Saturday saw us at the Croydon venue of the club again, with 3 games of 4 players on each table for a bit of a Napoleonic-fest; 2 a-historical French vs. the rest and 1 1806 French vs. Prussians mainly using Tim's freshly painted figures (I think the paint was dry!) plus Darren's steadily growing collection of beautifully painted Eureka Republican French infantry figures (some photos of that game are included at the bottom of this post).
I partnered Jim and his Russians with my Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish against Guru Andrew and newcomer to the rules, Tony (who also featured in one of my earliest posts; the SYW weekend in 2010!). I justified our alliance by theorising that the Russian fleet blockaded in Lisbon harbour in 1808 was actually a troop transport fleet, and after a while the Russian commander did a Yorck and went rogue, offering his troops for service under Wellington before 1812. By 1813, they were seasoned troops with a leavening of freshly supplied conscripts labourisly shipped via the Royal Navy through the Baltic and Atlantic, or the Black and Mediterranean Seas.
Anyhow, Russians and Anglo-Portuguese it was. Facing us were 1813 rated French, with the assistance of a Polish brigade and one small battalion of Wurzburgers. In our rules Polish troops get a +1 bonus on their melee dice rolls when fighting Russians. Guess who they were facing? (More by happy chance than calculation, though!). Tony had a brigade of dragoons on his flank, supported by a horse gun battery, so I positioned my light dragoons and the RHA battery to counter this threat. I didn't have room to deploy both squadrons in line, so I could have been vulnerable early on while one was still in column. The plan from the start was to seize the central built-up area and form a defensive line on either side. I was going to put my Spaniards in the BUAs as they were the weakest and would have a better chance against the enemy by holding the buildings rather than facing them in the open. The French gained the initiative and got there first, so, like a lot of plans, it didn't last the glare of reality, melting away in the heat of battle. Jim then decided to go for the BUAs with his reserve, but was repulsed with losses on the first attempt. I'd formed a line from the woods on my left, linking up with my cavalry, to the hill in the centre in front of the BUA. I performed a passage of lines between the Spaniards and the Portuguese in case the Portos were needed to crack the BUA after Jim's initial repulse. He decided to put in his heavy mob, the grenadiers, including the Pavlovs in their funny hats! The other battalion shall remain nameless (mainly because I forgot what they were called! Sorry Jim.). No problems there; his grenadiers kicked the doors in and chased off the French after destroying 2/3rds of the battalion holding the BUA! He took the breakthrough and continued on, following one victory with another and seizing the second BUA from the French. This was a risky gamble, as, although victorious, his grenadiers had copped the maximum 6 disorders and were faced by a large number of fresh, angry Frenchmen! He may have been better off staying put in the first BUA as I was getting ready to seize the second with my Portuguese brigade, but language barriers and no direct general-to-general communication put paid to that. Instead, I moved my stronger Portuguese battalion into the recently vacated BUA to hold for the allies.
On the left I kept my cavalry in hand (a rare occurrence for me; I tend to act like a typical British cavalryman and 'gallop at everything'!) and plugged away with the RHA battery who seemed to have their eye in that day. I concentrated on the right hand squadron of dragoons and whittled them down considerably. I had advanced the guns far enough that the target was in medium range and the woods were on their right flank offering easy cover if they were charged. Tony's guns, however, were still shooting at long range and apart from one lucky shot where his guns took my cavalry brigadier's head off, they didn't do that much damage. Obviously my cavalrymen are made of steel as they looked at his bleeding, headless corpse, shrugged and kept their position (ie. they passed their morale test with flying colours!).
I'd put the 50th Foot in line in the woods with the 5/60th rifles in front in the hope that if Tony sent his infantry forward, they'd be disordered by the woods as well as the skirmish fire of the rifles. Tony unformed a whole infantry battalion to counter the threat and a desultory skirmish combat ensued that did more damage to the flora and fauna of the woods than to each other. Eventually the weight of numbers told and, even though I detached the light companies of the nearest line battalions, I lost a couple of figures to artillery fire and the skirmishing, which resulted in my skirmish screen being repulsed. Tony's skirmishers then advanced to try their luck against the line regiments, but his dice rolling wasn't up to the task and a lot of powder was wasted on both sides.
