Sunday, 12 February 2017

Trentown: An AWI scenario

After a long absence Steve's AWI collection featured in this week's battle.  This was a fictional scenario based on Trenton and/or Germantown.  A brigade of Hessians has been billeted in the sleepy settlement of Trentown and a large force of American troops is advancing towards them on three roads.  There are some British troops in the neighbourhood and they have heard whispers of a possible American attack, but the time of their arrival is uncertain.  The Hessian units were represented by markers (including a blank), so the American player did not know exactly where the defending troops were.  American troops were allocated to the roads by their commander, but he was not certain which brigade would arrive when, so uncertainty prevailed.   Here are three views of Trentown before hostilities began

The farm and barn on the northern outskirts of Trentown

From the farmhouse looking south towards Trentown

View from the opposite side of Trentown
A roll of the dice allocated command of the Hessians and British to me, whilst Steve commaned the Americans.  I placed a unit of Fusiliers in the farmhouse and a unit of jaeger in the barn.  The two units of musketeers were in the church and mansion, whilst the grenadiers were in the half timbered house.  All the Hessian units needed to pass a die roll to be 'activated'.  This became easier as the turns progressed and also if shots were fired.

Steve had the initiative and his first brigade, Archers, entered the table and began to advance towards the barn and the half timbered house.  Fortunately for the Hessians, one of the locals was having his morning walk, (around his rabbit snares) and saw the advancing Americans and ran back to the town.  The first building he came to was the Buchanan House, where the Von Dornop's Musketeers were billeted (the building on the left in the photo above).   The colonel was an early riser and immediately ordered his men to arms.  Behind Archer's brigade were Betsrman's and they began to advance straight along the road towards Trentown.  Although he was detained by the colonel of the Von Dornop Musketeers the local eventually roused the grenadiers in the half timbered building across the road.  Their commander decided the best course was to hold the house and ordered preparations for its defence. Von Dornop's Musketeers formed up outside the Buchanan House and advanced to the fence ready to defend the outskirts of Trentown.

Von Dornop's form up
Archer's leading unit, some riflemen, was nearing the barn occupied by the Hessian jaegers.  The jaegers were alert and when they could identify the enemy officers picked them off to such effect that the American skirmishers had to fall back to rally.  Major Steiner, who commanded the jaegers requested that Major Wedel bring up his fusiliers to the right of the barn to fire on the flank of any American units attacking the barn.  They reached their position just in time to fire a volley that sent another of Archer's battalions reeling back to rally.

In the centre, Von Dornop's men had begun to fire at Besterman's leading battalion as it marched up the road, forcing it to deploy into line.  The Hessians were getting the better of the musketry duel until Benedict directed Archer to move one of his Continental battalions to join in the fire on the Hessians.  When Besterman's artillery also joined in the writing was on the wall and with losses increasing the musketeers had to fall back behind the Buchanan House to rally.

Chamberlain's Dragoons
Duggan's infantry
However, it was a case of 'out of the frying pan and into the fire' because Duggan's brigade was advancing up from the south towards Trentown.  Duggan's leading unit, Chamberlain's Dragoons had already moved off the road and eastwards to observe the roads along which any British reinforcements would arrive.  Behind Chamberlain Duggan's infantry had deployed into line and fired a volley into the Hessians.  Von Dornop's men attempted to reply in kind, but  caught at a disadvantage had to fall back again, this time beyond the church.  This was held by the second Hessian musketeer battalion which attempted to drive back Duggan's men with musketry.  Undaunted, the Americans fired a volley and then charged.  The resulting melee was fieerce and prolonged, with no quarter sought or given.  Eventually, the Americans had to fall back, but the Hessians were so shaken by the fight that they too retired to lick their wounds.

Duggan's attack gains momentum
This left the grenadiers as the sole Hessian unit holding Trentown. Doggedly and with great resolve they held off the attempts of Besterman to seize their position.  Archer made another attempt to secure the barn and farm and was successful in forcing the fusiliers to fall back,  However, the jaegers in the barn stood firm and repulsed all attacks; their accurate fire inflicting heavy casualties.
Tha American attack develops
The final American brigade, Clarke's, now arrived from the west and advanced along the road to Trentown.  Able to remain in column because Duggan and Besterman had driven off the msuketeers, it made a rapid advance on Trentown.  It was just as well, because the British reinforcements had begun to arrive.  On the northern road was Courtney's brigade, led by a unit of light dragoons.  To the south Dalrymple led a veteran brigade including a battalion of converged grenadier companies.  Lord Abercorn, the British commander had issued orders for the brigades to advance to the north and south of Trentown respectively and then, with the Hessians holding the centre, attack the flanks of the Americans.

