Tuesday, 25 August 2015

Historical Battle of Eutaw Springs

I stumbled across an old magazine article describing the the Battle of Eutaw Springs in the southern campaign of the American RevolutionaryWar and thought it suitable for use with my War of 1812 collection - same muskets, not much cavalry.
The large 3rd Foot.  Some 400 strong at the start of the battle so at 16 stands, 64 figures.  In the rear the sheep and stone walls are new additions to my terrain  
With my collection as it is, I settled on a 1 stand = 25 men ratio or about 1:6.  While this taxed the collection to match certain troop types ( I am low on horse as the War of 1812 had very few in any of those battles) I still had half my whole collection still sitting in boxes but this historical deployment still had 29 units on the table!  By far this was the largest battle I have conducted with these, and as I only have 25 disorder markers, I can't go any larger!
The centre deployments by both armies with the British defending their camp.  

The battle started much as the historical battle did with the artillery trading fire and taking out each other, and Lee's units attacking the British left flank.  While historically the American militia traded shots and then awaited the Continental regulars to continue the advance, the game had the militia disordered so the Continentals moved through them only to the also heavily shot up by the stationary British line.  Now it was the Continentals turn to fallback through the militia in the centre which had not reformed and thus collapsed rapidly.
One American unit re-deploying -read "routing" - though another.  In this case my militia in civilian dress and those of Kentucky frontiersmen.  

On the American left the small militia units did not make any impression on the British flank elites under Majorbank and permanently retreated and the other units on the American left felt it prudent to  not advance with an open flank and against the large 3rd Foot regiment facing them.

On the American right flank, Lee's troops were now disordered and falling back had the militia units of Marion and Malmedy's Carolinians wary of any advances and in some confusion. The 64th Foot gaining an easy victory led a general advance of the British units against the many heavily disordered American units milling about in confusion.  At this point I ended the affair as the Americans would not be able to do anything but run.  The battle thus did not match the historical result and was an easy victory for the red coats.
The Kentucky-men representing Lee's Legion meeting the British "64th" foot holding the British left flank.
The Loyalist held firm

Obviously with small battles numbers and certainly morale are the biggest influences in the result.  In this scenario, I took most of the units morale assessing militia characteristics by rote and had militia quality to militia units and regulars to regulars but as historically the British line collapsed fairly rapidly and the American militia seemed to preform well (as did the Loyalists) so it will be important to assess them carefully.
Greene's army, while having "militia" units, these were no doubt filled with ex-veterans and the British regulars were in low-ebb so need some downgrading to re-create the outcome of the historical engagement.

Nevertheless,  it was fun to see the boys on the table.


Saturday, 22 August 2015

Russian caps on Old Glory minis

The local gaming store had a moving sale and of course I had to go buy stuff...

One of the purchases was a discounted pack of Old Glory Napoleonic Russian infantry.  Now these were in caps - as pointed out on the label.  I hate the fact that I must use reading glasses to see any detail and I had forgotten these in the car.  As these figures were a good deal, I was going to buy them nonetheless; but upon getting home with my new loot, I was a bit dismayed -- although I shouldn't have been surprised -- by the quite incorrect look of the caps they sported.  Big mushrooms they were and not flat topped fatigue caps of the Russians of the time.  Now I do have many, many OG types and while they have faults, they are generally not too bad and, well, inexpensive.  These however........ I let the following picture show the silly cap of these fellows.

before (left) and after (right). After closer inspection they are not of the same pose but slightly different as Old Glory poses tend to be, however the difference of the cap is still apparent as all the poses had the same "mushroom" look to them.

So some time was spent literally taking a knife to chop the top half of the cap off and using a course nail file - the OG metal used is quite malleable (a good thing too as their muskets are always wrapped around their necks in the packaging and needs to be always bent straight again!)
You may also notice the mold lines on the knee of the figure on the left (not bad for Old Glory!) and that of the cap which needed to be dealt with let alone all the other bits need to be scraped of each model.  Don't know if plastics take that much longer to make.

However, as done, these will be used as my Russian Jager elements.

Monday, 17 August 2015

Battle of Caulk's Field 1814

One of the numerous obscure engagements of the War of 1812 was the "battle" of Caulk's Field between a Royal Navy raiding party and the Maryland militia in 1814.

My friend KevinS has had a long interest in the 'campaigns' around the Chesapeake Bay during the War of 1812; the most famous instances being the burning of American capital government building including that of the Presidential Palace (aka the White House) and the artillery and rocket attack on Fort McHenry protecting Baltimore.  Well this little battle on a Marylander farmer's field hold's much less interest I am afraid.
Kevin had lent me a book on the conflict in the bay area and while those engagements are more famous, I was taken by this battle's simple affair.

