The battle was heading into its final stages and, with heavy attrition around Weinstadt, it appeared to be turning into a race between the British landing their blow from the flank, and the Bavarian reserve cavalry arriving in time to intervene.
The first of the British to appear on the south side of the river were the Rifles, who led the way over the bridge. Although they were forced to retire after taking canister fire from enemy artillery, they had successfully cleared a path for the following battalions.
To the east, the Bavarian cavalry reserve was just coming onto the field, cantering forward to try to turn the tide.
On the other flank the French had launched several assaults on the south side of Weinstadt’s hill, being thrown back each time. Finally, a combined arms attack from two sides overcame the defenders who were forced to retreat through the streets and down through the camp below the town.
So, the Battle of Weinstadt was a victory for the allies, who had managed to shore up the eastern approaches to Stuttgart before the full weight of the enemy could combine against them. The Bavarians, having now fought 2 battles, had been sent packing and would need some time to recover.
Following the Bavarian victory in the opening battle at Schorndorf, the allies feared that they would be hotly pursued back to the Wurttemberg capital, Stuttgart. However, to their surprise (and relief) they were left in peace to rally by a complacent enemy who clearly felt they’d done enough.
After his impetuous start to the campaign, the Bavarian King had decided it was time for his allies to do some fighting, and he ordered his army to enjoy the fruits of their labour in enemy territory. With the Austrians still far off (their advanced guard was believed to have made it as far as Lindau at best) the Bavarian army only moved forward a few miles to Weinstadt where they settled down to forage and make good their losses from the recent battle.
However, far from being beaten the Wurttemberg-British force was about to be reinforced. Marshal Canrobert, commander of the French I Corps, had heard the news of his compatriots in II Corps’ saving the day at Sprendlingen and was determined to have his share of the glory. He’d dispatched his 1st Division and Cavalry Division south toward Sigmaringen and the Austrian border as flanking cover, and had himself taken 2nd Division via Stuttgart (where, most gratifyingly, the French were met with great appreciation and applause) so as to join up with the Wurttembergers a little to the east.
After a brief council of war, where the allies (even the British) agreed to Canrobert taking command, it was decided that a counter attack was in order. Striking camp at dawn on the 5th July, the combined force marched east. It was decided that the British contingent would be on the left, on the other side of the river, so as to make a flank attack while the French and Wurttemberg Divisions attacked the Bavarians frontally. Conveniently, this meant that the British would be operating somewhat independently, which overcame any underlying reluctance to take instruction from their old enemy. A 3-way alliance, with old adversaries working together within a complicated tactical plan. It was sure to succeed.
By late morning the Wurttemberg advanced guard had gotten to within a mile of Weinstadt before encountering and driving in the slack Bavarian picket line. Shaken from their rest period, the Bavarians prepared for battle. A jager battalion was sent forward to delay the enemy while the 3 infantry brigades and Korps artillery reserve began to assemble.
By the time they’d formed up in and of either side of Weinstadt the leading Wurttemberg and French brigades had deployed from march column and were ready to attack.
The main attacks went in, and casualties soon mounted up on both sides. Numerous artillery batteries added to the carnage.
The Bavarian commander had sent orders to his absent (but nearby) brigades (1 each of infantry and cavalry) and he hoped they were on their way. The British left hook was taking time to develop despite the light opposition, and the allies needed their attacks to pin the Bavarians in time for its arrival. The battle was therefore finely balanced.
Caught on the hop by Bavaria’s impetuous attack in the south, Prussia felt herself compelled to act too. Although only the 1st Korps was assembled (at Frankfurt), Wilhelm IV directed it to cross the River Main and invade the Grand Duchy of Baden. Once over the river the two divisions took parallel roads south through the forested hills towards the important town of Darmstadt.
On the morning of the 3rd July, the 1st Division encountered a few companies of Baden Landwehr Jager a mile to the north of the town of Sprendlingen, which had been occupied that very day by the rest of the Grand Duke’s army. Although he had orders to watch the border, the Baden commander, General Kimpfen, was a man known for his love of comfort. When he arrived in Sprendlingen the day before and saw its fine hotel, he had declared the march complete and ordered encampment for his men, and a large dinner for himself.
On hearing sporadic fire from the north, the Baden troops stood-to and prepared for battle. The Landwehr Jager played for time, retreating slowly, until a regiment of regulars joined them on a small hill blocking the Prussians’ advance. Out in front of their main force, the lone regiment lacked support but was determined to hold its ground.
Within half an hour the Prussians had formed up from their column of march and launched a brigade-sized attack on the hill, while the other brigade and the artillery marched around to approach the town head-on.
