Sunday 16 March 2014

The Battle of Fort Reidevich, Crimean War battle report, Black Powder

Saturday saw another outing for my Crimean collection. Rob and John (Reidy) together with John (McCann) from the Durham club joined me for a game using Black Powder. John R and I ended up being the Russians while Rob and John M took the combined British, French and Turkish army.

The scenario was set shortly after Balaklava, therefore there were no British light cavalry (although I do have them and they had an impressive debut during the last Crimean game). Basically the Russians had constructed Fort Reidevich across the Tractir river and a little to the east of the scene of the Light Brigade's 15 minutes of fame several days earlier. They had to hold the earthwork and control the bridge. The Allies had to cross the river and take the earthwork. The river was deemed to be wide but shallow so movement was reduced to half when in it. Forces were as follows:

Heavy cavalry brigade of 5 small units of British heavy dragoons with attached horse artillery
Guards brigade - 3 btns plus a battery of field artillery
Highland brigade - 3 btns plus a battery of field artillery
The 'Light' Division made up of two brigades, each of 3 btns of line infantry, half a btn of rifles and a battery of artillery
French brigade of 4 btns of infantry
Turkish brigade of 4 small btns of infantry

The British CinC (Raglan) was rated at 6, the cavalry and Turkish commanders were 7s, the French and the Highland brigade were rated 9 and the rest were 8s.

2 Regts of Cossacks acting independently with attached horse battery
Hussar brigade of 2 regiments and a horse artillery battery
Uhlan brigade of 2 regiments and a horse artillery battery
Four brigades (actually regiments) each of 4 btns plus a large battery of artillery represented by two guns models each as Russian artillery batteries had 12 guns!
Two of the brigades had half a btn of riflemen attached.
The fort was garrisoned by a very large smooth bore cannon!

Russian cavalry commanders were rated 7 and everyone else was rated 8.

 (The leading Allied troops advance in the centre: l to r British, Turks, The Highlanders and French)
(Russian infantry in the centre make for the bridge, behind them the Reidevski redoubt and Hussars and Cossacks in the far distance)
(French infantry reach the bridge)
(Close up of the Russian cavalry on the right flank)
(On the Russian left, Cossacks are pinned mid-river while the 6th Uhlan Brigade finds itself with nowhere to go once across the river)
(The distinctive Russian Moscow infantry regiment advancing towards the bridge supported by their attached artillery)
(The Reidevski Redoubt)
(The heros of the day make an appearance: The Turks!)
(The Russian left with the Cossacks still stuck in the river!))
(Allied right flank, the severely battered English hanging on in the face of Russian cavalry on their flank and massed artillery to their front)
(Highlanders and Guards advance)
(Zouaves storming across the bridge)
(The Turks crossing the river just before they beat off a Russian counter attack)
(The Guards across the river about to assault the redoubt)
(Picture found on the body of a dead British staff officer)

The battle was long and bloody, punctuated by some heroic (and less than heroic) actions. On the Allied left the heavy cavalry failed, with one exception, to get across the river, as they steadfastly refused to become engaged. One Russian hussar regiment was seen off but apart from that very little happened apart from artillery exchanging fire throughout the day.

Around the bridge and redoubt, the French were quick to storm across the bridge. They defeated one Russian battalion but were broken by another. In fact three out of four French battalions were broken in and around the village and bridge area. The Highland brigade did manage to get into action despite some dreadful command scores and a blunder, but were held up and then forced back by heavy artillery fire and a counter attack by several Russian battalions. The Guards fared little better as they suffered heavily in crossing the river and their assault on the redoubt. They overwhelmed the gunners but were then ejected by two Russian battalions.

In the centre it was very different. The Russian artillery had blundered in move 1 and ended up right on the riverbank limbered up in full view of the English artillery and a battalion of infantry. Half the battery remained disordered and limbered up for the entire game! The Turkish brigade advanced steadily across the river, exchanging shots with Russian riflemen until they were able to drive them off. Two Russian battalions then charged the Turks but after two rounds of melee were destroyed or driven off. On the Russian left their Uhlans managed to ride over one English battalion which failed to form square properly but otherwise the arrival of further English reinforcements prevented any more aggressive moves by the Russian cavalry, although the infantry on this flank did make a belated and unnecessary advance into the middle of the river.

We called it a day at that point. Neither army was broken, although the Allies were perilously close having got three spent brigades. The valiant Turks were almost, but not quite, a spent force. Nevertheless, the Allies had failed in gaining their objectives and the Russians still held the redoubt.

I think everyone enjoyed the game. With hindsight I might have made the Russians a little too tough and hard to kill, but I was expecting the British and French Minee rifle-armed troops to shoot up the densely packed Russian columns. Next time perhaps.....

Monday 10 March 2014


Down at the bottom of my drawer of doom I came across this little bunch of figures, a band of gypsies together with their caravan. I have checked and I think they are West Wind figures from their Vampire Wars range but from what I can see on their website the caravan is no longer available, which is a shame. Why did I buy them many years ago? What project was on my mind at the time? No idea. Anyway, these came as a pleasant diversion to painting and basing up yet more troops for my Crimean and 1866 projects, and  actually, I am already formulating an evil plan to weave the gypsies into one or more scenarios somehow. Hehehehehehehehe! Actually, they could feasibly be present during quite a few of the periods I have collections for as well as the two just mentioned, such as the Thirty Years War, First Carlist War and the SYW.

Thursday 6 March 2014

Colonel W.E.Wynn, Stan and Ollie and stuff....

I've been researching my family tree for many years, picking up where my late dad and Uncle John left off in the 1980's and 90's. So far our combined efforts have got us back as far as the first half of the 17th century, but the family also spread out across the world around my great grandfather's generation, to Canada, the USA and Australia, which makes a pleasant change to Durham via Chortlon cum Medlock and prior to that North Nottinghamshire.

Anyway, my partner's mum has also been researching her family tree. Far more interesting.  Her father was Colonel Wynn E Wynn. He had a very interesting and exciting career. In WW1 he served, among other places, in East Africa, chasing down the Germans under von Lettow Vorbeck. He published a book about the campaign which I have been lucky enough to be lent and am about to start reading....very carefully as it's a bit fragile.

I might come back to some of his other wartime adventures but for me the most interesting element of his career was when he worked in Hollywood in the 1930's and is credited as a military adviser on such films as the Oscar winning 'Lives of a Bengal Lancer', and best of all, one of my favorites, 'Bonnie Scotland' starring Laurel and Hardy, where they were serving in  a Scots regiment on the NW Frontier.