Saturday, July 28, 2018

Foz d'Arouce Post Mortem

British clearing the woods
Foz d'Arouce.  A small village in Portugal of little consequence except for a clash between Wellington and an insubordinate Ney in 1811.  Pursued by Wellington on his retreat from Portugal, Massena ordered Ney to bring his command to the north bank of the Ceira River to join the rest of the French Army and destroy the bridge.  Thinking it too late in the day for a British attack, Ney disobeyed orders and left his command on the south bank of the river.  With the river in flood after heavy rains, Ney put his command in great jeopardy.  When Wellington attacked late in the day, Ney had to scramble to stabilize the situation for which he, alone, was to blame.

In the first fight at Foz d'Arouce, Ney and his French command were handed a serious defeat.  Those Frenchmen not drowned in the swollen river either perished at the hands of the British, laid down their arms in surrender, or routed away to the north bank of the Ceira.  It was a bloody rebuke to Ney's insubordinate actions.  For a reminder of the first combat at FdA, please see, BatRep: Combat at Foz d'Arouce.

With a refight on the agenda for Friday Night at the Fights, what could be expected in a rematch?  In this action, Jake once again took command as Wellington while I accepted the heavy task of reversing Ney's misfortune.  Anyway, on to the game.
Ney is surprised by Wellington's aggression so late in the day.
Mermet in foreground.
Marchand in background defending Poisao.
Elements of Picton's Division pass through a
small village on march to Foz d'Arouce.
While initiative swung back and forth early on,
 musketry exchanges on the French right
favor British fire discipline.
Even with British fire volume at times overwhelming,
 French resolve and diligent command allow
wavering French to fall back to regroup.

As French fall back due to the heat of British volleys,
 fresh troops move up to take their place.
Marchand's legere tangle with Portuguese
Cacadores in a close range firefight.
French legere blunt the attack of Craufurd's Light Division
on the French right.
With legere protecting Poisao, the British cannot mount
an effective attack against the crucial village. Yet.
On the French left, Picton's Division begins forming battle
 line with a goal of carrying the wooded heights.
Musketry exchanges again tend to favor the British.

Two battalions of French line are pulled off the hill
as a reserve.  Their gap in the line is replaced by the
second battalion of legere.

British horse artillery take up position on the rocky high
ground opposite Poisao to threaten the Poisao garrison.
French prepare to defend the wooded heights while
reinforcing the valley between Mermet's hill and Poisao.

Casualties are rising on both sides of the battle
lines with the French suffering more.
Casualties increase in a close range firefight.
Facing overwhelming pressure, Mermet's command retires
 off the hill to take up a new defense line.
  Well, all fall back except for one battalion of legere.

That one, gallant battalion of French lights
charges into the masses of British troops.

Shocked by the French audacity, the lead British line
 recoils back through its supports.
  Victory may be fleeting but the charge is inspiring.
The bold charge of the French lights allows the remainder
 of Mermet's command to temporarily consolidate
 on a new line of defense.
Back on the French right, all is not quiet.
Marchand's command has been giving ground slowly
 while disrupting Craufurd's attack plan.

Counter battery fire from Marchand's guns in Poisao cause
concern to British guns exposed in rocky scrub overlooking

 the village.

Action is hot in and around Poisao.
First, British lights evict French from the village with a
devastating volley.  Before the British can secure the village,
 fresh French reinforcements reclaim the village walls.

In another example of derring-do, a battalion of
French legere charges into a wavering British line
regiment straddling the arroyo.  The legere lost its eagle

 in the charge not due to combat but due to faulty workmanship.
  The eagle simply fell off the standard during the advance.

Calmly, the British take aim and deliver a punishing volley.
The French are disordered but continue forward.
Having seen the effect of the volley, the British give out
a cheer and counter charge!

