Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Friday, 29 May 2020

Battle of Sittangbad - A Polemos General de Division Refight

Hearing Henry Hyde's extended talk last weekend on how a group of gamers put on Sittangbad and Mollwitz at Partizan (as part of 'Partizan in the Cloud') inspired me to have a go myself.

 I have had a go at Mollwitz before, so I picked Sittangbad.

Sittangbad is the larger of the two scenarios contained within Charge! Or How to Play Wargames.  Henry Hyde posted up the orders of battle and so on on his website.  Although a large battle in terms of numbers of figures, the battle as written is really an advanced guard/rear guard clash with around ten units per side.  I remembered I had seen another refight of this relatively recently, so I took some insipiration from that and scaled it up.

Although Charge! uses toy soldiers dressed firmly in the uniforms of mid C18, the rules seem quite Napoleonic-tinged.  With that in mind, I re-designed the scenario as appropriate for Polemos General de Division.  The 'Imperial' forces are therefore taken to mean the 'Imperial French' and the Electoral forces were re-skinned as Bavarians, which would at least count as 'Former Electoral' I guess.  Therefore the battle is assumed to be taking place during the latter stages of the 1813 campaign in Germany, with the French army being one of those contingents trying to escape the advancing Allies after Leipzig...

Imperial French Army:
C-in-C General Lenoir (Capable)

Infantry Division: Prince of Isembourg (Capable)
1 brigade of 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK2
2 brigades of 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK1
1 base of 6lb Trained Foot Artillery

Light Cavalry Brigade:
2 bases of Trained Light Cavalry
1 base of Trained Lancers

Heavy Cavalry Brigade:
3 bases of Trained Cuirassiers

Bavarian Army:
C-in-C: Herzog Johann (Capable)

Advance Guard Division: General von Luckner (Capable)
1 brigade of 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK2
1 brigade of 4 bases of Trained Light Cavalry and 1 base of 6lb Trained Horse Artillery

Infantry Division: General Steinzeit (Capable)
2 brigades of 6 bases of Trained Infantry SK1, 1 base of 8lb Trained Foot Artillery

The Set-Up:

Sittangbad is to the left, Eisenberg to the centre-right.  Eisenberg hill is to the top-right, the other unnamed hill is in front of the marsh (they are hard to tell with these kind of naturalistic mats, but I think you can make out where the slopes go! The isolated clump of trees to the top-right mark part of the summit of the Eisenberg.  The Bavarian forces are approaching from the right, the Imperial forces are split between the town and the village, with most of the cavalry and an infantry regiment between them.

Looking from the high ground over the marsh at Sittangbad.  The currently unoccupied earthwork is astride the road (centre)

General Lenoir with his artillery in front of Sittangbad, whilst a squadron of Polish Lancers and an infantry regiment occupy the town.

The village of Eisenberg and environs.  The French Light Infantry regiment occupies the village, with a Line regiment in support (centre-left); the Cuirassier brigade is in front of the earthworks, with the balance of the light cavalry in front of it (centre)

Herzog Johann's initial command post is set up on the summit of Eisenberg Hill, to enable him to simultaneously command his light cavalry on the flank (top)...

And his light infantry regiment approaching down the road (right)

A wider view of the whole

A close-up of Eisenberg village

And the line infantry supporting it.
The Battle:

Lenoir orders his infantry and guns forward to man the earthwork (right)

The Bavarian Light Infantry approach the village, whilst the Austro-Bavarian Light Cavalry brigade sweeps around the flank (top)

A closer look at the Bavarian light infantrymen

And the light cavalry: Bavarian Light Horse form the first element, the Austrians are with the guns in the second group

The Austrian Cuirassiers and Bavarian Dragoons arrive in support

A wider perspective

Satisfied that the defensive works are about to be occupied satisfactorily, Lenoir moves forward to a position where he can control the whole battle

The French Cuirassiers trot forward to face the lighter Austro-Bavarian cavalry (top-right)

Which occupies the high ground

The Bavarian light infantry deploys, ready to engage the troops defending the village

Bavarian line infantry arrives

The Light Cavalry brigade deploys, ready to charge!  Is this just a bluff though?

Apparently not!  Herzog Johann is apparently hoping that the artillery support should make this an even match until the heavy cavalry can reinforce and sweep away the French cavalry in a single swoop...

