Sunday, June 15, 2008

Battle of Oberon - Part II

Suren Uhlans de Saxe supported by Bercheny Hussars

Last week I reported on the action in the center of the battlefield, featuring the Prussian cavalry attack in the manner of Seydlitz at Zorndorf, etc. I had to leave early, but apparently the French decided to retire from the battlefield after one more turn. So with the Prussians bursting through the center, stopping the French cavalry attack on the right cold, and an edge to the French on the left (all left/center/right positions are from the Prussian perspective in this report), the consensus was that the Battle of Oberon was a Prussian victory.

Let us now take a closer look at the action on the right flank, where a brigade of Prussian infantry faced off against the mighty French cavalry. The Prussian general, von Harms, had two fusilier battalions, the von Bungle musketeer battalion, and the 66-man Protzdam Grenadier Garde battalion and a handful of field artillery. Von Harms had his right flank resting on the town walls of Oberon and he immediately moved his brigade forward to secure this advantageous protection of his flank. He detached a grand division (one stand of 15 figures) into the town. The detachment subsequently lined the walls of the town and would pour some deadly flanking fire into the oncoming French cavalry attack.

A view of the right flank after the second turn. Note the French light cavalry marching through the town of Oberon and emerging in the rear of von Harms' Prussian brigade. Two regiments of French cavalry can be seen advancing on the Prussian line. The Prussians have deployed two fusilier battalion on the left and the von Bungle musketeer battalion on the right. The Protzdam Garde formed the reserve and second line.

General de Chevert (Bill Protz) opened the contest by sending his light cavalry, consisting of the Uhlans de Saxe and the Bercheny Hussars - two squadrons in total, through the undefended town in order to see what mischief they might cause in the Prussian rear staging area. There was no Prussian cavalry deployed in this sector for much of the game, so the French light cavalry had a free run of the grounds.

Von Harms was not too concerned with this development, although he did turn and face one grand division of the Protzdam Garde to face this threat. Chevert hurried the rest of his heavy cavalry forward to engage the Prussian infantry. The white coated Commissaire-General came on first, engaging von Bungle, taking a first fire (+5 shooting bonus), and getting destroyed as a result. Note that the French cavalry attacked without any infantry support that could absorb that deadly first fire bonus. (whereas the Prussian cavalry advanced behind a line of infantry before they charged). According to Chevert, this was all planned for as his objective was to weaken the von Bungle musketeers with the Commissaire-General, and then break through with his second regiment, the "elite-rated" Rutowsky Saxon cheveau-leger cavalry regiment.

Commissaire-Generale can be seen engaging von Bungle near the town walls. The second wave of red-coated Saxon cavalry prepares to follow up and destroy von Bungle. The blue coated Regt. Royale regiment (2 by 36 figures) advances towards the fusilier battalion in the center of the Prussian line.

The Saxon Rutowsky cheveau leger cavalry (4 squadrons of 12 or 48 figures) waited for Commissaire-Generale to clear out of the way, and then they launched an attack of columns of squadrons into von Bungle. The Rutowskis took some murderous flanking fire from the grand division of von Bungle musketeers manning the town walls. The first squadron fell back in a rout. At the same time, the French light cavalry charged into the rear of von Bungle with the hope of finishing them off. In Batailles de l'Ancien Regime (BAR) rules, we allow the third rank to turn about and fire at cavalry charging from the rear. Why? Because this is exactly what 18th Century infantry was trained to do. Examples include the British infantry at Dettingen and Minden, the Prussian Garde at Kolin and numerous other examples.

The Protzdammers unseated many of the Uhlans de Saxe from passing fire as they attempted to charge into von Bungle, while the Bercheny Hussars became disordered from musketry. Nevertheless, the Bercheny Hussars continued their charge into the flank of von Bungle and proved to be the final straw that broke the camel's back, for von Bungle broke and routed to the rear.

A thinned out von Bungle musketeer battalion awaits the next cavalry onslaught.

The Bercheny Hussars continued to pursue the routing Prussian infantry, and captured two flags in the process. The second squadron of the Rutowsky horse rallied and retired back to their lines rather than pursue the Prussians. The third and fourth squadrons of Rutowskys remained back at the French lines in reserve. Chevert then retired the entire unit back to his lines, for now he could see that the Prussian Garde du Corps (CR13) was riding to the rescue from the center. The Garde du Corps were incensed that mere hussars had run roughshod over the Prussian musketeers and wanted to recapture the flags. The French light cavalry prudently retired through the town. Their lighter horses were still too fast for the heavier horses of the Prussian cuirassiers.

