Tuesday, 3 November 2015

A Thirty Years War scenario

My wife and I have just returned from Scotland, where we visited my wargaming opponent of many years, Alasdair and his wife.  During the day we visited museums and historic sites, but for the evenings Alasdair had laid on a large scale Thirty Years War game for 'us boys'.

Swedes were opposed by Imperialists and we used the 1644 ruleset.  Alasdair had had some ideas about representing the caracole tactics used by the Imperialist cavalry and set up a scenario to try out the new mechanisms.  He took command of the Imperialists and deployed his cavalry in deep formations (4 ranks of 5 or 6 figures).  In the centre he had his infantry deployed in 'late tercios',  5 ranks deep and 11 wide.

Bavarian tercio with cuirassiers supporting their flank
I took command of the Swedes and their centre was composed of 6 brigades of infantry, (each of two regiments), with batteries of heavy guns in support..  On the flanks were the cavalry all deployed  two deep.

The standing order for the Imperialist cavalry was to use their pistols in preference to charging in with the sword, so the onus was on me to attack.  Obligingly, I sent forward my cavalry.  On my right flank, the king himself directed operations.  Inspired, the Finnish regiments surged forward and ignoring the pistol fire of the opposing reiters charged home, hacking about them with a will.  The Swedish  cuirassiers, faced by a unit of Pappenheim's  cuirassiers didn't make the same progress.

Imperialist Cavalry
 On the opposite wing, although the Swedes charged forward with enthusiasm, the Imperialists stood their ground and absorbed the first shock.  The second wave followed the first, but still the Imperialists held firm.  Now the extra ranks of the Imperialist cavalry began to join in and the pressure on the Swedish cavalry increased.

In the centre both infantry bodies had advanced to within musket range and began to exchange volleys.  Both sides had support from their artillery and losses mounted.  Two bodies of Imperialst cuirassiers moved forward to add their pistol fire, but both were decimated by the Swedish artillery and achieved nothing.

The Finns drive off the reiters
On the Swedish right, Pappenheim committed his Lifeguard to try and stem the Finnish advance. This they achieved, forcing Gustavus to commit both his regiments.  Eventually they overcame the gallant Lifeguard, but when they tried to attack some dismounted dragoons, a volley stopped them in their tracks.  Gustavus and his Lifeguard had charged into the continuing cuirassier melee. Their extra impetus tilted the balance in the Swedes favour.

The Imperialist cuirassiers rout
The Imperialist heavy cavalry broke and routed back past the artillery and their commander.  It took time for Gustavus to redeploy his remaining cavalry to threaten the Imperialist centre.  However, Tilly had used the delay to move his reserves to form a new flank.

The Swedish left breaks
At this point we called a halt and discussed the impact of the rule amendments.

1          Pistol fire was pretty ineffective.  (no surprise there !)
2          If the deep formations retained their command, their numbers would tell
3          There needed to be some way to allow the Imperialsts to charge when opportunities presented             themselves.  Perhaps by passing a command test.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see that collection on the table again David.
    Interesting rules experiment with the caracoles too.