Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Projects - Marking Time

Lately feeling under the weather, I've not felt much inclined to follow up on the Shambattle games the previous posting prepared for. Liverish, or something. Do others get that?  One does all the homework and prep work, but one quails at the thought of setting up the table. As if that were a chore!  It will get done... eventually.

But, rather than this blog spot sitting in silence any longer I thought I would do one, or possibly more, on other projects that have been occupying my time instead of fighting out the battles. This posting will focus upon another 'Map Game' - Napoleonic, the opening campaign of 1809.

Although the thought had occurred to me earlier in the year, this 'Campaign in a Day: Crisis on the Danube' was a further inspiration. These projects, posted from time to time in the Blunders on the Danube blog, make for entertaining reading.

Of course the project I have in mind is a campaign on one table. For anyone new to Archduke Piccolo, here's my attempt at the Hundred Days' campaign. Very much an experiment, the whole concept seemed to add a whole new dimension to miniatures war gaming.

For a week beginning 10 April, the Austrian army, under Archduke Charles, had entered Bavarian territory and faced a disorganised response. Held up in Paris by other affairs of State, Emperor Napoleon did not join the Grande Armee until the 17th. At once taking over the reigns of army command, he set about producing order from the disorder created by his chief of staff, Marshal Berthier. 

The action begins with the Army Corps formations located as shown in this map: 

The small lozenge shapes show where Napoleon and the Archduke are standing at the outset of the action.  The following picture is how the map is supposed to look on my hex-board.

There is a small problem with this map: there's a heck of a lot of river.  Partly to save board space, all the rivers, even the large ones like the Danube and the Isar will be laid out along hex-sides.  I'll probably have to extemporise some rivers with something or other.  There must be at least sixteen foot of river on this table.

Adding in the location of the formations: 
How the table will be set up.

Now for the Orders of Battle:

Austrian Army:

Commanding in Chief: Erzherzog Karl - begins at Rohr

I Corps: Graf Bellegarde - begins off table in Bavaria opposite Regensburg (Ratisbon)
6 foot: 4 line infantry, 1 jager, 1 freiwilliger (1)
2 horse: 2 uhlan light horse,
3 gunners (2)

III Corps: F. Hohenzollern-Hechingen - Rohr
5 foot: 3 line infantry, 1 jager, 1 grenzer
3 horse: 2 hussar, 1 chevauleger, 
3 gunners

IV Corps: Rosenberg - Langquaid
5 foot: 3 line infantry, 1 grenzer, 1 legion
2 horse: 2 hussar
3 gunners

V Corps: Archduke Ludwig - Between Pfaffenhausen and Siegensburg
7 foot: 3 German line, 3 Hungarian line, 1 grenzer
2 horse: 1 hussar, 1 uhlan
3 gunners

VI Corps: J. Hiller - Moosburg
7 foot: 3 German line, 3 Hungarian line, 1 Grenzer
3 horse: 2 hussar, 1 chevauleger, 
3 gunners

I Reserve Corps: J. Liechtenstein -  Pfaffenhausen
3 grenadiers,
3 cuirassiers,
2 gunners

II Reserve Corps: M. Kienmayer - Landshut
2 grenadiers,
2 horse: 1 cuirassier, 1 dragoon
2 gunners
The smallest formation: Michael Kienmayer's
II Reserve Corps.

Totals: 35 foot, 17 horse, 19 gunners = 71 figures, 7 guns

(1) The infantry types are really what I plan on fielding.  They probably won't have any game significance
(2)  Each army corps gets one gun, but 2 or 3 crew members depending on the OOB.

One of the largest formations: Oudinot's II Corps
spread over two grid areas.  Minifigs, except for the 
Hinchliffe cuirassiers.

French Army:

Commanding in Chief: Emperor Napoleon - begins at Ingolstadt

II Corps: Nicolas Oudinot - begin at Au
6 foot: 5 line, 1 light
3 horse: 1 hussar, 1 chasseur, 1 cuirassier
2 gunners

III Corps: Marshal Davout - begin south of Regensburg
('wing') Friant/Montbrun/ St Hilaire:
5 foot: 1 light, 4 line
3 horse: 2 hussar, 1 chasseur
2 gunners
('wing') Morand/Gudin/St Sulpice:
5 foot: 1 light, 4 line
3 horse: 3 cuirassiers
2 gunners

Totals III Corps: 10 foot, 6 horse, 4 gunners serving 2 guns (3)

IV Corps.
Marshal Massena - begin Pfaffenhofen
9 foot: 2 light, 7 line
1 horse: Baden light horse
3 gunners
1 pontonier

V Corps: Marshal Lannes - begin Vohburg
4 foot: 1 light, 3 line
3 horse: 1 chasseur, 1 cuirassier, 1 cuirassier OR carabinier
3 gunners

VII (Bavarian) Corps (4)
: Marshal Lefebvre - begin Neustadt
5 foot: 1 light, 4 line
2 horse: 1 dragoon, 1 chevauleger
3 gunners

Wurttemberg Corps (4): General Vandamme - begin Ingolstadt
4 foot: 1 light, 3 line
1 horse: 1 Chevauleger
2 gunners 

Totals: 38 foot, 16 horse, 17gunners, 1 pontonier = 72 figures, 7 guns (5)

(3) Marshal Davout's Army Corps being so large won't 'go' on a single hex grid space. Hence the split along the same lines as carried out in the 'Campaign in a day' game. I was going to do the same with Massena's command, but decided it was not too big for a single hex space.

(4) My Grande Armee is pretty much exclusively French - no allies. So, with the possible exception of 1 Nassauer figure, we'll have French standing in for Allies of the French...

(5) I believe the Austrian artillery outnumbered the French by a larger margin than I have given. However, as the Austrian artillery - pretty much le dernier cri 50 years before - was fairly overmatched by the turn of the century by just about all major belligerents.  
Preliminary OOB notes for the French Army

As usual for these projects, I'll be using my dice combat system, rolling 1D6 for each figure in combat, plus each arm represented. Corps commanders count as one of the figures, but a +1 bonus will be added to Napoleon, Archduke Charles, Davout, Massena and Lannes in person.

