Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Mittelstadt - a SYW scenario for Konig Krieg

Mittelstadt is a small town on the Braunwasser a minor tributary of the Main.  The French command have begun to establish a magazine there to support their planned advance eastwards.  The Allied command have heard news of this development and sent a force under General James Marlborough Blackadder (last in action over 2 years ago ( post ) to capture the town and destroy (or carry off) the magazine.  For this action he has 4 brigades of line infantry (4 battalions Hessians, 4 battalions British, a mixed brigade of Brunswick and Prussians,  and 3 battalions of highlanders).  In addition he has 1 converged grenadier battalion and a battalion of jaegers.   The cavalry arm is represented by 3 regiments of dragoons and there are two light guns.

The French defenders of Mittelstadt

The French cavalry


The Braunwasser flows across the battlefield,with Mittelstadt on the western bank close to the bridge. On Blackadder's right is a wood and a ford of the river.  His left is fairly open terrain and he therefore stationed his cavalry there.  The jaeger are on the right and the infantry make up the centre. Blackadder aims to pin the French in the centre and then force the ford using his highlanders, rolling up the enemy line.

Royal Allemand drive off the British dragoons


As the allied forces deploy, the French commander, the Marquis d'Ecoles deployed to defend his position.  His 15 infantry battalions (in 4 brigades) were deployed along his front from the bridge to the ford.  On his right the cavalry, 2 units of French cavalry supported by a regiment of Reichsarmee cuirassiers, faced up to the British dragoons.  The two light guns were supporting the infantry line. Expecting his cavalry to be stronger than their opponents, the Marquis intended to attack with his right, drive off the enemy cavalry and then roll up the infantry as they attacked.

The firefight develops along the river bank
The battle opened with a general Allied advance.  Once the two forces came within artillery range, the French cavalry moved forward.  Their charge proved too much for the dragoons who were driven back in disorder and then attacked again by the exultant French.  The issue was not in doubt. In a trice, all Blackadder's cavalry had fled the field and his left flank was 'in the air' .  This required one of his brigades, the mixed Brunswick/Prussian, to abandon its advance and turn to meet this new threat.   Quickly forming a line towards the enemy cavalry, the infantry awaited the onslaught.

The Frei Korps rout

On the opposite flank the jaeger had made good progress through the wood and soon began a nagging fire on the French infantry across the Braunwasser.  By the time the highlanders approached the ford one of the enemy battalions had been forced to retire due to its high casualties.  Supported by one of the light guns, the highlanders prepared to force their way across the river.


In the centre the British and Hessian brigades were having a tough time.  Under fire from the French artillery and lashed by volleys from the French infantry, their ranks were thinning.  However, true to their traditions they stood their ground and replied in kind, tearing gaps in the French ranks with their volleys.

On the Allied left the crisis of the battle approached.  The reformed French cavalry charged the infantry opposing them.  A Brunswick battalion remained in line and stopped the cavalry with a devastating volley.  To their left, a unit of Prussian Frei Korps had formed square, but their nerve broke as the horsemen closed and they broke and ran.  Fortunately for the allied cause, Blackadder had formed up his grenadiers behind the Frei Korps and the sight of the steady ranks of mitre capped infantry was enough to halt the onrushing French.    Withdrawing the French cavalry attacked again, but once again were beaten back.  A final charge by the Reichsarmee cuirassiers ended in dismal failure as the leading squadrons were shredded by canister as they closed on the Brunswick infantry.

Artillery supports the Brunswickers

The second French cavalry attack
The Marquis ordered forward infantry to support his cavalry and they threatened to swing the balance in favour of the French, but Blackadder re-deployed a hessian battalion and this supported by the second light gun drove back the French.

