Updated: Mar 5
The Great Northern War (1700-1721) is a new period for the club. Using my 15mm figures and new Warmonger rules, I put on a refight of the Battle of Fraustadt (1706) last night, with the Swedes facing off against the Saxons and Russians in western Poland.
The war was a contest about dominance in the Baltic region between Sweden (under Charles XII) and Russia (under Peter the Great), but was mainly fought on the territory of Poland-Lithuania, with the Poles fighting on both sides in a vicious civil war. Many other powers were also dragged in.
During the game, Philip, Rob and Patrick were on the Swedish side, while Theo, Mark and Doug played as the Saxons and Russians. In the historical battle, otherwise known as Wschowa, the Swedes under General Rehnskiold sought to crush the allies under Saxon General Schulenburg before King Augustus II of Poland (also Elector of Saxony) arrived with a large cavalry force.
The Saxon-Russian army numbered 16 infantry units of mixed quality in four brigades, four cavalry units in two brigades, and four guns.
The Swedes mustered nine infantry units (three brigades), six cavalry units (two brigades), and two guns.
Saxons and Russians form up on high ground
The allies deployed first on high ground and opted to use field obstacles to secure their left flank, with cavalry on their right.
Swedish cavalry with Polish winged hussars, deploy on the Swedish left
The Swedes then deployed with their cavalry on their left (Rob), an infantry brigade in the centre (Patrick), and two infantry brigades plus artillery on their right (Philip).
Historically, the Swedes were very aggressive and used the so-called ‘gå på’ (literally, ‘up and at them!’) tactics: infantry moving quickly into close range, firing one volley, then charging with the pikes levelled into close combat. Their opponents were often bamboozled by this approach, despite outnumbering the Swedes in many instances, and often relied on static field defences. My rules reflect these differences, giving the best Swedish infantry up to four actions per unit.
Philip's Swedish infantry assault Theo's Russians in the village
On the night, Philip quickly moved his infantry and artillery up to the village on the Russian left (held by Theo), and inflicted damage on the defenders, while Rob attacked with the cavalry against the allied right flank.
Doug's Russian cavalry is forced back by Rob's Swedish cavalry
The lower-quality allied army stood immobile on high ground, and when Doug attacked Rob’s cavalry with his own, the Russian cavalry was thrown back.
Rob now followed up and began to threaten the allied line on the hill, while Patrick started to move forwards in the centre with his infantry. Philip was making good progress against Theo’s Russians, who were taking heavy casualties.
Mark forms right-angles on the hill in order to protect the flanks of his infantry
By the end of the game, Philip’s Swedes had cleared the entire allied left of troops and were about to flank the main allied line, while Rob was charging his cavalry against the Saxons on the hill. Patrick’s infantry also went in, but Mark’s Saxons destroyed this Swedish brigade with musketry. Mark also formed a hollow square of units on the hill, which held Rob at bay for a while.
Near end of play: Philip's Swedes threaten the allied line on the hill
Nonetheless, the allies lost over 10 infantry units, all of their cavalry and most of their guns, and were comprehensively defeated.
Everyone seemed to enjoy the game and liked the figures. I may tweak the rules to make the Swedes a little less deadly and slightly more vulnerable, but all in all this was a successful test game.
In 1706, the Swedes (9,400 men) destroyed the allied army (20,000) at Fraustadt, inflicting 7,000 dead and 8,000 captured for the loss of 1,500 casualties.
The Great Northern War: what's not to like? A fun period with lots of wargaming potential!