In the close combat, the British overpower their shaken foe.
The legere retreat!
The defense of Poisao.
Seeing the rising pressure to Mermet on his left,
 Ney orders Marchand to begin a controlled retrograde
 from Poisao.  Effective counter battery from the British guns
 on the hill convince Marchand's gunners that now is the time
 to  limber and withdraw.
In a measured retrograde, Ney's force slowly gives ground as it
 converges on the bridge.
At the time the order came to pull back, all objectives were still in French hands.  Clearly, the pressure and strength applied by Wellington, would not have kept the objectives in French hands overnight.  Wellington and the Anglo-Portuguese are awarded a second victory at Foz d'Arouce.

Even with a more forward French defense than seen in Game 1, the French in this game sustained fewer casualties and held the objectives much longer.  More than half of Ney's command was in the Dead Pile at the end of Game 1.  Although this game unfolded in a very similar manner, only two French battalions had scattered by game's end.  This version of the battle lasted for ten turns before play was stopped due to time.  The first playing was stopped before seven turns could be completed with French capitulation.  Interestingly, the two reinforcing battalions the French received in this game had no impact on play.  Neither got caught up in the action and were underutilized.  

The Anglo-Portuguese force was a formidable juggernaut.  It advanced steadily and dished out much punishment.  British fire discipline gave the Allies a decided advantage.  Since such superb fire tendency is additive to Combat Effectiveness, perhaps, the British ought to be re-rated to meld the two?  Initiative played a role in this game.  While initiative swung back and forth for the first few turns, after about Turn 5, Wellington seized the initiative and held it throughout the remainder of the game.  Wellington's command structure and capability lent itself to the dominating attack presented.  On the British right, the two commands worked in tandem to one-two punch Mermet's command.

For the French, this is a tough scenario win.  Perhaps an early, aggressive French player can mitigate some of the British advantages?  The two instances when French legere charged into close combat, both were successful in halting a British advance.  While only one such charge was tactically a success, both did the job of breaking up and disordering the British attack.    

As in Game 1, Game 2 saw the British position their two horse guns on the heights overlooking Poisao; a perfect placement for artillery.  What if the French had utilized Lamotte's cavalry to take the ground before the British could arrive?  The French provisional light cavalry likely would be expended in this endeavor.  That plan might be worth pursuing.  As it was, Lamotte's cavalry took no active roll in the battle beyond being a target for British guns.

Congratulations to Jake for a well-played and deserved victory for the Anglo-Portuguese.  As always, it was good fun.

After two playings of the scenario, it might be easy to imagine Massena's displeasure upon hearing that Ney had taken up positions on the south bank of the Ceira River to offer a fight.  After witnessing two successive French losses, I feel his pain.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Return to Foz d'Arouce

Church at Foz d'Arouce
Well, it is somewhat hard to believe that the combat at Foz d'Arouce has been standing idle on the gaming table since April.  Perhaps hard to believe but true.  One of the pleasures of having a dedicated game room and table is that a battle can remain set up for any length of time needed.  On the flip side, the downfall is that a battle can remain on the table for a long time.

Such is the situation with the Combat at Foz d'Arouce (FdA).  Last gamed in April, plans included refighting this action several times before mid-summer activities turned towards an August Zorndorf game.  With August quickly approaching, time remains to get one last run through on FdA  before clearing the deck and beginning preparations for Zorndorf.  As a reminder for the scenario, please see (Foz d'Arouce Scenario).

Having witnessed the game play and direction of the battle in that first refight (see BatRep Combat at FdA), a few modifications seemed in order.
Initial deployments and objectives
First, Marchand is receiving reinforcements in the form of two battalions of infantry.  In the historical battle, two battalions of the 69e Ligne Regiment were present near Foz de Arouce.  In the first game, I omitted this regiment due to oversight.  Given that Marchand had a difficult task in keeping both Picton and Craufurd at bay long enough to effect an escape over the bridge, two reinforcing battalions will be most welcome.

