Monday, August 16, 2010

Ludwig VIII, Prince-Archbishop of Frankenberg

Well, here he is, the Prince Archbishop himself. He is made out of a dismounted Dutch officer, with a French Dragoon head filed down and green stuff modelled gown and fringe. The fringe actually looks more like a fur band around the hat, but never mind. Ludwig looks eager for action, advancing sword in hand, but he is actually suffering from the runs and is discarding his paraphernalia as he heads for the nearest bush!
On the same base is Luddie’s herald, Ernst, carrying the standard of the ecclesiastical Principality. It has a wurst representing the people crossed with a key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Black and Gold are the traditional colours of Frankenberg, whilst the pink cross was put there by Ludwig himself. The standard was handpainted – I don’t think I could do this on the computer!
Ernst wears the uniform of the Frankenberg Leibgarde - a pink coat with yellow cuffs, and a purple rosette on his tricorne. The next troops painted will be the Frankenberg militia.
More Marlburian troops have been completed, and are on display here:

Breaking the Khutzewald Line

Apologies, this game was played a fortnight ago, but as I have only recently regained my beloved broadband internet, it has not previously been possible to tell the tale.
On 1st June von Pritzwalk led his men out against the Khutzewald line. His scouts had reported that it was held rather thinly – in fact only three regiments of infantry and some Dragoons appeared to be there. His inital reaction was to suspect the French of a devious trick, but on 31st May he was informed that the Austrians had attacked in the east and he surmised that this was where Fois-Gras had disappeared to with the bulk of his army.
There were two villages on the line – Pfefferheim, where the Kartoffelwasser stream runs into the Klein-Rhein River, and Tapffheim, further down the Kartoffelwasser. From Tapffheim a series of earthworks ran to the dense Khutzewald forest. Pfefferheim was garrisoned by the Lyonnais regiment; the Kartoffelwasser was watched by the Listenois Dragoons; the Picardie regiment held Tapffheim; and the Champagne regiment manned the earthworks in the south.
Von Pritzwalk’s plan was to feint in the north towards Pfefferheim with the English brigade, while making his main move in the south. By taking Tapffheim he planned to turn the flank of the French and cut the most direct communications with France.
Tapffheim and the earthworks leading to the Khutzewald. Stairs’ Dragoons have just decimated the Champagne regiment. Apologies for the poor photography – it was the first shot of the day!
The first move was to make an overwhelming cavalry attack on the Champagne regiment. This proved to be a spectacular charge, riding over the barrier and cutting the regiment to shreds in a single turn. Victory for the Confederates was looking inevitable! All that was required was for the Dutch Brigade to take Tapffheim, and the victory would be won.
Pfefferheim and Maykit’s over-exuberance costs the Confederates dearly. The Lyonnais regment is building up an impressive record.
Meanwhile, in the north, the diversionary attack went in. Here General Maykit overstepped his brief. Rather than a mere demonstration, he seriously looked to surround and annihilate the garrison of Pfefferheim. In the confusion his two battalion column trying to organise itself to cross the bridge took an age to get ready. The Guards and the Hanoverians threw themselves across the stream and against the walls to no avail. By the end of the day the Hanoverians would be beyond reconstitution as a unit and recalled by the Elector in a fit of rage that his troops were used so brainlessly.
The assault on Tapffheim and the outnumbered and outgunned Picardie regiment fighting bravely. Von Pritzwalk himself is there to ensure that the assault succeeds. At the back is my Prins Georg Danish regiment, which will evetually be part of a four battalion strong Prusso-Danish Brigade.
But while Maykit went mad, Van Klogg calmly directed his Brigade into a two pronged assault. Led by the Welderen and Brandenbourg regiments, not to mention a gun expertly worked and deployed at point blank range, the men of the Grand Alliance surged against the village walls. Picardie fought valiantly, rendering Welderen hors de combat, but in the end numbers and firepower told and Tapffheim fell to the relentless attack.
In the centre the advance elements of Fois-Gras’ men had arrived, tired but ready to help their comrades. First into battle were the Villequier regiment, followed by the Gendarmerie. The Maritime Powers redeployed their cavalry to the centre to combat this growing menace, only to find themselves overpowered. Once again the gentlemen of France had the honour of routing their enemies, but it was all too little, too late. With Tapffheim well in hand and dusk arriving the French cavalry covered the withdrawal of the still defiant Lyonnais regiment from Pfefferheim.
Von Pritzwalk had a hardfought strategic victory, but it would take time to put his force back together and renew the offensive.
An enjoyable game and it was certainly a harder slog than either side had expected! One of the things that I have noticed with the Black Powder rules is the strength of units in built up areas. In a sense this is fair – I can think of a number of circumstances where villages proved especially costly to take - just look at the Battle of Blenheim and the combats at Blindheim and Oberglau. My advice is to mimic the tactics of Marlborough and devote pinning forces to these obstacles and win the battle in the open if at all possible. Of course, as there were no enemy in the open in this game, this was never going to be a workable tactic.
Thanks to John and Terry for helping me to play it out. The next moves in the Wurst War will appear soon hopefully.


