Sunday 26 November 2017

Preparations for RECON and some more recruits

Next Saturday will see Steve and I at the RECON Show at Pudsey. We will be putting on the Chester game we prepared for the Britcon show in August ( post ) for the Lance & Longbow Society.  If you are attending the show please drop by and have a chat.  As you can imagine after a lapse of over 3 months we needed to reacquaint ourselves with the scenario and rules, so this week we had a run through.

The rebel leader, Holland prepares to defend the ridge
The commander of the Royal forces, Mortimer prepares to charge
The rebel knights prevail and Mortimer flees from the field
Surprisingly, the loss of their leader did not adversely affect the remaining Royalist forces.  They stuck to their task and finally overcame the rebels.  A rerun after lunch also resulted in a Royalist victory, though by an equally narrow margin.  We will have to see how the game goes on Saturday.

Back in May I posted a picture of my first unit of Soldatski for my 17th century Muscovite army (other unit in this post).  Well, after 6 months !! the second is finally finished.

The unit consists of 12 pikemen and 20 musketeers.  (It should be 12:18 for the 3:2 ratio, but 32 figures is easier to arrange).  In the interests of economy (always popular with Management), I painted an extra 4 musketeers so that I had the option of fielding a unit of Streltsy for scenarios set earlier in the 17th century.  A unit of 24 means that they can be deployed in 3 or 4 ranks, or even 2 if behind defences.

Work has also been progressing with the ECW figures from Dave.  Fortunately these do not need painting, just re-basing, so these infantry have come on quickly.

Two units of commanded shot


Dismounted dragoons
Many thanks for the positive comments about my previous post.  All the figures are Steve's as are the walls and buildings for the monastery.

Sunday 19 November 2017

Italian diversion

Steve decided to try out the Pike and Shotte rules with his Italian Wars collection this week.  He set up a simple scenario which had a Franco-Swiss force trying to capture a monastery overlooking a strategic road.  An Imperialist force was deployed to drive them off.  Both sides deployed with infantry in the centre and cavalry on the wings.

An overview of the table, Imperialists on the right, Franco-Swiss on the left.  For the latter, the two centre columns  are infantry.  Nearest the camera are the Swiss, beyond the small wood are the French.  On the Imperialist side the infantry nearest the camera are Landsknecht, arquebusier and halberdiers garrison the monastery, with more pikemen beyond.

The dice decreed that I should command the Imperialists and I decided that the best option was to remain on the defensive and disorder Steve's units by arquebus  fire.  For his part, Steve opted to hold, (or if possible drive off) my cavalry and smash his way into the monastery with his Swiss pikemen after the defenders had been 'softened up' by his crossbowmen.

From the very start it seemed Lady Luck had taken against Steve.  On both flanks his cavalry advanced slowly allowing my mounted arquebusier to reach a flanking position where they could fire on his units before they were charged by my men at arms and gendarmes.  In the centre, although they had a range advantage his French crossbowmen took heavy casualties from my arquebusiers and had to retreat, disordering their supports.  Like the cavalry his Swiss pikemen were slow to advance and so their \french comrades took the full brunt of the defenders' fire.

French right wing

The Swiss

French left wing cavalry
The Landsknechts

The Imperialist gendarmes

The monastery
With his cavalry struggling to maintain their position and the French infantry in disarray, it was even more important that the Swiss perform well.       Unfortunately as they advanced their arquebusiers were decimated by the fire from the Imperialists.  When that unfortunate unit routed, it uncovered the leading block of pikemen plodding in their wake, who took similar punishment.  Before they reached the Imperialist line they too routed.  Both units were eventually rallied, but the steam had gone out of the attack.
The French crossbowmen rout

The Swiss advance

'Heavy metal' clash on the Imperialist right
Buoyed by the success of their cavalry the Imperialist pikes on the right of the monastery moved forward.  One block charged a crossbow unit which resisted their initial charge but had eventually to give way.  The second block attacked the French pikes and a prolonged melee ensued.

