Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mittelstadt - a SYW scenario for Konig Krieg

Mittelstadt is a small town on the Braunwasser a minor tributary of the Main.  The French command have begun to establish a magazine there to support their planned advance eastwards.  The Allied command have heard news of this development and sent a force under General James Marlborough Blackadder (last in action over 2 years ago ( post ) to capture the town and destroy (or carry off) the magazine.  For this action he has 4 brigades of line infantry (4 battalions Hessians, 4 battalions British, a mixed brigade of Brunswick and Prussians,  and 3 battalions of highlanders).  In addition he has 1 converged grenadier battalion and a battalion of jaegers.   The cavalry arm is represented by 3 regiments of dragoons and there are two light guns.

The French defenders of Mittelstadt

The French cavalry

The Braunwasser flows across the battlefield,with Mittelstadt on the western bank close to the bridge. On Blackadder's right is a wood and a ford of the river.  His left is fairly open terrain and he therefore stationed his cavalry there.  The jaeger are on the right and the infantry make up the centre. Blackadder aims to pin the French in the centre and then force the ford using his highlanders, rolling up the enemy line.

Royal Allemand drive off the British dragoons

As the allied forces deploy, the French commander, the Marquis d'Ecoles deployed to defend his position.  His 15 infantry battalions (in 4 brigades) were deployed along his front from the bridge to the ford.  On his right the cavalry, 2 units of French cavalry supported by a regiment of Reichsarmee cuirassiers, faced up to the British dragoons.  The two light guns were supporting the infantry line. Expecting his cavalry to be stronger than their opponents, the Marquis intended to attack with his right, drive off the enemy cavalry and then roll up the infantry as they attacked.

The firefight develops along the river bank
The battle opened with a general Allied advance.  Once the two forces came within artillery range, the French cavalry moved forward.  Their charge proved too much for the dragoons who were driven back in disorder and then attacked again by the exultant French.  The issue was not in doubt. In a trice, all Blackadder's cavalry had fled the field and his left flank was 'in the air' .  This required one of his brigades, the mixed Brunswick/Prussian, to abandon its advance and turn to meet this new threat.   Quickly forming a line towards the enemy cavalry, the infantry awaited the onslaught.

The Frei Korps rout

On the opposite flank the jaeger had made good progress through the wood and soon began a nagging fire on the French infantry across the Braunwasser.  By the time the highlanders approached the ford one of the enemy battalions had been forced to retire due to its high casualties.  Supported by one of the light guns, the highlanders prepared to force their way across the river.

In the centre the British and Hessian brigades were having a tough time.  Under fire from the French artillery and lashed by volleys from the French infantry, their ranks were thinning.  However, true to their traditions they stood their ground and replied in kind, tearing gaps in the French ranks with their volleys.

On the Allied left the crisis of the battle approached.  The reformed French cavalry charged the infantry opposing them.  A Brunswick battalion remained in line and stopped the cavalry with a devastating volley.  To their left, a unit of Prussian Frei Korps had formed square, but their nerve broke as the horsemen closed and they broke and ran.  Fortunately for the allied cause, Blackadder had formed up his grenadiers behind the Frei Korps and the sight of the steady ranks of mitre capped infantry was enough to halt the onrushing French.    Withdrawing the French cavalry attacked again, but once again were beaten back.  A final charge by the Reichsarmee cuirassiers ended in dismal failure as the leading squadrons were shredded by canister as they closed on the Brunswick infantry.

Artillery supports the Brunswickers

The second French cavalry attack
The Marquis ordered forward infantry to support his cavalry and they threatened to swing the balance in favour of the French, but Blackadder re-deployed a hessian battalion and this supported by the second light gun drove back the French.

The French infantry attack the Hessians

The highlanders attack across the ford

Following up a salvo of canister shot, the highlanders rushed across the ford.  The battalion facing them, already shaken, was unable to stand against the charge and retreated.  A second highland battalion now crossed and drove back another French battalion with musketry.  Reacting to this threat, the Marquis ordered one of his light guns to the endangered sector.  The fire from this gun halted the allied attack just long enough for the Marquis to rally his fleeing infantry and form a new defence line.  Blackadder for his part could see that his British line battalions were at the end of their tether, all had suffered heavy casualties and their retreat opened a gap in his line.  The highlanders advance although successful was leading them into a salient and further advance risked their destruction.  He therefore decided that withdrawal was the best option.  Although Mittelstadt had not been captured the French forces had suffered heavy casualties and it would be some time before they could contemplate an advance.

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