Friday, 10 December 2010

Action at Steinbrugge

Thanks to the thaw we managed to meet for a game this week and returned to the Seven Years War, with the Action at Steinbrugge; a small scale action in Pomerania. The Swedish army was advancing tentatively southwards, hoping to profit from the main Prussian army's pre-occupation with a large Russian force advancing from the east towards Berlin. All that stood in their way was a scratch force of second-line Prussian units who had orders to demolish the bridge at Steinbrugge. The Swedish force, commanded by GL Lantingshausen, comprised of 2 brigades of line infantry (8 battalions), a battalion of grenadiers, two units of light infantry, 3 batteries of atillery (two of which were light) and a brigade of heavy cavalry. This general view of the battlefield is looking towards the west, the complex of buildings in the centre represent Schloss Steinbruggen. The Prussian commander, Colonel Belling, garrisoned the Schloss with a battalion of grenadiers, a brigade of fusiliers covered the approaches to the bridge, supported by two light batteries. His two units of Hussars were posted to the east of the Schloss and a unit of Frei Korps 'secured' the southern approach to the bridge. All Belling had to do was wait for the sappers to do their job, then fall back over the bridge and then demolish it. Oh, and it would be useful to inflct heavy casualties on the Swedish forces, whilst minimising his own losses.


Belling felt reassured in his dispositions when a message arrived from the grenadiers that the Swedish army was advancing straight down the road from the north, curiously no cavalry was reported. Undaunted, he ordered the Werner Hussars to threaten the flank of the Swedes. No sooner had he ordered this manouevre than another report from the grenadiers reported that the Swedish cavalry was approaching from the west. Confident that the wood protected the flank of his fusiliers, Belling held his position.




















The Swedish infantry attack on the Schloss, nine battalions strong, was now forming up and Lantingshausen sent forward a small unit of skirmishers to test out the grenadier garrison. Concentrating on the Schloss, the light infantry did not see the Prussian hussars to their left flank. Seizing their opportunity, the hussars charged and dispersed the Swedes with little loss to themselves. Surging forward they then charged a line battalion, hoping to cause confusion and delay to the Swedish advance. However, the Swedes stood their ground and the Prussian charge failed and it was the the hussars who had to retreat in confusion. The grenadiers in the Schloss fired volleys at the advancing Swedish battalions, but this did not halt their progress. Seeing that he could not hold the whole of the perimeter the major of grenadiers decided to hold the main hall on the southern face of the schloss. Unfortunately his runner did not reach the captains of the flank companies and it was a rather disorganised 'fallback'. Seeing the enemy crossing the wall the Major countermanded his order and decided to charge. A surprisingly telling volley caused heavy casualties amongst the grenadiers and the determined Swedes were victorious in the resulting melee, causing an ignominious retreat on their more illustrious opponents.























Meanwhile the Swedish cavalry had moved forward towards the crossroads. One unit had moved near the river to pin the fusiliers' flank, whilst the light artillery and more light infantry moved up in support. The Swedish cavalry commander was impatient, after all, their opponents were mere fusiliers, not proper infantry. One charge could win the battle. Forming the dragoons into line the colonel then led them forward. The crew of the Prussian light artillery decided to seek security in the formed unit rather than fire a last minute salvo. Sweeping forward the dragoons were met by a devastating volley, which almost brought them to a halt. Before they could recover, a second volley emptied yet more saddles and they retired in confusion.


Belling was relieved to receive a message from the captain of sappers that the bridge was now ready for demolition. It was time to fall back before the Swedish infantry got too close, even now the enemy light infantry were sniping at his gunners. In addition, a second unit of light infantry had marched unobserved into the wood flanking the fusiliers' position. One battalion had formed up ready to march south when a courier arrived in great haste. His despatch altered everything.


Belling could not retreat. Just beyond the river a supply train was moving slowly eastwards to resupply the garrison at Stettin. He had to deny the enemy any chance to advance and capture this prize. Taking his aide to one side he dictated an order for the captain of sappers, "explode your charges now". He then told the aide to cross the bridge, witness the effectiveness of the demolition and then ride south to reaasure the commander of the supply train that the Swedes could not attack him.


Turning again to the battle he watched his gallant fusiliers try and stem the tide of Swedish infantry. They fought well, but once they heard the explosion and saw that the bridge was no more, the fight went out of them and surrender was inevitable. Lantingshausen could not savour his victory because he too received a despatch. A large Prussian force had sortied from Stettin and was threatening to cut him off from his base, so an immediate retreat was necessary. The day thus ended with both sides able to claim a victory, the Belling could point to the destruction of the bridge and the casualties suffered by the Swedish elite units. Lantingshausen had captured the majority of the Prussian force.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Match postponed

Like many other gamers our regular weekly meeting has fallen foul of the snow. Not that we had the amounts seen in the North East and Scotland, but what we had, plus frost, made the drive over back roads more than a little foolish. The weather also put paid to a planned visit to the Recon show at Pudsey; not that I am going to feel the 'pinch' as far as painting and other wargaming activity is concerned; my painting table is still groaning under too much lead.
Some months back I mentioned that I was going to read Zoe Oldenburg's book on the Crusades, well I started, but I found it hard going, however, I did find the book below.





















The Crusades have fascinated me since I studied them at university, the interplay of politics and religion through the medium of miltary campaigns generate all sorts of unlikely alliances and scenarios. As you can gather from the title, this book does not go into great detail on individual battles, but does give an idea of the background which framed the various campaigns. Having read this book over the last few weeks, I started wondering if a 'Diplomacy' type variant could be created for the Crusades. In addition to the 'national' players for the Latin states and their Moslem opponents, you could have the Papacy, Byzantium and Italian merchants; the uncertainty could provide plenty of entertainment. This period would also be suitable for a club campaign at various levels. The strategic would involve the national contingents, but there is also the possibility to game at 'skirmish' level, with individual knights and their retinues taking part in local raids. Not that crusading was limited to the Latin Kingdoms and the eastern Mediterranean. You could opt for the campaigns of the Teutonic Knights and their 'guests' against the peoples of Northern Europe (this is really well covered by Eric Christiansen in "The Northern Crusades"). Also you could try the campaigns to recover Spain from the Moors, or perhaps, the campaigns in southern France known as the Albigensian Crusade. The period also offers plenty of variety in troop types and army composition. There is also the opprotunity of using some figures 'out of period' to create the armies.

Monday, 29 November 2010

Lobositz part 2

Thanks for the comments on part 1 of this report. In reply to Stokes Schwarz, the figures are 25mm and the units of hussars and dragoons which feature are both Minifis. For another take on the battle try http://keefsblog.blogspot.com/. (thanks for the link Keith).

In our refight the battle for the Lobosch continued with the Prussian grenadiers making slow, but steady progress up the slopes. The Grenz defended each position, fighting it out, rather than firing and retiring. Due to the luck of the dice (the factors tended to even out in the melees, so it was down to the dice score rolled), the grenadiers pushed on. To their right the fusiliers were not faring so well. They were inflicting casualties, but with their lower morale value they were prone to retreating from the casualties inflicted by the Grenz's light artillery. (We use the Koenig Krieg rules which impose a morale test for atillery casualties, but delays morale tests for musketry casualties until battalions are half strength). The Austrian commander, concerned by the Prussian progress on the Lobosch despatched a battalion to reinforce the position.

