Tuesday 30 November 2021

Battle of Langensalza Part 3: The main event

 Life has been hectic but I must finish this one as I have kept my faithful readers hanging on long enough. Thank you all for the very supportive comments received on Parts One and Two.

I will launch straight into Move Three of the refight and we are now around 8am.

Above and below: The situation develops around Langensalza town. Martin begins to deploy the Prussians of General von Syburg's wing across the Merxleben bridge and marsh.......

......while Richard gets a double move to advance over the Judenberg and begin to occupy the BUA itself with the Comte de Stainville's Division

A closer view of von Syburg's left wing Cuirassiers and Freikorps infantry

In the centre Paul now deployed von Mansberg's brigade of Hessian Grenadiers to face the Saxon elite units. Von Bock's Hanoverians are hastening  up the hill to reinforce them  but will they be in time to bring enough strength to bear?

On the Allied right Lt General von Wangenheim presided over the two Hanoverian cavalry brigades and Luckner's small corps of light troops to build up a massive outflanking movement round Schonstedt village.....

....and all of a sudden Guy's sensible decision to gain ground towards that village with de Borck's Saxons looked vulnerable!

As befits a good 18th Century battle at this stage both sides were manoeuvring for position and not much blood had been spilled. The Saxons had few batteries, and all the Allied ones, previously out of effective range on the heights North of the River, were silent while being brought across the River Unstrut via both  bridges.

After most of the movement around 0820 I happened take these two photos. Martin and Guy across the table from each other both looking suitably thoughtful about the way things  are shaping up. We shall take a closer look ourselves.......

Guy has good cause to look worried. Von Borck has ordered the small Royal Nassau Hussars unit to hold Schonstedt dismounted while he retreats his infantry back downhill and over the stream to try to hold it against the masses of Hanoverian Cavalry heading his way. In the foreground von Reden's brigade and beyond Schonstedt is von Hodenberg's.

In the vicinity of Das Pumphaus, even with his General's help von Bock only manages a standard move to begin forming line on the hill crest. Beyond the Kielmannsegg Infantry the Hessian Grenadiers are braving the close range fire of Saxon Grenadiers and Guards with a frontal assault.

Back across the Orlbach and Sumbach streams Lt General von Kielmannsegg can be seen trying to urge the "Dithering" Colonel von Donop to bring up his Hessian infantry brigade (a great shot of some of Paul B's Minden Miniatures Prussians, pretending today to be Hessian)

Over on the extreme Allied left an audacious display of parade ground confidence was taking place. Martin has pulled back his small unit of Zieten Hussars to make room for the line troops and artillery to form up. Eschewing the "cover" which might be afforded by the butch looking Cuirassiers von Syburg has ordered his Grenadiers to march across the enemy front in column. Using the relative safety of the marsh to their right they suffered minimal casualties from the Saxon light artillery battery near the Judenberg Hof.

Around 0830 potentially decisive developments began to happen to give the Saxons courage that they might hold on until the hoped-for reinforcements arrived.

Von Mansberg's three small Hessian Grenadier battalions had suffered badly at the hands of the Saxon Foot Guards and converged Grenadiers (with close artillery support too) and their retreat spread out the brigade over the hill to avoid Von Bock's Hanoverians

This useful aerial shot shows that in the centre the Hessian Grenadiers had in fact inflicted enough to push back their adversaries a little. This made Guy's whole battle line look more organised than he probably felt as Paul began to surge Hanoverian Cavalry round to the extreme end of Guy's flank. But there was no Saxon second line to fall back on.

Luckner's Hussars dismounted to join their Jager comrades trying to prise the Royal Nassau Hussars out of Schonstedt

Both Hanoverian Cavalry brigades formed line, probably hoping to intimidate the Saxon infantry rather than attack head on over the stream 

View from the Saxon side of the Sumbach. These are only "small" units for our game as the Grenadier companies had been converged in the centre of the field. Paul's cavalry were mostly standard size.
Now the action began to hot up on the Allied left flank. Martin and Richard's cavalry had come close, facing each other across the Riedsgraben stream...it was only a matter of time. A mutual charge by the Leibregiment zu Pferde against the French Royal Legion Dragoons was a close encounter but decided by the dice.........

Above: Cavalry engagement on the left; in the foreground Zieten Hussars are ducking back round Rasenmuhle farm.
Below: the opposite view, from the Judenberg, shows Comte de Stainville's infantry taking firm possession of Langensalza town.

