Monday, 15 September 2014

Lines of Castenay

The scenario this week is set in the War of the Grand Alliance.  Those old adversaries, the Comte de Salle Forde and Graf Von Grommitt once more crossed swords in the continuing wars of Louis  XIV.  To forestall any incursion by the Alliance forces into newly acquired French territory, orders had been issued by Versailles to construct defence lines, one such was in the neighbourhood of the village of Castenay.  A low ridge between two areas of boggy ground seemed to offer the perfect blocking position and a local contractor, (monsigneur Charles Balle-Foure) had been engaged by the emigre engineer Alexander Beattie to supervise the works. Two local militia battalions had been drafted in from a nearby fortress to do the required digging, but  when news that the Alliance army was on its way was received, the militia quickly decided that their duty lay in garrisoning the fortress and it was left for the Comte de Salle Forde to hold the ridge.  He had eight regiments of infantry, four squadrons of cavalry and a light gun.  The militia had managed to start work on two redoubts on the ridge and these provided cover for the ends of the Comte's front line of 5 battalions.  The only open ground was on the left and here the Comte stationed the Chevalier Aubusson with two sqaudrons of cavalry.  It would have made sense if the remaining cavalry had also been on the left, but the Marquis de St Evremonde insisted, as the senior cavalry commander, he should be on the right.  With friends at court, the Marquis could ignore the Comte and chose to do so on this occasion.

Initial deployment of forces, French on the left

Von Grommitt had 10 battalions of infantry and 5 squadrons of cavalry plus a medium gun.   He too opted for the classic deployment of infantry in the centre with cavalry on each wing and decided to advance against the whole French line, keeping his grenadiers in reserve, ready to exploit any gaps.

Von Grommitt advances

 As the Alliance forces advanced the marshy area in the centre, opposite the gap in the ridge caused problems as the grenadiers had to try and manoeuvre around it.  Von Grommitt had to leave matters up to the battalion commanders as he was fully employed getting the Hessian infantry into position.  To further complicate matters, the French chose this moment to attack with their left wing cavalry.  the Chevalier Aubusson led his squadrons (Aubusson and Vaillac), forward, hoping to attack the flank of the infantry line.  He found that instead he was opposed by the Austrian cuirassier brigade (squadrons from the Jung Hannover and Herbestein regiments). 

Aubusson attacks the Austrian cuirassiers
 These horsemen did not attempt to charge, but calmly waited for the French to get close enough to fire at them with their pistols.  The pistol discharge was delayed until the last moment and emptied several saddles.  Amongst the casualties was the gallant Chevalier, who made it a point of honour to be the first to reach the enemy line.   Aubusson were repulsed, but Vaillac pushed on and the second impact was sufficient to drive the Jung Hannover squadron back.  Both sides now took time to reform, the French hampered by the loss of their commander.  Seeing the disruption on his left, the Comte galloped over and took personal command of his cavalry.  Inspired by his presence, the French charged again and drove the Austrian cuirassiers from the field.  However, events on the ridge had now reached a critical stage and the Comte had to quickly regain his former post behind the front line.

The Austrian infantry near the ridge

On the Alliance left the Austrian brigade had reached the ridge and started to move forward into a gap created by the retreat of the Zurlaben infantry battalion which had had to fall back due to casualties from artillery fire. As the Metternich battalion neared the crest they were attacked by the Marquis' cavalry which he had led forward.  The Spanish horse charged forward but were stopped in their tracks by a deadly volley from the Austrians.  As the remnants of the unit fell back, they left the field clear for the Marquis' second unit, the Cuirassier du Roi.  This also charged Metternich and undeterred by the volley closed on the infantry.  Sheltered by their pikes, the Austrians held their ground and again the French had to fall back. The Dutch battalion in the Austrian brigade had by this time driven Solre back from their works and was attempting to form up on the ridge.

The Spanish horse charge forward
 Meanwhile on the French left, the Comte had taken control of the defence of the ridge.  Directing his artillery to fire in support of the Bavarians he was able to stop Erbprinz from closing.  Wartensleben was also struggling to get the better of a fire fight with  Toulouse.  Von Grommitt was fully occupied trying to cover the rear of his attack from the French cavalry.  Fortunately, lacking a commander now the Comte had returned to the ridge, they took their time reorganising and this allowed the Alliance cavalry from the left to cross the battlefield to come the the aid of their infantry. Outnumbered, the French fell back behind their lines.

In the centre, the leading battalion of Alliance grenadiers had attacked Languedoc, who were holding the part-built lines.  These gave the French some advantage, but when the second grenadier battalion moved up the French gave way and fell back on their reserves.

