The Battle of White Mountain 8 November 1620 Wednesday, Jan 22 2014 

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

Battle of White Mountain 1620 Header

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

The battle of White Mountain 1620 was fought outside Prague in the Kingdom of Bohemia between forces loyal to the Holy Roman Emperor Ferdinand II, and troops of the Catholic League against forces loyal to Frederick V, the King of Bohemia, and Protestant allies, including Hungarians. The battle was a major victory for the Catholics. It was the opening battle in the 30 Years War, a devastating conflict that eventually drew in most of the countries of Europe.  The causes for the start of this war, the Bohemian revolt and the battle that ended it are explored below.

In the sixteenth century, the Habsburg Dynasty ruled much of Europe, and the New World from the Kingdom of Spain, and the Kingdom of Austria, though the office of the Holy Roman Emperor. The Holy Roman Empire in the early seventeenth century was an institution that bound together much of central Europe. It had a Byzantine structure, ruled in name by an Emperor, who was elected by a group of seven electors.

White Mountain 1620 (2)

Three of the electors were ecclesiastical, four were secular. In practice, the position was hereditary, with the post going to the chosen Habsburg candidate who was the King of Bohemia, also the King of Hungary and the Archduke of Austria. Given that he was a Catholic, this meant a natural majority of Electors were Catholic.

Beneath this structure were three principle groups; the circle of Electors, the circle of Princes and the circle of free cities within the empire. The empire governed itself in a slow manner, designed to reach accommodation and consensus where it could. One kingdom within this structure, Bohemia claimed a special place, due to it’s geographical position and it’s electoral position. The map below (called Europa Regina) purports to show Bohemia at the heart of European affairs

White Mountain 1620 (0)

with the head being the kingdom of Spain. Thus the continent, and much of the New World was under the sway of the two great Habsburg powers, related by family. In the age of rule by Dynasty, much depended upon the wisdom of the individual rulers and their councilors.

After the end of the Jagellion dynasty, the crown of Bohemia was made elective by the Estates of the kingdom of Bohemia. In practice the position was seen as hereditary by the chosen Habsburg candidate to become the Holy Roman Emperor from the Austrian branch of the family. Nonetheless, the potential for a dynastic dispute lay within the dilemma of an elected king.

Bohemia under the reign of Holy Roman Emperor Rudolf II (1576-1612)

White Mountain 1620 (1)

was at the centre of European affairs. The Emperor based his rule in Prague after 1583 and busied himself in establishing his Kunstkammer, a collection of curios.

Bohemiae_Moraviae_et_Silesiae_(Merian)_106                                                   Prague, Topographia Germaniae , Matthäus Merian

By nature scholarly, melancholic, his marriage bought forth no heirs, which promised future instability.

Across the Holy Roman Empire and its patchwork of nationalities, languages and loyalties lay another fundamental choice; religion.

By the reign of Rudolf II, the Protestant reformation and the Catholic counter reformation had come to a weary acceptance of each other. This was firstly confirmed in the Peace of Augsburg 1555, which established certain territories within the holy Roman Empire as being Lutheran, with the majority remaining Catholic, under the principle (Cuius regio, eius religiothat the Prince of a territory chose the religion and all within had to conform, or leave. At the time of this peace treaty, Lutheranism was the only major choice to become a Protestant within the empire.


However Bohemia had a diverse religious settlement stemming from the end of the Hussite revolution in 1436. A separate branch of Catholicism, the Ultraquists were the heirs to this movement, and lived side by side to the Catholics.

White Mountain 1620 (4)

The Fraternity of the Brethren also emerged from the Hussite revolution. They had become reconciled to the Lutheran confession of Ausburg. The Lutherans were the largest section of the Bohemian community. Finally, the Calvinists were the latest Protestant confession to emerge towards the middle and end of the sixteenth century. The Calvinists had an undue representation among the nobility, with only 3% of the population being Calvinist. 15% of the Bohemians were Catholic; the rest one of the Protestant confessions. Thus the kingdom of Bohemia had five churches. It had been originally excluded from the peace of Ausburg, since it was under the personal rule of the Holy Roman Emperor.

Rudolf II and his ruling Habsburg family began a slow process of Catholic renewal, in an attempt to rebuild their faith within the lands they controlled. The most successful of these lay with the cousin of the Emperor, Archduke Ferdinand of Styria.

War with the Ottoman Empire began in 1593, lasting until 1606.

Battle_of_Mezokeresztes_1596                                                   Battle of Mezokeresztes, 1596

During this inconclusive border war which encompassed Hungary Wallachia and Transylvania, a successful revolt by the Calvinist Stephen Bocskai guaranteed religious freedom for Hungary and Transylvania in the peace of Vienna 1606. Thus the Protestants had forestalled Catholic renewal in these lands. In turn, this precipitated a crisis of confidence in the rule of Rudolf II, bringing the question of his succession, and his ability to rule to the forefront.

In 1607, events began to quicken in pace. The Emperor’s younger brother Matthias managed to exploit a Hungarian rebellion and consolidate a power base there, in exchange with concessions to the Hungarian Protestants. He encouraged Bohemia to follow suit, with the aim of restoring stability within the Empire.

In exchange for continued support, the Bohemian protestants extracted concessions from Rudolf II, in the form of a Letter of Majesty, signed in 1609. This granted tolerance for all religions in Bohemia, and acceptance of the various Protestants. Given the majority of the ruling classes in Bohemia were Protestant, the Catholics were now firmly in decline.

In the broader Empire, tensions between the two religious confessions rose, with the formation of a Protestant Evangelical Union, formed in 1608 around the Palatine with other regions, including Württenburg and Brandenburg. In response, the Catholic league was formed in 1609, led by Maximillian I, Duke of Bavaria. At this point, both were defensive, and stood for their own interests. Tensions rose between the two camps over the Jülich-Cleves inheritance, but the quarrel did not escalate into a large war.

In 1612, Rudolf II died, and the Holy Roman Empire passed to his younger brother, Matthias .

White Mountain 1620 (3)

Matthias had no successor, thus the problem of stable inheritance still existed for the Habsburgs. He reconfirmed the privileges won by the Bohemian Protestants in the Letter of Majesty, 1609. In practical terms, the strongest Austrian Habsburg candidate to succeed Matthias was his cousin, Ferdinand, Archduke of Styria. A secret treaty was made between Ferdinand and the Spanish ambassador to the Imperial court, Oñate, leading to a treaty that bore his name. Spain would support Ferdinand’s claim, in exchange for  Alsace and the Tyrol, so allowing the movement of Spanish troops on the ‘Spanish Road’. This allowed rapid movements of troops from the Italian territories under Spanish control to the north, into the Spanish Netherlands (Belgium).

Ferdinand of Styria was raised by Jesuits and was a staunch Catholic. Personally devout, he made no secret of his wish that he would rather rule over a desert than over a land full of heretics, and forcefully began the process of re-Catholicisation in his own lands in the late 1590’s. He managed by force to reconvert this territory, earning the sobriquet Ketzen-hammer (hammer of heretics) in the town of Brenner. He was as much guided by faith as reason in this risky policy, which paid off for him.

Despite the Oñate Treay, the path to the Imperial throne for Ferdinand wasn’t guaranteed, for he needed to become king of Bohemia and become an Elector of the Holy Roman Empire this crown gave him. The electoral nature of the King of Bohemia was disputed, with the Habsburgs assuming this was a mere formality, but the nobles of the Bohemian estates wishing to exert their authority.

An illness befell Matthias in 1617, impelling the necessity for the election. The Grand Chancellor of Bohemia, Lobkowicz, summoned the Bohemian Diet in June 1617. Matthias addressed the Diet, calling for the assembly to back Ferdinand’s accession to the crown of Bohemia. The next day a vote was taken. The magnates confirmed Ferdinand in a public vote, with the exception of one, Count von Thurn. One by one the remaining nobles, and knights followed the majority will and confirmed Ferdinand as the King of Bohemia. He was crowned on 19th June 1617, and despite his inner qualms, confirmed the Letter of Majesty.

Emboldened by the apparent ease with which Ferdinand had succeeded, Lobkowicz began a process of re-Catholicization. Firstly, areas of Prague were no longer allowed to administer themselves, but were forced to accept royal magistrates. Then Count von Thurn was forced to accept a less lucrative position within Bohemia. The Protestants found that their literature was subject to censorship by the royal Chancellery, Taken in all, this appeared to be a direct attack on the rights in the Letter of Majesty, confirmed by Ferdinand. Consequently, discontent grew in the ranks of the Protestant nobles.

At the end of 1617, Matthias left Prague for Vienna to aid the election of Ferdinand to the throne of Hungary. taking Lobkowicz with him. Royal power now resided in a circle of regents, who managed Bohemia in the King’s absence. Further infringements on the privileges granted in the Letter of Majesty forced the Protestant magnates to call an assembly in early May 1618 to discuss their grievances. A letter was forwarded to the King, with a view to hearing his reply at another meeting on 21st May. The reply, drafted by Lobkowicz stated that the Protestant assembly had overstepped their authority, and was forbidden to meet again. This was badly received by the members of the Protestant assembly, who suspected that the letter was not genuine, and had been written by the circle of regents in Prague. The meeting on the 21st received another letter, instructing the assembly to dissolve. After a day’s furious debate by the assembly, a meeting of the electors, including Count von Thun

White Mountain 1620 (5)

decided that open revolt was the best course of action, and the salvation of their faith would be put to public test.

The following day, the 23rd May, saw a group of the Protestant electors marched to the royal castle, the Hradčany, their to confront the royal regents. Lobkowicz, Martinitz, Slavata and their secretary, Fabritius, with a charge of high treason. After heated debate, the accusations settled on Martinitz, Slavata and Fabritius, who were thrown from the window in the defenestration of Prague.

White Mountain 1620 (9)

Despite falling some 20m, all three men survived, after falling onto a pile of dung.

White Mountain 1620 (9)

Thus the defenestration of Prague made revolt, and an open breach with the King of Bohemia and the Emperor certain.

White Mountain 1620 - 16

The war began slowly, with neither side militarily prepared for the ensuing conflict.  The Imperialists appealed to the wider empire for help, with Saxony acting to seal its borders with Bohemia, despite being a protestant state. The Evangelical Union was slow to respond to help the Bohemians. Thus despite a religious element to the rebellion, the wider Protestant community were reluctant to join in the fray.

Left to their own resources, small Imperialist (under the command of Bucquoy), and Bohemian (under the command of von Thun) armies began to confront each other in Moravia, between Bohemia and Upper Austria. By September, 1618, the rebel Bohemians had more men in the field, having been reinforced by Count Mansfield and 2,000 Swiss mercenaries, and another 3,000 Silesians. The Imperialists fell back to Budweis, and Krems. The offensive broke down during the winter, with both sides going into quarters.

During March 1619, Emperor Matthias died, and the Bohemian revolt had new implications. No longer were the rebels fighting the King of Bohemia, for Ferdinand was now Emperor elect.

With the die cast, the Bohemians renewed the offensive in April, invading Movaria with 9,000 men, to reach Znaim, the seat of the Moravian Estates. Caught off guard, the Imperialists could do little to stem this attack. Buoyed up by success, von Thun pressed on to try to take Vienna, reaching the outskirts by June 1619. Reinforcements reached Ferdinand, and soon 5,000 men were prepared to defend the city. von Thun’s army was not strong enough to besiege the city, let alone storm it, and he retreated northwards by mid June, lifting the immediate threat to Ferdinand. At the same time the Protestants under Count Mansfield and 3,000 men were caught by 5,000 Imperialist under the command of Bucquoy, and defeated at the battle of Netolitz. Most of the Protestant men were cut down , or captured, with Count Mansfield escaping. The Bohemian advance into lower Austria had failed.

