Sunday, 29 December 2013

Battle of Raab

Hosted another of the Napoleonic historical battles, this time the Battle of Raab of the 1809 campaign as Seth again brought up his growing collection of Austrians to match against my French.

Basically it was a very good French/Italian army vs a very dubious collection of Hungarian Insurrection (militia) units supported by a limited number of Austrian regulars.  The Austrian high command apparently was a mess, with much mismanagement.  The defensive line finally taken was a small but difficult to cross stream of the Pancza and a heavily fortified farm of Kis-Megyer.

The historical OOB had the French outnumbering and certainly the better troops but the terrain to there disadvantage as only a few crossing points were available without disorder penalty.

A large battle, but with many small individual commands, these needed to be combined, and more so with only a few of the guys able to show up.  The effect was that players had a lot of elements to think about and the PIP counts were larger than we had herefore known.
Austrian players (Barry[L] and Andrew[R] ) looking apprehensively at the masses of Grenier's and Grouchy's (Jim's) French which formed the bulk of the French attack.
Grouchy's cavalry found the only ford across the stream and start engaging the Hungarian Insurrectio cavalry (poor militia types played in this game by regular Austrian cavalry)
View from the Austrian side showing Seth's good looking and growing Austrian army.  The Austrian reserves on the hill constitute most of the only decent troops available to them.  The Austrian players decision was when to bring them into play. 
Close up of Seth's element of Grenzer with Austrian infantry to the fore.

Another view of the Austrian defense of the stream and Kis-Megyer farm to the right Seth has based his elements in identical fashion to my method. So while his painting may be different than mine, the two collections blend seamlessly so look very good together on the table I believe.

Meanwhile...on the Austrian right flank, Davidovich inactive during the historical affair, comes across the Raab river to move against Lauriston [part of the LSPPL combined French commands under my rather dubious ability)
Note in point from previous caption... Why am I always masking my own artillery support??
The Italian Royal Guard represented by the element in dark blue greatcoats advance with a fresh MP of 6!
French infantry
the Austrian Davidovich's Insurrectio infantry (played by Bavarians) are abandoned by their cavalry and are surrounded by French cavalry while stuck in square {indicated by, well, the black squares!}
The French won the battle but at the point where the Austrian players knew the battle was lost, the MP losses were about the same. In other words the lowly Insurrectio militia gave as good as they gave, but the French simply had more and the terrain was not enough to prevent the French assault ably done by Jim and his Chief of Staff, Joshua, who rolled some good dice for him.

The Kis-Megyer farm, the focal point of the historical battle was carefully avoided by the French who took the time to take out the supporting elements.
It was acknowledged that more defined victory conditions must be made so players will know what to do once those victory conditions could, or perhaps not, be met.

The rules are now working and most issues are now easily handled so in that we hope the game was fun for the players as it was for Seth and I.

Monday, 23 December 2013

Firing off Rockets

In my recent war of 1812 fictional game, I again employed British rockets (post link ) to fun effect.

I have been asked to explain my rules I use.  Simple really.  I allow players to fire off two per turn.  Each rocket/marker is a hex base (thick as to hold onto).  The player then declares how many of the 6 inch moves he wants to make (obviously to hit the target)  Pre-measuring is not allowed.  For each 6 inch distance the player must roll a d6 dice.  If he should roll 2 - 5, the rocket will go straight. But a roll of 1 will have it veer off 45 degrees to the left, if a 6 then 45 degrees to the right.

Let us say the player estimates the target is two feet away and therefore declares he will use 4 dice. The first roll is a 5.  He then can move the rocket marker 6 inches straight ahead. The next roll is a 2. Again six inches ahead. His third roll is a 1 thus having the rocket veer to the left and move six inches. The "rocket" is now oriented not toward the target but in this new direction and from which the final direction roll is determined.

It might be noted that in longer flights, as this would entail more 6 inch segments than a shorter flight, there is more intrinsic chance of the rocket going astray. And if the player rolls unluckily he can have a random flight which can be as damaging to one's own troops as the enemy's!

In my rules, the flight of the rocket is sufficient to clear above soldiers heads. However any unit over which the rocket passes will cause it to be disordered. "Dutchie, look out!"  The players can decide the damage caused, based upon the rules used, should a rocket actually hit a target!

Converted Old Glory 28mm Royal Artillerymen as the Royal Marines rocket battery employed during the Niagara Campaign during the War of 1812 - almost the same uniform.  I am of the impression that the ladder contraptions modeled by the manufacturers were used in siege warfare for the heavy weight rockets and the light weight small rockets used in the land engagements were usually fired from troughs simply laid on the ground. Seems more logical to me in any event.  The rockets themselves are scratch-built from pen ink tubes and paper.

Engagement at Lloyd's Mill

The US Twenty-Eighth Regiment moving through the orchard

Excerpt from the diary of Lt. S.G. Milne, U.S. Twenty-Eighth Regiment, dated 1814

My Dearest Meg,
Quite the excitement yesterday.  Our regiment along with the Sixteenth,  was to gather flour from a nearby mill before the enemy could get to it.  The General also led some New York militia cavalry - you will be surprised that they wear red tunics! 

