Thursday, 17 June 2021

Rebels and Patriots rules post correction

 In my original post I said that the scenario Steve and I played came from the Rebels and Patriots rule book published by Osprey.  This was an error, the source is Jonathan Freitag's blog Palouse Wargaming Journal link.  My apologies to Jonathan and to the people who had accessed the post since yesterday.  The original post had now been corrected.

Wednesday, 16 June 2021

A first outing for the "Rebels and Patriots" rules

Steve purchased a set of these rules by Dan Mersey and Michael Leck and published by Osprey Games.  As we like the Lion Rampant set from the same author, he thought that they may be suitable for a smaller, skirmish type game that we could play over a couple of hours, rather than our usual larger Patriots and Loyalists games (link) which may need to be carried over to the following week.

The scenario, comes from Jonathan Freitag's blog, and is set in the early days of the war and features a British/Loyalist force moving out from Boston intending to seize a cache of arms stockpiled by the local Revolutionary forces.  The arms are spread through a number of caches, each of which needs to be searched by the British/Loyalist force.  Each cache searched is worth 1 Victory Point, except for the one cache which contains artillery, which is worth 3 Victory Points.  The caches are allocated randomly.  News of the British/Loyalist advance soon spreads and Revolutionary units begin to march towards the cache.

The terrain for the game.  Revolutionary units arrive around the table edge, (allocated randomly), to support the unit already at the farm.  British/Loyalist units arrive along the road from the left.  They must arrive on the road, but may deploy left or right subsequently.  The various rule mechanisms are familiar to anyone who has played 'Lion Rampant' or other Osprey rule sets by Dan Mersey.  A set score is needed to activate a unit (enabling it to move, attack or fire).  If meleeing or firing, units have 12 d6, (halved if disordered); a standard score on the d6 is required to register a hit.  The number of hits required to inflict a casualty varies with range/cover for firing and defensive terrain/unit type for melee.  Morale tests are required for units taking casualties or seeing units wiped out.  As Steve has no individually based figures we used three 4 figure bases for each unit, a method which we also used in our Lion Rampant show games.

The British skirmishers lead the advance

 I had command of the British/Loyalist force and led with my British and Loyalist skirmishers.  The British/Loyalist force made slow progress along the road, but a worrying number of local militia units began to move forward.

Revolutionary forces begin to converge on the farm

Fire from the militia, minutemen and skirmishers began to whittle away at the Crown units, but when given the chance, the Crown forces were able to retaliate.

A unit of rifles attempt to outflank the Crown forces but are caught in the open by the light infantry

The Grenadiers attempt to drive off the unit defending the farm with a volley

I found that engaging in a fire fight just played to my opponent's strengths; my weaker units in particular being vulnerable to enemy fire.

The local militia inflict heavy casualties on a unit of Loyalist skirmishers

So, with time running out (game length was c10 turns), I took a chance and launched a charge by my grenadiers.
The Grenadiers resort to cold steel and charge a unit of minutemen

This proved surprisingly effective and after driving off the minutemen, the grenadiers followed up and also sent a unit of militia reeling back.

Even then, the Crown forces only won the game because, very fortunately, the one cache they managed to search contained the artillery, which gave them 3 Victory Points.  After lunch we ran the game again and this time it was a narrow revolutionary victory, suggesting that this scenario is nicely balanced.  Another report can be found on Matt Crump's blog link

So, what were our thoughts on this set of rules.  Well, they are pretty quick to learn, though perhaps our familiarity with 'Lion Rampant' helped.  You can use troops you have already based up, rather than have them on individual bases, which is useful.  In keeping with many new sets of rules actions can easily be fought on a  4 foot by 4 foot table and it is possible to complete a game in 2 hours.  This makes them suitable for club games where you may wish to play a series of linked scenarios, or even to set up a mini competition.  An enjoyable game can be played with 50-60 figures a side, so if you want to try out a new period the expense is not too great.

However, for some gamers the rules may seem a little too simplistic (this is a comment that we have had when putting on a 'Lion Rampant' game at a show), or lack the sense of scale they prefer.  They may also include a little too much 'chance' for some.

All that being said, on balance Steve and I thought that in certain settings, eg. show participation games to introduce a new period to visitors, or a quick game that will not take too much setting up, they fit the bill; providing an enjoyable game.


Friday, 28 May 2021

Ober Bruchberg; a Napoleonic scenario using the Shako rules

 The last time my Napoleonic troops were on the table was nearly 18 months ago, a long gap and mainly attributable to the COVID restrictions.  When Steve and I got around to organising 'skype' games it became clear that with the avaliable cameras 15mm figures were too small to use and we therefore concentrated on our 25mm collections.  However, this week, with restrictions relaxed we were able to meet up indoors again and so I dusted off the figures and set up this scenario.  

