Sunday 12 August 2018

1807, somewhere in Silesia ...

Kapitän Johan Fuchs looked again at the map scrawled on the tattered paper in front of him. This should be the place - a small hamlet nestled between hills with a dilapidated stone church. The Hapsburg payroll was supposed to be inside the ruinous building, but the place was quiet. There were certainly no white-coated Austrians wandering around the place. Indeed, there didn't appear to be anybody wandering around at all. Maybe it was too quiet. 

To the left, the ruined church which functioned as the Austrian deployment point and the objective for Fuch's Prussians. To the right, the Prussian deployment point in the woods.

Playing Sharp Practice 2,  you never quite know who is going to activate first. The anonymous Austrians commanded by Brett kept having officer chits drawn out, but not deploying. Eventually I got an officer chit to, for Unteroffizier Shultz, my status I jäger seargent. who led his group straight up the right flank, through the woods.

On the far side of the hamlet, an Austrian jäger group then emerged from the woods. They must have been there the whole time, keeping watch over the hamlet.

Schultz took up a position in his little copse of woods at a point where he could keep an eye on the church. Behind his position, on the far side of the small hillock, Cornette Frederick Wilhelm von der Burg (status II) led his patrol of Magdeburg dragoons forward intending to support Shultz's position.

With a mounting Prussian presence on that side of the village, a platoon of Austrian fusiliers deployed from the church, into a firing line pointing at the Prussian skirmishers. In one smooth action, they formed up, presented and opened fire in a well controlled volley. 

When the echo of the volley finally left the little valley, every jäger who advanced with Schultz lay dead or dying in the woods. Schultz himself, whilst still alive, was bleeding badly from a musket shot through his upper leg. The appearance of the Austrian line finally prompted Fuchs to bring on his remaining groups of jäger. They split into two groups to try to pin the Austrians down and, hopefully, remove a couple of officers.

The Austrian jäger however had other planes and started firing at the left-most group of Prussians before they had the chance to fully take cover. Half the group was badly wounded from the single outburst of fire, but the rest of the group took shelter inside one of the buildings.  Fuchs, following his orignal plan, ordered the remaining group to open fire on the white-coats

The Austrian line splits into two groups, one remains outside the church, while the other turns to confront Fuchs in the hamlet. The smaller Prussian group continue to fire at their grey-coated Austrian counterparts from inside the building, but to little effect. 

As the firefight in the hamlet continues, von der Burg's dragoons near the edge of Shultz's woods.

As both Austrian line groups move further into the hamlet, Shultz takes a quick shot of schnaps and busts forward across the open ground towards the church. Von der Burg trots up behind him, providing a bigger target should the Austrians turn back that way.

Schults limps ever closer to the church... 

Fuchs keeps up the pressure on the Austrian line, but one group wheels back to face the Prussian dragoons.

In terrible pain - sure, you can see it on his face! - Schultz make the cove of the far side of the church. The Austrian under-officer eyes up the Prussian cavalry and readies his men... 

.... and leads them in a furious charge round the back of the church. Schultz, already badly wounded, stands no chance and is easily overwhelmed and captured.

Meanwhile, the rest of the Austrian line also turns back and starts firing upon the dragoons. Although they do not suffer enormous casualties, the shock starts to build up until Sabine, Fuch's young mistress and the mascot of his jäger company appears, as if by magic, in their midst and tries to rally their flagging spirits.

The firefight continues. The dragoons, badly shaken, cannot press forward their charge, while the Austrian line, threatened by the dragoons, cannot turn to face the Prussian jäger firing into their flanks.

 At last, the dragoons falter, and flee from the Austrians.

By now, a pall of smoke has gathered around the edge of the hamlet. Fuch pulls his men back for a last stand in the woods, and the Austrian troops turn and start to push their way forward from all quarters. 

One or two rounds were fired after that point, but by then Fuchs' force was reduced to just himself, Hornist Schwartz, Sharpshooter Schnaps and three last men from his jäger detachment. He never did establish if the Austrian payroll was stored in the church - but he also know that there was little left he could do about it that day. 

A damned blooding it was too. The first defeat for Kapitän Fuchs, a poor showing from von der Burg, and the unfortunate capture of Shultz to cap it all off. 

Brett may have done a little victory dance after all that.

Next time Hapsburgs. Next time...

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