Western League Defeat in the Spaetzelthal

Rob Dean

Sometime during the War of the Western League, some years before the outbreak of the Not Quite Seven Years War,  a League army advanced down the Spaetzelthal.  Falling back before them Colonel Adelmann, of Schoeffen-Buschhagen, was determined to stand at the Spaetleseberg, a position which dominated the valley, hoping that reinforcements would arrive before he was overwhelmed.  He had sent word to General Schwarzadler, his immediate superior and commander of the combined Wachovia/Schoeffen-Buschhagen  Coalition force, to hasten forward with all possible speed to reinforce his position.

The Spaetzelthal, Adelmann Regiment deployed on the slopes of the Spaetleseberg (view to the south)

Anticipating a difficult fight, Colonel Adelmann ordered his troops to erect hasty breastworks to fortify their position.  A single battery of guns was sited near the center of the Spaetleseberg, and a squadron of cavalry placed in a reserve as the southern end of the ridge.  It was none too soon.  In the distance could be heard the fifes and drums of the approaching League army.  Scouts quickly reported that the defenders were outnumbered by almost four to one.  

Situation near the start; the cavalry battle begins
The initial clash of cavalry

After some preliminary maneuvering, the Adelmann detachment was faced by two regiments of League troops; the Hesse-Hattemstadt regiment at the north, and the Schluesselbrett regiment to their south.  A regiment of Hesse-Hattemstadt cavalry, somewhat reduced by the previous days’ marching and skirmishing, swept around the south end of the Spaetleseberg, to be met by the depleted Schoeffen-Buschhagen dragoons.  An extended cavalry battle of charge and countercharge soon developed, and the S-B dragoons had never had a finer day.  More than holding their own against the League horse, they drew back the Leaguers with terrible losses.  They were sustained in their fight by the timely arrival of the lead element of the hoped for reinforcements of General Schwarzadler, a unit of Wachovia curiassiers.  Eventually, the survivors of the beaten Hess-Hattemstadt horse retired from the field, while the Coalition cavalry rallied in open ground between two small woods.

Schlüsselbrett infantry attack in the center
While the cavalry battle was raging, though, the situation for the Coalition was in doubt on the slopes of the Spaetleseberg.  The Schluesselbrett infantry deployed into line and engaged in a deadly short range firefight with a wing of the Adelmann regiment holding the south end of the hill, and, further north, the other wing of the Adelmann regiment was assailed by the Hess-Hattemstadt regiment, aided by a detachment of Saxe-Kirchdorf jaegers.
Reinforcements rush toward the fight

Help was near to hand, though.  A column of troops, led by the remaining detachment of the Adelmann regiment, hastened toward the fight.

The last detachment of the Adelmann regiment charges the Schlueselbrett troops

The arriving troops counterattacked the Schluesselbrett regiment, and were driven off.  The Schluesselbrett regiment’s casualties had been horrifying, but their morale held, for the moment.  As they rallied after the melee, the survivors of the Adelmann regiment withdrew from the field.
However, the Wachovians had arrived, and a sharp fighter between the advancing Wachovian light infantry and the battered Schluesselbrett regiment proved to be too much for the latter, and they too retired to reorganize.
At the north end of the Spaetleseberg, the Hesse-Hattemstadt forces drove off the S-Bs and occupied their position, but the arrival of fresh Wachovians proved too much for them and they were shortly forced to retire.
It was now late in the evening, and the League commander considered his position.  His Saxe-Weilenz troops were still fresh, but slightly outnumbered by the Wachovians.  There seemed little chance of clearing the critical positions on the Spaetleseberg before dark, and, with the possibility of further enemy reinforcements to be considered, he ordered a withdrawal.
The commanders
Norman and I were probably at the game for a little over two hours, and it ran to seven turns.  The scenario was “Reinforcements in the Defense: On The Table”, number 15 from C.S. Grant’s Scenarios for Wargames (the “Green Book”).  The rules were Lawford and Young’s Charge!, and the scenario translation was on the basis of 1 book unit to 1 company or squadron of infantry and cavalry, and 2 book units of artillery to one gun on the table.
We have used the scenario on multiple occasion previously, and, given the rules, we added the breastworks to the defenders, to give them a chance against the attackers.  With no random morale rules, it’s difficult for a Charge unit to hold against odds for very long.  Given the basing of our troops, and the fact the the book specifies that this scenario is to be fought across the narrow end of a rectangular table, it got a little crowded.  We had intended to fight it without the unsightly movement trays, but Norman ended up faced with a time constraint, so we tray-ed the troops for convenience.
Map of our theater of conflict
The War of the Western League is what we get when playing at home; it’s our excuse for running a game using only the troops of countries stored here, and involves Schluesselbrett, Hesse-Hattemstadt, and Saxe-Weilenz against the coalition of Schoeffen-Buschhagen and Wachovia.  We used William’s Free City of Wiegenburg troops as stand-ins for the still-to-be-painted Saxe-Weilenzers today.
It’s been over a year since these troops were on the table, so we were glad of an opportunity to deploy them.  I do need to decide on some rules that would allow use of smaller units to make more efficient use of our limited 5 foot by 6 foot table.

via The Sharp End of the Brush http://sharpbrush.blogspot.com/2017/06/western-league-defeat-in-spaetzelthal.html
from Tumblr http://tumblr.hawks-club.org/post/161988802173
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