Sunday, August 2, 2015

Battle of Raab - End of the (Austrian) Line

Returning to battle, French cavalry on the right wing finally succeeded in driving Mescery's mix of regular and Insurrectio horsemen back from the bridge crossing the Upper Panzca brook.  With Pully's heavy cavalry division arriving in support, the Archduke's ability to hold this flank is in peril.

On the Austrian side of the Panzca, Mescery's cavalry is in disarray and falling back quickly from the upper bridge and ford.  In the center Austrian troops remain in place, lining the brook intent on thwarting additional French attempts to cross.
Situation 14:00
In the center, Seras still has a toe-hold on the east bank of the brook clinging to his position anchored by the church.  At present, the divisions of Seras, Durutte, and Severoli are under defend orders.  Recall, Severoli had been bloodily repulsed in the previous 30 minutes. Having joined Severoli's division, d'Hilliers and Severoli both get down to the business of rallying their shaken troops.  Fortunately, the majority of the division rallies back into good order. 
d'Hilliers rallies Severoli
At Eugene's HQ, a stream of dispatches arrive from his infantry divisions in the center.  With no dispatches from his right cavalry wing,  the Viceroy busily sends orders to his infantry divisions.  Durutte is to launch another assault against the Kis-Megyer complex.  Durutte makes no delay in moving back into the hornet's nest.  Will this assault see success when all previous attempts have met with failure?

Having received confirmation that Severoli was not as badly mauled as first suspected and that Eckhart was streaming back from the Middle Bridge in great disorder, Eugene orders Severoli, through d'Hilliers, to assault the middle bridge.  In an attempt to relieve pressure from Durutte's assault, Severoli is to maintain contact with Durutte.  Seeing Durutte's division advance towards the Kis-Megyer Farm, Severoli accepts his orders and, likewise, moves back towards the brook.
Durutte attacks!
From their positions on the Szabathegy Heights, the Reserve artillery continues to pound Seras and the 1/53rd Line at the church.  The 53rd takes heavy casualties in prolonged bombardment.

Out on the French right, French cavalry have fulfilled their orders of securing a bridgehead over the Pancza and driving off their opposition.  With no orders arriving from Eugene, the French must act on their own initiative if they are to take advantage and finish off the remnants of Mescery's cavalry.  While Colbert cautiously brings his command over to  the east bank of the brook, Pully, Montbrun, and Grouchy all snap into action. 
French cavalry in pursuit
Acting under their own initiative, Pully targets the Szabathegy Heights and the Archduke's Reserve.  Grouchy pursues Andrasy's command while Montbrun's light cavalry bear down on Hadik's broken command.
Montbrun attacks!
Grouchy poised to attack Andrasy
Only Montbrun's light cavalry succeed in reaching their targets as the 1st Chasseurs, led by Montbrun himself, catch the fleeing 2/Heves Insurrectio.  With the French 2/2nd Hussars in support, the chasseurs destroy the weakened Hungarians and breakthrough to hit its sister formation.  Shaken and at 50% effectives, the 1/Heves meets the same fate.  Hadik's command is destroyed.  Shaken from their exertions, Montbrun recalls his command to recover.
Montbrun rides down Hungarian cavalry
Montbrun breaks through
and destroys Hadik's command
Durutte's assault goes in against the north end of the Kis-Megyer Farm.  Led by the 22nd Legere followed closely by the 2/102 Line, French infantry reach the northern walls of the farm.  Defended by IR27/2, the Austrians hold as the French are repulsed.  The French fall back across the brook.
22nd Legere attacks Kis-Megyer
In the second attack, the 62nd line, disordered from crossing the steeply banked brook, reach the shaken IR61. 
French 62nd attacks IR61
Having suffered casualties and wavering, IR61 is overcome and retreats from its position, demoralized and having suffered heavy casualties.
IR61 retreats with heavy casualties
Flushed with success, the 62nd breaks through to contact Lutz' guns deployed along the brook.  Surprised with seeing French coming from Kis-Megyer, Lutz' battery is dispatched quickly.
Lutz' guns targeted
and quickly destroyed
Having lost his guns and the demoralized IR61 in retreat, Lutz takes a panic test.