I pulled the 50th and 92nd back and deployed the 3rd into line from the foot battery near the BUA to join up with the 92nd line in a V-formation that would create a lovely cross-fire in addition to the artillery fire.The Spaniards and the remaining Portuguese formed the reserve. Jim's Russians in the forward BUA were looking vulnerable as Tony massed his battalions to prepare a killer blow against the disordered grenadiers. On Jim's side he'd tried a charge into the woods with a brigade who decided that the forest was a bit too dark and scary and stopped their charge 2" with 2 disorders while the Poles and Wurzburgers pointed and laughed.
Next turn Tony put in his brigade-sized charge against the grenadier-occupied BUA and sent them and the neighbouring grenadier battalion scurrying for the rear. He then tried something I wasn't expecting and moved his depleted dragoon squadron into the centre to threaten my infantry line. I hastily formed my Cacadores into square behind the foot battery and the Spanish light infantry into closed column, as they were the most directly threatened units. I plugged the gap between the foot battery and the remaining BUA in our hands with my weaker Portuguese line battalion, which just fitted in the gap in line. I banked on my battalions in line being able to form square if the dragoons charged, but luckily I didn't need to find out as I neutralised the threat with my cavalry.
I advanced both squadrons of light dragoons in line to fit in the gap between the woods and the edge of the world so that his remaining dragoon squadron was threatened with overwhelming numbers. This caused Tony to abort his cavalry foray to his left and face the threat. My dead-eyed RHA battery knocked off one more figure from the returning squadron, which caused them to fail their morale test and retire. Not fatal for them, but it was enough to keep them out of the following cavalry clash. I then ordered my LD brigade to charge the remaining dragoon squadron. I tried my hardest to fail, but just couldn't quite manage it(:-P)! Even though my melee quality was 2 points better, and I had a general attached, and had a 4 figure overlap and an extra 6 figures, Tony rolled better than I did and I squeaked in for a minor victory. I took the breakthrough and continued the charge on to the horse battery whose crew took to their heels and hid in the woods to the rear. My extended cavalry line now had its right flank exposed, no longer protected by the woods. Tony had a battalion of legere perfectly placed to pivot through 90o and fire in my flank. He did this, failed to hit anything and the ensuing morale test resulted in my cavalry staying rooted to the spot (the right flank troopers coughed through the smoke, dusted the powder off their jackets and spat at the advancing French infantry!). Sensibly, the cavalry then withdrew their flank to protect themselves and to present a more threatening face to the French infantry.
Tony's other offensive action towards the end was an attack on the Portuguese held BUA, which I'd fortunately moved my divisional commander to, as I could see what was about to come next. His brigade-strength attack failed because I knocked a figure from the front line as well as having the general, plus a favourable die roll which all resulted in a repulsed the attack. If the general hadn't been there, or had been killed, I wouldn't have beaten him off!
Tony also tried a late offensive move in the centre, sending an artillery battered infantry battalion in against the Buffs. I scored a free shot as he moved into range, and then another after he fired. He missed, but I took a figure off with my first shot and missed with the second. If the game had lasted any longer, I would have swept them aside and launched a general advance on this flank, supported by the cavalry in the flank. It was Tony's only real mistake for the day and as the game was over bar the shouting, he managed to escape any real punishment. A creditable start to his Cold Steel career!
The game had come to an abrupt end on the other flank too, after the Poles and Wurzburgers had picked themselves off the forest floor, they launched a charge at Jim's poor old conscripts who'd failed their earlier charge and completely smashed them. This signaled a general advance of the French line which crushed the Russians resulting in a failed divisional morale check. Even if I had have had the opportunity to exploit any French weaknesses on my flank, Andrew had put paid to that by completely exposing my right flank.
I played a better game with the British this time, keeping a tight rein on the cavalry and keeping the infantry in a strong defensive line. I think I was lucky to have escaped any punishment in the centre where I could have been vulnerable if the second BUA had fallen, but it held so the rest of the line was safe. I was also lucky that my cavalry were stout hearted men who survived 2 morale checks!
