Monday, February 25, 2013

Ulrichstein Campaign: the Last Stand of the Rebellion

The Rebel Army awaiting attack south of Zerbst, a half-mile distance.
Facing east, a line of earthworks greets the corps
of Altmark-Uberheim

Disappointed with the indecisive outcome from the Battle of 13th March, Marshal Noailles drew back his forces almost to the outskirts of Zerbst itself, the last only stronghold of the rebellion.  He knew, as did his ally, Graf Raunchfester, that now it was a case of do or die.  His strategy of the central position had almost succeeded,  so close, but its failure meant that he was reduced to simple defence against his converging enemies.
Ulrichstein Revolt, Campaign Map.  Red crosses
indicate Loyalist of Imperial vicyories; the blue, Rebel successes.

Forcing back without a pursuit the electoral Corps at Zaltpig Marshal Noailles knew would merely delay them the few days his Army needed to join Raunchfester to strike at - and defeat - the Imperial Army advancing from the south.  His Rechburg Ally had done as much as his small contingent could to delay the Imperialists, even winning a minor cavalry combat at the outset of the season's campaign.  But how could such a small force make head against perhaps three times their numbers?  Far from deciding the Revolt, the action had proved an untidy, unsatisfactory affair that pleased no one.  But the Rebel had much more reason for dissatisfaction.  Now had come the moment of truth: the Rebel Alliance had to face superior numbers and win... or go under.

The Corps of Altmark-Uberheim, arriving shortly
after daybreak, 21 March 1739
At first light of the equinoctal dawn on 21st March 1739, the rebels responded to the bugle calls and stood to arms.  At about 6:30, Electoral cavalry could be seen skirting around the southern end of the East Ridge.  Trumpet and bugle betrayed the presence of Electoral infantry forming up behind the hill crest to the east, whilst a swarm of Pandours - little more than single company -approached the 'North Woods flanking the high ground.  At once Noailles dispatched his 7th Jager battalion - what remained of it after two battles - to face them.
Orders of Battle (Summary)
Trockenbeeren-Auslese:  Archduke Piccolo
Line Infantry:                3120 (156 figs)
Jager:                             380   (19)
Horse:                          1320   (66)
Gunners:                         360   (18)  16 cannon (4 pieces)
Total:                          5180 (259)

Altmark-Uberheim:  General Plodt
Line Infantry:                 1000  (50)
Pandours:                        240  (12)
Horse:                             580  (29)
Gunners:                          160   (8)   8 cannon (2 piexes)
Total:                           1980 (99)
Total 'Loyalist' army: 7160 (358 figures) and 24 cannon (6 pieces)

Republick of Ulrichstein"
Line Infantry:                  2980 (149)
Jager:                               300   (15)
Horse:                              640   (32)
Gunners:                           280   (14) 12 cannon (3 pieces)
Total:                              4180 (209)

Herzogtum von Rechburg:
Line Infantry:                   1100  (55)
Horse:                               420  (21)
Gunners:                            160   (8)   8 cannon (2 pieces)
Total:                             1680  (84)
Total 'Rebel' Army:     5880  (293 figures) and 20 cannon (5 pieces)

In addition to such natural advantages the rebel defensive position had to offer, the Chateau was a very strong place, and the farm also offered some advantage to the defender.  In addition, The Rebel Army had had time to throw up a 300-pace length of earthworks.  Facing eastwards whence the Electoral contingent were expected to arrive, Marshal Noailles felt himself able to mass his cavalry on the other flank.

An aside on the strength of fortified and other defensible places.  The farm was of only moderate defensive strength, but that applied to hedgerows, wall, and buildings.  The Chateau proved to be very strong, as events were to prove.  Finally, the earthworks gave very good protection against fire, but rather less against a direct assault...
Arriving from the south 2 hours after dawn, Imperialist forces under Archduke Piccolo advance in the face of Rebel gunfire.   Birkenfeld Cavalry links up with Uberheim horse NE of the chateau.

The Imperialist main army was rather slower to arrive, spilling onto the field just as 8 o'clock could dimly be heard, striking from the Rathaus clock tower in Zerbst, a scant half-mile away.   The Rebels' occupation of the central position had prevented better coordination between their enemies.  However, observing the earthworks facing his small army, General Plod had decided to mark time until his Imperial Ally could arrive.

