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:


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.


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.