Saturday, 10 October 2020

Mesto Vody: an Eastern Renaissance scenario for Pike and Shotte

Although Steve and I have settled on Pike and Shotte (or at least our version of it) as our rules for this period we do look at other rule sets to see if there are any mechanisms which could be transferred.  One set which I have looked at is "By Fire and Sword" by Wargamer. One thing that caught my attention was the way in which they dealt with the various categories of firearms.  They make provision for the quality of the firearms, giving the better quality ones a greater range.  Therefore, a standard musket has a range of say 18" whereas a poor quality firearm has a range of 12".  We thought we could use this to reflect the variable quality of equipment of levy, militia and standing units within the Eastern theatre; this game was a trial of that idea.  A mixed Polish/Cossack force is raiding into Muscovite territory in response to an earlier incursion by the Muscovites.  It comprises of two Cossack infantry units, one of registered Cossacks and one of moloisty and two Polish infantry units, a "foreign regiment" and a Lan militia unit.  They have a light gun to support them and four units of cavalry, 2 of pancerni and two of Cossack light cavalry.  In response the local Muscovite boyar has assembled 3 local infantry units, two units of servant Cossacks and a unit of border dragoons.  He has been joined by the commander of the local garrison commander with a Soldatski unit, a unit of urban streltsy and a light gun.  There are also four units of cavalry, two of feudal cavalry and two of light cavalry. 

The initial set up, Polish/Cossack forces in foreground

The Muscovite force had deployed by the settlement of Mesto Vody to block and repulse the Polish/Cossack raid.

The Polish Lan regiment

The battle began with a swift advance by the Cossack infantry, the Poles seemingly more reluctant to move forward.  On the Polish/Cossack left one unit of Pancerni advanced further than the rest, but it's isolation was ignored by the waiting Muscovite cavalry, the first of several failures by their commander.  
The Muscovite commander with a unit of servant Cossacks beyond

The Cossack infantry were now coming into musket range of the Soldatski, but they chose to wait, rather than fire at long range.  On the left the Polish cavalry had managed  organise their advance and were now closing in on the Muscovite cavalry.  
The Cossack infantry near the Muscovite line

The Pancerni charged and caught a unit of Muscovite light cavalry before they could move.  Caught at such a disadvantage, the light cavalry had little chance and were pushed back.  Charged again before they could rally, the Muscovites quit the field, however, the Pancerni resisted the urge to pursue and re-dressed their ranks. 

The Pancerni stike

Matters were looking slightly better for the Muscovites in the centre.  The Soldatski's first volley was sufficient to disorder the Registered Cossack unit facing them.  A second inflicted more casualties and forced the Cossacks to halt to rally.  On the extreme right, the Moloisty unit was coming under fire from the Muscovite light gun and also a small unit of Border Dragoons ensconced in the buildings of Mesto Vody.  The Polish infantry had now moved up onto the left flank of the Registered Cossacks and into range of the Streltsy and Servant Cossack units.  Even though the Servant Cossacks had poor quality firearms and were therefore firing at long range they managed to inflict losses on the Lan infantry, whose return fire was less effective.  Volleys from the Streltsy disordered the Foreign Regiment before it could fire and the Polish light artillery was slow to get in position to support their infantry.  To the Muscovite commander it looked like the enemy infantry were beginning to waver and he ordered the Soldatski to charge.  They did charge, but not far enough to reach the enemy line, (we use variable move distances), and received a short range volley.  Fortunately for the Muscovites this was ineffective, the return volley was not and the Registered Cossacks took further casualties. Next turn the Soldatski charged, received another short range volley, but closed to melee.

The Soldatski charge falls short

The cavalry battle was now in full swing.  The remaining Muscovite light cavalry unit was charged by a Cossack unit, counter-charged and managed to defeat their opponents, pushing them back.  However, the  Muscovites now had to deal with the reserve Cossack unit which charged forward to cover their comrades while they rallied.  The feudal cavalry and Pancerni were also now locked in melee.

The cavalry battle in full swing

The feudal cavalry struggled against the Pancerni,   As they fought, the last Muscovite light cavalry unit broke and routed from the field.  The nearest feudal cavalry unit had just pulled back disordered from melee, as had the opposing Pancerni.  Before they could recover they were hit by the Cossacks and routed, with the Cossacks in pursuit.

