Tom Loback and Vincent Tsao provided this battle report…
The Corlears Hook Fencibles played a game of the Battle of Chotusitz last night, using a modified version of the Twilight of the Sun-King rules. This battle was fought in the War of the Austrian Succession between the Prussians of Frederick the Great and the Austrians of Charles of Lorraine. The game was loosely based on a Volley & Bayonet scenario posted on the V&B page. Dice determined that Tom would be Frederick. I was Charles and Bill was the Austrian subordinate.
The battle starts with the tired Prussian infantry of Leopold on the field in and around the town of Chotusitz. Their right flank cavalry is deployed south of some lakes – or one big lake, depending on which map you use. Other cavalry is arriving on their left flank. Frederick and some fresh, elite infantry are en route. Dice would determine when they arrived. The Austrians were marching onto the table in four columns, one of cavalry on each flank and two of infantry in the center. I commanded the two on the right, Bill the two on the left. My plan was to defeat the Prussian right flank cavalry and envelop their right before the reinforcements arrived. Then the plan met the enemy.
Prussian infantry at start
Prussian right flank cavalry at start
We have incorporated multiple moves inspired by Black Powder into our game, but only at a distance from the enemy. I decreed triple moves by my two columns and rolled no movement at all. Bill had some trouble moving onto the table but was going further than I was. I failed to move my infantry on the second turn while my cavalry made a single move forward. Bill’s formations were further forward but fairly confused. The Prussian right flank cavalry advanced to see what they could do about this.
Austrian infantry deploys
Bill ordered his two leading cavalry brigades into line. One failed, the other deployed. I figured he still had a shot at holding since he had 5 cavalry brigades against 3. But he ordered a triple move. His third brigade would march in column forward, wheel across the front of his deployed brigade and then wheel into line. He ignored the stricken look on my face. His dice said two marches, which moved the column across the front of his deployed brigade but failed to form line. He wanted to back out of this but once the dice rolled it was too late. This error nearly did us in.
Flight of the Black Eagle
Buddenbrock’s brigades thunder across the field through the Austrian 1st line
Austrian brigades flee or are ridden down.
The Prussian ride completely through the Austrians
The Prussian cavalry advanced into close range. One of Bill’s brigades wavered under flank threat. In Twilight, cavalry can force morale checks by threats against infantry. We have extended this to flank and rear threats against other cavalry. There was still a chance to deploy both brigades but Bill’s action dice went cold. Apparently the Austrian brigades were in confusion. The Prussians charged forward, breaking one brigade and knocking the other back. Bill attempted to wheel his other brigades onto the flanks of the Prussians, who just charged ahead and routed another brigade.
To the edge of the world!
Galloping up the heights into the Austrian rear
I was slowly getting my infantry deployed. I sent two of my three cavalry brigades across my rear in column to redress the disaster looming on our left. Meanwhile Tom was starting to roll for the reinforcements. On turns 6 and 7 he needed a 6; on turn 8 and 9 he needed 5 or 6, etc. Frederick was getting nearer but he wasn’t there yet.
Prussian left flank cavalry rides to the right
The two Prussian cavalry brigades had plunged through our lines and reached our edge of the table, in part to avoid flank attacks. My reserve cavalry was nearly there. The Prussians turned to cut their way back out again. The third Prussian brigade had hit a Croat brigade in square and been repulsed. Other Austrian infantry came up on their flank and fired into them. This brigade was then routed by one of Bill’s cavalry brigades.
About face – Charge!
The Prussians turn about and charge back down the heights
The Prussians cutting their way out now were facing a brigade to their front and my reserve brigades behind them. We charged. Prussian morale held. On our next turn the northernmost Austrian brigade broke while my lead reserve brigade was driven back. The Prussians moved off again, slowed by contacting another Austrian cavalry brigade. My last reserve brigade charged and threw the Prussians into disorder. The Austrians blocking the Prussian path were driven off. But my reserve brigade charged them again and broke a brigade of Prussian cavalry. The last brigade of battered Prussian elite cuirassiers rode off, with my reserves in hot pursuit a couple hundred yards behind.
Riding down the enemy’s flank
Buddenbrock crashes into more Austrian Cavalry while their reserves come up
Surrounded on all sides!
Two Prussian brigades fight back to back!
