Monday, 13 January 2020

This War Without an Enemy

I saw this game mentioned on the Wars of Louis XIV blog and thought it looks very interesting.

https://www.nutspublishing.com/eshop/pre-order/this-war-without-an-enemy-en

As this is a kickstarter there are no customer reviews yet. If anyone has any experience of games produced by this company I'd be very grateful to hear any comments.

Delay in the war

We regret to announce a delay in the prosecution of the war, namely the Battle of Kunersdorf originally scheduled for Sunday. This was due to an oversight on my behalf. Specifically an oversight of the fact I would want a long lie in on Sunday.

My excuse, if you want one, is I hadn't finished the gabions I was preparing last week due to a few later work calls than expected. In reality I could have fitted it all in.

The gabions are now finished, as you can see below. I did tinker with an idea I had for making abattis but it didn't work out - it looked more like chevaux de frises. I'll crack on with the game next weekend.





Tuesday, 7 January 2020

Fieldworks - Work-in-Progress

I mentioned in the previous post that I needed some more fieldworks to get the sort of total length required for Kunersdorf. The quick and dirty approach to this would be to use the lengths of dowling I'd cut several months ago to create gabions. I'd adopted this approach when building up additional fieldworks for the Leaguer of Grimsby with my 10mm ECW collection.

I've mocked up some MDF bases with the nascent gabions to get an idea of the correct dimensions. Some of the 'gabions' I've temporarily stuck onto 30mm wide MDF bases. 13 in total so over a mile's worth in game scale. On three larger bases I've mocked up 'bastion-shaped' fieldworks for some of the artillery. The key thing is being able to fit an artillery base (30mm square) into the battery position. The largest of the three is to go on the Grosser Spitzberg. They are all slightly overscale in terms of ground plan for Kunersdorf, but I wanted the smaller ones to be able to accommodate a 30x30mm base and for the gun base to be turned towards either face. The larger one was to accommodate two gun bases (each representing about 10 guns).

These gabions need to be stuck down permanently, painted and the bases sculpted. They won't be 'diorama standard', but I think they're a quick and cheap way of creating fieldworks.



The asymetrical Grosser Spitzberg battery in the centre. Three dowels are 8mm, 6mm and 5mm diameter. The smallest ones are probably the best for this scale of figure, but even then may be a tad too broad. But close enough.
I've been thinking about abattis and whether to represent them. My other fieldworks, aside from the gabions, are earthern ramparts (made from beading) and I was tempted to leave it at that. I have vaguely thought of using the tips of toothpicks stuck in modelling clay, but that would look more like chevaux de frise. It would also require rather a lot, so that's probably too much fiddly snipping and sticking for my liking. I have an idea for abattis but I want to do a mock up first to see if it's any good. There's a certain item usually found in the bathroom cabinet which I've thought must have a modelling application, but could never think of what that could be.

Also I did a stock take earlier and found I have enough bases overall for Kunersdorf but I am a few bases short of Russian musketeers and horse grenadiers, and Prussian fusileers. I'll also press one of the surplus cossack bases into use as the Bosniak lancers in the Prussian order of battle. Austrian horse grenadiers can stand in for Russians, Austrian musketeers will fill the gaps in the Russian line and a spare Prussian grenadier base will stand in for fusileers. More significantly I'm short of 7 Allied artillery bases, so will have to consider revising the ratio of 1 base to 15 guns. A 30mm wide artillery base has a frontage of 150 yards with my groundscale so 10 yards per gun is not overly dense.

So things are coming together. I should have all the material/matériel I need for the game.

Sunday, 5 January 2020

Kunersdorf Preparation. And a detour via DN35.

This is not a battle I ever really thought seriously about doing, at least not in a competitive way. On paper and in reality it was a bit one-sided. Then I saw Jonathan Freitag's posts on his set-up for Kunersdorf on Palouse Wargaming Journal here and also here . The set-up looks superb and inspiring. So inspiring I thought I'd give it a go. I should have played it out on the dining table this weekend but one thing and another conspired against it.

[Skip over this next paragraph if you have no interest in association football as played in rundown East Coast towns - apologies but in my little world this subject takes up a lot of emotional energy]. 

