Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Postscript to Shrewsbury

One very interesting item I missed in my post yesterday was the short presentation by Tim Williams on the British Civil Wars wiki.  This aims to eventually provide information on all units which took part in the civil wars.  The benefit is of course that, being a 'wiki' it means that anyone can supply information, so all those titbits of information which gamers may have squirrelled  away on local regiments can be added and thus be available to everyone.  The site can be found here

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Visit to Chirk and Shrewsbury

This weekend Steve and I attended the Helion "Century of the Soldier" conference at Shrewsbury.   The plan was to meet Steve and his wife there on the Friday evening, so on the way down, my wife and I visited Chirk Castle.

Seventeenth century drum

Collection of arms

Of particular interest was the collection of 17th century arms and armour collected by Sir Thomas Myddleton, the son of the civil war general.  In a further room was a painting of the battle of Budapest from the early 18th century

The conference had several papers presented on the theme of 'professionalism', starting with a discussion of what the term meant to people in the 17th century and how that compared with contemporary views.   There was plenty within the day to inform and inspire and we both came away with plenty of food for thought.

The programme was

Prof Malcolm Wanklyn  "The New Model Army and Politics, 1659-60

Serena Jones;  "A Professional officer?  Colonel George Lisle and professional reputations in the English Civil Wars, 1642-48.

Andrew Robertshaw; "Cavaliers on the field of Mars, the Honourable Artillery Company and the London trained Bands as the training ground for the officers of the 'London' regiment in the Royalist army 1643-46.

Peter Leadbetter; "Organising the perfect militia, the Liecestershire Trained Bands prior to the Civil Wars.

Simon Marsh;  "A Case of drakes,  James Wemyss and artillery innovation in the civil war.

John Barratt; " A Rabble of gentility?, the Northern Horse, 1644-45.
Prof. Malcolm Wanklyn - ‘
The New Model Army and Politics 1659-60’
Serena Jones- ‘
A ‘Professional Officer’? Colonel George Lisle and
professional reputations in the English Civil Wars, 1642-48’
Andrew Robertshaw - ‘
Cavaliers on the field of Mars: The Honourable
Artillery Company and Trained Bands as the training ground for
the officers of the ‘London Regiment’ in the Royalist Army 1643-46’
Peter Leadbetter-
‘Organising the Perfect Militia. The Leicestershire
Trained Bands prior to the Civil Wars’
Stephen Ede Borrett-
‘The Rank and File of the British Army 1667 to
1699 from the Deserters’ Notices in the London Gazette’
Dr Jonathan Worton -
‘The Advantage Of Cooperation And
Conjunction Of Forces: The Battle Of Montgomery And High
Command During The First English Civil War’
Simon Marsh - ‘
A Case of Drakes - James Wemyss and Artillery
Innovation in the Civil War’
John Barrett-
‘A Rabble of Gentility? The Northern Horse, 1644-45’
Helion & Company pop-up bookshop
We will be launching Serena Jone’s new
biography of Sir George Lisle, Jonathon Worton’s
new book on the battle of Montgomery and
Warwick Louth’s new book on civil war archaeology
and drill manuals. We will also be launching the
printed proceedings of the 2015 conference
The Pike and Shot Society will also be supporting
us on the day as the official partner of the event.
They will be launching their new publication on the
artillery train of the Earl of Essex’s army.
Tickets include lunch, a free guided tour of civil war
Shrewsbury (lasting around an hour) and unlimited
drinks during the day.
One of the world’s leading specialist publishers and booksellers of military history 0121 705 3393
of the
1618 -1721

Friday, 2 September 2016

Battle of Winceby 1643: a scenario for the Pike and Shotte rules

For our ECW game this week I decided to base the scenario on a historical battle rather than to the fictional Kelhamshire.  The choice settled on Winceby in Lincolnshire, a purely cavalry affair and although each force consisted of only c60 horse and 10 dragoons Steve and I had a most enjoyable days gaming.