The travel was not difficult but unpleasant as the order of route had us at the tail end of this long column. Ahead of us were the cavalry and all the many horse-drawn wagons so, with a warm day, we were stepping in horse dung which literally covered the road. Oh my, Meg, I am ready to throw away my boots!

The battle started suddenly at the front of the column with gunfire and rockets. Yes my dear, rockets!  Their streaks across the blue sky and they alit the very mill we were to gather the flour. All was lost. The wagoneers apparently were spooked and panic reigned.  The Rifles deployed but were thrown back by larger numbers of their British counterparts also clad in green.  John mentioned that not one redcoat was seen.  All the enemy this day had green uniforms. Odd that.

Of all this we did not know.  We did finally move through an orchard and deploy along a creek and I fired upon some of those "grasshoppers" but be assured my sweet, I probably did not hit one!  We could blame the smoke from the burning mill.

That was it.  We covered the march (dare I say running retreat) back from when we came. 

I am safe
love, Sam.
The American commander and the US Sixteenth Regiment route of march just as the firing started

Official Report of Major John Hay, 95th Rifles, commanding the Lloyd Mill force

In command of 3 companies of the 95th, two companies of the Glengarry Light Infantry Fencibles and one battery of RA (Rockets commanded by Lt. Whitgate)
and one company of the Independent Company of Foreigners.

I advanced with all companies of the 95th with one company of the Glengarries to my flank and the other in support. The rocket battery was left on a knoll to be used at the discretion of Mr. Whitgate. The ICF in their support.

The engagement began as Mr. Whitgate fired rockets which did spectacular service causing much confusion to the enemy wagon train and firing the mill itself. The fire to that building was so sudden that I am assured the enemy gained no supplies from within.

The enemy finally did advance upon us but the 95th fended off this attack by some of the enemy riflemen.  The Glengarries did stellar work and moved to the enemy flank and together we forced the enemy to hasten back down the road from which they came.  Due to the blockage of the bridge across the creek,  the burning mill, and a full strength American regiment in good order defending the crossing that I was unable to pursue further. Nevertheless I believe I accomplished the order of my force and prevented the enemy from gaining valuable food supplies.

yours in obedience......

the British 95th Rifles moving up through the woods

Letter from Lt. Whitgate to his brother:

dear Brother,
My rockets did well today.  Great fun!  I found a convenient knoll and set up my rockets on the ground as usual in the troughs only propped up on mounds of earth.  All I need really. Those heavy ladders of which I described in my last letter are silly really although the manual has them illustrated a plenty.  No just fire them off which I can do very quickly.  We didn't carry that many so I needed to use them sparingly but still had a few left at the end of the battle as the first ones did very well.  But we were lucky.  The first one fired promptly veered left and came almost all around. Thought I might have to run from my own weapon! Yes you might laugh brother, but the second aimed toward the mass of Americans along the road but instead flew toward a large building ( the mill the Americans were marching for as it turns out ) barely missing it and landing among the wagons. That, we could see caused great excitement!  
I decided to change target to the mill and fired off another salvo. The first veered right this time and went off into the distance -- dear brother I did not say they were accurate but offly (sic) fun to watch! -- but the second went directly into the building and immediately smoke billowed out. In no time the mill was in flames!

I clapped my hands and said to gunner Wilson, "our job is done here"  He laughed as did I.  I may have sent off a few more for good measure later on but the Major was well pleased with us.
"Gunner Wilson, where is that rocket going?!"

---see next blog post:  Firing off rockets for rules and pictures.---

Later rockets doing better effect. This one to cause disorder in the US Sixteenth Regiment

In this scenario, based upon the Battle of Cook's Mill during the War of 1812, it was a fight over food supplies of flour at a mill between the two armies.  Rather than follow the historical forces, I put on the table any units which fit my fancy including an all rifle-green force for the British and the lead unit of red-coated American cavalry.
The red clad New York 7th Dragoons early in the game

The following is a quick narration of the game.

The New York 7th Dragoons were shocked to see dark green shadows in the woods to the right after crossing the bridge at the Mill which was their destination. The wagons were told to get off the road but several of the wagoneers panicked and blocked the bridge.  The US Rifles were to move through the mass but were forced to go via the creek "got the feet wet".  Confusion was everywhere as the commanding general of the American forces was still in conversation with his brother, the commander of the US Sixteenth Regiment; a newly raised unit and not well trained.
As we know the mill was now on fire by rocket fire and the US Rifles had engaged the 95th in a rifle duel which the Americans were losing. Hoping to force the issue and with the support (which did not come however) from the 16th now deployed behind them the rifles made a fatal charge. Their rout, also caused the US Sixteenth to rout and together with the militia dragoons, wagons and wounded, ran down the dung covered road toward their camp.