Courtney's men arrive

Clarke's men enter Trentown

Dalrymple set to his task with a will.  Ordering his rifles to harass Chamberlain's dragoons the grenadiers were to lead the attack south of Trentown, straight at Duggan's men.  One volley from the grenadiers drove a unit of militia back in disorder.  With line battalions supporting each flank of the grenadiers, the British  line swept forward.  Duggan galloped up to the battalion which had just recovered from the melee to capture the church.  The tattered ranks faced this new threat and fired two devastating close range volleys.  The grenadiers staggered and then stopped attempting to regain their order.  A third volley sent them reeling backwards.  The gallant Americans had no time to celebrate.  A volley from Fraser's regiment ripped through their thinned ranks and forced them to retreat.  Dalrymple ordered forward his artillery to 'soften up' the rebels before resuming his attack.

Courtney's advance was more circumspect.  His light dragoons observed Chamberlain's men whilst the light troops sniped at them.  The infantry battalions advanced towards the gap between the farm and barn held by Major Steiner and the town of Trentown.  Courtney could see that the Hessian musketeer battalions were struggling to hold their position against Besterman, and with Clarke's men now arriving the Hessian position was perilous.

Chamberlain's men on the move

The destruction of the grenadiers
Chamberlain found himself in an unenviable position.  He had fallen back to reduce casualties from the British skirmishers, but had little freedom of action as he was hemmed in by hedges.  The only escape route took him nearer to Dalrymple's brigade.  With the British light dragoons giving signs that they were readying for an advance towards him Chamberlain ordered a turn to flank and move at best speed to the right.  Ignoring fire from the British skirmishers the Americans galloped along the road.  A gap appeared on their right and they went through it.  To his delight Chamberlain found himself behind the British lines and with a reforming battalion of grenadiers to his front.  Sensing an opportunity he ordered 'Form line' followed by 'Charge!'.  The American cavalry swept forward and caught the British infantry before it could react.  Caught at such a disadvantage the British infantry had no chance and were driven back in rout.  Sweeping on the Americans now overran the British artillery before it could deploy.  Only then did the line battalions sense the threat.  Fraser's attempted to about face, but they too wilted under the sabres of the American dragoons.  In 10 minutes the whole balance of the battle had changed.

Fraser's routed
The British light dragoons had been surprised by the American manoeuvre and although they had pursued their quarry they had arrived too late to prevent the destruction of Dalrymple's attack.  However, they did extract some revenge by charging and defeating the American cavalry, but were driven back by volleys from Duggan's infantry.

Courtney's light infantry fire into the flank of Clarke's men
Clarke's men had pushed through Trentown and were firing on the flank of the rather battered Hessian musketeers.  The British light infantry, released by the movement of the  American cavalry now intervened, firing into the flank of Clarke's leading battalion and forcing it to fall back.  A kind of  stalemate now developed with neither side able to gain the decisive advantage.  Abercorn directed Courtney to support the remaining Hessians in the vicinity of Trentown whilst Dalrymple was to put as much pressure on Duggan as he could.  Benedict ordered Archer and Besterman to concentrate on evicting the grenadiers from Trentown, prior to a general advance between the town and the farm to the north.  Clarke was to push on between the Hessians and Dalrymple whilst Duggan was to hold Dalrymple in place.

Brave as they were, the grenadiers were eventually forced to fall back by the combination of artillery and musketry fire which swept their position.  As they fell back they were hit by musketry from Clarke's men and the retreat became a rout.  The musketeers also broke under the sheer volume of fire directed at them.  Courtney's men tried to hold the line, but with their left flank 'in the air' were shredded by volleys from Clarke's men.  When Dalrymple's last remaining unit broke due to casualties received in its fire fight with Duggan Abercorn ordered the retreat.  The gallant Hessian jaegers and fusiliers fell back in good order, holding Archer's men off.  The remaining Americans were too weary to pursue.

Monday, 6 February 2017

Vapnartak 2017

It's the first Sunday, so it must be Vapnartak.  Once again Steve, Will and I ventured across the Pennines to the Vapnartak show at York.  With the Lance & Longbow Society not hosting a game this year we didn't need to be at the venue quite so early, so it was past 11 am when we arrived.  Not surprisingly we were in the overflow carpark and there was quite a crowd when we got inside.  There were plenty of traders in evidence,   In its usual place was the static 'game' by the York War Games Society.

Now the modelling is very good and the figures painted to a high standard, but the display takes up a lot of room and perhaps next year the society could feature a different project?  Rather different was a game involving Vikings and various fantasy beasts.