As the light began to fade the Alliance had a foothold on the ridge on their left flank and in the centre, but were facing the bulk of the French reserves plus the Marquis' cavalry.  On the Alliance right, the Hessian brigade had taken heavy casualties trying to take the ridge and Von Grommitt decided he should withdraw.  The Comte could hardly believe his luck, he too had been on the point of ordering a withdrawal and the sight of his enemy falling back allowed him to order his troops to return to their positions on the ridge.

The closing position

 We used the Ga Pa rules for this scenario and they worked much better with the linear deployment.  The rules allow for galloping and trotting charges and we decided to make the French cavalry 'gallopers', although they were disordered by their charge. This represents their philosophy of the "charge en forageurs",  where the emphasis was on speed rather than cohesion.    The Alliance cavalry were trotting cavalry, who relied more on breaking up the enemy charge with pistol fire.  This gave interesting cavalry melees, but pike-armed infantry seemed to have little difficulty seeing off cavalry charges.  Next time perhaps we'll set the scenario a little later when pikes had been phased out.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Kukrowitz - a Shako 'Big Battles' scenario

For the last couple of years the Gentlemen Pensioners have put on a Shako 'Big Battles' scenario at the Gauntlet show run by the Deeside Defenders.  This year, Steve very kindly offered to host a similar game, which made things a lot easier with regard to transporting the figures and assorted paraphernalia. How do you follow Bautzen, Borodino and Leipzig?  After considering several  options I eventually decided on creating a 'what if..' scenario set in 1813. This avoided me having to use Prussian troops to make up the numbers at Austerlitz for example, or to have troops in late war uniforms at the earlier battles.  The template for the 'Kukrowitz' was Znaim, the final battle in the 1809 Wagram campaign.

This is a map of the area from the Allied side of the table.  It is not an exact representation of the terrain that was on the table, but contemporary maps were not always accurate.  The two c-in-c's each received a map to help with their planning.  The French, commanded by Napoleon, had four corps commanders, Ney, Oudinot, Marmont and Bertrand, with the corps commanded by Victor due to arrive after 4 or 5 moves.  Three cavalry corps and the Guard arrived at the end of play on Saturday.  The Allies also had four corps commanders, two Russian, Miloradovich and Gortchakov, an Austrian, Kolowrat and Blucher for the Prussians.  Allied reserves were available and the elite Reserve Corps, commanded by Grand Duke Constantine was due to arrive at the start of play on the Sunday.

Prussian and Russian troops on the Zuckerberg
 The scenario had the Allied army retiring after their defeat at Dresden.  The Austrian rearguard was being pressured by Ney, whilst Napoleon was marching hard to move round the flank and trap the Allies against the Thaya river.  To make matters worse for the Allies their sole line of retreat was blocked by a problem with the army's supply train and they would have to hold a defensive position for the whole day (the two days gaming).  Blucher had his troops in the vicinity of Winau, stretching onto the Zuckerberg.  To Blucher's right was Gortchakov and then Miloradovich, whose troops were deployed from the Zuckerberg, through Zuckerhandel and onto the Klein Berg.  Kolowrat's Austrians were deployed on the Klosterberg and in front of Alt Schallersdorf and the Kloster Abbey.  Ney faced Kolowrat across the Thaya.  Marmont was ready to assault the Klein Berg and Bertrand was with Oudinot on the French right.

Excelmans charges the Austrian line.

 Napoleon had issued attack orders to his corps commanders and true to his nature Ney was happy to oblige.  His light cavalry, led by Excelmans and Briche were quick to cross the bridge and move at speed towards  the Austrian lines.  To the right, Grouchy led his dragoons across the ford and deployed ready to charge the Austrian guns on the Klosterberg.    Unfortunately for Excelmans, Frimont's Uhlans were supporting the Austrian infantry and the uhlans were quick to advance through the lines and countercharge the French cavalry.  The French were caught by surprise and driven back.  Carried away with their success the Austrians charged on into Briche's horsemen.  However, disordered from their melee they were driven back with heavy loss.  Briche's men retained their control and fell back to reform.  Although costly, the cavalry attacks had covered the advance of Verdier's division towards Alt Schallersdorf.  Grouchy had formed up his division and now charged the guns on the Klosterberg.

Grouchy charges up the Klosterberg
The Austrian gunners were sabred, but isolated, the French dragoons fell back to reform. Behind Grouchy more of Ney's infantry were crossing the Thaya.

