Monday 13 January 2020

The Battle of Caesar’s Camp, 7 August 1793. A ‘What If’ scenario for the War of the 1st Coalition.

First of all, there wasn’t actually a ‘battle’ of Caesar’s Camp in 1793. There was however a skirmish near the village of Marqiuon some seven miles north east of Cambrai, as the outnumbered and dispirited French Armee du Nord slipped through the clutches of two encircling moves by the Anglo-Hanoverians under HRH The Duke of York and Prinz Josias von Sachsen-Colberg-Salfeld and escaped to fight another day. An account of what actually happened can be found here. The premis behind this scenario is that somehow the Coalition forces have actually got it together this time and are about to snap the jaws shut on the withdrawing French under the Irishman, the Brave Kilmaine. More about Charles Edward Jennings here. Kilmaine had recently been appointed as ‘temporary’ commander of the Armee du Nord following the recall to Paris and execution of his equally ‘temporary’ predecessor the Comte de Custine.
The Brave Kilmaine 
So can 24000 bedraggled French fight their way out of the jaws of the encircling Coalition forces and live to fight another day? We used General d’Armee again, easily adapted to the early French Revolutionary Wars. I have to say I do now remember why I was keen on going back to these rules as the use of ADCs is quite intuitive, and compared to my other rule set of choice Black Powder II you have to think much more making the games more of a challenge. We're also getting used to them which helps.

On Friday, Richard (The Brave Kilmaine) and Conrad played the French while Paul and Steve were York and Colberg respectively.  The French were deployed or waiting to arrive along the middle four feet of one long table edge, their objective being to exit from the opposite long table edge, a distance of six feet. The Anglo-Hanoverians entered on one short table edge while the Austrians arrived on the opposite short table edge.  My table is 14 x 6 to get an idea of the distances involved. When I rehearsed the game in my head and on paper the French had at least an even chance of escaping with enough troops and baggage to claim a victory, so how would it pan out in reality? Differently of course!

In time honoured fashion I will now allow the photos to describe events. Thanks to Richard for many of the photos. Between us we took almost 100 so obviously not all can be used, just those that help with the narrative. I think these are in the correct order as my incredibly clever computer decided to muddle them up!

The Anglo- Hanoverians arrive and make excellent progress in moving to cut off the French, except the Guards who were hesitant.
My temporarily re-flagged Hanoverian, previously English, battalions.

On the other flank the Austrians arrive. It is now a race against time for the French.
The French race forward, occupying the churchyard. Their heavy guns on the road will soon deploy to face the advancing English.
In the distance the still hesitant Guards! 
The leading French units emerge from the orchards and hedgerows surrounding the church.
The Guards' flank battalion, supported by Hanoverian light infantry, makes it as far as the windmill before the brigade again manages to become hesitant.
"Dress the line there! Sergeant, take that man's name for dying without permission!" The Guards are  busy keeping their dressing perfect while taking fire from the French artillery.
French regulars on the road escorting the portable golloutine.
The Brave Kilmain's infantry hesitate for several turns, many in the orchard obviously eating their fill of  pommes and poivres.

The Guards are STILL hesitant but doing it by the book and in perfect order!
The French Levée battalions forming an orderly queue.

The English brigade advancing towards the church.

Poor Brave Kilmain's troops were stuck in the orchards and hedgerows, unable or unwilling to advance.
Richard was struggling to get his troops moving due to a combination of low ADC availability and rubbish activation dice.
Meanwhile, much had been happening on the other flank. Steve's Austrians had advanced and crossed the stream. His artillery was taking heavy losses from the French horse batteries and was almost at the point of being dispersed. Sadly the Austrian cavalry and grenadiers were very slow in coming up in support of their more enthusiastic comrades.

The English cavalry brigade, a composite regiment of Royal Horse Guards and Lifeguards leading, followed by the Kings Dragoon Guards and three squadrons from various light dragoon regiments.
Conrad, Steve and me all deep in thought.
Richard launched several attacks against Paul's English and Hanoverian infantry, most of which were driven off. The last  assault however broke a battalion of the Hanoverian Guard, making the entire brigade 'Faltering'. I'm not sure I follow the reasoning behind an entire brigade of six battalions plus artillery being 'Faltering' just because one unit has been destroyed but its not the end of the world. Actually it is if the wrong dice score is thrown!
Austrian and French cavalry about to clash on the French left.

The Anglo-Hanoverians. The English cavalry on the left has moved right up to the  hedgerows. The Guards remain where they've been almost the entire game.
Conrad's light cavalry and dragoons emerge from the rear to threaten the Anglo-Hanoverians blocking the escape of their infantry.

While the Austrian grenadiers (three new battalions) advance.
Steve's infantry tried to charge the French squares, formed in response to the arrival of the Austrian cavalry, but failed to close to contact, only to be hit by Conrad's not very good heavy cavalry. However they were good enough to destroy the leading battalion and then charge on and force the second one back in retreat. Thankfully for the Coalition forces, the Austrians passed their 'faltering brigade' test. The French heavy cavalry brigade were not so lucky the following turn when they were charged by Austrian cheval legers, were defeated and became faltering. Conrad didn't have the ADCs to intervene so the brigade withdrew off the table, " sauve qui puet!"
French infantry supported by cavalry try and force the issue in the centre. 
The Austrian grenadiers deply into line then sweep forward, catching the French still in square.
In the centre again, the Hanoverians are forced into square and the French cavalry are unable to press home their attack. This is when the rout of the Hanoverian Guard I mentioned earlier took place. You can see them centre shot about to be hit by a French column. 
The Hanoverian artillery (newly painted) are blooded when they get the opportunity to shoot at the French dragoons to their front. The dragoons sensibly pulled back. 
Austrian grenadiers supported by uhlans surge through the French, still in square.
The centre now devoid of French troops who have swept off to the right of this picture before being halted by the Anglo-Hanoverians. Paul's skirmishers had managed to silence the French battery deployed in the road, but were held by the French in the churchyard.

Richard's infantry have been stopped and are unable to break through.


We played 11 or 12 turns and rattled through the early turns without making more than a couple of errors with the rules. The outcome was clearly a French defeat as the Coalition forces had managed to cut off the French escape route. I probably gave the Coalition one infantry brigade too many but who knows? Had Richard and Conrad been more familiar with the rules and ADC placement I am certain they would have been able to achieve their objective and escape. Of course getting the ADCs in the first place would have been handy. They (the French) had plenty of time and space to advance and prevent the enemy from blocking their escape route but this time it didn't work out for them. When I rehearsed the game in my head I had put both French cavalry brigades on the table at the start of the game and used them and their supporting horse artillery to slow the advancing Coalition forces, thus allowing the infantry to push as far forward as quickly as they could. Never mind. As for the rules, they worked well, although I'm sure we still got a few other things wrong that we were unaware of (and still are!).  Oh, and the Brigade of Guards? They spent most of the game hesitant and didn't advance further than when we last saw them towards the start of this post. Thanks to everyone for the game, and Richard and Steve for the contraband, er cakes and scones.


  1. Lovely looking spectacle. I particularly like the flock of sheep for some reason!

  2. Another lovely looking game and a great scenario to boot!

  3. very attractive and interesting game Colin.
    Troops types and terrain perfect.

  4. Another fine AAR and grand photos capturing the feel of the game.

  5. Wonderful looking game, love the French Revolutionary period. Seemed like a tough road for the French to victory but hey, no one said every game has to be 50/50 for a chance to win.

  6. Once again an inspiring game!