Information on the battle can be found on:-

the Battlefields Trust website

Historic England

On my 6'x 4' table I arranged the terrain with the flanking features of Slash Hollow and Snipe Dales along the long edges.  A couple of barns were also included, though I suspect that they were not there in 1643.  Each army had 6 units of horse and one of dismounted dragoons.  One of the accounts says that the dragoons were deployed as a Forlorn Hope to cover the deployment of the horse.  Therefore we decided that there would be 3 rounds of musket exchanges prior to the battle starting. (In our post action chat we decided that it would have been interesting to dice to see if individual units were able to form up during this initial skirmishing)

The Pike and Shotte rules rate the early Parliamentarian horse as 'caracole'  , but as Cromwell's Eastern Association horse were present his command were rated the same as the Royalists.  The Parliamentarians thus had two brigades,  Cromwell's and Manchester's.  Opposing them were Widdrington's and Saville's brigades

Manchester's Horse

Cromwell's Horse
Saville's force
A roll of the dice gave Steve command of the Royalists and after the skirmishing between the two 'forlorn's' his cavalry moved forward.  Manchester's men were slow to respond, but Cromwell's seemed keen and quickly closed with Widdrington's leading regiment.  Shuttleworth's (for parliament) lost the melee and had to retire, but their victors had suffered too many casualties to follow up their triumph.  Indeed as they reformed they were charged by Cromwell's second regiment, Nutter's who drove them back in confusion.  Indeed their precipitate retreat disordered the unit behind them who were also driven off by Nutter's.  In no time at all, Widdrington's brigade was in danger of being destroyed.

Widdrington's men take on Shuttleworth's
However, not everything was going the Parliamentarian way, Shuttleworth's were charged by the Queen's regiment (from Saville's brigade before they had recovered from their lost melee and were routed.  The Queen's regiment swept on and reached a position where it threatened the rear of Manchester's brigade.  At this point Manchester leading unit was struggling to hold it's ground against the Royalist attack, but even so he had to order his reserve regiment to turn to face the threat from the Queen's regiment.  Slow response to this order by Clayton's regiment meant that Queen's had time to recover  from their earlier melee before the attack was launched.  When it was the Parliamentarians were overwhelmed by their more numerous opponents and driven from the field, it was only poor command (and accumulated losses), by the Royalists which saved Manchester from disaster.
Nutter's driven from the field.
Cromwell was still pushing forward, but accumulated losses slowed his progress.  Although battered, Widdrington still had all his units available, as did Saville and they outnumbered the Parliamentarians two to one.  One final attack by Widdrington routed the gallant Nutter's and they tumbled by through their supporting unit Livesey's who became disordered.  With only one viable unit I had no choive but to acknowledge Steve's victory.

The Parliamentary dragoons stand against the Royalist attack
After lunch we re fought the battle and this time the Parliamentarian's prevailed as they did historically, even down to driving Royalist units into 'Slash Hollow'.

Two enjoyable games with fortunes swinging back and forth.  The rules do make cavalry melees very fluid affairs, with opportunities to recover from setbacks.  It also drives home the need to retain a reserve.

Wednesday, 24 August 2016

Battle of the Somme film

On Saturday I visited a local museum which was screening a contemporary documentary film of the Battle of the Somme film.  The Imperial War Museum had digitally remastered the original which it holds in its archives.  Many of the images which crop up in programmes on the Somme seem to have been taken from this film.  It is in five parts, with 2 covering the build up to the battle and three of the first stages of the battle.  The cameramen (who were on the War Office 'strength') had the film back in London for editing within two weeks and the final version was on general release in cinemas before the end of August 1916.

Some scenes were obviously staged for the cameras as propoganda (eg , smiling 'tommies' marching up to the front line), but there are some which capture the mood with more realism.  Information on the Somme film can be found on the Imperial War Museum website  (the links relating  to the film are neat the bottom of the page.)

Thursday, 18 August 2016

Caldiero: the final phase

My apologies for the delay in posting the final report on the Caldiero scenario, but events conspired against me.  The previous post on Caldiero ended with Lotheringen and Pino fighting for control of Gambion on the French right flank.  In the centre Tolstoy was hanging on to Caldiero in spite of being pressed hard by Gardanne, but Duhesme's reserve division was poised to join the attack. Orlov was struggling to hold his position against Verdier and further to French left Mesenzov was being pounded by Massena's grand battery and threatened by D'Espagne's light cavalry.  On the French left, Molitor and Remesov continued their long range bombardment of each other.  Pahlen's light cavalry after driving off Molitor's skirmishers had returned to the ridge awaiting further orders from Bennigsen.

