Saturday 30 December 2017

Nap Campaign: The Battle of Lake Francis (Nassau)

This is the first battle in Nassau involving another division from the French 2nd Corps, that of the 9th Division commanded by Foy. The situation on the night before the battle -

The 2nd Nassau Brigade commanded by Saxe-Weimar were given the task of defending mainland Nassau. Saxe-Weimar sought to defend the lakes and waterways of southern Nassau selecting a river crossing which he felt gave them a good opportunity to halt the French advance. This became:

Wednesday 27 December 2017

The First Battle for Sollum Sept 1940

Before I return to the Napoleonic Campaign, a brief interlude with some WW2:

This was the first battle I fought using the Blitzkrieg Commander 2 rules. It was fought solo and was very much a test for these rules. Most of my WW2 wargaming in recent years had been Rapid Fire with 15mm figures. In the 1970's and 80's I had dabbled with 5/6mm figures and vehicles mainly from Heroics & Ros with some GHQ and using the old WRG rules. It left its mark on me and I always intended to return to that scale at some point. 

Although Rapid Fire could be used for 6mm, I felt that it was time to try a new set that was designed more for this scale. BKC2 appeared to fit the bill, designed as it was for 10mm but easily convertible for the smaller scale. At the conclusion of the game it became my go-to set for 6mm. I thoroughly enjoyed this refight although quite a few mistakes were made along the way. On to the battle:

The first battle of Sollum was the main Italian thrust into Egypt in Sept 1940 and proved to be a pretty shambolic invasion by the Italians. My game was taken mainly from Mal Wright's scenario of this battle for these rules.

Tuesday 26 December 2017

Plans for 2018

With 2017 coming to a close, it is now time to look at what I intend to do in 2018. 'Intention' of course is not necessarily what I achieve and it will be interesting to see at the end of next year precisely what I have completed! I will break it down into 'Battles', 'Campaigns' and 'Painting'.

Wednesday 20 December 2017

Nap Campaign: Battle of Ainsworth (Prussia) Part 2

As the Prussian columns crested the brow of the hill they were met by the threat from French Cuirassiers. For Reille it was a case of throwing everything he had in to delay the Prussians as much as possible. With the Prussians closest to the French cavalry forming square the rest attempted to move past them further out on the flank. 

Sunday 17 December 2017

Nap Campaign: Battle of Ainsworth (Prussia) Part 1

Having amassed his forces, Blucher now firmly believed he had sufficient to deal with Napoleon. Time to get these damn French off Prussian soil!

The situation during the night of 9th - 10th March -

Saturday 16 December 2017

Nap Campaign: Map Moves to Nightfall 9th March

Although there was no action on the 9th March, the scene was set for 3 battles commencing dawn on the 10th March with rival armies camped out opposite each other.

The overall situation at nightfall on 9th March:

Friday 15 December 2017

Nap Campaign: The Siege of Cragsmere Castle (Holland)

Although I have described it as a siege, it would probably be more accurate to claim it as an assault.

The rules used were a concoction of my own. I used the basic mechanism of General de Brigade but felt that firing and in particular melees needed to be handled differently to make it more interesting. I therefore imported and then reworked the firing and melee mechanism from Sharp Practice by Too Fat Lardies. On the whole it worked pretty well so combat between just a few figures could still be exciting. On to the battle:

Grouchy had been made aware of a small Dutch/Belgian force holding out in an old castle called Cragsmere on the Prussian/Hanoverian border. It was essential that the castle be taken before the main push into Holland. He asked D'Erlon who would be best to deal with this little problem. Without hesitation he delegated the task to his excellent divisional commander, Lt Gen Quiot. To ensure rapid success he was to take his entire 1st Division supported by a cavalry brigade. 

At dawn on the 8th March his force arrived before Cragsmere Castle. Although it was a medieval fortification, it still provided a significant obstacle. With no siege equipment it would have to be scaling the walls with any units gaining access to quickly make for the main gateway. His scouts had noticed a small door in one of the gatehouses opening out onto a track heading north from the castle. This provided another means of access. 

Quiot decided that the attack would be split into two. The main gatehouse would be the focus for Charlet's brigade, and the track to the north east facing wall would be Bourgeois' brigade. They would be supported by artillery providing covering fire and cavalry to guard against any attempt at a break out. At 1100 hours the operation to capture Cragsmere Castle commenced.

The situation on the night before:

'12' is Quiot's command and '7' is the force occupying Cragsmere Castle.