Lutz panics!
Lutz falls back in panic
As Lutz' command heads towards the rear, a huge gap appears in the Austrian defensive line.  With first Eckhart in panic on his right and now Lutz in panic on his left, the only formation along the eastern bank of the brook standing firm is Sebottendorf.  Assessing the situation, Sebottendorf panics and joins the race back to safety.
Panic of the Austrian right
 and ending troop dispositions
Having only the Kis-Megyer Farm in his control and French cavalry bearing down on the Szabathegy Heights, Archduke Johan orders a withdrawal to salvage the remainder of his command.

History repeats itself and Viceroy Eugene emerges victorious.

For me, that was an exciting battle recreation with many a tense moment.  Fought out on the table at a leisure pace over three months, this exercise gave me a chance to revisit 15mm Napoleonics and reacquaint myself with the rules.  After a few years of inactivity, it was pleasing to see the collection back in action fighting across the table.  This replay also gave me the chance to re-examine the rules and make a few clarifications and minor changes.  Even after a long hiatus, the rules worked well and mechanisms came back to me quickly.

Most importantly, I want to thank Phil (Archduke Johan) and Michael (Viceroy Eugene) for sticking with the game over the last three months and issuing orders when needed.  Without their input, this exercise would not have been as enjoyable.  The exploits of this game with remain as pleasant memories.

For those who have persevered in following this lengthy replay, I hope it has provided some enjoyment.

Thanks fellas!

With the 15mm troops put away until their next battle, the table looks quite barren, no?
What should be next?

Friday, July 31, 2015

State of the Painting Desk

With work taking me out of town for the week, I snapped a couple of photos to remind myself what was in work when I departed.  What was on the painting desk when I left?

Nearing completion are two units.  The first, is a twelve figure regiment of four squadrons of Sardinian light cavalry for the 15mm Risorgimento project.  The cavalry are Mirliton.  The second is a sixteen figure battalion of combined light infantry for the 28mm AWI project.  Figures are from Perry Miniatures' excellent AWI metal range. 
Perry AWI and Mirliton Risorgimento
As noted, both units are nearing completion having undergone the Minwax treatment and a spray of Dullcote before heading out for the week.  Once I return to the painting desk, it will be time to base the figures.

In a less completed state is a French line infantry regiment of 36 figures.  These 36 figures will comprise 3 x 12 figure battalions.  Figures are primarily Lancashire Games with a few Old Glory command added.
Lancashire and Old Glory Risorgimento
Completing these works will get August painting off to a good start.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Napoleon's Cavalry

I stumbled upon this eBay offering a few weeks ago.  While I have many of the Osprey MAA Napoleonic paperback editions, I had not seen this one.

What is it?  Napoleon's Cavalry is a 248 page, hardback edition published by Presidio Press, 1979 by Bukhari and McBride.  It contains an amalgamation of five of the Osprey MAA's booklets.  Included are chapters on,
  • (1) Cuirassiers and Carabiniers
  • (2) Dragoons and Lancers
  • (3) Line Chasseurs
  • (4) Hussars
  • (5) Guard Cavalry

Napoleon's Cavalry contains the same artwork that illustrates the paperback MAA series only in a larger format.  Great to have this collection in one, hardback edition.
With the equivalent of five Ospreys in one hardback edition, I thought I was getting a great bargain via eBay.  As my father used to say when we were hunting in the mountains, "never take a drink from a creek and then walk upstream."  Well, after I made the purchase, a quick internet search surfaced a number of copies in very good condition. Some were about half the price I paid.  The upside with my eBay purchase was that I received plenty of photos so I knew exactly what I was getting.  That detail is something most of the smaller online booksellers do not provide.

Next time a book catches my eye, search first, bid second.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Italian Wars Arquebusiers

Having four blocks of pikemen recruited from an outside supplier, the Italian Wars project shifts into a new phase with the mustering of four stands of arquebusier.  These sixteen hand gunners muster out in a multitude of colors and combinations.  No two are exactly the same.  
With non-uniform uniforms, Landsknechts will take a long time to paint as I wrestle with the indecision on how to tackle them with the brush.  I have received many helpful suggestions on painting Landsknechts, Swiss, and Italians as well as a number of blogs displaying expertly painted figures.  
Figures are from Wargames Foundry and are the first of many figures to paint for this small project.  Ready for fielding now are four pike blocks each with one skirmisher stand of two-handed swordsmen and one of arquebusier.  Needed to complete this first tranche of four columns are a few stands of cavalry.  Enough horsemen are in The Lead Pile to field at least two heavy cavalry stands of five figures each.
This is a start but already I believe enough formations can be called up to take on my buddy Jake in a small Impetvs encounter.  Jake, sounds like a challenge, does it not?

