Saturday, January 26, 2013

Battle of Zerbst 3. Afternoon.

General view of Imperialist line
Looking west from the east flank.
Continuing the Archduke Piccolo's report to the Emperor of the Battle of Zerbst, 13 March, 1739.

 The morning action having failed to achieve the destruction of the Rebel left flank, I drew in what remained of our Horse, and regrouped the whole Army to face the retaliation I hoped the enemy would attempt.  If it took several hours to complete my preparations, he too was finding the undertaking required lengthy regrouping from the defensive stance he had adopted at the outset.  Palffy Infantry was marched to the right flank to form a front behind which the Cavalry could retire and reform.  The 1st Artillery Company was withdrawn from the hill upon which it stood and was to redeploy in the centre of Palffy Regiment, forming 

The Rebel left flank
also looking westward
a formidable line should the enemy seek to attack it. The open flank to the east was to be covered by the Cavalry.  Meanwhile, Hildburghausen infantry took over the position evacuated by the artillery.

Soon, masses of enemy cavalry began approaching Palffy's position.  Dense columns - or successive lines - of infantry looked set also to attempt the rising ground where now stood Hildburghausen immediately behind the crest.

By now our preparations were about complete.  Second artillery were in the process of deploying on the flanks of the defile between Hildburghausen's hill and the Jagers' dense woodland.  Behind them stood the Baden-Durlach Infantry, with a detachment of Alt-Colloredo forming upon its left, with its own left flank thrown forward.

Whilst Palffy Infantry and a battery form a line,
Imperialist cavalry rally to their right rear.
 On the left Arenburg and a detached company of Alt-Colloredo formed a re-entrant awaiting an attack by what appeared to be a full Brigade of Rebel infantry, supported by jagers and Heavy Horse.  On this flank, however, the enemy declined to try conclusions, whilst the action developed on the other flank.
General view of the eastern end of the battlefield
( Unfortunately, once again, picture taking got forgotten as a brisk action developed on the right flank, and it all happened between this and the next picture.)

The action on the right opened with a quick attack by the 1st Ulrichstein Cavalry.  But by this time the artillery detailed to support the infantry had arrived betimes and were already waiting for this moment.  The Palffy Infantry gallantly held their volleys to the last moment, the enemy horse were seared with canister at point blank range, and the whole attack collapsed before they could make contact.  In short the enemy cavalry were served out in the same manner as our own Trautmannsdorf Cavalry had been earlier in the day.

The end of the rebel attacks.  The assault by 1st Heavy
Cavalry against Palffy Regiment was seen off by gunfire and musketry.
The infantry assault on the hill met at short range by Hildburghausen infantry.
 Shortly afterwards, the enemy 5th Battalion, supported by a regiment supplied by the Herzog von Rechburg, began mounting the hill to assault Hildburghausen Infantry.  That gallant corps once again lived up to its reputation for hard fighting.  Advancing to the crest, they delivered into the faces of the enemy such a blistering series of volleys that scarce a third remained with the colours at the end of the half hour.  True, Hildburghausen lost some 80 men out of the line, many due to the fire of the Rechburg supporting infantry, but it is estimated 5th Bn lost three times as many, and the Rechburgers did not come off unscathed, neither.
The Imperialists on the left await a Rebel attack that never comes...
 That decided the action, right there: not so much the decisive victory we felt entitled to expect early in the morning, but far less than the crippling of of one of the pincers closing upon his army that Marshal Noailles must have been counting upon.  
The Archduke, still harbouring notions of attack, heaps up
horse, foot and guns on the right flank...
 As the enemy drew back I had begun building up towards our right (eastern) flank with the view of renewing our own effort there.  However, by now it was already mid-afternoon, and Baron Glockenspiel represented to me (actually it was Barry) that we had already achieved enough to claim the victory - at least from a strategic point of view - and rather than risk compromising the success we had gained by an assault of uncertain success, we should wait.
 Somewhere east of Zerbst, General Plodt of Altmark-Uberheim must once again be marching upon Zerbst.  The city could not be allowed to fall whilst the Imperial Army remained undefeated, therefore the rebel Army must retreat.  Within two or three days the decisive battle must be fought, and, with the cooperation of the electoral troops, the Imperialists would have the superior numbers.
 Reluctantly, the I allowed myself to be persuaded.  The action sputtered to a halt, as the opposing armies faced each other across the shallow valley east of Asper Village.  Confident that the enemy would evacuate their positions overnight, I gave orders for tomorrow's follow-up.  Losses in this action were slight - some 400 on our side, and somewhat over 500 of the enemy.  
Back at their start lines, the rebels await the nightfall.
The battle is over.
I remain, Sire, your most humble and obedient servant,
Archduke Piccolo, Marshal-General

