Tuesday 18 June 2024

The King and his Fortresses

This recent publication from the Helion stable is more than a little niche but no less fascinating for that. Frederick the Great must be one of the most written about figures of the eighteenth century, but this examination of Prussian permanent fortifications during the period 1740 to 1786 by Grzegorz Podruczny is definitely something that takes in a very different perspective of the king and warfare during his eventful reign, and is not an angle I have encountered before. The author is well placed to provide us with the definitive account of Frederick and his policy towards fortresses within the kingdom having researched and written on the subject in depth over many years.

Much of the first part of this rather large book focusses on the Prussian state during Frederick’s reign and the science of fortress construction and siege warfare. This does well paving the way for the comprehensive  description of Prussian fortresses during the Silesian and Seven Years’ Wars. This is the true heart of the book and is a tremendously detailed analysis of the subject. 

The book contains a large number of contemporary and modern day black and white illustrations and drawings, as well as several photographs of surviving fortresses (or surviving parts of them at least) and these certainly help focus the reader on illustrating and understanding the complexities of fortress building and indeed siege and counter-siege warfare. For anyone wishing to delve deeper into the subject the author has included an impressive bibliography.

Overall, this is a book that will satisfy the interests of readers with an interest in eighteenth century seige warfare and fortress design and construction, whether it be focussed just on Frederick of Prussia or on a wider basis across Europe. I found this to be a very interesting and not too technical read, and one where I felt my knowledge and understanding was definitely improved. 

ISBN978-1-804514-35-1  softback, 383 pages

Monday 17 June 2024

The Battle of Bertrand von Bassett’s Farm, 1808

John and I played a game last Friday, using the opportunity to give my new Napoleonic units a baptism of fire. The game was set in 1808 in Southern Sweden, and featured a defending force of Swedes, aided by a small British contingent, trying to throw the attackers, Spanish, Danes and the Kingdom of Holland back into the sea. John was the Swedes and we used GdA 2. The Swedes had deployed three mediocre brigade's of infantry along the main line, with one of cavalry on the right, and were supported by a brigade of British. My lot were deployed with the Danish cavalry on the right, then the Danish infantry, the Dutch in the centre and the  large Spanish contingent on the left, with their cavalry on my extreme left. I’d classed the Spanish as recruits which was a bit harsh given that these troops were professional soldiers and arguably the cream of the army. Most of the Swedes were classed as reservists.

The battlefield from the east, the invaders on the left.

The Danes. Looking pretty.

Swedish jäger and infantry in the farm/village.

The K of Holland brigade looked very business like as they trudged forward. When they weren’t hesitant that is.

The Spanish infantry made a right mess of deploying and with hindsight I should have ignored the built up area completely.

Denmarks finest - hesitant in turn 1, and again later in the game.

Facing the Danes were the best two Swedish units, a battalion of guard and another of grenadiers. 

And again, advancing rather menacingly towards the stalled Danes.

John had to put two battalions into square due to the presence of the Danish cavalry brigade.

Danish hussars and light dragoons. No way were they going to charge formed squares but I could have gone around them I suppose.

The Danes finally got moving and took the high ground.

A general view of the centre of the battlefield. The Dutch can be seen rushing forward.

The Swedish and Spanish cavalry clash! It was only ever going to go one way but the Spaniards held on as best they could. The good thing about the ‘fictional’ back story to this game and the forthcoming campaign is that I can field a reasonable amount of Swedish cavalry. They’re not very good, but they’re better than the Spanish is all I can say.

The Spanish del Rey cavalry are supported by the Almaza dragoons and the Villavicosa Dragoons. Did them no good against the Swedish Lifeguard and they were pushed back in retreat.

The other half of the Swedish cavalry brigade was outflanking my cavalry and were ready to pounce.

The Spanish got completely tangled up trying to deploy before attacking the village all the while taking losses from the enemy artillery and the garrison.

The Barcelona light infantry on the left were taking heavy losses.

Meanwhile the Dutch charged the Swedish centre, and made it into contact.

The retreating Spanish cavalry about to be overwhelmed.

And here they are being overwhelmed by the flanking force and driven off the field.

The Danes charged forward but a very lucky (not for me ) volley resulted in a double six, so as well as the casualties John rolled on the destiny table, throwing an 11. That spelt disaster for me as the brigade command staff were deemed to be casualties and the whole lot faltered! Bum!

The Dutch mad it into contact thanks to the Swedes managing a score of four, (fire discipline). Sadly in the melee it all went t*ts up and the Dutch recoiled.

The Swedes sending the Spaniards packing outside the village.

At that point it was clear that the Swedes were winning/had won. I had lost the Spanish cavalry and the Danes were faltering. My allied conglomerate were defeated but they won the prize for the prettiest army by a country mile.

We were rather rusty as far as GdA2 was concerned but it all slowly came back. Another few games and the rules will be clearer. They certainly gave us a good game, and I still prefer them to other rulesets, even Black Powder, and with reflection Valour and Fortitude, both ‘simple’ sets but lacking flavour. Anyway, I am a butterfly when it comes to rules so my favourites will have changed again by the next game.

Friday 14 June 2024

Going Dutch - Kingdom of Holland Contingent

I’ve gone a bit (when do I do only a bit?) mad with Napoleonics of late. After Swedes, Spanish and Danes, who next. Well, the corps garrisoning Denmark in 1808 included a division from the Kingdom of Holland. So, pursuant with my goal of building up this corps for my fictional Baltic campaign I just had to do some. 

