Tuesday, 23 March 2021

Introducing my new(ish) Art website

One of the things that kept me busy during much of the lockdown period last year was working on a new website for my art, a lot of which is military related. I was very lucky that well known wargamer Colin Ashton has a talented wife, Katherine, who is an IT teacher by profession and web designer in her "off duty" time. Colin volunteered his spouse's services as he is an ardent collector of my paintings and great supporter of everything I do.

So I submitted masses of images and plagued Katherine till the Summer when it was almost ready and then I had to learn how to  keep it updated and maintained myself. We did this by means of several Zoom video sessions, and what a wonderful teacher she proved to be, so that by Autumn I was able to start updating it and unleashed the published version on the world in late November.  Some of you may have seen mention of it on your Christmas cards from me.

I'm very pleased with it indeed as the forerunner was a shared site among  Cheltenham artists and Andy, artist friend and webmaster, admitted that it was now outdated and could not effectively be updated. That site still exists however with most of my work from the Noughties up to 2017 still to see. There is a link to all that stuff from the new website.

It has been a work in progress since Christmas (slowed down by my having to paint for an exhibition locally, now in progress and going well) and still is in minor details. But at last I think I have got almost all my existing stock of paintings for sale on there as well as very much else.

There is a Welcome page from which you can navigate to everything else either via the front pictures or a Menu at top right.

Welcome page

Screen shots of CG Art Website pages


There is an About page which has a lot about me and there is more on various Theme pages that fleshes out my artistic history and motivation and methods.

About the Artist

The main part of the site is seven Theme pages:

Drawings, Fantasy, Military, Hussarettes, Landscapes, Figures and Portraits

Themes


The commercial part is a "Works to buy" page and there is an (irritating?!) animated button on each page with a quick link to it - go on - you know you want to! Currently there are over 30 paintings there for sale of nearly all the genres I cover.

Works to Buy

There is a page just for new work, so I can show off the latest commissions too.

New Work

And just for fun, some of my favourites merely to look at - called the Gallery page. Here, as throughout the site, you can click on the images to enlarge the view and click on Information buttons to find out more about the painting, sometimes with staged demos of how I composed and painted them.

Michelle of Mortier's Guides
Acrylic on canvas 10 x 8"
Ian Allen collection

Gallery

Finally, I hope, if you have enjoyed a look around the site and want to contact me about anything (maybe commenting on paintings, enquiring about a commission or wanting more info before buying) then please use the "Contact" page at the end. That should go directly through to my usual email as if non-contacts try to email me direct it has been known to go to my Spam folder.

As an incentive I'm offering free UK postage (or equivalent value discount for overseas buyers) until Easter as an introductory offer if you use the Contact page. So now is as good a time as any to buy if you see something you like. And if you'd like to commission something special, such as an Imagi-nations military subject or a favourite battle story, a military lady or even a Fantasy or Sci-Fi subject, then I have experience in them all and we can have fun working on it together.

Thanks for reading this and I look forward to hearing from you.

Chris
(aka Sir Joshua Gregg RA)

Saxon Rudnicki Uhlanen 1757
Acrylic on canvas 15" x 8"
Colin Ashton collection

Tuesday, 16 March 2021

18th Century Mini Campaign - The Raid on Vestisle Part 7: Wrap up and Conclusions

 (NB: Tabletop game over but the following narrative is compiled from post game role-play and discussion and several player emails putting forward suggestions of what might be the outcome of this, far from insignificant, slice of alternative history. Please forgive the differing formats as I've copied passages from emails - too good not to share verbatim. This follows on directly from Part 6 and is interspersed with some close up photos from various parts of the mini-campaign. Towards the end are some reflections on the whole project, please comment if you have enjoyed it or found it useful).

