Monday 26 February 2018

As the actress said to the quantity surveyor, "Is it big enough?"

Harking back to the previous post I hope everything will fit in the new Man Cave! We are moving in two days earlier than planned in order to avoid getting snowed in if the Beast from the East lives up to its promise! The floor tiling is going down in the Man Cave this afternoon.

I must admit that I'm getting slightly excited despite my best efforts to remain a grumpy old git.

Sunday 25 February 2018

"I think we need a bigger boat/van/lorry/shipping container/East African Pirate Tramp Steamer* delete as applicable

Wow. The packing is complete. 'Really handy' boxes of various dimensions occupy every square metre of the space under my table, packed with figures and terrain items. The display cases are empty and the 'floating shelf' that held all my houses and other buildings (more than there are in the village we are moving from almost) are now plonked on the top of table with cloths and other paraphernalia. Not in shot are the boxes holding my hills and trees.

Lots of stuff. The only casualties were a windmill (sorry Michael Fletcher) and my liver (Old Speckled Hen)

My hussarettes nestling among the chaos. The disembodies hand is probably about to try and  be non-pc with one or both.  Heaven help it if it does!
Another ship! I found this mdf frigate/sloop of war. No longer available but some proper masts and  a complement of guns and jolly tars/matelots and it can join the growing fleet. It seems like I'm having an arms race with myself! Doh!
So there you have it. The troops are now embarked upon their transports and on Wednesday will swap the wintery blustery and sub zero temperatures and sheep  of Weardale for the sub tropical micro climate that is Middlesbrough. Disembarkation for them is on Thursday and hopefully they will be all in their new barracks on Friday or Saturday. Then I just need to get my new table built........

Saturday 24 February 2018

Galvez at Pensacola

I received this little surprise yesterday. Its from Onaria Miniatures in Spain and depicts the Spanish General Bernardo de Galvez, Governor of Spanish Louisiana, at the capture off the British of Pensacola in 1781.

When I will get round to painting and making a suitable base for it I do not know but when I do it will no doubt rekindle my interest in the American Revolution and give my figures an airing.

Friday 23 February 2018

Ticking over........

Well I am now definitely in 'moving mode' as all but a few of my figures and assorted paraphernalia have been safely boxed up and even labelled. I just need to clear the wargames table and then go through my buildings and terrain and chuck out/donate/sell anything I don't think I shall ever use again.

To be fair, 75% of the actual painted armies were already boxed up under the table; the main bit of work has been and remains to some extent in the 'office/studio/Dickensian garret' I share with my wife where the visible part of the infamous and ever restless creeping mountain of lead is located, along with about a zillion pots of paint, brushes, sharp and pointy tools, shade, dip, paint, glue, basing materials, more paint, uniform books and half a tree's worth of mdf bases, etc. etc. Oh the Horror!

I've been trying to preserve some off cuts of polystyrene foam insulation board from the clutches of Katherine, who is being very focussed when it comes to de-cluttering. A little handy sawing and knife work would transform these (treasured off cuts!) nicely into the glacis and covered way/ditch for my Vauban fortress. That, as they say, is the plan anyway.  Thankfully, the removals men will be doing all the packing (NOT my soldiers, they are packed, but everything else), carrying and unloading at the other end. I will watch with interest as they work out how to safely pack and transport my two rather large 28mm frigates.

Wednesday 21 February 2018

French Revolutionary War Campaign: The battle of Pouliguen 21 Feb 1795

Conrad, Paul S and Dave were here today to fight the next action in my French Revolutionary War mini-campaign. As mentioned in the previous post, the English forces had withdrawn after their bloody nose at Le Croisic to outside the village of Pouliguen at the eastern end of the bay used to disembark their forces only five days earlier.

The Republicans had moved quickly and brought together a strong force to drive the English back onto their main supply depot and harbour at Pornichet. Loss of this town would doom the expedition to failure so almost the last reinforcements available to the English were rushed up to join the battered brigade now commanded by General the Earl of Chatham.

Dave and I were the English while Conrad and Paul were the Republican French. We randomised command levels at the start of the game and everyone managed to throw really low as can be seen by the numbers below.