Despite their numbers the Prussians wilted in the face of the defenders’ fire, and were repulsed from the hill. Their Brigadier was wounded while leading from the front. As they reformed and prepared for a second attack, the division’s 2nd brigade assaulted Sprendlingen itself.
With a 4,000 man garrison and 2 batteries of artillery, the town was a very tough nut to crack. Despite its own artillery support, which was later augmented by the 24 guns of the Korps reserve, the Prussian charge was stopped at the edge of town and thrown back. A second regiment followed up, and made some ground, but the defenders held and once again the Prussians fell back in disorder.
To their left the small hill was the scene of further dramatic action as the assault intensified. Both sides threw in their respective cavalry brigades but, despite their casualties, eventually Prussian numbers prevailed and the high ground was theirs. Despite his earlier wound, their brigadier led the subsequent attacks and fell at the moment of success. Similarly, the Baden infantry and cavalry brigadiers were killed in the fierce fighting. With the troops of both sides in disarray, and largely leaderless, the action in this sector of the field was to die down for a time.
While the fight for Sprendlingen settled into an artillery duel, events to the west began to give the battle a new dimension. Arriving a little later than the 1st Division, the Prussian 2nd Division had been held up by another small contingent of Baden Landwehr Jager. A battalion of line infantry had to deploy in support of the Division’s own Jagers, to ensure the offending picket line was swept away as efficiently as possible. Although accomplished in a text-book manner, it all took time and resulted in 10,000 men halted in depth along the road. When the Prussians finally resumed their march there was some further disruption due to units becoming inter-mixed. As they fled south, the surviving Badeners could at least congratulate themselves on achieving their orders to delay any invaders.
The Prussians picked up their pace again but soon became aware of a new enemy ahead of them. The fast-marching French from the 1st Division of II Corps, had arrived and were taking up defensive positions on the left flank of their Baden allies. A direct clash was inevitable and once again the Prussians would be attacking uphill.
The Prussians attempted to combine a frontal attack with one from the flank, but the French managed to pre-empt them and their 2 regiments of cavalry sent an entire Brigade of infantry tumbling back. The frontal assault, left to attack on its own, continued valiantly but suffered severe losses. Further fighting took place but the Prussian 2nd Division was a spent force and the French had successfully shored up the allies’ left flank.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the battlefield the Prussians gathered themselves for one last attack and managed to drive off the remnants of the Baden right flank. Now somewhat isolated, the Sprendlingen garrison was subjected to concentrated Prussian artillery fire and losses started to mount. However, the Prussian Korps commander, General Zonhoff, realised that with his infantry in no fit state to attack again on either flank it was time to pull back.
Casualties had been heavy all-round, but for now Darmstadt was safe. Both sides would now have to decide whether to take a bit of time to gather their forces for a more measured campaign, or to try to seize the initiative while the enemy was still relatively unprepared.
Reluctant to wait for their Prussian and Austrian allies to take the field, and fearing that delay would only lead to more time for Wurttemburg to prepare its defences, Bavaria launched its attack ahead of schedule. Crossing the Danube between Ulm and Donauworth, the Bavarian Korps paused briefly at Heidenheim before crossing the border at noon on 1st July 1855.
With I Korps’ full complement of 24 battalions, 8 squadrons and 12 batteries, plus a further 16 squadrons and 2 batteries in the accompanying cavalry division, the Bavarian army mustered over 24,000 men. Marching as a single body, by mid-afternoon they were approaching the Wurttemburg town of Schorndorf, almost half-way to the capital, Stuttgart.
With lamentable scouting by their cavalry, the Bavarians were somewhat surprised to find their way blocked just short of the town. A division of Wurttemburgers in field defences, though unpleasant, should in hindsight have been expected. However, a contingent of British troops, newly arrived and ready for a fight, was a complete shock!
Although he managed to prepare some field defences at the bridge and likely crossing points, the Wurttemburg commander tried to cover all the options which resulted in him spreading his forces thinly along the river bank. Grateful for the timely arrival of a brigade each of British infantry and cavalry, he deployed them in the centre and as a general reserve. With veterans of the Iron Duke’s battles among the general’s staff, the British cannily took up positions on the reverse slope of the ridge to which they’d been assigned.
By mid-afternoon the Bavarian columns had begun to sort themselves out into assault formation, one division aiming straight up the road to the bridge and the other manoeuvring to threaten the defenders’ centre and right. Despite some reasonably heavy exchanges of artillery fire, this was to be an infantryman’s fight. The river proved to be a minor obstacle and cornflower blue-coated hordes were soon splashing across and into a hail of musketry and cannister. The initial attacks were repulsed but the defenders had suffered casualties too, and as the assaults were renewed, the invaders’ superior numbers began to tell.
