Thursday, 13 October 2016

A battle near Cassel; a French-Dutch Wargame 1672-78

As reported in my post yesterday, Conrad came up on Wednesday for another game, this time set during the French-Dutch War between 1672-78. I set up a fictional scenario located near the city of Cassel which is 30km or so south of Dunkirk. There was an actual battle near Cassel during this war, in 1677, which was a decisive if not crushing French victory under the command of Philippe, Duc d'Orleans, Louis XIV's younger and somewhat 'unconventional' brother.

The objectives of the game were to capture and hold a key supply route, road junction, two bridges and a town. if the French were successful their operations around the city of Cassel would continue but if they failed then they would be forced to give them up and withdraw.

Conrad took the French while I had command of the Dutch/Allied forces and the kettle. Both sides were fairly evenly matched numbers wise. The Dutch had 16 battalions of infantry (including 2 Dutch foot guards, 5 Spanish foot, 1 of Scots and 2 from Luneberg/Celle), 1 of dismounted Spanish dragoons, 12 regiments of horse and one of dragoons. They were supported by half a dozen guns of various calibres, mainly light. The French army had 16 battalions of infantry (including Gardes Francais and Gardes Suisse, 2 Swiss and 1 German regiments and a regiment of Scots), 2 regiments each of mounted and dismounted dragoons, 5 regiments of Maison du Roi and 5 regiments of horse including the Cuirassiers du Roi. Again, the army was accompanied by a mixture of 4 light and 2 heavy guns. Now, I know that the English withdrew from the war before the date of this fictional battle, but they were too nice to leave out for purely historical reasons!

 The French army stretching out into the distance; their left wing is rather weak.
 The Dutch rift by comparison contains the Lifeguard and Horseguard regiments, the Guard dragoons and both battalions of the footguards.
 The battle developed quickly with a charge by the Horseguards that drove back the French horse and dragoons in fairly short order. The French dragoons in the village were a nuisance as they caused a few casualties and disorder on my elite horse.
 On the left the Imperial cuirassiers advanced against the Maison du Roi but failed to reach them in a charge. The latter also failed to charge home in their turn so were hit the next by the cuirassiers.
 In the centre the Spanish made very slow progress and one brigade of Dutch foot failed to move for several turns. 
 Conversely the French centre moved forward en masse and looked very formidable.
 Back to the Dutch left, one unit of Maison du Roi was forced to retreat, but so were one unit of cuirassiers. The victorious cuirassiers held back and suffered as a consequence, being hit again by more French horse. The other unit of cuirassiers was forced to retreat and the French Cuirassiers du Roi followed up into some supporting Dutch horse which were broken. It wasn't going well on either of our left wings.
 Back on the Dutch right the French were crumbling under the pressure. Their horse were all broken, the battery on the hill had been overrun and the dragoons were about to be charged by the Dutch horseguards.
 While on the Dutch left, the French horse were doing the same as the entire Dutch left wing was shaken or broken.
 After a pedestrian start the Dutch footguards finally got moving and assaulted the village held by French dragoons. They failed to break in but as a result of the required break test the battalion turned tail and ran away in panic. Very unguard-like.
 In the centre the two brigades of Dutch foot crossed the stream to engage the French.
 While the Spanish turned to cover the exposed left flank and began to cause enough casualties on the French horse to make them pull back. I might have chanced it and charged had I been in command of the French....maybe.
 In the centre the Dutch were getting the upper hand in the exchange of musketry and one French battalion broke, followed by another soon afterwards. The French dragoons were in full retreat and Conrad just managed to form a line to stop me rolling up his flank. (below)
 The French are in a very exposed position with their exposed battalions under fire from infantry and artillery and threatened by my horse.
 A nice gap had opened up in the end of the disordered and shaken French line.
 At the other end of the line the Dutch Pallandt regiment charged the Scots in French service and due to the latter's previous casualties broke them. The gun was also swept away.
 A view down the battlefield showing the Dutch horse swinging round having disposed of the French left.
 The French regiment seen in the top right was charged by the Dutch Lifeguards. Conrad threw some dreadful dice and they failed to stop me with closing fire and in the melee after more awful dice from Conrad and some good saves from me, were forced to retreat. The battered Lifeguards then retired to regroup.
 This allowed the Horseguards to charge the next already disordered and shaken French regiment. They too met a similar fate as the previous unit and were broken. The Dutch followed up into the flank of the next French regiment and broke it too.
 The French line was now in some disarray as units were falling back all over the place.
 One Spanish regiment broke following an exchange of musketry with the Gardes Suise but the other four regiments advanced and pinned the timid French Maison du Roi into the corner of the field.
 Spanish dismounted dragoons had also finally occupied the town and were taking pot shots at the French.

