Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Battle of Zerbst - 1. The Gathering Storm

The Rechburg column leads the Rebel army, marching
south to meet the Imperialists
Having made his arrangements whilst in Zerbst, and at least for the time being settled the matter of summary executions without due process, Marshal Antoine Noailles gathered his army, and marched south.  In this he had had to take a considerable gamble.  His entire army was with him: not a single soldier had he left to watch the recently defeated Electoral column on the road to the east of Zerbst.  It was just as well, he reflected, that the Council of Burghers hadn't known this, or his visit to the Rathaus might not have gone so well.  As it was, he cursed the delay that has forced his overnight stay in the town.

For one thing, it meant more time for the Archduke Piccolo to join his colleague, Baron Glockenspiel.  It was known that the Imperial Army approaching would then be formidable, far more than a match for the Rechburg column that stood between it and the vital town of Zerbst.  It meant a delay in the battle.  It furthermore meant that to have any real chance of bringing the revolt to a satisfactory conclusion, Noailles had to bring as much force to bear as he could scrape together.   And that meant leaving the road open to the east.  Could he defeat the Imperialists, and lost the town meanwhile to the Electoral column, he would have sufficient strength, he hoped, to retake the place, and then be in a position strong enough to bring Bishop ter Plonck and the Emperor to the negotiating table.

So ran the thoughts of the Marshal as, after accompanying his army for a couple of days,  he rode on ahead  to join his Ally, Count Raunchfester.  The news he received was not good: the Imperialist columns had indeed linked up just the previous evening, and were on the way north.  Approaching the village Asper, Noailles and Rauchfester surveyed what they could see of the Imperialists. 

The sight was not encouraging.  Hoping to hold the line of the Unsaunter Stream, they could see that the Imperialist cavalry were already across it, or would very soon be.  The splendidly disciplined Imperialist infantry swarmed over the Paisley Ridge and through Moorgham Village close by the stream.   The Archduke was not known for dilatoriness!
Imperialist Infantry crowning the Paisley Ridge.
Midway between the flags rides the young but formidable
Archduke Piccolo, in command.

As his allies marched forward to occupy the Asper Village and form a defence line, Noailles sent back to hurry forward his own men.  Time was of the essence.  There could be no delay.  If the Rebellion was to have any chance of success, now was the time to defeat the Imperialists.

Orders of Battle:
Allies: Marshal Antoine Noailles
Volunteer Army of Ulrichstein:
1st Brigade: 1st/8th, 2nd, 11th Battalions e@ 17 figures
2nd Brigade : 3rd, 4th, 9th Battalions e@ 17 figures
3rd Brigade: 5th, 6th Battalions (e@ 19 figs; 10th Bn @ 17.
Unbrigaded: 7th Jager Battalion @ 17 figs
Artillery: 1 Coy: 6 men, 2 guns; 2 Coy: 8 men, 2 guns
Cavalry Brigade:  1st Cavalry @ 12 figs; 2nd Cav. @ 13 figs; 3rd Hussars @ 14 figs
Totals: 227 figures, 4 guns (174 Foot, 39 Horse, 14 Gunners)

Rechburg Column: General Count von Raunchfester
Ewige-Blumenkraft Infantry @ 33 figs
Gimmeitor-Oels Infantry@ 30 figs
Klutzenputz Cuirassiers @ 12 figs
Schaggenstein Uhlans @ 13 figs
Artillery: 8 gunners, 2 guns.
Totals: 96 figures, 2 guns (63 Foot, 25 Horse, 8 gunners)

Grand Total, Allied Army: 323 figures, 6 guns (237 Foot, 64 Horse, 22 gunners)

Imperial Army: Marshal-General Archduke Piccolo
Hilberghausen Infantry @ 28 figs
Arenburg Infantry @ 31 figs
Alt-Colloredo Infantry @ 31 figs
Baden-Durlach Infantry @ 36 figs
Palffy (Magyarian) Infantry @ 36 figs
1st Feldjagerkorps @ 19 figs
Trautmannsdorf Cuirassiers @ 16 figs
Berkenfeld Cuirassiers @ 19 figs
Anhalt-Zerbst Cuirassiers @ 19 figs
Khevenhuller Dragoons @ 15 figs
Sqn Nadasti Hussars @ 10 figures
Artillery: 2 coys e@ 2 guns and 10 gunners

Total by Imperial Army: 280 figures, 4 guns (181 Foot, 79 Horse, 20 gunners)

The Imperialist Army looks heavily outmatched, except in the Cavalry arm, but what Marshal Noailles has to bear in mind, is that although his army has seen action and will have improved its performance, it is still not up to the class of the Imperialists nor the regulars from Rechburg.  For all that, once the rebels arrive, the Archduke will realise that his available strength will by no means be too much to overcome the superior numbers arrayed against him.