By mid July, the military position for Ferdinand has settle sufficiently for him to call the Imperial Electors together, and he duly became Emperor in August, with a complete majority voting for him, including the Calvinist Palatine.

White Mountain 1620 (7)

Now, as Ferdinand II, he could command loyalty across the Holy Roman Empire.

The Bohemians did not seek reconciliation at this point, but sought to distance themselves even more, by reaffirming the Letter of Majesty, and that the Bohemian monarchy was elective, and including the whole of the kingdom (Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and Lusatia) in the process. The elective crown was then offered to Johann Georg, Duke of Saxony, who rejected it, and then to Bethlen Gabor of Hungary. Bethlen was too involved in unrest in Hungary to accept. Finally after election by the Bohemian Estates in August, the crown was offered to the Calvinist Imperial Elector, Frederick V of the Palatinate.

White Mountain 1620 - 14

Frederick received a letter from the Bohemians announcing his election, married to Princess Elisabeth, daughter of James I of England, he sought advice from his Father in law. The English Ambassador expressed his belief that “the Count Palatine hath a disposition to accept of that crown.”  Frederick V accepted the offer in October, and moved to Prague. In December, his wife gave birth to a son, Prince Rupert.

Ferdinand II had complications of his own. He had inherited a huge debt from Matthias II, which restricted his own military capabilities, having no standing army to count on.

Frederick V, as head of the Evangelical Union, hoped for direct assistance from the princes in the Union. He could also reasonably hope for help from his father in law, King James I. But no help was forthcoming from either quarter, despite pleas from his wife.

White Mountain 1620 - 15

Moreover, even the troops he had in the Palatinate would have to defend this territory in any larger conflict that might ensue. Thus external help, in terms of allies with troops or money, could tip the balance in this conflict.

The Bohemian estates, looking to their own resources could field a small army in March 1620. Their hopes lay with Bethlen Gábor, who continued the struggle against the Habsburgs.

White Mountain 1620 - 13

Polish mercenary (Lisowczycy) intervention on the side of the Imperialists tied down this second rebellion, with only a limited number of Hungarian troops being available to the Bohemians.

Spain offered troops to Ferdinand II once he became Emperor, but the real advance for the Imperialist cause came with the resurrection of the Catholic League in October 1619, under the direction of Maxillian, Duke of Bavaria. In exchange for territorial concessions in the Palatinate after the expulsion of Frederick V, and all expenses incurred to be paid to Bavaria, a Catholic army was raised, under the field command by Count Tilly. Thus another level of dynastic ambition lay in the quarrel, between cousins Maximilian and Frederick.

The final piece of the military jigsaw came with French led diplomacy in July 1620 between the Evangelical Union and the Catholic League. Neither side wished to start a wider war in Germany, guaranteeing the territorial status quo, but allowing either side to engage in Bohemia. Even the Lutheran Elector of Saxony, Johann Georg, failed to support the Bohemian rebels. He preferred instead to police the borders of Saxony and frustrate Bohemian attempts to gain more support for their army. Thus the quarrel, for now, would be settled in Bohemia, with no hint of the wider conflict that was to come.

Five separate armies began the Imperialist counteroffensive. A small army of 5,000 was left to defend Vienna against Bethlen Gábor, whilst a larger force of 21,000 under Bucquoy moved against Prince Anhalt in Lower Austria. Meanwhile three other armies from the Catholic League pressed the Palatinate. The revolt in Lower Austria collapsed, and Prince Anhalt’s army withdrew to Moravia.

Military discipline was likely to be poor from armies that contained significant numbers of mercenaries, and were subject to infrequent pay. The Catholic League’s army in Lower Austria acted with little discipline, ransacking both Protestants and Catholics alike. Likewise irregular Hungarian cavalry behaved so poorly that Ferdinand was reported to say

‘Indeed, the enemy has behaved so terribly everywhere that one can almost not remember whether such tyranny was ever heard of from the Turks.’

Religious hatred was also part of the fierce response from the troops, as the priests in the Catholic League’s army, led by the Pope’s special representative Father Dominic de Jesus-Maria continued their preaching against the heretics.

The Imperial – Catholic League army joined near Budweis, and began to move towards Prague by way of Pilsen. The Bohemian force retired back to shadow them. The Imperialists decided to force a battle before the onset of winter, and marched on Prague.

Frederick V joined his army, suffering a mutiny over pay, and lifted morale enough to keep them in the field. They forced marched their army back, overtaking the Imperialists, to reach the White Mountain before Prague on 8th November, 1620.

The narrative of the battle was recorded in a letter from the Bohemian commander, Christian of Anhalt to Frederick V.

As it was your Majesty’s order for me to relate the events of the battle of Prague, it is my duty to obey you promptly and to present briefly what I could observe and recognise.

I remember that on Thursday, 5 November, the enemy had started to break camp before ours, which we noticed at 1 or 2 in the afternoon. Your Majesty gathered the main commanders together and asked me what to do. I gave my advice, to wit is that we should head towards Prague as it was our intention, and no doubt also that of the enemy. Upon this, the elder Count Thun interrupted and said he would bet the enemy had no intention of entering Prague as it was completely impossible, and that instead we should come to the aid of the surrounding villages in order to prevent the enemy from conquering them so forcing Prague to surrender. When evening came, however, we clearly understood what the enemy’s intentions were. Then our deliberations shifted how best to prevent the enemy from advancing. We decided that the aforementioned Count Thun, as guardian of the Crown, would march through the night towards Prague with his son’s infantry regiment, and that your Majesty would follow the next morning with the army. Both these decisions were implemented despite the road being long and arduous and not made practicable. We did so well that we arrived at the place two leagues from Prague half a day before the enemy; it was a village called Anhost. It was Saturday, 7 November and your Majesty arrived around midday.

I gave orders to secure billets for the army, and you decided to make a short trip to Prague. Just after you departed, the enemy started to appear and skirmish and that we heard that all the enemy armies had rejoined each other and were making their swift way straight towards Prague. They were surprised to see we had arrived before them. Upon this, I immediately sent 500 musketeers to keep the passage open, which, if the enemy had known about, would have made our arrival difficult.

So it was that at 8p.m., I started the whole army on the night march, and at 1a.m. we arrived at the so-called White Mountain in front of the city of Prague. I set up camp to rest until daybreak. The Hungarians were alarmed by the din made by some of the Cossacks who had pursued them part of the way. Some of our own infantry regiments also seen perturbed and I wasn’t used to that, so I talked to them but it filled me with dread.

White Mountain 1620 - 41

There was fog at dawn on 8 November. When it was gone, we chose the battlefield between the so-called park of the Star Palace and the slope on the other side, so that we had the advantage of the high ground: the park was on the right hand side and the slope on the left, so that the enemy could only attack us from the front.

White Mountain 1620 (31)

The field having been chosen, the Count Hollach as lieutenant and general chief of staff, ordered the troops to form the order of battle according to the sketch that I enclose .

White Mountain 1620 (29)

The enemy had noticed, (a bit late) that we had started to move; as soon as they heard us they followed us and the vanguard arrived at around 9a.m. I had called Count Thun to ask his advice as he knew this place very well. He confirmed that it was the best place, and called his son’s regiment back from Prague. Meanwhile, Count Hollach had ordered the infantry regiments to guard the park at various points, to wit that of the Count of Weimar, of my son and the company of guards of your Majesty. He ordered the cannon of the Duke of Bavaria to be entrenched, but the spades that I had brought to the camp at my expense had been damaged so much at Rackonitz, that we only had 400 usable ones left. This meant we can to fetch some from Prague, but it took so long that our entrenchment was hindered and remained far from perfect. The Count Thun decided that the two cannon would be taken to the left flank which damaged the enemy greatly but said pieces were positioned too far away. The Hungarians, that is Colonel Cornis and 300 men, were posted on the right flank. The remaining Hungarians stayed at rearguard, because they wanted to be away from the cannon. They were under orders to advance through the gaps when the battle started and to strike the enemy in the flank. I ordered particularly that 1500 Hungarians had to remain on the left flank, as marked on the plan and I dispatched this order three times to the commander.
The Count Hollach had ordered them similarly and the Count Thun took the above named Colonel Cornis to the very place and showed him personally how they were outside the range to cannon and with which advantage they could do a signal service, but nobody came there. The enemy came through a village of the foot of the mountain where the path was bad but wide enough to allow the passage of formed troops on the right flank. But they would have been seen by us, which they wanted to avoid. So, they moved as I described before.

White Mountain 1620 (32)

The enemy formed the order of battle at the foot of (and partially behind) the mountain, practically the same forms as us, as they mixed infantry and cavalry regiment left very little space on the front. We could see most ground where our cannon were positioned on the left flank. We damaged them so much that they were obliged to their front back towards their left hand flank.

White Mountain 1620 (33)

When I saw them moving, I thought they were going to try something more and, finding the Count Hollach of the same opinion, I immediately informed the troops by the two adjutants to the chief of staff and other first officers.

White Mountain 1620 (34)

In the end I saw that the enemy’s vanguard was safely climbing the aforementioned mountain. I was near the two cannon on the left flank, and from there I galloped at the head of Count Hollach’s cavalry where my war horses were, and in no time I could see a large troop of cavalry accompanied by two infantry battalions coming straight at us. This gave me hope as the enemy coming so fast had to have lost order and was going to find us standing firm, in good order, our chiefs in agreement and ready to fight them. Our cannon were flanking their army, we had already dislodged theirs and, although they outnumbered us, they couldn’t see this because of the narrowness of the passage. Moreover, I was well aware that the Count Bucquoy, who was experienced and wise captain, would never advise to start a battle under such circumstances. This made me quite sure I was able to hope for certain victory.

White Mountain 1620 - 43

But God, who in his divine wisdom weighs human events, demonstrated his anger at our lack of piety and the offences of which we are all guilty. It must be God who withdrew bravery from our soldier’s hearts, because otherwise it was impossible to believe that such a sudden effeminate terror would sieze so many men as I had seen performing duties so well before. As soon as the enemy arrived at about 300 or 400 paces from Count Thun’s infantry, our soldiers started to shoot without order or sense and, even against expressed orders, shot in the air and immediately started to flee, seemingly in the grip of fear. I then told my cousin Count Solms, your court chamberlain (who was that day honouring me with his presence) that although this didn’t begin auspiciously, I was still hoping for a positive outcome.

White Mountain 1620 (35)

At the same moment, and being only just armed, I saw before me my cavalry, which had been levied by Lieutenant Colonel Streiff, with some caracolling and others galloping away. So, I ran towards them and stopped them with my sword to make them returned to the charge. The captains obeyed me, but most of them didn’t really persevere.

Count Hollach arranged his troops so that the ones on the left flank should charge and he told them what to do. The troops of counts Solms and Bubna were engaged with the enemy but with little strength or resistance, so that I could see everything of the vanguard on my left, including the three companies of the estates of Bohemia and the one coming after. Everyone was fleeing, some with the infantry which was running the fastest. My son charged with his cavalry, fought and pushed the enemy back to where they had their cannon.

White Mountain 1620 (36)

There, he was wounded twice, as was his brave lieutenant-colonel. My son was then taken prisoner. Count Styrum with Mansfield’s troops charged on the enemy’s musketeers on the side of the park and afterwards he attacked the cavalry. He did his duty with bravery and gained a good reputation. Colonel Stubenvoll also led two or three good charges.

White Mountain 1620 - 45

I led the Austrian cavalry charge and they did well. Lieutenant-Colonel Baron Hofkirchen stayed put. But the latter also performed the bad caracole. It was then that I also ordered the major of the Silesians to attack as well, which did well with the aid of his troops, but the resistance was too great. The enemy, however, was stopped and pushed back, so that some of their troops galloped away to regroup.

