Tuesday, 18 July 2017

Hope on the road to Philadelphia, an AWI scenario

Steve hosted the game this week and set up an AWI scenario.  This had the rebels falling back towards Philadelphia and taking up a defensive position on the Feather Ridge near the settlement of Hope.  The settlement itself sits astride one of the roads to Philadelphia.

Sketch map of table layout
When the scenario opens General Harrison has one brigade (Clayton's) in position on the ridge and the brigades of Appleyard (on the left) and Brown (on the right),  making their best speed along the roads to take up positions on the flanks.  Each brigade contains a mix of Continental and militia infantry and a gun.  Brown also has a unit of light dragoons (Trimble's).

Clayton's brigade in position on Feather Ridge

Carruthers' brigade on the British right advances on Hope

The pursuing British forces are also divided into three brigades (from left to right, Arbuthnot, von Bingen and Carruthers).  Harrison's orders are to stop, or at least delay the British advance.  Clarke, the British commander has orders to press on to Philadelphia at his best speed.

Appleton's men defend Hope

Both Appleton and Brown have positioned their riflemen in the woods on their respective flanks and these began a harassing fire as the British troops began to enter the table.  For their part, Carruthers and Arbuthnot deployed their light infantry forward to try and screen the regular line infantry.  Whilst Arbuthnot's converged light companies made steady progress and forced Brown's riflemen to fall back through the woods, Carruthers' riflemen struggled.  When the fire from rebel skirmishers was supplemented by volleys from one of Appleton's Continental battalions increasing casualties forced the riflemen to fall back to rally.  Carruthers had to call on his elite grenadier battalion to 'steady the ship' and their line of steadily advancing bayonets 'encouraged'  the rebels skirmishers to fall back.

The Hessian advance
In the centre, Clayton had kept his skirmishers close to the ridge, so they were unable to hinder the deployment of Von Bingen's Hessians.  Nevertheless, the obstacle of the woods slowed the advance of the Hessian line battalions and for a time the jaegers were unsupported.  This did not seem to concern their Colonel, who pushed forward aggressively, forcing Clayton's skirmishers to withdraw when their losses mounted.  Harrison took the opportunity to trot over to Clayton and 'suggested' that perhaps an advance by one of his line battalions may force the jaeger back.

The converged light companies
Brown's skirmishers had by now been forced back by the converged light companies and the Continental battalion deployed in and around the Mills House was being attacked by two regular line battalions from Arbuthnot's brigade.  Brown had intended to make a stand on the ridge, but saw that his front line was unsupported and therefore ordered his two militia battalions forward.  His artillery remained on the ridge where it had a good field of fire.

The British on the outskirts of Hope
Clarke's plan was now becoming clear to Harrison (or so he thought).  The main effort seemed to be towards the settlement of Hope.  Von Bingen had committed his grenadiers and musketeers   to a frontal attack whilst Carruthers had two battalions advancing down the road, with his light dragoons covering the area between the road and the wood.  The first to suffer were the Light Dragoons.  They were staggered by a volley from the rebels in Hope and then sent reeling backwards by further volleys from the militia on the ridge.  As the hapless horsemen attempted to rally they suffered further casualties from Appleton's artillery.  For the time being they were out of the battle.  Appleton's artillery now turned its attention to the infantry columns approaching Hope.  As the range shortened the nearest unit suffered heavy casualties and was forced to fall back to rally.  General Clarke galloped across to assist Carruthers in re-establishing order in his brigade.  The second battalion sensing that speed was of the essence, increased its pace and outflanked the battery before it could reload.  Turning smartly to its flank it now threatened to drive the defenders from the lefthand part of Hope.  In response, Appleton moved two battalions over to counter this threat, though this left a single militia battalion to hold the ridge.

The imminent flank attack on Hope
Von Bingen's grenadiers approached the righthand sector of Hope and  began to fire volleys at the militia defending it.  At first their fire seemed to be having no effect, other than to sends chips of wood flying from the cabins' walls.  However, when a musketeer battalion added their fire the weight of shot proved decisive and the militia were seen streaming back up and over the ridge.  Clayton responded by sending forward one of his battalions to contain the Hessian attack

Clayton sending forward reinforcements
It was at this point that the day's gaming came to a halt.  The action was nicely balanced, with a slight edge to the British.  However, a couple of volleys could change everything!

Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Road to Smolensk - a Napoleonic scenario using Shako

This week Steve and I returned to the Napoleonic era with a game set during the 1812 Russian campaign.  The scenario has flanking attempts by each side meeting head on.  The forces engaged are roughly equal (28 battalions of infantry and 8 regiments of cavalry supported by 6 batteries of artillery). Here is a map of the table layout.

A roll of the dice decrees that Steve will command the Russians under Wittgenstein, whilst I take the role of St Cyr, the French commander.  St Cyr commands a mixed nationality force (mainly Wurttemburg, Italian and Westphalian) and my plan was to attack on the wings and then break through in the centre.  Steve came up with the same plan, so it was likely to be a bloody affair.

