Monday 26 September 2022

Battle Joined in Piedmont - Late Seventeenth Century in the Waldensian Alps

The Waldensian Symbol which will soon
feature on a couple of
fictional imagination units to join my Louis XIV army.

This week our game was another using my 1672-78'ish collection with a shift in geography from the Spanish Netherlands south to Piedmont. The French have yet again encroached across the border with Piedmont to provide support for the hard-pressed Waldensian communities living in the north of the duchy. Being Protestants they're not exactly popular or welcome and have been under almost continuous pressure from the Duke of Savoy and his allies. While almost everything about this game is made up, the Waldensians are not, so click here should you want to find out more. Louis XIV is keen to keep this unrest alive so as to distract his enemies in Northern Italy from interfering in his plans to invade.

Almost a full house on Saturday. Conrad, Paul, Richard, Neil, Nigel, Shaun and Dave came over for another run out for my late seventeenth century armies, this time replacing the Dutch with Savoyards and assorted allied/mercenary regiments.

We were using Paul's own 'Panoply of War' rules which are still 'under development' rather than Warlord's Black Powder/Pike and Shot sets as might normally have been the case. 

Battle is joined. French on the left, and below from the other flank with French now on the right facing the Spanish under Neil.

Conrad, Richard and I were the French. Dave, Shaun, Nigel and Neil were the combined Savoyards, Spanish and 'others'. The main objective was the defeat of the enemy but there were also some physical objectives to gain control of as well, such as the bridge and the monastery. As usual there are lots of photos in more or less the correct order. As I was playing I was engrossed in my bit of the battle and may not have all the detail or sequence off events right for elsewhere.

Initial disposition of my cavalry.
The Maison du Roi at the start of their rapid advance.
The French Maison du Roi cavalry on our right were lucky with a long move and caught the Savoyards at the halt, and then began driving them off the table. It was a hard and costly slog.

Maison du Roi
My other brigade of French cavalry advanced towards the other half the enemy horse.
French horse clash with Spanish and allied cavalry in the centre.

Spanish cuirassiers had some initial success
in the centre but were soon to be bundled back to their own lines. 
French taking a hammering on the left from the Spanish artillery.
The Fusiliers du Roi guarding the guns with Gardes Suisse and Gardes Francais in support. Our artillery had already forced the Savoyard heavy guns under Nigel to limber up and disappear in turn 1. It was a very un/lucky  series of dice rolls that did it.
In the centre the allied/mercenary/hired help advanced towards our line. 
Regiments from Venice, Brandenburg, Bavaria, Saxony, the Papacy and Austria on the attack.
The enemy attack was so ferocious it actually forced the Gardes Francais to pull back. 
Spanish troops holding the enemy right wing.
Five battalions of dismounted French dragoons failed to take the monastery, stoutly held by two Savoyard regiments.
The Maison du Roi have pushed the enemy back almost to the table edge. Both the Savoyard brigades of horse were battered severely by the French horse.
There was a furious and swirling cavalry melee in the centre for much of the game but despite some losses the French were victorious.
Richard’s French made slow progress, leaving the Swiss brigade somewhat isolated.
The French centre.
Richard’s attack led by his Swiss brigade made no progress against the Spanish and for much of the game advanced, then retreated then advanced again! Eventually some Spanish battalions were forced to pull back.
The Swiss (and a German regiment) rolling slowly onwards.
Shaun’s Savoyards in the centre chose to form hedgehogs in expectation of an attack by my cavalry. They probably would have been ok not to as it did rather pin them which was good for the French.
….and the other French horse advancing to engage the enemy cavalry.
The enemy centre and left looking very vulnerable now their cavalry had been seen off.
Meanwhile life in the town goes on….. (its a dancing bear NOT a gorilla as someone  thought)
The French advance under heavy fire from the Spanish.

We played until about 3.30 when it was clear the French had won. They'd destroyed two brigades of Savoyard horse, which was all they had, and held two of the three physical objectives. It was an other tremendously fun and spectacular game. Most of the players were new to Paul's rules but we still managed a result. Man of the Match has to go to the French Maison du Roi commander (but I'm biased) and poor Dave in command of the Savoyard horse, in his first game for months, gets the special award for stoicism after watching 12 regiments of horse and two of dragoons depart the game. The rules and maybe how I'd applied the troop characteristics might need a little tweaking but it was an excellent game so thanks to Paul for the unending task of herding cats (literally) and keeping us old blokes straight as far as the rules were concerned.

Not sure when my next game will be; depends upon how my wife's operation goes on Thursday.

Wednesday 21 September 2022

Another Great Book


If the English Civil Wars are your 'thing' then this is another book for you. Helion have published yet another excellent book, yet another in a long line of books examining well known and less well known aspects of the Civil Wars.

So, when one comes across references to the Parliamentarian Army of the Eastern Association the first thing that springs (no pun intended.....ok it was) to mind is the Battle of Marston Moor, followed secondly by a certain Oliver Cromwell esq. This however is but the tip of the iceberg in terms of its impact on the progress and outcome of the First British Civil War.

