Monday, April 20, 2015


Just over a week ago, I had a return match with Andy, following my close-fought victory of the weekend before.  This time it was a Napoleonic game, using Mark's figures and the rule set Lasalle, one of Sam Mustafa's earlier Napoleonic rule sets.  In what follows, I have let the pictures tell the story.  My apologies for the woeful photography here and there - they really don't do justice to Mark's superb figures.  My hands aren't as steady as once they were, so I'll have to start using some kind of support, that's clear.  Before continuing, you might want to check out Mark's blog, Chasseur, for his account of the action.  His pictures are by and large better than mine, too.

(Before continuing I must thank the seven who have begun following this blog since the New Year.  I will make a more formal acknowledgement next time).
The French line, looking west to east.
French Army:
On Table:
Infantry Brigade: 6 x 24-figure battalions (144 figures);
Foot Battery: 4 cannon;
Light Cavalry Brigade: 4 x 8-figure units (squadrons? regiments?) (32 figures);
Horse battery: 3 cannon

Arriving from off table by random die roll:
Cuirassier Brigade: 2 x 12-figure units (24 figures)
Horse Battery: 3 cannon

Austrian Army:
On Table:
Line Infantry Brigade: 4 x 36-figure, plus 2 x 24-figure battalions (192 figures);
Landwehr Infantry Brigade: 6 x 24-figure battalions (144 figures);
2 x Foot Batteries: each 4 cannon.

Arriving from off table by random roll:
Cuirssier Brigade: 2 x 12-figure units (24 figures);
Horse artillery: 3 cannon
Austrian Landwehr drawn up on the Austrian left flank.
As you will appreciate, the Austrians outnumbered the French by a considerable margin, and had a cannon extra as well.  But against that, the Landwehr proved to be very brittle troops, and the French regular light horse proved an annoyance as well.
Austrian regular infantry.
 I was relying on those big battalions for the decisive punch...

French light horse taking one look at the advancing
Austrian line, before making off...
More general view of the Austrian right flank.

Austrian artillery - and my first mistake.   Instead of deploying them
at once, I hoped to bring them closer to the French line before doing so.
That disrupted the right hand battery, which never really came into
truly effective action.

The Landwehr were supposed to carry out a pinning attack
 upon the French left in order to hold it in place.  That
plan proved a dismal failure.

Right from the start, French infantry peeled off
 from their right flank to deal with the threatened left.
Austrian artillery overseen by the Austrian commander,
Feldmarschall-Leutnant Kuekenhertz

Could the Landwehr close the range betimes
to pin down the French right?

Another view of the Landwehr in serried array.

Général de Division Andre Poulecoeur
hurrying his troops eastwards... 

Thinking hard... Can that Austrian juggernaut
be stopped?

Austrina cuirassiers arrive on table ... in the wrong place!  The French
heavies had arrived earlier and already making their presence felt
on the Austrian left.  That's where mine should have gone, too.

Two French cuirassier units hit the lone landwehr battalion.
Though the foot formed square betimes, it did them no good.
No good at all...

Boots, boots, boots, boots...

The French light horse making nuisances of themselves.
I really should have kept a better flank guard than I did....

The French right has been effectively stripped of its infantry...

The Austrians rolling into the attack.  The cuirassiers were meant
to give it extra weight, but they ended up with nothing to do.  Having
failed to support the landwehr, the next best thing would have been to
swing them around the far right flank.

Having crumpled up one battalion, the French heavy horse
charge into the two battalions beyond.  Neither was able to form square in time
(50-50 call for both: both failed).  The left-hand battalion collapsed at once, but the other
actually threw back their assailants!  Bravo!

The first wave of the assault goes in!

Forming square under the muzzles of the enemy artillery was not
going to end happily...

The assault by the leading two Austrian battalions raged for
a considerable while before the French line finally broke.
The attack by a third large Austrian unit immediately carried
the wood covering the French centre.

The Austrian high water mark on their right centre...

