Monday, 24 December 2012

York versus Lancaster

For the final game of the year another outing with the Bloody Barons rules. I was commanding the Lancastrian and Dave Lanchester the Yorkists.  Although these rules tend to make each game different, looking at my last battle report using them there are some similarities.  Again I was to be the attacker and again one of my flank commanders was 'in a huff'; on this occasion his loyalty was suspect and he required two rounds of 'motivation' before he would take part.  Dave didn't have things all his own way either, he had half his army delayed and would need to dice for their arrival.  Just to make matters interesting, my other flank commander was having an 'off day' and his ability to motivate his troops to action was impaired.  I didn't help matters by placing one of his units in a wood, which further decreased their chances of actually doing something.

My plan, such as it was, was to secure the built-up area on my left (you get victory points for holding these areas) and the hill to my right (again, victory points). The main force in the centre was to take any opportunities to attack any Yorkist troops interfering with the flank attacks.

 The Lancastrian centre

The reluctance of Clifford on my right to advance meant that my commanding general spent the first half of the battle persuading him to fight.  Whilst doing this moving any units in the centre was more difficult (due to the distance between the general and the troops).  Dave took advantage of the disorder and charged my household troops.  The infantry, with an organ gun in support, managed to eliminate one base of the enemy retinue cavalry, but this did not stop the charge.  Disregarding their exalted status my  broke and ran after one round of melee. (8 victory points to Dave).  The Yorkist cavalry followed this up by charging and routing my retinue cavalry (6 more victory points to Dave). To balance things up a little my Household cavalry routed Dave's . 

On my right I was making slow progress towards the hill, giving Dave time to organise his defence.  Two units were firing at my retinue foot and to avoid further casualties I charged the Yorkist retinue defending the hill.  In retrospect this was an error.  Not only was I outnumbered, but the Yorkists also had the advantage of the hill.  In no time at all my retinue routed (more victory points for Dave).  This left a unit of levy foot facing three enemy units and despite my best efforts it proved impossible to roll high enough dice to get the unit in the wood to come to their aid.

By now I had managed to persuade Clifford to advance on the town, but the delay meant that Dave's missing units had now arrived on the field.  In the event it made no difference as Clifford managed to roll under four on two d6 on three successive turns; meaning that he failed to motivate  his troops.

In a desperate attempt to achieve some success the commanding general led his Household cavalry forward in an attack on the newly arrived Yorkist infantry.  Charging through flanking fire the cavalry crashed into the Yorkist line and pushed them back.  The Yorkist's morale held and in the second round the commander of the Household troops was killed.  This and the loss of two further bases ensured that the cavalry would rout. 

So with my left inactive, my centre eliminated and my right outnumbered it was just as well that the game drew to a close at that point.  After totalling up the victory points (or the Lancastrian lack of them), the result was deemed to be a 'bloodbath' with the destruction of the Lancastrian army.

Monday, 17 December 2012

Vimbuch 1703

The scenario this week was adapted from Vimbuch on the Legio website.  The forces were scaled down due to the size of my collection and to fit my 6 x 4 table.  The game represents a French attack on the Lines of Stollhofen.  Historically, the Marquis de Blainville led the French vanguard against the Allied troops led by General van Goor.  I thought it was a good opportunity for those old protagonists, the Comte de Salle Forde and General Graf von Grommitt to take to the field again.

The Comte had 8 line battalions, a unit of dismounted dragoons, three units of horse and one gun. He deployed his forces with a brigade of infantry (4 battalions) on each flank with the artillery and cavalry in the centre.  The dismounted dragoons were added to the brigade which would attack the village of Vimbuch, the other brigade attacking the enemy right which was strengthened by an emplaced battery.

Von Grommitt had 6 battalions of infantry, two of which were grenadiers, two guns and two units of Austrian cuirassiers. The grenadiers were placed in Vimbuch, supported by a battalion of line infantry.  The cuirassier were held in reserve and the stream line held by the remaining battalions and the artillery.  One of the Hessian infantry battalions had the advantage of some earthworks.

Complete victory for the French would be to break through the Allied forces and move formed units off the left rear table edge.  A partial victory would be to be in sole control of Vimbuch, which could then be used as a base for an advance by the main French force.  Allied success would be to deny the French either of these victory conditions.

With a feeling of confidence, the Comte ordered the Marquis de St Evremond to advance with his brigade and take the artillery position on the allied right.  He assured the Marquis that  he would receive support from the artillery and his flank would be covered by the French cavalry.  Turning to his other brigadier, Comte D'Anglers he ordered the attack on Vimbuch to begin.  As the lead battalion of St Evremond's brigade began their advance they came under fire from the Allied artillery.  Their discipline ensured that the advance continued but the officers began to wonder when the promised artillery support would make itself felt.  The delay was due to the artillery officer deploying his guns too far back.  Their preliminary shots were ineffective due to the long range and therefore the lengthy process of limbering and moving forward had to be undertaken.  Salle Forde was not impressed.  Nor were the Bavarians leading St Evremond's attack.  The colonel ordered them to halt and fire a volley at their tormentors, but apart from adding to the smoke on the battlefield, the volley seemed to have little effect.  Realising that a slow advance would only lead to heavy casualties the colonel ordered his men forward telling them to take the position with the bayonet.  Under cover of the smoke they reached the line of the stream, but as they crossed they were hit by a storm of grapeshot.  They had done all, or more, than could have been expected and the few survivors fell back towards their comrades.  Although costly, their advance had covered the deployment of the next wave and the battalions of Dampierre and Zurlaben now took up the advance.