The French infantry attack the Hessians

The highlanders attack across the ford

Following up a salvo of canister shot, the highlanders rushed across the ford.  The battalion facing them, already shaken, was unable to stand against the charge and retreated.  A second highland battalion now crossed and drove back another French battalion with musketry.  Reacting to this threat, the Marquis ordered one of his light guns to the endangered sector.  The fire from this gun halted the allied attack just long enough for the Marquis to rally his fleeing infantry and form a new defence line.  Blackadder for his part could see that his British line battalions were at the end of their tether, all had suffered heavy casualties and their retreat opened a gap in his line.  The highlanders advance although successful was leading them into a salient and further advance risked their destruction.  He therefore decided that withdrawal was the best option.  Although Mittelstadt had not been captured the French forces had suffered heavy casualties and it would be some time before they could contemplate an advance.


Friday, 17 March 2017

In Kelhamshire again part 2

In an earlier post I began a report on our most recent ECW game.  Returning to the action with the continuing ebb and flow on the Royalist right wing.  Although the Parliamentary cavalry were gaining the upper hand, the Royalists were helped by support from an infantry unit.  Fire from this unit inflicted sufficient casualties to cause a couple of units to halt and rally and this gave enough time for the Royalists to do the same.  To remove this irritant, the Parliamentary candidate moved forward some of his own infantry, threatening to outflank the Royalists.  Unfortunately for this plan the infantry was sluggish, all except one unit which moved forward with speed and became isolated. It then found itself the centre of attention, as two Royalist infantry units, plus some light artillery all fired on it.  Against such odds the end was predictable, after a short time the losses became unsustainable and the Parliamentary infantry unit broke ranks and routed.  The best attempts of their brigade commander to get them to stand went unheeded and the infantry fled the field.  Their flight doing nothing to inspire their comrades to advance in their place.



The contest across the river develops

In the centre, both banks of the river were now lined with infantry firing volleys at close range.  With their greater ratio of muskets to pikes, the advantage lay with parliament, especially as they had dragged forward some artillery to increase the volume of fire.  After a short time the weight of  fire proved too much for a newly raised Royalist unit which first edged backwards and then, following another volley routed.  Ignoring all appeals to halt the raw recruits headed for the road home. Another Royalist infantry unit also routed from the fire, but they were rallied by the Royalist commander and eventually returned to the fray.  Fortunately for the Royalists other units were on hand to fill the gaps and the Parliamentary infantry were slow to exploit their advantage.



The Royalist left re-organising
On the Royalist left the cavalry fight was a matter of isolated attacks as units reformed and then charged forward.  Neither side could gain a significant advantage.  The Royalist cause was helped by a unit of dragoons ensconced in a barn who were able to provide a harassing fire on the left of the Parliamentary line.  Of more potent help was the light artillery which was brought forward.  This managed to halt an attempted charge  directed at the weakest Royalist unit which was desperately trying to reform.  Eventually, the Royalists managed to sort themselves out and a more co-ordinated attack was launched.  This was met by a vigorous countercharge by their opponents and a tough struggle ensued.  Eventually, the Royalists prevailed and the victors swept forward, driving their disorganised foes from the field.

The Parliamentary infantry slowly deploying on their left
The Royalist success on their left was mirrored by Parliamentary success on the other flank.  Led by a unit of 'lobsters' the Parliamentary cavalry swept forward.  The Royalists responded in kind, but on this occasion their natural elan was not enough to prevail.  All the Royalist cavalry, plus their supporting infantry were driven back.  The infantry were rallied by the Royalist commander once they had crossed the river, but the Royalist cavalry quit the field.


Royalist infantry flee
In the centre the fire fight continued.  Both sides were reluctant to chance an attack across the river because of the risk of becoming disordered (50% for pike armed troops).  Parliament had manged to get one unit across and this had manged to beat off an attack by the Royalists which threatened to drive it into the river, but further progress was proving difficult.

As gaming time drew to an end a winning draw was adjudicated for Parliament.  They had managed to get troops across the river and also had inflicted heavier casualties on the Royalists.

