Sunday, December 17, 2017

Dashing Through The Snow - Romer’s Romp at Mollwitz

Prussians close on Mollwitz
The title for this post originates from my stalwart gaming opponent, Jake, who noted that his Austrian Left Wing cavalry commander, Romer (rated as "Dashing") is appropriately "dashing through the snow."  Was Romer leading the cavalry charge on horseback or in a "one-horse open sleigh?"  Whichever mode of transport chosen, the way Romer cut through my Prussian cavalry, I am certain he was "laughing all the way."
Initial Dispositions
To refresh memories of the Battle of Mollwitz on a both a historical and gaming basis, please turn back to Scenario: Battle of Mollwitz, 10 April 1741.

As expected, the battle opens with the stronger Austrian cavalry wings peeling off from the main battle line and advancing towards the weaker, Prussian cavalry wings. The Prussian first and second lines step off beginning their march towards Mollwitz.
Is this Cannae?
Romer sets his sights on Schulenburg on the Prussian right
while Berlichingen targets Posadowsky on the left
With snow on the ground, charges are muted but Romer pitches into Schulenburg's command.  Schulenburg counters the superior Austrian cuirassiers with his own, outclassed cuirassiers.  Both sides throw in supports. 
Romer crosses swords with Schulenburg
In an extended cavalry clash, both of the primary combatants disengage having suffered heavy casualties.  Having sustained four hits, the Austrian cuirassiers fall back through their supports.  The Prussian Leib Cuirassiers are Done For having suffered five hits.  Routing back through their inferior rated, supporting cavalry, the dragoons sustain two hits as the routing cuirassiers pass through their ranks. 
Both cuirassier formations recoil
On the Prussian left, having crossed the frozen stream, Berlichingen smashes into Posadowsky's troopers.  With snow on the ground, the effect of collision between trot and gallop is significant.  No charging bonus across this heavy ground.  Outnumbered and outclassed, this may not be a fair fight either.
Cavalry clash on the Prussian left
With one of the Austrian hussar regiments joining Berlichingen in the attack on Posadowsky, the Prussian cavalry commander is greatly disadvantaged at three formations to six.  In the cavalry melee, the Prussians lose both the hussars and cuirassiers to the Austrians' one.  Tough times on the Prussian left.  Passing close to Prussian infantry, Austrian cavalry suffers a few casualties from musketry.
Prussian Left Wing in trouble
Jumping back to the large cavalry clash on the Prussian right, Schulenburg attempts to stabilize the situation. Again, outnumbered and outclassed, the inferior Prussian dragoons are no match for the better trained and mounted Austrian troopers.  Both of Schulenburg's remaining cavalry are destroyed in the ensuing cavalry clash.
Two more Prussian cavalry are Done For
Prussian dragoons, destroyed
All of the Prussian cavalry on the right are either dead on the field or put to flight.  With only one remaining Prussian cavalry unit on the left, both flanks of Frederick's Army are vanquished.  Undaunted by the activity on the Prussian flanks, the Prussian infantry continues plodding through the snow on its steady march on Mollwitz towards the Austrian infantry lines.  
Prussian cavalry wings - Gone!
Young King Frederick has seen enough!  Schwerin convinces the King that his duty is to save himself from capture as the Austrian cavalry appears on the army's flanks.  Both flanks!  Resigned to the dire prospects for the outcome, Frederick flees the field of battle.  The dashing Schwerin takes command. 
Frederick flees the field
An hour into the battle, Austrian cavalry wings are swinging wide around the flanks of the Prussian line.  With the Prussian right devoid of cavalry, only one Prussian cavalry formation remains on the battlefield.  That sole Prussian unit is in a tight spot with Berlichingen's wing bearing down on it.  
Double envelopment continues
One quick, sharp clash and the only Prussian cavalry remaining on the field is smashed and scatters.  The Prussian line is left without cavalry support on either flank.  Can the Prussian line maintain its plodding advance towards Mollwitz and the raw Austrian infantry? 
Final cavalry vs cavalry attack on the Prussian left
Another one bites the snow
Having destroyed all Prussian cavalry resistance, von Neipperg now faces his own dilemma.  The dilemma?  The relentless advance by the Prussian infantry towards Mollwitz and the heavy snow-covered ground have put his victorious cavalry out of position.  They have penetrated too deeply into the rear of the Prussian Army.
Prussian cavalry wings vanquished
Despite the loss of his protective cavalry wings, Schwerin believes that victory can still be achieved by coming to grips with the inferior Austrian infantry deployed in front of Mollwitz.  Peeling off grenadiers to guard his vulnerable flanks and leaving his artillery behind to harass any approaching enemy cavalry, Schwerin presses on.
Austrian cavalry in the Prussian rear
Romer slowly turns his cavalry back towards the Prussian rear
while the Prussian infantry continues its advance on Mollwitz
The battle may turn into a race against the clock.  Schwerin's entire battle plan hinges on engaging and defeating the Austrian infantry before his own infantry is taken from the rear by the victorious Austrian cavalry. The heavy ground and the obstacles left behind are working in Schwerin's favor.  Austrian cavalry cannot keep pace.
Austrian cavalry have swung too deep into the rear
Now within musketry range of the Austrians at Mollwitz, Schwerin seems to win the race.  As the range closes, fire erupts from the Austrian line.  A number of Prussians drop and one regiment falls out of line with heavy casualties.
Prussian infantry taste Austrian lead
As the fire fight at Mollwitz increases in intensity, Romer's cavalry bears down on the scattered elements of the Prussian rear guard.  Will the Prussian rear guard be sacrificed to allow the Prussian infantry a chance at victory?

