24 March 2017

Refighting The Battle Of Hochkirch 14 Oct. 1758

Last weekend we had a rather spectacular game, refighting the battle of Hochkirch, refought with approx 1,200 miniatures. Two players on the Austrian side, including myself, and 1 player for the King of Prussia's heroic ‘Spartans. The Scenario is provided by Frank Chadwick's Battles of the Seven Years War, vol. I (Austria versus Prussia) for Volley & Bayonet rules.
The famous great field work just south of Hochkirch under assault of Loudon's cavalry.

Closer view of the fieldwork with the village of Hochkirch located just behind it.
With the Hochkirch church bell sounding the 5th hour a mighty thunderstorm cought the sleeping – and almost unsuspecting – Prussians in their Camp. 

Above see a panorama view of the spectacle. The Austrian attack came in pretty much according to the historic dispositions. A massive reenforced left wing of 4 columns directed into the Prussian flank and rear. To represent the Prussians being ‘caught sleeping’, all Prussian units started the game disordered.
Below see my orbat sheets arranged for the two armies with this game. For copyright issues, I did not include the V&B scenario map for Hochkirch. But plenty of maps of the battle should be found in the internet, anyway.
I must say, I never saw a more formidable Austrian army lined up for the attack. I've inserted my units here, off course. A many are historic & also found at their historic position.

The Prussians – so few – but made up entirely of core troops, hence moral 6 for the most and even morale 7 for the Gardes & the Regt. du Corps representing the crack Garde-du-Corps cuirassier brigade. The finest of Prussian troops found here. Up to this day, near all regiments of this army knew of lost battles only from hear-say.

Most determined – but poorly drilled amateur – US sundays militia, led by capt. C. Duffy advancing on Hochkirch from a southern direction. The shot was taken during our visit of the battlefield in Oct 2016. We are watching from the south exit of todays Hochkirch town down the "Kirschenallee" or Engl. ‘Cherry Alley’ (see google maps). My position should be approx. on the left flank of the great fieldwork looking due south into the believed advance path of d'Aysne's column. Capt. Duffy wasn't pleased with the conduct of his command. These amateur class lads just couldn't march in step, hence his somewhat indignant countenance.
With all Prussians being disordered it was too big a temptation to resist for my co-player L***. He commanded on the left and instantly threw in all the horse of Loudon's corps as well as Odonell's cavalry attacking into the Prussian rear. The infantry was outside sriking distance with the start of the first turn. It was Ziethen's right wing cavalry that got hit. Hit really hard! The two cuirassier brigades were routed in a minute. An Austrian cavalry breaktrough in the first turn. Now they continued charging into a regt. of Kanitz's right wing infantry and a battery of artillery – both routed as well. Only the Löwenstein's chevaulegers attacking the fieldwork head on were repulsed. A good try, but possibly too daring. With this hard hitting good start, the real work started for the Austrians. Despite being greatly outnumbered, our opponent M*** was very determined to win this battle with his Prussians, of which a good number of units were his own miniatures. The greater part only recently painted and here seeing their Test-of-Battle.

View of Loudon's & Odonnell's troops attacking from south & west directions.

Daun and his staff in the left foreground. He is with the column of general d'Aysne. On the right the 2 Hungarian Estherhazy brothers regts. On their left the converged grenadiers of MacBrady & Nugent.

MacBrady's grenadiers closing in. The exploding bomb-shells, neatly painted by M*** add to the drama here.

The left column of Sincère's command under general Forgàtch attack the fieldwork from the left side. Here its the grenadiers of Cogniazzo and Fiorenza that try hard to take it.

The fight for the fieldwork became very obstinate. The Prussians refused to leave it to the Austrians bringing in ever more troops for its defence, all the while Ziethen held off Odonell's troops with what was remaining from his division. Ziethen even managed to order one of the Croates battalions to turn about and oppose another battalion of Loudon's Croates.
Friendly Fire in the heat of the Action!

Above see the detail of this rare action right near Ziethen's command stand. My co-player L*** really shot at his own troops by rolling dice (a miss). I have never had this before in all the wargames I played in my life.
The death of Feldt-Maréchal Keith.