The Muscovite light cavalry rout

Followed by one of the feudal cavalry units

In the infantry battle, the Soldatski were not fairing too well, (a roll of 5 '1's out of 7 dice did not help).  None of the other Muscovite infantry units had ventured forward  so the Soldatski were unsupported;  the Registered Cossacks meanwhile had two flank supports and this swung the balance.  The Soldatski fell back onto the hill, disordered.  Here they attempted to rally, but a volley from the Registered Cossacks proved too much and the Soldatski routed.

With the final feudal cavalry unit being overwhelmed by the two Pancerni units, the Muscovite infantry were now on their own.  The Steltsy had inflicted heavy losses on the foreign regiment and the Lan regiment had been hit hard by the fire from the Servant Cossacks, but without cavalry the position was hopeless and victory went to the Polish/Cossack force.

The final position

Discussing the game afterwards Steve and I thought that the new musketry rules had worked quite well.  Although the difference in effective range was only a matter of a few inches, the troops with the better quality firearms did get an advantage lacking in the standard Pike and Shotte rules.  The only area the poorer quality firearms achieved parity was at close range (set at pistol range), at that range we felt the quality of the firearms made no difference.

As for the Muscovite cavalry, they were at a disadvantage from the very start, or even before we started.  We had established that the respective C in C's would be rated '8' for command and that the two sub generals would roll for rating.  1/2 meaning a rating of '7' ; 3-6 '8'.  Both Polish/Cossack sub-commanders achieved '8' ratings, one of the Muscovite commanders rolled a '1'; that commander was of course for the cavalry.  Taken together with rating the feudal cavalry as militia, it meant that to move the cavalry had to get 2-6 on two d6, less than a 50% chance.  Hampered like that, they were always going to struggle.  Lesson for the future, try not to give militia to poor commanders!

Sunday, 4 October 2020

Two ECW scenarios

Over the past few weeks our Skype games have been ECW affairs.  The first was a version of "The battle of Upper Downington" which I found on TMP (link).  A fairly straightforward scenario with roughly equal armies representing King and Parliament, each aiming to defeat the opposition and drive them from the field.  Below is a photo of the terrain

Steve commanded the Royalists (bottom of photo) and sent one brigade of three infantry regiments against the enclosure.  The second infantry brigade was to hold the centre, and the cavalry was to contain and defeat the Parliamentary cavalry.  Steve's cavalry made good progress and was able to deploy beyond the wood.  The initial cavalry melee went in favour of the Royalists, but their losses were such that they could not follow up their success.

To try and stabalise my left wing I wheeled the reserve infantry regiment to fire against the flank of any further Royalist advance; hoping that this would buy enough time for my battered cavalry regiments to recover.

On the right, the unit advancing through the enclosure was slowed by the heavy terrain and the unit on the extreme right was also advancing slowly, but this was because of a succession of failed command tests.  This resulted in the Royalist infantry reaching the hedge of the enclosure first.  However, a magnificent volley from my raw infantry regiment managed to disorder their veteran opponents and then followed this up with a  charge. 

Slow progress through the ploughed field

The Royalists get there first

The melee lasted several rounds, with both sides taking heavy casualties.

In the centre, the other two infantry brigades were now in musketry range and began to exchange volleys.  Both had artillery support, the Royalists two light guns and the Parliamentarians one medium gun, but neither side achieved a decisive advantage.

On the Royalist right, the cavalry pulled back, keen to avoid the chance of suffering losses from a volley from the advancing Parliamentary infantry.  When this infantry was joined by the reformed Parliamentary cavalry, progress began to be made.  First, one Royalist cavalry regiment was routed by a cavalry charge and then the other failed a command test and didn't fall back, leaving it open to a volley from the advancing infantry.  The resulting casualties were sufficient to rout this unit as well and the flank of the Royalist centre was now 'in the air'.

On the opposite flank, matters favoured the Royalists.  After a tough struggle, the veteran Royalist infantry broke their opponents, routing them from the field.  To their right, the Parliamentary infantry had shaken their Royalist opponents by musketry and attempted to complete the job by charging them.  This attack failed and they fell back in disorder.  They had to had to test for 'friends routing' but managed to hold their ground, even so the position on the Parliamentary right was not promising.

Parliamentary rout

With time running out, we called a halt.  It was decided that with no cavalry, the Royalists would have to fall back, but the level of Parliamentary losses was such that there would be no pursuit.

The game reported on TMP used the "Victory without Quarter" rules, which are free to download.  

Our second game was one devised by Steve, where the Parliamentarians were trying to get a supply train through to a beleaguered garrison.

