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Sunday, November 11, 2012

The Battle of Ulrichsburg


The Battle of Ulrichsburg was a particularly desperate battle, it was fought over 2 nights and was one of the most enjoyable I have played in a long time.

The Battle was a must win for both sides, with the winter storms fast approaching the winner would shelter in Ulrichsburg, the other would have a weeks march retreating through storms and blizzards.

Battle of Ulrichsburg

                                                             The Battlefield 



1st Imperial Division (General Kyler)
Strength= Pre Ulrichsburg battle / post Battle in men

1st Brigade- (Brigade General Kienmayer)
 1st Grenadier Battalion –Vet -600 men
 2nd Grenadier Battalion Vet – 600 men
17th  Grenadier Battalion Vet – 700 men

2nd Brigade (Brigade General Spiedal)
3rd Battalion – Exp – 700/700 men
4th Battalion – Exp – 700/600 men
5th Battalion – Exp – 700 men
6th Jager Battalion – Exp – 500/300 men

3rd Brigade – (Brigade General Sperrle)
7th Battalion – Exp – 400
8th Battalion – Exp – 600/300 men
9th Battalion – Exp – 600/100 men
10th Battalion – Exp – 400/400 men
18th Jager Bn – Exp – 500/300 men

14th Jager Battalion – Exp – 700/600 men– Attached to 3rd Brigade


1st Art Battery 6x12pdr
2nd Art Battery 6 x 6pdr
3rd Imperial Battery 6 x 9pdr

1st Imperial Cavalry Division (General Vatutin)

1st Imperial cavalry Brigade – (Brigade General Hube)
1st Heavy Cavalry Regiment -700/500 men
2nd Heavy cavalry regiment – 700/500 men

2nd Wartenburg Cavalry Brigade (Brigade General Jeschonnek)
3rd Hussar Regiment – 700/400 men
4th Dragoon Regiment – 600/600 men
5th Dragoon Regiment – 700/300 men


Rechburg Force in Ulrichstein

C-in-C Prince Wilhelm (Exceptional)
1st Rechburg Grenadier Guard Bn - Vet – 700/600 men
1st Infantry Brigade =Bde Gen Dalberg = Average
1st Bn – exp – 700/500 men
2nd Bn – exp – 700/600 men
3rd Bn – exp – 700/400 men
1 Flensburg Gren Bn – Vet – 600/400 men

2nd Infantry Brigade – Bde Gen Aubrey = Average

4th Bn – exp – 700/600 men
5th Bn – exp – 700/700 men
6th Bn – exp – 700/600 men
2nd Rechburg Grenadier Guard  Bn – Vet – 700/700 men
1st Guard Jager Bn – Elite – 700 men

1st Cav Bde - Prince Hans = Good
Newstadel Huss Regt  – Exp – 700/700 men
1st Flensburg Huss regt. – Vet – 700/400 men
2nd Leeds Hussar Regt – Exp – 700/700 men

2nd Cav Bde - Col Westerman = Good
1st Albany Uhlan Regt – Vet – 700/700 men
2nd Dragoon Regt – Exp – 700/700 men

1 Lt Art Batt - destroyed 50%
1 Med Art Batt - intact
1 Heavy Art Batt – destroyed.




The Battle of Ulrichstein
“Damn this fog can’t see a bloody thing” Sergeant Franz Loehr muttered to himself.
The sergeant was quite correct the Imperial Army has been marching since 4:30am in a thick pea soup fog. The local guides predicted the fog would lift around 6am but it was now 8:30am and if anything it was worse.
The Imperial army now under General Kyler was moving out of Ulrichsburg with the intention of fighting the Rechburg Protestants who it had been reported by his patrols yesterday as being seen advancing from their base in Dreyburg, later patrols had reported the Rechburgians were last night setting up camp near the old battlefield of Hamelin approximately 5 miles from the Imperial supply base.

