“Champagne! In victory one deserves it, in defeat one needs it” - Napoleon
The Seven Years War, Seven Years, 28mm
We returned to the Seven Years War this week, and the rules we’re playtesting, under the paternal guidance of Michael Schneider. For this game Michael fielded a Western Allied force led by Maj. Gen. von Wutginau, leader of the Hessian contingent of the Allied army. He had nine battalions and eight squadrons (four cavalry regiments), backed up by two gun batteries. All the foot and guns were Hessian, and the cavalry Hanovarian, apart from two squadrons of the Prussian “Black Hussars”. Facing them was a force of Reichsarmee infantry – eight battalions and two batteries, commanded by the Prince of Pfalz-Zweibrucken, supported by eight squadrons of French cavalry. This was a straight-up fight, fought on an 8×4 foot table, with the Allies commanded by Michael and Alistair, while Peter, Alan and I played with the Reichsarmee and their French allies.Deployment for both sides was fairly straightforward, with the infantry in the centre and a cavalry brigade on each wing. The only real complication was a stream running across the table (above), dividing the Reichsarmee right and Allied left from the rest of the battlefield. The view above shows the Franco-Imperial left in the foreground, facing the Allied right. Interestingly though, the Hessians deployed in three brigades, each with three battalions in line, one behind the other. By contrast the Reichsarmee’s two four battalion brigades deployed two up and two back, with the Lower Rhine brigade on the right, and the Lower Rhine one on the right. The battle began with an artillery bombardment, and with Peter’s left wing cavalry – the La Reine dragoons – sweeping forward in an all-out attack.
The two cavalry brigades clashed, and in the hard-fought scrap that followed the Hanovarian von Briedenbach dragoons – two units of them – were swept from the field. Allez! Over on the right though Alan’s cavalry brigade held back, waiting for the right moment. It came on turn three, when they charged the Prussian “death’s head hussars” and forced them to retire. So far the cavalry battle was going pretty well for the Franco-Imperialists.In the centre though, Michael’s three dense columns of Hessians were plodding forward, despite harassing fire from the Imperial guns (above). The left hand Reichsarmee brigade advanced a little to meet the closest column, and a fairly hectic firefight developed. The other two hessian columns had come within musket range now too, but Michael found his three lines difficult to deploy out of, and so he found the lead units taking all the Imperial fire. Over on the Imperial left flank the La Reine dragoons had now cleared the field of Allied cavalry, and redeployed to hit the back of Michael’s nearest infantry column. This was pretty spectacular stuff, especially when Michael’s hastily redeployed third rank of grenadiers formed up, only to be ridden down in a spirited French charge. That meant the Allied right flank (below) was now hanging in the air. I’d like to say I did my bit to help, but my Upper Rhine brigade was locked into its own struggle with the other two Allied columns. Still, by disordering the leading Hessian units with artillery fire my Imperial musketeers had a fighting chance. The fighting was pretty hectic, with a battalion of Mainz infantry routing, followed by a unit of Hessians. Most units on both sides were disordered or shaken by now, and so it proved difficult to predict what would happen. In fact, I was starting to get concerned that the whole house of cards would collapse. I needn’t have worried. Over on the left the La Reine dragoons rolled up a battery of hessian guns, then threatened the rear of the battered Allied column propping up their right flank. With Peter’s Lower Rhine brigade firing into their front, and the rear Hessian unit forced to turn round to hold off the French dragoons (above), things were starting to go wrong for the Allies. At this point Alan had to head home, but his right wing cavalry had done a great job of holding off the Allied horse beyond the stream. In fact both Allied cavalry units had been forced to retire, leaving Alan pretty much the top dog over there. He never managed to throw a knockout blow, but at least he prevented anything bad happening to us. That left my Imperial infantry free to hold off the Hessian columns. We were now reaching the end game. The right-hand Hessian column had been battered, and was left surrounded by the enemy. On its right Peter’s other two battalions of Pfalz-Zweibrucken infantry (above) were holding off the middle Hessian column, which lacked the space to deploy properly. The Hessians were gradually getting the worse of the fight. Over on my side of the field I was down to three battalions, but a rash charge by the Koln Leibregiment drove back the head of the left-hand Hessian column, and disordered the Allied troops behind. Here though, Michael had managed to redeploy his grenadiers into a gap in the line, between the two columns, and so order of sorts was restored. That though, is where we ended the fight. We could have fought on to a definite conclusion, but it was now clear that the Allies had been badly chopped up, and so the victory was awarded to the Prince of Pfalz-Zweibrucken (below), and his Imperialist army. The real hero though, was Peter, whose French cavalry pretty much won the day for the Prince, and earned a laurel for the standard of the La Reine Dragoons.