On the French right D'Anglers had had more success.  He too had come under Allied artillery fire, but it had been far less effective.  The dismounted dragoons and the regiment Toulouse had engaged the Palatinate grenadiers in a fire fight and their greater numbers were beginning to tell.  Von Grommitt ordered forward the Hessian grenadiers and their fire forced D'Anglers to deploy regiment Languedoc to support the front line.  The fire from the Palatinate grenadiers did seem to be slackening so D'Anglers ordered the dragoons to charge.  As they reached Vimbuch the dragoons were dismayed to find that far from being finished, the defenders stood to their task manfully.  Indeed, as the battered remnants of the dragoons tumbled back in disorder, the grenadiers followed them. This indiscipline was to cost them dear, because, as they pursued their foes the grenadiers ran headlong into regiment Solre and a vicious melee began.

In the centre, the French artillery had eventually deployed in effective range of the enemy and began to fire on the Palatinate infantry supporting the artillery position on the Allied right.  Their fire, with the volleys from Zurlaben began to take its toll on the Palatinate troops.  As their numbers dwindled the remaining men began to edge backwards.  Quickly, Von Grommitt ordered Hessian regiment Wartenslaben forward to take their place in the line.  It was not a moment too soon.  Salle Forde had also seen the wavering in the Allied line and he ordered the Aubusson cavalry regiment to attack, if they could break through, the day would be his.  Unfortunately for Aubusson their advance had been spotted by the allied artillery and they suffered heavy losses in the advance.  Then, when they reached the Allied line they found a fresh regiment waiting for them (Wartenslaben), rather than the weakened one.  The Hessians' volley emptied yet more saddles  and the remaining troopers were reluctant to face the unbroken bayonets and therefore fell back.  Seeing the French advantage in cavalry reduced, Von Grommitt ordered forward one unit his cuirassiers; if they could prevail the French attack would be stalled.  The Herbestein Cuirassier trotted past Vimbuch and then charged the Spanish Horse in French service.  With their added weight and tight formation the Austrians had the initial advantage, but the Spaniards fought well and slowly redressed the balance.  Their staunch defence allowed time for a squadron of Vaillac to come to their aid and with these added numbers the fight moved in the French favour.  Slowly, but surely the Austrians were pushed back and eventually overwhelmed.

In front of Vimbuch the French were also successful.  The Palatinate grenadiers were unable to make progress against Solre and they too, like the cuirassiers were defeated by superior numbers.  As they ran back, Solre pursued them through the streets of Vimbuch and were only halted by Hessian regiment Erbprinz.  Behind them regiment Remaze began to enter Vimbuch and threaten the flank of the Hessian grenadiers who were still holding off regiments Toulouse and Languedoc.

On the French left regiments Dampierre and Zurlaben advanced.  Dampierre charged forward through grapeshot and took the artillery position, rewarded by the sight of the gunners running for the rear.  Zurlaben were taking on Wartenslaben and getting the worst of it.  They were only saved by St Evremond moving forward is reserve regiment, Rouergue.    As Dampierre reformed after taking the battery they faced Von Grommitt's last reserve, the Jung Hannover cuirassier regiment.  Waiting until the Austrian horsemen were in close range, the French infantry fired a devastating volley which stopped the attack in its tracks.

With his line outflanked and Vimbch all but lost Von Grommitt had no choice but to withdraw.  The day was Salle Forde's, but at a heavy cost.  

Monday, 10 December 2012

First Battle of Middlewich, 1643

Like the ECW scenario a few weeks ago, this was taken from English Civil War Gaming Scenarios, Vol 3 by Robert Giglio and published by Partizan Press.  A Royalist force under the command of Sir Thomas Aston holds Middlewich with local trained band units.  Two bridges over the river Wheelock are covered by dismounted dragoons and small units of musketeers.  The reserve of cavalry is stationed in the open ground between the river and the town.

The Parliamentary cavalry under Sir William Brereton, supported by two units of dragoons and one of musketeers approach from Northwich.  The infantry, under James Lothian, advanced from Nantwich.

The Royalists win if they hold the town against the Parliamentarians.  They secure a significant victory if the Parliamentarians suffer 50% more casualties than they inflict.  However, they will need to keep the road to Congleton clear of enemy troops as it is their 'escape' route.

Brereton's cavalry and supports arrived first and he elected to try and reduce the defensive fire covering the bridges before committing his cavalry.  The musketeers filed into the fields and taking post at the hedges, began to fire at the dragoons on the other side of the river.  At the southern bridge the dragoons carried out a similar operation.  Several rounds of firing produced seemingly little effect on the royalist fire and casualties were rising amongst Brereton's men.  Losing patience, he rashly ordered the first troop of his horse across the Wheelock bridge.  As the cavalry reached the far bank they were fired on in flank by Royalist musketeers.  Their advance stalled they discharged their pistols at their assailants, but were unable to reload as the Royalist cavalry were bearing down on them.  Against the odds Brereton's men held their ground and then drove back their opponents.  This did them little good as whilst they attempted to regain their order they were shot at again by the Royalist musketeers.  With their morale shattered, the remnants of the troop turned and raced for the security of the far bank of the river. Yet more saddles being emptied as they crossed the bridge.

By this time Lothian's two trained bands regiments were approaching Middlewich.  As they deployed a round shot from the Royalist artillery placed by the barricade on the Nantwich road ploughed through the musketeers of the Red regiment.  The Royalist musketeers who lined the garden plots of the town added to the confusion by adding their fire.  Lothian ordered the colonel of the Red regiment to get his men in order and push on like their comrades in the Yellow regiment to their right.  This took some time, but eventually the infantry moved forward and forced the musketeers to fall back.  Lothian's artillery had by now come up and was targeting the pikemen holding the barricade.  Confined in the narrow street, the Royalist suffered heavy casualties, but their nerve held.  Just as it seemed that the Parliamentarians were gaining the initiative there were two misfires.  One totally destroyed the gun and killed the crew, the other killed a crew member.

