Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Battle of Nations 2010 - Part 3

The Battle of nations enters its second hour with a blanket of light snow dropping visibility down to 500yds at best. The guns fall silent as men and horse grope forward in the white mist. Silhouettes in the distance indiscernible at first soon betray their origin as foe's clash in a fury of gunfire and swords.

On the Allied left flank the Prussians feverishly push forward to quickly form a solid wall of infantry and artillery as the Wurttemberger's take advantage of the respite given to them by the retreating Prussian cavalry brigade to advance rapidly. The Wurttemberg Fuzzjager btln covers the following heavy infantry by engaging the Prussian line as the casualties on both sides continue to mount.

On the Prussian right the action in the village intensifies as the Bavarian contingent is now fully engaged with the advancing Russians. Jager btlns have now secured the forward woods and have opened up a lively firefight against the light companies of a forward Bavarian Infantry regiment. Meanwhile a Prussian Jager btln supported by a Fusilier btln has overwhelmed the Bavarian light btln facing them forcing it to break and round through the fields to the rear. This has exposed a Bavarian foot battery which is now very vulnerable.

Towards the centre of the battlefield the Polish brigade has now activated its break-off orders after suffering from intense Russian artillery fire. The snow shower providing the Polish with some respite from the gunfire to withdraw slowly out of effective range. The Russians have also taken advantage of this development to bring up a cavalry division into the vicinity in the hope of crushing the retreating Polish. However, the distance is rapidly extending and the chance to pounce has clearly passed.

Towards the Allied right centre another Russian division is finding itself hotly engaged with a French Legere regiment that has taken position behind hedgerows catching the forward Russian Musketeer regiment in the open in formed line. These Russian btlns failed to initiate a charge on the enemy regiment and is now rapidly being cut to pieces from the incoming skirmisher fire while its own fire is highly ineffectual. However, a Cossack sontia is poised directly behind the faltering Russian forward line ready to charge the unsuspecting French lights. If successful this charge could save the predicament of the Russian infantry lines.

Towards the Allied right flank the forward Austrian Infantry brigade remains isolated defending itself from an entire French division. The French failed to take advantage of a faltering Hungarian Infantry column with an exposed flank. This shaken unit was at the mercy of the French who failed to act. This unit subsequently through the work of its integral officers and NCO's managed to re-order the btln and form line to face the right of their position. Its situation is still dire and it could yet still collapse if the French act quickly. Meanwhile the Austrian 3rd ranker's and Jagers continue to defend themselves against a Legere regiment facing it.

During this time the rear Austrian brigades finally activated their orders and are now advancing to support the beleaguered forward brigade on its right flank. In the process one btln of the 4th Regiment of Infantry charged a French skirmish screen forcing it to evade rapidly away while on the extreme Allied right flank the Austrian cuirassiers finally prevailed over their lighter French counterparts forcing them to rapidly retire. Taking advantage of the respite the Cuirassiers have reformed ready to re-engage if necessary.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Battle of Nations 2010 - Part 2

This update details the happenings of the last turn of the 1st hour of combat.

On the French right flank the Prussian cavalry attack has been fought off. After the loss of a Wurttemberg Line battalion caught by the lead Prussian dragoon regiment the rest of the Wurttemberg brigade came to the rescue. The Wurttemberg light battalion advanced on the withdrawing dragoons catching them as they turned. The incoming fire causing their morale to collapse into rout. A second regiment caught in the hurried retreat was then hit by further light infantry fire but also round-shot and shell form a supporting Wurttemberg foot battery further back.
The combination of this fire also catching the second regiment while it attempted to turn and flee in such a confined space caused its morale to collapse and it too routed. The third regiment in this brigade, a regiment of Landwehr cavalry fared better. It had remained a few hundred paces behind and was able to safely withdraw behind the onrushing Prussian infantry Brigade and artillery support striving to form a defensive line before the Wurttembergers could take advantage of the chaos.

Meanwhile in the center the Russians were beginning to make their presence known. A Russian grand batery had gained to top of a low hill 800yds further back but had a perfect clear field of vision of the advancing Polish brigade headed directly towards the advancing Russian Infantry supporting the right flank of the Prussians.

From this position the Russian position batteries opened up reining shot and shell down on the lead Polish battalion. Within 15minutes the Polish btln was chopped up losing 20 percent of its strength. Nevertheless it held its morale and continued to advance. However, severely reduced in strength this btln may not hold on much longer. If the field of fire holds out long enough the entire Polish brigade may be in jeopardy.