General Kyler had decided to march early and catch the heretic army before they could break camp, but that plan was now seriously jeopardised by the fog. He had decided to continue with the plan because defending his base in the unfortified town of Ulrichsburg in a thick mist was foolish in the extreme, if there was to be a battle it was preferable it was away from the town and supply base; it would be even better if he caught the Rechburgians breaking camp.
Sergeant Loehr and his companions of the Imperial 2nd Heavy Cavalry Regiment were on a ridge Colonel Duroc called Walby Hill, unseen by Loehr out in front of his Regiment the light Cavalry were probing into the fog, cautiously looking for the enemy. To the right of his regiment was the 1st Heavy Cavalry on his left below Walby Hill again was a very thick wood someone said it was called Paisley Woods, good god that wood looked more like a jungle
.
Two miles from Sergeant Loehr, Lieutenant Rothenberg of the 3rd Rechburg Battery was waiting by one of the 9pdr guns, his men had just finished unlimbering the battery on Maurberg Hill, he had also just received word from the captain that further out on his right the Guard Jagers were pushing towards Paisley woods, “make sure you don’t fire on them Karl” the captain stressed.

Fire on them, I cant damn well see them, or if it comes to that any bloody thing.

He knew there were Rechburg cavalry on the valley floor behind him , though he couldn’t see them it was nice to know there were friends close by, for standing on the hill in a fog knowing there was an enemy out there was both nerve wracking and dangerous.
Lieutenant Rothenberg was watching out to the right towards Paisley woods, trying desperately to see if he could locate the Jagers, when all of a sudden he realised the fog was lifting and away to the right he could indeed see in the distance the tiny figures of the Guard jager as they advanced into the dense Paisley woods, one moment they were there, the next enveloped by the trees.

                                                      Sun rises on the battlefield

All of a sudden the lieutenant heard someone yell out, “good God cavalry, Enemy cavalry to our front”.

Sweeping his glass back to his front he looked out across the valley in front of him and what a few moments ago had been a blanket of fog was now as the fog quickly cleared away  a panoramic view of the valley that ran from his positions on Maurberg Ridge across to Walby Hill. The only thing that truly ruined the view was the 2 brigades of Imperial cavalry that Rothenberg could see, and they were making straight for him.
The next thing he heard was the Captain yelling
“Man your guns, prepare to fire”.

He didn’t even have to align the guns from his team, he just made sure they had the elevation correct and immediately after the command to fire was heard the Battle for Ulrichsburg was underway.

                                                The first Cavalry attacks go in on Maurberg Ridge
              
The first Imperial forces to see the enemy were the 3rd Wartenburg Hussars, but before they could react to seeing the enemy guns the Rechburg battery on the hill in front of them fired sending a fog of belching smoke out in front, followed moments later by the whining and then thumping and crashing of shot as they ploughed along their indiscriminate path through men and horses.

Sergeant Loehr heard the regimental bugler  play the prepare to charge, the men drew in to form close ranks, knee to knee, the regiment then started cantering across the valley towards the enemy guns. Loehr looked along the line of his troop; they were in the first line and out beyond his own regiment he could see the 1st Heavy cavalry regiment was also preparing to charge.

The light Cavalry screen that had been in front moments before, now swept back to the sides out of the pathway of his regiment, making it possible for his regiment to sweep that ridge clear of guns.
The shot from the enemy battery hit his ranks first, but Sergeant Loehr was too fixated on the battery to see how effective the enemy battery had been, nor was even aware that another battery had opened up on his regiment from Wanegram ridge, the 12pdr balls from this battery adding to the severe damage to the ranks of heavy horse behind Loegrs front rank.

They were close he kept saying to himself, “kill the bastards, we’re going to kill the bastards”” he was yelling in  exalted screams, now at the foot of the ridge he turned to see how his regiment had fared in the mad charge across the valley floor, they had taken heavy losses and the lines of cavalry behind him were staggered and there were huge gaps everywhere but they were going to hit the bastards and that was all that mattered.

All of a sudden at that moment the ridge of the hill in front was covered by other charging enemy Cavalry, it was as if they had risen from the bowels of the earth as they poured across the crest in front of him, to make matters worse they seem to be heading straight for him, a regiment of Rechburg Hussars and a regiment of Flensburg Hussars swept past the Rechburg artillery battery and counter charged down the ridge straight into the Wartenburg Heavy Cavalry regiment.

The impact of the charge and the fact that Loehr’s regiment had already suffered heavy losses from shot and canister meant that when they were hit by the 1400 enemy cavalry his own regiment numbered around 600 and were not in a good formation to receive a enemy charge, his regiment simply dissolved into a mass of confusion. The melee was severe and short and the 2nd Imperial Heavy Cavalry Regiment was simply swept aside and routed, the regiment fled back across the valley to Walby ridge and beyond. Sergeant Loehr was one of the 300 men of his regiment killed in the first 15 minutes of battle.
The rout of the the 2nd Imperial Heavy cavalry also unsettled the 3rd Wartenburg Hussars and they retreated as well but they were to reform and return to the battle, the 2nd Heavy regiment was a spent force and left the field.

