About two and a half years ago myself and Martin were at a gaming show in the NE where there was a demonstration game of Blenheim in 10 mm this got us to thinking about a new project where the size and scale of figures allowed a more complete representation of the battle. After some thought I started collecting SYW Prussians and Austrians and Martin after a brief dalliance with Bavarians started collecting the same. With recent restrictions it has taken sometime but we have finally brought our plans together and this weekend we combined our collection to refight the battle of Leuthen.
Sunday, 25 July 2021
The Battle of Leuthen : December 1757
As usual I won’t cover in full detail the background or history of the battle as this can be found on wiki. Needless to say this is one of Frederick’s famous manoeuvre battles where he used the superior quality and training of the Prussian army to outmanoeuvre the Austrians who had a much larger army.
A rough map of the battlefield, the Austrians were positioned on the high ground between the villages of Nipern or Nypern, Frobelwitz, Leuthen itself and the smaller village of Sagschutz (also various spellings) thinking they might be outflanked to the north, the Austrians moved north with much of their cavalry, only to find Frederick had taken the bulk of his army to the south hidden by higher ground. The Prussians then rolled up the Austrian line from the south.
Our scenario taken from Battles of the Seven Years War by Frank Chadwick starts at the point when the Austrians have realised they have been out manoeuvred. The Wurttemburg Divison under Gen Spitznatz has pulled back to attempt to protect the now exposed flank. The Prussians have already set up their artillery on the Juden-Berg and Glanz-Berg the rest of their army has turned to start marching north. The Austrians have limited artillery as they were unprepared, they had also dispersed their Grenadiers back into their home Regiments. The Bavarian and Wurttemburg Divisions are poor quality and will take the first assault !
In the foreground General v Rechow has just turned the 2nd Infantry Division for the assault. Beyond them General Forcade with the first Division March past Radaxdorf
On the Prussian far right flank General Zieten’s cavalry divison behind Gen Bevern’s 4th Infantry Division
The Wurttemburg Division close to the small village of Schriegwitz
Far to the North Gen v Ludzinsky and the Austrian Light Divisionin the Zettel-Busch
Austrian massed infantry on the high ground between Guckerwitz and Frobelwitz
Fredrick has left General d’Angelleli to demonstrate around the villages of Borne, just off the table to the left and Grosse Heidau, they are supported by General v Stechow’s cavalry Division
Prussian artillery opens up to start the battle
and to their right Zieten’s Cavalry begin to move forward
Drums beat the general advance all along the Prussian line
Realising they have been fixed the Austrians immediately start to redeploy off the high ground, the thunder of heavy cavalry
gen d’Angelleli has taken up a defensive position around Grosse Heidau is only role now to hold that position
However there is even more heavy cavalry advancing in their direction
…so General Driesen is ordered to support the left with his 2nd Cavalry Division. This opens up the possibility of a major cavalry engagement around the village of Grosse Heidau.
The general advance in the south, under heavy artillery some of the defenders around Sagschutz have already been pushed back
Prussian cavalry about to charge
They are joined by General Bevern and quickly the Wurttemburg troops evaporate
But behind them more Austrian cavalry is moving to block the advance
It would appear that my control of the Prussians is not as good as Fredrick who was able to coordinate a much better assault , the Prussians are getting out of position and stacking up as they March north
In the centre, General Driesen’s cavalry move past Fredrick. (Editorial note…it is fair to say that as the battle unfolded we had a real sense of anticipation as we watched approximately 8000 cavalry move towards each other) 😬
The Austrians are continuing to redeploy around the town of Leuthen itself
Austrian cavalry moving down off the high ground
Light troops continue to skirmish to the north but the Prussians are not giving way
Prussian infantry in beautiful formation March past the Butter-berg towards Leuthen
A massive swirling cavalry battle is now taking place in the flat ground south of Grosse Heidau. Oh the clash of steel how exciting 😀
Prussian artillery continue to pound targets but increasingly their field artillery will fall silent as their own men get to grips with the Austrians.
A wider shot from the south, fair to say we were having some fun
The battle continues around Grosse Heidau
The initial cavalry charge has taken place but the gallant officers charge in again and again
Quite quickly the bulk of the heavy cavalry from both sides has been blown and can make no more contribution in the battle, 2 Austrian and 1 Prussian cavalry divisions have been removed from the gap !
The Prussians still have some lighter cavalry in the area but they will need to cover any flanking move if the infantry loses the village
But the Prussian here are doing well
Fredrick surveys the empty space where his cavalry had been.
The infantry advance continues
On the right both the Wurttemburg and Bavarian divisions have now been driven off and the Prussian cavalry has won the duel behind Sagschutz
At this point we decided to call the victory for the Prussian. This might seem early with so many troops left on the battlefield. But when we added up the Austrians had already lost 6 divisions, half their strength. The Prussians quite surprisingly had only lost one Division, that’s not to say that some weren’t very shaken.
The Prussians still have two cavalry divisions active on the table, so fearful of their lines of retreat being cut the Austrians at this point accepted defeat.
Austrians troops in the village of Leuthen when they get their orders to pull back.
As always with a big game like this it is hard to fight to a final conclusion but of course historically armies didn’t fight to the last man so with harf their army broken it seemed fair that the Austrians would retreat rather than be wiped out. We used Honours of War rules which worked really well although we messed up a couple of bits and simplified in a few places to speed things up. There are few changes and administrative things we learnt but we had so much fun we have already agreed to play another SYW battle next time 😀