Thank you for all the appreciative comments on Guy's Battle of Brampton 1745 received on here and in various social media Forums. It now gives me great pleasure to present to you our other post lockdown game that same weekend, as trailed on Battle of the River Mur. This was organised by Ken Marshall who artfully set it within his 1753 Imagi-nations campaign between the Electoral and Ducal forces. Ken supplied the entire armies made up of 1:56 scale Minden, Fife and Drum and Crann Tara miniatures, and I'm sure you will agree they look very fine.
|Here is a reminder of the battlefield in photo-map form|
Our newly-found Cheltenham wargamer, Paul B. joined us for his first Honours of War game playing the role of General von Stutterheim. As the (Prussian and Hanoverian style) Electoral commander, von Sydow, I set him the difficult task of leading the charge for our sole objective at the river crossing of Stadl an der Mur. Guy Barlow handled the opposing force of Austrian type Ducal troops. Ken takes up the story; photos and text by CG.
Those who are interested can find a PDF of Ken's full briefs, maps orbats and objectives in the Imagi-Nations Download section
The Mur Valley Campaign – September 1753.
Stadl - After Action Report
|Here is the Electoral plan of attack. You can see how little information we were given on the enemy- nothing at all about the Advance Guard round the Polsbach nor the Grenadiers near Stadl. River Mur is impassible and so are the big woods except for light infantry. You can read Von Sydow's plan and instructions here|
|Paul contemplates the task before him...but we were both to be fooled as Guy had to roll dice for the actual dispositions and states of readiness of his on-table brigades. What you see below is not quite how it turned out for the Ducal side|
|At left the main infantry brigade is still in column of march|
|Schirmer's cavalry move onto the hill to pose a threat as Stutterheim's Advance Guard crosses the Doppelsbach|
|Ducal Light troops head for St Georgen|
|Schirmers Dragoons scuttle back to the main road line after a taste of Electoral gunnery|
|This is the artillery doing the damage, and the gunners did not hesitate to target cavalry whenever they showed round the edge of Paal farm|
The Electoral advance guard continued their push across the Goppelsbach towards Stadl with the Hacke Grenadiers leading supported by the Barowski hussars and General Czettritz’s heavy cavalry brigade. Regiments from Jüngermann’s brigade attempted to intervene. A short, intense musketry duel followed and an Electoral dragoon regiment charged into the fray in support of the grenadiers.
|Electoral Grenadiers forge ahead followed by Hussars of the Advance Guard|
|At this point the Ducal forces are a bit cautious and giving way to Stutterheim's advance|
|A distant view from the local Stadl garrison artillery position.......|
|......and from the Ducal Heavy cavalry, still shy of showing themselves past the Paal BUA|
|This top down view shows the infantry firefight to the left of Paal and the nicely open flank presented to the Electoral cavalry, which are still in column of march. Paul would need a Double Move roll to take advantage though......|
|This shows the two Ducal musketeer battalions fleeing; and luckily for Guy he had moved his Heavy Cavalry out of their way just in time! Rettenburg's Grenadier brigade moves forward in the foreground|
|Here is a nice close up of Ken's Prussian style infantry being used as von Hulsen's brigade deployed in line to come across the Goppelsbach fighting! But those cavalry of Czettritz are in their way.|
|Pretty but dithering - von Bohlen's Dragoon brigade arrives. Ken had restricted the Electoral Army to only two initiative units per Move so I put off anything on this flank till Move Three. By then the enemy light troops had gained all the cover, as seen below|
|In accordance with our plan it seemed to make sense to "sacrifice" these cavalry to give my two infantry brigades some space and time to arrive|
|While Paul is focused on making Stutterheim's advance work on the far side, in the foreground my Dragoons are suffering and you can just see the head of Lattorff's column|
|General Lattorff's lovely vignette model looks dynamic but he's just "Dependable" for this game.|
General Cartier’s skill with the dice continued and presented with the flank of the infantry columns, his brigade rolled for a compulsory advance and charged any Electoral forces within reach. Faced with a mass of hussars and grenze swarming towards them screaming various obscenities, Lattorff’s troops reacted according to their training and with the exception of the leading regiment caught in march column, formed line and turned to face the oncoming tide.
|Some of Cartier's light troops have an open flank in their sights but not quite enough move distance to get there even with the double move|
|Above and below: Lattorff's disciplined redcoats see off the enemy light troops|
|Hussars are repelled by musketry|
|Above and below: Guy is on a roll now, inspired by Cartier's initiative on his right flank he is moving the whole army forward,Wellington-like!|
|Electoral Jagers have been forced back and the Ducal infantry come forward relentlessly|
|Hussars and Kurassiere are Stutterheim's only hope now as his infantry are blocked|
|In go the Krockow Kurassiere. Count Guilau stands nearby to urge on the "dithering" substitute for the lost General Jungermann|
|And the Linsingen Kurassiere move forward to match the Osetenreich Hussars|
|In the foreground this battalion of Grenzers had moved forward to skirmish against the Electoral infantry, who charged to try to sweep them away. The plucky chaps knew they were blocking the access route so just stood their ground and fought a melee against the formed troops|
|But the Grenzers were defeated and finished off. This photo also shows the Electoral cavalry pushed back with no way through to Stadl|
|Kleist's Jagers receive frontal and flanking fire|
(CG Note: On the Electoral left the pesky light troops still proved to be a problem - another regiment of Hussars hurtled forward only to be repelled by the Werner Dragoons and light gun canister fire, as shown below)
|The Von Rebentisch brigade finally made an appearance but Guy had done such a good job of |
keeping the Electoral forces pressed back they had no room to do anything other than march along
the baseline towards Stadl!