A runaway slave offered information that a weakly defended militia camp could be easily attacked thus British officer Sir Peter Parker landed near Fairly, MD with 250 sailors and marines.  Hearing of the attack, Reed, the militia captain led his 21st regiment of Maryland Militia of some 150-160 men facing across across a 50 acre field with the right of his line toward's Caulk's House and the left resting on the road, two cannon in the centre, and along a fringe of the woods.

Parker's British force included a congreve rocket,  However, the man carrying the staffs fell early and the Royal Marines never brought the rockets into the action.  Sigh.  Really would have like to use them on the table!

Armed with this information I gave myself a 1 stand to 20 men ratio and allowed the Americans a cannon (albeit much larger model than they historically used) and 7 stands divided into the two flanks.  The British I gave 7 stands of sailors (because I had 7 stands of them) and 6 of relatively newly painted Marines on the right flank of their advance.
The American commander Reed was no greenhorn but an officer of the Revolution and the Marylanders seemed to acquaint themselves well and were said to only retire when running out of ammunition.  The British showed much pluck in the charge, historically losing 14 dead and 27 wounded (16% casualties).

The battle was simple enough.  The British charge across the field and the Americans shoot at them.

The game went similarly with the marines and sailors taking hits until meeting with and chasing away the militiamen but unwilling to go into the dark woods in pursuit --- I rolled a 1 once again! -- for this action.  The Marines seemed more willing but once in the woods their progress slowed. The rules have a reduction off each dice rolled for movement in rough ground and they became disordered -- generally my dice rolling once again -- but it does create "narration" to the story which I like.
Parker - who was not fatally hit as he was in the historical affair and with I playing this affair solo,  call a halt and his men tended to the wounded.  His scouts reported that the Americans had escaped off the table battlefield.
Royal Marines advance across Caulk's Field.  The fellow in blue is a sailor and perhaps the officer's servant who has joined the unit. Foundry figures which only really 2 poses so I added some rolls and bags to offer a bit of variety and had them turn in slightly different directions to lessen the repetitive look.
Brigade Games Napoleonic Royal Naval Landing Party,  Slightly more petite than the Foundry Marines or Old Glory they are facing but not noticeable on the table. Nice proportions nonetheless.
Old Glory's dismounted Kentucky boys filling in for the Maryland militia of the battle. Love the look of the round hats/tophats.  The fringed shirts of this era were longer and usually with a collar than those of the revolutionary era.

Saturday, 15 August 2015

Somewhere in....Spain?

"So what is the scenario?", I asked my friend, medical Dr. Dennis. "We have obviously French and British Napoleonic figures here" I continued, examining his collection of Airfix plastics.
"In Spain", he answers.  
"With these houses?" I respond, holding up a German looking 16th building model.
"Belgium, then?" he inquires in return.  I just shake my head...it doesn't really matter does it <grin>

Somehow, Dr. Dennis convinced two of his patients, who had absolutely no idea about the hobby, to play a wargame at the local club's Friday Night Gaming evening.  I mused it was probably while they were under medication, but I digress....

To his credit, Dennis did give each a copy of the rules before hand ( a modified version of GHQ Civil War rules....how and why he would use these is way beyond my comprehension <grin> ) but for the poor lads, they might have been reading a nuclear reactor construction manual for all their knowledge base on the era and the type of game.   I joined Dennis for the game as he needed a fourth player and to help a bit; stopping the game once and awhile to give a "lecture" on the nuances of Napoleonics warfare to help explain what the heck just happened on the table after they rolled the dice and why.  Nevertheless I was as confused as the others about the rules. Lots of charts it seemed.   We eventually got some hang of it, especially the sequencing of play - lots of rolling to see who got to move first, fire first, etc.  But for the most part we let Dennis just furiously count up the modifiers and consult the charts.
the French left flank/ British right flank action with the redcoat's centre collapsing

 For the scenario each player was given 4 infantry, 1 horse unit and 1 battery of guns and placed each command in a corner of the table.  For those counting at home, the French won the affair.  