Abrantes City and harbour as seen from the Cime d'Abrantes about 0800 on 11th August 1756

The Duke of Marlborough's situation
Ken as the Allied C-in-C

By 0820 on Sunday 11th August The Duke of Marlborough had been watching a large pall of smoke rising over the stone bastion on Abrantes harbour and wondering about the consequences. Was it too much to hope that his plan for Cochrane's sailors was working? ADCs looking through telescopes reported heavy musket fire around the city gate of the bastion and inside its retaining walls. Also puffs of musket smoke around the Hotel de Ville and then The flag of Vestisle which had been flying above the building was slowly replaced by a red ensign. Was that a faint British cheer emanating from the city centre?


Marlborough had originally hoped that the Royal Naval elements would blow some holes in the walls on the island side of Abrantes and that his troops would be near enough to exploit it. He surmised that timing and events had caused Cochrane to attack the harbour bastion and Town Hall first, and so he scanned the horizon along the whole battle line to figure out what to do. Far to his right his flank had collapsed  and the Jacobite hIghlanders were rampaging over Bellune Hill, looting corpses and trying to assemble in and near the woods to outflank the Hanoverians. But the elated Highlanders were slow to assemble and von Brunck had plenty of time to order his entire force to face right to put on a formidable front of cavalry and infantry since they no longer had any French to their own front. However it meant there would be no assault from there on Abrantes city.



So Marlborough's gaze then alighted on his own centre where a single regiment of French cavalry was causing havoc to the line which was already crumbling. The only bright spot was that the French line brigade opposite, at the farm, was clearly the worse for wear and would not be counter attacking but just trying to protect that approach to Abrantes.



As he looked along the ridge to his front and in the valley at his left things looked a bit better. The French Guards and elite infantry had been taking a battering and Granby's reserve of 4 Grenadier battalions was fresh and nearby. Although the German musketeer brigade was falling back in the valley the Allied left flank on the Cime de Cassatte looked strong and healthy. Also he had 5 Battalions of Hessians still in reserve - plenty of strength just not in the right places at the right time. That was because ahead of this wing there appeared to be no weaknesses in the French line to test.



Nowhere did he feel strong enough to risk an attack on the city, at least not till some news was received from  Cochrane's sailors.


Marlborough had the orders from Horse Guards still ringing in his ears "My Lord, remember this is a raid not an invasion. You need to inflict a bloody revenge on the Frogs for Minorca and try to ensure the threat from the Jacobites is blunted, but don't risk losing our Army in another fiasco!" So he ordered his generals to rally as many troops as possible and fall back till things clarified.


Around 0845 his aides brought forward an exhausted messenger, a midshipman whose youth and knowledge of French language had enabled him to blag his way through the battle lines with a scribbled message from Captain Cochrane:


"Your Lordship

Young Pretender captured but lost to accident in transfer to ship. Unable to recover his body. Bastion gate blown but my troops overwhelmed. French VIPs including Duc de Vestisle prisoners. Making escape with about 200 men and prisoners by sea to North to rejoin fleet.

respectfully

Cochrane (Captain RN)"


So that made up Ken's mind. An honourable retreat would save the army and Charlie's death would disrupt the Jacobite cause better than he could have dared hope. Job Done!



So what had happened to Charlie and his followers?


The prisoners were taken via the now unguarded North gate to the Abrantes beach. The French navy and transports had mostly set sail for Brest on the dawn tide and the few which remained only had skeleton crews and cannon not run out for action.  So all that greeted the escaping sailors was a desultory fire from swivel guns mounted on the gunwhales with hardly any effect.  But there were enough fishing boats and cutters at the beach and harbour to be commandeered and be able to take everyone off. 


According to Guy:

French High Command lost no sleep to hear that Bonny Prince Charlie ‘slipped’ trying to embark from the jolly boat to transfer to a ship into the deep after a British sailor had surreptitious lifted his wallet and replaced it with some lead weights. The men, women and animals of the island are now safe from his dubious tastes. His retainers being tied up, were unable to rescue him and they were bundled below (not a chance of a ransom or promise of good behaviour, France already has too many aristos seeking gainful employment). Jamie Fraser had been wounded trying to defend Charlie in the scuffle at the Hotel de Ville but, back in England, would be hanged for treason (Sorry Clare, away on your jaunt in America, you'll never meet him again!). Charles has died and without any French blame. The best of all worlds. We get rid of a problem and our agents can spread the news around Scotland that the Brits actually did him in. That will keep the fires of revolt smouldering. The official court obituary will remember a noble Prince, with perfect Christian morals, who thought only of his people.

