Thursday, 19 July 2012

A Couple of Short Scraps

It's been a couple of weeks since my last post but we have still been playing out the campaign in the meantime.  Our battle at Markendorf finished prematurely when even Nick, normally the most optimistic of commanders realised that he had no hope of success.  Outnumbered and outmanoeuvred Nick was forced to sacrifice his cavalry in order to allow his two infantry divisions to escape.  Only three squadrons survived to rejoin their comrades from the original twelve.  The surviving force withdrew to Osnabruck while Dom's Saxphalians having marched hard to reach the battlefield allowed their cavalry to carry out the pursuit and took the opportunity to rest the infantry.


Hanenburg heavy cavalry advance from the outskirts of Meissen.

It does appear that the idea of this being a campaign is gradually beginning to sink in.  Both Dom and Nick have been guilty of being a little cavalier in their decision making so far but are both now acting with more caution as the lessons of previous defeats are being learnt.  This has lead to a period of relative quiet in the western sector of the campaign area which is probably a good thing as fighting has now flared up in the east.

Hanenburg Heavies overpower their opposite numbers.

 
Hanenburg troops crossed the border into Saxphalia from Luckau and Grossraschen early in the campaign and were surprised to find little or no enemy resistance.  They quickly secured Elsterwerda and Reisa and then advanced to cross the Elbe east of Meissen.  Erics' small garrison at Meissen withdrew in the face of superior numbers and it was duly occupied by the Hanenburgers.  The reason for the lack of opposition was that Erics' initial deployment had been spread out from Erfurt to Dresden in an attempt to cover a larger frontage.  However this meant that it took much longer to concentrate in strength leading to the necessity of surrendering ground to gain time. 
Troops from the Saxphalian "Polish Legion" move into position.

Inevitably Eric felt it necessary to make a show of strength and having collected a viable force together he advanced two infantry divisions supported by a brigade of cavalry towards Meissen.  Neil decided to defend the position and took the field with a similar force of two infantry divisions and a brigade of cavalry, however Neils' divisions are somewhat smaller than Erics' so the advantage lay with the Saxphalians.  Things went well at first for the attacking Saxphalians, and Neil was clearly worried by the threat posed to his left flank by sixteen battalions of infantry.  He of course wasn't to know that this was mostly made up of militia troops and that all of them were suffering from fatigue having only arrived on the battlefield in the early hours of the morning.  Nevertheless Dom pushed on in his usual aggressive manner and began to gain the upper hand.
Hanenburg infantry counter-attack in the centre.

It all went badly wrong for Eric in the centre when he attempted to get three cavalry squadrons into position to charge one of Neils' foot batteries.  The first squadron was forced back by artillery fire as it deployed and the remaining two were decimated by cannister fire as they charged.  Unfortunately Eric had committed the cardinal error of deploying his infantry too close to the charging cavalry and they were pinned by the routing horsemen.  This fell perfectly for Neils' heavy cavalry which had been advancing to counter Erics' cavalry but now found itself with the tantalising target of unformed infantry.  The ensuing charge and breakthrough of the infantry alongside Neils' uncanny ability to rally on the spot set in motion a whole chain of small disasters for Erics' hard pressed troops resulting in a complete collapse of the Saxphalian centre.  As this happened Neils' flank attack which had been marching off table arrived on the board and though it wasn't in a position to immediately affect any of the fighting it was enough to decide Eric against continuing the fight.  Orders were sent to Dom to break off his attack and the Saxphalians began to edge off the table. 
     So another game finishes in short time but with big implications for the campaign.  Erics' troops won't get away unmolested and as the Hanenburgers have an overwhelming cavalry advantage with which to carry out the pursuit, the retreat will doubtless be bloody.
    Neil is away for a couple of weeks so we may take a break from the campaign for a little while this week, either way I'll report it all here in due time.




Sunday, 1 July 2012

Melee at Markendorf

I'm getting the feeling that no matter how much effort you make to design a campaign that rewards strategic thinking, nothing deters the inate desire of wargamers to create another battle just because they can.  Our latest encounter is a prime example of this with both sides making some very odd decisions in an attempt to contact the enemy. 

The local area of the recent fighting.