Misc., Border Reivers, A Pikeman’s Lament, 28mm
This was a strange week. First, we’d planned to play an English Civil War game, but then the Royalist commander couldn’t make it. So, we planned an Ancients game instead, and that fell through when the Roman player crashed his car. So, at very short notice we opted for something quick and simple – a Border Reiver game. The premise was that those troublesome Kerrs had crossed the border and stolen cattle from the Fenwicks, somewhere in Redesdale. They were on their way back when they found their way blocked my some Fenwick footmen at the hamlet of Byrness. So, the scene was set – the Kerrs had to get past the village, and off the table to the north. The garrison had to block their way until the Fenwick hot trod arrived – three units of veteran Reiver cavalry. For this game the Kerrs had four units of 6 mounted Reivers, and one of 12 footmen, who were herding the stolen cattle. Peter and I divided up this force between us. The Byrness garrison had a unit of 12 arquebusiers, and another of 12 pikes. Coming to their aid were three units of 6 mounted Reivers.They appeared on turn 2 on either the long eastern or western table edges. Dougie took charge of the garrison, while Michael ran the force of pursuing cavalry. This game was played on a 6×4 foot table. Our first problem was the garrison. Should we break left or right around the village? Well, in true chaotic Reiver fashion I took my horsemen round to the left, or west, while Peter sent the cattle after them, while his own two mounted units tried to encircle the village. On Turn 2 Michael came on at the western side, neatly blocking my way up the valley. We really needed to concentrate against him. However, Peter had other ideas. By this stage the arquebusiers in the hamlet were peppering us with shot, and riders were falling. So, Peter charged them, slamming one mounted unit into the pikes and the other into the arquebusiers. Both attacking units got chopped to pieces, and the survivors pulled back to lick their wounds. Meanwhile Michael and I were squaring up to charge each other. We did exactly that, and I was wiped out. Undeterred, I sent my second unit in, and the same thing happened. Not good. All I had to show for it was the destruction of one of his mounted units, and the loss of two men from another one. So, effectively, in two turns we’d lost almost all our cavalry.That meant the game was lost, unless we could somehow get our stolen cattle off the table. The garrison was pretty much out of the picture, as the cattle herders were now halfway along the table, where a stone wall protected them from arquebus fire. That though, still left Michael’s mounted Reivers. The unit of cattle rustlers crept along the table, shadowed by Michael’s one and a half units of horsemen. The larger one of the two charged in, and caused a few casualties. Still, the halbardiers managed to fight them off. They were now almost down to half strength though, and things weren’t looking good. At that point Dougie’s arquebusiers found the range again, and caused another couple of casualties., Now below half strength, the Kerrs were particularly vulnerable, as you get to roll a lot less dice in a melee. So, the remaining unit of Fenwick riders charged in. The result was a slaughter. the last of the Kerrs were wiped out, and the Fenwicxks were reduced to just two horsemen. Still, that charge had done it. the cattle had been recaptured, and the Kerrs slaughtered. To add insult to injury the Fenwicks garnered three “honour points”, while we didn’t get any. So, the game was a clear and emphatic win for the Fenwicks! It was a fun little game though, and while the rules are fairly simplistic, things move along very quickly. I can see myself painting up more Reivers to expand this fun little period.