 The French commanders have a meeting to decide their next move.
 The French centre is still pretty much intact but they were wilting under pressure from the Dutch on their flanks.
Nasty French dragoons still held the village at the close of play. My other battalion of Dutch footguards were reluctant to try and drive them out.

We called it a day at that point. The Dutch left wing had been destroyed but the French had been unable to capitalise on this and the Dutch (Spanish actually) had stepped up to close the gap. The French left was shattered and the centre was in danger of being rolled up so Conrad conceded defeat. A Dutch victory, albeit not a decisive crushing one, was declared.

It was an excellent game and we both thoroughly enjoyed it.

Tuesday, 11 October 2016

Another game tomorrow.

Conrad is dropping by tomorrow for a game. He asked if we could so something from the Pike and Shot era so as I've not had them out for a while I am in the process of setting up a game using my 1672-78 French-Dutch War collection. Now, both armies are made up of just whatever units caught my eye (the pikemen almost literally) so probably bear little resemblance to the real armies' composition, but who knows actually as there's very little available in English about the war, although I do have a good account of the Battle of Senaffe. (Battle begging to be fought).

Anyway my Dutch have support in the shape of allied Germans from Celle/Luneberg, cavalry from the Holy Roman Empire, a Scots battalion and a while brigade of Spanish. Louis' army has the usual Maison du Roi hoards, some steady French infantry supported by the usual conglomeration of Swiss, Germans and even an English (ok, also Scots) battalion.

The French are going to be tasked with holding both bridges, the road junction and the town, thus preventing the Dutch from interrupting their main supply route to their army engaged in operations around Celle. The Dutch obviously have to capture these points and beat the French back in such a manner that a repeat performance will be highly unnecessary. The sides are pretty evenly matched although the French are slightly better man-for-man, as if that ever made a difference. We shall be using Warlord Games Pike and Shot suitable tweaked as Conrad has never played Impetus Baroque and they take a bit of getting used to.

I love these armies to bits and am looking forward to the game tomorrow as they are always so incredibly frustrating yet so much fun.

Sunday, 9 October 2016

The engagement at Weitzel's Mill, 6 March 1781

Peter came down again on Saturday evening for another round of drinking too much very nice wine. While we enjoyed the wine we refought the Battle of Weitzel's Mill. I've not played this battle before so I thought I'd give it a go using the information from the pages of the Rebellion supplement to Black Powder. It was also a good choice for a Saturday evening as the scenario was time limited and the British had to force the river crossings in the face of (possibly) determined resistance from a force of militia bolstered by a few Continentals and Lee's Legion.

Peter took the British once again and marched up the road, deployed into line and traded shots with the Rebel riflemen blocking their way. Meanwhile Tarleton's cavalry and a brigade made up of HM 71st and the Hessian von Bose regiment swept through the woods in an attempt to turn the flank of the riflemen and reach the other road leading to one of the river crossings. The British failed to take advantage of their expertise with the bayonet and instead got the worst of the exchange with the riflemen. In a most gentlemanly act I reminded Peter of his troops' superior melee capabilities, and at once he charged the riflemen's skirmish line with HM 23rd Foot and HM 33rd Foot. He failed to contact as both units of rifleman to his front were able to evade. The third unit was also charged by the Light battalion and it too fell back shaken.

The battlefield at the end of the game. The ford on the left is the one fought over by the 71st and the Hessians. The road down the centre is where the Legion cavalry charged to their destruction, and the ford on the far right is where the 23rd and 33rd can be seen crossing. The British had taken an age to drive the Rebel riflemen down 8 feet of table , some of whom can still be seen in the centre.

Von Bose and HM 71st reached the other road and headed towards the ford. Tarleton's cavalry again tried to get behind my riflemen but couldn't move fast enough. The British continued their advance through a series of bayonet charges finally drove two units of riflemen out of the woods. The third rifle unit was almost destroyed through the combined attention of the Light battalion and the Hessian jager but passed a crucial break test and was able to retreat to cover the central ford.

