Wednesday, 30 July 2014

Winstanstow; an ECW scenario

This week's battle is an ECW scenario which comes from Robert Giglio's  "English Civil War Gaming Scenarios Vol 3 .  It concerns the manouevring of the Royalists and Parliamentarians in the Ludlow area in 1645.  With Royalist garrisons reduced to provide men for the Main Oxford army, the local Parliamentary commander sent out a force under a Dutch mercenary Lt Col William Reinking. In response the local Royalist commander Sir Michael Woodhouse began to assemble a force made up from the garrisons of Hereford, Worcester and Hartlebury.  Reinking aware that he was outnumbered, began to fall back and requested reinforcements from Shrewsbury.  The scenario has 3 units of foot (Mackworth, Lloyd's and Hungerford) and two of horse (Lloyd's and a combined garrison unit) plus a medium gun and a light gun for Reinking's force.  They are deployed to take advantage of the close terrain around the village of Wistanstow.   Woodhouse has 5 units of foot (Scudamore, Conningsby, Croft, Woodhouse and Gerard), 5 units of Horse (William Sandys, Scudamore, Samuel Sandys, Ludlow and Lunsford), Sandys dragoons with 2 light guns.

Winstanstow with Reinkings troops deployed
I took the part of Woodhouse and with the threat of parliamentary reinforcements I decided to waste no time in attacking.  With the typical Royalist cavalry's disdain for the opposition, William Sandys regiment of horse made straight for Winstanstow along the lane.  As they rounded a corner they came under fire from the parliamentary medium gun.  Although they suffered some casualties they continued to press forward, even though they came under fire from the musketeers of Hungerford's regiment, who were lining the hedge along the lane.  Reinking moved forward one troop of his cavalry and they charged the Royalists .   In the melee, the more heavily armoured Parliamentary horse gradually overcame the elan of Sandys men and began to push them back down the lane.  Once the rearward movement began it became unstoppable and soon the Royalist horse were streaming back towards their lines.

Sandys Horse move up the lane, coming under fire from the parliamentary musketeers

   As the Royalist horse careered down the lane they ran into Gerard's foot regiment and the ensuing confusion took some time to sort out.  Meanwhile, Sandys commanding the Royalist left had ordered his troops to hack through the hedges so they could advance on the enemy.  The delay in achieving this allowed Reinking time to send forward a unit of horse, which charged the dragoons who were leading the way.  The dragoons were forced back onto the hedge and only saved from complete disaster by the Lundsford's Horse.  Slowly the advantage swung towards the Royalists and the Shrewsbury Garrison Horse were pushed back.
The Royalist dragoons are trapped against the hedge
On the Royalist right Scudamore was also finding it difficult to make progress due to the hedges.  He too ordered his men to hack their way through and led by the forlorn hope, Scudamore's regiments of foot and horse moved forward against Mackworth's regiment.  The men of Mackworth's were too experienced to stand and wait for the inevitable charge by overwhelming numbers.  They fired volleys at the advancing Royalists and then, as the enemy neared, fell back to the next position (the wall surrounding the church), to repeat the pain for the attackers.  Scudamore's horse saw that there was no chance of an attack in such close terrain and moved to the far left to the lane which led to the rear of Winstanstow.  However, Reinking had anticipated such a move and placed his reserve cavalry in the lane to oppose any Royalist advance.

Scudamore's Horse charge up the lane
In the narrow confines of the lane numbers counted for little and at first the Parliamentarians had the upper hand.  Fortune (ie the dice) then changed sides and the Royalists began to make progress, eventually driving back their opposite numbers and seeing them flee from the field.  However, the delay caused by the melee allowed Reinking to pull back Mackworth's pikemen and they now took up a blocking position in the lane near the village.