For instance having defeated the Saxphalian forces at Osnabruck and forcing them back Southwards the Hanenburg commander has decided to march his troops East towards Minden.  An area which he knows to be held by at least two enemy infantry divisions and a large force of cavalry.  Therefore he is not only marching to engage a potentially larger force but he has left Osnabruck with a very small garrison in the full knowledge that it is being observed by enemy cavalry which is backed up by an entire infantry division.  The loss of Osnabruck would leave his forces with no line of supply and he would be caught between two enemy forces.  There was a chance to redeem the situation when his lead troops bumped into an enemy cavalry force on the Osnabruck road, but rather than withdraw to Osnabruck he brought up the rest of his command and lined out to give battle the next morning.  The Saxphalian forces did likewise and so we now have a battle at Markendorf.  The Hanenburgers are heavily outnumbered with only 11,000 men against the Saxphalians 17,000. 

Saxphalians forces advance against the thin line of Hanenburg troops.

Of course the Saxphalians are also not immune to this strange behaviour.  Their commander having taken Minden without a fight sent cavalry recces out towards the Northwest at Uchte but neglected to verify what if any enemy forces were in Hanover.  Despite this lack of information he then set off Westwards towards Osnabruck leaving behind two battalions of militia.  These were both captured by the large Hanenburg force which arrived at Minden from, you guessed it... Hanover shortly after his main force had left .  The Saxphalian troops fighting the battle of Markendorf are now out of supply and were they to lose the battle, which in truth seems unlikely they would have little choice other than to surrender or escape South across the mountains.  Either option would of course lead to enormous loss of men and equipment and would force Saxphalia to sue for peace.  Things are actually worse than they appear at the moment for the Saxphalians but I can't say precisely how as this could affect decisions which are still to be made.

The Saxphalian centre pushes forward past Markendorf.

So as I reported earlier we now have a battle to fight at Markendorf.  The battlefield is on an East - West axis with the Saxphalians approaching from the West with their centre on the village of Markendorf and the Hanenburgers holding a line centred on the village of Buer.  The Hanenburgers are heavily outnumbered in both cavalry and infantry and the early moves have shown that the Saxphalians are determined to press their advantage knowing that there is another large enemy force in their rear.

Corsican troops forming part of the Saxphalian right wing.

The main assault has come against the Hanenburg right flank where Saxphalian infantry supported by two batteries and heavy cavalry have forced back the defenders from their original positions and are in the process of outflanking them.  It's now decision time for the Hanenburg commander and he'll have to weigh up the pro's and cons of standing and fighting or attempting to withdraw. 

The Saxphalian main assault having ejected the defenders is now manouvering to finish them off.

There was no continuation of the game this week as our dog Barney sadly passed away on the same day we were due to meet.  I thought it best for my other half not to have the hassle of lots of strange (and I use the word advisedly) men popping in and out of the house so we cancelled.  However we will be meeting up next week and I'll be reporting on how the Markendorf fight went, personally I can't see it lasting for too many more turns as the sides are so unevenly balanced.  Normally I wouldn't have played the battle and just carried out an adjudication, but the strategic implications are too far reaching for that and it would have been unfair on both sides.

The battle of Lutzen, The allies have pushed Neys' two outlying divisions back and are forming a defensive line to counter the newly arriving French.

Finally, five of us from the garage made the journey up to the WHC last weekend to refight the battle of Leutzen.  It was probably one of the best games I've ever played at the the centre either at its new location or when it was up in Scarborough.  All of us enjoyed ourselves immensely and Mark, one of our number who was making his first trip to the place was beaming from ear to ear all the way home.

Some of my very favourite figures from the Centre, Young Guard infantry from Connoiseur painted by Doug Mason.

The game was judged an Allied victory but to be honest it didn't matter as both sides had an excellent time and it was great to see Mark Freeth again.

Dom and Julian discuss  how best to use the Old Guard.  In the background Neil and Eric fight their own battle for the Allied left flank.

Next year we're going up for Erics' 50th birthday and as an unashamed Austrophile he's keen to do Aspern-Essling. 

Thursday, 21 June 2012

Decision at Osnabruck

Our first campaign game came to a close on thursday and resulted in a victory for Hanenburg, though for much of the time the Saxphalians held the upper hand.  Their initial assault had caught the defenders on the back foot and it was only the arrival of significant reinforcements which eventually tipped the battle in the favour of the Hanenburg forces.  Having forced the Hanenburg right flank to retire Erics' dragoons quickly dealt with the newly arrived enemy cavalry causing heavy casualties and blocking off the route for the infantry following close on their heels. 

