Friday, October 14, 2016

Day 10: Sans Souci

We visited Frederick's palace of Sans Souci in Potsdam on Wednesday October 12, 2016. I will just post some of the pix for your viewing pleasure. Sans Souci is a small palace by contemporary standards and Frederick had a large hand in the design of the building and interiors.

Sans Souci: Without a Care
The front facade presides over a terraced garden.

Andy Warhol's take on Frederick II

His grave. Visitors traditionally place a potato on his grave (for good luck?).

The graves of Fritz and his dogs. No spouse though.

Frederick died in this BarcaLounger. In his last days he couldn't breath unless sitting upright. A hidden foot rest folds out as needed.

His writing desk.

His Music Room

Picture gallery in a separate building contains lots of Reubens and Van Dyke paintings.

That is the end of the Duffy Tour of 2016. A good time was had by all, including yours truly, and it was great to see some long time friends from Sweden, Italy, Britain, Germany, Canada and the USA. It will probably be Christopher Duffy's last guided tour due to health problems, but I did a terrific job of presenting the facts about the battles and produced many a laugh with his wry, tongue-in-cheek sense of humor.

Best of all though, I feel my SYW mojo coming back and look forward to hitting the painting table and game table once again.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Day 9: Kunersdorf & Zorndorf

Roundshot (12-pd) on the lower left and a unicorn shell on the lower left/right. Gregory hold a piece of grapeshot in his right hand and a 6-pd roundshot in his left hand.

We left Dresden this morning in sunshine, but soon encountered pouring rain which lasted all the way to Frankfurt on the Oder. We then crossed the Oder where we entered the town of Slubice and met up with a battlefield archeologist, named Gregory, who has been searching the Kunersdorf battlefield since 2009 and documenting where he found metal. His findings are the basis for some new interpretations of what actually happened at Kunersdorf.

We entered Gregory's laboratory/office where we found a number of artifacts layed out across several tables, including musket balls, artillery roundshot and howitzer fragments, and buttons from both sides.

Large cartridge box emblem (left) and Russian grenadier emblems, center and right.
Prussian cartridge box emblem.

Gregory (right - grey sweater) explains his findings to Christopher Duffy (center ) and the rest of the group.

This is what the plateau looks like where the Russian army deployed. In 1994, this was an open field without a single building in sight. I'm afraid that Kunersdorf will be over run with development in 5-10 more years.

Kunersdorf map from Duffy.

Based on the volume of bullets recovered on the Grosser Spitzberg, which was the midpoint in the Russian line, the Prussian infantry advanced this far as many Prussian bullets were found here. Russian bullets were larger than Prussian bullets so the difference is readily apparent. Previously thinking was that the Prussians only advanced as far as the Kuh Grund.

Gregory also surmised that Russian musket fire was more measured and deliberate whereas the Prussians expended far more ammunition than the Russians at Kunersdorf. After the battle, the Russians would have scoured the field to collect all unused bullet cartridges to replenish their supplies. Fired lead bullets were also collected, when available, as lead was valuable and could be melted down to form new bullets. Most of the bullets collected on the battle field were unfired, suggesting that they might have been in ammo pouches ( cloth or leather which deteriorated when buried underground ).

The distribution of buttons also provides some clues to events on the field. Soldiers were usually stripped of their clothing and then thrown into a common grave for burial. The Russians stayed on the field the first day to perform burials, they did holy services on the second day, and left the field area on the third day so that soldiers were not exposed to disease.


It was getting late in the day when we arrived at Zorndorf and it was cold and rainy, so most of this tour was done by bus, with one stop near a monument that the Poles have erected on the battlefield 

The Zabern Grund lies at the treeline in this picture.

The Zabern Grund lies over the horizon 

Site where the Prussian advanced guard of Manteufel advanced, from right to left. The buildings in the distance are the town of Zorndorf 

Get out the maps and compasses and figure out where we are.

That's all for now.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Day 8: Koenigstein Castle & Dresden

A drawing of Koenigstein by Canaletto, circa 1756.

Today we started our journey by taking a ride from Dresden to Pirna and a final destination at Festung Koenigstein.

Koenigstein provides a commanding view of the Elbe River.

Another view from Koenigstein looking at the back side.

One of the many Saxon 24 pound siege guns. Note the traditional Saxon carriage colors of black with yellow iron work.

Can you identify these people, circa the early 1730s?

Another view of the gentleman in red.

A gorgeous model of Augustus II's entourage for road travel done with figures of approximately 70mm.

Repairing a broken wheel.

The Saxon Garde du Corps surround the king. The common folk bow as the King passes.

A traveling wagon was not a spectacular parade coach. Note all the room for baggage storage.

The Liebkuirassiers escort the royal coach.

The King riding his white steed. 

More Garde du Corps.

And now for a couple of pictures of Dresden. We spent several hours visiting the Residence Museum of the reign of Augustus the Strong. Dresden is a beautiful city and many of the historic buildings have been rebuilt since WW2 using the paintings of Canoletto as their guide.

Street scene in Dresden.

