google

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Skirmish near Penie - Ulrichstein


Firstly I must apologise for the extreme poor quality of the photos, sadly the Camera I was using for this battle was simply not up to the task.

This Battle was a minor battle or large Skirmish in the struggle for Ulrichstein, unbeknownst to the contestants in this skirmish the main Battle had been determined with a Rechburg victory a few days prior to this contact. Normally I would not have recorded the battle simply because it was so small  but I have decided to include the skirmish because what happens from this point with the Wartenburg  units may have consequences for the story a little further on.


The Skirmish near Penie in Northern Ulrichstein



Order of Battle

Rechburg

Maj Gen Hans von Walmoden

3rd Brigade (Col Wilhelm Hebelstreight)
5th Regiment (1400 men) = 7th& 8th Bn, both experienced.
6th Regiment (1400 men) = 9th and 10th Bn, both experienced
2nd Medium Art Batt
3rd HA Battery

2nd Dragoon regiment (700 men) = experienced

Imperial Army

General Romer

3rd Vallahalla Lt cav Bde (Bde gen Meyer)
6th Hussar Regiment (700 men) – experienced
7th Uhlan Regiment (700 men) – experienced
4th HA Art Batt

4th Wartenburg Infantry Brigade (Under direct command of Gen Romer)
11th Battalion – 700 men – experienced
12th Battalion – 700 men experienced
13th battalion – 700 men experienced.


Strategic Situation



When Herzog Constantine sent Prince Wilhelm into central Ulrichstein, he also ordered Maj General Hans von Walmoden into Northern Ulrichstein, with the express purpose of taking Newhausen.
There were three principal Imperial supply bases in Ulrichstein, they were Quedinburg the capital, Ulrichsburg which the Prince Wilhelm captured just a few days ago and Newhausen which was captured unopposed last week by General Walmoden.
When Archduke Ferdinand took over command of Ulrichstein, the very next day he was informed that Newhausen had been taken by Rechburg forces. He immediately dispatched a force under the command of General Romer to retake the town.
Neither side could spare large forces for the north, it had been clear from the outset that the main battle would be fought in Central Ulrichstein, so whatever force each commander did send was likely never going to be enough but neither could really afford to send more.
The Rechburg commander General Walmoden had been in Newhausen for four days and he was a worried man, he had almost no communications from either the Herzog or Prince Wilhelm, then a few days ago he heard news of the Battle at Hamelin and the Rechburg victory. At the same time he was informed that an Imperial force was on its way to Newhausen coming from Quedinburg. Walmoden was not the man to sit and wait so he decided to advance south to Penie, where he intended to ambush the Imperial force that was marching towards him.
Having reached Penie and still no sign of the enemy he began to believe they may have turned back, perhaps to reinforce their main army which must be still around Ulrichsburg. General Walmoden was about to order his force to return to Newhausen when a report from a traveler claimed to have seen an army camped between Penie and Stendal.
He could not tell how many but assumed there were thousands, but as was usual in Ulrichstein at this time of the year, when the traveler had passed through there had been a very thick fog so he could not be sure.
General Walmoden decided to gamble, he issued orders for the army to break camp early in the morning, they would advance out of Penie to an ideal ambush location in an area known as Neustadt ridge. They would wait the day there in ambush and if there was no sign of the Imperials he would return to Newhausen tomorrow.
As usual the Rechburg camp rose at 4am in the morning, to find themselves in a very thick fog, throughout the camp you could hear sergeants bellowing out to their commands trying to form some sort of organisation from chaos.