Next weekend may be possible for Kunersdorf, though Saturday will be a wipe out because of the re-start of my language lessons and a resurgent Grimsby Town visit the capital under the tutelage of everyone's favourite Bristolian Ian Holloway. Everyone that is apart from those from the red half of that city. A couple of weeks ago all seemed doom and gloom. 3 months without a win, the manager left 'by mutual consent' following an expletive laden rant at local radio journalists (off-air but secretly recorded and leaked, by whom?). The optimism of August dead. Hopes of a takeover of the club and new stadium linked to the town regeneration plan had faded. The club still under the control of the man who is seen by many as strangling any growth potential, and as a one-man PR disaster. The spectre of relegation (out of the Football League* for the second time in 10 years) was stretching her icy fingers towards the Humber bank. Fed up with being taken for granted, supporters were looking like they would NOT rally round again. Attendances were suffering. Then the aforesaid  major shareholder** stuck in his thumb and pulled out a plum and on New Years Eve reported that Holloway had agreed to take the job. A win on New Years Day (for once we got the rub of the green), and a win yesterday in a backs to the wall display mean away tickets for the game at Leyton Orient on 11th Jan will sell like hot cakes. Getting Holloway is a real coup for a club in Grimsby's position. Whether we'll be able to fully capitalise remains to be seen. Without fundamental change behind the scenes, I have my doubts.

* The Football League. Not the English Football League or EFL. This was the first. Everyone else needs the adjectival qualifier. Sorry folks, I'll get off my hobbyhorse now.
** Whilst not the majority shareholder, he controls the club by dint of his loans to the club and an agreement to underwrite overdrafts to a certain level.


So back from the Humber to the Oder.

A bit of Background

In the SYW Prussia was opposed by Russia, Austria, France, Sweden, Saxony and various other small (mainly Catholic) states of the Holy Roman Empire. Almost a complete encirclement - almost because the western flank was protected by an Anglo-German army (Hanover, Brunswick, Hesse and a few other small north German states). Despite this, by 1759 the only real incursion the enemy had made into the Prussian heartland (as opposed to East Prussia and Silesia) was a raid on Berlin by Austro-Russian light columns in 1757. Each year the Russians would advance across Poland towards Brandenburg and Pommerania and retreat back again after a relatively short campaign - they failed to secure any advanced bases until late in the war, so couldn't over-winter in theatre. Each year the Austrians would fail to join up with the Russians and the bloodbath of Zorndorf added to the Russians' feeling that Vienna was going to fight the war to the last Russian.

1759 was different because this time the rising star of the Austrian command, Ernst Gideon Loudon, had acheived enough autonomy and exploited his orders to the maximum. Loudon actually joined up with the Russians on the eastern borders of Brandenburg, where, under Saltykov, they had placed Frankfurt-an-der-Oder under bombardment. The Prussian King beetled up to the threatened city and assembled an army of around 50,000 from different corps, to oppose the 60-odd thousand strong Austro-Russian host on the east bank of the Oder (in present day Poland). In a stunning move, Frederick marched around north of the city and crossed to the east bank of the Oder un-challenged. This is where things started to go wrong for the King. With poor reconnaisance (though possibly some credit goes to to the Allies' light troops) Frederick thought he was facing the front of the allied position, marched around the marshes and forests and appeared not at the rear/flank but on the front/flank of an entrenched position. The attack went in on a detached salient (on high ground called the Mühlberg). This was successful but the following assault on the main position ground to a halt (the opposing sides were on a very narrow front) and the Prussian cavalry were routed leading to a fullscale collapse of the army. At one point Frederick had a few thousand formed troops left under his command, but incredibly over the next few days the Allies failed to press home their advantage when Brandenburg was wide open. Frederick called it 'the (First) Miracle of the House of Hohenzollern'. Part miracle, perhaps, but Old Fritz's talented brother Prince Henry also performed valuable service by mounting a diversionary manoeuvre that returned the Allies to their usual cautious disposition.

Given that Frederick's army fled the field (with total losses of around 20,000, many of which were prisoners) the Allies losses were also very high (at around 15,000). Since very few of the Allies' losses would have been prisoners, the killed and wounded on both sides must have been not too dissimilar. Testament to the ferocity of the fighting on the Mühlberg and around the Kuh Grund (ravine between the Mühlberg and the main position).

