Tuesday, 27 September 2011

flags and fences

The present SYW game is likely to be spread over a few nights of gaming, so this is by way of a 'pot pourri' post of snippets from recent wargames related activity.

Last month we spent a long weekend in London and visited the Royal Hospital at Chelsea. In the pensioners'dining room has replicas of flags captured during the AWI and French and Revolutionary Wars. Here are a couple of examples.

In the museum there are displays of medals and the history of the regiments of invalids and examples of the certificates proving the right to a pension. You will also find one of the eagles captured from the 82nd regiment of the line in 1809 when it capitulated to British forces in Martinique.

I attended the Stoke Challenge show and bought some fences from Ironclad Games. Earlier this year I bought some of their emplacements which are useful for the large scale Shako games. The fences also painted up quite well

Here they are framing some recently painted artillery bases for my British SYW army.

The Heritage Open Days give plenty of opportunities to visit places you wouldn't normally visit. An added attraction at a local event was a ECW camp organised by the Sealed Knot. Memebers of Lilburne's regiment demonstrated drill to good effect. Certainly the amount of smoke generated by a salvo of 20 muskets made you wonder about the visibility on Civil War battlefields, or any battlefield in the 'black powder' era.

Wednesday, 21 September 2011


This was the last battle of the Seven Years War in the western European theatre A Prussian force under the command of Prince Henry was attacking a Reichsarmee commanded by Prince Stolberg. The Reichsarmee had the support of an Austrian corps under the command of Hadik. Whilst the Reichsarmme held a series of heights in front of Freiburg, the Austrians were in an entrenched camp on the southern flank.

Historically Prince Henry had decided to screen the Austrian positions with a small force, hoping for their inactivity and attack the weaker northern flank with the bulk of his forces. Taking command of the Prussians I, in my wisdom, decided to attack all along the line, hoping to break through in a couple of places and reach the town of Freiburg.

The Prussian cavalry moved forward to force the opposing cavalry to retire and thus clear the way for the infantry to advance. This was accomplished with some ease, but it brought the Prussians within range of the enemy artillery and cuirassier regiment Buddenbrock suffered several casualties. On the Prussian left the cavalry advanced against the Imperial infantry. Their flank covered by hussars a regiment of cuirassier moved onto the heights thorugh a gap in the entrenchments. However, their progress was halted by a square of grenadiers who presented an unwavering wall of bayonets.

Cavalry cannot afford to be static in the centre of an enemy position and they had to fall back. Prince Stolberg had not been idle, he had moved all the cavalry reserve to his right to bolster the defence. This mass of heavy cavalry was a threat to the Prussian dragoons and hussars on this flank. Trying to use the terrain to offset the difference in numbers the Prussian cavalry charged their opponents. A fierce melee ensued but gradually the greater weight of the Austrian cavalry told and the dragoons and hussars routed, exposing the left flank of the cuirassiers on the heights. Indeed the right flank of the cuirassiers was also ,now threatened, Saxon cavalry had moved from the centre to support the Reichsarmee infantry. Fortunately, the supporting Prussian fusilier brigade had now arrived and their volleys removed this threat

Two Austrian curiassier regiments now attacked the single Prussian one, the contest was never in doubt, overwhelmed the Prussians broke and fled from the field. This left the Prussian left wing totally open to an outflanking manoeuvre by the Austrian cavalry. Prince Henry was already making plans for the whole army to withdraw. It was at this point that Hadik 'requested' the return of the Austrian cavalry to support the centre of the position which was under attack. With some relief the Prussian command watched the enemy cavalry turn and move back towards their own lines.

The Prussian fusiliers continued the attack on the heights, but were unable to dislodge their opponents and suffered increasing losses from the enemy artillery.

Meanwhile in the centre Prussian infantry had advanced and a tussle began between opposing units of grenadiers, with the Prussians discovering that their opponents were a stiffer prospect than they had anticipated. To the left of the Imperial grenadiers the brigade from Bavaria were under heavy attack. Even though they were supported by two artillery batteries they were unable to halt the Prussian brigade advancing towards them.

On the left of the Bavarians a stout defence was being put up by Frei Korps Loudon. Their first volley stopped their opponents in thier tracks

Loudon then followed this up by stopping two cavalry attacks with their disciplined volleys. With Frei Korps of this calibre, what would the rest of the Austrian corps do?

