Friday, November 17, 2017

Scenario: Battle of Mollwitz, 10 April 1741

Carl Rochling's Prussian Infantry at Mollwitz 1741
Taking advantage of an Austria in a weakened state due to years of conflict, a demoralized army, and bankrupt treasury, Frederick II assembled his well-trained but untested army to make a land grab dash.  The target?  Austria's province of Silesia.  In December 1740, Frederick invaded.  Thus began the First Silesian War. 

With Great Britain weighing in on the side of Maria Theresa promising to bankroll an offensive to reclaim lost territory, FM von Neipperg took command of the newly raised Austrian Army.  Von Neipperg took to the campaign trail in March with a goal of splitting the two Prussian forces and defeating each in detail.  This wedge would be driven into an area south of Neisse.
Austrians drawn up in front of Mollwitz
Despite heavy snows and mud clogged roads, Neipperg advanced upon Breslau.  When Frederick realized the danger, he ordered his forces into a blocking position and situated his army astride the Austrian line of advance upon Breslau.  After receiving nearly two feet of snow on 9 April, the two armies arrayed for battle outside of the small hamlet of Mollwitz on the following day.  The Austrians had their backs to the village and the Prussians deployed over one mile away.  The battle opened about 1300 and was over by 1900. 

For more historical details on the campaign and battle, please visit the recommended sites below:
Obscure Battle: Mollwitz
British Battle.com: Mollwitz
Battle of Mollwitz - N. Bonaparte

Drawing inspiration from Jeff Berry's Obscure Battles (listed above) and the scenario designs of: 
I put pencil to paper to build my own reinterpretation of young Frederick's first battle.  By the way, I encourage giving both James and Colin's Mollwitz games a look; beautiful spectacles in 28mm.
My 18mm armies arrayed for battle on 6 x 6 table
With heavy snow and the two armies more than one mile apart, closing with the enemy will take time.  In the historical battle, it took the Prussian infantry two hours to close to within musketry range of Mollwitz after having repulsed the Austrian cavalry attacks.  Given those conditions, march rates will be halved as the deep snow will be as rough ground.  The stream will, likewise, be treated as rough ground.  Grazing fire will be as "Bad Weather."  The presence of two feet of newly fallen snow will negate all charge bonuses.
Mollwitz Battle Maneuvers
Source: warfarehistorynetwork.com/daily/military-history/
the-battle-of-mollwitz-opening-move-for-prussian-expansion/


Since Frederick was convinced to retire from the battle early on, there is a chance in the game that Frederick will act similarly.  To reflect this possibility, the following is in force: 
After third Prussian unit broken and every unit broken thereafter, Frederick rolls Command Test.  (-1) for each broken unit.  If he fails (Poor or worse), he must leave the field and Schwerin takes over.  Schwerin acts as Lt Gen for infantry until Frederick departs.
The above rule is directly lifted from Colin's game plan.
Austrian Cavalry
Looking at the Order of Battle, both sides face interesting challenges. The Austrians maintain more and better cavalry while the Prussians field more and better infantry.  To win, the Austrians must hold Mollwitz at the conclusion of the battle at 1900.  With a long distance to march on Mollwitz, Prussian infantry cannot wait too long before stepping off for an attack on Neipperg's infantry. 
While I wrestled with troop ratings, what I settled upon seems reasonable given the historical accounts of the battle.  Should all Prussian infantry be rated superior rather than only the grenadier formations?  Should the Austrian rabble be degraded to inferior or would standard be sufficient?  Since I wanted at least one troop grade difference between the Austrian and Prussian infantry, Inferior to a mix of Standard/Superior seems reasonable.
Prussian Cavalry
With the Austrian Left Cavalry Wing under the impetuous Romer, Austria will automatically receive Movement Initiative on the first turn.  Will Romer shred the Prussian Right Wing Cavalry at the onset of battle?  Will the superior Austrian cavalry be able to defeat the Prussians before the superior Prussian infantry can close with the inferior Austrian infantry?

Rather than having Romer deployed already on the Prussian flank as shown in the Fawkes diagram below, Romer will begin on the left flank in line with the remainder of the Austrian army.  Can Romer still pull off a crushing attack against the inferior Prussian cavalry on the Prussian right by beginning to fore rather than the flank?  I guess we will see.  
Map of the Battle of Mollwitz 10th April 1741
by John Fawkes
The above battle background and game details should provide just enough information to tantalize and prepare my opponent for this upcoming test using Honours of War.  My thanks to Colin for sharing his work on Mollwitz for HoW

34 comments:

  1. Excellent pre-game presentation. Looking forward to this. I like your approach to adding text to the photo of the opening setup, of course helped this time by the white background.

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    1. Thank you, Norm. Yes, of course, the white ground cloth that makes figure photos suspect really helps out when displaying black text!

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  2. Oh, looking great Jonathan! Looking forward too :)

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  3. I always appreciate the scholarship and thoughtfulness that you bring to your projects. This one has great promise.
    Best,
    Michael

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    1. Michael, you are very kind!

      We will see if the plan and preparation survive contact with the enemy.

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  4. Excellent write up Jonathan this looks to be an exciting game.

    Christopher

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  5. Impressive array of troops on that winter terrain, Jonathan. Your historical following of the actual battle is equally impressive.

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  6. Sounds great...and cold...Promising!

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  7. Excellent layout. I am looking forward to the struggle of arms.

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    1. Thanks! Have you given consideration as to which combatant your allegiance for this battle lays?

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    2. The success or failure of Romer may result in a second attempt at the battle, so perhaps we will have a chance to switch?

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    3. The Austrians may only need to delay not defeat the Prussians to eke out a victory.

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  8. Superb write up, Jonathan. I look forward to the battle report.

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    1. Thank you, Mark! A Sunday game is the plan.

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  9. Superb pics and love the historical commentary,. I'm not enough of an expert on Frederick as I'd like to be - this has very much helped. I've seen Fontenoy detailed as being part of the 'Second' Silesian War - that makes more sense to me now.

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    1. Very pleased you enjoyed the situation set up! With a bit of luck, the battle account will be as enjoyable. Not sure how this will play out on the first run through of the scenario. Regardless, it ought to be interesting with both participants having challenges to face.

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  10. What a wonderful AAR and set of accompanying photos Jonathon with some very attractive figures on display. Great to view and enjoy.

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  11. Lovely set up and introduction, let's hope it's balanced enough for the Austrians to win!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thank you, Iain!

      Historically, the Austrians got clobbered once the Prussian foot closed. As I mentioned above to Dartfrog, the Austrians need not defeat the Prussians to win but merely survive.

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  12. An excellent write up and an interesting scenario. I think this one would port well to a Napoleonic setting, substituting French for Prussians. Hmmmm.

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    1. Glad you liked it, Peter!

      Transporting the scenario into the Napoleonic period ought to work just as well.

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  13. That looks a superb scenario Jonathan. Very interesting - I imaging the game will be immensely enjoyable.
    Best wishes,
    Jason

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  14. Well done for the level of research....looking forward to seeing the outcome. 🙂

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    1. Adding in the research to provide context for the battle enhances the enjoyment, I think. I await the battle too!

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  15. Looking forward to reading the report on the outcome.

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    1. The BatRep is under construction but is expected to see the light of day within the next few posts. I appreciate your inspiration for my Mollwitz scenario.

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