It is set in the Isar valley during the 1809 Danube campaign.  Rosenburg's Corps is attempting to hold the line of the Isar and cover the flank of the main Austrian army in the Danube valley to the north.  Mouton's corps is marching towards Ober Bruchberg, hoping to seize the bridge and then move north.  Rosenberg has chosen to use the hills on the western bank for his defensive position.


The Isar can only be crossed at the bridge or the ford, the stream flowing into the Isar can be crossed by infantry and cavalry, but artillery must use the ford.  To the north and west of Klein Sandling are woods which reduce formed infantry to half speed and are impassable to cavalry.  The swampy ground from which the stream flows is impassable to all troops.

Rosenberg deployed Bartenstein's infantry division on the hill to the south of Ober Bruchberg with one battalion, 1st battalion Deutschmeister, in the town itself.  Mohr's infantry division was on the hill to the north of Ober Bruchberg and Frimont's infantry division was in the area beyond the stream of the Isar.  Nostitz's light cavalry division was placed in reserve on the eastern bank of the Isar, able to move north or south as required.  Rosenberg's plan was for Mohr to hold the hill to the north of Ober Bruchberg, Frimont to advance onto the high ground and then swing south-west to the line of the stream and threaten the flank of any enemy attack from the direction of Klein Sandling..  Nostitz was to move onto Frimont's left flank and pose a similar threat.  If circumstances permitted, Bartenstein was to swing his left flank north-west to threaten the flank of any direct attack on Ober Bruchberg.

Mouton had the infantry divisions of Franquement (Wurttemburg) and Deroy (Bavaria and Baden) deployed on the line of the road south from Klein Sandling.  Franquement, on the right, was to attack and seize Ober Bruchberg.  Deroy was to attack Mohr's position and pin him in place.  Sevdevitz's light cavalry division, which was deployed behind Franquement and Deroy, was to move south to support Franquement's right wing and threaten any infantry advancing from the hill to the south of the town.  On the 'French' left, Fontanelli's Italian division was only just arriving.  It was to pass to the north of Klein Sandling and attack Mohr's flank with one brigade and use the other to hold the line of the stream.

Preceded by artillery fire, the French attack moved forward.  Initially good progress was made, but Mouton's divisional commanders soon began to face problems.  Franquement had to move one brigade to his right as Bartenstein's  leading battalions moved off the hill towards him.  Sevdevitz's light cavalry took their time moving onto his flank and meanwhile a lively battle had erupted between the rival skirmisher screens.

The French left: Deroy ready to advance and Fontanelli just arriving

The French right: the skirmisher screens come in range

In the centre, Deroi's advance began to break up.  The Bavarian brigade continued towards Mohr, but the Baden brigade halted.  If they advanced further they would be threatened by Nostitz's light cavalry which was massing just beyond the stream.  The plan had called for Deroy's flank to be covered by Fontanelli, but he had run into problems.  

The Klein Sandling bottleneck

The gap between Klein Sandling and the woods  was narrow so Fontanelli continued to advance in column.  However, Frimont had rushed forward his artillery and the columns were in effective range and suffered severe casulaties as they moved forward.  The Austrian skirmishers also made a nuisance of themselves and the Italians deployed into line, slowing their advance.  Encouraged, Frimont now advanced his line battalions onto the hill and then down towards the stream, flanking the Italians.  The leading brigade moved left to meet this threat, slowing the advance of the second brigade which was supposed to be helping the Badeners. 

Nostitz's cavalry preparing to move across the stream

Deroy's advance

Franquement advances with cavalry support

Frimont launched the Stipcisz Hussars against the Baden brigade anticipating that this would force them to form square and provide juicy targets for the Austrian artillery.  In the nick of time a column of Italian infantry moved up on the flank of the Baden Gross Herzog regiment and enabled them to remain in line and deliver a closing volley into the charging hussars.  This emptied a good number of saddles, but not enough to stop the horsemen charging home.  The infantry managed to hold their ground and repel the light cavalry, but this would not be the only charge the Badeners would face.
The Stipcisz Hussars charge home

and are driven off
On the French right Franquement's attack on the hill was not making much progress.  The Austrian Zach infantry regiment had formed square when Sevdevitz's cavalry had moved forward, but the Wurttemburg horse artillery had been unable to disorder the square sufficiently for the cavalry to charge forward and finish the job.  Realising time was slipping away, Franquement ordered the 2nd battalion Prinz Paul regiment to charge the Austrian square supported by the Italian light horse.  The result was a bloody shambles.  The joint attack was driven off with heavy loss, the Italian cavalry lost half their strength and the infantry were so weakened they played no further part in the battle.

