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London, United Kingdom
A mythical beast - a female wargamer! I got back into wargaming in the summer of 2011 after a very, very long break. My current interests are Ancients, ACW, 30YW and SciFi gaming.

Tuesday, 27 August 2019

Bank Holiday Kunersdorf Game

As the August Bank Holiday was the nearest date we could get to the 260th anniversary of the Battle of Kunersdorf, we had decided to do a re-fight at the club (hence my recent painting splurge to finish all the Russian line regiments for my collection). Historically, this was Freddy the Great's worst defeat. It took place shortly after the Battle of Palzig (aka Battle of Kay).

The History Bit

Following their win at Palzig, the Russians under Saltykov had continued their advance toward Frankfurt an der Oder, reaching Kunersdorf on 30 July. On 8 August they were joined by an Austrian corps under Loudon. The army was assembled on a ridge of hills to the North of the town and set about fortifying their position.

Meanwhile, Freddy had gathered an army of about 49,000 men and marched to meet them. Having reconnoitred the Russian positions he planned to repeat his tactics at Leuthen, feinting with a small force from the North whilst bringing the main part of his army through heavy woodland to the East to strike in force at what he believed was the soft rear of the opposition. However, when the Prussians emerged they discovered that Saltykov had outguessed them and they were now facing a well fortified front line.

Following a preliminary bombardment, the Prussians launched their initial attack against the Muhlberg on the Russian left flank held by Suvalov's Corps of Observation, who having borne the brunt of the bombardment finally broke under the weight of the assaulting Prussian grenadiers.

Freddy then turned his attention to rolling up the Russian lines. Unfortunately for him, the time taken to bring up artillery and fresh troops onto the captured Muhlberg also allowed time for Saltykov to redeploy troops and guns to defend against this threat. With the first Prussian wave defeated, and his generals imploring him to retire and attack again the following day, Freddy took a gamble and ordered Seydlitz's cavalry to cross the streams and attack the battery on the Grosser Spitzberg.

The cavalry fought hard but unsuccessfully. They finally broke and routed when Russian and Austrian cavalry charged into their flank.

Freddy's left wing infantry then attacked and captured Kunersdorf and went on to assault the Grosser Spitzberg. Saltykov had reinforced this position with regiments from further along the line; in places the Russians were 4 or 5 lines deep. the fighting was brutal and the Prussians were taking very heavy casualties and becoming exhausted.

Platen tried to widen the combat by sending his cavalry to try to take the Russians from behind - their charges were repulsed by artillery fire.

It was that at this point that Loudon brought forward the Russian and Sustrian cavalry reserve which hit the left wing of the Prussians, breaking and routing them. the Prussians fled North along the Kuhgrund (the defile between the Grosser Spitzberg and the Muhlberg)., abandoning some 160 artilery pieces. During the flight and pursuit, Freddy was nearly killed by a shot and also nearly captured by some Cossacks - they were driven off by the Zieten hussars.

But that's enough of the blather, on with pics (and some commentary).

I actually arrived very early and had quite a long wait until Mike and Stan arrived around 1pm. We got the tables set up, then while they were laying out the terrain I took the time to organise the Russians into their various commands (divisions, lines and brigades). Whilst doing this I discovered that somehow I had missed packing 3 of the musketeer regiments. Luckily I had packed 2 converged grenadier regiments that weren't needed and had a unit-width marker that could be used to replace them. When the terrain was in place, I started deploying the Russians; Mike deployed the Observation Corps, his Cossacks and the Austrian reserves.

Elliot and Peter arrived while we were doing this. The Prussians were then sorted out using hte regiments brought by Stan and Elliot, along with some Hessians from Mike which could substitute for anything which was missing.

Finally, around 2.30-2.45pm we were able to begin. For the Allied army, Mike took the left wing command and Loudon's reserves; Peter (a newbie to the rules) took the left-centre and centre commands; I took the right-centre and right wing commands. Elliot too the Prussian "feint" command and Stan was Freddy with their main force.

The Prussians had first turn and began with their preliminary bombardment of the Russian left wing (the Observation Corps on the Muhlberg). This proved more effective than historical events and nearly half the target units were eliminated, despite being behind fortifications. Mike redeployed their second line units into the vacant front line slots in our first turn. The fighting at that end went on for several turns until the Muhlberg was overrun. the Prussians then had to cross the Kuhgrund and assault the Russians on the Grosser Spitzberg.

Meanwhile, over on my wing, the Russian cavalry started a long, long march around the end of the line to (eventually) occupy the field in front of the centre divisions. After about 15 of our turns (nearly 3 hours of moving), they were sorted out and in position to either attack or defend against the Prussian cavalry. As Stan chose not to follow what happened historically, it was down to me to attack him across the stream.

The fights dragged on for the rest of the game until we called it at 8pm. I think we must have played somewhere in the region of 25-30 turns for each side. The Prussians had caused many more casualties and captured the town and the Muhlberg, but had ground to a resounding halt against the main Russian infantry. They were also not doing well against the combined Russian and Austrian cavalry. We therefore decided to call it a draw, but if the game had continued the Prussian cavalry would very shortly have been overwhelmed and my Allied horsemen would have broken through into Freddy's rear.

Enough of the description, now for the pics (some of them a bit fuzzy and shaky). Apologies for the darkness - it was a very warm day and we opted not to have all the lights on so as not to add more heat to the room.


The tables were set up as 8' x 6' covering the Allied centre to left wing with a 6-x 4' table covering the Allied right-centre and right wings. The river is the Oder and marks the effective boundary of play.

