Sunday, August 10, 2014

Battle of Sonnenfeld, East Prussia

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Date: August 9, 1757/2014
Situation: Russian Invasion of East Prussia
Fictional Location east of Danzig: The Sonnenfeld

During the summer of 1757/2014 the Russians invaded East Prussia. They hoped this would stretch Frederick II's resources as allies Austria and France pressed Prussia and Britain on other fronts. On August 9, 1757 the Russians and Prussians fought on the field of Sonnenfeld.

The Beginning

One of the first Prussian units to see the approaching Russian Army were Bosnian Lancers. {Peter Gilder collection owned by Keith L.}

Here is what they saw. The foreground reveals the Russian left flank stretching into the distance in two long battle lines on their Back Table.

While the Prussians deployed mostly on a Sonnenfeld reverse slope. {Collection of Der Alte Fritz: Jim P.}

Prussian Right Flank

The Bosnians repaired to the Prussian extreme right flank to discomfort a Russian battalion just arrived on the Main Table. The irregulars could not entice the Russians to waste their +5 close order first fire bonus.

The Russian battalion silently pushed the Bosnians back suffering very little from carbine fire. The Prussian battalion in the previous image moved to its right to counter the Russians.

From the Russian view, a classic firefight begins. The Bosnians retired to the rear.

Behind all this on the Prussian Back Table sat two regiments of kürassiers; 72 castings. {The nearest Kürassiers are actually my Saxon Leib Regiment pretending to be Prussians today so I could use some of my lads in the game! Plus reduce the load Jim transported.}

Moments later my Kürassier Regiment arrived from the Back Table in case of need. Forward of them the previously mentioned firefight in the upper right is ongoing and the Bosnians have sneaked around a bit enticed by hopes of falling on an enemy flank. In the upper left a new and different firefight has commenced.

The firefight on the Prussian Right Flank goes on for some time. Superior Russian fire discipline was dreadful but the Prussians held.

The Bosnians fell upon a Russian cannon section which you can't see. The crew was cut down while the Prussian kürassiers moved closer.

From the Russian view the often mentioned firefight is in the upper left, the cannon section about to be cut down is in the center, Cossacks are in the foreground, a Converged Russian Grenadier Battalion has moved forward on the right of the photo and my kürassiers are in the top of the image.

A gap opened and two kürassier squadrons charged home into the Russian Converged Grenadiers. Their fire discipline was poor and their powerful first fire bonus had already been used. The Russians lost the melee, failed a morale test and routed to their Back Table.

A die throw prevented pursuit so the kürassiers rallied back covered by their third squadron. The top of the photo shows the Bosnians and the Cossacks fighting it out. Somehow the Bosnians won, the Cossacks fled, the Bosnians pursued and cut down all the Russian irregular horsemen on their Back Table.

Late in the afternoon the kürassiers reformed. The top of the photo shows the result of the long-discussed firefight on the Prussian Right Flank. The Russians won and would eventually press the kürassiers to retire from sustained fire.

Final moments on the Prussian Right Flank saw the reserve regiment of kürassiers come forward. These would engage Russian cuirassiers in the upper right of the photo winning on the left of the "Saxon" kürassiers who held on for dear life against very heavy odds.

Unseen: On the Russian Back Table the Bosnian Lancers went battle mad apparently. They crashed into the routing and disorganized Russian Converged Grenadiers cutting them all down. One of their flags was captured by the Bosnians too. They later returned to the Main Table hoping for more mischief in the rear of the Russian Left Flank.

Prussian Left Flank

As two Russian battalions advanced onto the Main Table in the distance, two Prussian battalions ascended a rise to stop them. Their flank was....

Protected by Battalion Isenburg. {25mm Garrison castings}

Musketry soon caused casualties on both sides. {Foreground: Protzdam Grenadiers 30mm Staddens from my collection.These are the same castings (not the unit) on the cover of CHARGE or How To Play Wargames. Having these iconic castings was a long-term goal.}

Russians continue to march resolutely forward into Frederick's soldaten.

The leading Russian battalion became a tough remnant.