For me, the most interesting game was the Kriegspielers Kut game.  Plenty going on and a good number of players.

The participation games were mostly on the second floor balcony overlooking the course.  There was plenty of variety with two 'Wings of War' games, cowboys, and a  Lion Rampant medieval skirmish. In addition there was the Harrogate Wargames Club's 'Men Who Would be Kings' game which attracted a good number of players.

We all had a good day, and many thanks to the YWGS for doing such a good job of organising the show.  I realise that putting on a show like this is a thankless exercise in 'trying to get a quart into a pint pot', but if I could suggest that more space be allocated to the Flea Market, (my one visit was off-putting because of the crush), and perhaps the participation games could be better signposted within the venue?  More photos can be found on Will's blog

Saturday, 28 January 2017

The Retreat continues: a further Ga Pa scenario

Following on from my previous post, the Russian withdrawal eastwards from Grodno continued. Ogilvy requested reinforcements and Moscow sent a brigade (4 battalions of veteran infantry) to strengthen his force.  Encouraged, Ogilvy sought another delaying position to inflict further losses on his pursuers.  Near Ostrino he found what he was looking for.  Although it lacked a ridge, his chosen position had both flanks secured by woods, ensuring that once again the Swedish army would have to make a frontal attack.  Ogilvy deployed his infantry in the centre.  The brigade of Schlepin in the first line, supported by Rostov's brigade.  On the right was Repnin's brigade of veteran infantry.  The few Russian guns were placed in the centre.  On each flank were brigades of dragoons, Menshikov on the right and Denisov on the left.  Ogilvy held the small regiment of Horse Grenadiers as a reserve in the centre, behind the infantry.

The Swedes under Rehnskjold had not been idle.  Reinforcements had been gathered from each garrison and force-marched to join the main army.  Rehnskjold's force now consisted of 9 battalions of infantry in two brigades (Horn and Sparre) and two brigades of horse, (Krassow and Hummerhjelm).  Although outnumbered the Swedes were the more experienced force and keen to avenge the check that they had received at Ogilvy's hand.  Reaching the Russian position, Rehnskjold deployed his force with Krassow's horse on the right wing, then Horn's infantry, Sparre's infantry and finally Hummerhjelm's horse.  His plan was to make a general advance, probing for a weak spot then use his horse to break the enemy line.

Above is an overview of the table before the action started.

Menshikov's cavalry

Repnin's brigade of infantry
The Swedish foot prepare to advance
The whole Swedish line advanced and although the Russian artillery worked hard, they were unable to stem the tide.  First into action were Hummerhjelm's horse.  Menshikov's dragoons were slow to deploy and the Sibersk regiment was driven back in disorder by a charge by the Skansa regiment.  To the right of Skansa were the Uplands regiment.  They were also successful, but were disordered by the melee and whilst they regrouped, the Semyonovsky regiment advanced and fired a devastating close range volley.  Such were the losses that the Uplands regiment took no further part in the battle. On the opposite flank, Krassow's horse were also in action.  Densiov had decided that the best tactic was to use his dragoons' firepower to weaken the Swedes and then charge home.  Schlepin had provided extra help by deploying one of his battalions, (1st Tula) to provide flanking fire. Unfortunately for the Russians, the musketry fire proved totally ineffective when their men were faced by the onrushing Swedish horse.  The Moscow dragoons were totally defeated in the melee and fled, disordering their supports, the Vladimir dragoons.  It was only a charge by the Neva Dragoons which stopped the Swedish onslaught.

Krassow's horse drive off the Russian dragoons
In the centre the Swedish infantry continued their steady advance.  Once in musketry range they delivered a volley and then charged.  Against Repnin's veterans they were less successful, their Russian opponents standing their ground and giving as good as they got.  However, against Schlepin's battalions they made some headway, forcing the Russian line back.

On the Russian right, Menshikov's dragoons had regained the initiative.  Recovering from their initial combat with their Swedish opponents, they advanced against the Taube and Skansa regiments.  Once again the Semyonovsky regiment provided supporting fire and this helped the Sibersk Dragoons overcome the Skansa regiment and drive from the field.  An indecisive melee between the Taube and Czarinski regiments resulted in both withdrawing disordered.  A Russian advance against the Swedish left wing seemed a realistic prospect.  Ogilvy decided that he should commit his Horse Grenadiers to help Densov drive off Krassow's horse and thereby relieve the pressure on his left.  His confidence had been boosted when the 1st battalion of the Smolensk regiment had delivered a deadly volley to drive back the Swedish Grenadier battalion in disorder, just as it prepared to charge.    