Meanwhile the fight for the bridge was intensifying, as 6,000 Wurttembergers attempted to withstand an enemy that outnumbered them two to one. Twice, though, they threw them back over the river, before eventually the defences began to buckle. The invader’s lead brigade lost their commander in the third charge, but they pressed on regardless. Losses were heavy on both sides and the defenders held on tenaciously.
In the final stages of the battle the British cavalry made some limited charges which had success in slowing the attackers down. The Wurttemberg left flank regiment also managed to wheel and put in a spoiling attack too. With the defences around the bridge on the verge of giving way, time was up for the allies.
With casualties mounting the defenders decided they’d done enough and began to retire. Although in the end it was successful, the Bavarian’s last attack ran out of steam and there was no possibility of an aggressive pursuit. Satisfied with the day’s work, their commander ordered them to make camp on the field of victory. Grateful to be allowed to re-group under no real pressure, the Wurttemberg-British force was therefore able to remain between the invaders and the capital…
Rules are a lightly modified version of Realtime Wargame’s Wars of Empire series. Figures are Heroics & Ros 6mm.
I have a combined Wurttemburg-Baden division (loosely based on their 1870 contingents) which I’ll be re-using as each state’s own force, plus that of Hesse-Darmstadt. A brigade of cavalry has just been painted, but arrived too late to participate in the battle. They’ve been sent on scouting duty to Crailsheim to watch the NE border.
The British division is currently lacking half its infantry, which have yet to make it to the top of the painting priority list. Therefore they were ‘still assembling’ in a rear area for this game.
Most games will be played solo, but hopefully I’ll be able to have the occasional guest appearance by a visiting general. Most of the forces are painted and ready, and where they’re not they will be fed into the campaign as they become available. I’ll describe force compositions, and the lightweight campaign rules I’m using, as I go.
The situation at the point where diplomacy (what little there had been) failed:
The map is an extract from the superb Murat collection, used with kind permission from their creator Malcolm McCallum. This point-to-point mapping has towns one day’s march apart, and national borders in pink. I am representing each infantry or cavalry division, and each Corps reserve, with a map counter. Occasionally smaller detachments, generally representing a brigade, will be be marked with just a simpler national flag.
Background and the lead-up to war.
With war in the Crimea being narrowly averted the year before, the Great Powers are free to turn their attention to other matters and, somewhat inevitably, diplomatic strife soon rears its head elsewhere. Several of the Southern states of Germany, growing increasingly uncomfortable with the domineering approach of the German Confederation, decide to resign their membership. Unwilling to accept this disruption and the dangerous precedent it sets, the recently re-established Confederation decides to force the rebellious states back into line. Prussia, Austria and Bavaria assemble forces and prepare to invade Baden and Wurttemburg and Hesse-Darmstadt. These states invoke their secret mutual defence pact with France and mobilise to defend their borders. Despite prevarication and calls to seek a peaceful outcome, Britain reluctantly decides to support France when it becomes clear that the German aggression represents a significant threat to the continental order.
Therefore, as the campaign begins the opposing sides are composed as follows;
The French-led Alliance, comprising Baden, Wurttemburg, Hesse Darmstadt and Britain
The German Confederation comprising the forces of Prussia, Austria and Bavaria
The defending forces must hold on against more numerous attackers, while allies march to their assistance. The campaign opens with frontier clashes as the invading German armies attempt to co-ordinate their movements against a number of smaller forces defending their own lands.
Forces of the Confederation
As the most influential member of the Confederation, Austria sees any reduction in its membership as a sign of her own decreasing authority, and therefore as a direct challenge. In response, the Emperor has sent a powerful contingent of two full army Korps as well as 2 independent cavalry divisions; a total of 51,400 men. Marching piecemeal from all across the Empire, the Austrians are slowly assembling in Lindau close to the Wurttemburg border.
Concerned about Russia’s intentions, Prussia is unwilling to dispatch the majority of its army to the west. However, Prussian forces still comprise two powerful formations, each totalling 25,700 men made up of an Army Korps and a cavalry division. These formations are gathering at the fortresses of Frankfurt and Wurzburg respectively, from where they will be ideally placed to invade the rebel states.
Although the junior partner, Bavaria is eager to make a good showing and has deployed a considerable proportion of her strength. A full Korps, accompanied by a cavalry division, together comprise a total of 24,200 men. Bavaria’s army is assembling at Augsburg, close to the Wurttemberg border but behind the Danube, from which it will have the option of several invasion routes while its flank is protected by the fortress city of Ulm.