French v Dutch/Belgian

Total French = 263
CinC Lt Gen Quiot

Total Dutch/Belgian = 70
CinC Maj Gen D'Aubreme

Figure Scale = 15mm

8th March 1808
Start 1100 hours (max 24 moves)

Each square = 3'9"
5'3" x 3'9" table
Terrain Description:

9B22 - Rough terrain, high peaked hill, rapid rivers in rocky cutting, timber bridge
9B21 - Cragsmere Castle, broken terrain around hill, becoming smooth and grassy towards river, deep river, stone bridge.

Skirmishers have advanced to the base of the hill taking cover among the rocks. They provide covering fire along with the artillery as Charlet's brigade prepare to advance towards Cragsmere Castle. Scaling ladders are piled at the rear of the artillery battery ready to be collected by the units who have been given the dubious honour of being first over the walls.

The battalion columns of Bourgeois' brigade make their way to the castle's 'tradesman's entrance'! 

The castle garrison (in this case Portuguese masquerading as Dutch/Belgians) fire down on the skirmishers which occasionally find their mark.

The first of Charlet's brigade. 

The red counters you will see next to units represent 'shock'. When the total shock points equals or exceeds the number of figures in a unit then it must test for morale. Shock points also has an accumulating negative effect on firing and melee. Shock points can be rallied. 

Skirmishers fan out ahead of Bourgeois main force who deploy ready for the assault. A horse artillery battery has deployed to provide support.

Skirmishers have worked their way to the summit and continue to fire onto the parapets as the rest of the brigade prepares for the main assault.

With one battalion deployed into line to provide additional covering fire, the rest of Bourgeois brigade haul scaling ladders towards their target.

The Dutch/Belgian garrison readies itself to repel any attempt on the castle walls.

As can be seen from the stack of red counters, the Belgian artillery is suffering from the attention of French firepower.

The artillery crew on the north tower are suffering particularly badly but hold out so far as the French infantry approach.

The French take casualties from infantry lining the walls as they prepare to position the ladders.

The view from the gatehouse as the French storming party approaches.

The two battalions of the 105th line lead the charge across the ramparts. The commanding officer of the 2/105th demonstrates incredible horsemanship having ridden his stallion up the ladder! Fighting is fierce around the wall walkway with the Belgian infantry desperately attempting to expel the French. The target for the 105th is the north tower where they are to neutralise the cannon and open the door for the 28th to gain access.

On the opposite side, Charlet's brigade is having a much tougher time. They suffer heavy casualties from the determined Dutch as they attempt to scale the gatehouse.

The 105th fight their way to the top of the north tower. Others fight their way along the walkway towards the south tower.

An overview of the current situation.

Charlet's brigade now turn their attention towards the north west wall as their repeated attempts to gain the gatehouse fail.

Having neutralised the artillery crew the 105th face a determined counter-attack by the Belgians as casualties mount in the confines of the north tower.

The 1/105th continue to fight along the walkway towards the south tower with the Dutch infantry defending that section fighting every inch of the way.

They finally make their way through into the South tower. The battalion splits with two companies assaulting the artillery while the other 4 descend into the courtyard where they meet further resistance. The Dutch commander, D'Aubreme, deploys his reserve companies of Belgians towards the north tower realising that this is now the biggest threat. The gatehouse and west walls are holding out well against Charlet's brigade who are finding it impossible to successfully scale the walls. The Dutch/Belgians have suffered heavy casualties though and are looking increasingly threadbare along the walkways and the gatehouse towers. 

The north tower doorway was at last thrown open and the 2/28th Line lead the charge into the castle courtyard where they were met by counter-charging Belgians. D'Aubreme himself joined the fray. Elsewhere in the courtyard the mix of Dutch and Belgian companies were being forced back by the 105th. Worse was to come for the garrison as the French finally gained the gatehouse walkway. Such was the need to plug gaps elsewhere, the Dutch had abandoned the south west wall. The 2/54th Line of Charlet's brigade took advantage and scaled the undefended walls.

The courtyard began to resemble a desperate last stand as the Dutch/Belgian line continued to shrink. With morale starting to collapse D'Aubreme called a halt to the fighting to prevent any further loss of life. He surrendered with honour to Quiot who congratulated him on a bold and steadfast defence. 

The Dutch/Belgian garrison were given a guard of honour as the survivors were lead into captivity.

Quiot had achieved his objective but unsurprisingly, his losses were heavy. 


The situation by nightfall:

Result = A decisive French victory.

With the danger posed by the Prussians on his flank now neutralised and Cragsmere Castle in French hands, Grouchy was now ready to advance into the Dutch/Belgian heartlands.