Romer bears down on rear guard
Gaining a double move, Romer succeeds in hitting both the rear guard grenadiers and artillery in flank.  Both Prussian units give their lives for the good of the army.  But is their sacrifice in vain? 
Flank attacks!
At this point in the battle, the Prussians have suffered eight stand losses to the Austrians' three.  Under Honours of War, Army Breakpoints are eleven for the Prussians and ten for the Austrians.  The Austrians need only to destroy three more Prussians without suffering another seven themselves.
Prussians prepare for the attack on Mollwitz
While pinning the Austrian left, the Prussians assault the Austrian right.  The inferior Austrian musketeers cannot stand up to the pressure.  First in a trickle and then in a torrent, Austrian infantry begins breaking for the rear.
Austrian right flank is turned.
Collapse of Austrian right
With his infantry melting away faster than the snow in the afternoon sun, von Neipperg orders a general withdrawal.  The battle is won by Schwerin and the might of the Prussian infantry!
Austrian line disintegrates
The end of the Austrian line
Well! That was near-run thing!  Great fun with many episodes of drama too.

While von Neipperg can be justified in his orders to leave the battlefield having lost most of his infantry since cavalry cannot hold ground, the "game" was still up for grabs.  At the time of capitulation, the Army Breakpoints count stood at P8:A9.  While the Austrians could only sustain one more loss before breaking, how difficult for von Neipperg to pick off three isolated or wavering Prussian units?  An Austrian victory is certainly not beyond belief.  Well, at least I think there is a possibility for an Austrian victory.

Again, HoW produced an exciting game that came down to the last effort.  On points, it really could have gone either way.  The game unfolded in an historical manner and produced the historical outcome.  I look forward to a rematch and trying my hand in von Neipperg's shoes.

32 comments:

  1. A suitably chilly looking battlefield. Was such decisive cavalry action, with so much seen off the field, typical of the period (or rules)?

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    1. Historically, the cavalry action was decided very much as in this game. Prussian cavalry was driven off the field by the superior Austrian horse. Disappointed by his cavalry's performance at Mollwitz, Frederick vowed not to repeat this disaster again. Prussian cavalry underwent rigorous training thereafter.

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  2. I had been waiting for this report. It was worth the wait. Great looking game and fantastic write up.

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    1. Mark! Glad to read that the wait for this BatRep was worth it to you! Very pleased to see that you enjoyed it.

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  3. What a splendid and atmospheric report (except for the unfortunate Prussians may be!) with great explanations...

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    1. Thank you, kindly, Phil! Your consistent encouragements motivate the efforts to produce these BatReps. My BatReps tend towards more workmanlike descriptions rather than your very entertaining and much more flashy BatReps. Both methods have a place, I think.

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  4. Excellent AAR sir, The story really unfolds beautifully. I love the movement arrows on the pics; a simple idea that make things simple to follow. A lot of hard work put in there. I sort of felt cold reading the narrative - though the action keeps things warm , must be the snow on the ground BRRR :)
    Merry Christmas

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    1. So pleased to read that you found the BatRep easy to follow! It can be a difficult task to impart a flavor of the action expereinced in a cohesive way to those not present at the action, itself.

