Tuesday, 14 November 2017

The bridgehead, a Grand Alliance Pike and Shotte scenario

It has been some time since the Grand Alliance troops were on the table, (I had been hoping to get a second unit of dismounted French dragoons painted first, but the influx of Dave's ECW collection put paid to that).  Once again the battle revolved around a bridgehead, this time one established by the Allies.  Major General Boome had established a footing around a bridge in French territory which is necessary for artillery and supply wagons if the Allies are to advance further and now Graf von Grommit was hastening to reinforce it.  With equal speed the redoubtable Comte de Salle Forde was rushing to eliminate it

A general overview of the table.  Major General Boome has his brigade of 4 Hessian line battalions and a unit of converged grenadiers and a light gun deployed to face the approaching brigade of 4 infantry regiments and a light gun commanded by the Marquis de Aubauge et Didier.  Von Grommit is marching to support Boome with the Austrian brigade of 4 battalions commanded by Count Maximillian Landeck und Rothenstein and a medium gun.  Behind Von Grommit is Hofburg-Riesling with two regiments of cavalry, the Veningen Gendarmes and the Erbach regiment. (their arrival is dependent on a dice throw).

Salle-Forde is just about to enter the battlefield behind the Marquis accompanied by a brigade of 3 battalions commanded by the Marquis d' Haute Brie.  Arriving later (again dependent on a dice throw) are a small detachment under the Chevalier St Rogere (one militia battalion and one unit of dismounted dragoons) and a brigade of two cavalry regiments, Aubusson and Vaillac, under Chevalier Auguste Dupleix.   These reinforcements will arrive to the left of the wood on the left flank of the Marquis de Aubauge et Didier.

Major General Boome's brigade
Salle-Forde's initial plan is to advance with Aubauge et Didier's brigade to pin Boome in position.  d'Haute Brie will then take his brigade across the river, seal off the bridge and trap the enemy on the wrong side of the river.  The cavalry and infantry arriving later will hopefully complete the envelopment.

Aubauge et Didier's brigade
At first the battle developed as Salle-Forde hoped.  Aubauge et Didier advanced and created the space for d'Haute Brie to manoeuvre towards the river.  However, Aubauge et Didier's advance stalled in the face of determined opposition from the Hessians.  Their volleys caused heavy casualties  in the leading battalions, particularly d'Humieres, which had to halt to reform.  Even less welcome was the speed of the advance of Count Landeck und Rothenstein's battalions.  Von Grommit had decided to take two battalions across the river, ready to support Boome's right flank, whilst the remaining two battalions, with the artillery were to move beyond the bridge to threaten the flank of any French advance.  Whilst Von Grommit fussed around getting his battalions organised, Landeck und Rothenstein advanced with speed, so much so that they were so close to the bridge that any attempt to cross by d'Haute Brie would be met by close range volleys.

The fast marching Austrians
The reinforcements for both sides now arrived.  St Rogere's two battalions faced the Austrians led by Salle Forde, whilst the two cavalry brigades advanced towards each other.  Unfortunately for Hofburg-Riesling he had to cross the river and this disordered the Veningen Gendarmes.  As they struggled to reform, Dupleix ordered his men to charge.  Needing no encouragement the French cavalry roared forward.  The Veningen Gendarmes had no chance to counter charge, Erbach were caught at the halt and both were driven back.

Von Grommitt leads his battalions across the river
General Boome had ordered his grenadier battalion to move to the right and add its fire to that of the Prince Max Grenadiers.  He hoped to drive back the Zurlaben regiment and begin a move to pin the French infantry up against the river.  Before the grenadiers could reach their allotted position, Boome spotted the ranks of Zurlaben beginning to waver.  "Charge !" he roared, and the Prince Max Grenadiers responded with elan.  He had expected regiment Lowenstein to support their comrades and he was astounded to see that they remained stationary.