As well as Kronskaf and the books below, Wikipedia's entry is worth a look. In fact it gives slightly more context to the battle than Kronskaf. Find it here.

Wargame Preparations

Despite the successful use of WRG1685-1845 rules in the Soor game, I decided to use my own 'army-level' rules for this. Scaling down the battle to the WRG level would mean artillery is too dominant, especially on the defensive side. All the Prussians would quickly come into cannister range. Under my rules the battlefield which at around 4 1/2 miles would be just over 5 feet. In Bellona et Fortuna, a mile (English mile for the avoidance of doubt) is a little under 36cm (14 inches). My table is 90cm (c.36 inches) wide so the second dimension is c 2 1/2 miles.

For this battle I've leant heavily on Duffy. The following were all consulted:
  • The Army of Frederick the Great, Newton Abbot, 1974
  • Russia's Military Way to the West, Bury St Edmunds, 1981
  • Frederick the great: a Military Life, London, 1985
  • By Force of Arms: the Austrian Army in the Seven Years War, Chicago, 2008
Each has a slightly different map, depending on which army is the focus of the book (you have to buy all 3 to get all the regimental positions). The eagle-eyed Duffyist will spot the absence of The Army of Maria Theresa, the sister volume to The Army of Frederick the Great.

I intend to do the set-up using the positions shown in the above books - I'm essentially building up a composite map. I'm also using Kronskaf for detailed orders of battle and for the maps which show some of the formations missing from the Duffy maps (e.g. the location of the Allied lights troops). The maps given in Kronskaf are excellent. I won't reproduce them here. I'll probably upload a hand-drawn map in the next post on the battle.

There are some minor discrepancies in the Prussian forces shown. Kronskaf has 54 Prussian battalions and 97 squadrons to Duffy's (The Army of Frederick the Great) 53 and 95. Duffy gives overall totals of troops engaged broken down into infantry and cavalry for the Prussians and total numbers for the Austrian and Russian armies respectively:


Prussian
Russian 
Austrian
Infantry 
53b 36,900
68b
18b
Cavalry 
95s 13,000
36s
35s
Artillery
Battery pieces 140
Guns 200
Guns 48
Total
50,900
41,000
18,523

Kronskaf totals for the allies are:
  • 84b
  • 99s
  • 5000 Grenzers
  • 50 sotnias of Cossacks
  • 211 field guns

Personally I think the number of Grenzers (light infantry) is too high as under 4 battalions are shown in the orbat on Kronskaf, so that would be more like 2,000. I think a sotnia of cossacks was nominally 100, but whether they were ever at full strength is questionable.

Using the detailed orbat in Kronskaf I can get to 84 battalions and 96 squadrons (excluding cossacks) for the Allies as follows:


Russians
Austrians
Total
Observation Corps



Grenadiers
2
0
2
Musketeers
12
0
12
Main Army



Grenadiers
8
2
10
Musketeers
44
12
56
Grenzers

4
4

66
18
84




Cuirassiers
19
0
19
Horse Grenadiers
9
0
9
Dragoons inc. Chevaux Légers
6
25
31
Hussars
27
10
37

61
35
96
Cossacks
50 sotnias



So a minor discrepancy on the Kronskaf totals from the breakdown, but that may be my arithmetic. Notwithstanding that, it looks like Kronskaf is more plausible than Duffy's total for allied cavalry in The Army of Frederick the Great. Duffy is some 35 Russian squadrons short. It's possible that the light cavalry were omitted from Duffy's total - a practice not uncommon in 18th century orders of battle, when the irregulars are sometimes given as an aside. So I'm going with Kronskaf numbers.