The Napoleonic Wars, Over the Hills, 28mm
The real Battle of Valutino-Gora (or Loubino) took place a few miles to the north-east of Smolensk in August 1812. The Russians had evacuated Smolensk, but because the French blocked the main road to Moscow they pulled out using country roads to the north of the city, which eventually looped round to join the main Smolensk-Moscow highway. To stop the French from cutting them off, the Russians placed a blocking force astride the highway near Loubino, to cover the retreat of the army. Ney’s III Corps had the task of driving them back, seizing the road junction, and so cutting off the whole Russian army. That’s where our game kicked in.The Russians held a ridge above the Stragan stream, while behind it, across the Samili stream lay the village of Loubino. that was where the Russian army were moving through, and ultimately it was the French objective. I say French, but for this game we changed things around a bit. Campbell has spent years painting up a Wurttemberg army, and while they were present at the battle, they were held in reserve. We simply switched them with a French division, so they were in the front and centre of the fight.We picked up the action late in the evening, after the initial French assaults. So, on the northern part of the ridge (on the Russian right) there were the remains of two battered divisions – one Russian and the other French, they’d fought each other to a standstill. So now it was up to the Germans to save the day. All they had to do was to seize the ridge and break through. Once that was done Murat’s cavalry and the rest of Ney’s III Corps would pour through the gap, and fall on the straggling Russian army behind Loubino.We fought the game on an 8×6 foot table, with Peter and I commanding the Russians, and Bart and Campbell the Wurttembergers. They had 12 battalions, including two jaeger ones, five regiments of cavalry (above), and no fewer than four gun batteries. Massed together (much to Campbell’s delight) it looked like plenty. For our our we had eight battalions, in two brigades, plus two cavalry regiments, three gun batteries and a sotnia (regiment)of Cossacks. In reserve were another two regiments of lancers, a sotnia of Cossacks and a gun battery, placed far back to defend Loubino. Effectively it was a much scaled down version of the real battle – or rather its later stages.It began with Campbell launching his infantry in an all-out attack on the ridge. He avoided the Russian position battery, but attacked everywhere else. At the same time Bart unleashed his cavalry, splashing across the stream and up onto the ridge at the southern end of the Russian line. There the Leib chevaulegers met the hussars of the Marioupol regiment, and after a hard-fought tussle both sides had to retire. meanwhile the attached battery of horse artillery pounded away, until a unit of jaegers appeared, and they and the guns began a duel. Back on the main ridge the first Wurttemberg wave was thrown back after some hard fighting all along the line. Two of the German infantry battalions were routed, but the Russians, bloodied but unbowed, held firm. The same situation repeated itself in the cavalry battle to the south. this time Bart threw his Wurttemberg dragoons into line, and charged, only to be bounced back by the second unit of Russian hussars. This though, was only the start. The two Wurttemberg players were determined to push through. Bart tried sneaking an artillery battery onto the ridge, between a small hamlet defended by Russian jaegers and a small wood. His limbered guns got caught by enfilading fore from the buildings, and then fire from a Russian square to their front. They survived this, and unlimbered in canister range, only to get rolled up by a Russian attack column, which had been lurking behind the hamlet. Things weren’t all going the Russian way though. On the left of the Wurttemberg line another jaeger battalion made it onto the ridge, and then rolled up a Russian 6-pounder battery, helped out by a simultaneous frontal attack from further down the slope. The guns were lost, but a Russian counter-attack stopped the Wurttemburgers from exploiting their success. They managed to get their own guns onto the ridge, protected by an infantry unit, but now the Russians had the momentum, and after a tussle they pushed them back down the slope.Bart tried one last attack, but once again he was thwarted, this time by the Russian lancers of the Polish regiment. Meanwhile the horse battery had seen off the jaegers, and on the southern side of the ridge at least, the Russian position seemed secure. Both sides had some pretty beaten-up cavalry units now, but the Germans had lost two cavalry regiments, and were no closer to driving the Russian cavalry off the ridge than when they’s started their assault. The same was pretty much true on the main part of the battlefield. The Russians had held, and by destroying four Wurttemberg infantry battalions they had evened the odds against them from 3:2 to to 1:1. They had a toehold – a battalion of light infantry was clinging to the ridge, but elsewhere the Wurttembergers were still milling around along the line of the Sagan stream. The real threat to them were the Russian 12-pounders of the position battery, to the north of the little hamlet, astride the Smolensk to Moscow road. They proved to be something of a death star, and kept the Germans at bay throughout the game. So, we called it a day. The Russians had lost one battery, and the Wurttembergers four battalions, two cavalry regiments and a battery. They also never drove the Russians from the ridge. So, it was a clear Russian victory, achieved largely by Peter’s tenacity. He obviously enjoyed himself, but I’m not so sure Bart and Campbell did – at least not quite so much!