1 = artillery hit
2 = cavalry hit (6) 
3 = cavalry hit
4 = infantry hit
5 = infantry hit
6 = infantry hit and/or commander hazard (7)

Formations attempting a forced crossing of the Danube or Isar Rivers halve their combat dice.  
Garrisons may be detached from parent army corps to hold and defend towns and cities.

The thought occurred that 2 could mean light cavalry hit, and 3 heavy cavalry.
Light cavalry = hussars, chavauleger, light dragoons, chasseurs-a-cheval and lancers
Heavy cavalry = dragoons, cuirassiers, carabiniers-a-cheval and cavalry in the strictest sense of the term

Of course, the corollary is that the dice scores for foot might also be distinguished. A roll of 4 means light infantry hit; 5 or 6 means line infantry, landwehr or grenadiers.  Light infantry might include voltigeurs, chasseurs-a-pied, carabiniers-a-pied, jager, riflemen, tirailleurs, cacadores, tiradores, grenzers, and any freikorps...

The jury is out whether it would be worthwhile making these subdivisions, which really apply only for determining combat outcomes.

Army and Corps commanders at hazard roll 1D6 to discover their immediate fate. 
The simplest method is to give Corps commanders 6 'health points' (I have just got to come up with a better term than this!). Once this is reduced to zero, the commander is incapacitated - KIA or POW depending upon what seems reasonably to have occurred. The Division ('wing') commanders in Davout's Corps have 4 'health points' only. So when a 6 is rolled for combat, roll again, subtracting that score from the commander's 'health'. Of course a roll of 6 will immediately incapacitate the commander (a 4 being sufficient to knock over a Division ('wing') commander).

I should add here that army corps may be distributed over 2 adjoining grid areas. If both sections - call them wings - are in contact with a single enemy in a single grid area, the figures in both are added together in their own turn. If an enemy corps in one area makes contact with both wings, then it may select one wing as the target.

I have finally decided upon the method I used for the Operation Uranus game of 6 years ago for determining rallying and replacement of losses. For each game turn, losses are halved for each arm (exact halves round up for infantry, round down for horse and foot). Then they are returned to formations that have taken losses, on a 'pro rata' basis.  This might involve a certain amount of paperwork to calculate.

To be continued... 


Saturday, November 18, 2023

Shambattle Maps.

This posting is by way of a 'filler', though inspired, if that is the word, by others' blog posts.  Especially Bob Cordery's. Just to be in the swim, methought to create maps for my gridded tables, to see how they would look.  Having seen what others have done in the Shambattle field, I thought I would look to see how it would go on my table.  Three years ago I took a whole different approach, which led to this clash:

A slightly extended Shambattle in a different 
theatre, using very limited forces.

First,  the square-celled grid.

This would be how the thing would be presented on my 10x10 table.  The first thing to observe is that the river would be placed along the sides of the grid cells, and not along a row.  I've changed some of the place names, keeping the chromatic gist, of course!

For both maps, I would use my Ruberian and Azurian armies, of course, though the OOBs would differ in size.  The above map has 100 grid cells, the hex-celled grid has 170-odd.  It would seem reasonable, then, that the army size for the latter to be 50-60% larger than for the former.

OOB Square-celled map:

Commander in Chief, General Sir Arthur Reddesley
9 Infantry stands - Rifle range: 1 grid area (orthogonal and diagonal)
4 Cavalry stands - Close combat only
2 Machinegun stands (Gatlings) - Shooting range: 2 grid areas measured orthogonally
1 Artillery stand - Shooting range 6 grid areas
2 Field hospitals (horse-drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (probably in Redton).

Marshal Andre Azuréna
9 Infantry stands
4 Cavalry stands
2 Mitrailleuse stands (Nordenfeldt)
1 Artillery stand
2 Field hospitals (horse drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (most likely in Cerulean City)

Of the 16 units on each side (discounting the hospitals), 8 would have to deploy at the outset in the towns, each having at least 2 units by way of a garrison.

The Spy...

It is tempting to subvert the adamantine river line by including the possibility of treachery in the enemy ranks.  As I'm playing these games solo, how this is done would have in some way to be programmed. I'm thinking less in terms of 'spy' and more in the way of 'Fifth Column'. The procedure (in broad terms) would go something like this:

  1. Select a stand that contains the snake(s)-in-the-grass.  This might be done at random, or simply selected.
  2. This stand will be liable to standing aloof or turning their coats at some point in the battle. A roll of '6' on a D6 will effect the change of loyalty.
  3. At the beginning of the Army's turn, it will dice to determine whether their Fifth Column will switch sides and (possibly) join them.
  4. The Fifth Column will not return to their former allegiance.


These  go towards restoring Strength Point losses, 1SP per turn, the recipient stand for the whole turn in the same grid area as the hospital, and not engaged in any other activity.  The stand requiring first aid will enter the hospital's grid area, and have 1SP restored at the end of the Army's next turn.

I have a feeling that one of the effects of these establishments is the creation and retention of a reserve, so that depleted units might be withdrawn, and fresh units take their place.  It would be nice to think that this will work, but I haven't tried it yet!


I propose using my own 'Command-&-Colours' combat method.  Shooting or close combat.  A grid area may hold 1 or 2 units, of any type - 2 infantry, say, or 1 infantry and 1 gun).  The following results count only if the target type happens to be present.

1. Artillery or Machinegun lose 1 SP
2. Cavalry retreat 1 grid area, or lose 1 SP
3. Cavalry lose 1 SP 
4. Infantry retreat 1 grid area, or lose 1 SP
5. Infantry lose 1 SP
6. Infantry lose 1 SP, and retreat 1 grid area.  Hazard to Army Command if present.
If Army Commander is in the target grid area, he may be hit.  A separate roll of '6' means the Army Commander is toast (one could roll to determine whether he is KIA, WIA, or POW).

The number of dice rolled is equal to the number of SPs in the fighting grid area, plus an extra one if the Army Commander is present.

On the square grid table rifles may shoot across the river into an adjacent grid area, but close combat can be conducted only at the river crossings.  A force attacking across a defended river crossing count half (rounded up) their combat SPs, before adding the Army Commander's +1 if he is present. Whether shooting or close combat, if the enemy is in cover,  or in towns, woods, up hill, combat SPs are halved (rounded up).  Again, the Army Commander's +1 is added after modifying combat SPs.  The halving for terrain is not cumulative. 
2 units, plus Army Commander, in one square
 grid area - as much as the area can accommodate.