The Baden infantry division crosses the Thaya

   On the French right, Oudinot was advancing on the Prussians.  There were some losses from the Prussian artillery, but the infantry continued to move forward.  To Oudinot's left, Bertrand was sending his troops up the slopes of the Zuckerberg.  Franquement's division was charged by Kochin's cavalry and bundled back down the slopes. The Russian cavalry reined in and fell back to reform. To Franquement's right Neubronn's division charged home on the Prussian guns.  As the Wurttemburg infantry swept through the guns they were charged by Roder's cavalry.  Disorganised, they stood little chance as the horsemen hacked about them.  Only a few of Neubronn's men made it back to the French lines.  Bertrand's corps cavalry was also attacking the ridge but the Russians formed square and drove them off with heavy casualties.

Kochin's cavalry sweep down the slopes of the Zuckerberg
Marmont was making slow progress against Miloradovich's troops.  His cavalry were destroyed by the Russian cavalry and the first wave of infantry was driven back with heavy losses.

After three moves all the French attacks had been repulsed and the Allied line was holding, but undaunted, the French resumed their attack.  First, Oudinot sent in Scheeler's division against Winau, they were beaten back, but a Gazan's division was ready to take their place.  The failure of Bertrand's attack on the Zuckerberg had encouraged the Russians into a limited counterattack.  One of Gortchakov's infantry divisions was threatening the flank of Bertrand's line. To counter this Pino's Italians were moved to a blocking position.  As they redeployed they became the target for all the Russian guns on the Zuckerberg.  Vast gaps were torn in their ranks and Bertrand had to pull them back, but the division was so damaged it took no further part in the battle.  Bertrand's position was now perilous.  His cavalry were much weakened, his infantry battered and the enemy seemed as strong as ever.  To his relief he saw fresh troops arriving.  Napoleon had directed Victor's corps to strengthen the French right.   

Ney had not been deterred by the failure of his first attack on the Klosterberg.  Briche's light cavalry charged forward against Schaeffer's division.  The Austrians tried to form square, but were caught in the manoeuvre and stood little chance against the French cavalry.

Oudinot's advance on Winau

Kolowrat sent a message off to the Allied headquarters requesting reinforcements; but so early in the battle his pleas fell on deaf ears.  As a precautionary measure Kolowrat garrisoned Alt Schallersdorf and the Kloster Abbey with men from Splenyi's division.

On the French right, Gazan's division drove the Prussians from Winau and then defeated a counterattack.  Blucher was now in serious trouble, with his left threatened and struggling to maintain contact with Gortchakov's troops to his right.  He also sent off an aide to Allied headquarters requesting reinforcements.  His plea was accepted and the Prussian grenadier division and the Prussian heavy cavalry were soon marching towards Winau.  Reports of Victor's arrival in support of Bertrand resulted in the Russian reserves heading off towards Kukrowitz to bolster the position on the Zuckerberg.  With a second plea arriving from Kolowrat, saying that his line was under extreme pressure, being accepted by the Allied command, all the Allied reserves had now been committed.

The Russian reserves move forward

Marmont made a second attempt to drive Miloradovich from the Klein Berg, only to see his infantry driven back down the slopes in confusion.  Fortunately, help was at hand, as Ney's infantry, led by the Baden division stormed the Klosterberg and drove Abele's division from the hill, creating space for Marmont to deploy more men in future attacks.  With Abele's defeat, the French now had control of the Klosterberg. With Dubreton driving Splenyi's men from the Kloster Abbey and Vial capturing Alt Schallersdorf, Ney felt confident that he had the Austrians on the run.

The French attack on Alt Schallersdorf
But Kolowrat had other ideas.  He ordered Splenyi to counterattack and try and regain the abbey.  The Austrian infantry moved forward with a will, but were unable to dislodge the French.  They suffered heavy casualties in the melee and fell back, taking no further part in the battle.  The light cavalry also made charges, forcing the infantry to form square, which made them excellent targets for the Austrian guns.  All this bought time for the Austrian reserves to march up. Nostitz's cuirassiers lost no time in charging the French on the Klosterberg, but could make no impression on the solid infantry and had to fall back to reform.  However, Kolowrat had had time to form a solid defensive line in front of Edelspitz, linking up with Gortchakov's men on the ridge behind the Klein Berg.

Kolowrat forms a second line

Blucher was struggling to contain Oudinot.  Dombrowski's Polish division was making headway against Jagow's division, which contained a large number of Reserve Infantry regiments and Militia.  The inexperienced troops could not stand against the veterans and fled from the field.  Pirch's division tried to stem the tide but was swept away by a combination of the Poles and Oudinot's light cavalry.  A yawning gap opened in the Prussian lines, which the arriving reserves struggled to fill.  Only the assistance of some Russian reserves allowed some semblance of a line to be re-established.

