Sunday, 10 October 2010

Return to Germany

Our latest game was a battle from the later years of the Seven Years War. It was based on the Battle of Lutterburg and pitched the combined French and Imperial forces against Frederick's German allies. The joint Hanoverian and Hessian force held a ridge covering the retreat of the main force over the river Werra. (An outline of the battle can be found on the Project Seven Years War website

It was decided not to field the main French force, the scenario therefore concentrated on the flanking move through difficult terrain. Here is the Allied centre, held by Hessian and Hanoverian infantry brigade, supported by Hanoverian cavalry. The Hanoverian grenadier brigade held the Allied left facing the main enemy attack.

Due to the resticted terrain the French commander decided to take two brigades of Imperial infantry and the cavalry and move towards the enemy centre, thereby pinning them in position and restricting their opportunities to reinforce the troops defending the left flank. Everything seemed to move in slow motion for the French and Imperial forces. The woods delayed the infantry advance and restricted the field of fire for their artillery and for some obscure reason, (we are still awaiting the report of the cavalry commander on this point), the cavalry moved in line instead of column, giving the allies plenty of time to consider their options.

After the French infantry had struggled through the wood they found themselves fired on by the allied artillery and faced by the deployed grenadier battalions awaiting their advance. To the left of the wood was a small hamlet, garrisoned by some Frei Korps. This needed to be cleared so a

battalion of Imperial grenadiers was ordered to capture it. Advancing with some confidence the grenadiers charged home, only to be repulsed with significant casualties. They brought up artillery support, but this proved singulalry ineffective. Ordered forward again, the grenadiers advanced and this time prevailed.

Meanwhile the Hanoverian grenadiers were proving more than a match for the French infantry as the latter struggled out of the wood and then reformed before advancing into controlled, punishing volleys.

It was at this point that the Allied commander sensed that he had sufficient time to extract the majority of his force before his left was overwhelmed. He advanced his cavalry to cover the retreating infantry and the Imperial forces were too far away to intervene. The French cavalry advanced but were unable to defeat the Hanoverian Horse Grenadiers. After an inconclusive melee both sides fell back to reform. The Saxon cavalry now advanced, the first line defeated their Hanoverian opponents, but were unable to rein in and pursued their foes. As the second line of Saxon cavalry moved forward the Allied commander committed his last reserve, the horse regiment Von Reden; if they were defeated, the route to the bridgehead would be open and the retreating Allied infantry columns at the mercy of the advancing French and Saxon cavalry.

In a short but deperate melee the Hanoverian Horse prevailed, not only that, but they retained their command, reformed, and charged the Saxon cavalry which had broken through previously. This second unit was also defeated, so, with the situation restored, the Allied forces could withdraw unmolested. Their casulaties had been heavy, but the bulk of the force had managed to fall back to a position on the far side of the river Werra, ready to oppose any further French and Imperial advance.

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