 The search for Charlie's body was unsuccessful...... 

According to Ken's "alternative facts":

In news from London, Lieutenant Bond from His Majesty's ship Audacious has been promoted to the rank of commander and reassigned to the Foreign Office to carry out liaison activities. I understand his last duty included commanding the side party of the Audacious when Prince Charles was brought aboard. 

The lieutenant's actions in attempting to rescue the prince from the water have obviously been recognised and it's good to note that no blame is being attached to him following the  unfortunate and unexpected failure of the side rope. 



But there is a lot more to say. In the spirit of those drama documentaries based on real life they go on to tell you the fate of the protagonists.


What happened to the French gold secured in the bastion casemate?                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  

The gold was well hidden so Richelieu could stand to be financially far better off. All the aristocratic witnesses as to the gold’s whereabouts are captured so he will plant fake news saying the British took the gold and the French are to disbelieve any denials from perfidious albion. The servants who knew will be given a one way ticket to Guadeloupe. Trouble is only the Duc de Vestisle and Chevalier Dumonnaie had the two keys to the casemate under the bastion where the gold was stored. The Sergeant of the guard at the bastion had been taken into DuMonnaie's confidence and he was wounded when the sailors exploded a gunpowder keg among the surface-stored ammo. The company of British sailors at the bastion was finally forced to surrender by the whole battalion of Citizen's Militia which Guy so generously sent there and so the Sergeant will recover from his wound and demand a significant pension and sinecure as Deputy Governor of Vestisle from Richelieu  and De Muy in return for keeping quiet while they break down the door and distribute the ill gotten gains as they see fit.

(No doubt having originally trained as an avocat at the Sorbonne, De Muy will advise how to draw up a contract making sure the Sergeant gets as little as possible (sounding a bit like Les Miserables!)



What happened to the sailors and the Abrantes Militia at the Chateau du Roi?


It had always been the intention of Captain Cochrane and Lieutenant Bond to ensure a message was got back to 2nd Lieutenant Dumbleton who had been left in charge at the Chateau du Roi and of the 250 or so prisoners from the ambush of the Abrantes Militia battalion. (As stated in the original British brief no one was equipped to cope with prisoners apart from the VIPs) The prisoners had been locked in the (emptied) wine cellars below the Chateau since about 1100 on the Saturday and had been nearly 24 hours with little air and no food and water. Many were wounded, with no medical care. Dumbleton's scouts up the trees in Chateau Woods reported on the battle, the explosion in the harbour bastion, and eventually ships moving out of harbour and the Allied infantry forming up and moving Southwards back to Beach 4. Cochrane failed to remember them as he was so concerned to get his valuable charges off the island quickly. Dumbleton waited and waited but soon became aware that the whole of the Legion de la Morliere was heading his way to sweep up his mere 75 sailors. So he ordered all the cellar doors locked and barricaded as he scuttled off back to the boats at the Quai du Chateau to catch up with the British Fleet.



Morliere's men had fought three battles in the last 24 hours and lost their commander and were pretty jaded so they only gave a cursory look around thinking the men of Abrantes had been taken away to England. By about 2pm, however, someone heard faint banging from the cellars and investigated, the doors were battered open but by that time it was found that around 100 men had died from wounds, dehydration and suffocation.  Thus the story of "Le Trou Noir de Vestisle" became almost as famous in French history as the Black Hole of Calcutta is in English. Some unkind souls have pointed out that Dumbleton's younger brother, a mere ensign, had been a victim in Calcutta and the news had only recently reached Portsmouth just before the Vestisle expedition was launched.  The subsequent enquiry into Dumbleton's conduct completely exonerated him and he was promoted to 1st Lieutenant ostensibly for his part in the woods ambush and capturing so many prisoners !