The view of the terrain from behind the Parliamentary start line; the Royalists had to deploy along the line of the transverse road at the far end of the table.  To escort the three wagons Parliament had; 5 regiments of cavalry (1 large, 3 standard and 1 small), 2 units of commanded shot (1 large and 1 standard) and a unit of dragoons.  As Parliamentary commander I did not know the strength of the opposing forces, but as the game progressed it became clear the Royalists had 3 regiments of cavalry (1 large, 1 standard and 1 small), a unit of dragoons, 2 standard sized 3:2 infantry regiments and a light gun.  The Royalists had two commanders, one of whom could only command cavalry; whilst Parliament had 3, but one was a '7', which affected command.

I deployed with infantry and horse on both flanks.  My plan was to push forward on the left to defeat any enemy forces there while my right would occupy the attention of any remaining Royalist forces. Initially, the large cavalry regiment was to be held in reserve, a mistake which would have some severe consequences.

As the cavalry on my left ( 2 standard regiments and a small one), advanced they saw the Royalist cavalry was coming to meet them.  Steve had deployed his large and standard regiment on his right flank (it was the best cavalry ground on the board) and although the numbers were equal some failed commands meant that I was attacking piecemeal.  

The Royalist deployment
Although I managed to hold my ground in the first round of melee, losses had been heavy and a further round would, in all likelihood see me forced to fall back.  Some reinforcements would have been useful, but my large cavalry unit was trapped on the other side of the wagon train and when the wagons eventually moved far enough forward, the unit failed to respond to a command for three consecutive moves.

The situation on the Royalist right

In the following round of melee the large Royalist regiment routed their opponents, who proceeded to run through the commanded shot who had been moving forward to support them.  Still recovering from this, the commanded shot were then hit by the Royalist cavalry who were in full pursuit.  The other Royalist cavalry unit had already routed one Parliamentary cavalry unit and now took on the remaining small unit.  This also routed, but they had inflicted sufficient casualties to 'shake' the Royalists and prevent them moving any further forward. 

Seeing the mayhem the leading wagon decided that the left hand road was not safe and instead took the next to the right.

Over on the Parliamentary right most of the units had advanced, but once again in a piecemeal fashion.  All except the dragoons who had shot off to the right, round the far enclosure, with the intention of reaching the transverse road.  They had reckoned without the small Royalist cavalry regiment which had been kept in reserve.  The Royalists charged through a gap in the hedge and caught the dragoons before they could deploy.  In a very one-sided affair, the dragoons routed from the field.  

The Royalist cavalry see off the dragoons

When the Royalist cavalry predictably destroyed the commanded shot, two thirds of the firepower of the Parliamentary force had been eliminated; not a good position to be in when there were two infantry regiments to overcome.

At this point it all seemed over, perhaps Steve thought so too as he launched his large cavalry regiment against the remnants of my left wing cavalry which was still trying to rally.  However, my last remaining commanded shot unit had deployed along the road facing the left and when the Royalist cavalry charged past they received a close range volley.  This stopped them in their tracks and forced them to fall back.  By now my large cavalry regiment had decided to take part and had moved across to the left.  Together with the now rallied remnants of my left wing they counter-attacked and drove back the Royalist horse. 

The Parliamentary counter-attack

The Parliamentary cavalry on the right had manoeuvred itself into a terrible position.  One unit faced the Royalist centre unable to advance in the face of an infantry unit behind a hedge with a light gun in support.  The other had charged the small Royalist unit which had destroyed the dragoons.  They had lost the melee and had to fall back, towards the Royalist dragoons who were deployed behind a hedge.  Pushed further back, the Parliamentary cavalry forced their way through a narrow gap and ended up on the transverse road.  However, disordered, shaken and with infantry on both flanks their only route to survival was to leave the field.

The Parliamentary wagons were also in trouble.  One of the Royalist infantry units had advanced and was firing at the wagons, hoping to drive off the crews.

The lead wagon was abandoned, blocking the second wagon and leaving them at the mercy of the Royalist infantry.  Surveying the carnage, the Parliamentary commander decided that he would have to fall back taking the remaining wagon and leaving the others to the Royalists.

This was a very entertaining scenario and we decided to swap sides and run it again.  Steve concentrated more of his cavalry on his left and put both commanded shot units on his right.  Once again the initial cavalry melee went against me, both Royalist cavalry units falling back needing to rally.  The fighting continued, flowing back and forth, but each time the Royalist were that little bit further back.

With one Royalist unit already routed from the field the fighting was eventually taking place on the transverse road.  In spite of the personal intervention of the Royalist cavalry commander, the large cavalry unit routed, carrying him with it.  The one crumb of comfort was that the Parliamentary cavalry routed as well. 

