Thursday, 7 May 2015

Villette, a Grand Alliance scenario for Pike and Shotte

It is over 6 months since the last outing of the Grand Alliance figures, and that was the Lines of Castenay for which we used the Ga Pa rules.  Following our recent trials of the Pike and Shotte rules, Steve and I decided to 'push the envelope' and try the Grand Alliance period.  The scenario was very similar to the Castenay game.  Villete is a small, but significant staging point in the supply chain for the fortress of Namur, which is the main French objective for the campaign season.  As a preliminary to the besieging of the fortress, the French are anxious to prevent any supplies reaching Namur, to that end they are attempting to capture Vilette.  One battery has already been placed on a ridge, ready to bombard the town and Colonel Alexander Beattie of the engineers, is moving forward a siege  mortar and materials to construct a further redoubt.  The French already have one brigade of infantry (5 battalions) plus a brigade of cavalry (2 regiments) in place and further troops, (a brigade of 4 battalions and a cavalry brigade of 2 regiments) are on their way, under the command of the Comte de Salle Forde.

Unbeknown to the French; the Allied garrison of 4 battalions and two light guns, reinforced by a three brigades (2 of infantry and 1 of cavalry), commanded by the Graf von Grommit, have chosen that very day to sally out and destroy the French works. The low ridge, which is no impediment to movement is flanked by a marshy area to its right and has two wooded area close to its left flank.  French reinforcements will arrive either behind the ridge, or between the woods on the left (decided by a die roll).  The Allied brigade of grenadiers arrives after the action starts (delay is decided by die roll).  If the French preserve the battery and drive off the Allied force they are victorious.  The destruction of the battery, would be an Allied success, even if they had to retreat afterwards.

The French heavy battery, with Beattie's engineer wagon train approaching in the background
Von Grommit deployed his infantry in two lines with the cavalry on the right, correctly assessing that the terrain opposite his left was impassable to troops.  Even though the grenadiers had not yet arrived he ordered a general advance, there was no time to lose.  The first shot from the French artillery ploughed a furrow through the ranks of the Austrian infantry, but it did not halt their progress.  As the range closed the French infantry began to fire volleys and that from the Bavarians halted regiment Blitzenkron in it's tracks, causing considerable delay before they could recover their formation.

Confident in their ability, the French cavalry surged forward to engage their more numerous opponents. The army lists give the French cavalry a slight advantage in this period and I had mentioned this to Steve, just before he rolled the dice to decide which force he would command.  In the event he took the part of Von Grommit, but those claims about the French being 'the best cavalry in Europe' came back to haunt me.  In the melee both my regiments were badly mauled, streaming back shaken and in disorder; it was only the disorder in the allied cavalry, preventing their 'sweeping advance', which saved me from total disaster.

Aubusson driven back by Erbach
Fortunately, at this point my reinforcements arrived and even better, the cavalry appeared on my left between the two woods, putting them on the flank of the allied horse.  Here was a golden opportunity to hit the enemy whilst they were disordered.  The commander of the Spanish cavalry ordered his men to deploy from column into line and then charge, somehow the trumpet call was misheard and nothing happened ( ie I rolled too high in the command test).  One saving grace was that Von Gromit's cavalry were also stationary, (Steve also failed the command test).

In the centre a fire fight was developing.  Aided by their light artillery, the Austrians were gaining the upper hand against the French.  Solre and Languedoc were coming under increasing pressure and Salle Forde moved forward his second brigade to support the line.  The Austrians fired one more volley and then charged, Solre opted to fix their bayonets (once fitted the plug bayonet prevented the unit from firing its muskets for the rest of the battle), Languedoc relied on a closing volley.  Languedoc's volley stopped their opponents in their tracks, disordering them and forcing them to fall back to reform.  Solre met the charge of the Metternich regiment and after a close melee forced the Austrians to fall back. This gave them no respite because the light artillery now began to fire at them from close range.  Disordered, they were pulled back by Salle Forde, who ordered a fresh unit forward to take their place.  The remaining Austrian infantry concentrated their fire on the French redoubt; many gunners fell in the torrent of lead directed at them and the remainder fled the field, with the French artillery silenced the Allied front line now advanced on the French infantry.

The Spanish horse defeat Fugger
Hoping to take the pressure off the units to their right the Bavarians, supported by Remazy wheeled to attack the flank of the Allied second line.  Von Grommit countered this move by ordering his grenadiers to move against them.

Meanwhile on the French left the mutual inactivity pact came to an end with the Allied cavalry regiment Fugger charging the Spanish horse. Counter-charging the Spanish prevailed in the melee, but following up fell foul of the allied light artillery which Von Grommit had redeployed to support his right.  The Veningen Gendarmes and Erbach, now recovered from their earlier melee charged Aubusson and Vaillac. but could not repeat their success.  This time the French prevailed and the Allied horse were driven from the field, leaving Von Grommit desperately trying to put together a defence line on his right.

Toulouse fight for the ridge
The Hessian regiments Erbprinz and Lowenstein now attacked the ridge, trying to push the French line back. On their left Wartensleben moved through the abandoned battery position threatening the flank of the French line.  Erbprinz was defeated by Toulouse regiment, but they followed up too far and were overwhelmed by the fire from the Austrian regiments Herberstein and Furstenberg.  Zurlaben was threatened by both Lowenstein and Wartensleben but Salle Forde ordered the reformed Solre to charge Wartensleben and this helped to stem the Allied advance.  On the French left the Bavarians had stopped the initial charge of the Allied grenadiers, but when the latter were reinforced the Bavarians had to give ground., reforming behind Remazy.  This regiment defeated their illustrious opponents, causing yet more problems for Von Grommit, who now faced a situation with both his flanks in perilous circumstances and his centre coming under pressure from the two reserve battalions which Salle Forde had committed.

Assessing that he had fulfilled his brief of silencing the enemy artillery and disrupting their siege preparations Von Grommit ordered what remained of his troops to fall back into Villete.

1 comment:

  1. Great to see some Grand Alliance action and those pics. Most underrated period ever...
    I had issues with Pike & Shot rules myself, though I will try them again at some stage. I hated the ranges and felt compelled to change, and there seemed to be a very 'gamey' sense to it, with the brigade activations (I had French troops which didn't move at all due to their commander's incompetence - which is fine as far as it goes, but I'm not sure it's replicating anything significant beyond a reduced chance to do anything - as opposed to a commander's effectiveness).