The end for the French right wing cavalry

Massed pikes

The view from the monastery
On both flanks the French cavalry was in real trouble.  On the left, two units had routed, the remainder were shaken and opposed by relatively fresh enemy.  Across the field, the right wing was surrounded and destroyed.  Only in the centre was there a glimmer of hope.  The second block of Swiss pikes attended by a unit of halberdiers had continued to advance.  They had cut their way through a unit of arquebusiers and now faced the landsknechts.  I was trying to get a second unit of landsknechts to advance and threaten the Swiss flank, but failed a succession of command rolls.

The halberdiers attacked the landsknechts but made little impression on the large block, eventually falling back.  By then the remaining Swiss were now threatened by the cavalry from the Imperialist left and units of arquebusiers in addition to the landsknechts.  Due to the collapse of the French left wing cavalry the French infantry were also casting anxious glances to their flank.

With little prospect of success, Steve conceded the day and began to pull his forces back.

In our post battle review we decided that the stradiots and mounted arquebusiers may have been too powerful and should be classed as skirmishers.  This would limit their opportunities for charging enemy units and rely more on harassing fire.

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.

Monday 6 November 2017

Action at Hunter's Ground - an AWI scenario for Patriots and Loyalists

It has been some time since Steve has been able to organise an AWI game, but this week the figures  returned to the table.  He had been working on a rule variant to differentiate the shooting efficiency of the various grades of troops (grenadiers, British line, Continentals, militia).  This was the opportunity to try it out; would the British be able to prevail against a greater number of rebels?

The British lines from their right flank, Bracegirdle's brigade nearest the camera

The arrival of the Rebel troops
Hunter's Ground is a large estate owned by the Hunter family.  The present head of the family is James Hunter and he is known to be sympathetic to the cause for independence.  Nevertheless he has afforded the commander of the British force in the area, Sir Hugh Thornleigh every hospitality, even inviting him to stay in his house, though the presence of two brigades on infantry probably influenced his decision.  The house is in the centre of the photograph above.

In the fields behind the house are the battalions of Bracegirdle's brigade; to their left, in the lee of Robert hill can be found the battalions of Clark's brigade.  This information has been passed to the commander of the local rebel forces, general Greene, who has assembled three brigades of infantry with the intention of carrying out a dawn attack on the unsuspecting British forces.

Caldwell's brigade

Archer's brigade
As the rebels approach they are hampered by early morning mist. Archer 's brigade, on the right blundered into a picket line of loyalist riflemen.  A few shots were exchanged and a few casualties occurred.  The shots attracted the attention of the riflemen skirmishing in front of the central column formed by Brewer's brigade.  Outnumbered, the loyalists were gradually forced back towards the big house.  The rebel battalions continued their advance, Archer towards Robert hill and Brewer towards the fields by the big house.  On the rebel left, Caldwell's brigade made relatively slow progress as the mist was thicker here. 

On the British left, Clark's brigade roused themselves and as reports came back from the light companies on Robert hill  plans were made to deal with the rebel attack.  Two battalions moved to fill the gap between Robert hill and Hunter's Ground whilst two more moved further left around Robert hill to threaten the flank of any attack.  On Robert hill the light companies were joined by the brigade artillery.
It was in the centre that things were unravelling for the  British.  Thornleigh waited with increasing impatience for Bracegirdle's brigade to move forward and support the riflemen.  As knots of riflemen began to fall back he decided to see what was causing the delay and made his way to Bracegirdle's camp.  Here found the staff rushing around trying to form up the battalions.  Finding one of the colonels he asked brusquely to be taken to the brigade commander.  The colonel haltingly informed him that Bracegirdle had decided to take up residence at an inn two miles back down the road, rather than use the tented accommodation provided.  "Are you the senior colonel?"asked Thornleigh.  "Right, you are now in command.  Restore some order and send Mr Bracegirdle to me when he deigns to appear!"

