Saturday 30 July 2016

ACW Campaign: The Battle of Auckland Junction (Glory Haleluja!)

Paul made it up to the frontier for this week's game, the next in my mini campaign in the fictional Durham Valley set during 1862.

Last time Union forces finally gained a foothold in the valley after wrestling Stanhope Tavern and the vital supply route into the valley from the Confederate forces. These had put up a magnificent resistance and then executed a swift withdrawal in the face of the much bloodied Union Army of the Northumberland under Major General 'Bloody John' O'Reidy. The Confederate commander directed the battle from his litter as he was still recovering from a wound received a week earlier. His successor Lt. General Thomson van Paulus, had been 'otherwise engaged' at the time of the battle but appeared to take over command as the Confederates slipped away towards the important railhead of Auckland Junction.

I threw a few dice to see if the Confederates would all retreat in the same direction and unfortunately only the Texans and one of the veteran brigades withdrew on Auckland Junction. The cavalry and the freshly raised brigades were nearby but the other brigade has taken a more easterly route and was too far away to offer any support. No further reinforcements were available at this time.

The Union forces had pursued the retreating Confederate army, splitting into two corps in order to try and catch the enemy between them. Major General O'Reidy took the northern force that ended up pursuing but single brigade of Confederates, while the previously disgraced Major General Ashton Collins was, as next senior, reluctantly given command of the southern corps. Collins' forces moved slowly and arrived at Auckland Junction piecemeal. The cavalry and a brigade of rather dubious quality 'green' troops were first on the scene, the former approaching the town down the railway line while the infantry appeared to the west. There was no sign of the remainder of the Union force. The Confederates decided to stay put and await the Union attack. The cavalry dismounted and began to skirmish with the troops holding the town, while the infantry brigade moved (swept it wasn't as that implies some speed, which was sadly lacking!) around the Confederate left flank.

 The battlefield looking south. Union cavalry skirmishing in front of Auckland Junction. In the far distance a brigade of infantry advances down the road.
 Confederate defenders of Auckland Junction.
 The leading Union troops break down into skirmish order and occupy the orchard.
 More Union troops pour (more like dribble) onto the battlefield.
 Zouaves advancing in the centre with elements of the 'Iron Brigade" in the distance.
 The Union attack on the Confederate left is stalled by the arrival of the their cavalry. The Union troops are badly shaken and with three out of four regiments 'whipped' the brigade pulls back broken.
 The 'Iron Brigade' in the centre unable to make any progress against the dug in Rebs!
 The Union right in disarray! And out of the battle!
 In the centre the Zouaves take a hammering and fail a break test, becoming 'whipped'. The rest of their brigade and the dismounted cavalry trade shots with the Confederates, now reinforced by a freshly raised brigade. The Union troops get the worst of the exchange and the dismounted cavalry are broken and obliged to pull back.
 More Union troops push towards the Confederates in the town.
 Meanwhile, my remaining troops had been making very slow progress through the woods before bursting out of them onto the Confederate right flank. They surged forward, taking heavy fire, but slowly gained the upper hand, forcing the Rebs (who were mainly freshly raised) back and overrunning a battery of artillery.

 The Confederate right pulls back.
 The Union centre is unable to make any progress towards the town and grinds to a halt. The bungling Union commander Major General Ashton Collins is mortally wounded by a stray shot (but from which direction?)
 The whipped Union right, going nowhere.
 The Confederate defenders are being slowly worn down by Union artillery fire.
 Hanging on, despite being disordered and one casualty short of being shaken.
 The Iron Brigade supported by artillery poised to make another attack on the weakened Reb defenders.
 Back on the other flank the Union troops continue to push their enemy back.
 The Iron Brigade assault the town. Closing fire from the defenders is ineffective and in the melee they are broken.

 The Union left sweeps along the Rebs lining the fence line and breaks them.
A counter attack by the Confederates to try and eject the Union troops from the town is shattered.

We had to finish the game early but I played out the last couple of moves myself to see if the Union attack would succeed or not.  Fortunately it did better than I could have hoped for. Paul and I had fully expected the attack on the Union left to succeed and roll up the Confederate flank, but the collapse of the garrison was an unexpected bonus.

The Confederates were able to extricate their battered forces, covered by their cavalry. The Union troops were in no state to pursue so busied themselves looting Auckland Junction. 

Again the new rules in the supplement worked well. It wasn't the most exciting game for Paul as the defender but it was a pleasant way to spend a very rainy July day.