Within two days, Fois-Gras had marched to the other side of the small Principality. Early in the morning on 30th May he attacked the Imperial forces that were bivouacked inside the town of Grenzschafen. Surprise was total, as the scouting Imperial Hussars had found a wine cellar and become quite drunk that night.
By 9am the Imperial troops were in complete rout, 2,000 were prisoner and 16 guns had been captured. The victory was total. Fois-Gras could be satisfied that there would be no more threat from the east, at least in the short term. But he had no time to rest on his laurels. He knew full well that it was only a matter of time before the Allies attacked his lines in the west. In the shadow of the plumes of smoke he gave the orders to rest up and be prepared to move out at dawn the next day.
Grenzschafen burns on the morning of 30th May, 1707.
French troops in the lines near the Khutzewald.

Bad news for the French

Fois-Gras looked at the messenger with the kind of concerned, yet disdainful look that only an aristocrat brought up on the finest truffles could give.
‘Merde!’ he cursed in a foppish, yet decisive way. The message itself, hurriedly scribbled on the back of what looked like a musical score-sheet, bore bad news. Reinforcements from the King of Bavaria had arrived only a day ago, but now a force of Imperial troops had appeared at Grenzschafen. Fois-Gras’ plan to move over to the offensive against Pritzwalk and his forces had been completely foiled.
Looking at the map rolled out on the camp table in front of him, held down by two half empty and two fully empty glasses of brandy, a deep thought creased his forehead. If he could establish a line between the Klein-Rhein and the Khutzewald that could be defended lightly, he would force march his best troops east and deal with the Imperials in a surprise attack. Should the maritime powers be bold enough to attack, a second line was to be constructed by the peasants of Frankenberg outside Dolfstein. The holding force would retire upon these lines.
Taking another gulp of Brandy, and patting his faithful dog, Malodorant, Fois-Gras signalled to his aides-de-camp.
‘Get ze Garde, ze Gendarmerie, ze La Marck Regiment and ze Villequier regiment readee. We marsh in sree ow-ers.’ Oh, and ze Bavieres aussi. Tout de suite!’ (translation for those ungentlemanly enough amongst you to be ignorant of the universal tongue of Europe: ‘Hurry it up, we’re going in three hours.’)
Monsieur le Marquis de Fois-Gras outside Dolfstein, with his dog Malodorant and assorted aides-de-camp.

Second Battle of Rheineck, 21st May 1707

On the 21st May 1707 the Confederate forces received reinforcements and a new general, the Prussian Wilhelm von Pritzwalk. He immediately set about organising his forces for a flank march to turn the French position at Rheineck. Leaving a Brigade to spread out in front of the French lines and ordering them to light extra campfires at night, he constructed pontoons northeast of Rheineck and crossed the rest of his force to the right bank of the Frank river. His plan was to march down this bank and bridge the river again behind the French position. It called for speed and guile, and the wily Prussian had both. He set up the new pontoons on the early morning of the 26th May. French piquets had spotted dust clouds on the northern bank, and Fois-Gras immediately realised the situation. Ever aggressive, his immediate thought was to defeat the weak screening force that must be holding the Allied position opposite his lines. Then he decided that time was against him and concentrated his forces for a withdrawal.
Meanwhile, the first elements of the Allied forces were crossing the Frank in a hurried fashion. The scene was set for a battle where reserves would arrive piecemeal and advance into battle.
No artists were present at the battle, it being far too hurried an affair for any lazy bohemian to keep up, and it would be insulting to publish here any of the wildly inaccurate engravings that were produced in later years. Instead, the author has walked the ground and found it remarkably unchanged. Upon a satellite map he has indicated the general movements of the troops as best as he can make out.
Although the epic cavalry clash on the Left wing of the Allied position was technically a victory for the Maritime powers, the ability of Fois-Gras to marshal the Gendarmerie, reposition it in his centre, and help batter his way through Lord Maykitt’s English brigade proved vital. After a hard fought encounter, the French opened the road to Frankenberg and escaped.
Noteworthy was the defeat of the Gardes Francaises, after an appallingly disordered advance they received a volley point blank and broke to the rear. The First Foot Guards was the regiment responsible, and the meeting of the guards at Rheineck is a renowned moment in the Wurst war, and indeed in the whole of the wars of the Spanish Succession.
Of all the Allied foot regiments in battle, Churchill’s foot was the most important, continuing to attack even as the rest of the Allied army withdrew to defensive positions at the pontoon bridgehead.
As night fell, the Allies attempted to reorganise their battered army around the bridgehead, but it was in too parlous a state to renew the offensive as the French army manning the lines at Rheineck slipped east, covered by the Gendarmerie, full of fighting fettle following their splendid battlefield performance.
Having won the strategic victory of forcing the lines of Rheineck, Pritzwalk retired to his tent to imbibe some schnapps and prepare his next move. Fois-Gras, hurting from being outmanouevred but pleased that his small force had acquitted itself so well twice in the space of a fortnight, sipped brandy and contemplated the map for his next move. At 2am he was reached by a rider with good news – reinforcements had entered the Archbishopric!