Second, skirmisher rules have been simplified through abstraction.  No longer does a division commander need worry about deploying and positioning skirmishers.  While active skirmishers add a bit of nuance to the battle for solo play, for group play, abstracting skirmisher interaction is both reasonable and improves speed of play.  Skirmishers still fill a battlefield role but their effect is inherent to the parent unit.

A few other slight modifications appear in the most recent rules' version but the game remains mostly as before.  Unit Combat Effectiveness ratings have been adjusted too.
British storm Poisao in an earlier game
With a busy second quarter, few chances to schedule a Friday Night at the Fights.  Now, with a small window of opportunity, time to resurrect FNatF and get the game underway before this fleeting chance vanishes.

Will Ney be able to withstand Wellington's attacks in the fleeting Portuguese light of day?  We will see. 

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Prussian Hussar Rgt #2 Zieten

Looking through the Prussian Order of Battle in preparation for a planned Zorndorf game in August, I counted more Prussian hussar squadrons than I could field. Twenty-five hussar squadrons are listed in the OB.  At the ratio used in Honours of War, I could muster sixteen squadron equivalents based upon counts in the Painting Log.  Did the Prussians field so many hussars in a pitched battle?  I guess Frederick did at Zorndorf.  
Since I found myself the equivalent of eight squadrons short, Prussian hussars needed to be pressed into the painting queue.  The decision of which unit to field was an easy one.  Since Zieten's Hussars were present and I had Prussian hussars in busby, Zieten's Hussars would be the unit to muster. 
To correct for my underestimation of hussars needed, off the painting table steps a dozen Zieten Hussars.  As all of the cavalry going before, these figures are Eureka Miniatures' cavalry.  As I have sung the praises of Eureka's 18mm SYW cavalry on many occasions, these fine troopers are no exception.  Note that I actually used Russian hussars in this case rather than the Prussian hussars.  Why?  The Prussian hussars are in full stride and enormous beasts.  The Russian cavalry are presented in reserve with shouldered sabre and look quite stately. 

I experienced a similar dilemma regarding the tally of Prussian grenadiers.  The Painting Log suggested fewer grenadier stands than required.  Odd, since I recalled painting a number of grenadier battalions.  A quick trip to the storage boxes confirmed sufficient numbers of grenadier battalions on hand for Zorndorf.  The confusion arose from accounting differences.  In my early DB entries, grenadiers were rolled into the musketeer/fusilier entries; in later entries the grenadier battalions warranted their own entry.  I should correct my accounting to avoid any future confusion.

To check out Jake's latest update as he builds Russians for the great battle in August, visit Dartfrog's Adventures in 6mm.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Montcalm & Wolfe: French Take Stanwix

French attack Fort Stanwix
In the latest action of the long-running Montcalm & Wolfe campaign, Peter resolved the battle at Fort Stanwix where the French under Drucour attacked the British garrison held up in the fort.  After two attacks, the fort fell to the French.  Please visit Peter's, Grid Based Wargaming blog for details of the action.

September 1758
With winter approaching and the loss of Fort Stanwix, the British want to accomplish more than task so opt to roll on the Command Table.  The resulting die roll allows the French to interrupt British maneuvers and activate one command themselves.  The French use this opportunity(?) to abandon Fort Niagara and march east.  Contrecoeur, Bouganville, and two regiments of Regulars march out from the fort.  Is Niagara no longer worthy of holding?  Perhaps the French are more interested in consolidating their positions in hopes of salvaging the war?

After the French interruption, the British once again roll on the Command Table.  No activations is the result!  Wanting to put pressure on Fort Oswego, the French choose to roll on the Command Table.  This time, turn about is fair play.  The results yields one activation to interrupt the French turn.  With that one CP, Wolfe and his one Regular regiment returns to Quebec.  Using Naval Transport, one militia from Trenton is shipped to Quebec.  

