Small Lutter – A Tillys Very Bad Day Scenario – Roger Calderbank

Roger Calderbank and I collaborated on a small scenario for the Battle of Lutter (27 Aug 1626) using Tilly’s Very Bad Day. Lutter was, historically, actually a very good day for Tilly as his Catholic League forces defeated the mostly Protestant / mostly Lutheran army of the Lower Saxon Circle, led by Christian IV of Denmark in his role as Circle Colonel.


Assessment of the Scenario

The scenario is quite a tough one for the Lower Saxons, although my test games (played solo) showed they have a chance, particularly if the Catholic League initial attacks go badly (the Catholic League break point is 5 units until one of the flanking forces arrive), or if the Catholic League try to wait for the flanking forces to arrive before attacking strongly. The Lower Saxon command structure means that one end or the other of each line is likely to be out of command, particularly if they want to attach a commander to one of the units. The Catholic League have the problem of forcing a crossing of the stream, and uncertainty about the arrival of the flanking forces. If people find the scenario too tough for the Lower Saxons, they could try a non-historical deployment, dividing their units into the usual centre, left, right.


Historical Situation

Setting: Lutter am Barenberge, Lower Saxon Circle, 27 Aug 1626 (Gregorian Calendar)

In 1625 the Lower Saxon Circle elected the Lutheran Duke Christian IV of Holstein, simultaneously King of Denmark, as their new Lower Saxon Circle Colonel, i.e. the commander in chief of the joint circular forces. So started the Danish phase of the Thirty Years War.

Given Albrecht von Wallenstein, the Imperialist Commander in Chief, was busy elsewhere, Christian IV decided to attack Tilly’s army in late July 1626. In response, Johan Tzerclaes, Count of Tilly, promptly took the Protestant fortresses at Münden, Northeim, and Göttingen – the ones Christian was trying to save. None-the-less Christian’s force moved south facing little resistance. Then Wallenstein sent Tilly an additional 4,300 soldiers and the balance tipped in the catholic’s favour.

By this time Christian’s army was demoralised, exhausted, and hungry and began to retreat north. Christian wanted to save both his army and his baggage so the going was slow. Particularly as torrential rain turned the roads into mud. The catholics pursed the retreating protestants who fought a fighting withdrawal, defending hills and bridges before withdrawing further north. But by 26 August Christian had decided to make his stand between the small villages of Hahausen and Lutter am Barenberge.

The battle began with an opening artillery bombardment on the morning of 27 August.

Roger Calderbank TVBD Small Lutter scenario

Roger Calderbank TVBD Small Lutter scenario


Map/Terrain

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
  • The neutral zone is not in the middle of the table, so the protestants have a bigger deployment zone than the protestants (13 TUM Small Table; 8 TUM Shallow Small Table) and smaller for the catholics (9 TUM Small Table; 4 TUM Shallow Small Table)
  • The Hummecke stream is basically at the centre of the usual 8 TUM neutral zone; it runs across the table 8 TUM from the Catholic League base edge for about 18 TUM, then turns south-west
  • Until that turn, there is rough (marshy) ground bordering the stream; the marsh is four small rough ground features (each 4 x 3 TUM)
  • The woods are one small wood feature (4 x 3 TUM) and one medium wood feature (6 x 4 TUM)
  • Lutter am Barenberge is a small village feature (4 x 3 TUM)
  • The flank march arrival zones are 10 TUM on the Small Table, which makes them 5 TUM on the Shallow Small Table
Table - Lutter - Tillys Very Bad Day - Roger Calderbank

Table – Lutter – Tillys Very Bad Day – Roger Calderbank


Pre-game preparation

Normal rules for deployment and bombardment. There is no scouting.

Wilson (2010) suggests the Lower Saxons became demoralised standing about in the rain. To represent this, roll a dice at the start of the game for each unit in the Lower Saxon army – on a score of 1, 2 or 3 the unit loses 1 resolve, which can’t be rallied back. They don’t become inferior so they to retain the movement of ordinary units.


Lower Saxon Player (Defending)

Objective

Hold out for 8 Turns.

Forces Available

Historically, both armies were about 20,000 men. In the absence of better data each army gets 3 Commanders, 7 Pike&Shot, 8 Horse and 1 Cannon. My understanding is that the Lower Saxons had an unusual command structure. Although King Christian IV was supposed to be in overall command, he was in Lutter during the battle. Instead of a centre, left and right wings, the three lines in which the army was deployed had separate commands. So the commands are – front line: 2 foot, 4 horse, 1 cannon plus Fuchs as commander; second line: 3 foot, 2 horse plus Kruse as commander; third line: 2 foot, 2 horse plus Reingraf as commander. Each line must deploy with the foot in the centre and the horse equally divided on either side. Again, all units are ordinary.

