Our scenario this week was set in the early years of the 17th C, and concerned the ongoing rivalry between Poland and Sweden for dominance along the Baltic coastal area. At this time the Swedish army was not the feared fighting force it would become under Gustavus Adolphus, but the battles against the Poles provided it with valuable experience which led to the development of the tactics which would prove so useful in future campaigns.
A small Swedish force has advanced into Polish territory and the local Polish commander has gathered what forces he can to oppose this incursion. The Swedes have a balanced force of infantry and cavalry with two light guns; the Poles are fielding a force which is 80% cavalry,containing Cossack light cavalry, Pancerni and Hussars.
The Polish commander quickly glanced at the Swedish dispositions and decided to attack (no surprise there!). The Swedes had drawn up their forces with the infantry and light guns in the centre and cavalry equally divided between the wings, apart from a small reserve under the control of the Swedish commander. The Polish commander decided his best option was to attach the flanks whilst pinning the infantry centre. Ignoring his two units of Haiduk infantry he ordered his light cavalry forward to cover the advance of his Hussars and Pancerni.
The attack on the Polish right was first into action. The Cossacks used their bows to try and sting the Swedes into attacking them. In this they succeeded and one reiter unit charged forward.
The initial contact was indecisive, but the Cossacks were joined by a unit of Pancerni and the Swedes began to be pushed back. A unit of cuirassier moved forward to help the reiter, but they were met by more Pancerni and then a unit of Hussars. To further discomfort the Swedish left some of the Cossacks had worked their way around the flank and were harassing the Swedish reserve cavalry.
Meanwhile, in the centre, the Swedish infantry were standing to their duty. Supported by the light artillery, they were slowly driving off the skirmishing light cavalry with volley fire.
The Polish commander was required to move forward his reserve Hussar squadrons to pin the infantry in place, relying on the Hussars' armour to reduce casualties. It was with some mixed feelings that he saw that his subordinate had anticipated events and ordered the Polish infantry to advance towards the Swedish lines. Surely his cavalry didn't need the help of those peasants?
On the Polish left there had been some delay in getting the cavalry deployed, the Hussars 'requesting' they be in the van. Eventually they moved forward and a fierce melee took place between the two cavalry forces. The Swedes absorbed the initial shock of impact, but as more Polish units joined the fray the Swedes began to give ground.
Galled by the light artillery and musketry the units of Hussars in the polish centre attacked. The gunners abandoned their guns and sought refuge behind the infantry. The infantry stood their ground and fired a volley at point blank range. The few Hussars who managed to reach the Swedish line were driven off by the pikes. Falling back, the Hussars rallied and were joined by fresh units and charged again. Again the Swedes held their fire until the last moment, but this time the Poles would not be stopped and a fierce melee developed on the Swedish right.
As he looked about him the Swedish commander saw that the day was lost. His left wing cavalry had been all but destroyed. His final reserve, his personal lifeguard had been sent to try and stem the flood, but they were in danger of being overwhelmed. On his right, it was only a matter of time before his remaining cavalry were swept from the field . In fact the rout of his reiter had dragged off three units of Polish cavalry in pursuit and helped to reduce the threat of his centre being surrounded. One unit of infantry would have to be sacrificed, but the rest could escape.
The Polish commander had no fresh cavalry to harass the Swedish retreat. His reserve had dashed itself against the infantry. His only fresh troops were his infantry and they were too slow to intervene. All he could do was accept the surrender of the surviving Swedish troops and see to his wounded.
David Rowlands 5th Regiment at Wilhelmstahl
10 hours ago