Sunday 23 February 2020

The War of the Waldensian Succession - 1669 in Piedmont-Savoy.

The War of the What? Well, its a fictitious conflict based on a small uprising of Protestants living within the borders of the Duchy of Savoy in the late 1660's. In reality it was crushed with ease but in my version of events the Waldensians were supported by Louis XIV of France, not because of any religious common ground but as a means of retarding the growth of the Duchy of Savoy on his southern border.    For an account of an earlier game set in this reality click here.

So, I had almost a full house on Saturday. John the Red, Conrad and Paul S were joined by  Roger from Bradford and Paul from Grimsby

Paul, John and Roger took the French, tasked with driving off the covering Savoyard force which would lead to the fall of the fictional (?) city of Citta Santa Menen-Disimulata before the Savoyards could be reinforced by Spanish who were marching to their aid from the East. Conrad and Paul were the Savoyards. I was the Spanish, who would arrive on the throw of a D10. I threw an eight so it was to be turn eight before they appeared on the Eastern table edge, which for reference when looking at the photos is the 'kitchen door' end of the room.

We used my own doctored version of Pike and Shotte, as the rules as they stand don't really work for the late 17th C.

The Savoyards deployed with all their horse on their left wing, with the three infantry brigades covering the centre and the front of the city. The French had the advantage of numbers and deployed all their horse facing the Savoyard and Allied cavalry. Their dragoons were on the left, initially tasked with crossing the river which they thought was fordable (it wasn't), which led to a costly but successful assault across the bridge.

The end result was a surprising (for me anyway) resounding victory for the French, but I will let the photos below tell the story.

The Savoyard left flank.

Both armies deployed for battle.

French Gens d'Armes clash with Imperial cuirassiers in the service of Savoy. The former were eventually to prevail.
After finding out that the river was not fordable (the report from the French scouts was  wrong)  Roger  sent one of his dragoon regiments over the bridge. In the face of heavy fire from the Savoyard outwork they were forced to pull back, but on the Western side of the river.
Paul R pushed his foot forwards to engage Roger's French, all the while under heavy fire from the French artillery.
Savoyard artillery on the city walls.
The main French battery caused significant losses on the enemy.
A massive cavalry scrum was developing on the Savoyard left, one that despite a few local successes they were loosing.
French Cheveau-Legere covering their right flank, and facing annoying fire from the  dragoons in the  olive grove. An attempt to drive the dragoons off was initially successful but ultimately the cavalry were unable to exploit their advantage and the dragoons re-occupied the olive grove.

The scrum continues......
Conrad throws in the Savoyard Guardia del Corpo to stem the tide of French horsemen.

The cavalry scrum is STILL going on, but the Savoyards and their allies are weakening. By now one brigade is broken and  another is forced to pull back. 
French horse clear the dragoons from the olive grove but only temporarily.
The French centre
Roger's dragoons have destroyed the Savoyard battery in the outwork across the river.

D'Artagnon observing the battle.
Turn eight and the Spanish arrive, but then hold their ground observing from the wings.
Only the Spanish cavalry and dragoons move forward.

Back in the centre the Savoyard centre is crumbling after an heroic battle against the French
One last charge just isn't enough!
Paul's infantry are holding their own but are under heavy artillery fire. The Gardia regiment are shaken and will shortly break under the pressure.
The French have driven the Savoyard and their Allied cavalry almost off the field but many of their squadrons are almost spent.
The Spanish cavalry make short work of a rallying squadron of French cheveau-leger, breaking them. The Spanish however are not going to gain anything as their cavalry are sill badly outnumbered by the remaining French.

The French left under Roger begins to advance on the wavering Savoyard infantry before them. 

Well, that was actually quite tense. The Savoyards, especially their horse, performed well, but it was the loss of the massive cavalry melee in the centre that was the key factor in securing a French victory over them. The Savoyard cavalry were unlucky but many squadrons were newly raised, as indeed were many infantry battalions. The French too had quite a number of newly raised battalions but they were not really engaged.

Hopefully everyone enjoyed the game and for Roger and Paul R especially, their visit to The Burrow, but also Conrad who's command got well and truly minced. They did however get minced in style and the French cavalry ended the day with 30 per cent casualties (i.e. adding up the hits held by units at the end). Pike and Shot, or as I call the amended set, Black Shotte, are ok as like with Black Powder everyone knows the basic concepts, but they lack something when playing the mid-late 17thC. I'm sure I can come up with an alternative in the.

Probably be a couple weeks before I have another game here but I will be I hope back at the Durham club this coming Thursday where we shall be finishing the 28mm Napoleonic game we've been playing for the past two weeks.

