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
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.

Friday, December 15, 2017

Great Italian Wars Swiss Pike Block

Fielding a large pike block of 39 figures is a big undertaking.  An undertaking I do not tackle lightly.  Though once completed, I never regret the time spent.  The sight of a Renaissance pike block on the gaming table is a sight to behold.  Since these lads will see service as either Swiss or Italians, I need to figure out a suitable banner or two.  For now, they muster out bannerless.  
These 39 figures, distributed across three Impetvs-sized bases of thirteen figures each, are all Old Glory 28mm figures.  Having a number of Old Glory figures from this range, I continue to maintain that this is one of Old Glory's finest 28mm lines.  This block is a mix of armored and unarmored pikemen.  I know I make this claim for Old Glory's Spanish-American War range too.  Both ranges are excellent and continue to remain my favorites among Old Glory's massive diversity of figure lines.     
What is next for the project?  In the painting queue are a handful of Old Glory Swiss/Italian crossbowmen for a stand or two of 'T' classed missile troops.  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Switzerland: Berner Oberland and the Alps

Staubbach Waterfall in Lauterbrunnen at daybreak
Back to the occasional ramblings and travelogue from my May 2017 Switzerland adventure.  

After a two-day stay in Luzern (see Bourbaki Panorama, A Walk in Luzern, Mt Rigi), Nancy and I boarded a train and headed to the Berner Oberland with a destination of Lauterbrunnen.  On the journey, the train passed several bucolic Swiss towns.  The slight, intermittent drizzle added a sense of ambiance to the journey.  
With a brief train change in Interlaken, we headed south to the Lauterbrunnen Valley and our base for two nights.  The train change in Interlaken not only changed trains but train lines and rail gauge.  The rail line to Lauterbrunnen is along a narrow gauge rail run by a separate company.
Staubbach Hotel - Base Camp
Arriving in Lauterbrunnen, the sight of the town nestled in a deep and narrow gorge is breathtaking.  Adding to the spectacle is the sight of Staubbach Falls cascading from the cliffs above the town. 
Staubbach Falls
After checking into our room at the old Hotel Staubbach and quickly stowing our gear, we returned to the front desk to get a bus timetable to Stechelberg and the tram to the top of the cliff.  With a couple hours remaining before the tram closed for the night, we wanted to make a quick trip up to Gimmelwald just in case the next day's weather precluded a trip up the mountain.  
Lauterbrunnen Valley near Stechelberg
Taking the ride up the cliff in the cable car, the views of the valley below were stunning as seen in the photo below:
Lauterbrunnen Valley from tram to Gimmelwald
Once at the Gimmelwald tram station, we changed trams and took the next leg of the ride up to Murren.  Disembarking in a light snow and fog at Murren, we wandered around the small ski village before heading back down to Gimmelwald.
Nancy bundled up in the cold of Murren
While Murren is the fashionable ski village, Gimmelwald's fashion statement leans towards satisfying the cow culture.  The aroma of the two villages is distinctive.
A dairyman's collection of cowbells
A snowy and foggy Gimmelwald
Down off the mountain before the tram closed for the night, we found a restaurant to try a couple of Swiss staples. For me, I went for the raclette. Nancy chose Rosti. Both good meals. After a chilly walk back to the hotel, we discussed options for tomorrow. If weather was good, we planned an early trip back up the mountain taking the tram to the top of the Schilthorn from Murren.

The next morning was clear.  Anxious to get up onto the Schilthorn before the crowds, we arrived at the tram house in time to climb aboard the first cable car run of the day.  Joining us in that first carload were a few tourists but mostly staff and provisions.  
Sunny early morning in Lauterbrunnen
What a view we had as the cable car climbed off the valley floor!
View down the Lauterbrunnen Valley
We were treated to even more stunning views as the cable car climbed seemingly straight up to the top of the Schilthorn.  Magnificent!
First leg of the Murren to Schilthorn tram
Schilthorn Piz Gloria in distance
When we arrived at the top of the Schilthorn at nearly 10,000 feet, workers at the summit building were busily removing snow from the observation deck due to a heavy overnight snowfall.  The workmen were not pleased with early morning tourists wanting to walk about the observation deck before their task was completed!
Summit building
While we waited for the snow clearing to finish, we took a window seat in the revolving Piz Gloria restaurant for some hot chocolate.  As we sipped the chocolate, we enjoyed a 360 degree view of the Alps without moving from our seats.

For James Bond movie aficionados, the 1969 movie, In Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed at this mountaintop.  The restaurant and building are filled with Bond movie memorabilia.  This theme extended even into the men's restroom.
"Shake, don't Stir!"
Once outside on the observation deck, Nancy called to me to line myself up at one end of an open-ended tube and snap a photo of her.  What did she have in mind?  I did not know until I stepped up to the other end of the open tube with a line of sight to the Eiger and Monch.  I was greeted by the following sight.  Yes, a star is born.  A Bond Girl, for sure.  Queue the music.
My Bond Girl
With sunny skies, the three mountain peaks of Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau are all clearly identifiable in their majestic beauty.
Eiger, Monch, and Jungfrau
After another forty-five minutes taking in the sights, we climbed aboard a cable car and headed back to the valley floor, some 7,000 feet below.
Tram line to Murren with Eiger and Monch in background
Back at the hotel just in time to pick over the last of the breakfast buffet, we quickly made preparations to take the train to Interlaken.  Interlaken was to be the embarkation point for a cruise of Lake Thun.  The Thun Lake and castle cruise is an adventure left for another time.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...