Monday, 25 October 2021

Battle of Langensalza: Part 2 - Getting started

Thanks for all the great appreciation shown for the First part in which I gave a bit of historical background, the scope of our game, and a lot about making the customised battlefield. In this part I will give the game context and briefs, orders of battle, opening dispositions and get the troops on the table.

Langensalza in full swing. Richard made us laugh and then took a sneaky photo! Of more interest than me is the magnetic map board behind me on which we tracked the opening off-field movement.
(Photo: Richard Newcombe)

The Armies

As I said in the first part, the Kronoscaf site has more or less all you need for Langensalza 1761. However it is short on actual numbers. I estimated that working on roughly one 28mm figure to 50 actual men should give us between 25 to 30 units per side which was more than enough for 2-3 wargamers per side in one day using "Honours of War" rules. That could represent up to 30,000 men per side. The Prussian force was said to be about 7000 men so should be around 140 figures and was maybe a quarter of the total Allied force. That was the only number I had to go on apart from the histories suggesting the Saxon Corps fluctuated around 10, 000 men, and there were supplementary French units I could call on for balance, such as a corps of Grenadiers. Probably the Saxons/French should be outnumbered (in Army Points anyway) but not by too much. 

HoW works best for us with standard size units of between 24 and 36 figures for infantry and 12 for cavalry: depending on how closely the figures are based we tolerate a width in line formation of 20-25cm for infantry or cavalry.  Anything bigger is a "Large" unit and anything smaller is "Small".  Therefore  (at my ground scale of 60cm = 1 km) the footprint on the table top is around 350 metres wide for a standard unit. So each unit would represent 2 to 3 battalions, or maybe two regiments of cavalry. Since regiments of cavalry could be anything from 2 to 5 squadrons I was not going to beat myself up about accuracy! Within the parameters I had set my aims became:

1. Make sure the overall balance of numbers was about right given we were allowing for all the forces on the Kronoscaf Orbat. Work out sensible "brigade" sizes to match the historical units and generals.

2. Ensure a balance of sizes and capabilities of units taking into account any supposed terrain advantages too. (To my eye although the bridges and marsh would slow the allies a lot, they had a lot of cavalry, and the Saxons did not have the numbers to defend the whole area so were potentially vulnerable to a breakthrough and surrounding as in the historical battle). I am aided in balancing orbats by my sliding scale of "Army Points" depending on size and quality - Inferior Trifling unit is 0.5 through Standard everything at 3 up to Large Superior on 5. I don't use the HoW rulebook system.

3. For the same reason give a balance of commander numbers and capabilities to ensure the right amount of tactical options and the chance of some fun for the players (Too many "Dithering" generals in HoW is not fun however realistic you think that might be!)

4. Use as many of the contributing wargamers' units intact as possible (especially the newly painted ones!) but don't be afraid to reduce them in size if required.

You can find all my documentation in the 18th Century Historical section of Downloads in the right hand side bar, or here Langensalza game documents. For the more casual reader here is a tabulation of the main features:

Maps and Deployments

I started off by analysing what the account says about the Saxons and came up with a distribution of the generals and the wargame units which would put them in position at 0700 on the morning of 15th February 1761.  Those not on the table at the start were phased to come on at 0700, 0840, 0920 and 1000 in Areas D and E.

Saxon/French allowed deployment zones

Guy elected to put the Comte de Solm's elite troops just below the crest of the high ground NW of Langensalza, out of sight; one unit is poised to enter Langensalza town.  Major General de Borck's 2nd Brigade was in area B heading up towards Schonstedt to extent the line. The Royal Nassau Hussars were placed for good oversight of the Gross Gottern crossing points from near Schonstedt. Lt General de Stainville's large force was available to march on in the First move and was spread out South of the Judenberg with all the infantry to the left and the three cavalry units on the right flank. De Stainville's were commanded by Richard Newcombe, while Guy had most of the remainder of the Army. The C in C , the Marquis de Saint-Pern, was not yet available and would arrive along the Area D road with the Grenadier corps at 10 am game time  (Move 10 as I had decided on 20 minutes per Move).

