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Monday, 13 September 2010

Lobositz: It's A Town Of Two Halves


Not knowing exactly who would be able to turn up, I booked myself a table at Colours 2010 under the name of the North Bristol Wargames Collective. A daft name, but nobody seemed to mind. I did know what battle I was putting on: The Battle of Lobositz (1756), the first battle of the Seven Years War, between the Prussians under Frederick the Great and the Austrians.


I won't provide a potted history of the battle: good accounts are available at www.kronoskaf.com (follow the links) and The Wargames Room (NZ site - follow the links to Volley and Bayonet then 18th Century Battles). The map above is the Prussian General Staff map made in the 19th century. I was looking for a real battle to have a go at and Lobositz ticked all the boxes: an interesting encounter, relatively small armies, terrain do-able, etc.

When recreating an historical battle I like to keep things as historical as possible, so deployment would be as per the original battle and some scenario rules were enacted to keep things moving along historical lines (all based on using Black Powder of course). For example, the Lobosch hill was classed as rough ground, there were some special rules to limit charges and firing during the 3 moves at the start of the game when swirling fog was deemed to be present, and the Austrian left wing was limited to staying behind the Morellenbach for the first 3 moves. Frederick had to leave the battle after 5 moves in line with his behaviour on the day: the game was expected to last around 9 moves.

The historical forces were around 30,000 on each side. I found I could just about manage to represent them, on a ratio of roughly 1 model battalion to 3 actual battalions. My orders of battle were as follows:

Prussians

C-in-C: Frederick II, King of Prussia (SR10)
2nd-in-Command: Feldmarschall James Keith (SR9)

Left Wing Infantry (1st line): Generallieutenant Prinz von Bevern (SR9)
1 infantry battalion
1 grenadier battalion
1 jager detachment
1 medium gun battery

Left Wing Infantry (2nd line): Generallieutenant von Kleist (SR9)
2 infantry battalions
1 grenadier battalion

Right Wing Infantry: Generallieutenant Ferdinand (SR9)
2 infantry battalions
1 grenadier battalion
2 medium gun batteries

Cavalry: Feldmarschall Gessler (SR9)
2 cuirassier regiments
1 dragoon regiment

Cavalry: Generallieutenant Schwerin (SR9)
1 dragoon regiment
1 hussar regiment

Artillery on the Homolka Berg (under von Kleist)
1 heavy gun battery
1 medium gun battery

Austrians

C-in-C: Feldmarschall von Browne (SR9)

Left Wing Infantry: Generallieutenant Kollowrat (SR8)
3 infantry battalions
1 grenadier battalion
1 medium gun battery

Left Wing Cavalry: General Feldwachtmeister Lowenstein (SR8)
1 dragoon regiment

Centre and Right Wing Infantry: General Feldwachtmeister Lacy (SR8)
2 infantry battalions
1 grenadier battalion
2 medium gun batteries

Right Wing Cavalry: Feldmarschall Lieutenant Radicati (SR8)
(deployed in centre)
2 cuirassier regiments
1 dragoon regiment

Light Infantry Corps: General Feldwachtmeister Draskowitz (SR8)
2 grenz light infantry battalions

The Game

Four gamers turned up on the day: myself and my eldest son Sam (we would be the Prussians), along with Paul James and Andy Potts (both Austrian to the core). We had all run through a practice game on the previous Wednesday, which ironed out a few wrinkles and gave us all some food for thought on tactics. In particular we all resolved to be more cautious on the day, rather than risking a broken brigade or two at the end of the first move!


10.00am on Sunday and we're ready to go. We had a nice big table near the window with plenty of room to store all our stuff and keep the table clear of clutter. That's Sam, by the way. You'll have to smoke that roll-up outside, boy. I just hope it's ordinary tobacco.




A closer view of the set-up. Austrian left in the foreground behind the Morellenbach stream. Lobositz right background, Lobosch hill centre background. Polyester swirling fog in place. Sam adjusts the position of Schwerin on the Homolka Berg: the King of Prussia can be seen nearby on the same hill. We deployed the cavalry forward of the infantry on both sides, ready for the opening cavalry encounter as per the real battle.



Prussian deployment. In the foreground, Bevern's brigade faces the Grenz light infantry on the Lobosch.Ferdinand is deployed to Bevern's right, with von Kleist's line backing them up. Village in background (blue houses) is Wchinitz.



The Prussian cavalry peers through the mist, ready for the off. Initial cavalry moves were fairly cautious. Frederick is seen behind on the Homolka berg.



As the light infantry on the Austrian right were pushed back, one of Lacy's battalions fell back a short way to occupy Lobositz. Gun position on the right of picture would prove to be the Prussian's nemesis.



General view as the game got under way. Bevern makes good progress, but in the background two of Gessler's cavalry regiments have been forced back.