The Guard arrives
 With play drawing to a close late on Saturday afternoon, the French reserves arrived.  The Imperial Guard, accompanied by three corps of reserve cavalry.  Napoleon allocated Victor, Oudinot and Ney one corps of cavalry each; retaining the Guard under his personal command.  Although the French had taken heavy losses in the day's play (70 stands to the Allies 57), they had made significant gains on both flanks.  In the centre, where Bertrand (and latterly Victor) , had repeatedly attacked the Zuckerberg, only small gains had been made; but, with almost all the Russian forces drawn into this sector it gave the French the advantage of numbers on other sectors.  The Russian Guard, commanded by Grand Duke Constantine was due to arrive on the Sunday morning and the deployment of those reserves would be vital to the Allied cause.  Ideally they would oppose any moves made by the French Imperial Guard, but other priorities may arise on the morrow.

When we assembled again on the Sunday, the newly arrived Grand Duke Constantine had a brief opportunity to weigh up the best course of action and decided that he would like to move towards the likely target of the French Imperial Guard, Kukrowitz. However, the plight of the Prussians on the Allied left and the need to safeguard the road meant that two elite infantry divisions were sent in this direction.

The Guard cavalry attack
 Refusing to protect the Guard, Napoleon launched his cavalry towards Gortchakov's infantry covering Kukrowitz.  Scherbatov's division quickly formed square and their bayonets were steady enough to force the elite horsemen to fall back.  The Russians had no time to celebrate their success as the massed columns of the guard infantry marched towards them.  Quickly reforming to meet this new threat the Russians welcomed the supporting fire from their heavy batteries and could see the Russian light cavalry of the Guard  heading towards them.  However, nothing could stop the advance of Napoleon's elite infantry.  They swept the Russians aside, overrunning the supporting batteries and cleared the way towards Kukrowitz.

Marmont made a third attempt on the Klein Berg.  This time he was successful, slowly but surely, pushing the Russians back.  As the Russian infantry retreated the French beat off attacks from the Russian cavalry and claimed possession of the heights, renaming it the Marmont Berg.

The French take the Klein Berg
 Oudinot wasted no time in putting his reserve cavalry to use.  The cavalry galloped forward and in concert with the infantry launched a series of devastating attacks on the thin Prussian lines.  In no time at all the Prussian grenadiers and reserve cavalry had been swept from the field and Constantine had to direct even more resources to try and secure his left flank.  Blucher's command now consisted of a much weakened cavalry division and the remains of the division which had garrisoned Winau, plus an artillery battery.  This battered remnant clung to the Brunberg heights, but could do little to influence the battle.

Ney attacks the Austrian squares
 Kolowrat meanwhile was doing his best to keep the enemy at bay.  His cavalry made repeated charges against the French guns which Ney was attempting to bring forward to aid his advance.  Several batteries were destroyed and whilst there was no danger of Alt Schallersdorf and the Abbey being recaptured by the Austrians, Ney's troops were making little progress.  Indeed, Ney was throwing his newly acquired cavalry corps against Austrian squares in a desperate attempt to make further gains.  At the Zuckerberg the carnage continued with Victor beating off Russian attacks and continuing to pin Gortchakov in place whilst Oudinot and Napoleon worked round his flanks.

After two hours play the balance of the game had shifted dramatically.  The Allies had lost 10 divisions, pushing their total stands lost beyond 120 (their army breakpoint was 160).  Meanwhile the French had lost only a further 15 stands.  

With his eyes set on Kukrowitz, Napoleon ordered his Guard to continue their advance.  With Friant leading the way the infantry bypassed Zuckerhandel, leaving Marmont's troops to mop up resistance there. The Guard cavalry advanced on the flank of the infantry and the Chasseurs and Lancers charged the lights cavalry of the Russian guard.  In a close melee, the French prevailed, driving the Russians back.  To the right of the lancers the Guard heavies rode down a Russian infantry division which failed to form square in time.  Friant's grenadiers entered Kukrowitz unopposed, the Russians sent to garrison it arriving too late.  As the Russians formed up to attack the village they were caught in the flank by Houssaye's dragoon division and totally destroyed.  This proved the decisive loss for the Allies as they reached their army breakpoint and their orders would then automatically be changed to withdraw.

Dombrowski's Polish division attacks the Russian Guard
 The day belonged to the French.  With the Allied army in such a battered state and their supply train vulnerable perhaps it would end the campaign in Napoleon's favour and Leipzig would never have been fought!

This had been a thoroughly enjoyable game, with much of that due to the Gentlemen Pensioners who played in the right spirit.  Thank you to the two Johns, the two Garys, Ian, Roman, Chris, Nick, Phil and Will for all your efforts.  Not forgetting Steve, who combined the role of host with that of umpire to such good effect.  My apologies to the commanders who may feel I have not mentioned some significant events, but especially on the Sunday morning things were happening so quickly it was difficult to keep track of them all.  