The Yellow regiment had by now reached the outskirts of Middlewich and in a brief struggle drove off the Royalist musketeers and threatened to outflank the barricade.  Aston pulled back the battered pikes and moved them to meet the new threat.  To meet the attack of the Red regiment he ordered the pikes of the Wirral Trained Band to charge.  A push of pike took place across the hedge line with both sides determined to prevail.  However, the superior numbers of the red regiment eventually told and the Wirral men broke and ran towards the church at the centre of the town.

Back at the river Brereton could hear the fighting in the town and ordered his cavalry to attack across the bridge again.  To his right, the dragoons were making no progress in clearing the Royalists from the second bridge, so his men would have to make the decisive breakthrough.  Running the gauntlet of fire from the Royalist musketeers the cavalry crossed the bridge and moved up the lane towards Middlewich. Here they were met by Royalist cavalry and a melee took place.  The vaunted Royalist cavalry were again defeated and driven back on the town, but as their  victors reformed they were fired on by a unit of musketeers brought forward by Aston.  Brereton committed his final troop of horse to the attack and ordered the musketeers to follow, to deal with the Royalists lining the road.

As Aston surveyed his position from the church tower he could see that the day was lost.  He had three units of foot running up the road towards Congleton. The Parliamentarian foot were working their way through the town and threatened to block the Congleton road and now Brereton had managed to get his cavalry across the Wheelock.  It was time to escape with what troops he could rescue.

Losses in the battle had been fairly equal; Brereton's losses to musketry fire being balanced by the Royalists losses in melee.  

Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Ostralenka, Feb 1807

Following on from the bloodbath that was Eylau, this action was an attempt by Benningsen to catch the French dispersed in their winter quarters.  He ordered Essen to capture the town of Ostralenka, hopefully drawing Napoleon's attention in that direction, whilst he made his main attack further north.  Details of the action are fairly sketchy.  The fullest account (a couple of paragraphs) within my collection of sources is in Petre's Napoleon's Campaign in Poland.  The orbats came from Digby Smith's Napoleonic Wars Data Book, although I did make some alterations to fit with the units I had available.  As usual for Napoleonic battles we used the Shako rules.

This is a sketch map of the terrain for the battle showing the deployment areas for the French forces and the entry points for the Russians.  The town of Ostralenka is made up of three town sectors, the river is unfordable and the ridge held by Morand has gentle slopes which do not affect movement rates.

Essen had been instructed to divide his forces and attack Ostralenka from both banks of the River Narew.  For the scenario, the Russian commander had to allocate his divisions to either the right or left bank attack before seeing the French deployment.  In addition to reflect the difficulty of co-ordinating an attack separated by a river he had to dice to see which force arrived first and also for the delay before the second force arrived.

The French have sufficient troops to hold Ostralenka and its defences against an attack from the east (left bank).  However, a cavalry patrol has captured a copy of Essen's orders and Savary, the French commander, is aware of the attack along the right bank.  He therefore has to deploy half his force to meet this threat.  Reinforcements in the shape of Gudin's division are on their way, but their arrival will be determined by die roll (20 on a d20, then 19 or 20, 18-20, etc on successive turns, starting on turn 3).

Essen decided to make his main attack on the left bank, using 2 line infantry divisions (generals Somov and Lieven) with 12 battalions, plus Tutschkov's Grenadier Brigade (4 battalions), the bulk of the artillery, 3 foot batteries and one heavy battery, was also allocated to this attack.  This left Korf's cavalry division (two light and 2 dragoon regiments) plus Samsonov's Advance Guard division of 4 jaeger battalions, two skirmisher stands, two units of cossacks and  horse battery, to occupy Morand's attention.  Essen's dice roll resulted in the right bank attack arriving first with the main attack delayed by two turns.

On turn one Samsonov's troops marched onto the table and made straight for the line of French infantry defending the stream.  Korf's cavalry moved to the right of their infantry hoping to outflank the French position.  Morand's skirmishers pulled back to the main line as the cavalry advanced and the two battalions of the 8th Legere which Morand had posted on the ridge, formed square as the Alexandrinsk Hussars came closer.  With the French infantry pinned, Korf continued to move to his right to outflank the French position.  As his men rounded the low ridge they were surprised to find D'Hautpol's cavalry opposing them.  A typically confused cavalry melee took place with both sides falling back to reform having inflicted very little damage.  Meanwhile the Russian jaegers had been struggling to make progress against Morand's infantry which had a foot battery to support them.  Initially, the Frenchmen had support from Leval's troops on the left bank of the Narew, but these moved away once Essen's main attack force made it's presence felt.  The Russian 8th jaeger attempted to charge across the stream against the 46th Ligne, but were stopped in their tracks by a crushing volley.  The jaeger's right flank was threatened by the 8th Legere but a combination of Cossacks, skirmishers and the horse battery occupied their attention and for a time the Russian position held.

Savary's main concern was the mass of Russian infantry bearing down on Ostralenka on the left bank.  Essen had ordered the three columns to encircle the French defences, stretching the defenders' resources.  Lieven's column did suffer from the attention of the French foot artillery, but it persevered and finally reached the Narew where it turned to face the town.  On Essen's opposite flank Tutschkov's grenadiers had no such problem, only a single battalion (the 2nd) of the 10th Ligne held the defences opposite them.  Two battalions attacked frontally, two moved around the flank.  After a brief struggle, the 2nd battalion broke and the survivors ran for the bridge.  In the centre Somov's attack had not been so impressive.  The artillery had proved ineffective at long range and the Russian attack dissolved into a bloody shambles.  Two battalions battered themselves to destruction against the French in successive attacks.  Two more attacks came to naught in the face of defensive volleys.  It was only the intervention of the 2nd battalion of the Moscow Grenadier regiment which saved Somov's command.  Swinging to their right after driving off the 2nd battalion of the 20th Ligne, the battalion attacked the flank of the 4th battalion of the 10th and crushed it.  Seeing this the previously Leval's previously invincible men broke and ran for the bridge.  (Actually they had an unlucky die roll on the divisional morale test for one third losses).  Secure on the right bank of the Narew Leval attempted with little success to rally his men and lead them back into action.  This could have handed the game to the Russians, but on turn 4, on a 10% chance Gudins's division had arrived.   Savary had moved them towards Ostralenka and with fixed bayonets the men of the 23rd Ligne forced their way through Leval's troops to continue the defence of the left bank.