Restoration of the Royal Palace is nearly complete 

Mural depicting every ruler of Saxony from the beginning of time to the end of the monarchy.

Jeweled miniatures depicting the Grand Mogoul of India receiving his nobles. This display cost 60,000 Thalers in 1750 ( estimate) which was a veritable fortune in those days.

Display of Medievil Armor.

Turkish artifacts on display.

Day 7: Torgau

The church at Elsnig where Frederick recovered from being hit by a spent musket ball during the battle of Torgau.

We travelled northwest of Dresden today to visit the site of the Battle of Torgau, fought in 1760 between Frederick of Prussia and Leopold Daun of Austria. It was a bit rainy today so most of my battlefield pictures were taken on my iPhone so as to keep my iPad dry. I will have to transfer photos from the phone to the pad at a later date. I did manage to snap a few pix from the bus towards the end of the visit.

Torgau was one of the Prussian depots on the Elbe River and the site of the last piece of high ground before the terrain opened up into the flat Northern German Plain that extends all the way to the North and Baltic Seas. So Torgau had double strategic importances to Frederick. Frederick borrowed the Austrian style of attacking in various columns all timed to arrive at the Austrian position at the same time. This was a departure from the usual Prussian tactics. Three columns were designated to march from the south, through the woods, north of the Austrian deployment on the Torgau ridge and hopefully catch the Austrians by surprise with an attack in the rear. Daun sensed this and shifted the facing of his army to the north.

Meanwhile, Zieten's corps remained south of the ridge and was supposed to pin the Austrians in place, but this did not happen as noted above with Daun's redeployment.

So Fredererick's army emerged from the woods and to his horror he found that he was looking down the barrels of the Austrian artillery. He had no idea where Zieten was and since he was committed to battle, the attack was launched, spearheaded by nearly all of his grenadier battalions.

The terrain of Torgau is such that one cannot hear the sound of battle from one side of the plateau to the other, so Zieten could not hear that Frederick had started the battle. The Prussians were getting slaughtered, but they kept on attacking. At one point, Frederick was hit by a musket ball, which knocked him senseless ( no, he did not run away from the battle as some pro Austrian writers might suggest) and he was removed to the church at Elsnig to recover.

Meanwhile, Zieten finally arrived in the rear of the Austrian position, via the town of Suptitz. One of his aides found a causeway through the mashy ground in the area and so the Prussians advanced forward. Additional luck came in the form of a re-entrant that obscured the Prussians from the Austrians up on the plateau. Thus did the Prussians arrive on the plateau late in the day and cause the Austrians to retire from the battlefield. It was a tactical and Pyrrhic victory for the Prussians, but the losses were staggering.

Door to the Elsnig church

The causeway near Suptitz where Zieten's corps traversed when it snuck into the rear of the Austrian lines.

A view of the open ground at Torgau showing the slight rise of the plateau where the Austrian army deployed. I believe that this where Frederick's grenadiers attacked and were massacred by the Austrian artillery.

Typical farmhouse construction of the 18th Century, for those who would like to build models.

One interesting note about the battle, the Austrians expended nearly all of their ammunition by the conclusion of the battle and thus were not able to fire at Zieten's corps when it arrived at the end of the battle.


Saturday, October 8, 2016

Day 6: Hohenfriedberg & Leuthen

Mollendorf's Gate at the Leuthen Church

Today we travelled into Poland to see The Big One: the Battle of Leuthen fought on December 5, 1757 as well as Hohenfriedberg, fought in October 1745. Leuthen is Frederick the Great's military masterpiece in which he employed the oblique order tactic to perfection, allowing the 39,000-man Prussian army to defeat the larger  Austrian army of 65,000 troops.

Hohenfriedberg was fought in 1745, during the Second Silesian War and is notably for several things: (1) it was the largest battle ever fought in Silesian with over 120,000 total combatants, and (2) it is the battle in which the Prussian Bayreuth Dragoons won everlasting fame with their cavalry charge that routed the Austrian army, capturing 5 cannon, 67 colours, and 2,900 men in a span of only 20 minutes, while losing only 94 men.

Information sign at Hohenfriedberg 

Memorial at Hohenfriedberg.

The ground over which the Bayreuth Dragoons charged into the Austrian army.

Here are some pictures taken at the site of the Battle of Leuthen:

Mollendorf's Gate

The inside of the church courtyard showing how high the walls were.

Charles Grant and Ken Bunger stand guard outside the church walls, depicting the height of the walls relative to that of a man.

The unusual corner turrets of the churchyard walls.

A view of Leuthen from the church.

The approach March or attack of the Prussian army from south to north.mbarely visible in the background are the two church spires in Leuthen 

The flat open terrain outside of Leuthen

I was last in Leuthen in 1998 and I'm sorry to report that suburban development is starting to envelope the town of Leuthen. There were many new houses built since my last visit and I could see several,blocks of row houses being built just to the north of the town. I dare say that in about ten years the whole battlefield will be lost to the developers as Leuthen has become a bedroom suburb of Wroclaw.