Friday, October 26, 2018

Zorndorf: The Thin Red Lines

A second attempt at wrestling with the full battle of Zorndorf took place on the 21st.  We were down a man so three players participated: two Prussian and one Russian.   Kevin commanded the Prussian left and I the Prussian center/right.  Dohna in the center and the right cavalry wing under Schorlemmer would be my subordinates for the day.  Moritz would be in nominal command of these formations.  Scott would command the entire Russian Army.  Since the Russian deployment offers a defensive attitude at start, one player could manage the large masses of Russians without much trouble.  To refresh memories, below is the initial deployments for the armies.  For scenario specifics, please see Zorndorf Scenario.   
Initial deployments
Having the initiative, the Prussians begin by moving the cavalry reserve under Marschall across the Zaberne-Grund in support of Seydlitz's heavy cavalry.  Dohna advances up the middle with the Stein Busch as a destination to provide a covered approach while Schorlemmer peels off to the right to come to grips with Demiku's Russian cavalry wing.  It is a long march across the open battlefield but the battle is on.
Prussian opening moves
Fermor (Scott) looks confident in his chances
Dohna approaches the woods while the Prussian infantry on
the left watches.  Counterbattery is inflicting some damage.
Seydlitz and Marschall snake their way towards the Russian right.
"Be very, very quite and the bad Russians may not see us."
Manteuffel and Kanitz watch the Prussian maneuvers.
Dohna reaches the woods and his advance grinds to a
slow plod as the woods are much more difficult to
 traverse than expected.
The serried ranks of Dohna's force have much potential
 but first the woods must be overcome.
While Dohna tries to negotiate the dense woods and Seydlitz and Marschall make their clandestine and circuitous approach march against the Russian right, the Prussian right erupts into swirling cavalry melees as both cavalry wings snap into action and crash into each other.
Prussian cavalry approaches on Russian left
Schorlemmer's Prussians
Demiku's Russians
The Clash
After much gnashing of bits and clashes of steel, the outnumbered Prussians fall back in disarray.  Both sides fight themselves out and retreat in exhaustion, done for the day.  This flank is spent.  Demiku's cavalry performed their job admirably.  That is, they thwarted a Prussian cavalry flanking maneuver.  In one combat, the inferior Russian hussars added their weight into an existing melee and flipped the balance of power to the Russian heavies and sent the Prussian dragoons packing.  With the Russian left secure from cavalry attack the remnants of Demiku's cavalry wing sends out vedettes as a safeguard.
With Manteuffel and Kanitz demonstrating very slowly in their advance against the Russian right and Dohna entangled within the confines of Stein Busch, Seydlitz leads his heavy cavalry in against the undamaged right of the Russian line.  Yes, Seydlitz launches a frontal assault with cavalry against a combination of artillery and grenadiers.  All defenders are in good order when the cavalry charges home. 
Seydlitz attempts to take the guns
The first Prussian regiment to attack is blasted back during its movement to close.  Next turn, Seydlitz sends in another cavalry attack against the guns.  This time, the guns  are destroyed but the attacking cavalry is scattered as well.  Seydlitz falls from his saddle, dead. 

Remnants of Seydlitz' heavies and Marschall's reserve cavalry attempt to break the Russian line.  The grenadiers coolly level their muskets and let loose a volley as the Prussian cavalry close.  The result?
Cavalry wave 3 hits the Russian line
Even with support, the cavalry waves are no match for steady Russian grenadiers.  Three cavalry regiments are repulsed as the volley from the grenadiers break the lead Prussian regiments.  Falling back, these fleeing troopers carry most of their support regiments away with them.
Saltykov quite pleased with his grenadiers' performance
With the destruction of his prized cavalry and loss of his cavalry commander, Frederick loses all hope on salvaging the day.  He declares (among other things) that all is lost and there is no hope of breaking the formidable Russian line.  Frederick quits the field.  
Situation when Frederick quits the field
The situation does not look without hope for the Prussian army.  When the army commander's morale breaks, there is nothing more to do but adjourn for lunch.

Two battles; two different outcomes.  In Game 1, the Russians claimed the Russians could not win.  In Game 2, the Prussians claimed the Russians could not lose!
The Prussian position did not appear hopeless when Frederick quit the field.  The final verdict may have remained the same but the center of the Russian first line was weakened in the fight around Stein Busch.  The Russians lost three batteries which would not be missed by the Prussian army if it pressed home an attack on the Russian line.  Different tactics may have produced a different outcome but that will be for another time.
In the words of Frederick on this day,
Wargamers complain lots when they are losing.  Not so much when they are winning.  
Perhaps I will critique tactics in this battle another time.  Perhaps not.

55 comments:

  1. Lovely looking game, shame about all, that Prussian Cavalry.

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  2. Great looking game and wonderful report Jonathan - and I like the fact it is now 1-1. Unusual (to me) to see Russians in so much red, rather than the more usual green of later era's.

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    1. Glad you liked the look of the battle! Since I have been on the losing end of both battles, I am 0-2.

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  3. I like" When the Army commanders moral breaks,there is nothing more to do but adjourn for lunch." Perfect for warfare in the age of reason! Lovely looking game,super looking troops,I like the idea of sneaking Prussian heavy cavalry too!
    Best Iain

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    1. Thank you, Iain! Nothing picks up one's spirits up after defeat like a good lunch. Frederick was a gentleman and picked up the lunch tab. How about that for the Age of Reason?

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  4. Great report Jonathan. I really like those big cavalry masses.

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    1. I enjoy seeing the large cavalry formations too. I would have enjoyed seeing some Prussian success, though!

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  5. Great AAR and a wonderful looking game:)

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  6. Awesome, what a splendid battle with impressive mass effects!