French Regiment Royale charges into the Prussian fusilier battalion in the center.

To the immediate right of Chevert's Saxon cavalry, the brigade of 72 Regiment Royale heavy cavalry charged into the Prussian fusilier battalion in the middle of von Harms' battle line, and the weight of numbers took out this battalion, albeit at heavy loss of horses. The Royals could not exploit their success due to the fact that von Harms had his crack unit of Protzdammers waiting for them with a nice first fire bonus at the ready. The Royals prudently retired back to their lines.

For all intents and purposes, the action on the right flank of the table had come to an end, with the French cavalry repulsed by the Prussian infantry and with 48 elite Prussian Garde du Corps lined up and ready to stop any further French cavalry forays. Chevert reports that he wishes that he had brought a detachment of light infantry with him in order to run into the town and keep the detachment of von Bungle musketeers busy. Instead, the von Bungle detachment was free to shoot into the flank of every French squadron that charged past it and into the rest of the von Bungle regiment.

The Action on the Prussian Left Flank

I have no idea what went on in this sector of the field. Here, a brigade of Prussian infantry faced off against an equal number of French infantry. Things seemed to be at a stalemate until the Prussian general realized that the Arqubusiers de Grassin had quietly marched around the Prussian left flank and were positioned to fire into the flank of the surprised Prussians. Since the Prussian player didn't realize the ground rules (that a unit can shoot across the table gaps) the French player graciously allowed the Prussians to turn one battalion to the left flank. This precluded the "crossing of the T " as it were. The action closed at a stalemate in this sector.

Prussian Black Hussars (Staddens) in the left center attempt to charge down the road and take out a battalion of French infantry. It didn't work.

In the above picture, you may care to witness the Prussian Black Hussars charging (on the center-left part of the field) to their doom into a well positioned battalion of French infantry. This undoubtedly made General de Chevert feel much better about his own cavalry difficulies, as Chevert has a deep seated dislike for the Black Hussars.

And so the lessons learned from the Battle of Oberon would seem to be that cavalry attacks against infantry are nearly futile, unless supported by infantry to some degree. In part one of our report, we saw how the Prussian cavalry attacks were somewhat successful because they had supporting infantry weaken the French battalions with musketry, before the cavalry charged in to finish them off.

On the Prussian right flank, we saw how the French cavalry achieved a degree of success charging into formed infantry, but at great cost. In addition, there was no friendly infantry nearby to exploit the success gained by the French cavalry, while the absence of supporting light infantry proved costly to the French, in terms of having to take deadly flanking fire from the town walls.

And finally, we saw how the Prussian Black Hussars charged in on a single battalion and were easily repulsed. I leave it to you to draw your own conclusions from the examples cited in this report.


  1. Hi Jim,

    I've been looking forward t this second part of the battle report for the last week. It doesn't disappoint. Terrific photos too. What's next?

    Best Regards,


  2. Jim
    What is the last posting date for figs for the next Jacobite game- I have been rather remiss...
    p.s super pics and battle report!

  3. The next Jacobite game will be July 12th or 14th (whichever one is on a Saturday). It will be a smaller game featuring a Jacobite raid on a Government fort in the Highlands, so it will not count as one of the major games that can decide the outcome of the rebellion. Remember, any major battle loss by the Jacobites ends the rebellion. So you have plenty of time. The next big battle will probably be in August or September.

  4. Very impressive as usual!
    I may get a Highlander posted to you yet...

  5. Hi Jim, I really enjoy the recount of your exploits. Best regards...Bill

  6. Hi Jim, I really enjoy the recount of your exploits. Best regards...Bill

  7. Very nice report Jim...great eye candy too! BTW what make figures are the von Bungle Musketeers, Stadden?

    Good Gaming,

  8. The von Bungle musketeers, which are painted as IR1 Winterfeld regiment, belong to Bill Protz. The figures were commissioned by the late Wally Simon back in the early 1980s. No one knows what happened to the molds so they are lost forever. It's too bad, because I really like these figures and wouldn't mind having a few battalions of them in my army.

    I think that Gary Comardo of the Saint Maurice blog has a few of the figures in his collection.

  9. Fantastic stuff!

    Let me ask; maybe I missed it, but what is the story on that wargames room? I adore it! The tables on the outside, and the trees and sky painted... amazing!

    Any details?

  10. Fabulous battle setup, we're green with envy (that's Russian Army green with envy, of course).

    Keep up the good work.