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Battle of Hochst, 20 June 1622

Battle of Hochst, 20 June 1622


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The Thirty Years War , C.V.Wedgewood. Despite its age (first published in 1938), this is still one of the best english language narratives of this most complex of wars, tracing the intricate dance of diplomacy and combat that involved all of Europe in the fate of Germany.


Prehistory

Tilly had lost the battle of Mingolsheim against Mansfeld and Georg Friedrich von Baden-Durlach in April 1622 . He withdrew with his weakened army in the direction of Würzburg , so the Palatinate remained without sufficient protection by the troops of the Catholic League.

Christian von Braunschweig wanted to use this situation for a decisive blow against the league. He advanced with 12,000 foot troops, almost 5,000 horsemen and three guns from the Westphalian dioceses through the Wesertal and Hesse towards the Main , in order to unite them with the troops of Mansfeld and Baden-Durlach near Darmstadt .


Contents

In the fall of 1795, the French Directory ordered General of Division Jean-Baptiste Jourdan with the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse and General of Division Jean-Charles Pichegru with the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle to launch converging assaults across the Rhine. While Jourdan attacked in the north near Düsseldorf, Pichegru could mount his offensive anywhere in the south between Mannheim and Strasbourg. The operations were designed to catch Feldmarschall Count of Clerfayt's defending Austrian army in a great pincer. Ώ] Between the two thrusts, the Siege of Mainz dragged on. Several French divisions led by General of Division Jean Baptiste Kléber placed the Fortress of Mainz under blockade on 14 December 1794, but the French lacked the heavy artillery to reduce the city's defenses. In any case, the French were unable to encircle the city since the Austrians held the east bank of the Rhine. ΐ]

On 8 September 1795, Jourdan got his army across the Rhine north of Düsseldorf. By the 20th, the Army of Sambre-et-Meuse swept south as far as the Lahn River. Α] Hemmed in by General of Division François Joseph Lefebvre and 12,600 French troops, Count Hompesch surrendered the Bavarian garrison at Düsseldorf on 21 September. After agreeing not to fight the French for one year, the 2,000 Bavarians were permitted to march home, but the city and 168 fortress guns fell into French hands. Β] Threatened by Jourdan's incursion, Clerfayt began shifting his army north to oppose him. This movement gave Pichegru an opportunity. Α] Despite having a 9,200-man Bavarian garrison, Baron von Belderbusch turned over Mannheim and its 471 guns to the Army of Rhin-et-Moselle after negotiations. The Austrians were furious at their ally but could do nothing to prevent their enemies from gaining this valuable bridgehead. Β]

The 1795 campaign marked a change in the relationship between generals at the front and the French government. Since the downfall of the Committee of Public Safety and the end of the Reign of Terror in July 1794, the power of the representatives on mission over army generals had declined. When a representative tried to meddle with a troop deployment in September 1795, Lefebvre brusquely overrode the man's objections. Γ]

The fall of Mannheim presented Pichegru with a marvellous opportunity to capture Clerfayt's supply base at Heidelberg. This coup might have compelled the Austrian general to retreat. Instead, Pichegru only sent two divisions under Georges Joseph Dufour and Jean-Jacques Ambert to seize the place. Since the two divisions advanced with the Neckar River between them, Austrian Feldmarschall-Leutnant Peter Vitus von Quosdanovich was able to concentrate most of his troops against Dufour's division. Δ] On 24 September, Quosdanovich's 8,000 men overcame 12,000 French soldiers when an Austrian cavalry charge rode down Dufour's division at the Battle of Handschuhsheim. Β] The bloodied French withdrew to Mannheim. Δ]

At this point, Pichegru and Jourdan got together to decide on a plan. Jourdan wanted to mass the two French armies near Mannheim, placing them between Clerfayt's army and a second Austrian army under General der Kavallerie Dagobert Sigmund von Wurmser that was advancing from the south. Using the strategy of the central position, Jourdan hoped to defeat the Austrian armies one after the other. After Pichegru rejected the plan, both generals waited upon new orders from Paris. After the loss of Mannheim, Clerfayt took his army south to block further moves by Pichegru against his Heidelberg base. In response, Jourdan ordered his army to move south to the Main River. This move completely isolated Mainz by surrounding it from both sides of the Rhine. Α]


Contents

Middle Ages Edit

Höchst is first mentioned in 790 as Hostat (meaning high site or high place). The name has nothing to do with the Hostato Saga regarding the Knight Hostato, who after being the only one to survive a battle was given the site by Charlemagne in thanks for his bravery. On 11 February 1355 Höchst received its town privileges by emperor Charles IV. In a charter dated 12 January 1356, Charles IV gave additional privileges to Höchst including the right to hold markets every Tuesday. In the medieval part of the city, most of the timber framed houses stem from the period after the major fire in 1586.

On 22 June 1622, during the Thirty Years' War, the Battle of Höchst saw a Catholic League and Spanish Empire armies defeat a Protestant force. A second Battle of Höchst occurred on 11 October 1795 when Habsburg soldiers clashed with Republican French troops.

Höchst am Main became part of Frankfurt am Main in 1928. Until 1987 Höchst was the administrative seat of an independent Landkreis. Höchst is now the center of the Stadtbezirke (administrative district) Frankfurt-West with 120,000 residents.

In contrast to most other Stadtteile, Höchst is an old historical city (with town privileges since 1355) and is still the most important subcenter in the western part of Frankfurt.


Divine Right

Twilight of Divine Right: From Defenestration to Restoration is a version of the Twilight of the Sun King: Birth of the Age of Reason rules targeted at refighting large battles from the period 1618 to 1660. The rules feature scenarios for the battles of Fleurus, 1622 and Cheriton, 1644.

Click Here for the Twilight of the Sun King rules

All measurements in the game are based on a scale chosen by the players, the base width. Movement distances, weapon ranges, etc, are then multiples of whatever base width has been chosen. The base width is half of the frontage of whatever you wish to use as a unit. Therefore any size of figure and also any basing scheme can be used with the rules. Units represent between 1000 and 2000 infantry or 500 to 800 cavalry, depending on the type of unit.

Battles can be fought to a conclusion in a reasonable amount of time, most in around 4 hours. Most battles are suitable for a single player a side if you wish. Using a unit frontage of 80 to 120mm means most battles are played on a table 120 to 180cm wide (4 to 6'). The system is simple and innovative. It concentrates on you being a high level commander and bringing out the characteristics of the various troop types.

Resources Page:

Click here for the resources page with errata, additional unpublished scenarios, play options and other material.

Click here for a photo report of the Battle of Lutzen, 1632, fought as a gaming show in 2019.

Click here for a key to the maps used.

Reviews and AAR's:

Click here for an online review of the rules.

Click here for an AAR of the battle of Fleurus, 1622 and a first look at the rules.


French and Indian War

As France expanded into the Ohio River Valley from 1754 to 1763, it fought with Britain for control of North America. Both sides forged alliances with Indians to help fight their battles. Known as the French and Indian War, the struggle ended with the signing of the Treaty of Paris in 1763.

In 1763, Pontiac Indians of the Ohio River became incensed upon learning King George III expected them to become British loyalists. During Pontiac&aposs War, the Ottawa Chief Pontiac rallied support among other tribes and laid siege to Britain’s Fort Detroit. When a British retaliatory assault plan on Pontiac’s village was discovered, the Indians attacked and killed many British soldiers during the Battle of Bloody Run on July 31.

The Battle of Fallen Timbers happened on August 20, 1794, along Ohio’s Maumee River between regional Indians (Miami, Shawnee, Lenape) and the United States. The well-trained U.S. Army decisively defeated the Indians and the battle ended with the adoption of the Treaty of Greenville.

In 1759, a series of battles known as the Cherokee Wars began from the valleys of Virginia to North Carolina and southward. Two peace treaties forced the Cherokee to give up millions of acres of land to settlers, provoking them to fight for the British in the Revolutionary War, hoping to keep what land they had left.