A very enjoyable game.
|The bold-hearted allies! Huzzah!|
|The Buffs on debut|
|The Portuguese brigade including the 6th Cacdores, also on debut.|
|The black-hearted foe! Boo-Hiss!|
|The Pavlov Grenadiers. Pavlov, Pavlov....that name rings a bell!|
|Andrew's Poles. Another couple of units making their debut (I think).|
|The race for the BUAs is won by the French.|
|The 50th Foot and 92nd Highlanders shake out into line|
|The foot battery tries a long-distance shot to discourage the French attempt to take the town. It didn't work!|
|Jim sends his first lot in to take the BUA.|
|But wait...there's more!|
|The cavalry on the flank|
|The French securely ensconced in the BUAs|
|Jim's charge goes in...|
|...but is repulsed!|
|He sends his grenadiers in to do the job properly, while my Portuguese wait in support.|
|Tony unforms one battalion to take on my riflemen.|
|The line waits...|
|The skirmish combat continues, but the only victims are a few nesting birds and a squirrel!|
|The LD pull back and both shake out into line...|
|...while the opposition waits for an oppportunity|
|Jim's tons'o'guns with cavalry support...|
|...faced by Andrew's Polish infantry and a half-battery of horse guns...|
|...and Polish lancers and another half-battery.|
|Jim's other battery has taken losses in an artillery duel!|
|Tony's lucky shot: a 10 on a d10 followed by another...|
|...resulting in a decapitated cavalry brigadier!|
|Was there a man dismayed? No!|
|The light companies of the 50th and 92nd move up to support the skirmish line, and the 92nd light company was immediately destroyed by artillery fire on the far side.|
|Jim's grenadiers charge and the Pavlovs take casualties from the defensive fire...|
|...but are victorious!|
|The remains of the French battalion flee into the distance!|
|Jim decides 'When you're on a roll...'|
|'...keep on rolling!' His grenadiers seize the 2nd BUA but are now both on the maximum 6 disorders!|
|My skirmishers bow to the inevitable weight of numbers and are repulsed.|
|Tony's skirmishers advance to take on the line but can't hit a barn door at point blank range!|
|The Buffs deploy into line making a v-shaped cone of destruction for any so foolish as to enter!|
|The Russians briefly occupy the left BUA, while the Portuguese have taken over the newly vacated right BUA. The rest of the Portuguese and Spanish form the reserve.|
|Still a lot of French in the distance!|
|Jim's grenadiers looking worried!|
|My sharp-shooting RHA take another dragoon!|
|The enemy facing me. Jim's position looking grim in the nearest BUA.|
|Jim's conscripts refusing to enter the woods. You can hear the laughing if you listen carefully!|
|The inevitable charge to reclaim the BUA...|
|...resulting in the flight of the occupying battalion. On the bright side, they can't get anymore disorders!|
|The victors about to slice through the Pavlovs, too.|
|Tony sends his weaker dragoon squadron to the right to join his infantry!|
|Form square, Cacadores!|
|My cavalry line swings around and the guns fire on the nearest infantry|
|I was sweating bricks at this point; If the infantry at the BUA supported an advance by the cavalry and the artillery I was in big trouble!|
|My cavalry threat was too great, so Tony decided to return his dragoons, only to be greeted by a hail of 6lber balls...|
|...which finally forced a morale check and resulted in them retiring.|
|That was the signal for the LD brigade to CHAAARGE! forcing the remaining French dragoons back...|
|...and exposing the guns whose crew sensibly fled to the woods.|
|My right flank was now exposed, though.|
|Meanwhile, the attack on the Portuguese-held BUA failed thanks to General Rosbif attaching himself to the battalion!|
|The Poles' hot knife going through Jim's Russian butter!|
|The French infantry fire on the LD's flank, followed by... Nothing! They stood and sneered at the infantry!|
|Tony's last, rash attempt at breaching my line|
|It didn't matter, because Jim was in all sorts of bother on the right!|
|Tim's Prussian Cavalry: 1 regiment's worth!|
|Prussian infantry and guns|
|Darren's beautifully painted ragged Revolutionary infantry|
|The French bringing it to the Prussians|
|The Prussian flank under pressure.|