Sunday, June 21, 2015

Battle of Kolin - After Action Game Report

Marshal Daun watches the cavalry melee from Krechor Hill.

On Saturday June 20, four of us gathered at Schloss Seewald to refight the Battle of Kolin, which was fought on June 18, 1757. Coincidentally, this is the same day of the month as Waterloo, which has been getting a lot of attention lately for some reason.

Initial battlefield set up with the Austrians on the left and the Prussians on the right. The village of Krechor is marked by the cluster of buildings with the church.

Going a bit out of character, I decided to be one of the Austrian players (gasp!) so that I could govern the arrival of various elements of the Austrian army. Bill P. took control of the Austrian right wing and the defense of Krechor village while I commanded the Austrian divisions of Wied and Sincere plus the Austrian cavalry reserve on the left wing. Keith L. and John B. played the Prussian commanders in the game.

Historically the Austrians outnumbered the Prussian about 53,000 troops to 34,000 Prussians and this can make a refight of Kolin a bit of a problem if the Austrians decide to attack the Prussians with everything they have. I have tried Kolin as a grand war-game featuring all of the troops in both armies, but was never satisfied with the way the game played out.

This time, I decided to focus the game on the Austrian right wing and their defense of Krechor village. A force of Croats, grenadiers and some Austrian light cavalry initially anchored the Austrian right wing, hoping to hold off the enveloping attack of von Hulsen's advance guard infantry and von Zieten's advance guard cavalry.

For this game, I experimented with a new rule: limited ammunition supply. Each infantry unit was allotted five rounds of musketry while the cannon had four rounds of ball and two rounds of canister. Each brigade of infantry also had its own ammunition wagon that it could use to replenish ammunition during the game. The supply wagon had a limited amount of musket, ball and canister so there was not an endless supply of ammo in the game. This rule produced an interesting result: players were not taking any useless gamey types of shots at the opponent because it would be a waste of ammunition. If you saw some cavalry on the other side of the table, you were not likely to fire off a round of shot in hopes of hitting one figure. You wanted to save that ammo for the close up work where it really counted.

Bill P. had the assignment to hold Krechor until the Austrian division of Wied could arrive.
Frederick's plan was to march around the Austrian right flank, as he had done at Prague a month earlier in May 1757, capturing Krechor village and then rolling up the Austrian right wing from their. So it follows that our game scenario started with the Austrian Croats packed into Krechor, trying to delay von Hulsen's Prussians long enough for the Austrian divisions of Wied and Sincere to arrive and head off Frederick's intentions.

In our game, the Austrian army consisted of the following elements:

Right Wing (near Krechor and the Oak Wood):

Independent command - Beck
   2 battalions Croats
   2 battalions converged grenadiers
   2 3pdr cannon

Nadasdy' Light Cavalry - Nadasdy
  2 regiments of hussars
  2 regiments of Saxon Cheveau Leger

Center (behind Krechor Hill):

Cavalry Brigade - General Serbelloni
  2 regiments of cuirassiers
  1 regiment of horse grenadiers
  1 regiment of Saxon cuirassiers

Wied's Infantry Reserve (on the march behind Krechor Hill, heading towards Krechor)
  4 battalions of Austrian infantry
  2 six-pound field artillery
Sincere's Infantry Division
  4 battalions of Austrian infantry
  1 three-pound cannon

Left Wing (near Pohbor Hill, just east of Krechor Hill)

Starhemberg's Infantry Division
  4 battalions of Austrian infantry
  2 12-pound cannons

Stampach's Cavalry Brigade
 2 regiments of cuirassiers
 2 regiments of dragoons

Total Austrian Forces:
12 battalions of Austrian infantry
  2 battalion of grenadiers
  2 battalions of Croats
16 battalions of infantry

  2 hussar regiments
  2 light dragoon regiments
  1 converged elite horse grenadiers
  5 cuirassier regiments
  2 dragoon regiments
12 regiments of cavalry

  3    3-pounders
  2    6-pounders
  2  12-pounders
  7  cannon

 Wied's division will start the game off-table and will be placed on the left-center area starting on Turn 2, deployed in march column.

Sincere's division will start the game off-table and appear in the center on Turn 4

Starhemberg's infantry and Stampach's cavalry of the left wing are out of sight behind the Pohbor Hill. In our game, we did not use Starhemberg's infantry division.

The Prussians
Prussian army on parade, before deployment.

The Prussian army consisted of 11 battalions of infantry, 10 regiments of cavalry, 4 12-pounders and 3 3-pounders.

