Monday, June 29, 2009

Colour plates, Camsix round-up and a new jib... whew...

So what's been happening... I have a curious nagging feeling that not enough wargaming is going on, but as I'm Renaissance man these days, and don't currently have enough time even to draw breath, I also suspect that even if I wanted to I wouldn't have the time! I blame it on the weather - I find it difficult to sit down to painting and the like when the weather outside is glorious (and the tide is in!)

Which isn't to say that wargaming hasn't been going on as DG and I are continuing with the Camsix game which increasingly is looking like the denouement for the campaign... read on for a summary of moves 4 to 9...

Move 4:

The Militia and the hussars of the Legion continue to rout - in order to stiffen their resolve I move some staff officers to join them (they add bonuses for the morale throws).

DG continues the general advance - so many troops - slightly unnerving!

Move 5:

First piece of good news in a while, the hussars of Lauzun's Legion rally... well... halt shaken anyway!

With the very rough handling of my advance guard complete (see here and here) I can see that DG has now started to manoeuvre so as to nullify the benefits of my field works. His troops are moving in echelon to the east - it's clear he's looking to try and outflank the field works and bring his superior numbers to bear.

Move 6:

The hussars recover fully, but the Militia continue to rout and in this turn hit zero strength points and cease to be an effective unit and are removed from the table.

NB. As this is a campaign I dice to see if they surrender, or survive to reform at a later date - happily it is the latter..

Move 7:

An hour into the game in real time and the first of DG's forces enter from the south of the table. I've already limbered one of my guns with the idea of moving it to the east to help bolster my open flank..

I also move up Lauzun's to cover DG's flank... hopefully this will worry him slightly..

Move 8:

To the south of the river I move the Militia (MM4) out of the house and closer to the bridge - lot of troops coming up including two squadrons of horse and two regiments of Brunswick foot.

Not much to look forward to in this move, but one good piece of news is that DG's Rangers who have been routing since about move 2 finally hit zero and are removed from the table (and when the campaign saving throw dice are rolled, they come up with a "surrender" result!)

Move 9:

OK - time to take the bull by the horns - at the bridge I move the spare Militia unit to cover the river bank, and the artillery that was destined for the east is also moved to cover the bridge - the last thing I need is to be attacked in the rear. On the other side of the river I move the other Militia regiment in to the house nearest the bridge. I also about face on of my two crack French regiments and ready them to move.

In the British move the American artillery finally opens fire (reduced ranges because of night time and this is the first time I've had a target). No effect but its good to be hitting back..!

More anon... stay tuned.


Now a book review (told you I hadn't been idle) - it's been a bit of a Zulu'fest in Steve the Wargamers house recently with two books showing different approaches...

The first, and the one that started all of this, was the new novel by Saul David called "Zulu Hart". Now I've seen this in the bookshop a few times and thought it would be right up my street, so when I saw it in the library I snapped it up - hey, a free read is a free read...!

Saul David is a well known military historian with a background in Victorian colonial warfare - he's written a handful of books on the subject, including a number on the Zulu's but this is his first novel.

The main character is a chap called Zulu Hart - the illegitimate son of a half Irish half Zulu actress, and a highly placed member of British society. Due to this status Hart never gets to meet his father, and in fact only finds out he's still alive on his 18th birthday.

He's told by his mother who at the same time hands over a document from him that bequeaths Hart large amounts of money providing he fulfils a number of actions with a period of time - the end objective of these actions being to encourage a military career...

So - already armed with a sense of injustice Hart proceeds on his career to try and meet the objectives... at which point, having suspended belief enough (because I wanted to enjoy the story) I kind of gave up - though I did finish the book..

I quite expected the author to know his stuff and so it turned out to be, but the characters are right out of Victorian melodrama, all moustache twirling and wicked, or very very nice by turn... the one normal character is killed at Isandlwana, and of course despite being the most junior lieutenant in the entire army Hart knows exactly what is going wrong while no-one else has a clue (which may be quite accurate!). He then gets to Rorkes Drift and single-handedly persuades Chard and Bromhead to not abandon the post, and then shows them how to fortify it..... blah blah blah...

Disappointing I'm afraid... Steve the Wargamer gives this one 3 out of 10.

Next up though is a book on the period that I first read years ago, and turned out to be an entirely different kettle of fish. "Captain Carey's Blunder" is one of that series of historical books by the godfather Don Featherstone that also included "Macdonald of the 42nd", "All for a Shilling a Day" etc

The book covers the death of the French Crown Prince Imperial, Louis Bonaparte (the son of Napoleon III - full name Napoléon Eugène Louis Jean Joseph) while in South Africa "serving" with the British army under Chelmsford. At the time he and his mother were in exile in Britain (his father had died earlier) and since he had been encouraged in a military career since the moment he was born (how could he not? he was a Bonaparte.. apparently he had a full Imperial Guard Grenadier uniform including busby at the age of two!) he had enrolled in the British army.

