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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Battle of Hister


King Konstantin rode into Hister at the head of his entourage; already the town was a hive of activity with the soldiers of the 3rd Brigade preparing the village for defence, busy loop holing walls and barricading the main roads and alley ways.
Behind him a few miles away the rest of his army was marching quickly to join him, already looking back he could see the dust clouds approaching from the west, however as he looked to the east he saw even more dust clouds coming towards him.
He dismounted in the village square where he noticed a large gathering of his officers, amongst them was General Wrede commander of the 3rd Brigade as well as his old friends General Romer commander of the 2nd Infantry division and the cavalry Brigade General Jeschonnek.
“Well Gentlemen a fine day for a scrap what?”
Konstantin espied a church with a tall tower, he noticed that already up in the tower men were preparing it for defence.
“I should think we need to go up yonder and have a look around, come Gentlemen follow me.”
From the church belfry there was a panoramic view of the area around Hister, the country side was generally open with a few significant ridges and slopes and one or two woods, not ideal country for a defending  force that is likely to be heavily outnumbered.
It was clear that with the forces available his army would not be able to defend here for very long, not that was intention anyway.
As he swung his telescope around to the east, watching the approaching cloud he noticed some Hapburgian cavalry already taking station on Grosser Hill and Manerheim Ridge.
“Gentlemen it seems the enemy have arrived”.


                                                               The Hister Battlefield
The King then noticed two of his own Light Cavalry regiments were moving down from Granner Ridge heading for the Hapburgians on Grosser Hill.
Konstantin turned to General Jeschonnek,
“What the hell are they doing, who ordered them to advance?”
The General was just as puzzled as his King, “I don’t know Sire, I will get them recalled immediately”

“Yes do that general and when you find out who ordered them forward I want them dismissed from the army immediately, now go before it’s too late and get them back.”
The General spoke to one of his aides who immediately gathered a bugler and another trooper and the three men raced after the Light cavalry.

The Hapburgian Light Cavalry had been watching the Wartenburg regiments coming off the ridge before them, Colonel Piesser the Regimental commander ordered forward the Horse battery he had on the reverse slope. He also noticed coming from the village three riders riding for all they were worth,

The Hapburgian Colonel turned to his aide
“Well I am guessing someone is in for a right rollicking.”

Even from up on Grosser Hill they could hear the Wartenburg bugler playing the “recall” for all his life was worth.
Colonel Piesser looked to the battery commander, but the Battery Commander Captain Briel simply shook his head,
“Sorry Sir they are not in range yet”
“Very well, we will have to see if we can entice them to come just a little closer.”
He turned to his aide once more,
“Charles we will move to the bottom of the ridge, if the Wartenburgers are tempted and come into range, the guns may fire, but once you see us moving forward in the charge for god sake hold the battery fire I sure as hell will not appreciate being shot up the backside my own guns.”

The Colonel then lead the 1st cavalry Regiment down the forward slope of Grosser Hill. The two Wartenburg Cavalry Regiments seemed to be ready to accept the challenge, but at the last moment someone must have heard the bugler, because both Regiments came to the halt and then started to move back to Granner ridge.
 Colonel Piesser cursed to himself, he was tempted to launch a charge after them but was mindful of his own orders, he was to screen the deployment of the Hapburgian army as it deployed, not to become involved in personal side issues.
Leaving the Regiment in place at the foot of the ridge he returned to the crest to continue watching, the enemy deployment and his own army as it was now entering the battlefield.

Back in Hister King Konstantin had come down from the church tower; one of his staff had laid a map out on a table, his staff and unit commanders gathered around.

“Right then Gentlemen, time is off the essence as you can all clearly see the bloody Hapburgians have arrived already, they must have damn well run to get here so soon. Now then let me make one thing clear to you all, we are not here to defend or die; we are here to delay and make the bloody Hapburgians die. We are delaying the enemy, buying time for our allies to get closer and every day we can delay is a day’s march closer they will be.”

He looked around the men,
“Gentlemen there are two elements that will make or break us today, they are timing and discipline. As unit commanders you must resist the temptation to get stuck in to the enemy that is unless I order otherwise.
You may threaten to attack, but unless you are certain you can easily disengage do not become involved in a General melee. The idea is to fire, cause casualties and then move out. The Cavalry may find it necessary to charge but only as a last resort, and again I remind you, if you do charge make sure you can disengage quite safely, if you lose your units in pointless general melees fight to the death and make sure you don’t come back. I want officers who know how to obey and control their men; I have no time for glory hunters or self patronizing bastards who think of their own honour over my orders.”

