Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Fontenoy AAR - Part III

The town of Fontenoy was garrisoned with up to three battalions of Austrians, two 3-pounders and one 6-pounder cannon.

The left flank of the Prussian Infernal Column had to pass by the town of Fontenoy, which was packed full of Austrians who were armed to the teeth. Cumberland/Frederick did not want to allocate the troops and resources that would have been required to take such a strong position as Fontenoy.

Accordingly, Frederick told off the Anhalt Dessau Regiment, or IR22, to demonstrate in front of the town so as to draw the attention of the garrison on IR22 instead of the Infernal Column.

IR22 advances towards Fontenoy. Aren't they a stirring sight?

There really wasn't much action on this part of the table. The Prussians advanced towards the town and lost two stands of infantry from its lead battalion, but their morale held strong. Once the Prussians reached the entrenchments, they were able to deal with the two Austrian 3-pounders and kill off their crews with musket fire. 

Once that happened, the Anhalt Dessau - first battalion - moved in front of the entrenchments which oddly enough offered them some protection from Austrian musket fire. This is pretty much how the rest of the game went in this sector.

IR22 Anhalt Dessau regiment of two battalions launches an assault on the entrenchments at Fontenoy.

Things were pretty well in hand so the MacGuire Regiment was released from garrison duty in Fontenoy and sent to help the Austrian defense of the center ridge area.

Since they were not needed in the defense of the town, the brigade commander ordered the first battalion of the MacGuire regiment to depart from the town and redeploy in the gap just to the left of the town. The second battalion is barely visible in the upper righthand corner. They were held in reserve ready to enter the town if the garrison was having any trouble.

1st Battalion MacGuire Regiment marched out of Fontenoy's entrenchment and deployed as the right flank of the Austrian troops in the center. This was fortunate for the Austrians because the Prussian Winterfeld Regt. made a left wheel in the direction of the gap in the Austrian line (between the ridge in the center and the town) and MacGuire was there to stop them.

Late in the day, the MacGuires retired back towards Fontenoy in order to open up a lane for the Austrian cuirassier brigade that was moving up to attack the Winterfeld Regiment. The Anhalt Dessauers watched this development and decided that it would be wise to fall back so that the Austrian cuirassiers would not hit them in the flank after an inevitable win over the Winterfeld battalions.

The Alt Modena cuirassiers (blue flag and facings) and the De Ligne Dragoons (green coats) trotted forward to slaughter the depleted battalions of the Winterfeld Regiment.

Sometimes, though, things turn out a little bit different from expectations. Both battalions of the Winterfeld Regiment stood fast against the charge of the Austrian cuirassiers and won the cavalry versus infantry melees. They were, however, in "Shaken" morale status after fighting the melee, as are all units that survive a melee. This made them more susceptible to routing if they took more casualties and had to test morale again.

This is indeed what happened, resulting in both battalions of the Winterfeld Regiment routing to the rear seeking secour from the Austrian cavalry. Nevertheless, Frederick the Great was heard to say,

"Those men of Winterfeld's regiment are veritable lions in battle."

The Winterfeld Regiment, though severely depleted in men, somehow managed to fend off the attack of two Austrian cuirassier squadrons.

When the Austrian cavalry appeared on the battlefield, the Anhalt Dessau regiment retreated back towards its original starting position so as not to have its flanks exposed to a potential cavalry attack.

As the Anhalt Dessau regiment retired back towards its original starting point, they received the good news that the battle had been won in the center and that the remains of the Austrian army was in full retreat.

After the battle, the grim task of taking care of the fallen must begin. Casualty markers illustrate the ebb and flow of the battle.

Casualty Markers - why use them?

I know that some people have an aversion, for personal reasons, to using dead or wounded wargame figures and I completely understand that. Others don't see the value in taking the time to paint them when the same time could be spent on painting soldiers to march in our ranks.

However, there are other uses for the figures. I use them as markers - one casualty disk is placed on the table where ever a stand of figures takes place. For example, if a battalion of infantry has six stands of six figures, whenever the unit accumulates six casualties I remove the stand from the table and place a casualty marker in its stead. The marker does not follow the battalion around the table, but rather, it remains on the table ground in that exact spot where it was removed. This way, I can follow the course of the battlefield action and see where the hardest fighting took place. The picture above illustrates this and it is obvious where the heaviest fighting occurred - atop the ridge in the center of the battlefield.

This system is a bit more difficult for cavalry units.  I base my cavalry two figures to a stand and have 12 stands within each cavalry regiment. That would add up to many many stands needed to depict the cavalry actions. So instead, I use a horse casualty marker to designate where a cavalry melee took place.

Another use for the casualty markers is as a game token of sorts that can be used to determine victory conditions. For example, the side with the most markers on the table could be designated the loser or the number of markers could be but one of many factors that will determine the winner of the table top game. I sometimes use the red coated markers to show where a unit routed. The number of routs in the game could be another victory condition for the game.

Looking at all of the casualty markers in the picture above, it generates some ideas for after-battle vignettes such as civilians looting the dead, stretcher teams taking the wounded to the hospital area, some civilians digging a grave. Those ideas admittedly start to border on the macabre so I don't know if I would do some of them. Once I saw an ACW war game where there was a hospital vignette placed in an out-of-the-way area on the table. It had a pile of amputated limbs near a surgical table. That's too much for.

I'd be ok with a stretcher team of one soldier dragging off his mate in a blanket or a soldier giving a drink from his canteen to one of the wounded.

Other cleaner ideas would include broken cannon wheels and disabled wagons, maybe even an exploded ammo wagon or something like that to scatter across the battlefield.

Food for thought.


  1. Wonderful! Most impressive photos of Fontenoy's garrison, and casulaty markers add a lot to the battlefield in the end of the game...Realistic and splendid!

  2. I have no issue with casualty markers Jim and use them often as it is, after all, metal soldiers. I found however understand that this is my own personal view and of no greater or less gravitas than those who dislike them. Yours look very good indeed.

  3. I'm thinking of those who have been in the military and have actually "seen the elephant". They may have witnessed things that influence their view that casualties on the table are something that they would rather not represent.

    On the other hand, we are playing a war game and death is an ever present element in our games.