In the centre, the commanded shot were firing at the light gun and eventually succeeded in driving off the gunners.  On the Royalist left the opposing units of dragoons were sniping at each other.  With the Royalist units having to meet multiple probes by the Parliamentary units the defensive line was beginning to fracture

The Parliamentary wagons were now reaching the transverse road and so the Royalist commander had to order the retreat.

Saturday, 12 September 2020

The Men Who Would be Kings trial

Steve bought a copy of this rule set some time ago and has been working towards being able to stage a game to try them out.  They offer the opportunity to set up and play a colonial/19th century game a good bit quicker than with our in house versions of Battles for Empire and Blood on the Nile.  For the scenario, a detachment of Imperial troops, (one small unit of redcoats, highlanders and camel corps), is falling back towards a building complex in front of a larger force of  Mahdists.

The set up from behind the Imperial forces

 I was in command of the Mahdists for the first game and decided that the cavalry on the flanks would advance quickly and threaten the flanks of the Imperials, the irregular infantry would advance and then 'soften up' the enemy units with rifle fire, before the beja would charge in and finish them off.  What could possibly go wrong?

Well. firstly the cavalry advance was fitful to say the least.  Needing a score of 6 or more on two d6, they managed to fail a good 50% of their attempts.  The irregulars suffered the same problem, only one unit managed to get in range to fire.  They did manage one good volley, but then we discovered we had used the wrong factor for them and it was ineffective!  In the end the beja made individual attacks, getting shredded by volleys and having to fall back.  The cavalry eventually got into position and then received the same treatment as the beja.  At this point the attack was called off.

Just to check that the rules did not favour the Imperials too much we set the scenario again and swapped sides.  The second time around the Mahdists were more purposeful and coordinated in their advance.  I sent the Camel Corps back to secure the building, hoping to hold the ridge long enough to blunt the Mahdists attack.

It was at this point that things started to go awry.  The redcoats failed an order to fall back onto the ridge.  This left them in range when the irregulars opened fire.  Even worse, that fire 'pinned' them (like 'battered' in Lion Rampant).  They managed to rally next turn, but suffered more losses from rifle fire and then were charged by 'green flag' beja.  It could have been worse; the beja had narrowly failed an order to charge the previous move.  If that attack had gone in, the red coats would have only had half the number of dice to defend themselves.

The beja gather for the main attack

To the left of the red coats, the Scots had been more fortunate.  They had managed to fall back and also to close the ranks, (improving their defence).  In addition they had exacted a heavy toll on the 'blue flag' beja facing them.

The redcoats under pressure
For the red coats the end was nigh.  Caught in open order the melee was a massacre.  They were wiped out.  
The Scots see off one attack, but another looms on their flank

The Scots were being whittled away by the fire of the irregulars.  To the right, their flank was threatened by the beja; however, the decisive attack came from the left as the cavalry attacked.

And now the cavalry

Overwhelmed, the Scots were cut down.

The coup de grace

From the buildings, the Camel Corps watched the disaster unfold, powerless to help.  However, the Mahdist leader didn't have the force to attack such a position and decided to pull back.

The rules passed the first test in that both sides had a chance of winning.  The rule mechanisms were easy to understand, though being familiar with 'Lion Rampant' helped a good deal.  You don't need a large number of figures to play and a 6 x 4 ft table is more than adequate.  They definitely lean to the 'fun game' end of the rules spectrum.  You can have a plan, but the dice rule!

Friday, 11 September 2020

A small portion of Vienna, 1683

The inspiration for this week's game came from a post on the League of Augsburg blog. (link).  The game pictured was on a far larger scale than I could contemplate, but it could provide a basis for an experiment pitting our 'Grand Alliance' figures against some Ottomans.  Looking at the maps in Wheatcroft's "The Enemy at the Gate" I settled on Lorraine's advance close to the Danube.  The allied force was predominantly infantry (12 battalions, organised in 3 brigades) with some cavalry and artillery support.  Their task was to clear the Ottomans from an earthwork and then advance eastwards towards the main defences.  Opposing them was 1 unit of levy infantry, a small janissary unit, a small unit of azab skirmishers, one unit of horse archers, one of light cavalry and a unit of sipahi.  The Ottoman commander could call for supports, but what actually arrived depended on a dice roll when the reinforcements were due to enter the table.