The Ulrichstein Campaign to be continued...


  1. Hmm. Will Noailles be able to hold off the combined forces? Is the rebellion doomed?

    1. It ain't looking good! A tactical draw was something of a strategic defeat for the rebellion. But a defeat would have been the finish altogether, I think. And things aren't altogether hopeless. Though outnumbered, Noailles still holds the central position. The Imperialist and Electoral forces will have trouble coordinating their action...

  2. While disappointed by news of this setback, I remain confident that Noailles and his army will triumph over Imperialist tyranny
    A bad day for cavalry all around, it seems.
    The Hildbirghausens definitely earned a battle honour for what appears to have been the stand that decided the battle.

    1. Yes, the tactical draw was not a whole lot better than a defeat would have been - just enough to keep the Rebellion afloat a little longer. But who knows what will happen in the next fight?

      The Hildburghausen volley that shattered 5th Battalion certainly ended any further attack be the Rebels. But at the time I thought it merely a probing attack to cover something a bit more serious. Although after the cavalry had taken such a shellacking, the Archduke made careful preparations to meet an attack, I do wonder what might have been the result had Marshal Noailles gone all-out. But Barry is not familiar with the rule set and found manoeuvring difficult ('friction' is quite marked with my rule set). A 'what if.'


  3. Beware the cornered foe, you may have your advantage archduke but watchout! The electoral corpe may be more trouble than they are worth, eager for revenge they must be! surly you will have trouble containing them withing the rigid lines of battle. you must not let them rush the foe with rage taking from them their wits and their order.

    of coarse I may be wrong about those men but it will be hard to co-ordinate both forces. the electoral may against advice not allow you to take full control of their numbers, they may not even fight with you in any organised co-oprative manner and like I said whats to say that they will listen to your wise council when the darkness of revenge clouds their mind and raises their anger to levels which no man should ever allow?

    beware my friend this battle could turn out to be more Pyrrhic than perfect. I wish you best of luck with your campaign and that you may speedily bring that rebellion to an end.

    Mayor Edwardo Matrinez

    (the mayor of Oronegro from 1728-1788)

    Sorry just wanted to try out doing some writing from perspective... also to give you some inside information as to one of my other chataters from oronegro (his name is actually my current spanish teachers)

  4. From Archduke Piccolo,
    Commanding Army of Guarantee of Ulrichstein,

    To: Signor Edwardo Matrinez,
    Mayor of Oronegro,
    March 17 1739, Early afternoon.

    May I here express my appreciation and thanks for you good wishes and advice. Your letter has just come into my possession, with what I hope will be the final battle for Ulrichstein. So far the battle is going tolerably well, but as the Marshal-General opposite is a proved commander, I am disinclined to relax my vigilance. Although we have driven the enemy out of much of his first line positions, the result is as yet in doubt. The damage to neither side has yet reached serious levels. I shall report more at large at the close of the action,

    Your Servant to Command,
    Archduke Piccolo.

  5. thanks ion for anwsering in kind... I appear to have mis-spelt the poor mayors name it should be MARTINEZ sorry my mistake...

    urr I guess that I cannot reply in time for the battle itself of coarse as there is no-way for Edwardo to recieve this letter and reply in time, and of coarse the only possible technology that could allow messages to travel fast enough would be a semaphore chain and there is no such thing over the atlantic... anyway thankyou... I just hope eddie (the real edwardo Martinez) my spanish teacher does not find out.

    1. I did think the name was probably Martinez really, but there didn't seem any reason to suppose Martrinez isn't a well-known and respectable family name - in the world of Oronegro at any rate.