Saturday, April 3, 2010

Field Training Maneuvers at Schlegel's Gasthaus

Following the completion of the St. Michel raid, Pragmatic forces resumed a posture of alert defense, while reinforcements were summoned, and drafts of replacements were integrated into the battered regiments, particularly the Wachovians, and the Schoeffen-Buschhagen von Nordhafen and Adelmann regiments.  Gathered at the general's table one evening, conversation among the colonels kept returning to the question of integrating the replacements as quickly as possible.  Colonel von Nordhafen (on parole and still awaiting formal exchange after his capture during the Northern Alliance counterattack on St. Stephen) observed the similarity of the terrain around Schlegel's gasthaus (in which the dinner was being held) to that of the Battle of the Tollgate some years before, and noted that the arrival of a Wachovian battery to bolster the Wachovian contingent left that contingent very similar in size to the force that he himself had led to victory at the Tollgate.  Colonel Grabowski, commander of the Wachovian infantry regiment and senior officer among the Wachovians gathered, suggested that the battle could be used as the basis of a training exercise.  A brilliant young staff officer (Captain von Reiswitz) suggested that a team of Adjudicators could permit the exercise to proceed in free play, assessing casualties by use of their military judgment and some element of chance, perhaps the roll of dice.

The Adjudicator Team explains the Exercise to Colonels Grabowski and Adelmann

After dinner was cleared the officers continued to discuss the situation, and agreed that it would be, if nothing else, an interesting experiment.  General von Stewart opined that Colonel von Nordhafen would not be violating the terms of his parole to serve as an Adjudicator, but that he (and therefore his regiment) would not take an active role.  After a ride over the proposed battlefield, Colonel Adelmann volunteered to re-enact the role of the North Polenberg commander, with two of his own companies, the S-B battery and a squadron of the Prince's dragoon guards, while Colonel Grabowski would command the force re-enacting the Schoeffen-Buschhagen role, with the Wachovian "wilderin" (poacher) light infantry, two companies of Wachovian foot, a squadron of hussars, the "Black Widow" battery, and a company of Wiegenburg infantry.  Casualties assessed by the Adjudicators would be marched to the gasthaus, and the bill for their refreshment was to be settled by the losing colonel.

The morning of the exercise arrived, and the weather was fair.  The S-B troops drew up in the formation adopted in the actual battle by the North Polenberg forces, and the Wachovians marched to positions representing the original S-B deployment.  After a final briefing to the officers involved on the rules of the engagement, a bugle call and a roll of drums signaled the start of the exercise.

On the Wachovian right, the hussars advance rapidly across the field toward the S-B guns, with the Wiegenburgers  marching in line behind them.  Adelmann cannily ordered his dragoons, deployed on his right, to cross behind his advancing infantry to prepare to cover the guns.

As the cavalry engaged in some spirited fencing under the watchful eye of the Adjudicators, the infantry lines approached to within musket range.  After listening to the volleys and tossing a few dice, the Adjudicators ruled that casualties, though light, were due at a ratio of 2:1 in favor of the S-B troops.  There was a brief pause in the action while Colonel Grabowski spurred forward to calm the angry captain of the Wachovian company, though having done so he delivered a more measured protest.

Colonel Grabowski protests the first assessment of casualties

Once this was resolved, the cavalry melee on the Wachovian right was ruled a draw.

General advance 

Colonel Grabowski considered the historical plan of sending the light infantry through the woods on his left to be sound.  Unfortunately, they advanced somewhat slowly; perhaps the woods being more tangled than those on the actual field.  In any case, accompanied by Lt. Col. Wolf of the King Rupert Jaegers as an Adjudicator (who himself had been present at the battle as a captain), they played no significant part in the exercise.  Their captain complained afterward that he had been much distracted by Wolf's incessant rehashing of how much better his men had performed in the actual battle.

Wilderen advance through the woods; column of casualties heads for the Gasthaus

After a spirited exchange of close range fire in the center, the S-B infantry charged the Wachovians.  Unfortunately for them, the Adjudicators ruled that the leftmost Wachovian company had time to fire, and when the smoke was permitted to clear to assess the situation, it was determined that the Wachovians would have won the resulting melee. 

Newly arrived Wachovian "Black Widow" battery
The cavalry melee cleared to reveal the Wiegenburgers.  (Note the artillery officers protesting to the adjudicator to the left of the guns)

While all of this was going on, on the Wachovian left flank the cavalry melee went on for some time, and the Adjudicators finally cleared it just as the Wiegenburgers came within short musket range of the guns.  In accordance with the agreed procedures, they ruled that the guns would be unable to fire effectively, and that a charge by the Wiegenburgers would undoubtedly have carried the battery had this been an actual fight.  This time it was the turn of the S-B officers on the scene to protest the ruling.

However, General von Stewart, having watched from atop a ruined tower to the left of the S-B position, now remounted his horse and ordered the buglers to sound the call marking the end of the exercise.  With his guns "captured", his cavalry still rallying, and over half his infantry assessed as casualties and already drinking at the barrels set up outside the gasthaus, Colonel Adelmann agreed that he would be compelled to withdraw to save the remnants of his force.  As the General looked on, approving of his sportsmanship, if not his tactical sense, he rode forward to congratulate Colonel Grabowski on his victory, ruefully considering the cost of beer for a thirsty brigade's worth of soldiers.
Colonel Adelmann congratulates Colonel Grabowski on his victory


  1. Nice figures ... and quite nice camera work ...
    and the protesting players!
    Perhaps a little parody here?

  2. Methinks they do protest overmuch . . . a clever piece, sir. I enjoyed it.

    -- Jeff

  3. Yes, very unique little adventure. love the figures. Well done. - Mike (St. Maurice)

  4. Our Beerstein observers were duly impressed! Dispatches strongly recommended changing our exercise program to incorporate your planning...

  5. Regarding the protests, we did just have an extensive experience with gamemastering. (-: I'll try to post a few player-level comments on this one later today.

  6. Very good post.

    We did something similar for a WW2 mini-campaign inspired by BoB. Each player ran a platoon and the battalion would fight together in skirmish battles with the umpire solo playing the Germans.

    Our first game was a training wargame with Lt Sobel from BoB as one of the umpires with his movements being made with random dice rolls (including one of those "arrow direction" movement dice). And any platoon he ran into had to move the *opposite* direction of how the player wanted to move them with Lt Sobel telling them where they *should* be going after consulting his map.

    BTW, I think it was Hungarians and Austrians (but it was definitely the Austrian SYW or WAS army), but on a similar training exercise the two opposed forces got into a real fight, including some shooting, and a few men were even killed!

  7. Hmmm my 1st comment made via smartphone seems to have gone astray in the ether, or suppressed...hmmm in any event,

    Congratulations on the successful manoeuvres. Good to know your troops will be more ready when next we meet :)

    When looking at the group of officers on their well trained prancing ponies, it occured to me that you have a very forward looking bunch of commanders.

  8. It would be nice to have a few more poses. Unfortunately I find the semiflats a little difficult to work with in that line; the Meisterzinn multipart figures and other full rounds are a lot easier.

  9. Delightful, nice selection of figures.

    -- Allan