Further photos, including some panoramic views of the battle, can be found on Will's blog together with Bertrand's take on the battle!  In addition, a strategic overviewfrom the French perspective can be found on Phil's FoG blog.  Both well worth visiting.

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

The Battle of Hexham (1464) at BRITCON 2014

BRITCON is primarily an event for competition gamers, but it does have a reasonable trader presence and the Lance & Longbow Society (along with other societies) has for several years put on  demonstration games.  For this event we chose a scenario from the Wars of the Roses, Hexham (1464).   It follows on from the battle of Hedgeley Moor, which we put on at Phalanx this year.  Historically, it was rather a one-sided encounter.  The Lancastrians, under the Duke of Somerset, were caught unprepared by the Yorkist advance and found themselves outnumbered and fighting with their backs against a river.  The Lancastrian right, commanded by Lord Roos, did not wait for the onslaught, but fled, sealing the fate of the remaining Lancastrians.  Some drowned in the river, but most were captured in the pursuit.  For the captured leaders there was no mercy, over 30 were executed.  With their deaths the opposition to Edward IV in the North collapsed and England had five years of relative peace before the Earl of Warwick's defection to the Lancastrian cause ushered in another round of conflict.

The exact location of the battle is open to discussion with historians putting forward diffierent theories.  To try and create a more balanced game, and give the Lancastrians a slim chance, Steve and I chose the option where Somerset has had sufficient time to organise his forces on a spur of land overlooking the route the Yorkists would take to reach Hexham.  Perhaps he was hoping to ambush them, using surprise to offset his inferiority in numbers.  The Lancastrians gained a melee advantage from the hill, which in practice did offset the better armour of the Yorkists.

View of the table with the Lancastrians on the hill.
Because we hoped to attract people to participate in the game we chose some straight forward rules, Warmaster and Basic Impetus. Both sets can be distilled down to an A5 playsheet and give a quick game.  Over the weekend the game was played five times, each one lasting between an hour and an hour and a half.  Although the Lancastrians did not win a game, they did manage one draw, where both commanders were killed in melee.  Lord Roos did not flee, indeed on balance he did rather well against the  Yorkist left.  On the Lancastrian left, the peasant levies fared poorly, usually being butchered by concentrated archery.


   The two rule sets gave different types of games.  With Warmaster there was much more of a chance element.  Being able to move and fire without penalty aided the Yorkists, who could, with luck, advance into range and then get in the first archery.  Also the need to roll dice to establish command meant that movement was not automatic.  In one game the inactivity of the Yorkist melee troops allowed Somerset to push forward and eliminate all of Montague's  archers.

Impetus gave the advantage to the Lancastrians in that the Yorkists had to advance into range, but the freedom of movement made it easier for the Yorkists to outflank the outnumbered Lancastrians.

Next to our game was the Mailed Fist group with their impressive 'Marston Moor' game which was also at Phalanx .

Friday, 8 August 2014

Lunch at the Swan; an ECW scenario

 This week we had another foray into the fictional county of Kelhamshire.  I devised a scenario which followed on from that at Royston Bridge.  The  county's Parliamentarian forces were still prosecuting the siege of Kelham and Sir Victor Meldrew had been ordered to escort the latest wagon train of supplies.  The train's route happened to pass by the Swan, a hostelry renowned throughout the county for the excellence of it's cellar.  Sir Victor, a keen student of the grape, had organised things so that he, together with his vanguard arrived at the inn in time for a hearty lunch before the train was due.  He had with him a company of musketeers from his own regiment, two regiments of horse (Livesey's and Shuttleworth's) and some dragoons.  The latter had been sent off to the right flank to take post in Blist's wood.  Just as Sir Victor was ordering his second bottle to accompany the roast,  a young officer approached and told him that a force of cavalry was approaching the bridge over the Kelham.  Reluctantly, Sir Victor left the table and went outside to assess the situation.

The reports were correct, a large Royalist force was approaching.  Lord Melchett had gathered four units of foot, (Gerard's and Taylors regiments plus the musketeers from the White regiment and the local militia) and five of horse.  Three were with Melchett (Carey's, Desmond's and Tyldsley's) and the other two (the gentlemen volunteers and a combined regiment), under the command of Colonel Rupert Winstanley, had crossed the Kelham upstream and were approaching the Swan from Melchett's right.

This rather blurred photograph shows the table from the Parliamentarian right.  The train, with it's escort of two regiments of horse, two of firelocks and a unit of militia, has just reached the Swan.  Meldrew's forces are around the inn. Melchett's main force will arrive at the bridge (upper right), Winstanley's are due to enter the table by the road near Blists Wood (top centre). The dice decreed that Steve should take the part of Sir Victor, so I assembled my forces to attack over the bridge and hopefully disrupt the progress of the wagon train.   Winstanley's force was to arrive on a turn determined by the roll of a d6.  I duly rolled a 6, so the flank attack would be delayed until turn 6.

