24 August 2013

The Situation at the Close of Turn Nine. . .

General de Latte (at far left in dark blue and red), after much deliberation and consultation with his subordinate officers, decides to order a general withdrawal.  With great shame and frustration, he concedes the battle to his Stollenian opponents.  There will clearly be no schnooky-schnooky when de Latte returns to Princess Antonia III this evening!  The miniatures in the group of officers pictured above come from RSM95, Minden, and Spencer Smith.

Between seven-thirty and eight o'clock on the evening of 4th August 1773, General Phillipe de Latte gave the order for his men to break off contact and begin an orderly retreat to their south.  He had no wish to squander any more of his troops, who, during the course of several hours, had failed to cross the River Elbow and establish a foothold within the Grand Duchy of Stollen as ordered by the conniving Princess Antonia III.  The Zichenauer infantry took heavy casualties in its attempt to do so, and the bulk of de Latte's artillery was unable to make much of a dent in the Stollenian center during the course of the battle despite being massed into a grand battery.  

In addition, the Zichenauer cavalry brigade on de Latte's left flank found itself unable to ford the swirling, rushing River Elbow where it was initially positioned.  Many men and horses were lost in two successive attempts to cross.  By the time it occurred to the brigade commander to move his squadrons to another part of the battlefield and attempt a crossing there, his path was blocked by formed bodies of retreating infantry and stragglers.  

The Zichenauer infantry turns about and begins an orderly retreat to the south, covered by its artillery and remaining cavalry in the distance.  Figures visible here are by various manufacturers, including RSM95, Revell, MiniFigs, and Minden.  The coffee ring and splotch are by Starbuck's.

Finally, the lone battery of guns on the Zichenauer far right flank took casualties very late in the day, about one third of its effectives, and was then captured by a group of marauding enemy riflemen.  Prisoners were taken and the guns rolled toward the Stollenian rear.  The failed attempt to invade his adopted country's mortal enemy was an extremely frustrating situation for General de Latte, who had been so sure of an easy victory previously that same afternoon.  For now, at least, the territorial virtue of the Grand Duchy remained intact.

General de Latte hung his head in abject shame as his retreating infantry marched past his position.  What would Princess Antonia say?  He feared that he knew the answer already without actually hearing it.  She had been explicit in her instructions after all.  Hell hath no fury like a petty monarch disobeyed.  The group of Zichenauer and allied officers around him were silent for a few moments in a show of solidarity and respect, save for de Latte's closest aide, Major Paolo di Biscotti, who exclaimed, "I'm parched!  Who's for a fresh espresso and a cherry-cheese Danish?  There's a simply charming little sidewalk cafe in that village back there."

General von Tschatschke (in pink with sword raised) confers with his officers and agrees not to order a general advance, but to maintain his position along the river as per original orders from the the Stollenian War Ministry in Krankenstadt.  Figures shown here are by RSM95, MiniFigs, Minden, and Fife & Drum.

Across the river meanwhile, General von Tschatschke gathered his officers for final orders and to send news of their subdued victory back to the capital.  They agreed, to a man, that their victory had been due more to lucky shooting and a strong position, together with a sometimes inexplicably sluggish enemy army and command, rather than any great tactical aptitude on their parts.  Still, pocket flasks of sherry and cognac were produced, clay pipes filled with tobacco and lighted, and toasts were made.  Regardless of how it had come about, von Tschatschke and his officers had held off a powerful enemy army.  An unusual occurrence to say the least.

However, no one told von Tschatschke's lone company of Jaeger zu Fuss that the battle was over.  The zealous riflemen swooped down from the wooded hill they occupied and charged the Zichenauer battery to their front.  From a very close distance, they stopped, fired, and dispatched with four of the artillery crew, taking the rest of the demoralized, sky blue-coated soldiers prisoner. Figures here are Revell 1/72 plastics, Garrison artillery crew, and two generic SYW cannon by MiniFigs. 

All across the Stollenian front, regimental bands struck up their respective marches, and colors were unfurled to celebrate victory as von Tschatschke and his aides looked on.  The infantry lines were redressed by the officers and NCOs of the various regiments along the northern bank of the River Elbow while the enlisted men emitted occasional loud jeers and jarring raspberries in the direction, and much to the chagrin, of the retreating Zichenauers.  For relatively little physical exertion and only light casualties, the Army of Stollen had somehow managed to hold off yet another attack.  It had been a good day, but how much time would elapse before General de Latte would again try to invade the Grand Duchy?  And what new tricks might he have up his sleeve?  Only time and arcane history books would tell.

In his second line, von Tschatschke's Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Grenadiers and 4th Dragoons at last wheeled into position just outside the village of Clauswitz to reinforce their first line.  Figures in the two units are RSM95 and Revell 1/72 plastics, respectively, with others by Minden, Blue Moon, and more Revell plastics in the background, along with a few by Jackdaw just beyond the village.

As the sun set, several regimental officers in his front line sent messages to General von Tschatschke, imploring him to allow them to cross the river with their men and pursue the defeated Zichenauers.  However, von Tschatschke remained mindful of his numerically weaker force and the orders originally sent him from Krankenstadt, stipulating that he simply hold the enemy at bay and refrain from any foolhardy advances of his own into the Electorate of Zichenau.  Von Tscatschke, therefore, politely refused his subordinates' requests and sent his own orders in reply for the units along his front line to establish both piquets and bivouacs for the night.  The Battle of the River Elbow was at an end.


Scheck said...

What a courtly and distinguished battle between gentlemen. I like Von Ztschatschke very much - his army is too esthetical to be destroyed or killed.

Old School ACW said...

Ah well, plenty more chambermaids out there.

de L

A J said...

Huzzah for a Stollenian victory! Captured enemy guns to boot, what? They'll make a grand display when paraded through the capital.

tidders said...

A great victory for Stollenian arms

-- Allan

CelticCurmudgeon said...

My Dear Heinz-Ulrich,

A question, My Royal Brother: as forces fell back from the Stalwart Stollenians I am forced to ask whether this was rules driven, for example you failed an army morale check or was it compelled by an appeal to history and common sense? Often players will continue fruitless assaults on tough enemy positions in games where historical circumstance would clearly indicate the reasonableness of a withdrawal so a to fight anther day. For exampkle, a replay during the dry season when the river levels were low and it was fordable in many places might create a different situation for Stollen.
Your Brother,
Gerardus Magnus

Ken said...

We extend our congratulations to von Tschatsche, to his officers and men, and to the proprietor of this journal.


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