Hanenburg Horse Artillery fire in support of their hard pressed cavalry.

The idea appeared to be for the attacking cavalry and their supporting infantry to sweep around the defenders' right flank and cutting them off from the road to Osnabruck.  However lack of numbers began to tell and as more and more Hanenburg infantry poured on to the field of battle Erics' attack began to run out of steam.  In addition to this the Saxphalian right and centre were beginning to crumble under the pressure of repeated attacks by the Hanenburg left.  These Saxphalian forces had a large percentage of second class and militia troops and their lack of training and experience eventually began to tell.

The Hanenburg left having held the line for much of the battle begin to counter-attack.

The fighting was still fierce in the centre with the Saxphalians committing troops to capture and hold the strategically important central village.  Dom captured it only to be thrown out in his turn by Nicks infantry who were themselves then ejected by an attack from the flank by Erics forces. Unperturbed by this setback Neils troops now charged in to recapture the village but were only able to hold it for one turn as Eric threw in yet more reserves to reclaim possession. 

Erics' troops occupy the central position only to be thrown out once again by Neils' infantry.

Incredibly there was one more throw of the dice for the Hanenburgers and they charged in once more to wrest control of the village from the enemy for a final time.  In all the village had changed hands four times but there was no fight left in the Saxphalian infantry and they were forced to concede the position.  This signalled the end of the action for both sides, the Saxphalians began a withdrawal from the field secure in the knowledge that their cavalry was sufficient to ward off any attempt at pursuit.  The Hanenburgers held the field and began the process of reorganisation.

Hanenburg infantry from Neils command retake the central village for the last time.

In summary it was a hard fought game with victory not certain until the closing moves.  An aggressive and well constructed plan had nearly paid off for the Saxphalians, and it was largely Nicks' decision to march his reserves overnight to support Osnabruck that saved the day for Hanenburg.  These troops were given a movement penalty throughout the game and the cavalry was only able charge two thirds of its normal range.  In addition the cavalry also had an extra round of walkabout to carry out after a withdrawal.  As might be expected casualties were heaviest for the Saxphalian infantry who were eventually outnumberd and outgunned.  This said the Saxphalian cavalry aquitted itself admirably and caused heavy losses to their opposite numbers at little cost to themselves.

Erics' left wing having fought all day finally begins to tire.

For those interested the forces deployed were as follows:

Hanenburg

1st Hanover Cavalry ( arrived turn 6)
2 x 24 Dragoons 1 x 24 Hussars

2nd Hanover Division
2 x 32 Veteran, 3 x 32 1st Class, 2 x 32 2nd Class, 1 x 4 gun 6lbr foot bty. (arrived turn 6)

3rd Hanover Division
1 x 32 Veteran, 1 x 32 1st Class, 4 x 32 2nd Class, 2 x 32 Militia, 1 x 4 gun 6lbr foot bty.

Saxphalia

5th Cavalry Brigade
2 x 32 Dragoons.

10th Infantry Division
1 x 36 Veteran, 2 x 26 1st Class, 3 x 36 2nd Class, 5 x 36 Militia.

Note: Due to the relatively small numbers involved infantry numbers were increased by 100% and cavalry by 50%.

So one battle down and probably lots more to come, we meet again tonight to move the counters around the map.





Tuesday, 12 June 2012

Campaign: First Moves

With the return of Eric from his travels in the North our campaign was able to get under way a couple of weeks ago.  I had naively expected a period of relative calm as both sides gathered information about each others strengths and dispositions but this was not to be.  With the campaign season commencing on the first of February eighteen hundred and something, Saxphalian forces set out from Munster and crossed the Hanenburg border South of Osnabruck around midday on the 2nd.  News of this was immediately relayed to the Osnabruck garrison and other units in the region. 

A Panoramic shot of the initial dispositions done using a handy little utility on my new phone.  Saxphalians mass before the defending Hanenburgers.