A series of European wars that were partially a Catholic-Protestant religious conflict. It was primarily a battle between France and their rivals the Hapsburg’s, rulers of the Holy Roman Empire.

Some regions were affected much more than others. For example, an estimated three-quarters of Württemberg’s population died between 1634 and 1639. Overall losses were serious enough that historians believe that it took a century after the Thirty Years’ War for Germany’s population to reach the level of 1618.


Campaigns of 1622-23 [ edit | edit source ]

In 1621, Christian was one of the few men to continue rallying behind Frederick V, who had only the year before claimed and been deposed from the throne of Bohemia following his crushing loss at the Battle of White Mountain. Frederick was still leader of the Protestant resistance rooted from the 1618 crushed Bohemian Revolution. What attracted Christian to the cause is arguable, but something that may have had to do with it was the fact that before his campaigning, Christian declared a chivalric love for Elizabeth, Frederick's wife and daughter of James I of England, who at this point of the war had sent several thousand troops under Sir Horace Vere to the Palatinate.

By the end of 1621 he had managed to raise 10,000 troops, with whom he wintered in Westphalia, gathering a great treasure from the dioceses of Münster and Paderborn. Christian's military actions began in 1622 when Ernst von Mansfeld began organizing his forces and expressed interest in linking up with his army, especially after his ally Georg Friedrich, Margrave of Baden-Durlach, was crushingly defeated at the Battle of Wimpfen. They were caught at the Battle of Höchst, June 22, 1622, and although Christian was arguably defeated, he was able to escape with much of his army despite crossing a river under heavy fire and losing all of his baggage. The newly united Protestant army moved into Alsace, leaving Heidelberg, the capital of the Palatinate, to fall to Count von Tilly in September 1622, effectively forcing Frederick V out of the war.

After intense foraging and ravaging of the Alsace region, Christian and Mansfeld moved north in Lorraine, and upon the news of the Spanish siege of Bergen op Zoom, they marched to the relief of the city, fighting the Battle of Fleurus (August 29, 1622) and in the midst of the battle, Christian displayed his well-known courage and stubbornness on the field by leading four unsuccessful cavalry charges against the Spanish lines under Fernández de Córdoba. It was on the fifth charge that the Protestant horsemen broke the Spanish lines and paved the way for the Protestant relief of Bergen op Zoom that October. This came at a cost of most of Christian's infantry and one of Christian's arms. Fresh from that victory, Christian spent the winter of 1622-23 in the Spanish Netherlands resting and replenishing his army to what would be in spring 1623 set at roughly 15,000.

Spring 1623 saw a plan between Christian, Mansfeld, the Hungarian general Bethlen Gabor, and his ally Count Thurn to retake Bohemia for the Protestants and to breathe new life into the ailing Protestant cause. The campaign faltered from the start as Count von Tilly received news of the troop movements and positioned himself in Lower Saxony, with reports from Mansfeld coming to Christian that he did not have the money to pay his armies or to campaign, leaving Christian to himself in the north. Outnumbered again, and leading an army that was not as disciplined as Tilly's, Christian made a break for the relative safety of the United Provinces. He was outrun and outmaneuvered 10 miles short of the Dutch border, and in a stand typical of Christian's bravery, he was nonetheless decisively defeated at the Battle of Stadtlohn on August 6, 1623, when he lost all but 2,000 of this 15,000-man army. Broken, he fled for The Hague with the remnants of his army.


Battle of Hochst, 20 June 1622 - History

I received the Twilight of Divine Right rules about two weeks ago and had a very rough run through last week. This weekend I decided to give them a full solo trial game.

You can see the results at my wiki Corrigenda

The situation was based on the third battle of an old campaign played with my own rules which I abandoned in a fit of pique not long after the first run through of this game.

It’s 1622 and Friedrich (possibly of Baden Durlach, but maybe not) has taken the role of leader of the minor Protestant prince rather than the Mad Halberstadter, Christian of Bruswick and Johann Anholt has been fighting him while Tilly and Mansfield are occupied with each other at the other end of the HRE.

Friedrich has fared no better than in real life and lost two battles and this is is his last gasp to halt the pursuing Imperialists long enough to allow Dutch

Initial positions from behind the Imperialists lines

Initial positions from the south

I enjoyed this first proper battle with the rules and will be playing more with them. A few teething problems, mine mostly – finding a general changing sides accidentally half way through for one!

All in all a good experience.

Thanks to Hwicce and Whirlwind for bringing these to my attention.

A nice game Guy and reading other AARs, there are, like many rulesets, areas that might need clarification, house rules or some common sense.

Common sense? Aye there’s the rub! I remember reading about it.

Seriously the rules seem to work really well in terms of game flow and ease of use, and produce a game that feels not a million miles away from what I would generally expect from reading about Thirty Years War battles. (Sample size a bit small perhaps – two games!)

I will play some more straightforward set piece battles – no rivers, no complicated areas of unknown terrain, no town, all of which was pushing it for a second run through of a new set.

That I had so few moments of doubt speaks volumes for what an elegant set of rules they are. Indeed the reason I felt comfortable about the idea of running a complicated scenario that emerged from a campaign as my second game with them was because the first run through had been so smooth.

I tried a few games of Polemos for this period -ECW not TYW after reading some of Whirlwind’s reports a while back, but I just can’t get on with the idea of the bidding system. I didn’t get on with it in the first Marlburian set they produced and however much I try it just feels gimmicky to me. Sorry, it’s not you it’s me, but there it is.

Anyway -ToDR, a really good set.

Thanks again to all involved for inspiring me to try them.

Thanks to Hwicce and Whirlwind for bringing these to my attention.

You are very welcome! Really interesting scenario and write-up too: it is now officially on my list of scenarios to steal. I did notice that thing too about just how much rear support you are allowed, and need to max out on your combat chances. Regarding the pursuit, someone clarified the ‘breakthrough’ effect in the comments to my Lens AAR. Basically the ‘pursuit’ bit seems to be a one-shot and then the cavalry can get back in the game, viz:

On breaking through the unit moves the distance indicated by the procedure and then is ‘rallied’ – i.e. it can move as normal. It is likely that it will take sometime before it can actually get back into action as it will be facing the wrong way, out of command distance and quite a way from ‘the action’.

Ah! Thanks for that. You know now you mention it I think I may have read that – shame it didn’t occur to me at the time. Too busy wondering what effect charging into a river would do to unit cohesion!

Still, however it may have happened, it happened. If the Imperialist horse hadn’t been off looking for another way of crossing the river, they would have reacted faster and smashed the Protestant horse anyway. As it was they threw appallingly badly on their tests to manoeuvre and charge.

Steal away – interested to see how it work in other hands.

Thanks for a great AAR and an interesting scenario. I am glad you seem to enjoy the rules.

I thought I would clear up a few points and make some suggestions.

On the pursuit Whirlwind is correct. The breakthrough pursuit is a one-off move and then the unit can act as normal. Of course the unit will be facing the wrong way and likely to be out of command range & a long way from the action. So probably it is going to be a while before the unit can do anything else.

On the multiple ranks of support the thing to remember is in the game it is a morale test and not a melee or whatever you are testing for. So the 2nd line gives you support, ie they are potentially helping with whatever the from rank is doing. The other ranks are just scaring the hell out of the target. The other thing to bear in mind is you will rarely get a chance to stack up that many units. It is going to be very rare in the ECW/TYW where the battles are relatively small but in the larger later post TYW battles and battles against the Ottomans. In general it tends to be used when one side is outnumbered and in a fortified position. The other side then might assault part of the line with a deep formation to try to crack it. Basically using the extra troops they have to do this. So you should find it will be rare in ECW/TYW games but more common in later games. But you could maybe use it for something like the storming of Bristol in the ECW.