  1. Replies
    1. Thanks Francis - here's hoping the actual battle lives up to the preamble!

  2. Speaking on behalf of Marshal Antoine Noailles I am looking forward to this battle with some intrepidation. Though I am really keen to see how the so called "rabble" go against the much vaunted Imperialist curs in this mother of all battles.

  3. Actually, not all the Rebel army will be classed as 'rabble', having fought in two battles, now (counting the Lobrau one the previous year). The 1st/8th, 9th and 10th remain in that class; the rest count as '2nd Line'. This places their morale on a level with regulars, and their training slightly below.

    In the Zaltpig action, even as 'rabble' the lads did extremely well. Their lack of training resulting in very heavy casualties - much higher than the column they defeated. But their overall performance I thought deserved some kind of recognition...

  4. I confess my sympathies are with the Marshall on this one. I can't help but admire anyone who has a friend called Raunchfester.
    Success to Marshall Noailles and his troops! Huzzah!

    1. I am surprised just how much sympathy the Rebel side is getting, despite some bad press I gave it at the outset. But it is true that after a rocky start, and against the odds, the Rebels have done well. I have a feeling that that is often the way with successful revolts/revolutions: that at some point it seems all up with the insurrection, and then somehow they get over the hump after which it's a long retreat for the loyalist forces.

  5. It looks set a to a fierce battle, your campaign narrative really brings it all to life.


    1. Yes, I think this one will be make or break for the Revolution. Marshal Noailles has proved himself an able commander, and no ninny. Archduke Piccolo will be determined to make a name for himself. Game on.

  6. a great battle to be sure. I for one feel quite sorry for the archduke has he seems to have to face one of the most popular miniature rebellions theis world has ever seen. on the other hand I love the rebels as they seem to be like many of us in that they are the greatest DIY miltary force I have ever seen.

    oh have either force ever though of hiring mercenaries? soon I'll have a centuries worth (in your system) of Oronegrean troops. Ok 100 men are not a game changer but I am sure also that they if used wizely can help in a battle. also I am sure that I could get more than that done soon. and I do not want to be sending too many figs in the mail. All up to you really if you would like to perhaps borrow some figs or not.

    1. Actually, a good many of the Rebel troops are indeed paid mercenaries (as was mentioned briefly some time back), rather than your good old honest insurrectionist. But these guys are military nomads, and do not form the kinds of mercenary Companies that infested Italy in the 15th-16th Centuries. It is arguable, though the Rebel propagandists haven't hit on this yet, that the forces on the side of the Status Quo are mercenary. However, the Emperor entered the lists solely as guarantor of Ulrichstein's political existence, and Altmark-Uberheim sent his small contingent only as a member state of the Imperium.

      The Rechburg troops supporting the rebellion? The Duke hopes to get something out of it, but he's paying for his own troops' participation.

      Interesting idea, though...

    2. well if you ever consider it. I am more than happy to send troops, besides perhaps becoming a mercenary is all part of an Oronegrean soldiers training, an optional part of coarse.

      although this war may not be that suitable for their inclusion perhaps later on when the archduke is really making a name for himself he shall encounter some, either hired by himself or unfortunately perhaps on the opposite side of the battle field.

      if you are ever interested just send me an email ;-)

    3. You never quite know how things might develop. I had it in mind that this insurrection might become a harbinger for a much wider conflict within the Wholly Romantic Empire, though at the time it wasn't clear what role Rechburg would play.

      The Emperor Violoncello is getting on. How tight a grip upon affairs is he able to retain? The Elector Princes - notably Crown Prince Draco zu Spitzensparken of Altmark-Uberheim - are getting restless...

    4. ah an old weak emperor who can barely hold power, should at his death he have multiple sons or many powerful rivals the empire will not likely remane a whole nation but fragment into splinter groups each one controled by a powerful or cunning man eager for the imperial throne... A story we have heard many times and yet no-one seems to remember it.

      Here's a quote perhaps that reflects that situation:
      "History repeats itself because nobody was listening the first time" - annonymous.