Remove this ad

Lead

Nov 6 09 12:56 AM

Tags : :

I hope that you will find some interest here in a few pictures and observations I took whilst visiting the battlefield at Jena recently. This was of course behind the iron curtain before 1989 so access has been limited in the past and even now it is relatively difficult to casually visit as there are no really close airports. I obtained a good OS (German) map of the area beforehand in a rather obscure shop in Jena, so was able to plan a reasonable walking route (about 16k) and which took me most of the day to complete. It was October when I visited and thus very close to the actual battle anniversary which made it seem appropriate, but also gave a good idea of the conditions and colours around at that time of year. The day, like the battle, started misty and foreboding but the sun streamed through by 10 oclock and was soon hot and beautiful. The woods were particularly striking, the Ginko leaves still being on the trees and mostly being a light yellow at this time of the year, mixed with some copper beach and fir green to make quite the wargame modellers dream.
image
I began by climbing up the Landgrafen which towers over the town of Jena using a route most likely to have been taken by Napoleons Guard Artillery on the night of the 13th. This is no light walk!!!! And it struck me (and my calf muscles) that these guys must have been DEDICATED experts to get these huge weights up this sort of incline in one night.
image
The Sonnenberg

image
The Landgrafen

image
Route up Landgrafen

The wooded ascent rapidly opens out at the top into a rough moor like feature called the Windknollen and as you climb onto the Napoleon Stein at the summit (a relatively modern short tower) -
image
Looking towards the Napoleon Stein on the Windknollen

Before you to the North lies a quite perfect battlefield scene. Rolling, open countryside, small copses, wooded hilltops and small hamlets dotted regularly over the plateau, every one cuddling in its own little orchard and although lacking the windmills, each having a distinctive church spire peaking out. Interestingly there were plenty of obvious vantage points where a CinC could view nearly the whole battlefield. My first impression was that this really was a great place for manoeuvre and a CAVALRY generals heaven!!!

image
Looking from Windknollen North towards Lutzeroda and Closewitz

Leaving the Windknollen and the village of Cospeda, I aimed to take Neys route throughout the day and ambled down the small road towards Lutzeroda. Across a hidden defile (the Ziskauer Thal) between the hamlets that would be a perfect screen for at least a battalion and acted as the defensive front for von Cerrinis brigade as they faced the advancing 21st Line that morning when they emerged through the mists from the Windknollen.
image
Hidden ground before Lutzeroda

Also a route for General Augereau on his way to take on the Saxons.
image
Augereau Way

image
Looking towards Isserstadt along the Ziskaur Tal defile

Then rising again into Lutzeroda looking out East at the road in between Cospeda and Closewitz that formed the main Prussian line of defence, a bleak open stretch. A quick glance at Lutzeroda church (memorial to the 1st WW fallen) and renovations
image
Lutzeroda church

Then out onto an open road (no close hedges here) heading for Isserstadt and its accompanying dense woodland to the west (held by the Saxons on the day).
image
Looking towards Vierzehnheilingen from Lutzeroda (Ney's Route)


image
Looking towards Vierzehnheilingen from Lutzeroda (zoom)


image
Isserstadt woods

The wood looked dense and difficult terrain so I veered North and could see the obvious next ridge and the hamlet of Vierzehnheiligen in the near distance, its medieval church a rallying point for the advancing Grognards.
Flat terrain here but the ground was heavy, sticky and clod filled. Not the place to run from or charge over on foot. Yet, less than a half hour walk and I was through the wood and into Vierzehnheiligen. The perfect Napoleonic village, Church, Green, Cross, Small individual wooden middle European houses, Barns. It felt like I was visiting one of those websites that advertises wargames houses fully painted..
image
Vierzehnheligen church

image
Vierzehnheligen Green

A memorial to the Prussians and Saxons of 1806
image

and then out onto the open ground beyond. The Prussian second defence line and counter attack came here. Ney advanced too far to the near West of this hamlet, without support, and was saved from death and disgrace by the quick thinking of The Corsican. Vierzehnheiligen changed hands a few times and was the very heart of the battle, such a small place, probably not more than 20 buildings, but closely knit and in some places heavy stone parapets, perfect for those hardened Legere veterans I thought. To the west and east are small orchards and to the north is an ancient long barn that leads out onto open ground and the killing fields for many a Prussian.
image
Vierzehnheiligen killing ground (North)

image
Entrance to hamlet

image
Here are memorials to the fallen (Major von Eberhardt of Regiment Grawert No 47 : Von Schimonskis Brigade) and views back over the battlefield to Lutzeroda, Closewitz and to the near east, Krippendorf.
From here the exposed position of the Prussians is revealed, very very open fields behind them and no real defensive position on either side.
image
Prussian position looking South towards Lutzeroda and Closewitz

image
Prussian position looking South towards Krippendorf and Aachberg wood

image
Prussian ridge line . Just like in the Osprey.......