It was quite obvious he was what we would now call a right royal pain in the ar*e - that's him to the left and I think the face gives some of it away - it was clear that the British government would never knowingly put him in harms way (it reminded me a little of the recent arguments about letting Prince William and Harry go to Afghanistan), but he did everything he could to make sure he did get in harms way.

One way or another he ended up in South Africa with the avowed aim of making his name so that it would bolster support for a return to France.

While he was there, through a quite unplanned mistake, he found himself in a mapping party with a Captain (then Lieutenant) Carey, when the party were surprised by a party of Zulu's and the Prince was killed while the rest of the party escaped.

Not surprisingly there was huge uproar in Britain with all elements of the press and public expressing their opinion about whether Carey did enough to rescue the prince, whether he should have done things differently, even whether he was in charge of the party in the first place - fresh from the debacle at Isandlwana Chelmsford was very defensive, and in the end Carey became a bit of a scapegoat until public opinion and a very poorly run Court Martial resulted in him being acquitted....

What a cracking book - I'd quite forgotten how engaging a writer Don is, and I fairly raced through this one. Huge amounts of research including lots of original newspaper and magazine articles make this a very interesting read.

Steve the Wargamer gives this one a definite 8 out of 10


Lastly - two snippets - first off I've added two new links to the War of the Spanish Succession project page. The first to "Histoire de l'ancienne infanterie française" by Louis Susane which is a superb collection of colour plates of the French Army of the Ancienne Regime. Also a link to an article on the Dutch Army in the Vae Victis magazine. My thanks to the warsoflouisxiv blog (click here) for the "heads up" on these. Lovely - look under the French and Dutch Army link sections ont he right....

On the sailing front... there was no sailing this weekend.... no wind and no time... but the new jib has been deployed and I'm really looking forward to trying it for the first time!

...and that really is enough for now...

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Battle of Camsix - pictures from the front..

Apologies for the delay but I finally managed to find dome time to apply finger to shutter and get some pictures of the table top action that is currently being documented in my two previous posts on the Battle of Camsix.

As you know DG (my regular opponent) and I are using Battle Chronicler to play the game for the simple reason that DG lives a couple of hundred miles away, but even I can't miss out on the opportunity to push some lead around even if it is only to show the action on the actual table top that is being fought on the virtual table top!

So without further ado then here's the action from moves 1 and 2... these are the two engagements that the British cavalry earned their battle honours in.

First off we have the engagement that resulted in the the American Dragoons routing from the field...

In the first picture, the American Militia (in the distance) have just seen off the Rangers, the American Dragoons have just crossed the fence line only to see the British cavalry move up - sabres glinting in the sun...

The American Militia fire in an attempt to stop the cavalry in their tracks - unfortunately unsuccessful (it must have been the angle they were firing at!) The "smoke" by the way is authentic welsh sheep wool rescued from a wire fence near DG's house - looks much better than cotton wool....

So having seen off the American Dragoons, the British cavalry align themselves to deal with the Militia and (in the distance) the hussars of Lauzun's Legion. Little was I to know what an impact this little engagement would have! The Militia and the Hussars had combined to see off one of DG's Ranger units when they should have pushed on to safety... caught napping the British cavalry commander must have been quite literally licking his his little metal lips!!

In the ensuing skirmish the British cavalry saw off the Militia, and in a very unusual situation (for us - I can't think of more than 3 or 4 other games where the cavalry have managed to get a second charge in all the games DG and I have played) charged home ont he Hussars and drove them off as well...
I think we're enjoying the game - DG will soon tell me if he isn't - I know he's enjoying it more than I am but the luck will turn... he said hopefully! We're just about to start turn 8, so in the next post I'll bring you up to date.. suffice to say the pace of the battle has slowed down now that the initial skirmishes have finished - major manoeuvring is now the name of the game.


Been a while, so what about the sailing trips?

14th June:

Last weekend involved a quick sail in winds far stronger than we should really have been out in, but everything had gone OK until the wind picked up just as we were turning for home. In the strong winds I had turned into the wind to put some reefs in and while the jib was rattling about some of the stitching had given away. I always knew that a replacement was on the card so it wasn't too much of a surprise - the jib is much older than my main so I'd already planned on replacing it. The new jib is now on order and due to arrive this week which is a bit exciting...