The Imperial Command
The Imperial force under the command of General Romer himself a Wartenburger was having some issues, the Wartenburg Infantry were beginning to straggle and it was becoming evident they were exhausted, he had to admit a great deal had been asked of them.
The Brigade had only been summoned two months ago to take part in the usual post campaign season maneuvers, these exercises this year had been held in Wartenburg.
The exercises had been interrupted and the entire force gathered there was ordered to march to Ulrichstein to repel a Rechburg Invasion, the reasons why Rechburg would attack only became apparent to the men later as they marched through Protestant areas of Ulrichstein that had been ravaged by a marauding army of the Diocese guard. The march was undertaken with some difficulty simply because  during the exercises there had not been any need for campaign baggage trains, the Imperial command they did not have the time to organise and create the supplies before they moved, thus it was intended they would take Ammo caissons and fodder, the normal supplies being issued at depots along the way.
 In fact for the Generals it had been a bonus, in that the men could march quicker for the men it had been less than satisfactory as the depots that were meant to have supplies were rundown or the contractors had purchased low grade meat and grains to increase their own profits or finally they had simply been pillaged by Ulrichstein rebels.
Once they reached Quedinburg they were then ordered north to Ulrichsburg, the weather was beginning to deteriorate, thus the conditions were even beginning even further for the men.
General Romers “Wartenburgers” were on reaching Ulrichsburg ordered to turn around and immediately march back to Quedinburg. Archduke Ferdinand had learnt that a Rechburg force had taken Newhausen and General Romer was to recapture the town.
On reaching Quedinburg, Romer had been given two Imperial Cavalry regiments and a horse battery to complement his small infantry force of only 3 battalions.
He was then ordered to march immediately for Newhausen, however by the time his men had reached Artheway the straggling had begun, the men had been marching solidly for 4 weeks with limited rations and no rest, so General Romer ordered two days rest while ammunition caissons were emptied of ammo and every wagon in the Artheway area had been confiscated and sent back to Quedinburg to load up with supplies. By the time the wagons came back they came with a severe rebuke from the Archduke and he ordered Romer to resume the march or be replaced.
Ironically at the same time as the Archduke’s rebuke arrived General Romer received a secret dispatch from his own lord Prince Konstantin, the missive instructed him to be prepared to march back to Wartenburg with the Wartenburg contingent. Romer was not privy to why he might have to march back to Wartenburg but it was clear there was some issue with the Imperials; however the message hugely complicated the entire operation he was meant to be on.
He had 3 battalions of Wartenburg Infantry here with him, but there was a Brigade of cavalry with Prince Ferdinand in Ulrichsburg and he was not sure how to get them replaced without serious complications. Finally General Romer decided the secret instruction was only warning him to be prepared to move, so the best thing for him was to recapture Newhausen and then consider his options.
Instead of the two days and despite the Archdukes rebuke he allowed his men to rest for four days, it had taken that long for the wagons to get back, the men to resupply their packs and the ammo reloaded on the caissons. The remaining wagons were then packed to the limits with the remaining supplies and the small army continued their march.
 For two days the army marched in bad weather either very thick fog or rain, however finally they straggled into Stendal. The march into Stendal also produced another problem General Romer was not prepared for, his column had been twice attacked by small groups of protestant rebels; this was not something he had been warned about. What was even more worrying was Stendal was what would have normally been a firm Catholic area of Ulrichstein thus safe from Rebel attacks, the fact that rebel bands were this far east merely showed that the vacuum created by the desertion of the Diocese guard had emboldened the Protestants to move east in search of revenge for the wholesale massacre of their own people.

This new threat however meant that Romer had to detach cavalry to protect his flanks and rear, thus his advance guard was totally inadequate as he resumed his march out of Stendal on his way to Penie.



                   Rechburg forces on the field of battle and Imperial taking position

Rechburg Command
General Walmoden had risen early this morning, he was hugely disappointed and a little worried. He had been told by Protestant sympathisers that Imperial troops were in Stendal, but he had been receiving similar messages for three days and he had waited and waited but now he knew it was time to return to Newhausen.
He had stretched his mission brief to the limit to have marched this far south in search of an elusive enemy, but now he had to move back to cover Newhausen in case it became threatened from the east. The Kingdom of Vallahalla was just a few miles from Newhausen and it was also an Imperial state, though it had shown no signs of taking part in this war Walmoden could not negate the fact the Vallahalla army could quickly move and seize Newhausen.

                                         Rechburg units arrive on the field of battle

General Walmoden cursed the fog it made preparations for the march much more difficult as units struggled to find their place and besides the cold and wet just seemed to get into every muscle and bone.

