Friday, February 18, 2011

A query...

Some while ago someone posted on their blogspot (one affiliated to EvE) a picture of a model of a young(ish) lass taking a bath. Unfortunately, I have forgotten upon which blogspot it was shown, and a lengthy trawl through recent traffic hasn't unearthed the thing.

Can someone tell me who posted it? I would like that person's permission to use it for an 'Age of Unreason' strip I have in mind.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Action at Lobrau - concluded.

As the Imperialist infantry advanced towards the hills, Rebel artillery began to take a steady toll upon the fusiliers of Hildburghausen Regiment, whose progress could easily be traced by the trail of dead and wounded they left behind them. Meanwhile, the Imperialist artillery soon dropped into action to their flank, close by the village itself.

The first close action took place in and about Lobrau village. The Rebel commander, Antoine Noailles, hoped to catch the Imperialist horse at a disadvantage whilst debouching from the town, and threw forward VII and VIII Battalions. The former unit was quickly and boldly engaged by the outnumbered Grenadiers of Hildburghausen Infantry, a protracted firefight that was to last for much of the battle's duration. To the right, the Nadasti Hussars deployed into successive lines of squadrons, and swept into the Rebel VIII Bn.
Untrained and inexperienced though they were, the Rebels stood the charge like veterans. Reserving their fire to short range, they emptied many a saddle, then it was butt and bayonet, sabre and pistol, as the horsemen closed.

Although the hussars got the better of the close combat, the Rebels stubbornly refused to admit defeat. Almost a third of the horsemen were hors de combat; slightly fewer than the Rebel losses, but it was the hussars who abandoned the fight and fled. Much diminished in numbers, VIII Battalion held its ground.

On the other flank, Ist (Zerbst) Battalion also advanced with a view to seizing the Hassenhof hamlet. It might have been better to have closed this unit in upon its companion, II Bn, but as it transpired, The Zerbst townsmen were to occupy the attention if the Ulrichstein foot Guards for the remainder of the action.

The flanks now both engaged, the Imperialist infantry gradually closed in upon the Rebel centre. Soon, there, too, both sides were exchanging heavy discharges of musketry, as the action became general all along the line. Having endured for so long a galling rebel gunfire, Hildburghausen Infantry had been eager to try conclusions with the enemy V Battalion. Their opening volleys exacted a fearful vengeance.

Closer and closer pressed the Imperialists, though under effective Rebel fire. The Grenadiers of Arenberg Infantry kept the farm garrison in play, whilst the musketeers of that unit openened a withering fire upon III Battalion, which had moved up betimes.

Meanwhile, the firefight in Lobrau continued unabated, but the Hildburghausen Grenadier Company had early established an ascendancy never relinquished. For all their stout fight, the Rebel fire proved ineffective in the face of their opponents' steady volleys. Grenadier losses remained trivial whilst their opponents were falling in windrows.

On Smallhausen's front, the Guards also continued to press forward. As the Ulrichstein footguards wheeled westwards to drive home the attack into the rear of Hassenhof, Freiherr von Smallhausen could see their right flank being exposed to attack from the hitherto quiescent II Battalion on the hill. There was nothing for it, but to fling in his Guard Hussars.

Already considerably reduced by Rebel gunfire (25% losses), the gallant horsemen flung themselves into the enemy foot. Von Smallhausen himself was astonished by what ensued. The Rebels once again awaited the attack with apparent calm until the Hussars got close. With the assistance of cannon fire to their flank, the Rebel musketry ought to have swept the Hussars away. Nothing of the sort happened. The gunfire went overhead or behind the onrushing light horse; the smallarms fire was too ragged and too high to stop the onrush; then the Hussars were hacking and slashing among the hapless Rebel foot.

In a trice, II Battalion was broken, whereat the disordered surviving hussars swept on to the guns. This time the fire was more deadly. The scant surviving Ulrichstein horse wheeled about and fled from the field.
[This was a mistake on my part, forgetting that disordered though they were, the hussars were too close to the gun(s)for them to react effectively. Too bad]

Back on the Imperialist right, the Khevenhuller Dragoons had been filtering through the town covered by the Hildburghausen Grenadiers' firefight and the Hussars' attack. Now in turn the Dragoons lined up to assault the rebel left. Obviously, VIII Battalion would have been wise to withdraw, but Noailles kept them thrown forward with the view of disordering the Imperialist horse, then sweeping them aside with his fresh troopers. The Rebel infantry gallantly and cheerfully faced their second cavalry charge of the day.

It could not be a repeat of the first. Their numbers much diminished by the first encounter, the musketry of VIII Battalion was hardly felt by the dragoons, who galloped in and straight through them. Comprehensively ridden over and trampled down, VIII Battalion simply disappeared.
[A comment on casualties here. In the first action, VIII Battalion passed quite a difficult morale roll. In the second, they lost the rest of their strength before a morale roll could be taken]

Meanwhile, the Imperialist infantry continued to mount heavy pressure upon the Rebel centre. The farm garrison (IV Battalion) was holding out reasonably comfortably, but the flanking battalions (III and V) were taking fearful punishment.

