An Austro-Prussian War Battle

A large gathering of some old friends gathered at Tom's house in early November 2023 to play this nineteenth century Principles of War game. My thanks for the text and pictures.

The game was set in 1866, the Six Weeks War, with a reinforced Prussian corps (25 battalions of foot, 16 batteries of artillery 9 regiments of cavalry facing a south German confederation made up of an Austrian division (14 battalions of infantry, 3 batteries, and 2 cavalry regiments), a Bavarian division (15 battalions of infantry, 5 batteries and 4 cavalry regiments) and two Saxon brigades (7 battalions of infantry and 2 batteries).

The Prussians had the initiative and deployed their blinds on table. The Austrians were positioned on the far left with the intention of rushing forward to turn the Prussian right flank. Next to them were the Saxons who were to form the link between the Austrians and the Bavarians positioned in the centre. The Allied right flank was refused and held only by the Bavarian cavalry brigade and several dummy blinds.

Being the aggressors the Prussians started off table and moved onto the battlefield in the first move. The Prussian plan was a mirror to that of the Allies. Their right flank beyond the stream was refused, being held only by dummy blinds. The right  centre was held by the corps commander with one brigade of infantry (7 battalions, 8 batteries of guns and 1 regiment of horse. To their left was one brigade of infantry  (6 battalions) forming a hinge for the remainder of the Prussian army to sweep round to attack the Allied right flank.

In the game, both sides' left flanks moved forward at full speed, but the Austrians were delayed by poor initiative, and the Prussian advance was delayed by the dummy blinds and the Bavarian cavalry brigade.  The Prussian C-in-C moved his light infantry into a village as an anchor point for his position with his artillery formed either side of the position and using an infantry brigade and cavalry regiment as a reserve. The second brigade to his right moved slowly forward towards the Bavarian Guards Brigade. The Bavarian first infantry brigade moved forward, deploying their 4 batteries on the hill to cover their advance, but the force came under heavy fire from Prussian artillery deployed on the hill to their front.

The Prussian left finally managed to move round and a brigade of Cuirassiers and a brigade of infantry moved round to attack the Bavarian Guards supported by the fire of 4 batteries of artillery. The Allies moved a brigade of Saxons and a battery of artillery from the centre to the right of the Bavarian Guards to protect their flank.

At this stage the Bavarian commander realised his had forgotten to deploy one brigade of his infantry so a die was rolled to see on which road they would arrive on table after getting ‘lost’ on their way to the battlefield. They rolled a ‘1’ and arrived on the Allied far right, just in time to support the Bavarian cavalry who were coming under heavy pressure from two brigades of cavalry and brigade of infantry.

The Prussian Cuirassiers charged the Bavarian Guards who managed to shoot them off with the help of a battery of artillery. The game finally came to an end when the Prussian right flank started to give way as the Austrians finally arrived to join the the attack with the Saxons and Bavarians. At this stage we called time as it was well past 7pm and we had already put the restaurant booking back by an hour to 8pm. It was a fun game and considering only two of the players had fought the rules before it ran very smoothly and the players were making their own calculations by the end of the game.