As speed was of the essence, I decided to send the horse over the bridge first, with the white musketeers lining the river bank to give some fire support.  Normally, the Royalist cavalry have the edge when taking on Parliamentarian cavalry, but on this occasion, they had an off day.  Tyldsley's made no progress at all against Livesey's and were gradually pushed back.  Eventually, the remnants broke and fled the field,disrupting the progress of Carey's as they tried to cross the bridge.

Sir Victor, resplendent in his plumed helmet, quickly assessed the situation.  He ordered Colonel Matthews, (commanding the train escort)  , to place his troops under Meldrew's command.  One company of firelocks was sent to the Swan to provide extra support for Meldrew's musketeers and a regiment of horse turned down the road to the bridge to support Shuttleworth's, who were giving ground to Carey's regiment.  The militia unit also moved away from the train to cover a gap between the enclosures and prevent the Royalist horse from threatening Meldrew's flank.

Winstanley's cavalry arrived eventually and rushed to the aid of Melchett's attack.  The Gentlemen Volunteers kept to the road and whilst passing Blists Wood were surprised by a volley from the dragoons. Although suffering some casualties, they pressed on,but progress towards the train was blocked by Lambert's horse, which Sir Victor had directed to the threatened area.

Winstanley leads forward the Gentlemen Volunteers
Although Winstanley had the advantage of numbers on the Royalist right, it was the Parliamentarians who gained the upper hand.  The combined regiment was pushed back by the County horse and when Lambert's held the Volunteers, Winstanley joined the fray to try and inspire his men.  Unfortunately, Rigg's dragoons chose this moment to charge out of the wood and  join the melee.  Assailed from all directions the fragile morale of the Volunteers crumbled and they disappeared down the road.  The sight of their commander leaving the field did nothing for the morale of the combined regiment, which also gave way.

At the bridge Melchett's attempt to get his infantry across was going badly.  The remains of his cavalry were now pressed close to the bridge, leaving no room for the infantry to deploy.  When the cavalry routed they swept all before them and the Royalist attack was over.

After lunch we reset the troops and swopped sides.  Steve, having seen my attempt, decided to put more infantry in the first wave.  Gerard's followed Carey's and managed to form up under the protection of the Royalist horse.  The infantry's fire power (and pikes) was sufficient to keep the Parliamentary horse at bay.  Like Steve earlier, I took the troops from the train to bolster Meldrew's position and the firelocks provided me with the high point (as far as the Parliamentarian side was concerned), when their volley emptied sufficient saddles to stop a charge by the combined regiment.  This aside, little seemed to go right for Meldrew.   The Parliamentarian horse failed to make progress against Melchett's horse and this allowed Gerard's advance towards the train guard.  After an exchange of volleys Gerard's charged and the raw Parliamentarian gave at the first impact.  Soon they were streaming from the field and the Royalists let them go, turning towards the Swan.

At the inn, Meldrew's musketeers could not deter Taylor's regiment from advancing on them.  When the pikes charged home there was little resistance and Meldrew found himself trying to stop his own regiment fleeing from the field.

 Two games in the day, the wagon train getting through both times, but with varying fortunes for Sir Victor.

Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Winstanstow; an ECW scenario

This week's battle is an ECW scenario which comes from Robert Giglio's  "English Civil War Gaming Scenarios Vol 3 .  It concerns the manouevring of the Royalists and Parliamentarians in the Ludlow area in 1645.  With Royalist garrisons reduced to provide men for the Main Oxford army, the local Parliamentary commander sent out a force under a Dutch mercenary Lt Col William Reinking. In response the local Royalist commander Sir Michael Woodhouse began to assemble a force made up from the garrisons of Hereford, Worcester and Hartlebury.  Reinking aware that he was outnumbered, began to fall back and requested reinforcements from Shrewsbury.  The scenario has 3 units of foot (Mackworth, Lloyd's and Hungerford) and two of horse (Lloyd's and a combined garrison unit) plus a medium gun and a light gun for Reinking's force.  They are deployed to take advantage of the close terrain around the village of Wistanstow.   Woodhouse has 5 units of foot (Scudamore, Conningsby, Croft, Woodhouse and Gerard), 5 units of Horse (William Sandys, Scudamore, Samuel Sandys, Ludlow and Lunsford), Sandys dragoons with 2 light guns.

