Thursday, 5 December 2013

Entzheim - a Grand Alliance scenario using the Ga Pa rules

Ever eager to reduce the number of different rules sets we use, our battle last week tried out the Ga Pa rules with my Grand Alliance collection.  Normally we use the Wargames Holdiay Centre rules, but have found that the differing methods used for calculating cavalry and infantry morale caused some odd results.

Those seasoned campaigners, the Comte de Salle Forde and Graf von Grommitt entered the field again and the scenario featured an attempt by the Comte to carry out a flanking manouevre and breach the lines defending the Palatinate.  The Comte had carrried out a night march and arrived with his men at the ford crossing the Entzerbruch; a small watercourse, but possessed of marshy banks and only crossable at a few locations.  His forces were in two brigades, each containing infantry, cavalry and a field gun.  The Comte was with the reserve brigade, leaving the initial attack in the capable hands of the Duc de Fromage,who determined that he would lead the attack with his infantry, secure a bridgehead, and then exploit it with his cavalry.

The Graf was too wily an opponent to leave any crossings unobserved and had ordered earthwork to be constructed covering the ford of the Entzerbruch.  A field gun was positioned in this work and a short distance behind a Danish battalion in Palatinate service was camped.  In the grounds of the nearby  Entzerschloss two battalions of Palatinate troops were camped and further back at Entzheim itself wee the two squadrons of the Veningen Gendarmes.  This detatchment of troops was under the command of Major Waldstein, whilst the Graf, with the Hessian brigade was off table and would arrive a number of moves (determined by a di10 roll) after the first round of artillery fire.

Fortune favoured the Comte and the French forces found that an early morning mist was still hugging the course of the Entzerbruch.  The first battalion of infantry cautiously approached the ford, hoping to catch the defenders off guard.  Unfortunately, the sentries had just been changed and their senses had not been numbed by the chill, the French were spotted as they reached the river (the die roll favoured the Palatinate troops) and a warning shot was fired.  The Duc urged on his men, knowing that they needed to secure a bridgehead quickly.  Out of the rapidly thinning mist, the first round from the Palatinate artillery flew high overhead and buried itself  in the marshy ground.  Needing no further encouragement, the French infantry increased their pace, eager to get out of the arc of fire of the artillery.

On the Palatinate side, all was chaos as the Danish infantry struggled to form up.  Away at the schloss, Waldstein hastened to the infantry camp to take command of his men. (The need for commanders to roll a die to have their orders carried out does cause some 'friction' to a commander's  plans.  In retrospect with this scenario we could have reduced the chance of success for a couple of moves to simulate the unexpected alarm).  In the village the horsemen were also rushing around, gathering equipment and saddling their horses.

The constricted ground near the ford caused bunching of the french infantry and made it difficult for them to deploy.  The Duc ordered them to make towards the grounds of the Schloss, (which would take them away from the artillery), to give room for the cavalry.  After finding the range, the Palatinate artillery began to inflict heavy losses on the French.  The Solre regiment in particular was driven back by its losses as it tried to form line.  The cavalry fared no better, the first squadron of Vaillac was caught by a close range salvo which drove it from the field.

It was at this point that the Comte arrived with the reserve brigade.  Assessing the situation he saw that the Duc's infantry were moving to a position flanking the Palatinate battery.  Also, Waldstein had moved his infantry forward to support the artillery in the earthwork, leaving the schloss undefended.  If the Duc's cavalry could pin the Palatinate infantry, or even drive them off,  he could enjoy an early lunch in the inn at Entzheim.

What the Comte did not know was that his opponent, von Grommitt had also arrived on the field (lucky dice for the palatinate yet again!).  Four more battalions of infantry and four squadrons of cavalry were marching forward to reinforce Major Waldstein's troops.  They were sorely needed.  The cavalry of the Duc de Fromage had eventually formed up and now charged the Palatinate grenadiers.  A steady volley from the grenadiers checked the first attack.  The second squadron of Spanish cavalry now charged whilst the first squadron reformed.  Again, a volley drove them back.  The commander of the first squadron sensing that time was short, ordered another charge.  The cavalry swept forward and this time the grenadiers' volley was ineffective.  Closing to combat the troopers swung their swords and cut into the infantry formation.  The grenadiers broke and ran back towards the men of the Palatinate Life Regiment, a traditional unit which still boasted a good proportion of pikes.  However, the men of the Life regiment, seeing the grenadiers rout and also the French cavalry bearing down on them, also ran.  It looked as if the way was now open.

Fortunately for von Grommitt, the Palatinate cavalry, the Veningen Gendarmes had formed up to the right of the grenadiers and now charged the Aubusson cavalry regiment which was supporting the Spanish horse.  The lead squadron of Gendarmes was defeated, but the second squadron managed to defeat both squadrons of Aubusson.  Von Grommitt had deployed his infantry to recapture the grounds of the schloss from the French infantry.  The breakthrough by the Spanish horse threatened to roll up this line.  Galloping forward von Grommitt rallied the Palatinate grenadiers, just in time to face a charge by the Spanish horse.  Although a ragged volley, the Palatinate fire was just enough to stall the disordered charge of the cavalry, buying time for von Grommitt to also rally the Life regiment. The French cavalry were now isolated and faced fresh squadrons brought up by von Grommitt.  The French infantry in the schloss grounds now faced superior numbers of Hessian infantry and the Comte's reserve infantry would have to advance in the face of fire from the artillery in the earthwork.  With all surprise lost and losses rising, the Comte decided that he would have to withdraw and enjoy the meal at the inn at Winnnergam instead.

This was the least successful of the Ga Pa battles.  Possibly due to the smaller number of units, but perhaps more to do with the constricted nature of the battlefield.  The French found it really difficult to make progress against the artillery in the earthwork.  The rules would seem to work better on set piece battles rather than what is in effect a large skirmish.  The solution? Perhaps paint up some more troops? It is perhaps a case of using the Wargames Holiday Centre rules  for these smaller scale scenarios.  All part of the learning process.  

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