                                            1st Phase of the Battle, the Cavalry advance 

The 1st Imperial Heavy cavalry Regiment that had been preparing to support the 2nd Regiments charge on the guns, however before it moved the Regiment was pulled up short when its commander Colonel Wagner saw a Rechburg Light cavalry Regiment move onto the extreme right hand side of the ridge. The implication being if he charged in support of the 1st then that enemy Cavalry would sweep down taking his own regiment in the flank, moments later he also saw Rechburg Infantry in the woods.

With some relief a few minutes later Colonel Wagner and the other Cavalry commanders received orders to pull back across the valley behind Walby Hill.

General Vatutin the Commander of the Imperial commander had been told that enemy flags and banners had been seen formed up on the reverse slope of Wartenburg ridge, not knowing the strength of the enemy behind that ridge he called his regiments back, he would give the Imperial artillery time to work over the enemy positions, a duty they commenced with immediate success as the enemy 12pdr battery on Wanegram Ridge was hit by Imperial gun fire.

The two regiments of Rechburg light cavalry after repulsing the enemy heavy cavalry had quickly reformed and returned across to the reverse slopes of the ridge, the Rechburg Newstadel Hussars had suffered very few losses and were 700 men strong, the 1st Flensburg Hussars had suffered moderate losses and only 400 men remaining in the regiment, however they were veterans and remained formed and ready for battle, both regiments resumed their position behind Maurberg ridge, alongside the Rechburg 1st Infantry brigade under General Dalberg.

The Imperial 3/1 Brigade prepares to attack  Paisley Woods, the Rechburg Garde Jager would defend these woods all day. The road leads to Asper Hamlet just visible on the right.

The battle emphasis now shifted over to Paisley woods and the hamlet called Asper which was a few hundred yards behind the woods. Asper Hamlet consisted of only a few buildings of cottages and barns, it would have had a population of around a hundred people fortunately for them they had fled hours ago.

                                          2nd Phase, the Infantry start Positions

The Rechburg Guard Jager had made quick progress through the fog, their commander Colonel Wace had heard a report from one of the cavalry patrols that Paisley woods was a extremely dense woods, and Colonel Wace was convinced that was where his elite battalion could do the most damage. So after seeking the approval of his brigade commander General Simkin he and his men literally ran through the fog, trusting they would not crash into any enemy. They made the woods safely and immediately prepared their positions. 
The Colonel knew they were in a exposed position and likely to be surrounded, but as he smiled to himself it would take at least a Brigade of enemy Jagers to dig him and his men out of here and he was waging the enemy didn’t have a Brigade Jagers; he was right.

The battlefield transcended into relative quiet following the Jagers rush into Paisley woods. The rest of the Rechburg 2nd Infantry brigade took up positions around the Hamlet and in Asper woods, they then waited for the inevitable attacks.

Out on the extreme Rechburg right the 1st Rechburg Light cavalry Brigade formed up behind Stanley ridge, its commander Prince Hans of Flensburg  mounted the crest to observe the battlefield.
Directly in front of him but quite some distance away he could see three Battalions of Imperial grenadiers forming, those veterans he pondered to himself will likely cause us a few problems today.

To this left he could see the 1st infantry Brigade forming up behind Asper hamlet, apart from that all was quiet on his side of the battlefield.

Up on Wanegram ridge Prince Wilhelm and his staff watched the battle unfold, he was extremely pleased to see the Imperial cavalry being forced back, but he knew they would return. Down in front of him he had seen that audacious Colonel Wace run into Paisley woods, the Guard Jagers were often referred to as Wace’s foot Hussars because they ran everywhere, Prince Wilhelm knew they would give a good account of themselves.
What was concerning him was the enemy artillery, they were damnably effective and already the 12pdr battery was badly damaged and the horse artillery down in front of Asper Hamlet was taking a pounding, but they had to take it regardless, if he pulled the artillery out too soon he would simply be over-run.

 Imperial 3/1 attacks continue on Paisley Woods, the 2/1 Bde moves around  
                                       the right flank of the woods.

