Monday, October 13, 2008

Battle of Freiberg Pictures & Report

The glorious charge of the Prussian Garde du Corps into the French Royal Deux Ponts regiment. Front Rank French and Elite Miniatures Prussian cavalry.

Note: click on all the pictures to enlarge the view.

On Saturday October 11, 2008 I hosted my third annual Old School Wargaming Big Battalion Game at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort in Lincolnshire, Illinois. The game featured a Seven Years War battle between the French & Austrians against the Prussians, using largely 28mm and 30mm figures. The battle was fought across two tables measuring 6 feet wide by 30 feet long, each. The tables were set up parallel to one another with a 6 foot aisle in between the tables. The aisle did not exist for wargaming purposes. See picture below:

Each side had approximately 1200 infantry and 400 cavalry along with 90 pounds of artillery per side. The scenario was based on the ACW action at Gettysburg, featuring Longstreet's attack on the Round Tops, Devils Den and Peach Orchard - only disguised as a SYW scenario. As you look at the many pictures of the terrain, the similarities will become apparent. In place of the Peach Orchard, I placed some high ground in front of the French lines and replaced the orchard with a village that I called Remstadt. I allowed the French the choice of deploying on their back table edge or as far forward as high ground around Remstadt. Much like General Sickles chose to do, so too did the French deploy as far forward as allowed by the game judge.

The Devils Den terrain was replaced by the Zimmerwald, a light forest that covered a small hillock, while Little Round Top was replaced by the village of Leopoldau.

The Zimmerwald in the foreground and the village of Leopoldau in the background. The Muhlenberg hill can also be seen in the background to the left.

The high ground around the village of Remstadt was occuppied by four battalions of French infantry and two 12-pound batteries of 3 guns each.
A long ridge continued from Remstadt back towards the far right flank of the French army. The ridge, known as the Galgenberg (Cemetary Ridge), extended to the town of Freiberg (Gettysburg). The Prussian side of the table also had a long ridge line known as the Schmeidberg (Seminary Ridge) and the left flank of the Prussian army rested on a wooded area known as the Kindlewald and the nearby village of Kinderhof. These I just made up these features to be points to be contested and to provide a natural terrain feature on the Prussian flank.

Prussian von Kliest frei-korps company advances along the wooded road through the Kindlewald to the village of Kinderhof, on the Prussian far left flank.

Prussian brigade of the Duke of Bevern, supported by the Prinz von Preussen (CR2) cuirassiers fill in the ground from the Kindlewald to the Schmeidberg hill. This represented the "refused" left wing of the Prussian army.

The Prussian strategy was to attack the French right wing between the Zimmerwald and the high ground at Remstadt, while holding back, or "refusing", its left wing to keep the French army pinned down so that it could not support the fighting at Remstadt. The Erbprinz Friedrich held back a reserve of two guard battalions, one musketeer battalion, two howitzers, and three squadrons of the Garde du Corps (CR13) with the intention of supporting the attack on Remstadt. Moritz von Anhalt Dessau commanded the Prussian right wing of 8 battalions and 7 squadrons of cavalry, while Hans von Zieten commanded the Advance Guard of light troops (one jager battalion, 7 squadrons of hussars, and a battery of horse artillery). Zieten would attack the Zimmerwald and keep the French from launching any attacks into Prinz Moritz's right flank as he advanced on Remstadt.

The Prussian right wing under the command of the Duke of Bevern. The generals (from left to right) Zieten, Seydlitz and Bevern confer prior to the start of the game. Note the battery of Prussian 12-pounders next to the village of Almsdorf, positioned to pound the French in Remstadt.

Von Zieten's advance guard of light troops deploys in the "light zone" prior to the start of the game.

One thing that we did to promote more fluid movement during the game was to establish "light troop zones" covering the ending four feet of table space on each flank of the table. The only troops that could be deployed in the light zones prior to the game were light infantry and cavalry. Thereafter, any other troops could move into these light zones.

Various villages and hills had point values - each table had 45 points worth of terrain features. The side that held the most terrain points at the end of the game would be the winner. Additional points could be earned for things such as captured flags, routed units, captured artillery pieces (all one point each). Finally, the side that inflicted the most casualties would receive a victory point.

