Tuesday, 11 May 2021

Scurrilous British Press!

It would appear we are to have one final battle of the campaign as Rob has decided on an immediate attack against the French troops remaining in Bournemouth. This one will be interesting! 

Sunday, 9 May 2021

A change of plan

The campaign objective for the French was to take either London or Oxford but with the destruction of his cavalry and attrition to his infantry, the emperor has decided to cut his losses and evacuate the army back to Boulogne. To be fair, Rob has played a great game keeping the French army bottled up and unable to reach the interior of the country where they may have been able to out manoeuvre the smaller British force - not to mention the fact that he has trounced me three times on the battlefield!

The French must retreat to Bournemouth where they may evacuate up to 2 Divisions per turn (there are currently 7 Divisions) to Boulogne. The British are now allowed to stack up to 3 Divisions in any town (previously it was 2) which gives the potential for a bigger battle. Rob needs to judge the optimum time to attack whilst I must try to save face by bringing the army home as intact as possible.

Thursday, 6 May 2021

The Battle of Andover – The Game

The sequence I’m using for playing these solo games is firstly, the defender deploys and writes his battle orders (battle orders include general intention, notes on tactics and timing of events) and secondly, the attacker gets to see the enemy deployments on the map and then writes his own orders. This gives the attacker a slight advantage over the defender to represent reconnaissance of the position to be attacked. The VP locations are always in the centre of the table to keep the action moving but this is something I may refine if I were to attempt another campaign.

For this game Rob was the attacker and having seen my deployment he cleverly chose to mass his artillery on the right (not on the hill where I expected it) and ordered the two British battalions to advance and protect either end of the gun line, in square if needed. For my part, I ordered Murat to hold the cavalry back until turn 5 in the hope that I could draw the enemy forward towards my own guns and then smash him with a spectacular cavalry charge – how wrong could I be?

The action commenced on the French right flank where both sides made a spirited advance with the intention of taking the VP location there.
The Brunswick infantry pressed forward in column while the Nassau Grenadiers, Brunswick Hussars and the 49th Foot provided support.
The Brunswickers and the Grenadiers collided in a clash of bayonets following a mutual charge. The Brunswickers got the worst of it (although only just) and became disordered.

Following a second round of melee they then routed. Meanwhile the 45th line and the Nassau Grenadiers became locked in a musketry duel.

Seeing that the French were moving up their lancers, Stapleton Cotton moved forward and declared a charge.

As a result the lancers retreated in disorder and finding they had no target, the Hussars decided to charge the Guard horse battery instead. This is always a tricky manoeuvre but the guns rolled low when they fired and the Hussars rolled high for morale  - scratch one battery!  

The situation at the end of turn 4

Meanwhile Murat's cavalry had sat for four turns under the fire of the allied guns. The Carabineers with their fancy red helmet combs seemed to attract most of the shot and being reduced to just 3 figures were now removed from play.

As the Brunswickers ran away the French deployed a strong line to conform with their orders to take and hold the VP location.
Finally Murat got his dwindling cavalry force forward to support the infantry but they were still taking casualties from the merciless artillery fire and now also from the Rifles to their front.

The DK Cuirassier/Dragoons made a charge at the Brunswick Hussars that sent them packing to the rear.

However, this just meant that the French troopers were exposed to a cruel close-range volley from the square of the 49th foot. Next turn the Rifles reduced them to 4 figures and another unit bit the dust.

In a final throw of the dice (literally) the 5th Lancers charged at the shaken Nassauers but they too came crashing down from their sadles.
The situation at the end of play (turn 8). It was another win for the British with an 11 to 7 VP score line.
The victory really went to these guys!

And finally the British spin on events.

After three lost games in a row, things are looking bad for the French whose forces are suffering from attrition. However, each of Wellington’s Divisions have now seen action whereas I still have the Old Guard and Davout’s command intact. Crucially though, the French cavalry has been virtually destroyed with only two out of the original six units surviving.

