Sunday 21 April 2019

Easter Egg Hunt! Back to the Vendee inspired campaign. The Battle at St. Landry

Followers of my ramblings will remember a long series of Vendee-inspired games that I ran as part of a mini campaign from around 2017. Since the last game sometime in 2018 I’d become distracted with other stuff, but last week, with a game due to be held on Saturday, I decided it was high time to get the troops back on the table and hopefully bring the campaign to a conclusion, for now at least. Readers may remember that the expedition had been forced to evacuate after failing to capture St. Nazaire, and that with the exception of a small force holding the fort at Le Croisac, the army had successfully re-embarked. Wishing to have one more attempt at encouraging the Catholic and Royal Army to continue its uprising the commander of the expeditionary force the Comte d’Hervily, managed to convince the Royal Navy to land his army south of Nantes, which they did, depositing his few thousand Emigres supported by English troops at the town of St. Landry. The French Republicans were forewarned and sent a strong division to drive the counter revolutionary scum and their English allies into the sea.

This photo is all the French had to plan their attack.
As it was Easter Saturday I thought I’d incorporate an Easter Egg hunt into the game. Why not? I even had some 28mm bunny rabbits dotted about the table. Mini Easter Eggs were hidden at various key locations on the table, e.g. under bridges, inside buildings. Whoever was the first to occupy these areas ‘won’ a mini egg which they were at liberty to eat. Conrad was British, Richard commanded the Emigrés and Paul and Shaun were the Revolutionary French. Richard's command and the English light dragoons were deployed along the ridge beyond the river in the photo above. The English/Scots were still forming up on the beach, and the promise of some Chouan insurgents was dependent on how good or bad things got for the Coalition forces. I will as usual let the captions accompanying the pictures tell how the battle unfolded. Suffice to say it didn't go quite as I had envisaged, but thats one of the joys of a wargame.

The English (and Scots) were a long way from the action.
The Emigres deployed in and around the coaching inn.
The RN cutter HMS Toblerone in the port of St Landry.
An RN gunboat covering the landing of troops onto the beach.
The Emigres had lost no time in settling old scores with suspected Republican sympathisers in the town. British stores can also be seen loaded on wagons ready to move inland.
The English light dragoons in the rear and the Choisel Hussars in the foreground. The Salm-Kirkberg light infantry and the Rotallier artillery are to the left. The coaching inn is garrisoned by the Loyal Emigrants.
The Emigré Choisel Hussars

Three squadrons of English light dragoons.

The French had the first move and advanced towards the river. In the Coalition's first turn Conrad threw a blunder for the Highland brigade, resulting in them retreating two moves, or in this case re-embarking on their boats! This was the first of two blunders for this brigade during the game, and six in total for the Coalition forces.
HM Cutter Toblerone, its crew still  busy unloading supplies.
The Royal Emigrants Regiment was holding a cluster of buildings and a coaching inn a mile inland, covering the bridge. Nobody had thought to do a recce to see if the river was fordable of course! (Both sides asked but I said they'd have to wait and find out by trying to cross). The meagre Emigre artillery in the form of Rottelier's battery open fire on the French artillery crossing the bridge.

Shaun quickly threw his dragoons across the river, luckily finding it fordable where he chose to cross and charged the Emigré hussars, forcing them to retreat.