General Cyrus Trapaud  (7) and Major-General Sir George Assheton (8)
19th Light Dragoons (2 squadrons)
Chevalier Noble (1 squadron)
Uhlans Britanniques (2 squadrons)

Moore's Brigade  (8) - 2/1st Foot, 35th, 49th, 79th and 92nd 
Chatham's Brigade (7) (ex-Fox) - 1/4th*, 2/4th*, 3/4th*, 1/5th*, 2/5th*
'Light brigade' Colonel Coote (8) - converged flank companies (2 btns), Lowensteins Chasseurs

Royal Artillery: 6 guns

* newly-raised and/or severely depleted battalions

The Republicans had been able to muster a sizeable force to take on the English, as follows:

General Jean Baptiste Camille Cancleux (7)

Cavalry brigade: Colonel de Vinsobres (6)
Dragoons (2 squadrons)
Heavy Cavalry (3 squadrons)
Horse artillery (6 guns)

Division of General Lazzarre Frapadingue de Asticot (7)
4 demi-brigade de bataille (12 btns)

Division of General Henri Gustav Mapoule (7)
1 demi-brigade legere (3 btns)
Combined grenadiers (2 btns)
Garde Nationale (1 btn)

Foot artillery (6 guns)

The English had to survive the battle without loosing the roads off to the west on their base line. The French aim was to capture the roads (leading to Pouliguen and Pornichet) and be in a fit state to move on the English supply depot.

The English deployed with their weakest brigade between the sea and the windmill, supported by two squadrons of the 19th Light Dragoons. Moore's brigade held the centre supported by the remainder of the cavalry while the flank battalions were positioned close to the church on the extreme right. The French deployed all their artillery, cavalry and decent infantry on their right. They refused the centre and the remaining eleven battalions entered the table on their left, opposite the churchyard.

The leading French battalions immediately tried to occupy the churchyard, which was held by a few hundred local Chouan. The latter held for a couple of moves before being driven out. But they had gained valuable time.

A mass of French artillery and horsemen advancing along the shoreline with a Garde Nationale battalion and a demi-brigade legere following in their wake. It was all aimed right at Dave who commanded this flank.

The two battalions of HM 5th Foot and the three of HM 4th Foot had been severely battered at Le Croisic so their saving rolls had been modified to 5+. Lowenstein's chasseurs were fresh, as were the 19th Light Dragoons.

At the church the Chouan held on valiantly and even forced one attacking column to withdraw!

Eventually sheer numbers began to tell and the Chouan were driven off, but not destroyed.

Paul ordered his infantry and artillery forward, perhaps a little too far, as they finished their move right under the noses of the English at point blank range!

The French horse artillery galloped forward through the surf and deployed on the shoreline, covering the advance of their cavalry. Sadly, the commander of the cavalry was wounded and the horsemen were left leaderless (and motionless) for a turn. The horse artillery caused significant damage on the English, especially 3/4th Foot who were forced to retire.

                                                  Another view of the English left.

For reasons best known to himself Dave decided to charge the French light battalion to his front rather than blast them at point blank range.

Predictably perhaps, the closing fire from this half decent Republican battalion was devastating, and the English were disordered and took two hits before taking another in the melee. They still succeeded in shaking the French and forced them to retreat, leaving themselves right in front of a battery of six 8pdrs. Ooops! David!!!!

Poor Conrad had been struggling to get his eleven battalions to move, but eventually they started trundling forward.

The Republicans in the churchyard were forced to retreat when they came under fire from one of the English flank battalions.

Paul ordered his cavalry to charge. First they hit a squadron of the 19th LD, forcing them to retire. A sweeping advance took them straight at a battalion of HM 4th Foot. As it was a sweeping advance they could not deliver closing fire and I also reckoned they were not going to be able to form square. Both their flanks were secure so this wasn't an issue for anyone. In the melee the infantry held and the cavalry bounced off and withdrew to lick their wounds.

