Monday, April 27, 2015

Battle of Raab - 1000-1100

Seras probes Austrian positions
Two volunteers stepped forward to take command of the two armies at Raab.  While the game will be conducted as a solo adventure, each non-player commander will issue orders to their respective commands.  For a solo replay, having pre-programmed orders for troop movements and reactions set a more objective tone to the game.  Of course, as the "Hand of God" in this replay, I will attempt to carry out non-players intentions. 

With orders in place, let the game begin!

The battle opens with the two battle lines facing off.  Eugene sets the French right into motion.  Two French light cavalry brigades under Montbrun and Colbert strike off for the Upper Bridge spanning the Pancza Brook.  Grouchy's heavy cavalry brigade, for now, remains in reserve.  On Grouchy's left, Seras' division steps off towards the Austrian positions defending the brook.  The remainder of Eugene's army awaits orders with little activity outside of the division guns being brought up ahead of the main battle line.
French general advance on the right
Montbrun, with the 2nd Chasseurs a Cheval (CaC) in the van, makes a dash for the bridge and begins to cross.  On his right, Colbert's light cavalry reaches the banks of the Pancza and searches for a suitable place to cross.
French light cavalry force a crossing
With French light cavalry pressing on the Austrian left, Mescery redeploys his vast cavalry wing to better defend the Upper Bridge.  While large in number, Mescery's horsemen, spread across three brigades, are comprised largely of Insurrection cavalry of suspect battleworthiness.  Most of Mescery's troopers are green with only a few Austrian regular hussars.  Hadik's cavalry guns open the battle with fire against the 2nd CaC with no noticeable effect.
View of the Austrian left
Showdown at the Upper Bridge
Austrian hussars lay in wait
Of Colbert's command, only the 1/20 CaC and 2/9 Hussars manage to negotiate a crossing of the treacherous Pancza.  Both formations come up out of the ravine in disorder.

As the 2 CaC crosses over to the east bank of the brook via the bridge, Hadik's guns open up and insurrection cavalry counter.  Before the Hungarian cavalry can close, Hadik's battery does its work efficiently.  The 2 CaC takes heavy casualties and becomes shaken.
First clash!
In the following clash of steel, the weakened French light horse is scattered but not before getting in a few licks on the insurrection horse.  Zemplin's Insurrection cavalry breaks off to recover.

Next to attempt the crossing is the 2/7 Hussars.  As the 2 CaC before, the 2/7 reaches the east bank of the brook and, in turn, is countered by Insurrection cavalry.  Without artillery fire to soften the French cavalry, the hussars cut a swath clear through the Hungarian horse and crash into the supporting 2nd Heves Insurrection cavalry.
2/7 Hussars attempt a crossing
2/7 Hussars breakthrough
The 2nd Heves becomes shaken in the impact and falls back in disorder.  The 2/7 Hussars breaks off and recollects back at the banks of the Pancza, shaken from its exertions.

With no respite to collect itself, the 1st Heves Insurrection cavalry is passed through by the 1/7 Hussars as it clears the Upper Bridge.  Having been cut through a second time the swirling masses of Hungarian horse become shaken as they wonder what has hit them.
1/7 Hussars attempt a crossing
Overrunning the Hungarians at the bridge, the French hussars plunge on to contact a supporting Hungarian cavalry formation.  Surprised by their sudden position on the front line, the Insurrection cavalry quickly succumb and fall back as many of their comrades lay down their arms.
French hussars overrun the hapless Hungarian cavalry
Disorganized from their successes, the French hussars break off and regroup back at the banks of the Pancza.

With French cavalry holding the bridgehead in disorder, Gosztony launches a powerful counterattack in an attempt to denude the east bank of French horsemen.  As the shaken 1st Heves Insurrection scurries to the rear, Gosztony's large brigade descends upon the crossing.
Austrian counterattack
All French horse are caught against the banks of the brook as they are reforming from their earlier efforts.
The Clash!
In the clash of horseflesh and steel, the 2/9 Hussars tumbles back across the brook demoralized as their east bank compatriot, the 1/20 CaC repulses its attacker.  In the whirring fight, the 1/20 CaC becomes shaken while their adversary, 1/5 Ott Hussars breaks off the attack and returns to its lines.

With Grosztony attached, two waves of insurrection cavalry catch the French horse artillery limbered on the bridge.  The Hungarian horsemen capture the guns and continue, pell-mell, on across the bridge.
Insurrection cavalry take the guns
Finally, Pesther Insurrection cavalry plows into the already demoralized 1/7 Hussars as it reforms near the bridge.  A number of French hussars surrender with the remainder scattering back to the west bank of the Pancza to reform.  The momentum of the charge carries the Hungarians into the reforming 2/7 Hussars but the French, although now demoralized, stop the insurrection cavalry.  The Hungarians break off and fall back to reform.
2/7 Hussars halt the Hungarian horse
Hungarians driven off
After the whirlwind of cavalry clashes, the crossing at the Upper Bridge witnesses a flurry of cavalry attempting to reform and rally before the next wave comes crashing down.  The Hungarian cavalry in the zeal following the capture of Montbrun's artillery look dangerously overexposed to counterattack.  
French tenuously hold bridgehead
With the cavalry crescendo on the French right, Seras' infantry division reaches the banks of the Pancza and begins a probe at the foot of the Austrian held positions. 
Seras probes ahead
The dash across the Upper Bridge by Montbrun was a bold move that resulted in almost wrecking Hadik's purely Insurrectio command.  Montbrun's command did not fare much better, though.  Losing a battery of artillery may be sorely missed later.  Neither Hadik nor Montbrun panicked but both cavalry formations are badly battered.

