Wednesday 31 January 2018

Events leading up to the Battle of Pornichet

Day 2 (turns 3 and 4) of the campaign saw the French gather their forces from St Nazaire and other nearby garrisons in order to launch an attack to recapture Pornichet. The Division from Nantes is also mobilising but will take several days to arrive on the scene. The 'Allies' have continued landing stores and have sent a small force of English troops (a single battalion of infantry) to take the town and fort at Pouliguen at the western end of the bay. The garrison had departed but the coastal battery was taken without a shot being fired. In turn 4 they continued towards Batz with the objective of taking Le Croisic the following day.

Mid-morning on Day 3 (turn 5) sees the arrival of the Republicans.

Commander: General Henri de Bouzille

Cavalry Brigade: Colonel Phillippe Monteton
Dragoons x 2 squadrons
Chasseurs a cheval x 2 squadrons
Horse artillery battery x 3 cannon (4pdr)

General de Brigade Alonso Fonde-Lapatrie
Demi-Brigade  x 2 - 6 battalions (newly raised!)

General de Brigade Hercule Trécon
Demi-Brigade Legere x 1 - 3 battalions
Demi- Brigade x 1 -  3 battalions (veteran)
Combined Grenadier companies x 1 battalion

Foot battery x 3 cannon (6pdr)

Facing the Republicans are a combination of British, Emigre and Vendee troops.

Commander General Comte d’Herviley

English Brigade under Colonel Arthur Weasley
Combined Light companies
Combined Grenadier companies
10th Light Dragoons (small)
Royal Artillery, 1 x 3pdr, 1 x 6pdr, 1 x 12pdr

Royal Navy Landing Party: Lt. Horace Blowhorn RN
12pdr cannon x 2

Emigre Division under General Comte de Choisel
Royal Emigrants
Bachman Fusiliers
Mirabeau Fusiliers
Damas Fusiliers
Beon Chasseurs (rifles)
Rohan Hussars
Beon Hussars
Salm-Kirkberg Horse Artillery  1 x  3pdr

Royal and Catholic Army under  General Francois Aimée Voulaizunlezotre (not under command or influence of the CinC)
Skirmishers x 2 (small)
Infantry x 8
Cavalry x 1(small)

The game today has had to be postponed due to sickness ravaging the man cave. Anyone with a working knowledge of French may find the names of the Republican commanders and the Chouan leader amusing.

Monday 29 January 2018

His Majesty's Armed Cutter Bludgeon

I have almost completed my first ship from Games of War, an unrated RN cutter. The cannon are from Arcane Scenery and the crew are a mix of old Redoubt and Britannia I think. I doubt such a small ship would have any marines in its complement but they add a splash of colour. I have a couple more crewmen to finish and I'm going to try and fit it with some furled sails. I have some swivel guns to mount, but my priority was to get this one table ready for Wednesdays game.

Once I have enough troops and a couple more vessels such as these then they can also be used for my War of 1812 project if it gets going this year.

French Revolutionary War Mini Campaign: The first engagement

Given that I shall be making all the strategic decisions for both sides (or is that all four sides?), based on what I think will be/are appropriate movements and reactions to the enemy I've simplified the map movement aspects I am using for this campaign, by allocating a single movement point between each town or village, taking into account terrain and distance on my rather inaccurate map. Movement is only allowed via roads, or sea in the case of the Rosbiffs.  Each  represents a point of movement that must be expended to go between ‘A’ and ‘B’, in this case between any town/village and another. So , for example Pornichet to St Nazaire takes the British one turn and the others half a turn. The different belligerents have been allocated different numbers of movement points per turn, as follows:

Revolutionary French    2
Vendee Rebels               2 (3 if trying to evade)
British & Emigre           1
Cavalry                         Add 50%

Hopefully the irregulars won’t end up zipping around the countryside too quickly but I want to reflect their ability to slip away from the enemy if things start going badly. Likewise the British (and their Emigre Allies) were not the well-oiled military machines (?) of the later Napoleonic Wars and campaigning in Flanders during the previous couple of years had hardly been notable for speedy strategic manoeuvring. The Revolutionary French have an advantage here of being far more mobile. I am not using an IGOUGO approach to movement (that would be an IGOIGOIGOIGO as I’m doing this solo) but will draw tokens from a bag to get the move sequence, moving each group in turn when their token is drawn.

Turn 1 (the morning of Day 1) starts with a small British/Emigre contingent landing to support the local Chouan/Vendee forces in the capture of the small coastal town of Pornichet as a precursor to a landing by the main body on the beaches to the west of the town. Pornichet has been chosen as it has a small serviceable harbour which will facilitate the disembarkation of horses and artillery. The British/Emigre force needs to deal with the coastal battery and the telegraph tower quickly before occupying the town otherwise enemy reinforcements will start arriving from nearby garrisons (they will arrive anyway at some point, no doubt about it actually as the landing did not go unobserved), while the Catholic and Royal Army (the insurgents) attempts to delay the arrival of the aforesaid reinforcements.