To counter this threat the French advanced their 2nd Infantry division into the wheat fields and built up areas along the centre of the field. Already in position they had the time to advance their voltiguer companies across the lateral road to take up positions along the hedgerows. As the Russian advanced first regiment deployed into line and continued to advance the French voltiguers opened up at long range. In such an open field the Russians lost several men from their close ordered formations. However, they halted to deliver a volley of their own which was ineffectual at best.

On the French left flank the lead French Infantry division was now in position to strike the lone Austrian Infantry brigade that had advanced alone. The second Austrian Infantry brigade further back failed to activate its orders to advance and support the right flank of the lead brigade. Now caught out in front the Austrians are now suffering heavy casualties from massed skirmisher fire. The integral 3rd ranker's are putting up heroic resistance but cannot hold back the mass French light troops. The extreme right Austrian infantry column has been outflanked and is now beginning to falter (shaken) as it takes casualties to its exposed flank. If the French Light cavalry advancing to support them is successful in pushing the enemy cavalry back this flank may soon fall...

This Light Cavalry brigade consisting of two regiments in line. A Chasseur a'cheval regiment in front with a Hussar regiment in close support behind. Seizing on a mistake committed by the opposing Austrian cavalry commander the order was given to advance! The Austrian heavy cavalry brigade (Cuirassiers) had advanced to their extreme right flank in a column of troops to avoid a small light woods. Hoping to pass this woods the Austrian commander had hoped to form line and charge.

However, the quick thinking French who now had the possibility of charging down on the enemy as he was deploying sounded the bugles to charge! As the French advanced at a trot from almost 500yds away the Austrians seeing their dilemma, quickly gave the order to hurriedly deploy into line (they passed their morale check). This staggered line had no choice but to extend into the light woods. Just as the French had neared to less than 200yds the bugles trumpeted out the order to increase the pace and within 100yds the first line galloped into the Austrians who had managed to deploy just in the nick of time.

The ensuing contact between the French first line of veteran light cavalry up against the Austrians (also veterans) ended in a tie. The onrushing French light cavalry hit the Cuirassiers at the halt and inflicted 27 casualties. However, the halted but deployed Austrian heavy cavalry, armoured inflicted 27 against the French! None predicted such a rare occurrence but the French were brought to a standstill and a general melee ensued. This meant that the rest of the Austrian brigade could enter the melee next turn but also the French Hussars would join in. As the night ended we did not have the time to advance to the next turn to find out the conclusion to this fight. It is on a knife's edge and will be continued next Tuesday night!!

to be continued...

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Battle of Nations 2010 - Part 1

Hi all,

Lately I have been very busy with studies for my masters. however, I still find the time to enjoy battles with my friends without fail. Currently we are engaged in a 12,000 point massive battle involving forces from France, Poland, Saxony, Bavaria, Switzerland and Wurttemberg arrayed against the forces of Austria, Russia and Prussia.
The following pictures show the forces of both sides set up at the beginning of the battle in their starting positions. The table is 2.8mtrs (9ft) by 1.8mtrs (6ft) in width. In our scale this is equal to 2,800yds by 1,800yds. As can be seen, many of the allied units have name tags for ease of identification for the players because of the shear size of the action.

Monday, 17 May 2010

Albuera re-fight 2010 - Part 4

Situtation 11am,

to be continued...

Wednesday, 12 May 2010

Albuera re-fight 2010 - Part 3

Situation 10-11am the battle begins,

At this point the rain began to pour down in torrents, soaking everyone and everything. Subsequently the gun powder of the men's muskets became wet severely hampering the effects of all small arms fire. The wind drove into the faces of the men also causing them to become more cautious in their movements. Observations ranges also dropped to as little as 100 yds causing all artillery fire to become ineffectual as well. In the real battle the rain and wind on the day was severe with driving rain storms and squalls.

In our system we took this into account by activating the rain storm rules which uses a D10 to roll for a storm each turn needing a 1-2-3 which continue on until a 7-8-9 is rolled each turn thereafter. It just happened that at 10am this actually occurred right as the French attack went in and this rain did not stop until 11:45am!! This was to have major consequences in our re-fight for both sides.

General Girard's division now in place at 10am launched its strike on the extreme southern end of the battlefield, the Spanish of Zayas's division were ready as were elements of General Lardizabal and Ballesteros's divisions on his left flank. However, right at the start of this attack the rain fell in torrents causing all visibility to be reduced to no more than 100yds, this had a major impact on the tactics that were used. The approach was as a result more cautious as the formations did not know exactly where the enemy was, this was true for both sides now.