White Mountain 1620 (37)

Two enemy infantry battalions fired a great salvo which killed the horse of my chamberlain. One of my gentlemen, Keydel, was also wounded at my side. Those two battalions decided to withdraw too. Our artillery did well and greatly damaged the enemy, which left them perplexed. The regiment of Moravia commanded by Colonel Schlick, as well as the five infantry companies of Lieutenant-Colonel Pechmann showed bravery and remained until the last. As I could see no cavalry coming to our help, and as I had only 16 horsemen near me, and as the enemy was returning with many troops (both cavalry in infantry) I didn’t dare to remain, but withdraw towards the main road that goes towards Prague. I went slowly, hoping that I would find some of our troops waiting, but this was in vain.

White Mountain 1620 (38)

When the elder Duke of Weimar went to stop the Hungarians, he found Colonel Cornis accompanied by the very few of his Carey is asked to stand firm he answered ‘the Germans are fleeing’; the Duke and answered ‘they are Germans in the evening, but by morning there will be the same as the Hungarians’; but Cornis although he had turned a little did not want to understand the Latin phrase. Then, the aforesaid Duke came upon another officer who was fleeing and shouted to him that if he didn’t turn back he would shoot him through the head. When he turned, the Duke realised it was one of the colonels who didn’t stop his flight continued fleeing the enemy.

White Mountain 1620 (39)

So, I can confirm that when I withdrew, of all our Hungarians, only a hundred were left of the ten thousand, such was the diligence they showed. It was now impossible to stop the troops.

White Mountain 1620 (40)

I reached the New Gate where I found Your Majesty together with the routing infantry who had fled before and had already climbed the ramparts. I could only recover six of them who agreed to defend the city walls. The fear was overwhelming in all ran through the Little Side (i.e. the western part of Prague) towards the Old and New Town. Some of them were swimming, especially the Hungarians, some of whom were drowned.

Some of our worst mistakes was that most of our cavalry would not engage properly. The proper way, which I often explained to them, was to reject the bad habit of caracolling when facing the enemy. Those who listened my advice, although defeated, covered themselves in glory, the others in blame. I want to stress this point strongly here, so that this custom of charging without properly engaging is avoided like the plague.

White Mountain 1620 - 46

Your Majesty will understand from this account the real reasons for our defeat, and will also understand the defeat was caused not by the enemy’s valour, but by their good fortune and the divine help they received. Surely, God wanted to punish us for our sins, mostly because of the awful treatment and bad pay bestowed upon our soldiers; seeing that the estates of Bohemia wanted their ruin and disbandment, those soldiers were reduced extreme despair and bad behaviour, such that no chief or officer could order them to fight anymore. For me to start of proper explanation of those of those matters, the aforesaid imperfections (and why I wanted to separate from the aforesaid estates and provinces), I would need reams of paper to do them justice. Your Majesty knew about this, even if you couldn’t remedy the matter in any way possible to you. However, for this generation of people, all was in vain as the unhappy outcome proved.

Since the Hungarians were useless that day, and 1,800 killed in the game parks, though no more than 500 cavalry and around 8000 infantry along with six large guns at the battle. If only our men held their grounds, we would have been strong enough with God’s help, thanks to thanks to the advantages we had.

Christian of Anhalt, Letter to Frederick V, after the Battle of White Mountain.

White Mountain 1620 - 40

The collapse of the Bohemian army led swiftly to the collapse of the rebellion

The Bohemian rebels suffered the full weight of Ferdinand II wrath.

White Mountain 1620 - 44

White Mountain 1620 - 47

The end of the reign of Frederick V, swiftly led to his banishment within the Holy Roman Empire, and the confiscation of the Palatinate, with the electoral title conferred on Maximillian I, Duke of Bavaria. This act alone ensured the broadening of the conflict into what became the Thirty Year Wars, as re-Catholicisation loomed over Protestant Germany.

Frederick V was soon to be mocked as the Winter King, due to the brevity of his rule.

White Mountain 1620 - 30

A popular song at the time in Germany lamented his fate.

“Oh! Poor winter king, what have you done?
How could you steal the emperor’s crown
By pursuing your rebellion?
Now you do well to flee
Your electoral lands and Bohemia.
You will pay for your mistake with grief
And suffer mockery and shame.
Oh! Pious Emperor Ferdinand, grant him pardon!
Do not hold his folly against him.
He’s a very young man,
Who did not realise beforehand
How much a crown weighs.
Now it is weighing very heavy on his head.
If he had known, he would not have done what he did.”

Yet history would confer on their line great blessings, for their heirs included George I, King of England, who founded the Hanoverian dynasty.



White Mountain 1620 - 50

White Mountain 1620 - 51

White Mountain 1620 - 52







The Battle of White Mountain 8 November 1620 Redux Wednesday, Jan 22 2014 

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

Battle of White Mountain Redux 1620

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

A wargame exploring the Battle of White Mountain is described below.

White Mountain 1620 (31)

The schematic of the battlefield above have been scaled down to fit our beloved bit of 5′ by 4′ for the wargame recreation. The scale used is board 1mm = battlefield 2 m; each move represents 5 minutes, and each figure represents 100-120 men using 25mm figures. Thus our 5′ by 4′ board rescales to 3 by 2.4 km on the battlefields. The rules used in the games are here.

The number of troops need to be reduced accordingly to keep the troop density equivalent. The Battle of  White Mountain  had 23,000 Imperialist and Catholic League troops, facing 17,000 Bohemian and allied troops. Reducing the scale down by a factor of approximately 2 gives an order of battle for White Mountain thus.

Battle of White Mountain  Redux Order of Battle

In these battles, we use the principle of Sauve qui peut to define the level of losses (in terms of base units of 1 figure) sustained by each side before mass panic sets in. The levels are shown below for the battle.

White Mountain Sauve Qui Peut

In the battle, the Bohemians suffered a collapse in morale, despite relatively few casualties. In this re-enactment, the morale of each side is equivalent. This examines the defensive nature of the ground chosen by the Bohemians, and the ability of the larger formation tercios used by the Imperialsts to penetrate the Bohemian line of battle.

For both sides, once the threshold of base unit losses exceed the following total percentages at the specified time on the battlefield, a random number is created (by the linked excel spreadsheet, or a scientific calculator) to ascertain if mass panic has set in, and the rules of Sauve qui peut apply to mass panic.

The generals re-fighting the battle use suspension of disbelief, so that if enemy troops are bearing down unseen upon your own because of the restriction in visibility due to dead ground and hills, you cannot react until they would emerge… as happened during battles of the period.

The account of the wargame is given at quarter hour intervals across the battle; the high view shared by our Olympians who reflect on the action below.

Reference is made to the soldiers pocket book Bible, with quotes appearing before the description of each move. This explores the nature of faith in fighting for the period, especially for the Calvinists.


White Mountain 1620 Wordle


A soldier must be valiant for God’s cause

Be thou valiant for me, and fight the Lord’s battles.
1 Sam. 18:17.

The morning’s fog has long since risen, and revealed the heretics army to the commanders of the Catholics, Count von Tilly and Count Buquoy. After mass, led by Father Dominic de Jesus-Maria who preached against the heretics, their army draws up in mixed formation; the infantry in tercios, mixed with supporting cavalry. Count von Tilly takes the left wing and leads the Catholic League and their Bavarian blue and white chequerboard flags. Count Buquoy takes the right, and leads the Austrian Imperialists, with their flags of double headed eagles.

Atop the hills of the White Mountain before Prague lies the Star Palace, which acts as the anchor point for the defensive line chosen by their commanders. To the right lies the Star Palace and its walls, held by Count von Schlick and his men. In the centre are Prince Christian of Anhalt, and to the left Count von Thurn. Their army would tax a polyglot, comprised of Bohemians, Movarians, Hungarians. But most confess with Calvin’s faith, and as such they already know that God has determined the outcome of this battle through predestination. No probability for them, providence is all; they stand or fall on the sins they have, or are about to commit and how they atone for them.

Fortuna Belli is less certain about providence. Her domain is probability, mixed with a little capricious whim. Minerva also looks on with interest at the dispositions chosen by the generals. Large, dense tercios have punch, but little manoeuvrability. This contrasts with a double linear line atop a hill, mixed with a  few strongpoints. Mars always revels in the fight regardless of who will win.

The Catholic cannons open their barrage, and Calvinists fall. The Bavarian Catholic league begin their Hail Mary’s.

AVE MARIA, gratia plena, Dominus tecum. Benedicta tu in mulieribus, et benedictus fructus ventris tui, Iesus.

The order to advance is given, and the Tercios move forward; pikes to the sky, matchlocks lit, horses at the walk.

Sancta Maria, Mater Dei, ora pro nobis peccatoribus, nunc, et in hora mortis nostrae. Amen.

Battle of White Mountain (1215)


A Soldier must not fear his enemies

O Lord, be gracious unto us; we have waited for thee: be thou
their arm every morning, our salvation also in the time of trouble.
Isa. 33: 2.

Atop the hill, the Bohemians see the tercios slowly march towards them. It will take many minutes before the moments of truth begins. Time enough to return fire with their own cannons. Catholics fall to the shot,

… Et ne nos inducas in tentationem, sed libera nos a malo. Amen.

and in return, so do the Protestants on the hill.

Onwards the Bavarian banners to the Holy Virgin flutter alongside the double eagled flags of the Austrian Imperialists, amidst their pikemen in the tercios.

Battle of White Mountain (1230)


A soldier must pray before he goes to fight

Ye shall not fear them; for the Lord your God he shall fight for you.
Deut. 3:22.

Count von Thurn has had plenty of time to consider how to respond to the tidal wave about to break over the left wing of the Bohemians. Cavalry from behind their main battle line swings round to the extreme left, with orders to flank the advancing Imperialists. The first Austrian tercio, steadied by Count Buquoy has almost reached the redan holding the cannons on the Bohemians left. So far their cannonballs have failed to stop the advance, and the gunners are beginning to face the wall of pikes levelled at them. Soon the tercio’s muskets will be firing out.

Battle of White Mountain (1245)


A soldier must put his confidence in God’s wisdom and strength.

God is our refuge and strength; a very present help in trouble.
Psa. 46: 1.

On the left flank, the approaching Protestant cavalry draw the Imperialists out, and outnumbered, they eventually break, leaving the Bohemians free to pursue and engage the tercios. Count Buquoy urges his men onwards, and they storm the redan and capture the cannon from the Bohemians. Those gunners who did not flee are not spared, much to the delight of Mars. A fierce battle ensures, with the second line of the Bohemians pressing forward to retake the redan before the Imperialists can use the captured cannons. To their right, the second Imperialist tercio has fared worse, after a brave cavarly charge threw it into disorder. The tercio tries to reform, but this is difficult under fire. A counterattack by Imperialist cavalry in turn throws back the Bohemians.

On the right wing, the Catholic League led by Count von Tilly continue their steady advance. Maybe the battle will be resolved before they get to engage. The battle on the left is held in the balance. Whom will Fortuna Belli favour?

Battle of White Mountain (1300)


A soldier must not rely on his own wisdom, his own strength, or any provision for war.

There is no king saved by the multitude of a host; a mighty man is not delivered by much strength. A horse is a vain thing for safety, neither shall he deliver any by his great strength.
Psa. 33, 16:17.

Count von Thurn‘s gambit has paid off, and the cavalry on the left routs the tercio attempting to storm the redan. The Imperialist attack on the left has faltered, as both tercios fall back. The redan has been recaptured at some cost by the Bohemians, but lost at even more cost by the Austrians.  Despite their success, the Bohemians do not pursue.