The Protzdammers appear to lead a charmed life in terms of casualties.

Late in the afternoon four squadrons of Prussian dragoons; 48 castings entered the fray. Only two are shown veering right toward the Russian Center. These would charge through the gap into a Russian battalion off image to the upper right throwing it back.

The other two (not shown to the left) cantered through a gap in the Russian lines to cause mischief and presented themselves in the rear of the Russians.

The last dragoons mentioned are not shown. One squadron off image in the upper right would approach the rear left flank of the distant Russian infantry. The other went toward the Russian Back Table but was shot to pieces by a battalion that turned about to face it.

The Center

This is perhaps Turn 4 or 5 in The Center. This is serious business. Russian fire discipline was unwaivering. The Prussians fell back for most of the day.

Powerful Russian forces on the right side of their Center. {Collection of Michael M.}

Prussians on the left. Russian on the right. Carnage was prodigious everywhere in The Center.

Late in the afternoon Russian Dragoons sabered a Prussian battalion in the flank causing it to rout.

Battle Honours

The next day the Bosnian Lancers were ordered to report to the Prussian Army commanding general.

Lt. General Bevern: "You scoundrels! (Bosnians laugh.) -- Pause -- For gallantry in the teeth of the Russian Army I have written this dispatch to the King on your behalf. It reads...."

Personal honors go to our pards gathered on the Sonnenfeld for prodigious companionabilities, knowing the rules very well, bringing good chow to share and bringing units too. Seated left to right: Curt B Prussian Left Flank, John B. Russian Right Flank, Keith L. Prussian Left Center and Earl K. Russian Left Center. Standing left to right: Michael M. Russian Right Center, John M. Russian Left Flank, Jim P. Prussian Right Flank and yours truly Bill P. commanding Prussian cavalry on both flanks. Gosh our game was fun! Thank you everyone. I sincerely appreciate all you did!

Russians: Substantially throw the foe off The Main Table. {Unsuccessful}
Prussians: Prevent further incursion of the Russians into East Prussia. {Successful}

BAR Rules:
Batailles de l' Ancien Régime 1740-1763 written by yours truly with considerable advice and play testing with Jim P. plus the invaluable writings of Christopher Duffy and Sir Reginald Savory among others. The game started at 11:00 am. ending at 3:45 p.m. with a half hour pause for lunch. I think nine turns were played using nearly 1,800 miniatures total. We could have played one more but the game reached a decision.We also thought our metal warriors had reached a state of exhaustion.

Russian Fire Discipline:
Two playing card decks were used. One on the Prussian Left Flank and the other deck for The Center and Prussian Right Flank. The latter card deck allowed the Russians to fire first for an amazing seven or so turns. On the Prussian Left Flank, fire cards were drawn more favorably for the Prussians there.

Too nerve wracking? Yes, it is understandable to think this. However, in the course of almost one hundred games, odds seem to even out in each game. In spite of amazing luck for Russians in the Center and Prussian Right Flank, the Prussians won the battle. There is often a back and forth effect which after the game seems to be most pleasing and fun in a post game analysis.

Not historical? Is it? Is simultaneous fire historical? In the chaos of war there are often wide swings in advantages and surprises. A card deck allows this. Also there are many ways to utilize card decks for random movement and fire. We most often draw cards per turn per side. But you don't have to.

Oh and if someone draws a joker; three per deck, these are used to trump the other side's card anytime when desired for movement or fire.

If a player wanted to request help, get orders changed or order somebody to do something outside his "Tactical Orders", we used couriers. A message was written on paper, folded, placed under a courier and then the courier was simply given to the recipient in question. On the next turn the recipient would pick up the message from under the courier on the table and react. In a nine turn game, this is best. Otherwise, couriers take way too much game time to arrive at their destinations and then barely make a difference at all.

