Small Herbsthausen – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

This scenario represents the Battle of Herbsthausen (5 May 1645; also called Battle of Mergentheim) using Tilly’s Very Bad Day. For the third time in a row Mercy’s Bavarian army smashed the French (this time under Turenne). Given the number of troops involved in the real battle, this is a small game on a small table with small armies (in numbers of units).


Historical Situation

Setting: Near Mergentheim, Franconia, 5 May 1645 (Gregorian Calendar)

Mercy, commander of the Bavarians, was ordered to support the Imperialists and detached 5-8,000 men. These fought at Jankau (6 Mar 1645). With the Swedish victory at Jankau, Cardinal Mazarin ordered Turenne to try to knock Bavaria out of the war. Turenne crossed the Speyer on 26 March 1645 with 11,000 men, pushed up the Neckar and then into Franconia. The Bavarians were to the south. Mercy feigned defeatism, avoided contact, and built up his forces. By April Turenne was struggling to supply his small army and billeted his army around Mergentheim.

60 km away, at Feuchtwangen, Mercy was ready to strike. 1,500 Bavarian horse had returned from Jankau and Werth arrived with more men giving Mercy 9,650 men and 9 guns. He force marched to challenge the French at Mergentheim. A French patrol spotted the Bavarians approaching at 0200 hours and alerted Turenne. Mercy camped about 2 km from the French positions giving Turenne some hours to assemble what troops he could – 3,000 horse and 3,000 foot. Rosen took the foot and formed a defensive line south-west of Herbsthausen in a small wood. Turenne then deployed the cavalry to Rosen’s left. Another 3,000 Frenchmen were still on their way when the Bavarians attacked at dawn.


Map/Terrain

Map is based on one found at Weapons and Warfare: The Battles of Herbsthausen and Allerheim. The square map area is 2.8 km by 2.8 km; this shrinks to 2.8 km by 1.9 km for the shallow option.

Table - Herbsthausen - Tillys Very Bad Day

Table – Herbsthausen – Tillys Very Bad Day

Key features are:

  • A small table of 30 TUM x 30 TUM (this is 4′ x 4′ with my 80 wide bases)
  • Shallow small table lines for those who want a more smaller battlefield – these are the thin green dotted lines – use as the base edges
  • Flank lines – these are the grey dotted lines – used for deployment
  • Large wood (8 x 6 TUM): this is lightly wooded; it disadvantages Horse as normal; it does neither disadvantages Pike+Shot nor provides cover
  • Medium hill (6 x 4 TUM)
  • Road

Pre-game preparation

Normal rules for deployment, and bombardment.

Only the Bavarians can bombard. The French cannon deployed limbered so cannot participate in bombardment.

There are no Light Horse or Dragoons so ignore the scouting rules.


Defending Player (Defending)

Objective

Forces Available

Turenne had 3,000 horse and 3,000 foot at the battle.

French Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (5 Units; 20 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Rosen)
    • 3 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Horse
  • Left Wing (6 Units; 24 Coins )
    • 1 x Commander (Vicomte de Turenne)
    • 5 x Horse
  • Initial Force: 11 Units; 44 Coins; 4 break point
  • With French Artillery reinforcements: 12 Units; 46 Coins; 4 break point
  • With French Cavalry reinforcements: 14 Units; 54 Coins; 5 break point
  • With French Infantry reinforcements: 16 Units; 62 Coins; 6 break point

Deployment

All units deploy behind the blue dotted line.

Normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Reinforcements

Historically, the French artillery (6 guns) did not arrive in time to participate in battle but was on the road. Turenne also had 3,000 men billeted in nearby villages. These did not make it to the battle, however, three squadrons of horse met Turenne as he was fleeing the field. The rest were infantry. I assume that if the French had held out longer these reinforcements would have arrived.

All reinforcements arrive on the French base edge in the centre zone.

The Game Turn arrival is for a Small table. On a Shallow Small table the arrival times are one Game Turn later.

Billeted French Reinforcements

  • French Artillery
    • 1 x Limbered Cannon
  • French Cavalry (2 Units; arrive Game Turn 4)
    • 2 x Horse
  • French Infantry (2 Units; arrive Game Turn 8)
    • 2 x Pike+Shot

Bavarian Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

The Bavarian force is attacking. If there is no result within 10 Turns, they lose the battle.

Forces Available

Mercy had 9,650 men and 9 guns.

Bavarian Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (5 Units; 20 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Kolb)
    • 4 x Horse
  • Centre (7 Units; 26 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Mercy)
    • 5 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Horse
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
  • Left Wing (5 Units; 20 Coins )
    • 1 x Commander (Werth)
    • 4 x Horse
  • 17 Units; 66 Coins; 6 break point

Deployment

Deploys behind the red dotted line.

Normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy unlimbered.

Reinforcements

None.


Victory Conditions

Normal victory conditions apply. A side loses when, in the Army Morale step, they have reached their army break point (lost at least ⅓ of the original Units). If there is not a result within 10 Game Turns then the attacker loses.


Scenario Special Rules

The wood was relative lightly wooded.

  • Horse are disadvantaged in the normal way.
  • Pike+Shot are not disadvantaged by the wood but nor do they receive cover from shooting.

Notes

Nominal unit size: 1000 for Pike+Shot; 500 for Horse; 6-9 guns for Cannon.

The French foot was relatively inexperienced. So you could, if you wanted to make it tougher for the French, make them Inferior. But I suspect that is unnecessary as it is already a pretty tough job for the French.


Where to get Tilly’s Very Bad Day

Tilly’s Very Bad Day is available for Download (PDF).


References

Guthrie, W. P. (2002). The Later Thirty Years War: From the Battle of Wittstock to the Treaty of Westphalia. Greenwood Press.

Herbsthausen is covered on pp. 214-217 and Appendix C: Battle of Mergentheim/Marienthal, pp. 227-228.

Weapons and Warfare: The Battles of Herbsthausen and Allerheim

Wilson, P. H. (2010). Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War. Penguin.

Wikipedia: Battle of Herbsthausen

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