The infantry prepare to charge

Artillery support can prove decisive
Rehnskjold, although giving grudging admiration for the steadfast defence of the Russians, issued orders to his brigade commanders to "press on!"  Although his command had been severely weakened in its struggles with Menshikov, Hummerhjelm gathered his remaining troopers together and taking position at the head of the Taube regiment, led them forward again.  Perhaps surprised at the speed and ferocity of the Swedish assault, Menshikov's men met the charge at the halt.  First the Sibersk Dragoons were driven back, then the Czarinski.  Menshikov's third unit, an amalgam of the elite troops of each regiment, was disordered by their fleeing comrades and then driven from the field by the exultant Swedes.  In no time at all, all plans for a Russian counterattack against the Swedish left were left in tatters.  Indeed Repnin's brigade, already holding off Sparre's Swedes, now had to deploy battalions to deter a possible flank attack by Hummerhjelm's horse.  Once again the Semyonovsky regiment saved the day, driving off the Swedish horse with a disciplined volley.

On the Russian left, Ogilvy's Horse Grenadiers had, by their presence, caused Krassow to pull back his leading regiments.  Sensing the opportunity for an attack, the Horse Grenadiers moved forward, but in doing so exposed their flank to Ducker's regiment of horse.  They charged forward anticipating an easy victory.  However, against the odds, the Russians held their ground and drove off their opponents.  With Denisov's dragoon regiments still attempting to recover from their earlier drubbing, Schlepin ordered 1st battalion Tula to advance and drive off the Swedish horse with musketry volleys.  Meanwhile Schlepin's remaining battalions were beginning to waver under the unrelenting pressure from the Swedish foot.  Rostov's brigade were ordered forward to support them, but all these battalions were untried new recruits.

The Horse Grenadiers charged in flank

Sparre's infantry press on
It was at this point that Krassow, seized the initiative and ordered the Hielm regiment of horse to charge the Tula regiment.  A scattered volley was ineffective and rather than meet the Swedish horse, the Russians ran.  Behind them were their 2nd battalion, who seeing the rout, joined in.  With the Abo and Ducker regiments advancing towards Denisov's dragoons, who seemed on the verge of quitting the field, the Russian left was in a state of collapse.

Hielm strike home
With losses amongst the infantry rising, no effective cavalry and increasing pressure on his centre, Ogilvy had little option than to order a withdrawal.  It was a Swedish victory.

This was a nicely balanced game.  When we broke off for lunch, it seemed as if the Russians, having weathered the initial Swedish attack, had the advantage.  However when we resumed and the Russian lines became more disordered, the command structure began to break down and the Swedes regained the initiative.
The wider frontage (fighting across the table, rather than along its length) meant that artillery did not become too powerful.  Unfortunately this also meant that there was not the same depth available for retreats etc.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Retreat from Grodno 1706: a Ga Pa scenario

The first game of 2017 involved an outing for the 40mm Prinz August figures.  I found a scenario on the Renaissance Discussion board on TMP, which had been devised by the Wyre Forest Group.  It is a fictional scenario in which the Russian garrison of Grodno has marched east towards its supports, just before the Swedes arrived to besiege the city. Closely pursued by a Swedish force, the Russian general, Ogilvy has taken up a strong defensive position to cover the withdrawal of his baggage train and heavy artillery.

Russian infantry on the ridge

The dragoons ready to advance
Ogilvy has taken up position on a low ridge flanked by two area of impassable terrain, forcing the Swedes into a frontal assault.  His force consists of 7 line battalions and 1 elite battalion supported by two light guns.  In reserve are three regiments of dragoons.  Advancing towards him are 4 battalions of Swedish infantry and four regiments of cavalry, supported by two light guns.  All the Swedish units are of better quality than the Russian (with the exception of the single elite Russian infantry battalion), and their commanders are more experienced.  However, the ridge does give an advantage to defenders in melee.

The Swedish infantry advance
The dice decreed that Steve would command the Swedes and as he won the initiative, he deployed and began to advance.  At first the Swedish infantry ignored the long range artillery fire from the ridge, but as the range shortened, losses rose and the leading elite battalion became disordered.  The leading Swedish cavalry unit also became disordered, but a supporting unit continued to advance and once within range charged the Smolensk regiment which was holding the left flank of the Russian line.  A totally ineffective volley failed to stop the horsemen and they crashed into the Russian ranks. After a brief resistance the infantry broke and fled towards the river, the door was open, could the Swedes exploit it?

The Swedish cavalry  take the ridge
Unfortunately for Steve, the Russians had done just enough to disorder the Swedish cavalry and their supporting units had failed to follow them forward.  The Swedish cavalry commander also failed to issue and order for them to reform, so they stayed stationary on the ridge, whilst the Russians struggled to plug the gap.