Advance Guard Light Cavalry - von Zieten

2  regiments of hussars
3  regiments of dragoons

Advance Guard Infantry - von Hulsen
 4 battalions of musketeers
 2  12-pounders

Center Troops - Prinz Moritz of Anhalt Dessau

2 battalions of fusiliers
2 battalions of grenadiers
2 3-pounders

2 regiments of cuirassiers

Right Wing (refused) - Lt. General the Duke of Bevern
1 battalion of Guard infantry
2 battalions of musketeers
2  12-pounders

1 Garde du Corps cuirassier regiment
2 regiments of cuirassiers

I told the Prussian players that they could not commit Bevern's right wing into battalion for an unspecified number of turns. They could use the troops, but if they did, then 2 Austrian units of the same type would appear on the table opposite them. In truth, this was a complete ruse to keep Bevern inactive for awhile. I would not have added more Austrians to the table, but the deception worked.

Kieth L. (Bevern) sends his Prussian cavalry up the Kaiserstrasse.
The Battle Begins on the Prussian Left (Austrian Right)

Hulsen commenced the game deployed in line of battle in front of Krechor, determined to capture it from the Austrians. The wily Austrian commander, Bill P., stuffed both battalions of Croats into the village rather than splitting them up in penny packets or in separate battalions. This turned out to be a wise move as the Croats had more staying power and were not dislodged from the town. Bill P. placed his two grenadier battalions behind Krechor and in front of the Oak Wood, where they acted as a reserve to feed into the fight for the town.

Bill P. was very aggressive with the Austrian light cavalry (Nadasdy) and launched all of them east of Krechor towards the Kaiserstrasse, where von Zieten was lining up his Prussian cavalry.

On the Austrian right, Nadasdy's light cavalry make an aggressive move against Zieten's Prussian light cavalry and dragoon on the other side of Krechor.

Battle in the Centre - another cavalry scrum
The Austrians watched the Prussian cavalry march up the Kaiserstrasse, seemingly to support Hulson's attack on Krechor. Suddenly they wheeled to the right and began to trot towards the center of Krechor Hill, between Krechor on their left and Chozenitz on their right. As game designer, I really was not expecting this move, but in retrospect it made a certain amount of sense: there appeared to be no Austrians in the center so why not send your fastest troops, cavalry, into the gap and see what happens.

Bill P. countered the Prussian attack with his own brigade of heavy cavalry: 3 cuirassier regiments and one horse grenadier regiment. You can see this melee in the picture below. 

Prussian cavalry wheel right and attack Krechor Hill. Serbelloni's Austrian cuirassiers counter-attack. Result: melee!

Bill P. (left) - Austrian commander and Kieth L. (right) - Prussian commander  cross sabres in the center.

At the same time, Wied's division of Austrian regular infantry was beginning to arrive, marching from left to right in the picture below:

While the cavalry slug it out in the centre, Wied's Austrian division arrives to  help in the defense of Krechor against Hulsen's Prussian attack on the Austrian right.
 Several turns later, Sincere's divison of Austrians marched onto the table from the left, marching to the right to plug up the center of the Austrian position on Krechor Hill. Their arrival was quite timely as Prinz Moritz (Kieth L.) launched  a combined arms attack of cavalry and infantry to the right of Chozenitz as shown below:

Shortly thereafter, Sincere's division of Austrians arrive and deploy in the center between Chosentiz  and Krechor.
Sincere's Austrian division deploys in the center on Krechor Hill, and just in time with Prussians lurking on the horizan 

Meanwhile, back on the Austrian right, the fight for possession of Krechor village was ongoing

Nadasdy (Bill P.)began to gain the upper hand over Zieten (John B.) as the Saxon cheveau legers surged across the Kaiserstrasse.

An aeriel view of the Nadasdy's charge (photo courtesy of the Montgolfier Brothers)

While the Austrian cavalry were successful, so too were the Austrian defenders of Krechor. In fact, Wied had two battalions of infantry that were looking for something to do, so I had them march into Krechor to support the Croats and the grenadiers, who were close to running out of ammunition.

Beck's Independent Brigade of Croats and Austrian grenadiers seem to be holding Krechor village with relative ease.

Another view of the Austrian defense of Krechor. You can see some of the Saxon cavalry melee to the left of the church.
Slowly but surely, Nadasdy's Saxon cavalry pushes back Zieten's Prussian cavalry to the left of Krechor.
With the Austrian cavalry around Krechor victorious, it was now safe for the Austrian infantry to sally forth out of Krechor and take the attack to the Prussians and Hulsen.

And now the Austrians counter-attack out of Krechor village and push von Hulsen's Prussians across the  Kaiserstrasse
Action on Krechor Hill on the Austrian Left

The Prussian and Austrian cavalry surged back and forth in front of Krechor Hill as they did their minuet of battle. Neither side seemed to be gaining any edge in this clash of cuirassiers.

Bevern commits the Prussian right wing into an all out attack against Krechor Hill.  Austrian cuirassiers counterattack.