Monday, 3 May 2021

A stowaway from the past

We decided today to finally have a go at clearing some of the stuff in our loft. Task one for me was to sort through 5 kilos of Lego bricks (yes, I did weigh them) which was interesting and quite nostalgic. At the very bottom of the heap as I rummaged through the bricks, I made an unbelievable find. No, not my collection of Hinton Hunt figures from 1972 but something nearly as good – a single Airfix Union infantryman.

One of my favourite poses and in the right colour - blue!

Now this might not seem very exciting to you, but I realised that this figure must have been hiding in the Lego for more than 50 years. I loved Lego as a kid (almost as much as toy soldiers) and had my first set in 1965. It was immediately put in service to provide ruined houses for my WW2 Airfix figures, the Alamo for the ACW figures to defend and a castle for the Sheriff of Nottingham. I remember being annoyed that the fuddy duddy’s at Lego initially refused to make green and brown bricks in case children used them to build war toys – my brother and I weren’t going to let that stop us!

These Lego trees date from the mid-60s and for a long time were the only model trees I had to use in wargames. They have seen many battles and the occasional tussle with one of my parents dogs. 

This solitary Union man must have been hiding in the bottom of the box when my dad finally moved the Lego into his loft before it was eventually retrieved and passed on to my kids. When they stopped playing with Lego the box got promoted to a place in our own loft and although we’ve moved three times since then the Lego has always been loft fodder.

And here he is directing traffic into this vintage Lego garage. It has an up and over door that opens automatically as the car approaches - who needs electronics?

So, the significance of this one lost soldier is that he was almost certainly bought in the early 60s when my brother and I had several sets of Airfix ACW figures that we played with incessantly. This makes him a real veteran and in honour of his long lonely wait he is now going to live permanently on my painting desk.

Friday, 30 April 2021

The Battle of Andover – Scenario

Simultaneous with Wellington’s strike at Southampton, Lord Hill was ordered to attack the French at Andover. This caught Napoleon slightly off guard forcing him to field the already depleted commands of Murat, Ney and D’Hilliers – by God this man does wargaming honour!

British OOB

30th Cambridgeshire – A
49th Hertfordshire – A
1 x Foot Battery
6 x Rifles

Brunswick Infantry – B
Nassau Grenadiers – B
1 x Brunswick Foot Battery
6 x Rifles

Brunswick Hussars – B
1 x Brunswick Horse Battery

French OOB

45th Line – B
Converged Grenadiers – A
1 x Line Foot Battery (4)
6 x Skirmishers (5)

Cuirassiers (8) – A
Carabineers – A
DK Dragoon/Cuirassier – B
1 x Guard Horse Battery

5th Lancers (9) – B

The numbers in brackets denote the reduced strength of a unit, the letters in bold are the combat ratings for Muskets & Marshals.

The initial deployment of the armies.

Daddy Hill by his grand battery. I'm thinking that the British plan is to blast my cavalry off the table.

Which might not be too difficult when you look at the gaps in the ranks after their tussle with the Naval Battalion (thank goodness they're not on the field this time!)
Brunswick and Stapleton-Cotton are in their first battle of the campaign and all fresh and dandy.

VP’s will be awarded on the same basis as the previous battle.

Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Growing Grenadiers

I am currently working through my existing French cavalry with the aim of making the 6 figure squadrons up to full 12 figure units. The Horse Grenadiers pose a bit of a problem because I have no more 2-piece castings. What I do have are some Der Kreigspieler OPC’s but the problem with these is that they appear quite weedy when compared to their comrades and their swords look like miniature knitting needles.

The chap on the left is my modified version and on the right is how he looked originally. Total growth is about 2mm which is just enough I think. The sword looks a bit more serious too.

The solution has been to take the advice of Steve C (click here) and give them some extra height by cutting the horse's front legs from the base, straightening one, and repositioning. I also decided to replace their sword arms with some donated from a few knock-off line Dragoons.

Here they are side by side with one of the existing 2-piece troopers. A bit thin maybe but he'll bulk up when painted.