One note regarding Green troops; once a green cavalry unit reaches a demoralized morale state, it can no longer recover.  Even in Shaken or Disordered state, Green troops may have difficulty rallying quickly.  Given that, French cavalry may be able to take punishment and recover while Mescery's mostly insurrection cavalry likely will find recovery very difficult.  

While the over zealous actions of Insurrectio cavalry to continue on across the bridge may appear quite foolhardy, it may actually provide Mescery the time to reform his cavalry before the French can clear the bridge.  This may be a worthwhile sacrifice.

From his vantage point on the church heights, Johan can see the action at the Upper Bridge.  Of course, Johan can also see Seras' division bearing down on his position!  Eugene, in the valley, only hears the clash a few miles to the south in the distance.


Saturday, April 25, 2015

Staining the White Menace

As I pulled the Napoleonics figures from their storage boxes for the first time in many years to prepare for the Battle of Raab replay, I noticed the Old Glory 15s looked a little shabby.  Many of the figures were painted several decades ago and could use a refresh.  With a large number of figures, desire to pull the figures from their bases and repaint was lacking.  My solution was to give them all a swab with Minwax stain.  That should be quick and easy.

Even bypassing the Austrians already deployed for the game, the balance of the white coated Austrians still remaining in their storage boxes summed to a large chunk of work (this, just for addressing the Austrians uniformed in white).  All of the Austrian cavalry, artillery, and miscellaneous other Austrians troops would be bypassed this time.  By my count, the activity would include dipping 576 figures.
The 48 stands of infantry were given the treatment before I departed for the work week but I ran out of time to snap photos before I left.  Back home once again, time to pick up where I left off. 

As seen from the photo below, many of the figures are of the older, Old Glory, Dave Alsop sculpted figures.  I always enjoyed Alsop's sculpting style even though they stand in smaller than today's more popular 18mm figures. 
Something about Alsop's figures simply emote a certain charm for me.  Even though the photos may not show the distinction between white jacket and white webbing, the stain does lend depth and shadow to the recesses in the figure.  To me, this is an improvement in the overall mass effect without repainting nearly 600 figures.
The Austrians already mustered for the game and the remaining non-white coats may get the Minwax treatment following the conclusion of the game.

Ah, good to be back at the painting table!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

I Lanzichenecchi

Two books from Soldiershop Publishing arrived in house a couple of weeks ago.
One of the two books was an Osprey-like booklet of 80 pages detailing the Landsknechts of the 15th and 16th Centuries.   Cristini and Durand are the authors/illustrators for the work.
The booklet is published on high quality glossy paper and is loaded with period engravings and 16 pages of original, full color uniform plates.  The illustration quality is first rate. 

In addition to the beautiful color plates and numerous engravings, the body of the text is divided into sections covering,
  • Introduction and origin of the Landsknechts
  • A brief summary of the wars and military campaigns in which these troops fought
  • A brief biography of select famous Landsknecht leaders
  • Organization
  • Weapons and Equipment
  • Clothing
  • and finally a glossary and bibliography
The book is published bilingually in Italian and English. The dual languages are accommodated by two column printing.  The left column of each page is written in Italian with the right hand column containing the English translation.  In some passages the English translation is suspect and some unfortunate, repeated sentences enter into the final work but these are minor quibbles and do not detract from the overall worth.

With 16 pages of uniform plates, large number of engravings, and half the text in Italian, this booklet is a quick read and quite enjoyable to study.  The illustrations provide inspiration for some of my own Landsknecht formations needing attention.

This is my first exposure to Solidiershop Publishing and I am quite pleased with the quality of their work.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Great Italian Wars - Reading (and Listening) List

When a new wargaming period captures my interest, collecting a period specific reading list is typically not far behind.  After watching Jake's project blossom followed by his hosting a very enjoyable Italian Wars' game, I began pondering the possibility of fielding my own force.  Although an order from Wargames Foundry was in-hand, the project really made a leap up the queue with the arrival of an already painted collection.  What this instant army did was pull me forward in the more usual, project life cycle.  For most newly launched projects, plenty of time exists for getting up to speed on the historical background before the first combat formation can be fielded.  With my instant army, I have a need to quickly attain a modicum of background on the period.

