Friday, 12 October 2018

Steppes II

Steve has been working on his Muscovite army and our recent game provided their first 'outing'; an encounter battle with a Cossack force.  The two forces had both been engaged in a 'sweep' through a disputed border area on the steppes and the respective scouting parties had met near a small village.  The Muscovite force comprised 3 units of streltsy, 1 soldatski, 2 units of skirmishing light cavalry and two units of feudal cavalry, with 1 medium and 1 light gun.  Opposing them were 4 units of Cossack foot,( 2 of registered Cossacks and 2 Moloisty), 2 light cavalry and 2 units of tartars.  They were accompanied by 2 light guns.  Both sides have a number of wagons.


Taken part way through the action, this overview shows the terrain from the Cossack side .  In the centre the village and two small hills, a stream on the 'Cossack' side and two wheat fields on the Muscovite side.  A second small hill lies near the Cossack baseline.

Steve's left wing cavalry

Streltsy

General
I took command of the Cossacks and decided that I would hold the Cossack cavalry in reserve as they were both outnumbered and outclassed by the feudal cavalry.  The Tartars would be on the left to drive back the Muscovite scouts on that flank.  In the centre were the artillery and registered Cossacks who had good fire power, but would struggle in melee against the Streltsy with their berdysche axes.  I therefore planned to deploy the wagons in front of the registered Cossacks to give them a bit more protection.  On the flanks the Moloisty with their spears would hopefully be able to hold off any marauding Muscovite cavalry.

At first things went in favour of the Cossacks; the Tartars drove back the Muscovite scouts and even managed to push back the rather ineffectual feudal cavalry.  In addition, the Muscovite foot seemed reluctant to advance as did all the cavalry on the Muscovite left.  Perhaps I could secure the village after all.

Battle is joined
However, the Muscovite infantry suddenly awoke from their slumbers and advanced rapidly leaving me with having to make a decision, "Do I stop and form a firing line, or push for the village?"  The wagons chose this moment to 'do their own thing'.  One advanced at breakneck speed, even attempting to cross the stream, and another refused to move at all. Only two stayed with the infantry, where one unit failed to move and the other dashed forward, crossing the stream and occupying the nearest house in the village.  Boldly done, but the unit became disorganised by the move and thus was at a disadvantage when attacked by the leading unit of Streltsy.  Against the odds, the Cossacks held on and their comrades abandoned the 'stand and shoot' plan and went to their support.


Muscovite Streltsy advance onto the hill
The Muscovite left wing cavalry at last got moving and I needed to advance one of the Moloisty units to the right to cover my flank.  As the Muscovite scouts approached a Streltsy unit appeared on the hill to the right of the village (from the Cossack viewpoint).      I now faced a dilemma.  If the Moloisty advanced their flank would be threatened by the Streltsy.  I could attack the Streltsy with the registered Cossacks supporting their comrades  in the village, but this would deprive the defenders of support and open up the flank of the attacking Cossacks to a flank attack by the Soldatski massing in the village.  Whilst I dithered, the Streltsy on the hill fired a volley at one of my cavalry units which I had moved to the right to support the Moloisty.  This volley stopped the cavalry in its tracks and then a second volley drove them from the field in utter ruin.

The Cossack flank is threatened

The Soldatski prevail

Something needed to be done quickly.  Fortunately, my light artillery now intervened and managed to inflict sufficient casualties to shake the Streltsy unit and prevent it from charging.  Then the Cossacks defenders in the village gave way, eventually overpowered by the axe-wielding Streltsy attacking them. The registered Cossacks now found themselves in a quandary.  If they advanced they would be attacked by the Soldatski, if they held their ground they would be shot at by two units of Streltsy, if they fell back they would also be shot at.  The artillery played their part again and drove off the Streltsy on the hill, easing the pressure.  The issue was decided when the Soldatski charged the Cossacks.  Arquebus/matchlock musket versus pike melees tend to be very one-sided.  This was no exception as in no time at all, my Registered Cossack unit was streaming to the rear.  This left the Muscovites in undisputed control of the village and me on the losing side.  The question was, would I be able to withdraw my remaining troops in good order?