In front of Lobositz village the main Austrian artillery battery continued to inflict casualties on the approaching Prussian line infantry. Advancing through the heavy fire to musketry range two battalions fired a telling volley. Over half of those crewing the guns became casualties and although the infantry suffered heavy casualties, the weakening of this battery eased the pressure on the Prussian line. A further Prussian brigade was approaching the Austrian defences in the centre. The defences were held by light infantry, but their supports comprised two battalions of grenadiers and two regiments of cuirassier. In addition their right flank was 'in the air' and two further cuirassier regiments were attempting to deploy to attack them. Fortunately, the Prussians had a grenadier battalion in reserve and this moved forward to block the cuirassier advance. A devastating volley emptied many saddles and when the remaining Austrians charged forward they were met by another volley and a determined hedge of bayonets. In a fierce melee the grenadiers prevailed and the Austrians retreated. The supporting regiment, seeing the destruction of their comrades were relieved to be ordered to join the cavalry reserve in the centre, rather than take on the victorious grenadiers. With their flank secure the Prussian infantry charged the Austrian defences and although suffering from Austrian fire meleed and defeated the defenders and crossed the works. They then saw the Austrian second line ready to advance.




On the Prussian left, between the Lobosch and Lobositz village, the Prussian artillery had been slowly grinding down the Austrian right flank. Of the 8 battalions originally deployed there 3 had been driven off and one sent to reinforce the Lobosch. Sensing the time was right, Frederick ordered the Dragoon brigade to charge and break the Austrian line. The chage of the Horse Grenadiers scattered one battalion, on their right the 'porcelain' dragoons rode through a determined volley and routed their opponents. Preserving their order, the cavalry turned outwards and attacked the flank of the next two units. Those facing the Horse Grenadiers broke and sought safety in the vine-clad slopes of the Lobosch. Their comrades, attacked by the ragoons were not so fortunate and caught unprepared, were dispersed by the charge. The Austrian left was in tatters, the troops on the Lobosch were isolated from the rest of the army and the main battery, facing an infantry attack from the front, now had cavalry on their flank.

Sensing that the day was lost, the Austrian commander ordered his cavalry and grenadiers to cover the retreat of the remanider of the army. For their part the Prussians were too exhausted to pursue. Only two fresh infantry battalions remained, the Guard. Opposed to them were 12 fresh Austrian battalions, all on the Austrian left and had played no real part in the battle. The close nature of the field prevented the cavalry engaging in an active pursuit, so they rounded up prisoners and secured the captured guns.

This was an enjyable battle, because both sides had a chance of securing victory. The Prussians had to attack, but faced the danger of being tied down to a firefight with superior numbers of Austrian infantry. The large number of Austrian light troops also posed a problem.

The battle was fought on a 10' x 6' table, but I neglected to take a photograph showing the overall set up; a failing I will try and avoid in future reports.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Return to the Seven Years War

Many thanks to DC who left a comment on my last post which signposts information about the Battleground series he has posted on his blog (http://unfashionablyshiny.blogspot.com/search/label/Battleground ). If you are interested in more information about this classic series please follow the link.

The battle this week was Lobositz and may well be the start of a series of SYW battles over the next few months. It is a fascinating scenario, giving plenty of scope for light troops and also sweeping cavalry charges. There is a map on the excellent 'Project SYW' website (www.kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=Main_Page) . Frederick was expecting nothing more than a skirmish with the Austrian rearguard and the foggy conditions prevented him discovering that the whole Austrian army was present until he was embroiled in a messy action to try and clear the Lobosch Hill on his left flank and his cavalry had been reconnaissance had been pushed back by artillery and infantry fire and a counter charge by the Austrian cavalry.

Representing fog/mist is nigh on impossible on the tabletop so we started with the opposing armies in place and in view. The Prussians committed 7 battalions to the attack on the Lobosch.










Although they were only opposed by two units of Grenzers the nature of the ground, steep slopes, vinyards and walls made progress difficult. The leading Frei Korps battalion suffered heavy casulaties from the skirmishing Austrian troops and a close range salvo from a couple of light guns caused them to retreat. Their supporting grenadiers moved forward and managed to clear the first line of defence, but more hard fighting would be required to clear the heights. Seeing the Prussian progress the Austrian commander detached two batallions from his right wing near Lobositz village to reinforce the Grenz.

The Austrians had deployed four units of cavalry on the plain in front of the sunken road to the left of Lobositz. The terrain made retreat difficult and they were opposed by three brigades of Prussian infantry and their cavalry supports. Coming under attack from the Prussian artillery their only course seemed to be attack. On the left their light cavalry was completely overmatched by the Prussian Hussars with cuirassiers in support.















In the centre they enjoyed more success. The Zweibrucken Dragoons together with the combined Carabinier companies of the cuirassier regiments charged the Prussian infantry. Perhaps unnerved by the rapidly closing cavalry the musketry volley from the infantry was ineffective and when the Austrians charged home the first line of battalions were scattered. Thus encouraged the Austrian cavalry charged the second line of battalions and broke those also.










Fortunately for Frederick, he had a cavalry reserve behind his infantry and they moved to plug the gap. The Zweibrucken Dragoons were charged by the Prussian Gardes-du-Corps and after a fierce struggle the Prussians prevailed. The Carabiniers found themselves facing further infantry and elected to retire rather than risk further musketry volleys.

The main Prussian infantry assualt on Lobostz itself was thus stalled and the main Austrian battery was causing severe casualties; although the Austrian right was also suffering from the Prussian artillery. The crisis of the battle was nigh.

In conclusion I include a photo (apologies for the green hue) of the latest recruits to the Cossack army. I bought them at the Fiasco show; all nicely painted and based for 50p per figure. What a bargain.


Monday, 15 November 2010

Nostalgia

No battle this week, that dread word, (work), intervened. However, I did manage to squeeze in a bit of reading, mainly due to yet more juggling of space in the glory hole'. The reading consisted of some old copies of 'Battle' magazine, dating from 1977/78. I never subscribed to the magazine at the time, but was fortunate enough to acquire some a few years ago. Looking at them now you can see how far the popular front of the hobby has moved. It was far more uniform then, more inclusive. Alongside Stuart Asquith's articles on battles of the English Civil War and Tony Bath's story of Hyboria you have ones on kit conversions for AFVs, new military equipment entering service and product reviews covering figures, board games and magazines. Two things you don't find are colour photos other than on the cover) and masses of adverts for figures, paints and scenery.




















Here is Peter Gilder setting up Gettysburg from the cover of the issue from June 1978. I never did get to see the 'Battleground' series, but I have heard lots of my contemporaries speak about it. The accompaning article says that 100 wargamers were interviewed before the final line-up was arrived at. Those chosen were Duncan McFarlane, Peter Gilder, Paddy Griffith, John Braithwaite, Bob O'Brien, Steve Davidson, John Tilson, Steve Birnie, John Harrison and Gavin and Bernard Lyall. Six battles were recreated and Edward Woodward presented the programmes. I also include an advert for Games Workshop, listing the D & Drules and scenarios plus "White Dwarf" with a full year's subscription costing 4 pounds!.
One thing that hasn't changed is the enthusiasm of the contributors for the hobby; their willingness to share knowledge and give a helping hand to beginners.

Monday, 8 November 2010

Inverkeithing

We were north of the border last week refighting the Battle of Inverkeithing. The scenario is an attempt by the English to secure a bridgehead on the northern bank of the Firth of Forth and neutralise a Scots artillery position which has made resupply of the English forces by sea difficult. General Lambert had landed a force of 4500 men on the small peninsula near Inverkeithing, (roughly the site of the present Forth bridge), and the Covenanter forces, with similar, or slightly larger forces moved to neutralise this threat.

