Friday 29 May 2015

Off to Partizan tomorrow

I head south on Saturday with my contingent of troops taking part in the AMG Forum demonstration game  at Partizan on Sunday. My wife Katherine will be sharing the driving and making sure I behave and we're giving Dave Jarvis a lift so he can man the rear gun turret on the journey.

I've been asked to contribute 15 battalions of Prussian infantry and 15 squadrons of cavalry, with one cannon.

Here they are parading on the Fields of War before embarking onto their transports in the morning.

The last photo shows the morning after the night before judging by the number of comatose bodies on the floor outside the pub. Frederick bidding adieu to the commander of the expeditionary force FM Moritz Prinz von Anhalt-Dessau and his staff.

Sunday 24 May 2015

The Battle of Prague, 6 May 1757, part II

The Prussians have outflanked the Austrian army outside Prague and have begun to attempt to turn its flank. The Austrians are able to react and mass their cavalry on what is now their right flank and rush grenadiers and artillery forward to try and hold off the Prussians while the rest of the army changes position.

 Above, the massed Austrian cavalry on their right wing and below, two lone grenadier battalions in the centre, supported by battalion guns. 
 Above, close up of the Austrian cavalry which failed to get moving as quickly as Robbie would have liked! Below, Frederick watches as his leading brigade closes with the Austrian grenadiers.
 Above, the second Prussian brigade crossing the stream. 
 Above, more stationary Austrian cavalry. Below, the Austrians finally manage to charge and hit the Prussian hussars hard, pushing both regiments back. 
 Above, the lead Prussian brigade was beginning to waiver due to severe losses as they engaged in an uneven firefight with the Austrian grenadiers, supported by battalion guns and a battery of heavy artillery. Robbie tried to enfilade the Prussian line but only succeeded in giving the newly-arrived Prussian artillery a wonderful target.
 Above, the Prussian leading brigade fails to make any headway against the combined grenadiers and artillery and is on the brink of being broken as half its units are shaken. Below, Prussian cuirassiers crash into and over an Austrian battery after breaking a regiment of hussars.
 Below, Prussians stalled at the foot of the slope. Both regiments in the picture IR18 and IR23 are shaken and about to retire.
 The Prussian cuirassiers turn after overrunning the Austrian battery and are hit by fresh Austrian cuirassiers. They are beaten in the combat and driven off the battlefield. Below, Austrian-eye view of the second wave of Prussians advancing towards them.

 IR16 Dohna led by Marshall Schwerin on foot with a discarded colour lead the second wave of the Prussian assault. Below: Frederick (on the grey horse) organising his reserves for the next assault. The third Prussian brigade can be seen in the distance and the final Prussian reinforcements have just arrived. 

 Above and below, the Austrian cavalry had driven off the entire Prussian cavalry wing of three brigades. They were ready to wheel and pounce upon John's infantry and artillery. Sadly for Robbie he couldn't get them to move, but John also failed to realign his cannon to cover his exposed flank.

 Above, Austrian reinforcements arrive in the knick of time as both grenadier battalions were close to breaking after holding up the first Prussian assault. Below, the second Prussian assault begins.
 Below, the Austrian line has virtually collapsed as the Prussians surge forward.

 Above, all or nothing Robbie sends his remaining infantry forward in a bayonet charge to try and drive the Prussian off. Both battalions suffer fro close range musketry and are pushed back or broken in the combat. Below, the Austrian cavalry finally get moving again but their frontal charge against the guns is doomed to failure.
 Below, the Prussian artillery supporting the final attack.

 Below, the last of the Austrians, three battalions, have just arrived in time to cover the retreat into Prague. The Prussians have no cavalry left to prevent them from getting away.
Well, it was a long hard slog. The Austrian grenadiers held up then drove off five battalions of Prussians for most of the game before they were ground down and forced to retire. John did well with his outnumbered cavalry as he prevented the Austrians from rolling up the Prussian left flank, even though all eight regiments were put out of action! Marshall Schwerin survived the day, but was still a bit of a bullet magnet. Even when the unit he was with was took massive casualties and Robbie got to throw six D6 to try and kill him - not one six was rolled! Marshall Browne also made it through the day without getting in the way of a cannon ball. The only 'blunder' of note was a precipitous charge by one of John's battalions up the hill towards the Austrians.  They were beaten back but it gave us a bit of breathing space while we lined up the next main assault.
The Austrians did really well and almost pulled it off. Had they broken another brigade of Prussian infantry the Prussians would have had to call off the attack and retreat. With no cavalry left that would have been messy!Sadly, the Austrian centre crumbled almost as soon as the stalwart grenadiers were forced to retire.

The battle ran almost the same course  as the original, as the Prussian cavalry and first assault were beaten off before weight of numbers began to tell and the Austrian line collapsed. Great game which we all enjoyed.
Next month Kolin!

