Thursday 19 December 2019

The Battle of Sittangbad

So, time for some real historical wargaming again. Just for once the stars aligned and five of my wargaming friends were available for a game. The get-together was intended as a low key tribute to Stuart, so what else could I consider but a re-fight of the big battle from his favourite book, Charge!. As far as any real wargamer is concerned, of course, Sittangbad is an historical engagement in its own right. The date is given as 13th September 1766 in the book, and as the book came out in 1967 I'm convinced the battle was actually wargamed on 13th September 1966 then back-dated 200 years.

The original map from Charge!, with the position of the redoubt added in.
My representation. Table size 7.5' x 6'.

An additional attraction was that the battle could feature a number of the figures Stuart had gifted to me during our friendship, in particular all of the required command figures and all of the Imperial infantry. A downside was that my own units were a third of the size of those in the original battle. Playing using the Charge! rules would be an issue for this reason alone, not to mention that the full Charge! rules are not much to my liking and would be largely a mystery to the other players. So the re-fight would employ my own Post of Honour rules.

With smaller numbers of figures per unit, more units overall would be appropriate. I decided doubling the number of units from the original would work best, and so the orders of battle became those listed below. I managed to concoct the names for the various generals from those actually present, plus a few extra derived from unit names contained in the book.

Imperial Forces - Commander, General Lentulus.
Infantry Brigade, General Kornberg, 4 infantry battalions, 1 field battery.
Light Cavalry Brigade, General Sapt, 2 hussar regiments.
Heavy Cavalry Brigade, General Fuchs, 1 cuirassier regiment, 1 dragoon regiment.
2 light infantry battalions, independent.

Electoral Forces - Commander, Herzog Johann.
Infantry Brigade, The Erbprinz, 4 infantry battalions, 1 field battery.
Infantry Brigade, General Steinzeit, 4 infantry battalions, 1 field battery.
Heavy Cavalry Brigade, General von Luckner, 2 cuirassier regiments, 1 dragoon regiment.
Light Cavalry Brigade, General Montmort, 3 hussar regiments.
2 light infantry battalions (independent).
1 horse artillery battery (independent).

All units were classed 'regular', apart from any cuirassiers and the Electoral horse battery who were classed 'superior'. General von Luckner was deemed to be 'dashing', whilst General Sapt was declared 'dithering'.

Scenario Conditions
The Electoral Army has a +1 modifier for initiative. The Electoral objective is to seize the east end of the Sittangbad bridge before the end of move 10. If they achieve this they have won; if they fail the Imperial Army has won. However, if either army is broken before or during move 10 they have automatically lost.
Troop conditions
Only light cavalry or dragoon regts. may dismount. Cuirassiers and horse artillery are superior, all other troops are regular.
Electoral deployment.
The light cavalry brigade, light infantry and the horse battery can be deployed on-table north of the Eisenberg Hill and Eisenwald at game start. At the start of the next turn the heavy cavalry brigade is deployed in the same area. At the start of the next two turns, one of the remaining infantry brigades can deploy in the same area.
Imperial deployment.
The whole Imperial army is deployed on table at game start, as far as possible as per the book.
The Weser is impassable. The Sittangwald can only be entered by light infantry. The marsh is impassable to all troop types. All other hills are gentle.

The Game
As with the original battle, it was obvious that only a fighting withdrawal would offer the Imperial forces any hope of victory. Any attempt to fight a pitched battle would end in tears. For the Electoral forces, an attack down their right flank was an obvious move, as the other flank was blocked by the impenetrable marsh.

