Friday, 24 December 2021

Despite everything - more wargaming this year than ever!

 In normal times I usually post a Christmas Hussarette......well, it''s not normal but we all need cheering up I think, so I hope a cheeky smile from Amélie will help!




Amélie - A Christmas Hussarette 
From an original painting using water colour brush pens and fine liner pen on Bristol board
by Chris Gregg 2021


No background story this year - a Hussarette just for fun. “Amélie” is based on one of many poses by real horsewoman, “Five feet of Fun”,  Emily who modelled for me way back in 2012 with her horse Bob. Amélie is wearing the “undress uniform” (waistcoat and breeches) of the French 7th Regiment of Hussars around 1807 when Napoleon’s Empire was at its Zenith.
For a reminder about Emily and Bob’s modelling performance please see
and
Many of my usual wargaming and military art associates will have received this through the post (overseas ones may be delayed in transit I understand!), So for everybody else here she is with my very best wishes for 2022 and heartily felt gratitude for all the page visits and lovely comments throughout 2021
The original of "Amélie" without the "Merry Christmas" is available for sale at my usual very modest price - please contact me if you want more information.  If you have not seen my Military Art on my website lately please take a look  Chris Gregg Art - Welcome

Now about that Wargaming......

In the UK we were banned from meeting in our homes till mid -May. So with my usual mates we arranged  several games here in the Cotswolds in late May and mid June. You'll have seen from blog posts all those were based on variations of my customised Battle of Brampton terrain. While that table was up I had a mini campaign over three days of  Seb's soldiers with my grandson. Fortuitously his isolation because of COVID at school threw us together with the time and space to do it with his classic 25mm Napoleonic collection. 

Seb's mini campaign set in an imaginary Gloucestershire in 1806

Here is a selection of random photos from the three battles fought near Cirencester. Duke Sebastian of Purton beat me soundly in the first two and I held him to a draw in the third.  Consequently the wicked Lord Bathurst just held on to Cirencester but felt very chastened by the experience!








I then got into serious planning and building mode for the Battle of Langensalza refight and I have made four blog posts on that so I expect you are sick of it by now! In answer to those who worry that I go to a lot of trouble to make a sculpted terrain then it gets dismantled - fear not.  This one has been adapted ad nauseum and I have had about 8 games on it since the first.  I will give you snapshots of some of them and ask that viewers use the comments to say if they would like to see a blog post on any of them. Nearly all have scenario documentation you could use for your own games as a variation on my themes.

Langensalza II, February 1761

I mentioned in the last post that I had got a contingency plan up my sleeve for Day Two of playing if we needed it. Well, we did. Kevin and Ken came with their orders of battle and plans, to be joined by Paul B and Guy. We used the same terrain and rule amendments as for Langensalza I but I projected it on a week from the historic Allied victory and imagined the two heroes from my Savoy/Reikland Imagi-Nations having been hired by the French and Allies and just happened to meet in battle.  Count Gregorius von Grunburg had to defend a supply depot by the town against about 5 columns of enemy French/Savoyards under the Duc de Deuxchevaux  coming from lots of directions to converge on their target. All the figures for this one were from my collection.

Bit of a party atmosphere that day after the "big game " was packed away

I try to use the pink-clad Battenburg infantry whenever Imagi-nations gaming gives me an excuse!
 We recognise diversity here!

.....and a redoubt

Every good Imagi-nations game deserves a good cavalry bust-up


Battle of Schlusselburg, April 1761

Readers may recall that at the end of the fist post on the Langensalza terrain I invited anyone who could get here to join me in an "Honours of War" game on another variation of this terrain. It was with some trepidation that I waited to see what, if anything, would happen. And I hit the jackpot! Don McHugh contacted me and I invited him and his long standing partner in crime, Andy Claxton, to join me in mid October. Don is a veteran of 18th century wargaming and wanted to see if HoW would give him what he was seeking in that era nowadays.  Some may also know Don from his many official "Rapid Fire!" WW2 scenarios.

