Saturday, 31 July 2010

Cavalry Clash at Seehausen

The action in our campaign has finally moved away from the area around Menningen, northwards to Seehausen which is a small town on one of the Elbe crossings.  Nicks Allied army of Pomerania has advanced to take on Erics French army of the Weser and rather than be caught with his back to the Elbe Eric has moved out to meet him.  Initial deployments saw Eric station one infantry corps to hold his centre with his flanks covered by the small amount of cavalry he had available at the beginning of the game.

The battlefield from the northeast.  The Allies prepare to deploy on the far table edge with the French defending a line based on the two villages.

The ground on the French left is very open and perfect for cavalry operations.  However initially Eric only had two regiments of light cavalry to cover the space and it soon became clear that the Allies had also spotted the potential for their cavalry to exploit the area.

Russian infantry deploy to assault the French centre.

Fortunately for Eric his reinforcements arrived in good time and heavy cavalry was rushed to cover the space left by the withdrawing lights.  It soon became apparent that both sides had stationed a large amount of cavalry on the same flank and that a major clash was likely to occur.  Elsewhere the Allied infantry in the centre moved slowly forward to take on what appeared to be a very tough defensive position and on their left yet another heavy cavalry formation threaded its way forward through the woods and steep hills towards the remainder of the French cavalry.  It was very clear however that the first phase of the battle was going to be a large cavalry combat on the Allied right.

Cuirassier and Dragoons take up position on the left flank to oppose the Allied advance.

There was enough open space for each side to line out on a four squadron frontage but in taking time to do this the Allies lost the numerical advantage they initially enjoyed as more French cavalry joined the line.  In the end both sides declared charges against each other and the combat began.  We decided to treat the whole thing as one combat which in retrospect was probably wrong as there were issues regarding the reinforcement of melees which had to be ignored.  This probably worked to the benefit of the French but it's unlikely the effect would have been crucial.

French Cuirassier,Dragoons and Chevaux Legier mixing it with Russian Cuirassier, Dragoons and Uhlans.

The combat was epic to say the least and continued for three rounds of melee but eventually the fact that the French had the ability to continually outnumber the Russian cavalry with fresh squadrons made the difference and the Russians broke.  This has left a very large hole on the Allied right and though the French cavalry will take time to recover its order, the Russian infantry in the centre is now going to have to form some sort of defensive position on its right flank which will obviously have to come from the troops designated for the push against the centre.

The Russian centre prior to the cavalry combat.  These troops will now have to suffer the attentions of roving French heavy cavalry.

So first blood to the French and a difficult situation for the allies, but we're still only on turn seven and plenty more can happen to change the ebb and flow of the game.  No game next week as several people can't make it so my next blog update will feature some of the new units which have arrived in the past few months.

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

There's been a lull in blog related activity of late, mainly because our second Menningen game was abandoned after both commanders decided that there was little to be gained by continuing but also because last week we all packed our bags and headed off to Scarborough for a long weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre.  I'll briefly cover the fallout from the Menningen game first of all, both sides having taken moderately heavy casualties in certain formations made the decision to withdraw.  The Allies pulled back their advance division in Menningen and the French withdrew to Schweinfurt.  In retrospect it wasn't the best game we've had due to the lack of involvement for several players.  I have to put my hand up for that as I allowed Neil to set up too far forward on his initial deployment.  what I should have done was adjudicate an opening encounter and then got the players to set up for a larger scale game.

Chris Cornwell (aka itinerant wargamer) gives his dice a good talking to, Mark Freeth wonders about his sanity.

So, as I said we all headed up to sunny Scarborough in Gods' own Yorkshire on thursday to play a couple of games on a truly grand scale.  The first game was loosely based on Corruna, an indication of how loosely based it was is that I had command of the Kings German Legion.  This didn't of course detract from the game which I think ended in a marginal victory for the French.  One of the odd but possibly realistic things that happen on a thirty foot long table is that you have no idea about what is going on outside the player to your left and right.  This can often result in people being convinced that having won in their sector they were on the victorious side, only to discover that large parts of their army are streaming from the the battlefield.

A nice shot from the Corunna game, British infantry attempt to cling on to the two central villages which are the key to the game.  In the background Chris continues to berate his dice.

The game lasted until about two o'clock on Friday, and then we packed it all away and started the briefings and planning stage for the battle of Goerlitz.  This is a fictional encounter in 1813 btween the Allies and the French commanded by Napoleon.  Initial dispositions have the French thinly spread but with reinforcements arriving quickly.  The Allies have the initial advantage in numbers but their reinforcements arrive at a much more leisurely pace. 

The French take the first of the two villages at Corruna, in the centre of the shot are the "terrible 57th" (white shako covers) leading the line.

On the Allied right flank Eric discovered that his single corps was being assaulted by two French corps and was slowly forced further and further back.  In the centre the Russians had more success and were able to push the French out of their defensive line.  On the left Gordon and myself found that his infantry corps and my cavalry corps were opposed by seven regiments of light cavalry and lancers which meant that we had to get forward as quickly as possible before French reinforcements turned up.