Walmoden turned to his aide, “Doesn’t the bloody sun ever shine in this part of the country”

His aide equally cold and frustrated merely said “I doubt it General, look at the damn trees the moss just hangs from them in huge clumps, to bloody cold for me”

The General nodded, “Yes well let’s get back to where the sun shines.”

He was interrupted by the sound of a rider approaching out of the fog; the dispatch rider was rather pleased to have finally found the general after what had been a very frustrating wander through the fog.

“Sir Colonel Wenzel reports he hears significant sounds to the south of his positions, he is sending out scouts but he wishes to advise you sir that it sounds like an army”

The General looked to his aide,
“Franz get the units turned around, we may not be going to Newhausen just yet, I will send word once we know what a army sounds like or if it’s just a  bloody farmer with a herd of cattle”

Turning to the Dispatch rider “Take me to Colonel Wenzel’s position,” the General and his staff rode of heading south.



General Walmoden rode along the road struggling against a tide of men and units that were all preparing to march back north to Newhausen and now were facing the wrong direction, as he rode along he kept yelling instructions,
“Turn around we will likely be going south for a while yet.”
 The whole army was in a state of confusion as he arrived at Colonel Wenzel’s positions.

“What have we got Colonel?”, Walmoden asked.

“My piquet’s reported sounds like a large body of men on the march sire, but then it has gone quiet again, but this damned fog muffles sound so much they could walk in here shake your hand before you were aware of them. I have just sent a patrol out and …..”

The colonels message was interrupted by gunfire not far down the road. General Walmoden turned to Colonel Wenzel
“Deploy your Regiment across the road here, it’s vital you buy time for me to deploy the army”
The Colonel saluted and immediately turned to his bugler, General Walmoden rode as fast as he could back to the nearest unit, which was a horse battery,
He yelled to the battery commander,
“Those woods over there are called Buchanan woods, I want you deploy on the southern outskirts of the woods and prepare to receive the enemy.”

He turned to the next aide beside him
“Ride back to Colonel Hebelstreight and tell him we are about to be attacked from the south, he is to deploy one battalion in Meckers wood, and one Battalion on the road parallel to the artillery up  there in the woods, deny the enemy the road and support the guns. He is to send two battalions around Buchanan woods and deploy them alongside the artillery on their other flank, if not needed they will be used to advance later when and if needed. I want the other battalion up on Neustadt ridge, in the southern edge of the woods up there.
The 9pdr Battery can deploy on the ridge but on the northern edge of the woods, they are to watch in case the enemy is moving around our flank there.
I will be with the Horse artillery.”
His aide had just finished writing out the instructions, Walmoden signed them and then the staff officer was gone.

General Walmoden looked back north along the road.
“What a bloody mess”. He sighed, and then rode back to rejoin the horse artillery.

Just to the north of the woods the 2nd Rechburg Dragoon Regiment had just deployed in line. As the Colonel looked over his shoulder he could see the artillery battery forming up in the edge of the woods behind him and the first of the Infantry were forming up on the road.
All of a sudden one of Colonel Wenzel’s aides yelled an expletive, just in front of them and coming out of the fog was entire regiment of Uhlans.

Almost simultaneously both cavalry commanders ordered their regiments to charge, the Rechburgians were in a definite tactical disadvantage being a line of Dragoons against a column of Uhlans and it was only moments after the order to charge was given that the two regiments crashed into one another, the Uhlans simply smashed their way through the Dragoon Regiment, the 2nd dragoons losing around 300 men the Uhlans losing just a few.
The dragoon Regiment routed from the field, taking Colonel Wenzel with them as he desperately tried to rally them, they would eventually continue their rout of the field of battle.
Amongst the few Uhlans killed had been their Brigade commander brigade General Meyer and their Colonel. With their bloodlust up  and no one to control them, they looked for another victim and saw it as the Rechburg artillery battery just inside the woods in front of them, the Uhlan Regiment charge continued.