The Moloisty drive off the feudal cavalry
Over on my right, the Moloisty had seen off the Muscovite light cavalry, but now faced a large unit of feudal cavalry.  More menacing was the medium gun which had deployed in effective range and was preparing to fire.  Fortunately, after the artillery's first shots missed the feudal cavalry decided to take matters into their own hands and charged.  Although the attack was pressed home through a closing volley, the infantry prevailed in the melee and had to fall back to recover.  This gave the Cossacks a breathing space allowing them to fall back.  They were subjected to artillery fire, but the range lengthened and the casualties were not severe.

On my left things did not go so well.  The remains of the Tartar units were scattered by the Muscovite light cavalry and then the reformed feudal cavalry charged my remaining infantry unit.  The closing volley was totally ineffective and the Cossack formation splintered under the impact of the Muscovite horsemen.  Those who could fleeing for the baseline.  All my remaining cavalry unit could do was hope to hold off the Muscovites long enough to allow my last infantry unit to retreat from the field.

Not a good day for the Cossacks.  In retrospect I should have stuck to my original plan and try and prevail by musketry.  Abandoning the defensive in favour of an attack split up my forces and allowed them to be picked off.  It was however a good morale boosting outing for Steve's Muscovites, perhaps I should put up a Polish force as opposition next time.

Wednesday, 3 October 2018

Providence, map and OOB

After something of a delay, here are the requested OOB's and a sketch map of the terrain for the Providence game.

Crown Forces

2 brigades

British                                                                       

4 line battalions                                                       
1 grenadier battalion                                                 
1 unit converged light companies                             
1 gun                                                                         

Hessians

3 musketeer battalions
1 fusilier battalion
1 grenadier battalion
1 jaeger battalion
1 gun
                                                                                 


'Rebels'

3 brigades, each of:-

2 'continental ' infantry battalions
2 militia battalions
1 unit of riflemen
1 gun




NB On the map, I have incorrectly put a fence on each side of the road above Green Ridge, it should only be on the side nearest Prospect Ridge.

Monday, 17 September 2018

Providence part 2

The post last week closed with the British and Hessians in control of what had been the American front line; now they have to push on and breakthrough the American army and reach the defile.
Von Seedorf decided to occupy Providence Chapel with musketeer regiment Mirbach and  concentrate fire on Cooper's men on Prospect Ridge.  Initially, the plan seemed to be working. On Prospect Ridge one of Cooper's militia regiments was driven back and forced to rally, whilst his riflemen sustained such losses that they were forced to leave the field.  Even the continental infantry seemed to be wavering.  When Von Seedorf sent his fusilier battalion through the woods to try and outflank the American right, Cooper was forced to commit his remaining militia battalion to fill the gap.


Desmond and Bell on Green Ridge
Arbuthnot decided that speed was of the essence and that a rapid advance down the road between Green Ridge and Jones' Peak would fracture the American line, opening the way to the defile.  The Light Companies would lead the advance, supported by the 55th Foot.  Their flanks would be "in the air", but if pressure was maintained by the other infantry battalions, no American units would be able to redeploy to threaten the advance.  Matters began well when the 28th foot drove back one of Archer's continental regiments extending the gap in the American line.  Volleys from the Light Companies drove the Americans back again,  almost to the defile itself.  The door seemed to be swinging open.

Arbuthnot's advance
 From Green Ridge, Desmond saw the danger.  Only one reserve remained a single regiment of Continental infantry from Cooper's brigade.  Riding up to the colonel, Desmond said, "The fate of the battle is at hand, follow me!" and led the regiment across the ridge to flank the road threatened by Arbuthnot's advance.  Archer had rallied his riflemen and sent them into the wood flanking the road and they began to fire at the advancing British infantry.  Desmond also commandeered two units of militia and ordered them to block the road near the defile and fire on the advancing British.  Archer had his hands full trying to hold back the grenadiers.  Their steady advance from Jones' Peak threatened to overwhelm his remaining infantry; but two close range volleys stopped the redcoats in their tracks and forced them back to reform.


For Von Seedorf, Providence Chapel was proving to be a poisoned chalice.  Although he held it he could not bring enough fire to bear on the Continental infantry lining the wall by the road, to drive them back.  They meanwhile were bringing their full strength to bear on the Hessian defenders.  His fusiliers finally managed to reach the edge of the wood facing Prospect Ridge, but were met by telling volleys from the militia and they were forced to retreat.  His grenadiers and the Trumbach Musketeer regiment were also driven back by volleys from Prospect Ridge. To cap it all, Mirbach were driven from the church by American volleys, the Hessians were in dire straits.