Monday, 13 March 2017

WMMS

Once more we journeyed down the M6 to the WMMS at the Aldersley Leisure Village.  We arrived later than planned and parking was not easy, but the show made up for it.   The atmosphere was friendly, there was ample space to wander around, stop, chat to friends and not get in the way.  The standard of modelling on display was very good and a wide range of games were represented.  I was particularly taken by the number of 'horse and musket' games, especially as they had seemed to be in decline over recent years.




All the above were of the Shrewsbury club's 18th century game.

An impressive Zulu Wars game


A fictional Grand Alliance game with a Jacobite invasion of England after William lost the Battle of the Boyne.




Something a little unusual.  the War of Austrian Succession in Italy



A second Grand Alliance game.  Both games used the 'Beneath the Lily Banners' rules produced by Barry Hilton.

Finally, a Peninsular skirmish game.


A good show and one which Dave, Steve and I will hope to visit again next year.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

In Kelhamshire once more

This week Steve and I began another Pike and Shotte game trying out our amendments to the 'sweeping advance' section of the rules.  This scenario was on a larger scale than last time and also included infantry and artillery.  Both forces had 8 infantry regiments, 8 cavalry regiments, 1 dragoon regiment and a couple of pieces of artillery.  The objective was to seize control of the bridge over the river Kelham.  The river could be crossed anywhere by infantry and cavalry (at a risk of becoming disordered), but the artillery could only cross at the bridge.  The hills were 'gentle' and offered no hindrance to movement.


Two views of the table set up for the latest action in Kelhamshire.  As you can see the ground is fairly open on both flanks, giving the cavalry plenty of opportunity to manoeuvre.

A roll of the dice allocated command of the Royalists to me and I decided to advance with my cavalry to hold back the enemy cavalry and prevent them interfering with the deployment of my infantry.  These were to advance on either side of the bridge and support the advance of units over that bridge, thus securing the crossing.

At first things seemed to be going my way.  The left flank cavalry moved forward with elan and occupied the hill easily.  In the ensuing melee the front line of units were successful and drove back their opponents.  My small cavalry unit suffered sufficient casualties to prevent it following up, but the other one  careered on and won a second melee.  It seemed like I was on the verge of driving the Parliamentary right wing from the field, but it was at this point that the command dice began to fail me and Steve was given enough time to rally his units whilst mine dithered.

The first clash on the Royalist left
In the centre all the infantry struggled to deploy, hampered by hedges and the river.  Once again the Royalists made quick progress at first, but then slowed and allowed the Parliamentary units time to advance and prevent a successful advance across the bridge.  Twice one of my units began to cross the bridge, but on each occasion they had to fall back, because to go any further forward would have resulted in them being attacked in flank before they could deploy.

The Parliamentary infantry advance
The Royalists attempt to cross the bridge

On my right, both forces of cavalry advanced fairly slowly, but once combat began the Parliamentary cavalry gained the upper hand.  Although both sides had shaken units, Parliament had one unit which was in good order, whilst I had none.  My hope was that the unit of foot which I had manged to get across the river would provide sufficient support to bolster the flank long enough to enable me to rally my men.

The Parliamentary cavalry prepare to drive home their advantage
After 3 hours play the majority of infantry were still deploying, although some volleys had been exchanged.  The cavalry flanks were on the brink of  decisive melees and everything was still to play for when we resume later this week.

