Monday 27 July 2020

French Revolutionary Wars Campaign - Breakout from Courtrai goes into extra time.

It’s extra time in this important grudge match between the Hapsburgs and the French. It’s still all in the balance and could go either way. Many of the units have become pretty battered after a dozen or so turns of fierce fighting and both sides have deployed their ‘finishers’ leaving no available reserves to tip the balance either way. Conrad von Bredow's Death Ride from last time had overrun or driven off two entire brigades of French, including some of their best infantry and almost half their cavalry. Would this success be exploited? Well, read on to find out. Anyone needing to be reminded of the state of play at the end of the last session can click Here.

As usual the photos will tell the story of how the final stages of the game unfolded. Campaign time it was now noon, and the armies had been at it since 5.30 am.

Gridlock on the road to Inglemunster.  The French were getting very close to the road and the Austrian baggage train.
The Austrians were suffering from gridlock on the road to Inglemunster, and were in danger of buckling under the relentless assault by the French.

Steve ordered his infantry to assault the French redoubt. The first attack was driven back.

A brigade of Austrian dragoons made a belated entry onto the battlefield.  They had been occupying Inglemunster but were summoned by Colberg to assist in the breakout. A brigade of hussars didn't receive the orders to return to Courtrai as they were almost 40 miles west at the town of Roeselare, in contact with the Anglo-Hannoverians.

French heavy cavalry had just lost their commander to a 'destiny' roll, and found themselves in combat with Austrian cuirassiers. Amazingly, the latter were ill served by the dice and were ultimately broken. However the brigade survived its faltering brigade test.

The two units of retreating Austrian uhlans. It was all very unfortunate for the Austrians really, as up to that point they were in the ascendancy. The dice had truly turned against them.

Dave had two position batteries attached to his grenadier brigade. They spent almost the entire game limbered up with nowhere to go as a result of the previously mentioned gridlock.

Despite this golden opportunity the Austrian heavy cavalry were unable to roll up the French infantry and were forced to withdraw.

A large gap had opened in the centre of the table.

The wholly anachronistic Polish Legion pressing hard against the Austrian line.

The Poles charged the Austrians and drove them back. At the same time the Austrian heavy cavalry and uhlans failed a 'faltering brigade' test and fled.

Retreating Hungarian infantry. The brigade this regiment belonged to was demoralised as half its units had dispersed.

The lack of space for the Austrian grenadiers to deploy is evident here. 

A second attack by the French captures the redoubt. The defenders broke and the entire Austrian 3rd brigade, together with the 2nd failed faltering brigade tests and ran.

The Austrian dragoons seemed less than enthusiastic, and were slowed by the terrain.

Two brigades of fleeing Austrians.

Dave unlimbered his position batteries to cover the grenadiers and bombard the French in the captured redoubt. 

The French were able to take on the Austrian grenadiers almost one at a time with superior numbers. Two grenadier battalions attempted to retake the redoubt but were forced to retreat. The others were taking heavy losses but just about holding their own.

At this point Conrad decided that the army and the campaign would be best served by retiring back into Courtrai as the attempted breakout had clearly failed. Campaign time it was 2.30 pm so we'd had a leisurely 15 turns over three Saturdays. Half the Austrian army was fleeing back to Courtrai. Casualties had been heavy, including the loss of many guns. I played through the retirement to see which Austrians would make it back to the safety of Courtrai. I decided that with French skirmishers within 6" of the baggage there was no way it would escape capture and return safely to Courtrai. The Austrian dragoons pulled back, covering the retreat of the 4th brigade, wisely not engaging with the French cavalry. The grenadiers found themselves cut off, and three battalions  and their supporting artillery were captured, as was their commander. Two battalions made it back to Courtrai. 

So, a decisive French victory, albeit a very costly one. The remains of the Austrian army are now trapped in Courtrai, licking their wounds. Fortunately many of the fleeing troops had headed for Courtrai so some if not all units would be able to reform, at much reduced strengths. The Austrians had also lost four batteries of artillery which will be hard to replace given that two of the lost batteries had only just been brought up to strength after the defeat several days ago on the other side of the river.

The French lost heavily despite their victory. One infantry brigade was ridden down by the Austrian cuirassiers and two regiments of dragoons were dispersed by the Austrian uhlans. The army reserve of four elite battalions of combined grenadiers and ex-regular chasseurs were particularly  badly hit. In fact many battalions were close to their dispersal point by the end of the combat. 

