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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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Engagement of Emsdorf, 1760

The Seven Years War, Honours of War, 28mm

This week’s game was loosely based on the Battle of Emsdorf, fought in July 1760 in the western theatre. We took some liberties to fit it into a club night game, and replaced some units with others – mainly to fit in Sean 2’s new brigade of Prussians. He’s got three units now, and is working on the fourth. The basics were the same though – the French taken by surprise, and the Allies on the attack.In or game the two Seans divided up the Allied command between them, with  Sean 2 as the Prince of Brunswick leading the assault across the stream, while Sean 1’s light troops attacked the French from the opposite, more open flank. I commanded the French, most of whom weren’t French at all, but was a force mostly made up of foreign regiments, led by General von Glaubnitz. We played the game on a 6×4 foot table. At the start the French were still eating their  petit déjeuner with wagons dispensing their croissants and coffee. The three German battalions had been up with the larks and had finished eating and packing up the camp, but the Swiss were late risers, and were still at the breakfast wagons when the Allies struck. Fortunately for us, the brigadier commanding Sean’s three new Prussian battalions spent the next two turns at the ford over the stream, repeatedly failing his activation. This bought just enough time to shake out one Irish battalion across the road leading to the ford, while the second one stood pretty much back to back with it, facing off Sean 1’s Prussian hussars coming from the other direction. As for my three German regiments (one being Grenadiers de France, pretending to be Bavarians), they headed back towards the south, to form a line behind which the Irishmen could retire. My objective was to get my whole force off the southern table edge and safety, complete with the breakfast wagons of course. The Allies’ task was to stop me,. and to cause as many casualties as they could. Sean’s Luckner’s hussars were shot at by the Irish battalion, and retired to lick their wounds. I tried to be clever, and after saddling up my Bercheny hussars they tried to get in a position to charge them. That though, brought them across the front of a Hessian greandier battalion, attached to the Allied light force, and they shot up my hussars, forcing them to pull back too. Meanwhile the Hessian and French light troops skirmished outside Emsdorf, without achieving very much at all.Over by the ford though it was all happening. The Prussians finally began to roll forward, splashing across the stream, and they had the best of the musketry exchange that followed. I began pulling both Swiss units back towards the German rearguard, but the Prussians and Hessians kept on coming, forming  up outside Emsdorf into a formidable-looking double line. The Swiss almost made it.The Prussians kept piling on the Pressure, but fortunately the Germans in French service stoically held the line, which let the second Swiss pass through the German lines to form up beside them. This was tough though – holding the fragile  line while pulling back at the same time. Over on Sean 1’s flank, his troops were too busy regrouping to press home an attack from that side – a small mercy indeed. Still, the German line held their ground, allowing the breakfast wagons to make it off the southern table edge, covered by the French light infantry – the Chasseurs de Fischer. The French line now resembled a collapsing box – a bit like the Dunkirk perimeter – which was facing imminent collapse. It almost did when Luckner’s hussars charged the Bercheny hussars, over on the French right flank (top right above), but somehow the Prussians were forced to retire. Then disaster struck. Theo red-coasted Swiss battalion at the apex of the perimeter took a storm of musketry, and it broke. So, I was forced to shorten the perimeter again, as I shuffled steadily towards the table edge. The usual wargaming joke is that newly-painted units always get routed on their first game. This evening though, Sean’s new Prussians performed splendidly – it was their musketry that saw off the Swiss. Still, the withdrawal continued, and my German battalions fought back well, thanks to some pretty decent firing rolls. Collapsing the perimeter though, wasn’t going to be easy. We were now into the last few turns of the game. At the crucial moment I rolled well for activation, and all but two of my units marched off the table edge, covered by the cavalry and light infantry on one flank, and the Germans on the other. At that point it was after 9.30pm, and time to pack up. So, we called the game – a hard-fought French victory. Sean’s new Prussians though, are clearly going to be trouble!


4 Responses “Engagement of Emsdorf, 1760”

  1. Sean Page
    23rd July 2023 at 11:31 am

    It was another excellent game which went to the wire. This period is one of my favourites as the table always looks good and the rules allow a smooth running and quick game with a few surprises thrown in. It is harder to attack as the activation rolls never seem to go your way when advancing (although I did throw a six with my new unit which meant a double move !) and of course there is a penalty for moving and firing. But I think that replicates the actual situation on the field. Good game as ever.

    A new Prussian grenadier unit now nearly finished. We will have to see how they perform on the day – will they be lucky as my new unit in this game or collapse in a hail of musket fire as seems to be the norm! Thanks for organising, Angus.

    • 23rd July 2023 at 3:14 pm

      Emsdorf 1760 was the introductory scenario in Die Kriegskunst, the set of Seven Years War rules I had a hand in writing many years ago, and it makes for a good scenario – or at least it does for the Allies. When we meet your Prussian grenadiers in the open field I’m sure they’ll pay for their temerity in opposing La Belle France!

  2. David Henderson
    23rd July 2023 at 12:28 pm

    Thanks for posting. It’s been a while since I last had my 18th Century fix and the photos and AAR were much enjoyed! 😎

    • 23rd July 2023 at 3:15 pm

      Happy to oblige, David! I’m actually behind in my posting of games – I have crippling book deadlines – but I can certainly promise you more SYW games soon.

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