Thursday, February 3, 2011

Protzdorf - The Bloody Field Pt. 1

Note: This wargame seems to have attracted a lot of commentary on blogs and other websites.  A testament to the excitement and enjoyment created.  Here I humbly add a view from the trenches.  Click the images to enlarge them.

"My dear Colonel Feyador, this simply won't do!" said General Arkady Grigorovich Ouromov.  "As my engineering officer I would expect you to have accurate information.  This so-called Great Redoubt is only pretty good at best."  Colonel Feyador dug deep, pulled himself to his full height and responded: "My General, we knew that the redoubt was a legacy from wars 100 years ago, but apparently the peasants have been removing soil and timbers over the generations for their own use.  We can repair and strengthen it over the next two days by..."  "Enough!" shouted General Ourovmov.  "We don't have two days or even a day.  That Teutonic martinet Frederick will be here shortly with no doubt the cream of his army.  We shall have to make do with what we have; and pray."
General Ouromov and staff
The field of battle was more than any general would want to defend.  The central arena had the huge and weakened redoubt thrusting far forward with open ground on either side.  The left flank had a wooded ridge line, too steep to traverse except in special places with open ground farther to the left and a road that ominously lead to the rear areas of the army.  A column of light cavalry could quickly race down it and raise havoc in the Russo-Austrian rear. 
Russian left looking towards the center. -- Photo by Brent Olson
The right was cut by a nearly frozen river and woods line which cut line of sight.  If all things had been equal, General Ouromov would have preferred to ignore it, using the river, woods and bridge to channel the Prussians into a killing zone.  But he felt strangely compelled to contest every bit of ground, even if it was just Silesian.
The Russian/Allied right.  Austrians in the foreground, river, bridge and Russians beyond.
As it stood, from left to right the Observation Corps took up positions to fight for the left with the idea of putting the newly raised Pandour battalion along the ridge in the woods to enfilade and discomfort Prussians attacking the left face of the redoubt.  The line brigade, reinforced to five battalions and with two 12pdrs., one 6 pdr. and two battalion guns would hold the redoubt.  The Austrian contingent of two line and one grenadier battalion occupied the open ground on the right face of the redoubt.  Seven squadrons of cuirassiers, four dragoon and four of chevau-legers (elite) took up a central position.  On the right beyond the river was one over strength battalion, three guns and two squadrons each of horse grenadiers and dragoons.
Defense of the "pretty good" redoubt.  Photo by Brent Olson
 The (faulty) belief was that the Prussians would mass their cavalry on one wing, probably our right, and attempt a double envelopment while masking and occupying the attention of the redoubt.  We were sadly wrong and were completely out-foxed by the wily old Frederick.  As the Prussian automatons deployed and began to advance, strong in infantry on both wings and in the center Austrian General (Brent) Olson-Eevabeech asked, "Where are they weak?".  The answer was, nowhere. 

A quick count showed three battalions facing the left with a squadron of Bosniaks, eight battalions in the center, and another four facing the weak right.  While numbers are in question and always subject to inflation by excited aides, these were recorded.  Similarly the Prussians appeared to have two hussar, five dragoon and thirteen cuirassier squadrons arrayed behind the center.  As he looked at his deployment vs. that of Frederick, General Ouromov sighed and knew that the moniker "the Great" was merited.  As some cavalier would say in the future, "The wine had been drawn and must be drunk."


The sides had barely begun to march and death to fly that Ouromov turned to his Aides de Camp: "Captain Borzov, ride with all speed to General Gogol and tell him to suspend his attack with the Observation Corps.  He is to begin to shift forces to the center.  Captain Morzeny, you will tell our gallant comrades on the right that God and country will remember their sacrifice.  Buy us time!  Now go!"  
The Prussians close on all sides as a column of grenadiers hits the point of the redoubt.  Photo by Brent Olson
In an era of linear warfare it took a moment to realize that the grenadiers weren't going to deploy.  "My God they are coming on!  Get the gunners away, alert the Vilnius Grenadiers to prepare to march and let us hope the line stands."  And stand they did through three harrowing rounds of melee.  General Beck-owski is commended for the remarkable fortitude of his lads and excellent dice rolling.  With no decisive result at the end of the long melee both sides recoiled back.  Using a column to assault works is a perfectly legitimate option, we were the victim of habit.

Meanwhile, on the right things were going from bad to worse.  First the lone battalion and four squadrons defending had to contend with this daunting sight.
Grenadiers, fusiliers, musketeers and Jaegers roll forward.
But as they closed the Russian cannons, which hoped to reap a grim price were less than successful.  A desperate situation creates desperate acts leading to cavalry charging earlier than we would prefer.
The horse grenadiers and dragoons launch a desperate attack with some success.
Even with the momentary success enjoyed by the cavalry, things could only have one possible result on our right given the variables.  The cards were particularly unkind and the handsome infantry suffered horribly.
A magnificent battalion stoically awaits it's fate.  Photo by Brent Olson
Meanwhile, on the left the redeployment was underway.  The Pandours took up position to give a galling fire onto the flank of the advancing Prussians while other units began to traverse the slippery slope to join the fight in the center.  Note the open column of divisions per the rules, allowing the battalion to wheel left by stand and quickly reform the line.
In the center things heated up very quickly on the left flank of the redoubt.  Cavalry charged and struck the first line of Prussians in the flank.  More prepared to join in the melee should it continue.
Somehow we failed to rout the Prussian infantry and were in turn routed by the superior Prussian hussars which pursued to the back table dispersing their victims.  They in turn were wiped out by more dragoons.  Leading to the following excited exchange: "General Ouromov, we've destroyed the hussars and captured a Prussian brigadier!"  "Do you know his name" inquired Ouromov.  "A rather cheeky fellow who seems to believe that his capture will be short-lived.  Von Zieten or something like that." 

We will find out about von Zieten's status in Part II, soon to follow.  Thanks for looking.


  1. Excellent report and images. I particularly liked image #6 from the top showing the Prussian advance on your right flank. (their left flank).
    Thank you to you and Brent for the photos!

  2. Thanks for posting, Michael
    I really like reading from the vantage point of General Ouromov. I await the next segment. These games are as much fum to look back at as to play!
    Bohemund (Brent)

  3. A rousing engagement to be sure! Thanks...

  4. Very nice battle report. It is always good to read the point of view of the opposing side.