Sunday 8 March 2020

FRW Campaign update #3 The battle at Hondschoote

So, following on from the previous post, in ‘Campaign Time’ the game today commenced at 9.30 in the morning on 3 September 1793. Only those Campaign players directly involved in the battle had been invited to The Burrow; as I’ve said before I need to at least try and keep the anonymity of the players secret for as long as possible, which everyone seems happy about. That being the case I will not be naming the players and any photos in which they appear will have been suitably edited. Of course if I wanted to keep everything under wraps there wouldn’t be much of a blog post, so that bit of the secrecy has been ditched. It won’t matter so far as the campaign goes.

Feld-Marshal-Leutnant Von Freytag deployed his Hanoverian and Hessian infantry around Hondschoote. The cavalry brigade was held in reserve. I decided that due to the closed nature of the terrain the Hanoverians and Hessians could deploy using the ‘Fog of War’ rules and large pink cards were used to mark the locations (or not if they were blanks) of their units. A couple of Freytag’s units were already carrying casualties, received during the skirmishing earlier that morning as they withdrew from their outposts at Warum, but none critically.

General de Division Jourdan ordered his forces boldly down the main road, the brigade of General Colaud taking  the lead while the other brigade of infantry under d'Hédouville pushed on through the massed hedgerows between the road and the marsh. The artillery and cavalry supported the right of the main push. This was not good cavalry terrain. In a way this factor favoured the French as their cavalry were outnumbered and outclassed by their Hanoverian counterparts.

In time honoured style I will let the photos take you through the key stages of the battle. Suffice to say it did not go at all as I had expected and has posed me some interesting issues to resolve before we move on to the next day or sets of orders and stuff.  As is now usual we used General d’Armee, and the 28mm figures and terrain are all mine. Each turn represented half an hour of ‘Campaign Time’.

The French massing to advance down the road towards Hondschoote.
This was the better of Jourdan's two brigades of infantry, tasked with advancing between the road and the marsh.
Hessian defenders quickly revealed themselves to open fire
The French advance on the left moves steadily forward.
The road to Hondschoote packed with French infantry.
Jourdan's cavalry had nowhere to go due to the closed nature of the terrain.
Hanoverian skirmishers of the 14th Light Infantry Regt.
The French put all their cannon on the right. Their fire was largely ineffective although the horse battery did inflict  four fatigue casualties on itself during the game!
The French on the road get closer to their objective.

DISASTER! Gen d'Hédouville is killed by a stray cannonball. His brigade immediately falters.
The following turn, the French have to roll on the 'faltering brigade' table and manages a 1. Sauve qui Peut! The brigade retreats rapidly, taking more casualties in the process. They did however rally the following turn and were in a position to advance again.
In the centre a charge down the road is bundled back by Hessian musketry and canister. A second charge met the same fate.

The Coalition right flank was held by the Hessian brigade

French line up dinner in their sights
Hessian infantry and artillery threw back two assaults by the French, inflicting heavy losses.
The Hanoverian left flank. 
The Hanoverian brigade 

The French horse artillery galloped to a more advanced position.
The French had the upper hand in the skirmisher duel on their right but it was to make little difference.
By now the French were exhausted. Two attacks down the road had been bloodily repulsed and two battalions were close to breaking. The other infantry brigade had recovered after failing their 'faltering' test but with losses mounting among his artillery (mainly fatigue casualties thanks to some dire dice rolls) Jourdan ordered a retreat, covered by his cavalry. It was 4pm Campaign time, and we'd played 14 turns.

The Hanoverians and Hessians  defended the town with relative ease as the French were dogged by bad luck from the start. Nothing worked for the French. But, it was a fun little battle and the outcome will certainly provide me with some interesting problems to throw at both sides. I had my fun during the game by sending both players a few emails from messengers arriving with news from elsewhere in the vicinity, namely around Dunkirk and Bergues. While the battle had been raging the Dunkirk garrison had sortied out to distract the Anglo-Hanoverians, and York had ordered troops south along the causeways over the marsh to try and cut off the attack on Hondschoote from Bergues, but these were driven back.

I shall now send a flurry of messages to the players as we start day 4 of the campaign.


  1. That sounds an entertaining game and looks really wonderful.

  2. Not a great day out for the French, then! But, unless they have been too seriously knocked about, perhaps they can retain the strategic initiative. Fine looking armies and terrain, though presenting, perhaps, problems for both sides?

  3. A splendid looking game Colin...
    All the best. Aly

  4. Great looking game, enjoying the campaign thus far. I feel for the French having to attack into that terrain, not surprised it didn't go well for them.

    1. funnily enough in the real battle on 8 Sept 1793 the French made much better use of their skirmishing ability to overwhelm the Hanoverians. Maybe next time?

  5. Splendid looking game Colin 👍