Again using elements from the Imagi-nations armies, I concocted a situation where a "disgraced" Count von Grunburg was back on his estates in the south-west German province of Reikland. The French/Savoy force was this time led by the Chevalier de Neuvalee, and their aim was to capture a key Schloss and vineyard as well as the wine trading town of Schlusselburg. A forward Grunburg contingent of poor  quality troops  commanded by the famous Major General Countess Natasha Gruzinskaya, together with her regular cavalry brigade, was to hold off Neuvalee until Grunburg could arrive with  good quality reinforcements.

Schlusselburg I

Don adjusts his defenders of the Schlusselburg gatehouse while Andy watches like a hawk!

Countess Gruzinskaya's cavalry has emerged from behind the town to meet the French cavalry

The Erprinz Grenadiers and Bogenhafen Grenadiers lead the reinforcing column

Grunburg heavy cavalry join at the right as afternoon sun illuminates the table

Don and Andy expressed enjoyment in the game and felt that HoW might offer them a good way back into Seven Years Wargaming. A good days' work as far as I was concerned, and they treated me to a pub lunch!

Schlusselburg II

I'd met JP at the Cotswold Wargaming Day and he is a follower of my blog, and patron of my friend Kevin East's excellent figure painting service. One thing led to another and I invited him and Charlie to play on my table. They were unfamiliar with 18th Century wargaming so HoW was completely unknown to them, nor the differences between this and their usual Napoleonic extravaganzas (such as this one). They came to Oakridge in late October.  Same scenario and only slightly reworked forces, but it proved a very different game.

Above and below: All the French cavalry were massed on the right flank. A couple of Hussar regiments were dismounted to help the light infantry take the Schloss and vineyards


Both sides used the extreme flank for mutual light infantry fire exchanges

Once again the cavalry faced off near Schlusselburg town

JP and Charlie teamed up to beat me soundly at my own game. - but the main thing was they said they had a good time as their intro to the wonderful world of 18th Century Imagi-nations.

The Battle of Altstadt - Bavaria 1809

During our refight of Langensalza Paul B was telling us about his 18mm armies for the 1809 Austrian Napoleonic campaign and how he uses General d'Armee rules to play games solo on his relatively small table. Kevin got in on the conversation and, before we knew it, we had persuaded Paul to put on a game at my place over the broad expanses of yet another adaptation of the Langensalza tabletop.  This happened in early November. Paul was content to let us deploy in a central 6 x 6 zone but that also gave plenty of room for outflanking should we need it.  Apart from the opportunity to see Paul's lovely AB figures on my sculpted terrain it was a chance for Kevin and me to have a second go at Gd'A...so a game on my learning curve.

Put simply I had a fairly ordinary quality Austrian rearguard trying to hold a line of communication against what appeared to be a significantly larger and better French Division. As we used "blinds" it was difficult to tell at first. We had a lot of action, but as seems to be the case with Gd'A, not enough major losses soon enough to get a proper result. I felt as if I was getting a losing hand building up when time came to call a halt. I hope you agree the photos look great, and this is just a small sample.

Austrian commander behind his fortified hilltop battery

Kevin clutches the rule book prior to his main attack going in on my village and hill. Austrian blinds in the foreground sheltered by hill slopes

View from the French side. A secondary attack on Altstadt is making slow progress

Beautiful Austrian Hussars emerge from out of my "blinds" on the right flank

 We must do another sometime as I think the effects of these sort of units on my terrain are great. So much so I have revived some AB's tucked away in my drawer and spent some ridiculous sums (for me anyway) on acquiring more so I can join in the 1809 fun using the "Thunder on the Danube" trilogy for the history, and Michael Hopper's wonderful scenario books to help me focus. More on that when I've made progress hopefully.