Russian right wing

Russian right-centre and centre

Russian centre, left-centre and left wing

View from the Prussian right wing

The Muhlberg - well fortified but filled with crap troops!

The Prussian right wing "feint"

The Prussian main force

After a few turns:

My cavalry still has about 9 foot to march to make contact.

All the Prussians have now arrived on the table.

Mike's crap Cossacks actually charged Elliot's elite Prussian grenadiers.
Foolhardy, but it did delay their assault briefly.

Pruyssian grenadiers assault the Muhlberg...


"Are we nearly there yet?"

Observation Corps grenadiers attempt to throw the Prussians back out...

...and fail, routing through (and routing) the unit behind them.
They did survive a few rounds of melee though.

The Muhlberg is now in Prussian hands.

"Are we nearly there yet?"
"We are there. Well, the hussars and Cossacks are."

Lining up to charge across the stream

"Is this a good idea sir? I mean, we're hussars and they're cuirassiers..."

"So what? We've got Cossacks to support us. Charge!"

"Get in there, son!"

"Sir, I thought you said the Cossacks were going to support us?"

More and more Russian and Austrian cavalry appear on the field.

"Hussars on hussars? Might do better here!"

"OK, let's try this again!"
"Errmm, sir, I believe that both of these lot are "elite"!"
"I think we might leave this gap to the Austrians!"

The Austrians line up to charge.
"Hang on, what happened to the Gruzinskiy and Venguerskiy hussars?"
"Sir, it seems that they have broken and some Prussian cuirassiers have pursued
over the stream"

"Aha! So they've fallen into our cunning trap!"
Well, the Austrian dragoons refused to charge those cuirassiers and were then charged themselves. I was able to reinforce the melee with both of those Cossacks , hitting the cuirassiers in the flank and rear. Minced Prussian anyone?

"Do we charge yet, sir?"
"Not yet, boys, not yet!"

"Now we do"
 However, the Russian cuirassiers and horse grenadiers opt not to charge at this point.

As my right wing troops were doing eff all, I decided to start redeploying.
Two artillery batteries and a few infantry regiments to support them started their moves onto the field.

The Prussian assault on Grosser Spitzberg across the Kuhgrund.

The Austrian dragoons defeated the Prussian hussars and crossed the stream.
Sadly, they had rolled low and didn't make contact with the next hussar unit.

All in all, it was a great afternoon (and early evening) of gaming. If we had been able to continue, the outcome would probably have followed history as my cavalry was now across the stream and threatening the Prussian left flank and rear. We also had a crap load of fresh infantry regiments to pout into the fight (Albeit that they would have taken a long time to redeploy).

One thing I did discover is that I need some more Russian commander bases - I didn't have quite enough to represent all of the line, division and brigade officers. That's easily solved with purchases at Colours in 2 weeks' time!


  1. Dear Tamsin,
    A magnificent looking game! And "Thank you Lord, for Bank Holidays!" It looks like all your hard work had its reward and it must have been great fun to get out your "toys" and just play. I do have a few questions:
    1. Did you follow the historic set up or could attackers and defenders opt for different positions?
    2. I am not familiar with the rules you are playing. Is there an advantage for fighting from a higher position than your opponents? Would cavalry be disordered after charging across a stream?
    3. Since you all collectively ruled that the game was a draw, the Prussians actually did a bit better than historically. Were there any special objectives for the various commands or was the intent simply to smash the other guy to bits?
    Once again, you go girl!
    "I'm growing older but not up!" - Jimmy Buffett

    1. Hi Jerry,
      Thanks! :)
      In answer to your questions:
      1. We followed the historic deployments at set up, but commanders were allowed to follow their own thoughts. Otherwise I wouldn't have been able to bring the right wing cavalry around and would have just been sitting doing nothing for several hours.
      2. Yes, there are bonuses for the defender when they are uphill from their opponents. To cross a stream units have to (individually) pass a "control test" needing 4+ on a D10 (various modifiers apply). If successful, infantry can make a full move, cavalry a half move; if this results in a charge, the defender gets a bonus for defending an obstacle; there is no disorder as such in the rules.
      3. The Prussians at the point where we ended the game were just about where they were at around 5pm. If we'd been able to play for a bit longer, the result would have been a very historical thrashing for Freddy.
      By going with the historical deployments, the Prussians were pretty much forced to follow the historical plans, at least initially.

  2. The game looked great Tamsin, and good that you all had fun

  3. Great. No Russians in our 7yw. Yet

  4. Its nice to see a historical game played with a reasonable result.
    Frederick was lucky to survive that terrible year, but survive he did!

  5. @ dave stone - thanks! A good time was had by all :)

    @ Martin C - cheers! Well, you know what your next project is then, don't you! :)

    @ Herkybird - thanks! It was good to do a refight again - it had been a while. Freddy was lucky to survive that battle, never mind that year! :)

    @ Francis - cheers, m'dear! :)

    @ Marinergrim - thanks! :)

  6. Very nice battle report, we can feel the heat of the fighting in every picture! ;)
    I'm interesting in the Rules you've played (KOTB) but I can't find those on the Web. Any idea to get a copy somewhere?
    Sorry, my English should be improved... I try, I try...

    1. Hi Richard,
      Thanks! The rules are "King Of The Battlefield", written by a club member. I think that one of the wargaming book sellers might have a stash, but can't remember who.
      Otherwise, I can ask the author if he has any copies available and put you in touch with him - please go to my Blogger profile where you will find my email link.

      btw, your English is very good :)