Zach stand firm
Deroy's Bavarians were now in position to assault Mohr's position on the hill.  Their skirmishers had been picking off the artillerymen manning the Austrian guns and although Deroy's artillery had had to re-deploy to face the threat from Nostitz's cavalry the Austrian infantry battalions in the front line had been weakened in the earlier bombardment.  To try and disrupt the attack Nostitz advance the Schwarzenberg Uhlan across the stream.  Here they came under fire from Deroy's artillery, suffering quite heavy casualties and instead of continuing against the Bavarians they swung right and charged the Baden brigade.  Once again it was the Gross Herzog regiment which came under attack and once again they drove off the cavalry.

Along the stream Fontanelli was coming under increasing pressure.  Perhaps sensing that the Italians were on the back foot, Frimont ordered his infantry to attack.  The 4 battalions on the 4th and 5th line regiments suffered particularly badly, two being driven from the field and a third suffering heavy casualties
Frimont moves forward

Glancing to his right, Mouton saw that Franquement was closing in on Ober Bruchberg.  After an artillery bombardment the 1st battalion of the von Neubronn Fusiliers charged the village.  The defenders, 1st battalion Deutschmeister repelled this attack and also one by the 2nd battalion von Neubronn.  As the Wurttemburger infantry formed up to attack again, Sevdevitz took matters into his own hands.  To the south of Ober Bruchberg, between the village and the hill, 3rd battalion Deutschmeister had stood firm under artillery fire and also an attack by the 2nd battalion Kronprinz regiment.  Behind them, the battalion of landwehr from the Salzburg district had also suffered losses from the artillery.  Both battalions looked as if they were wavering.  Sevdevitz ordered the Cheveauleger Prinz Adam to charge.  As the cavalry surged forward Deutschmeister began to form square.  Perhaps due to officer casualties this was not carried out as efficiently as usual and before the ranks were formed the cavalry were among them.  In no time the square was swept away and the survivors sought sanctuary in the village.  

3rd battalion Deutschmeister disintegrate

Nearer the river, the Landwehr looked on in horror as the regular line infantry scattered and the Wurttemburg cavalry followed up in their direction.  All cohesion seemed to evaporate and they were swept away by the cavalry.

The Landwehr suffer the same fate

This success was in vain.  Deroy's attack had stalled.  The Bavarians, faced with resolute Austrian infantry to their front and cavalry on their flank, were forced back.  Deroy's other brigade was unable to help and the Italians were fully occupied trying to prevent Frimont breaking through their lines and seizing Klein Sandling.

Mouton had little option but to recall Sevdevitz and Franquement and order them to help Fontanelli hold Klein Sandling and the lines of communication back to the Danube.  Deroy's orders were now to hold the centre as long as he could.  There would be no crossing of the Isar today.

A satisfying game, with both commanders able to take positives from the action.  I was happy that even after such a long break we managed to re-acquaint ourselves with the rules quickly and the game flowed well.  Congratulations to Steve for his stout defence.

Sunday, 16 May 2021

Little Easing, (or did you ever have one of those days): an ECW scenario for Pike and Shotte

We return to Kelhamshire for our game this week and the continuing struggles between Sir Victor Meldrew and Lord Melchett.  Once again it is caused by search for quartering areas for their troops.  Up to now the area around the river Dash has been fairly quiet but that is about to change.  Sir Victor had hoped to be across the Dash before Lord Melchett's forces were alerted, but that was not to be.  As his vanguard formed up to cover the bridge, scouts reported enemy forces beyond the small village of Little Easing.

The battlefield from the Royalist position

There are only two viable crossings of the Dash, the bridge and an abandoned ford.  The latter may disorder units using it.  Forces were fairly evenly matched;  both had 1 large and 2 standard sized cavalry regiments and a standard sized dragoon regiment.  In addition the Royalists had 2 small regiments and the Parliamentarians 1.  For foot, both had 1 large and two standard foot regiments, though the Parliamentarians had a slightly higher percentage of musketeers and an extra unit of commanded shot.  Both sides had a small gun.  For victory a commander needed control of the bridge and the village, a tall order.

Lord Melchett deployed conventionally with horse on the flanks and infantry and artillery in the centre.  On the right was Sir Royston with the large and standard regiments of horse.  Sir Hesketh Fleetwood commanded the two small cavalry units and the dragoons on the left.  Lord Melchett accompanied Colonel Saville who commanded the infantry.  Caught crossing the river, Sir Victor had Sir Norman Fletcher's vanguard of the large cavalry regiment and one of the standard regiments plus the dragoons covering the bridge.  On the road behind were Colonel Wanless' infantry and the artillery.  Sir Andrew Goldshaw was leading the remainder of the cavalry across the ford.

