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. 

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Friday 16 April 2021

Chasseur à Cheval and a British reinforcement

Having removed the Lancers from my Chasseur/Lancer unit I was left with 6 Chasseur figures that needed some recruits to bring them up to fighting strength. I didn’t have any more of the 2-piece castings but did have some OPC’s knocking around in the lead pile, so I dug these out and stripped the old paint.

During this process I realised that most of these figures had their plumes removed and those that hadn’t were in such a precarious state that they came off in the bleach. This meant carrying out a rather laborious reconstruction that involved drilling a hole in their shakos, gluing in a small piece of wire cut from a staple and then building up a plume around it with MagicSculp.

I managed to find time to paint up a test figure and work has commenced on the remainder.

FN/122 Chasseur a Cheval of the line (mounted) charging.

Yesterday I had a visit from Goya who came by (in a socially distanced way) to drop off an Art Miniaturen figure he had modified to resemble a nineteenth century version of Captain Mainwaring for use in my ongoing campaign. Mainwaring is CO of the Walmington-on-Sea Fencibles although sadly the rest of the platoon didn’t make it with him (something about a tavern near Chichester).

"Ah there you are Wellington, Walmington-on-Sea Fencibles reporting for duty!"
"Don't tell him your name Pike!"
Mainwaring will add +1 to morale to any British Line unit he fights with.

There is just time for you all to get your best Dad’s Army jokes ready before I post the AAR on the Battle of Southampton.

Tuesday 13 April 2021

The Battle of Southampton – Scenario

While Ney and Murat pushed on to Andover a second French column probed north to Winchester. Here they were surprised by Wellington and Ponsonby and sensibly chose to withdraw to Southampton. Reinforced by the arrival of Lasalle and the Young Guard, the French now stood to fight.

The strategic situation at the start of Turn 4

British OOB

Foot Guards
42nd Highlanders
The Royal Horse Guards
1 x Foot Battery
6 x Rifles

Scots Greys
Inniskilling Dragoons
1st Royal Dragoons
1 x Horse Battery

Light Dragoons

French OOB

Young Guard
Guard Marines
Guard Heavy Cavalry
1 x Guard Foot Battery
6 x Skirmishers

4th Swiss
8th Poles
12 x Skirmishers

Guard Light Cavalry
1 x Guard Horse Artillery

The initial deployment of the armies.

I’ll be playing the game solo adhering to the written orders issued by Rob and myself in advance. The game will last for 8 turns and the side with the most VP’s at the end will be the winner. VP’s are awarded as follows:

5 VP for possession of each Objective (marked with a red star on the map)
2 VP for each enemy infantry or cavalry unit removed from play or currently routing
1 VP for each enemy infantry unit currently disordered
1 VP for each enemy general KIA
1 VP for each enemy flag/eagle captured (cavalry capture a flag/eagle from infantry that they rout on a die roll of 4,5 or6)
1 VP for each enemy artillery battery destroyed
1 VP for each enemy skirmisher group destroyed

Friday 9 April 2021

Skirmish at Andover

Following the French Victory at Salisbury Napoleon decided to bring up his own heavy cavalry whilst allowing Massena’s shattered force to retire. The plan was to push on to Andover with Murat, Ney and D’Hilliers. Upon scouting the town, I found that only Moore’s Division was in residence so declared a ‘contact’.

Under the campaign rules the defending player may decide to refuse battle and withdraw to the next town and this was what I expected Rob to do given the imbalance of forces. However, he declared that Moore’s (or what had been Moore’s) Division would fight a delaying action to cause attrition amongst the pursuers. The resulting table action was therefore small scale but turned out to be interesting and fun to play.

The initial table set-up.

The French force consisted of the Lancers, one unit of Cuirassiers and a Guard Horse Battery against the British Naval Battalion (in square), Dutch Foot Battery and a Company of Rifles. The square could move 3” per turn and the artillery could fire by prolong which meant moving 3” and firing at half effect. The game would end after 8 turns (when the main French body arrived) or if the Naval Battalion square managed to retire to the table edge.

The French cavalry immediately pushed forward and the 5th Lancers were the first to come under fire from the Dutch Foot Artillery.

