Friday 25 July 2008

The Battle of the Vortvod Gap 1740 - (third Belgravian Wars)

Further extracts from the History of Wittenberg by Brother James of Alt-Wittendorf ...

1) Introduction

After Erlangen the main body of the Monrovian army retreated in good order; some deft manouvering by their commander enabled him to wrong foot the pursuit and gain some time. General Stricknein decided to turn and fight; he chose the gap in the range of hills by the village of Vortvod. Here the greater numbers of Wittenberg cavalry would be nullified and it would all come down to an infantry slog which he felt he could win.

The Wittenberg Field Marshall had been slow in his pursuit of the Monrovians, much to the annoyance of the King. The King finally persuaded the Field Marshal into action when they were joined by some re-inforcements - a regiment of infantry and the Chevalier Guard cavlary.

The Wittenberg forces:
Command - King Leopold III and Field Marshal Duke Frederick of Wittenbuffel
Infantry: Jager Battalion, 3 Line Battalions, 1 Fusilier Battalion, 1 Converged Grenadier Battalion, Guard Grenadiers.
Cavalry: 1 pulk uhlans, 2 regiments of dragoons, 1 guard horse grenadier; 1 chevalier guard
Artillery: 1 battery

The Monrovian Forces
Command - General von Stricknein
Infantry: Monrovia : 2 Line Battalions, 1 Fusilier Battalion, Guard Grenadiers
Saxe-Jarslberg ; 2 companies of Jagers.
Cavalry: 1 regiments of dragoons, 1 heavy horse regiment
Artillery: 1 battery

2) The Battle ...

The Wittenberg advance guard arrives early in the morning to find the Monrovians deployed for battle; the King and the Field Marshal decide on how to deploy the army. They spent some time examining the Monrovians deployment.

After much debate the battle orders were written and the Wittenberg army deployed for the attack ...

The attack begins ... the Wittenberg line attack the centre and left with artillery support; meanwhile on the right the grenadiers supported by the guard advance.

After enduring heavy artillery fire and ferocious volleys from the Monrovian infantry the centre collapses ...

To try and save the day the Wittenberg cavalry prepare to charge ...
Meanwhile on the right the grenadiers have routed a Monrovian line regiment ..

The light starts to fade, the cavalry attack failed to dent the Monrovian line ...

In the gathering darkness the Wittenland Fusiliers, form up in the centre to hold the line, preventing a Monrovian counter-attack.

With the onset of darkness and the bulk of the line infantry and its supporting cavalry in disarray, the Wittenberg forces withdrew to rally and reform.
3) Afterwards

The Wittenberg reform a few miles away from Vortvod; the Field Marshal sends orders for heavy artillery and more re-inforcements to be brought up. He knew this would take some time and that the next battle would be hard fought. A courier arrived to bring news of the success of General Waldebeck at Rottenhausen. The Field Marshal discussed the tactical situation with the King, perhaps they could outflank the Vortvod Gap position ?

The Monrovians hold the field. General Stricknein is pleased; early next day he starts digging fieldworks to fortify the gap to make the next attack more difficult.