Sir Royston ready to advance

Sir Andrew's men cross the ford.  In the background the vanguard cover the infantry advance

The battle opened with both commanders trying to establish a foothold in the village with their dragoons. It was a close race, but Fleetwood's dragoons managed to get there first and establish themselves in the house to the right of the crossroads.  Meanwhile, Sir Royston was attempting to get his units up to the road to the right of the village.  On the Royalist left it was originally intended that Fleetwood Hesketh's horse were to advance to cover the gap in the hedge and then charge any columns of horse attempting to pass through it.  Seeing the opposition horse  hindered by the old ford, Fleetwood Hesketh decided, rather rashly, to go through the gap himself and then attack the enemy at the river.  This did not go as planned.  Once committed to the move his units moved slowly and Goldshaw's men were able to cross the Dash, form up and advance to meet him in the open.  Even worse, they received support from Wanless, who directed one of his regiments towards the enclosure.  

Fleetwood Hesketh's men were outnumbered and his leading unit was quickly routed.  As it poured through the gap in the hedge, the other unit was hit by a volley from the infantry.  This left them easy prey for the pursuing Parliamentary cavalry and they too were soon routed.

The first Royalist setback

Sir Royston had now reached the road and seeing the leading unit of Fletcher's vanguard, ordered a charge.  His men were not ready and there was a delay before he could get them to advance.  When the Royalists did charge it was not crowned with success.  In an even contest they lost heavily and were routed.  Fletcher's men followed up and crashed into the supporting unit defeating them as well.  Shaken by their efforts they were then hit by a volley from an infantry unit rushed to the spot by Saville and forced to retreat.  Sir Royston's third regiment stood firm while Sir Royston and Lord Melchett struggled to rally their fleeing horse.  For the moment the Royalist right was secure.

In the village, the Royalist dragoons had settled in and were getting the better of the musketry exchange with their opposite numbers. The large infantry regiment had deployed  by the crossroads, but found that half it's musketeers were masked by the buildings.  To their right, the light artillery had been engaging the enemy horse, but had now turned its attention to the infantry that were moving towards the village. 

Lord Melchett had personally led a foot regiment over to the enclosure to aid the left wing before galloping over to help Sir Royston.  This regiment was now attacked by one of the Parliamentary foot regiments and although it held it's ground, the attackers did retain their advantage.

More of Sir Royston's cavalry are driven back

More Parliamentary infantry enter the fray

Lord Melchett surveyed the battlefield; the situation was bad, but not beyond recall.  Fleetwood Hesketh had rallied one of his regiments and it could charge any unit passing through the gap in the hedge.  He and Sir Royston had managed to rally Royston's routing units and the one sound regiment should be able to hold back the enemy horse long enough for Sir Royston to reform his regiments fully.  The centre seemed to be holding, denying the village to Sir Victor was vital and Lord Melchett moved over in that direction.

Smarting from his earlier setbacks, Sir Royston was keen to take his revenge on the enemy horse opposing him.  Galloping over to his remaining unit he ordered it to charge.  Inspired by their leader the Royalist horse surged forward, to be met by an equally resolute opponent.  The two sides were evenly matched, but it was the Parliamentary horse who prevailed, though at considerable cost.  As the last full strength unit of Royalist horse streamed from the field, Lord Melchett's attention was drawn to the left, where the infantry holding the enclosure were also streaming back in rout.  Finally, from the village the remaining dragoons tumbled from the houses, jumped on their mounts and retreated in disorder.  The enemy dragoons had been reinforced by a unit of commanded shot and then the light artillery and the combined weight of fire had proved too much for them.

Sir Royston's last throw of the dice defeated

The Royalist infantry in the enclosure routed

The only option now was to pull what remained of the army back.  Covered by the remains of the cavalry the infantry and artillery trudged back down the road they had marched up that morning.  No doubt muttering about the dismal show from the cavalry and how their commanders seemed outclassed by their opponents.  For Sir Victor it was a glorious day.  Not only had he secured a crossing over the Dash, he had opened up a new area for provisioning the army and inflicted a punishing defeat on his old adversary.


Sunday, 2 May 2021

Speyerbach: a WSS scenario

For our latest game we returned to the exploits of the Graf von Grommit and the Comte de Salle Forde.  The town and fortress of Landau has been besieged by the French forces and von Grommit has been given the task of raising the siege.  After waiting several days for reinforcements which did not arrive as promised, he determined to tackle the task anyway.  The delay has allowed the Comte to become aware of the allied project and he has made plans to use part of the besieging force to hold off the allies.  Through a mutual lack of careful reconnaissance, both commanders have been surprised by the proximity of their opponent and this has led to a somewhat hurried move to deploy for battle.  Once on the field of battle, Von Grommit  has discovered that the orders for the artillery have not been sent; an aide was immediately sent with a copy of the orders plus instructions to get the artillery forward as soon as possible.  Salle Forde also had problems, one of his infantry brigades had been delayed and he therefore found himself significantly outnumbered in infantry.