The Battle of Freiberg Begins - Action on the Prussian left at Kinderhof
The first couple of game turns were done using an "army card draw". Since we did not expect much in the way of firing during the first several turns, as the armies closed within cannon and musket range, we simply drew a single card to determine which army would move first. All units of one side, say the Prussians, would move if a red card were drawn, while all French units could move when a black card was drawn. This served to speed up the game, rather than drawing cards for every sector of the table. Once the armies were within firing range, we would revert to card draws by table sector (each sector covering 5 feet of table length).

The Prussians occupy Kinderhof and the Kindlewald on their left flank early in the game. This gave the Prussians control of 10 terrain points in total. The Zieten (Blue) hussars (H2) and the IR42 Margraf Friedrich fusilier regiment are shown above.

The town of Friedberg, opposite Kinderhof, depicting the advance of the French cavalry regiment Mestre-de-Camp, supported by the Arquebusiers de Grassin and the light infantry of the Chasseurs de Fischer.

The French attack on Kinderhof is countered by Prussian cuirassiers and Bevern's infantry brigade of four battalions. The Chasseurs de Fischer would charge into Kinderhof, defended by the von Kliest frei-korps, only to be driven out by the IR42 Markgraf Friedrich fusiliers.

Chasseurs de Fischer assault the village of Kinderhof. The French regular infantry regiment La Reine appear to have the better of the fire fight with the Prussian Alt Darmstadt (IR12) regiment that is trying to support the village. Saxon von Bruhl light dragoons support the La Reine regiment.

Another view of the intense fighting around Kinderhof. The Prussian CR2 cuirassiers support the Alt Darmstadt regiment, which is about to run away.

Closer view of the fighting around Kinderhof on the Prussian left flank.

Bill Protz, author of the 'Batailles de l'Ancien Regime' or 'BAR" rules, contemplates what to do next with his French cavalry.

Action in the middle at Remstadt (Peach Orchard)

Austrian cuirassiers (where did they come from?) charge into Prussian musketeer regiment IR24 Schwerin (Suren figures). Remstadt is in the left background and supporting French grenadiers move toward the village in support.

Irish regiment Bulkeley in red and Prussian IR19 Margraf Karl slug it out in a firefight south of Remstadt. French Gardes Francaises can be seen supporting the Irish regiment. The Zimmerwald and Leopoldau are in the back right area of the picture.

The Prussian attack on Remstadt was a very bloody affair, with the French gaining the initial advantage by drawing firing cards first. Thus the Prussians had to take 3 or 4 opening salvoes of fire with a +5 firing bonus for the French, before they could return fire. This decimated the two battalions of IR41 Wied Prussian fusiliers by half before they could even fire. The IR19 regiment (see picture above) also suffered a similar fate at the hands of the Irish regiment Bulkeley. The French also unleashed some of their cavalry in this sector, hoping to rout the depleted Prussian units. The French grand battery in front of Remstadt also dealt a lot of pain and death on the Prussians.

Gradually, the Prussians were able to whittle down the French in this sector, basically trading battalion for battalion in the opening rounds. Prinz Moritz then brought up his second line of three grenadier battalions to finish of the French in this sector. The French likewise brought up blue coated Grenadiers de France, but this time, the Prussians started to get the first fire initiative and slowly but surely, the Prussians pushed on into Remstadt.

Erbprinz Friedrich orders all the Prussian 12 pounders to the front of Almsdorf to blast a hole into the French infantry in Remstadt.

Battle of the grenadiers outside of Remstadt. Prussian Jung Krakow dragoons (DR2) charge into a mass of Austrian hussars.

The Heyden (19/25) Grenadier Battalion finally captures Remstadt.

A good picture is worth showing again. The Garde du Corps ride down the Royal Deux Ponts regiment, capture their colours, and then ride them down in pursuit. Then they charge into a waiting Austrian cuirassier regiment and nearly finish them off, but for one pip of the dice. Alas, they are then charged in the rear by the perfidious French Royal Cavalry regiment and surrounded, but the Garde du Corps escapes with their colors and those of the Deux Ponts. Many a Pour-le-Merite were awarded to the surviving Garde du Corps troopers.

The Erbprinz Friedrich noticed that the area to the north side of Remstadt was held by only one battalion of French troops, the blue coated Royal Deux Ponts. A brigade of grenadiers and guards were posted to the rear of the Deux Ponts, but they were not close enough to support a potential break through. Friedrich knew that this was the time to attack the center with everything that he had.

