Monday, October 25, 2010

Hurricane Rosbif

Last week saw me back at the club for an other Friday night game, although to be truthful I should have stayed home and gone to bed; a cold with added hayfever left the tabletop figures in danger of being swept away in a hurricane of sneezes. I was taking on the French under the command of Geoff and Andrew S. and was to be partnered by John W. If you've read my previous post, Wargaming as Crack, then you might understand the sense of relief I felt having him on my side of the table (plus he offers invaluable tactical advice)! John didn't turn up for a while and we weren't quite sure if he was coming or not, so the game started with Andrew S. taking control of Geoff's cavalry. If John turned up, reinforcements were to be placed on the board in each respective turn. As it was we only played two turns before John appeared.

Up until reinforcements arrived, I planned on taking a conservative, defensive tack; occupying the town, setting up an anchored line from the town to an infantry square on the right flank. I had my cavalry deployed in column and line on the right as well, although I really should have had them both in line. Out on the left flank, though, I felt I had my best chance to do something offensive (and, no, that doesn't mean lifting my highlanders' kilts in the direction of the French!). I sent the foot battery and three infantry battalions, covered by the 95th rifles out to the left to see what they could do.

The major actions for the night from my side were several cavalry charges, one spectacularly successful, the others not so much; and the left flank where a skirmish combat preceded an infantry charge. Elsewhere on the field, the British slowly moved forward, waiting for a breakthrough opportunity which never came, while the French mainly stood waiting on the defensive.

I tried a charge against the Mamelukes in the centre with my light dragoons, which ended in a minor victory, forcing them back and leaving me occupying the ground. Andrew S. then attempted to move his cuirrassiers to face the threat, but this movement allowed me to declare an opportunity charge by my recently successful light dragoons. There was some controversy about whether or not the Mamelukes could fire on the charging British, which turned out to be moot when it was allowed and they missed anyway. The dragoons careered forward, smashing into the stationery cuirassiers who were repulsed and played no further part in the game. This victory was a typical British cavalry venture as they now found themselves deep in the French line surrounded on 3 sides by infantry. Fired on from both flanks by columns and squares, the cavalry laughed, while incurring casualties by surviving 2 morale tests, but the most threatened unit, a column to the front of the dragoons that was facing at an awkward angle, fired at the cavalry line and managed to do more damage. This time I couldn't repeat my luck in passing my morale test and broke for the rear after suffering 50% casualties. Later on, I tried cracking the Mamelukes with my remaining cavalry, but the dice gods were against me; the best I could do was a draw.

On the left flank, a skirmish combat ebbed and flowed with my 95th rifles supported by light companies from the nearest line battalions slugging it out with the French, while I moved the line battalions further to the left. I skirmished the light battalion which moved up in support on the left. At one stage I had 2 lines facing 1 French line; that was where I should have put my charge in but I was distracted by the skirmish combat. I always think that the skirmishers should be dealt with before the line engages, but, of course, advancing formed troops can always push back a skirmish line. It's something that I need to remember. Anyway, I ended up with a crushing victory over his skirmishers, pushed my formed light troops up on his flank, deployed them into line and fired, but with all these maneuvers so close to his line, I got shot at each time I changed formation and then failed my morale test after losing too many men. You can't make an omelette without breaking eggs; if I'd been successful it would have made the chances of success for the subsequent charge all that greater. As it was, I failed the pre-melee test as my 2 lines went in due to being fired on, having more than one disorder and the fact that a neighbouring unit had just been broken. My charge halted 2" from the enemy in some disorder. Meanwhile my supporting foot gun battery was being obliterated by a French 12lber battery before it could really do any damage to the French infantry. It did have one small victory when I knocked of one enemy gun, but with half the weight of the opposing battery, I was never going to win that one.

I still held the village, although the skirmishers in front of the grenadier line had been wiped out and the French began to advance, but as night ended, neither side had landed a knock out blow. If the game had progressed, the French may have been able to overcome on the left flank. Then there would have been a messy fight for the village. If I could have broken the Mamelukes, John W. would have been presented with a gap in the centre which I'm sure he would have exploited to the fullest. However, time won rather than the British or the French.

My initial dispositions looking from the right

Again from the left

The defensive line from town to square

Light dragoons and horse guns

Geoff's Spanish grenadiers masquerading as French

The cavalry arrive! John W.'s reinforcements

More of John's forces.

His highlander brigade

My left flank

Andrew S.'s reinforcements arrive on the table

His metal Perry cuirassiers

His horse guns and hussars.
(Andrew's figures are some of the best presented in the club IMHO)

Developing skirmish battle

Line battalions moving to the left

Standoff in the centre

More reinforcements

John W.'s right flank

Skirmishers engage

Chaaarge! Light dragoons and Mamelukes clash

Light dragoons oportunity charge the cuirassiers while Mamelukes look on

Victorious cavalry now isolated in sea of infantry. If only Andrew had tried to move that battalion in front!

Column approaches from top of picture and fires on cavalry flank!

That's what I think of you're feeble efforts! Got any more?

Yes! 2nd battalion in square fires into the other flank.

Bah! I laugh at your puny attempts!

Column in front then delivers a volley

Time to run now!

Broken with 6 disorders and 50% casualties

The aftermath of the charge. Those pesky Mamelukes still hold the centre.

The battle starts to form on the left

Portuguese in the town

Skirmish combat continues on the left, while the reformed lights approach in column at the rear.

The French deploy in line to meet my threat. This is where I should have thrown caution to the wind before Geoff had time to bring up his supporting columns.

Skirmish combat ...

...results in a smashing victory to the British!

Meanwhile, I try another, less succesful charge against the Mamelukes with my remaining light dragoons, which results in us just bouncing.

John W.'s forces steadily advance.

Geoff advances his troops in the centre after destroying my skirmish line.

The right flank.

The light infantry approach the French flank in column, while my lines prepare to charge.

I tried to distract the 12lbers by offering a nice juicy column in the village, but to no avail.

The other Portuguese battalion conforms on the British line in the central enclosure.

My horse guns have advanced and had some success against the column in front.

Those $#&! 12 lbers!

My column advances on the left in preparation for deployment against the 2nd French line, while the British line awaits developments.

Broken light-bobs flee!

Line charge goes in anyway!

Again, from another angle looking down the table.
Unfortunately, it didn't succeed!

The butcher's bill for the night. Quite a bloody affair for me; of all 4 players I came off worst, although I did most of the attacking.


  1. I tuned in yesterday to read the report but had to wait till today. I suppose work intervened? Another excellent battle report Monsieur Rosbif. Now that you have two armies to fight with which do you prefer?

  2. Hi
    A nice AAR. Attacking is always a very costly affaire. It is better to wait and to see how your enemy is destroyed by your guns and musket fire!

  3. Thanks for your comments.

    Tim, yes work does tend to intervene! I think with my temperament, playing British suits me best. Aggressive attack a la the French usually ends in tears for me.

    Rafa, although it's best to let the French do the attacking while playing the British, in this instance my flank and the central cavalry combats were really the only opportunity for the British to make any headway. Also, standing and waiting while facing 12lber artillery is even more costly!


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