Above: ............this photo lures you into thinking the French have won outright as the Leibregiment is fleeing back into the marshes.......

.....but it was not all one-sided as the Royal Legion cavalry were forced to withdraw by their by 4 Hits 

As the time ticked on towards 0900 the battle began to hot up on all fronts.

Now here was a surprise. Guy got a double move with the Nassau Hussars, saddled up, rode round his immediate aggressors and headed off to create mayhem in the Allied rear! Note all those columns of Hanoverian and Hessian infantry reserves and beyond them their artillery have arrived down from the off-field heights.  Luckner's troops thumb their noses at the Hussars and nip round Schonstedt village to join the flank attack. In the distance battle is joined once again on the central hill.

At this point von Hodenberg led his cavalry brigade in a charge across the Sumbach and chose to focus on the Saxon light field battery on the other side of the bridge as the weakest link in de Borck's line. But what is that? A second line now behind the Saxon infantry.......That is Colonel Carlsbourg and the Champagne Infantry Regiment just arriving in the nick of time at the right place!

The battery was easily seen off but the cavalry had suffered casualties going in, not least poor "Dashing" Hodenburg was made hors de combat and replaced by a "Dependable" substitute. Not surprisingly their charge took the Veltheim regiment into the flank of the Prinz Maximilian  Infantry..........

.......and routed them along the line of least resistance - back towards Langensalza. But Veltheim suffered too many casualties in that attack and withdrew to reform. The hoped-for hole in the Saxon line was not to be filled by Hanoverians yet.

In the centre von Bock's Hanoverian infantry had moved forward to engage the Saxon line close up but as can be seen the Kielmannsegg infantry has been broken on the musket fire and bayonets of the converged Grenadier unit.

Above and below: Over in Langensalza town the Saxons have a firm grip in the BUA but that is no surprise to Martin whose main tactic is to draw what he can off to the flank to be defeated in the open. To that end his artillery have now arrived and the Grenadier battle line is accommodating the batteries. 
The Saxons and French do have superiority in infantry numbers though and these Swiss are superior quality too.   On the extreme right there is more close action........

A brave attempt to stand firm along the stream but the inferior, and small, Von Wunsch Frei infantry do not stand much chance against the large regiment of elite Du Roy Dragoons.....

Not surprisingly the Freikorps line troops are broken. But Martin still has plenty of heavy cavalry in hand

The Royal Legion Dragoons watch the ongoing action while they attempt to reform back on the escarpment

Around this point in the battle the Allied commanders look contented enough.

The Allied attack in the centre was not to let up as long as the constant supply of troops was there. This looks horrific with Hanoverians taking canister on their flank quarter and Saxon Guard fire from the front....

......but in fact the Guards were now weak and Hanoverian fire was enough to push them back. At least at the moment the Allies were now in charge of the central high ground; the Hessian Grenadiers had reformed and were returning, a battery of artillery has come up.....if only Lt Genereal Kielmannsegg could encourage the Dithering Colonel von Donop to roll something higher than 1 for Initiative they could steam roller through

On the French right flank one could not blame Richard for wanting to press the attack of the Du Roy Dragoons across the Riedsgraben even though they had some losses. The small unit of Seydlitz Cuirassiers counter attacked but had more supporting units to help even though the Royal Legion Dragoons had reformed and got a double move to canter down to join in.

Much to everyone's surprise they won and ended up routing the Du Roy Dragoons.
Sorry they are in the distance but I'm always a sucker for
a lovely photograph of a line of Prussian Grenadiers!

In the follow-up charge the Seydlitz Cuirassiers hit the weakened Du Roy Dragoons and routed them too!
Martin's fairly cautious, but well orchestrated, plan appeared to be paying off

Back on the other flank Paul was keen to press on with his cavalry. Von Hodenberg's went in but von Reden could not seem to get initiative this Move for his brigade

Carlsbourg had managed to move first and plug the gap with his French infantry to bar the Grothaus cavalry

And it did not go well for the cavalry who routed back towards the reforming Veltheim regiment

Slight developments show in this overhead shot about 0920-0930 game time. At the Sumbach stream the Hessian Leib Dragoons have retreated rather than remain isolated to face French musket fire. Opposite them, behind Carlsbourg, the French have more reinforcements in the shape of the La Ferronaye Dragoons. In the foreground Luckner's Hussars have mounted up to face a potential threat from the Royal Nassau Hussars, now in the Hanoverian rear. His Jagers have control of Schonstedt village. On the central hill the Saxons are once again contesting the territory. 