The consequences on Vestisle were grave, however, since over 300 men from the western half of Vestisle had perished thanks to the Duc's original order to investigate the goings on at the Chateau.  These were not professional soldiers but mainly farm workers, fishermen, carpenters, blacksmiths, shopkeepers and cloth workers, so the French Government felt obliged to invest in Vestisle (pardon the pun) and provide money to persuade some of the Jacobites to stay on, and for men from Eastern Vestisle to diversify their work interests across the island in order to help the bereaved families.


That's why to this day there are so many red headed Vestislians with names like DeCamerone, deFrasier, d'Ogilvie and M'Donalde........


https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Hole_of_Calcutta



Other Jacobites and Sundry French Commanders?


Earl Marischal Keith will be looking for a reward for the excellent Jacobite performance.

 Lt General Barbier also for masterminding the major part of the battle of Bellune Hill and leading the Guard Cavalry in those glorious charges for an hour and half of frantic excitement finalised by personally leading the Royal Dragoons in a flank attack on British artillery and infantry (I reckon it was those ADCs supplied by Willz wot gave him inspiration!)



The left flank Legion de Lauzun did do exceptionally well but all the units were dispersed and the Comte de Lauzun (who thwarted about 6 or 7 attempts by Dillon to kill or capture him) went back to Abrantes a bit sulkily and will need cheering up by some ladies of the night till his command gets back together.



For the Highlanders Guy promised - 

The Jacobite infantry performed extremely well and now there are masses of potential recruits for the Wild Geese regiments. Their commanders will be offered commissions in the French army



Lord Sackville and the future of history?

Lord Sackville’s untimely death means the outcome of the battle of Minden will be affected. The British cavalry will actually do something so the French cavalry will veer off to face that threat and they will not attack the British brigade. Further though, under Granby's inspirational leadership the Allied cavalry sweeps the cream of French chivalry into the river and the British and Hanoverian infantry march on the French centre using their expert musketry to see the French infantry packing. Minden is occupied, taking an important French supply base, and the French army does a sauve qui peu fleeing back to the French border provinces.  Taken with French losses elsewhere in the world in 1759 King Louis sues for peace under rather desperate terms, and the Seven Years War will be renamed the "Four Years War" subtitled "Liberation of the Low Countries". And Guy helpfully added:
Also Sackville would not become Secretary of State in the American Department in 1775. Fortunately the government minister at the time was a tea drinker, so there was no tea import tax and he supported the concept of the American colonists having representatives as he was an enlightened chap. Therefore the Boston tea party didn’t happen nor the Revolutionary War.

Who would have thought we could so comprehensively rewrite History in a weekend's wargaming eh?


Mini-Campaign Conclusion

On the day, and after the brief discussion, I declared the mini-campaign a marginal win for the British. Just how marginal is shown when I totted up the units destroyed using my Army Points system dictated by quality and size of units (eg. 1 for Small Inferior units, up to 5 for Large Superior ones)


French - 16 units lost represented by 57 points out of a total of 201 = 28.5%

Allies - 16 units lost represented by 53 points out of a total of 209 = 25.5%


So these figures show that the campaign was well balanced and so was the skill and luck of the players. I could not be happier. The players were very complimentary about the campaign and the weekend games themselves, they seemed to have been challenged and enjoyed it. 



For my part it is hard to describe how grateful I was for the weekend's activities. Regular readers will be aware that I've had many Napoleonic weekends in Oakridge since 2015 but they have not really been my "baby" nor a project I felt any long term commitment to. Some of us had a weekend of Imagi-nations SYW in May 2018 which was great but did not use the figures we had to best advantage (too many and too cramped). This alternative history mini-campaign, however, used mostly historic units in a plausible context and felt real to me throughout. That was aided considerably by Ken and Guy playing in character, making sensible decisions and deploying in an 18th century military manner so by the weekend itself we had a fine battle set up for everyone to take part in.  Then Dillon and Graham applied themselves with a will in the same vein to assist and help drive things forward. For me it worked like a dream. They were all so great when it mattered and good at organising themselves - wrapping up Saturday's game and planning the overnight moves to give us a huge game on the Sunday which I found constantly exciting.

