Monday, December 17, 2018

The Battle of Kunersdorf Game Preparation

Frederick surveys the deployment of his advance guard from the Walke Berg heights

I decided to go ahead and do a Kunersdorf-Lite game before going off for the holiday. I will be posting the pictures and game report on this blog using the scheduled post feature in Blogger so that the posts will be placed on the blog while I'm away.

Prussian advance guard of 3 grenadier battalions.

Advance guard prepares to assault the Russians deployed on the Muhl Berg.

Here are some of my thoughts about the organization and composition of Allied and Prussian forces that fought at Kunersdorf. First, I wanted to remove the detached troops from the order of battle. These lucky units were left behind to guard bridges or the baggage park while the fighting was going on.

How many soldiers were at Kunersdorf? The numbers vary greatly using a number of sources such as Christopher Duffy, Kronoskaf (German General Staff Histories) and Alfred Rambaud. So you have to sort of pick one and just go with it. I decided to use Rambaud as my source noting that some of his figures are identical to what Christopher Duffy has in Russia's Military Way to the West.

Prussian Army at Kunersdorf
Rambaud and Duffy present the total Prussian army at 49,000 soldiers comprised of 35,000 infantry, 13,000 cavalry and 1,000 artilllery crew. With detachments of 9 battalions guarding the bridges near Goritz and 13 squadrons of hussars guarding the left bank of the Oder River, I come up with a number of 6,700 soldiers not present at the Battle of Kunersdorf.

7 btns of regulars and 2 btns of Freikorps--assuming 600 per battalion = 5,400
13 squadrons of hussars --assuming 100 cavalry per squadron              = 1,300
                       Total Detachments:                                                           = 6,700

After deducting the detachments I estimate that the Prussian army on the battlefield had 29,600 infantry, plus 11,700 cavalry and 1,000 artillery crew for a total force of 42,300 men.

Russian and Austrian Armies at Kunersdorf
Rambaud and Duffy cite the Russian strength at 43,000 infantry plus 4,650 battle cavalry and 7,200 light and irregular cavalry (Cossacks). With 4 battalions of foot protecting the baggage park and removing the Cossacks from consideration as likely troops on the battlefield I generate an estimated force of 41,000 infantry plus 4,650 cavalry and 1,700 hussars for a total force of 47,350 men.

The Austrians are thought to have brought around 18,000 troops to the game including 7,000 regular infantry plus 6,000 cavalry and 5,000 Croats. The Croat light infantry were largely guarding bridges across the Oder and some were at the south end of the battlefield well out of the way of the fighting to the north. So all the Croat battalions were eliminated for consideration. In addition there were two regiments of Austrian hussars (Kolnaki and Nadasdy) that were deployed near Frankfort  and were not engaged in the fighting. Removing all the Croats and the two hussar regiments I estimate the Austrian army at 7,000 infantry and 5,000 cavalry for a total battlefield force of 12,000 men.

Total Forces in the field
So after deducting all of the detachments and combing the Austrians and Russians into one "allied" force, the comparisons of soldiers engaged in fighting are as follows:

Infantry:            Allies - 48,000 versus 29,600 Prussians

Battle Cavalry:  Allies - 9,650 versus 11,700 Prussians

Total Forces:     Allies - 59,300 versus 42,300 Prussians

Ratio of Allies to Prussians is 1.4x
Ratio of Allied Infantry to Prussians is 1.6x
Ratio of Prussian Cavalry versus Allies is 1.2x

I am not going to get into the artillery arm of the two sides, but after deducting lighter battalion guns the Prussians had 114 heavy cannon (largely 12-pounders) versus 200 Russian field guns that were mostly in the 6-pounder size along with a considerable number of Shuvulov Howitzers. The Austrians had 48 cannon of various sizes, but none of the sources seem to be able to break out the light cannon from the heavy field guns.

Perhaps one of my readers can do some research on the artillery arm of both sides at Kunersdorf.

The Wargame Armies

As I often do, I start with the number of infantry that I want to field for the Prussian army and then multiply that by the ratio advantage of the allies in order to estimate the allied total of battalions. I decided on 8 Prussian battalions and 1.6x that number equals 12-13 allied. If I decided on 9 Prussian battalions then the allies increase to 14 battalions.

For the cavalry, I gave the allies 3 cavalry regiments times 1.2 to equal 3.6 Prussian regiments, rounded up to 4 regiments. I used 5 heavy cannon per side on the table.

Let the Game Begin

Russian battery on the Grosser Spitzberg

Another view of the Grosser Spitzberg, packed full of red coated Russians.

Prussian cavalry deployed next to Kunersdorf, guarding the left wing of the army.
The cavalry is actually starting off-table so they aren't really there at the start of the game.

I will start the game as a solo play on December 17th and hopefully finish it by December 18th.


  1. Wonderful stuff. It is always a pleasure to hear someone who is willing to share the metacognitive thinking that leads to a certain conclusion. While in this case it was simple math, it is a pleasure to work with you, step by step getting the battle set up for play.
    best regards,

  2. Awesome set up, most impressive units!

  3. Superb setup and very nice to see the cavalry present.

    I hope you enjoyed the battle.



  4. Great set up Jim although I dont envy the poor Russians on the Muhl Berg.