The technology worked well and certainly added to the fog of war. This in some way explains the strange moves of the grenadier brigade which managed to get itself totally out of position and unable to take any part in the battle until the very end, by which time it was too late. The baggage train also got in the way of the Austrian defence and perhaps ought to have halted to wait until victory was certain or if not, that it wasn't too far from the city to return. The Austrians were very unlucky that their impressive cavalry charge couldn't be exploited, but c'est la guerre I guess. It was a good plan let down in its execution through lack of support and some odd manoeuvring, with more than a pinch of good luck for the French.

As far as the campaign is concerned the Austrians in Coutrai are out of it for a while but other Coalition forces are still in play. In every likelihood we shall find ourselves locked in battle again, very soon in fact. Will the French be able to exploit their success or will they crumble under the relentless pressure of facing fresh Coalition forces?

Friday 24 July 2020

Italian Wars Mounted Crossbowmen

These half a dozen figures are Perry metal riders on Perry plastic horses from their Late Medieval light cavalry box.  I painted these over the past three days in short bursts of energy and I’m quite happy with the end result.

The last picture shows another battery of especially  useless artillery to go with my collectively pointless artillery train. Fun though. I might add a couple of extra figures to the base as it's not quite busy enough.

I do fear that when I rekindled interest in this project thanks to the lockdown I forgot all the unpainted and painted figures I already owned in the depths underneath my table when buying more figures. I may well have quite enough metal to keep me busy painting for many months, but I mustn’t let it interfere with the odd continuation project like finishing some more French Revolution and War of 1812 figures and making a start on my 1/2400 Dutch Wars ships. Oh, and the 1/72 Spanish Succession figures.

Thursday 23 July 2020

Hinchliffe Italian Wars Gendarmes

The vignette above is just a bit of silliness, thanks to Casting Room Miniatures. Below however are six venerable Hinchliffe Italian Wars Gendarmes that have managed to survi e the test of time. I remember having some of these back in the late 1970s when I last had an Italian Wars collection of sorts. A couple of figures have got nail art stickers on their barding although its not really possible to make them out.  

Sunday 19 July 2020

French Revolutionary Wars: Breakout from Courtrai Part 2

We picked up where we left off last week today, continuing to play the Austrian attempted breakout from the encircled city of Courtrai. At close of play last week everything was still up for grabs and the outcome was uncertain. After today's game that situation has changed considerably, as is described in the narrative to follow. The battle recommenced at 11am campaign time, 14 September 1793. To get a refresher of where we were up to click ici

This week I was joined in the Burrow by Steve, who had offered to come over to help me move the figures as I've been struggling with the facilitation of recent Skype games. I was finding moving all the figures and whizzing (albeit a slow whizz) round the table too painful and exhausting. Steve's presence made a massive difference and the end of the day left me much better physically and (says I) mentally. Conrad, Paul and Dave were the Austrians while Steve, Shaun and Richard were the French.

Dave's reconstituted grenadier brigade found themselves blocked in and unable to join the fight due to retreating Austrian infantry and the baggage train.
The Austrian heavy cavalry, poised to attack. I think the Austrians were very cautious in utilising this brigade effectively.
The Austrians under Paul had been driven out of the field covering the road to Inglemunster. The brigade in question survived two Faltering tests before being forced to retreat, loosing their guns in the process. This brigade was also now classed as demoralised as half of its units had been destroyed.
Richard's elite legere battalions can be seen among the ruins facing Austrian artillery and cavalry. In the background the army reserve brigade of grenadiers was halted, unable to advance due to lack of space and the danger posed by the enemy horsemen. The cuirassiers charged the French line, hitting a company of horse artillery (that did no damage other than receiving a fatigue casualty on themselves) and overrunning it. The cavalry then charged on, hitting a battalion of French as they tried to form square, breaking them. The cuirassiers carried on with their move and hit yet another battalion of French in column who were also ridden down!. What a charge!
The uhlans supporting the victorious cuirassiers declared an opportunity charge when the dragoons  tried to charge the flank of the now blown cuirassiers.  I realise now that I/we got the rules wrong and certainly out of sync but what to do? 
The uhlans defeated the French dragoons easily (they were already carrying 11 hits!) and then dispersed the supporting dragoon regiment. There was now a massive hole in the French line, filled with lots of Austrian cavalry! Two entire brigades of French had been swept away. Luckily for the French both enemy cavalry regiments were out of command.
Steve kept the pressure on the Austrians covering the road, steadily pushing them back despite taking heavy losses.
Dave's grenadiers were still gridlocked and barely able to move forward
MacDonald's brigade and the Polish Legion ready to overwhelm the Austrians covering the road to Inglemuntser. The baggage train was also in danger of capture!
The routing French dragoons bested by the uhlans.
The Austrian grenadiers finally forced their way into a gap. The two brigades originally tasked with covering the road were either crushed and demoralised or crippled but still hanging on...just, although their artillery had been lost.
A French have now driven the Austrians back further and have crossed onto the road.
In the nick of time French reinforcements arrived and charged the blown Austrian cuirassiers. The Austrian regiment  was already carrying eight hits when it was charged and was overwhelmed in the melee.
It was now 4pm in real time and it was clear that we still had no clear result. The French centre was still in danger due to the masses of Austrian cavalry now present. A brigade of Austrian dragoons had also joined the battle, so the French success against the cuirassiers was likely only to be a brief one before more Austrian cavalry tried to overwhelm them. Of course the Austrian heavy cavalry brigade had to pass a faltering test first with the loss of that highly successful cuirassier regiment.