Above see a detail of one of those Prussian desparte counter attacks led by Feldt-Maréchal Keith. I think it was the crack Archi Duc Ferdinand IR 2 that got wiped out here. The Austrians were repulsed oncemore, but, Keith was killed on this occasion just as in the real historic battle. I'm serious. As I don't have his character for the time being, it was my Feldt-Maréchal Schwerin command stand, that represented Keith in this game. Aye. May the finest among Frederick's generals rest in piece. 
The monument of James Francis Edward Keith located in Petershead, Scotland, very near his place of birth. Many thanks to the very alive fellow warrior Scotsman Charles C. Grant who forwarded the image to me.

D'Aisne's troops attack on the right of the fieldwork. 
Shortly later, prince Maurice, the soul of the Prussian infantry, was killed in our game as well, just as in the real historic battle. He is seen here along with the regt. Forcarde (IR23) in close combat with that days brilliant performing Esterhazy regiments. I believe the location of Maurice being mortaly wounded was very near the historic location, as far as it can be reconstructed from available historic records.
Loudons fight to crush the Prussian front in the south continues.
For the attacking forces of Her Imp.&Royal Majesty's Army, progress at the southern front of the battle was slow. The fieldwork still being in Prussian hands after several turns, as well as Hochkirch. The situation turned as the attack of the Austrian right wing commanded by general Ahrenberg closed in on the Prussian left wing & Wuerttemberg's Reserve Corps, all found in the northern part of the battlefield area, tasked to secure the Prussian line of communication.

Ahrenberg's troops or the right wing of the Austrian force engage the cavalry of Wuerttemberg & the Division Forcade deployed in and around the villages of Rodewitz & Wawitz.

Buccow's cavalry of the right in concert with infantry from d'Arberg's Division crush Wuerttembers Reserve Corps. It turned the odds in favour of the Austrians in this part of the world.

Now the Austrian right wing closes in on Forcade's crack troops.
The contest for the villages of Rodewitz and Wawitz became a violent and bloody affair. This strike was directed to cut the Prussian line of retreat. Very bad news. The Austrians were determined to finish off with the entire army of this Potsdam Resident Thief Of Silesia. The Prussian grenadiers fought like lions, but, to the disgust of the Prussians, it was also observed that Austrian volley fire was executed most effective and deadly. They weren't all that good with the bayonet that day, I must say. But so much better with ranged fire. The Prussian grenadiers melted away within short. The regiment Gaisruck's orderly volleys were found particular deadly. This regiment killed all that dared to close into firing range. In the event, also Forcade's division was crushed within short.
Elements of Colloredo's Centre Corps seize the defile of Niethen. One of the two Prussian Free-Battalions has just been evicted from the cross point over this otherwise marshy banked stream, impassable for artillery.
Not much happened along the Austrian centre front along the stream. Colloredo deployed his troops here for the greater time of the battle only to threaten the two crossings over the stream at Niethen and Kuppritz, but otherwise secured the communication between the Austrian right and left wing striking forces.
At around noon, the Grand Fielwork was eventually abandoned by the Prussians. Loudon's command stand seen on the right is pleased to see it in Austrian hands now.
The final stage. The Prussian Gardes under attack.
At around noon, the Prussian army was facing total defeat. The crack regt. Garde deployed near Hochkirch now came under attack of the Austrian converged elite squadrons of general Ayasasa under the direct command of maréchal Daun. Massed artillery poured in its fire into the Prussian Gardes flank in support. No chance. The Austrian elite horse was repulsed. Meanwhile, Loudon seized Hochkirch by dislodging the defending Prussian Chasseurs from the village. 
A bit out of focus, but it remains the key scene of Prussian total defeat. The Gardes are swept off the field by deadly ‘canister brooms’ delivered at point blank range.
The Gardes now wanted to make good their excape along with the other remnants of Frederick's now shattered Army. No chance. Massed Austrian artillery blocked the Prussian retreat path. Now also the Gardes were knocked out. 
After completing the 12.00 hours turn, the battle was over. 
Finale. Daun accepts Frederick's surrender.
On above image you see Maréchal Daun in his moment of maximum triumph. The King of Prussia surrenders and hands Daun his saber. Victoria to the House of Austria. VIVAT MARIA THERESIA.

A great game it was. The Austrians really needed every single unit of its army. The Prussians fought like lions. If the Prussians hadn't lost 4 units routed in the first turn, who knows, the outcome may well have been more favorable for the Prussians. Losses on both sides were high. As far as I can recollect the figures from our orbat sheets, Austrian losses were 14,000 men & 20 guns, while the Prussians lost 13,000 men & 75 guns not including prisoners.