Here is a photo of the table layout, von Grommit's forces at the top.  There are two areas of woodland on the allied right and an impassable river on the left.  The 12" ruler is to give an idea of scale.

Seeing his advantage in infantry (8 units to 5), von Grommit ordered a rapid advance. Unfortunately only half his force, the right, complied; the Hessian infantry brigade and the left wing cavalry remained rooted to the spot.  Salle Forde was keen to avoid an infantry clash as long as possible, to give his tardy infantry brigade time to arrive, but he did order his left wing cavalry to move forward to try and hold the Allied cavalry away from his outnumbered infantry.  The allied right wing cavalry made a cautious advance, which enabled the infantry to fire a telling volley at the leading French cavalry regiment, Toulouse.  Before the French could recover, they were charged by the Veningen Gendarmes and after a short struggle routed.

The initial cavalry clash on the allied right

The Veningen Gendarmes followed up and crashed into regiment Talmont.  This regiment stood firm and drove back the allied horse, which disordered the cuirassier regiment von Grommit had led forward to support the attack.  With all the French left wing cavalry involved in the cavalry duel, the Austrian infantry felt confident enough to continue to advance, especially as they could only see one unit of infantry to oppose them.

On the opposite flank, the Hessian infantry and cavalry had now began a slow advance.  Salle Forde had moved his infantry brigade forward and supported their right flank with cavalry.  He had also moved the Cuirassier du Roi over for added support, though with events not going well on his left, this was a gamble.  Fortunately, his artillery now arrived and was immediately ordered to move up and support the Bavarian infantry, who were facing the Austrian infantry brigade.

Bavaria had now exchanged volleys with the Palatinate regiment and had also come under fire from the Metternich regiment and pressure on the French left was increasing.  Musketry now extended along the line as the Hessians moved into range.  Most of the fire was at long range so not very effective, but most front line  battalions had by now suffered some casualties.  Salle Forde ordered his right wing cavalry to attack, but once again the allied infantry were able to support their cavalry by firing a volley at the advancing Frenchmen.  This time it was regiment Aubusson who suffered heavy casualties and they were roundly defeated by regiment Fugger.

A 'Skype' screen shot taken as the cavalry clash near the river

On the French left Talmont had now been charged by regiment Erbach who were supported by the now reformed cuirassier regiment. The allied cavalry defeated the French and routed them; the French left was now 'in the air'

The clash on the French left

Talmont rout

The Austrian infantry brigade continued to advance and the Bavarian regiment was in trouble, even with artillery support.  Infantry regiment Zurlaben from the second line of infantry now wheeled to offer supporting fire.  As the Palatinate regiment charged forward they received close range volleys from Bavaria, Zurlaben and also from the artillery.  Staggered by this volume of fire, the Paltinate regiment routed.  There was no let up for Bavaria as they were now charged by regiments Herberstein and Metternich.  They held the first push and fought on.

The decisive moment on the French left

 The crew of the French light artillery had seen the allied cavalry victory on their left and taking a gamble, re-deployed to face them.  Regiment Erbach, intent on rolling up the French infantry, charged.  They received artillery fire at close range being stopped in their tracks and then fell back to reform.  As they did so the first units of the second French infantry brigade appeared on the field, ready to advance and support the hard-pressed Bavaria and artillery.  The cuirassiers who should have been supporting Erbach, had not received the order to advance and were still some way away.

The arriving French infantry were not a moment too soon.  Bavaria was buckling under pressure of the Austrian attack.  Eventually, they gave way, but regiment Herberstein also had to fall back and Metternich had taken heavy casualties.  Royal Italien wheeled left to face the allied cavalry and regiment Solre and Montreux moved forward to support the artillery.  These fresh units swung the advantage in the French favour.

Bavaria rout

On the French right, the cavalry had been fighting hard to hold back the allied cavalry.  Having defeated Aubusson, regiment Fugger now attacked the Cuirassier du Roi.  They proved to be a tougher nut to crack, routing Fugger and then taking on the opposing Jung Hannover Cuirassier.  As the two units battled, the Spanish horse in French service moved to the flank to add their weight to the melee.

The final position
At this point, time ran out and von Grommit conceded he would not be able to break through the French.  For his part Salle Forde was aware of how close he had been to defeat.