The home-brewed rules are simple, not quite written down and use a command chart which I use as the basis for both command decisions and their results. Think free-kriegspiel.  If bad things usually happen to units, it is probably the result of them being of poor training and I, again, rolled a 1 on the dice!!

Tuesday, 17 December 2013

the Prussian cavalry

Unlike the other armies of the 100 Days Campaign, the Prussian army did not have large contingents of cavalry.  Doled out in packets to each corps, their cavalry was not organized in large bodies, indeed during the campaign they only employed light horse, be it called ulans, hussars, landwehr or dragoons.

Thus with the ratios and organization I am employing, the whole Prussian horse is some only some 6 elements strong; with each corps having 1 or 2 elements attached to each respectively.  And quite the mix of types they were. I sought to have one regiment represent each brigade which I completed recently.

The two ulans, two landwehr, one dragoon and hussar elements are, for the most part, metal Perrys but for the plastic 6th Hussars which I made and painted earlier. [ see previous post  ]

Oh, and if you love lancers, Prussians are for you, as only the hussars and dragoons do NOT use the lance.   By March of 1815, regulations stated that all lances carry the white over black pennons rather than the various regimental colored pennons previously.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Prussians regulars

In this rather silly task of gathering the whole OOB of the 100 Days Campaign, I completed most of the Prussian regulars which constitute about half the infantry numbers; the other half of Landwehr. Bulow's corps awaits the brush.

While the perception is that the Prussians are this unending sea of dark blue and grey, the regiments were quite different in many cases.  Neat little differences as can be noted.  Some of my regiments photographed

19th ( pink facings! )
Prussian artillery

Saturday, 7 December 2013

a 1816 Napoleonic battle

I set up a very what-if scenario at a rare attendance for me at the local club as I wanted to use my newly painted Prussian regulars. [the Landwehr have yet to be done]  The idea was that Napoleon landed from Elba a year later than history records and so the Royalists had some weak support enough to stick around and insist that the huge Prussian support be, at least technically, under French control.  Thus as you can see from the following photos Pirch, Ziethen and the other Prussian commanders thus wore French marshal's uniforms ( and the fact I did not yet have any of the Prussian generals painted! )   We wargamer's can rationalize anything about our hobby, can't we....

Napoleon still needed to get to Paris, with much of his army, the Royalist (and Prussians ) were to halt him.
So basically it was a small playtest with most players new to the rules.  I had no idea about the possible number of players and so brought enough commands for 8 although only 5 corps were used, each having 6-9 elements.  On the 6 foot by 4 foot table we had some 37 elements and as can be seen in the photos still plenty of room for maneuver. 

Barry's Prussians attack across the bridge

The Naval Artillerymen in the fore, French National Guardsmen in support.
The small table still allowed for much maneuver room
The Prussian masses moving

"Now dear, remember to ...." 
As Wellington was to have said: to give an account of a battle is to describe the actions of all the participants of a ball.  Hard to do. So suffice it to note that Barry was insistent of attacking over the bridge.  Yes he kept Napoleon from Paris, albeit temporarily, he did wreck his corps doing so. Nevertheless while severely weakened with most units near destroyed he kept the command together and played the rules well.  As did Francis bringing up Pirch's corps from the reserves.  A couple of the other players played a more "tactical" game and over-extended and spread themselves from command and thus needed more pips than were available to do what they wanted to do.  To my joy, at the end of the game, one of the players declared "This is a game of reserves" and he continued, "if this was a campaign game, I would have retreated turns ago"  Well spoken.

The rules are certainly focused on this.  They were taken by the players well... or they were just being polite.....  I did not have copies so all questions were done verbally and so I hoped I made mostly correct responses.  The only real question was about the recoil which needs to be addressed.  As with all rules, the more experience a player has, or in cases like this game where new players picked up on the concept quickly and played with the rules, the play will go faster.  However 10 turns in about 2 hours is quite good and the battle was done to a conclusion. [ Napoleon was to reach Paris albeit with only a brigade of his Old Guard to accompany him!]
"Paris is that way, Sire"

Thursday, 5 December 2013

15mm English Civil War collection

Dug out my old 15mm ECW stuff the other day.  While I have moved away from painting these small types [much to still paint tho'!] still half my wargaming collection is 15mm.  Large collections of ACW, this ECW, Italy 1859, DBA Ancients, Zulu colonials highlight the extent.

While in other collections I made the basing fairly "realistic", for these I went the other direction and simply flocked them the same as my mats.  Hopefully the groups of men stand out.  The rectangles shape of the bases themselves, while useful for the playing the rules, hopefully somewhat hidden from notice.

The numbers of figures on each stand was dictated by the packaging of these (mostly) 15mm Essex figures as they are in 4 horse bags.  The infantry are some 12-14 strong with many extra pike used as standard bearers.
most of the current collection
the Parliamentarian side with Cromwell's horse in the background
the Royalist regiments

the Scots