Field Marshal von Daun sat uneasily upon his horse as a stiff wind blew across the Bohemian countryside in the spring of 1757, the war had been raging for a year now. Opposite him line upon line of blue uniforms stretched across the countryside around a mile and a half distance. As he sat upon his horse he contemplated much. How would his army perform? Would it drive the Prussian foe from the field as the Emperess Maria Theresa expected? However, his thoughts were cut short by the interruption of his aide. “My Lord, General Sincere reports a significant movement against our right and centre, as you expected”. Excellent he thought, there was a chance, despite the terrain that he could secure a victory against Frederick after all. He moved his horse forward, battle was to be joined.
Constrained by the Roslomitz stream on his left and the rising ground at his front, the Bousov, and a heavy wood immediately to his centre rear von Daun was left with few options but to form a line running from the stream northeast towards the town of Kuklena, bending at the Bousov. His three infantry divisions moved forward as directed.
Above, the general situation with the Austrians on the left. The town of Kuklena is in the right foreground, the Bousov in the centre and the Roslomitz stream in the distance.
The Austrian left was held by General Marshall who directly commanded the 1st Division, and was nominally the deputy army commander. This division contained four infantry regiments and was reinforced by 12 medium guns and the reserve heavy artillery also of 12 guns. A total of 24 guns, excluding the lighter pieces allocated to support each infantry regiment. The Austrian centre was formed by General Starhemberg’s Division and also contained four infantry regiments. Initially the rising ground of the Bousov, conical and perhaps 700 yards in width at its widest point, was to be held by a regiment of the left and two regiments of Starhemberg’s Division with his divisional artillery and another regiment extending to the right between the high ground and the town of Kuklena. The final regiment, Infantry Regiment 26, formed a reserve. The Austrian right was held by General Sincere’s Division and was the strongest with five infantry regiments. To the rear of the infantry divisions were the three Austrian cavalry divisions. Namely those of Luetzow, Stampach and Serbelloni. In all Daun had deployed some 16,500 bayonets, 7,500 sabres and 48 medium and heavy guns.
Above a view of the Austrian right viewed from the Prussian left. While below a view from the Austrian centre and left. Here the Prussian centre is clearly visible, while the Prussian right is still some distance away.
Daun was expecting an determined Prussian attack on his centre and this was soon confirmed when the telltale headgear of the Prussian Grenadiers were seen some 1200 yards from the Bousov.
Below, another view from the rising ground of the Bousov.
Soon after the Austrian regiments deployed the Prussian grenadiers and a regiment of 1000 dragoons hit the Austrian centre.
Austrian Infantry Regiment 4 and 13 were the focus of two Prussian Converged Grenadier Regiments, while Infantry Regiment 47 was to face Prussian cavalry. Below, the Prussian attack.
The ensuing engagement was bloody. While Austrian Infantry Regiment 4 threw back the attack by the Prussian Grenadiers Infantry Regiment 13 was swept away by the second. The Prussian Dragoons attacked with great elan and decimated Infantry Regiment 47. In just 30 minutes Starhemberg’s Division had suffered the loss of two of it’s four infantry regiments.
Daun was far from demoralised by the ferocity of these attacks and over the next two hours would order several counterattacks by cavalry and infantry in an attempt to hold the high ground, or at least contest it.
Meanwhile on the Austrian right the battle was equally ferocious. In an attempt to support the Prussian attack on the centre several Prussian regiments advanced forward and began an exchange of musket and artillery fire with Sincere’s Austrians. One Prussian regiment secured the town of Kuklena from which it poured fire, though ineffectively on the Austrian flank. However, it was now the Prussians who were constricted by terrain and facing a withering Austrian fire. Muskets, light cannon and heavier field guns belched death at the Prussians opposite.
Above, a view of the Austrian right flank. Prussian infantry have seized the town of Kuklena, visible in the right foreground.
Then, about 4pm General Sincere ordered three of his regiments, held in reserve, on to the offensive. Regiments 42, 21 and 48 marched with great discipline to the northeast with flags flying and drums beating where, on their arrival, they fell upon the Prussians with great determination.
Below, the Austrian attack underway. Infantry Regiment 42 has just failed a morale check while the Prussian defenders are also still disordered after seizing the town.
The Prussians not expecting such ferocity fell out of the town in considerable disorder. Worse for the Prussian left this defeat, combined with previous casualties, resulted in the Prussian left falling back in some disorder and exhausted by the fighting.
Yet Field Marshal Daun was unable to capitalise on this stroke of fortune. His right was clearly victorious but his centre remained precariously weak. Below, the Austrian left where it rests on the Roslomitz stream.
To his consternation his left was being pressed by more Prussian formations. A Prussian cavalry attack on Infantry Regiment 7, already shaken by concentrated artillery fire, forced Daun to bolster his line with his last fresh cavalry reserve. Simultaneously Daun ordered a final cavalry charge by the converged Cuirassier Brigade comprised of the Cuirassier Regiments 5 & 20 which he accompanied personally. The Prussians were driven back.
However, by 7pm the situation had become completely untenable and Daun, now somewhat despondent, reluctantly ordered his army to retire from the field – covered by the threatening demonstrations by General Sincere against the now outflanked Prussian left.
It seemed that Maria Theresa’s Legions had been badly handled by Frederick, but the Emperess had not lost hope and von Daun would soon take the field again.
This was the first outing for my Seven Years War Austrians, so certainly their first game was worth recording, despite the result. Interestingly it was the first Seven Years War battle for my opponent’s Prussians, though they have frequently found themselves engaged in 1806 Napoleonic games. With both armies limited in numbers it was a smaller game, but certainly had a very different feel than the Napoleonic games we often play.
Casualty wise the Austrians had taken a hammering. Two infantry divisions were near exhaustion, while the third was fresh. In addition the Austrian cavalry divisions were spent. One had collapsed, one was exhausted and the last near exhaustion. Of the Prussian divisions one was exhausted while the Grenadier Division was also near exhaustion.
The figures are all of course 6mm and from the excellent Heroics & Ros ranges, the Austrians from my collection the Prussians from Alastair’s.