The Republican battery unlimbered and poured canister into HM 5th Foot. No surprise but they failed their break test and were destroyed. In the background the other squadron of the 19th LD can be seen in combat with French dragoons which they drove off easily. Shortly after this move, David's infantry brigade became spent and was forced to disengage as three out of the five battalions were broken or shaken. Not good.

However, a sweeping advance by the English cavalry thundered into the Republican horse artillery battery which was overrun and destroyed, its gunners sabred at the seaside.

Conrad's attack gained momentum and hit the English line, having survived closing fire. The 92nd Highlanders were pushed back but the flank battalion held their own, forcing their attackers to retreat.

More and more Republicans were heading towards the English flank. Would the English be able to hold, outnumbered as they were by 2:1?

Back on the shoreline Paul ordered his cavalry to charge to withdrawing English light dragoons. His unit failed to score any hits, throwing four 1's! The 19th LD didn't miss and drove them off disordered.

The victorious Republican battalion in the centre now came under point blank canister from the English 12pdrs but managed to hang on.

The flank battalion was fighting hard, and holding everything the Republicans could throw at it!

I carried out a 'follow me' order using Major General Assheton to lead the Chevalier Noble Dragoons over the hedgerows and into the flank of the advancing French, forcing them into square.

My other flank battalion was holding the woods and providing valuable support to the battalion to their left.

Conrad threw more troops at the English line but was unable to make any impression.

After the 'follow me' order Major-General Assheton was mortally wounded at the head of the Emigre Chevalier Noble Dragoons. The dragoons forced another republican battalion into square thus ensuring that the attack on this flank ground to a halt. Conrad's command collapsed having been exhausted by his attempts to break the English line.

The representative of the Committee of Public Safety consulting the notes of the interview and subsequent confession of the French commander which is going to take place soon.

The French right was still in relatively good order. The cavalry were badly cut up and half the artillery had been ridden down but the infantry had managed to drive off the defending English battalions.

At this point it was clear that although the English left was not far from a state of collapse, as the entire Republican left wing of over half their army had been destroyed as a fighting force that the battle was over. The English had succeeded in protecting their lines of communication to the depot, and despite heavy losses on the already battered brigade under Chatham the brigades of Moore and Coote were largely untouched and would be able to counter any move by the surviving Republican forces under Paul. I think we agreed it was a winning draw to the English, which is a fitting result to the final game to be played in Man Cave 5.

However, a few thoughts. Why David put more faith in the bayonet than in musketry I don't know. Given Paul's unexpected and accidental advance by his foot battery I suspect that the end result on that flank wouldn't have been different but I think the English commander of the left flank got carried away a bit in the excitement. Conrad had great difficulty getting his troops moving and I had dropped several hints that he could use his CinC to help out on that flank. As it was the CinC advanced with the Republican right and didn't issue single order throughout the battle. I also think that funnelling eleven battalions onto my extreme right wing wasn't the best of ideas, as there was a four foot gap in the Republican battle line which the English finally managed to exploit and get some cavalry into.

Anyway, it was a good game, a decent outcome, and everyone said they enjoyed themselves in what was a frustrating and demanding battle for us all. Not having any decent commanders was a big strain on both sides.

This is the final engagement to be played here. Services will resume in two or three week's time in the new mega man cave.

Monday 19 February 2018

French Revolutionary War Campaign. Interlude.

General Adhemer Patacaisse succumbs to his wounds at the point of victory at Le Croisic.
The afternoon of day 4 (turn 8) saw the impetuous English assault on Le Croisic repulsed with heavy losses. The attackers retired eastwards to the small town of Batz to lick their wounds and reform their shattered units. The French did not pursue at once, mainly due to a temporary vacuum in the chain of command following the wounding of the commander General Adhemer Patacaisse, which proved to be mortal, and he died as the fighting came to an end (unlucky dice roll).

