Sunday, 26 February 2017

Burton under Moor; an ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

This week's scenario comes out of reading a book about the destruction caused to goods and property by the English Civil wars. (Stephen Porter's book "The Blast of War") .  It brought home how much of the fighting was about securing resources and/or denying them to the opposition.  So I set up this very basic scenario based in the fictional Kelhamshire, where Sir Victor Meldrew, commanding the Parliamentary forces, was anxious to secure the fodder and provisions from the village of Burton under Moor.  An added attraction was that the lands involved belonged to a prominent Royalist supporter.  Sir Victor's plans had not gone unnoticed and Lord Melchett, commander of the Royalist forces in the county, was determined to prevent Burton under Moor's bounty falling into the wrong hands.  Both sides had ordered a brigade of horse to the area, with a further brigade of horse in support if required.
An overview of the battlefield

Burton under Moor
A roll of the dice allocated the role of Sir Victor to Steve.  Another roll indicated his reserve brigade would arrive at the end of turn 4.  Lord Melchett's reserves would appear one turn later.  

The Parliamentary Horse prepare to defend Burton
At first, Lord Melchett's cavalry moved more purposefully than their opponents, but in the true Royalist tradition the advance was not particularly well co-ordinated.  Lord Melchett began to grow uneasy as the leading regiment, Gillibrand's, charged forward without waiting for their supports.  He sent an aid to Sir Fleetwood Hesketh ordering him to have a care, but the injunction was too late. With assured skill, Colonel Livesey ordered his regiments so that Nutter's, which was in the lead, was well supported and they met and defeated the charging Royalists, driving them back and hampering the regiments following them.  With his reinforcements under Colonel Starkie, almost ready to enter the field, Sir Victor ordered Colonel Livesey to reorder his ranks and then make a general advance when both brigades could act in concert.

Hesketh used the time to also regain command of his regiments and deploy to meet the full parliamentary force.  Hoping to gain the maximum ground for Sir James Tyldesley's brigade to deploy when they arrived, he once again moved forward.  Combat erupted across the field as the two lines engaged.  The fight swayed back and forth and when the lines parted, the parliamentary horse had been forced back slightly and Tyldsley's men were deployed ready to drive home the Royalist advantage.

The Parliamentary reinforcements charge home
As Sir Victor, Livesey and Starkie galloped around rallying their men, Tyldsley swept forward. However, once again the attacks were uncoordinated and the parliamentary line held.  Following this clash the fight once again swung back and forth.  First, the royalists would break through and then the parliamentarians would drive them back and advance in their own right, only to be checked in their turn.

Gradually regiments were worn down and the husbanding of reserves became vital.  In this, Sir Victor's brigades were better placed.  Sensing that the battle was in the balance, Lord Melchett ordered an all out attack by what remained of his men.  Once again the royalists swept forward with a purpose.  A stiff fight ensued, but the greater numbers eventually prevailed and when Livesey sent forward his last reserve, Shuttleworth's, they swept away their opponents and the remaining Royalist's quit the field.  With his command in a battered state Sir Victor was happy to order a day's rest at Burton, whilst orders were sent for the dragoons to advance and form a garrison for the village.

Parliament gains the upper hand
This scenario was set up to try out a few amendments to the 'sweeping advance' section of Pike and Shotte.  In essence this instituted a dice roll to see if an advance took place.  Also we felt that the greater move for 'galloper' cavalry (12" against 9") should only be applied to charges and sweeping advances where a melee would result.  The amendments seemed to work well when used with our rout rules (which replaced the break rules that removed a broken unit immediately.)

Sunday, 12 February 2017

Trentown: An AWI scenario

After a long absence Steve's AWI collection featured in this week's battle.  This was a fictional scenario based on Trenton and/or Germantown.  A brigade of Hessians has been billeted in the sleepy settlement of Trentown and a large force of American troops is advancing towards them on three roads.  There are some British troops in the neighbourhood and they have heard whispers of a possible American attack, but the time of their arrival is uncertain.  The Hessian units were represented by markers (including a blank), so the American player did not know exactly where the defending troops were.  American troops were allocated to the roads by their commander, but he was not certain which brigade would arrive when, so uncertainty prevailed.   Here are three views of Trentown before hostilities began

The farm and barn on the northern outskirts of Trentown

From the farmhouse looking south towards Trentown

View from the opposite side of Trentown
A roll of the dice allocated command of the Hessians and British to me, whilst Steve commaned the Americans.  I placed a unit of Fusiliers in the farmhouse and a unit of jaeger in the barn.  The two units of musketeers were in the church and mansion, whilst the grenadiers were in the half timbered house.  All the Hessian units needed to pass a die roll to be 'activated'.  This became easier as the turns progressed and also if shots were fired.