The dragoons then carried out a sweeping advance and drove off a squadron fn light dragoons, so quickly that they didn't hang around for a photograph!
Paul had put his artillery at the head of his column on the road. Not sure why as I'd said that it took artillery and cavalry a whole move to cross the thick hedgerows. The battery crossed the hedge to its left but because this took longer than anticipated they were charged and sabred down by the Salm-Kirkberg Hussars. This left the French sadly lacking in artillery.
The English brigade started moving out of the town. Three battalions were classed as 2nd class Militia types as they had all been brought up to strength by incorporating Fencible volunteers (in great numbers) into their ranks. The fourth battalion was a made up of flank companies and was made of sterner stuff.
Meanwhile, the surviving light dragoons charged the French dragoons, driving them back over the river.
But the following turn the 23rd Cavalry charged the remaining squadron of light dragoons, forcing them back shaken. This meant that the English dragoon brigade was shaken and had to withdraw.
Shaun's horse artillery bombarding the Emigres across the river while his division tried to advance. As they were nearly all newly raised this took a while.
Conrad's English were approaching fast.
And the Scots Brigade had disembarked again, and was formed up ready to advance, which they did courtesy of a blunder.
The commander of the English light dragoons was captured during the final clash.
The Salm-Kirkberg infantry were now no doubt feeling very exposed now that their supporting cavalry had been driven off.
The English cavalry commander is escorted to the rear.

The lone Emigre battalion was hit in the flank by French cavalry and failed to form square, but contrary to everyone's expectations held their ground after their break test (with a double six if I remember!)

The Emigres are hanging on grimly, knowing that no quarter will be given.

In the meantime the English brigade had left the road and was deploying to the rear of the coaching inn.

Shaun then charged the embattled emigres in the front, finally breaking them.
The Republicans surged forward and are seen here about to overwhelm the Emigré artillery.
The Emigre Comte de Choisel was captured while trying to rally his own regiment of hussars. He is seen here being escorted to the rear. The Republican cavalry brigade was by now much battered and all its units shaken.
Conrad's brigade closing on the French.

Shaun attempted to storm the coaching inn but was repulsed.

Conrad ordered a 'follow me' and led the HM 5th Foot in a wild charge which destroyed a French battalion. Sadly  Conrad's commander was killed at the head of his men.
Shaun's weary troops (all of whom were newly raised) were in no position to continue their assault on the inn.

Paul had sneakily pushed several battalions up the left side of the road, and one of these charged HM 35th Foot in the flank. They in turn were charged by the battalion of combined flank companies and forced to retreat.
HM 79th Foot have arrived from the beach and face a battalion of French grenadiers.

The grenadiers charged to highlanders, survived their closing fire and drove them off.

The confusing and prolonged melee on the French left. Around this time Paul's commander was shot thus preventing any orders from being given for a turn.
The English brigade remained leaderless as the replacement brigadier was killed immediately on his arrival!
Shaun's tough battalion of grenadiers.
Shaun's troops were starting to push through the weakened Coalition left.
The flank battalion can be seen on the road about to be charged by Paul's reformed battalions. The French made it through the hail of musketry but failed to dislodge the English from the hedgerow and had to withdraw.

Well that was it. We called time and declared it a close tactical victory for the Coalition army. However, the  Coalition forces were in no position to exploit their limits success and were contemplating re-embarking and going home. No sign of the Chouan reinforcements that were supposedly on their way. Hopefully the Coalition weren't relying on their arrival too much!

As for the Republicans, they'd just run out of steam having almost broken through on their right. Their conscripts had done pretty well with only two battalions breaking. The Republican army withdraw back over the river to reform and lick their wounds while reinforcements had the opportunity to arrive and stragglers rejoined their units. Another attack would be necessary if the commander was to avoid a one-way trip to Paris and an appointment with the Committee of Public Safety.

I hope everyone enjoyed the game. I did. It didn't play out as I had thought, insofar that the coaching inn should have been ignored while the army drove around it and through the Emigré troops before the English and Scots arrived. I certainly didn't expect them to loose their field artillery in such a dramatic manner.

Going back to the Easter Egg Hunt, Paul and Shaun bagged the most eggs, even using subterfuge to nick the eggs placed among the English baggage.


  1. Nice to see another outing for this campaign and a nice little action to boot:)

  2. Great battle report. Love the naval landing bits and pieces.

  3. great report Colin, good to see you back in the Vendee!

  4. A wonderful looking game which sounds great fun to have played in too.

  5. Sounds like Paul and Shaun roleplayed French scroungers perfectly! Great looking game too.

  6. Nice scenery and great motivation on the side of the republic! Vive la République!