The horsemen of the 5th cavalry Brigade arrived on the outskirts Osnabruck during the late afternoon to find themselves facing a defensive position held by the 3rd Hanover Division.  They immediately opted to attempt a probing attack in order to assess the enemy's strength and as their supporting infantry arrived were able to ascertain that Osnabruck was held by an infantry division with no cavalry support.  It was too late to put in a full assault and so with the knowledge that they outnumbered the defenders in infantry as well as having total cavalry superiority they settled down to prepare for an attack at first light.

The theatre of action.  Saxphalia consists of Saxony, Westphalia, Hesse-Cassell and Bayreuth.  Hanenburg is made up from Hanover, Brandenburg, Pomerania and Mecklenburg.

Turn one saw the Saxphalian forces deployed with their infantry in an extended line facing the two defended villages held by the Hanenburg forces.  Their all important cavalry was almost exclusively massed on the left and this immediately made it clear that their plan was to turn the enemy right flank.  The Hanenburg troops were thinly spread and without cavalry had no way to respond to their enemy's tactics other than refusing their right flank. 

The site of the first action. 

By turn four things were beginning to look very bad for the defenders as their right flank came under pressure from heavy cavalry and massed infantry.  However at this moment the lead squadrons of the 1st Hanover cavalry began to arrive on table to redress the imbalance of cavalry forces.  With three regiments of heavy cavalry and a regiment of lights they actually outnumbered the Saxphalians and began to deploy into line to face the enemy horsemen.  Directly on their heels was the infantry of the 2nd Hanover Brigade which meant that for the first time in the game the defenders now also had a numerical advantage in infantry.

The 1st Hanover cavalry make their entry in the nick of time.

Nick the Hanenburg commander had made the wise choice on the previous evening to march these reinforcements overnight from Holdorf, they arrived somewhat weary, but had they not appeared the Osnabruck garrison would have probably been wiped out.  However far from being disheartened by this turn of events the Saxphalians continued to attack and scored several victories over the Hanover cavalry who it has to be said, were not particularly well handled. 

Saxphalian infantry begin to assault the centre, though these were pushed back this attack did allow their supporting troops to capture the village which formed the centre of the Hanenburg position.

Far from being thrown on to the defensive the Saxphalian infantry pushed on and ejected the garrison of the Hanenburg centre after a vicious melee.  Routing troops from the Hanenburg right flank caused even more problems as they disordered their newly arriving infantry, even causing some of these fresh units to retreat.  As the game reached turn fourteen the result is still very much in the balance.  The Saxphalians are reforming behind the shelter of a hill while the Hanenburgers attempt to bring order to their discomfited ranks.  The one piece of good news for the defenders is that the troops of the left flank, having seen off the attacking Saxphalians have advanced from their initial positions and now have a real chance of giving the Saxphalian right a mauling.  This is however an isolated fight and will have little bearing on the main point of conflict which is the Saxphalian left flank.

The extreme left of the Hanenburg position.  These troops are now actively pursuing their erstwhile attackers.

So it remains to be seen which side can make the most of their respective situations.  It will take a while for the defenders to sort out their reinforcements but they have the luxury of artillery superiority to buy them some time.  Whereas the Saxphalians face the choice of continuing the assault against fresh troops or holding on to what they have.  With the loss of so much of their cavalry the Hanenburgers will have to use what remains more wisely and it is possible that the Saxphalian cavalry superiority will be the deciding factor.
    We reconvene on thursday where it is likely that we'll see a decision one way or the other.

Sunday, 3 June 2012

By mutual consent our latest game came to a slightly early end this week with a win for the Allies.  The French gambit of throwing the majority of their strength in to an assault on their left nearly paid off but their weak right flank and centre were unable to hold on for long enough. 

Swiss and German infantry supported by lancers and hussars force back the Allied right wing.

It was an interesting plan which Justin the French commander came up with.  He placed two strong divisions on the left along with his entire cavalry force, supported by the fire of three batteries.  In the centre a division of young guard was given the task of holding the town which was the linchpin of that particular position, and on the right another division of infantry was placed in the relatively open ground.  The left was further reinforced by a Swiss division about mid-way through the action.

Almost the last hope for the embattled Prussians on the Allied right was these two squadrons of Russian dragoons.