The Loyalist riflemen fall back
Bracegirdle's brigade had almost formed up when the front line of Brewer's brigade reached the fields.  One battalion was caught unawares when the first volley from the rebels ripped through their ranks.  Two more volleys followed and the sergeants struggled to maintain the line.  Even the renowned British discipline faltered when further volleys reduced the front rank to a bloody ruin and the remains of the battalion fell back in disorder.

Brewer's men advance
On the extreme right, the grenadiers had formed up quickly and advanced towards the cornfield.  As they neared the hedge they found that the rebels were there first and received a welcoming volley at close range.  The grenadiers responded in kind and a prolonged fire fight now developed with neither side willing to give ground.  Bracegirdle's other battalions were now ready and they moved forward to try and push back the rebel forces.  Some sort of stability had now been achieved in the British lines, but Caldwell's brigade now entered the fray. 

Caldwell's men begin their attack 
Their approach had been slow, but unopposed and Caldwell took the opportunity to manoeuvre his force into the right position.  He had moved round Brewer's left flank and now deployed  at right angles to the British line, enfilading it.  Thornleigh saw the threat and ordered two battalions and the brigade artillery to move to the right.  As they did so they were almost caught up in the rout of one of their fellow battalions which had been shredded by musketry.  Then the leading battalion suffered heavy casualties as the same rebel battalion fired into its flank.  The gun had moved forward and deployed, but it now found itself under fire from rebel infantry and artillery.  Although it did manage to drive back one enemy battalion another took its place.  Two rebel volleys felled a good proportion of the gunners and the rest fell back, abandoning their gun.

The British line before the collapse
The grenadiers now found themselves under fire from front and flank and they too were eventually forced to fall back to reform.  Thornleigh was desperately trying to re-establish a line when Bracegirdle galloped up.  "What are your orders sir?" he asked,  "Take command of the grenadiers and form a flank guard" was the reply.

On the British left Clark's men were gradually gaining the upper hand.  Two attacks had been driven back and the rebels were having to give ground.  Indeed, Clark's men were now supporting the loyalist riflemen who were moving  to outflank Brewer's men around Hunter's Ground.

Archer's men are forced back
 In the centre, Bracegirdle, keen to escape the threatening glare from Thornleigh, busied himself rallying the grenadiers.  That achieved he moved them forward with the intention of gathering up the gunners and recovering the brigade artillery.  Thornleigh had managed to reform the other battalions and they were now protecting the grenadiers' flank.  As the grenadiers reached the gun they were met by a volley from the waiting rebel infantry.  Halting, they returned the favour and with Bracegirdle riding up and down the ranks encouraging the grenadiers to greater efforts, further volleys were exchanged.  The right hand battalions of Brewer's brigade had been driven back and Thornleigh saw the chance of attacking the flank of the remainder of the rebel line, thus relieving the pressure on his centre.  He was about to issue the order when, on his right he saw the grenadiers fall like wheat before a scythe.  Two devastating musket volleys followed by two rounds from the rebel artillery decimated the grenadiers' ranks.  Among those lost was Bracegirdle. 

All thoughts of counter attack now evaporated.  A new flank was required to cover the withdrawal of the remainder of the British force.  This was achieved remarkably quickly.  Archer's men were in no fit state to attack, half of Brewer's battalions had taken heavy losses, so the only pressure would come from Caldwell.  He would have to attack on a narrow front and so negate his numbers.  The final position around Hunter's Ground can be seen below. 

The final position
An enjoyable game, with a different feel to it than with the traditional Patriots and Loyalist rules.  Steve's amendments did give an advantage to the British.  However, to be effective they need to be able to engage the enemy  at long range and hope to establish superiority.  The British around Hunter's Ground did not have this opportunity to 'soften up' the enemy as they advanced and really struggled, especially as they were outnumbered and outflanked.  One outing does not prove or disprove the efficacy of a rule amendment so no doubt we will be returning to the colonies again before long.