Meanwhile Morand and D'Hautpol had continued their fight with the Russian right bank attack.  The 7th Dragoons covered themselves with glory driving the Russian Uhlans from the field and then forcing the New Russland Dragoons to withdraw.  The 23rd Dragoons caught the Riga Dragoons as they tried to reform following a clash with the 7th Dragoons and drove them from the field too.  The sole remaining Russian cavalry (apart from the Cossacks) were the Alexandrinsk Hussars.  Morand had ordered the two battalions of the 8th Legere to form line as the bulk of the Russian cavalry was destroyed.  Seeing this, Korf ordered the Hussars to move forward to force the French back into square, otherwise Samsonov's remaining jaegers would be attacked in flank.  Realising the importance of maintaining his unit as a fighting force, the colonel ordered a feint attack against the Frenchmen.  As the horsemen advanced the veteran French infantry quickly formed square and job done the colonel ordered the trumpeter to sound the halt.  Unfortunately, the trumpeter's calls were not heard above the sounds of battle and the charge continued (ie the Russians failed the morale test) .  The result of the melee was never really in doubt, full strength light cavalry units would require a 6 - 1 result in their favour to succeed. The Alexandrinsk had sustained some casualties from fire and therefore carried a -1 into the melee.  The dice were not kind and the hussars were destroyed.  Samsonov had by now only two jaeger battalions left and one of those faced three opponents.  In a brief fire fight it offered brave but futile resistance before being destroyed.  However, Samsonov could draw some comfort from the sight of one of the French battlions being destroyed by canister from the horse battery and the French foot battery losing its final gunners to a volley from the 2nd battalion of the 26th jaeger.  But with no cavalry support and only a shadow of his command with the colours Samsonov felt he could do no more and began to fall back.  For his part Morand had orders to defend the ridge and with no further instructions coming from Savary he held his ground and tended to the wounded.

Gudin was fighting hard on the left bank.  His lead battalions had just taken up position in the town sectors when the first Russian attacks rolled in.  The grenadiers attacking his right suffered from the fire of his artillery and the first attack achieved nothing.  On his left Lieven's men were taking horrific casualties from the foot battery left behind by Leval and could make no impression on the defences of the town.  Indeed, after a third unsuccessful attack Lieven's men, like Leval's before them failed a divisional morale test and had to retreat and attempt to rally.  In a final throw Essen ordered in the battered remnants of Somov's division and they succeeded where Lieven had failed, driving out the tenacious French defenders. By the bridge Tutschkov's grenadiers eventually drove out their opponents so the left bank part of Ostralenka had been secured.

Gudin attempted to recover a foothold on the left bank, but his attacks failed and as night fell both sides took what shelter they could.  The result was a draw.  The Russians could claim that they had driven the French back across the river; the French that they had denied the Russians a foothold on the right bank.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Siege of Manchester, 1642

This was another early ECW scenario with most of the troops being rated 'raw', which, as usual, created its own particular chgallenges for the commanders.  For the Parliamentarians, Colonel Richard Holland was in commnad of the garrison and had placed three units of infantry, a company of commanded shot and a light gun at the end of Deansgate under the command of Captain Bradshaw. In the Market square he retained a reserve of two units of the Manchester militia and his sole cavalry unit.  To cover the bridge over the Irwell he had the Cheshire and Wilmslow Trained Bands.
Lord Strange, the Royalist commander, had four units of foot, two divisions of Sir Charles Gerard's foot and two of the South Lancashire Trained Bands.  In support were Girlington's Horse and four pieces of artillery.  On his right, across the Irwell, Lord Molyneux had his own regiment of foot, two divisions of Sir Gilbert Gerard's Foot, a unity of dismounted dragoons and three guns.

Lord Strange's  'cunning plan' was to try and draw off the reserves by Molyneux attacking the end of Deansgate and then make the main push over the Irwell bridge himself.

This picture shows the Irwell Bridge with Deasgate in the top right corner.

Holland's men had not been idle and several barricades had been constructed to hamper the Royalist advance.  There were also plenty of buildings which may have garrisons that would pose a  threat to the flanks of the attackers.

The Royalists started with their artillery.  We were using the Warhammer ECW rules so the ranges were estimated then adjusted by dice throws.  There was always the chance of a misfire which could have a range of results from no effect to the destruction of the gun.  At first the Royalist fire, although inaccurate, did inflict casualties on the defenders.  One of the units of the Manchester Trained Bands was particularly badly hit and fell back to rally.  This prompted Molyneux to push forward his dragoons to outflank the weakened Parliamentary foot.  The Wilmslow Trained Band also suffered losses but held there ground.  Never one to be patient, Lord Strange ordered a unit of Sir Charles Gerard's Foot, supported by one of the Trained Band units to force the barricade on the bridge and push on towards the Market Square.  This they did, suffering no loss in the process and formed up ready to charge the Wilmslow Trained Band.  At this point they were fired from the house to their left and also from the churchyard which held the Cheshire Trained Band.  Although some casualties were sustained Gerard's charged forward, leaving the South Lancashire Trained Band to tackle the musketeers firing from the house.  Heavily outnumbered, the parliamentary musketeers were quickly ejected and ran towards the churchyard.  Gerard's was now in melee with the Wilmslow men and after a tough struggle pushed them back from the barricade.  Lord Strange had by now come forward and ordered Gerard's to dismantle the barricade and then push on to the Market Square. He also ordered forward Girlington's Horse and the remainder of the infantry.