But having relaxed their guard on the right, the Austrians
have allowed two units of enemy light horse into their
right rear...

... Just as a big counterattack goes in against the woods
recently captured by the Austrians.

The pitiful remnants of the Austrian Landwehr: three units
ridden down by French heavy cavalry; two more crushed by artillery.
One battalion remains... isolated from its fellows...

A rather fuzzy photo to conclude.  One heavily battered Austrian
battalion has departed the scene, and that defending the wooded hill,
 attacked front and flank, is about to collapse in rout also...

With the collapse of two of the large Austrian battalions, together with the five long since departed landwehr units, the Austrian army morale broke, and the survivors withdrew from the battlefield. We had handed out a few licks of our own - two French battalions had also broken - but there was no disguising the action as other than a decisive French victory.  Congratulation General Poulecoeur Andy!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Long time, no see...

The scenario map that was the basis of the action.
Taken from C.S. Grant's 'Green Book.'
A couple of weeks back an old wargaming buddy now domiciled in Southern England was making his occasional visit to his home town, Christchurch, New Zealand.  In Andy's last visit, some 5 years back (already!), we played an American Civil War game, refighting the classic Don Featherstone scenario 'Action in the Plattville Valley'.  It did not go well for the Confederates under my command.

As Andy seemed to have enjoyed that previous encounter, he requested another ACW game, again using my old school Bluebellies and Greybacks rule set.  At that I thought one of the C. S, Grant's 'Green Book'* Scenarios would be    suitable for a quick pick-up game.  
Confederates defending Bone Ridge.
The 'Reinforcements in Defence' seemed to be eminently suitable.  Laying out the terrain and the concept, I gave Andy choice of sides and whether he wanted to attack or defend.  He chose the Union, on attack.  They had to deploy on the table edge at X-Y.  A small brigade sized all-arms Confederate force stood on the ridge (Bone Ridge - B) to the west, protecting the road junction further beyond.  Meanwhile,  through Arnottsburg (A) a strong relief column was marching to its rescue.
Confederate reinforcements passing through Arnottsburg.
The forces were (the Grant originals adapted to my own organisation):
Union: Major-General Erasmus Schoonhauser
Brigade: 4 x 27-figure infantry regiments
Brigade: 4 x 27-figure infantry regiments
Brigade: 3 x 10-figure cavalry battalions
Battalion: 2 x 2-gun batteries (1 smoothbore, 1 rifled); each gun 4 crew.
Total: 266 figures (including generals) and 4 guns.
Union left flank supported by rifled artillery.
Hill Defence, Brig-Genl Artemus Tumpickler:
2 x 27-figure infantry regiments
1 x 15-figure cavalry regiment
1 x 2-gun battery (12pr Napoleon smoothbores)
Total: 78 figures (including general) and 2 guns.

Reinforcements, Major-Genl Ambrose Bontz:
4 x 27-figure infantry regiments
1 x 15-figure cavalry regiment
1 x 2-gun battery (10pr Parrott rifles)
Total: 132 figures (including general) and 2 guns.

Union centre and right.
Unfortunately, the following photos don't really follow the action, as I tended to get too involved in the brisker moments to take many pictures.
Looking along the Union line
advancing to the attack.
These pictures indicate White's plan: a frontal assault by three regiments of 1st Brigade, supported by the remainder of the infantry and the artillery, whilst the cavalry outflanked the ridge line from the north.
A view of the battlefield looking westward.

The Union lines looking from the right flank.

Confederate cavalry, ready to defend the open
northern flank of the ridge line.