Friday, July 24, 2015

Peruvian Highlands - Pisac

Having maintained a trip to the Peruvian highlands on my Travel List for a long time, I finally made the journey at the end of May with a planned duration of just over two weeks.  The destination for the trip was the Sacred Valley with the high point focused on Machu Picchu.  Of course, Machu Picchu is not literally the high point of the journey with respect to elevation. That honor falls to Cusco at 11,200 ft.  With a very long flight and a desire to minimize potential effects of altitude sickness, the plan was to arrive in Cusco and then immediately head down to the small town of Pisac.  Pisac is situated at 9,800 ft and that lower elevation may make the difference while bodies adjust to operating at high elevation.

Upon arrival at Cusco airport, our Bed & Breakfast in Pisac had arranged for a taxi to pick up our group and baggage up and take us to Pisac about 20 miles away.  What we did not know was that the road from Cusco to Pisac was narrow, windy, and that our driver had aspirations for driving F1! 

White knuckled, we arrived in the center of Pisac to be transferred to a moto-taxi.  The last bit of distance from Pisac to the B&B was to be covered on a dirt trail.  Too far to walk with baggage.  With four people and luggage crammed into a small moto-taxi, we jostled our way to the B&B.
Pisac viewed from the B&B along the unpaved trail.
Arriving at the B&B, we unpacked and settled in for a two night's stay.  The B&B is surrounded by a wall, somewhat of a compound, situated about a 10 minute walk to town.
Bed & Breakfast main house
B&B cabins
Besides a place of respite to acclimate to high elevation, Pisac offers two other benefits for the traveler.  One, is a public market which is one of the largest craft markets in Peru.  The other, is an outstanding collection of Incan ruins situated in the mountain above the village.

After a good night's rest, the plan was to attack the ruins in the morning and then leisurely explore the marketplace in the afternoon.  To reach the main entrance to the ruins, we opted for a short five mile taxi ride up the mountain.  The terracing and panoramic views were stunning.  The terraces are enormous engineering wonders clinging to the sides of the mountain.
Pisac ruins main entrance
More terraces
and more terraces
Rather than taking a taxi back down the mountain into Pisac, we challenged ourselves to hike back down the mountain through a narrow canyon.  The descent took about an hour in the heat of the afternoon before reaching the terraces at the base of the mountain and Pisac, proper.
View of Pisac from the canyon
Following a clean up and brief rest, we headed out into the center of town and the market.  The market spills out from the main plaza with stalls packed in selling all manner of crafts.
Pisac main plaza
Tucked in and hidden within the market complex are a few ancient ovens baking some tasty empanadas.  Also produced in these ovens is what may be the national dish of Peru, guy.  Of course, guy, is guinea pig.  Despite their temptingly glistening skin, I chose a local restaurant for my dinner.  My choice was a well presented and delicious alpaca lomo saltado.  The dish was a combination of stir fried alpaca and vegetables served with thick slabs of french fried potatoes and rice.
Ancient ovens
Peruvian delicacy, guy
Alpaca lomo saltado
One last look at the B&B
The next stage in the journey sees us heading toward the town of Ollantaytambo along the Urubamba River and the start for many of the Incan Trail.

