Monday 27 November 2023

Wellington’s Unsung Heroes. The Fifth Division in the Peninsular 1810-1814.

One of Helion & CO’s more recent publications in their excellent ‘from Reason to Revolution’ series is this study of the 5th Division of Wellington’s army during the Peninsular War by Carole Divall. Wellingtons Unsung Heroes, so called as their ranks do not include the prolific letter and memoir writers found in other formations, such as the Light Division, nevertheless played a significant part in Wellington’s ultimate success in driving the French from the Iberian Peninsula, for example at Badajoz and Salamanca.

The author takes us through each year, from 1810 to 1814, giving an very interesting account of the experiences of the division, and the battles and sieges in which it was involved, as well as an analysis of the internal workings of the division and its key personnel. Despite not being as famous as other more well documented formations, a large amount of contemporary letters, journals and other records have been researched and used to create a fascinating and entertaining history, from the whole range of perspectives. Well supported by useful maps and illustrations the story of the division in the Peninsular War is one well told.

This is a useful book for aficionados of Wellington’s Peninsular campaign and it is certainly one that I can recommend.

ISBN978-1-915113-92-4 soft back 260 pages.

Sunday 26 November 2023

Battleground Stockton 2023 10th Anniversary Event

On Saturday I was among the hundreds to attend this year’s Battleground show, their 10th Anniversary and the best attended show to date, all organised by Leon and the Pendraken team. This year I’d offered to play in the Durham club’s Never Mind the Boathooks Game organised by Conrad. I have to say I was very impressed with the ships, which were all scratch built and/or heavily converted. The other games were all at least pretty good and some of course were excellent, often for different reasons. What follows is a mosh-mash of photos of many of the games, but due to a technical failure (phone ran out of charge, doh!) I missed some, and the ones I did get of Andy Copestake’s lovely Sikh Wars game were unusable, even by my very low benchmark, which is a bugger as it was very pretty. 

So, here they are in no order whatsoever, which I guess isn’t as important as actually getting some reasonable photos.

The Great Galley of Newcastle (under my command) getting stuck in after delivering a few withering arrow storms in the direction of the Frenchies and assorted Hanseatic pirates, er mean traders.

Now some photos of Dave Pengelly’s 1st Schleswig-Holstein War 1848, using an extensive privately commissioned range of miniatures which look great. Lots of lovely uniforms and weird contraptions, and more, even a train, so what wasn’t there to like. I like this little espignol gun.

Danish rocket launcher.
The train.

10mm battle of Nachod, one of the first engagements in the Austro-Prussian War of 1866. 

WW1 Dogfights

One for the kids. Cosmic cakes. Don’t ask….

William III in Ireland.

Eylau, 1807. 

6mm Ancient Naval.

Cardboard Venice.

WSS game using Paper Soldiers.

Sorry, I had to…..

WW1 1918. Very impressive game from Grimsby.

More action on the high seas, well the Seine Estuary.

And more of Schleswig Holstein. I could feel an itch coming on somewhere. Oh dear….

The English flagship

Thus ended a great day out catching up with friends and acquaintances, some of whom I’d not seen for years, some I see almost every week but hopefully nobody whom I will never see again (So many references to getting old in our chats). It was also good to meet some new folks whom I hope will maybe even become visitors to the Burrow in the future. Bizarrely one of my new acquaintances lives 100 yards from our old house up t’dale in Westgate. (He moved in after we moved out).

The games as you can see were largely good, the trade was extensive and catered for most gamers’ tastes, so 10/10 for everything. Well done Leon! Technically apart from a bacon buttie I only bought some paints and MDF bases, except for a few Napoleonic Swedes and Spanish off Ian at Eagle Figures to make up a couple of incomplete units. I did collect several battalions of 28mm early Napoleonic Russians that I’d had painted having lost the will to spend more of my life painting dozens of men in greatcoats. What seemed like an easy job wasn’t. 

Thanks to John for picking me up in the morning and to the delightful surprise of my wife coming after lunch to make sure I was behaving myself (we live barely five mi items away from the venue). Gave me quite a shock when I just looked over my shoulder as my spidey senses started tingling and there she was, and had been for 10 minutes! Hope I’d not said anything I shouldn’t have!

Austerlitz at Durham next Saturday. In the meanwhile I have Russians to base up and my war room to tidy up.

Friday 24 November 2023

Russo-Swedish War - Battle in the Snow

John came round yesterday for a game so I thought I’d inflict another Russo Swedish War battle on him, this  time using General d’Armee. 

Before I go further, yes I know that there’s far too much cavalry for the war but they’re my toys and I can do what I like in the privacy of my own home. They also look rather nice and that’s that. The scenario was a simple one, this time with the Swedes launching a counterattack after their previous victories over the invaders. John drew what was to become the short straw and took the Swedes. There were ten battalions of infantry, four half battalions of jäger and three ‘batteries’ of artillery. They also had two dragoon regiments. My Russian defenders had a cavalry brigade of three regiments and a battery of horse artillery, and two brigades of infantry, totalling 12 battalions and a battery of foot artillery. Russian batteries were 12-guns strong so each of my batteries has six models! Not such a big deal in General d’Armee thankfully, and as it turned out not such a big deal for the Swedes either!.

The photos illustrate how the game developed. Hopefully my narrative makes everything clear. For reasons I’ve still yet to fathom Blogger has randomly reordered the photos but most I hope are now where they belong.

The Swedes on the right, faced with a numerically superior enemy, must attack.
This brigade held the Russian right.

My very first shot of the game and I threw a double one. Low on ammo and a fatigue casualty!
The elite Savolax brigade attack the Russian right.
The Russians facing the Finnish jäger took heavy losses, but their return volley was impressive. A throw of double six, so even on the inferior shooting line the Finns took several hits. Better still I rolled double one on the destiny table, thanks the the double six, and the enemy brigadier fell off his horse and took flight, causing the brigade to falter!

Both armies close towards each other in the centre. The white shapes track the route of a frozen river. Will it hold?

The Russian cavalry brigade really had nowhere to go thanks to the terrain, and was restricted to making the odd short advance when they weren’t failing to activate.

The Russians counter attack in the centre.

The Russian centre slowly advancing.

We actually had a cavalry combat when my Uhlans and the Swedish dragoons clashed. The Swedes were victorious and forced the Russian cavalry to retreat.

Slightly vulnerable Russian jäger with the Swedish cavalry looking rather too close for comfort. 

The retreating Savolax brigade failed two faltering tests but being elite the worse that could happen was to keep retreating. They did eventually rally and rejoined the battle.

The outnumbered and valiant Swedes attack in the centre. 

Russian dragoons waiting impotently behind their artillery.

The cuirassiers before they made several attempts to cross the frozen river. They eventually made it and charged the Swedish dragoons but failed to defeat them decisively.

John conceded defeat at this point and began to pull his forces off the table. The terrain and general slug-like speed of the Russians meant that no effective pursuit would be likely. Had the Swedish Savolax brigade on their left not faltered I suspect they'd have driven my right flank backwards thanks to the pesky and very effective Finnish jäger as one of my battalions had taken 10 hits and was on the verge of breaking.

It was a difficult one for the outnumbered Swedes but not impossible to pull off but not impossible. The Russian cavalry had nowhere to play and our artillery was particularly inefficient. One half battery had four casualties, ALL as a result of suffering fatigue casualties! They’re all off on a manual handling course in Archangel shortly. Nevertheless it was an enjoyable game even though it took a little while to get back into General d’Armee. 

Battleground show in Stockton tomorrow so no game but I will have some photos.