Russian Guard infantry storm a French held village with great elan.  This village had previously been held by the Poles and had cost the Russians heavy casualties in an unsuccesful attempt to take it.

The battle swung back and forth as they have a tendency to do and I became involved in my own little section of it so I can't really say what else was going on for much of the time. Gordon on my left was able to occupy a village covering the river crossing on our left flank and I was able to force back the light cavalry with my heavies.  All was going well until the sound of bugles and a cloud of dust heralded the arrival of the entire French Guard on our unguarded left flank.  Two divisions of Young Guard and one of Old Guard plus the Guard cavalry meant we had to redeploy quickly.  Fortunately they would have to cross a river first and this allowed Gordon enough time to turn to his flank and deploy into some semblance of a defensive line. 

The final act for the French cavalry, all that was left of the Saxon Garde Du Corps and the 1st Carabinniers after an abortive attempt to take on more than twice their number of Russian heavies.

Gordons' troops were never going to much more than a speed bump but they played their part and delayed the Guard for long enough to allow the Allies to take the centre.  The final result was a marginal Allied victory, depending on who you listen to of course but as always we all had a great time and that's really the only thing that matters.
         Tomorrow night we continue the campaign with the battle of Seehausen. Neil is away for a couple of weeks so you'll have to make do with my photography but I'll try to get a blog update done at the weekend.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Second Menningen

You could forgive the good folk of Menningen for being just a little bit fed up with our current campaign.  After the defeat of the French army of the Saale and its subsequent retreat towards Fulda, Neils' allied army of Bavaria-Ansbach took the opportunity to rest and recouperate at the scene of their triumph.  However their relaxation was cut short by the news that the French army of the Danube had left Wurtzburg and was now advancing up the road from Schweinfurt.  Neil had the option of standing his ground or retiring towards Widensong with the disadvantage that this would leave his army unrested, being a wargamer he decided on the former.

Russian heavy cavalry, dragoons and cuirassier, show the plucky but short lived French lights the pointy ends of their swords.

Like the Allies before them the French were attacking northwards towards Menningen though this time the  difference was that the Allies had decided to contest the southern suburbs of the town by placing and avant garde division and a heavy cavalry division in the area.  The remainder of the Allied army was drawn up in a line based on the Menningen - Widensong road some distance to their rear.  On the face of it this left the avant garde force in a dangerously isolated position.

French Infantry supported by heavy cavalry advance into the open ground opposite Menningen.

The French deployment left them with a corps directly in front of Menningen and the remainder of their forces arrayed in a mass with a large open space to their front.  Things were looking bleak for the isolated Allied division as more and more French troops arrived and began to move in to position to cut off their avenue of retreat.  Unfortunately for the playability of the game it appeared that the French had no intention of engaging the main Allied force and were solely concentrating on destroying the Allied avant gard.  This meant that at least two of the Allied players would be reduced to the role of spectators.

Austrian infantry and artillery feeling a little unloved await the onslaught.

The initial action commenced with a cavalry combat on the Allied right between Russian curassier and dragoons, and French light cavalry.  The result would prove to be an indicator of French fortunes for the rest of the evening.  The heavies swept away their original opponents and though the dragoons returned to their own lines the cuirassier rallied on the spot and crashed into more light cavalry.  Very quickly two regiments of French light cavalry had been effectively taken out of the battle for little loss to the Russians.

French infantry experience more bad luck while assaulting Austrian veterans.

In order to achieve their aim of destroying the single Allied division the French opted to assault the woods where most of the Allied infantry was located.  Three columns moved into position supported by close range fire from their artillery.  The Allies charged in and suffered only two casualties per battalion from defensive fire but this was enough for one of the attackers to decide that discretion was the better part of valour and break into retreat.  Even with this setback the remaining two battalions were still confident of success and crashed into the line.  Being in column they immediately became unformed in the woods but their impetus and numbers meant that that they won the first round of melee.  Amazingly the line passed its morale and was reinforced by another battalion in line which was able to maintain its order.  The second round was lost by the attackers and they broke, routing away from the woods.

French Lancers and Austrian Hussars mixing it, once again the dice Gods interceded on the side of the Allies.

On the Allied left the mass of French cavalry continued to advance, being opposed by only a single regiment of light cavalry.  The Lancers finally got into position to attack and both sides charged, the French were able to get heavy cavalry in place to reinforce the melee in the second round whilst the Allies had no one to call on.  Once again the French failed to do enough damage whereas the hussars achieved seven kills.  The lancers broke and the hussars pursued, neatly extracting them from the danger of the hovering dragoons.

French Cuirassier regiments waiting to make their impression on the battle.

Due to the centralised nature of the game we got through eleven turns pretty quickly and though there was little for some of us to do it was still an interesting contest.  By the end of the evening the avant garde despite having fought off the initial attacks were beginning to get cut off by the advancing French.  We'll have to see next week whether to come to an adjudication of the game or whether there is any value in playing a few more turns.  Stay tuned.