I will also be able to reveal a little secret in a day or two......hehehehehehehe!

Saturday 22 February 2020

A Flanders 1793 Campaign #1

After no little planning I’ve kicked off a FRW campaign set in Flanders in late 1793. The Campaign Time (CT) start date is 1 September 1793, so after the fall of Valenciennes to the Coalition army and before the Battle of Hondschoote.  Quite a few of 'The Burrowers' are involved taking the part of French, Austrian, Anglo - Hanoverians, Emigres,  Dutch and Prussians.  There are also a number of so-called non-player characters some of whom are in fact played by friends dotted around the globe, so Carnot is in SW England, and Henry Dundas is in the Southern Hemisphere. I just need a volunteer to be Baron Thugut at the Court in Vienna. I thought that rather than chucking dice or deciding myself whenever something tricky, or of a political nature came up I could defer to these willing volunteers to make a decision. They could also generate new objectives (within the context of the campaign), interfere, and in the case of Carnot have unfortunate generals removed and tried for treason. The ‘removed’ player will come back as someone else further down the food chain and one his compatriots would step up as the next commander of the Armee du Nord until such time as they too made a mistake.

This is the very simple map of The Austrian Netherlands that has been issued to the players, showing the zones within which they can deploy. I’ve also given those manoeuvring around Dunkirk a smaller scale map of the area. Thanks to Domink Fielder (author of The King's Germans novels)  for the latter.

The background contex and initial objectives and OoBs have been circulated to the main players, and the two CinCs were asked to give me orders and deployment details for their commanders. All communication  from the French and Coalition CinCs  to their subordinates and up the chain to Paris, London etc go through me as I want to keep the identity of players a secret for as long as I can, which will stop people 3 days ride from each other speaking in 'real’ time at the pub, as if they would.

Why chose Flanders and this particular time? Well, the campaign is well documented and it is quite easy to find information on the orders of battle, well ok, up to a point. But there is an amazing amount of source materiel out there, in books and on t’internet.  Armies have been bath tubbed to reflect what I actually own and can put on the table, which is still scary as the opposing armies are still big (approx 180-200 units, or thereabouts). So, with so many colourful characters and troops whats not to like? Also, readers of this blog will know I've been running a series of FRW games at The Burrow and this is where we are up to chronologically. Irrelevant really but it gives context and a start date, 1 September 1793.

So, the French Armee du Nord is commanded by General Houchard, ably(?) assisted by Generals Pichegru, Souham and Jourdan.  They also have to put up with the interference of Lazarre Carnot and several Representative of the People. On the Coalition side the commander is Prince Josias of Saxe-Coberg-Saalfeld who also commands the Austrians, supported (?) by Clerfeyt and Kinsky. The Anglo-Hanoverians are under the Duke of York, the Dutch under the Hereditary Prince of Orange and the small Prussian contingent (before they get recalled by their government to partition Poland)  by General Knobelsdorf. Finally we have the Emigrés in the shape of the Army of the Condé, under the Prince de Condé of course, rabid reactionary counter-revolutionaries to a man who's sole aim is the overthrow of the Republic and the return of the monarchy. Should be interesting.

I won’t be able to report in great detail on the progress of the campaign without divulging too much information to the players, but hopefully there will be enough to keep your interest.

Thursday 20 February 2020

Austrian Grun Louden Freikorps 1793

Another unit to be completed this month, although they were started in January (indeed some were prepped way back as I was going to paint them as FRW Venetians but thought better of it!). Grun Louden Freikorps was raised in  1790 in Luttich (Liege), originally of two battalions but by 1795 numbered 3500 men in three battalions. The corps fought through the Flanders and Germany campaigns, notably at Neerwinden, and was disbanded in 1798, the personnel being used to form one of the new Austrian regular light infantry battalions.

The unit probably wore ‘Hungarian-style’ trousers but I on.y had these figures with long gaitors so these will have to do. The figures are all Trent Miniatures and the variety of different poses is great, from marching smartly to ambling or slouching along, pipe in mouth. The flags are a couple of spares from Adolfo Ramos.

Wednesday 19 February 2020

Another Emigre Battalion

A while ago I picked up a couple more bags of Northumbrian Painting Services 28mm Bavarians for the French Revolutionary Wars. These figures are cast wearing the horrible and wholly impractical Rumford uniform and they look great. I have four Bavarian battalions of them and a battery of cannon. However, this latest acquisition was made in order to produce a battalion of the Mirabeau Legion, which formed part of the Army of the Conde during the time of the War of the First Coalition. Click here for more info on Conde’s not inconsiderable little army.

