Monday, September 12, 2022

War of Imperial Succession - The Grand Duchy Invades...

The commander of Ursaminor's 3rd Column, General Ulf Eriksson, was not one as a rule to wait upon events. The town before him was occupied by the enemy; cast out they must be. Upon arrival before its north face, 3rd Column at once deployed: the uhlans and artillery upon the ridge beside the north road; Norrbotten infantry astride the road itself.
The commander of Podolia Infantry in the town was not slow to respond to the arrival of hostile forces. The infantry marched in line out of the town to face the Ursaminor infantry. Having the greater numbers (32-24 in the firing line), the M'yasma infantry were confident of an easy victory. To be sure, they got considerably the better of the firefight - 9 Ursaminor figures laid low to just the 5 from M'yasma (the shooting was very good from both sides).  But the infantry of both refused to buckle under the heavy losses. What led to the infantry firefight being broken off were events elsewhere.

Uhlan vs Cossack

The M'yasma light horse proved reluctant to try conclusions with the uhlans on the ridge. Partly they were discouraged by the slope - partly by the artillery rapidly deploying beside the Ursaminor horse. Their practice was immediately on target, the cossacks lost 3 of their figures. That was enough for the uhlans.  Down the slope they came, fell upon the cossacks, and into a wild melee. The uhlans got the better of the close quarter fight, too, but at a heavy cost. 

The fearsome fighting between such small forces might well have led to both breaking off and fleeing north and south. The dice you see are the morale, or reaction, rolls: Cossacks and Norrbotten infantry rolling '1's, Podolia Infantry a '2' and the uhlans '4'. My first thought was that at least two units would flee, one fall back, and the uhlans might go one way or the other. I had forgotten my own rule set! Low rolls, I (re)discovered are what you want for reaction - and the three lowest scores meant the units remained unfazed by their losses. It transpired that the uhlans - just - were also in good heart. 

All the same, General Eriksson pulled back his horse and foot, and redirected his gunfire upon Podolia infantry. Rather than wheel to take on the guns at short range, the M'yasma infantry, still quite in hand, in good order fell back upon the town. The embattled cavalry were also inclined to call it quits, the uhlans returning to the elevated ground, the cossacks to the river side of the east road.
The decision by Podolia infantry not to carry on the fight was possibly due to the arrival of the Ursaminor 4th Column - a regiment of dragoons, the Vastmanland Infantry regiment and the battalion of Jonkoping Jager. As they advanced deployed into the field, Butyrski Infantry were still filing through the streets of Hardbitten town, before deploying into line along the west face. 

The long range fire fight that soon developed as Butyrski deployed was more equal than the earlier had been, with the jager in skirmish order, advancing along the river bank adding their popping musketry to the Vastmanland heavier volleys.  This was to cause Marshal Bychovski some concern - enough to alter his river crossing programme and bring across the cavalry in order to vacate the south bank west of the town for his own light infantry. 

Before the 1st Jager were in any position to lend help, Butyrski Infantry were just barely holding on against the combined firepower of the two enemy units. They had also to concern themselves about the Kronoberg Dragoons off to the north flank of their immediate adversaries. The loss of the colonel, felled by a musket ball, decided the regiment upon a withdrawal into the town, where at least they would have the cover of the houses and walls, and would be safe from the enemy dragoons.

All this while, the Ursaminor artillery pounded the Podolia infantry, which had pulled back into the town and were lining the north face.

Meanwhile, the M'yasma troops were still pouring across the bridge, through the town and out along the east road. No threat had yet developed along that way. The hope was that before any such development, enough force could be gathered betimes that the column to the north might be swept aside. As it transpired, this was not to be. 

When the M'yasma jager deployed along the far bank of the river, their Ursaminor counterparts very soon disengaged from their firefight with Butyrski, which unit had withdrawn into the cover of the town. To keep up the pressure, Vastmanland infantry formed into an assault column and flung themselves upon the suburb of the town that projected itself like a bastion along the west road. Though this sector was peopled by the Butyrski grenadier company, they failed to stop the importunate Ursaminorians breaking into the place and putting most of them to the sword.  
It was not quite enough. Though getting much the better of the encounter, the Ursaminor infantry were unable to push further into the town, and, as the enemy remained unbroken and still full of fight, deemed it meet that they withdraw from the place. That pretty much ended matters - at least for the time being - in this sector of the field. 
This left the eastern flank of the field. Immediately upon emerging from the town's eastern exit, Galicia infantry deployed in line to face the ridgeline. Behind them the Chevalier Garde were marching to take up a position upon their right flank. Such a development seemed promising, but was spoiled by the discovery of  more Ursaminor troops - two infantry regiments - marching up and alongside the road.

Malakhov Cossacks having recovered from their earlier encounter, was at once dispatched to engage the enemy on the road. There the way passing through a forest formed a defile, and awkward place for the cavalry to fight. Not a simple matter for infantry, either, but the lead company were grenadiers. Emptying many a saddle before contact, they deprived more mounts of their riders in the close quarter scramble. The cossacks soon routed away with losses heavy enough to put paid to anything that might be further expected of them in this battle. The grenadiers of Sodermanland Infantry lost hardly a man (i.e. zero figures).