The French advanced their skirmish screen out in front which was met by the light btln of Campo Mayer. This unit had fanned out on the forward slope of the southern knoll to face the French. The ensuing skirmish fight between this light btln and the voltiguers of General Girard's btlns was ineffectual due to the wet cartridges but the Spaniards were gaining the upper hand. However the advancing columns soon forced the Spanish light troops to withdraw.

Meanwhile on Girard's right flank the two combined grenadier btlns began their advance through the driving rain towards the heights of the Spanish positions of Lardizabal and Ballesteros. With no skirmish screen to protect them they advanced in line into the grey of the rain not knowing when to expect to see their enemy. General Gazan's division had also by this time formed up after crossing the Chicapierna brook positioning themselves directly behind the grenadiers.

In the real battle Gazan's men actually advanced behind General Girard's formation to drive in the same direction. This is where they met the British btlns of Colbourne's brigade. In our re-fight the French decided not to do this but instead advance on Girard's right flank behind the grenadiers. General Werle's formation in the real battle also crossed the brook to fight on Girard's extreme left flank later in the day. In our re-fight the French players decided not to do this but instead turn around and re-cross the river and back towards Albuera. Once they had arrived at the "new" bridge which is the more southerly of the two they would cross over to launch an attack on the central positions of the allied line at the junction between the British and Spanish formations. It just so happened to the shock and amazement of all that the allied players had also decided not to repeat history and advance Stewart's division to the south but to move them at right angles behind the Spanish and face the new bridge!! No one saw this coming but the result for all concerned was amazing. Both sides had not aticipated that these choices of orders would cause Stewart's division and that of Werle's command to advance directly at each other in a completely different part of the battlefield than expected. The result of this will be interesting to see unfold.

With the countermanded order given to Werle to about face and re-cross the Chicapierna this left only the formations of General Girard and Gazan to face the Spanish. The idea to turn Werle around was to take an initiative to launch an attack over the new bridge into the exposed left flank of the Spanish position which was observed just before the rain began to poor down. The reasoning behind this was that in doing so the Spanish player might be forced to turn several units to face the new threat thus thinning out his lines facing the southern attack. This would mean that the French attacks would all coordinate together from left to right of this horse shoe position that the Spanish were on from left to right with Girard on the left, Gazan in the middle and Werle on the right.

Meanwhile, on the extreme French left the cavalry formations of both sides had remained fairly quiet with neither side wiling to advance to contact. The distance between both sides formations was kept at over 500yds with neither side willing to commit to any attacks or to support their infantry. Orders were also given for the British heavy dragoon brigade to move southwards to support their Spanish mounted brethren, however, three failed activation rolls in a row caused a lengthy delay to this order being carried out. They finally arrived three quarters of an hour later but luckily the French had not advanced in this sector so no harm was done.

In the real battle both sides were very reluctant to cross swords and I could not figure out why, I was very frustrated at the seemingly lack of initiative by the French and for that matter the allies on that day. It was not until actually doing the re-fight that I learned and fully came to realise why. For obvious reasons the Spanish cavalry were reluctant to force the issue due to lack of numbers and quality. However the French were very experienced and had numbers but did not attack. The reason for this was because many of the regiments were low in complement compared to organisational strengths for their squadrons and regiments and thus it seemed this caused them to have a lack of enthusiasm to initiate any forceful attacks. Most sets of rules severely reduce the chance to charge for units with severe casualties or losses as do our system. With several dragoon regiments reduced to 40-50% losses this was very understandable and clear to us why they did not attack to eagerly. In our system a formation that fails to charge must still advance towards the enemy target and come to a halt within 150yds. The obvious repercussions to this are very obvious, it is little wonder that the French players were reluctant to commit to any significant charges at the time.

As all of this was happening the northern flank had now become very quiet with litle troop movement or action. The light btlns of Alten were still in occupation of Albuera township and the French had withdrawn back over the Albuera river. Both sides settled down to merely observing the other side as best they could during the driving rain. But when later that hour Werle's men began to cross the new bridge Godinot's men became active once more as they re-crossed the river in support.

