Friday, 30 July 2021

The limits of glory

The latest addition to my collection of French personality figures is General Charles de la Bédoyére, ADC to Napoleon during the hundred days campaign. The figure is FN/371 Aide de Camp, holding letter (horse FNH/13).

La Bédoyére was played in the film Waterloo by Philippe Forquet who interestingly was at one time engaged to Sharon Tate. His acting career never really took off although he did have a part in a US TV series called The Young Rebels set in the American Revolution.

Napoleon: “When I am dead and gone what will the world say of me?”
La Bédoyére: “They’ll say that you extended the limits of glory, sire.”

La Bédoyére was to meet an unfortunate fate after Waterloo being amongst the few French officers who were caught by the allies and shot by firing squad.

Saturday, 24 July 2021

Battle of Three Generals

On Thursday I was able to host my first in person wargame in the Hinton Hut since 2019. General Foy and none other than the Archduke himself took arms against Napoleon (me) in what turned out to be another great table-top battle.

Nigel played the Prussians and Tony the British whilst I commanded a slightly smaller force of French who were playing on the defensive.

I deployed the forces of both sides in advance giving the visiting Generals a chance to reorganise before play commenced however they both declined this offer and we got stuck in straight away. The red star 'victory locations' were worth 5VP's each to the Allies but nothing to the French, additional VP's were awarded for enemy units destroyed.
I chose to push forward in the centre with my heavy cavalry to deny the ridge to the enemy. The Allies, rather timidly, replied by sending forward a single regiment of Prussian Dragoons to oppose them.

On my right I advanced the 6th Chasseurs against Nigel's Uhlans, however they immediately fell victim to his Jagers who appeared to be armed with machine guns.

On my left I charged forward with the Guard Horse Artillery who found themselves alone facing off against the Scots Greys and the RHA. After a half-hearted cannonade they quickly limbered up and retired.

The Allies soon recovered their composure and ordered their entire heavy cavalry to attack my horsemen on the ridge. Luck was with me however and both the Greys and the Prussian Dragoons were routed in the same turn.

All my shiny heavy cavalry seemed to put the fear of God in the Prussians infantry who milled about in confusion until finally managing to form square. 

On my extreme left flank I sent forward the 5th Lancers and their presence had a similar effect on the British infantry, except that I must say the British drill was a tad better.

With the Greys and the Prussian Dragoons defeated my Cuirassiers now saw off the Prussian Cuirassiers (these gentlemen didn't stop running until they reached Berlin I believe). Time now for lunch, this game would be wrapped up in a couple more turns I thought.

Back from lunch, and having been slightly goaded by wily old Blucher I took a chance and charged the 30th Foot with my Lancers. This didn't end well and next turn they were reduced to four figures and removed from play. It would be safe now for Tony to bring his infantry out of square and continue to advance.

As the cavalry melee continued in the centre of the field I consolidated my position on the ridge with infantry and artillery. Before long the Allied skirmishers and artillery were concentrating fire on the French gunners and starting to whittle them away, by the end of the game both batteries were destroyed.

Following some useful rallying die rolls both the Greys and the Prussian Dragoons had composed themselves and were getting ready for round two.

Early in the game the 24th Line had occupied the village VP location but their ranks were being gradually thinned by artillery fire. They were still hanging on at the end of play but only just.

Finally the Allies were getting the upper hand in the cavalry melee, the Carabiniers were disordered and the Cuirassiers had been routed by the Blues. Napoleon ordered his shiny new unit of Horse Grenadiers forward in response.

Meanwhile, back in 1970, a similar looking battle was unfolding.

The tipping point of the battle had arrived. Nigel charged forward with the reformed Dragoons shattering my infantry whilst Tony brought up the Greys in support. On the ridge, the Blues and the Horse Grenadiers crossed sabres as the last on my gunners were ridded down.

The same view from the Allied perspective (so that Nigel and Tony can savour the moment). The Blues were to rout my lovely new Horse Grenadiers in the final turn of the game.

Suddenly the Emperor found himself surround by a sea of legging Frenchmen.

On my left Tony charged forward with the 49th Foot and promptly disordered the 45th Line in melee.

Turn 8 and Nigel threw the Silesian Landwehr against the ridge. I was touched by Nigel's faith in the Landwehr in using them to attack the French line, such is the legend they have built up over the years! The entire Prussian phalanx of 120 infantry only took two casualties in the whole game.

"Hard pounding eh Blucher?"
"Ya, I am zeventy one years old unt a proud toy soldier!"
"Don't tell him your name Wellington!"

"Ah La Bedoyere, I had won the battle by turn 3 but lost it at the end of turn 8"

The situation at the end of play. Units bordered in white are routing, yellow are disordered. A count up of VP's revealed a convincing win for the Allies.