On the river/stream thing I would recommend using action tests for them. Remember it can take more than 1 to do something and also you can combine it with ‘Bad going’. So obviously you could have a river/stream that just takes 1 action test to cross. But also you could for example have 1 to enter the river and a second to leave. It could be 1 to enter, 1 to cross to the other side and a 3rd to leave. You could also combine this idea with ‘bad going’. For example often rivers have a marshy area on one or both sides. So that could be ‘bad going’ and the actual river an action test to cross.

I also noticed you are interested in Marlburian battles. In case you don’t know the 1st set of rules in this series covers Marlborough’s era – it is called Twilight of the Sun King. There is also a 3rd set called Twilight of the Soldier Kings which is for SYW time. Finally you might be interested to know there is a 2nd set of TYW scenarios on the way, including some from the same kind of era your game is. It is being sent to the printer this week but there might be a delay in printing, because of the current crisis. It will have the following battles –

Wimpfen – 6th May 1622 1
Hochst – 20th June 1622 3
Crossing the Lech – 15th April 1632 5
Lützen – 16th November 1632 7
1st Nordlingen – 6th September 1634 9
Wittenweier – 9th August 1638 11
Honnecourt – 26th May 1642 13
2nd Breitenfeld – 2nd November 1642 15
Rocroi – 19th May 1643 17
2nd Lleida (Lérida) – 15th May 1644 19
Freiburg – 3rd & 5th August 1644 21
Rochetta Tanaro – 23rd September 1653 (Franco-Spanish War) 24
Valenciennes – 16th July 1656 (Franco-Spanish War) 25
Dunes – 14th June 1658 (Franco-Spanish War) 27
Ameixial – 8th June 1663 (Portuguese Restoration War) 29

Nick, thanks so much for that.

I really like the rules and I have tried all sorts for this period since Gush, Tercio and Newbury in the 70s/80s and these fit the bill for me the best. (Liked Gush – but you wouldn’t fight a game this big very quickly and Tercio drove me crazy and I’m not sure I ever finished a turn of Newbury). I was beginning to think that apart from my own set (and let’s face it they are currently awaiting some ‘tweaks’), convincing rules for Pike and Shot were like hens teeth.

Still not entirely sure about the depth thing, (entirely happy with the concept of morale vice casualties, my own work the same way) but we’ll see!

I have plans for more TYW figures, particularly cavalry of various sorts, having found a set that really work for me and these are my priority for now.


Battle of Hochst, 20 June 1622 - History

By Louis Ciotola

As the year 1622 dawned over Germany, things appeared bleak for the refugee “Winter King” of Bohemia, Elector Palatine Frederick V. The entire Protestant cause, in fact, was in its most dire crisis to date in the ongoing struggle against Catholic powers. Just over a year before, the combined might of the Hapsburg-led Imperialists and the Catholic League had smashed the short-lived Protestant rebellion in Bohemia, sending Frederick fleeing into exile. Simultaneously, a Spanish army stormed into Frederick’s native Palatinate and, with the aid of the League, nearly completed the conquest of the entire region, thus making the elector—temporarily at least—homeless. At the start of the new year, the Catholics faced little or no organized opposition.
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But as winter melted into spring, Frederick’s prayers for a miracle seemingly were answered when salvation came literally from out of nowhere. Three men, sharing a thirst for war and little else, stepped forward to raise armies and fight in Frederick’s name. The first of these, Count Ernst von Mansfeld, had been a participant in the war since its conception, yet by this time his numerous follies and frequent double-dealing had made him a virtual nonentity. The other two, Christian of Brunswick and George Frederick of Baden-Durlach, were newcomers ready to test their mettle against the seemingly invincible Catholic armies.

With their arrival, Frederick could breathe a sigh of relief, or so it seemed. How long his respite would last was anyone’s guess, for the loyalty, talent, and integrity of the newly arrived Protestant “heroes” were far from unquestionable. Their tale, and the year that it consumed, would prove to be one of wanton brutality and recklessness that stamped an exclamation point on the end of a dying breed of mercenaries.

The “Winter King” in Exile

In November 1619, only one month after Frederick’s coronation as king of the rebellious Bohemians, his new kingdom’s ongoing struggle against the Imperialist Hapsburgs reached its apogee outside the walls of Vienna. A siege of Emperor Ferdinand II’s capital, however, proved impossible after the departure of their Transylvanian allies, and the Bohemian surge slowly began to roll back. During the course of the following spring, the rebel army was able to hold its own, but in July 1620 the Catholic League, led by Bavarian Duke Maximilian II, entered the war by attacking Bohemia’s allies in Austria. Within two months, most of Frederick’s allies were overrun by the Catholic armies, which then invaded Bohemia itself. Frederick had but one remaining army from which to seek help.

That army, commanded by Mansfeld, had been sitting idly in the town of Pilsen since the start of the war. There was little reason for Frederick to expect the lethargic Mansfeld to come to his rescue now, and the king’s apprehensions were quickly justified. Upon the arrival of the Catholic army, Mansfeld offered neutrality to the enemy in exchange for personal indemnity and permission to remain in Pilsen peacefully. The Catholics accepted Manfeld’s offer and turned their might toward Prague, encountering the Bohemian army outside the capital on November 8. The battle, which lasted barely an hour, was a complete disaster for the Bohemians, thanks largely to the skills of a League general, Count Johann Tserclaes von Tilly. Frederick fled Prague just before its capture, earning himself the unflattering nickname “Winter King” for the brevity of his reign.

Making matters worse, Frederick learned that his homeland, the Palatinate, was being overrun by Catholic invaders. Seeking to take advantage of Central Europe’s crisis for its own gain, Hapsburg Spain had allied itself with its Austrian Imperialist cousins during the height of the Bohemian rebellion. Following months of preparation, a Spanish army of 25,000 men under the command of Ambrosio, Marquis de Spinola, crossed the Palatine border from the Spanish Netherlands in August 1620. Spinola moved quickly, driving back the feeble army of the Protestant Union, the coalition of German states created to counter the power of the Catholic League. Within a few days, the Spanish Army completely isolated the Upper Palatinate and blocked reinforcements from the Dutch United Provinces, a traditional enemy of Spain. For the time being, at least, Frederick had no possibility of returning to his electorate.

Mansfeld the Mercenary

There was, however, a bright spot just over the horizon for Frederick and the Protestant cause. The United Provinces, which had already been subsidizing the Bohemian rebels and had flirted with the idea of doing the same for the Protestant Union, was nearing the end of its 12-year truce with Spain. It seemed likely that the Dutch would go to war against Spain at the expiration of the truce. In April 1621 they did just that, declaring war when Spain refused Dutch demands for maintaining the peace.

Frederick’s hopes for a massive influx of reinforcements were dashed when the United Provinces decided not to march to the Union’s relief, opting instead for a defensive strategy. But the wealthy Dutch were willing to continue as paymasters, creating a distraction and keeping Spinola comfortably away from their own homeland. The only problem was that the Union was on its last legs and was not a plausible military diversion. Another force would have to be found. To the great detriment of the Protestant cause, the only candidate for such a diversion was the barbaric and undependable Mansfeld.

Mansfeld was a mercenary in every sense of the term. He initially served the Hapsburgs, both Austrian and Spanish, in Hungary and the Netherlands. His service came to a bitter conclusion when Emperor Rudolf II refused to grant the general what he considered his rightful inheritance upon the death of his father. Snubbed, Mansfeld turned to the Duke of Savoy and also took a simultaneous position in the army of the Protestant Union, thus serving two masters at once. In 1618, Savoy allowed him to march to Bohemia in support of the rebels. Sickly, short, and slightly deformed, Mansfeld was nevertheless a fearless fighter, with an amazing ability to raise armies with great speed. He was also a talented negotiator, a skill that often aided him in his opportunistic tendencies. Still, hiring Mansfeld was always a risk—not only was his utter ruthlessness toward civilians well known, but he had a penchant for abandoning his benefactors at the slightest whim, making him entirely untrustworthy.