At the Deansgate barricade Lord Molyneux had not had things all his own way.  Although he had pushed back one of the defending units, his own unit of foot had been hit by the Parliamentarian artillery.  One shot in particular had carried away a whole file of men and seeing the carnage, the unit began to edge back out of range.  Dismayed at this, Lord Molyneux galloped over to rally his men.  In this he succeeded, but he was unable to stop the gunners fleeing from the remains of their gun which had misfired and collapsed.  The continuing firefight at the Deansgate barricade was causing casualties to both sides and Bradshaw was glad to see a unit of the Manchester Militia sent by Holland, coming down the road.  Lord Molyneux had reinforced the flanking manoeuvre by the dragoons with part of Sir Gilbert Gerard's foot and the Militia would help to hold the flank.  Suddenly there was a loud explosion, heard across the town of Manchester.  Another of Lord Molyneux's guns had misfired, this time with disastrous results.  The barrel had ruptured and mown down the crew with shards of metal.

Lord Strange had also been plagued by misfires with two of his guns falling silent as the crews ran away, fearing the next misfire may result in their death.  However, his advance had masked the artillery fire on the Parliamentarians so he now had to rely on the skill of his men.  As the last elements of the barricade were cleared by Gerard's men they were charged by the reformed Wilmslow Trained Bands.  Caught unformed Gerard's were unable to stand and routed.  Seeing the rout, the men of the South Lancashire Trained Band lost heart and also ran for the bridge over the Irwell.  On the bridge Girlington's Horse refused to join the 'race to the rear', but were unable to move forward themselves.   Lord Strange galloped to and fro desperately trying to rally his men.  Eventually he restored some semblance of order and the Royalist advance began again.

Molyneux's dragoons had now begun to fire on the flank of the Deansgate position.  Bradshaw ordered forward  the Manchester Militia to disperse the dragoons.  Although they lacked musketeer support, the pikes moved forward quickly and after a ragged volley the dragoons fell back rapidly.  Refusing to be drawn too far from Manchester's defences the pikemen fell back to line the walls of the town.  Molyneux also had Gilbert Gerard's men threatening Bradshaw's flank.  As Gerard's musketeers moved closer they came in range of Bradshaw's artillery.  One discharge of hail shot caused such heavy casualties that the musketeers took to their heels.  Their accompanying pikes stood, but the sight of their dead comrades was enough to make them to reluctant to advance any further.  Molyneux recognised that he now had insufficient strength to carry the Deansgate position.  He had carried out his orders, drawing some reserves in his direction and honour satisfied he resolved to fall back and oppose any Parliamentarian advance.

Lord Strange's advance had also run into trouble.  Although Charles Gerard's foot had renewed their struggle with the Wimslow Trained Bands they had again been driven back,  Lord Strange had been unable to rally them and they were now dispersed across the battlefield.  The Wimslow men were now attacked by the South Lancashire Trained Bands who quickly avenged their fellow Royalists.  Carried away by their success the Trained Bands continued their pursuit of their foes too far.  They were caught in flank by the Manchester Militia and quickly became a disorganised rabble running for the bridge over the Irwell.  Looking around him, Lord Strange sensed that he would not capture Manchester today.  Half his infantry were dispersed and would take days to reform.  The defenders of the town seemed to be as numerous as before and were now encouraged by their successes.  He therefore sent a message to Molyneux telling him to break off the action and meet him at the Royalist headquarters to plan for the next day.

Friday, 16 November 2012

Abu Baig

This week we had a scenario from the early years of the Sudan campaign, before the British and Imperial forces became involved.  An isolated garrison of Egyptian troops is holding the oasis of Abu Baig and a relief force has been sent up the Nile by steamer.  The relief force has marched for three days across the desert and is now within striking distance of the oasis.  All the while they have been shadowed by enemy cavalry; always a few men watching from a distance.  However, the relief force commander knows that a large enemy force is hovering just out of sight.

A large force of Nile Arab infantry is besieging Abu Baig and they know that the relief force is approaching.  Ahmed Mustafa, leading the relief force, had ordered his camelry to scout ahead and they soon discovered Arab infantry amongst the low rocky mounds lying between Mustafa and the oasis. The section on the left drove off the Arabs before them with little difficulty and moved further forward.   Their colleagues faced stiffer resistance and in an exchange of fire lost their commanding officer.  Eventually, they too prevailed and then moved further to the right towards the village of Tek.  As they neared the village swarms of Arab infantry appeared and attacked them from all sides.  Leaderless and isolated they were cut down.   The section on the left had pressed forward ignoring the inaccurate fire of an Arab field gun and intent on reaching the oasis.  Unfortunately they neglected to send out scouts and they were surprised by a group of infantry.  Attacked from the rear they had no chance and only their officer escaped the carnage to seek temporary sanctuary within the oasis.

Meanwhile behind the camels the infantry and artillery had arrived and Mustafa formed them into a rough battle line, expecting more Arab attacks.  In this he was not to be disappointed.  The 1st battalion, holding the left flank was the first into action.  Their steady volley stopped their assailants in their tracks and then further volleys drove the Arabs back into cover.  To the right the 2nd battalion was not so fortunate.  The Arabs opposing them were far closer when they broke cover and ignoring the losses from musketry closed to hand to hand combat.  Fortunately for Mustafa the discipline of his men held and the Arabs were repulsed with heavy losses.  To reinforce his line he moved the 4th battalion froward to support the right flank of the artillery and the 3rd battalion to his far left.  The cavalry were held in the centre as the reserve.