...and over on the other flank, the British under attack by the flanking cavalry and French volley fire

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Battle of Gross-Beeren 1813 - the game

Battle of Gross-Beeren 1813 - the game   (August 1813/2015)

Peter "the Mathematician" excepted my invite for a go at our rules 'GdC' to see his new charts in action ( well, I created the charts based on his calculations of the dice variables).
Reynier's Saxons and French engaged with the Prussians of Bulow's corps 
The historic Napoleonic Battle of Gross-Beeren during the autumn campaign of 1813, was the large battle which ended the French move by Oudinot to take Berlin.  Oudinot's various corps travelled in parallel routes in a very Napoleon inspired method but failed to have each support each other, and thus, Reynier's corps of Saxons and French move toward the town of Gross-Beeren was not supported by either Oudinot himself from the west, nor Bertrand who was moving to Blankenfeltle, some 5 km ( 4 miles) to the east who emerging from forest was content to occupy the Prussians there rather than help Reynier's 'middle column'.

Bulow's corps is the three blue blocks on the upper centre of the map.  Gross-Beeren "Gr-Beeren" and the small windmill symbol forms the centre of the battle, while Dohschule's Division of Tautentzien holds Blankenfeltle aka Blankenfeld and which forms the game table

As Bertrand did little that day and the few Prussians facing him were content with that situation with all of the Prussian Bulow's large corps now able to face Reynier without interference, most scenarios often ignore that area and concentrate around Gross-Beeren itself.  However, that would mean too few elements for the afternoon, so I gave Peter and myself a bit more to play with!
The town is Gross-Beeren with the Windmill Hill off to the left off camera.  Blankenfeld is off to the right.  We see the Saxon division Sahr (left) and Durette's French division (right) initially engaging the lead Prussian elements.  
The short synopsis of the game is that it surprisingly went much like the historical battle.  While the Prussians overall had some numeric advantage - 24 elements to the French 20 - Bulow with his 17 could take on Reynier's 10 while Bertrand and his 10 element strong corps made no headway against the smaller Prussian all Landwehr force holding Blankenfeld.

I took the French side while I gave Peter the opportunity to use the larger Prussian force.  Like Bertrand, I was met with effective cannon fire ( rolling well, Peter took out my leading light horse which prompted a corps morale rolled which, I my usual style, I rolled very poorly for and forced me to halt my advance, in file, within the woods.  Again like Bertrand had facing concentrated Pussian artillery fire that day in 1813.  I furthered this poor situation by totally not realizing, until Peter suggested late in the battle as the idea then struck him, to expand into the woods to work around staggered lead brigades!  The elements in the woods would be disordered and more trouble to order about so not ideal but could in time give combat to the Prussian and earlier moves might have changed things perhaps.  However, I could now see Bertrand's issues that day in 1813.
Wurttemburger's of Bertrand's corps.  These are Perry plastics with modified Austrian shakos - they had gone to this shako from the helmet in 1813. I scraped off all the Austrian cockades and such and added a small lozenge badge.  With the distinctive Austrian roll cut off the pack and removal of the Austrian canteen, together with a couple of the bottom buttons scraped off the tunic to allow the Wurttemberg half-lapel.... the Perry plastics make great models of these German troops. 
one of Fontanelli's Italian brigades disordered in the woods
My Reynier in the meantime faced against Peter's Bulow, who was allowed to deploy very close to the town. Historically heavy rain masked his advance made easy by Reynier's thought that the day was done and allowed his Saxons and French troops to start to bivouac!
heavy action at 'Windmill Hill' located just west of Gross-Beeren
As a rules note, the new command allowance give more pips for larger commands than we have used previously, and while players will enjoy more allowed play with all their elements, sometimes a lot of 1s on the dice, can really be troublesome if they have a big command!  However, like Bulow, Peter managed his large but not overly powerful force with a lot of finesse as it had many very fragile Landwehr (militia) units.
new markers include small green flags (same construction as the white ones) which, by adding or removing, allow for a more gradual step-down of the important Command Morale modifier die with each loss of a command's elements. The small "4 d" indicator provides players a reminder of the # of dice to roll for each command {important should a player have multiple commands to play).  The wheel indicates the artillery is limbered and thus can/has moved.
Prussian Landwehr cavalry.  Calpe Miniatures with "English shakos" in the rear.  I received these in a trade. They match well with the Perrys. 
However, battles go to those with the bigger battalions as the saying goes, and the Prussian numbers came into play.  Interestingly Peter, like Bulow in this battle, thought the open left flank of Reynier was key, which Reynier - and I - had no reserves to match; and like the Saxon division holding that area, my Saxon elements were obliged -- well, OK, forced by my adverse Command Morale losses -- to fall back.  Again, like the actual battle.  Love the confirmation of the historic outcome.

The French in retreat.  Rather more organized than in reality......