Left to right - Craig & Paul (Electoral forces), Roy & Steve (Imperial forces).
Apologies to Nick - he joined in on the Electoral side but got missed out on the photos.
As expected, the Electoral heavy cavalry commenced a brisk canter to pass north of the Sittangwald
in an outflanking move. The Imperial forces all started retiring, but the light cavalry brigade were caught
by their more numerous Electoral counterparts and suffered accordingly.
A close up of the first close combat of the game. Imperial infantry are seen making
all speed back towards Sittangbad covered by the Zamoyski battalion in the redoubt.
All 4 infantry battalions seen here were painted by Stuart Asquith and gifted to me in 2016 (see this post).
Craig keeps up the pointing tradition in fine style.
Bad things are happening to the Imperial cavalry just out of shot to the left... we see here. The Electoral heavy cavalry have engaged decisively and the Imperial dragoons
are backed up unsupported against the northern outskirts of Sittangbad.
By this time (around move 6), the Electoral commanders realised that the prompt retirement of the Imperial infantry had left Sittangbad rather impregnable. Their hopes of victory now rested on breaking the Imperial army before the end of move 10. Therefore they turned a number of units towards the 2 Imperial light infantry units trapped around Eisenberg village.
The game enters a crucial stage, and banter is set aside for a short while.
The new Electoral plan appears to be working. Note that 2 of the Electoral hussar regiments have dismounted to join the attack on Eisenberg village. The 2 units of Imperial Grenzers are surrounded and doomed to destruction or surrender.
The end-of-game situation at Sittangbad. Masses of Electoral infantry are approaching from the east but can have no effect before the end of the game. The Zamoyski battalion have been shelled out of the redoubt, but two other Imperial battalions are ready to fall back into the town and make a fight of it. Dismounted Electoral dragoons make a show of engaging the town from its northern flank but have no chance of effecting an entry.
A courier from the east arrives in Sittangbad with the news that the Imperial Grenzers are trapped and doomed. He is seen outside the famous Grunterhof which featured in the original book. As the tavern was positioned at the east end of the town, the Imperial commanders were determined to re-name it the Queen Vic. A sad attempt to lower the tone of our meeting.
The loss of half his force was too much for General Lentulus and he ordered a general withdrawal,
abandoning Sittangwald to the Electoral army at the end of move 8.
He is seen leaving the town and crossing the Weser accompanied by his glittering staff.

A neat little victory in 8 moves for the Herzog Johann, whose change of tactics reduced the Imperial army to such an extent that its withdrawal became inevitable. Well done Paul, Craig and Nick.

Thanks to all five of my guests for making the journey over and for making the game such a pleasure, with banter and good fellowship much in evidence. Certainly a game to remember, and we all hoped Stuart was looking down with approval.

'Til next time!


Jonathan Freitag said...

Great looking game, Keith!

Steve J. said...

Lovely 'photos of a wonderful looking game Keith. The convivial atmosphere and good nature banter made the whole experience a pleasure from start to finish. I hope Stuart enjoyed it looking down from on high.

Independentwargamesgroup said...

A lovely looking game Keith although like you the unit sizes are a real issue just from a practical point of view. 36 Figure units are bad enough and anything bigger becomes impractical. Ive been lucky enough to obtain five regiments of Stuarts old ECW armies. I had to touch them up but they look great for old Warrior figures, he was a great advert for the hobby.

Peter Douglas said...

Lovely looking game. I think that you did Stuart proud.

Archduke Piccolo said...

Attractive game set-up and a worthy tribute to Mr Asquith!

Sgt Steiner said...

Great re-fight of a classic wargame scenario.

WSTKS-FM Worldwide said...

Yes, yes, yes!!! Probably my all time favorite scenario, real or imaginary. Surely, Stuart would have approved.

Best Regards,


Keith Flint said...

Thank you everyone. All involved had a very enjoyable few hours.

Personally, I could never be doing with 48 figure units. About 24 figures would be my limit. For me anything bigger is just cumbersome and takes up too much room on the table size available to most gamers. But I know there are people out there who love their big units - and good luck to them!

Phil said...

I drew the same conclusion as you about the date of the original wargame, and have always referred to 13th September as Sittangbad Day. Have a great Christmas Keith. Hope to see you in 2020 across a wargames table.

Peter said...

Great looking game.

Prince Lupus said...

Well done that man.