For their part, the Uppsala Uhlans hoped at least to match their morning's partial success and charged the approaching Galicia infantry. The latter had already taken some loss from the Ursaminor artillery. How the M'yasma troops wished their own guns across the river, but they had been deployed on the south bank to cover the low lying ground between the town and the outlying farm along the east road. They never did find a satisfactory target.

But the Galicia troops had no need of their artillery. Calmly awaiting their assailants, they delivered a blistering volley, before sending the uhlan remnants back up the hill.

So far it had not been a good day for the cavalry when facing foot. So what might have been expected from the charge of the elite Chevalier Garde against the Ostergotland Infantry lined up between the forest and the marsh? It was a disaster. Even firing at a longer than desirable range, the accurate Ursaminor shooting staggered the cuirassiers - 4 figures lost.  In the melee the horsemen inflicted 5 'hits', but took 9(!). Resolved into casualties: 4 infantry to 6 cavalry. It seemed the Ursaminor foot were taking extreme umbrage at M'yasma's invasion! Faced with such a lashing, the Chevalier Garde incontinently fled towards the town.  
The Chavalier Garde charging to their ... 

That put a term to the battle. The invaders felt themselves unable to break out - certainly not to north and west, and, from the east, the two newly arrived Ursaminor infantry regiments, fresh from victories over M'yasma's cavalry, seemed unlikely to be overcome by Galicia and Ekatarinberg even though the latter had not yet seen action. They were still filing through the town.

Bit neither could the Ursaminor army quite break in and expel the invaders once and for all. The action slithered to an impasse whilst the survivors collected their dead and wounded and rallied the stragglers.

Although both sides, as is usual, claimed the victory - M'yasma claimed the capture of the town; Ursaminor to have halted the enemy advance beyond it - probably the latter had more cause to celebrate. Ursaminor had lost 41 figures overall; M'yasma 57 - and that included two colonels (Butyrski and Podolia).  In my campaigns, the side that keeps the field get back immediately half their losses as stragglers returning to the colours; the side that abandons the field get back one-third, the 'missing' sixth going to prisoners of war in the hands of the enemy.

Neither side had given way, so both sides recovered half their losses - 29 M'yasma, 21 Ursaminor. So total losses were 28 M'yasma and 20 Ursaminor figures. If we take 1 figure to 20 men, M'yasma lost 560, Ursaminor 400.

So: a deadlock at Hardbitten border town. Both sides, then, awaited with considerable trepidation the outcome of the encounter between the Ursaminor Field Marshal's own column and that of General Glupiev...

To be continued...

Wednesday, September 7, 2022

War of the Imperial Succession - Grand Duke Constantine's Ambition.

The news had yet to arrive at Herzogstvogorod of Altmark-Uberheim's discomfiture at the hands of Hessen-Rohr, when The Grand Duke Constantine sent forth his armies towards his northern borders. Long had he coveted the lands on the far side of the Unstroll River, which stream separated his realm from the Principality of Ursaminor. The increasing tensions and disturbances throughout the whole middle of Europeia seemed to offer a propitious moment to make good upon his ambition.
Invasions - or attempted invasions - by Altmark-
Uberheim and the Grand Duchy.

Princess Ursula had but recently succeeded to the crown of Ursaminor, following the demise of Ursus Ursussson, the IXth of that name - not long before the Empress Harmonica had succeeded Violoncello VI.  The breaks in dynastic tradition - two females assuming the rule over two powers that made up a large proportion of Europeia - rather encouraged the less scrupulous rulers such as Constantine and King Draco of Altmark-Uberheim to think about personal and national aggrandisement at the expense of the recently bereaved realms.

M'yasma columns on the march.

King Draco was the first to set his forces in motion - a powerful army directed towards Hessen-Rohr. This invasion (see here) was less to acquire territory from the Markgravate, than to discourage the Markgraf himself from contemplating any mischief against his kingdom once its attention was drawn elsewhere. The invasion met with a severe check: a victory of sorts perhaps, but the mauling his army had endured at once put a term upon that enterprise. It would take time to rebuild his forces: Draco had to hope that perhaps the Markgraf's army was in worse case.  

Malakhov Cossacks (Airfix hussar figures with
lances added).

The Grand Duke Constantine was scarcely behindhand in sending forth his hosts. A small disturbance in one of the border towns on the Ursaminor side of the river Unstroll the Grand Duchy chose to construe as symptomatic of a more general unrest. The confusion of the transfer of rule to one supposedly ill-qualified by her youth - on top of being a 'her' - meant a breakdown of order, so ran the self-interested narrative. Such constituted an existential threat to M'yasma, was the story related by Constantine's unblinking ambassadors, should that unrest spill over into its border regions.