Close combat is initiated by a force attempting to enter a grid area occupied by an enemy force. This is signalled by the front edge of at least one stand being placed slightly over the edge of the target grid area.  Close combats are automatic, both sides rolling, and, if continuing, take place in both sides' turns.  The posture of the respective sides will indicate who is the attacker.

Activation of units: 

The whole game is IGoUGo, but in each pair of turns roll for which side goes first. 
1.  Artillery and Machinegun fire (both sides, count as simultaneous)

2.  Roll for initiative, high roll going first and completing moves and combats for all units

3.  Roll for the Fifth Column: a '6' on a D6 means the '5C' stand changes sides and may be used in this turn

4.  For each unit: 
    Movement (artillery and MGs if not having fired this turn)
    Rifle fire  and outcomes (moving side only)
    Close Combat and outcomes (both sides)

5. Low initiative roll completes moves and combats for all units.


Riflemen: 2 squares, traced orthogonally (i.e. through square sides, not corners) in clear areas or on roads; otherwise 1 grid area only.
Cavalry: 3 squares on roads or clear, otherwise 1 grid area only
Machine guns: 2 squares on roads or clear, otherwise in grid area only.
Artillery: 2 squares on roads, 1 square in clear or in towns, otherwise impassible.

I appreciate I have rather reversed the usual order of tracing out these rules, but I added the activations and movement more for the sake of completeness.

The Hex-celled Grid:

The gimlet-eyed reader will notice that the Vermilion City and Blueburg I have placed, per the original Shambattle map, right up against the river banks. I'm rather taken with the idea of urban fighting being required to force a crossing.  Whether this adds or detracts from the action, we would have to see.

This being a larger game area, a larger OOB is required, and a commensurate change in shooting ranges as well.

OOB Hex-celled Map:

Commander in Chief, General Sir Arthur Reddesley
14 Infantry stands - Rifle range: 2 grid areas
6 Cavalry stands - Close combat only
3 Machinegun stands (Gatlings) - Shooting range: 3 grid areas measured orthogonally
2 Artillery stands - Shooting range 8 grid areas
2 Field hospitals (horse-drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (probably in Redton).

Marshal Andre Azuréna
14 Infantry stands
6 Cavalry stands
3 Mitrailleuse stands (Nordenfeldt)
2 Artillery stands
2 Field hospitals (horse drawn wagons)
1 Fixed hospital (most likely in Cerulean City)

Of the 25 units on each side (discounting the hospitals), 12 would have to deploy at the outset in the towns, each having at least 3 units by way of a garrison.

2 units - infantry, machinegun - and the 
Army Commander in one hex-grid area.


Riflemen: 2 hexes in clear areas or on roads; otherwise 1 grid area only.
Cavalry: 3 hexes on roads or clear, otherwise 1 grid area only
Machine guns: 2 hexes on roads or clear, otherwise in grid area only.
Artillery: 2 hexes on roads, 1 hex in clear or in towns, otherwise impassible.

In the above picture, the MG could shoot out to 3 grid areas; but at 2 grid area range, the rifles can be added.  The Army Commander's presence putting them on their mettle, would add +1 to the units' SPs for shooting or close combat.

Strength Points.

(I'm following Bob Cordery here:)

Square Grid Armies SP values:
10 Rifles @ 3SP: 30SP
4 Cavalry @ 2SP: 8SP
2 MG @2SP: 4SP
1 Artillery @2SP: 2SP
1 Army Commander @6SP : 6SP
Total: 50SP/ Exhaustion Point: -17/ Rout Point -25.

Hex Grid Armies SP values:
14 Rifles @ 3SP: 42SP
6 Cavalry @ 2SP: 12SP
3 MG @2SP: 6SP
2 Artillery @2SP: 4SP
1 Army Commander @6SP : 6SP
Total: 70SP/ Exhaustion Point: -24/ Rout Point -35

Well, we are in 'suck-it-and-see' country here.  It remains to give these games a burl some time...

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Portable Napoleonic Wargames: La Souffel (2)

The Allied forces arriving over the first four turns of the battle, the action developed slowly. The first to arrive, along the Lampertheim road, Palombini's Division was soonest in organising an assault upon the 16th Division river defences. Voyrol stood off the first attacks at Lampertheim itself, but a second drove his brigade back across the stream.  A counterattack recovered the village, which the Division's light infantry garrisoned.  Meanwhile, the garrison at Mundolsheim startled the light horse approaching the town's river bridge by a quick attack across it. The chevauleger scuttling back were replaced by half of Koch's infantry (Hohenlohe and Misany's brigades).  Beurmann retired across the river into Mundolsheim.

Allies close up to the Souffel river line

By this time, Prince Adam's cavalry had pushed down rapidly towards Souffelweyersheim, where von Moltke's dragoons tried to bounce the French skirmishers back from the opposite riverbank. In this they were successful, but at prohibitive cost. The depleted dragoons fell back to the north side of the stream. Passing through Reichstett village, the Division's horse artillery deployed into battery along the southern edge of the place, whence they began a bombardment of Montagnier's brigade standing between Souffelweyersheim and the woods a short distance east of the place. Montagnier shuffled his troops into shelter behind the village. 

Prinz Emile coming up to add weight to 
Palombini's assault

So far, matters seemed to be going well enough for the Allies, though Palombini was not strong enough, it seemed, to be sure of forcing the river line. He was encouraged by the arrival of Prince Emile's elite brigade and light troops, including its skirmishing companies.

(Note: I really have no idea, now, where I got the idea that Prince Emile's command included light troops, nor how I overlooked - I even wrote it down - that Hugel's brigade were all of light infantry. Be that as it may, we carry on. I gave Prince Emile a brigade of grenadiers, represented the 'light' brigade by grenzer, and the skirmishers by a pair of jager. It looked a fine little Division, advancing down the Lampertheim road...)