Konstantin looked behind him and was pleased to see the rest of his army arriving.
“Right then Gentlemen, let’s get down to deployments.
General Wrede, your 3rd brigade will hold the village and hedge line to the south, you will hold the village at all costs and you are the one command that will remain in place for as long as possible. There will come a time that the rest of the army starts to withdraw away from the village, when that happens you are to leave the minimum garrison and make sure you leave with your command, do you understand me General, when it is time to pull back you will designate a rear guard commander, you will not stay.”
General Wrede nodded reluctantly, “Yes Sire.”
”General Romer you will place your Infantry Division north of the village, 4th  Brigade to cover the gap between the village and Kliener Woods, General you will ensure the enemy do not take the woods before we are ready to withdraw, if necessary you can withdraw via the Velachill road, so make sure you do not get cut off.
The 5th Brigade, which are your Conscripts will be deployed south of the village, but clearly we can not just yet rely on them to be steady, but the experience will help toughen them, so long as you keep them under tight control.”

General Romer nodded his head, “You can rely on the 2nd Division Sire.”
“Oh I do General, just as I rely on all of you to do your duty, now off to your commands:

The Battle




The Wartenburg moves up into position, the medium artillery is already engaging the Hapburgians.


                                         Map of the Southern Flank of Hister

General Wrede was given 2x9pdr Batteries and a 6pdr HA battery  to help in the defence of the village, with the instructions they were not to be allowed to be captured.
Both 9pdr batteries were deployed to the front of the village while the HA artillery battery was placed on its northern flank.


King Ferdinand
Ferdinand waited impatiently for his army to arrive, his plan was simplicity itself, he would pin as many Wartenburg units as possible into the defence of the village.
He would use the 1st Light Cavalry Division to swing south via Granner Ridge with the aim of taking the bridge crossing the Wiener River and thereby cutting of the Wartenburg retreat to the west.

On the northern flank the 4th Infantry Division with 2nd Cavalry Division in support would take Kliener Woods thus cutting the Wartenburg retreat to the north, meanwhile the 2nd and 3rd Divisions would take the village and the hedges to the south.

The attack began with 3rd Foot brigade (3rd Div) and the 1st Foot Brigade (2nd Div) advancing directly on Hister village.
 To the south the 1st and 2nd Light Horse regiments cautiously began their advance on Granner ridge; they suspected the Wartenburg Cavalry that had been seen on the ridge was still there but on the reverse slope.

On the northern flank the 4th Division was still in the process of forming up, having been delayed in the long march to the battle.


Part of the Hapburgian army moves up to the attack.


                                             Map of the Northern Flank of Hister

As the two Hapburgian Brigades advanced on Hister, the Wartenburg artillery began a very effective fire on them, in particular the 5 battalions of the 3rd Foot Brigade suffered heavily (it has been estimated the five battalions between them lost 400 men in the many attacks on the village that day). By the time 1st Battalion and 2nd battalions (5th Bde) were within a 100 yards of the village both Battalions were in disarray and unable to advance further, they lost a further 200 men in futile attacks on the northern outskirts of Hister, General Kuntzel commander of the Brigade was seriously wounded and would be out of action for 6 weeks.
The 3rd Battalion (1st Foot Bde) suffered heavily from the Horse Artillery battery, the battalion commander attempted to charge the guns but the battalion was halted and then routed back.


The Wartenburg Horse artillery fire in the faces of the 3rd battalion, the 3rd routed from the field.

The 4th & 5th Battalions valiantly charged the village but were repulsed and withdrew in disorder, they were to return to attack the northern outskirts of Hister in no less than 3 more separate attacks, each time they were forced back.

South of the village the Hapburgian 9th Imperial Brigade advanced on the southern outskirts of Hister, the 9th Brigade was unique in that prior to this war it had been a Wartenburg Brigade, however its officers and men remained loyal to the Hapburgian King and crossed the border to rejoin the Hapburgian army when King Konstantin declared he was rebelling against Hapburgia; so in effect in the south it was Wartenburg against Wartenburg.
The first attacks by the 9th Bde were just as unsuccessful as the in the northern parts of the village, however after a rousing speech by the Brigade Commander his men regained their strength and courage went back into the attack, finally successfully taking the southern outskirts of Hister, that attack alone costing approximately 100 casualties.