The source for the scenario was Project WSS by Kronoskaf, who also have the very useful site on the Seven Years War.  I scaled down the forces for the 6 x 4 table and as usual we used our own version of the Pike and Shotte rules, with, on this occasion, the unit stats from the "Last Argument of Kings" supplement to the Black Powder rules.  Here is the map which appears on the Speyerbach page of Project WSS

The delays to the allied artillery and French infantry did take place and I made their arrival dependent on dice rolls by the respective commanders.  The French were far more likely to receive their infantry within the first five moves.  Historically, the allied guns only arrived as the allied army retreated.

Tuesday, 30 March 2021

"There'll be an awful row at home about this" a The Men Who Would be Kings scenario

Back in the desert this week and the further trials and tribulations of Imperial forces.  A varied group of replacements for units at the front have gathered at base camp and are being sent south to join their regiments.  The officer in charge one Captain Wilberforce Malplaquet Thackeray, is on his way back to join his regiment, the Royal Barsetshires.  Just as he is about to leave he is summoned to the brigadier's office.  "While you are going forward I want you to take a look at this hill" said the brigadier.  "The cartography department believe it will be ideal for an observation post; only a mile from the telegraph office at El Abdab Halt.  The area's been quiet for a couple of months, should give the new chaps a chance to experience the desert".  As Thackeray was leaving the brigadier added "Oh, Latimer will be going with you.  Wants to give his chaps some scouting training.  Good luck.  Have your report back to me within the week."

Two days later Thackeray gathered his troops together as they waited for Captain Latimer and his troopers to get their horses out of the trucks.  There were three small companies, one from the Highlanders, one from the Borsetshires and a detachment of Blue Jackets who were to join the steamers at Wadi Halfa.  The previous evening he had agreed with Latimer that the cavalry would scout ahead and the infantry would follow.  Broken ground and scrub would be avoided to ensure good progress.  Once the infantry had secured the hill and an assessment made, the Imperial troops would return to the train and continue south.

The battlefield, the hill in question is the large one to left of centre.  The Imperials enter on the right hand table edge 

The cavalry were soon ready and headed west towards the hill. Behind them came the infantry, they made good progress other than coming across a few areas of soft sand.  Ahead, the cavalry spotted some movement in an area of scrub north of the hill and moved south westerly after informing Thackeray of the sighting.  Later, an inquiry established that this was most likely due to a desire to have a good field of fire should enemy troops break cover and attack.  Whatever the reason, Latimer's men did not lengthen the range enough, as they were came under very effective fire as they neared the hill.  The unexpected casualties caused some hesitation, which resulted in yet more casualties, before Latimer gathered the survivors together and they continued south west to a position from which they could see the hill and it's reverse slope.  What they saw was not encouraging.  Three units of warriors were waiting for the Imperial infantry.  Thackeray was informed and his response was to place the Highlanders on the right to subdue the Dervish riflemen, the Borsetshire's in the centre to face the Dervish and the Blue Jackets on the left to fire into the flank of any Dervish attack.

The Dervish spearmen readying for the attack

The Imperial advance, Latimer's cavalry about to come under fire from the riflemen

The first wave of Dervish tribesmen charged over the hill towards the Borsetshires.  They were met by a volley which stopped them in their tracks and when the red coats closed up their ranks ready to charge the Dervish fell back over the hill.  Encouraged, Thackeray joined the British infantry as they marched up the hill.  To his right, events were turning against the Imperial force.  The Highlanders were now facing the riflemen and they fared no better than the cavalry.  With their captured modern rifles the tribesmen shot as if they had been trained on the Bisley range.  Men fell on all sides and the command group suffered severe losses too.  First the piper was seriously wounded then the commander of the Highlanders was felled by a shot to the chest.  In disarray the Highlanders fell back and the young officer in command of the Blue Jackets moved his men to the right to cover the Highlanders as they tried to reform.

The Borsetshires advance onto the hill in close order

On the hill, the Borsetshires reached the crest just as a second wave of Dervish moved forward.  There were more enemy on their right as a second unit moved towards their flank.  Fortunately, this was stopped by a volley from the Blue Jackets, but nothing could stop the avalanche of tribesmen hitting the Borsetshires.  Though outnumbered, their tight formation should have saved the Borsetshires, but the shock of their first hand to hand encounter with the Dervish caused some gaps to appear in the ranks and these were ruthlessly exploited by the Dervish warriors.

The Blue Jackets cover the Highlanders as they attempt to rally

In no time at all the close formation disintegrated and a few knots of red coats fell back off the hill.  Thackeray was not among them having fallen when the formation broke.  Latimer had attempted to intervene in the fight on the hill.  Attacking the Dervish unit which had been shaken by the Borsetshire volley, but his remaining troopers were too few in numbers to succeed and were driven off.  Looking about him, Latimer decided that it was time to fall back and he turned his few remaining men towards the railway line.  However, their attack had roused the Dervishes and seeing their opponents retiring, they pursued, catching the horsemen as they became bogged down in some soft sand and wiping them out.  

