Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Battle of Minden refought.

I had a full house today for the refight of Minden. Paul T came up early to set up the battle using his extensive and venerable 15mm collection of figures and terrain. Also present were Dave Jarvis, Conrad Cairns and Paul Stevenson so we were set for what turned out to be an excellent game.  I decided to umpire as I was most familiar with the rules (Honours of War), and I also provided unbiased advice to the Allies, played by Conrad and Dave. The two Pauls were the French.

Paul had organised the game and worked out the orders of battle (at about one unit on the table for every three in the real battle) and the troop and commander characteristics. The French were hampered by both their senior commanders (Broglie and Contades) being classed as 'dithering', i.e. no use whatsoever and actually a potential hindrance to the French plans, while Frederick of Brunswick was 'Dashing'. It was going to be a game where quality, (the Allies) would be pitted against quantity (the French). That's apart from the command of Sackville of course, in charge of the English horse, who, to reflect his abysmal performance in 1759 was to prove, for a while at least, to be almost impossible to move, effectively denying the Allies a good 25% of their mounted troops.

 The Allied army (in the foreground) facing the much larger French forces of Broglie and Contades. Sackville's command is on the right of the Allied line. To their left is the brigade of English infantry and the Hanoverian Guard.
 Massed French cavalry in the centre.
 Conrad ordered his entire centre and right to advance while Dave demonstrated against the French right. Sackville refused to move.
 The French cavalry in the centre are not well placed to deal with the infantry attack which is developing to their front.....and getting closer! Sackville refused to move.
 The Allies decided to keep much of their artillery limbered up so they could push it closer to the French line before unlimbering.
 The extreme right of the Allied line about to be enfiladed by the French.
 The Hanoverian brigade in the centre above and the Hessians just visible to their left are under fire from French artillery and the Hessians were taking heavy casualties. Under concentrated canister and musket fire the Hessians and Brunswick brigades were battered and broken in quick succession.

 In the centre the Hanoverian Guard and the English infantry were taking heavy casualties as they advanced straight at the French massed cavalry. Sackville refused to move.
 The French cavalry charged, and although they survived the closing fire one regiment was broken in the ensuing melee and the other driven back. Both English battalions were forced to withdraw, which they did under fire but over the course of the next couple of turns were able to skillfully and safely extricate themselves and recover. 
 On the French right Paul T (Broglie) was stuck due to the dithering nature of his commander but did manage to start shifting troops into the centre, albeit very slowly. The engagement on this flank remained somewhat static as the Allies didn't have the strength to push forward as Dave's horse was moved to the centre to plug the gap where the Hessians and Brunswickers had been. They too lost heavily to the French artillery.
 Sackville actually MOVED! In fact over the course of the last six turns or so he moved three times! It was all too late to influence the game though.
 Broglie stripping the right flank to plug the widening hole in the French centre.

 Conrad had reformed the Hanoverian and English infantry, driving off the remains of the French infantry in the centre in the process. The Saxon contingent in the French army closed slowly with the Anglo/Hanoverian line but made little impression. French artillery enfiladed a Hanoverian battalion which was broken but the line held as Dave moved his horse forward to fill the gap.
 The Allied centre holding their ground with great skill, and not a little good fortune.

 The position at the end of the battle. The Allies are poised to smash the Saxons and create a mass withdrawal of the French centre and the cavalry supporting it. The superior Hanoverian Guards and the English fully reformed and about to advance and undoubtedly drive all before them as they had earlier in the game.
"Le Plongeur" the French barge on the river. This was a nod to the refight of Minden we (Me, Paul T and members of the Durham club fought in about 1984) in 28mm where the Allies were obsessed with trying to sink this boat even though it was no threat to them.

We ended the game at this point declaring a victory for the Allies. The French had taken significantly more casualties and units broken and there was little likelihood that they would be able to stem the Allied advance in the centre. The result reflected the historical outcome rather well.

Everyone had a thoroughly enjoyable day in a very tough and tense game. I have to admit that with the collapse of two Allied brigades in the centre before lunch (about turn 3 or 4) I thought it was all over for Conrad and Dave but they proved that English and German soldiers are worth their weight in gunpowder when facing the badly led army of France and its Saxon hangers on. The rules worked really well and the doubts I had some weeks ago have dispersed. They are definitely more subtle than Black Powder even if they can be just as brutal, and ok, artillery is rather effective, but so it should be if you advance straight towards it! You have only yourself to blame when your men run away. The command and control, manoeuvring, shooting and close combat all worked and 'felt' right, and the rules were easy to pick up and follow. Importantly,  neither Conrad nor Paul S had ever played a game using Honours of War, and even Dave and Paul T had only used them a few times but they picked them up very quickly. For a big game such as this they were ideal as we managed 12 or 13 turns in around three and a half hours of play.

Thanks to Paul T for bringing all his stuff up so we could fight the game at 'Carryings On HQ' and for organising everything really effectively, and for Conrad for bringing Dave and Paul S.


  1. Well done to you all. It looks and sounds great. So pleased Colin that HoW is back in favour with you and impressed you got a major game decided in such a relatively short time. I'm introducing a couple of friends to the HoW rules in a few weeks.

  2. What a colorful and beautiful battle, nice looking pictures with these lines of troops...and "Le Plongeur" is a great final touch!

  3. Fine sounding,and looking, game there Colin. Well up to the standard expected 'up the Dale'.

  4. another great game and well done to all.

  5. A very handsome looking refight there Colin. This is one I must attempt myself at some stage.

    Of course, it is always pleasing to hear good things about How from experienced and knowledgeable gamers. Many thanks - a great read and nice photos.

  6. What a cracking looking game and nice to know that you all enjoyed playing 'Honours of War'.

  7. Wonderful game report. I was surprised by the battle turning towards the Allies.


  8. Good looking game and interesting report. Saw this on TMP care of Armand.

    Are some of these Peter Laing - there is something about the poses that rings a visual bell.


  9. well spotted, there are indeed a rather large number of Peter Liang 15mm figures on the table.