In the centre, Woodhouse saw the congestion in the lane and decided to commit his reserve in support of Scudamore, rather than push any more troops directly towards Winstanstow.  Sandys, on the left, could have used some help.  His infantry(Croft's and the Monmouth regiment), were moving against Lloyd's and Hungerford's and even with the aid of a light gun Croft's were suffering heavy casualties.  By the time they reached charge range; they had lost half their number and when the Parliamentary light gun opened up on them, their officers could not make them close (ie they failed the morale test) and the remaining men  began to fall back towards their own lines.  However, the Monmouth regiment did manage to charge home and their impetus pushed back Lloyds men.  The Royalist foot continued to push forward, but their very success proved their undoing. 

Hungerford's musketeers prepare to counter attack
With Croft's regiment falling back, Hungerford's musketeers turned to threaten the flank of the Monmouth men.  Their intervention was only just in time, Lloyd's men were now pinned against the hedge lining the lane and on the brink of breaking.  The Parliamentarian counter attack first stalled the Royalist advance and then began to push them back.  Heartened, Lloyd's men lay on with a will; suddenly it was the Royalists who were hanging on and then they broke and ran for their lines.  Having restored affairs, Hungerford's men halted and reformed, but Lloyd's, carried away chased after their foe.

Fortunately for the Royalists Sandys cavalry had begun to reach around the Parliamentary right, but found their way barred by the last of Reinking's cavalry.  On the opposite flank, Scudamore's cavalry was trying to discomfort Mackworth's pikes by pistol fire.  This failed and as the pikemen edged forward the cavalry had to evade the pike points.

At the church Mackworth's musketeers resolved to make a stand and fired off a final volley as the forlorn hope charged.  With the benefit of the stone wall surrounding the churchyard, the veterans beat off their assailants.  This was only a temporary respite for Scudamore's foot now moved forward.  The veterans knew that to try and beat off a full regiment was a recipe for defeat and so they pulled back.

Mackworth's stand against the forlorn hope
For his part Woodhouse was concerned he was going to lose the day.  Half his infantry had been driven from the field and although his cavalry had prevailed, the terrain made it difficult for them to exploit their success.  However, Reinking saw that his men had, by their efforts, given themselves a chance to break off the action and preserve themselves and so he withdrew from the field.  There had of course, been no reinforcements coming to help Reinking and Steve had done a very good job of defending against such numbers.

Another very interesting scenario which gave an enteratining days gaming.

Monday, 21 July 2014

More Austrian infantry

Earlier this year I published a post on some Grand Alliance infantry I had just painted.  Well, after many false starts and being sidetracked by various projects, I have eventually got around to painting two more units.

The previous unit used plastic figures, but these are mainly Essex, with officers and pikemen from other manufacturers.  Using the Pike and Shot Society book on the Austrian army as my main source I decided to paint the figures as the Herbestein and Metternich infantry regiments.


Only one more battalion to go and that will complete the brigade. Perhaps completion by Christmas?

Wednesday, 16 July 2014

The Road to Philadelphia

A return to the AWI this week with a fictional scenario from the British advance on Philadelphia.  The American general Gates decided to make a stand on a river line, hoping to delay the British advance to allow a larger American force to coalesce.  Once again we used the 'Patriots and Loyalists' rules which always seem to produce a good game.

I commanded the American forces, 4 brigades of infantry, Woodford, Smallwood and Maxwell in the front line (left to right), with Carter in reserve.  The close terrain favoured the defence, but I decided not to defend too far forward. Only Woodford placed troops across the river, two battalions were on the wooded hill in the bottom left of the photograph below.
The view from the American left     

Steve, commanding the British had his force organised into three brigades, Von Donop's German troops on his left, British line battalions in the centre and the elite grenadiers and converged light companies on the right.

First into action were Von Donop's men who pushed across the bridge to try and secure the field beyond.  The Jaeger made good progress, driving off the American riflemen and then turning their attention to the supporting battalions of militia.  The German fusiliers fared less well.  They deployed under fire and then moved towards the field only to be sent back across the river by telling volleys from the continental infantry.  The Americans did not have long to savour their victory; a battalion of grenadiers took the place of the fusiliers and after firing a volley they moved forward to cross bayonets with their opponents.