Bonfanti's Italian division holding the Church Heights

Neverovsky's Division in and around the village of Monstoye on the Russian left
 Whilst the artillery exchanged shots in the centre the divisions on the wings moved forward.  On my left Bianchi's cavalry covered the left flank of Och's Westphalian division as it advanced on the village of Ploskoye. ( Lacking local knowledge St Cyr had identified the objective as 'Ivan'  ).  Bianchi was opposed by Glukov's cavalry division and had the better of the initial contact, pushing back the Siberian Uhlans and the Mounted Eger.  Although the Italian Chasseurs rallied back to reform, the Westphalian Hussars swept on and charged the Alexandrinsk Hussars.  Although they were again successful they now found themselves isolated and were first subjected to an accurate artillery fire before being overwhelmed by the Polish Uhlans.

On the opposite flank, Marchand's Wurttemburg division, supported by Stockmayer's Cavalry division advanced on Monstoye (identified in the French orders as 'Boris').  Their advance was hampered slightly by a marshy stream.  In addition Neverovsky's division supported by Siever's cavalry, had already occupied Monstoye and advanced to meet them.  Marchand's skirmishers were a little too bold and   fell victim to a band of marauding Cossacks.

They in turn were driven back by Stockmayer's cavalry, as were the under-strength Riga Dragoons.  However, the Moscow Dragoons restored matters, supported by the Vladimir Uhlans.  Both cavalry divisions now fell back to reform, leaving the field to the infantry.

The Westphalian Hussars defeat the Alexandrinsk  Hussars
In the centre, Berg's division, supported by Raevsky's Grenadier Division began to advance towards the Church Heights.  St Cyr hesitated to commit Lecchi's Italian Guard division before he was sure where the main attack would fall.  He was observing the effect of the artillery fire from the Church Heights on Neverovsky's infantry and was confident that Marchand would be able to defeat his weakened  opponent.

Bonfanti's Division move forward 
On the left Ochs was now attempting to capture 'Ivan', Kamensky's infantry having occupied the village just before the Westphalians arrived.  The first attack was driven back with heavy losses and as the battalions re-grouped for a second attack, they cam under fire from the Russian artillery reserve which Wittgenstein had deployed to support Kamensky and Berg.  The cavalry melee resumes on Och's left.  Although the Italian Chasseurs are successful against the Alexandrinsk Hussars, the Polish 10th Hussars are totally defeated by the Siberian Uhlans.  The effect of fleeing Poles on the remains of Bianchi's command are dramatic as his remaining units fall back in retreat.  Ochs needs help quickly.  St Cyr amends his plans.  Lecchi is now to support Ochs by attempting to stem Berg's advance.  Ochs is to fall back, covering the French flank.  Bonfanti is to advance, maintaining the line and supporting Marchand.  As these orders are put into operation bad news arrives from the right flank; Stockmayer's cavalry were falling back.   The Baden Hussars had led the way, attacking the under-strength Riga Dragoons.  Their confidence was misplaced as they suffered such heavy casualties in the melee that they were finished as a fighting force.  The Dragoons followed up by sending the Prinz Adam Cheveauleger tumbling back in total disorder to play no further part in the battle.   To prevent his remaining units being overwhelmed, Stockmayer decided to pull them back. Hoping that Marchand's infantry and the artillery would break up any further cavalry attacks.  This meant that Marchand's force was now divided and his push towards 'Boris' weakened.  Nevertheless, with the Fusiliers Van Neubronn leading the way, the Wurttemburg infantry were pushing back Neverovsky's men.

Sievers' cavalry push forward
In the centre  Lecchi and Bonfanti were establishing a line, ready to face the Russian attack.  The artillery on Church Heights continued to inflict casualties on the advancing Russians, but the decision would be made on the flanks.  Wittgenstein had sent an aide with urgent orders for Glukov to press home his advantage and sweep towards the Church Heights.  Pressure was mounting on Ochs' left flank, particularly when Kamensky's infantry advanced round Ploskoye.

Kamensky's infantry open fire
 Volleys from the Kexholm and Suzdal regiments swept away the 2nd battalion of the 4th Infantry and the 2nd Light Infantry, meaning losses in Ochs' division had reached 50%.  With more infantry advancing on his wavering battalions and cavalry threatening his rear Ochs faced total defeat.  He had no choice other than to withdraw.  Sending as aide to St Cyr with his plans he attended to the difficult task of trying to extract what remained of his division from the maelstrom of fire around  the village.

The infantry of Marchand and Neverovsky clash
St Cyr received Ochs' report and realised that the day was lost.  His left was in tatters and although the centre was holding the attack on the right had ground to a halt.  At least Marchand's men had driven off a reckless charge by the Vladimir Uhlans, but there still remained two units of Dragoons and Cossacks to cause problems.

The Wurttemburg infantry drive off the Russian cavalry
An enjoyable game with the result revolving around a couple of decisive melees.  I must admit that my caution in committing the reserve meant that I did not have the troops in the right place when they were needed.  Also, it may have been better putting Ochs's division on defence orders and allowing his artillery to 'soften up' Kamensky's attack, rather than advance to meet him.  All lessons for the future!