The Austrian players in action.



Prussian infantry continues to make steady progress in the centre and left. Frederick decided to personally lead a dragoon charge on move two to restore the cavalry situation in the centre, but miserable dice throws saw the unit and its King thrown back behind Wchinitz (bottom left). At least the Monarch survived!



Oh dear: those Prussian infantry are going to get a pounding from the Austrian guns.



The fog is about to clear. Bevern has taken the Lobosch Hill. A second Austrian battalion is moved back into Lobositz: the unit that moved back previously now occupies the rear block of the town.



Heavy pointing action in evidence around move 5. In front of Lobositz the Liccaner Grenz battalion make a 3 move stand against a battalion of Prussian infantry, badly holding up the Prussian attack. Damn them! The Austrian left wing is beginning to move across the bridge to support their centre.



After 3 moves of hand to hand the Liccaner regiment breaks. Andy is torn between pride and sadness as the grenzers return to their box. A touching moment indeed.



A couple of moves later. Having blasted away 3 Prussian infantry battalions, the blasted Austrian guns have been blasted in turn by Prussian artillery and have broken. A lack of understanding of the rules (and a lack of common sense) cost the Prussians dear: the Austrian guns should have been bombarded before the infantry went in, which would have saved a lot of casualties. On the plus side, close range infantry fire has broken the Austrian battalion in Lobositz. A nice little hole opens temporarily in the Austrian front.



Final move (move 8). The Austrian left wing infantry replaces the cavalry which move round in turn to plug the gap by Lobositz. Austrian grenadiers sally forth from Sullowitz in the foreground. Schwerin's Prussian cavalry are still active as well and manouevre towards Lobositz (centre left of picture). But time is up. By this time (16.30) we were about the only ones still actually playing on our floor.



Lobositz at the end of the game. The town was formed of two blocks (hence the title of this report), and one each is held by the Prussians and Austrians. The town is burning as a result of the Prussian bombardment (a scenario specific rule which aided the eviction of the Austrians). Though there was still some life left in the game, a Prussian victory seemed unlikely, so the day was awarded to the Austrians. History had been reversed.

All in all, a truly excellent day's gaming. The scenario worked well and both sides hopes were maintained until the end. Colours itself was as good as ever: a great selection of games and traders in a cracking venue.

Some very good friends of the NBWC were putting on a Spanish Civil War game on the floor above: see the Blitzkrieg Commander forum under 'Shows and Conventions' for a link to a report of their game.

Here's hoping we can think of something equally good for next year!

8 comments:

Peter said...

Keith,

what a wonderful display and report. You all seemed to have enjoyed the game...in the end what it is all about.
For myself, I'm not that taken by BP, but I'm looking forward to your Gross-Jagerdorf battle report.

Pjotr

Bluebear Jeff said...

Thanks for the report and the photos. it looks like it was a really good game. I wish that I could have been there . . . but I'm eight time zones west of you.


-- Jeff

Peter said...

Keith,

I'm planning an order of RSM 95 miniatures for my imagination 7YW project. But I don't have a picture reference for the poses.
I noticed in your pictures that next to the marching models you also have soldiers in a different pose. Could you be so kind to define the pose of the unit in the third picture "Prussian deployment", in front of the blue building and those in the middle right of the picture? Also in the picture "final move 8" of the red and white and blue and white units in the foreground and on the right?
Am I right in asssuming that those models with both feet on the ground and musket at an angle are "advancing" and those with one foot on the ground and leveled musket are "charging"?

Pjotr

Keith Flint said...

Pjotr,

In order, those figures in front of the blue buildings are S5-008 'Prussian grenadier advancing'. The figures to the right in the same picture are S5-010 'Prussian musketeer advancing'. In the other picture the blue and white troops are S6-006 'Austrian grenadiers advancing', and the red and white troops are S6-015 'Hungarian line advancing'.

All these advancing poses have both feet attached to the base, even if only the toe. I don't have any figures in the charging pose so don't really know what this comprises.

Good luck with your purchase, Keith.

Peter said...

Thank you, Keith, very helpful indeed. It must be the angle in which the models were photographed that created the illusion of different poses.

Pjotr

Capt Bill said...

A very impressive display indeed!

Thomas said...

An engaging report and a good attempt at re-fighting the battle. Only quibble I would have is in viewing the actual battle as an Austrian defeat. Daun did what he intended and gave Frederick a bloody nose and then extracted his army. The original battle was at worst a draw and more likely a tactical (or technical?) Austrian victory.

I am slowly reading through your SYW back posts and I have to say it is good stuff, I am looking forward to Honours of War coming out in November.

Keith Flint said...

Thanks Thomas. I completely agree regarding your comments on who was the victor.

An updated scenario for Lobositz will be in the rules.