maandag 8 november 2010

Campaign for Silesia – the opposing forces

Using the Nafziger order of battles we can easily assign the number of battalions and squadrons for each side, but is this a route we want to take with the administration? Aside from Prince Charles and Daun, there were two or three other independent commands; Hadik and Marshal who shielded the operations against Frederick’s return and later Nádasdy operations. Likewise, after Frederick’s departure to the west, the Prussian defense was left in the hands of Bevern with Winterfeld assisting.

Keeping the administration simple was a high priority, as I did not want the campaign to die a quiet death due to paper work. The simplest approach is to look at the armies of the period and how they were deployed; by line of battle and by wing. The first line would comprise the best troops, musketeers, Grenadiers, Cuirassiers and the like. The second line would have supporting troops, but these would number less battalions and squadrons and finally, the third line would hold reserve formations of cavalry and infantry. Each line was subdivided into “wings”; the first line comprised of left wing cavalry, left wing infantry, right wing infantry, and right wing cavalry. The second and third lines following similar subdivisions. In some armies we read a “center” as an additional grouping. Lots of generals in need of employment.

Moving 80,000 troops into hostile country was done in columns similar to the formations that would be deployed on the battlefield. So as we approached the theater of war, our army would move in three columns with an extra column for baggage. The nearer the approach to the enemy, an extra column comprising of 1st line left and right wing cavalry would shield the army. Naturally, light troops would extend that shield further out.

I have linked the order of battle of the French forces at Rossbach which is well known to most enthusiasts of the Seven Years War. If you look at the right wing cavalry of the first and second lines, these took the initial attack of the Prussian cavalry under Seydlitz.

Battle of Rossbach

Take also note of the position of the famed “brick wall”, the Swiss regiments.

For our purposes, we will note the commanders of these “wings” as moving from point A to B. The order of battle for each wing is known, as is their placement in camp. The only additional information required for record keeping is the time of departure and the direction. The 80,000 troops I refer to were Prince Charles and Marshal Daun’s total forces at Zittau on June 30, 1757. These were organized in 24 brigades of infantry and 22 brigades of cavalry, exclusive the number of light troops. As you can read, this would not be an easy task to note the movement of all the brigades.

The next step is to annotate our map with the garrisons at Breslau, Neisze, Schweidnitz, Glogau, Brieg, Glatz, Kosel and Liegnitz and the great camps of Prince Charles and Frederick.

Next posting, the opening moves.

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