At the oasis Osman Ahmed had made preparations for the defence of his position.  His force was too small to venture out to aid the relief force, but he did what he could, ordering the artillery to fire on the Arabs massing to attack his comrades.  The Arabs did what they could to tie down the defenders by attacking one side of the village.  One Sudanese company was attacked twice but in spite of casualties held their position

The 3rd battalion took up their position just in time as the Arab cavalry now entered the fray.  Flowing around the village of Tek they charged the Egyptian line.  The first wave were repulsed with the aid of  artillery fire, but the second charge was helped by Arab infantry making a suicidal charge against the artillery.  Although the machine gun jammed, the field gun inflicted crippling losses on the Arabs as they came into close range and the infantry attack melted away.  However, their sacrifice meant that the Arab horse and camel troops charged home on the 4th Battalion.  Hewing left and right the cavalry broke into the infantry formation.  Order disintegrated as some men ran, whilst others gathered into small groups desperately fighting for their lives.  Within minutes the battalion had ceased to exist and victory seemed certain.  Mustafa ordered forward his last reserve, the cavalry to hold the Arabs long enough for the artillery to redeploy to cover his flank.  This they did and in a melee which swung back and forth they eventually gained the upper hand.  With his line now restored Mustafa could begin to think about moving forward.  He seemed to have beaten off the Arab forces, but there were many potential ambush sites before he could link up with the forces at the oasis. 

At the oasis Osman Ahmed was reasonably satisfied.  He had seen the destruction of several units of Arab infantry and also the dispersing of the cavalry.  There seemed to be nothing that would hinder the approach of the relief column and he could look forward to a quiet few months back in barracks.  But then a runner approached from the southern wall of the oasis. A large force of Hadendoa were massing for an attack.  Osman quickly ordered the deployment of all the troops he could spare to the threatened sector.  As the first unit of Hadendoa moved forward they were targeted by every gun and rifle that would bear, but in spite of the losses they continued to advance. 

That was when time caught up with us.  The Hadendoa's arrival had been conditional on a dice roll and the unlucky Sudanese commander had a succession of low dice.  He was also unlucky in that the cavalry, (also arriving on a dice roll), arrived early and were thus unable to outflank the relief column.   For more photos and the Sudanese view see the report on Will's blog.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Novskya Zol

We're back in 17th century eastern Europe this week with a scenario for Cossacks and Muscovites.  The scenario comes from Scenarios for All Ages by Grant & Asquith; it is number 20, "Taking the Initiative - 1".  A small force is watching the crossing points of two rivers, when an enemy force appears they must decide whether to conduct a forward defence or fall back and hold the second river line.  The attackers must make a decision whether to attempt to force their way across immediately or wait for reinforcements.  They will have numbers in their favour but delaying may give the defenders time to make seizing the second river crossing impossible before nightfall.

The two players knew what reinforcements they would receive (3 lots for the Cossacks, 4 for the Muscovites), but not the order of their arrival.  This was decided by drawing lots.  If the Cossacks opted to make a stand at the first river, the Voyna, they had the chance to erect a barricade at their side of the bridge.  Success for the Muscovites was holding the crossings of both rivers, for the Cossacks it was denying the crossing of both.

[map scanned from "Scenarios for all Ages"]

The Cossack commander decided to contest the crossing of the Voyna and the officer in charge of the picquet passed the dice roll to construct a barricade.  His force consisted of a company of infantry (8 figures) and 5 skirmishing light cavalry.  He placed the infantry in the village with the cavalry covering their left flank.  The Russian vanguard was one unit of Streltsy and one of light cavalry.  Their commander, Prince Dimitri Pozharski, saw the barricade and decided to deploy his streltsy to fire on the village; hoping to reduce any infantry fire from there when he attempted to force the bridge.  His plan seemed to be working as not only did his men win the fire fight with the Cossacks in the village, but they also caused the Cossack cavalry to pull back out of range.


However, Borotnikov, the Cossack commander had gathered the rest of his force (the remainder of the Godicz Cossacks and a unit of cavalry) and was marching to the aid of the picquet.  Seeing the Cossack reinforcements, Pozharski decided to try and force the bridge.  His first reinforcements were now arriving but he sent forward the light cavalry.  They advanced quickly across the bridge, ignoring the ragged volley from the village.  When they reached the barricade they found that it had been too hastily constructed (they rolled a 6 on a d6) and did not delay them at all.  To the dismay of the approaching Borotnikov the Muscovites had crossed the river.  However, the Muscovites had no room to deploy and use their superior numbers and the Cossack cavalry charged forward to try and contain the incursion.  A swirling melee took place and against the odds, the Muscovites were pushed back in disarray.  As they streamed back over the bridge they impeded the advance of a cavalry unit Pozharski had ordered forward.

By now the Godicz Cossacks were near the village.  Their arrival was timely because the original defenders had been all but wiped out by the fire of the streltsy.  Behind the Godicz Cossacks two further units of foot were beginning to make their way forward.  Pozharski had received further reinforcements in the shape of a unit of 'German' mercenaries, some boyar cavalry and a light gun.  The gun deployed on the river line on Pozharski's left, where it could fire at the troops approaching from Novskya Zol.  The cavalry and infantry were held by the bridge, ready to advance.  First into action were the mercenaries who advanced with elan, expecting no resistance from the defenders of the village.  However, Borotnikov had re-garrisoned the village and as the mercenaries neared the ruins of the ineffectual barricade they received a sharp volley.  To Pozharski's dismay, the mercenaries stopped and then fell back, to the jeers of the streltsy units by the river.  Pozharski turned to his cavalry and ordered them to cross the bridge.  This they did and had some success, pushing back the light cavalry until Borotnikov countered with the cavalry he had brought forward from Novskya Zol.  Again a swirling cavalry melee took place in the confined space between the village and the bridge and again the Cossacks prevailed.  This time they pursued the fleeing Muscovite cavalry across the bridge and suddenly found themselves surrounded by enemy horsemen.  With no hope of regaining their own bank of the river they tried to cut their way out, but were overwhelmed.