The militia prepare to drive off the Hessian fusiliers
While Knollys galloped over and helped to rally the Hessian troops, Arbuthnot continued his advance. His Light Companies pushed on down the road with the 55th  in support.  At first they were able to shrug off the American volleys, but as the range shortened, losses increased.  First to flinch were the 55th, who were forced to fall back by fire from the riflemen in the woods.  The loss of the this support was crucial when the Light Companies were swept by two quick volleys from the Continentals on Green Ridge, followed up by two more from the militia further down the road.  It was enough to cause the Light Companies to break and they quickly retreated back down the road away from the defile.  This was not the end of Arbuthnot's woes; the grenadiers were once again driven back over Jone's  Peak by the fire of Archer's men. 

the 55th driven off

The end of the Light Companies advance
For his part Von Seedorf , having rallied his men was willing to try one last attack.  He saw that the number of Americans covering the road between Prospect and Green ridges had been reduced by Desmond as he countered Arbuthnot's attack.  One more push might just be enough.  The fusiliers plodded through the woods once more, fire was directed on Prospect Ridge and the Von Lossberg Musketeer regiment was sent up the road to try and get on the flank of the men defending the lane behind Providence Chapel.  Once again the American volleys caused havoc.  The fusiliers were driven back again with heavy losses; Hessian fire did not suppress the fire from Prospect Ridge and Von Lossberg were scythed down by American volleys.

The fusiliers driven off again

Von Lossberg's fatal advance
With losses in his brigade approaching 75% Von Seedorf felt he could do no more.  Arbuthnot was of the same opinion, his brigade was also severely weakened.  Knollys could only call a halt and a slow withdrawal; perhaps reflecting that a single squadron of cavalry could have made all the difference.

For his part Desmond was relieved that he had managed to hold his position, it had been a close call and losses amongst his best troops, (the continental infantry) had been high.

A really enjoyable scenario from Steve, which could have gone either way.

Sunday, 9 September 2018

Providence; an AWI scenario

Our latest game was set in the AWI.  An American force had been besieging a British-held port, but  the arrival of Lord Howe's naval squadron had 'encouraged' the French commander to abandon plans to assist in the siege and sail away to a more secure anchorage.  This means General Desmond, (the American commander has had to lift the siege and fall back towards his supply base.  To buy the time for the siege and supply trains to pull back and pass through a narrow defile, Desmond has taken up a defensive position near Providence Chapel.  Emboldened by the American retreat, (and some reinforcements), General Knollys has opted to pursue the Americans and two brigades of infantry, (one British, one Hessian),  are moving towards Providence.  Desmond needs to hold his position and prevent the British from exiting the table in pursuit of the siege and supply trains.

View from behind the American position, 

View from behind the British right flank
In the picture above, taken from behind the British right flank, you can see Providence Chapel with Pike's Hill nearer the camera.  Beyond the chapel can be seen Prospect Ridge, Green Ridge (between the roads), and on the far right Jones' Hill.

Desmond deployed his three infantry brigades with Cooper on his right deployed on Prospect and Green Ridges and riflemen in the wood in front of Prospect Ridge.  Brigadier Bell was in the centre, holding Providence Chapel and Pike's Hill, with his reserve deployed in the lane connecting the two roads.  On the American left was Brigadier Archer, deployed on and around Jones' Hill and with riflemen in the woods nearer the British position.

Archer's regiments on Jones' Hill.
Knollys deployed with Arbuthnot's British brigade on his right and Von Seedorf's Hessians on his left.  His orders were simple, break through the American position and make for the defile.

Initial moves by the British and Hessians were rather hesitant as the brigades manoeuvred to broaden their front.  The riflemen took the opportunity to take pot shots  from the safety of the woods and eventually their fire led to battalions being directed to drive them off.  This fitted nicely with Desmond's plan, any units blundering through the woods pushing back the riflemen would be unavailable to attack his main defensive line.  With his battalions ready, Knollys ordered the advance and the allied ranks moved forward.  The Hessian battalions facing Providence Chapel had definitely drawn the short straw, their advance soon slowed in the face of sustained volleys from the continental infantry battalion lining the wall surrounding the chapel.  One musketeer battalion took such a battering that it had to fall back to rally.  Von Seedorf tried sending two battalions against the chapel but Cooper's artillery on Prospect Ridge and volleys from a second continental infantry battalion shredded that attack as well.