There was no doubt about it, the Imperialists were feeling the rebel fire - especially Hildburghausen - but they never even looked like cracking under the strain.

Antoine Noailles, standing behind this part of the rebel line could see the carnage being wreaked upon his outgunned foot. Surely it could only be a matter of time before the whole line collapsed. So soon was his dream of leading his country into a Protestant paradise beginning to fade...

Nevertheless, seeing the victorious Imperialist dragoons rallying in the plain near Lobrau, Noailles at once flung in his own horse. This was their chance. Lacking in training as they were, they would have stood little chance against steady horse, but, disordered by their recent attack, the Dragoons presented a target that could not be ignored.

Things didn't quite go as Noailles hoped. The Rebel horse certainly charged effectively enough, but the dragoons stood to it confidently. Many a riderless horse from both sides were seen galloping from the scrimmage. The Rebels even got slightly the better of the encounter, but it was they who were glad eventually to break off the action and drop back. The Dragoons had given up not one inch of ground.

All the same, the Rebel horse had done well. In retiring from the fight, they kept a bold front to the enemy as they resumed their place in the line.

But that line was already beginning to crumble. At last exhausted by their prolonged and ineffectual fight with Hildburghausen Grenadier Company, VII Battalion had already broken and fled up the hill ahead of their own cavalry. The Imperialist grenadiers had almost no loss to show for their victory.
[In fact, they didn't lose a figure; an extraordinary outcome!]
Following up this success, the Trauttmannsdorf Cuirassiers wheeled right across the front of VI Battalion and the 4pr half-company. A glorious target! Enfiladed - and at short range, too! To amazement of all observers, and the chagrin of the Rebels, not one cannon ball, and hardly a musket shot told upon the Cuirassiers as they swept by. VI Battalion immediately found itself under bombardment from the Imperialist 6pr guns, whilst under simultaneous attack by Hildburghausen Infantry, who had already seen off V Battalion. In short order, this Battalion too was falling back in disorder.
The whole left flank was shredding away, on the brink of collapse. IV Battalion continued for the time being to hold out in the farm, but III and V Battalions were broken and fleeing over the heights, VI Battalion joining them.

Obvious that the Rebel army was breaking up, Baron von Glockenspiel urged on his troops to greater efforts. Smash the enemy: ride them down!

After having fought the Ulrichstein foot Guards for so long, Ist (Zerbst) Battalion broke off the action and evacuated Hassenhof, followed by their determined opponents. They, at least, retained a semblance of order.

The Rebel line collapsing everywhere, there was nothing further Noailles could do. There were no reserves in hand with which to restore the rout. I Battalion made off in good order, as did IV Battalion, skillfully evacuating the farm under the very noses of Arenberg Regiment. The rebels also drew off the cavalry and guns.

But with the Imperialists advancing all along the line, their chances of survival were problematical at best. The sun had barely reached its zenith, and the Imperialist Cuirassiers at least had not been engaged. Already climbing the ridges, they were sure to overtake many of the fugitives.

This defeat crushed the rebellion. Though the Allied losses were severe enough - 580 Imperialists and 180 Ulrichsteiners - they counted near on double that number of rebel dead and wounded upon the field of battle. For the rest, the rebel army melted away over the next day or so. Antoine Noailles found himself bereft of all but a handful of followers by the time he made it back to Zerbst.

But the campaign was not yet over. As Glockenspiel and Smallhausen congratulated each other upon their joint victory, a despatch rider arrived at the Ritterhof in Lobrau with evil tidings. An army of the Herzogtum von Rechburg had been assembling on the frontier of Ulrichstein. By now they were probably already across the border.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Action at Lobrau

The following action between the combined Imperial and Ulrichstein forces against a Rebel army, was fought solo. Needing a plausible set-up, I used the first scenario out of Charles S. Grant's Programmed Wargames Scenarios. The forces involve were somewhat different from those suggested by the scenario, but the odds were fairly similar. The Rebels' main disadvantages were the lack of horse compared with their opponents, and more serious, their lack of training...

As the dawn light of 27th September stole over the hills and the village rooftops of Lobrau and into the plain, the rebel lines could be discerned, formed up and awaiting the Loyalist and Imperial attack. It seemed as though Antoine Noailles intended to hold the line of hills, rather than risk action in the plains with his relatively untrained troops. Numbering his battalions I to VIII from the right flank, he retained perhaps half his strength in the centre about a small farm, into which he had pressed IV Battalion by way of a garrison. Upon the eminence above Lobrau he kept two battalions (VII and VIII), together with his single cavalry regiment; and on the right, I and II Battalions with a half-company of artillery. The other half comapny and four battalions held the centre.
The following four pictures show the rebel dispositions.
I and II Battalions

III and IV Rebel Battalions. A rather ... erm ... nervous artilleryman seems to have got into the picture...
V and VI Rebel Battalions
VII and VIII Rebel Battalions, plus cavalry

With no opportunity for reconnaissance the day before - the lighted campfires didn't give much away either - Glockenspiel had massed his Imperial troops with the Horse about to sweep around and through the village of Lobrau - led by the Grenadier Company of Hildburghausen Infantry, whilst the infantry were to incline slightly to the left and assail the Rebel centre. Linking the two groups were 6 pr battery and the Cuirassier Regiment Trauttmannsdorf. Far out on the left, the Ulrichstein contingent made ready to advance upon the Hassenhof hamlet. There was no finesse to Glockenspiel's plan. If he wanted to crush the rebellion, then crush the rebels he would.