Even clearing up was done just as efficiently - thank you to all concerned.



Any lessons to take from this?

I've had many enjoyable campaigns in my rich wargaming life, and many have been pretty realistic, but often complex and time consuming. This one probably worked better than any other I've had so maybe some bullet point thoughts might help others:

  • I shamelessly used the stimulation of Charles Grant's original mini campaign but adapted it hugely in scale and purpose for the needs of our big and diverse armies - so - use a trusted source!
  • Set a finite time to run it - in our case we started in Spring 2019 with the aim of finishing with a weekend of big games in "Summer". The time between was taken with lots of fun emailing and map moves but, with a little bit of licence from me, as Games Master, we got there.
  • Keep the campaign rules simple - just basic map moves by squares cross country and road and not too many map units to keep track of. I printed my map large and used magnets to pin it to a metal notice board. Then took regular photos of the numbered magnetic counters to send to the players as progress sitreps.
  • Don't use more troops for the map work than you can field on the table. I learned the hard way over the years that megolomania has to be curbed to avoid the risk and embarrassment of doubling up on certain required units!
  • Use a small cadre of reliable players. Deliberately I set Ken and Guy as commanders of the forces which would be engaged initially, as they were the main figure contributors. Later I invited participants whom I guessed might be interested in the historical context and/or 18th century classic style games to come for however much of it they wished. It would be up to fate who the subset of players would be and in the end 2.5 days of player time almost worked perfectly. This was 3 guys out of maybe 15 given invitations; I'd hoped for maybe a couple more to turn up during the day games but in fact it worked out pretty good. The only down side was the two Grahams having to leave early so I had to actually play - not my preferred role in my own game!
  • Subset players are also reliable - both Dillon and Graham C were willing to be involved in limited emailing and giving some orders a few weeks before we were due to meet. Though not strictly necessary it did help the "fog of war" and I hope helped them feel more involved than just turning up for the tabletop games.
  • Set the duration of the wargame time to be finite and with measurable and achievable objectives so you can tell who has won. I much prefer historic-style strategic objectives but, as a fall back, I was prepared to use the unit points losses to determine victory. The fact it had such alternate devastation,  yet practically equal losses at the end, is tribute to how well-matched my opponents were in both skill and luck!
  • Having a team of great people to work with who were all experienced wargamers and enthusiasts of the period proved to be a bonus in helping all my planning efforts pay off - so once again very grateful thanks to them


A rare pic with me in (left) taken by Ken Marshall

CREDITS
Original idea - Charles S Grant article in Practical Wargamer Magazine - The Raid on Vesta
Idea expansion, game design, campaign rules and map, terrain and tea making, photos and reporting - Chris Gregg 
28mm Figures from the collections of Ken Marshall, Guy Barlow, Chris Gregg and Graham Cummings.
Around 2,500 Figures mostly by Crann Tara and Minden designed by the late Richard Ansell and commissioned through the foresight of Graham Cummings, Frank Hammond and Jim Purky.
Terrain - mostly scratch built by CG.  Most buildings are foam core or art board faced with downloadable and printed paper/card architecture from various internet sources. Abrantes Tavern - resin by Grand Manner. Hotel de Ville is a converted Christmas decoration mansion. Farm is a Perry plastic ACW farmhouse. Trees mostly by Supertrees of USA. Flexible rubber road pieces from Total Systems Scenic.
Casualty Marker dials by Warbases.

RESOURCES
For my Player Briefings, Orbats, Campaign Rules etc see the downloadable files in the right side bar under 18th Century Historical or via this link


Monday, 22 February 2021

18th Century Mini Campaign - The Raid on Vestisle Part 6: The Battle of Abrantes - the denouement

 Without further ado I will pick up where I left off from Raid on Vestisle Part 5 as so many supporters here and on Fife and Drum Forum expressed their keenness to find out how the story of our mini-campaign ends. In fact I can't fully conclude it in this post as there is too much to tell but I will wrap up the wargames table top action for the Battle of Abrantes.