Further south the cavalry battle was about to open up, as the two Hapburgian cavalry regiments approached Granner Ridge the leading Hapburgian Regiment which was the 1st LC regiment was attacked by the 2nd Wartenburg Light Cavalry regiment and it suffered over 100 men and was routed back, (the 2nd Regt routed from the battlefield to take no further part in the battle).
 The following Hapburgian Regiment (3rd Dragoons) halted in disorder,  however they soon recovered their morale and rejoined the battle.

The Wartenburg Light Cavalry suffered no casualties and returned to the ridge. However now the 3rd and 4th Hapburgian (2nd Light Bde/1st LC Div) moved forward. The Hapburgian Cavalry commander also brought forward a HA battery which began firing on the Wartenburg Cavalry, forcing them back over the Crest of the ridge.
The Wartenburg cavalry decided it was now prudent to pull back to the next ridge line on Welsea Ridge, the Heavy Cavalry Brigade that had been there now moved over to Grossweig ridge as a central reserve. The Hapburgian Artillery now began firing on the Wartenburg Battalions behind the hedge lines they would in the course of the afternoon inflicted a 100 casualties on the battalion holding the hedge lines.

The Hapburgian 2nd light Cavalry Brigade moved on to Granner ridge, it was joined by the 6th Heavy Cavalry Brigade The Wartenburg cavalry now withdrew back to a half way point between Hister and the bridge over the Wiener River. It was clear now that the greater numbers of Hapburgian cavalry swarming around the southern flank would eventually cut the road to the bridge. King Konstantin noticed General Wrede had already started pully units out of Hiser, these included the two medium artillery batteries.


The Hapburgian Cavalry are beginning to move past the Hister Village while the Infantry attacks continue on the village itself.

On the northern Flank the 4th Infantry Division sent the 5th Foot Bde(4th Div) and the 4th Light Cavalry Brigade (2nd LC Division)  to attack the Wartenburg forces to the south of Kliener woods and the 6th Foot Bde with 3rd LC Bde (2nd LC Division) to attack those forces on the northern outskirts of the Kliener woods.


The 5th Hapburgian Foot Brigade moves around Kliener woods trying to cut the Northern escape route, meanwhile the struggle in the village continues.

As mentioned earlier the 4th Infantry Division was late in forming up for the attack, so while they were advancing towards the woods many of the men in the 5th Foot Bde were unnerved by the intense battle for Hister village.
The 4th Light Cavalry Bde came under fire from the same HA Batt that had been supporting the defence of the village; however it had since been withdrawn to cover the northern escape route. It caught the 4th LC Bde in a deadly fire which caused the 2 Regiments in the brigade to halt their advance; the 5th regiment suffered 50 casualties in a matter of minutes. The Brigade Commander ordered the Brigade to attack the Battery which they did and captured the guns, but in doing so they lost a further 100 men to canister fire.


The 4th cavalry Brigade moments before it launched its charge on the Horse Artillery Battery.

The 6th foot Brigade launched an attack into Kliener woods, they pushed the Jagers back and the Wartenburg Brigade commander General Archenholtz was killed.


Another view of the Hapburgians sweeping around the village, the Hapburgians occupied the section of village on the right and the Wartenburg troops held the southern or left side of the village until the end of the battle.

From this point the Northern attack stalled, merely because it was getting late in the day and the men were exhausted from a week’s long hard marching, this hesitation allowed the 4th Wartenburg Infantry Brigade covered by the 3rd Hussars to withdraw down the northern road unmolested.

Meanwhile General Wrede seeing the Hapburgian Cavalry moving around his southern flank and the 4th Foot Brigade moving around his northern flank decided it was time to thin out even more of  his garrison remaining in the northern part of Hister. He had already withdrawn 2 battalions, he now sent the 3rd Battalion to run helter skelter back down the road to the bridge leaving the 4th Battalion as a rearguard. Elements of this battalion did escape but 400 men were taken prisoner when they finally surrendered the town at the end of the battle.

