Friday, 22 June 2012

Germantown 1777

The second part of last weekend's wargames activities was the AGM of the Gentleman Pensioners on the Sunday.  Steve, our host, had set up the battle of Germantown and I was allocated one of the four  columns making up the American attack.  Historically, foggy conditions had made the co-ordination of the attack difficult and the confusion transferred itself across the years and into the wargames room as two of the trays holding the troops were mixed up and the artillery appeared on a different road to that intended!  A view from the British perspective can be found on Will McNally's AWI blog
Here is a link to a map of the action.  To further represent the difficulties of a night march the column commanders had to roll a dice to see if they had arrived on the field, two did, but two, including my column were delayed.

Dave commanding the column on the far right was soon in action, his rifles starting a firefight with a flank guard of Hessian jaegers.  Eventually the Hessians pulled back, but they had delayed the American column and given chance for the rest of Roy's command to form a defence line.  However, the dice had now decided that my troops could now enter the fray and from that moment on my knowledge of what was happening outside the range of my artillery is rather sketchy.

To my right Ian's column was making good progress down the road, but on hearing firing to his right he began to move in that direction, towards Chew House.  This strongpoint was ignored by Roy, who pulled back his light infantry towards Germantown, consolidating his position there.  At the time this was thought to be a mistake, especially as Dave's troops were by now making a determined attack on  Roy's left flank.

Leading my column were the cavalry, who quickly out distanced the infantry, ignored some flanking fire from British light infantry and galloped towards Germantown.  The riflemen, moved off the road to oppose the British troops who after firing another volley fell back towards the town.  This cleared the way for my artillery to take up its position on a low hill and begin firing at the British troops defending Germantown.  Roy had had difficulty getting his command organised (he was plagued by low dice rolls) but eventually a strong defensive position was established.  This was just as well for Chris's main column (with the elusive artillery) had now arrived and so all four American columns were bearing down on the British position.

My rifles were now lining a hedge with a clear view of the British defenders and my infantry battalions were deploying from the road to attack  the British right.  The cavalry thought that there was a chance to charge one of the British battalions in the open.  However, as they formed up to charge they were hit by a volley from the British infantry and before they could recover from that a second volley sent them tumbling back in a rout.

To my right Ian was trying to dislodge the British Light Companies from a hedge line and Chris was firing on the troops holding the church.  On the far right Dave was making valiant attempts to capture some of the Germantown buildings.

Roy had been casting anxious glances over his shoulder looking for reinforcements arriving and at last his prayers were answered.  Phil and Will arrived with their columns of reinforcements, one on each flank.  Part of Phil's infantry  deployed to face my battalions, but the grenadiers carried on up the road towards Ian's men.  Ahead of the grenadiers were the light dragoons.  They seemed to have a charmed life, passing through infantry and artillery fire without suffering any losses and moving quickly along the road to their front,  they were soon in the rear of the American position.

The grenadiers were not so lucky.  My riflemen did not miss when firing at them.  Several officers were hit and in confusion the grenadiers routed.  Success was brief however,  The American militia battalions could not face up to the British line in the open and, in what seemed like the blink of an eye, all three were routing back down the Limekiln Road.

Ian was also sustaining heavy losses.  His battalions had been unable to push back the Light Companies and two others had failed to stand when charged by the British troops.  He quickly established a second line of defence around the strongpoint of Chew House.

Chris had been holding his own against the Germantown defences, but the gun he had pushed forward to bolster the attack  had been abandoned by its crew when they were fired upon and seeing Ian pulling back, he too fell back.  Dave too had been forced onto the defensive due to heavy losses and the reinforcements from Will's column.

For me, total defeat was only a few moves away.  Phil's cavalry had moved round behind me.  I attempted to hold them off with my cavalry, but that failed, with my troops being swept away.  Phil's men then totally destroyed two of Ian's touting battalions and for 'afters' overran my battery.  On Limekiln Road one of my battalions had managed to rally to cover the rout of the rest and my riflemen were trying to hold back two advancing British battalions.  Inevitably, the rifles routed when charged and the militia pinned to their front by infantry volleys and attacked in flank also routed.  My command figure, wounded in the final British attack was captured by the all-conquering British Light Dragoons.

The troops around Chew House could see that both flanks were now 'in the air' and that they faced being trapped, so they too joined the general retreat and the action ended with a British victory.

Many thanks to Steve for umpiring the game and the 'Pensioners' for their good company. 

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

Phalanx 2012

The first part of a busy wargames weekend was a visit to the Phalanx show put on by the Saint Helens Spartans, a good mix of traders and games and usually you can find a bargain on the bring and buy.  This year I was helping out on the Lance & Longbow Society stand with their Ravenna game.
The French attack on the Spanish camp is a bit of a slogging match, especially between the rival groups of gendarmes.  The melee swung back and forth, eventually being decided in the French favour.  My fellow French commander was also able to overpower the Spanish guns and then cross the earth bank with his pikemen. This decided the battle in our favour.