But fortune isn't particularly favouring the bold today - the French Cuirassiers push back the lighter Bavarian and Austrian horsemen (top), although the French Hussars have not performed so well against them (bottom)

A wider shot

The French Cuirassiers rout some of the Bavarian horsemen (top)

Although the French Hussars continue to perform dismally against the Bavarian Light Horse

Lenoir moves up a battalion of infantry to support the faltering French Hussars...

To no immediate avail, as one of the French Hussar regiments routs!

However, the exhausted Bavarian Light Horse is forced to fall back in its turn; and the rearmost Cuirassier Regiment has turned about face and is ready to charge the disordered Bavarians...

Finally the Austrian Cuirassiers look ready to join the action (centre)

Continuing the dismal performance of the French light cavalry, the second Hussar regiment routs in its turn!

And seeing the French Hussars in rout, the Polish Lancers join them without even seeing an enemy!!!!

The Austro-Bavarian Light Cavalry has had enough also, so the field is left clear for a clash of Cuirassiers

A wider shot: note that the Bavarians, whose light infantry are merely bickering with their French counterparts in the village, are nearly ready to launch their main infantry assault

The Austrian Cuirassiers charge! Hurrah!

But again, the French Cuirassiers perform with supreme skill, driving back the Austrians with loss

The fight continues up the hillside

The Austrian Cuirassiers get a second wind and start to push the French horsemen back

And one of the French Cuirassier regiments is broken! (left)

Feeling that the moment has come, Lenoir orders the village to be abandoned, then reforms his line just outside it.

As the Bavarians push forward, Lenoir again retreats and takes up a position on the high ground and astride the road

Leaving the Bavarian blow landing only in thin air!

Somewhat laboriously, the Bavarian infantry prepare to assault the hill (left)

Whilst their Right eyes the French Left with some trepidation!!

Lenoir again skillfully retreats, leaving only his light infantry regiments to slow the Bavarian advance

The Bavarians know that a clumsy uphill assault stands little chance, so they manoeuvre against the French right flank (centre)

Whilst their cavalry and infantry on the Right are discomfited by accurate French artillery fire, which disrupts their preparations to attack

The French infantry fall back into Sittangbad without significant loss

The position when Herzog Johann calls off his attack.
Game Notes: 
Nice to play a little bit of gaming history with one of the early classics of the genre.  Obviously it is going to play out a bit differently with the Charge! rules proposing a very large number of individually-based figures to represent a pretty small number of units, which isn't perhaps the most common way of gaming today.  Actually, I think what impresses me most look at this is the scenario itself, showing how one can adapt a battle from 1942 into a very serviceable horse-and-musket scenario, a very early example of Conrad Kinch's sage advice to "make the game fit the figures".  I think my much less radical change of setting is very much in keeping with the spirit of the original.
I terminated the game itself a few turns early (at the end of Turn 16 instead of Turn 20) since it seemed clear that the Austro-Bavarian force was not going to successfully capture the bridge by that point.  Despite the hilariously awful performance of the French Light Cavalry, the rest of Lenoir's troops performed very well and I think he himself judged the moments to retire very well, so his force was never in danger of receiving a really well struck assault.  Looking back, Herzog Johann probably launched his attack ten minutes (two turns early) since he needed to overwhelm the Imperial French forces, accepting losses in order to create a breakthrough.  As it was, Lenoir was able to control the timing of the battle.
Rules-wise, it was a fairly typical game of Polemos General de Division, nothing of great note except perhaps seeing again the possibility of amusing formation routs, which is always a possibility when everything starts getting bloody.

Figures from Baccus 6mm, buildings from Leven.


  1. A really interesting report and a nice posting, thanks.

  2. I replayed this last year at a friends house using 'Honours of War'. In the end a rather one sided battle with the Attackers easily overcoming the Defenders, even without their left wing really doing anything other than march on. Interesting how 'modern' rulesets can 'change' a game. Nice to have played it though and reading your AAR brought back happy memories.

    1. Thanks Steve, it is interesting how differently the same scenario can play out with different rules.

  3. As Norm says, this was an interesting battle account. I enjoyed your post-game thoughts. This is not a battle I have refought but maybe someday will but based on Steve's experience, maybe not!

    1. Thanks Jonathan. I would definitely give it a go at least once to see what you think!

  4. Terrific-looking game, and I was delighted to see the Polemos rules in use. Just discovered your blog, so much back content for me to explore ;)

    1. Many thanks fmb, I think I have seen you posting quite a bit on the Baccus forum?
      Yes,there are plenty of reports, reviews, errata and optional rule changes on this blog, I hope you find some things of use here.