The advantage lay with Lambert as his men were veterans whilst the Scots Covenanter forces contained local militia forces. Lambert also had the advantage of some light atillery pieces which proved effective in unsettling the less experienced Scots units. As the Scots advanced the English moved to secure their flanks. General Holborne, comanding the Scots decided to concentrate his attack on the apparently weaker English right (below) and then swing round and trap the remaining enemy against the Forth.














On his left he posted Argyll's regiment and the link between the flanks was to be the Highlanders, who would use the broken terrain to try and flank the English positions. His first problem was the artillery which unnerved the Perth Militia and he therefore moved to rally them. In spite of the best efforts of the accompanying minister the militia struggled to regain their composure, no doubt worried by the approach of enemy cavalry whilst their own lingered in reserve. At least they were saved from further artillery casualties; as Stewart's regiment at last manoeuvred into position on the artillery's flank and fired a telling volley which killed , or drove off, all of the crew. However, this was not enough to save the militia, who were indeed charged by the English horse. They were unable to muster a volley, but under the eye of their general they managed to hold their position against the first wave and the Scots supports moved forward. Then the English reserve squadrons charged and the Scots began to waver. As they were pushed back the Militia colonel pleaded with the Scots commander to save himself and assist the units in the centre. He (the colonel), would order a fall back to some broken terrain where the foot would be safe from the cavalry. Reluctantly, the commander agreed and immediately they saw his move, the militia assumed all was lost and ran for the broken terrain. Nearly half of them reached it, but many were butchered by the cavalry.


Meanwhile on the right,Argyll had held his ground in spite of the galling enemy artillery fire. His command had lost a quarter of his effectives and now Lambert had decided to move forward, firing volleys as he did so. The Highland archers were casuing casualties, but not enough to slow the advance, so Argyll began to fall back, hoping to lure the Englsh on and give the Scots horse an open flank to attack. The Highland clan Maclean who were holding some rough ground in the centre had been spotted by Lambert and he ordered his artillery to open fire on them. Infuriated by this, the clansmen surged forward towards the nearest enemy unit, which happened to be some of the reserve cavalry. This was not what the Scottish commander had intended, but he could do nothing as the clansmen charged downhill at the English. Their initial impetus was absorbed by the veterans and as more reserves joined in, the Highlanders were pushed backwards.














In a last desperate gamble, the Scots general orderd his lancers to charge forward and breakthrough the English line. They managed to defeat a unit of dragoons, but, disorganised by the resulting pursuit they were totally outmatched by Lambert's last reserve. With his right and centre falling back and his left wing attack stalled, it was time for the Scots commander to try and extricate his troops, which he did under cover of darkness. Events on the table had followed history in producing an English victory.

Sunday, 31 October 2010

Otterlitz

This week we refought a scenario from the Classic Wargames Journal produced by Phil Olley, the battle of Otterlitz. The battle is loosely based on Austerlitz and we moved it back in time to the Seven Years War with the Russians being attacked by the Prussians rather then the French.
We use Konig Krieg rules and these can give the Prussians a distinct advantage, allowing them, on occasion, two actions per move, rather than just one. Therefore, we limited this 'double move' to only two brigades of the Prussian force, which seemed to work quite well. Phil himself commanded the Russians, whilst I took control of the Prussians. My orders were to take possession of the road which ran through Otterlitz and then past the right flank of the Russian position; Phil had to stop the Prussian advance and retain control of the road.
















The terrain around Otterlitz was very difficult going, with woods, the village itself and of course the river to cross. To pin the Russians in position the Prussian cavalry advanced and although pressing home their attack, the front line sustained heavy casulaties and had to fall back on their supports. On the Prussian right the grenadier brigade advanced and were attacked by the Russian cuirassiers. The cavalry's impetus was checked by a volley and they failed to close to combat. Another volley caused further casulaties and the regiment was finished as a fighting force. Their supports returned to the ridge to reform.
The infantry brigades forming the Prussian centre and right continued to advance and therefore came under increasing heavy artillery fire from a redoubt in the centre of the Russian position. Casulaties began to mount but some battalions managed to reach musketry range and began a firefight with their Russian opponents. The key event on the Prussian left was the success of the supporting unit of Prussian dragoons. These managed to punch though the first line of Russian battalions and move forward to the support line. The Russian volleys inflicted heavy casualties but the supporting battalion was forced to retire. Gathering the few remaining troopers together, the commander of the cavalry led them in a desperate charge against the Russian battery covering the road. The charge was successful and enabled the Prussian left wing infantry to advance unopposed (except for the harassing fire of some Pandours) across the road and towards the Russian right flank.
With both flanks threatened and the road in Prussian hands, the Russian commander decided it was time to withdraw. With their depleted forces the Prussians could not mount an aggresive pursuit so the battle came to an end.
The game took c5 hours to play and was a close fought contest; with a bit more luck with the dice the Russians would have been the ones celebrating victory.

Monday, 25 October 2010

Cossack Raid

Our latest game utilised a scenario which could be applied to any period; a raiding party trying to get their booty back to camp and at the same time hold off pursuing forces. We set the game in 17th Century on the Turkish borderlands, with a force of Cossacks returning from a raid with local Turkish forces in pursuit. The Cossacks had three units of registered Cossacks, one 'clan' of marauders and several units of light cavalry. One of the registered units was holding their camp whilst the others were escorting the wagons with the booty. The 'clan' under Oleg Grabetsky had undertaken some 'private enterprise' activity and were enjoying the contents of a local inn. The Turkish pursuers had several local light cavalry units, some sipahis and the local levy foot. Unfortunately for the raiders, a unit of Janissaries were also in the area on their way to a new posting and escorting Ibrahim Bey the new governor of the area. The Turkish horse had the expected orders to defeat the enemy horse and then surround the wagons and prevent their loss to the Cossacks. The infantry would then capture the Cossack camp and enslave the inhabitants. The preliminary skirmishes between the two bodies of light horse were fairly even, though when the Sipahis entered the fray their superior training, weaponry and armour made a significant difference.

The Cossack commander Taras Bolotnikov was worried that the wagons would be captured and ordered the two units of registered Cossacks, Przemsyl and Golicz to stand against the oncoming cavalry. This was just what Ibrahim wanted, the Cossack infantry would be held by the cavalry and then attacked by his own infantry out in the open, rather than in the fortified camp. owever, the Turkish foot were having their own problems, some of the Cossack horse were sparring with the light infantry and slowing the advance. hedelay also ave time for the Grabetsky clan to form up and despatch their own light cavalry to harass the Turks. Oleg had had real difficulty in getting his men to gather together, but the sight of the mass of Turks advancing on them quickly sobered them and by common consent the proposal to return to camp was accepted.







The cavalry melees continued and the Cossacks held the Sipahis at bay just long enough to get the wagons safely within the camp, but the Przemsyl and Golicz cossacks were still outside and the former were ordered to guard the flank of the latter as they withdrew into camp. This they did with aplomb, repulsing three charges by Sipahi cavalry and then managed to retreat themselves. Kuzma Minin, Oleg's second in command had stabilised the forces on the right and rallied the Przemsyl unit, holding them in reserve. The Turkish infantry advance had continued to be harassed by cossack light cavalry, but a reckless charge bythe cavalry saw them suffer so many casulaties that they withdrew in disorder. The Turkish cavalry now withdrew to eliminate the last of the Cossack horse and left the assault on the camp to the infantry. The Sandomerz Cossacks who had acted as the garrsion of the camp began to fire at the oncoming Turks, initially this was unsuccessful (the early volleys coincided with a the Cossack commander rolling a sequence of seven ones). Ibrahim thought that Allah was with him and joined the Janissaries in their final approach, soon they would be in the camp and making the infidels pay for their raid. In his brightly coloured coat he was an obvious target and although surrounded by his bodyguard, one shot found the mark and he fell. The Janissaries swept on, their Aga in the front rank. On their flanks the levy also charged forward towards the wagons and fences of the camp defences. The impetus of the Turkish charge overwelmed the first line of defenders, some routed towards the barges, the only route of escape. Oleg committed the spearmen he had held in reserve and they successfully pushed back the Janissaries and killed the Aga in the process. Przemsyl were also committed to the counter attack, but ared less well against the levy. The Grabetsky clan were struggling to old the levy and found their flank threatened by light infantry who had crept around the end of the wagons.

The booty was safe aboard a raft, another raft held the priest and the remaining cavalry, Oleg ordered them to leave and allocated a third raft to the Golicz Cossacks who had fought so bravely to get the wagons back to camp. To give these few survivors chance to escape, he summoned Minin and the few remaining cavalry to him and they charged into the melee. The cause was hopeless, the Turkish foot, were keen to avenge the despoiling of the region by the Cossacks, especially the Grabetsky clan and with no senior commanders to order restraint a bloodbath ensued.

Further photographs can be found by following the link to the photo archive.


Saturday, 16 October 2010

New Barracks

Last weekend saw the installing of new barracks for my 25mm troops. Until then they had been stored in some metal cabinets I had rescued from a skip at work. The cabinets were of a very solid construction, ie they were blinking heavy when empty, let alone when housing troops. Their original purpose had been to store video cassettes, so they were of ample depth to accomodate 25mm cavalry. The only drawback, apart from the weight, was that the drawers were of a size which meant that I could not fully open them in the rather narrow 'glory hole' which houses my collection. Management had been concerned about the weight stored in the 'glory hole' for some time and the IKEA catalogue left my daughter showed some 6 drawer units which seemed to fit the bill. I checked with a colleague, who remarked that he found them very suitable for the job of storing 25mm troops and so the plotting, scheming and measuring began. I reckoned that two of the cabinets would replace the ex video ones and of course I made great play of the weight which would be saved. "Will they fit" was the question. "Of course", I replied; "it will be tight, but I reckon that if I move up the bookcase they will just fit in".

The cabinets were duly purchased and brought home. I was somewhat surprised to find them flatpacked, but they assembled very well. The day of the big move arrived and I duly emptied everything out of the 'glory hole' to make room for the new cabinets. Isn't it amazing how when you start to look, you find all sorts of interesting bags of lead that, at the time, were absolutely essential for that wargaming project? Eventually, the space was cleared, the old cabinets emptied and offered to the chap next door, who accepted them gratefully as "just the job" for storing tools etc in his new shed. One by one the storage units were put into the 'glory hole'. Now it was the turn of the last of the new cabinets, as I manoeuvred it into place the first seeds of doubt began to emerge. "Was that gap big enough?", "surely I had measured it correctly?".

As you suspected, the cabinet did not fit. I tried moving the bookcase a bit to the left, the 15mm cabinet a bit to the right, but although the new cabinet did fit at the front of the gap it would not fit back against the wall. What had happened was that I had only measured the gap in the centre of the 'glory hole', the length of the back wall was 1/4" shorter, not a great difference, but when something is "just a fit" it is enough to cause a problem. What was I to do? I did suggest, rather tentatively, to management that perhaps I could remove the skirting board and part of the architrave. One look was sufficient to make me reconsider and look for a Plan B.

Getting out the trusty tape measure again, I considered height rather than width and discovered that I could stack the cabinets rather than put them side by side. Storage either side would hold them in place and thus encouraged I began to rearrange things. In the end everything went back and an extra pile of books appeared on my bedside table, having been rediscovered whilst the bookcase was moved, (I double-shelve them because of shortage of space).

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Return to Germany

Our latest game was a battle from the later years of the Seven Years War. It was based on the Battle of Lutterburg and pitched the combined French and Imperial forces against Frederick's German allies. The joint Hanoverian and Hessian force held a ridge covering the retreat of the main force over the river Werra. (An outline of the battle can be found on the Project Seven Years War website www.kronoskaf.com/syw)

It was decided not to field the main French force, the scenario therefore concentrated on the flanking move through difficult terrain. Here is the Allied centre, held by Hessian and Hanoverian infantry brigade, supported by Hanoverian cavalry. The Hanoverian grenadier brigade held the Allied left facing the main enemy attack.




Due to the resticted terrain the French commander decided to take two brigades of Imperial infantry and the cavalry and move towards the enemy centre, thereby pinning them in position and restricting their opportunities to reinforce the troops defending the left flank. Everything seemed to move in slow motion for the French and Imperial forces. The woods delayed the infantry advance and restricted the field of fire for their artillery and for some obscure reason, (we are still awaiting the report of the cavalry commander on this point), the cavalry moved in line instead of column, giving the allies plenty of time to consider their options.

After the French infantry had struggled through the wood they found themselves fired on by the allied artillery and faced by the deployed grenadier battalions awaiting their advance. To the left of the wood was a small hamlet, garrisoned by some Frei Korps. This needed to be cleared so a

battalion of Imperial grenadiers was ordered to capture it. Advancing with some confidence the grenadiers charged home, only to be repulsed with significant casualties. They brought up artillery support, but this proved singulalry ineffective. Ordered forward again, the grenadiers advanced and this time prevailed.


Meanwhile the Hanoverian grenadiers were proving more than a match for the French infantry as the latter struggled out of the wood and then reformed before advancing into controlled, punishing volleys.

It was at this point that the Allied commander sensed that he had sufficient time to extract the majority of his force before his left was overwhelmed. He advanced his cavalry to cover the retreating infantry and the Imperial forces were too far away to intervene. The French cavalry advanced but were unable to defeat the Hanoverian Horse Grenadiers. After an inconclusive melee both sides fell back to reform. The Saxon cavalry now advanced, the first line defeated their Hanoverian opponents, but were unable to rein in and pursued their foes. As the second line of Saxon cavalry moved forward the Allied commander committed his last reserve, the horse regiment Von Reden; if they were defeated, the route to the bridgehead would be open and the retreating Allied infantry columns at the mercy of the advancing French and Saxon cavalry.


In a short but deperate melee the Hanoverian Horse prevailed, not only that, but they retained their command, reformed, and charged the Saxon cavalry which had broken through previously. This second unit was also defeated, so, with the situation restored, the Allied forces could withdraw unmolested. Their casulaties had been heavy, but the bulk of the force had managed to fall back to a position on the far side of the river Werra, ready to oppose any further French and Imperial advance.


Sunday, 26 September 2010

Just one of those days

Our group completed a Sudan game this week. I took the part of the Imperial forces and jolly unpleasant it was too. The brief was to defeat a Dervish force which was barring access to an oasis. The rules we used included a random movement mechanism, which meant that you could have several moves without your opponent being able to interfere, providing the cards were in your favour. Casualties (shooting and melee), were inflicted by rolling sixes on normal dice.

The Imperial forces were deployed in a formation enabling them to form square quickly if attacked; given the amount of cover on the table this was essential. However, it did make for slow progress, as the distance moved depended on the total rolled on 2d6. Not all the allowance had to be used, so good rolls tended to 'rounded down' to try and keep formation.

The game began with each side getting a couple of moves together, so I had half my square four or five inches ahead of the remainder. Then the Dervish forces had a run of 6 black cards which meant that suddenly I was attacked without the chance to fire a volley. The melee did not go well; the casualty return was something like 6 - 0 in the Dervish favour and then they fell back. A small unit of cavalry investigated a wadi on my left flank and were overwhelmed by Dervish cavalry (another run of black cards plus an inability to roll 6's).

For the next hour waves of Dervishes attacked the dwindling square whilst my troops seemed to be armed with sticks of celery rather than bayonets. The lack of 'hits' I inflicted became so marked, that at one point the umpire enquired if I was using average dice! My cavalry had been depleted by fire from one Dervish unit and so had only a 50/50 chance of charging. A fresh Dervish unit had charged the Highlanders who had already suffered one third losses and the wagon train of wounded was threatened. The cavalry passed the test to charge, but their movement dice were sufficient to move them all but the last half an inch to their target. Another red card gave me another chance to assist the Highlanders, but the Indian unit failed their test.
Fortunately, the ensuing melee went my way and the wounded were saved, for a time at least.

Eventually things did improve, one of the machine guns got into position and, bolstered by a lucky run of red cards inflicted sufficient casulaties to eliminate two of the Dervish formations. This meant that the way was open to attack the oasis,but with two thirds of my force dead, wounded or missing, such an attack was impossible. It was one of those nights we all experience, when the dice,cards or whatever random factors we use, seem to be against us.














This weekend a far diferent game took place, involving a force of medieval knights and some WW2 paratroopers. My grandson had come to visit and brought his soldiers with him. The game was set up on the kitchen table, we had some simple rules and lots of fun. In the end I was defeated, again, but there was lots of enjoyment from just 'playing'. Which is, after all, what it is all about.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

Raab variant

This week saw another run out for the 15mm napoleonics with a 'what if' scenario from the 1809 campaign. Eugene, was trying to bring the Austrian forces under Archduke Johann to battle. Johann had managed to link up with Archduke Joseph and was gathering Hungarian 'Insurrection' troops. The arrangement was that the Johann would take up position on the Csanak Heights covering the entrenched camp at Raab. In the evnt this didn't happen, a position futher east at Kismegyer was held and it was here that the battle was fought in June 1809. But what if, instead of enjoying a leisurely lunch in Raab, the two Archdukes had supervised their troops more closely and the Csanak position had been occupied. How would the French and Italians have fared?

The Csanak ridge was steep and covered in vinyards, and lay at 90 degrees to the Raab river. Between it and the river lay open grassland, ideal for cavalry. The village of Menlo lay by the heights and the village of Gyirmot by the river.


The Austrians garrisoned both villages and deployed two divisions of infantry on the ridge, Colloredo on the left and Jellacic on the right, nearest the river. Andrassy, with the cavalry, deployed on the plain. Frimont, with the grenadiers and reserve cavalry was ordered to advance from Raab to support the main force.













Eugene resolved to attack with the forces he had in hand, two divisions of infantry, Seras and Durutte, plus the light cavalry under Montbrun. Seras would attack the ridge, whilst Durutte would attack the village of Menlo and the adjacent heights where the Csanak Ridge ended.


The French battalions attacked in their usual columns, taking casualties from the Austrian guns, but continuing to advance. Five battalions assaulted Menlo, defended by a single battalion of the Weidenfeld Regiment. The Austrians disciplined volleys caused the attack to stall and Durutte had to deploy screening battalions to reorganise his attacking force. To Durutte's left the French light cavalry attacked their Austrian counterparts. They had the advantage of numbers and quality, as half of Andrassy's men were of the Hungarian Insurrection. However, the French did not have everything their own way, some of the Austrian units overcame their more illustrious opponents and both sides withdrew to regroup.

Meanwhile Colloredo was having difficulty holding the ridge line. The 1st battalion of the Benjowsky regiment was attacked by 3 battalions of the French 2nd line regiment. Two were disordered by the terrain and the Austrian volleys, but the French 1st battalion charged home with the bayonet. The Austrians buckled under the pressure and then broke. Behind them in the second line was an Insurrection battalion, calmly they stood and began to fire volleys into the French on the ridge crest. Jellacic was also having his problems. Durutte had ordered the four battalions of the 46th Line regiment to attack the heights above Menlo. Advancing through rounds of canister fire the 3rd battalion managed to gain a foothold on the heights, and then forced the Lindenau infantry battalion to retreat. Again, an Insurrection battalion stepped into the breach.

The Austrian commanders were dismayed to see yet more French troops in the distance, including Grouchy's division of dragoons. Where was Frimont? without his troops the position could not be held.

Seras launched a second attack up the ridge against Colloredo. Unaffected by artillery the assaulting battalions struck the 2nd battalion of the Esterhazy regiment and scattered it. To their left the 1st battalion of the Ludwig Joseph regiment was also pushed back. Colloredo ordered forward his reserve, the Zach infantry regiment and that retook part of the ridge and gave time for the artillery to be pulled back. Menlo village had aso been taken, outnumbered 4 to 1 the Weidenfled battalion was bundled out of the village. Their supporting Grenz battalion was engaged in a firefight with the combined elite companies of the legere battalions, so one of the Insurrection units attempted to retake the village.

Back with Colloredo two of his Insurrection battalions had tried to hold the ridge but were swept away by Seras troops. His losses were now approaching 30% and still Frimont had not arrived. His right flank was no longer in contact with Jellacic as yet another French battalion forced it's way onto the ridge. Jellacic was concerned about the French cavalry forcing their way through the open area between Menlo and Gyirmot. Andrassy was doing his best, but weight of numbers was beginning to tell and there were the fresh squadrons of Groucy's dragoons approaching. It was time to fall back, before he (Jellacic) was surrounded. He sent his escort in search of Colloredo to let him know of his decision and then ordered the retreat. Twenty minutes later Frimont arrived with new orders for the infanry divisions from the Archdukes. They were to avoid serious losses and fall back to Kismegyer, covered by Frimont's men.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Books

Well, it just goes to show that you shouldn't brag about making a bit of progress with painting. Since my last post almost nothing has been done. There has been a fair amount of the wargamers usual displacement activity, doing a bit of research. Most of you will be familiar with the scenario, "I remember seeing an article on x recently, it's just what I need to finish that scenario oob." Or, "that uniform plate is in here somewhere". What starts out as a 5 minute job prior to the serious business of setting up a game or painting figures ends up taking most of the evening and nothing gets done. In addition I have been reading a book by Byron Farwell called Eminent Victorian Soldiers. It's not even my main period, (how often do we hear that said?), I just play the occasional Sudan game, but the names are well known, Gordon, Kitchener, MacDonald, Roberts, and Wolsley, to name a few. As I read the book, it was amazing how interlinked all the stories were, the petty jealousies, rash actions, and fame, fortune and disaster. Before pronouncing on the book's accuracy I would like to read a few other titles, but for light relief and to ponder how would you create a set of rules to cover these actions, it is an interesting read. The next book in the pile on my bedside table is Zoe Oldenburg's book on the Crusades. I picked it up on a recent trip to York. It is a book I have kept meaning to read, but never quite got around to. Although quite dated now, it was first published over 40 years ago, it may well prove the catalyst for yet more diversions into the early medieval period.
The photo this week is from a game played some years ago now. It was based on the Battle of Copenhagen, 1659 when the Swedes attacked the Danes across their frozen water defences. It had some curious little episodes, infantry assualts on ships and a petard party trying to breach the landward defences.

Monday, 30 August 2010

Painting progress

I have mentioned my (lack of) progress with the backlog of painting several times over the last couple of months and at last three battalions are ready for action. The Austrian Napoleonic army has now been reinforced with two battalions of IR 37 Weidenfeld and a second battalion of Grenz Regiment no 6 Warasdiner-St Georger.














I have also been working on some trees, some of which appear in the photograph above. They were a christmas present and it has taken me all this time to tackle them. I wasn't really sure of the best way of creating the trees and the packaging gave no clues. Ideally they are aimed at railway modellers and it will be interesting to see how long they survive the rough and tumble of wargaming. The bases for the trees come from Irregular Miniatures and they give stability for lighter plastic trees. It is a curious thing that although they are meant to be more realistic than the trees I have used up to now (see below); I don't know whether they really 'work'.
Perhaps it is down to the scale of the figures, or the fact that most wargaming trees are of the latter style.

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Return match at the Arsenal

The final instalment of the Chiraz campaign took place recently. The umpire was not too forthcoming, but I suspected that matters were fairly evenly balanced and the esult hung on the holding of the arsenal at Petresville. The initial action there had seen the Electoral forces under Major General Karl Erfahren-Gemeinsam (afterwards E-G) capture the arsenal and then allow the defenders free passage back to Chiraz. The following days had been very pleasant, a little scouting by the light cavalry, some drill on the open ground near the arsenal and several excellent meals at the Three Barrels Inn in Petresville. The Electoral troops and the locals had rubbed along fairly well, aided by E-G's insistence that everything be paid for in hard cash.

8am found E-G at his usual table at the Three Barrels, wondering how long this very pleasant posting could last, when he was disturbed by the arrival of a young hussar, reporting that an enemy force had been observed advancing from the south.

The hussar was dispatched with orders for two of the infantry brigades to take up position, one on either bank of the Cressay, covering the bridge just to the south of Petresville. The western force was supplemented by a jaegers, the eastern one had its flank covered by the light cavalry brigade. Each force had one light gun. The reserves remained in the arsenal, (5 battalions, one being grenadiers) and Petresville (1 battalion of grenadiers) .















Approaching from the south came the Lorraine force. Rather unusually this was commanded by a woman. Tradition demanded that the Constable of Lorraine should accompany the army on campaign. Through circumstances too involved for this report, but having no little bearing on the disputed succession to the Grand Duchy of Gerolstein, the current holder of the position of Constable was held by Mathilda, eldest daughter of the late Grand Duke. Under her command were two brigades of line infantry, each with an attached light artillery battery, two battalions of light infantry, a regimant of hussars and the local Cressay volunteers and woodsmen who had previously been the garrison of the arsenal. The volunteers plus one unit of light infantry were on the western bank, with the bulk of the force on the eastern bank. After consulting with her brigadiers, Mathilda decided that the force on the western bank would pin the Electoral troops there, whilst the main force would defeat the outnumbered troops in front of the arsenal. Under the gimlet eye of the Constable, the Lorraine troops advanced, paying particular attention to their dressing. On the western bank the light infantry surged forward to occupy the wood and deny any cover to the Electoral troops.

It was at this point that Mathilda received the first of many pieces of bad news. Her spies had suggested that the defenders of the arsenal consisted of no more than two brigades of infantry and i unit of light cavalry. Her light cavalry, scouting ahead, reported that they were opposed by twice their number and could not advance to flank the enemy infantry. Then an eager young lieutenant rode up to report that more enemy infantry were deploying from the arsenal. The odds against the Lorraine forces were lengthening. On seeing the Lorraine advance E-G had decided to move his reserve line infantry brigade from the arsenal to support his force on the eastern bank of the Cressay.














Hampered by the buildings near the river and the need to deploy to the right of the existing defenders due to the laws of precedence, Brigadier Grun made slow progress.

On the western bank desultory skirmishing began between the light infantry, but the Electoral troops were more closely supported by their light atillery and line units. Artillery shot began to fall on the wood and unluckily, the first slavo killed the senior captain and injured two more. If the Lorraine forces on the western shore were pushed back, the main force would be fired on from the flank as well as from the front. Would the western force hold?

Mathilda called another staff conference. Her brigadiers voiced their opinion that with equal forces, their chance of advancing to victory were very small. However, if they could induce the Electoral forces to advance then they may weaken the enemy enough to then move to the offensive. Then another messenger arrived. Electoral grenadiers had been spotted advancing from Petresville towards the Cressay volunteers. Outnumbered 3 to 1 by better quality troops they would not be able to stand and if they retreated then the main force would have to.

Determined not to suffer unnecessary casulaties, Mathilda ordered a retreat, leaving the field to the Electoral forces.

On the night we continued the game as a 'what if the Lorraine forces had remained in position?'. The result was the destruction of the Lorraine light infantry on the western bank and it was obvious that the volunteers would follow.














So to the umpire's report. Casualties during the campaign were remarkably balanced, not enough difference to generate a victory point for either side. Loraine gained 5 points for the battle of Cressay, plus an extra two points for capturing a gun and Lord Percy. The Electoral League scored 5 points at Drew, plus another 5 for holding the arsenal and Petresville, giving them an advantage of 3 points. Thus both sides withdrew from Chiraz, but the League did negotiate an advantageous deal for the supply of powder.

Sunday, 8 August 2010

Medieval mayhem

A bit of a departure this week; our first departure into the medieval period for some time. Usually the games are based on the constant battling between Prince Abel of Denmark and the forces led by Erasmus Potkopf. On this occasion, the figures were representing the armies of England and Scotland at the battle of Byland Moor in 1322. Neither of the commanders knew which battle was being represented. The English commander knew that his outposts had been surprised by a Scottish force, but the bulk of his force was still in camp. The infantry would be available after two moves, the knights required to beat a die roll to get moving.

The small English force tried their best to delay the Scots advance, but were heavily outnumbered, particularly in cavalry; those on the left disintegrated almost at once, but those on the right resisted to the end. The archers inflicted casualties on the approching Scots foot, but again those on the left were unable to stand, they were overwhelmed by a greater number of archers. The English were not helped by the slowness of the English knights in getting into action. The English foot were no doubt cursing the lack of support as the Scots knights fell on them with enthusiasm.

Restricted by the tents and baggage, the main body of the English force attempted to advance, but the missile foot straggling forward suddenly found themselves confronted by Scots knights and fighting for their lives. On the other flank the commander of the missile foot decided to head for the flank of the Scots force and take advantage of some wooded terrrain. Unfortunately, it was at this point that the last of the covering force of cavalry was overwhelmed and the second force of Scots knights thundered forward scenting easy prey. This force of missile foot was destroyed before it could fire a shot.

At last the English cavalry began to get moving, just as the second Scots force appeared on the English right. This was composed of more Scots knights and the pick of their infantry. Battle was joined just outside the English camp as the English commander struggled to move reinforcements to his right flank. As the two forces of knights hacked at each other with little effect the Scots crossbows and foot knights advanced on the camp. A scenario rule was that any pillaging of the camp, or burning of tents inflicted a morale test on the nearest unit. The only occupants of the camp at this stage were the second battle of English foot, who were struggling to advance to their right and the Bishop of Durham together with his loyal bodyguard. The bishop, who had just finished morning prayers was shocked to see enemy crossbowmen firing on the camp and even more shocked to see that they were advancing in his direction. He sent one of the pages for his coach and instructed his bodyguard to watch to their right as he moved quietly to the left. Even before the tents were torched the bodyguard took to their heels. They could see the effect of the crossbow bolts on the packed ranks of English foot as they struggled to deploy. They also noticed that the Bishop was not waiting to see how things went. Joining the growing number of carters, drivers, cooks and other camp followers, the bodyguard ran. They quickly outdistanced the bishop who had become bogged down by his heavy vestments and tangled in tents and baggage. Then the first tents were torched.
















English foot began to look over their shoulders and sense that their only hope lay in flight. Here and there small groups made their way to the rear. The rest fought on desperately, but their flanks were threatened and the English reserve of knights had been spotted in their flank move and charged by the Scots second in command and his bodyguard.

In a last desperate move the English commander advanced his centre hoping to crush the Scots to his front. Although initially successful, his lack of cavalry meant that his flanks were in the air and marauding Scots light cavalry moved in for the kill. The day was lost, the Scots flank attack was overunning the English camp, their foot were dead or surrounded and only a few knights remained.

The result of the game was in line with historical events. The English were surprised and heavily defeated; paying dearly for very poor scouting. They were totally unaware of the presence of the Scots army.

Sunday, 1 August 2010

Lull before the storm

There is a short break now before the final stage of the Chiraz campaign. The umpire is keeping a tally of the points gained by Lorraine and the Electorate, but my feeling is that the final battle will decide it, as things have been balanced up by the rather eccentric Lord Percy.

The metal mountain is diminishing slowly; the 2nd and 3rd battalions of Austrian infantry regiment 37, Weidenfeld are now primed and ready to be started. The 1st battalion is based up and ready for action.

One advantage of the smaller figure scales is that troops originally bought for one period can 'migrate' to another without offending the eye. True, if they are picked up and examined closely, their true origin will be discovered; but, on the table, en masse, they can pretend to be someone else. This is true for some Franco-Prussian and Risorgimento Austrians and Italians. Over the next few weeks they may find themselves as the protaganists in the First Schleswig War, joined by some rogue ACW types. Hopefully, I will be able to provide some photographs of these 'renegades' in a future blog.
Meanwhile, here is a picture of the Austrian light cavalry, from an earlier war,who could really do with some more infantry supports, hence the move to get regiment Weidenfeld ready for action.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Cressay part 2

General Poisson, the commander of the Lorraine troops had been watching the deployment of the Electoral forces and expecting more to arrive. The initial skirmishes had probed his position, but there had been no serious attack. If this was all the enemy had to offer, perhaps it was an opportunity to secure his position at court with a victory. For his part Lord Percy was beginning to feel slightly uneasy. There seemed to be a large force opposing him and his orders to secure Cressay looked increasingly difficult to carry out. However, with a little luck he could hold his position and retire under cover of darkness. Perhaps a few limited attacks with his left flank would pin the enemy in place.

After a brief conference with his staff Poisson decided to attack. Concentrating his artillery, he would silence the enemy guns and then move forward to cut the road to Midie. Gradually the Lorraine guns gained the upper hand. With casualties amongst his gunners rising, the battery commander had no choice but to pull back. Lord Percy sent an aide with orders for the guns to retire to Midie and contact the main force at Drew requesting reinforcements.

Seeing the Electoral guns retire, Poisson ordered the infantry and cavalry on his left under the Duc de Haique to advance and also ordered forward the Cuirassier brigade to charge the enemy dragoons who now held the centre of Lord Percy's position. As the Lorraine heavy cavalry surged forward, Lord Percy supported his dragoons with his Yellow Hussars, attempting to neutralise the cuirassiers' advantage by hitting their flank. This possibility had been seen by the commander of the cuirassiers and his second regiment deployed to their right to meet this threat. The melee was short and fierce, the result was overwhelmingly in favour of Lorraine; the hussars were shattered, the remnants limping to the rear and finished as a fighting unit. The dragoons fared almost as badly losing over 50% of their strength and routing from combat. Seizing their advantage, the heavy cavalry carried on into the heart of the Electoral position. A second dragoon regiment was scattered, a battalion of infantry failed to stand firm and was ridden down and the retreating battery was overrun. With this charge the battle had been decided. Meanwhile, to pin the Electoral left, Poisson had ordered his right flank to advance over the ridge. This they had done and a furious fire fight developed, which had gone in favour of the Electoral troops. Both brigade commanders were delighted with the way they were carrying out their commanders orders, and getting the better of their opponents, but to their right the battle had been decided.
Having destroyed the Electoral centre and pinned their left, Poisson now used his reserve dragoon brigade to threaten the flank of the Electoral infantry who were stubbornly resisting the Lorraine right flank's advance. The dragoons were supported by the victorious currasiers, who advancing into suprised and captured Lord Percy and his aides. The day was lost for the Electoral forces, indeed the complete destruction of their force seemed possible. It was at this point that Poisson offered terms to the senior Electoral brigade commander. If they were to retreat immediately from Chiraz there would be no pursuit. This offer was accepted and the battered remnants made their way back to the river crossing. Lord Percy meanwhile, was to be the guest of General Poisson at a very acceptable inn in Cressay. On his way to that dinner appointment Lord Percy wondered if it would be possible to engineer a diplomatic post at the court of Lorraine, possibly in an advisory role?

Monday, 19 July 2010

New Magazine

Phil Olley is producing a new magazine "Classic Wargamer's Journal"aimed at those gamers who prefer something "a little different". The first edition will be published shortly. For full details look at his "Classic Wargames" blog http://classicwargaming.blogspot.com

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Return to Chiraz

After a break of several weeks the Chiraz campaign has restarted. The action now moves to the vicinity of Cressay where the Electoral forces (under the command of Lord Percy Wimppe), are attempting to secure a second crossing of the Cressay river. Opposing them are the Lorraine forces under the command of General Poisson. The Lorraine troops had arrived at Cressay with enough time to take post on the hills to the south east of the town, with their artillery commanding the road from Midie, down which the Electoral forces would advance.

Lord Percy's scouts reported to him that the enemy seemed to strongly posted on their left and centre, but their right flank forces must be behind the high ground in front Cressay.

Determined to discover the extent of the forces facing him, Lord Percy ordered one unit of light cavalry to advance on his left flank; towards Cressay, moving round the western flank of the hills. He supported this move with two brigades of infantry and a light artillery battery.

His centre would be held by his remaining infantry brigade, field artillery and two dragoon squadrons, with his right covered by his second light cavalry unit. His jaeger would cover the deployment in the centre.


As the Electoral forces moved into position, General Poisson, perhaps misled by the atmospheric conditions, ordered his artillery to open fire. The shot fell short and merely warned the advancing troops that their current positions were safe from artillery fire. On the flanks the Lorraine forces displayed a little more of their strength by advancing two grenadier battalions to bar the advance of the Electoral light cavalry. Aware of the dangers of advancing too close to these elite troops and lacking any supports, the cavalry reined in and observed from a distance.

Lord Percy's troops were now marching into position and the advance on the seemingly unoccupied ridge began. This was the opportunity for General Poisson to show more of his hand. He ordered the infantry brigade commanded by the Chevalier de St Urgeon to advance onto the ridge and block the advance of the Electoral Infantry. The troops moved forward in line over the crest forming an impressive barrier to their opponents advance. This manouevre had unfortunately brought them into range of the Electoral artillery and with impressive skill the first salvo fell amongst the Lorraine infantry, causing severe casualties. The Electoral advance continued and to aid the infantry, Poisson ordered one of his dragoon brigades to advance on the enemy left. Sweeping around the western slopes of the ridge they were flanking the Electoral battalions.
In a desperate attempt to buy time for the infantry to react to this threat, Colonel Muller of the Electoral light cavalry ordered his men to charge the dragoons. Outnumbered two to one, by heavier opponents, this was not universally welcomed by his men. However, even the partial advance caused the dragoons to pause and by the time they collected themselves, Muller, realising that most of his men were not following him, fell back. The dragoons were now faced by steady infantry, ready to contest any further advance and as the Electoral troops moved forward, they fell back around the ridge.

To relieve pressure on his right Poisson ordered the brigade of the Duc de Haique (picture above) together with the grenadiers and supporting dragoons to advance and threaten to cut the road to Midie and Lord Percy's lines of communication.

So that is where matters rested at the end of the first night's gaming. All set up for the decisive moves next week.

For more pictures of this and other games follow the usual link www.flickr.com/photos/wargameamateur or the "Photo Archive for Games" link under useful links above.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Phalanx

This year's show seemed as popular as ever. There was a good selection of traders keen to demonstrate their wares and plenty of friends from around the region to chat to. I had gone determined not to purchase any more 'lead' to add to the painting mountain that threatens to bring part of the loft into the bedroom and I nearly succeeded. My only metal purchase was some bases for trees from Irregular Miniatures. However, on the bring and buy I did pick up some boxes of the Warlord Games plastic ECW cavalry. If I ever get round to painting them they will help to balance out those particular armies which seem to have too few cavalry for the infantry units available. This is due to the rather haphazard way in which the collection has been put together. I wish I was as organised as some gamers (step forward P Olley Esq) who actually have a plan. I pick up figures when I can from Bring and Buy and Ebay and therefore end up with a few extra pike or musket which form the nucleus of the next unit. That was the advantage of the plastic figures. each box was a unit, therefore no extra figures were required and none were left over to create the 'need' for another purchase.

Scouting the internet I have come across many pictures of these figures painted up and done properly they can look as good as their heavier counterparts.
Speaking of painting I have at last, after a period of weeks without lifting a brush in anger, managed to finish a unit of Grenzer for the Napoleonic Austrian army I am slowly building. At the moment the army is very short of light troops; only two stands of Tyrolean Jaeger. One of these is seen attacking a ruin held by some Westphalian skirmishers.
There is also a unit of Hungarian line infantry being prepared, but their place in the painting rota is threatened by some Marines of the Imperial Guard. The simple blue uniforms with black crossbelts are calling, even though I need more line troops. I fear that the inevitable will happen and Napoleon's Guard will have some new recruits before long.

Friday, 2 July 2010

Boyne part 2

The Battle of the Boyne reached its conclusion this week and a hard fought affair it was. William persisted with the attacks across the river at Oldbridge and the Danes stirred themselves and started crossing downstream. They struggled with the same problem as the Dutch and Anglo-Scots upstream, a restricted front, advancing into musketry range whilst still disordered and cavalry threatening their flanks.

As had happened earlier with the Dutch, the forlorn of grenadiers suffered heavy casualties and their supports struggled to establish themselves on the opposite bank. However, the Jacobites did not have things all their own way. Supporting Danish infantry and artillery were inflicting casualties and the volume of musketry from the Irish units began to diminish. To buy time to reorganise the Jacobite cavalry were ordered to attack the grenadiers and guards. A fierce melee followed with the guards just hanging on, although they were almost finished as a fighting force.














On the opposite flank the French and Jacobite dragoons, together with the two Guards battalions positioned themselves to stop the Northern Irish and Huguenots who had crossed the Boyne at Rosnaree. Taking advantage of some broken ground they reduced the attacking frontage of their opponents, taking awaytheir advantage in numbers. Flanking attacks were tried by the Williamites, but they were hampered by terrain and the holding force in the centre suffred heavy casualties, two units being forced to retreat. Two dragoon regiments advanced by the river and forced the 2nd battalion of the King's Guards to turn to face them. Fearing a breakthrough James also deployed a unit from the centre, reducing his force in this vital sector. Just when decisive action was needed the Williamite dragoons failed to charge, giving the Jacobites time to redeploy.

Meanwhile the slaughter continued at Oldbridge. The Williamite artillery had at last found the range and the Jacobite infantry supporting those units manning the barricades began to suffer heavy casulaties. Another wave of infantry, supported by cavalry crossed the Boyne. The Dutch infantry on the left suffered casulaties from the enemy musketry and were then charged by the Horse. They broke, as others had before them and a vicious cavalry melee ensued at the ford. The Dutch horse eventually prevailed, but suffered severely when they pursued their opponents within range of the defenders of Oldbridge. On the right of the ford, the Scots Guards, plus the rallied remnants of the Dutch Guards pushed forwards towards the defences. Although suffering heavy casualties they forced the defenders back. James took counsel from his advisors. Reports from the flanks indicated that they were at the limits of their endurance and enemy pressure was increasing. In the centre only two fresh battalions remained, the cavalry was spent and fresh enemy troops were approaching the ford. If they fell back now they might save the army, any delay and a rout may result. The French brigade in reserve held open the road to Dublin for the moment. James realised only one possible course of action could be taken and he ordered the retreat.
For the Williamites this was a blessed relief. Casulaties had been heavy, units were disorganised by the terrain and the bulk of the cavalry, which could have hindered the Jacobite retreat were still on the northern bank of the Boyne.

As before, more photos available at www.flickr.com/photos/wargameamateur

Sunday, 27 June 2010

The Boyne

My apologies for the break in posts, but recent events on the domestic front have confirmed, (as if it was ever in doubt), that family comes first and that means that wargaming, delightful hobby as it is, must take a back seat.

Our group did start a scenario covering the Battle of the Boyne three weeks ago, which hopefully will be completed later this week. The true king/usurper (delete as appropriate) had ordered his main force to attack across the river and disperse the rebels/royal forces (again delete as appropriate). The flanking manoeuvre at Roscree was included, but there was a time zone included which required a number of game turns to cross.














Here are the Jacobite forces at Oldbridge awaiting the Dutch attack.


The initial Williamite artillery bombardment was mostly ineffective, so, as the forlorn hope of Dutch grenadiers crossed the river and emerged on the far bank they were met with a shattering volley. Still disordered from their crossing they broke and ran back into the less then friendly ranks of the Dutch Guards who were following them. Even these elite troops struggled to make headway. The second battalion in particular suffered such heavy losses from the sustained volleys of 2nd battalion His Majesty's Guards that they were eliminated as a fighting force. Surveying the bloody scene, William hoped his force at Roscree was having more success.

The mixed force of Hugenot and Northern Irish infantry, supported by dragoons, had managed to force their way over the bridge in spite of determined resistance by the French dragoon regiment opposed to them .














They did inflict heavy casualties and also delayed the advance for several turns, which meant that a covering force was able to take up a position to block the Williamite flank attack.


Back at Oldbridge, William had seen the first battalion of the Dutch Guards charged by the Jacobite cavalry and pushed back into the river, pinning Oxford's Horse who were crossing in support. Buoyed by their success the Jacobite Horse plunged into the bloodied waters determined to prove they could defeat the much vaunted Oxford's as well as the Dutch Guards. A bitter struggle ensued, but in the end the blue coated Williamite horse prevailed . However, they did need to fall back to reform and by doing so pinned the infantry poised to advance. This delay suited James very well. Not only did it use up yet more valuable time, but it also allowed him to recover from a potentially disastrous failure of ammunition supply to his front line units. The Guards' volleys had been accurate and sustained, but their ammunition supply was now exhausted. Civilian drivers would not come forward to deliver the ammunition, so reluctantly the Guards had to fall back to get it for themselves. Their place at the barricades was taken by the support unit (Lord Grand Prior's). The delay in sorting out the Williamite advance, due to the prolonged cavalry melee, gave these new troops time to get into position to face the next wave of attacks. James also found that his elite units were now in position to support either the Oldbridge or flank positions.

More photos are available on flickr at www.flickr.com/photos/wargameamateur


So with everything in the balance, this week's gaming should have plenty of interest.

I did attend the St Helen's show and a very enjoyable 'Sudan' game the same weekend. Hopefully reports on both will follow shortly.