Distance: 3.5 miles (39.5 miles year to date)
Wind: Moderate (Force 4 gusting 5)

21st June:

Over the weekend just gone (Fathers Day here in the UK) I managed to get a couple of days on the boat - Saturday to do some maintenance and repairs which among other things included unattaching the mast so as to do some maintenance on my roller furling gear (that's one to the left - the things you learn on a wargaming blog!) Don't ask, by the way, when we were getting the boat ready at the beginning of the season we had to "drop" the mast so as to do some work on the electrics and when we put it back up we must have put the furler on back to front! .

Everything went ahead as planned and it's always a boost when you do succeed at something difficult that you've been thinking and planning about for far too long...

On the Sunday of this weekend, and to celebrate Fathers Day, the two little'uns and I went on a massive 'voyage' ending up within about 50 yards of the open sea - it was a lovely days sailing was basically just a long run down wind, sitting in the sun and looking at all the boats... fantastic, and massively relaxing..

Distance: 11.5 miles (51 miles year to date)
Wind: Light (Force 1 gusting 3)

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Battle of Camsix, turns 2 & 3..

Time to catch up on the events at Armageddon, sorry Camsix...

Move 2

You may remember that in move 1 (which you can read here, with my advance guard perilously positioned in advance of my main army, DG had launched an attack. In move 1 therefore, my efforts were largely focused on getting my advance guard back to the main lines and out of harms way.

Move 1 had gone OK on the whole, but ended with DG charging my cavalry (4DG in the pictures). Constrained by the terrain, they were unable to turn and were then very roughly handled by DG’s Dragoons (C2) - click on any of the pictures/maps for a bigger clearer view

Move 2 then started with the American’s (me) determined to extract those troops from their exposed position but with DG’s Rangers (I2) in some disarray just to my front I decided that rather than ignore them I’d sweep them away on my way back… hindsight is a wonderful thing of course, but I really should have gone round them and carried on – you’ll find out why in a minute!

Anyway - in the ensuing melee, I moved Lauzun's (L) on to their flank while attacking frontally with the Militia light infantry (MM3) – the Rangers were unable to stop the charge and when DG drew the cards they broke and routed to the south.

It then started to go downhill rapidly… in DG’s move, as I suspected, he charged home on the Militia lights with his cavalry. The angles were such that the Militia couldn’t turn to face, but had to suffer the charge in the flank uncontested.. I guess the jury is still out on whether DG could still have done this had I ignored the Rangers and moved on, but I think that the result would probably have been the same whether I had or hadn't!

Sabres flashing, DG's Dragoons proceeded to ride over my Militia like they weren’t even there….

“The bugle sounds as the charge begins
But on this battlefield no one wins
The smell of acrid smoke and horses breath
As you plunge into a certain death” (Iron Maiden – “The Trooper”)

…and having gathered breath on the other side, they then found themselves in charge reach of Lauzun’s Hussars as well!

Charging on, DG’s dragoons put Lauzun's to flight as well (and in the process earn the first honours of the battle).. in the following you'll note that DG and I are using a Battle Chronicler feature to note morale status, in this case red for rout (and yellow for shaken)
Move 3

Time for the Americans to test morale on the routed units – one success, one not, and one disaster! The Militia recovered one morale status to become shaken, but the cavalry both failed, and in the case of my dragoons this was enough to reduce the unit to zero points. In campaign games DG and I agree to dice for what the unit then does - surrender (ie. disappears from the campaign) or rally on the general (ie. we dice for recovery of lost strength points and dice for when they are recovered). In this case despite a healthy weighting, the dice come up "surrender"... things are going downhill fast....

Having fired unsuccessfully on them in the first part of the move, when DG became the moving player (the rules we use divined the move into two turns or phases, where players move and fire by turn – in this game I move in the first turn/phase of the move, and fire in the second, with DG doing the opposite) he charges home on the shaken militia.

The amount of mis-handling they’ve already had is enough to see them break and run before the cavalry even come to contact….

Like I said - not good! Move 4 to come.....

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Armageddon... or the Battle of Camsix, part 1...

Not with a bang or a whimper, I think that DG and I have reached what may well be the denouement of our long fought campaign - you may remember that he and started this in March last year, in fact the first post was on March 4th so we have been (mostly!) enjoying this for exactly 15 months now! For those mad enough to want to read it, or interested enough (!), the full campaign diary can be found over on my Campaign Diary blog (link to the left)

Anywhoo, the point has now been reached in the campaign where having manoeuvred long enough, DG's numerical force has decided to take on my smaller, but dug in, force in order to meet the campaign winning criteria.

