Thursday 26 September 2019

Black Powder at Graham's

Yesterday, Graham hosted a Napoleonic game, attended by Mike, Steve C and I.

Mike used some of his Russian forces and I had the Bavarians on his right.

Steve brought along his Poles and he fought alongside Graham's French.

Here's the set up - my Bavarians are in the left foreground, Mike's Russians beyond.  Facing us, Steve's Poles and Graham's French in the distant right. 

Steve has a light cavalry brigade on his flank

Two guns and a Polish infantry brigade of five battalions

Beyond them, a French cavalry brigade consisting of two Cuirassier regiments and a Chasseur regiment.

I had two Bavarian infantry brigades, each of five battalions with artillery support on the high ground

Beyond them, a Bavarian light battery and Russian heavy battery dominate more high ground. Further to the left flank, a Russian heavy cavalry brigade.

The Russian cavalry consists of two dragoon units and one hussar. on their left, the Russian infantry - four regiments.

My right flank, beyond the stream consisted of a lancer unit supported by Chevaux Legers - and they have already charged the enemy cavalry !

My lancers are thrown back with casualties and the French lancers now continue their charge into the Bavarian Chevaux Legers

My cavalry commander has managed to halt the retreat of the lancers as the Chevaux Legers attempt to hold the enemy lancers

Both sides have now withdrawn to lick their wounds

Another French light cavalry regiment has advanced intending to charge my cavalry but they draw up short and find Bavarian light troops taking pot shots at them from across the stream - the parent battalion is just behind them.

The rest of this brigade has advanced towards the main enemy lines, rifle armed light infantry out front in a mixed formation.

The second Bavarian brigade follows suit

Mike's Russians have advanced to the hedges and the cavalry support them

Opposite, Graham's French infantry having initially blundered off the battlefield, have now recovered and got their skirmishers into the fields ahead of their formed battalion columns

a fire fight develops 

the French seeming to hesitate to commit their columns to attack across the field and the Russians content to hold the hedge line opposite

Graham's French cavalry now advance in the centre

Meanwhile, Steve has withdrawn his cavalry hoping his horse artillery can hurt the Bavarian infantry that dared to advance upon them

The Bavarians are using their light infantry rifles to shoot at the enemy cuirassiers at long range

Their commander now needs to decide on what to do - but his rear has now been occupied by a blundering Polish brigade which has moved right instead of forwards !

The French Chasseurs wonder what is going on !

At last, Steve has managed to get his Poles moving in the right direction and they launch an attack against the Bavarian infantry

The centre is now a mass of columns 

The fight swings one way towards the Poles 

and gaps appear as units flee

but more Bavarians get engaged

and the battle swings the other way favouring the Bavarians

Holes appear in the Polish ranks

Another charge by my cavalry has broken Steve's cavalry brigade

a general advance around the right is ordered

The centre has thinned out noticeably as battalions have routed and the Polish brigade has broken and forced with withdrawal but two Bavarian battalions have been forced into square by Graham's cuirassiers

and now the Chasseurs sensing another Bavarian unit is disordered charge hoping to break into their hastily formed square 

The Bavarians survive but have taken enough casualties to see their brigade having to withdraw as broken too. But the centre ground is still held by the remnants of the other Bavarian brigade.

At last, Mike commits his cavalry into a charge towards the French infantry and guns

the guns are defeated and Graham decides he needs to pull out as Steve's forces have all gone on his left flank leaving his forces dangerously exposed.

A great day's gaming with lots of troops deployed on a 10' x 5' table.

Thanks Graham !

Wednesday 18 September 2019

Battle of Ligny : Attacks on St. Amand and Amand La Haye

We returned last weekend to Tilques in France for another game at Mike's war games room in the stable block of his friends' chateau.

We are able to put on big games there as there is a massive loft space.  For this one, Mike had selected a part of the 1815 Ligny battle - the action around two villages St.Armand and the smaller Armand La Haye.

Blucher has decided to make a stand here against Napoleon and he has garrisoned these villages in the hope his troops can hold on until the rest of his army arrives.

Here we see Armand La Haye in the foreground. This is occupied by Ruben's brigade of 3 large battalions of 3rd Westfalian Landwehr, all raw recruits. They are supported by a 9pdr battery and a tiny Jager skirmish unit.

Up the other end, the more imposing village of St.Armand, held by Jagow's brigade consisting of 7th Line Regiment (3 battalions) and 29th Regiment (3 large battalions).

Here's a closer look Armand La Haye - the Prussians have erected barricades across the entrance to the village.

as they have at St.Armand.

The battle commences - Napoleon launches 9 battalions from Cosin and Bertheline's brigades against the smaller of the two villages, backed up by a 12pdr battery and a 6pdr battery.

Logarde's brigade of 4 battalions of infantry has been given just a watching brief on St.Armand - no attack yet.