The remnants of the Blue Jackets fall back behind the sole survivor of the Borsetshires

The writing was on the wall for the remaining British infantry.  The Dervish warriors now advanced and hit first the Blue Jackets driving them back with over 50% casualties.  Next it was the turn of the Highlanders who were cut down to a man.  Following up the Dervish ensured the Blue Jackets now suffered the same fate.

The Blue Jackets are eliminated the Highlanders have already suffered the same fate

So ended a less than glorious episode in the history of the Imperial campaign in Sudan.  The Imperial force was all but wiped out, a single figure from the 44 which started the game made it back to the base line.  Highly effective shooting by the Dervish riflemen weakened the Highlanders and cavalry and suffered no losses themselves.  Both were finished off by the Dervish warriors.  Although in close order, the Borsetshires lost their melee by a wide margin and when the Dervish followed up the Imperials were all but wiped out.  The Blue Jackets were caught in skirmish formation and suffered the consequences.  At brigade headquarters one old Indian hand said the affair reminded him of the infamous retreat from Kabul when only Doctor William Brydon was said to be the only survivor.

It must be said in Thackeray's defence that the dice gods were definitely not helping him.  On several occasions adverse dice rolls proved his undoing.  That being said, the Dervish commander played a skillful defence and throughly deserved his victory.  My thanks to Steve for setting up the scenario and to David for being the Dervish commander.

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

Battle of Dennington (Bennington) 1777: an AWI scenario for Patriots and Loyalists

 For our latest game Steve set up this re-working of the action near Bennington, which was part of the Saratoga campaign.  Burgoyne was moving south from Canada, but his army was hampered by poor roads and supply problems.  When he heard that supplies and horses were available in the town of Bennington, he detached part of his force under a Lt Col Baum to search for them.  Although the bulk of the rebel forces had pulled back, the local militia units gathered to resist Baum's force.  Realising he was outnumbered and expecting  the arrival of some reinforcements, Baum set up a defensive position near Wilcox bridge, where the Bennington road crossed the Walloomsac River.  

The table layout

Dennington (left of photo) is to the east, the lower edge of the photo is north)

I was allocated the Crown forces and had von Mirbach's Musketeer regiment in redoubt A and von Knyphausen's Fuslier regiment and a light gun in redoubt B.  In addition I had 2 units of jaeger and von Lossberg's Fusilier regiment plus an 'amusette' or 'wall gun' which I could deploy in support of the two redoubts.  For this scenario the Walloomsac river could only be crossed at the bridge.  Steve (as umpire) had told me that the rebel forces could be 'anywhere' and that I may receive reinforcements at point C.  

Crown forces deployed

In the end I placed von Lossberg in column facing the bridge, ready to support where necessary, one unit of jaeger facing away from redoubt B to screen that flank and one unit of jaeger across the river supporting von Mirbach.  The amusette was on the bridge also to provide support for von Mirbach.  All I could do now was await the arrival of the rebel forces.

David, as the rebel commander, General Rushe had the initiative and moved first.  As his troops moved forward it became clear that not only was I heavily outnumbered (15 units to my 5), but two thirds of those were advancing on redoubt B from opposite sides of the road.  I now realised that von Mirbach's position in redoubt A was dangerously exposed.  Although protected from the brigade of Brigadier Longshanks advancing from Dennington any enemy units on the opposite bank of the Walloomsac would have a clear shot at them.  Orders were therefore sent for von Mirbach to pull back over the river, covered by the jaeger.  This would of course require the amusette to also fall back as it was blocking the bridge.  Von Mirbach had fired a volley at the rebel riflemen moving towards them and then formed up into column and began to move towards Wilcox bridge.  Unfortunately, they didn't move quickly enough.  The riflemen advanced rapidly and fired into the flank of the musketeers, which caused them to break and head for the bridge.

A success for the rebels as von Mirbach are forced to pull back

Meanwhile redoubt B was under attack.  A brigade commanded by Brigadier Quicke was moving from the north.  A unit of riflemen moved into the wood and began firing at the redoubt and a unit of continental infantry deployed into line to cover the militia who were still advancing in column.  The continentals moved into musketry range and added their fire to that of the riflemen.  Von Knyphausen replied with a volley of their own and then the gun joined in.  This volume of fire proved too much for the continentals, who had to fall back to rally.

