Monday, October 15, 2007

Battle of Preisserstadt (Part II)

Here is the second part of the pictures that I took at the OSW Big Game on Saturday October 13th in the Chicago suburbs. As with all of the photographs, please click on the picture in order to enlarge it to its full size.

Prussian Cuirassier Regiment No. 2 "Prinz von Preussen" crashes into one of the French regiments as a prelude to the ultimate show down of the cavalry forces. The 60-figure French Carabiniers await the outcome of this melee in the second line. To the left of this action, the Mestre-de-camp regiment of the French cavalry arm is about to run off the Prussian Lieb Cuirassiers. At the top of the picture, the Prussian Brown Hussars clash with some Saxon Cheveau-legers. The French seemed to have done a better job of massing larger forces of cavalry whenever they engaged in a horse melee. This and some unfortunate dice rolling put the Prussian horse at a disadvantage. As the game progressed, the Prussian cavalry commanders learned their lesson and began to fight the French with equal numbers, achieving some successes late in the game.

This is the fight that we've all been waiting for: the French Carabiniers (aka "The Thundering Herd") versus the Prussian CR2 Prinz von Preussen (aka "Death by Cavalry"). There are 60 French and 45 Prussians in this grand melee. Next left, we see the CR1 Buddenbrock Cuirassier Regiment of Prussian cuirassiers advancing into some Spencer Smith dragoons. In the background, remnants of the French regiment that meleed with the Prussian cuirassiers are seen fleeing for thier lives. Meanwhile, the French cavalry regiment Royal lurks behind the Carabiniers, ready to add their weight to the second round of melee. How did this all turn out? I can't recall. We may have called the game before this melee could be concluded. I will have to ask my French colleagues what happened.

The Prussian Garde Brigade (III/15 in the foreground and IR6 at the top) form the last line of defense on the Prussian right flank, guarding Schloss Heyde, which was one of the terrain victory points that the French needed to capture. A battalion of Prussian fusiliers was billeted inside the Schloss, but the French didn't know that. A battery of horse artillery supports another brigade of Prussian cuirassiers and two squadrons of hussars to further buttress the right flank. Papa didn't raise no fool when he brought Der Alte Fritz into the world. There was no way that I was going to allow the French to turn our flank, at least not without defeating my best infantry first.

Some other points of note are that all of the buildings were constructed by Herb Gundt, of H.G. Walls. The white monuments that you see near the Schloss Heyde are the victory columns that we earn whenever we first win a battle. So each player brings his own victory column, which is placed on some "victory hill" somewhere on the battlefield. The larger white crypt-like monument is given to the army commander for each side. It is a traveling trophy that goes to the person who commanded the army in its most recent victory.

You may have also noticed an ammunition cart in the lower left portion of the picture (Front Rank Miniatures) and the little green tag. The tag depicts the number of ammo rounds that each gun has, or in the case of an ammo wagon, the number of rounds that are in the supply wagon. A little "bomb" symbol denotes round shot while a square denotes cannister. Each cannon starts the game with 4 round shot and 2 cannister rounds.

Meanwhile, back at the other end of the table, the Austrians were finally making a determined push to capture the Preisser Heights on the Prussian left (Allied/Austrian right). The Prussians appear to be using a "rear slope" defense of the heights. The Austrian hussars in the middle of the picture charged up the hill and were repulsed by the infantry battalion in the center of the picture. While this was going one, the Croats were pushing the dismounted Prussian hussars (Foundry figures) back through the Jungwald towards their supporting Prussian infantry.


  1. Well done Jim and all your fellow gamers: looks like you had a tremendous time, and my compliments for all the effort you evidently put into this.


  2. Congratulations to all concerned. The battle pictures look phenomenal, and shows how it can be done.

  3. Wow, what a fantastic time you all must have had . This is very inspiring for us in the U.K and will spur us on to painting and planning! The photographs are superb!

  4. Tremendous! Armies, battle, report...
    What an example and inspiration!

  5. Truly inspirational!!

    Well done to all concerned.


  6. Very impressive.

    Please tell us more about the "Victory Columns" . . . do they have an effect on the game (i.e., are they targets to capture?) . . . or just decoration?

    -- Jeff

  7. After our games end, each player on the winning team receives a personal victory columne (as suggested by Peter Young in Charge!). A plaque containing the name of the battle and the date is then issued to each player and glued onto the plinth. After each successive victory, you receive a new plaque and glue it onto your column. The larger monument goes to the army commander. If you appoint a new army commander for a game, then this monument travels to his home. Same plaques are issued for victories. Bill Protz makes these out of wedding cake decoration columns and then he adds a balsa wood base or plinth to embellish the look. Usually, we place all of the monuments in one spot on the table and call it victory hill. They have no victory point values though.