Defending Providence Chapel
Von Seedorf's advance
Arbuthnot had made some progress.  He had directed his combined grenadier battalion to displace the riflemen who had been sniping at them and the grenadiers' sudden advance had unsettled the skirmishing riflemen.  A quick volley from the grenadiers, followed by a charge with levelled bayonets was sufficient to send the riflemen tumbling back through the trees.   To the left of the grenadiers, the combined light companies had pushed up the road, exchanging fire with Bell's riflemen.  Eventually, the British light infantry gained the upper hand and the American unit pulled back to the lane behind Pike's Hill.  On Pike's Hill Bell's infantry waited for the inevitable British attack.  It was led by the 55th Foot who moved up the gentle slope with colours aloft.  As they crested the rise they were met by volleys and close range artillery fire which stopped them in their tracks.  A rather ragged volley was offered in reply by the British, but the American response drove them from the hill and Arbuthnot hastened to rally them.  The second British battalion climbing Pike's Hill met a similar fate and Knollys galloped forward to aid Arbuthnot.  So far, Desmond's plan was working.

The light companies advance

The first British attack up Pike's Hill
Originally Knollys had thought that he would pull the grenadiers out of the wood and send them down the road against Archer's position on the American left, but seeing the light companies' success he instead ordered the grenadiers to continue their push through the woods and then move on Jones' Peak.  In their path stood a militia battalion, but they did not offer much resistance beyond a feeble volley.  A point blank volley from the grenadiers severely thinned the American ranks and rather than wait for the inevitable bayonet charge, the militia fell back behind Jones' Peak.  Archer's main position on Jones' Peak now came under heavy pressure.  Volleys from the grenadiers and fire from Arbuthnot's artillery began to take their toll.  Particularly hard hit was Archer's artillery and the cres fell back, leaving their guns.

View from Jones' Peak along the American position
Von Seedorf had now organised a third attack on Providence Chapel.  Three battalions now concentrated their fire on the defenders of the stone wall.  Although the gallant defenders inflicted casualties on the Hessians, the weight of fire eventually told and with losses mounting the colonel felt he had to fall back to the line of the lane.  However, he still held the chapel with a militia battalion.  Unfortunately, the militia, perhaps unnerved by the retreat of the continental infantry, were soon driven off by the Hessian volleys.  In the woods on Cooper's left his riflemen were being pushed back by the Hessian musketeers, soon the main American line on Prospect Ridge came under fire.  Cooper's prospects were not helped by his artillery running out of ammunition and having to withdraw.

One of Bell's counter-attacks against the Light Companies is driven back


The grenadiers take Jones' Peak
On Pike's Hill, a third British attack rolled forward.  This was aided by fire from the Hessian Jaeger and in spite of determined resistance the summit was reached.  Bell's artillery crew stood by their guns and were cut down by the British infantry avenging the losses sustained by their comrades in earlier attacks.  His infantry were forced to fall back to the line of the lane.

Knollys had taken the first line of the American position, did he have the strength to break through the second?    Hopefully, Steve and I can finish the battle thus coming week.

Sunday, 26 August 2018

Pontvieux: a scenario for the Grand Alliance period

Steve and I managed to fit in this game just before the Britcon show and with one thing and another, it has taken two weeks to find the time to post a battle report.  I must first say that the scenario is 'lifted' from the "Scenarios for all ages" book by Stuart Asquith and C S Grant and that I 'tweaked' it in some ways (not always for the better!).

The old adversaries the Comte de Salle Forde and Graf von Grommit featured once again in this scenario.  Late in the campaigning season, Von Grommit has made a move to besiege a small, but strategically important fortress.  Caught off guard, the Comte has hastily gathered a force together and taken up a position at Pontvieux, covering a ford of the river Bonne.  Von Gronmmit has reached the Bonne and recognised that a frontal attack would be very costly.  Therfore he has sent Graf Von Wentzel upstream to cross the Bonne and then move against Salle Forde's flank; at which point a frontal attack would be launched.   Fortunately for the Comte, Wentzel's move had been spotted and he had ordered the Marquis d' Haute Brie to take a mixed force, (2 battalions, 2 squadrons and a light gun) to hold off the flank attack.  The Marquis thus took up a position behind some boggy ground which Wentzel would have to cross.