Prince Emile's Division

Not before time. Czollich's brigade attempted several assaults upon the 15th Division artillery position.  Aided by the flanking skirmishers, the artillery threw back several charges, and maintain a devastating fire upon the hapless Hungarians. Suddenly, Palombini's prospects looked much less rosy.
The Hungarians destroyed by gunfire and musketry
from the French skirmishers

They were not improved when Beurmann's aforementioned transpontine counterattack threw back Palombini's light horse brigade.
Beurmann's brigade sees off the Allied light horse

Such early successes were encouraging for the defenders, but the Allies had hardly begun any serious assault upon their lines.
Beurmann's brigade facing odds of at least three to one

The defenders had not much longer to wait. Splitting Koch's Division in two, Prince Eugene ordered Koch himself to lead two brigades to attack the French still on the north side of the Mundolsheim river bridge, whilst the other two brigades were to cross the river west of Souffelweyersheim, thence to attack that village supported by horse and guns.

(Note: Really, this was questionable - violating the 'unit integrity' rule that ought equally at this level to apply to formations. The whole Division ought to have gone one way or the other.  I didn't even notice until after the action.

Facing Koch's resolute advance, Beurmann quickly fell back into Mundolsheim, there to face a direct assault by more than three times their numbers. What remained to attack Souffelweyersheim seemed sufficient although Merlin's cavalry were to be quickly on the scene, and Grandjean's column could at last be seen trudging up the Strasbourg road.

The arrival of Grandjean's 17th Division

Supported by the depleted brigade of dragoons, Lalance's brigade splashed through the river to assault the western face of the village. They were stopped cold. On the other hand, the Allies scored a measure of success, their counter-battery finally silencing Rottembourg's guns.  

In an effort to keep Merlin's cavalry off his attacking infantry, Prince Eugene ordered forward the depleted chevauleger from Palombini's Division, Kinski's brigade (formation integrity be damned), backed up by the fresh light horse of Jett's Brigade (the uhlans in the picture).  Very quickly braving the flanking fore from Allied artillery, Merlin's cavalry, four times the strength Jett had remaining, attacked.  
Attack and counterattack around Souffelweyersheim

Under cover of the cavalry battle nearby, Hugel's brigade was fed through Lalance's depleted formation to renew yet another assault upon the town. By now, however, the lead elements of Grandjean's Division were already deployed east of Souffelweyersheim, and pushing forward. The signs of anxiety were already beginning to etch themselves across the Prince Royal's visage.

He might have been reassured by events upon his right flank. Following up the French withdrawal across the river into Mundolsheim, Koch's command scattered the garrison's hasty defence, passed through the village, and began an assault upon the rear of Albert's gun line. Just then, Emile's light troops were engaging the guns from across the river.  
The fall of Mundolsheim, and the beginning of the 
end of 16th Division

At this time, French skirmishers were still grimly clinging on to Lampertheim - the Allies couldn't buy a six! - whilst Voyrol waited on the opposite river bank.

Before Voyrol could lend his assistance, the Allied light infantry overran the guns.  In an effort to recover something from the battle, Albert led Voyrol's brigade into a counterattack. Outnumbered eight to one, it was always going to be a forlorn hope, and what remained of 16th Division collapsed. The Allies had taken the whole of 16th Division's defence line, barring the skirmishers holed up in Lampertheim.

Matters were not going so well at Souffelweyersheim. It was gradually becoming apparent that the Allies simply lacked the strength to take the place. Even were the town to fall, the strength General Rapp could call upon was rather greater than the attacking Allies could muster. At about this time, Prince Eugene called off the attack.

At the time, I calculated that the Allies had reached their exhaustion point, but looking at the pictures now, it seems that the Allied total losses amount to 18 SP lost - 9 from both wings of attack. For their part, if you could write off the entire Albert Division except its commander - 8SP, Rottembourg lost just 3SP;  Eleven - 14 if you added in Albert himself.  Fourteen was still (just) short of V Corps exhaustion point.  Eighteen would have left 3 more before the Allied corps reached the same condition.  

How do we assess the result, then?  Until I wrote this up, I was certain this was a French victory - unexpected given the disparity of overall strengths. On reflection it seems to have been something of a tactical draw - the Allied undoubtedly carrying the French left, but taking heavy losses for scant reward at Souffelsheim. 

Situation at day's end.
But really, I made a mess of this action, in many respects. In adapting the polyglot Allied III Corps to my own Austrian collection, I made a couple of bad mistakes, although not, at least, in the matter of respective strengths. I also forgot, twice, the issue of formation integrity. Having said that, even if Koch's Division had remained en bloc to take Mundolsheim, Grandjean's Division would have been on hand to counter any attempt to roll up the French river line. So I'm not going to beat myself up too hard about my slip-ups.

For anyone minded to try out this battle in this format I suggest you take a look first at these sites:



I used the former of these two, but I think the latter, which I discovered only today, the more informative perhaps. The Strength Points I calculated by dividing the Age of Eagles SPs by 3. 

In my next posting I'll see what the respective armies would have looked like, adapted from the second AofE scenario.  Otherwise, apart from a 'List of Postings' or 'Table of contents' posting, that will be the end of this occasional series under the overall title 'Hundred Days'. 

Sunday, November 5, 2023

Portable Napoleonic Wargames: La Souffel

The longtime reader of this blog might recall several articles over time depicting battles of the so-called 'Hundred Days' campaign.  The occasional series began in early 2019 with a 'might-have-been' series of battles between a Prussian 'North German Federal Army Corps' under Graf Kleist von Nollendorf, and the 'Army of the Meuse', commanded by General Henri Count Beaujolais. The one force was based on a real army corps being gathered by the German count; the latter entirely fictitious, a rumour historically made actual.  In June 1815, there was no 'Army of the Meuse'.

The series then continued with the battles of Quatre Bras, Ligny, Wavre and Waterloo, but not in that chronological order.  I began with Wavre (2019) and ended with Ligny (2022).  They began as a play test to see if, on a larger board, Bob Cordery's Portable Napoleonic Wargame could be extended to army level actions. With a few minor tweaks, they certainly could!