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  5. Thanks very much, I really enjoyed that AAR.

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  6. Excellent pictures and write up, John. Perhaps Romer should have used the sleigh after all?
    At the start of the War before heav casualties thinned their ranks, the Prussian Infantry really was that good!

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    1. Thanks, Peter! A sleigh might have helped get the Austrian cav. back into the action.

      See my note above to Norm about Frederick's cavalry reforms following Mollwitz. If nothing else, he adapted to his mistakes.

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  7. Looks like a smashing (and seasonal) game.

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    1. Thank you, Markus! Throwing in a few references to "Jingle Bells" added to the seasonal flavor.

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  8. Fantastic looking battle. Love the snow. Quite the spectacular win for the Prussians.

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    1. You are very kind, Rod! Mollwitz seems to be a tale of two battles. In the first half, the Austrians have the advantage. In the second half, The Prussians have a chance to even the score. Both sides get a chance to attack and defend. That makes a fun game.

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  9. A very entertaining AAR! Must have been an excellent game, thank you for sharing.

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    1. Glad you liked it! The game was, indeed, an excellent contest. I plan to run it out again next week for another go. Next time, I with command von Neipperg and the Austrians.

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  10. Lovely looking game, figures and scenery, chilly though! The Prussians really pulled it out of the bag!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thanks, Iain! In Mollwitz, the Prussians must understand that losing their cavalry is a likely outcome. The trick is to not lose much more until the Austrian infantry can be engaged and destroyed. A very close game, this one.

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  11. Thanks Jonathan for taking the time to share an excellent read...the effort was worth it..๐Ÿ˜€

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  12. Bad puns are my bread and butter, so no regrets.
    Good write up and summary of the conflict. It is definitely a fun and engaging scenario. I suffered from my early success in wiping out the Prussian Cavalry in that it left me out of position to deal with the infantry. I will be interested to see what you can do with the Austrian cavalry to stem the tide of the Prussian Infantry. The lack of supporting artillery means the Austrians need to really work the seams to try and slow down the massive Prussian square.

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    1. I look forward to trying my hand as the Austrian commander at Mollwitz. My post-battle thoughts have been focused on the notion that this may be a very finely balance scenario. As von Neipperg, I must capitalize on the White Menace's advantages while minimizing its disadvantages.

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  13. An excellent report and a close run thing. I didn't expect the Prussians to be able to close with the Austrians, as I thought the latters cavalry were in too strong a position. Shows what I know!

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    1. A close run thing, for sure!

      After the Prussian cavalry wings were destroyed, I did not hold much hope in the Prussian infantry successfully closing either. Shows what I know too!

      Mollwitz turned out to be a much more interesting game than I first thought. Both combatants get to attack and defend. Both experience triumph and disaster.

      In the end, the game provided a very historical outcome.

      Thanks for your comments, Steve!

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  14. Good report.
    In the real battle the Austrian right wing of cavalry actually refused to engage the Prussian cavalry so the Prussians only had to worry about their right flank not their left. Furthermore it is worth remembering that Austrian infantry deployed in 4 ranks at this time so their firepower was much weaker than Prussian firepower in 3 ranks. Plus I would rate Prussian infantry at their very best at Mollwitz.
    But a great report!

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    1. Welcome, Nigel! I have long been a fan of your brushwork.

      Glad you enjoyed the BatRep and I appreciate your battle insights. The Austrian infantry was rated the worst possible with the Prussian infantry rated at least two grades higher. That quality difference is significant.

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  15. Thank you for your kind comments. I am working towards doing Mollwitz in 40mm by the end of 2018 if I can get all that painting done.
    As for your 18mm, I love the Eureka figures and you have done a fine job on them.

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    1. I look forward to seeing Mollwitz in 40mm.

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  16. Now, that was worth the read. Thanks for your efforts and for sharing. Thanks also for the mention in the scenario set up post.

    My New Year's Resolution: I must invest in some white sheets.

    Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

    James

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    1. James! Very good to read that you enjoyed the BatRep. As you well know, writing a BaRep takes effort. Having others recognize that effort is rewarding.

      Happy New Year!

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