Each Army Fielded:
Everyone: Rated Veteran.
600 Line Infantry {10 Bns.}
120 Converged Grenadiers {2 Bns.} Oops! Prussia had 126!
24 Riflemen
20 Pounds of Artillery
48 Dragoons
72 Kürassiers
18 Irregular Horsemen
Russian Total: 882 + Gunners (John B., Michael M. and John M. collections)
Prussian Total: 888 + Gunners (Mostly Jim P's collection)
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1) BAR may be purchased at for $40.00 including postage. It includes two sets of Quick Reference Charts; one for small tables/games and another for larger situations such as the one described above. We barely use the booklet itself. BAR is fast-playing and fun. Plus most in our group agree that games provide historical results. Chart updates are available for purchasers, new and old.

2) Michael took these photos of me:
 Contemplating launching a worrisome cavalry charge on the Prussian Right Flank and of....

Me having some "serious" FUN explaining a rule.

3) Your comments are welcome. We would all like to read your remarks below at Comments.
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Thursday, July 24, 2014

Battle of Braunsdorf 19 July 1757 (2014)

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Date: 19 July 1757/2014
Location: Northwest Germany
Figure Ratio: "Big Battalions" 1:10
Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763
Situation: Battle of Braunsdorf
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The tabletop battle of Braunsdorf was our second game in western Germany as we return to the SYW for a second seven year cycle; Cycle II. A French Army is threatening Hanover. For the previous Battle of Hamelburg see:
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After their defeat at Hamelburg, the French retreated to a line of ridges near Braunsdorf. Their left rested upon a forested range of hills distantly seen in the photo below. Their right rested similarly upon another forested hilly area with a large lake. Here we see the....

French Right Flank: The First Line
A section of a much larger formation of Arquibussiers de Grassins protect the extreme right flank. A river, lake and a densely wooded hilly area are off image at the bottom. Régiment Auvergene's two battalions stretch into the distance where they meet a battalion of Languedoc.

French Center: The First Line
We've turned around looking the opposite way. Languedoc is at the top of this image. Berry is at the bottom.

French Left Flank: The Hidden First Line
In front of the horsemen of French Commissaire Général is a ridge. Not shown is another body of French horse; three squadrons of Royal Carabiniers off image to the right.

Aren't SYW uniforms lovely, elegant and stylish? I've thought so for more than four decades.
Click on all images to enlarge the view.

Here They Come!
Allied horsemen know something is hidden past the ridge line in front of them. Neither side can see each other at this moment. A discerning eye will note Brunswick Karabineers at the upper left of the photo are actually Eureka Saxon Leib Kürassiers standing in as Brunswickers. Oh my. I just painted that regiment and I have to fight against it.  Anyway....

Allied Right Marches Forward: The Swinging Door Gambit
The Karabineers are at the top center here. Out there with them from Hanover are horsemen of the Guards (red), von Bremer (nearest the big tree) and von Breidenbach's Dragoons. Behind them is the Hessian Leib Regiment. Somewhere out there is a body of Luckner's Hussars. I can't see them yet. 118 cavalrymen and they outnumber the French who have only 72 riders --- but all of them are wearing the cuirasse today.

Should we talk about Allied infantry? Yes! Before you is a Converged Battalion of Scottish and British Grenadiers. To their right rear is a smaller body of Germanic Converged Grenadiers. The unit with white flags is non other than the Potsdam Guard Grenadiers - no - the Protzdam Guard Grenadiers. I guess the Allies are serious on their right flank. Their deployment looks marvelous. Well done.

Where are the French?

Here They Are
That's Auvergene's two battalions again opposed by von Bungle of Prussia and the newest Allied unit, von Spörcken from Hanover. Their flags are from a company new to me. Maverick Models. I like them.

Here Is A Better View
Of von Bungle refusing the extreme Allied Left Flank as von Spörcken advances forward engaging 1/Auvergne. The small cannons are four and three pounders from Brunswick and Hanover left to right firing at 2/Auvergne.

Behind 2/Auvergne On The French Extreme Right Flank Are
Two French units of the second line. Infanterie Battalion 2/Guyenne and leading horsemen of the Royal Horse Régiment. Guyenne has sixty hommes. The Royals have thirty-six cavaliers. Guyenne are old Front Rank whist the Royals are Ted Surens armed with pin swords. They can really draw blood - and have! 