We may well go into extra time and continue the fight next week. I know the absent French CinC (Houchard/John who's been working) is in favour of continuing the battle. I'll be sending updated casualty returns to all the players, together with a few tactical photos so they can get a better understanding of the status of their troops before any final decision is made.

Great game, and it really helped having Steve there to be chief figure mover and measurer extraordinaire. I certainly felt the benefit of his support and I'm dead chuffed to know that everyone who is able to take their turn helping out has offered their support. Makes it all even more worthwhile.

Forthcoming titles from Helion setting my heart all a flutter!

I was skipping through the Helion site this morning catching up on their blog and came across news of two forthcoming publications that will definitely be added to my creaking bookshelves when they become available.

I guess this means that when they’re published my plans to freeze recruitment to my French Revolutionary Wars collection will be dropped so I can add to my Damas Legion and Austrian cavalry! Damnation! (In a good way).

Friday 17 July 2020

Paypal, er no, Papal Pikemen

I bought 72 of these figures already painted some time ago but decided to add to them to make two blocks of 48. I therefore made up 24 Perry plastic pikemen from their Medieval Mercenaries box and set about re/basing the lot on some 80mm x 80mm bases, two ranks of eight on the first base and four on the second. I’ve  not 100% settled on a rule set yet but regardless have decided that bigger bases save fingers and figures. I know that one of the sets I’m contemplating are Furioso and that they use base removal to record losses but there’s an easy way round that.

So here we have two blocks each of 48 Papal pike ( or four of 24 I guess?), completing the forces of Pope Julius II for the time being at least.

Wednesday 15 July 2020

Hope this isn’t getting boring. More Italian Wars figures

Hello. Today I completed another six figure unit of mercenary mounted arquebusiers for whichever side takes their fancy.
I don't like the firing figure but they can be made to look ok on a suitably sized base.
The figures are a mixture of Casting Room and TAG as I picked up the wrong pack (the TAG one) instead of another of CR figures!
The Man himself. Rex Harrison as Pope Julius II in the movie The Agony and the Ecstasy. 
My French CinC. He has a scary and more than passing resemblance to the comedian Noel Fielding! Urgh!
click here
Another Venetian command stand with my favourite of all Pete's flags. St George killing the dragon.
Another commander for the French army.

I'm still working on six gendarmes - nearly done. I'm also well on with basing up my Papal pikemen into two units each of 48 figures. I bought 72 of them ready painted but added a further 24 of my own to make up the numbers as I prefer 96 to 72. Lastly, I've almost done another artillery battery of two cannon.

Tuesday 14 July 2020

Italian Wars Spanish light cavalry etc.

I finished these Spanish Jinettes (?) yesterday. I competed them from scratch starting on Friday last week.  The figures are all TAG. Flags are Pete's Flags and Adolfo Ramos.

The multi-barrelled gun was finished at the same time, crewed by three Hinchliffe gunners and a wounded  Casting Room Miniatures chap looking on. Again I've put the piece in  wiggly-edged base from To the Strongest purely because I have a couple left and all my other Italian Wars guns are on the service style of bases. Why not? I can’t even remember why I bought the in the first place.

On the work bench at the moment are six mounted arquebusier and six more gendarmes. I also have 96 Papal pikemen that need basing.  Two units of eight in six ranks should look good enough. I have a feeling that I may, just, have too many figures for this project as I still have  another two units of mounted crossbowmen, one of French pike, some more Swiss and a couple of dozen each of Gendarmes and other heavy cavalry. Plus Lord knows whatS lurking in the box of doom. Plenty to keep me busy.