Monday, July 20, 2015

Foundry Loyal Sikhs

No matter whose collection is brought out for a game, I find it difficult to fight the urge to paint "just a few" units to field on the day of battle.  Kevin's mid-19th Century colonial project is no exception.  Unable to fight this gravitational pull of fielding more lead, a battalion of Sikhs rolls off from the painting desk.
Outfitted in khaki, these fellows will likely see action throughout Kevin's NWF campaigns and will see service in both major combatants' expeditions.  Figures are Wargames Foundry from the Indian Mutiny range.   The Lead Pile contains a handful of similar figures capable of building at least two more such native infantry.  Excellent sculpts! 
Kevin has suggested a Russian force would be a useful addition to NWF campaigning.   Well, I took the bait.  Enough Foundry Crimean era Russians have been added to The Lead Pile to field two or three battalions of infantry, several squadrons of cavalry, and a couple of guns.  I have about a dozen Russian hussars painted long ago that I plan to rebase from single bases to pairs.  With most of the figures garbed in greatcoats, once begun, it should be possible to field the infantry in relatively quickly.  

Next off the painting desk will be my first attempts at Landsknechts and an AWI British combined light infantry battalion.

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Battle of Raab 13:30-14:00

When last we left the battle (Raab 13:00-13:30), French cavalry were making some progress in establishing a bridgehead around the Upper Bridge on the French right.  Austrian cavalry saw Andrasy panic and both Hadik and Grosztony lost to injury.  Andrasy's command had fallen back and Hadik and Grosztony remained on defense of the bridge and ford.  In the center neither combatant had yet to grasp the upper hand.

At 13:30, Pully's dragoon division is seen approaching the Upper Bridge to lend support to the French cavalry whom have been battling there all morning.  Much of the French cavalry rally with the exception of half of the 1/Italian Dragoons who continue routing back across the Pancza.
Pully's dragoons approach Pancza
Once more, French cavalry strike out from their tenuously held bridgehead in an attempt to overpower their foe in three cavalry charges.
French cavalry attack
Although already down to about 50% effectives, the 1/9 Hussars attack from the banks of the brook into the disordered and heavily damaged 2/Bacser Insurrectio cavalry.  Being disordered, the Hungarians cannot muster the organization to counter charge.  They are caught flat footed.  The hussars scatter the Hungarians and continue on into the 2/5 Ott Hussars.  Not able to gain advantage on the Austrian hussars, the 1/9th breaks off and retreats back to the safety of the Pancza, demoralized.
Austrians counter charge!
Likewise, Grouchy and the 1/7 Dragoons target the 2/Pesther Insurrection cavalry.  In good order, the Hungarians are able to counter charge.  Still, with Grouchy's presence and the heavier mounts, the French heavy cavalry cut their way through the Hungarians, scattering them to all points of the compass.  As the French pursue, the 1/Pesther Insurrectio horse stand in the path.  Already at half strength, the 1/Pesther suffers the same fate as its sister formation.  Shaken, Grouchy and the 1/7 Dragoons retire back to the bridge.
In the final clash, the 2/Italian Dragoons meet another counter charging body of Insurrection cavalry. In this exchange, the Hungarians are overrun as they fall back in search of safety.  As the Italians continue on their rampage, the 2/Zemplin Insurrectio are hit and destroyed.  Shaken, the Italian dragoons recall to  the Pancza.

Three attacks and four Hungarian Insurrectio cavalry formations have disappeared.  With the seeming destruction of Mescery's cavalry wing, both Hadik and Grozstony must check for panic.  With heavy losses, both formations panic and break towards the east leaving a number of troopers in the hands of the French.
Mescery's command disintegrates
Turning to the center, artillery fire continues to escalate.  The Austrian Reserve guns on the Heights pound Seras and the 2/53rd Line at the church.  Enduring near constant bombardment, the 2/53rd suffers heavy casualties becoming disordered.  For now, they hold their good defense ground at the church hillock.

Without support from Seras or Durutte, Severoli's Division of d'Hilliers' Corps advances across the Pancza to engage the Austrians alone.  To help shelter Severoli's Italians from artillery fire as they make their way across the treacherous brook, Durutte's 1/62 Line advances so as to shield the Italians.  This maneuver is not without cost as the French become disordered by the gun fire.
Severoli steps across the Pancza Brook
Nevertheless, Severoli makes contact with the Austrians across his entire front.  Many of the formations become disordered as the brook is negotiated.  All attacks hit the Austrian line in concert.    
Severoli's attack
With Severoli, himself, leading the attack, the 2nd Italian Line and 2/3rd Italian line arise out from the steeply banked Pancza to face the Salzburg Landwehr covering the stream bank.  Unable to find their footing, the Italians become shaken as they fight at a disadvantage against the heavily supported landwehr.  In a tough struggle, Severoli and his Italians are pushed back into the Pancza.  The retreat turns to rout.  As his demoralized Italians scatter back across the brook, Severoli finds himself nearly alone on the east bank.  Before he can recross the brook, the Austrian landwehr capture the commander!  Oh no! 

