Sunday 26 January 2014

Crimean War after action report

After a long wait I finally got to put my as yet untested Crimean troops onto the table. As I am still essentially housebound my mate John from the Durham club made the trip up to my place this weekend.
 (Above:The British camp. Below: The light cavalry pickets)
 The scenario was more or less that described in an earlier post. The British cavalry vedettes were camped on a river marking the furthest extent of the territory controlled by the Allies. They were guarding a camp containing a large amount of war supplies recently acquired off the Russians who had been trying to get them into Sevastopol.

The light brigade were dispersed across the table on outpost duty. Three squadrons were formed up but two were deemed to be unsaddled and resting after their night shift on patrol. The heavy brigade were all in the camp, unsaddled and unprepared for action, preparing breakfast. Two divisions of British infantry (four brigades in all make up of the Guards and Highland brigades and the two brigades of the 'light' division) were on their way as intelligence reports had suggested that a large Russian force were heading towards the cavalry intent on driving them off and recapturing their supplies. Lord Raglan of course thought intelligence something beneath the attention of a true gentleman so there was every chance that infantry would not arrive very quickly.

The Russians had three brigades of cavalry (one each of Cossacks, Uhlans and Hussars), in total six regiments supported by two batteries of horse artillery. These would arrive on turn 1 (subject to the right command rolls of course). Following behind was a division of infantry, all sixteen battalions of it, supported by a battalion of riflemen and an artillery brigade of four batteries of heavy artillery. Russian batteries had 12 guns in real life, so in order to represent this on the table, each Russian battery was made up of two gun models, making eight in total; a powerful force indeed if it could be brought to bear on the enemy.

 (The British infantry enter the fight, led by the 88th Foot, the redoubtable Connaught Rangers)

The British infantry commanders were rated 8 and Cardigan and Scarlett were rated 7. Raglan as British CinC was a stately 6. The Russian CinC was an 8 and all others were 7. Hopefully this would replicate the dreadful levels of command displayed by both sides in the real war. To make it even harder for the Russians, each of their two infantry brigadiers commanded eight battalions of infantry (two regiments) and two large batteries of artillery. Hard to break but equally hard to control.

 (Above and below: Russian infantry snaking their way onto the table)

The Russians (under my command) began the game but their cavalry was hardly keen to be to grips with the enemy as the Uhlan brigade on the left failed to enter the table as did the Hussars in the centre. Only the Cossacks actually made it onto the table, in the centre. They were promptly charged by a squadron of the 11th Hussars and forced to retreat. The 'Cherrybums' followed up their victory by carrying on into the second regiment of Cossacks who were broken. John tried to get his cavalry brigades into some sort of order but not all the light brigade passed their command tests. Worse, the heavy brigade failed to get into any state of order and continued eating their breakfast in the camp! Both sides wee plagued by dreadful command dice, aided by dreadful commanders of course, but as the British reinforcements slowly began to appear it looked like the Russians were never going to appear. Eventually one brigade did make an appearance in the centre and very slowly deployed ready to attack, waiting for the supporting artillery to arrive. One regiment from the Russian Hussar brigade was pinning the lead British infantry btn (the Connaught Rangers) and even forced them into square at one point.
 (Above: Russian hoards advancing in the centre. Very slowly. Below: The British infantry ready to try and repulse the Russian attack. In the distance the 88th Foot, closer to the camera the 33rd Foot)
 (Below: The British right, with a squadron of light dragoons covering the advance of the Highland Brigade)

On the Russian left, the Uhlan brigade failed command roll after command roll, and in the end only entered the table as a result of a 'blunder'! By that time any advantage had been lost as elements of the Highland brigade were well advanced and were able to stop any advance by disordering the lead regiment and halting the whole brigade.
 (Above: The Russian Uhlans after finally making it onto the table. Below: More Russians clearly with God on their side)

 (Above and below: The Guards making a rather splendid appearance)
 (Below: the entire Russian 2nd Bde ready to advance)
 On the Russian right the other brigade of infantry had finally arrived and proceeded to advance very slowly towards the lone British battalion and supporting troop of horse artillery facing them. They were never really able to get into action due to poor command but they looked pretty scary from the British pov! The 19th Foot managed to catch a battery of Russian guns in the flank but the latter put up a stiff resistance and were only overwhelmed after several rounds of combat.