A setback for Brigadier Quicke

The rebel advance from the south also faced difficulties.   General Rushe had pushed forward his riflemen and the continental line unit in line but they made slow progress.  Impatient to get forward, Rushe ordered two of the militias units to advance through the woods on either side.  On the right the militia made good progress but once in the open it took them time to form line again.  On the left, the militia tried to deploy into line in the woods, again a slow process.  Thus, when the continental infantry moved forward they quickly outpaced their supports.  Baum's jaeger's harassed them as they advanced and so the continentals elected to drive off the jaeger at bayonet point.  However, rather than evade, the jaeger stood their ground (a misreading of the rules, only discovered later) and supported by the von Lossberg fusiliers engaged in a bruising melee with the rebel unit.  Although the jaeger suffered severe casualties it was the rebels who eventually fell back.  A brief respite had been gained on the southern flank.

The first push from the south repelled

To the north, Quicke had resumed his attack, following the repulse of the continentals.  Two militia units had deployed into line and were engaging the redoubt frontally. The jaeger were working around the western shoulder of the redoubt, threatening the road down which any reinforcements would arrive.  On the eastern flank of the redoubt, by the river, a column of militia was heading for the bridge.  To Baum's relief, the volleys from von Knyphausen's fusiliers plus the artillery drove back one of the militia units in disorder.  This allowed time for the fusiliers to re-deploy and move sections of the regiment to cover the flanks of the redoubt.  This made immediate impact as the rilemen were driven back in disorder by fire into their flank.  By the river, the column suffered not only from flanking fire from the redoubt, but also a volley from von Mirbach, who had reformed on the bridge.  The combined weight of fire proved too much for the militia, who broke and routed to the rear.

The attack on the bridge fails

In retrospect this proved to be the 'high water mark' of the crown day; several of the units had taken heavy casualties and this was to prove decisive in later events.

On the southern flank, General Rushe had reorganised his forces and was resuming the attack.  The militia unit on the right moved forward and fired into the rear of von Mirbach who were focused on driving back Quicke's men.  Caught by surprise, the morale of the unit failed and they routed back towards the redoubt on the hill.  The jaeger had pulled back west to recover from the melee, leaving von Lossberg to face the majority of General Rushe's brigade.  The jaeger continued to skirmish with the militia in the woods on the rebel left and Rushe moved his reformed continental infantry in that direction to bring pressure to bear on the road west.

Von Mirbach rout

It was not a moment too soon as up the road appeared a unit of musketeers and a unit of grenadiers.  These deployed into line and shored up Baum's right flank and threatened the flank of any frontal attack on the redoubt.  The musketeers covered the militia in the woods while the grenadiers moved forward and attacked the militia in Rushe's centre.  Firing a volley and following it up with a charge, the grenadiers were confident they would sweep away the militia; they proved to be sadly mistaken in that belief.  Standing their ground, the militia gave as good as they got, ably supported by the continental infantry.  Against the odds, it was the grenadiers who gave way, routing back down the road towards the Crown base.  Perhaps unnerved by this, the musketeers soon followed them.  Disordered by a volley from the militia in the wood, they received another before they could recover and they too ran off down the road, past the final element of Baum's reinforcements, a field gun.  This deployed by the road where the jaeger had been deployed.  They too had left the field, swept away by a volley from one of Quicke's militia units which had moved round the left flank of the redoubt.

The jaeger leave the field

Followed by the musketeers

But what of events on the other side of the Walloomsac, where the lone jaeger battalion faced Longshanks brigade.  Longshanks had determined to overwhelm the  jaeger with fire rather than an attack and deployed his forces in an arc around the unfortunate light troops.  Eventually the fire from three units proved too much and the pitiful remains of the jaegers fell back over the bridge, finished as a fighting unit.  With the way clear, Longshank's now launched a column of militia over the bridge to establish a foothold on the opposite bank.  Unfortunately for him, the amusette, which had spent most of the battle so far moving slowly back towards the redoubt and firing the occasional ineffective shot, chose this moment to make an impact.  The heavy calibre musket ball tore through the ranks of the column and caused such consternation that the militia stopped and then ran back to their lines.

The amusette's one success

The militia rout

In desperation, von Lossberg attempted to charge the nearest militia unit from Rushe's brigade, hoping to buy some time to organise a proper defence.  Von Mirbach had failed to rally and were joining the rest of the units heading back down the road west, so only von Knyphausen, the amusette and the field gun remained.  The light gun deployed with von Knyphausen had now exhausted its ammunition so the situation was critical.  Before the charge could be launched the militia fired and the casualties inflicted proved too much for the weary fusiliers who routed.

The final position, the only Crown forces remaining apart from the routing von Lossberg are those in the redoubt on the hill

With this Baum had no option but to surrender,  He was surrounded, outnumbered and with no hope of relief.  A notable victory for the rebel forces.

A game which duplicated the historical result.  Although ultimately a defeat, playing the Crown forces was quite enjoyable, if at times frustrating.  Many thanks to Steve for organising and hosting the game and to David for taking command of the rebel forces.