So he ordered the IR15/III Guard battalion, the IR34 Prinz Ferdinand Musketeers, to move towards the Deux Ponts. He also ordered the brigade of Itzenplitz to move forward and support his attack. The Itzenplitz brigade was part of the refused left wing of the Prussian army. At the same time, Friedrich ordered von Seydlitz to advance two of his 60 figure cuirassier regiments (CR8 Von Seydlitz, and CR10 Gensdarmes) forward to support the attack. Since they had a long way to travel, Friedrich hurled the Garde du Corps (3 squadrons) and two squadrons of the CR1 Buddenbrock cuirassiers forward to break the French line.

While the Prussian grenadier battalion Heyden marched in front of Remstadt, the IR34 and IR20 musketeer regiments sacrificed themselves to French cannon fire. They absorbed the Deux Ponts' first fire bonus and then whittled them down by a stand. At this point, the Garde du Corps charged and routed the Deux Ponts. The CR1 Buddenbrock regiment rode down the French battery of three 12-pounders providing support. At the same moment, Heyden grenadiers captured Remstadt. The Guard grenadiers IR15/III arrived to fend off a counter attack by the Grenadiers de France (who had to withdraw once Heyden took the village and posed a danger to their flank).

The Garde du Corps continued to pursue the French all the way back to their baseline, while the CR1 Buddenbrock regiment rode down another French battery and hit an Austrian regiment of infantry in the flank. By this time, Seydlitz's 120 cuirassier figures had arrived in the center and that, as Christopher Robbin would say, was that. Game over.

Minuet in the Zimmerwald (Devil's Den)
Finally, while all of the heavy action was taking place in the center, there was an exciting light infanty and cavalry fight going on in the Zimmerwald.

Prussian and Austrian hussars clash on the road to Leopoldau.

Once the Austrian hussars are cleared off, the Protzdam Garde Grenadiers march into Leopoldau, supported by horse artillery, and capture the town.

Another Prussian (black) and Austrian (red) cavalry clash outside of the Zimmerwald.

At the conclusion of the battle, the French are retreating back to their base in Frankfurt-am-Main and a mysterious black coach emerges from the town of Freiberg, bearing messages for the Erbprinz.

The battle ended after ten game turns with the Prussians holding Remstadt (10 points) and Leopoldau (5 points) in addition to holding all of the points (45) on their table. They also inflicted about 100 more casualties on the French, due to routing and captured units counting as casualties, plus numerous cannons (8 pieces) and colours captured (at least two from my recollection. The French withdrew from the field and hurried back to the safety of Frankfurt.


  1. Sounds like it was a great game.

    Who are the gentlemen in the various photos? (i.e., who played? and on which sides?)

    -- Jeff

  2. Looks fantastic - such a large playing area too!


  3. Another splendid account accompanied by inspirational photographs. Sounds like there will be rejoicing in Berlin.

    I found particularly interesting the adaptation of Gettysburg. I don't recall before reading of the replacement of one kind of terrain feature bu another. What a good idea - in a sense one lot of bad going or light troops terrain is as good as another. I must remember this for the future.

    thanks again,

    Duke of baylen

  4. Hi JIm,

    A lovely, lovely game! And the description was interesting too.

    Best Regards,


  5. oooo...the mysterious black coach!

    very good account and excellent works on gettting yet another 'big game' out at the resort!

  6. A magnificent game and description both, I salute you! Some year, I shall make it to one of these, Lord willing.

    I'll echo the question as to who the players were, and also add the other burning question: which was the mystery regiment you'd been painting?

  7. Awesome game! I can only hope that the "big battalion" game at MilleniumCon will be a great! This sure gives me inspiration to paint, paint, paint!


  8. WOW! What an impressive game (and report)! How clever to use Gettysburg as a template. So.....after being soundly thrashed, the French retreated to Frankfurt. Hummmm....can a seige be looming in the future? Which way will the Frankfurter jump as the screws tighten? Crud!! I still hate cliffhangers!



  9. Congratulations and a tip of my tricornered hat to the Hesse-Seewalders in their impresive victory. The game was and will remain happily memorable. The chow and facility were A+ as expected from two prior BIG Battalion games. Companionabilities abounded and we had FUN! Thanks a million to Der Alte and to all involved.

    Let's do this again next year!

    Votre Serviteur,

  10. A great game and a great report. I enjoyed the game and the companionship immensely. Thanks for your hospitality.


  11. What a terrific game! An inspired idea to use a disguised form of the Gettysberg battlefield. A tip of the tricorne to you all!