Battle of la Souffel, 28 June 1815

There remains, however, one last action, something of an epilogue to the return of Emperor Napoleon's attempted comeback from exile.  This was a smaller action fought in the east of France, some ten days after Waterloo.  Commanding the 20,000-strong French V Army Corps, General Rapp - a very able commander - faced rather superior numbers, some 200,000 Austrians and Allies of the Upper Rhine Army.  So outmatched, Rapp fell back westwards. Rapidly following up, Eugene, the Prince Royal of Wurttemberg, led his 35-40,000 III Corps in hot pursuit.  Upon reaching the line of the Souffel River with the enemy close behind, Rapp halted, took a stand, and offered battle.

Map of the table

As laid out, this scenario s owes a great deal to an Age of Eagles treatment of this action.  Probably a more direct research would have been preferable, but this was at least convenient. It is pretty much a defensive action by the French, the Allies - all of which were represented by my Austrian figures - being tasked with forcing the line of the river.  

Diagram of early developments.  See text infra.

The respective forces were as follow:

French 'Army of the Rhine ' V Corps,

General Jean Rapp ('Good' commander) 6SP

15th Division, General Rottembourg (3SP) 
  •     Gudin Brigade, (Conscript = Poor), 3SP
  •     Monagnier Brigade, (conscript), 3SP
  •     Skirmishers*, Average, 1SP 
  •     Artillery, Avg, 1SP

16th Division, General Albert  (3SP)
  •     Beurmann Brigade, (Regular = Average), 3SP
  •     Voyrol Brigade, (Conscript), 3SP
  •     Skirmishers, Avg, 1SP
  •     Artillery, Avg, 1SP

17th Division, General Grandjean (3SP)
  •     Fririon Brigade, (Conscript), 3SP
  •     Dandlau Brigade, (Regular), 3SP
  •     Skirmishers, Avg, 1SP
  •     Artillery, Avg, 1SP
Merlin's Cavalry  -   
  •      Grouvel Light Horse, Avg, 2SP (Chasseurs)
  •     Favier Dragoons HC, Avg, 2SP

18 units (including command), 43 Strength points
Exhaustion point -15SP; Rout Point -22SP 

View from behind 15th Division at 

Austrian Army of the Upper Rhine, III Corps

Prince Eugene of Wurttemberg ('Average' commander), 6SP

Division, Palombini, 3SP
  •      Count Kinski Brigade, Regular Light Cavalry, 3SP
  •      Luxembourg Brigade, Regular, 4SP
  •      Czollich Brigade, Regular, 4SP
  •      Light Foot Artillery, Avg, 2SP

Division, Prince Adam, 3SP

  •      Jett Brigade, Mounted Jager, Avg LC, 3SP
  •      Moltke Brigade, Dragoons, Avg HC, 3SP
  •      Horse Artillery, Avg, 2SP

Division, Koch, 3SP
  •      Hohenlohe Brigade, Regular, 4SP
  •      Misany Brigade, Regular, 3SP
  •      Lalance Brigade, Regular, 3SP
  •      Hugel Brigade, Regular, 4SP
  •      Foot Light Artillery (6pr), Avg, 2SP

Division Prince Emile, 3SP
  •      Folhenius Brigade, Grenadiers = Elite, 3SP
  •      Gall Brigade, Grenze, Avg, 3SP
  •      Skirmishers, Jager, Avg, 1SP

20 Units (including command), 62SP
Exhaustion Point -21SP, Rout Point -31SP    

Note that this army was not all Austrian - but as my Napoleonic collection has little in the way of minor allies, this action featured my Austrians exclusively.

Turn 4: arrival of Koch's large Division
Before continuing, a word on skirmishers.
Now, Bob Cordery's Portable Napoleonic Wargame calls for skirmishers only for Brigade Level action.  Rule sets of the Age of Eagles variety abstract skirmishers as 'below the grain' of the figure:man scales.
Personally, I see no reason not to have them represented in some way. What I have done is to allow each French foot Division, and Prince Emile's of the Austrians, a 2-figure 'cloud' of skirmishers.

When I played this action out, I hadn't fully realised any special rules for them, they were simply a small 'unit' - probably brigaded light companies - with a single SP.  In effect they were expendables whose purpose was to weaken the enemy if they could.
Allied dragoons attempt to force a crossing 
defended by 15th Division's skirmishers

It did occur to me, though, that rules could be made more elaborate.  What I propose is the following:
1.  Any 'skirmish capable' formation may deploy one stand of/or 2 figures in an immediately adjacent grid area as skirmishing light infantry
2.  This stand of skirmishers is counted as zero strength points (0SP)  They are classed as 'Average', or, in rare cases, 'Elite' (e.g. British 60th and 95th Rifles, on account of their rifled muskets).
3.  The skirmisher stand 'fights' like any other infantry stand.
4.  Artillery firing at skirmishers reduce their D6 die roll score by 1 - other modifiers still applying.
5.  If attacked by enemy horsed troops, skirmishers reduce their own D6 die roll score by 1; other modifiers still apply.
6.  If attacking skirmishers, horsed troops increase their D6 die roll score by 1; other modifiers still apply.
7.  If the skirmisher stand takes a 'hit' - whether a 'kill' or a 'forced retreat', it is removed from the board as the screen having been driven in.  Note that, having no SP value, this comes at no cost to the skirmishers' army morale.
8. If the skirmisher screen has been driven in, an enemy attacking it may advance into the vacated grid area. 

OK, I have yet to play test this scheme, but the actual game, with the skirmishers being treated as just another fighting stand, seemed to work.  The pictures coming before and after this section comes from very early in the La Souffel action.  Austrian dragoons try to force a river crossing defended by the brigaded light companies of 15th Division.  The skirmishers were driven in (i.e. eliminated) but the cavalry failed to secure a lodgment and were driven back across the river. 
The skirmishers driven in but the cavalry take 
too much damage to follow up.

The initial set-up for the French had: 

15th Division in or east of Souffelweyersheim
16th Division in and about Lumpertheim and Mundolsheim
17th Division off table south of Bischheim on the Strasbourg road
Merle's Cavalry between Mundolsheim and Souffelweyersheim.

The arrival of 17th Division would be signalled when an Austrian unit crossed the river anywhere.
Action on 15th Division front.  Genl Rottembourg 
is shifting his artillery from the right flank

The Allied (Austrian) approach to this action begins with the gradual arrival of the four Divisions, according to the following schedule:

Turn 1, Point A (see map)
Palombini Division

Turn 2, Point B or C OR  Turn 4, Point D
Prince Adam Division

Turn 4, Point B or C
Koch Division

Turn 6, Point A 
Prince Emile Division

Allied Divisions of Palombini, Koch and Prince 
Adam closing in along the river line.