The Battle of Prague 6 May 1757, part I

Robbie and John came up for this week's game, a refight of the Battle of Prague in the early stages of the Seven Years War. I'd been working towards this game for quite some time, since the last SYW battle we refought a couple of months ago, (Reichenberg) in order to get as many of my Austrians completed and on the table as possible. 

Frederick's invasion of Bohemia in late April 1757 had taken the Austrians by surprise. They assembled an army under Charles of Lorraine and Field Marshall von Browne outside Prague, entrenched on the heights to the east of the city to await the arrival of reinforcements led by Field Marshal Daun. Frederick chose to shift his army around the flank of the Austrian army and roll them up from the right. Great plan, especially because it worked. Always keen to rewrite history, Robbie wanted to be the Austrians so John and I shared the Prussians. Forces for the game were as follows:

Austria: CinC Command 9 (maybe a bit generous but I needed to give the Austrians every chance to react to the Prussians as they did historically)

Cavalry brigade (8): 2 x cuirassier and 2 x dragoon regiments
Cavalry brigade (7): 2 x cuirassier regiments
Cavalry brigade (8): 2 x cuirassiers and 2 x hussar regiments

Grenadiers (8): 2 x grenadier battalions and 2 x battalion guns
Heavy artillery: 2 x heavy batteries each of 2 gun models

Infantry brigade (7): 5 x line infantry battalions (2 on table remainder enters turn 2)
Infantry brigade (7): 1-4 line infantry battalions determined randomly (enters turn 6)

Prussia: CinC Command 9

Cavalry brigade (8): 3 x cuirassier regiments
Cavalry brigade (8): 3 x dragoon regiments
Cavalry brigade (8): 2 x hussar regiments

Infantry brigade (9): 2 x grenadier and 3 x line battalions (enters turn 1)
Infantry brigade (8): 1 x grenadier and 2 x line battalions (enters turn 2)
Infantry brigade (8): 4 x line battalions (enters turn 5)
Infantry brigade (8): 2 x line battalions (enters turn 6)

Artillery (8): 3 batteries of heavy guns each of 2 models (2 batteries entering on turn 4 and the other on turn 6)

Cavalry were in 12 figure units and infantry in 36's. 

The stream and marshy ground the Prussians would have to cross slowed them down considerably in the real battle so each unit would have to throw 1D3 to see how many moves it would take to cross. Artillery would only be able to cross by the two areas marked by plank bridges to represent the roads and causeways.  We used our rules of choice, Black Powder, with the Last Argument of Kings amendments and a few 'house' rules. 
 Above and below, the Prussian lead brigade crosses the stream and prepares to assault the Austrian position. 

Part 2 will cover how the game played.

Friday 15 May 2015

The Battle of the Pragavitz Heights - Crimean War 'fictional' battle.

Paul came up this week for our (almost) monthly game, put off a couple of times due to my back problems. I had set up the table for the next Seven Years War game I am planning, the Battle of Prague, to see what extra terrain bits I might need (hopefully none apart from some ponds it turns out). I therefore decided to keep the terrain on the table and use the Prague scenario transported almost 100 years into the future and hundreds of miles to the east in order to give my Crimean troops another airing, as I don't yet have quite enough SYW Austrian cavalry for Prague proper. Given the major differences in tactics and firepower between the British and the Russians I increased the troop proportions so that the infantry were numerically more or less equal rather than the 2:1 superiority between the Prussians and Austrians in 1757. I didn't tell Paul the game was based (albeit) loosely on Prague. We diced for sides, no choice, 4,5,or a 6 and Paul would take the Russians. Paul ended up with the Russians.

The Russian army played the role of the Austrians and was made up of the following:

Commander in Chief: staff rating 8
Corps troops: Rifle detachment (small unit), Heavy artillery battery (2 gun models in entrenchment), Field artillery battery (2 gun models)
Moscow infantry regiment (9): 4 battalions (2 off table, enter on move 3)
Tobolsk infantry regiment (8): 4 battalions (enter on move 1)
Borodino infantry regiment (7): 4 battalions (enter on move 3 plus 1D3 turns)
Cossacks (7): 2 regiments
6th Hussar brigade (8): 2 regiments
6th Uhlan brigade(8): 2 regiments
Horse artillery: 2 light gun models

The British forces were:

Commander in Chief: staff rating 6 (Lord Raglan)
Heavy cavalry brigade (8): 5 small units of cavalry
Light cavalry brigade (7): 5 small units of cavalry, 1 horse battery
Guards brigade (8): 3 battalions, 1 battery artillery, 1 small unit riflemen
Line brigade (8): 3 battalions, 1 battery artillery
Highland brigade (9): 3 battalions, 1 horse battery (enter on move 3 plus D3)
Line brigade (7): 3 battalions, 1 small unit riflemen, 1 artillery battery (enter on move 4 plus D3)

We used 2/3rds distances for this game, especially given the long ranges involved with the artillery but particularly the British Minee rifled muskets (30" normally). As usual we used Black Powder with my Crimean amendments as I don't necessarily agree with what's in the book.