Winstanstow with Reinkings troops deployed
I took the part of Woodhouse and with the threat of parliamentary reinforcements I decided to waste no time in attacking.  With the typical Royalist cavalry's disdain for the opposition, William Sandys regiment of horse made straight for Winstanstow along the lane.  As they rounded a corner they came under fire from the parliamentary medium gun.  Although they suffered some casualties they continued to press forward, even though they came under fire from the musketeers of Hungerford's regiment, who were lining the hedge along the lane.  Reinking moved forward one troop of his cavalry and they charged the Royalists .   In the melee, the more heavily armoured Parliamentary horse gradually overcame the elan of Sandys men and began to push them back down the lane.  Once the rearward movement began it became unstoppable and soon the Royalist horse were streaming back towards their lines.

Sandys Horse move up the lane, coming under fire from the parliamentary musketeers

   As the Royalist horse careered down the lane they ran into Gerard's foot regiment and the ensuing confusion took some time to sort out.  Meanwhile, Sandys commanding the Royalist left had ordered his troops to hack through the hedges so they could advance on the enemy.  The delay in achieving this allowed Reinking time to send forward a unit of horse, which charged the dragoons who were leading the way.  The dragoons were forced back onto the hedge and only saved from complete disaster by the Lundsford's Horse.  Slowly the advantage swung towards the Royalists and the Shrewsbury Garrison Horse were pushed back.
The Royalist dragoons are trapped against the hedge
On the Royalist right Scudamore was also finding it difficult to make progress due to the hedges.  He too ordered his men to hack their way through and led by the forlorn hope, Scudamore's regiments of foot and horse moved forward against Mackworth's regiment.  The men of Mackworth's were too experienced to stand and wait for the inevitable charge by overwhelming numbers.  They fired volleys at the advancing Royalists and then, as the enemy neared, fell back to the next position (the wall surrounding the church), to repeat the pain for the attackers.  Scudamore's horse saw that there was no chance of an attack in such close terrain and moved to the far left to the lane which led to the rear of Winstanstow.  However, Reinking had anticipated such a move and placed his reserve cavalry in the lane to oppose any Royalist advance.

Scudamore's Horse charge up the lane
In the narrow confines of the lane numbers counted for little and at first the Parliamentarians had the upper hand.  Fortune (ie the dice) then changed sides and the Royalists began to make progress, eventually driving back their opposite numbers and seeing them flee from the field.  However, the delay caused by the melee allowed Reinking to pull back Mackworth's pikemen and they now took up a blocking position in the lane near the village.

In the centre, Woodhouse saw the congestion in the lane and decided to commit his reserve in support of Scudamore, rather than push any more troops directly towards Winstanstow.  Sandys, on the left, could have used some help.  His infantry(Croft's and the Monmouth regiment), were moving against Lloyd's and Hungerford's and even with the aid of a light gun Croft's were suffering heavy casualties.  By the time they reached charge range; they had lost half their number and when the Parliamentary light gun opened up on them, their officers could not make them close (ie they failed the morale test) and the remaining men  began to fall back towards their own lines.  However, the Monmouth regiment did manage to charge home and their impetus pushed back Lloyds men.  The Royalist foot continued to push forward, but their very success proved their undoing. 

Hungerford's musketeers prepare to counter attack
With Croft's regiment falling back, Hungerford's musketeers turned to threaten the flank of the Monmouth men.  Their intervention was only just in time, Lloyd's men were now pinned against the hedge lining the lane and on the brink of breaking.  The Parliamentarian counter attack first stalled the Royalist advance and then began to push them back.  Heartened, Lloyd's men lay on with a will; suddenly it was the Royalists who were hanging on and then they broke and ran for their lines.  Having restored affairs, Hungerford's men halted and reformed, but Lloyd's, carried away chased after their foe.

Fortunately for the Royalists Sandys cavalry had begun to reach around the Parliamentary right, but found their way barred by the last of Reinking's cavalry.  On the opposite flank, Scudamore's cavalry was trying to discomfort Mackworth's pikes by pistol fire.  This failed and as the pikemen edged forward the cavalry had to evade the pike points.

At the church Mackworth's musketeers resolved to make a stand and fired off a final volley as the forlorn hope charged.  With the benefit of the stone wall surrounding the churchyard, the veterans beat off their assailants.  This was only a temporary respite for Scudamore's foot now moved forward.  The veterans knew that to try and beat off a full regiment was a recipe for defeat and so they pulled back.

Mackworth's stand against the forlorn hope
For his part Woodhouse was concerned he was going to lose the day.  Half his infantry had been driven from the field and although his cavalry had prevailed, the terrain made it difficult for them to exploit their success.  However, Reinking saw that his men had, by their efforts, given themselves a chance to break off the action and preserve themselves and so he withdrew from the field.  There had of course, been no reinforcements coming to help Reinking and Steve had done a very good job of defending against such numbers.

