Saturday, May 21, 2011

John Corrigan Memorial game 2011- "Action in the Plattville Valley" - redux...!

With the news of John's passing last week, DG and I though we should perhaps remember him in a way that we were sure he would approve, so it was the DG and I got together last night for the first of what I hope will be many more games, that I've labelled the "John Corrigan Memorial Game"... there are no rules to this annual set-to, other than that it has to be set in the American War of Independence so that we can use those lovely old Minifigs John gave me all those years ago...

Cycling to work the other morning then, with the period set, my thoughts then turned to the matter of scenario. I'd just read a (excellent) recent post by Ross Mac where he had re-fought the Action in the Plattville Valley - like a bright shining light between the eyeballs (though it may have been a lorry overtaking..) it came to me, what could be more perfect than this quintessentially old school battle from Don Featherstone's "War Games" for our game..?? Decision made...

The original scenario as described in the book has this map (and click on this or any of the other pictures in the post for a bigger view), so the first challenge is to represent this using my own TSS scenery. I know that it was not going to be exact, what I wanted was a fair representation... I came up with the following..

The battlefield taken from the eastern end looking west - the roads are slightly different but representative, I don't have a church in 25mm so I used the small wooden hut as that would give me enough room to put the walled sheltered area in front of it.... I used the barn for the buildings, but Green Ridge (classed as "steep slopes" for our game), Mole Hill and Rabbit Ridge ("gentle slopes") are largely as per the map. The water is classed as a stream (passable but some movement limitation), and Platt Wood is in the foreground as per the map ("dense woods")

Orders of battle were largely as the book - one of the advantages of playing this game in the American War of Independence, as opposed to the original American Civil War is that the units can largely be the same - both wars were light on cavalry so that translates well. Don suggested three brigades of infantry a side, with a squadron of cavalry and a gun..

As the Americans suffer with poorer morale in the American War Of Independence rules I use (click here and scroll down to the rules section for a link - I use Will McNally's rules and have done for years, but as is the way of wargamers I've added a few modifications to the morale and firing sections), I gave them a weakened fourth brigade to make up the difference...

Orders of battle then are as per the following - in the game the Americans took the part of the Confederates, the Hessians (it was largely a German force rather than British - John used to love painting Germans and they were some of the first units I based up!) took the Union side.

1Green Mountain Boys - 1st Battalion1 & 205
1Green Mountain Boys - 2nd Battalion3 & 405
2New York Regiment9 & 1005
29th Pennsylvania Regiment11 & 1205
3Massachusetts Militia - 1st Battalion5 & 605
3Massachusetts Militia - 2nd Battalion13 & 1405
4Connecticut Artillery (Light)2805
44th Dragoons37 & 3805
5Maryland State Marines2303
5Maryland State Marines24 & 2505
1von Barner (Brunswick)8 & 9+15
1Erbprinz11 & 12+25
2Jaegers (Brunswick)3 & 4+15
2Jaegers (Brunswick)5 & 6+15
3 Regiment Prinz Ludwig - 1st Battalion13 & 1405
3 Regiment Prinz Ludwig - 2nd Battalion15 & 1605
4New York Loyalist Artillery (Light)2305
416th Light Dragoons24 & 25+15

So - an average American force, some Militia, standard morale bonuses (0's), versus a smaller, tougher, Hessian force - the killer unit being Erbprinz with their massive +2 morale benefit - hardened German grenadiers (boooo hissss! smileys)

So - on to the battle - the scenario requires an advance guard of one brigade to enter the table, three moves before the main force - DG entered from just south of Platt Wood, I entered diagonally opposite by the bridge... DG used his 1st brigade

While I used the 2nd brigade (and look - those damned site see'ers turned up again smileys)..

..and here is the position at the end of move 3, as the main forces of both sides are just coming on to the table..

First off (above) DG - he'd chosen to bolster the centre of his line with the regulars of the 2nd Brigade - in the far distance the Militia, and in the foreground the Marines (and before anyone mentions it, I haven't managed to find any reference to the Marines actually fighting in a land battle, and I don't care - John was painter first and foremost, so his collection was eclectic!)

While I had grasped the bull firmly by the horns and massed my best regiments opposite "Church Hill" - Erbprinz to the fore.. I had in mind a veritable battering ram of an attack that I hoped would carry all before me...

At the other end of the table - a close up of the advance guard as they come over the bridge and move down the valley on the south side of the stream - artillery following with the cavalry following the road round the ridge.

I hesitate to call them plans, but I was planning to use the cavalry to scare DG's Militia and keep them out of the battle, while I brought the artillery up towards the barn to help the assault on Church Hill...