  8. Der Alte asked me to remark upon the cavalry battle on the French left (Prussian right) flank. Let me summarize as best I can with the assistance of Jim H. whom I just called on the telephone to remind me of some things.
    French Cavalry Under My Command
    36xCommissaire Générals
    60xRoyal des Carabiniers
    40xSaxon Rutowski Chevaulegers
    Total = 172
    Late in the battle Randy brought over 24 more heavies.
    All remained off table behind the left flank French infantry assault. It started to arrive on table sort of on T5ish and afterwards. No need to show all of one's hand, as it were and they were not needed yet.
    The Royals engaged first beating a squadron of continuously vexing Black Hussars (almost always commanded by the very skillful George R.) A pursuit caught the fugitives. Luckily the Royals were able to rally back to the rear at the moment it had gone too deeply near the enemy line in pursuit. It later reformed for service at game end.
    Much Later
    Commissaire Général engaged Prussian heavies and lights winning their engagement.
    The Rutowskis engaged Prussian cavalry beating them and pursued too deeply into the enemy lines at the bend in the Grantwasser. There they were engaged by two regiments of heavies, beaten, routed and caught in the retreat.
    The Royal des Carabiniers waited behind a friendly infantry battalion engaged in melee with the huge Prussian kürassier regiment. The French commander (me)knew the infantry would lose, made sure there were intervals (gaps/lanes) to the side for the foot to use as it routed and therefore not bother the heavy horse. No matter what, the Prussians would be disordered and the French would charge them with advantage of numbers and cohesion.

    Sure enough the infantry lost and the above melee commenced between the disordered and numerically inferior Prussian heavies. Round one of melee went in favor of the French. The Prussians were being pushed back. (They made morale) Naturally I wanted them to fail morale, rout and then be pursued by my huge regiment of Carabiniers be wiped out* and then cause mayhem, mischief and terror in weakened and empty forward Prussian areas.
    The Royals came up in support to overwhelm the Prussians as add ins to the melee for round two.
    But another Prussian regiment arrived to the left of the Carabiniers. They and the Royals charged each other.
    The game ended at this point. People had to and were going home. Others including myself were hungry and tired.
    Jim H. and I agreed that mathematically the Carabiniers and Commissaire Générals had huge numerical advantages which in a logical world would give them wins versus their opponents. Plus Randy had brought up 24 heavy horse reinforcements. The Royals were up numerically but their advantage was nominal. We agreed that two melees would go to the French and a third might.
    Meanwhile the remnants of the Prussian infantry withdrew back onto their table in case of disaster with the cavalry. Good idea. Outside of musket range the remnant of 2/Royal Roussillon (50% strength) and all of 2/La Reine were matching the Prussian foot. There was no point in either the French or Prussians throwing away their infantry at the end. Plus the Prussian reserve guard was several feet to the rear shoring up the line.
    My thinking was, I had a chance to mop up the remainder of the Prussian infantry especially with my cavalry dashing about nearby once the massive cavalry battle ended. But to what purpose?
    Rules and Tactical Dynamics Used:
    Intervals for maneuver.
    Intervals for routing units.
    Wait for the battle to develop.
    Use overwhelming #s.
    Hit disordered cavalry.
    Hit weakend infantry.
    Use the right/best speed
    Big units need room to maneuver.
    Rally back and reform rules.
    No moving cav. like zig zaggy race cars, side-stepping or backing up like a truck. Beep Beep! You must know how to use them as they were used historically. Otherwise OUCH.
    * If a routing oppopnent is pursued (a dice throw decides this) AND if the routers are touched by pursuers (maybe), the routers are removed from play. All of 'em. A good mechanism as opposed to my earlier rules which made routers and pursuers fight more melees on a merry ride to the rear.
    If there is one thing I like to command in wargames, it is cavalry and tanks.
    A million thanks to Jim so I could try out all I've learned - or - think I have learned.
    Votre Serviteur,

  9. I agree with what Bill wrote, we had the advantage in the large cavalry scrum but it was not over. Dice rolls could of allowed the Prussians to win.

    The 24 figure unit I had brought up was a 24 figure guard dragoon regiment, they where keeping a 24 (-2) figure Prussian kürassier regiment out of the large battle.
    After the first turn of the battle I was at 21 figures while the Prussians where at 18, I had pushed them back 6 inches by winning that round of the Battle. This 3 figure advantage was not enough to guaranty a win, if it was not for the fact the dragoons where guard I would believe the prussians would win because of the armor advantage.

    I had another 24 figure dragoon regiment 2 turns away and I was pulling back two units to reform. One was a dragoon that had just broke an infantry unit, another was an armored French heavy that had just routed and chased down and destroyed an infantry unit. Both Cavalry units where now damaged and they where two or three turns away.

