SEVEN YEARS WAR IN THE HESSIAN SALIENT. FRENCH VERSUS ALLIES
1757 Battle of Hastenbeck
Last night it was the turn of the Seven Years War armies to take the field again with the Western Allies (Hanover, Hesse, England and Brunswick) under the Duke of Cumberland versus the French Army of Louis XV under Marshal D’Estrées in Western Germany. Another French Army was on the way to Rossbach to meet with the great Frederick himself.
Dice decide that the French were on the defensive this time while the Allies arrived and deployed in true SYW fashion before battle started. As armies were commanded by gentlemen in those days the French did not commence firing while the Allies were taking up position.
When the Allies were deployed with the cavalry on the wings and the infantry in the centre the French started the battle with an artillery cannonade. The Allied infantry started to advance in long lines while their cavalry brigades raced ahead on both wings. This prompted a similar French cavalry advance to protect the flanks of their waiting infantry. In the ensuing clashes the French had the better of the melees on both wings seriously weakening the Allied cavalry with less loss to themselves. In the meantime the Allied infantry continued their remorseless advance towards the French line.
The French prepare the village for all round defence.
The French centre awaits
Allied cavalry leads the advance before deploying.
The cavalry action starts on the French right.
The long Allied columns arrive on the field.
The marching Allies are full of confidence
Another view of the waiting French centre
The French centre up close
The second cavalry clash took place on the French left
On the French left two Allied cavalry brigades in retreat leaving the field clear for a clash between both sides’ elites.
More next week……………………….
The game resumed last night as the Allies continued their relentless march. The French infantry waited under defend orders while their artillery fired at anything that came into range. The action was therefore confined to cavalry actions on both flanks. The French left was a see-saw action but on their right flank the Hessian Dragoons eventually conceded defeat leaving the Allied left open to the victorious and still numerous French cavalry. One of the Allied brigades prepared to hold off these cavalry while their centre pressed on for the main clash in the centre. This is scheduled to conclude next week………………………………………
In the meantime some more photographs
The Allied advance continues
The Wild Geese – the Irish Regiments in the French service – together with two German regiments also in the French service await the Allied onslaught.
Allied cavalry outnumbered two to one fight bravely.
The Hessian Dragoons retreat
But they rally again.
The main cavalry lines clash on the French left flank.
The cavalry elites clash
The Allied advance continues.
The game concluded last night with a most decisive result. A further push on the French right finally chased off the Hessian Dragoons and indeed all of the Allied left wing cavalry. The right wing French cavalry and two infantry brigades were now free to focus all of their efforts on the beleaguered Allied left wing.
The centre was quiet as the French had occupied the village and the Allies did no more than to mask them so the main clash occurred on the Allied right where two full brigades of Hessian and Hanoverian musketeers, with a brigade of Grenadiers in reserve, matched up against two brigades of French infantry in a gigantic firefight involving nearly 400 figures! As the cavalry here had failed to knock one another out the issue was left to the infantry to resolve.
Both sides were evenly matched and there was no artillery support involved in the early stages of the firefight. The only deciding factor therefore was Fate in the form of D6 and the mechanisms of attrition. Over a number of moves both sides blazed away with mixed success until eventually the logic of maths decided that the Hessian brigade had had enough and retreated. This left a huge gap in the Allied line but the French opposite where in no position to exploit. The lone Hanoverian Brigade started to suffer so they were withdrawn and the Allied Reserve Grenadier brigade moved forward to take their place on the front line. This was too much for the left hand French brigade who retreated but by doing so they uncovered supporting artillery and cavalry and the Grenadiers decided not to pursue. With two Allied Brigades retreating on this flank and a weakened cavalry hesitant to engage – the focus of the battle turned back to the Allied left where two infantry and three French cavalry Brigades were bearing down on a lone Hanoverian infantry Brigade.
The Hanoverians were drawn in an L shape formation with two regiments facing the French infantry and the other two facing the cavalry with a battery on the angle of the two. The French cavalry charged forward expecting an easy victory but one weakened brigade was eliminated by Hanoverian canister fire and each of the other two brigades were forced to retreat after the Hanoverian Musketeers discharged a number of volleys. This was very encouraging for the Hanoverian Brigadier particularly as it was followed by the retreat of one of the French infantry regiments after a whiff of canister.
However the firefights eventually ground down the Hanoverian regiments and the French cavalry returned seeking to avenge their earlier humiliation. One by one the Hanoverian regiments turned to retreat and had to abandon their guns when the civilian drivers fled the field. The cavalry now broke in among the retreating infantry turning it into a rout and threatening the rear of the hard pressed Allied right wing as well.
Overall it was a decisive French victory which resulted in the occupation of Hanover and, under the Convention of Klosterzeven, Hanover’s withdrawal from the war. (This convention was later repudiated but that is another story). Either way it was the end of the Duke of Cumberland’s career.
Plenty of photographs below.
The firefight on the Allied right between the a Hessian Brigade, a Hanoverian Brigade and two French brigades.
Awaiting the orders to open fire. The sides are evenly matched.
The Allied Grenadiers in reserve in the second line.
Seven Year War as it should be – long lines engaged in firefight.
The French face up to the Hessians.
In the meantime the French right advanced from two sides on the Allied left.
The brigades of French cavalry advanced against the Allied left
French cavalry awaiting the order to charge.
The Allied left awaited the French onslaught.
Back on the Allied right the firefight continues. The Hessians have retreated leaving a large gap.
The Hanoverians in turn retreated creating a crisis on the Allied left!
But the Allied Grenadier reserve brigade saved the day and then it was the turn of one of the French brigades to retreat.
French cavalry in reserve discourage a Grenadier pursuit.
Meanwhile on the Allied left the French attack closes in.
The French confidently attack the Hanoverian lines.
The Hanoverians deliver a volley
and the confident French cavalry retreats.
Firefight between the red coated Hanoverians and the red coated Irish in the French service
The Hanoverian front starts to crumble and their artillery is abandoned.
The reformed French cavalry turn the retreat into a rout.