zondag 31 oktober 2010

Invasion of Silesia 1757

The next step in refining this campaign is to review the milestones from the Austrian crossing of the northern border into Saxony in June/July to the disastrous defeat at Leuthen, with the exception of Schweidnitz, Austria’s hold in Silesia ended. From Kronoskaf.com the reader can imagine three phases; the inert activity of Prince Charles in Lusatia, Frederick’s departure from the area and subsequent Austrian gains, and finally Leuthen. From a war game perspective, the first phase was not a pretty time for the Austrians as the inactivity brought disease, desertion and a diffusion of that optimistic mood set at Kolin.

Reading The Army of Maria Theresa, the period between the War of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years War, Duffy lists only five battles that the Austrians were on the attack; Chotusitz, Soor, Breslau, Hochkirch, and Liegnitz. Not exactly encouraging, but from challenging from a campaign design point. Do we infuse the Austrians with an unlikely killer instinct?

Following the completion of the Bohemian campaign, we find the Prussians recovering in Lusatia with Prince Charles and Daun deliberating the next phase at Zittau, located near the northern border of Bohemia. A quick glance at the Austrian order of battle, Prince Charles and Daun had 82 battalions and 163 squadrons ready on June 30, in excess of 80,000 men, by some records. Exclusive of the garrisons left in Silesia, and those forces pitted against the Russian and Imperial/French, Frederick had nearly 56,000 troop in the field. By the end of August, early September the Austrians would have nearly double the Prussian strength.

Next step, how do we make this campaign interesting enough for both parties? As with our Bohemian campaign, we did not play out the Battles of Prague or Kolin, but left them as historical benchmarks for our game. With that same idea in mind, 5 December will also serve as the termination date for our game, however, when do we start?

From mid July to 20 August, Frederick tried in vain to tempt Prince Charles to battle, but with no success. I can only guess Prince Charles’s hesitancy to attack Frederick, well knowing his ability to out march his Austrians. Moving to support the Imperial forces in Germany or to move operations in Silesia would risk the line of communication through Bohemia. Prince Charles had more than enough troops to parry each Prussian probe. Leaving Bevern and Winterfeld with more than 36,000 men, Frederick moved west to confront the growing threat in Saxony.

Phase one – the entrenched camp at Zittau (July/August 1757)
Anyone playing the Prussians would most likely find this period frustrating. Although your troops could literally march circles about the Austrians, it would serve no purpose. The Austrian player need only counter any threat to own supply by threatening Prussian rear areas with smaller columns and still not leave Zittau. So we look to our next option.

Phase two – Frederick’s departure (20-24 August 1757)
Plenty of options. I seem to recall an anecdote when Frederick was asked by his generals where should they hold if the situation were to becomes desperate, to which Frederick replied, “stop at Berlin”.

The Prussian player will be faced with at least 2:1 odds and must hold a number of important depots and magazines. The Austrians on the other hand, have the golden opportunity to take back Silesian after certain key locations are taken and the covering forces of Bevern and Winterfeld are dealt with. There is the threat of Frederick returning, so the Austrians must move with a bit more purpose.

From the map, you can view the region where all this will take place. The actual strengths and locations will be listed with the next posting.


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