Frederick and the Dutch had little choice but to hire Mansfeld. The Protestant Union stood no chance against Spinola, and by spring the Spanish commander had finished off the Protestant army, effectively dissolving the Union. Following this victory, Emperor Ferdinand officially divided the Palatinate between his allies, granting the Lower Palatinate to Spain and the Upper Palatinate to Bavaria.

Fading Hope For the Protestant Cause

Although he now possessed the Upper Palatinate in theory, Maximilian of Bavaria could not dispatch his army into the territory due to a pre-existing treaty with the Protestant Union. Mansfeld would obligingly end Maxmilian’s dilemma. Fueled with Dutch money and back in the service of Frederick, Mansfeld left Pilsen with 15,000 men and crossed into the Upper Palatinate. Maximilian now had an excuse to secure with arms his newest acquisition.

The duke wasted no time sending Tilly and the League army after Mansfeld. Tilly halted an attempt by Mansfeld to re-enter Bohemia and drove the mercenary north into the Lower Palatinate, leaving the Upper Palatinate completely under Maximilian’s control. Despite the check, Mansfeld continued to operate freely in the new theater, marching toward the Spanish army under the command of Spinola’s replacement, Don Gonsalvo Fernandez de Cordoba, and interrupting Cordoba’s siege of Frankenthal.

Wherever Mansfeld went, Tilly followed. The League general raced into the Lower Palatinate and effected a union with Cordoba, but rather than pursue the troublesome mercenary, the Catholic generals chose instead to besiege the electorate’s capital, Heidelberg. By that time, Mansfeld had already settled in Hapsburg Alsace for the winter, beginning an infamous occupation that brought the Alsatians a steady diet of typhus, murder, destruction, and thievery, his soldiers reputedly stealing even Christ figures off local crosses.

As 1621 drew to a close, it was painfully obvious to Protestant leaders that the war was lost. Tilly and Cordoba ran free throughout the Palatinate, and the following spring would surely complete their conquest. Mansfeld’s relatively small army stood no chance—assuming the mercenary would even continue to fight. Meanwhile, the Winter King had taken refuge in The Hague, protected by the only state willing to offer him sanctuary. But the Dutch, unwilling to dispatch an army to rescue his beloved electorate, would do little else for him. Barely two years since being crowned king in Prague, Frederick’s cause was all but lost. Only a miracle could save it.

A panoramic 17th-century print of the Battle of Wimpfen gives a sense of the sheer size of the contending forces.

Rallying Two Protestant Generals to the Cause

Enter not one miracle, but two. The Catholic surge in Germany and Frederick’s vain yet valiant stand finally pulled on the heartstrings of a pair of Protestant generals with the means to turn the tide. The first to step forward and declare for Frederick was the youthful Christian of Brunswick. Brunswick, who possessed an infatuation for Frederick’s wife, Elizabeth, had been a longtime sympathizer of the king, and he now swore an oath to restore the Palatinate to its refugee elector. Brunswick was the current administrator of Halberstadt and a very poor one at that—his true passion was war. As he wrote his mother, “I must confess that I have a taste for war, that I have it because I was born so, and shall have it indeed until my end.”

The second of Frederick’s new heroes was George Frederick, Margrave of Baden-Durlach. A devout 60-year-old Calvinist who was already highly distrusted by the Hapsburgs because of his previous service with the Protestant Union, Baden had decided to assemble his own army shortly after the Union’s dissolution. Brunswick’s declaration made this the best time to do so. Many observers, chief among them Hapsburg Archduke Leopold, suspected Baden’s true intentions, but they were unsuccessful in persuading him to reconsider. On April 25, 1622, the aging Margrave proclaimed his entry into the war and vowed to liberate the Palatinate.

Now Mansfeld had help and Frederick had hope. The combined strength of Mansfeld, Brunswick, and Baden, roughly 40,000 men, was enough to challenge Catholic supremacy in the Palatinate. Should the trio prove successful, others waited in the wings to join the Protestant cause with armies of their own. Frederick was so enthusiastic that he decided to venture from The Hague and personally campaign with one of the three men preparing to fight for his restoration. His first choice was Brunswick, but since Brunswick’s army was the farthest away, Frederick reluctantly chose to accompany Mansfeld, who was still ravaging Alsace.

Decisive Repulse at Mingolsheim

The three Protestant forces remained separated, with Mansfeld and Baden sitting along the Upper Rhine while Brunswick was far off in Westphalia. Despite this, Mansfeld was determined to act offensively, and within days he drew up before the 15,000-strong League army at Mingolsheim, alongside the Kleinbach River. Tilly, who was waiting to unite with his ally Cordoba, kept a wary eye on the enemy. When Mansfeld attempted to cross the bridge at Mingolsheim amid a torrential rainstorm in the face of the Catholic army, a golden opportunity presented itself.

Tilly moved quickly on the morning of April 27, hitting the Protestant rear guard waiting to cross the bridge. Mansfeld could save the rest of his trapped soldiers only by unleashing a brutal covering fire with his cannons from the opposite bank and burning Mingolsheim in order to create a smokescreen. Unfortunately, those same cannons were stuck in a thick mud and could not readily be evacuated. To salvage his artillery, Mansfeld decided to take a stand.

Interpreting the Protestant moves as a full-scale retreat, Tilly ordered 5,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry to storm the bridge and pursue the defeated enemy. It was a cruel surprise to discover Mansfeld’s army, still protected by the smoke, waiting for them. A single cannon shot signaled the start of the counterattack, and within moments a living hell came crashing down upon the Catholics. Only the valiant stand of the Schmidt Infantry Regiment allowed the Catholic survivors to scamper back across the bridge. Tilly attempted to rally them but was wounded for his troubles and compelled to withdraw, leaving behind four cannons and 2,000 men.

“The Salvation of the Empire is at Stake”

Although victorious, Mansfeld was in no mood to pursue the ever-dangerous enemy. He opted to wait for Baden, who joined him three days later. With 30,000 men combined, the Protestants had a tremendous local superiority over the League, but disputes over command erupted at once. Tilly, well aware of his predicament, took the precaution of digging into an excellent position at the Wimpfen bridgehead on the Neckar River. Having only recently been bloodied, Mansfeld refused to assault Tilly directly and chose instead to splinter off from Baden and drive a wedge between Tilly and the fast-approaching Cordoba. Glad to see a hated rival go, Baden stayed put, determined to confront Tilly alone and match Mansfeld’s earlier feat at Mingolsheim.

Marching toward the Spanish outpost of Ladenburg, Mansfeld hoped to lure the Spanish into pursuit, but the ploy failed miserably. It was apparent that Baden was going to give battle, and Tilly sent word to Cordoba, imploring him to race to Wimpfen as fast as possible, adding dramatically, “The salvation of the Empire is at stake.” Early on May 5, Cordoba arrived, boosting the Catholic force to 18,000. Baden, however, was not dissuaded by the shift in power and drew up his forces that same day. Desperate for glory, he had no intention of backing down.

The Protestant army at Wimpfen was experienced, but the conglomeration of officers and men had never trained together, disrupting its coordination. It was also hampered by a lack of provisions. Making up for these shortcomings was an intense Protestant zeal flowing through Baden’s ranks that guaranteed a hard fight. The stage was set for the next major battle in the year-long cavalcade of war.

Preparations for the Battle of Wimpfen

The Protestants drew up on a low hill in a semicircle formation. Their left extended to some woods just north of the village of Biberach, while their right sat 600 yards from the Neckar. To the rear was a small stream known as the Rollinger Bach. In front of their formations was a line of 70 battle wagons adorned with spears and armed by guns loaded with grapeshot. Protestants dubbed the line “the Wagonburg.” Immediately behind it were musketeers, strewn out to add greater defensive protection. Artillery was also placed among the wagons. Five infantry battalions arranged in linear style made up the center, with a sixth guarding the right. The mass of the cavalry remained behind the infantry.

