This weekend's game was set in the Spanish Netherlands during the early part of the Franco-Dutch War 1672-78. In this scenario a vital French supply column had become 'lost' somewhere en route to the siege of a Spanish-held fortress, so the commander had sent a sizeable force to find it and escort it to safety. The Dutch and Spanish had put together a relief force, based in another nearby fortress, which was also tasked with locating the French supplies and seizing them, and in so doing scuppering the French attempt to capture their besieged fortress.
The supply column wasn't immediately placed on the table. A dice roll would determine where it was (it could also be off table in which case a random entry point would be identified). I then forgot all abut it until lunchtime when I realised I'd have to busk it. Read on...
Paul, Conrad and Richard were the Dutch/Spanish while John and Nigel took the French. We used Pike and Shot with my own amendments for the period; more like Pike and Powder really. Briefly, the game went like this…..
The French left wing cavalry under John engaged Conrad's Spanish and German cuirassiers facing them, and were beaten and forced back. On the right, the Gardes du Corps and the Gendarmes of the Guard under Nigel made hard work of fighting Richard's Dutch cavalry, and despite some limited successes were driven back to the town. Richard's Dutch Footguards (both battalions) blundered straight towards the enemy cavalry, effectively acting as an area denial weapon by forcing the latter to pull back out of range. I kept encouraging Nigel to charge them but he was not to be persuaded. The chances are he'd have ridden them down but he was wary of their pikes.
In the centre the Spanish quickly occupied the churchyard and surrounding fields, but were eventually driven off by the French Guard, who occupied the ground vacated by the retreating Spanish. Tactically there was no need whatsoever for the fighting around the church but built up areas do work as magnets for players on the tabletop. It was no surprise when there was a mad dash to capture it and then a fierce fight to keep/win it. [Ed:Teeheeheehee]. In the combat, despite being forced out with the loss of a regiment the Spanish did however manage to break the Scots Dumbarton’s Regiment after it was caught by close range artillery fire two moves in succession. The 'English Regiment', brigaded with the Guard and Dumbarton's, lurked out of harms way for the entire battle. The main Dutch attack against Nigel’s French infantry soon ground to a halt and degenerated into a series of one-on-one combats. Losses were heavy but the Dutch just about came off worse.
At this point the supply column arrived, somehow right behind the Spanish/Dutch lines! It was escorted by a couple dragoon regiments but I decided they’d be more interested in guarding the supplies than attacking several regiments of Spanish infantry.
By now both French cavalry brigades were broken so despite the successes in the centre, the French were in no position to safeguard or even make contact with their supplies; with no cavalry remaining and with several regiments of unengaged Spanish and Dutch/German horse between the supply train and safety, it was fair to say that the French had lost. It was a surprise how poorly the French Maison du Roi performed as they were in theory at least the best troops on the table. Not so surprisingly the French chevau-leger were always going to struggle against four regiments of German and even Spanish cuirassiers. Here is a photo montage of the battle as it developed (additional pictures courtesy of Richard).
|The French on the right begin to advance.
|The Allied army seen from their left flank, with massed Dutch cavalry in the foreground.
|The church in the centre was to be the focal point of the battle..
|French cavalry on their left wing.
|More French cavalry, Gendarmes of the Guard and Gardes du Corps on the French right.
|The French centre.
|The French left quickly engaged the enemy but were quickly beaten and pushed back. One regiment has already broken and the other will be forced to retreat.
|The defeated French left wing pulls back.
|The victorious Allied right wing cavalry; four regiments of cuirassiers (two Spanish in the rear and two from Celle/Hanover in the front).
|The French right engaging the Dutch horse.
|Both battalions of the Dutch Footguards blundered straight forward, forcing the timid French to pull back.
|The forgotten supply train as it arrived on the table in the allied rear.
|The French have temporarily got the upper hand on their right. Not for long though.
|Spanish infantry supporting their comrades in the church.
|Both infantry lines in the centre grind to a halt, with a battalion or two from each side being broke. or forced to retreat in the process.
|The French right giving ground to the enemy.
|Spanish artillery. Their fire did for Dumbarton's Regiment and also proved annoying to the French visible in the distance.
So ended the game. I enjoyed it. So did everyone else. This collection is probably my favourite of all and it had been over eighteen months since they were last on the table. Next game here will be on 28 August but I'm hoping to take part in a refight of Wagram at the club on Saturday. I will take my camera.