After the British finish their interrupting move, the French, once again, roll on the Command Table.  This time five activations are secured.  With that, Rigaud and one Regular comes out of the wilderness and returns to Oswegatchie while both Contrecoeur and Drucour march on Fort Oswego. Both Montcalm and Dieskau are placed in Reserve.  A leader and force placed in Reserve may move during their opponents turn automatically. 
Movements in September 1758
With Contrecoeur and Drucour descending upon Amherst and his garrison at Oswego, a Major Battle will be fought since each side fields at least four units.

Battle of Fort Oswego:
British: Amherst (A3D1), 1 x 5-6 Regular, 2 x 3-5 Militia, 1 x 3-8 Cayuga
French: Contrecoeur (A2D2), 3 x 5-6 Regulars, 1 x 4-7 Irregular 

On defense, Amherst can boost one unit one level.  On attack, Contecoeur can boost two units one level each or one unit two levels.  The French will be attacking the fort from both the west and south.

Should be an interesting and important fight.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

French 9th Line Regiment (Demi-Brigade)

A steady, albeit slower, stream of troops continues marching off the painting table.  With high summer temperatures leading to many packed, outdoor, weekend activities and increased cycling, painting has trailed off somewhat.  Many units are in progress at the workbench but keeping the production line moving has proven challenging.  Beyond a few boardgame sessions, the stream of gaming has almost run dry too.  Summer seems a difficult time to coordinate schedules.  By August, perhaps, gaming will become more regular once kids (and teachers) return to the classroom. 

Today off the painting table are three battalions from the French 9th Line Demi-Brigade of 39 figures total.  This lot marches out on campaign primarily in greatcoats.  A few fusiliers muster out in full dress as do the officers and grenadiers.
The French are fine figures from AB Miniatures and ready themselves for service in Napoleon's early campaigns.  As expected, excellent sculpting with first-rate facial features.  Units mostly in greatcoats are a little faster to paint too!  Maybe enough AB French figures remain in The Lead Pile to field another couple of battalions before a new recruitment is called up. 
Also on the painting table for the 1799 project are another tranche of Austrian line in helmet and three French horse artillery stands.  A dozen Prussian hussars for the 18mm SYW project and a bunch of 28mm Napoleonics are readying themselves too.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Cycling the Palouse

Well, a long time has passed since my last Cycling the Palouse entry.  The absence has not been due to lack of cycling.  Spring and early summer have offered many fine opportunities for outdoor cycling and the bike has seen much activity.

With the "official" beginning of the Pacific Northwest summer beginning on July 4, improved weather and rising temperatures go hand-in-hand with increased mileage on the bike.  This July is no exception.    
Path along the lake
Besides the daily post-work ride, one of the more scenic routes was undertaken last week.  That route is a 32 mile out and back along the Trail of the Coeur d'Alenes including the crossing of Lake Coeur d'Alene on a converted railway bridge.
Approaching marina with trestle bridge in distance
The route begins at the Plummer trail head with a seven mile 3% grade down to Lake Coeur d'Alene.  After reaching the marina and trestle bridge, the route continues for nine miles to reach the town of Harrison.  The scenic views of the lake are interrupted by several deep railroad cuts along the lake.  The old railroad cuts are scenic too!  After a stop and bit of refreshment, the route is retraced nine miles back to the Marina and then a seven mile climb out of the canyon and back to the trail head.  On a warm and sunny day, this is an exhilarating ride.  Since Nancy does not enjoy the seven mile, constantly grinding, 3% grade coming up out of the canyon, we stop at the marina.  Her bike is placed on the car rack as she prepares to drive to the trail head to pick me up after my climb out of the canyon.  My goal is to time-trial my way back up the seven miles to the trail head before Nancy reaches the same destination in the car.  This time, we both reached the trail head simultaneously.  She did stop to buy a cold drink for me on the way so I tip my cap to her, this time.    
Enjoy the scenery!
Up and over the trestle bridge

Railroad cut #1
Railroad cut #2
Houseboats at mooring
Railroad cut #3

Harrison Marina and turn-around point
Trestle bridge in the distance
Being a bike dedicated trail, one can relax while cycling without fear of interaction with a vehicle.  The same cannot be said for my regular routes out on the open roads.  Close Encounters with a vehicle are not uncommon.  Many of those encounters could be subject of a good rant but I suppose, no harm no foul, right?   Luckily many years have passed since my last physical brush with a motor vehicle.  Still, a cyclist must remain ever vigilant.   