    It was not over and I can not say we would of broken this side. Those two fresh Prussian guard infantry battalions in the rear make me believe it would of been hard to break this side.


  10. German Allied Guard Dragoons.......

    None of our Dragoons where French, they where either Austrian or German Allies. With the German Allies being one of those mythical countries.


  11. Over on TMP a fellow asked about my French and Saxon cavalry structure.
    French Cavalry & Dragoons 1740-1762 by Pengel and Hurt. See Part II, no page numbers.

    Two squadron regiments (the norm) in 1759 had eight companies of 46 men each = 374 + a Regimental Staff of 6 = 380.

    Thus at full strength a French Regiment of two squadrons could have 380 men. At 1:10 this means 38 miniatures. My Royals and Commissaire Générals each have 36 miniatures. Each has two squadrons of 15 men and 6 regimental staff = 36 total miniatures.
    Also per the above source the Royal des Carabiniers had five brigades. Two squadrons formed a brigade. Each squadron had four companies. Each company had 36 men. Thus a brigade of eight squadrons had 288 men. Add in at least four more higher officers to command for a total of 292 men. At 1:10 this means 29 miniatures.

    I use squadrons of 12 miniatures. Pairing two of these gives me 24 miniatures.

    It turns out I painted a lot of extra officers and musicians. These get posted on the flanks to press in the troopers to stay in line per readings I ran across in Duffy about Austrian cavalry. Plus they look cool riding around too! It may be that these 12 will be the nucleus of another squadron or something.

    I have a total of 60 Carabiniers with the above in mind. I suppose I should have another squadron but....60 is kind of enough right now.
    For the Saxon Chevauleger Regiment Rutowsky, it was simply a matter of reading either Instrument of War Volume 1 or Prussia's Glory. In one of those is a reference to the Saxon Chevauleger Regiments having slightly more than 400 men. Thus my unit has three squadrons of 12 men = 36 + 4 staff = 40 miniatures.
    Royals = Surens mostly.
    Commissaire Générals = Elite mostly.
    Carabiniers = Elite mostly.
    Rutowskys = Elite mostly.
    Each unit has a sprinkling of other manufacturers of Elite, Suren, Front Rank and Foundry for variety in the officer and musician ranks. Front Rank's WSS kettle drummer is appropriate and I have several.
    Of course full strength is a rare thing. However, in my reading of from first person accounts of the French and Indian War, I often ran across low regimental strengths simply because detachments were off on some other mission. Then there are returning casualties, dead, the sick, deserters and what not. If we ever play a campaign where we keep track of attrition, we could factor in these kinds of things. Maybe in 2008.
    That's about it.

  12. Fantabulous, good pics and battle report. Must of been a great game.

    -- Allan

  13. Superb write up and it looks a grand set up. Hugely envious. The only compatable games I have ever been involved in were at Peter Gilders Wargames Holiday centre. Is it possible to put names to faces on the group photos? Fully understand if you can't do this due to rules and regulations.


  14. Sure. The Prussian players were (from left to right):

    George Rust, Jim Harms, Alte Fritz (kneeling), Rob Oldenburg, Chris Coombs, Todd Barta, Rett Butler, Rich Masse, and Dave Doty.

    The French players were:
    Andy Lichey, Rich Black, Bill Protz (kneeling), Mike Tabor, Ross Macfarlane, Mike Huskey, Randy Frye, and Brent Olsen. A few other players popped in a played for awhile ( a father and his two sons).

  15. Wow! That looked absolutely spectacular. Huge game. Will have to read it bit by bit to follow the action properly from the beginning. Your photos are excellent. Well done!

    Would loved to have been there. I do like your blog anyway and am very impressed.

    On another note would you be interested in exchanging blog links with myself?


  16. Der Alte Fritz,

    I have to say, you are a real bastard!
    There I was, made my resolution about no lead, no more buying stuff until I made a dent on the lead mountain, stick to the periods that I already have, etc.
    Next thing I know after I read your blog, I am making plans about venturing into the hitherto unknown era of SYW, eyeing the Spencer Smith catelogs, and thinking about "big battalions" (previously my battalions are always 16 figures or less).
    Damn you to hell!!!

  17. Ah yes Milton, I love it when when I make a new convert. He, he, he.

    Actually, I have another set of SYW armies that likely won't see the light of day for awhile. These are 20 figure units done at a 1:30 ratio. This is what I gamed with over the past 20 years or so. This 1:10 business really opened my eyes and now I probably wouldn't find gaming with smaller units quite as enjoyable.

    You might also want to consider RSM95 figures for your project. These still cost less than a $1.00 each. I use lots of RSMs in my armies, along with many other brands of figures. When you have larger units, the relative size differences seem to disappear. I suppose that it's some kind of optical illusion.