They must have watched the whole French advance from this vantage, more and more columns arriving every hour. Also the arrival of Murats Cavalry. waiting. poised to crucify them when they broke. What a terrifying feeling it must have been.
There was the East side yet to explore and St Hilaires advance, but the weather was closing in and the German Beer Keller was calling....Ok, Ok the weather was great...I just needed a beer.
I really recommend a visit here, but be aware it is difficult to reach. Lastly, I should mention there is a small museum in Cospeda run by a very Prussian caretaker that is limited, but in keeping with the atmosphere and worth the small entrance fee, even if just to see the array of ancient Historex figures!!!
image

So why not dig out that prize (but little used) collection of 1806 Prussians and give Jena another goit might surprise you. It delighted me.
Cheers
Maturin
Quote    Reply   
Remove this ad
Remove this ad

#1 [url]

Nov 6 09 4:18 AM

Dear Maturin,

What a fantastic report and array of wonderful photographs. If that doesn't inspire the wargamers out there to work on their terrain then nothing will.

I remember driving through Germany with two Australian work colleagues with absolutely no interest in miltary history on our way to an appointment at a chemical plant in Osterode. Seeing the signs pointing to Jena wizz past our hired car on the Autobahn absolutely broke my heart!!

Glad to see the pictures and view the field at last some nine years later.

Many thanks.

Carlo

Quote    Reply   
avatar

Rudorff

Brigadier

Posts: 1,141

#3 [url]

Dec 1 09 12:55 PM

Tim, great photos, really really good !

So why not dig out that prize (but little used) collection of 1806 Prussians and give Jena another goit might surprise you.


Here are some photos of a playtest of a slice of the Jena action, the first French attack from Cospeda towards Lutzeroda and Closewitz

The battlefield, seen from the east with Cospeda on the right and Lutzeroda on the left, with Closewitz furthest away

image

Prusso-Saxon view back towards Copseda

image

Initial deployment was on cards, with two dummy ones per side, to simulate the fog

image

image

image

The French start to place the figures on the table

image

Prusso-Saxons respond

image

image

I've used Austrians to represent the Saxon contingent, as I've been too lazy to paint up enough Saxons, but the Prussians are accurate enough, just not the correct regiments for Jena, anyway a Fusilier is a Fusilier at anything more than 12"

Quote    Reply   

#4 [url]

Dec 2 09 4:41 PM

What a great time you must have had - hacing done similar things with AWI battlefields, there is definitely a "buzz" about treading the ground.

Regarding your photos of the battlefield, I noticed two things:-

1) how the villages seem to "nestle" into the folds and dips in the landscape, rather than standing proud of the surrounding land, as one might have expected for the purposes of visibility and flood prevention;

and

2) the "wide open spaces" of the surrounding fields, with no/very few boundary walls, fences or hedges - was there any indication as to whether this was historical, or a reflection of modern farming practices?

Quote    Reply   
Remove this ad

#5 [url]

Dec 2 09 8:56 PM

Ronan,

I would guess that the 'nestling' was to minimise exposure to the elements.

As regards the lack of hedges/fence to mark boundaries, I was once told by someone that, generally, in Western Europe at the time, hedges and/or fences were not used to mark boundaries and the norm was open fields. I have no idea whether this is correct, but the person who made the assertion claimed to speak with some authority on the subject ...

O

Quote    Reply   

#6 [url]

Dec 4 09 10:14 PM

Orange,

Thanks. I had always thought that hedge/fence property boundaries were a peculiarly British thing, too. However, apparently the reason for the rapid evolution of light troops from purely kleine krieg in the 1740-1760s period, to more mainstream in the 1770-1790 period and after, was that land became more enclosed and the grand battles of the WSS, WAS and SYW were no longer the norm.

Interesting to see if any European members have a view/understanding of this.

RtL

Quote    Reply   

#7 [url]

Dec 9 09 11:20 PM

Tim, fab. report. Many thanks. Lots of feel and character.

Quote    Reply   
Remove this ad
Add Reply

Quick Reply

bbcode help