So we resumed after lunch but I was in for a bit of a shock as both Graham's had to go early. Graham C of course had responsibility for half the French army but faced a very long drive up most of England back to Redcar. We all thanked him for being a wonderful guest and Guy complimented him on his tactical skill and excellent dice rolling all morning which had helped keep Dillon in check!  But what to do - as clearly Guy could not work all those units and finish the game in time?  Only one answer - I had to give up my tea making role and actually do some work.   Personally if I've organised the game I'm much happier seeing how both sides cope, and offering hopefully helpful decisions and steerage as umpire so, gentle reader. you will have to bear with me now. Not enough time to take plenty of photos just when needed, scrappy notes based on briefings from players in between moves, forgetting to write down what some key units achieved.......Anyway, let's press on.

11th August 1756: 0720 - Fortunes equal out along the battle line

I got off to a good start as, in the Jacobite camp, Simon Fraser Master of Lovatt, rolled a double move for all the clan battalions which was ideal as I could surge most of them out of the gate in one turn. The MacDonalds relished this and hared off after the retreating Campbells, cutting them completely to pieces in the woods!  Not without loss though, now getting to 5 Hits and retreating back to recover, job done!

Jacobites surge out of the camp entrance. Montgomery's loyal Scots can only continue their retreat over Bellune Hill covered by a light battery and the reserve field battery from Von Brunck's Hanoverian corps - looking likely to soon be overwhelmed.

Close up shows the large MacDonald clan battalion getting the better of the Government Campbells


The two Hanoverian battalions formed a solid red wall which, for the moment, would stop any access by the clansmen to the British main line along the road to Abrantes and behind them much damage was being done. It was time for Dillon to move forward with von Aststadt's German and British Light cavalry brigade and the fast moving force bore down on Lauzun's light battery and surrounded it; the survivors were captured and the cavalry turned to outflank the remainder of Lauzun's small force (no pic sorry, too busy trying to sort out my own mess!)

In the big cavalry melee at the French left centre there was mutual destruction - one of Von Trump's German cuirassiers for the Royal Allemand cavalry regiment (or is the Royal Carabineers - these units have got a bit mixed!)

Mutual dispersion of German and French cavalry on the Bellune - Abrantes road

Out on the French right De Muy was organising something of a counter attack. On the Cime D'Abrantes one of the facing German musketeer battalions was destroyed by the elite French units. However, on the Cime de Cassatte Berard's two cavalry regiments pressed on with their efforts and came unstuck under flanking fire from the Jagers. The Dragoons were destroyed and the Cuirassiers forced to retreat.

In this overall view of the Cassatte Valley Berard's cavalry brigade can be seen making a hasty retreat leaving the Jagers and Finckelstein Dragoons in control of the Cime de Cassatte ridge

A closer view shows the French Guards and artillery are able to dominate the valley at the moment and Major General von Pannewitz is scrambling to make good the hole in his line caused by the demise of one musketeer battalion.  The latter is scurrying back to the relative safety of the newly arrived 4 battalion strong Grenadier brigade under Colonel Maxwell and the Marquis of Granby seems to be trying to rally them.

0740 - Complete Jacobite success but French left flank collapses

The surge of the Highlanders continued but not against the Hanoverian line on the main table. Instead the Camerons proceeded at speed towards Bellune Hill and attacked the Hanoverian artillery battery. Surprisingly the dice outcome dictated the battery got away and was not overwhelmed, nevertheless the fate of this flank was looking sealed now. 

However, under Dillon's confident command, von Brunck's infantry and artillery and von Aststadt's light cavalry were working well together. They had got rid of the French Marines and Lauzun's artillery and now turned on the Lauzun Hussars and hit the flank of the Grenadiers de Lauzun. who had not had time to turn, although Von Aststadt was killed as the Grenadiers went down fighting. The Hussars were destroyed by the 15th Light Dragoons but the Comte de Lauzun proved miraculously (!) and heroically to survive the onslaught even though he had now lost all the elements of his brigade. The 15th swept on and hit the flank of the Gendarmerie a Cheval (in red so I think it's them). Joubarbe's last cavalry regiment seemed to get dispersed in the rush of horses towards the rear.  I claim I was not incompetent in charge of these remnants of Graham's flank, merely totally outnumbered!