My part had been to try and gain entry to the camp via the other entrance.  The light cavalry had battled hard, but made little progress, mainly because they had beem impetuous enough to mask their own guns.
A close, hard fought game using home grown rules which had been developed for use in participation games and therefore easy to use.

One game which particularly caught my eye was a Seven Years War action involving an Austro-Russian attack on a Prussian convoy.  The game was put on by Corbridge Old Contemptibles using the Rank and File rule set.

There was also a game representing the battle of Wartenburg 1813 put on by Loughborough Wargames.  This battle has interested me for some time, sparked by a magazine article by Peter Hofschroer.  The main problem is getting the terrain, which is very constricting, right; in particular the dykes and marshy woodland.  The Prussians have masses of troops, but can they get them in place to attack?  General de Brigade rules were used, making for large units.

Expenditure was pretty low this year, some river sections from S & A Scenics and some paint from Fighting 15's, I thought I'd try the Coat D'Arms Horse Tone paints which I haven't seen before. 

Friday, 15 June 2012

Sundeved 1848

We are back with the Schleswig War this week with the action at Sundeved. The Danes had bided their time and waited for the German allies of Schleswig to pull back.  The Danes then crossed to the Sundeved peninsula and pushed forward, hoping to defeat the Schleswig defenders in detail, before the supports could come up. The Danes also hoped for some naval support from the Als Fjord.

Here is a general view of the battlefield with Dybbol Mill, the Danish objective, in the far distance.  The Danes need to capture the villages to ensure their lines of communication.  The main effort was made up the lefthand road, directly towards Dybbol, with a flanking manoeuvre up the righthand road.

At first good progress was made, the 2nd Schleswig jaegers were driven out of the first village along the lefthand road and the flanking force, with artillery support easily captured the village on the right.  There was no sight of sails in the fjord, but the main force pushed on towards Stenderup.  Their progress was halted by a charge of the Oldenburg Dragoons

Their charge caught the supporting Danish artillery unawares, their shots went wide, and overran a unit of jaegers.  They then hit the 4th Infantry Regiment before they could deploy and scattered them to the winds.  However, the Oldenburg horsemen were now isolated from the rest of the Schleswig forces and were charged by a regiment of Danish dragoons, this forced them to retire, but they had delayed the Danish attack long enough for the garrison of Stenderup to be reinforced.

Slowly, the main Danish force advanced.  By the fjord they faced 4 battalions of Schleswig infantry who carried out a model fighting retreat.  Firing a volley as the Danes came in range and then falling back forcing the enemy to advance again.  Danish infantry approached Stenderup, whose outer defences were held by a militia battalion.  They repulsed the first attack, but were forced to withdraw when flanked by jaegers and fired on at close range by artillery.  This left the 2nd Schleswig jaeger as the garrison of the village.  Eager to make amends for their earlier retreat they forced a second attack to retreat and seemed invulnerable to close range artillery fire.

The Schleswig cavalry again intervened; the Schleswig dragoons routing a unit of Danish dragoons who were covering the flank of the attack on Stenderup.  The Danes did not stop running until they were over the pontoon bridge.  Like the Oldenburg Dragoons, the Schleswig Dragoons now found themselves isolated and found themselves surrounded by Danish cavalry.  They tried to cut their way to freedom, but very few made it and the unit played no further part in the action.  However, the Danes now found themselves under fire and one unit routed, again not stopping until it crossed the pontoon bridges.  In front of Stenderup the 6th Danish Infantry had sustained such heavy losses from rifle and artillery fire that it had to retire from action.  Two further units also retreated due to losses from the fire of the Schleswig troops covering the area between the fjord and the road.

The Danish commander was beginning to think it was not going to be his day.  "Where was the d....d navy?  They had promised him support".  Unfortunately, contrary winds had kept the navy at its moorings and the army was going to have to fight this battle on its own.  At least the flank attack on the right was making progress.  A third attack on Stenderup was organised, with troops coming in from three sides.  Amazingly the Schleswig jaegers held on.  Schleswig artillery stopped the attack from the right and jaeger volleys halted the other two attacks.  However, ammunition was now running low and further Danish units were readying for a fourth attack; this one with artillery support.  Firing off their remaining ammunition the jaeger fought like demons, but were forced by weight of numbers to give ground. 

As they reached the now fully manned Schleswig defences they received well deserved cheers from their comrades.  

It was now late in the day and the Schleswig commander believed his men had done enough to halt the Danes.  The militia had fought well, making good use of the ground to slow the advance and the cavalry had suffered losses but bought the time necessary to form a defence line.  For the Danish commander all he could do was try and hold what ground he had captured.  Several of his units would take time to recover from their losses and the officers of those units which had routed would need to be replaced.