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  7. Lovely looking game and a more decisive result if memory serves correctly?

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    1. Thank you. This battle result was more decisive than the first full battle replay but I think there was still some play left in this one.

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  8. Great looking game, and most entertaining report. Almost worth jumping on a plane and heading over to observe the third round!

    Cheers,
    Aaron

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    1. Thanks, Aaron! Anytime you want to hop a plane, you are always welcome at the game table.

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  9. Very well presented account Johnathon, I have fought this battle twice, once using Black Powder and once with Honours of War. Both times the Russians lost [me] It is a very difficult battle for the Russians and found that the Prussians were just too well trained and controlled, as in history and were able to pick their spot to attack the long Russian defences. Well done.

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    1. Thank you very much, Robbie!

      The historical battle was a close, hard-fought engagement so it is rewarding to see both combatants manage a victory. Zorndorf deserves a third and deciding match, I think.

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  10. Interesting outcome. Seydlitz's historical reservations seem well founded. The cavalry charging into the teeth of the Tzarina's finest troops was a windfall for Fermor.

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    1. Is the top picture from an earlier play through?

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    2. Sedlitz's reservations about a frontal assault and his decision to maneuver from the left flank to the right flank become evident with the replaying of this battle. With the confines on the Russian right, a good place for Seydlitz would be on the Prussian right and attempt to turn that flank.

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    3. The top photo is from this game and was taken following the Prussian cavalry repulse on the Russian right.

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    4. I still found a full court press against the flanks to be tough for the Russians to counter. If the Russian cavalry can't hold things get ugly fast

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  11. Always interesting to see player morale collapse as opposed to anything in the rules--"real world" friction.

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    1. Quite right, Ed! Who needs Army Break Points or Army Morale rules? Players know when they have had enough.

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  12. Stunning set up. A feast for the eyes... Thoroughly enjoyed the battle report even though I know bugger all about the period.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the battle report! Thank you for your kind comments.

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  13. Frederick has a new battle plan and we will see if it amounts to anything in the next round. Very tough Russians, but we shall see. In the meantime, I will play the violin and talk with Voltaire.

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  14. That is an awesome looking game and superb batrep with it.

    Cheers, Ross

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  15. Fantastic set-up Jonathan, and a very realistic outcome. I have to say that the Russian lines certainly look a daunting prospect if you can't roll up from the flanks.

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    1. Good to hear from you, Nathan!

      Yes, attacking that double wall of Russians was daunting, for sure. Getting through them, almost impossible...this time.

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  16. Fantastic looking game Jonathan, really impressive!

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  17. Thanks again for hosting, Jon. It was a fun game for me!

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    1. Scott, it was fun for me too! Thanks for joining.

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  18. Superb game and narrative. Stoic Russians as ever. Makes me feel lucky that we got away with so much when we treid this battle last year with Field of Battle.
    Excellent pics and discussion as usual.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the BatRep!

      The Russians had a very hard time of it in Game 1 but found their footing in Game 3 and stopped the Prussian attacks in their tracks. I think we need one more full battle game to decide the issue and see if any lessons have been learned from the previous games. I know I have learned a thing or two about this battle.

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  19. That is an impressively large and wonderful game, Jonathan! How big is that table anyway? So many troops with space to maneuver!

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    1. Thank you,Dean! The table is 12 feet by 6 feet. This Is BIG battle.

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  20. I'm glad to see the cav get toasted by steady lines of inf. Says much for the game rules. Seydlitz was too impetuous -- and paid. Inf first, THEN cav. Great battle and great looking table. I'd love to do this in 6mm sometime. (Be vewy, vewy quiet -- I'm hunting Wussians...LOL!)

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    1. Cavalry engaging good order infantry (no less grenadiers) frontally ought to be punished in this era. In this game, that axiom certainly held true. While I tried to convince the Frederick and Seydlitz not to attempt frontal attacks, my arguments were not convincing. Next time may be different.

      SYW in 6mm would look good. A buddy of mine, besides fielding the Russian for this game, is building Prussian and Austrian armies for SYW in 10mm. They look great. You can see some of his efforts at: http://dartfrog06mm.blogspot.com/.

      Yes, I was channeling Elmer Fudd a bit in that passage...

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  21. I really enjoy seeing this scenario played out and now it’s a battle that I know something about all thanks to your blog. 😀
    It seemed to play out faster this time right?

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    1. Stew, I have learned a lot about this battle doing the research for the scenario as well as fighting the battle, itself. Pleased to read that these efforts are educational for you as well.

      The battle was fought to conclusion in about 2.5 hours this time which was quicker than in the first game. Of course, the Prussian army threw in the towel earlier in this game.

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  22. yes, our player generals often lose morale before their troops do. Charging steady (and in this case, elite) and undamaged infantry frontally didn't usually work well even in the Napoleonic era. In the 7 Years War, well, the results were as to be expected!

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    1. Yes, Peter, we are in agreement on all points!
      In some games, it is not whether or not you can break the opposing army's morale but whether you can successfully break the opposing commander's morale.

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  23. I'd left a comment the day of the post and it seems to have disappeared!

    Well... I say again - fantastic looking spread Jonathan and a fun game to follow. I DO love me a good massed cavalry charge!

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    1. Very strange about your earlier post. I don't think I deleted it by mistake.

      I appreciate your perseverance and your comment!

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  24. Great looking game. Must get around to playing it sometime, though we'll have way fewer troops and will have to bath-tub it, each battalion be a brigade or such.

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    1. Glad you enjoyed the Zorndorf battle report! Give the battle a try. We are still trying to figure out optimal plans of attack and defense for both sides. Zorndorf provides some tactical puzzles for both.

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