Day 5: Back at Pornichet with the main body of the invaders the now reinforced English and Emigre troops were finally ready to begin their advance on St Nazaire, and in the early afternoon of day 5 (turn 10) departed, leaving a small garrison behind to hold their supply depot and to marshall reinforcements even now being landed, and arrived outside the town as darkness was falling. The Comte d'Hervilly ordered the army to set up camp, and sent vedettes and pickets out to observe the defences of St Nazaire and the roads leading to it from the North and East. D'Ervilly's army lacked heavy guns in sufficient numbers to reduce even this town's inadequate and outdated defences, and an all out assault was likely to prove far too costly. So the main army simply sat down for the night to await a decision on what to do next by the Comte, who overruled the arguments of his subordinates to attack at once and keep the Republicans on the defensive! This was exactly what General Humbert, the St Nazaire garrison commander, would have wished....

At Le Croisic fresh Republican troops were ferried over the bay or slipped through the marshes from the North, and with some of the garrison of Le Croisic converged on Batz, to find that the English had retreated further, to Le Pouliguen at the western end of the bay where the main force had disembarked a mere five days earlier.
Reinforcements landing on the beachhead between Pornichet and Le Pouliguen.
Full of confidence and revolutionary fervour (aka brandy) the Republican forces were now led by the commander of the Army of the West General Cancleux, who had ridden South from Quiberon immediately on hearing of the landings. They approached Le Pouliguen around 4pm and launched an immediate attack on the English and Emigre forces deployed before them outside the town.

General Cyrus Trapaud  and Major-General Sir George Assheton
19th Light Dragoons (2 squadrons)
Chevalier Noble (1 squadron)
Uhlans Britanniques (2 squadrons)

Moore's Brigade  - 2/1st Foot, 35th, 49th, 79th and 92nd 
Chatham's Brigade (ex-Fox) - 1/4th*, 2/4th*, 3/4th*, 1/5th*, 2/5th*
'Light brigade' Colonel Coote - converged flank companies (2 btns), Lowensteins Chasseurs

Royal Artillery: 6 guns

* newly-raised and/or severely depleted battalions

The Republicans had been able to muster a sizeable force to take on the English, as follows:

General Jean Baptiste Camille Cancleux 

Cavalry brigade: Colonel de Vinsobres
Dragoons (2 squadrons)
Heavy Cavalry (3 squadrons)
Horse artillery (6 guns)

Division of General Lazzarre Frapadingue de Asticot
4 demi-brigade de bataille (12 btns)

Division of General Henri Gustav Mapoule
1 demi-brigade legere (3 btns)
Combined grenadiers (2 btns)
Garde Nationale (1 btn)

Foot artillery (6 guns)

This battle will be fought on Wednesday so hurry back soon...

Grey's West Indies Campaign of 1794

I pre-ordered this from Helion some time ago and last week was pleased to find this waiting for me. I've just skimmed through the book so far but it looks great, providing a detailed blow by blow account of this rather  obscure and ill-fated campaign in the early Revolutionary Wars. The book covers the whole campaign, which was in effect a series of raids conducted in the main by converged flank company battalions (grenadiers and lights) who bore the brunt of the hard fighting.

The invasions of Martinique, St Lucia and Guadeloupe were led by Sir Charles Grey, a gentlemanly and unusually for his time aggressive commander. That the campaign ultimately failed was more down to losses to fever and a lack of support from Horseguards to pursue the campaign effectively.

Overall, this is a great addition to my library and one I would recommend highly. However, the danger now is that I shall have to buy some figures suitable for gaming the campaign in 28mm. Oh well.....

Sunday 18 February 2018

The Battle of Le Croisac - French Revolutionary War campaign.

Peter joined me on Friday night for a game and a beer or two, so the attack on Le Croisac would not have to be played solo. Peter was again in command of the English and Emigre troops while I took over the forces of liberty, freedom and equality.......or any two out of the three! 

The English objective was to take the coastal fort and the town/harbour. Sadly, as described in the last post, the Royal Navy was unable to offer the planned support as a French frigate was found to be lurking in the bay, making operations with a mere two unrated gunboats impossible, even for the RN! Commander Blowhorn of the cutter Bludgeon did succeed in luring the enemy frigate out of the harbour and thus it was unable to provide offshore gunnery support to the garrison or land any more seamen and marines. The lack of naval support left the attackers short by the equivalent of two small battalions but they were determined to continue and the attack began, with the English refusing their right flank and concentrating on taking the fort, on the basis presumably that if that fell the town would capitulate.