The approaches to the bridge were covered by the Wartenburg medium artillery batteries and 2 Light Cavalry regiments supported by 2 Heavy Cavalry Regiments.


 The Wartenburg heavy cavalry overwatch the retreat back along the road to the bridge.

King Konstantin saw little point in forcing the bridge, he ordered forward his own artillery and he would use them to blast the enemy away from the river line, however this cautious approach allowed the Wartenburgers to withdraw unmolested.

Battle Casualties
Wartenburg lost 355 Infantry killed or seriously wounded and 177 with light wounds which would likely return to the colours in a week, they also lost 634 men captured (which Included the 400 captured in the village) and a battery of Horse artillery was taken.

Hapburgia lost 272 Infantry killed or seriously wounded; they had 528 with light wounds whom would return to the colours within a week. They also lost 338 Cavalry killed seriously wounded and 462 with Light wounds that would return to the colours within a week.

The Wartenburg army was forced to seperate in the retreat, once section of the army moved north while the remainder moved east. The Hapburgians spent the night at Hister reorganising before continuing their advance.

3 comments:

  1. A couple of amendments you might want to make Barry.

    First: out of the 6 Wartenburg battalions present, I think just two were conscript, and both retired west at the end of the day (one of them you see in a late picture lining the river bank to cover the bridge. The other was the one sheltering as best it could from enemy gunfire behind a hedgerow.

    Second, Wartenburg had just the one 'Heavy' Dragoon Regiment, and I believe they were the ones that accompanied King Konstantin up the North Road at the end of the day. The two light horse units went west with the rest of the Advanced Guard.

    For the rest, inflicting 1600 casualties for the loss of fewer than 1200, and at least half those prisoners, and getting off in good order I thought was a fine effort by the Wartenburg troops. I am a little perturbed by the low ratio of lightly wounded compared with K&SW, but I guess many of those would have fetched up 'in the cage'. At any rate, I would like to think that HRH Konstantin would be the type of commander who would recognise their performance in some way.

    That HRH fetched up on the north road instead of the western, was due entirely to the 4th Brigade commander in that part of the field meeting his demise whilst supervising 12th Battalion's magnificent defence against the 3-battalion Imperialist attack (2nd pic, not counting maps).

    I think on the north map you show a 13th battalion to the right rear of the 12th. Unless it is one of the conscript battalions (which was directed thereto but never actually arrived owing to having the order countermanded). Actually I believe it was the 13th garrisoning the town - 2 coys on the north side, 2 on the south, and 3 behind the place in reserve.

    Now, I have no quarrel with the misleading map: no doubt the Imperialists really did think there were 4 battalions in the place, so stout was the garrison's defence. Possibly the addition thereon of two (non-existent) conscript units served (trash talking here) to explain the cautious performance of the Imperialist cavalry on this front.

    I should give special mention to those magnificent light dragoons (chasseurs) depicted in that last image. It was they who inflicted such a sharp and costly defeat upon the leading Imperialist horse. That'll learn 'em!

    Cheers,
    Ion (Archduke Piccolo, incognito).

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  2. Hi Ion

    The difference is in what you were using which as you know was scaled down and what I scaled back up in reporting the battle, thus where you fought with a battalion it was a regiment etc.
    For example the one Heavy cavalry regiment you used was scaled down from a brigade of 2 Heavy regiments.

    So the maps are not misleading they are reporting the actual units as opposed to the scaled down models. As you are aware the actual Battalions required were well beyond the units available, for example Hapburgia would have had to place 38 Infantry battalions and 12 Cavalry regiments well beyond our capabilities. It is hoped now we have got past the first road junction the battles to be fought will be back to 1:1 or close top it as the armies spread out.
    Also the losses will necessitate that the armies are smaller, even after this action several Battalions have disappeared from the TOE.

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  3. Oops... I had hoped to get in ahead of you, there. It wasn't until about half an hour after I had sent the posting that I remembered that you had scaled the game down on a two-to-one basis. My apologies.

    I was thinking that the Imperial army must be huge, vast, multitudinous and pretty big, then, judging by what I saw flooding the table-top on the night. Too true, Blue. Thirty-eight battalions and 12 regiments - we would have been looking at an army of 35,000 roughly, compared with the 12,600 Konstantin showed on the day. A fine little action to kick-start the campaign.

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