In situations in which troops are to arrive from off table, their ETA - expected time of arrival - is calculated at a certain time of day, or move number, not less than 3. Then a die is rolled determining the actual time of arrival, up to 2 moves early or late.  The Electoral contingent arrived 1 turn early; the Imperial forces, 2 moves late.

No sooner the Imperialists were deployed, than they began their stately and steady advance towards the enemy lines.

From this point, and for the remainder of this posting, I'll let the pictures carry most of the narrative...
The Rebel Alliance, have massed all their horse - 1060 in all - on their right flank...
General view looking eastwards of the rebel alliances forces drawn up.
The Cavalry advance around the woods to strike at the Imperialist left.

The 940 Imperialist horse on the west flank are supported by the 380-strong
Feldjaegerkorps - hurrying to occupy the woods - and a gun battery.
The first clash.  The Heavy Squadron of the Composite Regiment
attack, but are flung back by superior numbers of Rebel cavalry.  
As the heavy squadron flees, the second, dragoon, squadron charges the disordered rebel horse
and exacts a fearful vengeance against their heavier but disordered foes.
  Isolated and defeated, with Imperial jager lining the wood nearby,
the Rebel horse begin a long retreat to the rear of the Farm..

Imperialist foot make the long advance into the fire of the combined
Rebel artillery - 12 guns.  Alt-Colloredo Infantry bear the brunt of accurate enemy gunfire.

To the right of Arenburg Infantry, The Imperialist Birkenfeld Cavalry links up with the Electoral horse, and menace  the ridge line.  

The understrength Prittwitz Cuirassiers swing right to mask the Chateau Grau strongpoint.

Closer, and ever closer march the Imperialists.  But all they can see on the ridge are the
gaping guns of the Rebel battery.  The Rebel 2nd Brigade wait behind the crest.

The general advance by the Imperialist horse, accompanied by jager and guns,
on the West flank.  The remains of the defeated  Heavy Squadron
have rallied betimes.

The rebel horse has been pushed right back to the farm.  Protected by their own horse, the jagers
swarm over the ridge beyond the West Woods.  Hildburghausen infantry protects
the horsemen's inner flank.

Approaching the crisis.   Rebel gunfire induces Alt-Colloredo Infantry to fall back,
whereat Baden-Durlach shakes out into line and takes up the advance.
As Imperialist horse, foot and guns draw menacingly close,
the Rebel gun battery limbers up and drops behind the hill crest...
The battle has scarcely begun!  But meanwhile, what - if anyrthing - was happening on the eastern flank?
What, if anything, was the Corps of Altmark-Uberheim contributing to the battle?


  1. the beginning of the end for the rebel cause but the end of he beginning for the archdukes career I imagine. that is if he can win the day here.
    onwards brave imperialists but do not give up heroic soldiers of the rebellion if the battle should be a loss to the rebels then let them die knowing that the imperial forces will never forget that day.
    should the rebels seize the day then may the Archduke at least force them to the negotiating table.
    my eyes are fixed on these events my mind scans that battle field as if I were commanding myself. Ion this campaign has been brilliant if this is the end then let me say that so far it has been fitting, though I draw no conclusions yet as the battle is not over the end not quite reached.

  2. As leader of the Rebel Army I can say this was without a doubt one of the most enjoyable battles I have taken part in for many years. It was indeed a scrap that had noticeable swings, but the end was really beyond doubt.
    I am bound to say however the rebel army remained mostly intact right through the battle which did surprise me, but the lack of good cavalry was perhaps the rebels biggest drawback.

    I would also add is the most persistent attacker I have played against for a long time, which is really annoying. Some of his battalions took a real beating, but he just kept on coming and with so many targets the rebels were eventually swamped.

    Ions rules played out very well, and I think if the rules feel good, the game is always going to be good.

    I hope this isnt the end of the Battles, but we will see.



  3. Excellent report as usual. A good story that always leaves me wanting more. I hope it is not the end for Noailles, it doesn't look too bad thus far.