Help arrives, too late
Prussian dragoons come to help, but only the Cuirassiers return from the charge
On the 10th turn Frederick arrived with his 4 brigades of elite infantry. By this time all of the Austrian infantry was deployed in two lines and our position battery was working over Leopold’s infantry. The next turn saw Tom roll a triple move successfully. His elites formed into a column of deployed brigades. His left and center began to advance. It was looking rather dangerous.
Frederick arrives with reinforcements
Fredericks column: four brigades of grenadiers
Frederick’s columns as seen from Austrian lines
Prussian line advances alongside Grenadiers
The last Prussian cuirassier brigade was almost back to the lakes. The pursuing Austrians were shouting “let’s see how well they swim!” The cuirassiers turned to face their pursuers but were broken in the ensuing fight. The Prussian cavalry commander escaped and made his way back to the camp. Some cuirassiers were said to have drowned trying to swim the lakes.
Another cavalry clash
The Prussian elite column split into two and came forward against our left center. Leopold’s infantry came up against our center and right. First we would pass morale rolls en masse on one turn, failing on other turns. The Prussians did the same. Losses mounted. I had been keeping track of what time each turn started. It was so intense that I forgot to note turns for an hour, and later for half an hour. So I’m guessing at how many turns we played. But when I kept track they usually took about 10 minutes.
Prussian grenadiers attack
Austrian Cavalry outflank Prussian Hussars on a hill
My right flank slowly crumbled under pressure. Since the cavalry fight on our left had drawn most of the mounted troops from both sides, the Prussians only had line infantry to exploit this. About the same time the Prussian line in front of my left center collapsed. A brigade of Hungarian infantry advanced through the gap. A brigade of dragons that had been supporting them wheeled to the left and threatened the next Prussians. The lead brigade advanced past the cavalry’s front, since the Austrian infantry in front of them had broken. The lines were coming apart. Bill’s infantry was under severe pressure from the elites, but my reserve cavalry was coming around the Prussian right, one brigade heading into the rear of the center. A shot up brigade formed square. The Hungarian infantry shot down the gunners of the Prussian position battery. Tom now had a run of low morale rolls and several shot up infantry brigades gave way. His two infantry generals were shot. This put him at his breakpoint. He had a 50/50 chance of his army breaking. He passed and remained in the fight. We hadn’t yet hit our breakpoint.
Hungarians push deep into the Prussian line
Hungarian brigade volley into battered Prussian square
Austrian Dragoons amid Prussian line
Almost the last turn from behind Austrian right
We pressed everywhere we could and held or fell back where we couldn’t. Tom now rolled high and passed all his morale tests. He broke another couple of our brigades and our breakpoint loomed through the smoke. We pushed hard again. Prussian grenadiers hit in front by infantry and from the flank by a hussar brigade held. Another shot up grenadier brigade in line charged by dragoons held. Several other shot up brigades likewise resisted attacks. But my Hungarian brigade advanced past the abandoned guns of the position battery and charged the shot up brigade in square. The square broke and forced another army morale check. Tom did not want to take the 50/50 test. He finally rolled and the Prussians collapsed. Bill and I exulted for a moment and then sat down, tired.
Austrian right steadies as cavalry moves on Prussian rear
Prussian sandwich – infantry to front and cavalry behind
We’d played about 20 turns (representing 5 hours of combat) in 3 and a half hours. Prussian losses were 2,500 cavalry, 3,000 infantry, a position battery and two generals (Jeetze and Leopold). Austrian losses were 2,000 cavalry and 5,000 infantry. Both armies had been about 30,000 strong, slightly more for the Austrians. It had been a bloodbath, and an exciting game.
I’ve not seen cavalry charge its way through an army to the enemy base line before, not to mention the cavalry then cutting its way back to their start line. They were finally all broken, but had caused more losses than they sustained. They put our left flank, our plan and our timetable into complete confusion. Another unusual feature of the game was the movement of two brigades of cavalry from my right flank across the rear to our left, engaging the Prussians and then marching around the enemy right, finally charging into their center from behind. It was an exciting game, a real hoot.
I have a notion about generals increasing the breakpoints of their armies. Frederick would increase his army’s breakpoint by 3, Ferdinand by 2, Daun or Charles of Lorraine by 1, and Soubise by none. This happens to match the values these officers were given in the old SPI game Frederick the Great. This might mean reducing the generic breakpoint to 40% or so.