General Walmoden had watched on in disbelief as he watched his cavalry regiment be destroyed so quickly and so easily. He knew the Uhlans would next look to the battery that he was standing beside as their next target; they were after all the Uhlans closest enemy.
Almost as if not to disappoint the General the leading rank of Uhlans formed and continued their charge.
General Walmoden watched with a certain detachment as he watched the gunners quickly align the guns and fire.
The Battery commander coolly and calmly kept his men busy with reloading the guns, the first rounds had emptied many saddles and now the battery waited with canister as the Uhlans charged towards them the battery commander gave the order to fire at the last possible moment and in that instant, the entire column of Uhlans seem to shudder and stop, it was then hidden by the smoke from the guns for a few moments, when the smoke cleared the Uhlans were in retreat leaving around 200 dead in front of the battery.

The action was 20 minutes old and in that time two Cavalry regiments had been routed and out in the field in front of General Walmoden lay over 500 men dead, Rechburgians and Imperials.
General Walmoden rode over to the battery commander, keep your guns trained on that gap pointing to the gap where the road ran between Meckers wood and Beckers hill, fire on any enemy trying to come through there.
He then rode over to the road where the 7th battalion was deployed in line, he found the Battalion commander,
“I want your men in Meckers woods,” he said pointing to the woods not far away, “You are to hold on to those woods like your life depends on it, because believe me it does.”

He turned to another aide,
“I want the 6th regiment to move around Beckers hill, but they should prepare to pull back if the enemy are too strong”.

Walmoden cursed the fact he had lost his only Cavalry regiment, he had lost the eyes of his army and now he had to be careful he didn’t stumble into something much bigger than he could not handle.

Imperial Command
Meanwhile General Romer was having his own dilemmas.
He had reports of enemy being seem in front of his army, but every time he sent cavalry out they lost sight of the supposed enemy. He decided to rest his army here until the fog cleared, meanwhile he would use the cavalry to scout the area. He was on a ridge called Pierespont Ridge, but he couldn’t see a thing because of the fog. Down below his just visible through the fog were the 7th Uhlans, they  were in column on the road, he decided to push them a little way further down the road, the map showed a cluster of hills and woods, all an excellent place to be ambushed in, so he had decided it was a time to be cautious as least until the damned fog cleared.

He was just in the process of writing orders for the Uhlans when there was some musketry fire that in itself was not unusual as the sentries were always nervous in the fog. But the in the next instant the 7th Uhlans just disappeared down the road and into the fog.
He turned to his aide and yelled.
“Where the bloody hell are they going?”
Before the aide could answer there was a resounding clash off a battle being fought in the fog, General Romer was shocked for a few moments, he looked around him and he saw the 6th Hussars on the reverse slope, he quickly summoned a dispatch rider,
“Order Colonel Siemens to take his regiment over to Longridge hill, he is to report if there are any enemy there, but he is not to engage, do you understand?”
The dispatch rider acknowledged and rode off to the Hussar regiment, then General Romer summoned his aides,
The 11th and 12 battalions are to move into Meckers woods and the 13th will move into Beckers woods.
The Horse artillery will deploy up here on the western edge of this ridge covering that gap between Meckers woods and Beckers hill.



His attention was then drawn to the fact that whatever action the Uhlans had initiated was over, a dispatch rider in the uniform of the 7th uhlans, rode up the slope to General Romer.

“Sir, General Meyers compliments. He wishes to report a Rechburg Dragoon regiment is deployed in front of Buchanan wood, and though he could not see clearly he believes there are other Rechburg troops on the road between Buchanan wood and Neustadt ridge. He is engaging the dragoons sir”.
The dispatch rider had no sooner finished with his report when there was a resounding clap of artillery fire, even through the fog General Romer could see the blur of red in the distance. There was another round of fire and then silence, a few minutes later the remnants of his 7th Uhlans routed down the road below him.

“Damn Meyer, I will have his damn head for being so bloody stupid, damn the man”

Some minutes later a Uhlan lieutenant rode up the slope and reported to General Romer, the lieutenant was clearly exhausted and wounded.