In an inspired move, von Schlick has gathered the cavalry reserve of the right wing and brought it to the centre, where it forms a new reserve.

The Catholic League’s leading two tercios press the redan in the centre, in an attempt to break through and secure victory for the Bavarians. Emboldened by success on the left wing, a regiment of Bohemians marches forward to engage one of the tercios, and a fierce fight ensures.

Battle of White Mountain (1315)


A soldier must consider and believe God’s gracious promises

The Lord your God ye shall fear, and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
2 Kings. 17: 39.

The battle for the central redan rages, with one of the Catholic League tercios breaking under the weight of a cavalry charge. They flee for their lives, whilst their colleagues in the other tercio do better on the other side of the redan. The Protestant regiment supporting the artillery retreat, the Catholic League troops storm the barricades and take the guns. If they can hold on, and turn them against their former owners, they may yet tear a whole in the centre of the Protestant army through which they may pour in.

Alert to this threat, Christian of Anhalt sends forward his cavalry to outflank any breakthrough.

On the left, Count von Thurn‘s men will not advance off their ridge, as the Imperialists slowly retire.

Battle of White Mountain (1330)


A Soldier must not fear his enemies.

 When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses and chariots and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them, for the Lord thy God is with thee.
Deut. 20:1.

The Catholic League attack on the central redan has failed, and the tercios retreat after being pressed hard by the Protestant cavalry. Only a few tercios remain in good order, and they shield their less fortunate comrades from further attack.

The Bohemian Protestants seem reluctant to press fowards and to claim an even bigger victory.


Battle of White Mountain (1345)


A Soldier must Cry unto God in his heart in the very instant of battle.

When Judah looked back, behold the battle was before and behind; and they cried unto the Lord.
Chron. 13:14.

The Protestant cavalry moves forward to engage with the tercio ‘sacrificial lamb’ before the town of Ruyzene on the right of the battlefield. The men in the tercio call out to each other, and for the moment they hold back the horsemen who surround them, firing their pistols before wheeling away again.

Count von Tilly can do little to save them; their duty is to save the remainder of their army for another day, and another trial of strength. Slowly, the remainder of the Catholics retire.

Battle of White Mountain (1400)


And let Soldiers and all of us know, that if we obtain any victory over our enemies, it is our duty to give all the glory to the Lord, and say:-

This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes.
Psa. 118: 23.

Even the bravest of men cannot withstand an endless onslaught, and so the final tercio yields. Men fall, flee, and are pursued by their antagonists, with Mars amongst them. In the centre, another tercio is pushed back. Elsewhere the remainder of the Catholic army still pulls back. They know that the field belongs to the heretics.

The Protestants on the hill watches the Catholics retire. Time to tend to the wounded or sing out a song of praise for having been spared.

Minerva approves at such caution from both armies. Despite the dreams of generals, wars are rarely won in a day, and decisive battle remains the Fata Morgana of strategists. A string of victories will bring an opponent to their knees, and for that you need a cohort of veterans.


Battle of White Mountain (1415)


A Soldier must Consider that sometimes God’s people have the worst in battle as well as God’s enemies.

The sword devoureth one as well as another.
2 Sam. 11:25.

The combat is complete; the battle has ended. Having lost fully one third of their men, the Catholic assault was firmly rebuffed, and the Bohemian revolt will last one more winter. Perhaps even the new king on the throne in Prague can rest more easily tonight. The Holy Roman Emperor will not receive the news well, and promises to raise an army to devastate Bohemia next spring. Cooler heads in other cities will take note of these threats, and will pull their men back from the coming conflict, better to defend their own when the tidal wave strikes them.

Fortuna Belli favoured the defence today. On the field, the Catholics dazed by their defeat will sing a Te Deum tonight for surviving the battle, and to ask forgiveness for their sins. The Protestants will sing the 68th Psalm and recite the following passage from Exodus.

The Lord is a man of war; Jehovah is his name. Thy right hand, Lord, is become glorious in power: thy right hand, Lord, hath dashed in pieces the enemy. And in the greatness of thine excellency thou hast overthrown them that rose up against thee.

Exod. 15, 3,6,7.

Battle of White Mountain (1425)



Here’s an animated gif for each move in the battle.

Battle of White Mountain Redux


The Generals fighting this battle were

Tilly Redux

Count von Tilly

Anhalt Redux

Christian of Anhalt

Battle of White Mountain Redux Colours


The Battle of Lützen 16 November 1632 Monday, May 9 2011 

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

The Battle of Lützen 1632 was a major battle in the Thirty Years War. It was fought between the Army of Sweden and their Protestant allies in Germany, led by King Gustavus Adolphus against the Imperialist Army led by Wallenstein. The battle saw the defeat of Wallenstein’s men at great cost to the Swedes and the death of their King, Gustavus Adolphus. Origins of The Thirty Years War are complex. The reformation and counter reformation left the Holy Roman Empire and Northern Europe split between Protestants and Catholics, defined by the Peace of Augsburg, 1555. Underlying religious and political tensions sparked the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, which played out the various factional interests. The trigger for this vast conflict, was the death of King Matthias, Holy Roman Emperor and King of Bohemia without an heir. The succession passed to Ferdinand II of Austria, but was contested by the Bohemian nobility, who threw representatives of Ferdinand out of a window in 1618 in the defenestration of Prague.

Such an insult could only lead to conflict. Underlying these causes was the Triptych of Turbulence; the interplay between Religion, Power and Dynasty.

Each would have its own contribution to the strife, which had distinct phases. The Bohemian Phase (1618 – 1621) marked the onset of the war, and its initial containment.

With the defeat of Frederick I, the Protestant cause in Bohemia was crushed at the Battle of the White Mountain. The victorious Imperialist and Catholic League army pursued Frederick into his homeland of the Palatinate. The Palatinate Phase (1621 – 1624) marked the spread of the war within the Holy Roman Empire.

Ferdinand II had deposed a threat from within the Holy Roman Empire and rewarded his chosen allies, and Catholic influence had grown at expense of the Protestants. The Danish Phase (1625 – 1629) began the start of foreign involvement in the war. Alarm had spread within the northern Protestant kingdoms at the growing success of the Holy Roman Emperor, Ferdinand II.

Christian IV entered the war, partly to secure his own holdings within the Holy Roman Empire, and partly to reduce the power of the Catholics. Early success eventually gave way to failure, when his army was crushed by Count von Tilly at the battle of Battle of Lutter in 1626. He eventually signed the Peace of Lübeck in 1629, leaving the path clear for Swedish entry into the war. By this time, Wallenstein, the Imperialist Generalissimo held sway over a vast territory in the name of Ferdinand II. Such power was obtained at a terrible price, as “Der Krieg ernährt den Krieg / “War feeds itself” became a guiding principle for his army of mercenaries.

The Swedish Phase (1630 – 1634) began a new era of foreign involvement in the war. Wallenstein attempted to build a fleet with Spanish help to master the Baltic seas. This raised a threat to Denmark and Sweden, who overcame their traditional enmity to face the Imperial threat. The final casus belli was the Edict of Restitution. Catholics had urged the Holy Roman Emperor to take advantage of their relative strength during the war by restoring lands to the position of the Peace of Augsburg in 1555, in practice returning vast tracts of lands claimed by Protestants back to Catholicism. The Edict enshrined this principal, thus ensuring a Protestant reaction, led by John George of Saxony. The Diet of Regensburg , 1630, failed to reach agreement between the Imperial Electors and the Emperor, but led to the dismissal of Wallenstein. The path was now clear for Gustavus Adolphus to take his small, but highly trained army into the war.

The Protestant city of Magdeburg declared for Gustavus Adolphus after being declared re-Catholicized as a result of the Edict of Restitution. The city was surrounded in 1631 by Tilly and von Pappenheim. The Swedes made slow progress through Germany to relieve the city, allowing time for a siege by the encircling Catholic armies of Wallensten and Tilly.

News of the Swedish advance spurred Tilly on, and the Imperialist troops bombarded the city before storming it on 20 May 1631. The city fell and endured a terrible two day sack.

The news of the sack of Magdeburg sent shockwaves through Europe, stiffening religious emnity in the conflict. It also spurred on Gustavus Adolphus and his men.

The Battle of Breitenfeld 1631 was the first test of strength between the Imperialists and their mercenary army and the army of the Swedes and their German Protestant allies. Each side had differences in troop deployment (Order of Battle) and battlefield tactics in the three types of troops employed; cavalry, infantry and artillery. Habsburg Spain and Austria used an order of battle with cavalry on flanks, infantry in the centre in one or two lines formed in Tercios. Artillery was typically grouped across the infantry line, or on high ground. The Swedes and their allies had an order of battle with some cavalry on each flank, interspersed by musketeers. The infantry was placed in the centre in two lines, with a cavalry reserve between the two lines. Heavy artillery was grouped in the centre, with lighter artillery pieces attached to the infantry regiments for close support.

In terms of tactics, again clear distinctions can be made between the two armies. The Habsburg Spanish and Austrian armies had infantry formed into Tercios (Squares of Pikemen 10 ranks deep, with blocks of musketeers in corners). This was an unwieldy formation, but difficult to stop once moving forward. The cavalry engaged by the caracole; with the front line firing pistols, then wheeling behind the next rank and reloading. This was difficult to achieve on the battlefield as a fight descended into a sword fight, or mêlée. With artillery, heavy guns only were employed, with larger barrels than Swedish guns, however at a slower rate of fire. The Swedish army had infantry formed into regimental lines six deep, with pikemen in the centre, flanked by a greater number of muskeeters. They used lighter guns and cartridges, with ball and powder which ensured a greater rate of fire than the Imperialists. Their cavalry engaged directly with the sword in close combat, without bothering to fire pistols first, thus giving them a “shock” effect in combat. Artillery also saw developments with lighter ‘Regimental’ guns introduced, placed with the infantry. Their heavier guns were employed in large concentrated bateries, with emphasis placed on rate of fire. The Battle of Breitenfeld 1631 was a resounding victory for Gustavus Adolphus and his men.

The victory was celebrated across Protestant Europe.

Swedish troops now swept into the heartlands of the Holy Roman Empire, occupying the Palatinate.

The death of Count von Tilly at the Battle of Rain, 1632, led to the recall of Wallenstein to head the Catholic army under the Imperial banner.

Wallenstein detached Pappenheim’s force, and the Swedes closed in on the remainder of the Imperialists at Lützen on 15th November, 1632. Battle of Lützen 16th November 1632 Wallenstein, badly outnumbered by the Swedes and their Protestant allies, issued an urgent recall to Pappenheim’s force.

Pappenheim received the letter at midnight and began to move towards the battlefield with a cavalry by 2 am, with infantry and artillery to follow. A heavy fog covered the battlefield on the morning of 16th November.

The fog slowed the march to the battlefield and the Swedish troops deployment. The Swedish followed the same type of deployment as at Breitenfeld; mixed cavarly and musketeers on each flank, with infantry in the centre in double lines. Gustavus Adolphus commanded the Swedish and Finnish cavalry on the right wing, Brahe and Kynphausen the infantry in the centre and Bernhardt  the cavalry on the left wing. The badly outnumbered Imperialists also followed the same type deployment as at Breitenfeld; with cavalry on the wings (led by Wallenstein and Holk on the right, Piccolomini on the left) and deployed in echelons. Their infantry (led by Colloredo) was placed in the centre, but this time formed into lines, not tercios.

With the battle about to begin, Gustavus Adolphus ordered the singing of two hymns, a custom preceeding an attack by the Protestants.