This was a fun game with plenty of twists and turns but in the end, I was soundly beaten by my opponents. The rules were my standard Muskets & Marshals, but we introduced written turn by turn orders which worked really well.

My thanks to the visiting generals for making the long hike here and for providing excellent company for a long overdue day of playing soldiers.

Friday, 2 July 2021

Grenadier á Cheval

The Horse Grenadiers are done and dusted and I’m very happy with the way they’ve turned out. The figures are:

6 x FN/300 Horse Grenadier Guard (on horse FNH/2)
6 x DK 46/1 Horse Guard Grenadier (one converted to trumpeter)

I think you’ll agree that the height surgery on the DK’s has been successful although obviously they look a little malnourished next to their Hinton Hunt friends.

Unit Histories - just a note to say that I have updated the Unit Histories pages to include the most recent battle honours. If you're bored take a look. I still have more units to add but at least those that are there are now up to date.

Thursday, 17 June 2021

Horse Grenadier Trumpeter

This is my trumpeter conversion for the Horse Grenadiers of the Guard. The horses’ legs have again been modified to provide greater height and the trumpet has been added in my usual way.

The figure is DK 46/1 Guard Grenadier-a Cheval which of course is pretty much a straight copy of Hinton Hunt FN/56 Horse Grenadier of the Guard (mounted) charging.

Friday, 11 June 2021

Horse Grenadiers – update

Now the dust has settled on the recent campaign and the soldiers are back in their ‘Really Useful’ cantonments, it’s time to return to the expansion of the Imperial Guard cavalry. I have painted five of my modified DK Horse Grenadiers and just need to finish them off with a trumpeter.

I’m pleased with these, and I think it was worth the effort to increase their height, I also think that the replacement swords make them look more menacing and guardsman-ish. I’m pretty sure they will blend in well when based up next to the two-piece castings.

Monday, 31 May 2021

The Battle of Bournemouth – The Game

The British cavalry advance with Rob's stirring order ringing in their ears "The enemy Cuirassiers will be seen off by our Heavy Cavalry!"
The Brunswick Hussars had their own orders to "...disperse enemy skirmishers if an opportunity offers". Well it did, however the skirmishers evaded which resulted in the Hussars ploughing into the 45th regiment who failed to form square.

The Inniskillings charge the Cuirassiers but lose the first round of melee and become disordered. No worries though, the Blues and the Greys are in close support.

The French artillery found themselves under counter-battery fire that continued for the whole game. However the last French gun was only silenced on turn 8.

To add insult to injury the 45th lost their eagle to the Brunswickers right under the nose of  Marshal Ney.

Opps, now this was NOT in the script - the Inniskillings are running away.

The British infantry are advancing steadily in line but the Higlanders are coming under fire from the French artillery and skirmishers.

The 49th Foot reach the church whilst the Rifles (out of shot on the other side of the building) pop away at the French in the cottage.

Hang on, this is DEFINITELY NOT in the script - Murat's Cuirassiers have just routed the Greys!

With all that cavalry milling around the French have wisely formed square.

This one is for Nigel - the 85th standing firm in line (the only French unit not to lose a single casualty).

The situation at the end of turn 4 - those white arrows indicate the direction of rout for the British heavies.

WHAAAT? Yep, that's the Blues being seen off - if only I'd had two units of Cuirassiers.

This one is for Lee - the 30th Cambridgeshires advancing in line.

And this one is for Goya - Mainwaring goes down (it was just a scratch).

Finally some cavalry who know how to fight turn up and see off Murat. You just can't get enough Brunswick Hussars I find.

Fortunately for Wellington the British cavalry all managed to rally and save themselves from total disgrace.
The French squares were coming under fire now and it was all too much for the 105th regiment.

Nearing the end and the Brunswicker's come forward one more time to claim one of the VP locations.

The French have had enough and take to their heels.

"This way mon ami, my horse will have no problem swimming the channel!"

Rather cruelly, in the dying moments of the battle poor Davout takes a tumble.

"Forward lads and complete your victory!".

The situation at the end of play. The final score was 18 to 6 to the British but you have to say some credit must go to Murat and, of course, the Brunswick Hussars. 

So, the Battle of Bournemouth draws the campaign to a close and I think we can say that the British won. I’ve enjoyed playing the campaign as it’s resulted in some fun solo games that otherwise I would never have been motivated to play. My thanks to Rob for entering into the spirit of things and for his merciless dedication to pushing the French back into the channel.

I’ve got some ideas on how to improve the campaign system (and make sure the French win) and we may play another one later in the year.