The English Civil War, For King & Parliament, 28mm
Everyone enjoyed these new rules when we played them last, so we decided to play them again. Ken and I both produced a matched pair of armies – six regiments of foot, six of horse, a dragoon regiment and a battery of guns. While my Parliamentarians were from the Eastern Association, commanded by the Earl of Manchester, Ken’s Royalists represented the Marquis of Newcastle’s army. This battle was a late-afternoon clash between the two forces, just to the north of the little town of Driffield in the East Riding of Yorkshire.The terrain was fairly level countryside, interspersed with lanes and hedges. The outskirts of Driffield lay just behind the Royalist lines, which was deployed facing south. That’s them on the right of the picture above. The Parliamentarians had advanced northwards from Hull and Beverley, and started the game facing the Royalists, a few hundred yards to the south of them. In between ran a small tributary of the River Hull – nothing more than a stream, crossed by the Beverley road, and again to the west by the Middleton Road, which crossed the stream by way of a small bridge. Just beyond it to the west was Sunderlandwick – an area of hedges and enclosures.The game was played out on an 8×6 foot table, marked out with a 20cm (8″) grid. We deployed two squares in, with Bart and I running the Eastern Association, and Ken and Peter taking command of the Royalist Northern Army. The game began with a fairly ineffectually long-range artillery bombardment, and then the Parliamentarians moved forward. On the left Bart had a brigade of three infantry regiments commanded by Gen. Crawford, supported by Col. Fleetwood with three regiments of cavalry, and Col. Lilburne’s dragoons. They headed across the table towards the Sunderlandwick enclosures, where Peter was busy deploying his similarly-sized force. On my side the Manchester himself led our remaining three battalia of foot forward, while on the right Gen. Cromwell advanced a little more slowly in support. In fact he pulled two aces in a row, which stopped his command from moving at all for a bit. My infantry plodded forward though, and were soon at the edge of the stream. Strangely Ken’s deployment was a little lop-sided, with his infantry brigade of three tercios (Langdaler’s, Byron’s and Slingsby’s foot) led by Newcastle himself facing Cromwell’s horse on the Royalist left, while the centre was held by Lord Goring’s horse (Lucas’s brigade, plus Col. Tuke’s regiment – which were cuirassiers for the day). Over on our left, Bart was up to the line of enclosures, and a real pell-mell fight began, with infantry, cavalry and Lilburne’s dragoons (now dismounted) all trying to get at the enemy through the shrubbery. First blood went to Bart when Fleetwood’s horse routed one of Sir Richard Dacre’s cavalry regiments, but the fighting was bloody all along the line, and neither side seemed to be making much headway. Over in the centre Ken decided to charge one of Sir Charles Lucas’ regiments at Manchester’s foot (below), who not only managed to repulse them, but the Royalist horse were dispersed by close-range volleys of musketry. Now, each army started with 16 victory coins in their jar. Each cavalry unit lost meant two are surrendered to the enemy, and three if an infantry unit goes. So, at this stage we’d lost none, while the Royalists were four coins down. Next, Ken charged Manchester’s now disordered foot with his cuirassiers of Tuke’s horse. The foot held, but only just, and when the cuirassiers pulled back over the stream I withdrew the battered regiment, and brought Hobart’s foot forward in its place. Fully recovered from their disorder, the cuirassiers went in again, led by Lord Goring. Once more they were bounced, and withdrew back over the stream to recover. I rashly decided to push my foot forward, across the stream and towards the Royalist dragoons who were peppering ineffectually away at me. That turned out to be a pretty silly move. I got onto the hill, but was promptly charged in the flank by the dismounted dragoons, and from the front by the cuirassiers. Hobart’s battalia broke and ran, garnering the Royalists three victory coins. Any gloating though, was short lived, when volleys from another of my regiments – Montagu’s – saw off the other half of Dacre’s Royalist horse. So, Ken handed over two more tokens, having now lost half his cavalry. Over on our far right Cromwell’s horse weren’t even in the fight – all they’d achieved was to attract the ineffectual long-range fire of Newcastle’s foot regiments facing them. So, I moved part of Cromwell’s two-unit cavalry regiment forward, led by Cromwell himself (below). They splashed over the stream at the ford and trotted up the Beverley road towards Driffield. That was pretty much where they stopped too, as they then started pulling more aces, meaning they couldn’t move. By then it was getting dark, and the fighting drizzled away. On the Royalist right, Peter (playing the part of Sir Francis Mackworth) had done a great job of holding the line, but his regiments were now in pretty poor shape. Bart’s infantry (led by Gen. Crawford) weren’t much better, but Fleetwood’s cavalry had broken into the enclosures, and were now posing a serious threat to the Royalist flank. On my part of the table Manchester’s foot had pretty much seen off the enemy cavalry, for the loss of a foot regiment of their own, and Newcastle’s force was now clearly “on the ropes”. That’s where we ended it, using the excuse that darkness had ended the battle. All in all it was a great little game. Peter summed it up nicely, when he said that it was a good sign when you enjoyed the game immensely, even if you lost. You can’t get much more of a recommendation for FK&P than that.