The Catholics lined up on the high ground north of the Protestants. The Spanish formed one line of infantry on the right, while the League infantry arranged itself on the left into the traditional square formations known as tercios, four in the front and two in reserve. Cavalry was posted on the flanks and rear. All the Catholic guns were positioned safely behind the army.

May 5 was already quite hot when the opposing armies became fully visible to each other at sunrise. The two sides had been pounding away with cannon fire for the last couple of hours, hoping to draw the others from their position. Tilly and Cordoba remained patient, waiting for an opportunity. At 11 am, Tilly decided the time was right and sent the first four tercios advancing directly on the Wagonburg. Cordoba ordered his front line forward as well. They met an unexpectedly stout defense. Protestant musketeers responded with a hail of fire into the dense Catholic lines from behind their bristling fortifications.

Baden’s Charge

The shaken attackers halted, then retired. By noon, the Catholic forces were back where they had started. The battlefield fell silent as both sides rested their soldiers for the next phase of combat. Then Baden made a terrible mistake. During the temporary respite, he withdrew his troops from the Biberach Woods. Cordoba, eyeing the withdrawal, quickly occupied the advantageous position. When Baden realized his error, he dispatched musketeers to recapture the woods and shield the Protestant assault, which commenced around 2 pm, after he unleashed a second bombardment of the Catholic line.

Imperial and Catholic League forces led by Count Johann Tersclaes von Tilly defeat the Protestant Union led by the Margrave of Baden-Durlach at Wimpfen.

The Catholics were preparing another attack of their own when Baden unleashed a simultaneous charge of 2,700 Protestant horsemen into the League left, throwing back the Catholic cavalry and threatening to outflank the tercios. In an attempt to relieve the pressure on Tilly, Cordoba continued his share of the offensive, pounding his men against the Wagonburg in another effort to break through. Once again, the Catholics were stopped dead in their tracks.

The Spanish, led by Cordoba personally, prepared to charge Baden’s extended cavalry in an attempt to hit the Protestants while they were exposed. Incredibly, upon its execution, Cordoba was the sole participant in the phantom counterattack. His Walloons timidly refused to follow his lead, and the Spanish commander unknowingly raced through the Protestant horse entirely on his own. Miraculously, he was unharmed. The Spanish had better luck in the Biberach Woods, beating back two assaults by enemy musketeers.

Soon, Baden’s charge ran out of steam. What remained of his cavalry was scattered and disorganized, but the Catholics were in an even more precarious position. Most of their infantry was in utter disarray before the Wagonburg, making them extremely vulnerable to an attack by the Protestant center. Baden, however, declined to press home his advantage. Probably influenced by the remarkable success of his fortifications, he kept his infantry in place, allowing the Catholics time to reorganize and drive off his once-triumphant cavalry, leaving it up to the strength of his defenses to ultimately decide the battle.

Baden’s Army Disintegrates

Around 5 pm, the determined Catholics attacked again, marching straight toward the battle wagons. As before, a deluge of murderous musket fire met the attackers and the advance ground to a halt. Despite the carnage, the Spaniards stood firm, claiming later that a white-robed woman had appeared in the smoke and given them inspiration. But a religious vision was no match for modern weaponry, and it was only a matter of time before the Catholic effort began to collapse.

Then, just as the Spanish seemed ready to crack, a magazine suddenly exploded behind the Protestant lines. Although it did little physical damage, the unexpected blast sent waves of panic through Baden’s ranks, causing the shocked defenders to falter. Smelling blood, the Catholic infantry smashed into the Protestant lines during those crucial few moments of paralysis, driving straight through the Wagonburg and overrunning the cannons. Baden’s infantry attempted to stand, but when their own cannons were turned against them, the exhausted men fled. Only a handful continued to resist, holding out until 9 pm.

The day-long fight cost Baden 2,000 dead, 1,100 captured, and the loss of 10 guns, 70 battle wagons, and 100,000 talers. The Catholics fared much better, suffering only 1,800 casualties, mostly at the Wagonburg. So disparate were the losses that the humiliated Baden hung up his sword. Arriving in Heilbronn, the old Margrave fled to Stuttgart and quit the war. Two-thirds of his remaining force had reformed after the battle, but when their commander announced his retirement, the army disintegrated. A mere 3,000 of them joined Mansfeld, who was fortunate that the victorious Catholics needed a temporary respite after the brutal engagement. He got away with only a minor defeat at the hands of Tilly on June 10, before retreating safely to Mannheim. Barely a month into the campaign, one of Frederick’s three saviors was already eliminated.

Brunswick’s Army Cornered at Sossenheim

Despite the setback, Mansfeld was soon back on his feet, while Tilly’s focus turned to Christian of Brunswick. Baden’s destruction at Wimpfen and Mansfeld’s momentary check left Brunswick isolated. Mansfeld realized that his last remaining ally was the next Catholic target. If he could reach Brunswick before the enemy, their united force could still turn the tide. As usual, Tilly was one step ahead of his opponents. On June 17, the Catholics won the short race to Brunswick, intercepting him near Hochst, a small town west of Frankfurt-on-the-Main. There they trapped Brunswick, forcing him to fight in order to escape annihilation and initiating the second major confrontation in less than two months.

Brunswick’s army of 15,000 was in no condition to give battle, being outnumbered by 11,000 men and lacking the necessary arms. Fewer than half in his infantry were musketeers, and quality pikemen were in short supply. Furthermore, only one of the three Protestant cannons was operational, while, on the other side, the 26,000-strong Catholic army possessed 19 cannons and recently had been reinforced by a fresh Imperialist division. Given the inadequacies of his army, Brunswick’s only hope was to unite with either Mansfeld or Baden, but the failure of his two allies left him completely alone and hung out to dry.

Count Ernst von Mansfeld.

Brunswick was well aware of his deficiencies. As the Catholics approached, he expected to be attacked and began preparing a position south of the Sulzbach Stream, where he hoped to hold out long enough to allow his baggage to escape. The stream would be his first line of defense. The key point in the line was the village of Sossenheim, specifically its bridge, where Tilly was bound to try to cross the Sulzbach. Brunswick ordered fortifications constructed within Sossenheim and deployed 1,000 men inside the town. To the south, additional redoubts were built and manned by 1,000 infantry. The remaining bulk of the Protestant army ran east to west, with the infantry in front and the cavalry to the rear.

The Catholic army formed to the northeast of the Protestants, just beyond the Sulzbach. The Spanish constituted the right wing, with Cordoba’s infantry massed into two immense tercios and his cavalry on the far right. Three small units of musketeers were posted in the front. Tilly’s infantry consisted of three tercios, one of which was left in reserve. His cavalry manned the extreme left flank and was supported by 500 musketeers.

The opposing armies sat patiently, watching each other closely for nearly three days until, finally, at noon on June 20 the League cannons opened fire. The cannonade had great effect, chiefly because Brunswick was unable to respond in kind. Before long the entire Catholic force was moving forward. The three vanguard Spanish musketeer divisions forded the Sulzbach west of Sossenheim, while League cavalry shot past the town into the Nidda Marsh, and the infantry headed straight for the bridge. The battle for Sossenheim was over within minutes. Brunswick’s men fled without much resistance, ceding the bridge to the enemy. A counterattack succeeded in retaking the town, but the triumph was only temporary. Catholic pressure was irresistible, and the Protestants retired into their redoubts to the south.

As Tilly moved to capture the redoubts, the main Protestant force attempted to cross the Main before the Catholics could complete their encirclement. Upon the reduction of the redoubts, the Leaguers pursued with intense fury. Most of the Protestants managed to make it across the river, but those who did not were slaughtered as the nearing Catholics caused the fear-crazed Protestants to jam the bridge. An untold number of men and horses plunged over the side and drowned in the river.