The troops then sang Gustavus Adolphus‘s battle hymn, ‘Verzage nicht du Hauflein klein’ (O little flock, fear not the foe), Altenburg’s hymn written after the battle of Breitenfeld, 1631 as they began the advance. Soon extra Swedish cavalry were placed on their right flank, to ‘fan out the feathers’.

Wallenstein ordered Lützen to be burnt and the smoke asoon added to the confusion from the fog. Gustavus Adolphus led the Swedish right wing and soon scattered the Croat light horsemen opposing them, who were no match for the veteran cavalry interspersed with musketeers facing them.

At midday, Pappenheim and his Imperialist cavalry arrived on the battlefield. Wallenstein ordered him to counterattack on the Imperialist left flank, where the Swedes were still pressing hard. He led his men directly into the Swedish cavalry, who gave a volley. Pappenheim was severely wounded and the Imperialist counterattack stalled. He later died of his wounds.

In the rolling fog, Gustavus Adolphus led a small troop of cavalry forwards, but he was killed.

In the centre, the Swedish yellow and blue infantry brigades pressed forward. The Imperialists met them with stiff resolve and flank attacked them with cavalry, which decimated their attack.

The battle raged on all fronts.

The Imperialist right flank began to fall back after the death of Pappenheim, but their centre held.

Prince Bernhardt  renewed the attack on the left flank, with a view to capturing the area surrounding Lützen and the windmills atop the hill.

The attack failed, due to a counterattack from the Imperialists.

After being repulsed on the left and centre, and having suffered the loss of their King, the Swedes began slowly retiring back in confusion. The King’s Chaplain, Fabricus, sensing the urgency of the position began rallying men on the right flank by singing Lutheran hymns.

‘Retreat! The time for that is past. It is vengeance now!’ Bernhardt to Kynphausen.

From 3:00 until 3:30 both sides reorganised, preparing themselves for the final onslaught. The Swedes prepared to attack again.

The Swedes advanced once more onto the Imperialists line. By now, both sides had suffered many losses. ‘A fatal earnestness was seen and heard on both sides’ as quarter was either asked, nor given as the battle settled to push of pike in the centre.

Nearly all the Imperial commanders were wounded during this final stage of the battle as eventually the Swedes managed to push through and take the guns by the windmill as night fell.

The Imperialists retreated during the night and the battle had been won by the Swedes at great cost.

Wallenstein withdrew his army to Leipzig, then back into winter quarters in Bohemia. The Swedes had successfully driven the Imperialists out of Saxony at the loss of their King and many of their best troops. Protestant Europe mourned the loss of the Lion of the North.

The Imperialists failed to exploit this setback. Wallenstein failed to renew the initiative against the Swedes in 1633 and after intrigue was killed on the order of Ferdinand II in February 1634.

The Swedish army and the Imperialists, reinforced by Spanish troops met again on the field of Nördlingen 1634, with the Swedes being crushed. The war now entered a new phase; between Bourbon France and Hapsburg Spain. The war ended in 1648, with the Peace of Westphalia in an agreement little different to that proposed by Gustavus Adolphus in 1631. The full slide pack is available as a pdf file here. (7 Mb file!).




The Battle of Lützen 16 November 1632 Redux Sunday, May 8 2011 

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

Vauban Tile 500 pixels

A wargame of the Battle of Lützen is described below.

The schematic of the battlefield above has been scaled down to fit our beloved bit of 5′ by 4′ for the wargame recreation. The scale used is board 1mm = battlefield 2 m; each move represents 5 minutes, and each figure represents 100-120 men using 25mm figures. Thus our 5′ by 4′ board rescales to 3 by 2.4 km on the battlefield. The number of troops need to be reduced accordingly to keep the troop density equivalent. The Imperialists had about 17,000 men at the start of the battle with 24 guns, and the Swedes/Germans about 19,000 with 60 guns. Reducing this by a factor of 1/2, the following order of battle is given.

In this battle, we use the principle of Sauve qui peut to define the level of losses (in terms of base units of 1 figure) sustained by each side before mass panic sets in. The levels are shown below for each army.

For both sides, once the threshold of losses exceed the following percentages, a dice roll is made to ascertain if mass panic has set in.

For the Imperialist army, the loss of up to 12 base units can be withstood before testing for morale. As soon as the relief force under Pappenheim arrives, the morale levels are lifted to 14 base units at the 15% threshold, to reflect the higher level of troops on the field. In the case of the Swedes and German allies,  19 base units can be lost before the 15% threshold is reached, reflecting their advantage in numbers. One additional complicating factor for the wargame is the effect of the weather. The Battle of Lützen was fought in fog which varied throughout the day. To simulate the capricious nature of fog, a dice is rolled to determine the visibilty.

Each position shows the visibility on the battlefield, so at position 1, the visibility falls to 100m (50mm) etc, whereas at 5-6 the visibility is unlimited, subject to line of sight. The generals refighting the battle use suspension of disbelief, so that if enemy troops are bearing down unseen upon your own because of the snow visibility, you cannot react until they would emerge… as happened during the original battle. After 15 minutes (3 moves) a dice is rolled and the new visibilty is established. Given the fog rose in the morning, but fell in the evening, a modifier to the dice roll is given for the time of day. Between 10:45 and 11:00 am, +1 is added to the roll. Between 11:00 and 13:00 + 2 is added to the roll, 13:00 and 14:00 no modifier is added, 14:00 and 15:00 -1 is added to the roll, and finally after 15:00 until nightfall -2 is added to the dice roll. This alters the probablilty of being in clear weather or thick fog, depending on the time of day.

Similarly, the arrival of Pappenheim and his men is given to chance. It’s known that he appeared shortly after 12:00, so to account for this at 12:05 a dice roll of 6 will allow Pappenheim’s men to appear on the board. At 12:10 a dice roll of 5,6 is needed, 12:15 4-6 is needed and this dice modification of shortening odds continues at 5 minutes intervals until at 12:30 the troops definitely arrive on the board. Rules used in the games can be found in this link.

A final point:- the little puffs of white cotten wool on the battlefield pictures below signify firing and the clouds of white smoke it made, the ‘fog of war’ that black powder produced.

Move 1 (10:45)

The Swedish army, led by their King Gustavus Adolphus finish singing “Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott” and begin to sing “Verzage nicht du Hauflein klein“, King Gustavus‘s own battle hymn.

Be not dismayed, thou little flock,
Although the foe’s fierce battle shock,
Loud on all sides assail thee.
Though o’er thy fall they laugh secure,
Their triumph cannot long endure,
Let not thy courage fail thee.

He signals the advance, and the cannons ring out, sending their shot through the mist at the enemy.

Wallenstein the Imperial commander sees the Swedes through the fog, a straggling line of sinners. He has recalled Pappenheim and his men to the field. If his troops can hold on until they arrive, then surely the Lord of Hosts will give the day to his men and not to these Northmen.

A man that is an heretick after the first and second admonition reject;
Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself.

Above the fray, Auster the God of fog breathes his mists over the plains of Lützen. He cares little for these mortals arguments. The visibility at 400m is enough for these men to see their emnity reflected.

Move 2 (10:50)

The Swedes march on in the centre, led by General Major Brahe. On the left, Gustavus Adolphus starts to wheel the cavalry around to outflank the Imperialists facing his men. The Swedes are singing the last verse of their hymn.

Our hope is sure in Jesus’ might;
Against themselves the godless fight,
Themselves, not us, distressing;
Shame and contempt their lot shall be;
God is with us, with Him are we; To us belongs His blessing.

The Imperialists before them, Catholics, count the beads on their rosaries as they retice their Pater Nosters and Ave Marias. There is still time to find redemption before the bullets start flying.

Move 3 (10:55)

Gustavus’s men continue to wheel, Brahe’s men continue to close on the enemy. There is no singing now, only the steady beat of drums. The novice soldiers on each side look on in disbelief at what is unfolding before their eyes, as the moment of truth beckons. The veterans of the Imperialists spit into the ground and check their weapons one last time.

Move 4 (11:00)

First contact between the troops, as a fight breaks out between the Swedish cavalry, interspersed with musketeers against the less well trained Croats. The Imperialist artillery fire on the Swedes, unnerving them.

Move 5 (11:05)

The Swedish cavalry under artillery fire break in confusion. To their right, Gustavus Adolphus and his men fight the Croats. The first line of infantry have now almost closed to fire contact. What was once cloaked in mist is now plainly visible.

Move 6 (11:10)

Gustavus Adolphus falls wounded to a lucky pistol shot from a Croat in the mêlée.

Sweden and all Protestant will grieve in due course for the lost Lion of the North. Catholic Europe will sing Te Deums for their deliverance.

Salvum fac populum tuum,
Domine, et benedic hereditati tuae.

The Swedish cavalry press on their attack, seeking vengence. The Swedish and Imperialist infantry send each other into a disorganised state as push of pike takes over from the musket exchange.

Move 7 (11:15)

The first line of Imperialist infantry wavers and breaks at the end under the Swedish assault, creating a dangerous gap in the line. As if to underline the danger, the Imperialist General Colloredo falls to a musket ball as the troops he stood before crumple under the assault.

The Croats responsible for the fall of the Swedish King break in confusion. All goes badly for the Imperialsts, except on the extreme left, where their cavalry hold the Swedes on the line of the River Flossgraben.

Auster, the God of fog, sucks his breath in and the mists disappear over the plains of Lützen. The folly of men is for all to see.

Move 8 (11:20)

Remember Magdeburg! Magdeburg Quarter! ” roar the Swedes as the Imperialst front line crumples even further into retreat, throwing the troops they flee past into chaos.

Providence has spoken again, the battle  is all but won by the Swedes, or is it? News of the fall of their King reaches the Swedish blue regiment. A flicker of doubt creeps into their hearts.

Wallenstein has no time for doubt. He must lead a cavalry counterattack to stem the haemorrhage of troops in his centre or lose all.  “Vorwärts”! he shouts, and the men of his right wing obey.

Move 9 (11:25)

The counter charge in the centre scatters the Swedish Blue Regiment, as their defensive hedgehog breaks under the pistol shots and sabres of the Imperialist cavalry.

On the extreme left, by the River Flossgraben,  the Swedish cavalry also scatters before the Imperialists, as the truth of the loss of their King sinks in, and unnerves their fighting resolve.

Move 10 (11:30)

The scattering of the Swedish cavalry continues, and their retreat puts fresh heart into the Croats, who stop retreating. The Swedish infantry are pressed back by the Imperialist cavalry, with more troopers rushing to try their luck on the last standing Swedish infantry regiment in their front line.

Wallenstein’s gamble has paid off so far. He rides to rally the infantry in the centre, who begin to come to order again.

On the far right, Duke Bernhard receives news of the  fall of Gustavus Adolphus in silence.  He is, by seniority, the new leader of the army. The battlefield is quiet at his end, with no chance of an attack by the Imperialists. He shall take his cavalry with him to reinforce the army, and lead it to avenge the death of his King.

Fortuna Belli has favoured first one side, and then the other. Where her eventual indulgence will fall is not yet clear. Only time, and more fighting will tell.

Move 11 (11:35)

Duke Bernhard begins wheeling his cavalry around behind the second line of Swedes in the centre.

The front line of Swedish infantry suffers a furious cavarly charge and much of the infantry is thrown into confusion in the mêlée.

Behind this battle line, Wallenstein continues to rally the Imperialist infantry in the centre.

Move 12 (11:40)

Mars rides with the Imperialist cavalry as the Swedish infantry breaks before the onslaught. The riders hew down those who stand, those who run. Providence was with the Swedes just a short while ago?

The Imperialist infantry threaten to sweep forward and complete the partial victory won by the cavalry.

