Sunday, 31 October 2010


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

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.