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"Farms and Fields in Germany during the Seven Years War" Topic

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TangoOneThreeAlpha30 Jun 2022 7:38 a.m. PST


Does anyone have any information on whether fields surrounding farms in Germany during the Seven Years War (1756-63) would normally/generally be enclosed by hedges, walls?

Cheers Paul

nickinsomerset30 Jun 2022 10:05 a.m. PST

Not sure, but in my time in Germany, Hanover plain there are no hedges or wall surrounding fields. More often ditches to catch out the returning drunk British Squaddie or Chieftain tank!

Tally ho!

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2022 10:10 a.m. PST

Not sure there's a "Germany" answer, Paul. East Prussia wasn't Wurttemberg, and a lot depends on land ownership. My impression is north and east tends to be more open--large landed estates, flat terrain and serfdom still going strong. Frederick's armies hide behind woods, hills and ridges, not hedgerows. South and west I'd be less certain. Note that when you get villages you get fences and walls associated with gardens, and that's true throughout.

Now in Belgium and the adjacent parts of France, we've got specific complaints that terrain which was open in Marlborough's day was filled with hedges and fences by the time of the Duke of York's expedition, but I don't know how far into "the Germanies" that could be applied.

TangoOneThreeAlpha30 Jun 2022 12:28 p.m. PST


Many thanks.

Nickinsomerset. Snap! My memory as well, Chieftain crew 2RTR Munster 1970's!

My reason for asking is that I'm thinking of returning to the old WRG 1685-1845 rules for my Seven Years War games and in the terrain bit it says that farms should be surrounded by fields and the fields shoud be demarcated by low walls, hedges or fences.

Cheers Paul (also in Somerset)!

Gus51RM Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2022 1:15 p.m. PST

If you were to research the work of various artists who painted landscapes representing the areas in question and the specific era it might provide an answer to your question. Once the Industrial Revolution took place from the early 1800's some countryside areas were dramatically changed.

Grelber30 Jun 2022 2:39 p.m. PST

I seem to recall that Prussian troops retreating after Jena/Auerstadt (yes, some years after your period) were very cold at night because 1) their camp equipment was lost, and 2) because they had been disciplined not to tear down the fences for firewood.


robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2022 4:03 p.m. PST

I'd read that one too, Grelber, but enough wood fence to mark a property line wouldn't be much of a tactical obstacle. A stone wall or hedge is another story.
Nickinsomerset, my German time was in Franconia (S-2 NCO, 2/41 FA, 3ID), and there really wasn't enough flat to go around that far south. I remember on trips north how it came to resemble northern Indiana. Can't remember a lot of hedges and stone walls, but things might have been very different before the coming of the tractor. Certainly the castles weren't what they had been.

One thing: even in Franconia/Bavaria, there can't ever have been hedges or serious stone walls on the hills. When I pulled Ammo Guard NCO, you could still see crop shadows of trench lines from 1866 on adjacent hills, and they were textbook straight--no deviations required by obstacles or cover.

Dave Woodchuck30 Jun 2022 4:37 p.m. PST

One thing to note when depicting fields in Germany – it kinda depends of if the area is Catholic or Protestant. Protestants tended to subdivide fields with inheritance. That means you'll see smaller plots. Catholics tended to giving the fields to the oldest son, leading to larger fields.

It's a decent guideline if you're looking for how to make a plausible looking set of fields. Also, lots of the fields I saw were divided by shallow drainage and irrigation ditches with some underbrush.

Take my rambling for what it's worth. The plural of anecdote isn't "data."

Frederick Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2022 5:37 p.m. PST

As well in much of Germany the farmers lived in villages to which they returned at night for security – so likely less need for robust fencing

robert piepenbrink Supporting Member of TMP30 Jun 2022 7:18 p.m. PST

T13A, Might be worth keeping in mind that in that era of scenario design, you didn't usually see a whole board divided up into farmsteads. What you'd see was maybe a few hills, a stream, a woods or two and a--as in one--farm. If you chop up the whole board with hedges and stone walls, I suspect you'll impede movement a lot more than the authors intended.

And Dave has a point. My area was pretty heavily Catholic.

timurilank30 Jun 2022 11:01 p.m. PST

WRG 1685 1845 rule set lists three options for a built-up area; a strong stone building, a farm and a hamlet.
Home fields are demarcated by low walls, fences or hedges, I would also add canals, streams and tracks to this list (re: Savory, His Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany).

Illustrations of the period could be useful as many of Knotel's artwork did have buildings or landscape as a backdrop.

This may also prove useful: link

Kronoskaf link is a good resource. See the Memoirs and Biographies listed under the link eBooks.

TangoOneThreeAlpha01 Jul 2022 1:21 a.m. PST


Many thanks again to everybody for the help.

I used to play these rules an awful lot back in the day but probably have not played them for getting on for 30 years. However I'm really struggling to find a set of SYW rules at battalion level that I like hence having another look at them. Interestingly they do not (as far as I remember) have any terrain rules to do with the contents of the fields e.g. plowed fields, crops etc. which might well disorganise formed troops.

Cheers Paul

Camcleod07 Jul 2022 9:45 a.m. PST

The following blog dealt with Austrian Terrain but may be useful.
This is part 4. The other parts deal with buildings and villages.

Tricorne197107 Jul 2022 4:20 p.m. PST

Look at the GGS maps.
Major differences depending on region.

DHautpol09 Jul 2022 9:10 a.m. PST

My memories of rural Germany are really limited to the area south of Kleve around the Netherlands border.

The image of fields I have from travelling about is that the field are delineated by small ditches which drain into slightly larger ditches along the roadside. There seem to be comparatively fewer walls, hedges and fences than we are accustomed to seeing in UK.

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