 Their were quite a few blunders in the game. Sir Colin Campbell managed it twice. First he had a battery of artillery blunder off the baseline, then the 92nd foot got lost and almost headed off the table edge.
 The Heavy Brigade had failed every order to form up. It took a blunder to get them to do so even though they then retreated back over the bridge!
 (Above: The 88th foot beat off the Russian hussars even when they failed to get into square in time!)
  (Above: The Black Watch holding off the Russian cavalry. Below: The Guards advance)

 (Above: Russians advancing on their right flank. Below: The Moscow regiment moving through the orchard)

 (Above: The Russian attack in the centre is stalled. Below: Lord Raglan looks on bewildered by it all.......and the absence of any French)

 (Above: Sir Colin Campbell finally leads the 92nd forward but too late to influence the game. Below: Russian priests blessing their men's attack, but sadly not their victory)

Basically, the Russian advance was far too slow and uncoordinated and their cavalry's performance was pretty rubbish even if historically accurate! The British had their problems too, especially in activating the Heavy Brigade, but they were able to take advantage of their superior firepower and take out the Russian artillery either through long range shooting or close combat. Even the 11th Hussars managed to hit a battery of heavy guns in the flank and destroy them! In the end nightfall caused the Russians to pull back as their attacks were stalling all along the front. Victory to the British.

Good game. Good to get the troops on the table for the first time. BP worked although I might need to tinker slightly with the troop characteristics and reconsider the command levels as it got very slow and frustrating, but then the senior commanders on both sides were very poor. Once the armies got in close the troops' qualities shone through which is what happened in the game.

Saturday 18 January 2014

More troops for my Seven Weeks War collection (with the photos this time)

Here are some more recently completed units, which served in the Prussian Army of the Main. In a burst of sanding and flocking I finished basing them but forgot to quick shade them first. Oh well.

First we have the Anhalt Fusilier Infantry Regiment: this unit was part of the Prussian 2nd Reserve Army Corps. I will redo the photo when I can get my camera and eyes to focus properly! (North Star figures)

Next up are the Saxe-Coburg Gotha Regiment: they fought at Prussia's only defeat of the war, at the hands of the Hanoverians at Langensaltza, and later throughout the Main Campaign as part of Von Flies' division. (North Star)

Next, the Prussian 9th J├Ąger Btn. A newly raised unit, also part of von Flies' composite division. (Foundry)

To finish, I have also completed sanding and flocking the bases of my Bavarian Cuirassiers and Cheveaulegers. (Irregular minis).

I expect to get the Bavarian infantry bases completed this weekend and I found suitable flags for them off the Warflag site.

Monday 13 January 2014

Flags for 1866 micro states

My Anhalt and Saxe Coburg Gotha regiments are almost done. The Brunswickers are started as are the Lippe Fetmold Fusilier btn and some Hesse-Darmstadters. Flags are a bit of an as issue as finding sources is proving a bit tricky. Anyone come across anything for 1866?

Friday 10 January 2014

More 1866 Austrians and Bavarians

I have just finished basing up six battalions of North Star ex-Helion Austrians for my 1866 project. The final unit to make up the full brigade is nearing completion.
Also pictured are my Bavarians for the same war although they still need the bases doing and flags added. As I said in an earlier post, they didn't wear the Raupenhelm in the 1866 campaign but wore a peaked field cap, so technically I had to find something different. I already had some of these figures from Irregular so it was a cheaper option to bulk them up to brigade strength rather than pay silly money for six battalions of Foundry Franco Prussian War Bavarians. The Irregular figures are actually FPW Wurtemburgers but the hats are about right based on what pictures I've come across, and they look rather nice anyway.
Irregular also produce some nice Bavarian cavalry in their FPW range so I was unable to resist buying  unit of Cheveauleger to represent the divisional light cavalry regiment plus two regiments of Cuirassiers. The latter did bugger all in the real war apart from a splendid 20-odd mile hasty withdrawal but they do look rather nice.
Technically, the Austrians and Bavarians never fought together during the campaign in Western Germany but the VII and VIII Federal Corps were trying to combine so it could have happened, and the diversity of troops and uniforms for this theatre of the war makes a bit of licence perfectly acceptable and irresistible. The figures for my Brunswick battalion (still in black with pale blue facings) arrived yesterday, and I've made a start on the LippeDetmold fusilier btn and the regiments of Saxe-Coburg-Gotha and Anhalt.

