|Der Alte Fritz and Princess Lelia roll dice around the wargame table during the Battle of Gross Jagersdorf.
Yesterday we held the inaugural wargame for my newly renovated game room and played the Battle of Gross Jagersdorf (August 30, 1757) for the kick-off event. We had six players and one celebrity guest dice roller in attendence. The home team Prussians included Kieth L., Earl K., and John B. while the visiting team from Russia manned by Bill P., Chuck L. and myself, Der Alte Fritz. My daughter Lelia provided assistance in dice rolling to the Russian side.
The battle featured SYW Russians and Prussians and represented the first time in the SYW that the two countries fought one another. Historically, the Russians had a significant advantage in numbers, some 55,000 troops compared to only 25,000 for the Prussians. The Russians won the historical battle in a convincing manner, but then, rather than consolidate their gains in East Prussia, the army retired back into Russia, leaving the Prussians in control of Konigsburg and East Prussia.
In our kick-off wargame, Marshal Lehwaldt's Prussians managed to change history by defeating General Apraxin's Russian army at Gross Jagersdorf. Undoubtedly this would change the course of history, but that is a story for another day.
If you click (and double click) on the annotated picture below, you should have a clearer view of the table top terrain and troop set up. The Prussian team was attacking from the left and the Russian team was defending the wooded area on the right half of the table.
|Annotated view of the wargame table. Prussians in blue and Russians in red.
Click the image to enlarge the view.
The Prussians had three brigades (two of infantry and one of cavalry): starting from the bottom of the picture we had General von Kanitz deployed with four battalions of infantry and two 12-figure squadrons of the dreaded Black Hussars. Next in line, in the center, was the infantry brigade of General Graf von Dohna; and finally, at the top of the picture, was the wide open plain where cavalry general von Schorlemer played badminton with his Russian cavalry counterpart.
|The Dreaded Prussian Black Hussars, always the bane of Bill P.'s life on the wargame pitch.
|Graf von Dohna's Prussian infantry brigade.
|General von Kanitz's Prussian infantry brigade.
The Russians were defending the Norkitten-wald (woods) with General Lupukhin's infantry brigade at the bottom of the picture, General von Browne's Observation Corps infantry towards the top of the picture, and finally, Count Demiku's brigade of light Russian cavalry hussars and Cossacks. A fourth brigade of Russian infantry, commanded by General Willem Fermor, got lost trying to find its way through the Norkitten-wald, where it would eventually see the light of day and the Emerald City, seashells and balloons, and a unicorn or two.
|Our Cast: in the front row, left to right, is Kieth L. (P), Der Alte Fritz (R), and Earl K. (P).
In the second row, left to right, is Bill P. (R), Chuck the Lucky (R) and John B. (R)
|A view of the wargame table terrain.
|Having driven off the Prussian Black Hussars, Bill launched his elite squadron of Horse Grenadiers at the Prussian cavalry.
|Russian reinforcements managed to get lost during their march through the Norkitten-wald. They finally arrived on Turn 8, much to the relief of Lopukhin (Bill P.)
On the north end of the playing pitch, the Prussian and Russian cavalry forces were caught in the ebb and flow, back and forth style of Old School cavalry battles, with neither side able to gain any advantage.
|A veritable hoard of hussars and Cossacks under my command.
|...and some very reliable Russian horse grenadiers.
|You just have to like the look of a well dressed Cossack.
|However, the Prussian dragoons and hussars of von Schorlermer's cavalry brigade
were stronger than the Russian light cavalry.
With the cavalry nearly played out, the Russian Observation Corps of von Browne also advanced out of the woods (do these Russians have some sort of aversion to trees or something?) to confront the Prussian brigade of Graf von Dohna. Their impetuosity was rewarded with a squadron of Prussian White Hussars (known affectionately as "The Lambs" for their white pelisses/coats) charging into the flank of a Russian grenadier regiment. This is generally called "not a good thing", and indeed, the Russian grenadiers went fleeing for their lives.
|The Russian Observation Corps with a supporting Shuvulov Howitzer, commanded very adeptly by Chuck the Lucky (you don't want to have to roll dice against him during a game, hence the "Lucky" moniker).
The Lambs pulled up short of the supporting line of red coated Russian infantry and wondered what they could do for an encore. Not much, as it turned out, for the Russian musketeers blasted the Lambs out of their saddles on the next turn.
|The White Hussars ("the Lambs") charge into the flank of the Observation Corps Grenadiers.
By Turn 10 it was fairly obvious that the blue-coated Prussians were going to prevail and win the Battle of Gross Jagersdorf in handy fashion. The Russians handled their troops with great skill, but they could not overcome the decision of The Dice Gods to hand nearly EVERY initiative die roll to the Prussians. In my game rules, the team that wins the Initiative Die Roll at the beginning of each turn gets to choose either firing first/moving second or moving first/firing second. As a result, the Prussians were usually getting to fire at the Russians before the Russians could return fire.
The results can be seen in the Butcher's Bill of figure casualties for each side:
Russians - 231 casualties out of a total of 488 figures.
Prussians - 152 casualties out of a total of 388 figures.
At the end of the day, it often does not really matter which team wins, because war gaming is as much a social activity as it is a game. Our group of gamers convenes a half dozen times or so each year and we have lots of fun just talking, jabbering and kibitzing with one another. It always makes for a fun day and that's why we keep doing it again and again.
Our next game is in September, when we will journey north to Brown Deer, WI to participate in Bill P.'s 19th Century British Colonial era games. I am really looking forward to this game as it is one of my favorite historical periods to research and read about.