The 2nd Phase of the attack now developed when the Imperial Commander General Kyler ordered his infantry forward, the first to move was the 3/1 Brigade with the attached 14th Wartenburg Jager Battalion. This Brigade had been severly mauled in the Battle off Hamelin only 3days before, of the 5 Battalions in the brigade only 3 were anywhere near full (18th Jager,8th & 9th) strength at 600 men each. The Brigade had the 14th Wartenburg Jager Bn of 600 men attached to it.(detached from 4th Wartenburg Bde .  The first infantry to go in were the 14th Jagers, they advanced into Paisley Wood to clear the Rechburg Guard Jagers out, but were unsuccessful losing around 100 men in the process and routing out of the woods running as far back as Moorgham Hamlet before they stopped.
Then the 18th Jagers pushed down the Asper roadway intending to drive into the Asper woods, however the 5th Rechburg Line Battalion advanced out from the Asper village and pushed the jager back, The 5th Battalion was then in turn attacked by 9th Imperial battalion, the Rechburg 5th losing 150 men were routed by the Imperialist who lost about 100.
The 9th Imperial Battalion was then joined by the 8th Battalion as they advanced on towards Asper. Formed up outside Asper village the 2nd Rechburg Garde battalion stood to face the combined attack, the Rechburg Grenadiers were repulsed with the loss of 100 men the Imperialists continued the advance also losing 100 men between the 8th and 9th Battalions. The Imperial Battalions now approached Asper Hamlet, the 4th Rechburg Battalion had now moved from the rear of Asper to take up positions within the small town. The Rechburg 6th Battalion now moved into reserve immediately behind the town as did the 1st Bn of the Grenadier Garde regiment, moving off Wanegram ridge in behind the Hamlet alongside the 6th.
By now the 2nd Rechburg Garde Battalion had reformed behind the town and was preparing to move forward once more.

Further out to the Rechburg right, the 3 Imperialist grenadier battalions (1st, 2nd & 17th) advanced in column from Offus Ridge towards Stanley ridge, all that opposed them were the two regiments of Light cavalry. Seeing the Grenadiers moving Prince Hans commander of the 2nd Light Cavalry Brigade ordered both Regiments up to the crest of Stanley ridge. Prince Wilhelm also noticing the Imperialists advancing down his right flank ordered the Horse artillery battery from in front of Asper village down to the southern edge of Asper woods, quite close to Bishops peak. From there the Horse artillery started to cause significant casualties on the Grenadiers, who being in columns suffered over 100 men in 15 minutes. The Grenadier advance stopped and they withdrew back to Offus ridge once more.

While the Infantry attacks were taking place outside Asper the Imperialist Artillery had their defining moment by destroying the last guns of the Rechburg 12pdr battery.

Having seen the Rechburg big guns finally silenced General Kyler decided to launch the next Infantry Brigade (2/1) directly at the hill the 12pdr battery had occupied - Wanegram Ridge.
The 2/1 Brigade advanced down the imperialist right hand side of Paisley woods moving between the woods and Walby Hill.
While advancing past the woods the battalions of the 2/1 Brigade suffered considerable casualties from the fire being directed at their flanks and rear by the Rechburg Guard Jagers entrenched within the woods.
As the 2/1 advanced on Wanegram Ridge General Kyler also ordered the Cavalry to renew the attack on Maurberg Ridge.
Maurberg ridge was now defended by the last remaining intact artillery unit, a 9pdr battery, the woods that covered the central part of the ridge was defended by 1st Line Battalion, behind the woods was the Leeds Cavalry regiment and at the foot of the ridge behind the battery were the two remaining regiments of the 1st cavalry Brigade the Newstadel and the Flensburg Hussars.
Immediately behind the 9pdr Battery stood the 1st Flensburg grenadier Battalion a veteran unit.

The 1st Rechburg Infantry Brigade (less the 1st Flensburg Gren Bn) that had been stationed behind Maurberg ridge was in the process of moving to the right to support the defence of Wanegram Ridge and Asper village.

The battle had been going two and half hours and General Kyler had clearly decided to commit his entire centre and right flank in an effort to break the Rechburg line which was being spread by these constant attacks.

