Friday 25 January 2019

Helion Winter Sale 25% discount

As I languish in my sick bed I thought I'd give this a mention. Helion have published some cracking books over the past 12 months, many of which I've had the pleasure to post my thoughts about on this blog. It seems only fair therefore that I mention their weekend flash sale. There'll be some good deals for anyone with money in their pocket (which after Christmas is not always a given). 

Thursday 24 January 2019

STP Miniatures 28mm 1799 Russians

I received these figures recently from my mate Gennady in St Petersburg; yet more of his slowly growing range of figures for Suvarov’s army that fought in Italy and Switzerland in 1798/99. Of course they’ll do for Russians in the Netherlands or around Zurich for the rest of the War of the 2nd Coalition as well, which makes them a terrible temptation. I’ve already got  a few battalions and some sotnias of Cossacks on active service with my collection already as it happens. The first thing to say is that these figures are cast in some sort of polyurethane resin so are incredibly light but very well detailed. How robust they are remains to be seen but I am confident that they will survive the rigours of wargaming for many years. Of course I need to get them painted first!

Tuesday 22 January 2019

Armies and Enemies of Louis XIV

I’m sure readers will be aware that the core of this book is a large series of magazine articles written by Mark some 30 odd years ago when he was barely out of short trousers, covering the armies and uniforms of late 17th and early 18th century Europe. This first volume focuses on France, England and the Dutch. The original material has been updated and the end result is a glorious feast of over 40 pages crammed full of colour drawings of flags and uniforms of the armies in question. In addition to the uniform plates there are sections on the organisation, commanders, and general uniform info for every unit covered in the book for each of the armies. Not everything could be included in one volume so English and French horse and French dragoon’s will be covered in a later publication, and I look forward to getting a copy. Definitely a ‘must have’ book, even if you have kept all your old magazines from way back to the year dot. I haven’t so thanks to Helion and Mark for their work on this splendid, well written, researched and presented gem.

Coming soon from Helion we also have these two books to tempt us. Due out Easter'ish I am reliably informed, which by lucky coincidence is also around my birthday!

Sunday 20 January 2019

The Traitor, the Universal Venezuelan and the Almost Headless Prince - Neerwinden, the battle

The build up described in the last couple of posts came to a head on Saturday with the refight of the Battle of Neerwinden in 1793. Steve, John the Red, Conrad and Paul took part, with the former two playing the  French and Conrad and Paul the Austrians. On the French side Steve was Dumouriez while John was General Egalite-fils (the Duc de Chartres and future King Louis Phillips of France). Paul was Colloredo on the Austrian left and Conrad was Archduke Charles. I don’t recall who was Saxe-Coburg-Saalfeld the Austrian CinC but his figure spent most of his time supporting Paul.

Turn 1and John clearly has a cunning plan as the Austrians make their move, shuffling their line forward a bit. The Austrian plan had been to push their right forward to block any French entering the table over the northernmost bridge, but  the troops failed to move.
Steve (Dumouriez/Valence) forms his division up while John (Egalite) brings his division on over the bridge seen in the background.
The Austrian left looks to be in a very strong position. However, the skirmish bases  did not represent  useable troops, but just a thin screen of stragglers from light troops originally posted along the riverbank. Once the French got within 18" the bases were removed from play.
On the next turn Steve ordered an attack and got three moves, hitting the Austrian line with what looked like overwhelming force. Sadly, the French were all volunteers and levee and were therefore at a bit of a disadvantage. 
Nevertheless they weathered the storm and hit the Austrian line and forced it to retreat in disorder. 

The victorious French had taken a bit of a hammering, and were to take more from the Austrian artillery.
Meanwhile John attacked Neerwinden, which was held by a unit of Grenz, many of whom were clearly drunk if the photo is anything to by. This state of inebriation clearly fortified the defenders as it took several turns for them to be ejected even after the attackers had forced their way into the town.
Miranda's troops pouring (slowly) across the two northernmost bridges.
The French under Egalite-fils (John) deployed in the relative safety of the dead ground behind Neerwinden. 
Steve's artillery were having a bad day. Steve was too as he threw 10's and 11's  for his command roll on four successive turns (including the re-roll given by having the CinC with him) so the entire attack ground to a halt. The infantry traded shots with the Austrians but the latter's artillery was causing casualties (and disorders) on the largely stationary French.
French crossing the river at Wangen in the centre of the table.

Miranda's most northerly brigade crossing the river, led by a battalion of volunteers in  column of mob (a new formation introduced for the FRW) and a battalion of regulars.
Steve's flank was still stuck and his heavy batter, unable to move, had taken casualties of the Austrian batteries.
The Austrian right finally began to lumber forward to try and keep the French from deploying off the bridges.
The volunteers screening the regulars were forced to retreat. John then managed to throw double 6 , then another 6, so the regulars formed into assault column once of the bridge and charged the Austrians who promptly evaded.
The blunder was shame as two regiments of Austrian uhlans suddenly had a flank to charge.
It being a flank attack the French were unable to form square. They held on and didn't break but did have to fall back, followed up by the uhlans.
Another view of the Austrians hitting the French in the flank.
The battlefield just before we broke for lunch.
The Austrian right wing stopped their advance and made sure they were in nice neat lines.