Lower Saxon Order of Battle

  • First Line (8 Units; 30 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Fuchs)
    • 4 x Horse
    • 2 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
  • Second Line (6 Units; 24 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Kruse)
    • 2 x Horse
    • 3 x Pike+Shot
  • Third Line (5 Units; 20 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Reingraf)
    • 2 x Horse
    • 2 x Pike+Shot
  • 19 Units; 74 Coins; army breakpoint: 7 Units

Note: Because of the rain special rule these units will have reduced Resolve so although they superficially look as strong as their opponents, they are actually considerably weaker. About 50% of the units will have start the battle with one less Resolve.

Deployment

Deploys behind the blue dotted line.

Each line must deploy with the Pike+Shot in the centre and the horse equally divided on either side. This is the normal deployment rules but applied to each command e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy unlimbered.

Reinforcements

None.


Catholic League Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

If there is no result within 8 Turns, they lose the battle.

Forces Available

Historically, both armies were about 20,000 men. In the absence of better data each army gets 3 Commanders, 7 Pike&Shot, 8 Horse and 1 Cannon. The Catholic League have 3 commands in the table – centre: 4 foot, 1 cannon, plus Tilly as commander; right wing: 3 foot, 2 horse plus Anholt as commander; left wing: 2 horse plus Erwitte as commander. All units are ordinary, and the usual deployment zones are used.

Catholic League Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (6 Units; 24 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Anholt)
    • 2 x Horse
    • 3 x Pike+Shot
  • Centre (6 Units; 22 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Tilly)
    • 4 x Pike+Shot
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon
  • Left Wing (3 Units; 12 Coins )
    • 1 x Commander (Erwitte)
    • 2 x Horse
  • 15 Units; 58 Coins; 5 break point (excluding flanking forces)

Deployment

All units deploy 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

In addition, they have 2 flanking forces which start off-table, each of 2 horse units. One arrives at the bridge, the other on the S edge just E if the wood. These flanking forces are treated as being ‘in command’, even though they don’t have a commander with them (I thought having a commander would make them too strong).

At the end of turn 5, the Catholic League choose one flanking force, and roll for arrival, which happens on a 4, 5 or 6. If the chosen flanking force fails to arrive, they may roll for the other flanking force. If neither arrive, repeat this next turn, otherwise roll next turn for the flanking force that hasn’t yet arrived. Preferably, the Lower Saxons should not move to counter the flanking forces till they arrive. If this is hard to prevent (it is easy solo!), then say that they cannot move within 6 TUM of the arrival points.

Imperialist Flanking Forces Order of Battle

  • Bridge Flanking Force (2 Units; 8 Coins)
    • 2 x Horse
  • Woods Flanking Force (2 Units; 8 Coins)
    • 2 x Horse

With one flanking force on table the Catholic League army rises to 17 Units, 66 Coins, and 6 break point.

With both flanking forces on table the Catholic League army rises to 19 Units, 74 Coins, and 7 break point.


Victory Conditions

The game ends at the end of turn 8. The Lower Saxons win if they haven’t reached their army breakpoint by game end. They can also win if the Catholic League reach their breakpoint earlier. The Catholic League are attacker so must break the Lower Saxons to win.

As a reminder a side loses when, in the Army Morale step, they have reached their army break point (lost at least ⅓ of the original Units).


Scenario Special Rules

Wilson (2010) suggests the Lower Saxons became demoralised standing about in the rain. To represent this, roll a dice at the start of the game for each unit in the Lower Saxon army – on a score of 1, 2 or 3 the unit loses 1 resolve, which can’t be rallied back. They don’t become inferior so they to retain the movement of ordinary units.


Notes

Historically, both armies were about 20,000 men. In the absence of better data each army gets 3 Commanders, 7 Pike&Shot, 8 Horse and 1 Cannon. That gives a nominal unit size: 1,800 for Pike+Shot and 900 for Horse. There are no Shot Dragoons, Rabble, or Light Horse.

The cost of each army is given in Coins to check the balance of the scenario.


References

Guthrie, W. P. (2002). Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen, 1618-1635. Greenwood Press.

Battle of Lutter is covered pp. 123-134.

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

Battle of Lutter is covered pp. 414-416.

Wikipedia: Battle of Lutter

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