Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Colonel Bauer Saw

French regiment Belsunce deployed in 4 ranks. This is actually two 24-figure French battalions (RSM and Old Glory) that I put together to form one larger BAR-sized battalion for this encounter. Click the pix to enlarge the view.

As the Prussian vanguard emerged from the Grueningen road, they fanned out onto the plain in front of Munzenberg. Three squadrons of hussars led the way, forming a line of battle. Behind them was a 600 man battalion of the Heyden Grenadiers (19/25). Bauer also deployed a battery of horse artillery on a low rise to the left of the road, where they could be best employed to rain shell into the battalion of French infantry that he espied in front of the town.

The following picture provides the reader with an overview of the Prussian and French deployment around the town of Munzenberg.

Overview of the battle deployment. French light infantry are deployed in the town; the Horvath Hussars protect the road to Friedberg; the Belsunce regiment and the Clermont-Prince light infantry deploy north of the town. The Prussians are entering the table from the top right corner, with a secondary force arriving in the middle, in order to cut off the French retreat.

Colonel Bauer contemplated the situation before him and thought about it in the context of his general orders (which were to push the Prussian cavalry screen forward and push back the French forward light troops). He was to avoid battle if at all possible in order to maintain secrecy. However, it was clear that his cover was blown after yesterday's kleine krieg action and undoubtedly word of the Prussian presence so close to Frankfurt was on its way to Marshal de Broglie.

Bauer decided to try prying the French out of the town via maneuver before resorting to a stand up fight. He only had one battalion of infantry and wasn't keen on risking it to a stand up fire fight with the French. A D6 was rolled: 1 through 3 meant that the French would stay and fight; while a 4 through 6 would indicate a withdrawal. The bones were rolled, and a "2" appeared. The French would stand and fight.

Accordingly, Bauer sent two squadrons of Black Hussars around the south flank of the village in hopes that they could pose a threat to the main road back to Friedberg. A squadron of dismounted hussars was also detached to this group to provide some protection from any French light infantry that might be prowling around through the little woods that lay in front of the town. The two squadrons of hussars deployed into a two rank line of battle and began to advance towards the two squadrons of French hussars that guarded the line of retreat.

At the same time, a battery of two 6-pound horse artillery dropped trail on a small rise in front of the town and prepared to fire on the French Belsunce regiment. A second squadron of dismounted hussars advanced towards the ridge to the north of the town in order to outflank the Belsunce regiment and stir up any light infantry that might be hiding behind the hill. While the Prussians seeped around the French flanks, Bauer would bombard the French infantry and deploy the Heyden Grenadier battalion to the front. They would wait until things developed on the two French flanks.

Now then, what was Colonel Chalfont to do? And what would you do if you were in Chalfont's shoes? Please feel free to leave your ideas in the commentary section of this blog.

A note about the French Belsunce Regiment: this is comprised of two 24-figure battalions of French that I use for my own "Alter Fritz" rules at a 1 to 30 ratio. The front two ranks are an RSM unit and the back two ranks and the battalion gun are Old Glory figures. The Clermont-Prince light infantry and the Chasseurs de Fischer are from Front Rank. I am tempted to fight a couple of these battles with 24 man units and the BAR rules just to prove that it can be done.


  1. Jim,

    this is an interesting one for both sides. As the French I'd march the infantry south of the town and drop off the light infantry to reinforce those already in the town. This gives the infantry and hussars a secure left flank. It means that the Prussians may have to consider attacking the town with the lights ensconced in the buildings. My guess is that the Prussians won't want to take too many risks with the valuable grenadiers. It should force the Prussian guns to move and may bring them in range for a sally by the lights from the town. It reinforces the hussars with firepower and if the Prussian cavalry can be whittled down then the French hussars may also get a chance to outflank and ride down the Prussian guns. At the very least it trades space for time and helps keep open the road south. I look forward to the developments.

  2. As the French player I would try and turn the Prussian left flank.

    This would constitute a major movement though.

    The Clermont-Prince light infantry would move back through town and advance to the woods East of town. This should discomfort the Prussian Hussars, mounted and dimounted.

    The Horvath Hussars would support Clermont-Prince's movement into the wood.

    The Belsunce regiment would pull back through town, dropping off two companies to support the town garrison if needed. Then forming south of town and acting in support of the Clermon-Prince and Horvath Hussars.

    Timing this would be difficult but it would protect the southward line of retreat to Friedberg. If successful this could drive the Prussian Hussars off field and present a threat to the flank of any attack on the town itself.

    If things don't look good, the French can just keep moving south.

  3. If I was Chalfont I would be sweating: is this merely a probe, or is it the vanguard of a major push by the enemy, with greater forces coming up behind?

    To offer battle if it is the latter would be to invite destruction. On the other hand, to fall back would, in the case of a mere probe, be to desert one's post.

    So I think I would offer battle but be most concerned to keep the way clear for a retreat, and try and get my hussars forwards to observe whatever might be coming up behind the enemy that I can see.

  4. If I was the French I'd leave my Hussars where they are and defend the road, draw the infantry back into town which is to be held. The town seems to be a bit of a cross roads which could be critical later. If the Prussians advance...pepper them, there is a lot of open ground while the French will be in hard cover with full field of fire. If the French are forced to withdraw, so be it, the Prussians would have paid a dear price.

  5. I agree with Andy. Put up a brave front and force the Germanians to at least deploy to dislodge you, but keep a weather eye on the route of withdrawl. Does Col. Chalfont have any hopes of reinforcements marching to the sound of the guns?

  6. I am interested to see what Col Bauer gets up to :)

  7. Boys,

    Check out the news on Nigel Billington's blog about a possible reprint of Savory's book on the British Army of the SYW.


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