Another very interesting scenario which gave an enteratining days gaming.

Monday, 21 July 2014

More Austrian infantry

Earlier this year I published a post on some Grand Alliance infantry I had just painted.  Well, after many false starts and being sidetracked by various projects, I have eventually got around to painting two more units.

The previous unit used plastic figures, but these are mainly Essex, with officers and pikemen from other manufacturers.  Using the Pike and Shot Society book on the Austrian army as my main source I decided to paint the figures as the Herbestein and Metternich infantry regiments.


Only one more battalion to go and that will complete the brigade. Perhaps completion by Christmas?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Road to Philadelphia

A return to the AWI this week with a fictional scenario from the British advance on Philadelphia.  The American general Gates decided to make a stand on a river line, hoping to delay the British advance to allow a larger American force to coalesce.  Once again we used the 'Patriots and Loyalists' rules which always seem to produce a good game.

I commanded the American forces, 4 brigades of infantry, Woodford, Smallwood and Maxwell in the front line (left to right), with Carter in reserve.  The close terrain favoured the defence, but I decided not to defend too far forward. Only Woodford placed troops across the river, two battalions were on the wooded hill in the bottom left of the photograph below.
The view from the American left     

Steve, commanding the British had his force organised into three brigades, Von Donop's German troops on his left, British line battalions in the centre and the elite grenadiers and converged light companies on the right.

First into action were Von Donop's men who pushed across the bridge to try and secure the field beyond.  The Jaeger made good progress, driving off the American riflemen and then turning their attention to the supporting battalions of militia.  The German fusiliers fared less well.  They deployed under fire and then moved towards the field only to be sent back across the river by telling volleys from the continental infantry.  The Americans did not have long to savour their victory; a battalion of grenadiers took the place of the fusiliers and after firing a volley they moved forward to cross bayonets with their opponents.

The grenadiers attack
In the melee that followed both sides suffered heavy casualties, but it was the Americans who broke and the battered remnants fled the field.  As the victorious grenadiers took the ground they were subjected to volleys from the American battalion which had been in support.  The casualties from these volleys proved too much for the Germans and they too broke, allowing the Americans to regain control of the field.

In the centre there was little action, the British brigade was making slow progress through the terrain, deployed to meet a threat that didn't materialise.  Smallwood's men, lining the hedgerows and fences readied themselves for the firefight to come.  The British 'right hook' was also making slow progress.  Woodford's men waited until the British were in close range and then opened fire.  The grenadiers suffered some losses, but their NCO's kept the men in formation and undaunted the grenadiers continued their advance.  Faced by this steady advance, the American line began to waver, especially as they lacked bayonets and could see that the British did not.

Woodford's men oppose the British advance
 A volley from the grenadiers, plus the sight of the converged light companies moving around their flank, was too much for the militia and they fell back through the woods, heading for the perceived safety of the far bank of the river. Their supports did not even wait to fire a volley, isolated and with their comrades heading for the river, they too felt that it was far safer to put some distance between themselves and those bayonets.  Whilst the fight for the hill had been going the American artillery, plus the remainder of Woodford's men had been trying to slow the advance of the rest of the British right hand brigade.  In this they had not been successful, in fact losses to British volleys had forced the infantry to fall back to reform, leaving the artillery as the sole defender of the ford.

In the centre, the British were at last making progress, two battalions were moving in support of Von Donop, whilst the remainder pinned Smallwood's men in position.  The skirmishers were particularly effective.  Their fire forced one of Smallwood's militia units to fall back and then they turned their attention on his artillery, which had been proving a nuisance.  The American gunners took to their heels, abandoning their guns, much to Smallwood's annoyance.

Smallwood's men hold the centre
 With British support, Von Donop made another attack on the field.  The reformed fusiliers fired volleys at the American defenders whilst a British battalion moved up on the Americans' flank.  A concerted charge proved too much for the Americans and they were driven from the field.  Maxwell's brigade was now in a bad way.  Two units destroyed, two more with casualties from the jaegers, they were only kept in the line by the presence of the brigadier.  I therefore committed the reserve brigade to the right flank to push back the Germans (who had also suffered quite heavy casualties) and perhaps regain control of the bridge.  It was just in time; as the men of Carter's brigade advanced, Maxwell's men broke and the brigade headed off to Philadelphia.  A new line was formed, but with Woodford's brigade also on the brink of collapse the American position seemed lost and Gates ordered Smallwood and Carter to fall back.  The British (and Germans) had suffered quite heavy casualties and were content to consolidate their control of the river crossings and regroup before advancing further.

A view from the American right at the end of the action.  Carter's men are forming a rearguard.