The Prussian breakdown in Kronskaf doesn't quite add up to the totals given. Excluding the detached forces (which are listed specifically in Kronskaf) the totals are 54 battalions and 97 squadrons, as close to the Duffy totals as makes no difference. In fact going by the detailed order of battle I come to the following which is within a gnat's wotsit of Dr Duffy's totals:


Prussians
Grenadiers
11
Musketeers
22
Fusileers
18
Garrison troops
2

53


Cuirassiers
26
Dragoons
30
Hussars
31
Bosniak Lancers
5
FreiKorps
1

93

On the Table

In my rules (Bellona et Fortuna) a base represents two battalions or c 5 squadrons or a battery of 10-12 guns. Using the above tables the Allies will have the following numbers of bases:


Russians
Austrians
Total
Observation Corps



Grenadiers
1
0
1
Musketeers
6
0
6
Main Army



Grenadiers
4
1
5
Musketeers
22
6
28
Grenzers
0
2
2

33
9
42




Cuirassiers
4
0
4
Horse Grenadiers
2
0
2
Dragoons inc. Chevaux Légers
1
5
6
Hussars
5
2
7

12
7
19
Cossacks
5 bases



Arbitrarily I'm assuming 2 sotnias of cossacks to the base on the dubious basis that a lot of them were off 'patrolling'.

For the Prussians the table above translates to the following wargame strengths:


Prussians
Grenadiers
6
Musketeers
11
Fusileers
9
Garrison troops
1

27


Cuirassiers
5
Dragoons
6
Hussars
6
Bosniak Lancers*
1
FreiKorps
0

19

The cavalry arms are pretty evenly matched (bar the cossacks) but the allies have 50% more bases of infantry. Qualitatively, the Prussian cavalry may be slightly better - at least in terms of the cuirassiers and hussars, though the Russians have their horse grenadiers (elite heavy cavalry in WRG terms).

* Kronskaf doesn't specifically mention the ill-fated lancer regiment but does list HR no. 9 which is in The Army of Frederick the Great as the Bosniak Lancers (the Kronskaf regimental page shows HR no. 9 as being in uniforms very similar to the famous 'Death's Head Hussars' (von Reusch, or HR no. 5).  

The questions are mainly around the foot. WRG army lists showed Prussian older musketeer regiments as veteran and fusileers as trained, but it's possible by this stage of the war that the old regiments had deteriorated. I'm probably going to stick with better quality (in my rules, 'skilled'), just to make more of a game of it. Some of the musketeer (and a few of the fusileer regiments, including a couple at Kunersdorf) were rated by Old Fritz himself as 'crack' and a cut above the rest. I'm probably going to keep it simple and rate them as 'skilled' and 'drilled' respectively. None of the regiments of impressed Saxons were present, so we don't have anyone of really bad quality. Grenadiers will be 'crack'. To round things off, the Garrison regiment should probably be rated as sub-standard somehow - I'm picturing physically or mentally scarred veterans. The Austrian infantry and main army Russian infantry are fairly straightforward, but what to do about the Observation Corps? Badly knocked about at Zorndorf the year before they appear to have received the Prussian attack somewhat submissively at Kundersdorf - Duffy even mentions some of them being passively cut down by the Prussians. But then they had been subjected to a fierce bombardment from 3 sides.

[Late edit: It occured to me in a blinding flash of light that my rules make provision for 'temper' as well as discipline level, so my Prussian Garrison regiment and the Observation Corps can be 'Brittle' and 'Drilled' or 'Skilled' - i.e. old soldiers who know their job but have seen one battle too many.  For an explanation see the previous post https://horseandmusketgaming.blogspot.com/2019/08/the-hazard-and-doubtful-chance-of-wars_18.html Incidentally, the rest of the Russian infantry can probably be rated as 'Stubborn'. Grenadiers can be 'Aggressive' plus whatever discipline level is appropriate.] 

I will need to cut-out some large ponds from the leatherette material I purchased years ago. The streams I'll ignore as off table. Ditto most of the marshes behind the allied position. Woods and buidlings I have a plenty, and I'll do my usual DVD box hills.

Finally, I had measured the allies defences at around 5 miles or 180cm (6 feet) at my scale. I had about 3/4 of this from the beading 'earthworks' I'd made years ago (as seen in the Leaguer of Grimsby). I'd also pre-cut some 6mm diameter dowels a year or more ago to make gabions. So last night I stuck half of them to some MDF bases and I'm ready to go.

Just a last minute check to make sure I have enough bases of everything! (oops). Probably not enough Russians so there will have to be more Austrians in play, and a maybe bit short of Prussian infantry but I have some blue-coated Bavarians which at this scale will look close enough. Oh and a mental note to have a quick read of the relevant section of Showalter's The Wars of Frederick the Great.