The view from behind the Parliamentary centre

The Royalist infantry deploying





Sunday, 26 February 2017

Burton under Moor; an ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

This week's scenario comes out of reading a book about the destruction caused to goods and property by the English Civil wars. (Stephen Porter's book "The Blast of War") .  It brought home how much of the fighting was about securing resources and/or denying them to the opposition.  So I set up this very basic scenario based in the fictional Kelhamshire, where Sir Victor Meldrew, commanding the Parliamentary forces, was anxious to secure the fodder and provisions from the village of Burton under Moor.  An added attraction was that the lands involved belonged to a prominent Royalist supporter.  Sir Victor's plans had not gone unnoticed and Lord Melchett, commander of the Royalist forces in the county, was determined to prevent Burton under Moor's bounty falling into the wrong hands.  Both sides had ordered a brigade of horse to the area, with a further brigade of horse in support if required.
An overview of the battlefield

Burton under Moor
A roll of the dice allocated the role of Sir Victor to Steve.  Another roll indicated his reserve brigade would arrive at the end of turn 4.  Lord Melchett's reserves would appear one turn later.  

The Parliamentary Horse prepare to defend Burton
At first, Lord Melchett's cavalry moved more purposefully than their opponents, but in the true Royalist tradition the advance was not particularly well co-ordinated.  Lord Melchett began to grow uneasy as the leading regiment, Gillibrand's, charged forward without waiting for their supports.  He sent an aid to Sir Fleetwood Hesketh ordering him to have a care, but the injunction was too late. With assured skill, Colonel Livesey ordered his regiments so that Nutter's, which was in the lead, was well supported and they met and defeated the charging Royalists, driving them back and hampering the regiments following them.  With his reinforcements under Colonel Starkie, almost ready to enter the field, Sir Victor ordered Colonel Livesey to reorder his ranks and then make a general advance when both brigades could act in concert.

Hesketh used the time to also regain command of his regiments and deploy to meet the full parliamentary force.  Hoping to gain the maximum ground for Sir James Tyldesley's brigade to deploy when they arrived, he once again moved forward.  Combat erupted across the field as the two lines engaged.  The fight swayed back and forth and when the lines parted, the parliamentary horse had been forced back slightly and Tyldsley's men were deployed ready to drive home the Royalist advantage.



The Parliamentary reinforcements charge home
As Sir Victor, Livesey and Starkie galloped around rallying their men, Tyldsley swept forward. However, once again the attacks were uncoordinated and the parliamentary line held.  Following this clash the fight once again swung back and forth.  First, the royalists would break through and then the parliamentarians would drive them back and advance in their own right, only to be checked in their turn.

Gradually regiments were worn down and the husbanding of reserves became vital.  In this, Sir Victor's brigades were better placed.  Sensing that the battle was in the balance, Lord Melchett ordered an all out attack by what remained of his men.  Once again the royalists swept forward with a purpose.  A stiff fight ensued, but the greater numbers eventually prevailed and when Livesey sent forward his last reserve, Shuttleworth's, they swept away their opponents and the remaining Royalist's quit the field.  With his command in a battered state Sir Victor was happy to order a day's rest at Burton, whilst orders were sent for the dragoons to advance and form a garrison for the village.


Parliament gains the upper hand
This scenario was set up to try out a few amendments to the 'sweeping advance' section of Pike and Shotte.  In essence this instituted a dice roll to see if an advance took place.  Also we felt that the greater move for 'galloper' cavalry (12" against 9") should only be applied to charges and sweeping advances where a melee would result.  The amendments seemed to work well when used with our rout rules (which replaced the break rules that removed a broken unit immediately.)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Trentown: An AWI scenario

After a long absence Steve's AWI collection featured in this week's battle.  This was a fictional scenario based on Trenton and/or Germantown.  A brigade of Hessians has been billeted in the sleepy settlement of Trentown and a large force of American troops is advancing towards them on three roads.  There are some British troops in the neighbourhood and they have heard whispers of a possible American attack, but the time of their arrival is uncertain.  The Hessian units were represented by markers (including a blank), so the American player did not know exactly where the defending troops were.  American troops were allocated to the roads by their commander, but he was not certain which brigade would arrive when, so uncertainty prevailed.   Here are three views of Trentown before hostilities began

The farm and barn on the northern outskirts of Trentown

From the farmhouse looking south towards Trentown

View from the opposite side of Trentown
A roll of the dice allocated command of the Hessians and British to me, whilst Steve commaned the Americans.  I placed a unit of Fusiliers in the farmhouse and a unit of jaeger in the barn.  The two units of musketeers were in the church and mansion, whilst the grenadiers were in the half timbered house.  All the Hessian units needed to pass a die roll to be 'activated'.  This became easier as the turns progressed and also if shots were fired.

