Wednesday, 11 June 2008
Gross Jagersdorf 1757
Following Frederick’s victory at Prague the Russians, though not entirely ready for war, were forced to come to the aid of their Austrian allies. At the end of May 1757 the Russian army, of 75,000 men under Stepan Fedorovich Apraksin, began its long march westwards in several columns towards its strategic objective, the reduction of East Prussia. The Russian army, suffering terrible confusion and disorder, found the march arduous; it lost 11,000 men before it even reached the border.
East Prussia, held by a Prussian force of only 32,000 men and militia under the command Field-Marshal Hans von Lehwaldt, was an obvious target for the Russians. It was isolated by the ‘Polish corridor’ from the rest of Prussia, and far removed from Frederick’s chief areas of operations further south. It was also a well organised and prosperous province: It was an ideal jumping off point for future operations further to the west. Like a peach at the end of a low trailing branch, it was ripe for plucking.
The Russian army, now 55, 000 men strong, concentrated at Kovno. From here it proceeded northwards in a single thrust against the provincial capital Kőnigsburg. On 29th of August, the army, tired out and suffering from a lack of supply, and following disagreement among its officers as to what to do next, marched back to its previous night’s camp just south of the Pregel to rest. At four in the morning the army rose once more and began its march around the east flank of the Norkitten woods. As was usual the army was in disarray and its order of march would take some time to organise and sort itself out.
Such was the Russian position when Lehwaldt’s army of just 24,700 men appeared on the scene. Well fed, rested, drilled and exercised, this army, half the strength of the enemy, launched itself against its enemy in a disciplined all out attack in true Frederickian style.
This action has been scaled down to approximately half size.
Gross Jagersdorf is a difficult battle to stage accurately unless you have a L shaped table or fight the battle as two actions. I do not have access to the former, or wish to do the latter. Fortunately, because of the rules I use, Piquet, and the presence of the stream, I can squash the action into the space available by declaring the stream a type IV obstacle. Type IV terrain requires a Move in Difficult Terrain card and successful tests to cross. This splits the action into two distinct areas.
Outnumbered two to one, the Prussians have little chance of victory, and consequently Gross Jagersdorf can lack something as a game. But again, because of the rule mechanics, the game can be artificially balanced. Firstly, Apraksin should be classed as abysmal and have two Command Indecision cards added to his deck, this simulates the confusion of the army as a whole. Secondly, although Lehwaldt cannot justifiably be classed as above average, the fact that he has the element of surprise can be modelled by adding three Brilliant Leader cards to the Prussian deck. At the end of each turn one Brilliant Leader card should be removed – as the element of surprise is lost.
Considering the imbalance of the game, the Prussians win the game if they can destroy or rout more units than they similarly lose, regardless of possession of the field. Doing this will, as happened historically, deflect Apraksin from his strategic goal.
1,4,5 Line infantry
2 Horse Grenadiers
1,2,3,4,5 Line Infantry
4,5 Line Infantry
4,5 Line Infantry
3,4,5 Line Infantry
2,3 Line infantry