Peter came down the hill on Saturday evening to play, armed with counter-revolutionary fervour and some nice craft beer, and took the role of commander of the British/Emigre/Vendee forces, the Emigre Comte d'Hervilly. To recap, the British/Emigres have landed a small force of two Emigre battalions, a small battalion of Emigre Chasseurs and a British battalion of combined flank companies. In addition to this are 10 ‘bands’ of Vendee Rebels. By contrast the Republican forces are initially quite limited. There is a battery of coastal artillery in the fort, together with an understrength and unenthusiastic battalion of infantry under the command of Chef de Battalion Aubin Didon. In the town, by chance, is a battalion of experienced infantry en route to its new posting ( this was one of two random events that influenced the game from the start). Two randomly generated (a bit like wandering monsters in D&D) Demi-Brigades of infantry (one newly raised Conscripts) under General Adhemar Patacaisse are potentially close enough to reinforce the garrison, but we don't at this stage know when and where they will appear. The second random event was the appearance of a supply column heading for the port, escorted by two squadrons of dragoons.

The vanguard of the supply column winds its way down the narrow hedge-lined lanes. (I know the dragoon guidon is  from a slightly later period but so are the dragoons, and I had a couple of Adolfo Ramos flags going spare)
The rearguard passing the gate to the churchyard.
On parade. A battalion of Republicans at the harbour.
The garrison of Pornichet. A battalion of ex-Regulars still in their white uniforms together with a battery of coastal artillery.
The local telegraph station. 
A Royal Navy gunboat glides silently and undetected towards the harbour.
The British (fording the stream) and Emigres head towards the tower and the town, supported by Chouan skirmishers.
The main body of the Chouan force is deployed along the hedgerows inland from the town. 
Ambush! The supply train and its escort come under fire. The leading dragoon squadron takes casualties and flounders around in the lane disordered. The wagons are also taking casualties.
Skirmishers covering the advance of the British and Emigre columns.
The only mounted troops opposing the Republicans are a motley band of Vendean farmers, poorly  mounted and poorly armed. Wielding a scythe on horseback seems like a hazardous endeavour!
The British battalion has deployed into line alongside the two Emigre battalions. The Emigre chasseurs have taken the signal  tower.
Flushed with their success the Emigre chasseurs attack the coastal battery but are driven off by the gunners, and a hefty load of grapeshot. 
The Loyal Emigrants regiment charges the Republican battalion which has left the safety of the battery. Closing fire and a brief melee and the Loyal Emigrants are  surprisingly repulsed.
Battalion Bachman advances on the town.The British 'flank' battalion assaulted the town and remarkably (not that remarkable seeing as I managed to throw four 1's in my saving rolls!) the garrison had to take a break test and threw snake eyes. They ran. The town was now in the hands of the British.
Meanwhile, inland, the leading dragoons were forced to retire which at least got them out of the trap that was the lane. Then, one of the Vendee units blundered and charged though the olive groves, becoming a bit exposed. Ooops!
The first of the French reinforcements arrived in turn 6. Once I had thrown to see where they entered I rashly ordered them to advance as far as they could, little knowing that I would throw a 3, so we got three moves, ending up in march column behind the Vendee forces all of which promptly about faced and peppered the columns with musketry.
Back on the coast the garrison of the battery (the battalion of 'les Blancs') have been driven off  but the gunners are made of sterner stuff and hang on resolutely.
The dragoons charged the rebels in the olive grove but to my surprise were repulsed. I think I cocked up with the rules here but never mind. Never mind indeed! The  other squadron of dragoons from the rear of the supply column and the second demi-brigade of reinforcements have worked their way around the churchyard and wood.
Under galling (sorry about the pun) musketry and after some dismal saving throws one battalion of French were forced to take a break test, and being newly raised rubbish decided to run away! A long and confusing melee ensued on this flank as more troops from both sides being sucked in, before the rebels gained the upper hand, destroying another Republican battalion. 
The Vendee troops reorganised themselves along the hedgerows.
The British battalion moves inland from the town.
The French dragoons could do  nothing to shift the Vendee units and were taking casualties and disorder every turn. Added to this the first demi-brigade had been thrashed by the  Vendee troops.
The Vendee troops ready for the final attack which never came as the Republican forces were spent and in no state to continue their attack.

At the this point, time and the beer had run out. The Counter Revolutionary swine backed by their Aristo and Shop Keeper allies had achieved their objectives by capturing the tower, battery and harbour. An added bonus was the capture of the supply column. Casualties on both sides had been relatively low, and most of the fleeing Republicans will reform later in the day, perhaps.

Turn 2 (from noon to midnight) will see the Royal Navy disembark the rest of the Emigre invasion force, another battalion of English infantry and some artillery. Work will then begin on reinforcing and extending the coastal battery with an additional earthwork which will be manned by sailors from the fleet. The Emigres will no doubt spend the rest of the day rounding up, judging and executing known (or suspected) revolutionaries,  such as the mayor, or anyone else whom they had a grudge against in the past. The irregular forces have also made use of the arms and supplies captured in the convoy but apart from a few patrols along the coast to the west and east towards St Nazaire have done little other than bask in the glory of their victory. Already their leaders are at odds with the commander of the Emigre forces over what move to make next.