Play started with the expected French cavalry attack on Mesenzov, preceded by a final bombardment from the grand battery.  D'Espagne's cavalry swept up the slope and caught the 1st battalion of the Kexholm regiment attempting to form square.  The 1st Chasseurs hardly paused as they charged through the disorganised mass, scattering it beyond recovery.  Beyond lay the 12lb battery which had inflicted heavy losses on Verdier's infantry and the cavalry now closed on them.  They were met by a devastating discharge of canister which emptied many saddles and the few bold chasseurs which reached the guns were driven off by the crews.  To the right of the 1st Chasseurs, the 3rd Chasseurs had attacked Mesenzov's divisional artillery.  This had already been weakened by fire from the grand battery and offered only feeble resistance and the French cavalry swept over them.  However, behind the guns, Mesenzov's infantry had formed square, presenting a formidable barrier to further progress. Reluctantly, the 3rd Chasseurs fell back from the ridge to reform, leaving the huddled masses of Russian infantry to the tender mercies of the French guns.

The first wave of D'Espagne's troopers attack Mesenzov

The 1st Chasseurs charge the guns
Meanwhile on the French right, Lothringen's attack on Gambion was making a little progress.  The 3rd battalion of the Weidenfeld regiment had driven back the 1st battalion of the 1st Italian line regiment, but was then counter-attacked by the 2nd battalion of the same regiment.  Already weakened by musketry the Austrians broke and fled from the field.  Fortunately for Lothringen, the Lindenau regiment was able to hold the Italian surge,  The 2nd battalion of the Weidenfeld regiment pushed back 2 battalions of the 4th Italian line regiment and closed up to the outskirts of Gambion, although the village was still in Italian hands.

In the centre, Caldiero was also now in Italian hands.  The Grenadiers of the Italian Guard from Duhesme's division had driven out the 1st battalion of the 15th jaeger and given new heart to the battered divisions of Gardanne and Verdier.  Both now moved forward to attack again.  Gardanne was held by Tolstoy, mostly due to splendid spirit of the Lithuania regiment, which drove off attacks from two battalions of the 46th line; inflicting such heavy losses that they had to leave the field.

Caldiero falls to the Italians
Orlov was under more pressure.  Not only were Verdier's battalions pressing forward, but the second wave of D'Espagne's cavalry had moved forward in support.  In particular the 4th Chasseurs, having dispersed a unit of skirmishers, charge the 2nd battalion of the Smolensk Infantry Regiment.  These had just enough time to form square before the cavalry reached them.  Faced by the steady bayonets of the Russian infantry, the French cavalry had no option but to fall back to reform.

The Russian square halts the French cavalry
This proved to be the high watermark of Massena's attack.  He had control of Gambion and Caldiero and Tolstoy, Orlov and Mesenzov were all under heavy pressure.  However, D'Espagne's men needed time to recover and Massena only had the remains of Lasalle's division (two regiments) to pin Mesenzov and guard against an attack from Pahlen.  From his position by Mesenzov, Bennigsen had sent a courier to Pahlen with orders to attack the French cavalry.  Orders had also been sent to Berg, who commanded the grenadier division to move forward and retake Caldiero.  Berg reacted first and his six battalions of grenadiers moved forward with purpose.  After a delay, Pahlen ordered his men forward, but the leading two regiments, the Siberian and Polish Uhlans both suffered casualties from the French artillery.  When charged by Lasalle's regiments both were driven back in disorder. Pahlen's second wave stopped the French advance, but suffered heavy casualties in doing so.  The end result was that most of the cavalry on that sector of the field was now spending time recovering and it was down to the infantry and artillery.

At Caldiero Orlov was not waiting for Berg's grenadiers, he ordered the 2nd battalion of the 21st Jaeger to attack the Italian's holding the village.  This they did with elan, driving off the Italian guardsmen and reclaiming the centre of Bennigsen's position.  With the cavalry threat temporarily removed Orlov attacked Verdier again, breaking the 4th battalion of the 2nd Line and forcing the division to fall back to recover.  Massena had therefore to deploy Duhesme's remaining battalions to prevent Orlov moving any further forward.  This stopped any renewed attempt to recapture Caldiero.

Orlov's jaegers recapture Caldiero
Around Gambion, Lothringen had at last managed to deploy his infantry to advance around the village.  However, his first attack was met by devastating volleys from the battalions of the Italian Light regiments.  Lothringen's leading battalion, the 2nd battalion of the Weidenfeld regiment was shredded by the fire and this attack stopped almost as soon as it started.

