Last time we set up the Austrian cavalry raid on Prussian-held Piesport in my 'Soldier King' 7YW campaign; so let's see how it turned out. I used Bob Cordery's 'Portable Napoleonic Wargame' with my own home-grown 7YW modifications, and some tinkering with the close combat rules based on modifications by Mike Lewis.
|where we left off - first combat|
We left the game at Turn 4, as the leading squadron of Grenze Hussars charged over the bridge and crashed into the Prussian Fusilier battalion. The dice were rolled, and the Fusiliers ( helped by the presence of their commander, Oberst von Fruhling ) came out on top. The Hussars took a 'retreat' result and were thus repulsed by the steady Fusiliers, and back over the bridge they went. To add to their discomfort, the Prussians' activation phase came next, and the Fusiliers gave them a musket volley for good measure, and took 1 SP: not the best start for the dashing Hussars. Meanwhile, the Prussian supply convoy with its escorting von Kleist Frei Korps battalion plodded warily along the road towards safety.. and realised that 3rd Squadron Grenzers was in front of them.
|trouble for the convoy? |
Next turn, Von Fruhling won the initiative roll for first activation ,
and his trusty Prussian foot used musketry to good effect again - both
Hussar units forced to retreat further by steady fire from Fusilier and
von Kleist battalions. The Austrians rolled hopefully for their next
unit's arrival - and scored a '1' - their comrades must have stopped to
water the horses..
|A different approach from the Grenzers|
Having failed with a dashing charge on solid Prussian Fusilers, with no reinforcements nearby, and no way of getting around the enemy flank, the 1st squadron Grenze changed their approach. They dismounted, and prepared to use their skirmishing fire to pin down and annoy their opponents ( handily, when I bought the figures from Eric Knowles colleciton, the Austrian Grenze Hussars had both mounted and dismounted contingents - at last, they can be used properly! ). And so commenced a firefight across the river, Prussian volleys versus a 'popping fire' from the Grenzers, the Fusiliers getting the best of it, repeatedly hitting and forcing retreats on the Grenzers, whose own shooting was distinctly lacklustre.
|Convoy escort outflanked! |
On Turn 6, the next Austrian unit failed to arrive yet again, but 3rd Squadron Grenze Hussars (though raw recruits) used their speed and the cover of the woods to surprise von Kleist foot with a flank charge - and the dice were with them, von Kleist losing 1 SP. The men of the Frei Korps tried to stand and fight in their turn, but were disadvantaged by losing the first round of melee, and were forced to retreat, deserting the precious wagons! The Hussars gleefully fell back and captured the wagons, shrugging off a long-range volley from the dispirited von Kleists.
|Austrian Cuirassiers charge.. |
Further good news for Austria, as the 3rd Hussar squadron began escorting the captured wagons away. Finally on Turn 8 their next unit (of newly-raised Cuirassiers) arrived on the table, closely followed next turn by the last cavalry unit, 2nd Squadron Hussars. The Cuirassiers were keen to make up for their later arrival, immediately charging the unfortunate von Kleist battalion in the flank as they made for the bridge. The dice rolled - a draw - von Kleist held steady. The Cuiraissiers charge had brought them next to the bridge, and von Fruhling saw his chance - 'My Brave Fusiliers - charge!' The Fusiliers swarmed over the bridge, took the Austrian Horsemen ( already embroiled in combat with Von Kleist ) in the flank, and took 1 SP off them. This put the heart back in von Kleist, who fought back ( and rolled a 6 to the cavalry's 2 ), and took another 1SP from the Cuirassiers. Being a raw unit, the Cuirassiers onlt started with 2 SPs - so they were destroyed, on their first turn of combat! A bitter blow for the Austrians, and at the end of Turn 9 their losses were 3SP to Prussia's 1 SP. However, those captured wagons kept plodding away, under escort..
|...but meet their Fusilier-shaped doom|
Over the next few turns, the stout Prussian infantry kept up their fire against 1st and 2nd Grenze Hussar squadrons, but could not prevent the supply wagons being shepherded away: and I had decided that if the wagons were captured and escorted off the table, each one would cost 1SP loss to the Prussians.
|Supply wagons hurried away |
This was their downfall, hastened by the dismounted 1st Grenzers finally managing to shoot straight and take 1SP from the Fusiliers - this left the losses at end of Turn 12 as Austrians 3SP, Prussians 4SP , and Prussian exhaustion point was reached. Defeat loomed for von Fruhling. Sadly he ordered his men to fall back, the von Kleist battalion almost reaching the bridge - only to be charged in their flank by the fresh 2nd squadron of Hussars! The Frei Korps were forced to retreat, whereupon the Hussars followed up, and inflicted a further 1 SP loss. To add insult, 3rd Hussar squadron, returned from escorting wagons, piled in and charged von Kleist in the rear! But the dice were with the Prussians (who had been joined by their commander), and the combat was drawn. With great relief, the Prussians won the initiative roll on Turn 14, and the battered von Kleists made it across the bridge to safety, while their Fusilier comrades gave covering fire, taking 1 SP from 3rd Hussar squadron.
|The last charge at the bridge |
And there it ended, the Austrians deciding to retire with their prizes, not fancying further Prussian musket vollies. Losses were Austrians 4SP, Prussians 5SP, thanks to the capture of the supply wagons. But the Austrians had lost a vital part of their force, the newly-raised Cuirassiers being destroyed, and thus removed from the campaign game. The Prussian infantry had acquitted themselves well, apart from the loss of their vital supplies. They may be hungry, but they are still in the game!
Given the small forces and the lack of 'balance' in them, this turned out rather an intriguing game; I think largely due to the fall of the dice, which kept half the Austrian cavalry force off the table for no less than eight turns. Perhaps it was harsh to penalise the Prussians so heavily for the capture of the wagons - with their exhaustion point at 4SP, it only took a loss of 2 SPs in addition to the wagons to defeat them, which was perhaps too easy. But were they were too timid? Perhaps the Fusiliers should have taken the offensive rather than sheltering behind the bridge? I was pleasantly surprised by how challenging the game was for both sides, and how it wasn't, as I had feared, all over and done with in a few turns. With a little thought, and the interesting way the dice seem to help things along, even a small and limited game can be a bit of a nail-biter!
I hope this has been interesting and fun to read, as it was to play. I feel the result favours the Prussians in the overall campaign, and that a climactic 'big battle' may be approaching. We shall see ; meanwhile keep well, and safe, everyone.