View from behind Von Wentzel's force
Seeing the enemy lines around Pontvieux thinned by the Marquis' move to oppose Wentzel's attack, Von Grommit ordered Major General Boome to advance his infantry brigade over the Bonne and  seize Pontvieux village.  A cavalry brigade commanded by Hofburg-Riesling was to cover Boome's flank against any advance by the French cavalry commanded by Chevalier Auguste Dupleix.  Supported by fire from the Allied artillery Boome's infantry advanced to the Bonne and began to cross.  Leading the way were the Prince Max Grenadiers, who lost formation as they struggled across the river and were swept by French musketry as they reformed on the far bank.

Boome's brigade prepares to advance.
To the grenadiers' left regiment Blitzen-Kron had also crossed the Bonne.  They suffered casualties from the French artillery and a volley from regiment d'Humieres and before they could recover Dupleix unleashed his cavalry on them.  led by the Spanish Horse the French cavalry swept down on the allied infantry and drove them back over the river with heavy losses.  Before the supporting allied battalions could fire in support of their colleagues, the French cavalry rallied back to their own lines, ready to charge again.

Dupleix orders the French cavalry forward
Wentzel had made some progress but the boggy ground was proving tricky to cross.  Regiment Metternich had found itself ahead of Furstenburg and thus received the undivided attention of the French infantry and artillery.  Reeling under the losses it had to fall back to reform.  Wentzel ordered forward Herberstein  to support Furstenburg and together with the light artillery they struggled forward through the boggy ground.  The allied cavalry had so far played no part as there was no room for them to deploy, the French cavalry was merely waiting for the disordered allied infantry to emerge from the poor ground before charging them.

Blzen-Kron driven back in disorder
By Pontvieux, Boome was struggling to get his second line of troops over the river.  The grenadiers were hanging on, but they could not advance without support.  Eventually there was enough room for Hofburg-Riesling to thread the troopers of his leading regiment through the milling throng and cross the river with the intention of opposing Dupleix's troopers.  The Austrian cuirassiers had just formed up when Dupleix launched his second charge.  Surprised, the Austrians didn't counter-charge and were unable to resist the French cavalry.  Once again allied troops were pushed back over the Bonne and once again the French cavalry fell back to await another opportunity.  Von Grommit was glad to see the reserve brigade of infantry (commanded by the English aristocrat, Lord Brentcliffe) enter the field.  He took the opportunity to remark to General Boome that if his troops were not up for a fight, perhaps he should make way for Brentcliffe's men?  Incensed, Boome drew his sword and personally led his second line over the river.  He was just in time, as the grenadiers were wilting under the fire from the French battalions and the dragoons holding Pontvieux.  Boome galloped forward to steady the grenadiers, but was felled by shot from the dragoons.  Seriously wounded, he was carried from the field and seeing him fall broke the grenadiers who ran back towards the river.  The one crumb of comfort for Von Grommit was that the allied artillery managed to drive the French dragoons from the Pontvieux village with their accurate fire.  All now seemed to depend on Lord Brentcliffe and Graf von Wentzel.

The Austrian infantry advance
For his part von Wentzel was desperately trying to force back the French infantry to give his men the space to form up after crossing the boggy ground.  He had had some success, but maintaining the firing line whilst crossing the boggy ground was proving difficult.  Also, his artillery had to keep moving or it would simply sink into the quagmire.  Eventually, the Austrian infantry crossed the boggy ground and formed up with Herberstein, with the artillery on the right and Furstenburg on the left.  Behind Herberstein one of Wentzel's cavalry units was picking its way forward.  Controlled volleys from the Austrians forced the French infantry to fall back, perhaps the door was beginning to open?  d'Haute Brie turned to his cavalry and ordered them to charge.  Led by regiment Aubusson the French troopers moved forward.  Although swept by close range artillery fire and a scattered volley from the infantry, the Frenchmen would not be denied.  On they charged and crashed into the grey-clad lines.  Regiment Herberstein resisted at first, but eventually was broken by the French charge.  The scattered remnants struggled back through the boggy ground and from the field.  Before the allied cavalry could intervene, the second French regiment, Vaillac overran the artillery.  When charged by the allied cavalry, which had at last reached solid ground, Vaillac responded with elan and drove these assailants back in the same manner as they had the infantry.  Von Wentzel's attack was over, he had only one serviceable battalion and one regiment of cavalry, (the commander of which pointed out the futility of any further attacks without any artillery support).