Above is a photo of the terrain for the table.  The river is fordable for infantry and cavalry, artillery need to use the ford; the boggy area is impassable to all troops.  NB the cavalry in the lower left of the photo are not deployed there, they will enter behind the infantry.
For the Ottomans the objective is to delay and allied advance and give time for the decisive attack on the weakening defences of Vienna.  The allies need to make quick progress and draw forces away from the attack on the city.  Steve, as the allied commander, knew what troops he could expect as reinforcements and approximately when they would arrive.   As the Ottoman commander, I could request reinforcements but only had a vague idea of when I could expect them.  Once the appointed time arrived, I would roll a d6 and that score would determine which force, from the list available would deploy on my baseline.

The allied advance was slow and methodical with the infantry crossing the river without becoming disordered.  As they advanced, the light artillery came under fire from the Azabs I had placed in the building and both guns deployed to drive off these irritating musketeers.  Soon the gun in the redoubt found the range of the advancing allied infantry and the combined grenadiers began to suffer heavy casualties.  This eventually routed the small unit and they had to be rallied by the commanding general.  The grenadiers' sacrifice had preserved the regular infantry battalions from the Ottoman guns during their advance.  In an attempt to stop the allied advance, the Ottoman light cavalry moved forward.  On the Ottoman left, the horse archers threatened the infantry's flank and on the right the lancers charged the Danish foot.  A close range volley failed to stop the light cavalry but the casualties it inflicted reduced their resolve.  Driven back in the melee, they commenced a slow retreat, drawing back far enough to attempt to rally.  The Danes had not got off scot free, having suffered significant casualties.
The light cavalry charge the Danish foot

On the Ottoman left, the archers had been shooting at the infantry, but inflicting little damage.  With the allied cavalry taking it's time to get forward, it was up to the second line of infantry to take some action.  A few volleys were sufficient to force the archers back and relieve the pressure.  Back on the right the sipahi charged the Danish infantry.  Charging home through the close range volley they inflicted heavy casualties which routed their opponents.  However, they had taken sufficient casualties themselves to prevent them following up.  To avoid the volleys from a supporting regiment they had to fall back to rally.

On the far right, the light artillery had eventually managed to drive the azabs from the building, clearing the way for an advance on that flank.

By now, the allied cavalry had moved forward and made their presence felt.  On the right, the Erbach regiment charged the horse archers, who attempted to evade, but were caught before they could move.  It was a rather one-sided affair, with Erbach coming through unscathed while the archers fell back.  Erbach followed up, pushing the Ottomans back again.  Before the archers could recover they were charged again by Erbach and driven from the field.

Erbach drive off  the Ottoman horse archers

By this point the Ottoman commander was a worried man.   More allied troops were crossing the river and the remainder of the first wave of attackers was outflanking the redoubt.  His cavalry were still not fully recovered from their earlier fighting and the allied cavalry was pressing forward.  He only had one reserve, a small unit of Janissaries.  Then reports came to him that reinforcements were arriving.  Looking back towards the city he could see cavalry and infantry approaching their familiar banners fluttering in the breeze.  Assuming the cavalry would occupy the rampaging Erbach, he place himself at the head of the Janissaries and led them to the left to attack the allied infantry on that flank.  Charging through the close range volley the Ottomans crashed into the allied line.  In spite of their best efforts they could not prevail and had to fall back.  The enemy gave them no chance to recover, charging their opponents and routing them. 

The Janissaries routed

Fortunately the allied infantry had suffered heavy losses and needed time to rally before they could continue to advance.  In the redoubt, the levy ignored this reverse and stood to their front.

The Ottoman cavalry arrived in the nick of time.  A unit of sipahi charged Erbach, confident in their superior numbers.  They received short shrift from their opponents, who quickly drove them from the field.  On the opposite flank, the original unit of sipahi, now rallied charged the allied infantry and stopped them in their tracks.  The position there was still perilous, the Veningen Gendarmes were working round the flank of the sipahi and only a unit of light cavalry was in a position to stop them.

The Ottoman commander ordered the infantry reinforcements to fall back to the next line of defence, as to advance any further would achieve little and may well only serve to increase Ottoman losses.  He then mustered what forces he could and began to try and get them back to the main line of defence.

An enjoyable evenings game.  As you may expect, the allied infantry fire power could handle most Ottoman attacks.  The Ottomans could perhaps have done with more cavalry and they could certainly have done with more space, allowing them to threaten the flanks of the allies more effectively.  [A point made by Bruno Mugnai in his recent book ] .    Whilst compiling this post I happened to have a telephone conversation with my friend Alasdair, a former wargaming opponent now living in Scotland.  He said that he felt that even with his 12 ft table there was not enough space on the flanks to really represent the flanking tactics of the Ottoman army using 25mm figures.  Perhaps I should have gone for 15mm or even 10?

