Sunday, February 21, 2010

Mollwitz Pictures

A close up photo of the Prussian army square formation that was used at Mollwitz. Stadden AWI artillery crew, Elite Miniatures French SYW 12-pounder, and RSM limber team are seen in the foreground.

Click all pix to enlarge the view

Our refight of the battle of Mollwitz, which was fought on April 10, 1741, represents Frederick the Great's first battle. The battle was fought on a flat and snowy field not very far from the Silesian capital at Breslau. Marshal Neipperg's Austrian army had cut off the Prussian line of communication back to Breslau, so Frederick was obliged to fight a battle. Although the Prussian advance to battle initially caught the Austrians by surprise, it took the Prussians nearly 90 minutes to uncoil their columns into a battle line. Their relative inexperience resulted in their trying to cram too many troops into a tight space. As a result, several battalions had no place to deploy, so they formed up on the right flank, between the first and second battle line, and perpendicular to the two Prussian lines. In effect, they closed the sides of a great rectangular formation of all the infantry, that proved to be very fortuitous as events unfolded.

Another wider view of the initial Prussian deployment. Here you can see the infantry formed into two lines of 4 battalions each. We split up the nineth battalion by placing two stands (grand divisions) at the end of each battle line, in between the two lines. The Prussian light cavalry was placed on the left flank (nearest to the bottom of the photo) while the Prussian heavy cavalry were placed on the right flank. You can also see some of the Austrian cavalry deployed on the middle table. The Austrian infantry were placed on the back table to the left of this picture.

Austrian infantry is deployed on the back table, in front of the village of Mollwitz. Bill Protz sits and contemplates unleashing his cavalry on his Prussian foes. The Austrians had 6 musketeer battalions in the two forward lines and a reserve of one grenadier battalion in the third line.

Historically, the Prussians were still deploying their heavy cavalry on their right flank, when the Austrian cavalry commander, von Romer, noticed that the Prussians were offering their flank to him, so he ordered a cavalry charge and hit the Prussian cavalry in the flank. Most of the Prussian cavalry in this sector was chased off the field.

Austrian cuirassiers (left) get the better of the Prussian cuirassiers (right) on the Prussian right flank at Mollwitz.
The main cavalry action on the Prussian right flank worked out the way that I had hoped it would. I rated all of the Austrian cavalry as "Elite" to give them an edge in the melee, while the Prussians were rated as "Trained" for their cuirassiers and "Poor" for their dragoons. What really made the difference though, was the Austrian superiority in numbers: 12 sqds of cuirassiers and 8 sqds of dragoons for a total of 240 figures (12 figures per squadron). The Prussians had 7 sqds of cuirassiers and 5 sqds of dragoons, or 144 figures in total. Historically, the Austrians had a 2:1 advantage in cavalry (8,000 battle cavalry vs 4,000 for the Prussians).

All in all, I think that the scenario worked in this sector. I did make one change. I had given the Prussians an extra grenadier battalion to deploy in this sector. During the game, I removed the grenadier battalion because it was stopping the Austrian breakthrough. Without the grenadier battalion in this sector, the Austrians would now be free to roam around behind the Prussian infantry lines and try to cause some trouble.

Light cavalry melee on the Prussian left flank. Some 3-pound regimental guns and a half battalion of Minden Prussians close off the flank, in case the Austrian light cavalry breaks through.

Suren Uhlans de Saxe and Stadden Black Hussars come to grips in the light cavalry action. I posted this picture for Stokes so that he can see what the Suren figures look like. They could easily fit on smaller RSM horses, for those using smaller figures.

Some Crusader Esterhazy hussars (light blue) join in on the monkey pile atop the a squadron of Black hussars.

For our SYWA convention game, we will eliminate the cavalry fight on the Prussian left because we will only have 16 feet of table length, compared to the 24 feet that we have at Bill Protz's house. Historically, these forces did not engage in serious fighting since they were deployed on the far side of the marshy Kleiner-Bach stream.

The Prussians advance in the center and blow away two Austrian battalions with their first fire card advantage.

The Prussian right-hand brigade also advances towards Mollwitz. Here you can see the half-battalion of Minden Prussians closing off the army rectangle. Those are Suren Prussians in the front line.

King Frederick II directs the battle from the middle part of the army rectangle.

The Prussians make their final advance to push the Austrians out of Mollwitz. They have opened up their rectangle by advancing the half battalion of Mindens (white flag with blue rays) to add more firepower to their front line. The Austrian cavalry to their right are engaged in melee with the Prussian cavalry, so it seemed safe to open up the lines for awhile. A battalion of my own Potsdam 30mm figures form the second line.

We stopped the game around 2PM in the afternoon. At this point, the Austrian heavy cavalry had routed all of the Prussian cavalry off the table. I arbitrarily removed the one Prussian grenadier battalion in this area as this is a tweak needed to improve the scenario for the convention game. If the Austrians are going to be outnumbered in infantry, then they need to have a distinct advantage with their cavalry.

In the center, it looked like the Prussians would eventually punch their way through to Mollwitz. Two of the seven Austrian battalions were routing and only one Prussian battalion was getting close to 50% strength. For the convention game, I plan to reduce the Austrian infantry from 7 battalions to 6 battalions in order to fit the allotted table space. With 16 feet of length, roughly half of the table will be allocated to the central infantry firefight, while the right most 7-8 feet will be reserved for the huge cavalry fight.

On the Prussian left, the Austrian light cavalry seemed to have the edge on the Prussian hussars, but the Prussians had enough infantry in this sector to neutralize the Austrian hussars. Again, we will delete this part of the battlefield in our convention game due to space limitations and the fact that historically, it was not an essential element of the battle.

A battalion of Stadden Prussian Guard Grenadiers turn to face the Austrian light cavalry, just in case they defeat the Black Hussars and try to exploit their victory. One battalion of such infantry can usually hold off equal numbers of cavalry in our BAR rules.



  1. Hi Jim,

    Another glorious outing for the Austrians and Prussians, I see. An inspiring description of the battle along with the photos. Just the thing I need to get my rear end back to the painting table. And thanks for the Uhlans de Saxe photo in particular. I like the idea of using those on smaller RSM horses.

    Best Regards,


  2. Stunning game!

    I must ask though, who are the Uhlans de Saxe?

  3. We needed a few extra light cavalry for the Austrian side, so we recruited the Uhlans de Saxe from the French army. Tis in the Charles Grant spirit in The Wargame.

  4. *sigh* . . . I'm so far away from your wonderful games . . . well, at least we get to enjoy your wonderful photos/accounts.

    -- Jeff

  5. Great photos. Is that a model railroad around the edge of the room? The backdrops are well done.

  6. It is Bill's basement and he used to have an extensive model railroad layout that went around the perimeter of the basement. The sky backdrops were part of his set up. You can also see some of the tree-lined scenic dividers that he used to section off different parts of his layout.