Next to contact the Austrians is 1st Italian Line Regiment.  The Italians climb out of the brook to face 1/IR27 on Severoli's right.  In the struggle for supremacy, first the Italians become shaken and then are overpowered by the Austrians.  Having suffered heavy casualties, the 1st Italian Regiment retreats back across the brook, demoralized.  Going in against Sebottendorf's guns on Severoli's left, the 1/3 Italian Line Regiment attacks.  Threatened, the Austrian guns limber and scamper away.

In the final attack on the Austrian line,  the 112th French Line finds Eckhart's IR32.  In a desperate struggle with the 10 Grenz lending support on IR32's right, the Austrians begin to waver and then break for the rear.  IR32 takes heavy casualties as it retreats to safety.
IR32 demoralized
Severoli wins some and losses some
Having his guns and IR32 in retreat as a result of the French attack near the Middle Bridge, Eckhart's green formation panics and routs back away from the brook.  Despite localized victories on the left against Eckhart, the repulse with heavy casualties and the capture of Severoli on the right cause the Italians to panic.  A number of Italians from 2/3 Italian Line lay down their arms as the bulk of the division retreats back across the Pancza and well beyond the stream.
Severoli panics!

Situation from French positions
On the Austrian side of the stream, few Austrian cavalry on the right halt their retreat.  With the entire left in flight, Mescery must personally intervene.  This may prove a futile task.
Gajoli arrives at HQ
At Johan's HQ, Gajoli arrives to accept command of the Reserve after having delegated his old command and ridden up the Heights in search of the Archduke.  Out of breath, Gajoli says,
Your excellency, thank you for elevating me to the command of Frimont's Reserve. My former division is on the way to block Seras' advance upon the southern approaches to Kis-Megyer.
One of my talented ADCs has joined me with my recommendation that he take over Kienmeyer's vacant command. In tandem, we can throw the French back from Kis-Megyer.
When I left my positions near Kis-Megyer, the Italians were preparing an attack on the northern approaches to the farm. I am confident my old division along with the support of the Reserve batteries, can stall any French attempt to take Kis-Megyer from the south.
The grenadiers of the Reserve may be useful in counterattacking Severoli's Italians if they make a passage of the Pancza. After being thrown back from Kis-Megyer, Durutte appears to not have the stomach for another such frontal attack.
What are your orders?
Before Johan can respond to Gajoli's recommendations, a chorus of "Huzzahs" are heard above the gunfire coming from north of Kis-Megyer.  Both commanders turn their glasses towards the Kis-Megyer complex.
The Italians have been turned back and are in flight, your Excellency!" exclaims Gajoli.
Lowering his eye glass, the Archduke, says,
Indeed! No need for the grenadiers to support Sebottendorf.  Prepare to send the grenadiers and the 19th against the church.  Let's see if we can push Seras back across the brook too!
As Gajoli's old division attacks between the church and Kis-Megyer, the Austrian reserve batteries continue to pound the French hunkered down behind the walls of the church.  The 1/53rd takes more casualties and becomes shaken.
Austrian Reserve batteries in action
Newly led, Gajoli's old formation of IR62 strikes the disordered and weakened 2/53 Line in the hollow between the church and high ground of Kis-Megyer.  
IR62 attacks!
With heavy artillery fire to their right and being attacked frontally by fresh troops, the 2/53rd buckles and retreats back across the Pancza , demoralized.  As they retreat, the 53rd passes through the 1st Legere forcing them back across the brook as well.
IR62 victorious!
Dispositions at 14:00
Whew!  The Austrian left appears to be in disarray but the Austrian strongpoints in the center continue to hold and hold well.  The repulse of Severoli's large division of Italians is a tough pill to swallow for Eugene.

As for Johan, where should his next move concentrate?
With his left flank now in the air, quick decisions must be made.  What should they be? 
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