Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Action at Huttendorf

The vanguard of Davout's IV Corps  under General Legrand leaves HQ at Zirndorf and heads north to secure a bridge some miles distant. The 3rd Chasseurs ride on ahead and find both sides of the river clear of enemy troops and set up a post, however, they soon learn of a strong enemy force heading their way. The French arrive just in time to set up before white clad troops turn up from the north.
Lt. Gen Fresnel has been sent by Count Bellegarde with roughly the same orders as Legrand but arrives just too late. The Austrian general decides to attack and skillfully deploys his division in full view of the French.
Legrand himself is still some miles away so initial command falls to his brigadiers Jarry and Leclerc. The forces are as follows:-


Division. GD Legrand

Brigade. GB Leclerc

33rd line = 3 batts
4th light = 2 batts
3rd Chasseurs a Cheval = 2 sqdns
4 guns (Duchy of Warsaw)

Brigade. GB Jarry

4th Swiss = 2 batts
9th Duchy of Warsaw = 2 batts
7th Dragoons = 2 sqdns
4 guns (Duchy of Warsaw)

Late arrivals:-

2nd Cuirassiers = 3 sqdns
3rd Cuirassiers = 2 sqdns

Strength: infantry 7,800
                cavalry 1,900

Total    9,870 inc. artillery (8 guns)


Division. Lt. Gen Fresnel

Brigade. Maj. Gen Koller

1st Jaegers = 1 batt
Combined Grenadiers = 3 batts
3rd Dragoons = 4 sqdns
5th Cuirassiers = 3 sqdns

Brigade. Maj. Gen Kayser

4th regt = 3 batts
10th regt = 1 batt
7th Liechtenstein Hussars = 2 sqdns
8 gun position battery

Brigade. Gen Klux (Prussians)

4th (3rd East Prussian) = 2 batts
2nd (1st Pomeranian) = 2 batts
11th (2nd Silesian) = 1 batt
2nd (1st West Prussian) Dragoons = 2 sqdns
6th (Neumark) Dragoons = 3 sqdns

Strength: infantry 9,000
               cavalry 2,200

Total   11,370 inc. artillery (8 guns)

3rd chasseurs finding the crossing clear..

...re-crossed to find some of their comrades arriving

Some of the 33rd moving up. This (3rd) battalion fought to the left of her sister battalions and suffered
terribly at the hands of the enemy cavalry

The 1st batt 4th Swiss supported the right

The 1st and 2nd battalions 33rd regt


Leclerc's infantry in position with the light supporting the 33rd.
These formed the right wing.

Polish infantry take up positions on the left

The Austrians turn up. These are part of General Kayser's brigade and advance
 steadily towards Jarry's Poles.

The Austrian columns can be seen here in the distance

General Kayser

On the Austrian left, Grenadiers arrive and form into line

These troops fought extremely well against superior numbers.

In the centre Kayser quickly sets up his 8 guns..

...and orders them to immediately open fire!

French line infantry firing at the on-coming grenadiers who were then still
out of musket range! You can just see the Polish lines in the distance
Chasseurs moving up. This unit saw a lot of action and suffered heavily but
re-formed and rallied nonetheless!..
...seen here again from the artillery

Things also get under way on the Austrian right as the 10th take on the Poles

Polish guns and Swiss

The French 1st & 2nd 33rd recoil after a bayonet charge by 3 grenadier battalions.
The 4th light now become the target for the guardsmen
The grenadier attack was ferocious. On the left here you can see infantry withdrawing as the light infantry
take their turn and fire at the advancing enemy


The brave men of the 4th stood up to the grenadiers... and much more!

Leclerc meanwhile sends in the chasseurs

Leclerc seen here a little later with the re-formed 33rd

An overall view of the centre right. Chasseurs moving up on the left as the
fire-fight continues. They will soon be confronted...

..by these chaps. Men of the 3rd dragoons..

