Friday, 14 January 2022

The Battle of Wagram – The Game

The French steamroller gets moving and it looks like nothing can stand in its way.
While my guns concentrated their fire on the Russian battery with some encouraging first results.
However, Rob responded with an ominous looking cavalry movement against my left flank which I countered by ordering forward the DK heavies.

Lasalle with the 6th Chasseurs awaits developments on my other flank.

As my columns near the enemy firing line they start to take casualties from musketry and canister.

Back on the left the Austrian hussars hurl themselves at my DK heavies and it's not a good result for the French.

The Austrian canister proved too much for the 24th ligne who break and rout (denoted by the red counter).

The situation at the end of Turn 4. The white arrows show the direction of travel of routing units.

In the centre the French columns still push on although the 85th ligne (to the left) have had to stop and form square to protect the flank from the enemy horsemen. Sadly, after a crucial intervention to prevent the 85th from becoming disordered, Marshal Massena was knocked from the saddle by a stray musket ball.

The Russian battery has been silenced however the Austrian gunners have just despatched my Combined Grenadiers with yet more canister.

The 45th ligne take some revenge by charging and routing the Swedish Abo (should that be Abba?) Regiment - looks like they've met their Waterloo!

However, apart from this local success things are not looking too brilliant for the French in the centre.

And not in the rear either as the Sommariva Cuirassiers ride down the routing 24th ligne and capture their eagle.

At this stage only the 45th and 85th ligne remain in the fight for the French.

Having routed the Abo's the 45th wheel right and finally overrun the Austrian battery. Meanwhile the Toscana Dragoons are moving over to support the allied infantry line.

The 85th ligne and the Swedish Kajana Regiment face off at Wagram.

While those darned Cuirassiers roll up the 105th and add another eagle to their collection.

To round things off nicely the Austrian hussars rout the 6th Chasseurs.

One rare bright spot for the French as the 85th take Wagram.

The situation at the end of play - Turn 8.

The 45th ligne have had enough now.

General Mack reflects upon a good day at the office.

The Russian Moscow Grenadiers stand firm and wave goodbye to the French.

This final Austrian bulletin says it all. 

The final battle VP score was 20 to 14 in favour of the allies which on the face of it might not seem too terrible however, the French force had 4 units eliminated which has all but destroyed the army north of the Danube. With only two campaign turns left to play and a 15 to 5 campaign score to Rob, it was impossible for Napoleon to bring the allies to battle and amass enough VPs to reverse his fortunes. Climbing into his royal carriage the emperor has left post-haste for Paris and instructed his forces to leave Austria - for now!

This was a highly enjoyable campaign and Rob employed a clever strategy to win by being prepared to give up Vienna and use the Danube as an impregnable defence line. His spoiler attack at Zwettl was also a smart move as it forced me to make retrograde moves to protect my supply base at Linz. For my part, I became a bit too obsessed with my ‘brilliant’ flank march through the Semmering Pass as there never really was anything to out flank as Rob’s forces were nowhere near! By the time Napoleon and the Guard were in place the Prussians had already blocked all the crossings of the Danube east of Vienna rendering my move useless.

Well done to Rob, the campaign is over, but the war goes on…

Sunday, 9 January 2022

The Battle of Wagram – Scenario

Now don’t go reaching for your copy of Chandler’s The Campaigns of Napoleon because this is not that battle of Wagram but rather one that has come about due to the twists and turns of the current campaign. Having given up Vienna and craftily withdrawn his forces behind the Danube, Rob has snookered Napoleon with the Guard and Cavalry Reserve, leaving it up to the 'B Team' north of the river to take the fight to him.

All I can say is FAKE NEWS!
It's now Turn 13 and after all that fancy French footwork it has been left to Ney and Massena to deal the knockout blow against the allies.
French OOB

45th Ligne B
105th Ligne B
Converged Grenadiers A
6 x Skirmishers
1 x Foot Battery

85th Ligne B
24th Ligne B
DK Dragoons/Cuirassiers B
6 x Skirmishers
1 x Foot Battery

6th Chasseurs A

Allied OOB

General Mack C-in-C
Abo Regiment B
Kajana Regiment B
Alderkreutz Regiment B
6 x Jagers
1 x Russian Foot Battery

Moscow Grenadiers A
Toskana Dragoons A
Sommariva Cuirassiers A
6 x Jagers
1 x Austrian Foot Battery

Duke of Brunswick
Austrian Hussars A

The initial deployment of the armies. Wagram is classified as a built-up-area.
The Allied High Command hold their O-Group. I've said it before and I'll say it again - there's nothing quite like a field of Swedes.

This will be an all or nothing attempt by the French - vive l'emperor!