Forces of the Alliance
With war about to erupt on her doorstep, France has strengthened her border forces and assembled a substantial army. It comprises two full Corps plus two cavalry divisions and one division each of infantry and cavalry from the recently re-established Imperial Guard, for a total of 66,000 men.
Baden, Wurttemberg, Hesse-Darmstadt
In defence of their homelands, these small German states have raised what forces they can, resulting in each being able to put into the field a division of 12,000 men. Baden’s troops are assembling in Karlsruhe, Wurttemberg’s in Stuttgart and Hesse-Darmstadt’s in Mainz.
With her traditional priority being command of the sea, Britain has committed only a modest force to this continental campaign. A single division of 12,000 men has been shipped to France and set off on its march to the Rhine. Uncharacteristically, it has been well-planned and executed, resulting in the British force reaching Stuttgart ahead of its anticipated arrival.
So, that’s the situation as hostilities commence.
Next post – Bavaria Attacks! Unwilling to wait for his allies, Maximillian II attempts to grab the glory by a precipitous invasion of Wurttemburg…
A mate and I have been talking about a 15mm ACW project for quite a while and, like you do, we finally took the plunge when Peter Pig had a sale last year.
The intention, when we finally get round to playing any games, is to have a couple of small, flexible, forces that we can use with both Sharp Practice and Osprey’s Rebels and Patriots. This means a starting point of about 50 infantry, a dozen or so cavalry and a couple of guns, plus some leaders.
Although my opponent intends to do both sides for himself in the long run (which I won’t be), we have initially chosen to do one side each. Union for me, Confederate for him. We’ve admired the 3-2-1 basing pioneered on Dalauppror’s blog but hadn’t quite brought ourselves to use it for any projects up to now. As these forces will generally be deployed in units of 6, 8 or 12, it finally seemed appropriate to give it a go. Cue the hunt for appropriate sized washers!
ACW is one of those periods where you can spend a lot of time trying to find the right paint colours (mentioning no names Andy). I got bored after a few internet searches and poring over google images of paintings, painted figures, painting guides, etc. Therefore Vallejo’s Prussian Blue and Pastel Blue will do for me. I haven’t exactly made a big start, but here is my initial sample unit:
As with every other project I have, there’s more to come…
Since starting them a mere 6 years ago, I have finally finished my Grenadier battalion for the (fictitious) Legion de Fleurie. Back in 2014 I painted the first half dozen figures and the mounted officer, but then my focus strayed to other projects. One of my goals for this year’s Ayton weekend was to get this unit, the first battalion in this scale and period I’ve painted myself in 6 years, ready for battle. Even though the event isn’t happening now, I wanted to get the unit done.
The figures are RSM Austrian Grenadiers, plus a couple of Minden/Fife & Drum standard bearers. The standards themselves were painted to order by Mark Allen (there you go Robbie!) and it’s great to finally see them on the table.
My 6mm mid-19th century forces get expanded from time to time and I’m intending to add a British division (mixed infantry and cavalry) for variety, and to add a bit of colour. I recently made a start with a first unit.
These are the Scots Greys, in an approximation of their Crimean uniform. They’re actually Heroics & Ros Napoleonic French Imperial Guard Horse Grenadiers. About half the infantry I have planned happen to be Scots regiments, so there’ll be a bit of an unintended theme there.
As mentioned the other day, I have some 18th century units to re-base. Most of these are in progress at various stages, and it’s been the usual messy, time-consuming slog. It’s a good reminder that re-basing should never be undertaken lightly!
The first unit I’ve finished is the one that required the least effort, naturally. This is the Vantua Regiment, a standard musketeer unit of 30 figures plus a battalion gun. The figures are now on 45mm squares instead of 50s, and the flags have had a bit of edging bling added to brighten them up.
Always in the background, or perhaps on the back-burner, my very slowly developing 15mm Sci-fi collection gets a bit of attention from time to time. Until discovering the simple joys of using Dragon Rampant for platoon-sized skirmishes this ‘project’ was just drifting. It’s still drifting, but now with more purpose!
I’ve been meaning to make some hard-standing bases for a while and finally got around to it at the weekend. Took about an hour altogether. Easily repeatable, I intend to make some more soon. ‘Soon’ being a timeframe that’s subject to drift of course. They are made from 4mm cork sheet, painted and dry-brushed to a lightish grey. I cut out a quick card stencil and applied a simple pattern with roughly applied yellow paint.
These bases represent man-made or pre-fab surfaces laid down in normal/rural terrain as support for buildings, machinery, vehicle parking, etc. Short of making entire terrain tiles of it (which I still could I suppose) this seems to provide a decent look for military or research facilities in the types of games I play. I’m not aiming for urban settings or major structures, just low-key scenery for small missions and skirmishes.