The Legion wore black with pale blue facings and breaches, a cracking combination of ever there was one. There are actually loads of illustrations of the Legion on the t’interweb showing a wide variety of uniforms (almost all with the same colours) but with different headgear. I already have a battalion painted up wearing Tarleton helmets but there are plenty of pictures showing them wearing the silly yet striking Romford helmet.

Figures painted and based by me. I also painted (badly) the flag.

I’m going to have a further delve in the depths of the lead mountain to see if I can find a few more suitable figures to do a unit of light cavalry and maybe some chasseurs. Oh, and a battalion of grenadiers using up some FRW grenadiers that’ll look just like the man in the top picture.

Tuesday 18 February 2020

Hanoverians for Flanders 1793-95

I’ve been scrabbling around trying to finish a couple of units for the Hanoverian contingent for my Flanders 1793-95 games.

First up the 3rd Cavalry Regiment. These are Eureka miniatures, painted and based by me. The flag is temporary until I can get round to sourcing one or over painting this one.

Next, also done by me, a couple of bases of skirmishers representing the rifle companies of the 14th Light Infantry. I've no idea what make the figures are but they do the business. I've got some Austrian landwehr to paint as the rest of the regiment - same uniform more or less but blue/grey jackets.

I'm working on the 9th Light Dragoons using very old Hinchliffe One piece casting British AWI light Dragoons, and a battalion of Emigres are almost done.

Monday 10 February 2020

Frogs and Lobsters.

Saturday’s game was a French Revolutionary Wars battle set in the Vendee in 1795. A small force of Emigrees, supported by regular English(Scots mainly) troops, had landed and seized a small port with a deep enough anchorage for troop transports. The Emigre aim had been to join with local Vendean forces of L’Armee Catholique et Royale and provide some support to the present uprising in the hope that the rebellion against the Republic would spread. The English had their own agenda of course. They port was a haven for privateers so had to be dealt with, and everything of a maritime nature had either been burnt, wrecked or carried off back to the RN squadron standing offshore. The small fort that dominated the anchorage also needed taking and blowing up, especially as it contained a telegraph (and the codes) linking it to Nantes and beyond. The Emigres had failed to secure the fort during the initial landing so guns had been landed from the ships to batter the fort into submission.

The Republicans responded slowly to the landing and by the time of their arrival the organised  looting and pillaging had been done. The English contingent were waiting for a fair wind to facilitate their embarkation and departure once the fort was taken. More importantly the local Vendeans had flocked to the town to join with the Emigre forces in their thousands. I allowed the Coalition forces to deploy pretty much anywhere on the table apart from the four feet along the eastern end. The Republicans would be marching on here and would have to fight their way across the river (in reality it was not an obstacle) then down the length of the table to reach the coast. Both armies had a mixture of extremely good, run-of-the-mill and frankly terrible units so it was going to be fun.

The French had to attack down the length of the table torch the coast. The commander of the two British/English brigades stops for a cuppa.

John (Gen de Div Henri de Bouzzille) and Richard (Gen de Bde Hercule Trécon) commanded the Republicans while Paul was the Comte d’Hervilly, commander of the Emigre forces and also overall commander of the expedition. Conrad, as General Ambercrumble,  took the two English brigades (one each of infantry and cavalry) while Mike was the Vendean commander General Francois Aimée Voulaizunlezotre.

As usual I will let the photos of the game tell the story. We again used General d’Armee which are fast becoming my favorite rule set for this period.

The 5th and 79th Foot supporting the line of vended skirmishers.
The construction of defences to provide cover for the RN guns and crew landed from the fleet continues throughout the battle.
A battery of Emigre artillery (Rotalier's) holding the main line of defence.

Herding the sheep is a small battalion of Emigres, the Sale-Kirchberg Light Infantry

The French advance rapidly across the shallow river and past the inland telegraph station.

John's skirmishers press ahead against the Vendeans. It was interesting trying to classify the various Vendean units as per the rules, but it worked ok, More later on this.

Richard's French cavalry brigade on the right.
The commander of the Vendee first line was killed following a 'destiny' role. The Grim Reaper  approaches to take his prize. The Vendean gunners were also driven off, abandoning their cannon.
A French brigadier leading from the front! En Avant Mes Braves! 
HM 5th Foot (Northumberland Regiment) occupying the village. I'd classed them as recruit on the basis that many English regiments, especially those returning from the W Indies, were topped up with volunteers from the militia and fencibles 

The French cavalry drove off the Vendean skirmishers
The main body of the Vendean contingent.

The Royal Navy unloading stores, or are the getting ready for an evacuation?