Following their victory, the Catholics stayed put rather than continuing the pursuit. The consequences of the battle soon became clear to the Protestants. Brunswick had lost roughly 5,000 men, the majority perishing in the Main River, and for a brief time Brunswick was rumored dead. He also lost his precious few cannons. But Brunswick and 8,000 of his men managed to escape to join Mansfeld. Although the Catholics had won the day, they had failed to destroy a relatively weak enemy, allowing it to unite with another Protestant army. It was a mistake they would soon regret.

The Battle of Fleurus

When Brunswick reached his fellow mercenary’s army, he immediately sought out Frederick to complain about Mansfeld’s lack of support, placing the two commanders at odds from the start. Mansfeld was particularly annoyed, knowing that Frederick favored Brunswick. Neither warlord wished to stay together, but under such dangerous circumstances they had no choice. They retreated to Alsace, blaming each other for the year’s disasters and increasing Frederick’s frustration and acute distrust of both men. What upset their patron most was the ghastly way in which they conducted the retreat. Protestant soldiers set fire to nearly every village in their path. Brunswick became known throughout the countryside as the “Mad Halberstadter,” and his cruelty rivaled that of the already infamous Mansfeld. Said an incensed Frederick: “There ought to be some difference made between friend and enemy, but these people ruin both alike. I think these men are possessed of the devil and take pleasure in setting fire to everything. I should be very glad to leave them.”

When he could tolerate no more, the miserable Winter King did leave his disgraceful allies, returning to exile in The Hague. Mansfeld and Brunswick, for their part, thought nothing of abandoning Frederick once he had abandoned them. On July 13, they officially declared their neutrality, but because they refused to disband their armies they were still considered very much the enemy by the Catholics. With safety in numbers, the erstwhile Protestant heroes opted to momentarily set aside their differences and remain united. They had to find a new benefactor to sustain their armies, and since they were close to the French border, they first offered their services to King Louis XIII. The offer, however, was unenthusiastic and the currently neutral French were uninterested anyway, so the pair turned to their old paymaster, the United Provinces.

Here they were in luck. With the Spanish enjoying repeated successes in the Netherlands and Spinola currently besieging and close to capturing Bergen-op-Zoom, the Dutch were more than willing to re-employ the two notorious mercenaries, at least until the situation was back under control. The United Provinces promised Mansfeld and Brunswick the necessary subsidies and the Protestant army turned north, excited about the rich lands and plentiful “contributions” it could loot along the way.

Cordoba was unwilling to let his opponents sneak out of Germany that easily, especially since they threatened to impede the progress of his fellow Spaniard, Spinola. Separating from Tilly, Cordoba raced to block their path. On August 26, he caught up with the Protestants at Fleurus and created a blockade with 6,000 infantry and 2,000 cavalry. Mansfeld and Brunswick, with almost 8,000 infantry and 6,000 cavalry, along with 10 guns, were determined to break through regardless of the cost. There was no display of tactical brilliance, only the use of brute force. Brunswick led the cavalry forward four times against the Spanish line. All four assaults failed. Finally, five hours into the battle, a fifth charge broke the Spanish line and the remainder of the Protestant army stampeded wildly through the gap.

Mansfeld and Brunswick survived the battle, but Protestant losses were horrendous. More than 5,000 were killed, compared to a minuscule number of Spaniards. Among the casualties was Brunswick, wounded in the arm during one of his bloody charges. When he learned that his arm had to be amputated in excruciatingly painful and primitive surgery, he proudly replied, “Then order the drums to be beaten and trumpets blown, for I advocate doing everything in life in as pleasant a way as possible.” In all, the entire 47-day campaign had cost the Protestants 11,000 men. Mansfeld and Brunswick led a mere 6,000 miserable troops into Bergen-op-Zoom on October 4, but it was enough to compel Spinola to lift the siege.

The Plunder of Heidelberg and the Fall of the Mercenaries

Thus ended Frederick’s year of hope. In one brief campaigning season, all three of his supposed saviors had been vanquished. On numerous occasions, their own inflated egos had caused disaster as they dangerously chose to go it alone rather than serve in close conjunction with one another. Only when all other options had run out did Mansfeld and Brunswick cooperate fully, but by that time it was already too late. Costly military blunders played their part as well, most notably Baden’s failure to clinch his near victory at Wimpfen. The end had come for Frederick’s last possession.

The League, left unopposed in the Palatinate, took full advantage of the opportunity. After quickly reestablishing control over Alsace, Tilly moved on Frederick’s capital, Heidelberg, taking it on September 19 after an 11-week siege. The Catholic soldiers ravaged the city, which Tilly sanctioned as punishment for the obstinacy of the citizens. On November 2, the garrison of Mannheim surrendered. The victorious Catholics shut down Protestant churches and closed Heidelberg University. Since his crowning in Prague three years earlier, Frederick had lost everything. That January, Emperor Ferdinand publicly transferred the Palatine electorate to Maximilian of Bavaria.

As for the three mercenaries, the war was not quite through with them. The following spring, amid a sudden mood for peace, the exasperated Dutch encouraged Mansfeld and Brunswick to exit their territory to seek other lands to plunder. Needing to supply their army with promised loot, the two generals obliged. Mansfeld halted after a short while to pillage the Protestant town of Emden. Brunswick used the occasion to part from his reluctant ally and head for the Lower Saxon Circle, where he hoped to find more legitimate allies and supplies. When Tilly menacingly approached the border, the states of the Circle repudiated their ties with Brunswick and pressured him to depart. Tilly gave chase, catching Brunswick outside the town of Stadtlohn. There, the Catholic champion inflicted a horrific thrashing upon his Protestant victims, killing more than 7,000 men.

By now Mansfeld was in the area, but nothing more than light skirmishing took place. Most of his efforts went toward pillaging East Friesland. As usual, the behavior of his army was nothing short of barbaric. In the meantime, his back against a wall, Mansfeld tried to open negotiations with Tilly, but the Catholics prudently refused to bargain with the unscrupulous mercenary. Mansfeld again offered his services to the French, but again Paris turned him down. With no more moves left to make, Mansfeld handed Emden over to the Dutch and abandoned his army. On April 24, 1624, amid totally unwarranted celebration, he arrived in London, hoping to raise another army with English money.

The Death of Mansfeld

The following year, Protestant hopes underwent another revival, this time due to the intervention of King Christian IV of Denmark, and the three mercenaries again found themselves employed against the Catholics. Just as in 1622, however, each soon met with disaster. Brunswick, a favorite of King Christian, took up arms for the Danish cause in early 1626. Charged with invading Hesse in support of a peasant rebellion, Brunswick failed to incite the state to join him in the war. Instead, the League army pushed into Hesse, crushed the revolt, and forced Brunswick to withdraw to Wolfenbuttel. Depressed, ill, and aged far beyond his 28 years by the torments of war, the “Mad Halberstadter” died on June 16.

Mansfeld, fresh from England, also reappeared in early 1626. Unlike Brunswick, Mansfeld was no friend of King Christian and campaigned independently of the Danes. On April 25, he met his match at Dessau Bridge in the form of Albrecht von Wallenstein, commander of the Imperialist army. In the battle that followed, Wallenstein crushed the mercenary and sent him fleeing. Unperturbed, Mansfeld led his 20,000 men south in a vain attempt to link up with the army of Transylvania, which was threatening to join the Protestant side. When the Transylvanians opted for neutrality, Mansfeld sat alone in Hungary, dead in the water. He resolved to head for the sanctuary of Venice, a march that would take his army deep into the dangerous and disease-ridden Balkans.

