Monday, 14 May 2018

Kolin 1757 - Start times are important

After reading one or two comments and private emails about my post on Friday, I've been reviewing my set up for the battle of Kolin. Although I will re-fight the battle on the terrain I have set up, from Pobortz Hill to Kutlire, I have decided to set up the battle from a different start point.

A shot showing all of the set up except for Puebla's command at Pobortz (out of picture to the lower right). Another command, in shot but out of sight behind Oak Wood, is that of Morocz. I have put the Saxon cavalry under the command of Gossnitz, who was present and later became a Lieutenant General.
On Friday I set the forces as they are generally mapped out, using Duffy's The Army of Frederick the Great, Simon Millar's Kolin 1757, and Kershner and Wood's scenario book Campaigns And Battles From the Age Of Reason. This was a mistake, but I don't think I've wasted any time by doing it. I now know, that if the game were to follow the historical narrative, the table distances match the footprints of my units and I have enough room to deploy everything.

For some reason, on Friday, when I worked out the number of units required, I double counted some of the Prussian cavalry and I gave them three more units than they should have had. I also partly miscounted the Austrians, largely for the same reason, and gave them an infantry unit and a cavalry unit too many. The new numbers actually work out rather nicely for the initial set up - to be sure, the Prussian left looks far less cramped.

Hulsen and Krosigk in position for their assault on Krezczor and Krzeczor Hill. The stands of Grenzers with the pink beads can be ignored for now - they need to be deployed by the Austrian players - but will used to represent snipers.
When I looked at the advice I received, and having read the accounts of the battle once more, I knew I must look again the scenario start time. In the particular case of Kolin, I think there are three plausible start times and here is a general run down of my thoughts on them: 

Option 1:
The first is to start before the Prussians begin marching down the Kaiserstrasse at dawn. This would make for an interesting battle but I'm not sure it would look anything like the Battle of Kolin as it was fought in 1757. I'll quickly pass on this option and move on.

Option 2:
The second time to start the battle is after Frederick's march down the Kaiserstrasse has gotten underway, but before the attack to outflank the Austrian right (by attacking the supposedly unoccupied Krzeczor and Krzeczor Hill) has begun. This would be sometime between 10.30 am and noon, when Frederick got his first real look at the Austrian position from the Novi Mesto Inn. From here, whilst his army rested on the Kaiserstrasse, he made his plan and issued his orders. 

This would be the ideal place to start the scenario. However, in 28mm the depth of field is too restrictive to include the Kaiserstrasse; the road would need to be off table making off table map movement a necessary requirement. I'm not a big fan of map moves linking in with table moves, so for me this approach would be a tricky proposition. If I had another table running parallel to the one I have, on which I could set up the Kaiserstrasse this start time would be my preferred option - a dream way to do Kolin - but I don't. I will pass on this option, sadly. Sometimes 15mm looks awfully attractive!
Looking from Bristwi to Pobortz Hill. I'm with Der Alte Fritz - every table needs a windmill!

Option 3:
The third time to start the scenario is at around 2.00 pm. and I think this one will work best for what I have in mind because it fits in well with the terrain as I have set it up and there is virtually no off table element to the set up and no map movement is required. 

At 2.00 pm, Hulsen's attack is about to be made on Krzeczor village. Frederick has become aware that the village is defended (by Grenzers) and he has seen the dust kicked up by Serbelloni's and Wied's columns making for Krzeczor hill beyond.

At this point, Frederick changed his plan. Frederick realised that Hulsen would have a fight on his hands and by the time he arrived on Krzeczor Hill it would no longer be unoccupied. To save the situation, the attack on Krzeczor hill using his embryonic 'oblique order' attack would need to be abandoned. A full scale frontal assault on Krzeczor Hill had to be made immediately, and before the Austrians could substantially reinforce the position. And historically, they wouldn't get there in time.

Frederick now ordered Tresckow not to follow Hulsen up directly, but to immediately come into line to his right and follow up as best he could. 

Bevern, in command of what should have been a refused  right wing, also formed line and advanced southward off the Kaiserstrasse. From here, he would be drawn into a premature attack on Chotzemitz and Przerovsky Hill by the incessant sniping of Grenzers from the tall crops to his front. 

Bevern's starting point having marched off the Kaiserstrasse. To his front lies Chotzemitz which swarms with Grenzers, and beyond that Przerovsky Hill. Here the Austrian front line is under the command of Andlau (Daun is also present here but not tagged). Behind Andlau, Starhemberg's units form the second line. Beyond Starhemberg, the rear half of Wieds command (historically under Sincere) is marching to Krzeczor Hill. On Krzeczor hill the first half of Wied's command is in the process of arriving under the watchful eye of Serbelloni.
Frederick's 'oblique order' was not yet perfected - the wheels had come off before the juggernaut had got out of the garage. Kolin, like the battle of Prague, was part of the learning curve. It taught Frederick that an oblique order attack should only be made if the initial manoeuvres could be made out of sight and, at Kolin, Field Marshal Daun (watching from the high ground) could see and counter every move Frederick made. 

Although the game begins before the Austrians have fully manned Krzeczor Hill, some troops have arrived. The usually tardy Serbelloni has arrived in force with his cavalry to join Wied's cavalry (which now form part of his command) and independent grenadiers occupying Oak Wood. 

The guns, having outpaced the infantry, are also in position. They are just coming into action. 

Wied and Sincere (who will be in Wied's command) are marching their infantry into positions to form the first infantry line on Krzeczor Hill

Starhemberg has yet to be ordered to form the second infantry line on Krzeczor Hill and starts the game as the second line on Przerovsky Hill. 

Another shot of the Austrian position at Przerovsky Hill and Krzeczor Hill. Oak Wood is guarded by a single unit of Grenadiers. Behind Oak Wood is Gossnitz's command of Saxon cavalry.
The race between the Prussian and Austrian infantry to reach Krzeczor Hill in force will be an interesting one. Anyone familiar with Piquet's lack of a fixed move sequence will know how tense these kind of affairs can be (because you never really know how often your troops will get to move, or when).

Only one command will start off table. This is a command of heavy cavalry under Pennavaire. This will arrive as off table reinforcements, east of Brzesau and within 24" of it, on a Stratagem sequence card.

So that's the set up. There is plenty going on, so it's not just a case of the Austrians sitting on the hills and defending. True, some decisions have been predetermined for the players by the scenario, but this means the battle will, initially at least, have the look and feel of Kolin. Where the players, cards and dice take the narrative later will only be known as the game progresses.

Next up, the order of battle, victory conditions and special scenario notes for the snipers and such.

1 comment:

Der Alte Fritz said...

I think that your changes are spot on and will produce an interesting game full of uncertainties. I'm looking forward to seeing how this plays out.