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Dawn attack: an AWI scenario

The mood at the headquarters of the revolutionary army was gloomy.  For two months their forces had been pushed back by the crown forces; morale among the men was low and reports were coming in that some of the militia units were refusing to muster.  The commanding general was blunt, a victory was needed or they may as well disband and go home.  But how to achieve it?  In a set piece battle the odds were stacked against them, what was needed was an attack, in force, on an isolated enemy outpost.  Fortunately, such an outpost had been identified.  A small Hessian brigade was reported to be quartered in the settlement of Fortune and they were a good three or four hours away from any supports.  Command of the attack was given to General James Deadwood and was composed by the brigades of Collins and Dawson, each with 2 line units, rifle unit and a light gun, plus 3 militia units.  The militia arrived the day before the attack was to take place and the turnout was disappointing.  One unit didn't turn up, (they claimed the orders arrived too late), and the remainder were all under strength.  Nevertheless, General Deadwood made his preparations and at dawn the following day the revolutionary force approached Fortune.

A view of the battlefield,  Collins approached on the road on the left, Dawson, the central road.

Von Stalheim's forces were quartered in Fortune.  He had the musketeer regiments von Mirbach and von Donop, the fusilier regiment von Lossberg, the grenadier regiment von Rall, two jaeger regiments and a medium gun.  Pickets had been posted and remainder of the Hessians were indoors.  An early morning mist cloaked the countryside as the brigades of Collins and Dawson advanced, riflemen to the fore.  Deadwood's plan was to envelop Fortune and overwhelm the defenders with musketry fire.  Dawson was to send his two line units to the right to occupy Grainger's Hill, while the militia and rifles, with the artillery held the line between the woods.  Collins was to send his riflemen through the woods towards Salem Chapel on Cook's Hill.  The hill was to be occupied and then the four regiments, two line and two militia, would concentrate their fire on Fortune.

There was some delay as the militia deployed, but the attack seemed to be progressing well, with the lead unit of Dawson's brigade nearing Grainger's Hill.  Suddenly shots rang out.  The Hessian jaeger picket on the hill had spotted the troops approaching.  After firing they fell back to join their unit.  In Fortune itself the Hessian troops reacted to the alarm.  First to their position were the jaeger, quickly lining the fences  facing the flank of Dawson's line regiments as they made their way to Grainger's Hill.  Just behind them were von Lossberg who deployed to face Dawson's riflemen and militia.  With the alarm raised, Dawson hurried his militia units forward and moved the riflemen to the left to tackle the jaeger.

Deadwood's forces begin their attack

On the opposite flank, Collins was moving along the road, to avoid the slowing terrain.  Ahead, the riflemen had cleared the wood and were advancing on Salem Chapel.  Once again shots rang out as the Hessian outposts spotted their approach.  Collins ordered one of his line units to move to the left to help the riflemen.  Still in column the infantry crossed a fence and advanced towards the chapel.  By this time the mist was lifting and unfortunately for the column they were in the field of fire for the Hessian artillery which had deployed between Cook's Hill and Fortune.  The first roundshot crashed through the head of the column, causing confusion.  Further rounds broke the spirit of the infantry and they routed to the rear.  After ordering the remainder of his force to deploy into line, Collins galloped over to try and restore order.

One of Collins' units routs after being hit by artillery fire

Dawson's riflemen were now engaging the Hessian jaeger, both sides taking losses, though Dawson's artillery now joined in and the revolutionary forces began to gain the upper hand.  For their part, the Hessians were bolstered by the sight of von Mirbach's musketeer regiment moving up on their left to cover their flank.  The grenadiers had been conspicuous by the tardiness of their arrival and Von Stalheim sent their commander an abrupt reminder of the need for speed.  The fusiliers had by now begun exchanging volleys with one of Dawson's militia units.  Their fire was supplemented by that of an 'amusette' which had been set up at the junction of the roads leading into Fortune.   It's fire was not very effective, but the fire from the fusiliers was and the militia unit began to waver.  Concerned of the detrimental effect an retreat, (or worse) by this unit would have, Deadwood quickly moved forward to try and settle the men.  The air thick with musket balls from the Hessian volleys, Deadwood rode up and down the ranks steadying the militia men and convincing them to keep firing.