It was not long before a diplomatic note was being carried forward to Bjornburg to the effect that the Grand Duke had ordered troops - horse, foot and guns - at once to enter Ursaminor and restore order. Of course, the Grand Duke expected some recompense for this selfless action. A reasonable price, so ran the note of hand, was to transfer title of the disturbed borderlands unto the Grand Duchy's rule. Naturally, the Ursaminor government dispatched a swift negative response, and began to mobilise its own army. As the Ursaminor Army was not as large as the Grand Duke's, they also sent off an appeal to Schnitzel for Imperial aid.

Grand Duke Constantine organised two columns, ordered them to seize and secure passages across the River Unstroll, take the border town of Hardbitten, and push on to stake out a chunk of territory to be included within the Grand Duchy's expanded borders - oh, and to put down any and all unrest, of course. To take the town seemed to require the more sizeable column, under the command of the aggressively minded Marshal Bychovski ...
Butyrski Infantry crossing the border river
bridge into the town. Marshal Bychovski 
watches on.

The columns comprised:

Grand Duchy of M'yasma

Main body: Marshal Boroslav Bychovski
Butyrski Infantry - 36 figures
Podolia Infantry - 36 figures
Galicia Infantry - 36 figures
Ekaterinburg Infantry - 36 figures
1st Jager - 21 figures
Chevalier Garde - 19 figures
Malakhov Cossacks - 19 figures
A Battery, 1st Artillery - 9 figures, 2 guns.

Totals: 165 foot, 38 horse, 9 gunners - 212 plus 2 guns.

Detached Corps: General Ivan Glupiev
Tver Infantry - 36 figures
Apsheron Infantry - 36 figures
Ingermanland Dragoons - 19 figures
Pavlograd Hussars - 19 figures
B Battery, 1st Artillery - 9 figures, 2 guns

Totals: 72 foot, 38 horse, 9 gunners - 119 plus 2 guns. 

The Line infantry regiments comprised an HQ of 4 figures, a grenadier company of 8, and three line companies, also of 8 figures.
The cavalry comprised an HQ of 3 figures, and two squadrons of 8 figures each.
The gun battery comprised commander, two sections of a gun and  4 gunners, and a reserve of 2 gunners.

Total Invasion force: 237 foot, 76 horse, 18 gunners - 331 plus 4 guns.

To meet the challenge - news of M'yasma's mobilisation having reached Bjornburg betimes - the Ursaminor War Ministry in their turn set in motion the necessary counter-measures. The whole strength of the regular army was divided into four columns, the main one of which marched upon the likeliest crossing point of the Unstroll River, well upstream of the main border town of Hardbitten. The other three formed a species of cordon centred upon the town itself. When word reached the headquarters of General Ulf Eriksson, commanding the central of these three columns, he at once despatched messengers calling for a concentration before the town. They were just too late to prevent its occupation by Grand Duchy infantry....

The forces available to Ursaminor to meet the invasion were;

Principality of Ursaminor:

1st (Main) Column: Field Marshall Lars Slaggahand:
Livgarden Grenadiers - 28 figures
Tavastehus Infantry - 28 figures
Stalhandske Infantry - 28 fgures
Rikswacht te Paard Cuirassiers - 15 figures
Kopparberg Hussars - 15 figures
Artillery - 9 figures, 2 guns

2nd Column: 
Ostergotland Infantry - 28 figures
Sodermanland Infantry - 28 figures

3rd Column:
General Ulf Eriksson
Norrbotten Infantry - 28 figures
Uppsala Uhlans - 15 figures
Artillery - 9 figures, 2 guns

4th Column
Vastmanland Infantry - 28 figures
Jonkoping Jager - 21 figures
Kronoberg Dragoons - 15 figures

Total Ursaminor army:
217 foot, 60 horse, 18 gunners - 295 with 4 guns.

The organisation of the Ursaminor Army was similar to that of the Grand Duchy, but with 6-figure companies and squadrons instead of the eight. Given the exact same number of units on both sides in this encounter, the Ursaminor army was considerably weaker than their adversaries.

This action was based - very loosely - upon Scenario 18 'River Crossing' from the C.S. Grant book Scenarios for Wargamers. Having pushed one infantry and a cossack unit across the river and into the town, the remainder of the M'yasma army's 'Main Body' had yet to cross the river.  For this action, I decided against using boats, and allowed there was a single bridge by which a route column might make the crossing. Even then, it would be quite a while before the whole force would be gathered upon the north side of the river.

As the M'yasma advance guard emerged from the north face of the town, a column of Ursaminor troops - horse, foot and guns - could be observed approaching from the north. This was the Ursaminor '3rd Column' under the direct command of General Eriksson.  The other two columns were on their way, their arival being determined by dice rolls.  A single D6 die roll determined the move number of arrival, deployment just in from their respective table edge constituting their first move.

This was the upshot:
4th Column arrived from the west on Move 2
2nd Column arrived from the east on Move 6.

Meanwhile, 1st Column was never going to involve themselves with this action.  They had their own battle to fight...

Opening clashes...

To be continued: River Crossing: Battle of Hardbitten.