Tuesday 9 April 2024

14 Years Old

 Well, this almost passed unnoticed as I’m away baking in Bangalore. I’ve been Carrying on up the Dale for 14 years, which is something of an achievement. I never imagined I’d keep it going but there you go…….

Holiday Reading #1 = The Wars and Soldiers in the Early Reign of Louis XIV, Volume 7


I can’t believe that this is volume VII in Bruno Mugnai’s tremendous study of the wars and soldiers in the early part of the reign of Louis XIV of France. In this volume Bruno has arguably exceeded expectations and provided us with an excellent in depth analysis of some of the main players from within the German states between 1655 and 1690, much of which has not been published in English. For example, as far as I am aware this is the first time the not inconsiderable armies of the influential Prince-Bishopric of Munster have been researched and presented in this way, alongside those more familiar nations of Brandenburg, Bavaria and Saxony.

The book begins with some contextual material, with chapters on the ‘German Universal Soldier’ and what that meant, together with a summary of Germany after the end of the Thirty Years War in 1648. There are then chapters on each of the armies, covering all manner of information relating to their campaigns, organisation, weapons, equipment and uniforms.

As well as being a prolific author and military historian Bruno is also an extremely accomplished artist, evidenced yet again by the 16 wonderful colour plates included within the pages of this work depicting a wide variety of uniforms and flags. It has to be said that the uniforms depicted are quite ordinary or mundane, yet the artist still gives them life and character. The book also contains a vast array of largely contemporary black and white images, and photographs of surviving items of equipment or weaponry together with several useful maps.

Like his earlier works on the armies of Spain and Portugal, Bruno has provided a detailed breakdown of individual regiments, squadrons and companies for each of the armies under review, including the year raised, the colonel proprietors, campaigns and engagements, a brief history and details of uniforms. This would be quite remarkable were it just for the army of Brandenburg, or Bavaria, but to present the same level of detail for Saxony and the Prince-Bishopric of Munster as well is a considerable achievement. Appendix II provides army lists and orders of battle for the entire span of the period under review.

To close, this has got to be of interest to anyone interested in the wars of the last quarter of the seventeenth century which at one point or another drew in almost all the great and not so great powers of Western Europe. Amateur historians and wargamers will find this book an absolute feast, and my own interest in the wars of the late seventeenth century is starting to itch again.

This is of course only the first part of the volume on the German States, and I await the delights of the second with undisguised anticipation.

ISBN 978-1-804510-9 372 pages, soft back.

Tuesday 19 March 2024

A Little Holiday Reading


I’m off to India again tomorrow for two months so have sorted out my holiday reading. This lot SHOULD keep me entertained as I will reviewing each of them as I get through them.

Now, which one shall I read first………..?

Monday 11 March 2024

General d’Armee 2 - First Game. Somewhere in Poland.

 Saturday saw us try out General d’Armee second edition here at the Burrow. It was a fictional encounter but with some tenuous similarities to Pultusk and even Freidland, insofar that the Russians were deployed with an impassable river and only two bridges at their backs. There were lots of them though. 

The Russian objective was to avoid being driven into the river of course, and to capture and hold the crossroads, church and central bridge. The French were tasked with taking the same objectives thus denying them to the Russians and also to drive the Russians into the river. This was only a divisional sized battle, with seven Russian and six French brigades. The Russian commander turned out to be a ‘commissariat’ level general, ie pretty rubbish, but it didn’t seem to have much impact on the game

Mike (CinC) Nigel and Dom led the Czar’s finest on this occasion while Shaun (CinC), John and Nick were the French. Neil offered to umpire so I kept an eye on things at the opposite end of the table to Neil and also ensured we all got fed at lunchtime.

The scenario dictated that the Russians deployed first, which they did,  but they kept three brigades off table in reserve, including all their regular cavalry and their grenadiers. The French also held back a brigade of cuirassiers and their light cavalry. As this game was set in 1807, the French were nearly all classed as veteran. The more numerous Russians (especially in cavalry and artillery) were a mix of grenadiers, line and recruits. Their artillery were all large and classed as veteran to give them a bit of an edge.

I always used to enjoy GdA1 so was looking forward to this game, and I was not alone in wanting to see what changes had been made in this revised version of the rules.

The Russians look on as the French begin their attack.

The French right wing at the start of the battle. The skirmish screen are all resin 3d prints.

The Russian centre and left wing, which were quite lightly held by two brigades, totalling eight battalions or so and two batteries of artillery. As noted earlier they were facing the bulk of the French army. Would they hold?

