Tuesday, 23 April 2019

The Vendee Again. Battle of St. Landry, Day 2

After Saturday's inconclusive engagement I decided that with John the Red coming round on Monday evening we could play the next day.

General de Division Jean 'le Rouge ' McCann, the son of a former Irish Jacobite and the scourge of the Vendee, defeating the original invasion near St Nazaire and putting the Royalist rebellion down ruthlessly, arrived overnight with a battalion of Garde Nationals de Nantes and a battery of artillery . He took command, demoting General de Bouzille to take over the brigade left leaderless after the death of their commander in yesterday's battle. Around 100 Emigres had been captured, including the Duc  de Choisil.  The Duc was to be guiloutined once he had witnessed the destruction of his army. The others were summarily shot.
The Representative en Mission interrogated his captives, the Duc de Choisil and The English cavalry commander.

During the night the battered units of the French army had regrouped, with stragglers returning to their battalions quietly. Engineers threw a flying bridge across the river north of the stone bridge and the horse artillery and a full demi-brigade were in position on the Coalition side of the river by dawn.
The French left, reinforced by a battery of cannon to replace those lost the previous day.

The English and Emigré lines as seen from the French position.


The survivors of the Salm-Kirchberg and Choisil Hussars on the Coalition right.
Chouan who joined the Coalition force overnight, but will they stay and fight?
The 5th Foot in the foreground. To their rear is their 2nd Btn and on their left the Salk-Kirkberg and Perigord regiments.  Although English regiments rarely fielded more than one battalion this was not the case during the last decade of the 18thC, as often, as in this scenario, volunteers were sought from the Fencibles and Militia, often very successfully, leading to the creation of additional battalions, all of far lesser quality than in later years.
Before dawn the French crossed the river with a demi-brigade and battery of horse artillery.
The bridge thrown across the river by French engineers during the night.
The much battered highland brigade (right) and the Loyal Emigrants, the best Emigré unit on the field.
The French also managed to sneak a battalion of combined grenadiers into the woods in front of the Scots.
The left and centre of the Coalition line. The coaching inn is garrisoned by the Rohan regiment and a section of Royal Artillery. 
The Coalition forces had not been idle either. The English brigade now formed up south of the main road, supported by the remnants of the two Emigre hussars regiments. On the left, the Scots brigade were posted north of the coaching inn. Both battalions were not at full strength however after yesterday's losses. The Emigres held the centre. The Rohan Light Infantry and a section of Royal Artillery 3pdrs held the Inn while the Loyal Emigrants, the Perigord Light Infantry and the remains of the Salm-Kirchberg Light Infantry were in support. In addition, the remains of the three English Light Dragoon squadrons were in general support and several cannon had finally made their way from the beach to join the line. Finally several 'units of Chouan had at last joined and were holding the hedgerows inland of the town.

All was set for the final fling. As is the norm I will let the photos tell the gloomy story of French élan and Coalition ineptitude!

On the French right the demi-brigade already across the river rushes towards the woods.
Grouchy's cavalry had recovered somewhat but this was not cavalry country.
The veteran brigade on the French left pushed across the river and bridge as fast as it could, covered by skirmishers and the battery of cannon on the hill to their rear.
John quickly brought his troops up to storm the coaching inn, attacking from two sides with well-supported battalions after  whittling down the garrison by artillery fire.
On the Coalition right a long range firefight developed, with the honours going to the swarms of veteran French skirmishers who kept most of the English brigade disordered.
John brought his horse artillery up to within musket shot of HM 79th Foot and began pounding them relentlessly, forcing them to retire from the hedgerows they were defending.

The French CinC was everywhere on the battlefield providing support to his generals.
The garrison of the coaching inn was overrun and put to the bayonet.
I immediately launched the Loyal Emigrants in a counter attack to retake the inn with a 'follow me' order.  Sadly they were beaten back and withdrew shaken, and their commander was killed at the head of his men!
The French left pushing forward against the English and Emigres.The French were now starting to take casualties but at one point three of the English battalions were in disorder and two had been forced to retreat. John attacked the combined 'flankers' battalion and amazingly got through the closing fire without serious loss and defeated the English, forcing them to retreat. 
The defeat of the flankers battalion left my hussars dangerously exposed. The Salm-Kirchberg regiment was shaken and forced to retreat. This meant that the Emigré brigade was now spent or shaken and it began to withdraw from the field. This retreat caused the Chouan to melt away back to their homes, or anywhere away from the Republican troops!
The two Highland battalions were in trouble. Their commander was seriously  wounded leaving them leaderless for a move.
HM 79th had been standing in front of HM 92nd but after taking grapeshot and musketry at short range failed a break test and routed. The already shaken 92nd meant that this brigade also was out of the game.
At this point, with my centre and left in ruins I conceded defeat. Another crushing defeat for me at the hands of John! After some late night dice throwing it transpires that the English cavalry covered the retreat of the English brigade on my right, preventing the French in the centre from cutting them off from the town. The surviving Emigres made it back to the town, where they were joined by the remnants of the two Scots battalions and eventually by the English brigade and the light dragoons. My assumption was that 'broken' units would all run back to the beach and try and reform. All the artillery (8 cannon) was lost. Under the guns of the Royal Navy the survivors were safely embarked, the stores the couldn't be removed burnt and the old fort blown up. Losses among senior officers over the two days had been high, with seven Coalition brigadiers or above killed, seriously wounded or captured!

Back in the French camp the Duc de Choisil met his end with the guillotine as had been decreed, and any surviving Emigré prisoners were, as was the custom, summarily shot.

So, the end of my mini Vendee campaign. An interesting series of enjoyable games, the result of each leading on to the next with numerous random events thrown in each campaign 'move' to allow for reinforcements, the weather, which decisions to take and so forth.  It was of course a victory for the Republicans.

Black Powder are still in my view perfectly suitable for biggish games of this nature as its possible to get a result in an afternoon, evening or whole day. They're not perfect and certainly not suited the the FRW as written, but I'm happy with the house rules that have been applied.

The next FRW game will most likely be whatever is next after the action of Raismes, which I think is Famars (aka Valenciennes), although I may be in a position to get the Sikhs on the table in a few weeks time.


9 comments:

  1. Seven Coalition officers injured or captured? Wow, what a splendid and bloody looking game...Very tempting!

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    1. Thanks Phil. I use a totally random system for officer casualties. Each turn 2 dice are thrown for each commander within 12" of a unit that was shot at. Double 6 and they are hit. If they are with a unit 11 or 12 and they are hit. If doing a follow me or with a unit in melee 10, 11 or 12 and they are hit or captured.

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  2. Convincing French win. Apparently the locals better practice crying out "Vive le republique".

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  3. Beautiful looking game Colin. Very impressive array of figures in the collection.

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  4. Great to see a second attempt played out. A conclusive outcome!

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  5. Another crushing defeat to the "chien de l'Angleterre qui nous a déclaré la guerre".

    Nevertheless I hope to see you in the saddle again fighting some nice WAS or SYW-battles. Still would like to read an account about Hohenfriedberg 1745.

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    1. I'm not in the mood for WAS or SYW at the moment. Still working on my French aiming to have them ready by November to refight Rossbach.

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  6. Another loss for Albion! Oh well, it will turn out ok in the end I'm sure.

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