14 April 2016

The Battle of Hastenbeck, 26 July 1757 – refought

On 2016 Easter Friday, our group played a refight of the battle of Hastenbeck. Originally we were supposed to be 5 players, but two fell sick the days before, so that we were left with only 3 players. Two on the French side, including myself, and one for the Hannoverian Army. I was also not feeling so well and got struck by a flu for the remainder of the Easter Holidays. That's one of the reasons why this AAR is published only now.
I always believed Hastenbeck is anything but a perfect wargame scenario, as a result of the odd terrain and the considerable French superiority in troops and artillery. As said in my previous article below, that's why it took me 12 years from my extensive research done on this battle to making it a game. How mistaken I was! The game played really well with everybody having a great time. As said in my previous article, the game was played with Volley & Bayonet rules and the scenario was based on Frank Chadwick's "Battle's of the Seven Years War", vol. 2: "The Strategic Flanks". A great scenario to play, and likely to supersede Minden as my favorite SYW French vs. Allies battles. I converted his orbats into my preferred visual layout play sheets with inserting my troops and some non-historic generals in order to minimize re-labeling.

The battle evolved somewhat different as the historic one as a result of the Hannoverian Army's somewhat altered deployment.

According to the scenario, the Allies deployed first anywhere behind a line running East-West between the South edge of Hastenbeck village and North edge of Voremberg, which remained unoccupied to the front of their position. As in the historical battle the Hannoverian's placed their batteries in field works to command the bottleneck between Hastenbeck and the wooded Schrecken heights with the Obensberg hilltop, but also deployed troops to the East of the hills. Strangely, also a cavalry division was placed to the South of the Haste Stream between Hastenbeck and the Weser River, which marked the West edge of the table. Not such a good idea, as it turned out. Most of the superior numbered French cavalry of the left wing fell upon them & the Hannoverians were eliminated in the first turn. Below see the end result of this French 1st turn assault. The Hannoverian horse was found eliminated with a single strike, thanks to the French light horse that managed to move into the rear of the enemy, thus, denying them to fall back across the bridge across the marshy banked Haste Stream. A good start for the French. I instantly went off to my fridge to arrange for our Victory Champagne ice cool – for cheering to this certain French arms day of glory.
The French initial deployment and general plan of attack was otherwise not so different from the historic plan. The terrain simply left us with little alternatives.
The French left wing infantry gets moving forward.
So does the French right under my command. A many photos were done during this game. It took me a while to sort out the best selection for a good narrative. That's another reason for the delay of this AAR.
Meanwhile the Hannoverian Army of Observation was ‘observing’ the French initial moves.
Above see a close-up of Cumberlands Grenadiers under Hardenberg securing the batteries.
The French right wing was reenforced by most of the French cavalry of the right as a result of the entire force of general Oberg to the East of the Schrecken heights. Oberg soon realized that he was opposing far superior numbers of French and withdrew his troops onto the high ground to his rear forming a line along the edge of the woods. Now the battle started in earnest with Cherverts' men executing its flank turning movement. Supported by cavalry he now closed in on Obergs' division that had formed an angle to Cumberland's main position West fo the Schrecken high ground. At the same time Broglie, on the French left, closed in on Hastenbeck supported by the French heavy artillery. 
The French left under Broglie attacking Hastenbeck village
 D'Armentière's Corps of the right closing in on Cumberland's left wing batterie.
Broglie's light troops seize Hastenbeck.
 D'Armentière's guns target Cumberland's batterie.
Chervert's Corps of the far right closes in on Oberg's division.

Close-up of the contest between Chervert's and Oberg's men for the Schrecken high ground securing the flank of Cumberland's position.
Gradually, the French pushed forward taking every Hannoverian strongpoint one by one. First, the Obensberg hilltop was seized by French light troops, next fell Hastenbeck, and the two right hand batteries were captured and its guns silenced.

The brave lads of regiment Piédmont attack the batterie of the centre.
 The guns were silenced…
…and Piédmont seizes the batterie.
The Hannoverians defended every inch of their position like lions, resulting in heavy loss on both sides.

The French cavalerie of the left continued to threaten Cumberland's far right by signalling to pass the stream. General Imhoff's entire division was needed to secure the Haste stream.
 After the batteries had all been taken by the French, they now pushed forward through the defile between Hastenbeck village and the Obensberg hilltop.
The aftermath from the contest for the Schmiedebrink highgroud seen, after the French pressed on forward. A fine example oncemore prooving the old German miniature collectors saying: "Its the dead and dying that'll make your scenery look alive".

In came now Cumberlands revenge. The Hannoverians had been pushed back to their Alamo Position. With their backs to the wall, they were unwilling to accept defeat and decided for one final all-out attack on Contades Corps of the Centre.

My Co-Player V*** failed about every single morale check resulting in a super disaster. Contades Corps was smashed in a single turn, including our so valuabble heavy guns. This accident decided the day, as by that time also Cheverts Corps of the right along with the right wing cavalerie had been fought down into exhaustion. The French started to run out of troops, and it was only two or three turns to go till nightfall.
Above you see about the final stage of the battle. The Hannoverians somehow managed to form a last final line, that the French were unable to crush. The battle was lost to the French as the French cavalerie attack – most desperate – accross the Haste stream was also a total falure. I knew that happening before, but was unable to prevent V*** from doing such a silly thing.
A great game it was, that we will surely play another time sometime in the near future.