The slaughter in the village continued.  Borotnikov needed to hold it to keep the Muscovites from crossing the river, but Pozharski was concentrating the fire of three units of streltsy on the defenders.  Even the fire of the Cossack light gun offered little help.  As the fire from the village slackened Pozharski pushed yet another cavalry unit across the bridge.  As they reached the far bank the Muscovites moved to their right, away from the Cossack gun.  They were charged by Cossack cavalry, but they had been weakened by straying into range of the streltsy.  As the Muscovite cavalry gained ground Pozharski led the boyar cavalry forward and then joined the melee.  Behind him, the Suzdal streltsy began to cross the bridge, to be followed by the mercenaries.

The Muscovite cavalry prevailed over their Cossack opponents and Pozharski could see only one unit of infantry between him and the ford over the second river.  Leaving the boyar cavalry behind he led the first unit of cavalry forward hoping to seize the ford. Unfortunately he had missed seeing the Cossack light cavalry close to the wheatfield and they charged the rear of the Muscovite cavalry, catching them unawares. Disordered and dismayed, the Muscovites routed, leaving Pozharski to cut his way free to rejoin the boyars.

Even though they suffered heavy casualties the Suzdal streltsy secured the village, allowing more Muscovite troops to cross the river.  Borotnikov could see that if he delayed any longer his force would be insufficient to hold the second river line and so he gave the order to fall back.  The infantry on his left was allowed to fall back unmolested as Pozharski struggled to restore the boyar cavalry to some semblance of order.  On the right the infantry, covered by cavalry fell back slowly, taking their wounded with them.

Borotnikov had lost approximately half his force, but he had delayed the Muscovite advance.         

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Lobositz part 2

A couple of weeks ago I began a report on our recent Lobositz game and the first evenings gaming came to an end with the Prussian infantry massing before Lobositz and their cavalry threatening the Austrian centre.  The Austrians were desperately trying to redeploy their infantry to shore up their centre following the destruction of two thirds of their heavy cavalry.  Meanwhile on the Lobosch the Austrian light troops were being driven back by the Prussian grenadiers.


Bevern was watching the progress of his grenadiers with some satisfaction.  The front units had almost reached the summit of the Lobosch and although they had suffered some casualties, the Austrian musketry seemed to be slackening.  As the grenadiers approached the wall manned by the Grenzers they fired a volley and prepared to charge.  The Grenzers' reply was supplemented by canister from a light gun which temporarily stalled the grenadiers.  Before they could fully recover they were fired on from their right flank.  Some Grenzers had moved down the slopes to assist the defenders of the wall.   With casualties amongst the officers mounting, command began to falter and having suffered 50% losses the first line of grenadiers reluctantly retraced their steps back to the open ground at the foot of the Lobosch.  The first attack had been held and to Bevern's dismay he could see that the reinforcements sent by Lacy had now arrived strengthening the defence even more.

Lacy's attention was by now fully focused on the defence of Lobositz.  One of his flanking batteries had been lost to the Guards attack and the infantry holding the line between Lobositz and the Lobosch were coming under increasing pressure as they became targets for the Prussian howitzers.  Behind the howitzers a brigade of Prussian infantry was moving up in support and Lacy moved quickly to rally battalions which had fallen back out of the line.

Lobositz itself seemed secure as the original garrison of two battalions had been augmented by two more of grenadiers.

Browne's main concern was his centre.  His grenadiers would hold to the end, but they were faced by heavy cavalry, jaegers and artillery.  The former were waiting for the latter to whittle down his strength before charging.  All he had to cover the vital bridge over which his reserve infantry were marching was a unit of converged elite companies from his mounted dragoon regiments.  This was the unit which the Buddenbrock Cuirassier, victors over the Austrian cuirassiers now attacked.  Buddenbrock had to run the gauntlet of fire from the village of Sullowitz which had a garrison of Austrian light troops and also the fire of batteries on the far bank of the Model Bach.  They suffered losses, but charged home.  The crucial melee swung back and forth, but eventually the Austrians prevailed and the Prussians were driven back.

Frederick now directed Winterfeldt to capture Sullowitz and four battalions of line infantry advanced on the village.  Marching through artillery fire and the musketry from the village the first line stopped to fire a volley, and the attack stalled.  Reinforced by the second line the attack went in and the light troops were driven back across the Model Bach.  Having removed this irritant attention now returned to Lobostiz.

The second Austrian battery defending the village had been inflicting heavy casualties on the  Prussian infantry even as they were forming up.  As the infantry approached, their losses increased.  However, by broadening the attack the battery was outflanked and a vigorous charge drove off the gunners.  This increased pressure on the Austrian grenadiers as the Prussian jaeger could advance closer and inflict more casualties.  Lobositz would now have to rely on the volleys of its garrison to keep out the Prussian infantry, which continued to advance.

This is where affairs ended on the second evening of gaming.  The Prussians had made progress, but had concerns about their left flank.  For their part, the Austrians had managed to reinforce their centre but had had most of their guns over run.  Unfortunately it also where we had to end the game as Alasdair, our host is moving house shortly and his armies need to be carefully packed away pending the arrival of the removal men.  So this will be the last appearance  of his magnificent SYW collection along with the Schleswig-Holstein collection and many others.  Alasdair will be beginning his own blog once he settles into his new home and I will provide a link at that time.  Over the next few weeks I will add a page to the Gallery with photos from the SYW battles we have had over the years.

Here is a photo of the three of us prior to that final nights gaming.

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

FIASCO show at Leeds

On Sunday I visited the FIASCO show at the re branded Royal Armouries Exhibition Centre in Leeds.  There was a good range of games on show and also plenty of traders keen to sell you their wares.  Not only did the games showcase the diversity of periods available to the gamer, but also the levels at which a conflict can be fought.