Saxon/French actual deployments and arrival plans

Hanoverian/Hessian/Prussian Allies
The historical orbat gave the Allies a lot of generals which suited me fine. It meant I could build a hierarchy for swift action without relying too much on "Dashing" commanders. Instead I like using the HoW Lieutenant-General rule - General von Sporcken was the Allied C-in C and I made Lt Gen Count von Kielmansegg his 2-i-c Lt Gen. I was able to put in von Langenheim as a Lt Gen in charge of the Hanoverian and Hessian Cavalry. With General von Syburg as the Prussian commander (played by Martin Gane) the Allies thus had 4 staff groups who could upgrade brigade commanders and could help recover a unit's Hit Points if within 5 cm.

As with the Saxons I had to work out a sensible distribution of my chosen wargame units to make a brigade structure and deployment zones which would help the Allies to make the most of their cavalry and the two river crossing points. You can see Areas F to N in the map below and all the Allies were off the table at the very start

Allies - allowed deployment areas

Paul lined up his cavalry to cross first at Thamsbruck and Merxleben then followed by infantry brigades, led by the most elite units to get them into action as quickly as possible. Von Luckner's Light troops were set to tackle the marsh from Area H. There were a few points of misunderstanding which we cleared up by Move Two:
  1.  I had allowed Von Reden's cavalry brigade to march up the flank off the table and arrive at Schonstedt, but it still needed to start off in Area G at 0700. Given that news Paul opted to bring them on in Square A1 and advance up to Schonstedt frontally from Move One. I think he hoped to put the wind up the small Royal Nassau Hussars.
  2. Any troops except artillery could cross the marshes and river at half speed but Paul assumed they all had to queue up for the road bridges. So I realigned his troops in Areas F and N to make better use of the available baseline entry places directly to their fronts, with the artillery to catch up later via bridges. (I sometimes stretch HoW's "out of command" rule when I think it obvious a follow up order has been left with brigaded artillery.)
  3.  I forgot to remind all the players to do a double move when in march column and more than 60cm from the enemy. That was very relevant in the first few moves and we made up for lost time, so don't be too fooled by the opening photos!

Allied deployment (but see Point 1 above about von Reden)

The Opening Moves

To kick us off to a good start Paul and Guy came the evening before the main game to sort out the figures, most of which they contributed, set up those on the table and do the opening manoeuvring on the magnetic wall map.  The following sequence is a tour round showing the opening move, give or take a bit more for some due to my initially forgetting the 60cm distance rule.

A general view from the western end above Schonstedt village. The Royal-Nassau Hussars in the foreground are well placed to spot any Hanoverian movement off that part of the table so no need to conceal the map from Guy.

Von Hodenberg's cavalry make a fast move from Thamsbruck bridge to the ridge top  and so Guy had to put on the table the formerly concealed infantry of the Comte de Solms. Paul's cavalry now knew they faced Saxon converged Grenadiers and Foot Guards

Guy had sent the other Saxon regiment to occupy part of Langensalza

At Merxleben bridge the Zieten Hussars and Leib Carabiniers did not make such quick progress

A nice view of some of Guy's new Saxons. De Borck's Brigade march towards Schonstedt hoping to create a broader front to thwart the likely Hanoverian outflanking move reported by the Hussar outpost

Comte de Stainville's Division made an appearance.
Baron de Klingenberg's Saxon infantry
(assisted in the representation by some of my Imagi-nations and French troops)
 march on South of the Judenberg hill

The cavalry of Baron La Bruggen hold the extreme right flank of the French line opposite the Merxleben Heights

In the opposite corner to them. Luckner's light troops can be seen crossing the marsh and the Suthbach while in the foreground the front of Reden's Hanoverian cavalry has just made it into "Square A1"

The photos don't help me much to be exact but by 1000 the next day we were fully up to complement of expected players with Martin Gane having come from London and Richard Newcombe from Aylesbury (via a Cheltenham stay) and more troops began to arrive on table and progressing as shown below.

Martin receives his top-up briefing on arrival while the glasses raised on head shows Richard is taking it all in......

