Before the report on our latest SYW battle I must correct something from the previous blog. The company which manufactured the fences I bought at the Stoke show is Ironclad Miniatures, not Ironclad Games.
One of my regular wargames opponents has recently increased his SYW Russian army by investing in some more cavalry regiments. To give the new 'lads' a run out, a scenario was drawn up whereby a Russian force had invaded eastern Prussia and Frederick had responded by gathering up a force to oppose them. The Prussian response had forced the Russian commnader, Saltykov, to take up a defensive position where he could take advantage of the renowned fighting qualities of his troops. The position chosen by the Russians was a steep ridge(requiring one full move to ascend), with a wood and village on the southern end and a church on the northern end. A stream rose near the centre of the ridge and flowed westwards between steep banks, again requiring a full move to cross. The western slopes also had areas of ground impassable to formed troops. Behind the southern end of the ridge was a ruined village. For the Prussians to be victorious they needed to capture either both villages, or, one village and the church.
This is a general view of the centre of the Russian line. It was supported by two field batteries and one howitzer battery. The southern end of the ridge was held by a brigade of grenadiers with an attached light gun. The church and churchyard were garrisoned by the first battalion of the Schusselburg regiment plus a light gun, with the second battalion and both battalions of the Ingermanland regiment in support. In traditonal style the flanks were held by cavalry, both wings having a mix of heavy (horse grenadiers/cuirassier), light and irregular units. A regiment of dragoons were held in reserve.
Frederick decided that he would use his favourite tactic of an oblique attack. His army was divided into two forces. The northern (left) would attempt to pin the enemy right and centre, whilst the bulk of the army (right)would attack the enemy left. This would mean tackling the brigade of Russian grenadiers, but Frederick was confident that his units of Guards would be up to the task.
The first task for the Prussians was to defeat the Russian cavalry to protect the flank of the infantry advancing towards the ridge. The Prussian right swept forward, led by the Von Reusch Hussars, who had little regard for the Kalmuck troops facing them. Goaded by the Kalmuck archery the hussars got ahead of their supports and the Russian cavalry commander sensed he had a chance to attack the hussars in flank.
He ordered his cuirassier regiment to wheel to their left end then charge. The future looked bleak for von Reusch, but in the nick of time (lucky initiative dice) the Garde du Corps charged forward and caught the Russian cuirassiers in flank. In no time the Russian cavalry were in retreat and the Prussian elite cavalry surged forward believing that the Kalmucks in front of them would be no match for them. However, it was not to be. Already disorganised by the melee against the cuirassiers, they suffered casualties from the archery of the Kalmucks who then stood and defeated them in melee. So, the pride of the Prussian mounted arm, fled to the rear and played no further part in the battle. This victory bought only a brief respite for the Russian left flank cavalry as in quick succession the horse grenadiers were caught and defeated by the Von Buddenbrock Cuirassier and then the Kalmucks were driven from the field by Von Reusch. Unfortunately for the Prussians, the hussars lost command and pursued their opponents off table being lost for the rest of the battle.
On the northern flank the Russian cavalry advanced and the cuirassiers led the way, supported by a regiment of horse grenadiers.
On the right of the heavy cavalry were the light cavalry, a regiment of hussars plus one of Cossacks. Opposing them were two regiments of cuirassiers and two of hussars, one of which was a frei hussaren unit. The first clash was between two units of cuirassier with the Russians victorious. As the Prussian regiment fell back the Russian commander decided not to exploit his victory, he may well have been wary of becoming isolated, because he advanced the horse grenadiers to cover the flank of the cuirassiers.
As the cavalry clashed on the flanks, the Prussian infantry moved forward supported by their artillery. The Prussians were not having things all their own way. The Russian artillery was inflicting heavy casulaties on the packed ranks and half of the fusilier brigade tasked with pinning the Russian right flank infantry fell back, having to be rallied by Frederick himself and led back to action. The other brigade in the 'pinning' force was also suffering, not helped by having to manouevre across the stream directly in front of the howitzer battery. In spite of their losses they were pushed forward, encouraged by the scathing remarks of the commander of the Guard infantry. The activities of the Russian light infantry added to the problems of the attacking Prussians. Pandours and jaegers made full use of the broken ground, proving adept at picking of guardsmen and then pulling back into terrain where they could not followed.
The Russians did not have things all their own way. The Prussian artillery began to take a toll on the front line of Russian infantry and the grenadiers were forced back from the edge of the ridge into the cover of the village. Seeing the threat to his left, Saltykov began to lead troops to that sector, thinning out his right. But he had another problem, Prussian cavalry was beginning to probe around the ridge. If they moved to the rear of the ridge he would have to find troops to defend his rear, thinning the line defending against the Prussian infantry even more. He therefore moved his last cavalry reserve to block the Prussians and supported it with the reformed, but now depleted, horse grenadiers.
On the Russian right the cavalry combat continued. The Prussian cuirassiers had now reformed and faced the Russian cuirassiers and horse grenadiers, but the decisive action would take place between the light cavalry forces. The Prussian hussars defeated their opponents and taking the initiative (via a lucky dice roll), attacked the flank of the horse grenadiers. They broke after a short, but bloody melee. Their fellow heavy cavalry, the cuirassiers were also defeated and then routed by the pursuing hussars. Now both Russian flanks were defeated.
Saltykov deployed more units to cover his rear.
The Prussian cavalry continued to advance,pushing back the Russian dragoons and horse grenadiers. To their rear they could see the Prussian left flank cavalry advancing, they were in a trap.
The day was lost for Saltykov; his infantry held the ridge for the moment, but with no cavalry, the only option was to attempt to retreat.
In the post action discussion we decided that a revision was needed to the initiative rule in Konig Kreig. In a Prussian - Russian action with Frederick present the Prussians have at least a plus two on initiative, enough to almost guarantee a win. Even with a strong Russian position this was a decided advantage. Therefore in future, the msximum initiative advantage would be +1 for the Prussians
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