The grenadiers charge home on Zurlaben
Undeterred by the lack of support, the grenadiers charged through a scattered volley from the enemy and into melee.  Against the odds the French managed to stand their ground, aided by the support of regiment Solre behind them.  The initiative swayed back and forth, but the rather tardy arrival of Lowenstein was decisive.  Gaining fresh heart Prince Max pushed forward once again and this time Zurlaben broke.  They streamed back in rout and Salle Forde galloped over to try and rally them.  Unfortunately he failed and was carried further and further from the battlefield, where command now passed to Aubauge et Didier.

Zurlaben rout
To the right of Zurlaben regiment d'Humieres was coming under increasing pressure.  They had been exchanging volleys with the Hessian Erbprinz regiment and both regiments had suffered casualties.  Boome's light gun had also fired on d'Humieres but to little effect.  The decisive change came when the two Austrian battalions under Landeck und Rothenstein joined the fray.  Regiment Metternich was firing at regiment Bavarois and regiment Herberstein could flank d'Humieres  Under the combined weight of fire, d'Humieres' ranks thinned at an alarming rate.  Suddenly they too routed; regiment Toulouse stepping forward to take their place.

Landeck und Rothenstein's men deploy
Von Grommit could see that St Rogere's infantry were of poor quality and was confident that his line battalions could see them off.  However, he had to order one battalion to protect his flank as Hofburg-Riesling's troopers fell back in disorder.  He therefore commandeered Boome's combined grenadiers and sent them forward with regiment Furstenburg.  The latter was faced by the Wettigny Dragoons who fired a poor volley, which the Austrians returned with interest.  Sensing the enemy wavering, Von Grommit  ordered Furstenburg to charge.  The resistance of the dismounted dragoons was brief; in no time at all they were running from the field.  However, they had inflicted sufficient casualties to force the Austrians to reform.  For their part the militia fired at the grenadiers.  It was a good volley which stopped their opponents in their tracks.  A second volley drove the grenadiers back and they too needed to reform.  Sensing an opportunity, St Rogere directed the militia to fire at Furstenburg.  A final volley routed the Austrians and they streamed back towards  Von Grommit.  As he attempted to rally his men, another volley from the militia swept through the struggling mass.  Among the casualties was Von Grommit, who was carried from the field with a musket ball lodged in his shoulder.

d'Humieres comes under pressure

D'Haute Brie was doing his best to suppress the fire from Landeck und Rothenstein's battalions.  Metternich in particular was suffering and Rothenstein ordered the artillery to fire at Bavarois to try and drive them off.  Unfortunately, the gunners came under fire.  The crewman with the portfire was hit and as he fell his burning match fell into a powder barrel.  In the explosion the gun was wrecked and most of the crew killed.  At the same time Landeck und Rothenstein was attempting to rally Metternich.  He was wounded as another volley from Bavarois scythed through the Austrian ranks.

The Austrian gun is destroyed
As the Prince Max Grenadiers readied themselves to move forward again they were charged by Solre.  Caught at a disadvantage the grenadiers were pushed back.  Solre followed up and to their surprise St Rogere's militia joined the melee.  Already weakened the grenadiers were overwhelmed and routed and Boome rushed to rally them.  With Hofburg-Riesling's men now being driven from the field this was the highwater mark for the French forces

However, Aubuge et Didier's confidence rapidly evaporated.  Dupleix's men ignored trumpet calls and pursued the Allied cavalry off into the distance.  Relieved of their threat, Salle-Forde's replacement could rally his units and then go to Boome's aid.  The Hessian infantry stood firm.  Lowenstein fired a devastating volley which reduced Solre to ruins and then drove them from the field.  The reformed converged grenadiers charged the militia, whose volley was totally ineffectual and the militia simply disintegrated.  By the river, Toulouse was hit by volleys from Erbprinz, the light gun and Herberstein and broke.  Even Bavarois, who had done little wrong was eventually forced to fall back.  Aubauge et Didier and d'Haute Brie met and with no cavalry, over half their infantry casualties or routed decided that there was now no chance of eliminating the bridgehead.  They decided to fall back.  For his part Boome felt he had done enough and the fight petered out.

An enjoyable game which both commanders felt they could win.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, a nicely balanced 'too and fro' fight. I smiled at the poor unfortunate who fell upon the powder keg with a lit match as this piece of narrative obviously represented an 'elim' result.