The Revolutionary forces have retired to regroup, and await reinforcements from St. Nazaire and elsewhere. It remains to be seen what troops they will have gathered together before the demands of Citizen Maldetette from the Committee for Public Safety are heeded and the invaders attacked and thrown back into the sea.  But you will have to wait until later this week to find out what happens, after the next game which is on Wednesday.

Monday 22 January 2018

When I were a lad.... Fort Leko

We found this when digging out the cupboard in the top of the house. I must have been given it for Christmas or a birthday when I was maybe 6 or 7? Over half a century ago!

I can remember many an assault on its solid ramparts by a mixture of Timpo and Britains soldiers. More recently, i.e. when I was perhaps 11, I recall laying the walls flat and using the raised bases as a breastwork in early Airfix ACW or WW2 (or both combined) games with my mate Jeff Wood. Its remarkable that this fort has survived five decades, several moves and a house clearance when my mum passed away without being skipped. Mind you, being retired I might finally get to feel the joy that hundreds of Apache braves, Mexican bandidos, unrepentant Confederates, Nazis and the odd alien never had by consigning it to the flames. 

Sunday 21 January 2018

Messing around in boats

I've already posted pictures of my Royal Navy flotilla but as I am in the process of setting the table for a final game before we move I thought I'd snap a few quick shots of them edging their way towards and unsuspecting French port.

In addition to the above I have a further oared gunboat and four more landing boats in the queue, together with a couple of small sloops from Games of War, so quite a fleet!

Saturday 20 January 2018

From Reason to Revolution - what could be an interesting day out.

Apologies for the small picture but this is the link

The sessions on Flanders and the Helder campaign are of particular interest to me so I am hoping to go to the event as its only half an hour on the train once we've moved to the 'Boro.  

Wednesday 17 January 2018

They're coming thick and fast!

I've been laid up most of today having done too much yesterday, hence this post showing some more emigres for my French Revolution project.

Above and below, two shots of my Salm-Kirchberg artillery. The gunners are Trent with head swaps, the  galloper gun is North Star 1672 and the gun team are Perry. Quite a mix. Oh and I don't know where the dog peeing on the cannon is from! I'm not happy with the way these have turned out but at least they are off the recruiting table and in barracks, shortly to be on the way to the Loire estuary for my mini campaign.

Two Emigre commanders. The guy on the left (a Trent figure) represents the Duc de Choisel, while the other (Eureka) is the Comte d'Hervilly. 

Royal Military Artificers

A random photo here of a pair of my Trent Miniatures Artificers hard at work (well one of the anyway!) on some new gabions.

I have one more figure finished but he was off on a tea break and three more from the pack to start. I have another pack but I plan on giving them different heads.

Below are some prints of Artificers, the first set in Egypt in 1801, the others from the 1790's. The unit was created by Royal Warrant in 1787, in part as a result of the success of the Soldier Artificer Company which did such excellent service during the Great Siege of Gibraltar of 1779-83. Indeed, the survivors of the Soldiers Artificer Company were amalgamated into the new Royal corps in 1797, and are the precursors of today's Royal Engineers.

Tuesday 16 January 2018

The basing queue lengthens.

We are moving house on 2 March so I have been making a vain attempt to box things up, throw out unwanted stuff or put it on eBay, or trying to finish off what’s on the painting and basing desks so packing up and moving will be easier. (I wish).

The units below (like those Prussian cavalry on one of yesterday’s posts) are finished but require their bases doing. Just in case I don’t get round to them they’re already boxed up ready to travel. Again, hasty photos using my phone but I think you will get the idea.

This and the three that follow it are the beginnings of my 1806 Prussians (that I will unashamedly use for Valmy at some point too!). The infantry are from Forgotten and Glorious Miniatures of France that were on sale again briefly about 18 months ago at 50% off the marked price! Very nice but the muskets are a bit fragile. Flags by Adolfo Ramos.
These gunners are old Wargames Foundry. The commanders are more FG Miniz.
Two combined grenadier battalions.
These are some more Prussian cavalry. There is a squadron each of cuirassiers and dragoons (old Foundry figures)
The hussars are a mixture. The seven at the back are Foundry and the dozen closer to the camera are more FG Miniz.

I had some 'spare' Foundry/Casting Room Miniatures early Napoleonic Saxons (and I can't think why I had them in the first place its been so long since I bought them). So they're painted up as five battalions of Dutch for the War of the 1st Coalition in Flanders. Purists would say that the figures are not quite right but at least they are being put to good use. I have little in the way of information about flags for this period. Jan (of the Alde Garde club/blog) tells me they had changed from those carried in the mid-18thC and has sent me a few pictures but I might just cheat and use the older designs as I have a few WAS Dutch flags knocking around somewhere.

I doubt any of these will get based before we move, if only because I will need to buy some more tufts and static grass if I am to get them and about half a dozen other units all done and battle ready.