I have some Bavarian artillery  nearing completion, again in field caps rather than Raupenhelms and a couple of commanders, one each for the infantry and cavalry brigades. All I need now is to get the Prussians and their allies done!

Wednesday 8 January 2014

More Crimean irony...

Well, as many readers will know the two biggest killers in the Crimea were the weather and sickness. Before Christmas I had a Crimean game planned but it was cancelled due to dreadful storms and horizontal rain. Today's Crimean game was postponed as John was unwell! A good job I wasn't planning some ancient Egyptian wargame otherwise I would face suffering plagues of locusts, famine, floods, raining frogs and Lord knows what else. Actually, I think we had the raining frogs on Sunday night.....

Got a bit of painting and basing done this afternoon instead. Pictures soon when I can find my camera.

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Crimean game tomorrow.

Tomorrow, weather permitting, John is coming up for a game as I still can't drive (grrrrr!). I have set up a game loosely based upon the "Attack on the camp" scenario from CS Grants scenario book. The Ruskies will be attacking a British camp straddling a river. The must not only capture it but also drive off the British for long enough to blow up or capture a large store of powder en route to Sebastopol.

On the table at the start are the British cavalry division. The Light brigade are on piquet duty dispersed on the table, and the Heavies are in the camp with supporting horse artillery. Available to the British player from turn 2 are the 1st and Light Divisions (four brigades, in total 13 btns of foot) and 4 batteries of artillery.

The Russians will have everything I have available, which is a fair bit. There are six regiments of cavalry (two each of Cossacks, hussars and Uhlans) with supporting horse artillery (2 x 8 gun batteries). The Cossacks are marauders in BP, but I've not given the other cavalry that characteristic as the performance of Russian cavalry was lacklustre to say the least so they will need to adhere to the standard command and control rules.

The Russian main body is made up of two brigades of infantry, each of eight battalions with a small detachment of the Corps rifle btn attached. Making the Russian brigades so large is a two-edged sword as they will take longer to break but will have significant command issues as the brigadiers will struggle to be within effective command range of all of their units.  One of the Russian brigades includes a (poorer) Reserve regiment, otherwise the Russian line troops are quite tough. I've put the Russian artillery together as one command as there are four batteries each of 12 guns, so 8 models in all!

I am unsure how to rate the commanders. Probably give the Russian CinC a rating of 8 and the brigadiers 7. The British ought not to be much better but I think making everyone  an 8 should work, although I will have to make Raglan no more than 7!

Friday 3 January 2014

What now for 2014?

Of the blogs I have read over the last day or so, most authors have written about what they have done in 2013. If I did that I would probably scare myself silly in terms of figures bought or dug out of the drawer of doom and painted. It was a good year in terms of getting stuff painted, e.g. Thirty Years War armies complete, well sort of, Crimean project complete, except for the Turks, some 1st Carlist War units complete, although I can't recall why I bought them it was so long ago, not to mention the huge 28mm ACW armies I bought off Paul Stevenson! Oh yes, and the 1866 Prussians, Austrians, Saxons and Bavarians lurking among the spiders and bits of fluff at the bottom of said drawer!!!! OK, so now I HAVE  scared myself silly what does 2014 bring?

Well, I have committed to finishing everything else in my drawer of doom. Mainly SYW but a few (!) AWI, TYW and ACW. I also have some Studio Miniatures Sikh Wars units. Not sure if I will expand them to 'army' size but the figures are just lush and I am seriously tempted to. Of course, in May or thereabouts I can expect to receive my Ebor miniatures GNW Swedes, so I will need to clear the decks by then and consider getting some opponents for them.....I think Rob plans to do some Saxons so less pressure there perhaps.........

Happy New Year!