Wallenstein knows that if Pappenheim and his men come to the field soon, he can win against the odds, and the gratitude of the Emperor will be great indeed.  His mercenary heart knows such praise may beckon pay and further privilege.

On the left, the Imperialist cavalry pulls back behind the River Flossgraben under the command of Holk. Much of the Swedish cavalry first attack continues to rout.

Move 13 (11:45)

In the centre, one small clump of Swedish infantry valliantly battles on against a caracole attack by the Imperialist cavalry. Another clump breaks under the cavalry assault.

To the right, a mass of  Imperialist cavalry ride on to face the Swedish infantry second line. They are made of sterner stuff than their compatriots, and they stands their ground, in a defensive ‘hedgehog’, bristling with lowered pikes.

To the rear of this action, Holk leads the Swedish cavalry of their left wing towards the centre.

Move 14 (11:50)

The cavalry vs infantry battle in the centre rages on, with the Imperialsts getting the worst, as a troop of Swedish cavalry scatter the cavalry on the right. The Swedish infantry hold firm, a shore against the waves of horses.

Wallenstein has succeeded in rallying the Imperialst infantry behind the front line.

Move 15 (11:55)

The Imperialist cavalry retire in confusion, and the Swedes have held for now. The cavalry charge gave the Imperialsts breathing space, enough time for Pappenheim and his men to close the distance to the field.

The victorious regiment of Swedish cavalry sweep through the gap between the Imperialist infantry in the centre and on the right as they pursue the fleeing cavalry.

Move 16 (12:00)

The cluster of Swedes that fought off the Imperialst infantry pit their arms against a regiment of Imperialists who swiftly become disorganised in the push of pike. The Imperialst cavalry by their side retire through a gap between the infantry.

The small regiment of Swedish cavalry continue to pursue the Imperialists, but notice they are now separated way ahead of their comrades, and also a regiment of cavalry, led by Wallenstein is riding towards them. Instinct tells them they should return back to their own lines.

The Swedish cavalry of the left wing has now reached the centre of the battlefield.

Move 17 (12:05)

The Swedes win the push of pike and sends the imperialist infantry back in disarray.

The small regiment of Swedish cavalry on the right hand side of the battle plunge into the flank of an imperialist regiment of infantry, who break in disarray and begin running towards their cannon on a hill for safety.

Wallenstein leads his cavalry group towards the successful Swedes. If he can catch them, he will be extracted his revenge.

Move 18 (12:10)

The Swedish cavalry on the right-hand side of the battle continue to harass the Imperialist infantry regiment which flees in terror. But help is at hand, Imperialist cavalry ride towards them in the certitude they will overwhelm their enemy. Meanwhile Wallenstein continues his advance to their rear in the hope of encircling them.

In the centre, ebb and flow is order of the day. The reformed Swedish line joined the victorious group of infantry which has just seen off the Imperialists. However to their rear, a small group of cavalrymen break the extreme of the Swedish second line.

Far to the rear, the Protestant cavalry has nearly completed its transfer from one side of the battlefield to the other.

Wallenstein‘s wish has been granted. Pappenheim has arrived on the battlefield with his reserve of Imperialist cavalry.

Move 19 (12:15)

Pappenheim‘s cavalry waits for their leader to survey the battlefield and pick their spot for deployment.

In the centre the Imperialist infantry strengthens its line, ready for renewed struggle with the Swedes.

On the right, the isolated Swedish squadron pursues the broken Imperialist infantry, but slowly, surely the Imperialist cavalry are riding to surround it.

Move 20 (12:20)

Pappenheims men ride to the left flank as it is clear that is where the Swedes are massing for a counter attack.

Close to the artillery near the Flossgraben, the Swedish blue regiment has successfully repulsed the squadron of Imperialist cavalry attacking them, which in turn routs away disorganised.

On the right flank, the successful Swedish squadron is quickly scattered by the surrounding Imperialist cavalry. The survivors from this melee make their way towards a gap in the line of infantry advancing towards the Imperialists.

Move 21 (12:25)

Redeployments govern the battlefield as troops reorganise into new battle lines.

The Imperialists now have an arc of troops from one side of the battlefield to the other, infantry in the centre, cavalry on both flanks. This is the norm and Minerva, the Goddess of strategy approves.

The Swedes have denuded their right flank of cavalry and drawn everything towards the left where squadrons still ride to complete their redeployment. This is a bold strategy, born of desperation at the death of their king. Its success will surely live on the whims of Fortuna Belli once the action has started.

The infantry lines in the centre make their way towards each other, drums beating and flags flying. Both sides have tested each other’s mettle this morning, and more will be tested this afternoon.

Move 22 (12:30)

The Swedish blue regiment marches forwards to engage the imperialist artillery on the extreme of their left flank.  They immediately come under attack from a squadron of Imperialist cavalry and artillery fire which tests their resolve. The Swedes nerves hold, as their defensive hedgehog fights off the cavalry.

Auster the God of fog breathes his mists once more over the plains of Lützen.

On the Swedish left flank, the second line of cavalry sweeps round as all are still in motion. The Imperialists cannot see this movement but can hear something sizeable is happening.

Neither the Swedish or Imperialist infantry in the centre push further forward, each waiting for the other to make the move.

Move 23 (12:35)

Auster’s mists still cover the battlefield, masking the redeployment of the second line of Swedish cavalry.

The Swedish blue regiment successfully fights off the Imperialist cavalry squadron which retires disorganised. They have served their nation and their faith well today.

Move 24 (12:40)

With an impetuousity born of success, and perhaps guided by Mars, the Swedish blue regiment marches forwards directly towards the Imperialist artillery tormenting them.  Their good order breaks down in the process and the men become disorganised. An Imperialist infantry regiment advances to add flanking fire onto the Swedes. How long can they last?

Move 25 (12:45)

The arid bliss self belief provokes addled the Swedish blue regiment. Their charge has ended in failure and they break before the triple torment of infantry, cavalry and artillery fire.

The mist lifts and Pappenheim can see that the Swedish cavalry are forming one long line. This threatens to outflank his men. They must punch through their centre when the attack comes.

On the other flank, the remaining Swedish cavalry begin riding toward the centre.

Move 26 (12:50)

The Swedish blue regiment regain their nerve as they draw level with the main battle line.

The Swedish cavalry have now formed their long battle line.

Move 27 (12:55)

Artillery exchange fire, but elsewher a terrible calm descends on the battlefield. No side will test the others resolve.

Move 28 (13:00)

The Swedish cavalry begin to advance. Pappenheims men, veterans all, will them closer so battle can begin.

Move 29 (13:05)

The Swedes begin shortening their cavalry line by forming a traditional double line. Pappenheim sees this leaves a gap between them and their infantry centre. If he can scatter the cavalry facing him, he could roll up the exposed flank of the Swedish infantry. If…

Move 30 (13:10)

The Swedes continue their redeployments. The Imperialists wait.

Move 31 (13:15)

Auster’s mists roll over the battlefield once more, masking the redeployment of the Swedish cavalry.

Move 32 (13:20)

The Swedes on the right wing have finished their movement.

Move 33 (13:25)

Framåt! Gud vara med oss!

In the mists  Pappenheim and his men hear the Swedish cavalry advance, and glimpse them emerge through the fog.

Move 34 (13:30)

Auster’s breath increases and the fog plunges the visibility to 100m.  Only at the left flank of the Swedish advance can the two protagonists see each other, as both sides ready for the deadly embrace.

Move 35 (13:35)

In thick fog the first honours go to the Swedes, with their interspersed cavalry and infantry scattering the end of Imperialist cavalry. The fog masks the gap opened between Pappenheim and his men and the artillery at the end of the Imperialist infantry line.

Move 36 (13:40)

The Swedish cavalry wave continues on through the mists, Pappenheim  supporting his men.

Move 37 (13:45)

The mists lift a little and battle is joined along the length of the Imperialists right flank. The Swedes have crossed the Flossgraben, threatening the flank of the Imperialist infantry. A cavalry squadron rides forward to intercept.

Move 38 (13:50)

Fortuna Belli smiles on the Swedes, as they progress against the Imperialist cavalry which shatters under the assault. Wallenstein cannot tell which way the battle is going on his flank but senses with trepidation that the sound of battle is moving towards him, indicating his men aren’t holding their ground.

Move 39 (13:55)

The situation on the left flank of the Imperialists line worsens as a Swedish squadron captures the Imperialist artillery. This threatens their entire infantry line with flanking fire. The regiment at the end of the line falls back, fearful of their position. With Pappenheim busy rallying his men, a cavalry counter charge must fall to Wallenstein who senses the danger his army is in. He moves to the nearest cavalry and urges them to follow him.

Move 40 (14:00)

The battle rages between the Swedish cavalry and the Imperialists on their left flank, with the Imperialists holding their own. Wallenstein and the cavalry ride towards the captured artillery battery, now in Swedish hands, who fire on the approaching men.

Move 41 (14:05)

The Swedes are driven back to the Flossgraben river, and a fierce cavalry mêlée breaks out around the captured artillery unit. The battle is in the balance again.

Move 42 (14:10)

Wallenstein and his men overwhelm the Swedish cavalry defending the captured artillery unit whose fate once again hangs in the balance. If the Imperialists can resecure this vital components to their line, the battle may swing back to them yet.

Regardless of this event,  the long line of Swedish and Protestant infantry begins the approach towards the Imperialists to settle the matter once and for all by the push of pike.

Move 43 (14:15)

The artillery piece becomes a central target in the struggle, as the Swedes counter-attack, preventing the imperialists from remanning the guns and using them.

The advance of the Swedish and Protestant infantry is slow down on the extreme right by a headlong charge of Imperialist cavalry, forcing the end regiments into a defensive hedgehog. The Swedish infantry falters, becoming disorganised.

Move 44 (14:20)

The Swedish cavalry once again forces off the imperialists trying to recapture the artillery. The guns belong to the Swedes again, who will shortly begin pummelling the Imperialists when the opportunity presents itself.

On the left flank of the Imperialists a major cavalry battle has broken out as the Swedes try their luck one more time. Both sides in the chaos and confusion of the fighting and the fog become disorganised. The Swedes still have a line of reserves to fall back on, but should the Imperialists lose the whole position of their army is exposed. Sensing this, the Imperialist infantry begins slowly withdrawing seeking to delay the moment of truth with their opposite number.

Things go better for the Imperialists on their right flank, as one of the cavalry squadrons breaks through Swedish Green regiment, putting the men to the sword as they drive on.

Move 45 (14:25)

The judgment of Fortuna Belli comes down on the Swedish side. Their cavalry have scattered Pappenheim and his men, exposing the entire army’s flank. The disorganised remnants of the Imperialist cavalry ride towards the edge of the battlefield, seeking safety in the fog through speed and distance from their tormentors.

The Imperialist infantry begins retreat in earnest, sensing that the battle can no longer be won. The Swedish infantry, with a hole punched through its left flank seems none too keen to advance, as thetheir Green regiments suffers grievously at the hands of the victorious Imperialist squadron pursuing them. Help may be on its way as a small Swedish cavalry squadron rides to intercept them.

Move 46 (14:30)

A majority of the Imperialist cavalry has fled the battlefield. Their infantry pulls back steadfastly seeking the same safety. Even the artillery on the hill above the town of Lützen makes its own way off the battlefield.

The Imperialist cavalry squadron pursuing the Swedish Green regiment is scattered by the countercharge of the Swedish cavalry. They ride headlong for the gap that means safety for them, leaving the survivors of the Swedish Green regiment to run headlong away from the conflict until they regain their nerves.

Move 47 (14:35)

The Swedes advance again en masse, as they seek to close down on the remaining Imperialist units. Equally these men seek their safety but retreat in good order.