Steve had the initiative and his first brigade, Archers, entered the table and began to advance towards the barn and the half timbered house.  Fortunately for the Hessians, one of the locals was having his morning walk, (around his rabbit snares) and saw the advancing Americans and ran back to the town.  The first building he came to was the Buchanan House, where the Von Dornop's Musketeers were billeted (the building on the left in the photo above).   The colonel was an early riser and immediately ordered his men to arms.  Behind Archer's brigade were Betsrman's and they began to advance straight along the road towards Trentown.  Although he was detained by the colonel of the Von Dornop Musketeers the local eventually roused the grenadiers in the half timbered building across the road.  Their commander decided the best course was to hold the house and ordered preparations for its defence. Von Dornop's Musketeers formed up outside the Buchanan House and advanced to the fence ready to defend the outskirts of Trentown.

Von Dornop's form up
Archer's leading unit, some riflemen, was nearing the barn occupied by the Hessian jaegers.  The jaegers were alert and when they could identify the enemy officers picked them off to such effect that the American skirmishers had to fall back to rally.  Major Steiner, who commanded the jaegers requested that Major Wedel bring up his fusiliers to the right of the barn to fire on the flank of any American units attacking the barn.  They reached their position just in time to fire a volley that sent another of Archer's battalions reeling back to rally.

In the centre, Von Dornop's men had begun to fire at Besterman's leading battalion as it marched up the road, forcing it to deploy into line.  The Hessians were getting the better of the musketry duel until Benedict directed Archer to move one of his Continental battalions to join in the fire on the Hessians.  When Besterman's artillery also joined in the writing was on the wall and with losses increasing the musketeers had to fall back behind the Buchanan House to rally.

Chamberlain's Dragoons
Duggan's infantry
However, it was a case of 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' because Duggan's brigade was advancing up from the south towards Trentown.  Duggan's leading unit, Chamberlain's Dragoons had already moved off the road and eastwards to observe the roads along which any British reinforcements would arrive.  Behind Chamberlain Duggan's infantry had deployed into line and fired a volley into the Hessians.  Von Dornop's men attempted to reply in kind, but  caught at a disadvantage had to fall back again, this time beyond the church.  This was held by the second Hessian musketeer battalion which attempted to drive back Duggan's men with musketry.  Undaunted, the Americans fired a volley and then charged.  The resulting melee was fieerce and prolonged, with no quarter sought or given.  Eventually, the Americans had to fall back, but the Hessians were so shaken by the fight that they too retired to lick their wounds.

Duggan's attack gains momentum
This left the grenadiers as the sole Hessian unit holding Trentown. Doggedly and with great resolve they held off the attempts of Besterman to seize their position.  Archer made another attempt to secure the barn and farm and was successful in forcing the fusiliers to fall back,  However, the jaegers in the barn stood firm and repulsed all attacks; their accurate fire inflicting heavy casualties.
Tha American attack develops
The final American brigade, Clarke's, now arrived from the west and advanced along the road to Trentown.  Able to remain in column because Duggan and Besterman had driven off the msuketeers, it made a rapid advance on Trentown.  It was just as well, because the British reinforcements had begun to arrive.  On the northern road was Courtney's brigade, led by a unit of light dragoons.  To the south Dalrymple led a veteran brigade including a battalion of converged grenadier companies.  Lord Abercorn, the British commander had issued orders for the brigades to advance to the north and south of Trentown respectively and then, with the Hessians holding the centre, attack the flanks of the Americans.