Deadwood rallies the militia

Collins had managed to rally his routing line infantry and now ordered his units to advance.  The advance of his riflemen was stalled by the accurate fire of the Hessian jaeger on Cook's Hill, so he ordered a militia unit to move over to support them.  As his remaining units advanced towards Fortune the Hessian artillery began to target them, but although casualties were inflicted the fire was not as deadly as it had been earlier.  Collins units now also had to contend with flanking fire from von Donop's regiment on Cook's Hill.  This fire was not very effective and Collins ordered his men to concentrate their volleys on von Lossberg's fusiliers.  Reeling under the fire from the militia and Collin's men, the fusiliers crumbled and fell back to try and rally.  On their way they passed the grenadiers von Rall which had at last entered the fray.

The jaeger and von Mirbach hold the left flank

The fusiliers rout

Von Stalheim was fairly confident his right flank was secure, his concerns were for his left.  The jaegers were struggling to maintain their position and he could see Dawson's men forming up on Grainger's Hill, ready to push forward.  He ordered von Mirbach to advance against the extreme right of the revolutionary line and try and catch it before it was fully deployed.  He also  ordered the grenadiers to get forward and deploy to hold the position previously held by von Lossberg's fusiliers. 

Von Donop's view of the battlefield from Cook's Hill

Von Mirbach advances

Von Mirbach advanced and then halted, ready to fire on Dawson's infantry as they crested the skyline.  Unfortunately for them, their volleys were ineffectual; not so the reply from the advancing revolutionary line infantry.  To the right of von Mirbach, the jaeger were unable to withstand the concentrated fire of two units plus the light artillery.  The few survivors fell back, having done all they could.  This allowed Dawson to order one of his line units to advance and occupy the position previously held by the jaeger.

Deadwood had spotted the advance of the Hessian grenadiers.  Determined to snuff out the threat they posed he ordered  all units that were able, to concentrate their fire on the Hessians.  Assailed by a torrent of fire even the grenadiers wilted.  Caught before they could deploy, the unit seemed to melt away.  What remained made routed back towards the town.

The grenadiers rout

Von Stalheim could see the day was lost.  He ordered the forces on Cook's hill to make their way back towards the main crown forces and rode over to lead von Mirbach and the remains of the other units in the same direction.  Deadwood didn't order a vigorous pursuit, just an occupation of Fortune and he spared no praise for the militia units which had played such a prominent part in the victory. 


Thursday, 27 August 2020

Flank attack on the Ridge: a Kelhamshire scenario for Pike and Shotte

Circumstances dictated that our latest game was once again played via skype rather than in person.  I selected one of the games from Charles Grant's "Programmed Wargames Scenarios"  'weak flank', for Wednesday evening's game,.  The attackers' (Parliament) are trying to drive the defenders (Royalists) from the ridge to secure the road for the advance of their supply train and heavy guns.  Unwilling to attack the position frontally, they have carried out an overnight flank march to attack the enemy's right flank.  I tinkered with it slightly, introducing a covering force to try and prevent the defenders from moving all their troops to counter the flank attack.

A view of the table at the beginning of the game.  The Royalists are defending the ridge, in the woods on the right are a unit of dragoons.  At the top of the photo can be seen the small force Sir Victor has left to firstly cover his camp and the baggage train and secondly fix the attention of the left wing of the Royalist forces.  Due to arrive on the Royalist right flank are six units of foot, (in two brigades) and four regiments of horse (1 brigade) accompanied by two light guns. 

Sir Roderick Hoghton commander of the Royalist forces had deployed expecting a frontal attack on the ridge.  The infantry and guns were to hold the ground against an enemy attack, while Sir William Molyneux's cavalry brigade were positioned where they could move to flank any such attack. The manoeuvers of Bentham's command, the skeleton force left in the Parliamentary camp by Sir Victor, confirmed Hoghton in his plan and before he could gauge the true extent of Bentham's force, the Parliamentary flank attack was well under way.

Wanless' brigade was first into the attack.  Nowell's regiment advanced straight towards the right hand wood, with Gell's regiment further to the right heading for the ridge.  Malkin's regiment aroused the ire of Sir Victor by seemingly being reluctant to advance.  Even worse, it slowed the advance of Lonsdale's infantry brigade as well.

The Parliamentarian infantry advance

The speed of Nowell's advance was such that the Royalist dragoons had time for only one volley before the enemy infantry were on them.  They were followed back through the wood by Nowell's men, who managed to preserve reasonably good order in spite of the close terrain.  Gell's regiment were equally as swift.  They caught Hoghton's regiment in flank, but remarkably, the Royalist infantry managed to 'bounce' the attack off.  Before the Parliamentary infantry could advance again, Hoghton's regiment had wheeled, fired and forced Gell's to retreat.  This resulted in Malkin's regiment, which had eventually managed to advance, being disordered as Gell's fell back through them.