All this time the main body of the Rebel force had been standing idly by, as I had failed to pass all but one  command roll.  Thankfully the order I did pass saw me able to put some skirmishers and a battalion of militia in position to contest the ford being approached by HM 71st and the Hessians. Peter then ordered his cavalry to head as far down the road and behind the retreating riflemen as they could. He got three moves and rather more then he bargained for as I watched all three squadrons of Legion cavalry race off in column and almost reach the central ford!!!! Oops! This unfortunate turn of events saw the cavalry under fire from the flank and front by almost the entire Rebel army as they rode past. All three squadrons were shaken and the lead one disordered as a result, and I then charged the central squadron in the flank with Lee's Legion, broke them and burst through into the flank of  Peter's recently deployed artillery, overrunning one battery before a lucky shot caused them to take and fail a break test.

HM 71st marching to their doom at the ford.

Meanwhile the already shot up HM 71st charged across the ford, took more casualties and became shaken and disordered, meaning they bounced and had to retreat and take a break test, which they failed spectacularly and routed! Von Bose's regiment charged in the following turn and made it across the river and into the waiting militiamen and drove them back in disorder. The trouble was that they were now isolated on the wrong side of the river facing a battalion of Continentals, a unit of riflemen and a battalion of militia, so they weren't going anywhere.

Over on the other flank the two British regiments (HM 23rd and 33rd) forced the remaining Rebel riflemen over the ford and were able to cross in their wake before Lee's Legion infantry could react. The 33rd were disordered and pretty shot up but weren't in any immediate danger.

Darkness fell just as the wine ran out. The British had captured two of the fords but were nowhere near able to claim a victory as the Rebels had bought the necessary time and were able to withdraw unmolested by the much battered British. Having lost their cavalry pursuit was out of the question, so  an unexpected Rebel victory. Peter realised that he should have been more aggressive from the start in order to drive off my riflemen and get to the river much sooner than he did. Never mind. Next time we punctuate a Saturday night wine-tasting with a war-game we shall be doing Guilford Courthouse, and if he's not aggressive enough it'll end badly for the British.

Just a couple of photos as my camera was on charge upstairs and I forgot to get it until almost the end of the game.

 Rhode Island infantry pretending to be Continental Light Infantry.

The 23rd, 33rd and Light infantry crossing the right hand ford at the end of the game. 

 And waiting for them, the infantry of Lee's Legion ready to take them in the flank.

 One of the Rebel riflemen units that had withdrawn the length of the table.

Militia waiting safely behind the river. They were classed as wavering and unreliable and therefore not very good. Thankfully they weren't put to the test and had to amuse themselves by shooting up the Legion cavalry.

Thursday, 6 October 2016

The French are massing for my Suvorov in the Alps project. The troops on parade!

Well, as mentioned in the previous post, the infantry component of my French army for this project is almost complete. The cavalry still need bringing up to strength and I need to start some artillery and commanders. Here are a few photos of the French infantry.

 Top Two: The Corps on parade, waiting for its cavalry, artillery and commanders.
 14th Demi-Brigade Legere in their distinctive mirleton headgear. (Trent Minis)
 French infantry (Trent Minis)
 A French light battalion wearing the hated tarletan cap which was probably just about phased out by 1799 but they look cool and the Eureka miniatures are superb.

 Two more of the 14th DBL.

 More Frenchies.

 Two battalions of combined grenadier companies. (A mix of Elite and Trent).
 Skirmishers for one of the demo-brigades.
 Two with one shot! Well done that man!
 14th DBL again!

Well, thats it. I'm very pleased with this lot. I'm hoping to get a game organised before or over the Christmas holidays, maybe a bit sooner. I want to end up with 12-14 French battalions plus skirmishers which will represent four demi-brigades (one a demi-brigade legere) which will be supported by a weak cavalry brigade and a couple of batteries of artillery.

A quiet but productive week so far.

No game this week unfortunately. I was supposed to be having Paul over yesterday but I had to cancel as I wasn't and still aren't physically up to organising and hosting a game. Robbie and John aren't available today either so gaming plans are on hold until the weekend when I'm hoping Peter will stagger down the hill again for another AWI/wine drinking session.

On the up side, I have managed to get more French for my FRW Suvorov project completed and based up, and in doing so realised that as usual I've gone a bit (more than a bit) mad and now have two battalions shy of four Demi-brigades, including skirmish stands, plus a couple of combined grenadiers. With four (or is it five?) battalions left to do that's far too many. I also have four squadrons of French Chasseurs a Cheval that I had painted for me, with a couple of squadrons of heavy cavalry to do. I thought I'd better get started on artillery and commanders so that's the task for the next week.

I've not had time or the energy to take any photos but will do so before the weekend as the figures are presently cluttering up the dining room table waiting to go into their billets.