Turn 2 and the Guard Horse Artillery had a very successful roll of the dice.
That completely levelled the crew of the Dutch Battery!

In retaliation the Rifles emerged from a small wood where they had been concealed to take pot shots at the enemy gunners but with little effect.

Egged on by the success of the gunners the 5th decided to try their luck against the Naval Battalion square. All went well until they received a point-blank volley that brought down 3 troopers and left them disordered.
As the Lancers withdrew to reform the Cuirassiers trotted up showing the sort of discipline that would prevent them from making the same mistake. But then...

Forward they came with the same result! I decided to give them a 1 in 6 chance of launching a charge and somehow they managed to do just that.

With the wind knocked out of the cavalry, the Naval Battalion slowly withdrew from the field.

These French losses could have serious implications later in the campaign.
The situation at the end of turn 8. The Naval Battalion have so far borne the brunt of the French invasion - where is Wellington?

The Naval Battalion and Rifles ended the game (after casualty recovery) with no losses, but the destruction of the Dutch Foot Battery will make a dent in the British OOB. For the French, the Lancers ended up with 9 figures and the Cuirassiers with 8 which is enough to make a difference to their effectiveness in any further battles.

Tuesday 6 April 2021

Monday 5 April 2021

The Battle of Salisbury – The Game

Prior to the game, which of course was played solo, Rob and I wrote battle orders for our troops. I then played both sides staying as faithful as possible to the intent of each commander.

Rob's orders to Ponsonby were to overthrow the weaker French cavalry "while seeking to exploit any favourable opportunity to visit destruction upon them (the infantry)". The Union Brigade certainly weren't planning to be spectators in this battle.
D'Hilliers with the 5th Lancers found himself in a difficult situation with three times his numbers of enemy cavalry bearing down upon him. His own orders included the line "not to get drawn unnecessarily into melee with the enemy heavy horse" - sure, right!

Meanwhile Ney and Massena got their infantry moving forward to take Salisbury Hill.

With the 1st Royal Dragoons in the lead the Union Brigade pushed forward aggressively. So aggressively in fact that the Lancers turned tail and rode off in the general direction of Bournemouth. I gave the Lancers a 50:50 chance of standing and fighting or retiring, the next turn they failed this test again and left the field - so much for the newbies.

Following close behind the Royals the Greys dander was up and they had their beady eyes fixed on a French battery that had just deployed on a small hill to their front.

A frontal charge on a battery, what sort of madness is this?

Those men on the Grey horses must be drunk! One less battery in the French OOB.

No matter, Massena's lads take the objective and all they have to do now is hold it for the next five turns to win.

The situation at the end of turn 3. The French have taken Salisbury Hill but the British cavalry are in their rear.

In front of Salisbury Hill, the Naval Battalion were coming under pressure from the French skirmishers and artillery. Sadly a cannon ball connected with Moore as he tried to steady the ranks during a morale phase.
By now the Naval Battalion had also lost their Colonel and become disordered. They were definitely in a sticky situation and in need of help.

Hurrah for the Inniskillings! Seeing that the 9th Light Infantry had become disordered and were unable to form square, Ponsonby chose just the right moment to charge. The 9th were routed and lost their Eagle in the process (on a dice roll of 4,5 or 6).

With an unusual degree of control, the Inniskilling's managed to call off a pursuit that would have taken them dangerously close to the French squares. The 9th ran off but Massena managed to rally the remnants on the next (and final) turn. 

The situation at the end of turn 8. The French are clinging on to Salisbury Hill for a technical win. The units with a yellow outline are disordered.

The result was a rather unconvincing strategic victory for the French but a spectacular tactical victory for the British. Massena’s Division is all but finished as a fighting force and will probably have to be assigned to garrison duties.

Following the game, I allowed for the return to the ranks of some of the casualties. The British fallen were restored on a die roll of 3,4,5 or 6 and the French on a 5 or 6. This discrepancy was to allow for the fact that the British were operating on home ground and could receive some replacements from the regimental depots. To add insult to injury the Scots Greys, who had lost 4 troopers, were fully restored so that Ponsonby’s Heavy Cavalry Division is now back to full fighting strength!