Blenheim 2004
Wargaming the 300th Year Anniversary 

Playing the Big Game
photos by David Mebust and Ian Croxall

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This was our first attempt at the big game. The game was played on March 6 2004 in Eugene Oregon. We had 20 players each with two commands. The table was 36 ft by 6 ft and there are about 3,500 figures on the table. 

This is a view from the Danube to the Barenberg hills at the north western end of the 4 mile battlefield (hereafter referred to as the North End). The camera is above the Danube (out of sight) at the south east of the battlefield (hereafter referred to as the South End). The village in the foreground left is Blindheim, Unterglau is on the right and Oberglau is in the middle ground on the left.

This view, just south-east of center shows the allied center horse, with the Danes in the fore ground, and the Hanoverian horse to their left. The allied foot, with the Prussian regiments in Dutch service are deployed to their front, and three English and one Scots battalions to their rear. In the far ground on the allied side is the smoldering roofs of the village of Unterglauheim. The allied battalion guns have been pushed up to the edge of the Nebel and spend several hours in an artillery exchange with the French guns while waiting for Eugene's army on the right wing to get into place.

Across the Nebel brook, the French center horse can be seen at the edge of their camp.

This view from just north of Weilheim, the small fortified farm on the allied center, shows the center of Eugene's cavalry on northwards. In eh distance are the two lines of Prussian foot and in the extreme distance, the two lines of Danish foot.

In the middle of the Imperial horse are two tributaries of the Nebel and beyond that the ground is broken and disrupting for the troops.

Opposite the Prussian foot are the two lines of Bavarian foot, with a third line behind them in the town of Lutzingen. In front of the Bavarian foot can be made out the grand battery of Bavarian guns.

From the French side, between Oberglauheim and Blindheim (seen here in the distance) the open cornfields provide some excellent cavalry terrain. At the far end of the line here, can be just made out the 8 squadrons of French Gendarmerie - elite cavalry of the Sun Kings army. Behind them, out of sight are the French reserve infantry who will later play an important role in the battle.

In the rear line of the foreground is the infantry division of Marquis de St. Pierre. Straddling the Hochstedt Muster road is a 24lb battery of 4 guns, while light 3lb guns are spread across the front of the cavalry.

In the very foreground can be seen the tops of the standards of the Irish brigade on the Giessenberg Hill.

Lining the opposite banks of the Nebelbach is a solid line if allied foot, with their cavalry massed behind them preparing to cross. At the far end of the allied line can be seen Cutts' division with his 20 battalions preparing to cross.

The battle begins with several hours of artillery barrage while the Imperials on the right flank  brought into position. Then the main battle gets under way with the lead brigade of Cutts' division crossing the Nebel. They are met with fire from two batteries of 8lb guns deployed outside of Blindheim village.

As the English, Hanoverian and Hessian foot of Cutts' division advance, the allied horse to their rear moves to their right and also approach the Nebel.

Colonel Blood's artillery train is deployed next to the Nebel between the two burned out mills and bombard the French in the Village.

At the same time, the allied front infantry line, Wurtemburg, Prussian, Ansbach and Hanoverians all in Dutch and English pay scramble across the Nebel and form up on the far bank, somewhat disordered.

However, the entire French cavalry line advances to the bank to challenge the crossing. In the center (foreground) the French learn the value of infantry firing lines and are devastated by effective volleys and rolling platoon fire of the allied foot repel much of the French center.

In the very foreground can be seen the top of Weilheim farm, and the Hanoverian and Hessian guns (also from the English artillery train) are deployed to fire on Oberglauheim. At the far end of the French horse line, the Gendarmerie are met by Hanoverian horse from Lt. General Bülow's Division.

During this period, Cutts' front brigade is disrupted much more than expected on the south end of the battle and their advance is slowed significantly.

At the same time on the extreme right end of the allied line, the Danes begin their advance towards the French who are hooked around on the edge if the hills in the wood line. The Danes avoid the French batteries in the woods by staying to the left, whereupon the begin engaging the batteries, eventually taking the battery but not making any significant ground against the foot. 

(The one battalion of Irish seen in the photograph is a temporary substitute for a Danish battalion that was not completed in time for the battle).

In the Center, The Prince of Holstein Beck advances across the Nebel at the head of Lt. General Horn's division to assault the village of Oberglauheim. Here already, we can see that one of the battalions is falling behind causing disruption in the line. Supporting the village are two batteries of French heavy guns, several 24lbers and several of the new French three-barrelled artillery pieces, which wreck havoc on the Dutch and Hanoverian Swiss battalions of the front line.
After being deployed across the front of the Bavarians, the Prussian commander was given orders to re concentrate to the left away from the guns. The rather unhistorical move, to left face and leave a big hole in the line resulted in the Prussians going nowhere and getting stuck and mixed up with the horse to their left.

At the same time, the Imperial horse to the Prussian foot's right was met as it crossed the Nebel by the Bavarian horse. At this time the whole front, with the exception of the Prussian foot was engaged from the Danube to the foot hills.

So confident was the Bavarian commander now that the Prussians were no threat to him, he withdrew his third line from Lutzingen and began tp move them forward and to the left of the Bavarian front. 

After 5 game hours of battle, the Prussians got but one or two battalions across the Nebel.

On the left and right of the Imperial Horse's line, the squadrons were engaged constantly by attacks and counterattacks at the edge of the cornfields. Here - the center division can be seen to have pushed back the French squadrons facing them. 

Many casualties were taken by both sides and neither side's division broke, but neither was able to force the other to give up significant ground.

This is the view in the center after the French cavalry has been pushed back and broken. It had charged the allied foot that had crossed the Nebel, but was shot to pieces, and then finished off by the English horse that had passed through it.

However, as can be seen here - the St. Pierre division of foot, who in reality were subsequently cut to pieces, here managed to advance and posed quite a threat to the allied horse.

In the foreground can be seen the attack of Holstein Beck on the the right, and on the left, the Irish Brigade heads the French Division on the hill.

As St. Pierre's foot reach the allied cavalry that had pushed back the French cavalry, they are smashed into by chargers from the Danish horse and eventually driven back to their start position.

At the same time, the Irish brigade to their right lead that division off their hill in a counterattack onto to Holstein Beck's position outside of Oberglauheim.

On the allied right, the attack on Blindheim village does not do enough damage and the French reserve is not drawn into it's defense as it was in history. The allied foot that at first crosses the Nebel to screen the cavalry is pushed back and broken by the French cavalry. The allied cavalry, particularly the English, then mixes it up with the French Gendarmerie, most of who are driven back in retreat, but when the French reserve advances to its support, the allied cavalry is powerless to continue. 
Here the allied cavalry can be seen t have advanced across the Nebel and solidly have the center ground, however, they have taken a lot of casualties to get there, and to their left, significant squadrons of French are still on the filed.

In the far ground, the Irish can be seen to have advanced and Holstein Beck's division was beaten back in retreat.

The attack against Blindheim eventually collapses and the brigades retreat back across the Nebel severely damaged. To the right of Blindheim, the entire French reserve, fresh and undamaged, has advanced to the Nebel and even though the French cavalry to its right is very beat up, the allies are in no position to contest the ground here.

In order to achieve a victory, the conditions set were that the allies had to break all of the cavalry on either flank, i.e. - all of Marsin's or all of Tallard's horse, and also one infantry division. The French mission was simply to avoid this - which they did - but only just. The battle was very had fought with nearly 20% casualties on both side - but a Franco Bavarian victory.

Copyright 1997, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004 Ian Croxall
Salem, Oregon. USA