As mentioned previously, we are using Battle Chronicler to document moves between the two armies - to echo Jeff's comment on the last post this doesn't replace for me the beauty and joy of placing little metal men on a well laid out wargame table, but it is extremely useful when it comes to playing a game across the ether...

So... the battlefield is as follows - with Camsix in the left upper quadrant. All slopes are gentle, the river is impassable over its entire length with the exception of the bridge. The grid is 2' square - Battle Chronicler however allows you to zoom in, and at the zoomed in view I'm using a 1" grid to allow accurate measurement of movement...(as usual - clicking on any of the pictures will give a far better/bigger view)

With regards to the timing of the battle - one interesting side effect of campaigning is that a campaign often throws you a curve ball that a simple set-up game doesn't. In this particular case the curve ball is the fact that the battle is starting at 11PM in game time. DG and I have agreed therefore, that we need a couple of additional rules - specifically, all visibility is limited to 12", if you can't see what you want to fire at, you can't fire at all. If a target is visible, then units an fire but we have added an additional -1 firing modification.

US Forces are as follows:

I can't be precise on the strength points (fog of war and a long campaign!) but the British have the following strength - those shaded green are present on the battlefield.. some of the others (cavalry and light infantry) are close and will arrive in the upper left quadrant - I've left a battalion of Light Infantry there to watch my back!

In the deployment phase the units are then laid out as follows to conform with their last positions on the campaign map... DG's better at doing this than I am, so I usually go with his version of the file rather than mine!

Some interesting tactical decisions (or "curve balls") to have to deal with for both of us...

  • You'll notice that there are some brown oblongs in front of the American units (NY Infantry, the Bourbonnais, and the Artillery) - these represent trench works that I've had my infantry building while I watched the British advance...
  • When night fell I had pushed forward my best "listening" units to ensure I didn't get surprised - which explains why the two cavalry units, and a regiment of lights have been surrounded by DG! In his words "ok, I'll take the bait" but they were never intended as that, honest DG...., on to move 1.

Move 1

First requirement for me is to get my advance guard out of it, and back to the main lines - accordingly working on the principle that attack is the best form of defence, I launch charges with my light infantry at his unit of Rangers to my front (I2), and with Lauzun's at the other unit of Rangers (I3) - see following.

A desultory volley by IR2 is not enough to stop my Militia, so both of DG's units test to stand... IR3 fail (light infantry, charged in the rear, by cavalry - not good odds), IR2 stand and in the ensuing melee I defeat him by a single point - first blood to me as IR2 and 3 both take casualties, with IR2 retiring shaken, and IR3 routing (literally) for the hills - see following:

Time for DG's move - and not surprisingly he reacted very quickly to my attacks with an attack of his own by his cavalry against the American cavalry who had just crossed the hedge line (4DG):

(Couple of points - note the ruler which is to scale and shows the fine level of detail you can get in Battle Chronicler - I also added some components, one of which is the smoke marker in front of MM3 to denote that they have fired, plus obligatory "rout" and "shaken" markers)

Unfortunately my own cavalry, constrained by the hedge, are unable to turn and fire themselves, and the volley by my lights (MM3) is not sufficient to stop the British cavalry from charging so the charge crunches home.

In the subsequent melee test my brave boys dice to see if they stand, and do! Unfortunately their sword arms were not up to their grit however, and in the ensuing melee were severely bested - 2 strength points lost, and sent off in rout...... ah well, lots of time to go yet.

Stay tuned for turn 2.....


By way of a response to the comments left in my last post...

I thought I'd had my first ever spam in the last post - I thought I must surely have arrived... but then I discovered that the Napoleonic blog did actually exist & had some interesting content.. (Rafa - if you're reading this, do you know this group?

Jeff - you Linux users have to accept some cost to your decision not to feed the mighty "Microsoft empire", but I would suggest that the following might give you the best of both worlds???

Keith - the link to Wine will also work for Mac's - in your case not being able to run Windows programs is the cost you pay for having an elegant computer system way beyond the means of most of the rest of us to afford...

Lastly, I think it behoves me to reiterate, Battle Chronicler will never replace the presence of little metal men on a well laid out table top for me, but when your wargaming buddy lives 200 miles away, then it gives a pretty good replacement....!


Sailing - took the day off work last Friday (the weather forecast for the weekend was not good) and went sailing for the day - in the footsteps of Slocum and Chichester this was done single handed, and I had some of the windiest conditions to date to play in. Lovely days sailing, but bit cold and grey when compared to the last time... come on summer, make your mind up!!

The recently bought mackerel spoon was deployed, and although it looks pretty has so far only caught sea weed!!

Distance: 4 miles (36 miles year to date)
Wind: Moderate (Force 3 gusting 4 - perhaps 5?)