History was well and truly on its head now we are giving the Saxon/French the will to fight! By this time in the real battle the Saxon Guards were fighting for their lives in the steep wooded gorge just South of Ufhofen village, barely still on our table.

Paul's making a bit of progress now and it's always a good sign when the attacker moves round to the other side of the table to shift his troops! At this point the worried look on Guy's face is well founded as his neat line is temporarily disrupted. In the nicest possible way we take our 18th Century wargaming seriously in the Cotswolds!

Above and below: On the high ground North-west of Langensalza a plucky small Saxon regiment has counter-attacked out of the town to try to relieve the pressure on his elite comrades. Hanoverian Dreves infantry and some Hessian Grenadiers are trying to present a coherent attacking front all along. They have close artillery help now.

But Kielmansegg still cannot get Donop's Hessians to move up in support

Above and below: It all ends in tears for both sides really. The Dreves regiment is pushed back, as is one battalion of Hessian Grenadiers. The Saxon Prinz Friedrich August infantry are sent reeling back towards the town and the weary Saxon Converged Grenadiers have also had enough for now.

The Zieten Hussars are looking pretty cool, but fairly ineffectual at the moment, though they do serve as a nice foreground to show that nothing very significant is happening on the Allied left this turn.

A long shot puts it all in context about 0940: Sadly without the help of von Donop's solid bunch of infantry battalions  in the centre Paul's attack is looking a bit meagre. He has created a nice solid-looking line on his right but the Sumbach stream will give Guy space and time to re-consolidate his line with the reserve elements recently arrived. Hessians command the central high ground now, but only just. On the Allied left Martin is faced with some hard decisions about how to make an impact with his small but superior quality force against a lot of enemy with a town and hill to defend.

After biding their time the Royal Nassau Hussars found a target. I had allowed a special order for this game so that the Allied artillery, restricted to crossing the river only by bridges, could follow on and seek out their brigades which had gone on ahead across the marshes. At this stage of the game some of the batteries in transit were vulnerable. The Hussars found a Hanoverian Medium field battery and sent the gunners off in a hurry........

.....then they pressed on towards von Donop's infantry (which had now managed to move forward at last!) but fell short due to the steep slopes and the stream. By now the Luckner Hussars had saddled up and were preparing to deal with the French threat to the Allied rear area.

Paul had turned his rear battalion to face the threat and Guy, fearing that Royal Nassau would become a horsemeat sandwich, pulled them out of the way and faced Luckner.

While that had been going on Paul had some luck at last with von Reden's cavalry brigade on his extreme right with a double move. The Alt Bremer cavalry pressed across the stream to pin one of the Champagne battalions, while the large Reden Dragoons were able to manoeuvre to take them in the flank. The Champagne troops wee broken and Guy's line was forced to contract. Alt Bremer suffered badly too though.

On the Allied left flank only one French unit remained - the small but good quality Schomberg Volunteer cavalry which had been peppered a bit by long range fire from the Angeleli Frei infantry. The Seydlitz Cuirassiers attacked them and forced a retreat but were also themselves weakened to retreat status. That did not matter as Martin still had the Prussian Leib Carabiniers in good strength nearby to follow up.

This wider angle shows that the Royal Legion infantry holding the Judenberg Hof farm had become the viable end of the French/Saxon line. The Saxon infantry next to them had received a battering from the Prussian guns and retreated up the Judenberg so the situation was opening out considerably now. The Prussian Grenadier line was intact and the guns still had a fair bit of ammunition

The Comte de Solms was doing a good job of retaining a defensive line as in the centre both sides seemed content to pull back and consolidate after 2.5 hours of continuous combat. The following picture pans back to reveal why this contracted Saxon formation actually looked quite promising.

At the top of the picture Guy had worked the light Volontaires d'Austrasie into the small woods and used it as a hinge at the right angle separating de Solms' troops from those of de Borck and Carlsbourg. This created a large area which could be filled by his major reinforcements - it was 10.00 am and the Marquis de St Pern had arrived with his Division. That consisted of a large amount of Grenadiers de France and Grenadiers Royaux and the large Picardie Infantry Regiment (seen below reinforcing the Judenberg flank)

So we had reached a major point in the game with the long awaited arrival of the powerful reinforcing body and the French Commander-in-Chief.  It seems like a good place to wrap up this "Main Event" part of the report and next time I will give the concluding moves and wrap up the whole project.