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Montcalm & Wolfe: Blood Along the St. Lawrence

Situation August 1758
On the banks of the St. Lawrence River at the confluence with the St. Maurice, Wolfe is handed a bloody repulse by Montcalm and his stoic French troops.  While Montcalm suffered heavy losses in the British attack at Trois Rivieres, Wolfe was driven back with very heavy loss.  Wolfe's command lost two regiments of Regulars out of the three regiments present for the battle.  For details on this epic struggle, see Peter's Grid Based Wargaming as he recounts the 17th action in the campaign. 

With the repulse of Wolfe at Trois Rivieres, Montcalm has time to regroup.  Montreal, for now, is in no immediate threat of attack.  Rather than falling back to ready the defenses of Montreal, Montcalm can remain at Trois Rivieres as fall approaches.

As expected in their situation, the French want to attempt more than one action in August and roll on the Command Table.  The outcome results in only one Command Point anyway.  With that one Command Point, Drucour's force to the southwest of Fort Oswego marches on Fort Stanwix.  Having a more effective commander as Contrecoeur lead the attack would have been preferred but that is not to be.  Garrisoned by one regiment of Regulars, Fort Stanwix must hold out against Drucour's superior force of two regiments.  With the 1758 campaigning season drawing to a close, Fort Stanwix in French hands would be a welcome relief in an otherwise, hard year.  

Battle of Fort Stanwix
British: 1 x 5-6 Regular regiment
French: Drucour (A0D1), 1 x 5-6 Regular regiment, 1 x 4-7 Irregular regiment.

Having fought over this ground before, Drucour is very well familiar with how to most efficiently attack the fort. 

Monday, July 9, 2018

SYW Prussian Fusilier Regiment #39 BN 2

The Prussian build up continues with a second 23 figure battalion mustering up from The Lead Pile.  The sister battalion of Prussian Fusilier Regiment #39 marches into the storage box to join her mate.  Like the battalion#1 before, the second battalion calls up Blue Moon foot led by an Eureka mounted colonel.  This battalion of the 39th carries the regimental color. 
Looking over the Zorndorf OB, the Prussians could use a few squadrons of hussars. Next off the painting desk for the 18mm SYW project will be a dozen Prussian hussars from Zieten's regiment.

Before the hussars can muster off the painting desk, a demi-brigade of French line infantry (39 figures) for the 1799 project will next emerge from the workbench.  Several other BMUs are in work too so expect more units filing off from the painting desk in the coming weeks.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Montcalm & Wolfe: Wolfe Hunts Down the French

Wolfe attacks Montcalm's hasty defenses
Montcalm, having been given the boot from Quebec by Wolfe and his regulars, was hotly pursued by the same after receiving safe passage.  Calculating that his force would be unable to outrun his pursuing adversary, Montcalm turned and offered battle.  After a heated exchange, Montcalm gathered his forces and made good an escape.  The French militia having tasted two recent defeats, melted away into the woods on the retreat.  For details of this action, please visit Peter’s Grid Based Wargaming.

After being interrupted by an unexpected British activation, play returns to the French.  Still needing to accomplish more than one activation, the French tempt fate and roll on the Command Table.  This time, the French receive three activations.  

With these activations, Montcalm and his remaining Regulars march to Trois Rivieres and prepare for the inevitable British attack.  One regiment of Regulars travels by bateaux to Trois Rivieres to lend some strength to Moncalm's defense while Drucour marches his force towards Fort Stanwix.

