Sunday, 13 October 2019

Jena on Saturday, not quite on the anniversary but close enough......

Yesterday (Saturday) I hosted a refight of the Battle of Jena, 14 October 1806. A couple of the guys at the Durham Wargames Group have plans for a big 1/72nd scale refight of Leipzig next year and wanted to try out the first iteration of a set of rules. So I offered up The Burrow as a location for Jena. I would sort out the terrain while Mike and John would provide the hundreds of 1/72nd scale 1806 Prussians and Frenchies. The game gave me the opportunity to use my 'up cycled' Faller and Volmer HO/OO buildings which work well even with 28mm figures. Anyone not familiar with the annihilation of Prussia in 1806 click here.

Anyway, on to the game. Mike umpired while John the Red, Conrad and Owen were the French and Neil, Liam and myself (for once off the bench and not watching from the touchline) played the vastly outnumbered and outclassed Prussians and Saxons.

Victory for Prussians would be determined by how well or badly they did in comparison to the real battle. The French would loose victory points the more troops they deployed from their massed legions queuing up to get stuck in, e.g. the Reserve Cavalry or the Imperial Guard.

The French plan was I assume to pile on and quickly overwhelm the Prussians and Saxons by pinning attacks in the centre, a steamroller on our right and a flanking move on our left. The Prussians decided to refuse their left flank and move everything as quickly as possible (in practice not vey quickly) to the centre and right flank. A good plan I thought, especially as it was my idea. Of course you know what they say about plans not surviving first contact with the enemy.....

I'm not going to give a blow by blow account of the game, just the high and low lights, but the photos should give an idea of the game progressed.

The Prussian high command clearly not taking things too seriously! (l to r: me, Liam and Neil)
Frederick the Great looks on disapprovingly from the back wall.
The Prussian right wing, behind Viertzehelingen.
Prussian and Saxon grenadiers in reserve
The Prussian left, with the advance guard on the Dornberg holding the villages  of Closewitz and Lutzeroda at the top of the shot.
Suddenly there were thousands of French pouring onto the table in the centre!
Neil began shifting his command towards the right.
More French march onto the table behind Isserstadt, opposite our right flank!
The Prussian advance guard stopped the French and created a bottleneck preventing them from deploying effectively.  This bought us valuable time.
Feeling confident we charged his advancing columns with two regiments of Hussars, forcing the French into square.  Both cavalry regiments were forced to retreat but not before causing mayhem among the closely packed French.
One French column was hit in the flank by our hussars and, unable to form square, was broken.
The valiant defenders of Closewitz are finally ejected after a brave defence.
Another, this time pretty futile, charge by our hussars in the centre. At least the French were being held up and forced into square.
The man French attack against our right flank.
More French appeared in the centre.
French artillery and cavalry advance towards Viezehnheiligen.
A view of the battlefield from the West.
Yet more French and their allies advance in the centre.
The odds were stacked against the Prussians in the centre as they were very thinly spread until Neil could get his troops over to fill the gap.

The French columns crashed into the Prussians who were unable to halt them. The first line of Prussians was pushed back but the second held and was able to pour volleys of musketry into the heads of the French columns.

Conrad looks on as his infantry (Ney) and the Reserve Cavalry Corps join the battle. The French in the centre have finally broken out of their traffic jam and pushed the Prussians back off the Dornberg.
Marshall Ney attempting to roll up the Prussian left.

Murat and the Reserve Cavalry Corps.

A view of the centre from behind the French right.  Lots of manoeuvring going on.

Prussians still holding out on the Dornberg but in danger of being cut off by Ney's advancing corps.
Ney's VI Corps.

Ney's artillery took a back road and the long way round to the battle.
The Prussians flung two regiments of dragoons towards the French, forcing them into square. This act of sacrifice was to buy the Prussians more much needed time.

The ploy worked as one French square was broken!
More bloody French!
Yet again, in an act of yet more sacrifice more suited to the charges of the French cavalry during the opening weeks of the Franco-Prussian War, the Prussians charged and forced the Bavarians into square. The cuirassiers seen above were the last survivors of three regiments holding the centre against twice their number of enemy horsemen.
The Prussian right was still holding on. The battery was about to be eliminated but the grenadiers of the reserve were just  to the rear.
The Prussians and Saxons on they left were really up against it and were about to be overwhelmed.
The Prussian reserve grenadier battalions deploy to shore up their right flank.
The table at the end of the game. Mike at the end delivers his verdict.
Based on the victory criteria the Prussians had wrestled a minor victory. None of their divisions had been broken and overall losses were heavy but not crippling. My reserve division of grenadiers had barely seen action and Ruchel had just arrived so there was a small chance the army might have escaped total destruction, although if we'd played  a few more turns the French would surely have overwhelmed the Prussian left and centre. 