Steve had the initiative and his first brigade, Archers, entered the table and began to advance towards the barn and the half timbered house.  Fortunately for the Hessians, one of the locals was having his morning walk, (around his rabbit snares) and saw the advancing Americans and ran back to the town.  The first building he came to was the Buchanan House, where the Von Dornop's Musketeers were billeted (the building on the left in the photo above).   The colonel was an early riser and immediately ordered his men to arms.  Behind Archer's brigade were Betsrman's and they began to advance straight along the road towards Trentown.  Although he was detained by the colonel of the Von Dornop Musketeers the local eventually roused the grenadiers in the half timbered building across the road.  Their commander decided the best course was to hold the house and ordered preparations for its defence. Von Dornop's Musketeers formed up outside the Buchanan House and advanced to the fence ready to defend the outskirts of Trentown.

Von Dornop's form up
Archer's leading unit, some riflemen, was nearing the barn occupied by the Hessian jaegers.  The jaegers were alert and when they could identify the enemy officers picked them off to such effect that the American skirmishers had to fall back to rally.  Major Steiner, who commanded the jaegers requested that Major Wedel bring up his fusiliers to the right of the barn to fire on the flank of any American units attacking the barn.  They reached their position just in time to fire a volley that sent another of Archer's battalions reeling back to rally.

In the centre, Von Dornop's men had begun to fire at Besterman's leading battalion as it marched up the road, forcing it to deploy into line.  The Hessians were getting the better of the musketry duel until Benedict directed Archer to move one of his Continental battalions to join in the fire on the Hessians.  When Besterman's artillery also joined in the writing was on the wall and with losses increasing the musketeers had to fall back behind the Buchanan House to rally.

Chamberlain's Dragoons
Duggan's infantry
However, it was a case of 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' because Duggan's brigade was advancing up from the south towards Trentown.  Duggan's leading unit, Chamberlain's Dragoons had already moved off the road and eastwards to observe the roads along which any British reinforcements would arrive.  Behind Chamberlain Duggan's infantry had deployed into line and fired a volley into the Hessians.  Von Dornop's men attempted to reply in kind, but  caught at a disadvantage had to fall back again, this time beyond the church.  This was held by the second Hessian musketeer battalion which attempted to drive back Duggan's men with musketry.  Undaunted, the Americans fired a volley and then charged.  The resulting melee was fieerce and prolonged, with no quarter sought or given.  Eventually, the Americans had to fall back, but the Hessians were so shaken by the fight that they too retired to lick their wounds.

Duggan's attack gains momentum
This left the grenadiers as the sole Hessian unit holding Trentown. Doggedly and with great resolve they held off the attempts of Besterman to seize their position.  Archer made another attempt to secure the barn and farm and was successful in forcing the fusiliers to fall back,  However, the jaegers in the barn stood firm and repulsed all attacks; their accurate fire inflicting heavy casualties.
Tha American attack develops
The final American brigade, Clarke's, now arrived from the west and advanced along the road to Trentown.  Able to remain in column because Duggan and Besterman had driven off the msuketeers, it made a rapid advance on Trentown.  It was just as well, because the British reinforcements had begun to arrive.  On the northern road was Courtney's brigade, led by a unit of light dragoons.  To the south Dalrymple led a veteran brigade including a battalion of converged grenadier companies.  Lord Abercorn, the British commander had issued orders for the brigades to advance to the north and south of Trentown respectively and then, with the Hessians holding the centre, attack the flanks of the Americans.

Courtney's men arrive

Clarke's men enter Trentown

Dalrymple set to his task with a will.  Ordering his rifles to harass Chamberlain's dragoons the grenadiers were to lead the attack south of Trentown, straight at Duggan's men.  One volley from the grenadiers drove a unit of militia back in disorder.  With line battalions supporting each flank of the grenadiers, the British  line swept forward.  Duggan galloped up to the battalion which had just recovered from the melee to capture the church.  The tattered ranks faced this new threat and fired two devastating close range volleys.  The grenadiers staggered and then stopped attempting to regain their order.  A third volley sent them reeling backwards.  The gallant Americans had no time to celebrate.  A volley from Fraser's regiment ripped through their thinned ranks and forced them to retreat.  Dalrymple ordered forward his artillery to 'soften up' the rebels before resuming his attack.