The grenadiers attack
In the melee that followed both sides suffered heavy casualties, but it was the Americans who broke and the battered remnants fled the field.  As the victorious grenadiers took the ground they were subjected to volleys from the American battalion which had been in support.  The casualties from these volleys proved too much for the Germans and they too broke, allowing the Americans to regain control of the field.

In the centre there was little action, the British brigade was making slow progress through the terrain, deployed to meet a threat that didn't materialise.  Smallwood's men, lining the hedgerows and fences readied themselves for the firefight to come.  The British 'right hook' was also making slow progress.  Woodford's men waited until the British were in close range and then opened fire.  The grenadiers suffered some losses, but their NCO's kept the men in formation and undaunted the grenadiers continued their advance.  Faced by this steady advance, the American line began to waver, especially as they lacked bayonets and could see that the British did not.

Woodford's men oppose the British advance
 A volley from the grenadiers, plus the sight of the converged light companies moving around their flank, was too much for the militia and they fell back through the woods, heading for the perceived safety of the far bank of the river. Their supports did not even wait to fire a volley, isolated and with their comrades heading for the river, they too felt that it was far safer to put some distance between themselves and those bayonets.  Whilst the fight for the hill had been going the American artillery, plus the remainder of Woodford's men had been trying to slow the advance of the rest of the British right hand brigade.  In this they had not been successful, in fact losses to British volleys had forced the infantry to fall back to reform, leaving the artillery as the sole defender of the ford.

In the centre, the British were at last making progress, two battalions were moving in support of Von Donop, whilst the remainder pinned Smallwood's men in position.  The skirmishers were particularly effective.  Their fire forced one of Smallwood's militia units to fall back and then they turned their attention on his artillery, which had been proving a nuisance.  The American gunners took to their heels, abandoning their guns, much to Smallwood's annoyance.

Smallwood's men hold the centre
 With British support, Von Donop made another attack on the field.  The reformed fusiliers fired volleys at the American defenders whilst a British battalion moved up on the Americans' flank.  A concerted charge proved too much for the Americans and they were driven from the field.  Maxwell's brigade was now in a bad way.  Two units destroyed, two more with casualties from the jaegers, they were only kept in the line by the presence of the brigadier.  I therefore committed the reserve brigade to the right flank to push back the Germans (who had also suffered quite heavy casualties) and perhaps regain control of the bridge.  It was just in time; as the men of Carter's brigade advanced, Maxwell's men broke and the brigade headed off to Philadelphia.  A new line was formed, but with Woodford's brigade also on the brink of collapse the American position seemed lost and Gates ordered Smallwood and Carter to fall back.  The British (and Germans) had suffered quite heavy casualties and were content to consolidate their control of the river crossings and regroup before advancing further.

A view from the American right at the end of the action.  Carter's men are forming a rearguard.

Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Reinforcements - a Ga Pa scenario

It has been some time since the Prince August figures had an outing, so this week I created a scenario set in the years following the Russian defeat at Narva.  The Russian forces are still recovering and Peter is expanding the army to meet the demands of the Great Northern War.  Three new 3 battalion regiments are accompanying a supply column on its way to join the main army.  With them are three trained battalions who will help to teach the relatively new recruits the 'joys'of campaign life.  Attached to the column is a brigade of three dragoon regiments and two batteries of artillery, one light and one medium. The main body of the column, commanded by Major General Repnin, has halted at a small village to allow the  rearguard (Colonel Schweden) to catch up.  Colonel Roshnev (commanding the dragoons) has taken the opportunity to go foraging.  Repnin's lunch is disrupted by the arrival  of a Cossack patrol which claims to have seen a Swedish force heading towards the village. The Cossacks are sent to find Roshnev and order him to return to the main column.  Meanwhile, Repnin deploys his 8 battalions in two rows of four,supported by his artillery.  His objective is to preserve the supplies in the wagon train.