The second CSA horse regiment leading the reinforcing body...
The following pictures show the early developments.  Gun and infantry fire drove off the attack by the left-most Union line, but the other two regiments shook off their losses and closed the range. Just to be clear, my rules remove casualties, and are bloody into the bargain.  They ain't for the faint hearted.
The attack draws closer.  The left flank Union regiment in line has
been driven off by 8th Virginia.
Losses mount on both sides as the ridge line comes under heavy attack.  The defenders repulsed the entire first wave of Union infantry handily enough, but the latter had plenty to fling in to the attack. The local rebel horse, unable to wait for the help of the reinforcing cavalry charged the enemy horse to forestall the latter's outflanking movement.  Outnumbered 20 to 15, the Rebs gave as good as they got, but, seeing the odds lengthening against them, broke off the action and fled towards the town (Both sides lost 4 figures, which meant a morale roll for all 3 units involved.  The Union pair passed theirs easily; the Confederates failed).
The assault closes in.  The Union win the cavalry action
close by the woods, and, despite heavy losses, the Union
infantry is about to carry the ridge position.
Fortunately, the second Reb cavalry unit was available to avenge their comrades, and the Union horse were in turn driven back.  But behind the leading Union battalions trotted a third.  Just as the Confederate ridge-line defenders began to crumble, they took advantage of the infantry success and charged the enemy artillery section that had limbered up and was making off from the north end of the high ground.  Defending themselves with pistols, trail spikes and rammers, the gunners fought well but were completely overwhelmed.  The guns remained as trophies for the Union soldiery by now swarming over the recently defended position.
Andy triumphantly looking on as his troops swarm over the
objective just won.

Crowning the ridge, the Union infantry prepare to
exploit on to the farm position out of the picture
to the left.
The 8th Virginia, defending south of the road, made off in good order despite its losses, together with its accompanying gun section.  But its companion unit, 46th Virginia collapsed under the weight of superior musketry and gunfire, and fled west of the road junction where they attempted to rally just short of the hill beyond.
Confederates hastily forming a new line.
It was clear that no counter-attack was ever going to recover the ridge.  The Confederate commander then resolved at least to form a line centred on the road fork and the nearby farm.  This line knew a shaky moment when the Union cavalry that had just overrun one artillery section went after the other.  But themselves faced with disappearing among surrounding enemies, the horsemen fetched a wide arc behind the line of 8th Virginia and made it back to their own lines.
The CSA line is almost ready, but the blue lines are
menacingly building up to the east.

It will not be long before the next Union attack comes in.
A lull fell over the field as the Union brought up its troops for the assault and the Rebels tried to form a coherent line.  The Union gunfire was particularly galling against the Confederate right, but they were giving better than they were getting on the other flank.  When the final assault went in, the farm defenders crumpled quickly, just as the 8th Va also found the gunfire they were receiving too much to endure.  Thus thinned out the Confederates line was looking very shaky.  But the effort had exhausted the Union infantry, most of whom fell back beyond the ridge crest.
General Schoonhauser waves his infantry forward into the attack...
Will they drive the Rebs out of the farm and through the
At this point the day was getting well advanced.  Both sides attempted to rally the units that had fallen back.  The Confederates had the advantage that the rallied units could be brought quickly back into the line.  The Union troops would take a little longer to return to the fray.  Night drew in, the Confederate line had (barely) held, the Rebs claimed a hard-won victory.

Just out of curiosity, we totted up the losses whilst packing up.  The CSA had lost something like 60-65 figures, the Union maybe 20 more.  The game played out in a little over three hours.

It has been a very long time since I have done anything with my ACW armies, and the game indicated strongly that it was high time that changed.  Since then I have reorganised my cavalry into 4 x 23-figure CSA Regiments (actually one of them has just 21), and 6 x 15-figure Union Battalions. I've also begun a certain amount of painting to refurb these figures and arrange them into easily recognisable, distinct units.  Three units of Airfix French Foreign Legion figures that were to form my 'Coloured' infantry Brigade will be phased out altogether into an entirely different army, and probably replaced by a similar number of Revell or ESCI figures.  Not a huge project by any means...

Next time, my second game against Andy: Napoleonic, with Lasalle rules.

*The 'Green Book': C.S, Grant, Scenarios for Wargames, WRG (1981).