Here's the centre of the French start position - Domon's light cavalry brigade (4th & 9th Chasseurs a Cheval).  

Here's the Emperor Napoleon

and his opposite number Marshal Prince Blucher

The stable attic, in all its glory !

The Prussians watch the French attack towards St.Armand La Haye - they are outnumbered 3 - 1, so hope the walls of the village are thick !

One French brigade swings around the flank of the village

whilst the others make a direct assault

as this develops, the French light cavalry advance in the centre 

The Westfalian Landwehr get their first taste of battle - a real baptism of fire !

They survive the first assault

but the French are in the courtyards and Prussian casualties are mounting.

They are being hit from three sides.

One by one, the houses are taken

St.Armand La Haye falls to the French !

Prussian reinforcements in the form of Steinmetz and Hulsen's brigades are too late to save this village - but Steinmetz's men form up on the right as they consider a counter attack. 

Especially as a French battalion has ventured too far forward and presents an opportunity for some revenge.

In the Prussian centre, Hulsen's Landwehr brigade advances to the brook - even though the enemy cavalry are facing them.

They even open fire and cause some casualties

A Prussian battery has arrived and opens fire too.

Steinmetz's men charge on the right

One Prussian battalion looks at the rear of the village they have lost.

Steinmetz's men have beaten the French battalion and the support battalion retreats too.

At last something for the Prussians to celebrate.

With the arrival of Gerard and Guye's brigades (another 7 battalions of good infantry and another artillery battery), Napoleon orders an attack on St. Armand as well.

In the centre, the French cavalry have withdrawn and Hulsen's Landwehr have got drawn into a battle with a larger force of French infantry and artillery. 

Amazingly, their lead battalion formed a close column instead of square when attacked by the Chasseurs a Cheval and the French cavalry were repulsed

but the Landwehr are dangerously exposed in the midst of the enemy and they are getting hit with both infantry and artillery fire.

The Prussian battalion behind St.Armand La Haye advanced and their fire supported by the Prussian artillery actually breaks two French battalions.

In the centre, the Landwehr have lost a battalion and the brigade breaks - they have to leave the battlefield.

Back at St.Armand, Napoleon has redoubled their efforts - 7 battalions with artillery support batter the village. 

To try and relieve the pressure, one of Jagow's battalions attacks a French one forced into square by the threat of Prussian cavalry which has moved forward (Hussars and Uhlans) but the square wins the  first round of the melee

The combat spreads out into a line

and with French getting supports, this is becoming unwinneable for the lone Prussian battalion. 

Fortunately for them, they manage to retreat behind a hedge line but with casualties.

However, anything the Prussians can do here prevents the French exerting any more pressure on St.Armand.

The village holds.

Jagow's men are given the chance to reform with a lull in fighting

Blucher, aware how vital it is to hang on to this village personally takes charge of Steinmetz's brigade and force marches them across the ridge behind the villages to get much needed support to St.Armand.

St.Armand La Haye becomes a backwater as the battle shifts to the other side.

Will Napoleon draw troops from here next ?

Blucher urges more speed from Steinmetz

They can now see the village below them.

The French cavalry have been ordered to smash their way through the thinly manned Prussian centre

The French have battered their way into two houses in St.Armand but - a double six blunder throw sees confusion and a French battalion leave a building they have fought fiercely to take at great cost

Napoleon has withdrawn other shaken and disordered battalions to reform so a lull in the fighting allows Blucher's men to reoccupy the big barn unopposed

A brigade of French infantry has now massed behind the hedge line by the brook

as the French cavalry break through to the rear of the Prussian position behind St.Armand. The Prussian battalion threatened by this move retires back, fires a volley and sends the enemy cavalry packing.

Meanwhile, another French attack is launched against the big barn in St.Armand and the Prussians ejected. The Prussians still have the church and two other buildings though.

The French brigade crosses the brook and charges the Prussian battalion which has just pulled back. But this was no fresh brigade and the closing fire from the Prussians breaks two of the French battalions

Steinmetz's brigade now pounces on the rearmost French battalion and defeats it. This means the French brigade is broken.

By now, we had run out of time as we had to pack up and leave for our Eurotunnel train back home. We had fought all day Saturday and all Sunday morning so quite a marathon.

At the end of the battle, Blucher still had most of Jagow's brigade and Steinmetz's brigade in and around St.Armand plus Lutzow's 1st Hussars.

The French needed to have captured both villages and driven the Prussians from the battlefield to achieve their orders.

So it was time for Blucher and his officers to have a drink at Madame Fifi's "pop up" bar

Here's where we fought the battle

and our host's chateau across the way

In total we had fielded 38 battalions of infantry (20 French, 18 Prussian), 4 cavalry units (2 each) and 6 artillery batteries (2 Prussian, 4 French), all from Mike's collection.

Many thanks to Mike again for organising this.