Friday, August 29, 2008

The Battle of Althirschburg

The Luftberg army deployed in linear style, on a ridgeline a short distance from the main road, with open plains in front of it. It was now bolstered by additional allied forces - a brigade of Beerstein Infantry; the General Reich Graf James Louis von Beerstein; and the artillerist Major Ungaurn of the Duchy of Frankszonia. A further brigade of Cavalry under Gen Ludwig third Baron of Brewski was not present on the field, but kept as a strategic reserve to ensure that if defeat was the outcome, the bridgehead over the Rhine would not be lost to a rapid Aschenbach advance.

The Aschenbach army, fresh from it’s victory at Flussburg, attacked in classic ‘Frederickian’ style – it partially orbited the Luftberg position, screening it’s movements behind a large forest, before emerging from the trees to roll up the Luftberg line.
The approach map (with battlefield grid pencilled on!)
The Aschenbach army rolls out of the woods and deploys
At least, this was the intention. As soon as the bluecoat columns emerged from the tree-line, it became clear that their weakened cavalry could not protect both flanks. Gathered into a single attacking ‘fist’ under General von Kleintrink, it had wound up on the trailing right flank of the Aschenbach army rather than it’s leading left. This error in deployment caused terrible problems which were not anticipated on the approach!

Faced with the Luftberg right wing cavalry under General La Spezia (which included the dreaded Schrodinger Cuirassiers KR2), the Aschenbach infantry couldn’t risk being charged down in column and had to deploy early into line, which cut the speed of their advance and permitted the Luftberg army time to rush northwards to form a new line.

Luftberg troops march rapidly to new positions

Von Grumble’s IR3 had to turn to refuse the Aschenbach left and withstood several charges to it’s front and flank. Schrodinger’s Cuirassiers were mauled by the musketry and repeated repulses, but von Grumble was now unable to attack the Luftberg flank as originally intended, reduced to a battered and immobile mass.
Von Grumble faces off on the Aschenbach flank

Unable to press along a narrow front on the flank, the new Luftberg and Aschenbach lines rushed to deploy against each other in the open plain before the hills, which meant the battle resembled a ‘meeting engagement’ where each side’s plan had failed – Luftberg had lost it’s solid defensive position, while the Aschenbach attack had sprawled out into a longer line than intended.

The forces close on each other

General von Kleintrink was certainly not inactive, rushing forward to try and slow the Luftberg response to the attack. He was forced to confront the Luftberg cavalry on their left wing first however, and each side launched several charges and counter-charges. Von Kleintrink was seemingly a man possessed, throwing safety to the wind over and over again to inspire his troopers on. Finally it paid off, and he led Von Schnitzel’s Cuirassiers (C1) as they repelled several attacks from the enemy horse before launching a furious charge that swept away both the Cuirassiers and Dragoons of Haas & Krauss’ regiments. While he was reforming his command however, the Luftberg heir Conrad von Hentsch had turned his adjacent infantry regiment of Negrelli (IR4) to face the horsemen, and they poured a destructive fire into the flank of the recently triumphant Cuirassiers.

Kleintrink's first approach to combat

After the charge, with the blown horsemen being hit in the flank by Negrelli (visible in the background)

The main infantry lines now closed on each other, and although the Luftberg line was stretched thin with no reserves, the delayed progress of the Aschenbach flanks allowed them to adopt a slightly concave line and concentrate fire on the approaching bluecoats. The Major Ungaurn proved his skills as the advancing IR6 von Rechnung found itself being battered by cannon-fire of unerring accuracy. Perhaps they’d simply given too much in the preceding battle at Flussburg, but their attack lacked the fire of before as Ungaurn’s guns and O’Brien’s (IR3) spirited charge battered them down to a stand-off.

The main infantry battle (Major Ungaurn in the front foreground)

More critical was the advance of the Hirschburger grenadiers on Von Rechnung’s flank. The regiment bore down on the opposing Beerstein regiment, and the Elector von Luftberg had a moment’s panic about how they would resist this assault. In the event however, the Hirschburger advance was undermined by the Aschenbach fusiliers on their flank – unexpectedly charged by Radetzky’s IR1and unwisely allowing the Regent von Krumper to interfere with his advice [ie, they used his command dice to reroll a so-so combat dice, only to get a disastrous reroll], they were disastrously scattered. The Hirschburgers were battered by artillery on their slow approach, had concentrated fire from the flanks as Radetzky angled inwards, plus the Beerstein infantry blazed away to their front. Although the doughty grenadiers still pushed to close combat with the Beersteiners, they were too weakened to break through and finally collapsed in the face of canister fire from the Luftberg guns.

The Beersteiners have their moment of crisis

The Aschenbach advance was winding down and collapsing, with no prospect of the desired breakthrough and many regiments reduced to battered remnants. As the Grenadiers were lost, Von Rechnung’s IR6 found itself in danger of a double envelopment and fell back.

The last furious effort came from (who else?) General Von Kleintrink, who threw his reserve of hussars at the infantry of Negrelli for some revenge on the regiment that had so mauled his horsemen. Leading Negrelli’s men in the fight was Conrad von Hentsch himself, who was in the thick of the fighting. The hussars charged and were scattered, with von Kleintrink once more proving himself indestructible. Such good fortune did not accompany von Hentsch however, who became a casualty as a bullet from some Hussar’s carbine found him in the middle of the fray.

"Victory, thy caress is bittersweet... I mean, I think I'm dying - get a doctor!"


Capt Bill said...

Very nice battle report as usual! Enjoyed the pictured and hearing of the success of the Beerstein Brigade. Reich Duke Wilhelm was concerned they might not arrive in time for the battle. Few things compare to see blue coats on the run! Congratulations on a fine victory...Wilhelm

Fitz-Badger said...

Enjoyable battle report and pictures!

Capt Bill said...

As a result of the Battle of Althirschburg do you have any general who would quality for induction into the Order of the Golden Crown "Awarded to Generals for victory, gallantry, and heroic daring do on the field of battle".
Best regards...Wilhelm

CWT said...

Hi Bill. Hmm, I suppose the only real candidate would be the Elector Ulrich von Luftberg - commander of the army, victor at Vogelhof & Althirschburg. Thanks very much! A proper ceremony and acknowledgement will take place shortly at the campaign conclusion,


Oldpaw said...

I am enjoying these accounts of your campaign. I really like the idea of pre-battle maneuver on maps. It really seems to set up a far more interesting battle scenario as opposed to just lining up the troops and charging forward.