The answer was not very much, at least offensively. Hadik's orders were to 'hold his position' and this he intended to do, but no more. He would not risk his command by abandoning his entrenchments. The artillery fusiliers held an exposed position defending a key battery. Behind them stood a brigade in support. This force was attacked all day by the Prussians, who eventually gained the heights, but had no strength to push the advantage so dearly bought.

On the far right of the Prussian army a mixed force of Frei Korps and grenadiers faced the Austrian entrenched camp. I should have moved them further left to support other attacks, but I didn't. Perhaps it was an attempt to counter the almost universal opinion that the Prussian Frei Korps were no more than a liability on the field and would never achieve anything. In any event, forward they went against a brigade of Austrian regulars behind a palisade. s you would expect, they didn't achieve much, apart from closing up to the palisade and exchanging volleys with the defenders. However, once the grenadiers arrived the situation changed. The Hungarian brigade were perhaps a little overconfident and soon found that the grenadiers were a force to be reckoned with

Hadik's confidence that he 'would not give up an inch of his position' was severely dented and he moved his reserves to counter this threat.

However, as night fell the Prussian command could see little gain for the losses they had sustained. All along the line they had gained a little, but nowhere had sufficient progress been made to claim victory. If the force had been concentrated the breakthrough may have been achieved. Note to diary: remember the principle of concentration of force when attacking.

Monday, 12 September 2011

Saxony versus Pappenheim

THis week we are in central Europe during the Thirty Years War. A Saxon army is trying to halt the march northwards of a force commanded by Pappenheim. The latter is not surprisingly strong in cavalry, particularly cuirassier, but lacks artillery and has only two units of infantry. The Saxons have six units of infantry and two field guns, but are weak in cavalry. On their left is a church on a hill, held by a unit of commanded shot. In their centre two hasty artillery positions with five infantry units and a unit of mounted arquebusier. The right is held by the remaining three units of cavalry, one of reiter and two of cuirassier.

Pappenheim decided to use one of his infantry units to pin the Saxon centre whilst the second one attacked the church, supported by a dragoon regiment. His cuirassier would attack the flanks of the Saxons, with the main attack being on the Saxon right.

As the Pappenheimers advanced the Saxon artillery began to find the range. The blocks of cuirassier began to take casualties and edged further out towards the flanks, this left the central infantry unit, Blankhardt, as the main target and it began to take real punishment. A bad day for Blankhardt became even worse once they got into musket range of the Saxon infantry who added their volleys to the hail of shot hitting the Imperialists.
Meanwhile the Saxon commander was shuffling his units to meet Pappenheim's flank attacks. Originally he had ordered his right wing cavalry forward to cover the flank of his infantry, but seeing the masses of cuirassiers coming his way the Saxon cavalry commander decided to fall back and use the infantry to support his troops. The mounted arquebusier of regiment Tauber moved to the right flank to counter the Imperialist dragoons. The Yellow infantry regiment took up position behind the hill on the Saxon left supported by a regiment of reiter.
Whilst the Imperialist attack on the Saxon centre stalled, the attack on the church continued to advance in spite of the galling fire of the commanded shot.

The attempt by the Saxon right wing to draw their opponents onto the waiting infantry supports did not succeed. The Imperialist cavalry commander saw the trap and ordered one squadron to attack the Saxon infantry whilst the bulk of his men continued forward against the cavalry. This 'soak off' attack not only meant that the Pappenheimers charged their opponents unscathed, but also still preparing to advance themselves. In the ensuing melee the Saxon cuirassiers were totally outclassed by their opponents, both units routing from the field. The only saving grace for the Saxon commander was that half of the enemy cavalry chased off the field in pursuit.

Meanwhile in the centre, the plight of Blankhardt meant that Papenheim committed one of his right wing cuirassier blocks to attacking the Saxon artillery. Lumbering forward the armoured horsemen presented an awesome sight which unnerved the gunners who ran for the protection of nearby infantry

The Saxon commander ordered his infantry line to fall back from the threat of the cuirassier and this deprived the commanded shot of support just as the Imperialist infantry closedon the church wall. To add to the woes of the defenders the Imperialist dragoons moved around their flank and dismounted, ready to clear the curchyard. On the Saxon left the reiter bravely charged their heavier opponents and for a time held their own, but numbers told in the end and they were swept from the field. ON the opposite flank regiment Tauber were enjoying some success against the cuirassier they were meleeing. Against the odds they held their position and gave the right wing infantry time to fall back.