As I'd hoped DG brought the Militia out to block the road, with the 9th Pennsylvania of the 2nd Brigade in the second rank as support - I took one look at this line of Militia, shuffling and looking despondent, and threw the aforesaid 'plan' out of the window - "fortune and glory, kid" and charged the left of the two regiments sending them routing down the road after they failed to stop me closing... being cavalry, the 9th Penn were then the obvious target of the breakthrough charge, and the Death and Glory boys raced on only to be held by the disciplined volleys of the 9th Penn. In the next turn however, they recovered, charged home and sent them routing away as well... ho hum - lucky dice for me on the melee's and the morale check, but the sum total being that DG's east flank was wide open.. see following..

At the same time, on the north side of the table Erbprinz were attacking the barn complex with a view to ejecting the Marines - this went spectacularly unwell, and they were sent packing (boo hiss!!) but the Brunswick'ers following up close behind renewed the assault and successfully drove them out and took the barn... hadn't escaped my attention however, that DG had occupied Church Hill with the two regiments of the finest.

Later in the game (see following) and the Brunswick'ers have now exited the barn and Erbrpinz are back from their push back, and about to follow them through.

DG's Militia have recovered and the British cavalry are again in action, while the unlucky 9th Penn continue to rout (red pin).

Meanwhile the assault column is formed, and the British artillery is almost in action (at last!)

Beginning of the end for the American's as the assault smashes home, von Barner carrying all before them - I picked my spot and attacked DG's east facing unit in the flank, but it was still over a wall, and in the face of musketry from the other unit - truly triumphant stuff...

...and in the following, the end - a fighting retreat for those units DG had left as he departed the field leaving the Platville Valley in Hessian hands.... for the time being... smileys

Post Match Analysis :
  • It goes without saying that I had some lucky dice throws this game - it clearly benefited the British cavalry who were.... err... dominant! Good results in the melee's (I won or drew, all of them).
  • A good discussion after the game about the relative strengths of cavalry compared with infantry in the fire fight - I do have a penalty for cavalry firing (and a long discussion and some research would indicate that this was a fairly common occurrence) but clearly 80 odd men (which is what a cavalry unit is representing) armed with carbines is not going to put out as much fire as 250+ men armed with muskets - leaving the range aside the penalty was clearly not enough so for the next game I'll increase that (was -1, will probably increase to -3)
  • It's been a while since we've played these rules, and unlike Will's 7YW version of the rules there isn't an option to refuse the flank - I'll remedy that as it played to my benefit in the assault on Church Hill - DG had one regiment in line facing each direction - all I had to do was pick the regiment facing the 'wrong' direction which clearly wasn't fair. I'll make a modification that allows one stand to turn to face a threat and not be penalised when firing...
  • The AWI collection... smileys
  • Refreshments on this occasion were alcoholic and from the Thornbridge Brewery, starting with a glass of Kipling and moving on to another of Jaipur - absolutely delicious!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Mike and the Mechanics!

So after the sad start to last week, as I mentioned last time the week ended on a slightly higher note.. those of you who have hung around here long enough (in the hope that I might actually write something interesting, or let's face it, even about wargaming full stop!) will know that I do have more than a passing interest in rock music - especially the classic type....

It was with no little joy then that I heard last year that not only were Mike and the Mechanics releasing a new album, but were also going on tour... having snapped up tickets for the family and I immediately, I had to then wait six months for the concert, which ended up being last week - serendipitous really, as I needed cheering up...

The "Mike" in Mike and the Mechanics of course, is Mike Rutherford of Genesis fame, and quite apart from that musical connection, is one of very few rock guitarists who I consider to be an understated genius on the Fender - nothing histrionic from our Mike, just solid rhythms of almost machine line regularity - the guy plays with soul...

One of the reasons for the long delay between tours was because of the untimely death of one of the singers in the earlier formation of the band (Paul Young formerly of Sad Cafe), Mike had always said he couldn't see him going on stage and not looking over to see him, but time is the great healer so this time (11 years later!) round, the Mk2 version of the Mechanics comprised Andrew Roachford (of not surprisingly Roachford - who did "Cuddly Toy" amongst others and a young relatively unknown guy called Tim Howar, a Canadian actor/singer.

So how was the concert??? Absolutely brilliant - they were dancing in the aisles before the second or third song had even finished.... not only that, but for only the second time ever we also got a free ticket upgrade - ninth row centre!

Fantastic night - both new singers are genuinely talented and the old songs (of whih there were many) sounded outstanding, a fresh slant undoubtedly on sold old favourites.. so what did they play? Two or three songs from the new album (which I really like), couple of handfuls of the old songs ("Over my Shoulder", "Cup of Coffee", "Silent Running", "All I need is a Miracle", my all time favourite "Living Years") and if that wasn't enough they even played a couple of Genesis tracks as well "Know What I Like" and "Can't Dance" - outstanding evening.. they looked like they really enjoyed themselves, but I bet it wasn't as much as me and the family did!