Euan's first game
In amongst these games I found I had a selection of my 18th Century units on the table during the week my other grandson Euan came to stay. We were talking about his cousin's "Seb's Soldiers" set up and I asked if he wanted to have a go. Euan loves model making but is not really into "military" things as such, but he said he'd like to. I showed him some clips from Borodino in Bondarchuk's  "War and Peace" to give him an idea of horse and musket warfare. He took to it very well and we got through about 6 moves with 5 units per side and he beat me fair and square.





With the kind of sang-froid only 10 year old boys can summon he sagely commented "It was far more interesting than I expected". I take that as a tick in granddad's box.

The Battle of Misiche 244 AD

Finally, flatteringly, JP said he'd like to stage one of his own games on my terrain and, always enjoying a scenic landscape challenge, I happily accepted the idea of my dear old Langensalza valley now being turned into the Euphrates for a clash between 28mm Romans and the Sassanid Persian Empire.
This one took place in mid December and was to use "Hail Caesar" rules. I asked around but it was too near Christmas for most of my friends, except Ken, who, like me, was happy to try Ancient wargaming after a gap of many years.  JP made me the Roman Emperor Gordian III and Ken was my "ally" Philip the Arab, the Palmyran ruler.  We had to make progress up river and through a screen of Sassanid's....or so I thought.

It turned out that my Romans should have just stood firm and deployed for a set piece battle and let the Sassanid's come at us, but I did not realise that and tried to press on with my objective to break through them. Mistake ......eventually I got beaten in detail and broken up;  and Gordian's person was looking like a corpse or a prisoner just as it turned out Ken's objective had been to encourage that situation and become Emperor himself.  So Ken won, Charlie's Sassanid King Shapur achieved his objective of stopping the Romans, and me?......Well I had the satisfaction of playing with JP's excellent toys and learning that Hail Caesar seems a very good set of rules for this kind of game in the hands of an expert Games Master like JP.

JP advises while Ken scrutinises the Roman/Palmyran column screened by light troops

Sassanid Cavalry soon arrive to work round the flank

And then my cavalry scouts reveal a massive block of Sassanid infantry across my path

Legionaries turn to gain the high ground and try in vain to see off crowds of horse archers

On the other flank my outnumbered Auxiliary cavalry clash with the Sassanid Cataphracts

Fortunately my stalwart Palestinian clubmen hold the rocky high ground against the Persian hordes and force JP to help his son reform their line

At the rear a heavy attack by Sasssanid cavalry pins Ken down just as the baggage was about to catch up with my main column. Ken actually saw most of them off and "saved" the baggage.

Cutting a long, rather sad, story short this is Gordian in the final throes of defence as his veteran Legion cracks about him, fighting on two fronts

Well, that was something a bit different and you can see an excellent video version of it on JP's YouTube channel here

I hope you've enjoyed this quick run through of my last few month's wargaming. It certainly proved eventful and busier than a normal year! As I said earlier please let me know if you'd like more on any of these games and I'll see what I can do.
Happy New Year and thanks for following this blog and all your kind comments.

Chris G



Thursday, 16 December 2021

Battle of Langensalza Part 4: Conclusion and Wrap-up

Recap

I rather naughtily last time left my readers hanging just before the last moves of our refight which took place in mid-August 2021. That was because after nearly a full day's play and 3 hours of game time (9 moves) the Saxons had held on without collapsing and were being reinforced by the arrival of the C-in-C, the Marquis de St Pern. He brought up a brigade of French Grenadiers and a brigade of line infantry so we needed a bit of time to dwell on the consequences, I thought my readers might like that too.