After all my grand manoeuvring I am being forced to fight this battle with the weakest part of my army whilst the emperor looks on helplessly from a church tower in Vienna. I must win this battle to win the campaign, Rob on the other hand only has to hold on and the win will be his. This is a good illustration of why playing campaign games can be fun as this is a scenario I would never have dreamt up – a French army with no Guard units and without cavalry superiority takes on a hotchpotch of Swedes, Russians and Austrians in a fight they must win!

Saturday, 1 January 2022

Goodnight Vienna

I know you’ve all been wondering just what has been happening in the Austria 1805 Campaign and finally I can lift the cloak of secrecy to reveal that, by a clever flanking manoeuvre, the emperor has taken Vienna without a shot fired.

So this is what Napoleon's been up to - I still can't reveal everything as there are certain of my forces whose whereabouts remain unknown to Rob.

Since the opening of hostilities Napoleon with the Guard has been engaged on a wide flanking movement via the Semmering Pass to fall upon Vienna from the east. This movement, perfectly screened by Murat and Lasalle, appears to have gone undetected by the enemy.

During the forced march over the Semmering Pass the Guard had a bit of a rough time due to straggling and had to remain stationary for 2 turns to recover their strength. At one point the 2nd Grenadiers were down to 16 figures.

The result is that both Blucher and Aldercruetz decided to withdraw behind the barrier of the Danube rather than face Napoleon in open battle. With the weather turning decidedly nippy the emperor is pleased to be warming his feet by the firesides of Schonbrunn Palace (my, how nicely the furniture burns).

Napoleon enters Vienna.

We’re now on Turn 11 and with only 4 turns left to play Rob knows I must retain Vienna and win a battle if I’m going to amass more VP’s than him. He could just keep running away but that would be unsporting so all will hinge on a final battle.

Tuesday, 21 December 2021

5th Cuirassier Regt. Sommariva

These chaps were rushed into action with their paint barely dry at the Third Battle of the Hut, so I never got around to introducing them formally to you. If their performance in that game is anything to go by, they will have a glorious career ahead of them.

All the figures are the one-piece casting AN.73 Cuirassier (mounted) charging with one converted to a trumpeter.

My Campaign with Rob has been rumbling on, but I haven’t been able to post on it here as the need for secrecy (and reputational preservation) has been paramount.

When viewing this map you need to be humming along to the Dad's Army theme tune. This was not the finest hour of the French army but I console myself by thinking it was just a side-show for the main event still to come nearer to Vienna.
I can hardly blame Rob for taking advantage of such a propaganda coup.

Things are coming to a head now and I suspect that a decisive battle will be coming along soon.

Thursday, 16 December 2021

More Pavlovian response

Thanks to all who responded to the last post and particularly to Matthew and Goya for their efforts to seek out information on the mysterious ‘greatcoat’ stowed on top of the pack. The first thing to mention is that I was wrong when I said that it only appeared on the marching figure because Matthew sent me the photo below showing the same item on vintage castings of the charging and firing figures.

All three figures are modelled with a rolled item above the pack that has three buttons at the top either side of a central securing strap.

This means that, whatever it is, Marcus Hinton intended to sculpt it and must have had a reference source that showed it. This is one instance where the Hinton Hunt painting instruction sheet would be very helpful but sadly, I don’t have one. Matthew, Goya and I have trawled the internet for images that might reveal the nature of the mystery item but to no avail although Goya did find this one below.

This looks promising except that the illustration shows the 1817 regulations and is also of a line infantryman not a Pavlovski Grenadier.

Goya also found this bit of text which may explain what the roll was:

For the cover for the coat and leggings. — The coat must be rolled and wrapped in the leggings [kragi] so that it is as long as the knapsack and its diameter is 6 inches in thickness. It is placed into a round oilcloth cover made to these dimensions with an opening at one end that is closed with a drawstring. This case is to be carried on the knapsack with the opening to the left side and in the middle tied by the greatcoat strap to the strap that holds the canteen.

However, the item modelled on the figures very definitely has six buttons on the top and doesn’t look as if it is supposed to represent a drawstring bag so back to the drawing board.

While repainting the roll I also took the opportunity to tidy up the back of the mitre cap.

In the end I have decided to paint the roll as a canvas/brown bag which is good enough for my purposes but if anyone does have a copy of the Hinton Hunt painting instructions I’d be interested to see them.

********* EDIT *********

Eagle-eyed Rob spotted the picture below.

Although this isn't a Pavlov the mystery roll does have buttons just like the figure - still not sure what it is but problem solved.

So it looks like I will be repainting them black!