John’s brigade in the centre as it begins its advance.

Shaun’s French light cavalry brigade, two of its regiments at any rate. The other unit, the 4th Hussars, is out of shot to the left.

Dom’s Russian heavies. They crossed the pontoon bridge and moved on towards the French left. Behind can be seen some Cossacks and horse artillery.

The view from the ‘garden end’ showing how the Russians have turned the French left flank, although the elite jäger battalions on the left didn’t move beyond that point for the entire battle. Don’t know why.

An example of Nigel’s unfortunate dice rolling. This was a shot of canister with his large battery at a French column. Double 1 meant they ran low on ammo (again) and received a fatigue casualty, all again!

My new unit, the 3rd Hussars, under fire from Russian jäger, while in the background is a battalion of the Gardes de Paris.

The Russian cavalry are piling the pressure on the French left. Just visible top right is the French 3rd Hussars who are a very vulnerable and exposed position, with Russian dragoons to their rear. Fortunately for the French the hussars were able to escape the trap by adopting the cunning ruse of failing a discipline test and being forced to retreat.

Cavalry action developing on the French left.

The French 4th Hussars about to defy the odds and drive back the Russian dragoons, more than twice their strength.

The French on the right attack the Russians facing them.

On the Russian left their infantry were under great pressure, especially as there was a river to their rear! This battalion attempted to charge the Tirailleurs du Po. They were not successful.

The French attack in the centre.

….and their attack on the extreme right, which was successful in pushing the Russians back but at the cost of one battalion routed as it attempted to charge the Russian line.

In the centre elements of both armies were closing. Both sides were taking casualties from artillery fire, although the usually effective Russian guns were not performing well on this occasion.

The Russians held back a brigade of infantry and all their regular cavalry. With only a single bridge in the centre and a pontoon bridge on their right this was their only way across the river so it took a while for the reinforcements to arrive where they were needed..

The St Petersburg Grenadiers emerge onto the table as they cross the bridge.

The French light cavalry brigade attacked the Russians before they could cause any mischief in the centre.
Shaun’s outnumbered French light cavalry charged the Russian cuirassiers and held them. They also forced the Russian dragoons to retreat.
Russian grenadiers readying themselves to assault the churchyard.
The Russian’s last chance was to capture the churchyard so Mike launched the St Petersburg Grenadiers into the attack, all three battalions of them.
The St Petersburg Grenadiers managed to drive the French out of the churchyard.

By this time we had played about a dozen turns and the Russians were hanging on, technically winning, but we had to call it a day as night fell.  A minor Russian win was declared.  Of course if everyone had brought all their reserves on who knows what might have happened. If Nigel had thrown better dice, and he could not have thrown worse, the French attack on the Russian left would probably have been repulsed, but……

The game was great fun and I do like the changes that have been made to streamline and/or simplify the rules. They’re easy to grasp, and there were  several players who had never played GdA1 and most of the others had not used them for ages. The rules nicely presented and even the four-sided QRS seemed less troublesome to navigate through.

An excellent day of gaming in excellent company. We are having another smaller game this Friday, which I am looking forward to.

I need a bigger wall……..! Roald Knutsen Samurai Prints.

I am an unreformed magpie. A couple of weeks ago I picked these up thanks to a mate who put me and the seller in contact. They’re all originals by Roald Knutson and his son was selling off, for a pittance really, a number of his signed and numbered prints. A definite bargain. They are rather splendid and room will have to be made on the Burrow’s walls to show them off.

Sunday 3 March 2024

Hammerhead 2024

Hammerhead yesterday was an excellent if exhausting day out with John and Nigel. Arriving at just after 10:00 the place was very busy and remained that way for most of the time we were there. As readers probably know all the games at this show are participation games rather than the normal mix of these and the traditional demonstration game. It works really well in my opinion, even if the visual appeal is sometimes lost somewhat. The photos that follow are a mere sample of those I took and reflect mainly my preferences among the games on offer. I’ve not labelled them all but they hopefully give a good impression of the range of games on offer.

This Won the best game award. Like a Stone Wall and their 3d printed Aztec v Conquistador game.

The trade was as good as usual and as ever it’s amazing how much stuff I saw that I didn’t know I needed until it was right in front of me. How do they know?

As usual, met up with lots of friends and acquaintances and had a good old chin wag discussing projects old and new, health, getting old, showing off our purchases and all the usual stuff. 

Over all a great day out and thanks to John for driving.