This seemed a logical time to draw the game to a close and declare the result a draw, as it was historically.  The French attack on Caldiero had been repulsed with substantial losses, (Gardanne and Verdier having lost half their battalions), but Gambion still remained in Italian hands.  The divisions of Tolstoy and Mesenzov were too battered to exploit any French withdrawal.  Orlov too had lost almost half his battalions.  Berg was too far back to intervene and Frimont's cavalry had any forward progress  opposed by the French reserve artillery and squares of Gardanne's infantry.  Bennigsen had half his artillery batteries overrun some guns may be salvaged, but dead crew are more difficult to replace.

Many thanks to Steve for taking the role of Massena and making the game so enjoyable.

Monday, 15 August 2016

Britcon 2016

This weekend we attended BRITCON in Manchester and put on the Bauge game we ran at the Rage event at the Armouries in April .  The show was quite well attended and seemed pretty busy, especially when the competition gamers had a break.  There was a good range of traders and the bring and buy had plenty on offer (particularly if you were a fan of the Ancient period).

We managed to run through the game twice and on each occasion the English prevailed, but at the cost of losing the vast majority of their mounted troops, "it was the archers what won it!" as they say.

The end for the Duke of Clarence, leading his knights across the bridge

Salisbury takes on the Scottish pikes

The French knights attack
Our pitch was in the entrance hall and a good number of people stopped to chat to us about the game and the rules.  There were other games on offer, mainly Napoleonic.  A large (16' x 6') 15mm Austerlitz game by the Mailed Fist group caught my eye

A Waterloo game used far larger (54mm) figures to represent the attack on La Haye Sainte

A demonstration game promoting the "Hordes of Models and Buckets of Dice" set of rules was on the adjacent table

Many thanks to Steve and Dave for organising the Lance & Longbow attendance at the show and Gary, John and Will for helping run the game.

Friday, 5 August 2016

Battle of Caldiero part 2

Our second session began with Gardanne renewing his attack on Caldiero and the Lithuania regiment which was supporting the village on the left.  A determined attack by the two battalions of the 46th regiment got through the closing volley from the Russians and closed for melee.   Two more attacked the divisional artillery on Lithuania's left flank.  Although the infantry drove off their attackers with heavy losses, the artillery, which had been weakened by skirmisher fire was overrun and the French infantry were poised to move around the flank of the infantry defending Caldiero.

Gardanne's attack meets with some success
However, Frimont's cavalry were supporting Tolstoy and Lothringen and saw an opportunity to charge.  The Merveldt Uhlans surged forward and caught one battalion of the 54th regiment before it could form square.  In no time the remnants of the battalion were streaming from the field, with the majority of their comrades having been killed.  The Uhlans reined in and with great discipline, fell back to reform after their charge.  Gardanne was forced to form part of his division in squares to protect the flank of those who were still attacking Caldiero.  The only thing threatening Frimont's troopers was the fire from Pino's artillery which wanted to dissuade them from intervening in the struggle for Gambion.

On the other side of Caldiero Verdier was having more success.  Led by the 2nd Line and 5th Light his troops overwhelmed Tolstoy's artillery and pushed back the 1st battalion of the New Ingermanland regiment.  The 2nd battalion tried to stem the tide but was also driven back with heavy losses.  Their stand, although costly, did give Orlov's battalions enough time to advance and block any further progress by Verdier's men.  In addition the Frenchmen came under fire from the artillery on the ridge and began to suffer heavy casualties.

Verdier's men break through

Orlov's men deploy and await the attack
One worrying development for Bennigsen was the artillery battery Massena had assembled opposite Mesenzov.  This had quickly found the range and was inflicting significant losses on the troops manning the ridge.  Mesenzov was bringing forward his reserve battalions but these also suffered as the ball shot 'bounced through' the front lines and ploughed into formations further back.

Lothringen's men were now contesting Pino's for control of Gambion.  Although he had superior numbers Lothringen could not deploy them to advantage and had to resort to a head on attack.

Massena now began to move forward his reserves.  Duhesme's eltes advanced up the road towards Caldiero, whilst D'Espagne's cavalry moved to the right to support Verdier.  Here they were joined by the remnants of Lasalle's men.  Mesenzov's men on the ridge began to look vulnerable.

Duhesme's men advance

The French cavalry gather.
A preliminary attack by Verdier's infantry had been repulsed by Mesenzov, but the Russians were now exposed to a potential counter attack.  At this point time caught up with us again and with things nicely poised Steve and I can look forward to a conclusion being reached at our next session.