Friday, June 21, 2019

A Tale of Two Battles - Part the Second

After the battle recorded in the previous post, I felt I had unfinished business with Paul and his Russians, so I challenged him to a game the following Saturday club meeting. Vana joined us again with his Austrians, and Ian, returning to the Napoleonic fold, partnered me with his French.

This time Paul had an idea to make the game more of a challenge by adding a string of impassable marshy ponds down the middle of the table, in effect creating 3 avenues for attack. I think he may have come to regret his decision!

Where Ian's and my forces brushed elbows in the centre of the table was one avenue, which I left mainly to Ian. On my left flank was another between a marsh and a village. The woods and fields to the right of this village meant any advance from that direction would end up with multiple disorders, so having learnt my lesson from the previous game, I decided that my brigade on that flank would stand on the defensive and protect Ian's left flank. If Paul wanted to attack over all that, he was welcome!

The left flank provided much better options, especially as I'd organised a combined arms advance with an overpowering superiority in artillery. This time I wasn't going to waste my guns and advanced with proper support. The whole force had a protective skirmish screen out in front and a strong second line to either protect the flank or exploit any breakthrough.

Paul seemed focused on the central avenue, where he was aiming his cavalry and his dreaded 12 pounders. Fortunately, he didn't have much of a target as I kept my troops behind the lee of the nearest hill. On the left, I was screened by the village and his own troops for the time being.  

Paul occupied the village and moved his infantry into closed column to counter the cavalry threat posed by my Italian dragoons moving around the left flank. All that did was make lip-smacking targets for my artillery. Once I got my skirmish screen out of the way, his infantry suffered the attention of two 8-gun foot batteries and one 6-gun horse battery. Ouch!

In an effort to mitigate the cavalry threat, Paul moved a couple of infantry battalions into the woods to have a flank shot on any forward movement by my cavalry. I have a long history of throwing away my cavalry too early, so I decided patience was a virtue and left them where they were, sheltered on the left by the nearest marshy pond, while bringing up some infantry to potentially deal with the Russian lurkers in the woods at a later stage.

Meanwhile, in the centre, Vana and Ian were having a backwards and forwards, to and fro, hammer and tongs, cavalry and infantry, Clash of the Titans arm wrestle in the extremely restricted central corridor. Ian had set up an anchored line with cavalry support, daring Vana to attack. Vana was forced to go in piecemeal because he couldn't deploy the forces he needed to really apply pressure. Besides some opportunistic clashes, I think their flank was relatively quiet for most of the game.

Paul decided discretion was the better part of valour and began backing off on the flank, unable to withstand the pressure of the artillery. I even managed to get one Russian battalion to retreat after inflicting too many casualties! I could have possibly forced the issue and attacked up that corridor, but with Russian infantry covering the approach on both flanks, I wasn't sold on the idea. Especially when it seemed Paul was switching his attention to the centre. He deployed troops from the village to threaten the flanks of my central infantry brigade, so I began redeploying my reserves and artillery to try and counter this threat. In the meantime, one of the central battalions had to turn to face the threat, thus weakening the line facing the approaching enemy infantry. This made it a target for the 12 pounder battery, which mauled it in typical fashion in some of its only action of the game.

Approaching my central brigade through a ploughed field surrounded by a stone wall was Paul's light infantry brigade. I was relatively confident that they could be contained, because I had uncommitted reserves and was bringing my batteries over to the centre. Even if they could damage my infantry facing them, I Paul didn't have the troops to exploit any breakthrough, whereas I had the infantry to go on the counter attack. I just had to get them in place. He, meanwhile, was advancing through difficult terrain. My right hand columns were in closed column due to the threat posed by some Austrian dragoons, so Paul angled his attack to focus on the right hand light infantry battalion. the whole brigade stood and fired. It wasn't enough to stop the charge, but it did some damage and with the general attached, the right hand column was only forced to retire. The Russians ended up just short of Ian's infantry square and with an exposed flank. Needless to say, in my next turn, the nearest battalion moved up and fired into their flank. With their disorders and an unfavourable die roll, they were soon running for the rear! The other two Jaeger battalions charged directly ahead and met my other battalions in an inconclusive draw, both being forced back off the hill with disorders.

Vana then followed up with a cavalry charge from his small dragoon regiment to dissuade me from following up my success. I'd already formed the column into closed column, so I wasn't too worried, and with supporting fire from Ian's square and my neighbouring column, the charge was repulsed.

By this stage, Paul's infantry had nothing left and, from memory, Vana's had shot its bolt and crashed against Ian's steadfast line.

My French forces boldly stepping off. Will they do better than last game?

Paul's Russians divided between the flank....

...and the centre.
His 12 pounder battery spent most of the game pivoting left and right behind the village, only unlimering and firing a couple of times all game. Phew!

Ian partnered me with his French, mainly focusing on defending the central corridor.

Vana's Austrians began looking like they'd try going around the flank...

....rather than the centre.

Paul began strongly in closed column to claim the village.

He moved a small force into the woods on the far left flank to dissuade me from trying to move too far forward.

He was worried about my Italian dragoons (as well he should!)

My Legere skirmish line was ineffectual and was going to get in the way of the artillery, anyway.

So they scooted off to allow the guns to have an unimpeded field of fire. The battalion on the left copped it something shocking!.

The skirmishers redeployed to the centre where they acted as the eyes for the battalions hiding from the 12 pounder battery on the reverse slope.

Ian forms up an anchored line in the face of Vana's combined arms advance.

Ian's chasseurs launch an opportunity charge at Vana's infantry in just about the only clash on the right flank all afternoon. That put the brakes on any further Austrian advance and devolved into back and forth artillery volleys.

Ian deploys his dragoons in front of his anchored line in preparation to charge the guns.

Meanwhile, my guns are taking a toll on Paul's closed columns

Paul's infantry in the ploughed field and his cavalry seem more interested in what's going on with the Austrians. My infantry are still keeping their heads down as Paul's artillery dither.

My dragoons weigh up the odds.

Infantry come up in support, possibly to clear out the woods on the flank to allow the cavalry a free hand.

Ian charges the guns!

While the horse guns limber and flee, the nearest infantry is extremely lucky and forms square in the nick of time!
Vana's cavalry then charge Ian's blown and disordered dragoons...

...who are forced to withdraw!

I was severely tempted to push on around the left flank...

...but things started to develop in the centre! My left hand battalion had to turn to face the threat to its flank, while the rest of the brigade face the infantry and cavalry threat to the front. 

My guns limber and redeploy to the centre.

The crisis point of the game is reached! Ian's infantry is faced by Paul's cavalry and a remnant of Vana's infantry. My columns on the hill are facing a massed formation of Jaegers.

The Jaegers charge my light infantry in closed column, who can't bear the 

the nearest two battalions have been forced off the hill, perfectly positioned to get into the flank of  Paul's isolated columns!

After changing into closed column, my nearest battalion then pivots and fires into the Russians' flank!

They vacate the area forthwith (indicated by the white die on the hill).
My artillery has now deployed at close range to pound the nearest Russkis, while fresh reserves approach.

Still trying to keep the pressure up on the left flank, but the Russian infantry just keeps backpedalling!

Vana's last roll of the dice: his cavalry charges in, but accurate defensive fire stops the charge in its tracks!

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!

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