Tuesday, June 18, 2019

A Tale of Two Battles - Part the First

The Italian infantry brigade.
The only unit to come out of this with their heads held high.

This is the first of two battle reports featuring my French troops against the Russians of Paul C., the first of which I made some abysmal errors and paid the price.

As always, the ridge-line in between the two forces attracted us both, but being closer to Paul meant that he reached it first while my brigade was caught mid-transit over a series of hedges with the resulting disorders weighing them down. I'd also sent my strong artillery contingent that way, planning to set them on top of the ridge, but they found themselves in an awkward position at the bottom of the ridge without a clear target and with friendly infantry about to block their field of fire anyway!

Once Paul set up his dreaded 12 pounder battery, I gave up all hope of ejecting him form the ridge and decided the more open left flank was the place to try an attack, using the occupied village as the hinge between the two flanks of my division. While Bill partnered me with his French division against Vana's Austrians, Garry commanded the Allied cavalry and was playing the role of lurking death well. My planned move out on the left flank had to be done very carefully as Russian dragoons in large numbers, horse artillery and infantry all lurked waiting to pounce on any mistake I made. 

While focusing on the left, I completely took my eye off the ball when I moved my right hand brigade back behind the hedges and left the guns high and dry. Not only did I commit a cardinal sin of removing support for my artillery in the face of the enemy, I also left my infantry columns in a staggered line. This made the task of rolling up the whole brigade so much more easy!

My artillery, left like a shag on a rock, became the target of Paul's converged grenadier regiment. Probably unwisely, my gunners opted to stand to their guns and go down fighting, but they couldn't take enough of the front line to prevent the inevitable mauling. They broke and ran, abandoning their guns! Paul understandably took the breakthrough move, careering over the hedges and into the first of my disordered battalions, who stood and fired at the onrushing mass. With the breaking artillery, being outnumbered 3-1 and a fatally large overlap, the results were inevitable. First one and then another battalion in the way of the wall of Russian green fled to the rear, as broken rabbles! The Russian charge petered out just short of the third and remaining French battalion.

Thankfully, Bill had moved a battery and some supporting cavalry to enfilade Paul's wrecking crew and after a couple of volleys into their flanks, first one and then a second Russian infantry battalion were heading heading to the rear. Huzzah! (thanks Bill!). However, Garry had some Austrian cuirassiers lurking in the gap, so I was reluctant to try to exploit Paul's discomfort with my Italian dragoons. Especially since the cuirassiers and dragoons had had an inconclusive encounter already. 

Anyhoo, that was just a pause in Paul's green steam-roller advance; the poor single battalion leftover from the previous charge did its best to remain while the reserve desperately tried to shift from the flank in time to lend some support, but it was all in vain; it was given the bum's' rush. 

After that, the inevitable was only a matter of time. Garry's cavalry and artillery on my left flank, coupled with a small detachment of infantry had kept my advance pinned. Now Paul's reserves started to advance not only on that flank, but behind his victorious converged grenadiers. My Italian infantry had their work cut out to cover the French retreat without turning into a rout! The only battalions Paul lost were due to Bill's intervention, not my own, so I couldn't even console myself with giving him a bloody nose in the process (oh, the shame...)

My Franco-Italian infantry

I had high hopes for my artillery, but I cocked up where I placed them, so they hardly came into play before they were swept off the field

My small hussar unit and horse-gun battery

The enemy! Garry's dragoons and horse guns on my left flank.

Paul's Russian infantry (boo-hiss!)

Bill's French

Vana's Austrians

Garry's Austrian cavalry in the centre

Things start off ok. I've secured the village, cavalry protecting the flank, reserves ready to go where needed. However, the artillery is stuck behind the infantry on the right flank, a help to neither man nor beast. 

Infantry and artillery scramble through the hedges, incurring disorders for no purpose.

To the left of the village, the Italians wade through the crops to see if there's an opportunity to exploit.