A nice view of a good deal of their respective commands. Little did I know that we would be in for a master class from Martin of how to set up and sustain a Wing of a Prussian army, and that Richard would acquit himself admirably in only his second game using HoW (the first was my Lobositz refight in 2019)

Martin's first line of von Syburg's Prussian force. Freikorps infantry,
Carabiniers and Cuirassiers, and a small contingent of the Zieten Hussars
(visually Paul B's heavy cavalry 5-wide don't cross bridges easily! )

I love this photo, I feel as if I'm going through the marsh with them. Beautiful Paul B Minden Prussians act as line Freikorps and my tried and trusted (!) Foundry Freikorps make yet another appearance as light troops

And here they are deploying, with Grenadier battalions following on

On the other side of Langensalza Guy is about to use a double move with de Borck's brigade to extend the Saxon line up towards Schonstedt.......

....while Paul decides charging Grenadier bayonets is not
 advisable and wisely switched the emphasis of
von Hodenberg's cavalry advance towards the right

The cavalry having vacated the crest Guy's Grenadiers evidently think "we'll go up there then, 
but cautiously"

This view of the Hanoverian right wing indicates a big flanking sweep is in the offing around Schonstedt, and Paul will have the historical equivalent of about a dozen regiments of cavalry to try it. Luckner's and von Reden's troops only made slow progress this turn across the marshes.

The players were getting into their stride and we were now around 0740 - 0800 game time, so I think as this post is pretty late already I will publish it now and get to work on Part Three.  As always , your comments and questions welcome.


  1. That's a cracking game you've got on the go there Chris! I've played Langensalza before, but in 1866, so interesting to see the battle about a century before that. Looking forward to the next instalment:)

    1. Thanks very much Steve. Yes I was surprised when I first Googled it to find there was a battle there in 1866, but I did not look into the details.

  2. Cracking read, super eye candy, really top notch. Looking forward to part 3!!

    1. That's sweet of you to talk about me in that way Donnie.....Oh - you mean the game?!!! Thanks a lot.

  3. Hi Chris, suffering insomnia so I thought I'll check your blog out. Having read it I'm now fully awake. Totally agree about your comments on Dithering Generals - same as Commanders with a command rating of "7" in Black Powder - hate them with a passion. As always, lovely well laid out terrain, especially the marshes. Looking forward to future installments. Cheers Greg

    1. Thanks a lot Greg. That's the first time I've made someone wake up in Australia! Though in reverse, in 1984 I phoned my Mum in England at 1.00 am from Melbourne to tell her that her grand daughter had been born!. Thank you for your compliments. A few Dithering brigade commanders are an unfortunate essential.

  4. P.S. The map board is a great way to show the large theatre of operations - good idea.

  5. Village resident and occasional wargamer Oscar has emailed the following: "Mate the amount of detail and effort is outstanding. I do love these posts. Very impressed C.!
    Oscar Skelton

  6. More fantastic 18th century eye candy and inspiration by the bucket load.
    I shall get myself a coffee and drool over the photo's, thank you Chris for all your wonderful, figures, table and maps.


    1. Thank you Willz for always being there with your appreciative comments, hope you enjoy the coffee....

  7. Excellent as always! The terrain certainly justifies all the work that goes into it. Very much looking forward to Part 3. :-)



    1. Thanks David, and I will be replying to your very interesting Hussarette and a flag suggestion email shortly.

    2. Thanks, Chris. Have now replied to your email. :-)



  8. Just catching up with my favourite blogs again Chris so have had a great time looking through multiple posts - most of us just line up our troops on the table - I can't get over the trouble and detail you go to! I'm with you marching in that picture you commented on - right at the back where its safest!

    1. Ha ha! Yes I've only just realised that the photo is from "mounted officer's eye view". Thanks for your compliments and your constant support for this blog. Great feedback keeps it coming and I'm promising myself to finish this battle report very soon. CG

  9. A wonderful post from you as always Chris. Interesting background and, of course, those glorious photos!
    Regards, James

    1. Thanks James, always great to have your support.