The Royal Emigrants, certainly the best of the Emigrés involved in this battle.

John deciding the best way through the enemy lines while I check something in the rules.....
I missed the action here but the Emigre hussars charged the French cavalry but  in the charge resolution phase  the Emigres pulled up and retired in the face of the French counter charge.
The unenthusiastic Emigre hussars after their aborted charge. 
In the centre things are hotting up.
The Vendean infantry in the rear begin to move up to support the first line of defence.
The RN hauling another cannon towards the emplacements facing the fort.
HM 92nd Foot line the hedges in the face of the French attack as they take casualties from the enemy skirmishers. The French columns charge the Highlanders, who break and run!
Silence from the town as HM 5th Foot take a siesta.
The French in the centre press on over the hedgerows just occupied by the Highlanders.

HM 92nd Foot are running away (they actually moved behind the town as that was the safer option and would allow them to rally. However, their rout made the English/Highland brigade faltering. Conrad threw a 1, so it was 'save qui peut!' as the remainder of the brigade retreated.
The French centre  is now free to launch an assault on the Emigres on the next ridgeline. while one battalion occupies the town.
Suddenly the Vendean cavalry declared a charge, driving off the enemy skirmishers and charging on against the leading French column. They survived closing fire and actually got into contact, but were beaten off and forced to retire.
The French dragoons also tried a charge against the Damas Legion infantry in square but predictably bounced.
The French centre.

The French left were free to advance once the Highlanders facing them were forced to retreat.  Whether they'd get far is doubtful as there were two regiments of English light dragoons about two foot to their front. 
That was the end of the game as we had run out of time. Before announcing the result, here are some photos that have become out of sequence. I show them here to help fill out some of the details of the game.

Paul managed to occupy the farm with a unit of Emigre light infantry for the entire game, and they played havoc with any units that passed them. They were a menace that should have been dealt with much sooner in the game as they contributed to the destruction of two batteries of French artillery deployed close by.

The main line of resistance, Emigre regiments (some quite small) supported by a battery of artillery. The latter played merry hell with the French cavalry and gunners close to the farm mentioned in the last caption. They did however manage to inflict several fatigue casualties on themselves 4 or 5 I think.

The first line before their hasty departure; Vendean skirmishers supported by two battalions of Highlanders and an English battalion in the town. 
The French coastal fort complete with telegraph station. They were in touch with the main French body throughout the battle due to the other telegraph station close by the bridge at the other end of the table. 
The French cavalry brigade advancing 
The French attack develops slowly.

The Highland brigade's skirmish screen before they were wiped out by enemy fire. The brigade itself was to run soon afterwards.
General mayhem among the Emigres and the Vendean troops surge forward in one choking mass! 
The port. The RN have landed seamen and marines to help defend the town, or re-embark the stores on the quayside..
 So, the Coalition forces had done quite well in slowing down the French attack. The cost however was high as one Vendean commander (Louis, Comte de Cause-Perdu) had been killed, his brigade had routed and the Scots brigade had faltered then run for their lives in the face of the enemy onslaught. (NB my two Scots battalions, the 79th and 92nd Foot, have a long history of running away in these Vendee-set games). Once the Highlanders had broken the way was open for a general French advance. The English light dragoons could do little other than either hold their ground and eventually be boxed in due to the terrain, or make a break for the port. The Emigre line along the hill would most likely have held for some time but risked being outflanked, while the massed Vendean peasantry would no doubt have charged the oncoming French columns and probably been ridden down by the enemy cavalry in the process. Who knows? I might try it out and see what might have happened. A victory of sorts therefore for the French and the Republic, especially as their long lost flanking force would have turned up at some point soon to clinch victory. (The French had chosen to send a demi-brigade of light infantry on a flank march on their right flank. They got terribly lost and never made it to the table. I have an admission to make in that whichever brigade the French chose for the flanking march, it would have become lost, so it was fortunate that they selected a small one of three battalions. Aren't I wicked). Its likely that the fleeing Scots brigade (well, most of them) and the light dragoons minus horses would have been safely evacuated while the Emigres and Vendeans held the enemy off in a desperate rearguard action with only one likely result.

I must admit to putting the visual aspect of the game before playability when setting it up, but in the end nothing (I don't think) suffered. We managed sixteen turns between 10.30'ish and 16.00, so the game certainly flowed quickly, and the rules were only consulted where something cropped up that we'd never come across in previous games.

Big thanks to everyone for coming and playing the game in the usual enthusiasm and good humour, and special note of thanks to Mike for the cakes, Richard for the scones and many of these photos, and Conrad for the pop. Hopefully everyone enjoyed the game.