Monday, November 5, 2007

The Battle of Dithersdorf

Saturday November 3, 1757 - The forces of Hesse Seewald ("HS") and Gallia met once again over the weekend at a little crossroads village named Dithersdorf. Both sides had intelligence that there were considerable supplies of food and shoes stored in the town, so it was inevitable that the two sides should have a meeting engagement at Dithersdorf.

General von Manstein's HS reconnaissance in force consisted of 10 battalions of infantry (2 - grenadiers, 1 - jaeger, and 7 musketeers/fusiliers) and 12 squadrons of assorted cavalry and they approached Dithersdorf from the south. Von Manstein elected to deploy the majority of his forces in the open field to the left of the town, where he expected to deter the Gallians from entering the town. He deployed two brigades of infantry (3 btns each) and three squadrons each of cuirassiers, dragoons and hussars in this sector. The smaller force deployed to the right of the town, commanded by Colonel Hassler, included 2 btns of grenadiers, the jagers and one battalion of infantry, with 5 squadrons of hussars in support. Colonel Hassler's objective was to seize Dithersdorf and keep the supplies away from the Gallians.

The ensuing battle appeared to be going according to von Manstein's plans. Colonel Hassler captured Dithersdorf without meeting any opposition. The town had been previously secured by a squadron of frei-hussaren who claimed to have allegiance to Hesse Seewald. Once the fighting began, these naer-do-wells were seen beating a retreat from the town, escorting an impressive looking black coach. We know not who was in the black coach, but neither von Manstein nor Hassler had the inclination to challenge the occupant's credentials or papers. On the left flank, von Manstein was able to shake his infantry out into an impressive looking battle line, with four battalions in the first line and two battalions in the second line. The dragoons and cuirassiers formed a third line in reserve. Some hussars served as an advance guard and screened the deployment of the HS infantry for several turns.

The Gallians came on strong in the left flank sector. Von Manstein's own brigade mowed down the Gallians in droves, causing three battalions to rout away. His subordinate, Brigadier Lloyd, also fended off a strong cavalry charge by the Gallian Carabineers and some light chasseurs. There were a few anxious moments during this latter combat, but Brigadier Lloyd was blessed with the gift of rolling "box cars" (12s on his D6 dice) and pushed the Gallian cavalry back. Had Lloyd not passed his morale, it could have gotten very ugly as the HS cavalry commander brought his reserve too close to the infantry, leaving no lanes for routing troops to flee. Lloyd made that a rather moot point.

Von Manstein paid a brief visit to the right flank to observe the action, and it appeared that Colonel Hassler had things well in hand, with the town secured. It appeared that the Gallians had more numbers in this sector, so von Manstein released the cavalry reserve of 2 squadrons of Black Hussars to Colonel Hassler, figuring that this should be enough to hold the village.

Von Manstein returned to the action on the left flank, just in time to see a giant 72 figure battalion of the Auvergne regiment moving up on the HS position. A "first fire" bonus of +5 from this lot could prove devastating, so von Manstein had his brigade retire one hundred paces to the rear and reform. His two battalions in the front line were rather shot up by now, but they gained the fire initiative and whittled Auvergne down to less than 60 figures before they could reply. The ensuing musketry caused the Schwerin regiment (IR24) to run away while reducing the Bornstedt(IR20) to 25% of its original strength (without routing, I might add). Von Manstein's reserve unit of Alt Braunschweig (IR5) moved forward after Auvergne had shot its wad and poured a first volley into the plucky Gallians, causing them to run away too. This opened up the field for the Gallian cavalry (Saxon cheveau-legers) to come bounding up and charging into Alt Braunschweig. The infantry was pushed back a few paces, but von Manstein had the presence of mind to attach himself to IR5 to give it a little extra metal in its spine, and the move paid off, for his personal charisma (+2) proved to be the difference between Alt Braunschweig holding firm or routing. The Gallians were played out in this sector with all of their infantry in a state of rout or retirement, and some still dangerous (but much reduced in numbers) cavalry. They would not be able to hold off the two fresh HS cavalry units plus two fresh fusilier battalions.

But it didn't matter... For while this was going on, the Gallians had overwhelmed the defenses of Dithersdorf and were in firm control of the village. It seems that Colonel Hassler was caught between a rock and a hard place. He could defend the village and probably hold it, but then the Gallians would be able to seize his line of communications off the board and capture 3 terrain points. Or, Hassler could detach some troops to defend the line of communications and put the village defense at risk. Hassler chose the latter course, and when he sent a battalion of infantry (IR7 Bevern) out of the village to cut off the Gallian attack on the road, the French stormed and overwhelmed the battalion of jaegers who were defending the village. Von Manstein didn't have enough infantry units left to recapture the village and keep the other Gallians (in the left flank area) at bay, so he conceded the town and victory to the Gallians.

It was a well-fought battle by all the participants. We had 10 players in all, of which 4 were experienced with the rules. The 6 newbies seemed to pick up on the rules fairly quickly, which was a good thing to see. We sold a few sets of rules and picked up a couple of new recruits for future battles in Brown Deer, Wisconsin. I regret that I haven't posted any pictures of the battle. There was a large, bright light directly over our table and it was so bright as to wash out most of my pictures. I only took 3 or 4 photos as a consequence. I will have to down load them later and see if any are suitable for posting. The convention was held in an athletic field house, so you can imagine how large and bright the overhead lights were. Sigh...


  1. Der Alte,
    The right flank command of the Gallian Army at Dithersdorf wishes to compliment the Hesse-Seewaldt Army there for a stout and stubborn defense. A credit to the Army and its commander! Fun too.
    Votre Serviteur,

  2. For Der Alte, et al,

    A lady and her maid apparently escorted by an eye-patched and scar-faced officer of the Gallian Royal des Carabiniers were in the village on the Gallian right flank. I've been imagining what they must have seen and heard.

    1. They could not see over the rise of ground to their front.

    2. The first horrible volley of the HS Army must have been deafening. Casualties were visible from their vantage point in the village perhaps resembling similar carnage in the linear battle scenes in The Patriot.

    3. Units surged forward over the rise out of sight to reappear later. Others replaced them.

    4. The entire cavalry force trotted up the rise, disappeared and crashed into several units of the HS Army in the beyond.

    5. Remnants returned from the deadly rise of ground.

    6. Cavalry forces rallied back to reform to deliver counter thrusts that were not needed.

    7. One funny thing. The town on my side of the map was placed wrongly. It was supposed to be on the Gallian left flank. Poor maps!

    I thoroughly enjoyed the cavalry activity in which I was embroiled all afternoon.
    Votre Serviteur,

  3. It sounds like everyone is having problems with faulty maps. :) It's contagious.

  4. Bright light should never be a problem with photography, especially miniature photography.

    I don't know what camera you have but I'll assume you were shooting auto.

    If things are washing out, reduce your EV by 1 or 2 stops. Many cameras call this exposure compensation. This is necessary because all cameras assume they are looking at 18% grey. If you are shooting something darker the camera will overcompensate by over-exposing. Telling the camera to under-expose should balance this tendency.

    Look at your scene. Is it over-all darker than 18% grey? Under-expose. Is it brighter than 18% grey, over-expose.