Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Ulrichstein Campaign resumes...

As the first day of March, 1739, dawned fine and clear, both sides of the conflict - Rebels and Imperialists, together with their respective allies, at once lurched into motion.  For the Rebels, camped about Zerbst - the only town in their possession - the situation was fraught with danger.  An Electoral Corps was established to the east at Seehausen on the Elbow River.  Their numbers were established as not much larger than the Rechburg Allied contingent, but it could not be ignored.  More worrying was the presence to the south of the Imperialists in much larger numbers.  Baron Glockenspiel stood at Bernburg with the army to had been victorious the previous year, and the redoubtable Archduke Piccolo, further off at Ulrichsburg, would no doubt be joining his colleague very shortly.

The dilemma that faced Marshal Antoine Noailles, the Rebel army commander, was not easy to resolve.  His numbers overall were fewer than the Imperialists', and the quality of his rebel troops was inferior into the bargain. The alliance of Rechburg regulars did not fully compensate for these disadvantages. But he did have one edge: the central position.  He could strike at the enemy separated.  Clearly it would be folly to leave one road unguarded whilst marching towards one enemy column; yet it were equally foolish to split his forces evenly.  He had to mass against the one and leave a holding force to face the other.
Cavalry clash at Dichtwald on the Bernburg-Zerbst road.  Imperialist
Dragoons and Hussars in the foreground.
Ideally, if he could strike at Glockenspiel before the Archduke joined him, he could then turn upon Plodt's corps, drive that back, and try conclusions finally against the Imperialists combined.   But it was more than likely Glockenspiel would refuse action until Piccolo joined him.  Reluctantly, Noailles shelved that scheme.  That left an immediate strike at the Electoral corps.  For this he would take his entire Rebel Army, and leave the small Rechburg contingent to delay the Imperialists for the few days required to smash Plodt's force and retrace his steps betimes.  At the Council of War in the last days of February, Marshal Noailles had thrashed out his scheme, argued down the dissenters, and found a ready ally in Count Raunchfester.

Rechburg Heavies: Klutzenputz Cavalry.  First Squadron
Schaggenstein Uhlans covers their left; 2nd Squadron lurks
behind Dichtwald to strike in flank any Inperialist horse who
make it past the Heavies.

The leading squadrons charge and countercharge.
Meanwhile, the Archduke sent to Glockenspiel to advance without waiting for him, and endeavour if he could to develop the strength and intentions of the rebels.  True, much had been learned from Catholic sympathisers in Zerbst, just as he had no doubt that the rebels knew much about his own forces from Protestant sympathisers in the south.  He had been in occasional touch with General Plodt over the last weeks, but that independent commander seemed to have his own agenda - or that of his Master the Elector. Fortunately, that inscrutable commander seemed keen to advance upon Zerbst and bring a speedy end to the rebellion.  For his own part, knowing that Glockenspiel's Horse comprised lights and mediums, Piccolo send on ahead one of his three Heavy regiments, the 21st Trautmannsdorf Cuirassiers, whilst his own corps set off after it.
On his own initiative, Glockenspiel at once marched forth.  So from the first day of March, the whole north of Ulrichstein was astir with marching armies.
Rechburg Horse get much the better
of the first clash: 8 'hits' to 1
Eight 'hits' become 6 Imperialist casualties;
Rechburg loses 1 Uhlan
The first clash occurred upon the morning of the third, as the respective cavalry contingents made contact.  Feeling he could afford the risks involved, Glockenspiel ordered his horse to drive in the enemy picquets, grand guards and squadrons right back onto the main body.  It soon became clear that he had to deal with Rechburg regulars.  The Imperialists had the numbers; the Rechburgers the weight.  In charge and countercharge the lighter Imperialist horse could make no headway, and were heavily mauled in the attempt.  Though one Rechburg squadron fled, and the Imperialists drew off in surprisingly good order, the effort had been a failure, at a cost of more than double Rechburg losses.
The Imperialist 2nd Squadrons
 counter-charge the now disordered
 Rechburg 1st Squadrons.
They score 8 hits to 6,
But this translates to 4 Rechburg
 casualties to 5 Imperialist. 

Imperialist troops fall back.
 One Uhlan squadron
 can beseen fleeing in the distance,
but the rest of the Rechburg
horse are standing fast.
Sharp though the rebuff was, Glockenspiel bore it with his usual sangfroid.  To gain something, he had risked little enough.  During the evening of the following day, the Cuirassiers despatched by Piccolo joined Glockenspiel's corps, and the advance resumed the next morning.  It was not long before the Rechburg commander revealed his hand.  As the Imperialist columns approached the small sinuous stream, Schlangewasser, they could see beyond the blue coats of Gimmeitor-Oels regiment drawn up across the road.
Fourth March:  the Imperialists find the Rechburgers
astride the road...

Meanwhile, from far to the east, came the faint rumblings of a cannonade.  It seemed that Marshal Noailles had run into the Electoral corps as well...

To be continued...


  1. "so it begins" my converns are so for the inperials... is the elector about to chnage sides. if so perhaps those cannonades are not the nice sound they seem.

    anyway battle is at hand to arms, raise the banners and beat the drums. forwards men to the foe we march!

    sorry got carried away. great story. I am still planning for Oronegro, I have ordered infantry but I still need foes, I will sort that out soon though I think.

    1. These things take a while, but that's part of the fun. While you're waiting for the figures - and there it's best to start small in numbers to get the full benefit of horse, foot and guns - you can have fun designing your world and the people within it.

    2. thanks oh BTW take a look at the Oronegro blog, I have already got some early history done, you may like to take a look :-D

  2. The sound of distant cannon, music to my ears. Campaign season is well underway. Good stuff Archduke

    1. Marching to the sound of the guns... Thanks, Chef.

  3. Can Noailles divide and conquer? Will be interesting to see.

    1. The jury is still out. But the rebellion is doing well so far...

  4. Geez, Ion, I don't know who to root for. I want the Archduke to be victorious, of course, but I am basically a rebel at heart...

    I probably missed it (or forgot -- brain like a sieve); what tabletop rules are you using?

    Thanks and regards,

    1. Own rules. But as a result of just two actions so far this campaigning season (the second yet to be reported upon), I have some thinking to do. I'm especially concerned about how to handle cavalry actions. I know the sort of thing I want; it's the making it work properly is the trick.

      Of course, the Archduke is meant to be something of an Imperialist hero, but I have to admit a sneaking desire to see the rebellion overcome the odds...


  5. Good to see it its of to a flying start Ion, wonder why I am rooting for theose rebels and their allies.

    A damned good read


    1. Of course, without the Rechburg allies, the rebellion would have died already. I think you will enjoy the account of the Battle of Schlangewasser...

      When I write it up...

      Thanks for an enjoyable wargames evening, Barry. Paul and I both are having fun with this combat at Hister. It makes a change to be an anti-Imperialist, at that!

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