Courtney's men arrive

Clarke's men enter Trentown

Dalrymple set to his task with a will.  Ordering his rifles to harass Chamberlain's dragoons the grenadiers were to lead the attack south of Trentown, straight at Duggan's men.  One volley from the grenadiers drove a unit of militia back in disorder.  With line battalions supporting each flank of the grenadiers, the British  line swept forward.  Duggan galloped up to the battalion which had just recovered from the melee to capture the church.  The tattered ranks faced this new threat and fired two devastating close range volleys.  The grenadiers staggered and then stopped attempting to regain their order.  A third volley sent them reeling backwards.  The gallant Americans had no time to celebrate.  A volley from Fraser's regiment ripped through their thinned ranks and forced them to retreat.  Dalrymple ordered forward his artillery to 'soften up' the rebels before resuming his attack.

Courtney's advance was more circumspect.  His light dragoons observed Chamberlain's men whilst the light troops sniped at them.  The infantry battalions advanced towards the gap between the farm and barn held by Major Steiner and the town of Trentown.  Courtney could see that the Hessian musketeer battalions were struggling to hold their position against Besterman, and with Clarke's men now arriving the Hessian position was perilous.

Chamberlain's men on the move

The destruction of the grenadiers
Chamberlain found himself in an unenviable position.  He had fallen back to reduce casualties from the British skirmishers, but had little freedom of action as he was hemmed in by hedges.  The only escape route took him nearer to Dalrymple's brigade.  With the British light dragoons giving signs that they were readying for an advance towards him Chamberlain ordered a turn to flank and move at best speed to the right.  Ignoring fire from the British skirmishers the Americans galloped along the road.  A gap appeared on their right and they went through it.  To his delight Chamberlain found himself behind the British lines and with a reforming battalion of grenadiers to his front.  Sensing an opportunity he ordered 'Form line' followed by 'Charge!'.  The American cavalry swept forward and caught the British infantry before it could react.  Caught at such a disadvantage the British infantry had no chance and were driven back in rout.  Sweeping on the Americans now overran the British artillery before it could deploy.  Only then did the line battalions sense the threat.  Fraser's attempted to about face, but they too wilted under the sabres of the American dragoons.  In 10 minutes the whole balance of the battle had changed.

Fraser's routed
The British light dragoons had been surprised by the American manoeuvre and although they had pursued their quarry they had arrived too late to prevent the destruction of Dalrymple's attack.  However, they did extract some revenge by charging and defeating the American cavalry, but were driven back by volleys from Duggan's infantry.

Courtney's light infantry fire into the flank of Clarke's men
Clarke's men had pushed through Trentown and were firing on the flank of the rather battered Hessian musketeers.  The British light infantry, released by the movement of the  American cavalry now intervened, firing into the flank of Clarke's leading battalion and forcing it to fall back.  A kind of  stalemate now developed with neither side able to gain the decisive advantage.  Abercorn directed Courtney to support the remaining Hessians in the vicinity of Trentown whilst Dalrymple was to put as much pressure on Duggan as he could.  Benedict ordered Archer and Besterman to concentrate on evicting the grenadiers from Trentown, prior to a general advance between the town and the farm to the north.  Clarke was to push on between the Hessians and Dalrymple whilst Duggan was to hold Dalrymple in place.

Brave as they were, the grenadiers were eventually forced to fall back by the combination of artillery and musketry fire which swept their position.  As they fell back they were hit by musketry from Clarke's men and the retreat became a rout.  The musketeers also broke under the sheer volume of fire directed at them.  Courtney's men tried to hold the line, but with their left flank 'in the air' were shredded by volleys from Clarke's men.  When Dalrymple's last remaining unit broke due to casualties received in its fire fight with Duggan Abercorn ordered the retreat.  The gallant Hessian jaegers and fusiliers fell back in good order, holding Archer's men off.  The remaining Americans were too weary to pursue.