Grenadiers and Hussars hit in the flank

and the 15th Light Dragoons cut right through to the Gendarmerie too

The main cavalry melee continued - The Mousquetaires regiment fighting von Trump's second Cuirassier regiment, and this resulted in the retreat of the Germans and of the Mousquetaires, and a vacant space where the action had been! 

A wider view of the same action

From left: Work done the 15th Light Dragoons over-reached and are fleeing back to safety. Only Lt General Barbier and the opposing Britisih staff officers occupy the deadly ground. Royal dragoons by the wood with Mousquetaires falling back into a rabble of French infantry. British battery which had been causing horrible damage to Battenburg's infantry. Favert's brigade and Marines now guarding the bridgehead with Joubarbes' cavalry having fallen right back towards Abrantes

Apart from the isolated Highlanders the main French line now could only anchor its left flank on the bridge across the Ruisseau de Veste.

In the centre British cannon and musket fire was making it very hot for the French infantry round the farm but up on the Abrantes Ridge the French were holding up well maintaining an odd shaped line along the contours. The German musketeers of von Pannewitz were having difficulty making any headway up the valley as Guy had continually extended his line to the right, with the strong elite infantry brigade now completely blocking any route to Abrantes harbour and beach.  But Ken was resolute and totally cool as usual, the cream of his army was as yet unengaged - Maxwell's Grenadiers and the elite Dragoon Guards brigade (which was now on the table on the Cime de Cassatte), and he still had a 5 battalion Hessian brigade in reserve just off the table down the valley.

This set of photographs gives a tour westwards along the French lines.

German musketeer battalions are falling back onto Maxwell's Grenadiers. Note that Abrantes city suburbs are now empty of troops

A nice close up of Guy's beautiful French Garde Francaise

Elite French and mercenary infantry, reinforced by the line battalions from Abrantes make a sturdy looking line across the approaches to the harbour.

On the Cime de Cassatte Finckenstein's Dragoons are now backed up by Sir Holland Parker's 3rd Dragoon Guards and 2nd North British Dragoons

The Compte de Berard has brought his remaining Dragoon regiment to strengthen the extreme right flank behind the Morliere Legion units which are facing multiple enemy units of skirmishing Jager and Freikorps.

A good view back towards Abrantes city with the Grenadiers  and Dragoons de la Morliere in the foreground

Time to return to the British sailors who had infiltrated Abrantes City during the night. Kindly look back to Part 5 if you need a reminder of their mission. Captain Cochrane RN had been thinking hard how to tackle the all-embrasing orders received from the Duke of Marlborough the previous evening....... He had waited till the town square and its environs were completely vacated of French troops, and there was a battle raging outside so he was not about to wait any further till Marlborough's target time of 11 am. Out of sight of the single battalion of Abrantes Citizen's Militia packed into the western gatehouse and suburb he sent one company of sailors to the stone bastion on the harbour, carrying kegs of gunpowder.....around 8 am there was a massive explosion from there which temporarily stunned and distracted the French VIPs and citizen soldiers in Abrantes, and gladdened the hearts of Marlborough's officers as they saw the resulting pall of smoke over the harbour..........

0800 - Complete British success on their right flank but attacks blunted everywhere else: fate of the French VIPs

The artillery fire at  Montgomery's on Bellune Hill  caused the the loyal Scots to have 5 Hits and they retreated even further - off the playing surface; only the light battery was remaining of this flank guard. Earl Marishal William Keith's small Jacobite Army was now firmly in control of Bellune Hill and the area around the fortified camp and would soon be free to infiltrate through the woods around the Hanoverian right flank. Meanwhile his small cavalry force was pinning the Hanoverian  musketeers on the road.

Above and below: two views of the final situation in front of the Jacobite Camp around 0820

Lacking any proper notes, having got caught up as player/umpire in the excitement of what was obviously the last move we had time for, I will have to let a selection of my photographs do most of the talking.