Meanwhile the uhlans made short work of the retreating French regulars and broke them. The uhlans then withdrew .to the safety of their own troops.
The  French in the centre were being held back and prevented from deploying, frustrating any attempt to  take  the fight to the Austrians and to break out from the bridgehead.
Paul sent two battalions forward around the north side of Neerwinden, screaned by a herd of sheep.
A bold attack by Austrian cuirassiers caused the regulars to form square, stopping the cuirassiers in their tracks.

Steve's troops finally managed to shake off their inertia and renew their advance.
Steve's grenadiers attacked and captured the Austrian battery which had been causing his command so much trouble. They withdrew taking the captured cannon with them.

Steve's heavy battery finally got itself into position.
Paul had garrisoned Oberwinden with a battalion of grenadiers. At some point during the game he  pushed them  forward to support his front line, but they were disordered then forced into square by a charge by French hussars. The grenadiers held on and the hussars were forced to withdraw. The grenadiers were then subjected to a hail of fire from the French and destroyed, leaving the way free for this battalion of volunteers to occupy the village and threaten the flank of the Austrian line. Even Paul acknowledged that leaving the town had been a mistake that cost him the flank.
Conrad's troops have halted as there appears to be little reason to do more than pin the French where they  are.
Wurtemburg's command (Conrad) opposite Wangen.
Steve launched yet another attack against the Austrian left forcing another battalion to  break.
In desperation Paul launched his hussars against the French, charging the French horse artillery in the centre.  They survived closing fire and somehow some superb saves by Steve meant that the melee was drawn, forcing the hussars to bounce. Phew went Dumouriez!
Another charge by the cuirassiers was also repulsed by a battalion of volunteers. The French surged forward and captured another battery of Austrian artillery. Paul's brigade holding the left was shattered and forced to retreat off the table.
The still stationery Austrian right. Conrad had tried to order an all-out attack but had fluffed the command rolls.
A final attack by the Austrians in the centre was ordered, and although it did actually get up close with the French it was in my view unlikely to have succeeded. It was a hard game to call at the end. In one sense the French were winners as they'd broken the Austrian left and captured Oberwinden and Neerwinden, however to what purpose as without a victory in the centre and left these gains were pointless as the Austrians were not defeated. Steve's troops were battered even if victorious, but most of the Austrian army was relatively unscathed. After much consideration I declared the game a draw if taken within the 'big picture'. The French army withdrew (in much better over than they had in the real battle) taking 16 Austrian battery pieces and a number of battalion guns and captured colours with them. The Austrians were unable and disinclined to pursue, again as in the real battle.

A good game and played with the usual good humour, even in the face of unfortunate dice results, and gentlemanly conduct, despite the odd issue that still remains with BP2. I kept the changes experimented with to the move sequence and am now convinced that it is more logical to switch movement to come after firing, and it makes a better game. The 'masse' formation is something I picked up off another blog and adapted for BP. Essentially volunteers and the levee en masse can manoeuvre in attack column, skirmish order or in 'masse' which is essentially an open order column of mob. Slightly harder to hit but less effective when shooting or in melee. Once out of column they cannot go back into close order.  As I make these units 'newly raised' and 'untested' it makes for an interesting game. If I played this again I might move Oberwinden and Neerwinden a little further north to make more space for manoeuvring around the flank. I had a little fun at the expense of both sides this time as I'd told the French that if the Austrians facing their left moved towards the river then French troops from the north might emerge on their flank. I allowed the Austrians to think their right flank secure and then let slip that it might not be one their troops moved towards the river. Of course there were no reinforcements coming astray were too busy fighting the Austrians to the north.

As in the real battle, I suspect that after this result Dumouriez (The Traitor) and the Almost Headless Prince (Egalite-fils/Chalons) deserted to the Austrians. Miranda (The Universal Venezuelan) was arrested for allegedly (i.e. more than likely) being in cahoots with Dumouriez but was acquitted. He was retried, imprisoned and eventually released, when after involvement in at least two Royalist plots escaped to England in 1798. (Thanks to John for planting the idea for the title of this post in my head).

I'm taking part in a refight of Fuentess d'Onoro hosted by the 'Like a Stone Wall' group which I am looking forward to greatly.

Friday 18 January 2019

Neerwinden tomorrow. The Austrians are ready.

The troops are all sorted out and the Austrians have been deployed on the tabletop.
North is directly behind the camera in this first shot, showing the Austrian line. Neerwinden is the town in the centre of the table with the pink and yellow houses. 
The Austrian right under the Archduke Charles. 
Neerwinden, held by Grenzers.
The other end of the Austrian line, taken this time from the North.
The French are almost all off table on turn 1, apart from Valence' command which is just out of shot to the left, or will be by the morning.

Neerwinden table set up

Well, I've just about finished laying out the table for the game on Saturday. I might tinker with it or tart it up slightly as it seems a little bare, but I doubt anyone other than me would notice, and I believe the battle field was fairly open ground. Once it’s full of figures it’ll look splendid I’m sure. I’ve had to twist, contract and expand the battlefield to create a 14 x 6 rectangle for the table. The town of Laer is just out of shot  to the left of the yellow 'B'. The yellow letters denote where the French will start. The Austrians are deployed from Oberlanden in the south, up through Neerwinden and north to Dormael. Not all the villages have been included, for space more than any other reason, but a couple have been merged into one BUA. There are one or two fairly good maps on line if you look hard, and I have the Via Victis board game which came in one of their magazines a while ago. (The same edition of the magazine had a chapter on wargaming Jemappes and Neerwinden which were very helpful).

I plan to deploy the troops on later this morning and finish off this evening.