At the truly strategic level was a simulation of WWII devised by Philip Sabin of King's College London .  This required the gamer to tackle the same strategic resources decisions that faced the Allied and Axis commanders; do I invade Russia, or build home AA defence?; do I protect convoys or build up the army?
Combat between armies is resolved by rolling dice.

At the other extreme was a game revolving around the US attack on Whitehaven during the AWI which I mentioned on my blog a couple of weeks ago.  This involved only a small landing party and a battery of guns.

One game that particularly caught my eye was "The Long Road North" by the Barnsley Association of Wargamers. 

All the scenery was scratch built and done to a very high standard. 

Next to them was the Battle of Marignano put on by the Lance and Longbow Society.   This featured a mass attack by Swiss pikemen on French army of missile infantry and gendarmes, supported by landsknechts and artillery.  Previously, the Swiss had found that a rapid advance  had proved unstoppable, on this occasion the artillery slowed and disordered their attack, giving time for French reinforcements (their venetian allies) to arrive.

More photos of this and other games can be seen on Will Mcnally's blog.

I also liked the look of the Hastings game.  Done in the grand manner with lots of figures, it seemed to flow really well, helped by the use of a rule set linked to the hexagonal terrain units.

Monday, 22 October 2012


Our group played this scenario a couple of years ago  and it produced a really good game.  As Alasdair had done some more research, including visiting the area, it came to the table a second time.  The first time I had taken the part of the Prussians, this time, Steve drew the short straw as Fritz and I took the part of Lacy, with Alasdair taking the part of Von Browne, the Austrian commander.

The Prussian attack on the Lobosch now included four battalions of grenadiers, with a Frei korps battalion in support, plus a light gun.  The Austrian defenders were three units of Grenzer with a light gun.  I had ten battalions of line infantry to hold the position between the Lobosch and Lobositz with a light gun.  Lobositz itself had a garrison of three battalions and it was flanked by artillery.  To the rear of Lobositz was my sole cavalry unit.

Between Lobositz and the Model Bach Alasdair had four battalions of grenadiers and three units of heavy cavalry, supported by two units of dragoons and a unit of converged dragoon grenadiers. Further to the left were a further 12 battalions of infantry with a light gun and howitzer.  The village of Sullowitz had a garrison of light troops.

Most of the Prussian infantry were arriving opposite Lobositz, 16 battalions of line infantry plus, leading the way, three guards battalions.  The cavalry arrived to the right of the Homolka Hill which had the main Prussian battery on it.

The battle began with the Austrian heavy cavalry advancing to threaten the flank of Prussian infantry marching on Lobositz.  In doing so they came under fire from the guns on the Homolka.  Steve also advanced the infantry brigade supporting the guns and with their double action (courtesy of Koenig Kreig) the infantry fired a volley into the cavalry.  This diverted the Austrians attention from the Guards battalions and they charged the line infantry.  The right hand regiment of cavalry (Portugal) ignored the casualties inflicted by the volley as they closed on the infantry (2nd battalion Von Pannwitz) and drove them back with heavy loss.  However, their colleagues suffered more heavily from the infantry fire and stalled before the unbroken rank of bayonets presented by the 1st battalion of Von Pannwitz.  The supporting regiment was unable to move forward to exploit the gap opened by Portugal because the Buddenbrock Cuirassier regiment had by now appeared to their left. The Austrian cavalry had no choice but to fall back and they helped on their way by further volleys from the Prussian infantry.  This further disorganised them and they were destroyed as a fighting force by a devastating charge by Buddenbrock.

Meanwhile, Bevern's attack on the Lobosch was making progress.  Although his lead battalions had suffered casualties, the grenzers had been pushed back up the slopes and the Frei Korps troops were also moving forward, occupying the attention of one of the grenzer units.  Seeing the Prussian progress I had ordered two battalions from the reserve to support the grenzers on the Lobosch.  However my main preoccupation was the seemingly unstoppable progress of the Prussian guards.  Ignoring casualties from my artillery they were advancing on the battalions closest to Lobositz, seemingly with the intention of breaking the line and covering the flank of the main attack on the town.  They had a howitzer battery in support and its fire caused one battalion to fall back and then a second was forced back as it failed to stand when charged by a guard battalion.  This exposed the flank of my artillery and the crews ran just before the guns were overun.

My cavalry reserve, the Wurttemburg Guard Cavalry, came forward to challenge the Prussians, who had by now lost almost half their men.  Undaunted,  the Prussians fired a volley as my cavalry moved forward and this must have knocked the fight out of them, because they failed the morale test to charge home.  A second volley by the Guards caused my cavalry to rout.  However, this debacle had given time for me to get a Hungarian infantry battalion into position to oppose any further progress by the Prussian guard infantry.

Meanwhile on the Austrian left, Von Browne had been busy moving as many troops as he dared towards the centre to counter the the threat of the Prussian cavalry.  Opposite Lobositz, the main Prussian attack was forming up..

to be continued      

Wednesday, 17 October 2012

Visit to Cumbria

A rare weekend of good weather coincided with a short break on the Cumbrian coast.  By the harbour in Whitehaven I spotted this memorial.

It commemorates the raid on Whitehaven by John Paul Jones during the AWI.  A small shore party landed and spiked the guns of the battery defending the harbour.  A short distance away are what appeared to be castle walls.  Actually they are part of the retaining wall for Wellington Pit. 

All the pit buildings were designed so that together they looked like a castle; perhaps the improve the general vista of the harbour.  A few miles inland are the remains of a proper castle, Hayes castle. As you can see, there isn't much of it, but its ruination is not due to recent neglect, or even the 'slighting' which affected many castles following the English Civil War.  It was abandoned by Christopher Moresby in the late 14th century and was described on his death in 1392 as 'greatly ruined' and has obviously gone downhill since.

However, it at least has some visible evidence of its existence.  You could easily walk past the Roman fort as Moresby without knowing it was there.  Fortunately there is an information board to give some guidance