Looking at the respective armies, one might be forgiven for supposing this ought to be a walkover for the Austrians: superior in numbers and quality both. The piecemeal arrival of the Allies may be balanced by the absence of the French 17th Division until the Allies have secured a measure of success already.  The extra couple of stands of skirmishers the French have - my own addition - one must recall have just the one strength point.  Surely that won't make much difference?

For the outcome of this action, we'll have to wait until the next posting...

To be continued...

Thursday, October 26, 2023

The Medifluvian Campaign: Table of Contents


Battle of Cpistapon -
See 'More From the Chronicles...' 

The series on the Medifluvian campaign having been concluded, here is a 'Table of Contents' (thanks to Bob Cordery!) of articles narrating events.

The first attempted relief of Hak al Kumara -
See 'Return to the Chronicles...'

Wednesday, October 25, 2023

Chronicles of Rajistan: Return to Sheikh Sa'ad.


Creakily rousing themselves from the cold pre-dawn, the men of 7th 'Meerut' Division crawled out of their desert bivvies and drew up to their start line of their assault upon the distant Turcowaz entrenchments. The opening salvoes of the field guns signalled 'Over the top!' All along the front, the Ruberians and their Sangrian sepoy auxiliaries surged towards the enemy lines, flickering with rifle, machinegun and gun fire.

This action was fought out solo, using the Portable Colonial Wargames 'The Widow at Windsor' rule set. Using the same rule set for the previous action on this same field, I felt that for a while I ought to have chosen the simpler 'The Gatling's Jammed...' This was due to the Horse, Foot, Guns size of basing for my armies, which made them impossible to use as 2-stand units. This meant that there was no satisfactory way of representing battalion columns.  

However, as I was setting up this action, I decided upon a slight modification that ignored battalion columns, but allowed single-stand units to double-up in tandem within a grid area. There would be no 2-hex move for columns; all foot movement would be one grid area only. However, as paired units could be activated to move with just one activation point, a certain celerity of movement was possible with compacted brigade-sized formations.

The trade-off was added vulnerability of such formations to incoming gunfire. Instead of rolling once for both units in a grid area, I rolled for each. Statistically, the expected loss is the same, but the probability of getting at least one hit is higher (56% against 33%), and the probability of getting two (22% against 33%), or of getting none (44% against 67%), is lower.

Although the 'W-at-W' rule set doesn't call for activation draws, I used my dice method, rating the respective commanders as average. Because not all the Turcowaz army was up, their activation rolls were reduced according, becoming the standard rate for the army once (if ever) the 52nd Division arrived on the field. However, as their role was static defence, it became simply a matter of prioritising defensive fire, the artillery and machine guns first, and then any remaining activations being distributed among the rifles in the forward trench. Given the reserves of cavalry and the command stands, that meant a top activation roll permitted all rifle units to shoot in a given turn.   

This was not good for the attacking troops. Closing in upon the Turcowaz first line, at one grid area per turn, took time - time in which the Turcowaz fire flayed the Ruberian lines unmercifully. At the time these three leading pictures were taken, Ruberia was down at least 12 Strength Points (SP).  But the Turcowaz was taking some loss to gunfire, 4SP so far.  

The first contacts east of the Pardis River were made on the extreme flanks. On the right, the 6th Jat Light Infantry struck an undefended section of the trench line, crossed it, and began to assault the flank of II/ 105th Infantry. That unit had already thrown back II/ Black Watch, which unit drew aside to unmask the following 21st 'Barelly' Brigade Gatling guns. Already matters were looking serious for the defenders.
In the centre, 125th Napier Rifles spearheaded the 19th 'Dehra Din' Brigade, with I/ Seaforth Highlanders backing them up. To their right, 28th Punjinjab Infantry were more or less keeping pace, but to their left, 92nd Punjinjab were falling somewhat behind. In this adventitious arrowhead formation, the brigade surged on through the dust and smoke. 

Across the river, the 28th 'Garwhal' Brigade advanced in two waves, the lead units II/ Leicestershire with 51st and 53rd Hydansikh Infantry. 56th and 62nd Punjinjab followed a short distance behind. At the point at which 62nd Hydansikh were about to assault the defence line, they had already lost 2SP, and the Leicestershires one. The Brigade's Gatling guns had dropped into action beside the river bank, their fire causing significant casualties, despite their earthen protection, among III/ 103rd Regiment.

As 6th Jat Light Infantry began their assaults across the trench lines, Nasr ed Din Pasha began casting anxious eyes northward. Where was 52nd Division? The arrival of that large reinforcement was to be determined by a die roll at the end of each turn once attackers had crossed over the earthworks. A roll equal to or less than the number of attackers that had penetrated the first line, would bring on 52nd Division next turn. Jat Light Infantry being the first, and so far only, a D6 roll of '1' would herald their arrival.  

The northern skyline remained empty. Disappointed, Nasr ed Din turned back to the battle.

Close by the riverbank, 97th Deccan-Decca also reached an undefended section of trench line. Chunking up the river, the gunboat Shoofly was engaging targets on either bank, eventually focusing upon III/ 103rd on the far bank.  

Matters were looking dire for 103rd Regiment on the west bank. Having inflicted heavy loss upon 53rd Hydansikh, I Battalion declined to try conclusions in the ensuing close assault, and fell back at once towards their second line. This rather left II Battalion in the lurch, and they soon found themselves fighting desperately against both Hydansikh battalions. Pushing through a gap in the trench line, II Leicestershires had almost reached the Turcowaz gun line. Having taken 50% losses already from gun and machinegun fire,  III/ 103 failed to stop them.

Here I made a bit of a mistake, I think, as the rule set really charged the Leicestershires to assault one or other of the Turcowaz infantry battalions. It probably would have been the most sensible attacking option anyhow.  