On their way to seize the ridge, my infantry sees the ridge sprout Russian grenadiers

Behind the grenadiers are the &^%$$!! 12 pounders, which will unlimber in the gap between the grenadiers and the village, causing carnage at close range! 

After pulling back behind the hedges, the Mean Green Fighting Machine roars down the slope into everything in its path! The red marker indicates the breakthrough move after smashing the battery.

RUN AWAY! Two batteries and two battalions head for the hills!

The remaining battalion requires a clean change of underwear....

First one...

...then another Russian battalion flee after a judicious application of roundshot to the flank!

My reserves decide it's time to back into the woods in order to attempt stem the rout on the right flank. 

Bill's forces focus on the gaping hole to their left, while my dragoons recover after an inconclusive clash with Garry's cuirassiers

My remaining battalion are shown the door!

The bums' rush!

After a sterling performance, Paul's grenadiers are left out on a limb. Can I exploit their isolated position?

Paul's supports advance to cover his extended grenadiers. The Italians try to stem the tide!

Things look grim for the remaining grenadiers.

Bill's cavalry back up my Italian dragoons.

My infantry on the grenadiers' flank blaze away to little effect!

My reserves come up through the woods to try to anchor the Italian line.

The village is re-occupied to offer a defensive anchor point, but those damned 12 pounders are at point blank range!

They also have a potential flank shot on the Italian line.
Uncommitted reserves advancing behind the artillery ensures my fate is all but guaranteed!

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Life Goes On

My mother-in-law, Rosemary, died suddenly a week and a half ago due to complications with the surgery she decided in the end to have. Either way, she was faced with a terrible choice; a slow deterioration which could rob her of a meaningful life, or a risky operation which offered her a chance of total recovery or catastrophic failure. After a week in which her symptoms only got worse, she opted to take the surgery with the proviso that if anything went wrong, she would be allowed to die without intervention. The surgeries themselves went without a hitch; it was just her body's reaction to them that was the risk factor, and unfortunately the worst happened. She died after a very rapid deterioration in her condition a week and a half ago. 

We said goodbye to her yesterday in a moving ceremony where my stepfather-in-law read out not only his own eulogy, but a letter Rosemary had written to her grandchildren. Each of the four grandkids was presented with a little enamel box and instructed to fill it with things that bring them happiness and that they'll only find these things if they go out and live their lives to the fullest.. If they aren't filled it's a sign that they are not trying hard enough. There was not a dry eye in the house. I'm typing through a mist of tears just thinking about it now!

We were expecting around forty people to turn up on the day, but were staggered to find nearly double turned up to farewell Rosemary. A true indication of a life well lived, even if it was cut short. She was only 69.

On to more happy things, as life does go on; my latest units off the workbench; An Italian Light Infantry battalion (the 1° Reggimento Fanteria Leggera) using HaT's light infantry figures and a couple head swaps on the officer and kneeling voltiggiatore. The link takes you to the Napitalia site for the regiment, but the details on that site don't mention plumes, so I used a little artistic license. My Italians have lacked a light infantry arm for a while now, so that hole has finally been filled!

The other finished unit is a white faced British infantry unit, either the 32nd or 59th Foot. They are not from the order of battle the rest of my British infantry are from, just an addition using the available flags I still have knocking around!

I decided on this colour scheme before I started research on what I needed to recreate the Albuera order of battle (a long-standing goal for my allied forces). I found out, too late, that there were no regiments with white facings present at Albuera! Oh, well....

I used a mix of figures, but gave them a touch of uniformity by giving them all heads from the HaT Peninsular War British Infantry set. I think it worked out well seeing there a figures from 3 different manufacturers; Strelets, HaT and Waterloo 1815. The command figures (except for one of the colour bearers) and grenadiers are all Strelets, the advancing figure in the forage cap and the figure ramming a cartridge down the barrel are Waterloo 1815, while the rest are HaT figures with their own heads! Apart from the chunky Strelets muskets, I think they match up quite well with the same heads. I'm pleased with the results anyway!

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