A Swedish force in three columns is advancing on the village.  The right hand infantry column (Colonel Sparre) has 4 battalions (one being guard) and a very light artillery battery. The second column, commanded by Colonel Stackenberg has 5 battalions and will arrive opposite the left hand side of the Russian line.  The arrival of Colonel Creutz's cavalry (3 regiments) will be decided by die roll.  Overall, the Swedish objective is to drive off/disperse the Russian regiments and capture the supplies.

Repnin's line
 Sparre's column arrives on the field first and their line of advance will outflank the left hand end of the Russian line.  Not wanting to allow the Swedes the opportunity to concentrate on the end of his line, Repnin ordered the Fraserski regiment (one of his trained units) to move from the second line to extend the front line.  The poor leadership rating assigned to the Russians by the Ga Pa rules meant that unless Repnin attached himself to the Fraserski regiment it was unlikely to follow orders.  However, doing this left the rest of the front line 'out of command'.  The regimental colonel for the Novgorodski regiment took it upon himself to order an advance and the line began a wheel to the left to meet the Swedish advance. 

This should not have been too much of a problem, but as the Russian line began its movement, out of the tree line appeared the second Swedish column and they were now in a position to attack the flank of the Russian line.  As he galloped back to a central position, Repnin was relieved to see the battalions of the Narva regiment which comprised Schweden's brigade coming into view. With luck they would arrive in the nick of time to form up on the right of the Russian line and oppose the Swedish attack.  Less welcome was the sight of the Swedish cavalry forming up behind Stackenberg's infantry. The ferocity of the Swedish cavalry charge was well known and Repnin hoped that his  men were up to the challenge.

Sparre urges on his men
 Roshnev's dragoons now appeared on the Russian left, but their advance was impeded by the Fraserski regiment and the leading regiment the Moscow Dragoons had to form column to move round their infantry.  As they moved to find the Swedish flank they were hit by a volley from the Swedish guard battalion which drove them from the field in confusion.  However, the threat of the remaining dragoons was sufficient to make the guards form square.

Elsewhere, the Russian artillery was making an impact.  The Varvat Framlings regiment was forced to halt to reform its ranks as losses from artillery mounted.  An unusual hesitancy now gripped the Swedish infantry (ie Steve had a run of very bad dice) and to maintain pressure the Swedish cavalry were ordered forward.  The Finnish regiment Abo led the way, but, strayed within the arc of fire of the second Russian artillery battery.  The concentrated fire reduced the regiment to a shambles and they took no further part in the battle.  (The Swedish/Finnish cavalry regiments only had one step whereas the Russian dragoons had two).

Roshnev's dragoons
 Sparre's progress now depended on the Jonkopings regiment.  Wheeling inwards they advanced on the 2nd battalion of the Novgorodski regiment.  After an exchange of volleys the Swedes charged.  The Russians didn't wait for the impact, but fell back behind their supports, disordering them in the process.  Pressing on, Jonkopings then fired a volley at the 1st battalion of the Vologdski regiment, causing them to fall back. 

wreathed in smoke the guards' square suffers heavy casualties

By now the Russian line had lost all semblance of order and this made Repnin's job of directing affairs even more difficult.  The sole success was the damage inflicted on the Swedish guards by the volleys from Fraserski and fire from the Kiev dragoons.  Schweden's men had managed to stall Stackenberg's advance and the 1st battalion of the Novgorodski had beaten off a charge by the Upplands cavalry regiment.

Jonkopings press forward
 However, Jonkopings had by now almost reached the supply wagons.  Only the 3rd battalion of the Vologdski barred their way and they were disordered.  Three more of Repnin's battalions were falling back and the artillery had been overwhelmed by the reformed Varvat Framlings regiment .  Repnin sought out Sparre and offered his sword.  Although  victorious the cost to the Swedes had been heavy with most of their battalions suffering step losses.