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Mixed blessings..

Without a doubt it's been a mixed week - what with the Blogger problems this week (not been able to make posts for a few days) it's the first opportunity I've had to put up a post, but it didn't start well when DG gave me a call at the beginning of the week to let me know that my good friend John "Lofty C" Corrigan had passed away..

I met John via DG as at one time they lived across the road from reach other. John was an ex-Royal Marine, and an old school wargamer in the truest sense, as he has at time played with some of the old authors, he certainly regaled me with stories of gaming at the Wessex Wargames Society in Southampton with Don Featherstone (John wasn't keen to repeat the experience - he said they all argued too much! aim smileys)

He was an inveterate figure collector, but was first and foremost a painter - the gaming always came second. Over the years he must have turned out thousands and thousands of little metal men in his neat painted style.. when I first met him he was a huge fan of Minifigs, but over the years he started to buy other figures - especially Foundry (Imperial Romans!).

He was also one of the most generous guys I know - when he heard I was starting up a new project for the American War of Independence, and that I was planning to use 20mm plastic figures from Airfix and Revell, he passed me his entire collection of painted Minifigs - literally hundreds of figures that you will have seen many times in my various table top battles....

Over the years he slowed down with age, and stopped going to the shows (I have good memories of him coming back from Warfare when it was still at the Hexagon, loaded down with "loot" that had caught his eye) and I didn't see him quite so much - but none the less it was still a shock to hear he'd died... RIP, John..

The week ended much better - but I'll blog that separately..

Sunday, May 08, 2011

Back at the painting table...

After a very slow start to the year (what a desperate painting total when you consider we're over a quarter of the way through the year!) I'm pleased to announce that the painting funk may be coming to a close... early days I know but I can report that Steve the Wargamer has pushed his reclining chair to the side of the attic where the painting table resides, and has brushed the festoons of cobwebs to one side, and re-filled his water jar.... as I say early days, but the water jar is at least now full of clean water.... maybe I should buy a goldfish....

I have of course done a little more than that - as previously mentioned re-basing of the WWII forces proceeds apace - I never realised quite how much stuff I had! The British are now complete, and with the exception of four bases that need sharp sand basing material applying, so are the Germans. For my Blitzkrig Commander forces I'm standardising on 30x30 (mm) for infantry/support weapons and smaller vehicles - anything that doesn't fit on this is going on a 30x50.. all bases bought from the inestimable Tony at East Riding Miniatures who gives the best service - the bases were in my grubby hands just a couple of days after I ordered them, excellent turn around (and he gives a discount to members of the Pike and Shot Society!)

Last, and the reason for the picture above, the Spanish blog site Desperta Ferro has announced that the, hitherto only available to read on-line, publication "England’s intervention in Catalonia during the War of the Spanish Succession" (edited by Xavier Rubio) is now available for free download - which I think is just amazing. This self published book is chock-full of information, uniform details, and a whole host aside, and as per the title describes the British intervention in Catalonia between 1705 and 1711 - so at the height of the War of the Spanish succession. Such endeavours deserve to be applauded - get yourselves over there to read and enjoy! Now - is there any chance I can get this printed on the high quality laser at work.............

Right - I'm off to the boat... more anon...

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Professor Richard Holmes, CBE (29 March 1946 – 30 April 2011)

It was with great sadness that I woke up this morning to hear of the death of Richard Holmes at the far too early age of 65..

I had the great good pleasure to see Professor Holmes give two lectures, one at the D-Day museum in Portsmouth where he lectured on the personal experience of the soldier in the field, and how the battlefield has changed over the years, and once a few years ago [click here] where he gave a lecture on his recently published book "Dusty Hero's" about the 1st Battalion, The Princess of Wales' Royal Regiment in Iraq in 2004 (he was their colonel, an honorary role that you could tell he was inordinately proud of).

Of all the military historians, Professor Holmes was without a doubt my favourite, his particular "angle" was always that of the 'common soldier' - how he felt, how he lived, what he did, and the subject matter was endlessly fascinating...

Of the multitude of books he wrote (and the full lists can be found in the links below), I particularly liked his book on Marlborough (which bought that same personal focus, a particular hero of his..), but "Redcoat" is without a doubt just brilliant.. he wrote with compassion & humour, and his style particularly resonated with me.

There are no details on what caused his death, but one would surmise that an illness of some sort was involved, as on both occasions I saw him he was remarkably spry - he was a horseman, and I still remember those scenes in his television documentary on Wellington in India where he rode across one of the battlefields...

On a purely selfish level, I will miss his unique micro histories of the worlds great battlefields and soldiers very much...

RIP, and condolences to his family...

More on his life, and obituaries, here: