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.