Saturday, March 15, 2014

The action at Strehla, August 20, 1760

Strehla is one of those lesser-known, middle-sized, uneven and asymmetric actions between the Reichsarmee and the Prussians which makes some delightful war-game scenarios, as that done by Keith in his blog. The action is well described both in the Kronoskaf article and in Duffy’s 2nd volume on the Austrian Army, with the honour of 3 pages and 2 maps nonetheless. Basically it was a multiple-column attack on a Prussian camp on the left bank of the Elbe, upstream of Torgau.
The plan was for the Reichsarmee to “fix” the Prussian left, and for the Austrians to turn the right wing with a long circuitous march (in some sense a Torgau in small scale…), a further feint against the right wing made by the Austrian grenadiers.
However something went wrong: the Imperials made only some feeble demostration against Strehla allowing the Prussian to shift troops between the wings, and the Austrian cavalry action against the Prussian right ended in a fiasco. Stolberg called off the action and the Prussian wisely retired undisturbed overnight.

As far as the terrain is concerned, we have many contemporary prints like this one:

and both Kronoskaf and Duffy have detailed maps of the action. By using the modern satellite pictures, we may have an idea of the main course of the action:

Accordingly, I arrived at the following Volley & Bayonet map, where I departed from the custom in V&B whose lattices are 1 foot squares: I followed continental Europe system of measure here….(click on the map to enlarge):

here each square is 25 centimeters, so the whole map is 100x200 cm and the scale is 1 Km=36 cm, that is 1:3600; Strehla is a double sized town, Laas is a town and all the others are villages. The river Elbe is unfordable and there is a wood near Laas. The Durren Berg is a two-level hill, the others are one-level. The Village of Klein-Grossen can be occupied by a full regimental base insted of a a skirmishers base.

The order of battle is from Kronoskaf. Since V&B requires rosters, I prepared the following rosters in PowerPoint, the “boxes” representing the various “columns” for the Austrian and the “wings” for the Prussian.

Prussian Initial deployment:
Hulsen, the Left wing and the Field Artillery are deployed behind the entrenchments, the FB Wunsch inside Strehla and a Grenadier unit in Klein-Grossen.
The Right wing with the Heavy Artillery is deployed on the topmost part of the Durrenberg;
The cavalry is deployed midway between the entrenchments and the Durrenberg.

Austro-Imperial Initial deployement:
Guasco command is deployed on the Ottenberg;
Stolberg with the Wurzburg command are deployed behind the line B-B;
Zweibrucken with the Hauptarmee are deployed behind the line A-A;
Kleefeld command enters the first turn from the point C.

Terrain features
Klein Grossen is treated as a village but can be occupied by a regimental base.
The entrenchments are Field Works
Laas is a Wood building town
Strehla is a Stone building town

Scenario notes
All formed infantry have battalion guns. All formed units are treated as NE (no elites), apart the Grenadiers of both armies which are treated as Shock Troops (*) and the Luzan/Macquire regiment which is portrayed with Grenadier present (g) to represent the converged Luzan/Macquire/Esterhazy 4 grenadier coys that are fudged in the unit for game purpose.

To reflect the Imperial lack of confidence and consequent inactivity I choose not introduce a Special Rule to artificially “balance” the battle. Instead I followed the proposed Army Lists which gives Morale 4 to all Imperial regiments which are Poorly Trained (PT). This doesn’t apply to the Roth, Blau Wurzburg and Mainz-Lambert Regiments and to the Austrian/Imperial Cavalry Brigades.

Victory conditions
In the real battle the Prussian survived the action against the odds inflicting more loss to the enemy. Accordingly it seems reasonable to ask the Austro-Imperials to exhaust all the Prussian division within a given number of turns, for instance 4 or 5 (the real battle started at 5.00 am and ended at 7.00 am which are 3 one-hour turns in V&B) to win the battle. The Prussian wins simply by avoiding this.

With all this in mind I'll try to playtest the scenario. This is my “rendering” of the map on a 100x200 table:

In the foreground the Durrenberg with Laas and the wood on the left side and the Ottenberg on the right side of the valley. Far away the Prussian entrenchments, Strehla and the Elbe river. A close-up of Laas and the Durrenberg:

and of the Town of Strehla and the Elbe with the Prussian entrenched position:

By the way this is the actual Strehla, probably not so different from the one looted by the Prussian Freikorps:

Next time the playtest.

1 comment:

MSFoy said...

Excellent post - fascinating stuff! I'm looking forward to the next instalment.