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.