Move 48 (14:40)

On go the Swedes, back go the Imperialists. A mass of Swedish cavalry is gathering for the final assault, for they can close the distance long before their infantry can cause any further harm.

Move 49 (14:45)

“Let God arise, let his enemies be scattered:
let them also that hate him flee before him.
As smoke is driven away, so drive them away:
as wax melteth before the fire,
so let the wicked perish at the presence of God.”

With the words of the 68th Psalm, beloved of the Calvinists in their ears, the Swedish cavalry close in upon one poor unfortunate Imperialist infantry regiment. Surrounded, it will be made to pay for the sins of the rest of their army, as quarter will neither be given or asked.

The rest of the Imperialist army shall escape to fight another day, in another place.

Victoria  awards the day to the Swedes and the German Protestants. Despite the loss of their dead king, they have clinched the battle, and although this victory is melancholic due to the passing of their monarch, they have succeeded in avenging his loss and securing Protestant Germany.

Northern Europe will mourn the fallen Lion King. Farewell faithful servant; the star that burns twice as bright lasts half as long.

From afar,  Mars and Pax know this battle’s outcome can only seek to prolong the war, as the death of Gustavus Adolphus gives the Imperialists enough hope to continue the struggle.

Wallenstein  and his defeated men retire into the fog and the approaching gloom.  Wallenstein  does not know yet of the fall of Gustavus Adolphus, but will seek to make this the principal outcome of the battle to the Emperor when he is summoned to explain his army’s defeat.

A little more resource your Majesty, more money and men, and I can overwhelm these Northmen yet for your honour and the greater glory of the Church.

The Emperor will see through these words, but accept the premise.

The entire battle sequence is available as an animated gif, best viewed in Windows picture viewer.

The Generals fighting this battle were

Gustavus Adolphus 


The Age of Glaube Friday, Jul 11 2008 

1 Introduction

These rules give a simplified version of combat during the Thirty Years War(1618-1648), the British Civil Wars (1639-1651) and the and the Franco-Spanish War (1648-1659). The game works at the level of operational units, such as infantry battalions, cavalry regiments or artillery batteries, each with their own characteristics. These three types of units form a balance of forces, which are opposed. Combat is resolved by calculating the quality and quantity of troops involved, modified by probability to yield the result, hence winning an individual action on the battlefield. The sum of these small encounters mounts up towards an overall victory. Thus, battles of the time can be simulated, with odds on victory weighted towards those with larger numbers of better quality troops and their tactical deployment. Using these rules, large actions at divisional level per side can be managed within a reasonable time and playing space. Full scale battle reenactments can be managed by ‘scaling down’ the troops deployed each side, to keep the proportions the same on the chosen playing surface.

Text below in italics and bold font link to tables which are used in the game. Click on the text, and it should take you directly to the relevant table, and click again to enlarge if necessary. Use your browsers back button to return to the rules.

2 Equipment

2.1 Playing surface

Hardboard of various sizes joined together can quickly make a suitable surface. A total area of 1.5 m by 1.2m (5’ by 4’) suffices for most games.

2.1.1 Game scale

1 mm on the board = 2 m on the battlefield. Thus a 1.5 m by 1.2 m board scales to 3 km by 2.4 km.

2.2 Tape measure

A retractable metric tape measure that spans the playing area is needed.

2.3 Random Number generator

The game uses a random number generator found on scientific calculators, online websites or by an excel spreadsheet to add the necessary element of chance in conflict.

2.4 Infantry, cavalry and artillery and command units

There are 4 types of units in the battle based of the three main arms; infantry, cavalry and artillery. In addition there are command units. The number of figures required depend upon the scale used. 15mm scale figures require 2 figures per base unit. 25 mm scale figures require 1 figure per base unit.

2.4.1 Infantry (regiment)

An infantry regiment is initially comprised of between 5 to 10 base units. Each base unit is 20 mm by 15 mm, and has 2 figures mounted (if 15mm scale figures) or 1 figure mounted (if 25 mm scale figures). Thus in line formation, the frontage is 100 mm wide, equal to 200 m on the battlefield. Each base unit represents 100-125 men, so a battalion would have a field strength of 500-1250 men.

Infantry regiments are grouped together into the left, centre and right wings on a battlefield as required.

Infantry comes in various levels of quality. These typically include:-

Dismounted Dragoons

The details of these troops for each of the main armies are given in the National Army tables.

2.4.2 Cavalry (regiment)

A cavalry squadron comprises of 1 base unit, 30 mm by 40 mm, and has 2 figures mounted (if 15mm scale figures) or 1 figure mounted (if 25mm scale figures). 3 or 4 squadrons of similar types of cavalry form a cavalry regiment. Thus in line formation with 4 base units, the frontage is 120 mm, equal to 240 m on the battlefield. Each base unit represents 100-125 men, so a cavalry regiment would have a field strength of 300-500 men.

Cavalry regiments are grouped either into the larger infantry divisions, or as separate cavalry divisions.
There are 3 main types of cavalry; heavy, medium and dragoons.

Heavy cavalry includes Cuirassiers and Regulars. These have the greatest shock value, but move at the slowest rate. They typically charged home with the sword only, hence their greater shock value.

Medium cavalry was armed using carbines, and attempted to engage using this weapon in preference to the sword via a modified form of caracole.

Dragoons have intermediate shock value, and move at a slower rate than heavy cavalry. They can act as cavalry, or can dismount and act as infantry. To dismount or mount up between the two states takes a move.

The details of these troops for each of the main armies are given in the National Army tables.

2.4.3 Artillery (battery)

One cannon occupies a front of 20mm, represents a single battery of 8-10 guns, with an attendant horse figurine, which is placed on the board showing the direction of travel if the piece is being moved.

2.4.4 Command units

Generals and attendant staff comprise 1 base units, 30 mm by 40 mm, and has 2 figures mounted (if 15mm scale figures) or 1 figure mounted (if 25mm scale figures).

Messengers sent by the General to communicate his wishes to the troops under his command comprise 1 base unit, 20 mm by 40 mm, with 1 figure mounted, regardless of the scale of the figures used.

Generals and messengers move at the fastest rate of all the types of troops above, but they have no fighting potential of their own, they act to modify the potential of troops around them.

2.5 Disorganised counters

As troops become disorganised, they are disrupted in formation. A small orange counter is placed by the unit for as long as it remains disrupted.

2.6 Time counter

Either mark the time in the battle off the victory table  (see section 9.6), or use a specially created clock dial, which moves with each game turn. Each turn, comprising of a first and second player phase, represents 5 minutes on the battlefield.

3 Game setup

3.1 Battlefield scenery

3.1.1 Playing surface

Covering the area with PVA glue and using green railway scatter foam makes an attractive looking surface.

3.1.2 Hills

Polystyrene foam tiles can be cut to shape and added as required, with each layer representing 100m. Layers of the foam tiles can be placed on top of each other to create higher hills and mountains. Covering the surface with PVA glue and using green railway scatter foam makes it look attractive.

3.1.3 Rivers and lakes

Blue felt strips 20mm by 60mm can be added together to make rivers or lakes.

3.1.4 Villages and towns

N gauge railway houses can be added to represent villages (a single house) or towns (as many houses as required). Each house can shelter one infantry battalion or cavalry regiment.

3.1.5 Roads

Brown felt strips 20mm by 60mm can be added together to make roads.

3.1.6 Rough ground

Grey railway scatter foam denotes areas of rough ground.

3.1.7 Woodland

N gauge railway trees can be added to the battlefield, together with green railway scatter foam to create woodland areas. Glueing each tree to a solid base (2p coins) help keep the trees from toppling over.

3.2 Troop deployment

Troop deployment is relatively straightforward if recreating a historical battle. Simply follow the known pattern, keeping the troop density scaled to the size of the playing area. If creating an imaginary battle, keep in mind the numbers and type of deployments typical of the age.

If fighting an encounter battle, when not all the troops are on the battlefield at the start, deploy the troops at the designated time.

Before the battle starts, calculate the total number of troops on the battlefield and determine how many base units this comes to, then determine how many of base units are needed to reach 15% of the total and at 5% intervals thereafter, and mark these values off in the victory table. If additional reinforcements arrive during the battle, add these extra troops to the initial value and keep a further tally of the new total number of troops. Recalculate the number of base units needed to reach 15% of the total and at 5% intervals thereafter, and mark these values off in the victory table. This becomes important when determining any crisis of morale as the game progresses and casualty levels rise.

4 Playing sequence

The game proceeds in turn sequences, with the first army taking the attacking stage, and the second army in the defensive stage, regarding any combat.

The sequence is:-

(a) Disruption and rout removal phase – section 5

(b) Artillery fire phase – section 6

(c) Orders and movement phase – section 7

(d) Combat phase – section 8

(e) Crisis of morale phase – section 9

This completes the first part of the turn.

The game now proceeds to the next turn sequence (steps a-e), with the second army taking the attacking stage, and the first army in the defensive stage, regarding and combat. This completes the second part of the turn.

The game has now finished one turn, and the time counter progresses by 5 minutes in the victory table, before beginning the next turn.

Each stage in the turn is explained in more detail in sections 5-9.

5 Disruption and rout removal phase

Only the army in the active, attacking stage of each turn can rally troops.

5.1 Disrupted troops

Disrupted units may be rallied by generating a random number and comparing the result in the National Army tables for the unit’s morale. If the random number matches or exceeds the value in the table, the unit becomes organised again, otherwise the unit remains disorganised for the turn.

Disrupted units behave in terms of movement as normal units. Their combat potential is reduced, according to the National Army tables.

5.2 Routing troops

Routing units need a random number ≥ 0.800 to stop routing, becoming disrupted for the turn, and until being rallied by the process described above in 5.1. If they fail to rally, they continue to rout at charge speed in the most obvious direction for their safety. If they should pass through friendly units during their rout, they disorganise these units.

5.3 Generals and their effect on morale

If the troops are under fire from artillery or in combat, the General must see if he survives for each turn he wishes to modify the morale. Generate a random number and compare the result to the following table for Generals under fire. Apply the results immediately.

If the Generals survive the outcome above, their presence results in +0.100 being added (Gustavus Adolphus and Cromwell adds +0.200) to any random number generated for disrupted or routing troops, thus improving their odds.

6 Artillery firing phase

The army taking the attacking stage fires as many of their artillery batteries in the organised state as they wish. Those in the disrupted state may not fire that turn.  Each artillery battery fires once per turn, on one unit at a time (such as an infantry battalion, cavalry regiment or another artillery battery).

The effectiveness of artillery changes with range. To see if the target is affected, measure the distance between the artillery unit and the target. Generate a random number and consult the artillery table to see what damage on the enemy unit they inflict. Note that foot batteries are more effective than horse batteries, which is reflected in the artillery tables.

Artillery can only fire on visible units by direct line of sight (i.e. they can’t fire on units hidden behind hills, villages, or hidden behind other units etc). Take account of the reduction of visibility that occurs with dusk if the battle is being fought one hour or less before nightfall.

Artillery batteries are captured if enemy units pass through cannons, becoming eventually their active units. It takes one full move for a captured battery to become active again. The capturing unit must remove one base unit from play, as these now become the new artillerymen manning the artillery battery.

Artillery batteries which fire may not limber up to move in the turn that they fire. To limber or unlimber a battery takes a full move, with the artillery unit capable of moving or firing in the next move respectively.

7 Orders and movement phase

7.1 Orders phase

Armies during the French wars of the latter 17th Century and early 18th Century were controlled by a hierarchy of command, which was strictly observed with the exception of the French, where a degree of initiative was encouraged. It is not the intention of the game to proceed as chess, where any piece can be moved at whim, so the rules try to reflect the decision making process and the vagaries that often happened on the battlefield. The Generals fighting the wargame use suspension of disbelief. If enemy troops are bearing down unseen upon another army because of restrictions in visibility, no reaction to this threat can occur until it becomes visibly obvious, as often happened during battles of the period.