Things started off well for the French and the Allies were caught off balance by their opponents deployment.  The Allied right had originally been the point from where Nick the Allied commander had wanted to launch his assault.  However his plan for a division of Prussian infantry to assault obliquely across the front of the French left and take the centre, without the benefit of artillery support was probably a little optimistic.  As it turned out this option was quickly ruled out by the size and strength of the French forces attacking from their left.
    It soon became clear however that the rest of the French line was thinly spread and the Alllies began to push troops forward in an attempt to breakthrough.

Russian infantry and artillery having turned the French right add their firepower against the struggling centre.

The first cracks started to appear when the French right flank began to break under the sustained fire of a Russian six gun battery.  This cleared the way for the assaulting infantry and the trickle of French retreats became a steady flow as more and more units broke under the pressure.  In the centre, the Young guard having faced off one assault by Russian infantry was swept by Prussian close range volley fire whilst attempting to reform.  This was too much for them and they were ejected from the central position.  This allowed the Prussians to occupy the village and they were now in a position to give some supporting fire to the struggling Allied right.

Cleared of Young guard the French centre now provided the perfect position for the Allies to fire directly into the flanks of the assaulting French left.

It was a good thing for the allies that these two attacks had been so succesful.  Most of the original division holding the Allied right had by now been routed from the field and only two battalions and a couple of squadrons of heavy cavalry remained of this force.  Fortunately there was a division of landwehr close at hand to help stabilise the position and with supporting fire coming from the centre the right hand units of the French attack started to suffer heavy casualties.

The final act for the French centre, with young guard routing all around them an 8lbr battery is charged down and routed by Russian infantry.

By turn eighteen the writing was on the wall for the French and at this point we decided to call an end to proceedings.  There was little left to fight for and besides, we wanted to be in a position to start the new campaign the following week.  What had started out as a pleasant interlude had turned into an interesting and absorbing fight.  The attack by the French left had certainly caught the Allies on the hop but by placing so much of their strength on one flank they were unable to pin the Allies in place across the remaining frontage.  The Allies were able to quickly assess the weakness of the French centre and right and take advantage.  In hindsight it is probable that had the French attacked on the left with one division supported by the arriving Swiss, and spread the remaining three infantry divisions across their front more evenly they may have enjoyed more success.  However hindsight always tends to benefit from 20-20 vision and there was no way for the French to know what the Allied initial deployment would be.

The final stages of the French assault on the Allied right.  Wurtemburgers  and assorted other Germans push back the remaning Prussian infantry.

So one game ends and another begins.  As I mentioned, we had been hoping to get the new campaign under way this week and as luck would have it we already have a battle.  On day three forces from the Serene Partonimy of Saxphalia crossed the border into Hanenburg and clashed with troops defending the town of Osnabruck.  I'll cover the ensuing punch up in the next post along with a description of what other moves have taken place, so if campaigns are your thing stay tuned.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Battle for the Centre

A new game with broadly the same forces as our previous one but this time on the other table using different terrain.  As we haven't yet been able to get the campaign under way we continued on Thursday with the smallish battle which we had started last week.  This time the French have made a bold decision to place the majority of their strength on the left flank in an attempt to crush the Allied right whilst holding on to their centre and their own right flank.

The French right, having taken the strategically vital village Neils' Russians push forward against a weak French division.

The strategy seems to be working on the left for the French, and the Prussians holding the Allied right flank appear to be cracking under the strain of overwhelming artillery firepower supported by infantry and what appears to be all of the French cavalry.  However time will tell if they have left their right and centre too weak to withstand the Allied attacks which are bearing down on them.

The French centre held by a division of Young Guard has already seen off one attack by Nicks' Russians but now has to weather the storm from an assaulting Prussian Division.

In the centre Andy's Young Guard were initially assaulted by a division of Nick's Russians.  The fight went to the full three rounds of combat but Nick was unable to dislodge the youngsters and his troops withdrew to reform.  Meanwhile however the wily Nick had pushed a smaller division of Prussians into the orchard outside of the village and this force is now in position to put in a second assault against the battered defenders.  In this scenario the Young Guard are rated as militia for firing and manoeuvre but as veteran for morale and melee and they'll need every advantage they can get if they're to hold off the concerted Allied assaults.

The attack on the Allied left is going well for the French, despite losing both cavalry melees so far they have ample infantry and artillery to make life extremely difficult for the Prussian troops holding the Allied right.