The mercenary had survived many battles and countless risks, but this time his luck ran out. While moving through Bosnia, Mansfeld fell ill and died on November 30 in the town of Zara, near the Dalmatian border. Maintaining his martial dignity to the bitter end, the erstwhile scourge of Europe held himself upright between the shoulders of two of his men, determined to die on his feet.

The End of Europe’s Mercenary Era

The last of the three great mercenary commanders made his encore appearance a year later when Wallenstein’s army stormed into Holstein. Baden could not resist rejoining the anti-Catholic crusade, but Wallenstein left little doubt that the old man should have chosen to remain on the sidelines. The Danish navy ferried Baden and his men to Holstein to bolster its defenses, only to have to return soon afterward to retrieve the defeated remnants after the Imperialists easily trounced the expeditionary force at Heilgenhafen on September 26. Baden escaped with his life, but his military career was at an end.

The passing of Mansfeld, Brunswick, and Baden from the scene saw the twilight of the great mercenary tradition. Europe no longer had any place for war-mongering men who raised their own armies and fought for any patron so long as their dues were paid. In the end, the three leaders played a large role in the change. Frederick had put his faith in them during a time of extreme peril, and that faith had been sorely abused. Not only were the three mercenaries sorely lacking in talent and loyalty, but their unchecked brutality proved an unending embarrassment. Frederick’s “heroes,” with their constant blunders and barbaric tendencies, turned out to be more of a liability than a help. In the end, some heroes are just too good to be true.


Alan Turing

A Blog That Covers And Collects News Reports And Information On Artificial Intelligence, Robots, And Super Computers.

Prussians and British on order

I've put in my order (using Christmas money) into Baccus to finish both the British and Prussian armies. I've ordered more British and Prussian line infantry, some more Prussian limbers and British skirmishers and Spanish generals (who will switch sides and command my Portuguese instead).

This should give me more than enough for our Grand Armee battles (he says hopefully!)

Grand Armee MDF bases on order

I've searched for 3" MDF bases for the Grand Armee troops for ages. Then Russ informs me he's got his from East Riding Minatures (http://shop.eastridingminiatures.co.uk/) and for the princely sum of ٟ.25 for 6 (or 8 for the artillery bases).

So I've got 60 bases on order - more than enough for the Prussians and British.

I need these as even the thick card I've used to base the troops has warped slightly - so MDF is the only option left.

Wargaming in 2011

Ian and Mark have developed a full list of the games we'll be having a bash at next year.

Battle / Scenario (Rules)

QUARTER 1
Vittoria (Grand Armee)
NW Europe WW2 (Spearhead)
Leningrad campaign
Glorious 1st of June (Age of Sail)
Balls' Bluff (ACW)
Punic War scenario (Field of Glory)
Ancients scenario (Impetus)
Chebotarevsky (Spearhead)
Condore (C18th POW)
Milne Bay (Japanese WW2 amphib mini campaign
Midway
Hochst (30YW POW)

QUARTER 2
NW Europe WW2 (Spearhead)
Waterloo
Bridge at Remagen
Battle of the Nile
Wilson's Creek (ACW)
Tarawa
Iraq 1941
Sanderhausen (C18th POW)
Newbury 1643 (ECW POW)
Japanese sweep into the Indian Ocean

Ancients campaign
Ancients naval
Bull Run (ACW)
Madagascar 1942 (Spearhead)
Marston Moor 1644 (ECW POW)
Nantwich ECW campaign
Wandiwash (C18th C POW)

QUARTER 4
Copenhagen
1st Day Gettysburg (ACW)
Guadalcanal
Naesby 1645 (ECW POW)
Dettingen (C18th POW)
Lircholm 1605 (Poles vs Swedes) (POW)

There are also a number of projects to complete - Russ to do his Austrians for Grand Armee, Me to do my British and Prussians for Grand Armee, Mark to do a War of the Roses army etc.

And also organise visits to game shows and maybe some ECW battlefield visits before fighting them in miniature.

So Long to Ya, 2010

Well, dear readers, 2010 is drawing to a close. As you well know, this has been a tough year for lots of people out there. It's also been a difficult year for me personally, but I do hope I've managed to share some interesting material and stimulate your minds in ways that will inspire you to think critically, to find awe in the world around you, and to become a more educated citizen of the world.

Cheers to a happy new year!
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Battle Report - Battle of Hochst (Thirty Years War)

Today we gave Renaissance Principles of War a go, going to Ian's house, a lovely converted chapel with a vestibule and called 'The Chapel'. This, of course, did not deter Russ the Navigator from taking us the wrong way again and ended up with us knocking on the door of a bungalow and asking a little old lady if a) Ian lived there and b) if not, where he did live.

Finally tracking his house down, we made our way upstairs to join Mark, John and Frank for the Battle of Hochst (June 1622) where the Protestants and Catholics clashed.

The ruleset was Rennaisance Principles of War with some house rules added (and much better in my opinion). With Ian refereeing it made a big difference to the flow of the game and his ruling on some close calls was crucial to the eventual outcome.

The terrain was superb - some finely painted Timecast pieces really helped set the scene - and added to the overall atmosphere.

The battlefield from the direction of the marsh

The field was dominated by a number of features. The road to Hochst was flanked on the left by the Nidda Marshes (impassable to artillery and slow going for horses) and the Sulzbach river which then turned right at the town of Sossenheim (which included one of two bridges and was therefore a key objective). The river separated the two forces and was dominated by another key feature - a large hill with a windmill (and gibbet!).
The town of Sossenheim with its key bridge
Protestant disposition. Cavalry cover the road and the redoubt can be seen by the town. Note the undefended marshes.

After discussion and seeing the Protestant disposition, we planned initially to bypass the town and throw everything across the river (with the Spanish cavalry swinging round the hill and attacking the road from behind the Protestants. The marsh area was undefended though and offered a chance to ride the Catholic League cavalry through the marshes unchallenged (albeit fairly slowly).

The key issue was artillery. The heavy artillery - once placed - could not be moved. The light artillery could move but only over a bridge and - once placed, could not be moved. So placing the heavy was key. My thought was to point it all at the town / redoubt to batter the defenders and thereby open the road. Frank (as C in C) decided to keep one on the town / redoubt and spread the other two cannon pointing at the Protestant line.

The Spanish rush for the river

The Protestant cavalry move to the hillside as the Spanish head for the far side of the hill.
Meanwhile the Spanish musketeers aim to kill off their outnumbered opponents.
The Protestant defenders hold on against all comers - and keep battering tercio 22!
The town was becoming a focal point and a bottleneck. Despite the shots raining in from Tercio 22, 4 lots of musketeers and the solitary cannon, they held on and (as mentioned above) made nearly all morale checks. Just one more cannon could (and would) have broken them in a couple of turns - and the clock was ticking.

The town defenders took another hit and made another morale check!

The Spanish cavalry get a double move - but still have to go around the farm. You can hear the screech of brakes as Mark tries to turn his cavalry back on themselves before its too late.

The attack on the town went in - with the general joining Tercio 22 to see them home. For his pains, he took a bullet in the head and fell to a heap on the floor. Time for another commander to take his place and make his mark!

The cannon aimed at the town shifted fire to the redoubt (causing a morale fail and a casualty). Then Tercio 22 charged into the town itself. The time was now 3.02.

In the melee, John rolled another 5(!) for morale but they finally retired Shaken and (on the way out) met their Maker and Tercio 22 finally took the town.

The centre Catholic tercios were now getting into range and some shooting saw the Protestant musketeers rout.

The town falls - finally! Everyone rushes for the bridge.

The strategically placed cannon took another shot at the redoubt and hit again - causing another failed morale check (just as the Catholic League were marching through the town). The Catholic League musketeers marched through the marsh on the other side of the river to bring their guns to bear on the redoubt as well.

Meanwhile, the Catholic cavalry were turning the corner by the farm and changing formation to meet Mark's cavalry haring around from the other side of the hill - also changing formation. Meanwhile a unit of musketeers was rushed to the hill to protect the Protestant pike's flank.