On the Russian right the front line of infantry were beginning to feel the effects of the Swedish artillery, but fortunately the Swedish infantry were too far away to drive home the advantage.

The Russian dragoons counterattack
As Russian commander, I had ordered the left hand unit of the second infantry line to refuse it's left flank to fire at any Swedish cavalry advancing from the ridge.  Unfortunately, being a 'green' unit attempting this manoeuvre had caused it to fall into disorder and it took the rest of the battle to successfully order it to recover.  However, the dragoons had managed to advance and were now in a position to attempt to drive back the Swedish cavalry.  After some hesitation they did charge and force the Swedes to fall back.  Buoyed by this success they advanced again and were successful a second time.

The high water mark of the Swedish advance
By this time the Swedish infantry had managed to force most of the Russian infantry off the ridge, but had taken heavy casualties from the Russian artillery.  With half his force hors de combat the Swedish  commander decided he had better withdraw and await reinforcements.  The Russians were content to repossess the ridge and bask in an unexpected victory.

The game had been closer than the end result suggested.  A crucial bout of poor dice for Steve robbed him of the chance of exploiting his early success.  Also he was not helped by the brittleness of the Swedish cavalry, which although powerful in attack was vulnerable as it had only one strength point. Also the restricted battlefield meant that there was little scope for the Swedes to avoid the artillery fire, which proved deadly at close range.  A few points to ponder before our next GNW game

Thursday, 29 December 2016


The interlude between Christmas and the New Year is traditionally a time for looking back over the previous year and assessing one's progress/success and lessons learnt.  In a wargaming context 2016 has been pretty good.  A high spot was my first visit to the Salute show in April, one thing I have been able to tick off the 'bucket list'.  There was also the Gentlemen Pensioners game hosted by Steve, which was great fun.

One of the spectacular games from Salute
One of my favourites, Medieval Russians
However, not all the shows were showing the same rude health as Salute.  Triples was, as I reported quiet on the Saturday and later in the year came the news that the 2017 show would not be taking place.  A sad turn events for a show which for a good number of years had been a firm fixture in my wargaming calendar.  Perhaps the organisers should have taken more notice of the way the York group have developed the Vapnartak show into the excellent event it now is.  One show which Steve and I attended for the first time made a very good impression, the WMMS show at Alumwell, we have made plans to visit again in 2017, with an earlier arrival time to enable us to park on the carpark!  One positive taken from all the shows Steve and I have attended  as part of the Lance and Longbow Society is the interest shown by visitors in how games are organised and the historical background.  Also, we always try and run participation games and almost without fail our 'victims' have played in the right spirit, taking the rough with the smooth

One of my less successful moments - the demise of my blue jackets!
The Nile steamers - always a problem; to both sides!
As far as gaming is concerned the major influence during the year have been the Pike and Shotte rules from Warlord Games.  Well over half our games have involved the rules, and we have tried out several 'amendments', not all of which have been successful.  The rules have proved themselves in all the periods they cover, from Italian Wars through to the Grand Alliance.  Below are scans of the supplementary playsheet that Steve and I use for our ECW games

The coming year we hope to develop our coverage of the Eastern Renaissance wars by painting up some Ottoman troops.  Our games involving the Poles, Cossacks, Tartars and Muscovites this year have been greatly helped by the Eastern renaissance supplement produced by Thaddeus Urban.  He is planning a revised version of this and details can be found on his blog .

ECW action
The Polish Hussars in action
Of course our other collections managed to get on the table this year.  Steve devised some intriguing scenarios for the Sudan collection and his AWI games are always close run affairs.  I was particularly glad to organise a few Shako scenarios and game with some of my 15mm chaps who are now nearing their thirtieth birthday.  Perhaps even older are the Prince August homecasts that Alasdair passed over to me.  They had a couple of outings and generated a good bit of interest.

We were less successful on the naval side.  We did get a few games in and tried out a couple of new rulesets, but the initial objective, re-fighting part of Jutland in the anniversary year eluded us. Perhaps we can manage it one year late.

Other 'failures' include the lack of progress on reducing the 'lead mountain'.  Painting has been very slow this year, due to many factors, but at least the 'mountain' hasn't grown by much, as I haven't bought any figures for six months.

In conclusion may I take this opportunity to thank all those who follow my blog and especially those who take the time to comment, your views are much appreciated. Please continue to let me know what you think of our efforts.  Thanks is also due to Steve, Will, John, Bob, Dave, Gary and the Gentlemen Pensioners for making the games during the year such fun.
All the best for 2017.