So far I have three battalions of infantry, a jäger battalion, one regiment each of cuirassiers and hussars and two batteries. The cuirassiers are repainted Trent French dragoons (apparently they maybe didn’t wear the cuirass), and the rest are all Perry miniatures from their lovely K of Holland range. The hussars are plastic Perry French hussars. They ought to have the plume on the side of the shako but I didn’t feel like converting them and it was only after they were done that I saw Perry did heads with shakos in that early style. Doh! The jägers are actually from the Perry Confederation of the Rhine range. I’d originally painted them for my 1799 Batavians but they’re not out of place in 1807-1808 as they still could be seen wearing bicornes as well as the shako sported by the line infantry.

There are two more battalions in production to make up a reasonably sized brigade, or division with the cavalry.Here are the troops so far.

Thursday 13 June 2024

The Russian Patriotic War of 1812, or how to be pleasantly overrun with Russian Napoleonic titles!

As the title of this post suggests, and if like me you are interested in all things Russian in terms of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars, then you will be overjoyed that Helion are continuing their trend of publishing such titles with volume one of the official Russian history of the 1812 campaign. 

This work, originally published under the intriguing title of ‘The History of the Patriotic War of 1812 According to Reliable Sources Compiled in Accordance with Supreme Orders’ in 1861 has been translated by author, historian and linguist Peter G. A. Phillips. I will say this now as the book needs no other endorsement other than to say it did not read like a translation from the original Russian whatsoever. I think the correct term is ‘sympathetically translated’. 

This hefty book of almost 400 pages is a comprehensive look at the campaign, starting with the build up prior to the commencement of hostilities before launching into the invasion itself. The descriptions of the movements of the armies, and the battles of Smolensk, Lubino, Gorodechno, Klyastisy and finally Polotsk are clear and detailed, scattered throughout with original correspondence and reports which always add significantly to any campaign narrative. 

The appendices are equally comprehensive, many of them being transcriptions of contemporary reports and orders. There are of course numerous useful orders of battle and there are also a good number of well detailed maps of the theatres of operations and of the individual battles.

This was an enjoyable and fascinating read. As I’ve said earlier the translation is seamless (if that’s the right word) which makes it all that much easier to follow.  I certainly know much more about the initial stages of the invasion of Russia than I had previously and am looking forward immensely to the next volume in the series. For Napoleonic fans this is a must buy book.

ISBN978-1-804514-32-0 Soft covers, 386 pages.


Did I Mention the Danes?

 Did I? I think the previous post hinted at them as part of the invasion of Sweden campaign. Before I went away I succumbed to the wonderful Perry range of 28mm Napoleonic Danes and ordered me up enough for a division of infantry and a brigade of cavalry, with artillery attached. My mate and painting machine Barry completed them for me so when I came back from the Raj I had this handy little force waiting to be based up. So here they are, ready for battle (although I don’t like the flags and have ordered new ones from Maverick). 

In total we have four battalions of line infantry, a battalion of jager, one battery of foot artillery, and one regiment each of hussars and light dragoons. I have a few odds and ends left to do, such as a horse artillery battery. I chose to buy the miniatures wearing their earlier pre-1808 uniforms, solely as I like them, and I’m guessing that new style uniforms wouldn’t have been issued until the old ones wore out.

The complete force

The cavalry brigade 

Four btns of infantry

A rifle/light btn with brigade skirmish bases to their rear.

The Kategat regiment 

They shall be getting their baptism of fire tomorrow.

Wednesday 12 June 2024

The Last of my Napoleonic Swedes….probably.

Barry did these for me while I was away, to theoretically complete my Swedish army. The miniatures are all Eagle Miniatures.

The infantry are the Lifeguard and Guard Grenadiers preceded by the jäger company of the former battalion.

Lifeguard Horse Regiment

Another generic dragoon regiment.

I just need to tidy up the bases and give them a coat of satin varnish and they will be ready for action, imminently in fact as I have a game planned with John the Red for Friday. 

As well as lending a hand in the defence of Finland they are also destined to be used in my planned ‘what if’ campaign set in 1808 with a combined French/Dutch/Spanish/Danish force attacking the Swedes who will be supported by some British (there was a fair sized expeditionary force embarked on transports in Swedish ports that the crazy king refused to allow to disembark).  Anyway, in the campaign there will be a chance that they will join the Swedes.

It won’t be starting for a while as we’re all in the middle of a large 1813 campaign. But, better to plan ahead.

No doubt I’ll dig up more Swedes from my garden shed of oblivion at some point……..

Tuesday 11 June 2024

Romana’s Corps Denmark 1807

Here after many delays is my almost complete Spanish corps for my early Napoleonic collection, in the shape of Romana’s corps who were based in N Germany and Denmark until repatriated by the British. I plan on using them for a hypothetical campaign against the Swedes in 1807-1809. 

In total we have seven battalions of line infantry, one of light infantry, three mounted regiments and two batteries of artillery. 

The line infantry are largely Warlord with a fair few Eagles Minis among them. The cavalry are a mixture of Offensive Miniatures. (the dragoons in yellow, the Perrys for the Villavicosa regiment in green and an unknown manufacturer for the blue cavalry regiment). The light infantry are Front Rank and the gunners are either Perrys or the same unknown make as for the cavalry. 

The flags are not all correct but they are what I have and what is available, therefore they will (have to) do.

There is an eighth battalion to finish and some light infantry in skirmish order and then the force will be complete. 

Sunday 9 June 2024

Back to the Russian Napoleonics

You can never have too many Russians, or at least it seems that way as I carry on with the early Russian collection for 1805-1808.  Barry painted the cavalry and I am in the process of basing them up. I do like my big cavalry regiments. The cavalry are all  Casting Room Miniatures and the jäger are Elite Miniatures.

More cuirassiers 


Guard Jäger Battalion (who may have carried flags unlike their line compatriots).