While the placement of the cannon may not have been perfect, they still forced morale checks and fails in the Protestant lines.

The Spanish tercios moved at a snail's pace (as Russ kept on throwing 1's for pips) and seemed to be stationary for ages. No such problems in the town as the tercios moved through to take on the redoubt and the Catholic League cavalry began entering the town itslef (aming to rush down the road as soon as the tercios got into the redoubt).

John and Mark beaming at the slow Catholic movement. The smiles were soon removed from these faces.
Russ and Frank (who thanks to motion blur looks like a cross between Dobby and Nosferatu) plan the Protestant demise

All the movement and shooting was running the clock down, however. As Tercio 22 started exchanging shots with the redoubt (aided by the musketeers who were firing from the far side of the river) the time was now 4.26pm - just 2 and a half hours left to fight.

At this point the Spanish tercios finally reached the Protestant line and charged in and handed out a whupping with 4 casualties to 1.

It was at this point that their smiling commanders suddenly looked grim - rolling a total of 3 movement pips between them! All they could do was move their horse to head the Spanish off at the pass stop them rampaging towards the road.

The grimness continued as the Spanish tercios made mincemeat out of the opposing line inflicting 3 more casualties on the units facing them. A desperate cry of "That's another 2 minutes on the clock!" came from Mark as he realised that their line troops were looking sick as dogs.

Ian as referee disputing the Spanish claim that they should be allowed to smash the Protestants with tanks and helicopters with the weak argument that they hadn't been invented yet. Has he never heard of Leonardo da Vinci?

Ian's whiteboard showing the map and the all important timeline ticking down.

Russ moved his cavalry within 2" of Mark's cavalry. Again, in hindsight, it would have been better to ride on (his orders were to attack the road, not the opposition). Whether this was down to the C in C or Russ is unclear - but it meant that the cavalry were now embroiled in a scrap they were unlikely to win.

Mark proved this point by inflicting 5 casualties on the Spanish cavalry (who wanted to get stuck into a melee but couldn't as the Protestants had to be Shaken before they could do so). Consequently they were being shot to pieces without doing similar damage back.

It was now 5.08. The Spanish tercios were getting stuck in and I asked Russ not to throw a '2' - which seemded to be the only number his dice had thrown up in the last 5 turns. He didn't throw a 2 - he threw a 1 instead! But that was still 4 casualties and the Protestant line was crumbling.

Protestants having their lunch handed to them

Also crumbling was their right flank as Tertio 22 charged the redoubt and (despite taking more casualties) ejected the pesky defenders - one of which routes and the other fell back. Finally, the road was open!

The redoubt falls. The cavalry surge forwards and the musketeers behind the river rush
downstream to shoot the Protestant horses.

But it was far from over. The Spanish cavalry were bogged down by the hill, and I had only just got the lead elements of mine out of the town. My musketeers were making good shooting (forcing a cavalry unit to retire Shaken) but it was now 5:18pm. "Another 2 minutes!" shouted Mark - at any opportunity.

And now every minute counted. To save time the Catholic cannons were silenced and any troops unlikely to make a difference were left behind. The Protesants (in return) aimed to use up as much time as possible through shooting and Ian had to be strict in preventing the Protestant pikes doing a shuffle from side to side to eat up precious minutes.

The Spanish tercios continues to chew up the Protestants and push them back - but it was slow going. On the left flank my musketeers got alongside the holding Protestant cavalry to get some good shooting in while my cavalry rushed headlong out of the town and down the road.

Then one of those moments you love in wargaming. Russ rolled yet another 1 for hits, lost the melee and was making a morale check and rolled a 20 - a shocking fail and potentially disasterous. Just as Mark (and probably as a consequence) shouted in triumph the dice rolled back and showed a 2 - a clear pass. Shouts of laughter and joy from the Catholics, grunts of disbelief and 'what the ****' from the Protestants.

"You're not smiling any more! You're not smiling any more!"

Frank had to leave at this point - thinking that the hard work was done and that all we had to do was carry on the good work. But the clock was down 6pm. Would there be enough time?

It was looking better for the Protestants. Russ made a 10 roll on the morale test and some of his cavalry retreated. Then Mark threw a 10 as well and his cavalry general had a rush of blood to the head and charged and ran himself off the table. Mark claimed he was hanging on to the table edge but Ian adjudicated that toucing the edge meant he was off. John had popped off for a toilet break and returned to the battle (much as Napoleon did at Waterloo to find Ney had messed things up) and harshly called Mark a 'gimp' for leaving his cavalry leaderless. This also allowed one of Russ' cavalry free to charge for the road - which he did. It was now all down to the clock.

By the redoubt, one of my musketeer units charged and routed the remaining Protestant musketeers. In addition, the Catholic League cavalry rushed headlong into the remaining cavalry protecting the road (reduced to a shadow of themselves by adept shooting from my marsh-based musketeers) - who then hightailed it for the end of the road as well.

It was all getting very tense. John was bemoaning Mark's earlier agressive use of cavalry that had allowed the Spanish to get around the hill and consequently allow a run for the baggage train while we bemoaned the messing about in taking the town.

The Catholic League cavalry aim to smash through the Protestant cavalry while
the musketeers get a last shot in before running for the baggage train.

It left the Protestants doing the equivalent of taking the ball to the corner flag in the dying seconds - wasting pips where they could to run down the clock. Meanwhile, we were husbanding our pips to eke out time. However, as most units were on attack orders this proved impossible. The tercios continued to advance (eating up precious minutes) despite the enemy being out of range.
In the horse battle by the redoubt, I needed anything but a 1 in order to sweep the enemy cavalry from the field - so inevitably threw a 1 and failed. The rest of my cavalry swung past this battle but as they started from further back they simply were not close enough. All now depended on Russ' rogue unit that was rushing for the road as the sun dipped behind the hill.

The Catholic League cavalry break through and ride pell mell for the end of the road. Too late, boys. too late.

The solitary unit rushing for the rapidly retreating baggage train and the Protestant loot.

All eyes turned to this solitary unit but we knew that it was too far away.

Ian called the result - a draw. Both sides emerged with honour but it was definitely a case of what might have been for the Catholics.

Aftermath
It definitely felt like defeat snatched from the jaws of victory. The Catholics had pummelled the Protestants (except in the cavalry battle by the hill) but we had failed to clear the town in a timely fashion - and so failed to get the reserve into place. Those light cannon would have really battered the remaining Protestant forces.

As mentioned before, having all heavy cannon on the town and redoubt would have opened both up much quicker - and given us time to roll down the road. Or moving the cavalry through the marsh (just 20 minutes of game time) would have forced the Protestants to shift their meagre forces around more - and maybe opened the centre up sooner.

The charge round the hill almost succeeded - Mark's desire to get to grips could have left the rear unguarded and the Spanish would have been eating paella in Hochst (paying with Protestant funds) before the sun had begun to set.

The key though was the town - and the defending Protestants deserve the title of Unit of the Match for holding out (and holding us up) for so long.

Other post-action comments included the idea of putting the Protestant musketeers on the hill to better support the flank AND engage the cavalry as they rode round. As it was, the cavalry cancelled each other out but the Protestant horses did their job.

What we did agree on was that having a referee in Ian made the game quicker, smoother and more enjoyable and that he had put on a fantastic day. He was kind enough to supply sausage rolls, mince pies and continuous drinks all day - and put a load of effort into staging the battle, drawing up the orders of battle and sketching the scenario.

Mark and John put up a great defence and deserved to eke out a draw in the face of unassailable odds - and also played in a fantastic spirit.


Watch the video: 1 Panzer IV vs 14 T-34s - An Iconic Tank Battle Of WW2. Battle of Prokhorovka, Kursk (July 2022).


Comments:

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  4. Mikazshura

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