The English refused right flank.
The two main assault columns. On the right the 1st and 5th regiments formed up to attack the fort while  two battalions of the 4th foot make ready to assault the town.
Vendee irregulars were pushed forward to trade shots with the fort. A rash move as it turned out as they were charged by Republican cavalry and forced to flee.
Meanwhile the 1st and 5th regiments and Lowenstein's Chasseurs failed their command roll and stayed put.
the 2nd and 3rd battalions of the 4th Foot chose to advance towards the town rather than supporting the attack on the  fort, thus dividing the attacking forces to the point of impotency.
On the French left two squadrons of the 7th Chasseurs charged the 19th Light dragoons. They succeeded in  pushing them back but were too badly hurt to follow up their victory and retired to rally.
Two more squadrons of the 7th Chasseurs charged the leading battalion of the 4th Foot, forcing them into square, effectively halting the English advance in the centre.
Next run the 1st Foot stormed the fort supported by the 5th. The English brigadier, Colonel Fox led the attack and was killed on the lip of the ditch, urging his men on!
2/4th on the left and 3/4th on the right continue their advance on the town having driven off the Republican cavalry, albeit temporarily as it turned out. Remember, both these battalions had been brought up to strength by volunteers from the Militia and were therefore less effective than the three other battalions in the brigade.
On the Republican left General Adhemer Patacaisse ordered his 84eme Demi- Brigade forward.
The assault by the 1st Foot was repulsed but in the next turn Peter threw the 5th Foot at the fort.
One battalion of the 84eme Demi-Brigade surged towards the open flank of the 2/4th Foot.
The 3/4th Foot (bottom right) were again forced into square by the now reformed Republican chasseurs.  Surprised by the fierce attack on their flank the 2/4th's defence collapsed and they fled the field.
The 5th Foot were no more successful in their attack than the 1st Foot and after loosing a round of melee failed their break test and were removed from play.
Peter was determined to take the fort. Now rallied the thinned ranks of the 1st Foot advanced towards the Republicans for a second time.
The now rallied Vendee skirmishers and Lowenstein's Chasseurs engaged the other two sides of the fort. The garrison was  by now badly damaged having suffered heavy losses holding their position.
Even copious amounts of Kwak Beer proved insufficient to overcome the defenders of the fort.
The 84eme Demi-Brigade was by now halted just out of shot to the right and was under effective fire from English artillery on the hill and the 1/4th Foot. The surviving squadron of the 19th Light Dragoons was also a threat to any further forward movement.  In order to divert the attention of the artillery away from my infantry I pushed a squadron of cavalry through the gap left by the defeated English infantry and charged the artillery. The Chasseurs took heavy casualties and were destroyed as an effective force but they had done their job.
The attack on the fort was stalled with the English unable to make any impression on the defenders.
The disordered 3/4th Foot were stuck in square when they were charged by a column of Republican infantry.
The battlefield (battlefield?) as seen from the East. 

General Adhemer Patacaisse just before he fell seriously wounded to a stray bullet.

The shattered Republican infantry in the centre had seen off two battalions of English but were in no  condition to  continue.
My chasseurs a cheval charged the attacking English in the flank but remarkably were driven back thanks to some poor saves on my part.
In a final act of desperation Peter launched the 1/4th Foot at the fort but the battle was by now over as the attacking English forces had been shattered, loosing three battalions, a squadron of cavalry and half their guns. Vive la Republique! Vive la France!

A super evening's entertainment and a great victory for the Republicans. It was always going to be a difficult game for the English, but more so once their expected naval support was negated by the presence of the Republican frigate. Peter was right to try and capture the fort but went about it the wrong way. A well-supported attack in column against two faces of the fort ought to have been successful. We shall never know....

The English have retired to Batz to reform and lick their wounds. The routed battalions will almost certainly return to the campaign at the end of the day but I will test to ascertain how long it will be before they are rallied sufficiently to fight. This delay will give the Republicans time to reform and perhaps reinforce the troops at Le Croisac.

I have another game planned for Wednesday so need to move the campaign on in order to ensure we have something to play!