I now need to decided what course the campaign will take.

Sunday 24 July 2016


Yesterday I had Robbie, John, John the Red and Dave Jarvis along for a game. I thought I'd expose the latter two to Impetus Baroque and see what they thought. John offered to umpire as Robbie and I were a bit rusty.

I've recently added to both armies. The French received another gun, the Fusiliers du Roi infantry, and the cavalry were reorganised and added to in order to fit in with the rules resulting in a slight expansion in the number of squadrons. They also received two new dragoon regiments. The Dutch received another infantry regiment and a squadron each of the Horseguards, Lifeguards regiments and the Guards dragoons. Again, I managed to reorganise and add to the existing cavalry to squeeze a couple more squadrons of Dutch horse. The Spanish got a heavy gun. They'd always been somewhat lacking in artillery so I reckoned that'd keep them happy in their box.


Commander in Chief: Robbie aided by Monsieur Gervais (Dave)


Brigade 1:
Maison du Roi                        x 4 (trotters)
Brigade 2 (duex):
Cuirassiers du Roi                 x 3 (trotters)
Brigade 3:
Chevau-Legere                      x 2 (trotters/standard)
Brigade 4
Dragoons                                x 4


Gardes Francais                     x 1
Gardes Suisse                        x 1
Swiss Foot                              x 1 (Veteran)
Scots Foot                               x 1 (Veteran)
Fusiliers du Roi                      x 1
Artillery                                  x 2 heavy guns

German Foot                          x 1 (Veteran)
Swiss Foot                              x 1 (Veteran)
French Foot                            x 3 (1 x Veteran)
Artillery                                  x 1 medium gun

French Foot                            x 5 (2 x Veteran)
Artillery                                  x 2 light guns


CinC: Me, aided by General Juan del Rosso


Horse Guards             x 2 (Trotters)
Lifeguards                  x 1 (Trotters)
Guard Dragoons        x 1
Imperial Cuirassier   x 2  (Trotters)
Horse                          x 4 (Trotters/Standard)
Horse                          x 2 (Trotters/Veteran)


Dutch Foot guards    x2
Artillery                      x 1 light gun
Dutch Foot                 x 4  (1 x Veteran)
Scots Foot                     x 1 (Veteran)
Artillery                      x 1 heavy gun, 1 medium gun
German Foot              x2 (Veteran)
Dutch Foot                 x2 
Artillery                      x1 light gun
Spanish Brigade:
Spanish Foot                x 5
Spanish Dragoons     x 1
Artillery                      x 1 heavy gun

In terms of strength points the armies were almost equal, there being only 4 points between them.

So, on to battle, as usual utilising my outstanding photography skills (not) and a brief commentary to illustrate the photos. So, battle was joined.
John the Red, Dave and Robbie. Dave and Robbie are discussing the finer points of French cuisine, er the rules. I had thought it a good idea to place almost all  of our horse in the centre ready to punch a hole through the damned French line. Good plan Colin?