To that end, I picked up a thirty-six lecture series on the Italian Renaissance from The Teaching Company. This series of lectures was an excellent introduction to the period for me and highly enjoyable during my 600 mile round trip monthly commute.  Aside from the lecturer's sometimes annoying pronunciations of a few words, I highly recommend the course for those interested in the Italian Renaissance.  My understanding of the lectures was enhanced by my trip to Florence and Rome in 2014 and Venice in 2009.  Places and personalities discovered on the ground in Italy were given an enlightening context.   
In addition to the lecture series, I picked up a quartet of books to provide added background material.

The books are:
The Renaissance At War by Arnold
Mercenaries and their Masters, Warfare in Renaissance Italy by Mallett
The Italian Wars 1494-1559 by Mallett and Shaw
The Art of War in Italy 1494-1529 by Taylor

Only a brief flip through each at this point but I look forward to tackling one or two of these on my next trip.

Besides these and a number of Ospreys, what are other books focusing on the wars during the 1494-1529 period that should be added? 

Friday, April 17, 2015

Austrian IR 3/37 for 1859 Project

IR 37 Battalion 3
The third battalion of IR 37 marches off from the painting desk.  One more battalion needed to bring IR 37 up to its full complement of four battalions.
IR 37 Battalion 3 
The culmination of this week's work at
the painting desk on two battalions of IR 37.
Looking back at my project notes, the last time I assessed project progress was a little over two years ago.  While the Risorgimento has not seen focused efforts during that intervening period, progress has been steady.  Exactly how much progress has been accomplished?  I will sharpen my pencil and see.   

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Austrian Line for the 1859 Project

Progress on the 1859 project continues with work on a battalion of Austrian infantry.  While difficult to identify the battalion by their regimental collar tabs in 15mm, this group of 18 figures musters out as IR 2/37.  Figures are Old Glory.
Following closely on the footsteps of IR 2/37 will be the IR 3/37.

A number of other units destined for the 1859 project are also in the painting pipeline.  These 1859 units include, one, three battalion regiment of French line infantry; 12 figure regiment of Austrian Uhlans; and one 12-figure battalion of Sardinian Bersaglieri.  All three units are Lancashire Games' figures.

Departing momentarily from the 1859 project after the French infantry, however, will likely be 12 French heavy cavalry for the 1799 project.  The French cavalry are part of the recent influx of 1859 Lancashire lead.  Very crisp detailing on these early French cavalry and I am anxious to see how they look once fitted out with a coat of paint.

Saturday, April 11, 2015

Battle of Raab - Eugene vs Johan

Battle of Raab - Center of Austrian line
Troops have been rousted from their boxes, OBs checked, and commands placed onto the game table.  For a battle on the periphery of the 1809 campaign, Raab was a rather large affair with both combatants roughly equal in numbers.

The French, under Eugene, had recently received French reinforcements to augment their army.  The Austrians, under the command of Archduke Johan had received reinforcements too.  Unfortunately for Johan, many of his troops consisted of Hungarian Insurrectio troops of suspect quality.

Johan took up an excellent defensive position centered on the Szabadhegy Heights south of the fortress of Raab.  His center was anchored by the fortress-like farm of Kis-Megyer.  Johan's right was protected by the Fortress Raab, itself, and his left by the impenetrable Pancza Marsh.The Pancza brook had steep and marshy banks which could only be crossed by cavalry and artillery at fords near the Upper Bridge.
Initial dispositions
With Victory Points clustered in the center of the Austrian line, to win Eugene must assault the Szabadhegy Heights and push Johan from his fine, defensive roost.

In the center of the Austrian line, the prominent terrain features are illustrated in the photo below.  Whomever controls the center on the east bank of the Pancza controls the outcome of the battle.
Key terrain objectives
The combatants are arrayed for battle as shown in the photo below.
Initial troop dispositions
Note that the Austrian defensive line is sprinkled with a number of either Green or Militia rated Insurrectio formations.  These Insurrection troops will likely have great difficulty standing toe-to-toe against the higher quality French and Italians unless in good defensive positions or well supported.

In past games, the key to French victory has relied on getting the better quality cavalry across the Pancza on the French right, driving off the inferior Hungarian cavalry and turning Johan's position.  Making a bridgehead across the Upper Pancza has sometimes been difficult to accomplish in a timely manner.
Battlefield viewed from NW
As an aside, during game preparation, labels had to be affixed to each stand.  Many of the troop stands still carried the labels from the 2009 Raab replay.  Shocking!  Cannot believe it has been six years since these figures have seen action on the gaming table.  Clearly, it has been far too long since the Austrians have been out of their storage boxes.  I must make an effort to rotate them into games with greater regularity.

Since my plan is to refight this battle as a leisurely, solo exercise, if any reader is interested in taking command with respect to battle planning, order writing and implementation, and personal battlefield heroics, drop me an email via the Contact Form as shown below and declare any preference.
I will then carry out your orders on the tabletop and keep you apprised of the results and when personal intervention is warranted.  

Who knows, perhaps your leadership will make the difference between victory or defeat?
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