Jena is actually a difficult battle to recreate due to the disparity of numbers between the two opposing armies. French command and control was also much better and this was also the French army at its (arguably) best during the entire Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars. The Prussians had no chance of  victory in the traditional sense and it was only by artificially imposing some constraints that it was prevented from being the proverbial walkover by the French.

Anyway, it all worked out really well, and was a great game with super figures, played with the usual good humour and grace. The rules worked fine and in any case are a work in progress, so roll on the next outing in December.

Meanwhile, I have another game planned for this coming Saturday. Not sure what yet but I have several ideas......

Monday, 7 October 2019

The kindness of others......

A couple of weeks ago I received an unexpected email off a stranger asking for my address so their dad could send me some unwanted figures. The father is a follower on this blog and thought these Sikh Wars irregulars would have a good home in The Burrow.  A few days later 40 very nicely painted Foundry figures dropped onto my doorstep.  What a great gift from a complete stranger! I've just finished rebasing them and have added a few flags so they shall be joining the Sikh forces immediately. Generosity among wargamers has always been a strong feature of the hobby and this is just another perfect example. Thank you so much John.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

The Levee en Masse. French Revolutionary Wars. Plus some heavy cavalry.

The figures below marched back into the Burrow a few weeks ago after being clothed, equipped and hopefully trained (not as it turned out after their baptism of fire last week) by my mate Barry of the Like a Stone Wall Group. I'd bought these as part of a Kickstarter off Revolutionary Armies (Matthew of Emperor Toads Emporium) and then forgotten all about them till they arrived a couple of months ago with a thump on the doormat. Seven battalions of volunteers/levee, plus two regiments of heavy cavalry were not going to paint themselves and as I’m still buried under Sikh Wars stuff that keep marching around my painting station. So, over to Barry who has done a grand job as usual.

Here are a few photos. I think the castings are tremendous, especially the cavalry. As noted earlier the infantry received their first tabletop outing on Saturday and there they were part of the defeated French army at Wissembourg. At least only a couple (or three) battalions actually ran off although several others were shaken. Par for the course for new figures. The cavalry have yet to see action.

The flags are iirc a mixture of Maverick Models and some odds and ends I picked up off eBay or constructed from online downloads.

Between Scylla and Charbidis, The Army of Elector Frederick Augustus II of Saxony 1733-63, Vol2 Infantry and Artillery

The (for me at least) long-awaited volume 2 of this study of the Saxon army of the 18th century dropped on my doormat last week. It is the latest in Helion's excellent and ever expanding 'From Reason to Revolution' series. This volume covers the infantry and artillery of the army of the Elector Friedrich August II through the same time span as the earlier volume that covered the cavalry, i.e. from the War of the Polish Succession, the wars against the Ottomans, the 1st and 2nd Silesian Wars (or the War of the Austrian Succession) to the disaster for Saxony that was the Seven Years War.  The book follows a pretty standard format that I'm very comfortable with; detailed chapters on the artillery and technical services, and each infantry regiment, covering uniforms, organisation and strengths and colours as well as brief commentaries on the army's campaigns and battles. Also included are the exotic Janissary Corps (I must do a unit) and the Saxon Kreis regiments and even invalids. The book is very well illustrated with black and white drawings and contemporary images, and as is usual with books in this series, there are eight pages of gorgeous colour plates. A great deal of information has been crammed into 140 pages and on that basis alone this is a must for anyone interested in the Saxon army of the period. Highly recommended and better even than Vol 1. I'd now better get my finger out and put the finishing touches to my remaining unfinished WAS/SYW Saxons. Thankfully there are only a couple of dozen.

Monthly production report, September 2019

Quite a busy month but most effort spent on basing up figures that Barry painted for me.

Based up and finished but not painted by me:
2 regts FRW French cavalry 24 figs
7 btns FRW infantry  168 figs

Everything done by me:
Dooli bearers and load
Bengal Horse artillery troop - 11 figs and 2 cannon

Games played/hosted:
3 at home plus 1 at the Durham Wargames Club

Shows attended:

Priorities for October all to be done in house:

Finish troops and vignettes for Battleground game in November (approx 100 figures)
Ditto terrain, tents, baggage etc
Sort out terrain for Jena game on 12 October
Finish 18thC French infantry in time for Rossbach game in November (approx 200 figures)