Monday, September 1, 2014

The battle of Rammsfeld

The retreating Flossian force from Grübsburg reached Elector von Presser south of the town of Rammsfeld. This was a great open plain and the Elector chose this as the site of his battle. He counted on the enemy being aggressive as suggested by earlier reports: every time the Flossians took a beating the Principality forces had the initiative. He hoped to change that. From the 6th Brigade and his own he had a great number of light infantry: three two-company battalions of Pandurs zu Fuss and three full-size battalions of Jäger led by his nephew. The Flossian army, however, lacked cavalry as the complete cavalry force was captured by von Spülge. Knowing the great number of cavalry in the enemy army, the elector feared a flanking attack, so the flanks of the two main lines were reinforced with the Erlblatt Dragoons and one Pandur battalion on each. 
The Flossian main battle line consisted of three infantry regiments, the 8th and 9th fusiliers and the Presser Leib, eight battalions in total. The Grenadier battalion added to the Pandurs was set up in the centre. The centre body had, in fact, three lines, the light infantry making up the third.
Princeps Erhard Berthold had only six foot battalions. These were set up in two lines, similarly to that of the Flossians, but the lines were much closer and the rear could support and reinforce the first line. On the left flank stood two battalions of the 5th Dragoons, on the right, closer to the main line the Prinzess Angela cuirassiers, and then the 3rd regular dragoon company with the Paulitz hussars and the Freelancers. However, instead of the rash tactics employed earlier, the Princeps decided to stand ground.
The Flossian battery started the battle with ineffectively gunning the Böhnstadter centre. There was a slight slope between the two and most cannonballs struck this. The Böhnstadter cannon did not answer. A short while later the skirmisher line started marching cautiously through the plain between the two armies: now the two five-gun batteries shot two volleys, scattering some Jäger but not halting the advance. The Flossian commanders expected a counterattack and marched slowly to firing distance: soon the Böhnstadter dragoons moved out and the infantry started shooting. In a frenzy, the younger von Presser ordered a full-blown attack which escalated to heavy musket fire and then a charge against the thick Böhnstadter first line, causing more harm to the Jäger than to their enemies. They fell back in disorder but luckly neither the dragoons nor the cuirassiers pursue them.
Now the Princeps ordered the far right to move out, just as the Elector planned: what he did not perceive was the sheer number of this force. The Freelancers mounted to 180, the Dragoon battalion had 90 men and the Leibhussaren von Paulitz 170: despite quickly reinforcing his left, the 180 dragoons and 140 Pandurs could not hold the enemy back. The light cavalry conducted their charge with perfect coordination from the Dragoons' volleys and the ad-hoc battle line broke. Despite the Freelancers being eager to pursue, their commanders (on the Princeps' orders) stopped them. The main Flossian force, stripped of all support, faced them and stood ground. The Böhnstadter cannon stopped shooting again. 
This lasted for roughly half an hour when a Principality emissary arrived at Elector von Presser's headquarters. The man handed the elector a letter bearing the royal seal:

"South-East of Rammsfeld, Bacher Hill, 12:40AM
If your Mercy pleases, he may attack with his battle line, fearing not our flanking units which will stay put. Furthermore, your Mercy may, if his attack falters, retreat in good order without fear of any Böhnstadter pursuit.

Signed, Princeps Erhard Berthold, Commander-in-Chief, 2nd Dreichholm Brigade"

This mockery and gallantry was not very well perceived by the Elector and he ordered the advance immediately. The Princeps' reasoning was that he had the battle won, and his men needed experience: he trusted his soldiers well and not without reason. The Flossian lines came crashing into the Böhnstadter regiments, but the first line held out; then the second line counter-charged the Von Presser Leib and for a while all was a mess; the 5th Dragoons attacked the 9th Flossian on their right, the cannon poured grapeshot then all fell silent...
The Böhnstadter lines held out and the Flossians were beaten again; the Elector organized the ruins of his forces and, as was promised, retreated westwards without further harm done to him.
What von Presser did not and Princeps Erhard Berthold did think of was that not only the battle, but the war had already been won; Hohenspitz under Rückelburg and the main Flossian army again soundly beaten, the heads of Schultze-Böhnstadt were only waiting for a peace treaty by the Union leaders.

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