My biggest mental block has always been this detailed map
|I have added the three red stars marked A, B, C (see below)|
When I first saw this map I visualised a flat marshy bottomed valley running north to south with ground rising steeply to either side and a long narrow topped, tree sided spur extending from Russian position towards Kay, south of which was a broad flat bottomed valley running east to west. The Russian hill has a saddle with two 'knolls', a small one to the south and a much larger one just to the north east of Paltzig: It all made perfect sense but looked increasingly difficult to do.
In wargames terms, the whole battlefield is two big hills facing each other over a narrow valley with an area of low ground at its southern end. As we all know, hills this extensive are always difficult (even when using a cloth over formers of one kind or another) to do, especially on a big table. I thought I could do this one without raising the drop leaf extension on my table, a straight 12 x 6, if I miss off the extreme northern sector (north of the northern knoll) and skew the table's long axis to north north east to allow deeper deployment room at the southern end - all providing, of course, that I could do the hills and they have always been the sticking point.
Then, this week, I took to google earth. The area is still largely unspoilt by human developments but the area is now more heavily wooded. As I dragged the mouse over the map I kept checking the elevation. For sure, there is high ground here. The large northern knoll, for example, is 22m (about 70 feet) above the height of the open water north of 'B' which stands at 70m above sea level (my mouse was on that stretch of water when I screen saved this shot). But this aerial shot of the ground doesn't look that hilly, does it? The resemblance of the map to the shot, for the position of stuff, is excellent but where is that steep sided spur? Where are the steeply rising hillsides?
Down to street view. There are two useful roads here. The first traverses the route between Kay and Paltzig, the second less useful one snakes out of Kay and goes up the northern side of the southern valley bottom (it's wooded for most of the useful length and without good views northwards. Presumably these woods follow the southern slopes of the spur.) I have chosen three points along the Kay Paltzig road, A, B, C to show just how un-ruggedly hilly this terrain is. I would have chosen other points off road, given a choice of anywhere, but street view has to suffice and I think it a very valued commodity much underused by gamers.
So starting at A. On the road just outside of Paltzig there is a nice treeless spot to look from. First looking south, this track must roughly follow the Russian second line in front of Paltzig just before it angles back. I believe the trees to the left might be the start of the small knoll. However you look at it, the knoll isn't an obvious feature.
Looking roughly NE from 'A' the ground has a definite cant to it but it doesn't look like the large very prominent feature on the map. It would however, given the height and shallowness of the slope, be an ideal position for artillery giving good LOS and allow for round shot grazing fire.
From 'A' looking towards 'B'. This shot is useful because it shows that any trees in the valley would block line of sight to the opposite slope. There were no trees here in 1759, but there were farther south where the Prussians attacked. The height of the 'hills', north to south, is roughly the same along their length so this is important.
The open water at point 'B'. I think we can safely call this impassible terrain.
At point 'B' looking towards Paltzig. The road is slightly raised but the water level (through the trees on the right) shows by how little. This is not a steep sided valley; I can't find any sudden drops in elevation.
At point 'C' looking due north towards the Prussian batteries. The tree line marks the summit of the Prussian side of the valley. It is over 95 meters at its northernmost end, where the guns were.
Two final shots from Google Earth. The first is the church at Paltzig. It was built in 1735.
Secondly, the Water Mill at Kay. This might not be contemporary, but the brick arched windows are a feature of 18th century industrial buildings. If it was there, the Prussians filed past it before forming up to attack. I'm pretty sure the smaller building is later.
So where does that leave me. Well it leaves me pondering what to do about modelling the high ground. The high ground is there, but it doesn't quite have the robust look of the contour map. I have two choices.
1. Have three large two contour knolls (two on the Russian side and one on the Prussian side) for the combatants to put there artillery on, because these were the key topographical features, and represent the rest of the hills with few smaller one contour elevations. The knolls would count as high ground, the other elevations would be merely representative of generally insignificant higher ground.
2. Ignore the evidence of Google Earth and go for terrain that feels more like the map. I have plenty of blue insulation board sitting idle and I could do some simple 45 degree slope 2" contours to represent the hills (including the spur) either side of the stream then use my hill stock for the knolls.
I know, let's have a poll. We have not done one of them for a while. It's in the side bar, at the top.
I love Google Earth, and street view is fabulous for taking a look at at stuff you can't just pop out and see. Have a look and wander at Zorndorf 52 39 27.44 N 14 40 32.88 E. Next time I visit a battlefield I'm going to take notes of the photos I take and I'll try to attach them (if possible).