Ten squadrons of Dutch horse massed in the centre.
Our infantry in the centre advancing towards the French who have occupied a sunken road in the middle of the table with their dragoons.
Three squadrons of the Cuirassiers du Roi on the French left. In fact nearly all their cavalry was on their left, facing but two battalions of Dutch footguards's and two squadrons of Imperial cuirassiers.
French dragoons moving forward on our left to contest the town, occupied by John's Spanish dragoons.
The Spanish infantry advance boldly......forwards. Very colourful.
John had command of a brigade of Dutch foot, seen here advancing in the centre.
The Fusiliers du Roi, holding a pivotal position in the French second line as it turned out.
Dutch and German (Celle/Luneberg) infantry engage the French along the sunken road.
My Dutch footguards facing rather a lot of French cavalry and infantry. Will they hold?
Imperial cuirassiers crash into the French but are ultimately defeated and pushed back in disarray.
The Spanish in a fierce exchange of musketry with Dave's French brigade.
The Gardes Francais in the centre.
The Gardes Suisse next to them. Disordered and badly battered by Dutch musket and cannon fire.
I made room for my Dutch Lifeguards to charge the Gardes Suisse, breaking them! Dave was absolutely devastated.
Sadly I was unable to pursue into the Fusiliers du Roi.
Dutch Horseguards poised to strike in the centre.
On our right its not going well. Both cuirassier squadrons are just about holding, but moving backwards all the same. Our flank is in serious danger of being turned.
The Dutch footguards holding off the French horse.
Confusion in the centre.
Wave upon wave of french horse and infantry moving towards the Dutch footguards.
The centre of the battlefield. I've no idea what's going on!
Dave decided to launch the Gardes Francais at my centre. They successfully pushed their opponents back but were left somewhat exposed.
The Dutch guard dragoons take a chance and charge the Fusiliers du Roi. Miraculously the latter hold.
The Gardes Francais are hit in the flank by my Dutch horseguards then pushed back. The next phase saw my infantry crash into their front. The French were made of sterner stuff though and won the melee, pushing both of the Dutch units back. However, the Gardes Francais were pretty much a spent force by this stage.
Battered, bleeding, exposed but still standing, the Gardes Francais. 
On the right a squadron of Dutch horse crashed into a French battalion but were repulsed.
Another French battalion charged the Dutch footguards, whose closing fire was ineffective. In the resulting melee the French drove their opponents back twice before they were halted, by which time the Dutch Guards were almost shattered.
An opportunity arose for my horse to take the French in the flank, but their charge fell short.
The French Cuirassiers du Roi and the four squadrons of Maison du Roi drove the Dutch and Imperial horse slowly backwards. Our right flank was about to crumble and be turned. 
The Gardes du Corps charge the Dutch footguards but are held, for the moment
The commander of the Cuirassiers du Roi.
Seen from behind the French left, they are slowly sweeping all before  them.
The fate of this squadron of Dutch horse lies in the balance. If they don't get to move before the French they are most likely doomed as they are within point blank range of a French battery. If they get the initiative they will crash into the flank of a French infantry battalion.
Dutch horse positioning itself to attack the still battered Gardes Francais.
In the centre the Dutch Lifeguards have withdrawn but the Guard Dragoons and two squadrons of Horseguards remain to exploit the gap opening up in the French centre. The Fusiliers du Roi and the Regiment Douglas are all that remain,
Juan del Rosso is making steady progress on the Allied left after a slow start, and is wearing down the French battalions opposing him.
The French right under Monsieur Gervais is beginning to buckle. One regiment (in the background) has broken and the German regiment Furstenberg(with the jazzy flags) is on the verge of following them. This flank is almost won for the Allies.
The Dutch Horseguards rallying ready to sweep down onto the flank of the Gardes Francais and to support the Guard Dragoons in the centre.
The commander of the Dutch horse in the centre urges his men on, "one more time boys!"
As dusk falls, a bemused Marshal Turenne, the French commander, at the end of the battle which had so nearly been a French win but turned to a bloody stalemate in the final climactic half hour.

What can I say? It was definitely almost a French victory. Had it not been for the success of the Spanish in driving in the French right and the potential for making a mess of the French centre and the Gardes Francais the outcome would certainly have been a win for Robbie and Dave. As it was we managed to snatch a costly draw as although our right flank had been turned (destroyed more accurately), we had punched a hole in the French centre and were on the point of breaking their right. Well, I like to think so anyway!

The rules worked really well, and John the Red and Dave took to them very quickly. Poor Dave managed to win the award for the worst dice rolling, taking the title off Robbie for the moment. Every time he was told "don't throw a 1, or anything but a 6" he threw a 1 or a 6. In fact I might start a roll of honour of the worse dice throwers for each game. Why not?

Mind you, I was too slow in making a gap in the centre for my horse to charge through, but the French dragoons occupying the sunken road were annoying me. Serves me right for being too lazy to put the terrain piece back after the previous game! I was also slightly distracted by the presence of my Mother-in-Law who was staying with us following a nasty fall, the arrival of a new mattress and the imminent departure of our daughter Frances to France for 4 weeks working at an international summer camp teaching English.

I have just about finished this collection. I think I have three battalions of foot to do (1 each of French, Spanish and Dutch) and a couple of units each of French dragoons and horse, including the Mousquetiers du Roi, together with a few more generals, vignettes and some artillery. Actually I have quite a bit of artillery to do, including some siege guns and mortars, and a few wagons and so forth. No more than a few week's work if I can maintain my painting mojo. I must say that these armies are probably my favourites out of all my collections as there's so much scope for example, for having some gloriously colourful units and fabulous flags, not to mention adding some scenic effects to the bases.

Thanks immensely for John for umpiring this game and for Robbie, Dave and John the Red for throwing themselves into the game so completely and in a most gentlemanly way.