Why pin swords? 
Suren swords were bendy - very bendy. One of our pards, Keith L., told me to do what the celebrated Peter Gilder did. Replace bendy swords with pins. So I did. It would not do to have the Ted Suren Royals armed with swords that would eventually resemble curly tails of um -- pigs. Poor form you see. One must be careful around the Royals.

What Did The Royals Do Next?
Late in the game they rode forward in two columns protected for a time by the Arquibusiers de Grassin. Auvergne is beyond that big central tree. The Royals wanted to get behind von Bungle on the right of the photo but only AFTER the latter loosed its powerful first volley; (+5 in BAR). Otherwise, well, you know, poor form for cavalry.

Not Shown
The near squadron rode onto the Allied Back Table off image to the far right, sabered some artillery crews there and then turned around to hit von Bungle in the rear as the other Royals hit von Bungle from the front. The French won the contest and secured their right flank.  

Back On The Allied Swinging Door Right Flank
The Hanoverian Guard Horse (red) will soon charge into the flank of 2/Berry. The latter will tumble backwards. On the rise of ground von Bremer's Horse move forward with the Brunswick Karabineers. Oh! There's Luckner's Hussars behind them with three attached von Stockhausen Lancers. Behind the Karabineers is the Hessian Leib Regiment. Near the stone house are von Breidenbach's Dragoons.

The Protzdammers continue to march forward - stately - for a coup de grace. There's a song about that Regiment. For those who know the verses, the song applied once more. Kurt, please sing it for us.

The Protzdammers Observe
The French Royal Carabiniers engage the Allies. They probably are not watching the Karabineers engage the French Commissaire Générals in the far upper right. That's 2/Berry's unmanned 4 Pounder battalion gun.

Allied Cavalry
Engages my Commissaire Générals in front and flank. I should have reduced my ranks from three to two to cover more ground as was common in this era when outnumbered. This would have made being flanked less probable. 

The French Royal Carabiniers
Also had flank troubles. Bill, why did you forget your formation tactics today?  

What Happened Next?
Commissaire Général was defeated, routed and pursued to the French Back Table. The Royal Carabiniers won their mêlée and pursued their opponents. The latter routed through the Protzdammers disorganizing them. All Right!!!

That's The Allied Remnant
Behind the Protzdammers after both reorganized later. However, with the  Commissaire Générals gone, the Carabiniers retreated to cover the infantry of the French Left Flank who are off image far far to the lower right.

The French Center
2/LaSarre observes Allied Converged Grenadiers approach. La Sarre has no left flank due to the defeat of the French cavalry.

And Because
More Allied infantry comes forward; my 30mm Stadden 44th Foot. These go way back to when I published the F&I rules Drums of War Along The Mohawk in the early 1980s. Copies still available too!

Aerial Images Of The Center
Allied infantry marches inexorably forward. The French have brought forward one of two battalions of Grenadiers de France seen in the upper right.

Brunswick Battalion Isenburg (25mm Garrisons) moves forward to the left of the 44th Foot.

Allied Victory!
The French are withdrawing. They needed to. Congratulations to all for a companionable game with a lot of back and forth tactics, surprises, good chow and laughs. We've got a great bunch of guys in our group and I appreciate it.

Here They/We Are!
Seated left to right: Chuck L., John B. and Rob O.
Standing left to right: John M., Joe G. and yours truly Bill P.


1) We drew cards to move by side. Red Allies and Black French. However, we fired simultaneously on this occasion. No cards. BAR is flexible that way. It worked.

2) Next game? It's scheduled for Saturday August 9, 2014 in cold and desolate East Prussia. The Russians are coming. The Russians are coming.

3) I wonder. Should the French pull back to their magazine at Frankfurt Am Main? If defeated there, could the Allies cross the Rhine! Never.

4) Have you seen my new astounding adventure blog, Lost South Pacific Adventures here?

This story is quite a departure for me and I hope you take a look and enjoy it.

5) Thank you for looking in.

6) Comments welcome below. We would all appreciate hearing from you.
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For those who are waiting for another General Pettygree Colonial story, he'll be back in August 1903/2014.