Sunday, 30 May 2010

Bridges part 2

This week saw the return of the Annexation of Chiraz campaign. The Battle of Cressay continued with more cavalry action on the eastern bank. Regardless of their reduced numbers the gallant Chiraz light cavalry continued to hamper and hinder the progress of the two Electoral League cuirassier regiments. Although pushed back they would reform and return to the fray.
Meanwhile General Marquis de St Evremond fretted at the speed with which his Lorraine forces were deploying into position. Circumstances were not helped by the telling fire laid down on the Lorraine forces by Major Brummer's Electoral artillery. Although two brigades of Lorraine infantry had escaped attention, the rear two were suffering heavy casualties and incurring delays in redresssing ranks and replacing injured officers. Fortunately the grenadier battalions were doing a sterling job covering the bridges and causing some hesitation in the Electoral ranks.
Wilhelm sensed that he was losing the initiative and ordered General von Harding to cross the Goldsmith's bridge without delay. Under cover of a howitzer battery the Electoral infantry began to cross the bridge, glancing nervously at the Lorraine battalions which awaited them on the opposite side. St Evremond was nervous also; he could see that those waiting battalions were losing men with each salvo of shell and there seemed to be many 'assisting' the wounded to the rear. However, his main concern was on the northern flank. The last of the four bridges was covered by the Cressay town guard, a rag-tag assembly of apprentices, tradesment and burghers under the command of the town mayor. If they could hold for another 20 minutes his lead brigade would be in position and his flank would be secure.
It was not to be. The lead electoral curassier regiment (Von Seydlitz - whose inhaber was from a cadet branch of the Prussian Seydlitz's) managed to elude the covering Chiraz light cavalry and dashed for the bridge. The sight of these horsemen was too much for the town guard, which took to their collective heels. Once over the bridge, Seydlitz formed his men up and led them forward towards the nearest brigade of Lorraine infantry, that of General Puilly. When charged one battalion broke and fled, their supports stood and fired a ragged volley, but they were also scattered. Just then an aide galloped up and shouted that yet more Electoral cavalry had been sighted advancing from the south. St Evremond could feel the noose of envelopment tightening around his army. He dare not risk losing such a significant part of the Lorraine forces. Quickly, he issued the orders for retreat. Puilly was to stand and face down the enemy cavalry, but the rest of the forces fell back westwards leaving the day to the Prince Elector.
Wilhelm acknowledged the part played by his subordinates in the victory. Majer Brummer was awarded the Order of the Bear (3rd class)for his handling of the artillery. General von Harding received the Star of St George (2nd class) for the advance over the Goldsmith's Bridge. The main award went to General Seydlitz who was awarded the Electoral Star, with crossed swords and a victory standard for his regiment for his decisive charge.

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