As the Cavalry attack neared Maurberg Ridge they started to suffer from the Rechburg artillery once again, the 1st Heavy Cavalry regiment in particular suffered heavy losses. It soon became evident to General Vatutin that the Rechburg Cavalry were ready and waiting for him on the reverse slope of Maurberg ridge. To attack the guns and in turn be attacked by the Cavalry while his regiments were already starting to show signs of nervousness was far to risky for him to contemplate. Unable to go forward left him the only option available to withdraw behind Walby Hill and await the results of the infantry attack.


                                        The Imperial cavalry Retreat from Maurberg ridge.

Meanwhile the 2/1 Brigade under General Spiedal continued their attack towards Wanegram ridge, once the Imperial Cavalry withdrew the Rechburg artillery turned on the units of 2/1 Brigade, 4th Battalion suffering at least a hundred men killed or wounded. The 2/1 Brigade slowed and waited for the 3/1 Brigade to go in on their attack on Asper village. The Imperial lowering of morale was beginning to have en effect on the entire army by this time.

The 3/1 attack down the road towards Asper village was going well, they had certainly suffered losses but so far the 8th and 9th Battalions had swept all before them General Sperle realised that the 9th was becoming too weak having suffered many losses he ordered the 8th Battalion to attack the Rechburg 6th Battalion alone. The 6th Rechburg was stationed alongside the village in column. The 8th Battalion was repulsed in some disorder. The Rechburg 6th then counter attacked the Imperial 8th Battalion and catching it totally unprepared and disordered routed it from the field, the 8th battalion losing 200 men in the melee.

                               The height of the Imperial attack on Asper Hamlet, just before the 
                                 Imperial 8 & 9th Bns were routed. 

The Rechburg 6th then went on to attack the 9th  Imperial Battalion and routed that unit from the field, again causing very heavy casualties, reports suggest as many as 300 men killed in 9th alone. With the 8th
and 9th Battalions both routing down the roadway the other Imperial units started to become shaken. Morale had become very fragile and Commanders found they were having trouble controlling their units until General Kyler decided that his army would take no more punishment and he ordered the retreat.

The Imperial army slowly left the field, their retreat covered by the artillery and the Cavalry. The Rechburg army was too exhausted to pursue.

The losses were quite heavy for both sides

Imperials Lost 1400 Infantry and 1100 cavalry and 2 Battalions and 1 Hvy cav regiment rout.
Rechburg lost 1000 Infantry, 300 cavalry and 1.5 Batteries of artillery. They had 1 Inf battalion rout.

6 comments:

  1. "Luck will save a man, if his courage holds" - General Kyler.

    It was a good game Barry, I guess the Imperials just dont have the spirit when it time to get stuck in with the bayonet.

    Paul

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  2. It was indeed a brilliant game and thanks for taking the part of the Imperials, and yes luck was big factor in this battle, the result was in doubt until the very last moment then your luck deserted you.

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  3. 'A near run thing,' as no doubt the Rechburg Commander, Prince Wilhelm remarked. Interesting balance of forces too: The Rechburg predominantly light horse; Inperialists Medium and Heavies; and the Imperialists with about a battalion's worth more infantry. A stern task for the Imperialists to drive the Rechburgers out of their position, but not an impossible one.

    Barry, I would like to 'borrow' that battlefield, for my own (alternative) narrative of the Ulrichstein Rebellion, which I hope to revive soon.
    Cheers,
    Ion

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  4. Yes it was a close run thing indeed, it started out being a meeting engagement but as we found the Imperial Cavalry almost on us coming out of a fog, that put a stop to Willy even thinking about going anywhere. Paul actually caught me flat footed, I was worried about my right with those Imperial grenadiers over there, but I need not have worried about them. It was the blasted Imperial artillery that caused me all shades of panic (literally), his artillery were really sniping.

    By all means you are welcome to the battlefield and the table if you want, anytime you like.
    I am really keen to read your WRE blogs again, so get goin before you get got.!!!!!

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  5. Wonderful Barry, great build up to the battle. There appears to be a trial of rifled artillery in the Hapsburgian army or maybe they are trialling a new form of luck?

    cheers
    chief whip

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  6. Yes I was beginning to think there was something in the coke Paul (Imperial chappie) was drinking, in the last battle his artillery could hit a barn if they deployed inside it, this time he couldn't miss.

    This was a real classic tussle and the fog setup was brilliant because we were into action as soon as we got with visual range which was I think about 10 inches.
    The fields outside Asper village would have been a flood with blood and all of it by melees.


    ReplyDelete