Nowell's push back the Royalist dragoons

Gell's attack Hoghton's regiment

Hoghton's response to Sir Victor's attack had been to order his two reserve infantry regiments, Clinton's and Strickland's to move to the right to oppose Nowell's and the cavalry to move left to make room for the infantry advance.  This caused some confusion and the situation was not helped by the dragoons also moving to the left.

Seeing the repulse of the first attack on the ridge, Bentham decided to interpret his orders "to occupy the attention of the enemy forces near the road" as meaning he should attack.  His force of two small infantry regiments and a small cavalry regiment advanced  against Smethurst's infantry regiment on the Royalist left.   A combination of musketry volleys and artillery fire inflicted significant casualties on Bentham's regiments, but they still plodded forward.  Bentham had artillery support and fire from this began to whittle away at Smethurst's .  Anxious to support his left flank, Hoghton ordered Molyneux to send a regiment to attack the enemy artillery.  Gillibrand's infantry regiment moved forward allowing Stanley's cavalry regiment to advance through the gap.

Sir Victor's forces ready to advance

Meanwhile on the Royalist right, Nowell's regiment continued to advance.  Clinton's regiment formed up to oppose them, volleys were exchanged and then Nowell's charged.  Strickland's should have been in a position to support Clinton's, but they were still threading their way through Molyneux's brigade of cavalry.  Sir Victor's own cavalry brigade, Livesey's had arrived, but he held them back.  He was waiting for the infantry to push the Royalists back and allow the cavalry to pass between the two woods safely.

The fight for the ridge had resumed with Gell's reinforced by Lonsdale's brigade.  To aid Hoghton's, Sir Roderick ordered a gun and Gillibrand's regiment to move to the right flank.The artillery did move, but the ground slowed their advance; the order for Gillibrand's regiment seemed to go astray as they remained exactly where they were.  By the time a second order reached them it was too late.  Lonsdale had deployed Mytton's regiment to the right of Gell's, with the regiments of Leck and Ireby in a second line.  Hoghton's did what they could; but outnumbered 2:1 the Parliamentary volleys exacted a heavy toll. Losses in Hoghton's mounted and seeing a wavering in the Royalist ranks, Wanless ordered Gell's to charge.   Hoghton's fired a feeble volley and a token resistance before taking to their heels.  In the confusion of the rout, the gunners , who had eventually reached the summit of the ridge, also ran, abandoning their gun.  With Nowell's regiment routing Clinton's regiment after a prolonged tussle, Sir Victor was on the brink of success.

Bentham's attack on the ridge

The only positive news for Sir Roderick came from the right flank.  Bentham's first attack had been repulsed.  Not only that, Smethurst's had followed up their success and also pushed back the second infantry regiment.  Molyneux had taken personal command of the attack by Stanley's horse regiment.  They had quickly overrun the Parliamentary artillery and were now placed to complete the destruction of Bentham's force.  Facing disaster, Bentham ordered his horse regiment, Bannister's, to charge Stanley's.  Although outnumbered they inflicted heavy damage on the Royalists, but it was at a fearful cost.  Stanley's, reeling from their losses, struggled back to their lines to reform.  Bannister's, seeing their own infantry running back to the camp, decided that the day was lost and joined the rout.  Smethurst would have loved to carry on his advance and loot the Parliamentary camp, but a personal visit from Sir Roderick convinced him that his presence was needed to bolster the centre of the Royalist position.

Hoghton's rout

The success of Nowell and Gell had cleared the way for Livesey's brigade to advance.  As the leading regiment, Shuttleworth's, cleared the gap between the woods and formed up, they were faced by Tyldsley's regiment.  In a brief struggle, Shuttleworth's prevailed, driving back their opponents and charging the supporting regiment, Molyneux's.  This was a more even affair, with significant losses on both sides.  Both units fell back to reform.  Livesey pushed forward his own regiment and the remaining two from his brigade.  Molyneux had only Loughton's regiment to oppose them, his other three regiments needing time to reform.  Hoghton assessed his position.  Outnumbered and outmanoeuvred, his only chance was to use Loughton's horse and  Strickland to buy time while the remainder of his force retreated.

Nowell's, the heroes of the day, who led the attack.  Here they rout Clinton's regiment

A notable victory for Sir Victor, marred only by the heavy losses sustained by Bentham in his attack on the ridge.  However, Bentham argued that he did pull one of the Royalist cavalry regiments away from the decisive action in the centre.