At this point I should mention that I regard all on-going close combats as 'automatic', if, once begun, they remain unresolved. Close assaults are initiated by the front of attacking unit's stand being placed just within the defending unit's grid area. That gesture counts as a move, and until made, the two opposing units are engaged in a fire fight only, and not a close combat. That placement, the attacker partially within the defender's grid area, defines a close assault, and who is the attacker, even if unresolved into the defender's turn to move. No activation points are needed to continue the fight into subsequent turns until it is resolved but elimination or retreat.

If the assailant is repulsed and has to retreat, he has to vacate the grid area from which he is attacking. 

The vagaries of the activation dice were forcing the 35th (beside the river) and 19th Brigades into piecemeal attacks - or you could say, that the attacking lines were becoming more ragged as they approached the Turcowaz earthworks. Under flanking gunfire, 92nd Deccan-Decca began attacking the right flank of I/ 104th Battalion. Far ahead of the rest of 35th Brigade, they were, for the time being, on their own.

At the other end of the 104th Regiment's line, the Napier Rifles had fallen back reduced by 50%. The Seaforth Highlanders surged through the retreating rifles right up to III/ 104th, where stood Duya ed Din Pasha, directing the defence. Twenty-eighth Punjinjab swung right to engage the machine gunners linking the 104th and 105th Regiments. 

But losses were mounting steadily.  Protected by the Napier Rifles during the advance, the Seaforth Highlanders struck the Turcowaz line comparatively fresh (no SP lost yet!), but the flanking Punjinjab battalions were showing signs of wear.  The 28th we down 50% by the time they reached the enemy Nordenfeldt guns, the 92nd less badly hit, but still well short of the first objective.

The whole of the eastern half of the main Turcowaz defence line was now under heavy close assault. The whole of 21st Brigade was now heavily engaged with the two battalions of 105th Regiment, with 28th Punjinjab of 19th Brigade keeping the Turcowaz machine gunners busy. The non-appearance of 52nd Division led Nasr ed Din to order a cavalry counter attack against the Jat Rifles and relieve II/ 105th of the pressure on its left flank. Not that that availed them much, as 41st Dogra Infantry swept up to the trench lines in front. Beside them, the Brigade commander, Colonel Ross, led 9th Bhoped's assault upon I/ 105th. Such leadership was needed: 9th Bhoped was already down 67% of its original strength.

West of the river, the Turcowaz defences were facing, if anything, more of a crisis. Gunfire from artillery, gunboat and Gatlings simply battered III/ 103rd into destruction (all 6SP lost), and the Leicestershire infantry had overrun the artillery emplacements, though, fortunately for the latter, not the guns. They had pulled out betimes. At that moment. the Sheikh Sa'ad village was without defenders; but Garwhal Brigade had yet to secure the whole of their first objective. Doggedly clinging to their fortifications, II/ 103rd were wearing down double their numbers. Down 2SP themselves, their Hydansikh adversaries had lost 5SP between them.  

Just as Nasr ed Din began to despair of holding his line, at last the news came in: 52nd division had arrived and were even now beginning to deploy onto the battlefield. West of the river, 154th Regiment was badly needed to bolster the crumbling 103rd. East of the river, 155th and 156th, together with the Divisional machinegun company already spanned the gap between the river and the impenetrable salt marshes to the east.

They arrived when prospects for 35th Division looked their bleakest. Storming across the III/ 104th trench line, Seaforth Highlanders flung back the defenders with loss. Caught up in the retreat, Duya ed Din Pasha was hit, badly wounded and trampled in the rout. It seemed by now that the whole of the first trench line must fall to the attackers.

But there remained isolated pockets of resistance here and there along the line. Barelly Brigade was still dashing itself to pieces on 105th Regiment's front, having lost 9SP to just 2. The duel between 28th Punjinjab against the machinegun company was so far equally indeterminate. Having committed 44th Regular Sipahis to assist the 105th, the other two left wing cavalry units, Nasr ed Din directed 43rd and 76th Irregulars to counter the Seaforth Highlanders' breakthrough.

This counter was successful, driving back the Highlanders as far as the trench line, but at heavy cost - 3SP for just 1.  

West of the river, the fiercely fought battle seemed to have reached an impasse. Sixty-second tribal cavalry's counter-attack to recover the river bank gun emplacement made no progress for their losses, and could see the 33rd Queen Adelaide's Own cavalry surging up between the overrun trench lines. The Turcowaz cavalry were relieved, however, when the enemy horse drew off to the flank to throw their weight behind the assaults upon II/ 103rd. Alone and isolated, reduced by half, that gallant band still clung to their lines. So far, the Ruberians were stalled, short of their third objective, the village of Sheikh Sa'ad, occupied solely by the Turcowaz right wing commander and his staffs.

Whilst the fighting in the forward lines carried on unabated, the eastern wing of 52nd Division quietly filled the reserve trench lines and redoubt spanning the river-marsh defile behind 35th Division's lines.  Should 35th Division collapse, General Reddington's army would have all do to again.

Yet that collapse seemed imminent, especially on 104th regiment's front. Although practically surrounded, still defending their sector of the first line, II/ 104th had so far endured only slight loss (1SP). Driven back almost to the second line, III/ 104th had also got off fairly lightly so far, and the pressure had been relieved by the intervention of the Turcowaz light horse. But I/ 104 had lost 50% of its strength, and the army guns had already once had to beat off an assault from the Deccan-Decca infantry, and were engaging in a gunnery duel with the Shoofly gunboat. Although taking a couple of damaging hits, Shoofly seemed disinclined yet to pull out of the action.

So matters stood, both sides tearing chunks out of each other. Though taking very heavy casualties, 105th Regiment was giving at least as good as it was taking. I/ 105th finally repulsed 9th Bhoped Dogra for good, the scant survivors (0SP) fleeing to the rear. Their front cleared, they brought 21st Brigade's MG company under effective fire. 41st Dogra was still hung up in a close quarter struggle with II/ 105th, whilst the Jat light infantry was also caught up in an indecisive duel with Turcowaz light horse. 105th Regiment had lost two-thirds of its strength (8SP) but but the Barrelly Brigade losses were even higher (13SP). The 35th Division Nordenfeldt MG company had been destroyed, but took out much of 28th Punjinjab with them. The latter was now down to one-third of its original strength.   