And that is the point at which we leave the battle, with it having reached a natural break. West of Paal, the Ducal light troops are retiring, their impetuous actions having disrupted the Electoral advance and caused significant delays. To the east, Electoral forces are in retreat, hemmed in by the woods and General von Hülsen’s troops still blocking the road.
It’s going to take a while for the Electoral generals to sort that out and get moving again. Overall numbers still favour von Sydow providing he can create the space to use them but for now Count Guilau has satisfied his victory conditions. Hard luck on von Sydow and von Stutterheim but they just ran out of time.
If we had played out another 3-4 moves, I could see the Count pulling the remains of his advance guard back to Paal and the Ducal forces coming under increasing pressure to hold the Stadl – Paal line against the Electoral infantry. Ultimately, the Count has not got the infantry he needs to hold everything against a determined advance so is going to have to make some decisions. If he was lucky, there was a possibility that Dickmeis’s infantry brigade would make an appearance as the first of the coalition troops heading to the forming up area but that’s not something he knew about.
In truth, that brigade was a contingency to be deployed at the umpire’s discretion if the Ducal forces failed to activate or collapsed within the first couple of turns and it looked as though the battle would be over by lunchtime. In the end they weren’t needed so stayed in their box.
As to our protagonists, aware of dust clouds heralding the arrival of Ducal reinforcements and not liking his chances of forcing passage across the river at Stadl, von Sydow gave the order to retire.
|An overall view at the high point of Cartier's light troops attacking by Saint Georgen, |
and the final cavalry clash beyond Paal
Overall, I’m happy with how the game played out. The mix of forces was reasonable, and the Electoral player had to think hard about what to bring on the table, where and when. Paul wasn’t familiar with the rules so it provided an introduction with a mix of movement, combat and the frustration of getting subordinate commanders to do what was needed. It’s a scenario I’ll revisit because the unit activation on both sides gives some interesting challenges.
A big thank you to Chris for the terrain and hospitality over the weekend, and to Guy, Chris and Paul for entering into the spirit of the game. The campaign will continue in the background over the summer and no doubt reappear the next time I need a game.
|Guy and Ken are listening intently to important points being made by Paul to help him understand some of the finer deatils of the Honours of War rules. He was picking them up well.|
The discomforted Electoral forces staggered back into the main army’s lines south of Tamsweg over the course of the next week, observed at a distance by the Ducal light cavalry. Von Sydow spent most of the trip back in his coach drafting and redrafting his report to the Marshal, highlighting those successes that he felt the Elector needed to be aware of and those areas where his subordinates had failed him.
It was a well crafted report, with nothing that would be considered factually inaccurate yet in von Sydow’s mind, highlighting the overwhelming opposition he had faced and exonerating him from any criticism about his martial abilities. He submitted his report to headquarters and retired to the nearest gasthaus for a well deserved bath and meal. There were only two things he had not allowed for.
- The natural inclination of the soldiers from his weary regiments to speak a different version of the truth when questioned about their experiences
- Stadl’s Lutheran church minister who witnessed the whole day from the church tower and who’s accurate, highly descriptive and believable letter including sketches had found its way to the editor of the Tamsweg Inquirer and been published on the first four pages of that week’s edition.
Von Sydow was summoned back to Marshal Falkenhayn’s headquarters building the following morning and instructed to wait in an anteroom whilst a succession of aides and officers were summoned into the Marshal’s office. Some of the officers he knew from their recent shared experiences, others were new to him. All looked at him with grim faces, suggesting that what was coming was not going to be a pleasant experience.
Eventually an aide in the uniform of the Electoral foot guards invited him into the office and he was shown to a chair. Across the desk in the Marshal’s high backed chair sat the Elector with a face devoid of emotion, busy reading a newspaper The Marshal sat off to one side, an observer unable to control what was about to happen. On the desk von Sydow recognised a copy of his report and what looked to be half a dozen hastily written statements. This clearly was not going to be a normal interview.
After an interval slightly longer than would be considered polite, the Elector laid the newspaper down and looked at von Sydow impassively.
“Thank you for coming General. There are a few details of your recent excursion to Stadl that I am hoping you can explain to me. You had no complaints about the troops I arranged for you?” there was a fraction of a pause to allow the general to nod agreement before he continued “If we can start with why this claims your light infantry were beaten back by the town militia…”
Von Sydow emerged from the room an hour later with a searing headache, wanting to put as much distance between him and the building as possible.
|Guy, Ken, Paul, CG|
(By CG: The way Ken portrays it I can really imagine the Elector's interview starting - "Mother o' God, fella, I refer to exhibit 1 in your folder - article in the 'Tamsweg Inquirer'. You've given the press a field day..........")
- Allow the Electoral player to bring on troops much earlier, say at least 3 Initiative units per turn
- Make the rIver Mur passable by at least light troops
- Make the big wood navigable by at least Light infantry and Light cavalry (We never actually faced the Hussars being driven into it but they would have been "Done For" in that case)
- Spread out the Electoral terrain objectives in some way. Having the only objective (Stadl bridge and town) as an insurmountably difficult location on the extreme right flank made a lot of the table rather superfluous and discouraging for the Electoral players as unachievable, certainly in the time available.