Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Battle of Oberon

Von Seydlitz leads attacking columns of squadrons into the center of the French line, a la Zorndorf.

On June 7, 2008 gamers from four states converged on Brown Deer, Wisconsin to fight another epic battle in the Wars of the Saxon Duchies. Host Bill Protz staged a morning game featuring the British amphibious landing at Gabrous Bay, outside Louisburg. I arrived late so I have no idea of how the landing fared, but everyone was all smiles when I arrived, so I can only assume that it was a good scenario. The afternoon game was a more traditional Seven Years War era game between the French and the Prussians.

I decided that I wanted to experiment with using heavy cavalry to spear head the attack on infantry, so there wasn't any real strategic purpose to the battle, other than to have fun. Each side had about 12 battalions of infantry and about 300 cavalry figures, give or take a few horses.

The unlucky French target of the cavalry attack in the center. Two Prussian infantry battalions would screen the advancing Prussian cavalry.

So my plan was to deploy a pair of infantry battalions in the front line, and then line up two heavy cuirassier regiments in a column of squadrons, and then see if I could burst through the French lines with the cavalry, in the manner of von Seydlitz at Kolin and Zorndorf. I ordered the Prussian infantry commander to move forward with all speed and engage the enemy infantry, without regard for what would happen to his battalions. Their purpose was to draw the French battalions' first fire (+5 on the firing charts) after which a veritable tidal wave of cuirassiers would overwhelm them.

Two Prussian battalions advance toward the ridge in order to draw the French first fire. Cavalry squadrons are moving up in support.

The Prussian infantry commander did his job all too well. As you can see in the picture above, the terrain seemed to limit the French to a frontage of one battalion, whereas the Prussians could move two of their battalions into the same area. Two battalions against one is a rather unfair firefight, so the odds were very much in the Prussians' favor. Add in the fact that the Prussians drew the first fire card, and the results were deadly for the French. The first French battalion was blown away by the musketry of two Prussian battalions. So the French brought up their second line of the Grenadiers de France to plug the gap.

Prussian musketry finishes off the first French battalion.

Grenadiers de France plug the gap caused by the destruction of the first French battalion. The light blue coated Royal Deux Pont regiment can be seen in the background side slipping to their right to support the Grenadiers de France.

Those French sent in a 60 figure battalion of grenadiers to plug the gap in their line, but nevertheless, that was not going to stop the Prussian attack. By this point in the game, things were looking very promising for a complete Prussian cavalry break through in the center of the French line. The Prussian infantry battalions were holding their own with minimal casualties so far and the cavalry hadn't been needed so far.

The destruction of the Grenadiers de France by the combined arms infantry and cavalry attack. The Royal Deux Ponts form the third and final line of defense in the French center.

The Prussian battalions of IR25 Kalkstein and IR34 Prinz Ferdinand (Minden Miniatures) were doing most of the heavy work against the Grenadiers de France. At this point, cavalry general von Driessen sent in a squadron of the CR2 Prinz von Preussen (gelbe reiters) cuirassiers to finish off a French artillery battery supporting the Grenadiers. After they rode down the artillerests, they turned into the Grenadiers and routed off a grand division of this battalion. The rest of the unit was being finished off by musketry.

At this point, I had to leave the field of battle to join the Prinzessin von Hesse Seewald for an evening at the opera (to see a chick flic, whose name I shall not mention - oh the humanity of it all!). So I have no idea of how the battle turned out. I yielded command of my cavalry to the plucky Prussian infantry commander in my sector, John Poor and told him what my plans were for the cavalry. If you look at the first picture at the top of this page, you will see the state of forces and their deployment in the center at the time that I had to leave the battle.

Tomorrow, I will post a few of the pictures of the action that took place to my right. Here, the French cavalry seemed to have the same plan as mine, an attack in force on the Prussian infantry. However, they went in without any infantry support and my wingman on the right flank was able to fend off the entire French cavalry command with relative ease.

On the way home from Milwaukee, I had to drive through one of the worst monsoon like thunderstorms that I have ever seen. I was driving on the interstate highway doing a sporty 35 miles per hour and praying to all of the saints that I would make it home safely. Thankfully, I arrived home safe, but mentally drained from the drive. The movie was actually OK, but I would have rather seen the Indiana Jones movie.


  1. I've never seen an all out attack that didn't end up in a bloody repulse, so the apparent success of this one is fascinating. I look forward to the follow on report.

  2. ... I echo that sentiment - could you also share with us any specifics of the rules that cover the manoeuvre - I'm thinking especially of "interpenetration"... the way - I am most impressed with the will power shown to walk away at such a moment purely to attend a "chick flick" - truly thou art a 'gentilehomme'.. :o))

  3. My follow up report will focus on the French attack with all of their cavalry, about 300 horses, against the 4 battalions commanded by Jim Harms, to my right. JH repulsed the French, with the loss of two of his battalions, offset by the loss of the majority of the French cavalry. I think that it shows that our rules work fairly well -- to my way of thinking, a battalion of infantry should be able to stop a frontal cavalry charge of equal numbers.

    I made a point of leaving "departure lanes" in my formation so that there would be room for routing squadrons to retire through the lines. Also, John Poor was doing such an effective job of wiping out the French infantry that I held back my cavalry attack,save for one charge into some guns (which I wiped out) and a following up charge in the Grenadiers de France and the Royal Deux Ponts. John was bringing up his 12 pounder and planning on hosing down the Deux Ponts for a turn or two before finishing them off with the cavalry.

    Combined arms attacks work best, even in the SYW. I will have to talk to Bill and get a report from him for posting with the pictures in the next report.

  4. Looks great - thanks for posting pics and info.

  5. Hi Jim,

    To paraphrase the late Charles Grant Sr, "The look" of the SYW-era games you guys stage is always awe-inspiring and inspiring. Wish I had four arms -- I could paint twice as much, twice as fast!

    Best Regards,


  6. Agreed, excellent minis, photos and battle report!
    Glad to hear you made it home okay after all the weather reports coming out of there! I hope things are okay in Brown Deer, too!

  7. Ah, vere is der Schwim waggen ven one needs one?!?

    lovely battle report and pictures as usual ... wish i had the space to play such big battalions ...


  8. The Milwaukee Metro Area incl. Brown Deer was inundated for a couple of days. After everyone left late Saturday afternoon, water came into the house via the chimney ash depository in the basement wall behind my painting table. The water was redirected to the drain by towels and piled up rugs and away it went over a couple of days.

    The 1997 flood caused a lot of new drainage terra forming here and so we did not get 17" of sewer water backing up in the basement again through the drain. This time it was clean water from some sort of off combination of wind direction and several torrents from above weather.

    In 1997 lots of stuff was thrown out including miniatures - had to be. This time there was nothing worth mentioning that was wrecked. The key is, no miniatures got wet. I had some concerns since the Hesse Seewald Army is still encamped here, but all is well with them and that of Gallia.

    I'm glad everyone got home safely. At times attendees have gone home in big deal snowstorms and now a torrential rain storm.

    I have some photos on the amphibious landing now but do not know if they are any good. I'll check in the next couple of days - time permitting.

    Votre Serviteur,

  9. Great-looking game . . . I love the look of those "big battalions".

    I hope that some of those who didn't abandon the field to go to the "chic flick" will let us know how the rest of your attack fared.

    -- Jeff