The streams and marshes were quite an obstacle and would take 1D3 moves to cross. The contour on the large hill reduced movement by half and gave a plus 1 in combat resolution and an extra D6 in melee when fighting from higher ground. The villages would each hold one battalion of infantry. Everything else was incidental and had no effect.

 Above, Russian left wing and below, the British arrive, very slowly as they were literally bogged down trying to cross the swampy river.
 Above the Russian cavalry face (below) the British light and heavy brigades struggling to cross the streams and marsh.
 Above, The Russians charge the heavy brigade and quickly drive off or destroy three squadrons, shattering the brigade. Being small units the British cavalry are very vulnerable, especially against lance-armed troops, so even though they can definately give it out, they can't take it, so to speak.
 Above, the Russian infantry readying themselves for the advance of the Guards' brigade (below).
 Above the Russian Ulan brigade charges the 14th Light Dragoons who countercharge but are beaten and broken.
 The Guards close with the Russians and cause great destruction and disorder on their tight-packed columns - as they did in the real war.
 The Russian Moscow regiment occupied the redoubt after the artillery battery became shaken and Paul chose to withdraw it to a position of greater safety.
 The Highland brigade surge forward while below the Guards are still in a prolonged fire fight with the Russians. The latter tried to close to melee but only one battalion made it through the Guards' closing fire, and although the fight went on for several turns they were eventually repulsed.

 The British battalion above (HM 7th Royal Fusiliers) threw a blunder, resulting in a headlong charge towards the nearest Russian infantry. Not quite what I had planned and they were bounced back shaken and in disorder as a result. Photo courtesy of Mr R Fenton, esq.
 Two Russian brigades were by now shaken and forced to withdraw. Below, two battalions of the Moscow regiment tried in vain to close with the flank of the Guards brigade.

 Above and below, the battered but victorious British advance on the retreating Russians.
 Above, the Russian view from the redoubt. Below, the Cossacks finally made it across the stream and threatened the British left flank, but it was too late for them to change the outcome of the battle. 
 A donkey accompanied by an ass. Not sure which is which........
 Above, the Rifle brigade skirmishing with the Russians on the hill. Below, the victorious Russian cavalry. The lancers and hussars between them managed to neutralise (i.e. break or drive off) both British cavalry brigades.
 Above, a spent force; the British cavalry. Below, Lord Cardigan and General Scarlett shift the blame  for the shameful humiliation of their cavalry brigades onto one of their recently deceased aides de camp! 

The British got to move first and made slow progress trying to cross the swampy river along the baseline. On the left the Heavy Brigade were drawn into combat by the Russian hussars and two squadrons of the former were broken and another shaken and forced to retreat, effectively putting the entire brigade out of action.

In the centre the Guards and their supporting brigade advanced on the Russian position. The Guards spent much of the battle engaged in a prolonged exchange of musketry with the Russian line which had advanced to the edge of the escarpment. The Russians tried a few bayonet charges but they were either shot away before they could close or held and pushed back by the Guards. The other British brigade on the left made slow progress towards the Russian skirmishers and artillery, taking some casualties on the way.

Paul's reinforcements arrived more or less on time and were thrown into the fight. The remains of the Moscow regiment (in red hats) occupied the redoubt as the gunners had become shaken due to sniping from the British riflemen. The last brigade made straight for the British to the left of the Guards and tried to drive them off. Meanwhile the British reinforcements had arrived and were pushing straight up the centre in the hope that the unsupported Guards would hold long enough for weight of numbers to tell against the Russian centre. The Highlanders took quite a battering but held off another Russian bayonet charge and one English battalion in the third line managed to throw the only blunder of the game and charge three moves right at the Russian line. They were bounced back quickly enough in disorder and shaken.

Meanwhile all along the line the British infantry and artillery had been wearing the Russians down to the point where two brigades were broken with most of their units shaken or routed. On the British left, the Light Brigade finally made it into action and predictably while doing some damage to the Russians were driven back. Having a stamina of only '2' and a save of '5' against lance-armed cavalry made them very brittle but they look very pretty and are actually figure-for-figure a match for the Russians. Paul's Cossacks finally made it across the river and were moving into a position to threaten the British left centre but by now the Russian line was in retreat.

A decisive British victory? Just about, as there were no cavalry left to exploit the situation. The Russians always have a hard time against the British (which is right if we are to believe the history books) but they have won in the past quite convincingly. Not this time though as they didn't have their usual numerical superiority in infantry and especially artillery. They would normally field a full division (which is what I have) of 16 battalions supported by 4 batteries (each of 2 gun models). I also made their cavalry commanders better than normal to better reflect the scenario where they were playing the role of the Austrians. The British firepower is of course deadly but not overwhelmingly so (Paul might disagree) as with a save of 3+ and a stamina of 4 the Russian columns can take quite a battering.

Anyway, it was an enjoyable game and its always great to get my Crimean troops on the table as they look very splendid indeed!