CG in rare "listening" mode
(Photo courtesy of Richard Newcombe)

Move 10-11 Summary (10.00 - 10.40 am)

The first photo is a different, longshot, view of where I left the last post. In the distance the French reinforcing Grenadiers can be seen emerging from the wooded Ufhofen ravine. The left flank Saxons have formed a box-like defence from Langensalza town round to one of the line-of-communication routes back towards Eisenach but have been pushed back from the Sumbach stream.  General Wangenheim is down there looking as if he is forlornly trying  to summon another attack by the mass of Hanoverian cavalry, which has been initially repulsed and now is reforming to try again. Towards Langensalza  the Allied infantry is reforming on the high ground, but in the Allied right centre Colonel von Donop's Hessians are at last on the move, although they have to negotiate dense woods held by French skirmishers on their way across the Sumbach


The view below, over Langensalza, shows the Zieten Hussars by Rahsenmuhle farm then the Prussian Grenadiers still forming a solid line in much the same position as they had occupied for about an hour and a half. Cannon fire has repelled Saxons from the nearest buildings but de Stainville's men still make a resolute defence across the Judenberg high ground behind the town.  And beyond the peak St Pern's Picardie Regiment is marching to assist.   But the French right flank cavalry have completely collapsed and dispersed except for the Schomberg Volunteer cavalry..............


.............They had been forced to retreat with 4 Hits and the fast follow up by Prussian Cuirassiers is ensuring they don't have enough distance to rally and reform. In fact in Move 11 they were chased from the field.


Hessian Grenadiers form the front line on the right-centre high ground and Hanoverians the second line, but all have casualties from their previous efforts. The Hessian Musketeers appear at the extreme right.

By about 1030 some Allied cavalry reformed enough to make a tentative return across the Sumbach and
von Luckner's Jagers have come up from Schonstedt to join the attack.


(Above) In the Allied rear the Royal Nassau Hussars had caused considerable concern and disruption, and destroyed one Hanoverian battery, but at last Luckner had caught up with them, leading his Hussars in a frontal charge. The two small Hussar units effectively neutralised each other but at least that left the Allied infantry unhindered in their advance. At the extreme right the Volunteers of Austrasie skirmishers have emerged from the wood to fire into the flank of von Scheele's Hanoverian infantry.

Below Comte de Solms' Saxon brigade is still viable. The Saxon Guards and converged Grenadiers have proved too hard a nut to crack and have now fallen back after three separate Allied infantry attacks over the previous two hours. Undaunted, the Hessian Grenadiers have moved downhill to keep pressing them.


East of the Judenberg Picardie is beginning to form a battle a line to extend the French right flank and show those Cuirassiers they are open for business!

With the infantry of the Royal Legion still holding the Judenberg Hof and the rest of the Saxons firmly in Langensalza town there was little prospect of the Prussians being successful if they tried to attack here.


So there was something of a natural break all along the battle lines and the time had rolled around for our table booked for ale and victuals at the local 18th Century village hostelry. "The Butchers Arms" would prove a very welcome place to debate how things had gone so far and decide what we did next.......

In response to a special request, here are some "close-ups"; or rather me cropping some interesting detail from standard game photos! I hope they are acceptable.








Conclusion 

As you will have gathered from Parts One and Two of this mini-series we had put a lot of effort and planning into this refight so I was not leaving anything to chance. With the forces we had available I could imagine that we would not finish in the 11 Moves we had done and by the evening of the main play-day. So I had got agreement from C-in-Cs Guy and Paul to come the next day, 20th Aug, to continue and finish it off. We invited others to join us for whatever of the two days they wanted. So Martin and Richard could only make the first day and we had lined up Ken and Kevin to come the next day and see what was needed. So we were not committed to a fruitless day's gaming I had prepared a quick and dirty DIY scenario for Ken and Kevin to lead on the next day if needed (more on that later).