First Battle of Rheineck, 15th May 1707

Having quickly occupied Beckstein, the Allies were confident of a swift capture of Frankenberg itself. However, the French commander Le Comte de Fois-Gras had not been idle. He had constructed a fortified line along the River Klein-Rhein (a tributary of the River Frank), and garrisoned it with a strong force. On the 14th May the Allies, consisting largely of British troops under Lord William Maykit (Willie to his friends) camped in the shadow of the Rheinberg hill, in preparation for an advance over the Klein-Rhein the following morning. Maykit was visibly agitated when informed by his scouts that evening of the strength of the French position.
Maykit ordered further scouting and decided on a bold manoeuvre. He would conduct a flanking movement before dawn, whilst demonstrating against the lines with two regiments of English infantry. He hoped to sneak across the Klein-Rhein under the noses of the garrison of Rheineck and assault the French position from the rear.
At 4.30 in the morning of the 15th the advance began, but it was hamstrung by delays.
Dispositions for the battle at dawn, 15th May
Artillery opened up on the French lines from the Rheinberg as Churchill’s and Stanhope’s regiments prepared to engage the main French defences. The plan was to trade shots from the far bank of the river in order to pin the French and generate enough smoke to convince the enemy that the main assault was coming. Initially, Fois-Gras fell for this and sent the La Marck Regiment and Gendarmerie to assist.
But as the first rays of light burst forth, glints from the equipment of the flanking force were seen approaching. a hasty order was rushed to the Gendarmerie – turn to face this new threat. The Gardes Francaises, also about to leave the city were halted and ordered to man the ramparts of Rheineck. Things were looking ominous for the Allies.
The first of the flanking force to cross the Klein-Rhein was Wyndham’s Horse. They were engaged by the Gendarmerie as the British Foot Guards and Hoornberg’s horse completed their crossing. Caught by the gentlemen of France in a headlong charge, the British would not stand. The unit broke and fled the table, and being shaken were unable to return. The Villequier Chevaux-Legers and La Marck regiment also became aware of what was happening and began to move to the aid of the Gendarmerie.
The front as seen from behind Rheineck. Note that the flanking force is not in view.
Meanwhile, Sir Edward Weighward commanding the pinning force had completely lost his head and ordered an advance on the French lines wading through the Klein-Rhein either side of the bridge. Apparently Sir Edward had been present at the Boyne, and was convinced wading through rivers was a perfectly acceptable way to get to grips with the enemy! The results were going to be all too predictable.
Hoornberg’s Horse charged into the Gendarmerie, who were still a little disordered after their previous charge. In a matter of minutes the gentlemen had been repulsed. The Foot Guards became embroiled in a fire fight with the Gardes Francaises. It should have been an even contest, but the Frenchmen were secure behind fortifications. The English Guards were taking a pounding.
The Villequier Chevaux-leger charged into the Dutch cavalry and sent them reeling from the battlefield. The English Guards finally collapsed under a weight of fire, and Churchill’s and Stanhope’s Regiment streamed off towards Beckstein. Only the Brandenbourg Regiment and the artillery were left in any fit state to resist, and were able to retreat safely.
The first battle of Rheineck was a tragic failure for Maykit, despite an audacious plan that might have worked with a little more luck. Weighward’s waste of the pinning force was roundly condemned but the man himself lay dead at the bottom of the Klein-Rhein and was not going to be responsible for any more stuff-ups!
The Allies fell back on Beckstein to rebuild and recover. The French got drunk.
The firefight that turned into a tragic advance for the Allies
The game was a solo affair designed to further familiarise myself with the Black Powder Rules. It also gave me an opportunity to put all my models on the table for the first time since I shifted house. Very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.
The Allies must try again soon – but will it be a new plan? Will there be a new commander? Which other regiments will arrive to help out? Stay tuned and find out!

Frolics in Frankenberg

Frankenberg is an imagi-nation; a made up land designed for wargaming. It sets the scene for the combats to be fought between the mighty armies of the Confederate powers – Britain, the United Provinces and the Holy Roman Empire, and Louis XIV’s France (and allies).
In this blog you will find the background of Frankenberg, my labours as I collect and paint the armies for this game, the rules that I use, and the battles that are fought as these two mighty powers clash, in a little land known for its licentious ruler and a proliferation of beer and sausage.
There are plenty of Imagi-nations out there in Blogland, and I have drawn inspiration from them all, but it is the spirit of gaming epitomised by the late Charles Grant and Peter Young that animates me more than anything.