...and the 1st jaegers

After losing casualties from devestating volleys by the jaegers, the troopers find
their way blocked by enemy cavalry

At the same time and in the nick of time the Austrian cuirassiers appear in support of the tiring
grenadiers, a unit of which is seen here withdrawing

Cavalry action seen from the front of the Austrian lines. Chasseurs frustrated and attacked
seemingly on all sides attack some infantry in the rear. Although not the intended target the troopers
do a fine job in destroying half this battalion.

The chasseurs scattered after this attack

A view of the cavalry attacks from the river

..and from behind the Swiss

Cuirassiers aim their assualt at the French light infantry

General Jarry takes cover

These elite troops kept their cool under the onslaught and withstood
several charges

Both battalions of the 4th formed squares. The Poles have abandoned their guns and taken shelter
in the farm building

Meantime, General Legrand turns up and is none too happy about the reports coming in!

...And orders the Poles to either recover the guns or man them!

Although fuzzy I love this shot as it gives a sense of action and movement. Taken behind French lines
you can see the chasseurs riding off to lick their wounds.

Half these guns fell silent not wishing to fire on their own men

After defeating the chasseurs the dragoons were ordered to roll up the French line

But the poles had re-manned their guns..

...and the Swiss defending the farmhouse were ready for them!

French infantry being mown down. General Jarry was killed during this attack

At ground level we can see the over-stretched dragoons taking flanking fire from the Swiss..

...as well as some cannister from the Poles! The cavalry was driven off along with
the cuirassiers, with some loss

Leclerc about to send in dragoons against the allied cavalry attacks

Earlier on the Allied right General Klux arrives with his brigade

Men of the 3rd East Prussian regt

General Klux

Prussian dragoons about to assualt the French infantry on the left which
had re-formed after the cavalry attacks

 Back on the French right,  light infantry after some respite
are ordered forward again

Prussian and Austrian lines engage the Polish troops opposite them.
With the Liechtenstein hussars on their extreme allied right

French cuirassiers start to arrive on the left from the direction
of Huttendorf

 A close up of the hussars

As the attack goes in the Poles begin to break under the strain...

..but are quickly rallied when Legrand shows up in person and orders a counter-attack.
These troops had already fought off more than their number before this
attack and casualties started to mount.

Having recently arrived the French cuirassiers are put straight to work chasing off the hussars and
giving Klux something to think about!

The mere arrival of these thousand heavies un-nerved the entire allied line

The first attack goes ahead with Polish and Swiss infantry in support with 4 guns

The Swiss in line

The second wave

 The whole French line advances as the allies call off any further assault

Even the chasseurs rally

Polish gunners enjoying the spectacle

A skillfull defence by the French won them the day. Although hard pressed his elites held on despite losses
and fatigue, the Poles distinguishing themselves on
the left and the light infantry on the right. The Swiss, held in reserve, also proved their worth and fought on both flanks.
And the timely arrival of the cuirassiers saved the left
wing from destruction. Victory was only marred with
the death of general Jarry.
Total casualties apprx 1,250.

Fresnel had a tough one. On his left the combined
grenadiers did themselves proud. Their attacks went
in hard with more than one bayonet charge despite
being outnumbered. But the French lights held on
and pushed them back, covering their retiring
comrades from the 33rd. The Austrian sent in
cavalry and cut up a whole battalion but French
squares and some well aimed artillery and Swiss volleys
soon had the troopers scurrying back.
On his right his infantry could make no headway
against the tough Poles which resulted in a prolonged
musket duel at long range, and he was forced to send in
Klux's brigade and the hussars. The Poles, completely
outnumbered withdrew, fighting as they did so. Then, when Klux realised the French heavy cavalry were counter-attacking he lost heart and decided to abandon the Austrian plan and headed north. In this desultry affair many Prussians were forced to surrender.
Total casualties apprx 1,775 plus 900 captured. 

I think the terrain played an important part in aiding
the French defence. With the river covering their right
flank the narrowness of the front severely hampered the
Austrians, who had to stop firing their cannon as friendly
troops got in the way. The French held good positions
and were for the most part elites who could fight well.