chiraz and Lorraine would not gain any advantage from Lord Percy's attempts to cross the Junger, the Prince gathered his forces and pushed on with all speed to seize the bridges over the River Cressay.

His vanguard of light cavalry and jaeger reported that the nearest bridge, that of the Goldsmiths, was guarded by infantry behind an improvised barricade and enemy light cavalry were observed to the North.

On the other side of the Cressay a growing dust cloud heralded the approach of more enemy forces and so Wilhelm ordered his cavalry forward to secure the eastern bank of the Cressay.

This opened up a gap between the vanguard and the main body of the army and the commander of the Lorraine forces pushed a second brigade of light cavalry forward to cross the Goldsmith's bridge and cause more delay.

The light cavalry melee flowed backwards and forwards with first one side and then the other gaining an advantage. Just as the second Lorraine light cavalry brigade threatened to overwhelm the Electoral cavalry, support, in the form of Von Seydlitz's cuirassier brigade arrived. In a short, and unequal contest, they overwhelmed their lighter opponents and cleared the way for the Electoral infantry to advance on Goldsmith's bridge.

By now the main Lorraine forces were arriving, 18 battalions of foot, hurrying to secure the bridges. Wilhelm's own infantry, delayed by the threat posed by the Lorraine cavalry and hampered by the restricted terrain, also began to move northwards hoping to secure the vital bridgehead. The gallant defenders of the Goldsmith's bridge, the Cressay Militia, who had observed the growing enemy strength with some alarm, were delighted to receive the order to fall back to the next line of defence. Their Colonel, an officer in exile, by the name of Mannering, was heard that he would have liked to, "have a go at the them, but had been denied the chance by those half-hearted types across the river". Perhaps fortunately for his men, the orders to withdraw arrived before Mannering could implement his plans.

Phase two of the battle, where the main bodies engage, will be reported on in due course.

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