This was a classic action where the ground made it difficult to make full use of superior numbers

Sunday, 3 June 2012


This week's battle is a fictional scenario set in Eastern Europe in the 17th century.  Relations between Muscovy and the Cossacks blew hot and cold and at this particular time Muscovy was looking to extend its 'influence' to the south and west.  The Cossacks, valuing their independence, opposed this and the scene was set for conflict.  The two armies met at the small town of Maltrovo.  Leading the Muscovites was Prince Dmitri Pozhorski.  He had five units of streltsy and three units of feudal cavalry; the latter being under the command of Prince Petyr Rostov.
In addition he had a unit of German mercenary foot commanded by Gottfreid von Allenstein. and a field gun. 

Commanding the Cossacks was Borotnikov.  His main line consisted of three infantry units; on the left the Sodomirz Cossacks, in the centre the Godisz Cossacks and on the right, next to Maltrovo,Borotnikov's own regiment.  Maltrovo had a garrison of the Przemsyl Cossacks and also a unit of mercenaries under Captain Mohrungen, all under the command of Borodavka.  The cossacks placed all their cavalry on their left flank, opposite the Muscovite cavalry.  They had one light gun in Maltrovo and a second in the infantry line.

Pozhorski decided on a general advance by his streltsy to engage the Cossack foot in musketry. Once the enemy foot were weakened, he would attack with his cavalry.  Although he outnumbered the enemy, Pozhorski found it difficult to deploy all his men to shoot and although he was inflicting casualties, he was not gaining the advantage he sought.  However he was helped by a decision by Minin, the Cossack cavalry commander.  Interpreting the inactivity of the Muscovite cavalry as a general reluctance to fight, Minin sent forward a screen of cavalry to fire arrows, hoping to drive the enemy away. His action had the opposite effect.  Stung into action by the Cossack arrows, two units of feudal cavalry surged forward.  They had the advantage of numbers and mail shirts, but the Cossacks managed to hold the initial charge.  Minin sent forward the supporting squadrons and managed to maintain his position on the far left, but on his right, is cavalry were routed.

Hoping to plug the gap he led forward his last reserve and for a time this restored the balance.  Fighting bravely in the front rank Minin was cut down and what remained of his men routed.

Rostov acted quickly to steady his men and prevent them from pursuing the fleeing enemy.  Although Minin had failed to stop the feudal cavalry, his brave charge had bought the time for the Sodomirz Cossacks to redeploy to meet the flank attack by the cavalry.  This redeployment reduced the fire on the Voronsov and Barneskya streltsy and enabled them to concentrate their volleys on the Godicz Cossacks.  Godicz also had to contend with the Muscovite field gun which was firing with deadly effect, shot taking out files of men.  With losses approaching 50% Borotnikov ordered the Godicz Cossacks to fall back and become part of the garrison of Maltrovo.

In the town, Borodavka watched events keenly and saw an opportunity to attack the left flank of the Muscovites, which had been weakened by the fire of Borotnikov's Cossacks.  He therefore led out the garrison hoping to reduce the pressure on the Cossack centre.

On the Cossack left Rostov had now reformed his cavalry and began his attack on the Cossack centre.  One unit of feudal cavalry charged the Sodomirz Cossacks and were repulsed with heavy loss.  A second was more fortunate, they caught the retiring Godicz Cossacks.  Initially the infantry managed to stand against the feudal cavalry, but as more joined in the melee numbers began to tell and despite their bravery the infantry routed. 

Undeterred, the Sodomirz Cossacks held their position daring the cavalry opposing them to charge again.  But Rostov realised that a charge was not necessary.  he brought forward the Vorontsov streltsy to fire on the flank of the Cossacks, causing heavy casualties.   Seeing the danger looming over his force, Borotnikov joined his own regiment and redeployed them to cover Maltrovo.  The Muscovite artillery now shifted its attention to this unit and whilst urging his men to stand firm, Borotnikov was almost cut in two by a cannonball.  His aides quickly removed the body, but the infantry were shaken by this turn of events.

Pozhorski moved forward the Barneskya streltsy to fire at the Boronitkov Cossacks and a unit of feudal cavalry moved forward ready to charge.  The position was hopeless and the Cossacks surrendered; the victory was Pozhorski's.

But what about Borodavka's flank attack?  Well the Przemsyl Cossacks had been engaged in a musketry duel with Allenstein's men and the Ivanov streltsy.  To their right Mohrungen's men had continued to advance and were on the point of attacking the Hadiach streltsy when news came of the Cossack surrender.  Mohrungen's men now faced a decision, join Allenstein and replace the casualties he had suffered, or take their chance with Pozhorski.  Not surprisingly, Mohrungen joined their new 'comrades' in Von Allenstein's regiment.