The Campaigns of the Eastern Association: The Rise of Oliver Cromwell, 1642-1645 by prolific author Laurence Spring is another fine addition to Helion’s Century of the Soldier’ series. Using previously unavailable sources, namely the private papers of the Earl of Manchester, the author has been able present an in depth study of the military and political events the Association faced during its relatively short but eventful existence.

Obviously, the path to Marston Moor figures strongly in the narrative but before then the army was involved in purging the eastern counties of Royalist forces and individuals. After the victory of Marston Moor there was more campaigning culminating in second Newbury. The author doesn’t just focus on the military aspects but also provides a fascinating insight into how politics, religion and to a degree personal ambition effected the army and ultimately led to the creation of the New Model Army.

While learning about the activities and lives of the senior officers is aways interesting, the book gives us more, with a far more interesting look at the lives of the common soldiers and their experiences of the war. This is quite a hefty book, so there is plenty of space to take the reader through the events of the Civil War as experienced by the Eastern Association Army from the early days through to final campaigns in the West Country.

The book is very well illustrated with useful maps, some orders of battle, numerous contemporary black and white images and a colour centre spread of examples of colours and cornets carried by units of the army. The appendices include a detailed description of the organisation of the army and a reproduction from the journal of a member of Montague’s Regiment of Foot, showing their activities and movements.

In short, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. It is a tremendous addition to the Helion catalogue and is yet another from this author that is deeply researched and well written; it is surely a must for anyone with an interest in the Civil Wars.

ISBN 978-1-915113-98-6, Softback, 240 pages.

PS anyone else noticed that the drummer on the front cover is left handed?


Sunday 18 September 2022

Franco-Dutch War 1672-78

Marshall Vauban directing the siege.

The last Saturday game played here at the Burrow was a couple of weeks ago, when Richard, Neil, Nigel and John came over for a late seventeenth century game set during the Franco-Dutch War 1672-1678. This particular set of armies is undoubtedly my favourite, purely for the colourful uniforms, flags and the fact that we don’t know as much about the war as we might like, thus allowing for a degree of fudging. 

Mme. Fifi directing operations of a different kind….

Richard and Nigel took the Dutch and Spanish while John amd Neil were the French. I umpired and sorted out the refreshments. Rules used were my own adaptation of Warlord’s Pike and Shot but with my own house rules and a sensible approach to classifying the various different troop types added. They work well enough for me, as we shall see.

The battlefield, with the French on the right. The Spanish have yet to appear.

The scenario placed the French intent on bringing reinforcements and supplies to their army besieging the Dutch-held town, of Neerbunkem, while the Dutch and Spanish (when they woke up from their siesta) were tasked with spoiling their plans. Objectives were to control the redoubt on the French right, the roads exiting the Dutch  table edge and the village. There was a further objective where the Dutch would win the game immediately if they captured Madame Fifi’s House of Delights, as here it was rumoured that the French Commander-in-chief the Duke of Orleans was enjoying (ehem!) the facilities. 

The photos and accompanying narrative will hopefully give an idea of how the game developed. They may even be in the right order. 

The French 
The French centre. Lots of men.
Two battalions of Dutch Footguards with their pre-1688 flags
Business is brisk!
On the Dutch right they were facing six squadrons of French cavalry. With only four of  Imperial and Spanish cuirassiers.

In the centre both lines of infantry closed to point blank range.

Dutch advance on the left.

The Duke of Orleans  in red settling his account.

Dutch horse made several futile charges against the French centre.  Dumbarton’s regimentabout to see them off.

Imperial cuirassiers 

The Spanish arrive, rubbing sleep from their eyes after their siesta.

Richard moved his cavalry en masse towards the centre of the army, ready to strike the French and overrun their centre…….that was the plan anyway!

The Maisonnational du Rio charge the Dutch Footguards and a battalion of Spanish.

While the Dutch Horseguards make a futile attack on the Gardes Suisse.

Dutch infantry moving forward.

On the French left the opposing cavalry wings finally got to grips with each other in a see-saw melee that left the French in a slightly more advantageous position.

Richard had redeployed much of his cavalry into the centre, seen here moving behind the main infantry line.

French Grenadiers a Cheval of the Guard tried to drive off a battalion of Dutch Footguards.  They bounced backwards but would rally and return to the fight.

Spanish infantry watch Dutch horse moving across their front to  attack the French.

Total confusion and heavy fighting in the centre.

The French centre. Dumbartons regiment up front with the Gardes Francais and Zurlauben’s German regiment in support.

Zurlaubens and the Spanish locked in combat.

The Spanish Main body.

French horse on their left wing.

The Muquetiers du Roi smash into a Spanish regiment.

What follows are some rather random shots from the game.

Dutch on their left wing.

Fierce fighting in the centre.

The centre of the table before the armies closed. Note the column of Dutch horse filling a gap in the centre having moved over from the left.

The Spanish. 

The French had three regiments of dismounted dragoons who proved to be most unwilling to close with the enemy.


Nobody expected the Spanish Inquisition.

So there you have it. Swirling cavalry combat, numerous futile cavalry assaults on unbroken infantry . Some dreadful dice rolling. What’s not to like? It was a colourful and very enjoyable game that ran smoothly and quickly to a resolution of sorts, and at least the Dutch failed to capture Mme. Fifi’s Emporium of Delights.