Courtney's advance was more circumspect.  His light dragoons observed Chamberlain's men whilst the light troops sniped at them.  The infantry battalions advanced towards the gap between the farm and barn held by Major Steiner and the town of Trentown.  Courtney could see that the Hessian musketeer battalions were struggling to hold their position against Besterman, and with Clarke's men now arriving the Hessian position was perilous.

Chamberlain's men on the move

The destruction of the grenadiers
Chamberlain found himself in an unenviable position.  He had fallen back to reduce casualties from the British skirmishers, but had little freedom of action as he was hemmed in by hedges.  The only escape route took him nearer to Dalrymple's brigade.  With the British light dragoons giving signs that they were readying for an advance towards him Chamberlain ordered a turn to flank and move at best speed to the right.  Ignoring fire from the British skirmishers the Americans galloped along the road.  A gap appeared on their right and they went through it.  To his delight Chamberlain found himself behind the British lines and with a reforming battalion of grenadiers to his front.  Sensing an opportunity he ordered 'Form line' followed by 'Charge!'.  The American cavalry swept forward and caught the British infantry before it could react.  Caught at such a disadvantage the British infantry had no chance and were driven back in rout.  Sweeping on the Americans now overran the British artillery before it could deploy.  Only then did the line battalions sense the threat.  Fraser's attempted to about face, but they too wilted under the sabres of the American dragoons.  In 10 minutes the whole balance of the battle had changed.

Fraser's routed
The British light dragoons had been surprised by the American manoeuvre and although they had pursued their quarry they had arrived too late to prevent the destruction of Dalrymple's attack.  However, they did extract some revenge by charging and defeating the American cavalry, but were driven back by volleys from Duggan's infantry.

Courtney's light infantry fire into the flank of Clarke's men
Clarke's men had pushed through Trentown and were firing on the flank of the rather battered Hessian musketeers.  The British light infantry, released by the movement of the  American cavalry now intervened, firing into the flank of Clarke's leading battalion and forcing it to fall back.  A kind of  stalemate now developed with neither side able to gain the decisive advantage.  Abercorn directed Courtney to support the remaining Hessians in the vicinity of Trentown whilst Dalrymple was to put as much pressure on Duggan as he could.  Benedict ordered Archer and Besterman to concentrate on evicting the grenadiers from Trentown, prior to a general advance between the town and the farm to the north.  Clarke was to push on between the Hessians and Dalrymple whilst Duggan was to hold Dalrymple in place.

Brave as they were, the grenadiers were eventually forced to fall back by the combination of artillery and musketry fire which swept their position.  As they fell back they were hit by musketry from Clarke's men and the retreat became a rout.  The musketeers also broke under the sheer volume of fire directed at them.  Courtney's men tried to hold the line, but with their left flank 'in the air' were shredded by volleys from Clarke's men.  When Dalrymple's last remaining unit broke due to casualties received in its fire fight with Duggan Abercorn ordered the retreat.  The gallant Hessian jaegers and fusiliers fell back in good order, holding Archer's men off.  The remaining Americans were too weary to pursue.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Vapnartak 2017

It's the first Sunday, so it must be Vapnartak.  Once again Steve, Will and I ventured across the Pennines to the Vapnartak show at York.  With the Lance & Longbow Society not hosting a game this year we didn't need to be at the venue quite so early, so it was past 11 am when we arrived.  Not surprisingly we were in the overflow carpark and there was quite a crowd when we got inside.  There were plenty of traders in evidence,   In its usual place was the static 'game' by the York War Games Society.

Now the modelling is very good and the figures painted to a high standard, but the display takes up a lot of room and perhaps next year the society could feature a different project?  Rather different was a game involving Vikings and various fantasy beasts.

For me, the most interesting game was the Kriegspielers Kut game.  Plenty going on and a good number of players.

The participation games were mostly on the second floor balcony overlooking the course.  There was plenty of variety with two 'Wings of War' games, cowboys, and a  Lion Rampant medieval skirmish. In addition there was the Harrogate Wargames Club's 'Men Who Would be Kings' game which attracted a good number of players.

We all had a good day, and many thanks to the YWGS for doing such a good job of organising the show.  I realise that putting on a show like this is a thankless exercise in 'trying to get a quart into a pint pot', but if I could suggest that more space be allocated to the Flea Market, (my one visit was off-putting because of the crush), and perhaps the participation games could be better signposted within the venue?  More photos can be found on Will's blog