During July attrition, Rigaud's regiment of Irregulars disbands leaving Rigaud with one regiment of Regulars.  During this season, the French lose two regiments to the ravages of hard campaigning.  With only a few viable forces left in the field, the French may have to change their strategy for conducting the war.  Really, only Contrecoeur's isolated force at Fort Niagara remains a threat.  
French Movements July 1758
August 1758
Wanting to hit Montcalm before any more reinforcements arrive and to capture a supply base to avoid attrition in the heat of summer, the British opt for the one automatic Command Point to set Wolfe in motion.  That he does.  With three regiments of Regulars, Wolfe attacks Montcalm at the settlement of Trois Rivieres.

Battle of Trois Rivieres
British: Wolfe (A4D4), 3 x 5-6 Regular regiments
French: Montcalm (A4D4), 2 x 5-6 Regular regiments.

The settlement of Trois Rivieres is situated on the banks of the St Lawrence and St Maurice rivers.  Hasty works have been erected by Montcalm.  Will combat favor the defense?

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Tirol Panorama in Innsbruck

On a recent vacation to Bavaria and the Austrian Tyrol, two nights were spent at Innsbruck as my wife and I adjusted both to an overnight flight and the nine hour time difference from PDT USA.

One of the places on the list of attractions to visit while in Innsbruck was the Tirol Panorama on Bergisel Hill near the base of the Olympic Bergisel Ski Jump.  The panorama is dedicated to the Tyrolean militia's fight against Bavarian attempts to put down a rebellion.  The rebellion around Innsbruck was led by Andreas Hofer whose monument stands near the panorama.
Andreas Hofer Monument
After defeat of Austria during during the War of Third Coalition, control of the Austrian Tyrol was seeded to Bavaria.  When Archduke Charles invaded Bavaria at the outbreak of the 1809 campaign, the Tyrol revolted.  To put down this revolt, Bavarian troops were sent in to squash the rebellion.  Bergisel Hill on the outskirts of Innsbruck was a focal for four battles.  The third battle on 13AUG1809 is the subject of the panorama. 

For a brief history of the third battle, I turn to Wikipedia.
On 13 August, Hofer and 18,000 Tyrolese fought Deroy's division in the third battle of Bergisel. Four Bavarian battalions belonging to General Siebein's 2nd Brigade lost 200 dead and 250 wounded. The 70 companies of rebels lost 100 dead and 220 wounded. After taking hostages from leading local families, Lefebvre abandoned Innsbruck and the last occupation troops were gone from the Tyrol by 18 August.
Speckbacher and 2,000 irregulars attacked the Bavarian garrisons in the villages of Lofer, Luftenstein, Unken, and Mellek on 25 September. Of the 700 soldiers belonging to the Leib Infantry Regiment # 1, 50 were killed and wounded, 300 captured, and 100 missing. The troops were dispersed with only two companies in each village. The detachment in Mellek broke out and retreated north to Bad Reichenhall; the other garrisons were wiped out.  On the same day Haspinger with 2,400 Tyrolese and four guns evicted General-Major Stengel's brigade from the Lueg Pass near Golling an der Salzach. The 3,500 Bavarians and three cannons retreated north to Salzburg. Lefebvre, with 2,000 of Stengel's troops attacked Hallein on 3 October. Haspinger's force, which had lingered in the town, was chased back into the mountains, leaving their six cannons behind.
Andereas Hofer was later betrayed to the French and shot in Mantua 20FEB1810. 

The 360 degree panorama painting depicts the third battle on the Bergisel Heights above Innsbruck.  Enjoy the photos of this marvelous spectacle.
Church in 1809 from painting
Church today from Bergisel Hill
Church close up

Attached to the panaroma by means of an underground passage is the Kaiserjager Regimental Museum.  Plenty of other tourist-worthy sights to see in Innsbruck.  A few of those other sights as well as the Kaiserjager Museum may appear in future posts.