“Sir we have routed a Rechburg dragoon regiment but we were hit by an artillery battery, I don’t know who gave the order to charge the battery sir, but we all went forward and have suffered severely for it. The regiment is reforming sir,” he pointed down the reverse slope, “they are down there sir.”

General Romer nodded, there was little point rounding up on a mere lieutenant,
“Would you ask General Meyer to report to me please lieutenant?”
“The General is dead sir, he and the Colonel died in the cavalry battle”

“What the bloody hell was the General doing fighting in a bloody battle in the middle of a bloody fog, good bloody god what an imbecile”

General Romer switched his attention to his front, the fog was slowly lifting and now he could see his two battalions the 11th and 12th heading towards Meckers wood, a dispatch rider rode up, he was from the 6th Hussars.
“Sir, Colonel Boland begs to report he has seen a Rechburgian 9pdr artillery battery on the northern edge of Pierespont ridge, he is not engaging”
General Romer for the first time today decided to use his telescope now the fog was moving away, he could just make out the Hussars sitting on Longridge Hill, for now they could remain there until he knew what he was up against.
So far he knew there was a enemy artillery near or in Buchanan wood, possibly infantry of the road around Buchanan wood and now artillery up on Pierespont ridge, but that was all he knew.

Down below in Meckers woods he could see the 11th battalion moving into the woods, but he could also see Rechburg blue, they had infantry in there as well.
The 11th Wartenburg battalion and the 7th Rechburg battalion clashed in the woods, the melee lasted some 10 minutes, the 11th being repulsed, they were replaced by the 12th battalion that now charged the Rechburg 7th. This Melee was considerably more vicious than the previous one but the result was the same, the 7th Rechburg held and the 12th Battalion was repulsed losing around 100 men.

General Romer was about to order the battalions back in to the attack when a dispatch rider rode up, he was from the 13th battalion up on Becker’s hill

The dispatch rider saluted and handed General Romer a message.

Two enemy Battalions moving around the flank of Becker Hill, shall I engage.

It seemed to General Romer the enemy definitely out numbered him and as he could only see parts all the various aspects of the battlefield he was definitely finding it difficult to control the battle, it was like trying to play a game of chess but only seeing 4 or 5 spaces of the board.
He decided that he tried to conform to his original orders, he was definitely blocked and with 2 Infantry Battalions already shaken, and another about to be outflanked he decided caution was called for, he was also aware of the secret message that he had received, he needed to save his Wartenburg units.
Turning to his staff officers he said, “the infantry are to pull back immediately, The artillery and cavalry will be the rearguard.”
The battle of Penie was over, the retreat back to Stendal could begin.

The Rechburgians lost 200 cavalry and 50 Infantry and had one Cavalry rout off the field.
The Imperials lost 200 cavalry and 100 Infantry.

Following this battle the Imperials retreat back to Stendhal  from there General Romer  receives another secret directive from Prince Konstantin, he is to gather the Wartenburg contingent and return to Wartenburg immediately, regardless of any further orders from Hapburgian authorities.

2 comments:

  1. Tactically a draw, though not enough perhaps for the Imperialists credibly to claim the victory. Interesting sort of engagement, neither engaged too closely, which probably what you would expect in the circumstances. Mind you, Lutzen (1632) and Auerstadt (1806) were pretty heavy and costly battles fought in a fog... The was an early morning fog at Austerlitz, too, as I recall...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Yes indeed this was a draw by my guess. I think General Romer had that secret message on his mind when he made the decision to withdraw, he knew something was up between Wartenburg and Hapburgia so he didn't want to lose to many men fighting for what he probably was a losing proposition. This was the first battle I have fought in fog most of the game, during the game the fog came and went, there was virtually no counter battery fire and from what I remember no long range artillery fire. It was mostly bayonet or sabre work.

    In the end the two rechburg Battalions that appeared out of the fog on his left flank suggested he was considerably out numbered so he withdrew, we now know in fact the strengths were almost equal, he was simply out maneuvered.

    ReplyDelete