Friday, 2 May 2008
A War of Austrian Succession Scenario. The Battle of Chotusitz
THE CHOTUSITZ CAMPAIGN
The Prussian army under Frederick the Great spent the winter of 1741/42 in Moravia; plundering it into a wilderness. Suffering constant harassment by Moravian guerrillas and Austrian regular light troops, Frederick was eventually forced to evacuate into Bohemia, and move to support his French and Bavarian allies operating around Prague.
Meanwhile, the Austrians stripped their Bohemian garrisons to form an army with which to resolutely attack and destroy the Prussians. Unfortunately the Austrians chose the politically favoured Prince Charles of Lorraine to command the army; an appointment that would hinder that ambition.
With the Austrians marching behind him, Frederic decided to concentrate a Chudrum 70 miles east of Prague. Here he mistakenly assumed that the Austrians would not seek a battle and instead march to relieve Prague. To prevent this, he decided to take one third of his army and block the main road to Prague. He ordered his second in command Crown Prince Leopold to follow with the bulk of the army next day.
Frederick had played into the Austrian's hands. Prince Charles now found himself between two outnumbered Prussian forces with the opportunity to defeat them in detail. For one crucial day the Prince hesitated. This gave Leopold time to hasten towards Frederick, who realising his mistake, about turned and marched back in frantic effort to reunite his army.
The Prussians managed to concentrate at Chotusitz just as the Austrians came into sight. Prince Charles had missed his chance, but he pressed his attack regardless.
INITIAL DISPOSITIONS AND SCALES
The deployment map shows the battle as set up for my own 25mm figures on a 10’ x 6’ table where a typical 4 stand unit has a frontage of 16cm.
Each unit represents approximately 2 cavalry regiments or 4 infantry battalions. Consequently the troop ratios are slightly out, especially with regards to the cavalry formations of either side.
Although most troops have been positioned as they were at dawn, some flexibility has been used to help the scenario flow more easily. This is especially true of the main Prussian infantry command (Command D) which if deployed historically would still be in the process of taking up its formation. To balance this it is deployed somewhat further back.
Command A: 3 units. A Dragoon, B Cuirassier, C Hussar. (Representing: 3 Cuirassier and 2 Dragoon regiments and 1 large regiment of Hussars.)
Command B: 3 units. D, E Line infantry, F Heavy artillery. (Representing: Leopold’s 9 Line infantry battalions and a battery of guns.)
Command C: 3 units. G, H Cuirassier, I Dragoons. (Representing: Buddenbrock’s 4 Cuirassier and 2 Dragoon regiments.)
Command D: 7 units. K, L, N, O, P Line infantry, J, M Grenadier. (Representing: Frederick’s 5 Grenadier and 18 Line infantry battalions.)
Command A: 3 units. 1 Grenzer, 2 Cuirassier, 3 Dragoon. (Representing: 2 Cuirassier and 2 Dragoon regiments plus Grenzer.
Command B: 8 units. 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 Line infantry, 16 Howitzers (Representing: 13 infantry regiments and artillery.)
Command C: 5 units. 11 Hussar, 12, 15 Cuirassier, 13 Grenzer, 14 Dragoon. (Representing: 1 hussar, 3 dragoon and 4 Cuirassier regiments plus Grenzer.)
NOTES ON TERRAIN
Although Duffy’s map shows contours, having viewed the ground I can assure all that, this battlefield is dead flat. It is so flat that they built a military air base on it. Only at the Brslenka Stream does the ground slope downwards to any degree which is probably why this area was quite boggy. Cirkwitz Pond is much smaller today than then, but it is still an impassable lake surrounded by trees.
SPECIAL RULE FOR CHOTUSITZ VILLAGE
During the battle the village of Chotusitz was fired, possibly by Austrian Grenz troops or howitzer fire. The resultant smoke caused all kinds of problems. To simulate this each player has a Special Event card in his deck. When the card is turned the player has the option to make a fire test on one village section. The test is made by rolling one die and on any odd result the section catches fire. Any occupants of a fired section must immediately evacuate it. Fired village sections produce smoke that drifts 12” inches down wind. Any troops in this smoke are ‘out of command’.
THE HISTORICAL BATTLE
The battle opened with the Prussian cavalry attacking the Austrian cavalry on both wings. On the left they eventually routed their Austrian counterparts but galloped off in pursuit. On the right initial success turned to rout when the reserve lines of Austrian cavalry counter attacked. By 09.30 the cavalry action had ended.
Meanwhile, the Austrian and Prussian infantry had become engaged around Chotusitz. Initially the Austrians were successful. Chotusitz caught fire, and the Prussian infantry under Leopold was forced to withdraw shaken and disorganised. The fire then came to the aid of the Prussians. The Austrian infantry became lost and confused in the smoke.
The bulk of the Prussian infantry under Frederick's personal command had hither to remained unengaged. Frederic now ordered them to advance and wheel onto the exposed flank of the Austrian line. Prince Charles, belatedly realising that his chance had been lost, ordered his army to withdraw.
The battle will be fought on Wednesday 6th May 2008. A battle report will follow.