The furthest advance of the Allied forces
Back at Pontvieux, Lord Brentcliffe's battalions had entered the fray.  The leading battalion had occupied the village and was now firing at regiments Royal Italien and Toulouse.  Two more had moved to the left of the village and were adding their fire to the pressure on the French line.  On the far left, the remains of Boome's brigade had also recrossed the river and with Hofburg-Riesling also moving forward again Von Grommit had hopes that he may yet prevail.  However, those hopes were dashed as scouts reported that d'Haute Brie's command was returning to the Pontvieux  battlefield.  The prospect of facing a more numerous foe with his back to a river was not one which Von Grommit wished to undertake and so he ordered a retreat whilst there was still time.

An mixed game, with perhaps too much in the favour of the French.  I had 'beefed up' the difficulties facing von Wentzel and gone too far, making his task almost impossible.  The river crossing carried the risk of disorder which occurred roughly 50% of the time, not too bad in the circumstances.  Once again I was too ambitious with the table, trying to cram too much in.  In retrospect it may have been better to concentrate on the river crossing, giving more space to manoeuvre, and have the outcome of the flank attack randomised.  That being said we both enjoyed the game, there being just enough 'bright spots' to encourage me (as Von Grommit) to continue with the attack.  Of course all I needed were a few more allied units and the attack may have prevailed.  As many readers will have recognised this is a 'disguised'? Boyne scenario. 

Tuesday, 21 August 2018

Some more recruits and a tempting read

With things being relatively quiet on the gaming front I have managed to paint up a few figures.  However, my plan to paint up as many figures as I add to the lead mountain in each year, is in danger of coming off the rails, as the totals at the moment are Added 305, Painted 159.  I blame the Britcon bring and buy because I spotted some bargain priced unpainted 15mm Napoleonic Austrians  (10p each) and purchased just over 100.  They are set to follow in the footsteps of these figures I purchased at Vapnartak in February and have just completed.



Timecast sell the Old Glory range of 15mm Napoleonics and the landwehr come with a range of different hats and also shell jacket or frock coat.  These chaps are painted as Styrian landwehr.

At 25mm scale these cavalry purchased on ebay have been recruited into the French army of the Comte de Salle Forde.



They are Prince de Talmont (later Tremouille), one of the many grey coated French cavalry regiments with red facings in the Grand Alliance/War of Spanish Succession period.

For some time one of my sources for information on the Muscovites has been this Osprey book.


Useful as it has been, it is limited, but fortunately Helion & Company have just released this new title in their Century of the Soldier series:


It covers virtually the same period, but is more detailed and in addition to the reforms of Ivan IV and later the Romanovs there are sections on the use of North Caucasian troops in the Muscovite forces and also the campaigns extending Muscovite influence into Siberia.  Some of Helion's publications have suffered from poor proof reading, but so far (c 1/3 through the book) this volume seems to be of a better standard.

Saturday, 18 August 2018

Britcon

Rather delayed posting on our most recent outing; a family holiday immediately following attending on the Saturday meant there was little opportunity to access the computer.  Britcon is primarily a show for competition gamers and the trade.  There were only three demo/participation games on offer this year and I think that if that side were developed, (assuming that space and games were available), visitor numbers may increase.  Entrance costs are not an issue as at present entry to the show is free.

Steve and I ran our Stamford Bridge game for the Lance & Longbow Society and induced one passer by to 'have a go'.  Although new to the period he did pick up the rules quickly and seemed to enjoy the game.  During the day we ran the game three times, with the Nevilles winning each time.  However, in one game Will did make them work for their victory, managing to keep the Raby contingent off the table with some fortunate dice rolling.

Here are a few pictures of our game and the Mailed Fist WWII game next to us.

The Percy forces ready to advance

The Neville mounted troops

The mounted man at arms prepare to charge

Overview from behind the Neville position

The Mailed Fist game




Many thanks to Andy, Dave, John, Steve and Will for their help with the game.