As daylight spread over the plain, the Imperial troops were already on the march, the long lines advancing sedately towards the hills. The rebel half-battery near Lobrau opened up at long range.

The practice was remarkably good: to the jubilation of the Rebels, the first salvo at once carried away a file of Hildburghausen infantry. The hills echoed to Rebel cheers. The Imperialists responded with not a sound. Their grim silence was eloquent enough. The battle was on.

To be continued...

Friday, February 11, 2011

Action at Lobrau

No sooner had Marshal-General the Baron von Glockenspiel received his orders, signed by the Emperor himself, than it was boots and saddles for his Army. Three days later he crossed the Ulrichstein frontier and marched into Halberstadt to be met by the anxious Bishop Cornelius ter Plonck, and a rapturous welcome by the townsfolk. 'There's not a moment to be lost,' quoth the Bishop, whereat the Baron continued his march the following day. There being no good direct road to the capital, the Imperialists had to take the Zeitz road and continue from there. Nevertheless, by hard marching, the Imperialists arrived at the capital, Ulrichsburg, shortly after midday of the 26th September. The welcome at Zeitz and Ulrichstein had been as enthusiastic as that at Halberstadt, but Glockenspiel observed grimly not a few glum faces in the crowds. A small detachment of the Ulrichstein Diocesan Guard - the survivors of the Musketeer Company and an artillery section - were on hand to conduct the appropriate ceremonials, but the Bishop and the Baron agreed to cut these to a minimum. This was at least partly due to the advent of a dusty messenger arriving down the Bernburg road. He had an urgent message from Freiherr von Smallhausen, commander of Ulrichstein's little army. Hearing that a rebel army was on the march from Bernburg, Smallhausen had marched forth with his Grenadier and Arquebusier Companies, the Hussars and an artillery section - a mere 640 troops (32 figures)and 4 guns (1 piece)with which to oppose the Rebel horde. Expecting that Rumour would have multiplied their numbers, the moment Smallhausen got a glimpse of the Rebel host, he knew this was a foe too numerous for his little band. Over 3000 infantry (152 figures in 8 battalions)formed the core of the enemy army, backed by a regiment of horse (19 figures) and a light artillery company (2 pieces and 10 figures), the whole amounting to at least 3600 officers and men. At their head was the redoubtable merchant-adventurer Antoine Noailles. Outnumbered almost six to one, Smallhausen's force fell back slowly. In the meantime a fast rider was despatched to Ulrichsburg to warn the town, and, if possible, to summon help. As the messenger was gasping out his tidings to the worried Bishop and grim-gaced Baron, the rebels were continuing their march. They would certainly be in the capital on the morrrow, even if, as became clear, von Smallhausen had resolved to make a stand. Late though the hour, Baron Glockenspiel barked out his orders: the march would resume. Hours later, the sun was already dipping below the horizon as the Imperialist army, tired and dust-laden, reached von Smallhausen's gallant band. 'The Rebels seem to have halted for the night in the heights north of Lobrau village,' reported the Ulrichstein general. 'No chance for a reconnaissance, then,' remarked the Baron, observing the distant campfires in the hills above. 'I daresay he knows we have arrived, too.' He glanced at the sketch map von Smallhausen had handed to him. 'We'll attack him at first light,' the Baron said. 'I'll deploy my corps with the cavalry behind this village - Lobrau is it? - and the foot to its west side. Do you cover that road through that little hamlet - Hassenhof. Don't want the enemy to fetch around our left flank, eh, what? Then in the morning, sweep forward on a wide front an' straight over the hills.' 
View of the Ulrichstein Diocesan Guard Legion as seen from the rebel lines. 
Part of the Imperial Corps is also visible...

If the Ulrichstein general had any misgivings, he wasn't saying. He knew Baron Glockenspiel by reputation as one filled with a slow, deliberate knd of pugnacity, whose attacks were more likely than not to have the stately sweep of an avalanche at the beginning of its descent. 
Imperial infantry awaiting the order to attack.

Given the ridges and hills upon which the enemy stood, it was easier to imagine the avalanche coming the other way. The 3500-strong Imperialist corps (108 foot, 57 Horse and 10 artillery figures, plus 2 6pr pieces), added to his own few hundreds, seemed to von Smallhausen none too large a force for the morrow's task...
 The Imperial Horse, ready to sweep around Lobrau village...

To be continued...