The Seven Years War, Black Powder, 28mm
We called this engagement the Battle of Kolinsky, as it was largely based on the Battle of Kolin (1757), only we used Russians rather than Austrians. You all know the set-up at Kolin – the Austrians (Russians) set up on a ridge, and the Prussians deployed off the road to attack them, concentrating their force on the far right of the enemy line. Well, we sort of followed this, except a lot of the Russians (and a brigade of Austrian foot) were off table, and arrived on the wrong end of the 12 foot table from the fighting. Yes indeed – the Prussian commander Dougie Trail came up with the scenario. That meant that the Russian brigade holding the end of the line – the guys in the red waistcoats – had to hold their ground until help could reach them.Over on their left the Austrian allies had deployed a powerful force of cavalry – some six units – four of them cuirassiers. They were faced by the bulk of the Prussian horse, although for some reason the bulk of the Prussian cuirassiers were on the opposite flank of their army, screening a bunch of Cossacks. The battle started with a furious cavalry scrap which more or less continued on all evening. Iain Gale commanding the Austrians did well, despite not really knowing the rules, and rolling two blunders in succession, which saw half his force pulling off the table each time! By the end though it was starting to look a little dodgy for the Prussians, whose hussar units were starting to break.The main Prussian attack went in through the oak wood – the assault force moving so quickly my hapless Russians didn’t get a chance to react. Well, to be honest I failed to activate the brigade in red waistcoats, and the Prussians moved very quickly indeed. They moved past the small oak wood and launched themselves against the flank of the Russian brigade, rolling up a battery of guns and pushing back the first battalion of Russian line. The Russians rallied though, and formed a makeshift line of sorts, but the pressure was on. To help things I moved up a small brigade of Russian cuirassiers – my reserve in that sector of the battlefield – and they charged the left flank of the attacking Prussians. The unit of grenadiers they attacked was forced back, but they soon rallied, forcing a standoff between the Prussian grenadier battalion on the hill and the cuirassiers, who spent the rest of the evening charging in, bouncing back, reforming and then going in again. Meanwhile the Prussian attack had run out of steam after rolling up another Russian gun.That was when the Prussians sent in another brigade, aiming to hit the flank of the red-waistcoated Russians on the hill. This time some accurate Russian artillery and musket fire stopped the advance by disordering the leading Prussian battalions. The disorder was repeated on subsequent turns, and so the attack never materialised. It was probably just as well, as the hard-pressed Russians on the hill were heavily outnumbered, and would have folded under the added pressure. One battalion had already routed, and the rest were holding on by luck more than judgement. At that point the long-awaited Allied reinforcements arrived – a brigade of Austrians (three battalions), followed by a brigade of Russians cavalry. They all appeared at the wrong end of the 12 foot table, and had to advance across 9 feet of tabletop before they reached the critical right flank. The cavalry though simply deployed on the left flank, bolstering the screen of Cossacks down there, and manoeuvring into position to countercharge the Prussian horse if they made any kind of aggressive move.The Prussian second-in-command in charge of the unengaged right flank decided to add to the pressure on the Russians by launching an assault across the centre of the table. This was somewhat reminiscent of Pickett’s Charge – they were going in against a fresh waiting line of Russians – two brigades – backed by two batteries of artillery. The key was going to be the cornfield which climbed the slopes of the ridge in the centre of the Russian line. If they could break through there then the defenders would be slit in two, and the Russian position on the right flank would be rolled up. It was a bold move – and a foolhardy one. Russian guns and infantry broke two units in a single turn, and what had been an attack at even odds began to look like a suicidal bid for glory. It was clear that as the Russian cavalry rode into position the attack would have to be called off, and the Prussians would have to come up with a new plan.Back on the Russian right (or Prussian left) the Austrian cavalry was slowly gaining ground against their Prussian counterparts, while the red-waistcoasted Russians had held on long enough for the Austrian infantry to reach them. That was the point where we had to call it a night. The course of the battle was still undecided, and victory could have gone either way. While the first Prussian attack was halted the second brigade was ready to advance again, and given a few more turns the veteran Prussians might have won the day. As often happens we played a game that was far too big for the couple of hours we had at our disposal. Still, it looked magnificent!