The Seven Years War, Seven Years, 28mm
We returned to the Seven Years War this week, and the rules we’re playtesting, under the paternal guidance of Michael Schneider. For this game Michael fielded a Western Allied force led by Maj. Gen. von Wutginau, leader of the Hessian contingent of the Allied army. He had nine battalions and eight squadrons (four cavalry regiments), backed up by two gun batteries. All the foot and guns were Hessian, and the cavalry Hanovarian, apart from two squadrons of the Prussian “Black Hussars”. Facing them was a force of Reichsarmee infantry – eight battalions and two batteries, commanded by the Prince of Pfalz-Zweibrucken, supported by eight squadrons of French cavalry. This was a straight-up fight, fought on an 8×4 foot table, with the Allies commanded by Michael and Alistair, while Peter, Alan and I played with the Reichsarmee and their French allies.Deployment for both sides was fairly straightforward, with the infantry in the centre and a cavalry brigade on each wing. The only real complication was a stream running across the table (above), dividing the Reichsarmee right and Allied left from the rest of the battlefield. The view above shows the Franco-Imperial left in the foreground, facing the Allied right. Interestingly though, the Hessians deployed in three brigades, each with three battalions in line, one behind the other. By contrast the Reichsarmee’s two four battalion brigades deployed two up and two back, with the Lower Rhine brigade on the right, and the Lower Rhine one on the right. The battle began with an artillery bombardment, and with Peter’s left wing cavalry – the La Reine dragoons – sweeping forward in an all-out attack.
The two cavalry brigades clashed, and in the hard-fought scrap that followed the Hanovarian von Briedenbach dragoons – two units of them – were swept from the field. Allez! Over on the right though Alan’s cavalry brigade held back, waiting for the right moment. It came on turn three, when they charged the Prussian “death’s head hussars” and forced them to retire. So far the cavalry battle was going pretty well for the Franco-Imperialists.In the centre though, Michael’s three dense columns of Hessians were plodding forward, despite harassing fire from the Imperial guns (above). The left hand Reichsarmee brigade advanced a little to meet the closest column, and a fairly hectic firefight developed. The other two hessian columns had come within musket range now too, but Michael found his three lines difficult to deploy out of, and so he found the lead units taking all the Imperial fire. Over on the Imperial left flank the La Reine dragoons had now cleared the field of Allied cavalry, and redeployed to hit the back of Michael’s nearest infantry column. This was pretty spectacular stuff, especially when Michael’s hastily redeployed third rank of grenadiers formed up, only to be ridden down in a spirited French charge. That meant the Allied right flank (below) was now hanging in the air. I’d like to say I did my bit to help, but my Upper Rhine brigade was locked into its own struggle with the other two Allied columns. Still, by disordering the leading Hessian units with artillery fire my Imperial musketeers had a fighting chance. The fighting was pretty hectic, with a battalion of Mainz infantry routing, followed by a unit of Hessians. Most units on both sides were disordered or shaken by now, and so it proved difficult to predict what would happen. In fact, I was starting to get concerned that the whole house of cards would collapse. I needn’t have worried. Over on the left the La Reine dragoons rolled up a battery of hessian guns, then threatened the rear of the battered Allied column propping up their right flank. With Peter’s Lower Rhine brigade firing into their front, and the rear Hessian unit forced to turn round to hold off the French dragoons (above), things were starting to go wrong for the Allies. At this point Alan had to head home, but his right wing cavalry had done a great job of holding off the Allied horse beyond the stream. In fact both Allied cavalry units had been forced to retire, leaving Alan pretty much the top dog over there. He never managed to throw a knockout blow, but at least he prevented anything bad happening to us. That left my Imperial infantry free to hold off the Hessian columns. We were now reaching the end game. The right-hand Hessian column had been battered, and was left surrounded by the enemy. On its right Peter’s other two battalions of Pfalz-Zweibrucken infantry (above) were holding off the middle Hessian column, which lacked the space to deploy properly. The Hessians were gradually getting the worse of the fight. Over on my side of the field I was down to three battalions, but a rash charge by the Koln Leibregiment drove back the head of the left-hand Hessian column, and disordered the Allied troops behind. Here though, Michael had managed to redeploy his grenadiers into a gap in the line, between the two columns, and so order of sorts was restored. That though, is where we ended the fight. We could have fought on to a definite conclusion, but it was now clear that the Allies had been badly chopped up, and so the victory was awarded to the Prince of Pfalz-Zweibrucken (below), and his Imperialist army. The real hero though, was Peter, whose French cavalry pretty much won the day for the Prince, and earned a laurel for the standard of the La Reine Dragoons.