********* FINAL EDIT *********

Thanks to ongoing work by Goya and Rob we appear to finally have the answer regarding the mystery item. I'm 99% sure that it is the leather gaiters that are strapped to the top of the pack and that the figure has been modelled in 'summer' trousers.

Painted for the third and final time, Pavlovski's in their summer best.

A close examination of a line Grenadier casting next to a Pavlovski castings has confirmed this as the line figure is wearing his gaiters with buttons to the knee, whilst the Pavlovski has buttons halfway up the calf which would fit with the summer trousers theory. So that's it, the figures have been repainted accordingly now it's time to move on.

Friday, 10 December 2021

Pavlovian response

Like many wargamers of a certain age the Pavlovski Grenadiers are right up there in my affection with the 95th Rifles and the Grumblers of the Old Guard so it’s no surprise that I have felt the urge to paint some at last, although I must add that I have been careful not to drool on them in the process.

RN/7 Pavlovski Guard, marching.

I’ve had these figures in the lead pile for well over 10 years but I’m not entirely sure of their provenance. The castings seem too light and crisp to be vintage ones but too well defined to be Clayton’s, I can only assume they are recasts but if they are, they are very good ones.

I've painted the rolled up greatcoat on top of the pack black in an effort to disguise it.

One curiosity is that the marching figure not only has a greatcoat rolled around his body but also one rolled above his pack. This is an odd mistake for Marcus Hinton to have made but I do have a few Clayton’s as well, and they have the same error. It’s just the marching figure which is like this as I have samples of the other positions and they don’t have the second greatcoat.

If any of you have bona fide (should that be bona fido?) vintage castings of same, then please let me know how many greatcoats they have by leaving a comment – perhaps they have been issued with two because they are Guard?

Wednesday, 1 December 2021

The Battle of Zwettl – The Game

I have to confess that I was pretty confident going into this game that the French would be able to hold off the Allies whilst gaining at least one of the VP locations. In hindsight I’m not quite sure why I thought this when I had neither cavalry or skirmishers in my force and only one artillery battery. As you will have guessed it didn’t go well for the French!

The French get off to a good start with four infantry columns pushing forward towards the VP locations.
Likewise, the Allies are making a general advance.

As Poniatowski's troops crest the central hill they start to come under fire from the Austrian artillery and a group of rifle-armed Jagers on their flank.

Eugene's lads are nearly at the VP location to their front but the unit of Brunswick Hussars on the hill opposite are well placed to make a charge against them.

The Brunswickers draw sabres while their escorting Foot Battery prepares to unlimber.

In the centre of the field the 51st Gabriel Spleny Regiment is advancing in line supported by the Toskana Dragoons.

I chose to keep the Nassau Grenadiers in reserve to protect my lone battery but perhaps this wasn't such a smart move as it left the flank of the 8th Poles exposed.

Eugene had no choice but to order his two Battalions into square and the Brunswick artillery immediately took advantage of such a lovely dense target.

The 8th Poles were taking increasingly heavy casualties including losing their Colonel, so Poniatowski was obliged to step in personally to shore up a rather rocky morale throw.

The Jagers continued to pop away unhindered as I had no skirmishers of my own to counter them. The supporting Austrian Hussars were snuggly out of line-of-sight of my battery.

This is how things looked after 4 turns. The 8th Poles (outlined in yellow) are now disordered.

The centre viewed from the Allied side. The Brunswick Leib-Battalion is pouring fire into Eugene's squares while the Spleny's exchange volleys with the 4th Swiss.

Unsupported, and with their Colonel down, Poniatowski tries to steady the wavering Swiss with unfortunate consequences. On the plus side there will be no swimming in the Elster for him.

The Swiss and the Spleny's slog it out with some sharp musketry.

Eugene's squares are snookered - they cannot advance because of the Brunswick Hussars but their dense formation is causing casualties to mount up and morale to become shaky.

The Swiss have had enough and head for the rear - who can blame them?

Seeing that the Combined Voltigeurs have become disordered the Brunswick Hussars seize the moment and charge with predictable results.

The Austrian Hussars move up to take the second VP location.

The situation at the end of play (Turn 8). The total game VP's were 16 to zero in favour of the Allies - some might call that a crushing defeat for the French!

Eugene ponders his future in the Grande Armee.

Of course the Austrian Press couldn't resist putting out this special edition. I must say that the chocolate does sound quite yummy.

Under the Campaign Rules Eugene must now retire back to the town he came from (Karstiff) and Poniatowski’s old Division must go with him although it will not be able to take part in any offensive action until a new leader arrives from HQ to take command.

Rob gets a total of 6 Campaign VP’s (5VP’s for winning the battle and 1VP for destroying my Combined Grenadier unit).