Salaspils : Umpire's Notes

Estonian strengths in this scenario are pretty accurate, the Freikorps ones slightly conjectural, especially the reserves.

The land of the area is really as flat as the map shows – only the very pointiest bits are hills in any real sense.

In real life on 2 July the Estonians made one thrust towards Seltin, which was repulsed, and another which took Salaspils and Kirchholm after a struggle, but was later repulsed with considerable losses when the Germans sent reserves in. It was probably the worst repulse of the war for the Estonians.

It would seem that this scenario favours the Freikorps very heavily, but the two times I played it suggest otherwise. Although an Estonian player can hardly hope to drive the Germans totally from the field, if they capture one of the towns and make the Freikorps commander call up his reserves then they have done OK.

It is important that the Estonian player be quite attacking minded or the whole scenario will fall apart into indecisive skirmishing from cover – stress to him General Laidoner's insistence that his attack be vigorous if he looks like flinching. That said, he has to be allowed to ensure that his flanks are free of enemy before he attacks the main line, which will take some time.

Since the German has a reactive role, at least initially, and the advantage of good communications it would seem the better command for the less experienced player.

I played it using (slightly amended) Red Actions! rules. In this scenario a base represents approximately 30 fighting men, 4 MGs or 2 guns.

Bear in mind that the Estonian players map is not exact at the start. It should be replaced with better portions as the player advances to view the landscape personally (assuming he does).

The Latvians and the Estonian cavalry

The Latvians will attack across the Zekul Ferry some time early in the morning, and will continue to attack on and off throughout the morning, but with little luck. They have no way of communicating with the Estonians unless they see them on the Zekul to Ogre road and shout something across the river but the noise of the fighting will be pretty obvious. They will provide no assistance at any time to the Estonian, who should be told that if he tries to get some sort of link going, but the German is not to know that!

The German briefing also leads him to suspect that he might be facing a regiment of cavalry as well as the infantry. This prevents him immediately emptying his line as soon as he calculates that the entire enemy infantry regiment has appeared, which gives the Estonian a bit of a hand in evening the odds. The cavalry was in fact stationary in Ogre, but could easily have intervened and the German should left completely in the dark about its likely arrival.

The Freikorps' reserves

The Freikorps reserves will be sent if Kirchholm or Salaspils are in danger of falling and a telephone request is made. They will take at least half an hour to arrive at the map edge along the Zekul road. The infantry will take the short-cut to Bribzemieks if requested to go to Amalienhof, but the cavalry may not risk it. It is hard to see how the artillery could intervene in time, other than pound anyone trying to advance up the northern road to Riga (using a spotter and the telephone line).

Divisional reserve

Jäger Battalion

1st Company – 3 bases
2nd Company – 3 bases
3rd Company – 3 bases
MG Company – 1 base

4th Uhlan Squadron – 4 bases
1st Heavy Battery – 2 x 150mm howitzer bases

The Jäger Battalion will not pursue the beaten enemy under anything but the most propitious circumstances, and even then only briefly. They were the reserve for the whole division and a transitory victory on a flank would not be worth the risk that another part of the line might collapse in their absence. The German player is welcome to pursue with any of his own troops, if they are still fresh enough. Thus if the Jägers are used the scenario ends when the Estonians have been driven off.

Other events

It is more than likely that various planes will turn up to spot for the Freikorps from time to time, dropping messages in the vicinity of where they think the HQ is. If they can decisively identify a unit as Estonian, then they might attempt a strafe or two. In reality the attacks of the German planes on Estonian ground troops were spectacularly unsuccessful, but they did tend to divert attention, and in this scenario will act to warn the defenders.

The armoured car listed is speculation, but the division did have a couple and they may have been used. It should only be brought into play if the Estonians break the line at Kirchholm and are advancing down the road. Note that with Red Actions! that if the Estonian has used all his artillery shells then the armoured car is almost indestructible.

If the Estonians try a wide outflanking move via Zekul they will be counter-attacked by a battalion of the Iron Divisions 2nd Regiment defending that village. These might also call in the reserve howitzers if they see a tempting target to the south, such as a column trying to get in behind Amalienhof.

Basically, the umpire should try to prevent an attack too far north of Seltin, as that is in contradiction with the player's orders.

Troop values

Based on my understanding of the course of the war I have amended the troop values for the Freikorps from those in standard Red Actions! (My values can be found in the wargaming section of the site, and my full reasons in the articles on 1919 Latvia in the history section.)

Despite my reduced values for the Germans, the Estonians still have a hard job in this scenario. If one wishes to even the odds a bit in their favour, and give them a greater rchance of breaching the line without being excessively unhistorical, I suggest various options. Morale was very high for the Estonians, so their units can have a +1 to morale until they fail a test. Alternately, the Estonian can have his smaller companies bumped up to 3 bases each (two base companies are pretty dinky, and need to be merged in action). The option I used was to remove the "specialist" characteristic from the Freikorps, to simulate their loss of resolve following the debacle at Cesis. This doesn't affect them when things are going well, but means that they find it harder to press counter attacks and they retire more often.