NEXT: Map Moves

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Nap Campaign: The Battle of Rock Valley (Spain)

Lobau was concerned that Spanish forces from the north of the country could cut off his supply lines as he advanced into Spain and Portugal. Intelligence had informed him that those forces that did exist in the north were relatively small but could still prove to be a nuisance. Therefore, he detached a smaller force from the 6th Corps and placed it under the 19th Divisional commander, Lt Gen Simmer. His intructions were to eliminate any possible threat in northern Spain and then join Lobau for his invasion of Portugal.

Simmer crossed the border and made for the only crossing of a river that ran from the mountains to Lake Zeebaden. Scouts reported that a Spanish force was defending the crossing. (Simmer was not aware of the presence of Spanish guerrillas in the mountains to their north).

Sunday 10 December 2017

Nap Campaign: The Battle of Brandenlea (Spain)

At dawn on 8th March 1808 Lobau crossed the border into Spain with his main force directly headed for the capital Brandenlea. He has with him 2 brigades of infantry and 2 brigades of cavalry with more following up behind him. He is hoping for a swift victory and with more units joining him from the 6th Corps this would be followed up by a quick advance into Portugal. With the Portuguese capital, Youngsport, captured quickly it would prevent British reinforcements from landing.

As word reaches the Spanish commander, Morillo, that Lobau has crossed the border, he moved out of Brandenlea with the bulk of the Spanish army to intercept them. Even though he has only 2 small infantry brigades and a cavalry brigade, most of which are inexperienced, he is confident that they will prevail in defence of their homeland. 

Wednesday 6 December 2017

Nap Campaign: The Battle of Acrize

Two French forces converge on a Prussian force near the Prussian/Hanoverian border in an effort to secure Grouchy's flank in preparation for his advance into Holland/Belgium.

The Prussian force consisting of the 15th Brigade and the 1st Cavalry brigade, both of the 4th Corps, under the command of Maj Gen von Losthin, moves south to a defensive position in 28B16 to block any further moves by the French into Prussia. The French force (6) consisting of the 5th Division and a brigade of the 2nd Cavalry Division, both of the 2nd Corps under the command of Lt Gen Bachelu, have been ordered to deal with the Prussian threat to Grouchy's flank. In the map above they are in the village of Acrize. They move out of the village to intercept the Prussian force. A French Brigade (15) attempts to outflank the Prussians but is delayed due to difficult terrain. The scene is set for the Battle of Acrize.

Tuesday 5 December 2017

The Wargames Room and Storage

I thought I would have a brief break from the Campaign series to provide an update on my wargames room and a Eureka moment for me on storing my 6mm armies.

I recently completed decorating the house and included in that was my wargames room. I took the opportunity of reorganising it which has given me a little more space to expand the playable area of my wargames table.

1st up was to align all my shelves along one wall. The wooden boxes are storage solutions for my figures I started making over 20 years ago when I used to transport them some distance to a club. I wanted something robust that would hold the figures steady. The downside is that when full the larger boxes in particular are quite heavy and cumbersome. More of how I intend to resolve that later. There is more stuff stored in my garage including the bulk of my terrain boards. The towels on the right should be on their way soon giving me a couple more shelves.

My rather cluttered painting desk. I just never seem to have enough space on the damn thing! 

Over the years my wargames table has taken various forms. The best though proved to be what I have now. A couple of years ago I purchased a set of 3 trestle tables from my local Lidl store for something like £30. They are very light and can take an amazing amount of weight considering their flimsy looking appearance. They have proved to be very adaptable. I can use just the number of tables I require for the size of any particular battle. When all three are aligned they cover an area 6' x 3'. I cover them in MDF boards which give me anything up to the 7'6" x 4'6" maximum for the room.

Onto figure storage. As my 6mm figure range expanded, my wooden storage boxes were proving to be not up to the task. The main problem being organising the figures into various units then after a battle remembering where they all went. I had marked on the base of the boxes where they should go but it was not very clear. I did not have this problem with my old 15mm or 28mm figs. The problem now being that instead of a few hundred figures I now have 1,000's of the little blighters! The solution was embarrassingly simple that many wargamers have been using over the years. That of the clear plastic A4 size storage trays. I already have quite a few for storing terrain but dismissed them as being too small for my figures. Having seen online quite a few examples of figures being stored in these I came up with:

This is the entire French 1st Corps for Waterloo at a ratio of 1:20. So a little over 1,000 figures stored in one box. I also printed out a template which I stuck to the bottom of the tray showing the location of each unit. A second copy was attached to the underside of the lid so that I could see at a glance which unit was where. So I now have 30 boxes on order! I will certainly have some work to do when they arrive. 

And finally my latest painting project:

Wars of the Roses Crossbowmen and Handgunners for the forthcoming Kingmaker campaign. 

Hope you enjoyed this brief interlude from the campaign and an overview of my hobby space.