Starting at the western end Ken removed his skirmishing Jagers to each side and moved all the cavalry forward to the crest of the Cime de Cassatte looking down into the valley that separated them from the Legion de la Morliere ....to charge....or not?  All of a sudden the French lines were not looking so connected and Granby and von Pannewitz sensed that now might be a good time to edge the German musketeers forward with close artillery support to soften them up for his cavalry.......

Close up view behind the Dragoon Guard and Prussian Dragoon brigades - would you attack those Morlieres with artillery support on the hill too?


Across the Cassatte Valley Maxwell's four strong Grenadier battalions made a solid foundation for the musketeers and Ken moved one forward one with very close support from artillery and Jagers to engage the Irish battalion which formed the hinge of the French position on the Cime d'Abrantes. Chevalier de Muy was commanding there in person (below).

The red marker next to the Irish suggests a British success here and they will have to retreat. But there is a line battalion directly behind to prevent any gap occurring.

Unfortunately for Ken his forward Musketeer regiment fell foul of volley fire from two French battalions and had to retreat, suggesting cracking open that line would be a hard slog



A lot was happening around the farm just South of Abrantes too. The Mousquetaires have formed a neat column and are retreating to reform in the rear. Elsewhere the French appear to be standing firm and blocking any access to Abrantes. In the distance by the woods Lt General de Barbier was earning his newly-won "Dashing" status. In my rules I allow C in C's or designated Lieutenant General commanders the opportunity to forego commanding any thing else and leading one unit that turn by upgrading its quality. Barbier found himself next to the only French cavalry regiment still capable of achieving anything. - The Royal Dragoons. So the already "superior" Guard Cavalry were easy to direct in a charge against the flank of the nearby British field artillery battery and cause the juxtaposed line battalion to turn to protect the flank of the brigade. The battery had to retreat and this threat to Anstruther's brigade was to be just one misfortune this turn, as seen in the photo below........


This shows that one of the front line battalions - the 12th Foot had come off badly from French artillery and volley fire and broke. Worse, Guy got two General casualty dice in succession - Lt General Lord George Sackville, 2 ic to Marlborough, was the first victim, and the second was the anonymous "dithering" replacement that the rules allow!

Not a single French unit remains between the Jacobite camp and the Veste river bridge

Dillon thoughtfully took this photo of me during the 0800 Move so I could not deny who it was getting all those former troops of Graham's into trouble!

And what of the British sailors?  I find it hard to believe but I was so preoccupied I didn't take a single photo from now on, sorry......

I had to ask Guy what he was going to do about that explosion on the Harbour and he said he wanted to send the Citizens' Militia to investigate. "The whole battalion?", I asked. "Yes, I want to make sure" he replied in a very determined manner, knowing that was where Dumonnaie had quietly stored the Government's gold.  So it was that all the battalion vacated the table top and went off to the harbour bastion battery.  That of course left no troops whatsoever anywhere near the Hotel de Ville, which was the location of all the French VIPs watching the battle from its upper windows. Happy coincidence then that the Hotel de Ville had been the first on the priority list of places for Cochrane's matelots to search.  Suddenly out of nowhere (in fact the buildings surrounding the town square) three companies  of sailors (about 12 figures) covered all the entrances to the Town Hall. Since there were, in scale, over 200 sailors fighting and detaining  about a dozen French, Scottish and Vestislian officials and servants, there was no doubt about the outcome and we sort of role-played what might happen next.

Taking stock at game's end

It was now nearly 6pm after two days wargaming and we clearly had some kind of result. Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Duke of Vestisle, and Chevalier Dumonnaie were all prisoners at the mercy of the Royal Navy. The Jacobites could no longer win since they had no Stuart would-be monarch to claim the English throne.  That was the clearest denouement of this particular drama, but as a wargame who had won the battle or indeed the mini-campaign?

The points tally on the day was to provide part of the answer but the post battle discussion and particularly a few email exchanges in the following days showed that there was much honour to be claimed on both sides and deep implications for some of the occurrences in our little slice of alternative history.

Much more to discuss in the next and final part of "Raid on Vestisle"........