Thursday 13 April 2023

Dettingen 1743, Game at NBHW.

Over a Friday evening and Saturday in early March the club put on a game based on the Battle of Dettingen in 1743 during the War of Austrian Succession. This battle is notable as being the last time a British monarch lead troops in person. This was the second time the club had gamed this battle , see here,  this time it was on a slightly larger scale though.

View looking east from the River Main

View looking West towards the River Main and Dettingen

The rules this time were Tricorn which is a variant on the SYW section from Shako I with some Shako II bits also thrown in.

I had command of a mixed British and Austrian division forming the second rank of infantry in the allied centre. A division of Austrians were to my front.

Allied Centre

On the allied left were the majority of the allied horse with some Hanoverian infantry.

Left Wing

On the right a division of British infantry with King George II and some more allied cavalry. To our rear the rearguard of British guards, Hanoverian infantry and Scots Greys,watching the main French army closing from the South.

Right Wing and Rearguard

The allied task was to punch through the French and escape off the northern edge of the table either via the bridge over the River Main behind Dettingen or across the causeway behind the French centre.

The French were forced to start in their historical positions having crossed over the stream to advance on the allies against the orders of the Duc de Noailles.

The battle started on the allied left flank where a mass cavalry melee was soon underway with the allies also under artillery fire from the french cannon emplaced across the Main river.

Cavalry melee continues while British horse reforms

This did not go well for the allies with much of the British horse either forced back behind the Hanoverians to reform or destroyed by superior French cavalry. Fortunately the french horsemen were soon to be brought up short by the concentrated fire of the Hanoverian infantry.

In the centre the leading Austrian brigades moved off at a slight oblique to try and force back the French infantry just east of Dettingen while my Austrian and British brigades moved off behind them with a right oblique to head for the causeway, which French troops were still arriving over, and link up with King George on my right.

Allied centre moves off, my brigades to the rear.

Austrians start to close with the French.

On the right wing the British infantry advanced under the watchful eye of King George while allied cavalry moved to the extreme right flank to counter French horse seen moving in that direction.

Right wing advances

Cavalry face off on the extreme right, seen from allied baggage train.

The infantry advance in the centre and on the right was delayed by standing crops and boggy terrain which meant the early action was to the left where the swirling cavalry action saw the allied horse repeatedly beaten back by the French horsemen only for them in turn to be forced back by Hanoverian muskets. To try and break this stalemate the French commanders started to bring up their own infantry in support.

Left flank melee
Centres engaged.

On the right the French cuirassiers, dragoons, and hussars made short work of the Hanoverian cavalry they faced, forcing King George to redeploy the right flank of his infantry to counter this threat. Fortunately to our rear the allied rear guard now about faced and started to move off to support this flank.

Right wing cavalry charges.

With the Austrians to my front engaged in a furious musketry duel with their French counterparts and unable to advance it became increasing difficult to get my brigades into action and some time was lost changing deployments to fit into the narrow gap between the Austrians and British to my right.

My brigades get into action crossing the stream and heading for the causeway.

The British to my right initially got the upper hand over the French they faced but re-enforcement's steadied the French line for a while and started to inflict serious casualties amongst King George's men.

Allied right.

Despite the traffic jam in trying to get my battalions into contact I was making steady headway towards the causeway to the rear of the French centre.

The causeway tantalisingly close

To my left several battalions of Austrians were repulsed and fled the field, allowing the French to turn onto my flank, while on the far left the continued cavalry and infantry melee in front of Dettingen now saw the French finally getting the upper hand with the arrival of fresh French horse under Noailles.

French turn to flank my advance in the centre.

With my command, almost at the point of a break through and the rearguard being the only allied commands still in fighting order and with fresh French troops arriving, King George was forced to concede the field and hope to attempt terms with the French, who were also badly mauled on the day.

Basically the Allies failed an army morale test with a "broken" result while the French failed one with a "demoralised" result.

So that was the end of a hard fought game. Victory, just, to the French.

More pics and fuller AAR on the club's Facebook Page