7.1.1 Initial orders

At the beginning of the battle, each division or brigade would have initial orders from the commander in chief of the army. This would explain initial objectives (e.g. III Brigade should advance, seize the village before it, and await new orders). These orders should be performed at the beginning of the battle.

7.1.2 Change to orders

As the battle progresses, the initial orders can be superseded by new orders, conveyed either in person by the commander in chief, or by the nearest General, or from messengers from the above leaders.

If the orders are conveyed in person by the commander in chief or General, the orders are accepted without question or loss of clarity. If the orders are given by a messenger, generate a random number. If the result is ≥ 0.150, the order was understood. Once all units have received their orders, the staff officer must ride back to the General who issued the orders to report for further orders. If the result was ≤ 0.149, the order was not understood and the units will continue their existing state of action.

Messengers figures are added and removed from the board as required, and they have no combat effectiveness. They may be captured if an enemy unit passes through them, and the order should then be passed back to the nearest opposing army General.

7.2 Movement phase

The phasing player may move any or all units may be moved, up to their maximum allowance, with each unit. Consult the National Army tables for details.

7.2.1 Changing formation

Units may change formation (e.g. line to column or vice versa etc), which takes time. Infantry under cavalry attack or threat of cavalry attack must form a defensive square, bearing in mind the time constraints in moves spent in changing formation. Consequently they cannot move but may fire whilst in this formation. They can subsequently be attacked by cavalry, as described in section 8.3.

Changing formation takes time and reduces the ability to move, but not the ability to fight.

7.2.2 Organised or disrupted units moving through each other

Units in the organised state or disorganised may move through each other, but disrupt each other during the process.

7.2.3 Withdrawing units

Units may withdraw at half speed by facing the enemy (and still engage in combat) or retreat at full speed with their backs turned to the enemy, but cannot engage in combat.  The enemy can engage them in combat however, and treat the troops as disrupted.

7.2.4 Routing units

Routing units continue to move directly to the rear of their army at charge speed, with their backs turned to the enemy.  They will pass through any units they encounter, disrupting them as they go. If they rout off the board, they are permanently removed from the battle.

7.2.5 Effects of terrain

Terrain affects movement. Difficult terrain (e.g. hills / woods / crossing streams etc) reduce speed, roads enhance speed. Consult the National Army tables for details.

7.2.6 Charging units

Charging enemy units adds speed.  Consult the National Army tables for details. Units can only charge once per six turns (i.e. once per ½ hr in real time).

7.2.7 Generals and messengers

These have a maximum speed of 200 mm per turn in any direction, regardless of terrain.

8 Combat phase

8.1 Mandatory Combat

Combat is mandatory between visible units in range, as defined below in sections 8.1.1 to 8.1.3, and 8.3.

8.1.1 Infantry vs infantry combat

Infantry must be within 0-50 mm of their enemy to attack (0 – 100 m). Count the total number of base units in a column when using this formation, even if the rear base units are greater than 50 mm away from their opponent. See 8.2 -8.4 for the odds and effect of combat.

8.1.2 Cavalry vs cavalry combat

Cavalry must be in physical contact with their opponent to attack. Count the total number of base units in a column when using this formation, even if the rear base units are not in combat with their opponent. See 8.2 -8.4 for the odds and effect of combat.

8.1.3 Cavalry or infantry vs artillery combat

Infantry must be within 0-50 mm of their enemy to attack (0 – 100 m), Cavalry must be in physical contact with their opponent to attack. Count the total number of base units in a column when using this formation, even if the rear base units are not in combat with their opponent. The artillery battery will have a combat strength of 1, regardless of whether the battery is organised or disorganised, or whether the battery has just fired on the opposing unit.

8.2 Calculating the odds of combat

To initiate a combat, first identify the combat potential of each of the opponents by counting the total number of base units and multiplying this by the  attack / defence strength points (consulting the appropriate National Army tables), taking into account whether the troops are in the ordered or disordered state. Calculate the combats at battalion vs opposing battalion (for example) if an entire frontage of troops became engaged. That way the effect of the battle proceeds by the small local combats.

Now compare the attacker’s strength to the defenders strength by using the odds table. These form the basic odds which can be modified by the following.

8.3 Modifiers to combat odds and the combat results table

The result of combat now proceeds by generating a random number for each of the combats to be considered.

The following modifications are made.

8.3.1 Terrain

The phasing player with advantageous terrain either adds 0.100 to the random number (if attacking) or subtracts 0.100 (if defending).

8.3.2 Generals and their effect on combat

If the troops are under fire from artillery or in combat, the General must see if he survives for each turn he wishes to modify the morale as per section 5.3. Generate a random number and compare the result to the following table for Generals under fire. Apply the results immediately.

If the Generals survive the outcome above, their presence results in +0.100 being added (Napoleon adds +0.200) to any random number generated for combat, thus improving their odds.

8.3.3 Charging

If the troops attacking are charging, add +0.100 to any random number generated for combat.

8.3.4 Infantry attacking infantry in ‘defensive hedgehogs’

Infantry attacking opposing infantry in ‘defensive hedgehogs’ add 0.100 to the random number, to account for extra ranks being hit in the densely packed formation. Infantry in’defensive hedgehogs’ use their disrupted factor to account for reduced firepower, regardless of their state of organisation.

8.4 Combat results table

After these modifications to the random number look up the result of combat in the combat results table at the odds level decided above with the following modifications.

If an attacker uses combined forces of two types on one unit, e.g. Infantry &
Cavalry, increase the odds by 1 column e.g. 1:1 becomes 2:1.

If an attacker uses all three combined forces on one unit, e.g. Infantry, Cavalry & Artillery, increase the odds by 2 columns e.g. 1:1 becomes 3:1.

If an attacker strikes from either flank, increase the odds by 1 column e.g. 1:1
becomes 2:1.

If an attacker strikes from the rear, increase the odds by 2 columns e.g. 1:1
becomes 3:1.

Consult the combat results table, cross index the random number with the appropriate odds column to yield the result and apply the effect of combat immediately to the combat troops affected, as described in the next section.

8.5 Effects of Combat

The effects of combat are immediately applied to the troops concerned. The movements indicated also are immediately applied, even if the troops have already moved that turn. Any base units removed from play represent troops that have been either killed, wounded or captured, and the steady accumulation of such losses affect the army and its willingness to fight on.

8.5.1 Attacker routed, Ar

Ar = Attacker routed. Remove one base unit from the combat group, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.5.2 Attacker retires, Aw

Aw = Attacker retires. Previously undisrupted units combat units are disrupted to value of opponents combat strength and withdraw facing enemy at full speed. Units must use disrupted value for all further combat and continue to retire until rallied. Attackers already disrupted remove one base unit from the game, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.5.3 Attacker disrupted, Ar

Ad = Attacker disrupted. Previously undisrupted combat units are disrupted to the strength of their opponent and withdraw at full speed facing their opponent. Attackers already disrupted remove one base unit from the game, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.5.4 Disruption exchanged, Dx

Dx = Disruption exchange. Previously undisrupted combat units are disrupted. Attackers already disrupted remove one base unit from the game. The remainder hold their ground for this move. Defenders already disrupted remove one base unit from the game and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.5.5 Defender disrupted, Dd

Dd = Defender disrupted. Previously undisrupted combat units become disrupted. Defenders already disrupted remove one base unit from the game, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.5.6 Defender retires, Dw

Dw = Defender retires. Previously undisrupted units combat units are disrupted to value of opponents combat strength and withdraw facing enemy at full speed. Units must use disrupted value for all further combat and continue to retire until rallied. Attackers already disrupted remove one base unit from the game,  and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.5.7 Defender routed, Dr

Dr = Defender routed. Remove one base unit from the combat group, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from the board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

8.6 Cavalry vs infantry combat (‘defensive hedgehogs’)

Infantry under threat of cavalry attack would automatically attempt to form into a ‘defensive hedgehog’. The initial state of the infantry (i.e. normal or disrupted) is key to the effectiveness of the ‘hedgehog’ as a defensive measure. It is assumed that cavalry will attack this formation by pistol fire before attempting to make physical contact with the square, regardless of its state of effectiveness and infantry will attempt to repel this by firing if within 0-30 mm of their enemy. For cavalry attacking ‘defensive hedgehogs’, follow the table to see what happens, using the descriptions in sections 8.4.1 & 8.4.3 (cavalry) and 8.4.5 & 8.4.7 (infantry) as guidance.

Should cavalry attacking a ‘defensive hedgehog’ suffer disruption after already being disrupted, remove one base unit from the game, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

Should the infantry ‘defensive hedgehog’ be broken by the cavalry, then treat as though they were routed, i.e. remove one base unit from the game, and mark off one victory point in the victory table. The remainder will rout from board at charge speed until a random number ≥0.800 is thrown to rally them to the disrupted state.

Note routing infantry troops cannot reform into a ‘defensive hedgehog’, and would be at the mercy of any pursuing cavalry, who remove a base unit from play for every move the cavalry comes into contact with the routing unit. As this happens, mark off one victory point in the victory table for every base unit removed from the game.

8.7 Control tests after routing opponent

Control tests are needed for troops in close combat that rout their opponent. Troops come under control generating a random number and comparing the result to the morale test values in the National Army tables. If the random number matches or exceeds the value in the table, the unit responds to command and may do as the player wishes; otherwise the unit will automatically pursue the fleeing troops, until rallied. Note that generals can affect the random number as described in section 5.3.

9 Crisis of morale test

9.1 Victory table

The victory table tracks both the time and the level of casualties incurred in the battle as the game progresses. For each base unit removed from the play, mark off one victory point in the victory table. Before the battle starts, calculate the total number of troops on the battlefield and determine how many base units this comes to, then determine how many of base units are needed to reach 15% of the total and at 5% intervals thereafter, and mark these values off in the victory table as per section 3.2

9.2 Crisis of morale

At the end of each move a test must be performed to see if the whole army suffers a collapse of morale (sauve qui peut). If the % level of casualties suffered exceeds for the first time the levels indicated by the crisis of morale table, a random number must be rolled for all troops in the army. The result indicates whether a crisis of morale has happened for that unit.

If the random number exceeds the level indicated for the level of casualties suffered, then the unit fights on until the next level is reached, when an assessment is made again. If the random number generated indicates a crisis of morale has occurred, then follow the guidance in the table and apply it immediately to the troops concerned. In the subsequent move, all affected units can be rallied in the normal way. Note for a % casualty level above 40%, an immediate crisis is likely to occur for a majority of troops.

Should reinforcements arrive each move onto the battlefield, then the % casualties should reflect the new combined level of troops. In this way, continuous reinforcements ‘lift’ morale, or in this game, reduce the likelihood of suffering a widespread collapse of morale.

10 Winning the battle

Possession of the battlefield normally defined the victor in this age of warfare, even if more % casualties were lost in winning the battle. The game is constructed in such a way that this will occur eventually, with one side suffering a dramatic loss of combat effectiveness, as described in section 9 . Should the battle have to end before this point is reached (i.e. by dusk falling etc), the following is offered as guidance regarding the extent of victory.

Determine the % casualties for each army. If the difference in the % casualties between the two armies is

0 – 5%, the result is a draw.
5 -10%, the result is a marginal victory.
10-25%, the result is a major victory.
> 25%, the result is a decisive victory.


The rules can be downloaded as a pdf.


Contact the author using the comments page below if you would like further details on how to use these rules.