I’m pleased with the resulting increase in stature, and I think I have eliminated the ‘take your child to work day’ look that might have resulted if I’d mixed in the castings without modification.

Friday, 23 April 2021

The Battle of Southampton – The Game

One of the aims of this campaign was to produce small battle scenarios with unbalanced forces that would result in interesting games and also give the rules a good run out. This game did just that with the British fielding five cavalry units against two on the French side and two infantry units against four.

With so many cavalry on the table, and with the need to take and hold ground to win the battle, it’s no surprise that both commanders gave aggressive orders to their troops. The French horse were told “Let the order of the day be to charge, charge and charge!” whilst Wellington told Ponsonby to “Take all the heavy cavalry and crush their left wing”. The result was a most enjoyable game with some great twists and turns.

The battle gets off to a dramatic start as the cavalry on both sides gallop forward. The RHA has claimed its first success against the ranks of the Guard light cavalry.
The foot sloggers on both sides are advancing rapidly too although the French have the edge as they are formed in column.

The thin red line moves forward with the Duke on hand to personally supervise the movement.
On the extreme flank the Light Dragoons canter forward with orders to "delay the advance of the enemy's right wing".

The inevitable clash of sabres as the British heavies collide with the Guard. The Lancers received a nasty blast of cannister on the way in to contact with the Blues that has laid waste to almost an entire rank.

The Greys win their first round of melee and push the Guard heavies back in retreat. Routing them next turn looks like a forgone conclusion.

The 42nd Black Watch start to come under artillery fire but their morale is holding, so far so good for Wellington.

Poniatowski's Division keep pushing forward despite the threat from the Light Dragoons. The fire from the French skirmishers eventually forces the British cavalry to retire and reform allowing the Poles to gain the VP location on this flank.

In the centre however the Young Guard and Guard Marines have no option but to halt and form square in the face of the massed British cavalry.

But wait, what's this? The Greys lose the next round of melee (which is an almost impossible result) and Ponsonby himself is down with a mortal wound - this seems like a bad dream for Wellington!

The situation at the end of turn 4 - halfway through the game. Units with a yellow outline are disordered, those with a white outline are routing. The Guard Lancers have been reduced to 3 figures and the unit has been removed from play.

The Poles move to attack the Highlanders whilst they in turn wheel to their left and deliver a volley. Mainwaring is on hand to lend moral support with a wave of his hat and a cheer. Beside them the Foot Guards are now losing casualties to some unusually effective long-range artillery fire.

The Royal Dragoons seize the opportunity to avenge the Greys and successfully charge the disordered Guard heavies causing them to rout from the field. 

But in the time honoured tradition of British cavalry they carry things too far and attempt to ride down the Guard artillery with predictable results - ouch!

On the French right the steam is running out of the attack. Both the Poles and the Swiss have become disordered while the 42nd and the British foot artillery whittle away their ranks.

In the centre however the Foot Guards are under growing pressure from the French artillery and have become disordered. Wellington sends De Lancey forward to steady them but he goes down with a serious wound (I provided Wellington with his ADC so that he could lend a +1 to morale without any personal risk!).

Turn 8 and Uxbridge, seeing that the Swiss are wavering, orders the Light Dragoons to charge. Despite receiving more fire from the French skirmishers this move is enough to rout the Swiss and take possession of the VP location.

The situation at the end of play. A count of VP's confirmed a stunning victory for the Duke with 18 to 5 as the final score (if you're wondering what happen to the Poles they were reduced to 11 figures which meant the unit was destroyed and removed from play).

Following the game, I diced to recover casualties as before and much to my horror the Scots Greys were fully restored but luckily so also were the Guard heavy cavalry. However, the casualty restoration heavily favours the British and the attrition is having a real effect on the French OOB.

So, a bitter blow to Napoleon’s ambition to destroy Wellington that will force this wing of the Armée ď Angleterre to retire to Bournemouth. The action will now shift back to Andover where Murat is about to face Daddy Hill.