A considerable gap having been punched through the centre of the Turcowaz line, however, induced General Reddington to order up the cavalry. Perhaps a massed cavalry charge might decide the action?

Equally promising seemed a renewed attack by 37th Dogra Infantry upon the Turcowaz army gun line, where stood Nasr ed Din Pasha himself, directing the defence. Though supported by Shoofly's gunfire, the Dogra infantry remained stalled upon the glacis of the earthwork protecting the guns. 

On Garwhal Brigade's front, at last the II/ 103rd resistance collapsed, and the whole of the first line was overrun and the surviving defenders (0SP) taken prisoner. But the Leicestershire Infantry had been thrown out of the gun emplacement they had earlier captured. Chagrinned, the Leicestershires return to the attack, supported by the 33rd Queen Adelaide's Own cavalry charging 61st Tribal Horse nearby. Under cover of this renewed battle over the Turcowaz second line, III/ 154th Infantry quietly filed into the Sheikh Sa'ad quickly to place the village into a state of defence.

The hard fighting that had taken most of the Turcowaz front line had by now taken too too much of a toll upon the Ruberian strength. Their morale boosted by the arrival of 52nd Division, even though the latter had not even fired a shot and only a single battalion had inserted itself even partially onto the battle; even though two of 103rd Regiment's battalions had been wiped out; and even though 103rd and most of 104th Regiments had been driven back to their second line; for all their losses, 35th Division remained in the fight. 

Realising that no more could be achieved with what remained of his force - its exhaustion point having been reached - General Reddington called off the action. The was no further hope for a breakthrough, and no further hope of coming to the rescue of General Scarlett and his 6th Division, besieged at Hak al Kumara. Within the week 6th Division surrendered on terms. The Medifluvian Campaign was over.

It might be of interest to the reader to see what the 'butcher's bill' looked like. Losses were heavy on both sides, but it might serve to show what attacking a trench line is like under this rule set.

Army of Ruberia:

Seventh Meerut Division, Lt-Genl Sir Aylmer Reddington ... 6SP

19th Dehra Dun Brigade (Col Wm Dennys) ... 3SP
  • I/ Seaforth Highlanders ...6SP (elite) -4 = 2SP
  • 28th Punjinjab Infantry ...6SP -4 = 2SP
  • 92nd Punjinjab Infantry ...6SP -6 = 0SP
  • 125th Napier's Rifles (Skirmishers) ...4SP -2 = 2SP
  • Gatling detachment ...2SP
Total 19th Bde 27SP -16 = 11SP

28th Garwhal Brigade (Brig-Genl Geo. Kemball) ... 3SP
  • II/ Leicestershire Infantry ...6SP -4 = 2SP
  • 51st Hydansikh Infantry ...6SP -4 = 2SP
  • 53rd Hydansikh Infantry ...6SP -5 = 1SP
  • 56th Punjinjab Infantry ...6SP 
  • 62nd Punjinjab Infantry ...6SP
  • Gatling Detachment ...2SP
Total 28th Brigade 35SP - 13 = 22SP

35th Brigade (Brig-Genl G.B.H. Rice) ...3SP
  • I/ 5th Buffingtonshire Infantry ...6SP -3 = 3SP
  • 37th Dogra Infantry ...6SP -4 = 2SP
  • 97th Deccan-Decca Infantry ...6SP -2 = 4SP 
  • 102nd King's Own Grenadiers ...6SP
  • Gatling Detachment ...2SP
Total 35th Brigade  29SP - 9 = 20SP

21st Barrelly Brigade (Col G Ross) ...3SP
  • II/ Black Watch ...6SP (Elite) -1 = 5SP
  • 6th Jat Light Infantry (Skirmishers) ...4SP -2 = 2SP
  • 41st Dogra Infantry ...6SP -3 = 3SP
  • 9th Bhoped Infantry ...6SP -6 = 0SP
  • Gatling Detachment ...2SP -1 = 1SP
Total 21st Bde 27SP - 13 = 14SP

6th (Indian) Cavalry Brigade: (Brig-Genl R. Thered) ...3SP
  • 14th King's Hussars ...4SP (elite)
  • 4th Cavalry ...4SP
  • 7th Harian Lancers ...4SP
  • 33rd Queen Adelaide's Own Light Cavalry ...4SP
  • 'S' Battery, RHA (Horse artillery) ...2SP
Divisional Artillery:
  • IV, IX, XIII Brigades, @2SP = 6S
  • HRMS Shoofly, ...8SP  - 2 = 6SP

36 units, 153SP, Exhaustion Point -51SP.
Total losses: 53SP 

Army of Turcowaz:

Corps Command: Nasr ed-Din ... 6SP

35th Division: Duya ed-Din ... 3SP KIA -3SP

  • 103rd Regiment, 3 Bns (stands) @6SP = 18SP - 12 = 6SP
  • 104th Regiment, 3 Bns @6SP = 18SP - 7 = 11SP
  • 105th Regiment, 2 Bns @6SP = 12SP - 8 = 4SP
  • Nordenfeld MG Company @2SP - 2 = 0SP
  • Artillery, 2 batteries @2SP = 4SP - 1 = 3SP
  • 43rd, 44th Regular cavalry @4SP = 8SP - 2 = 6SP
  • 75th, 76th Irregular Sipahi @4SP (poor) = 8SP - 2 = 6SP
  • 61st, 62nd Tribal Light Horse @4SP (poor) = 8SP -3 = 5SP
Reinforcements (off table, and remained unengaged):

52nd Division: Abdullah Jemal ... 3SP
  • 154th Regiment, 3 Bns @6SP = 18SP
  • 155th Regiment, 3 Bns @6SP = 18SP
  • 156th Regiment, 3 Bns @6SP = 18SP
  • Nordenfeld MG  Company @ 2SP

24 units, 140SP, E.P. -47SP
Total losses:  37SP + Division Commander, 3SP = 40SP total.

This was a decisive victory for the Turcowaz army.

Appalled at their losses and the outcome of the whole campaign, the remains of General Sir Aylmer Reddington's army retreated the 300 miles down the Pardis River, all the way to the Gulf of Parthia, there to await what might be the sequel. Might Ruberia mount a more powerful invasion of Medifluvia? Who knew what machinations took place in the hallowed halls of Ruberian High Command?