On the left the French have taken and maintained the initiative and are beginning to attack in force against the Prussian infantry to their front.  The Prussians faced a stark choice between annihilation from the fire of three batteries, or assault against equal numbers of Wurtemburgers.  They chose to assault but the firepower of the defenders aided by cannister was too much and they were unable to close.

A division of Prussian Landwehr take shelter behind a shallow rise.  As yet uncommitted, they should come in useful in the fight for the centre.

As things stand it's too close to call on how this game will pan out, and the fight in the centre will probably prove to be the crucial result for both sides.  The arrival of a Swiss division behind the French left appears to mark the last of the reinforcements for either side and these are currently heading to their right to shore up the central position.  Whether or not their comrades can hold out long enough for their arrival remains to be seen.

Another view of the centre, Prussian infantry in the orchard prepare to assault while in the background Russian infantry prepare to throw their weight into the melee.

Hopefully next week with the return of the wandering Geordie we'll have some news regarding the campaign and of course I'll be reporting on how the current game developed. 

Saturday, 12 May 2012

Russian Flankers

While awaiting the first map moves in the new campaign we've been filling the time with a small encounter battle which I briefly mentioned in the last blog update.  As yet there's little to report on the campaign front so instead here's a few pics and a somewhat one-sided view of this latest scrap.  The Russian and Prussian Allied force of six Russian infantry divisions, two Prussian divisions and a division of Russian cavalry were tasked with ejecting a combined Franco-German force form a defensive line linking two villages and with its right flank resting on a small river.

Wurtemburg infantry regroup after fighting off an asssault by Russian infantry.  In the background a Prussian formation lines up to make a second attempt for the Allies.

The French and German troops had at their disposal a division each of Westphalians and Wurtemburgers, a combined Hessen-Darmstadt and Cleve Berg division, a French infantry division and a division of young guard.  Finally added to this was a light cavalry division of three regiments. 
The Allies made the decision to attack in strength on their right while holding the centre with a small force supported by artillery.  On their left more Russian infantry made the link to the Prussians who had to cross the river before they could get into the action.

Having lost the left hand village and with their flank under combined artillery and infantry attack the French left begins to crumble.

The French deployment saw the Westphalians and Hessen Darmstadt troops holding the left with the young guard in the centre and the Wurtemburgers holding the village on the right.  The last French division was off table but was scheduled to arrive around turn six on the far right of the French position and on the wrong side of the river. 
    As it turned out both sides attacked on their respective right flanks.  The French for some reason neglected to fully cover their left and a strong Russian force was able to manouvre past their main defensive position and turn the flank.  This then allowed another Russian column to assault the main French defensive position which by now had become the corner of an "L" shaped position.  With no cavalry and little artillery support the the French left quickly buckled.

The French right, eight battalions of seasoned infantry advance to engage a Landwehr division which after the initial firefight simply turned and fled.

On the French right things went a little better,  with the Prussian a division already halfway through the process of transferring from one side of the river to the other the Landwehr which were waiting their turn to cross were dismayed to see the arrival of fresh French troops.  There would be no time for them to cross to safety and accordingly they shook out into line of battle to await the arrival of the French.  Sadly there were to be no heroic stands by the part timers and they were summarily swept from the field having hardly fired a shot.

Young guard infantry holding the centre of the French position.  These were eventually pushed forward to try and relieve the pressure on the French left but it was too little too late.

On the face of things with the successes of both right flanks it would appear to have been a drawn fight but in reality it was a comprehensive victory for the Allies.  The defeat of the Landwehr whilst admirable was effectively a sideshow taking place as it did on the far bank of the river and away from the main fighting.  Whereas by turning the French left the Allies had inflicted heavy casualties and were in a good position to pursue the broken German troops all the way to the banks of the river where few of them would have been able to escape over the solitary bridge.  The young guard would have been isolated and also forced to surrender or face destruction.

Wurtemburg foot artillery.  These are Firing Line miniatures and until the introduction of the new range from Front rank I believe they were the only ones available.

So an interesting game which finished early enough for us to clear the figures away and then start yet another one.  This one with almost the same forces but with some casualties having been removed and the introduction of a few reinforcements.  Hopefully by the next post we may have had some action on the campaign front but with Eric being away for the next fortnight topping up his Geordie accent we will have to rely on his deputies to carry out his movements.