Some RSM Prussian cuirassiers fit quite nicely with the Minden figures.
Game Conclusion

At approximately 4:30PM we decided to call it a day. On the Austrian right flank, not only had they held Krechor, they were launching an offensive against Hulsen and Zieten that looked promising.

In the center, Wied had nothing to do for his two battalions of Austrian infantry, in front of the Oak Wood, so they turned left and marched back towards the center to counter a possible Prussian success on Krechor Hill.

Around Chozenitz (left center), Prinz Moritz's Prussians had routed two of Sincere's Austrian battalions and shot down the crews of the Austrian battery in that sector. Bevern's command had marched from the Prussian right wing and into and around Chozenitz so that they could join Moritz's infantry attack on Krechor Hill. This looked to be a draw in this sector, but it would have taken a couple more hours of fighting to determine a winner.

On the far left of the Austrian line, the two cavalry corps were also at a standstill. Unbeknownst to the Prussians, Starhemberg's infantry division was lurking behind Krechor Hill ready to stop any Prussian breakthrough. I elected not to use these troops in the battle since we only had four players and each player seemed to have more than enough troops to handle.

So we called it a stalemate, but the day was so companionable and sociable that we all went away feeling like winners. It was a great day to wargame.


  1. What a spectacle. Well done to call concerned. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on how the ammunition rules panned out.

    1. The limited ammo rule worked very well. Nobody wanted to waste ammo on a target just for the sake of doing it. For example, there was a Prussian battalion that only had two of five stands left and I elected to not fire at it so as to save my artillery ammo for more threatening targets. At the other end of the table, some infantry bins were running out of ammo and had to retire to the rear to replenish , which was kind of cool.

  2. Great looking game:). Nice to see that you concentrated on one part of the battle. I really like the idea of limited ammo supply and may attempt this in future games.

    1. I've run Kolin games 6-8 times and this was the best version, focusing on the sector from Krechor to Chozenitz. The scenario reminds me a little of the first day at Gettysburg.

  3. Super looking game and report. I like the limited ammo rule.

    1. We've used the rule for artillery ammo in the past, but this was the first time trying it with musket fire. It made me more selective in my shooting.

  4. So Very Very impressive a collection - and I'm loving that gaming room too, with the Alte fritz looking down on his troops from the wall!

    1. Yes, Frederick's eyes seem to follow you around the room, no matter wher you stand. It's kind of creepy at times as his are not friendly, happy eyes.

  5. Nice commentary and photos. Noticed d10 being used, was this game played with your convention rules?

  6. The game was a splendid experience for me, visually, the rules worked well, it was companionable, the scenario was compelling/interesting and it was the SYW! I can't get enough SYW. Jim was also nice to allow my ancient Scruby 25mm Saxon medium horse to play. These were painted in the 1970s. Plus, I had a lot of my favorite thing to command, cavalry. Thanks a million Jim. Cheers and bravos,

  7. Great looking game. I visited the battlefield in 1995 and it was such a thrill, especially finding the Krechor church and the monument behind it. You have done it justice.

    1. Thank you Chris. I was there in 1994. I will have to dig out my photos and scan them so that I can post them on my blog.

  8. LARGE and LUSCIOUS SYW battle, Jim!
    Fantastic collection and the gaming table is first rate.

  9. That looks like it was great fun. I think this is the best part of the battle.

    Krechor must have felt like a very spooky place to attack. My memory of it, on a mirky day, was it's low lying nature compared to the immediate ground around it. Today it is set amid low stunted trees, and it's surrounding deep ditches (which may or may not have been outworks of the earthworks that lie just to the [Austrian] left) give its approaches the feel of a maze. Amidst gunsmoke they must surely have channelled any attacks.

    One thing that always puzzles me about Kolin is the earthworks. They stretch from Krechor right along the low ridge. They are impressive to this day - dug in the TYW - they must have been even more impressive in the 18 C. It always surprises me that they aren't mentioned more than they are - the Prussians must have hated attacking up them.

    1. I agree, the Swedish Works are a verifiable fortress with high and steep sides. I don't know how the Prussians managed to take them.

  10. I think most of us are very envious of your splendid wargames room - and the troops are very impressive too. It's a pity the "good guys" (alias Austrians) did not win outright this time as they did in the real thing; perhaps having Der Alte Fritz in disguise as one of the Austrian commanders spooked them a little. ;-)

    Very impressive, as always...



    1. I would realistically give the the victory to the Austrians in our game. :)

  11. A very nice report and lovely photos. Thank you for all the orbat detail too.

  12. A beautiful game, Jim and fun. The cavalry battle is grand cinematic drama! Now, back to read the text...

  13. Cracking battle report Jim and that first photo is an absolute winner. Captures my image of so mnay paintings of the period. Really enjoyed this.