So  unconstrained by any artificial time-outs, the conversation over dinner ranged across the historical setting as well as the vagaries of initiative dice!!  The main points from the conversation were:
  • Only one Allied brigade was effectively unbloodied but that was led by a Dithering commander and most of the  others were only just reformed or reforming. Allied commanders knew they had done their best but it was not as good as they hoped given the apparent initial advantages.  Dice had evened out across the game so far except for poor Paul's Hessian Infantry brigade. Their failure to make progress was truly significant in giving the Saxons a stable infantry line at 10.00 am
  • The Saxons/French were very pleased with their achievements so far. The left flank and centre-left  had held on better than the tactical situation suggested it might. The town and high ground were still in their possession and though the right flank was vulnerable the reinforcements had arrived in the nick of time.  Most importantly in the centre the arrival of the Grenadiers meant the French could go on the offensive there.
  • Historically, Paul and Martin conceded that Allied Commander, von Sporcken, had not achieved anything like a decisive blow to the Saxons and to press on now would most likely result in the whole Corps not being a viable strategic unit at this outset to a new Spring campaign. To retreat with some honour intact seemed the most realistic outcome, perhaps holding the high ground and bridgeheads until the rest of the Allied Army manoeuvred a way forward for them.
  • Also from a historical perspective the French accepted a limited victory in that we had put some artificial "fighting spirit" into the French /Saxon army and that to save the Saxons from a disastrous and costly withdrawal was a significant achievement. To inflict a major defeat on the Allied attackers was never an expected outcome.
  • Most significantly Both Paul and Guy felt they had had plenty of satisfaction and a good return for their painting and organisational effort, as did I too.
So we declared the game at an end with a French/Saxon victory and went back to look at the "scorecard" I had been keeping, just out of interest.
It records Army Points (in my system) lost only from units "Done For" and not losses among units still on the field. The Allies started with 100 Army Points and the French/Saxons with 84. The chart shows both sides had suffered 18 Army Points lost by the time we stopped. Testament to how closer it had been in purely attritional terms, and credit to the skill of all the players that the toll was not higher.


CG in "checking the rules" mode (with Paul B and Martin)

Wrap-up

This had proved to be yet another mini-project which we had managed to bring together by combining collections and ideas - Guy's, Paul B's and my own and I'm incredibly grateful to them for going along willingly under my direction and for the time and effort they put into packing and organising their armies and bringing them to Oakridge for our entertainment. But the greatest satisfaction for me was that it was the first Seven Years War battle I had analysed and researched (a bit) and devised the terrain, orbats and scenario for completely from scratch. It was uninfluenced by any other wargamer's take on the real thing, maybe because the real battle was so one sided it was not worth their attention. I hope I've shown that you can make a very acceptable "what if" version by looking at the wider strategic situation and the forces in close proximity to the battle area. As a reminder to anyone who wants more detail here is a link to my resources for the game Battle of Langensalza.

CG in "director mode"
 (photos courtesy of Richard Newcombe)

I did not notice till we were well into the game but our version bore  a remarkable tactical resemblance to Waterloo.  The Saxons are Wellesley's "infamous" army - an infantry-strong force of units of mixed ability containing some stalwarts and some ne'er do wells, but mostly average. They have to hold a fairly wide area  which has outlying strongpoints and high ground but not enough resources to  put up  a good show everywhere. The Prussians are represented by the French main force arriving when their opponents are stressed and weary and enabling the offensive to be taken.  The Allies are strong in cavalry and artillery; just like Napoleon's army they have a significant boggy area to cross which holds up the deployment of the guns for an hour or more. They have the tactical opportunity and space to outflank, but only if they are quick and resolute. A subordinate commander has access to a lot of good cavalry and if reckless he could lose them to the musket fire and bayonets of resolute infantry (happily Paul was sensible!). Both sides have a good corps of Grenadiers/Guards which are destined to meet in the centre of the field........

However, for us, the reinforcements merely brought the defenders to parity, not giving them an overwhelming superiority. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about it and seeing the pictures as much as we did organising and playing.  Any thoughts, comments or questions very welcome and thanks for staying the course.

And those who worry about my custom sculpted terrain being a "one trick pony" I have had 7 more games on it since in various guises and in three different historical periods - more on them later.