The day was lost for the Saxons, the infantry centre had held, but the artillery crews had run from the threat of the enemy cuirassier. With few cavalry remaining they could not hold off the Imperialists any longer and so he ordered his men to retreat and hope to regroup to fight another day.

Tuesday, 6 September 2011


My apologies for the break in the blog, the weeks have just flown by. Our latest battle was from the Programmed Wargames Scenarios book by C S Grant and as we were using the Williamite and Irish Jacobite armies it has been given the name Ballykelly. The Irish are occupying a low ridge with a small force (two infantry units, a gun and one cavalry unit) and have reserves in a nearby town (four units of regular infantry a light gun, one cavalry unit and a militia unit). An unexpected Williamite advance has caught them off guard, will they be able to hold the position until reinforced? The Williamite force has three cavalry units, eight units of infantry one light and one field gun. Victory would go to the side with uncontested control of the ridge.
I took the part of the Jacobite commander and decided to try and hold the whole ridge, perhaps a mistake as things turned out, but it did force the Williamites to attack all along the line. The game started with a round of artillery and I scored a hit on the enemy cavalry. My intention being to reduce their superiority in that arm before they managed to ride round my flanks.
As the Williamites began their advance, my reinforcements marched out of the village heading for the ridge.

Unfortunately, after their initial success my artillery proved less effective, particularly when the enemy cavalry swung away to the far right to begin their outflanking move. The Williamite grenadiers were advancing quickly along the road towards the centre of my position and it was touch and go whether my reinforcements arrived in time to block them. On my left the two units of enemy cavalry advanced against my single unit and I took the decision to reinforce this flank and trust that the enemy cavalry on the other flank would not advance too quickly.

The Williamite cavalry advanced to attack; one unit meeting my cavalry, the second, stronger one moving round my left flank. I needed to win the melee and therefore it went against me.

Here is my cavalry routing from melee, with the enemy horse about to reform and move against my infantry who are already shaken by artillery fire. In the centre the reinforcements are arriving as are the first of the Williamite infantry. When charged, my infantry routed leaving a gap which fortunately I was able to plug with a battalion which had just arrived. However, this did stop them advancing onto the hill. On my right the atillery was finding the range again and its fire supported by volleys from the infantry unit was stalling the enemy attack. The problem was the enemy cavalry which was now round the flank. This meant that I had to deploy another of the reserve infantry units to cover the rear of the one supporting the artillery. I advanced my last infantry reserve, the militia into the wood on my left and the cavalry reserve charged the second Williamite cavalry. Again the enemy prevailed, although I did manage to reduce their numbers. However, I now had enemy cavalry behind both flanks. The only saving grace was the ineffectiveness of the enemy artillery which with average luck would have swept my infantry from the right flank ridge.

The enemy cavalry on the ridge now charged my centre, the infantry fired an ineffective volley and were routed at the first contact and they were pursued by the cavalry.

The position looked grim. Four enemy battalions were advancing on my left with only a militia battalion to contest the heights. In the centre I had a single battalion facing three opponents, although one of these was reduced in number. On my right things were brighter, the enemy infantry were falling back. However, all the enemy cavalry were now behind my infantry line and I had no effective cavalry remaining.
Fortunately my light gun was in a good central position to take advantage of a stroke of luck. The cavalry which could have charged the rear of my infantry holding the centre failed its morale test and remained stationary. This made it a target for not only the artillery but also the infantry protecting the rear of the unit supporting the artillery on the ridge. Some lucky dice rolls finished the cavalry as a fighting force. The cavalry pursuing the routers broke off their pursuit, but they were also much reduced in numbers. This left only one enemy unit which atempted to charge the light gun. Again the dice let down the Williamite commander and they failed the test. The light gun inflicted more casulaties and the cavalry had to retire from fire.
On the wooded part of the ridge the enemy charged my militia unit. It managed a scattered volley, but it was not enough to stop the charge. Ouclassed and unsupported the militia ran. The Williamites now had half the ridge.

The enemy atillery chose this moment to rediscover its accuracy and the infantry on the right now suffered from shaken morale. With four units retreating or routing, no cavalry and only one fresh infantry unit left I decided that attempting to save the artillery was what the commander on the spot would have done rather than fight to the death against overwhelming odds.

This was a good scenario, the balance can be adjusted to suit different table sizes and quality of troop types. It can be played several times without the result being a forgone conclusion.