As already stated, Lawrence (playing Beresford) had decided not to send Stewart's division to the extreme south position to support Zayas, he later confessed that he was worried of repaeating history for Colbourne's brigade in the rain so instead he ordered these men to occupy a position facing the new bridge because he had a gut feeling that General Werle's division would halt and turn around to cross the new bridge which was infact exactly what occurred. He had obviously seen the dangers that this position and the exposed flank the Spanish had at the time. With both sides now committed to their orders the French were in for a rude shock once the rain stops and the British suddenly appear over the crest and fire down on them instead of the Spanish as was expected!!

So in summary, yes, history has changed dramatically for our re-fight. The deciding factor in all of this was the weather, yes there were rain storms during that day in the real battle but they came and went fairly quickly. in our battle it just happened that one began at 10am just as the French attack commenced and this altered the way in which the battle flowed because of the length of time it rained for. From 10 to 11am the rain was continual so much so that sighting conditions were reduced to 100yds maximum, this had a dramatic effect of the performance of small arms fire and pretty much put the artillery arm of both sides out of commission during this time. Consequently, both sides begun to redeploy formations to positions not taken up by their counterparts in the real battle in fear of repeating history. This has had an affect on the overall dynamic of the battle where both sides have redirected the focus of the fight not on the extreme southern flank but more towards the apex of the Spanish positions and that of the heights overlooking the new bridge. This area is now the setting for the crucial part of the battle which will decide the fate of both armies. The weather has also delayed the sequense of events due to movement reductions, lack of effective musketry fire and the lessoned effect of artillery fire. None of us expected this nor realised that events would unfold this way but as it is now realised both sides have had to compensate for these changes and redirect formations to cope with the changing battlefield conditions and dynamics.

Next report continues with the actual combat which really hots up once the rain fades away and visibility increases...

Thursday, 15 April 2010

Albuera re-fight 2010 - Part 2

9-10am The re-deployments continue,

By the end of the last hour a German officer attached to the Spanish caught a glimpse in the fading sunlight of glinting bayonets on the high ground to the south-west. This was the men of General Girard's Division advancing to the fords on the Chicapierna brook. Crossing with them were the Dragoons of General Bron's command, the Vistula Lancers, the 2nd and 10th Hussars and two horse batteries with more to follow. In a frenzy of activity General Beresford positioned himself at this point to witness these events unfolding as the men of all three Spanish divisions began to wheel in slow motion towards their right to gain the southern heights before the French could re-form and take them. The situation became one of frantic action to put in motion the entire Spanish army. Meanwhile the British 2nd Division of General Stewart was set in motion and ordered off the heights to the north to double time it to the rear of the Spanish position. However, they would not make it in time to face the French first, this honour would go to the Spanish first.

By 9am the flank movements of General Girard, and all of his supports began to cross the river, at this point in the battle the forces on both sides of the battlefield were to follow historical orders as closely as possible. What you will see in this hour's play is the carrying out of those orders). We kept the sequence of events close to the original historical orders of the real battle from 8am to 10am. The reason for this was to ensure the battle would be set to replicate the real battle up to the point of Girard's main attack on the south flank. From 10am onwards all orders and command control would revert to player control.

In the following photos can be seen the French flanking movement of all three arms as they snake across the fords and form up behind the high ground to the south and astride the Spanish positions.

The following photos show the French forces now straddling the Spanish position as they stretch out across the open ground of the south extreme of the battlefield. The Vistula Lanciers, 2nd Hussars and the Dragoons of General Bron can be seen galloping towards the left flank to take up position almost behind the Spanish who can now be seen wheeling to face. General Girard's forward regiments of Infantry continue to stream across the river rapidly to form up on the other side, voltiguer companies out in front to cover this delicate operation.

In this picture the Spanish troops of General Zayas can be seen after their right wheel and are now heading directly for the high ground about 500yds north of the French positions. This division had several Guard and veteran units who were very well trained and drilled so carrying out this manoeuvre for them was relatively easier than it would have been about 6-8 months earlier. Amongst these troops can be seen the lone Spanish battery of Miranda, it was critical they gain the heights fast.

This photo shows General Zayas's division arriving at their destination with the forward units taking position atop the crest to await the French advance. Miranda's battery is now almost in position to begin firing on the advancing French. This angle is deceptive at many of the French troops arriving are actually further south and about to arrive on the field.

The following picture shows the advance of General Werle's Brigade still on the eastern bank of the Chicapierna brook, this formation will probably not arrive for at least an hour after the first attack goes in. Meanwhile, General Gazan's Brigade is much closer and about to appear to the south not long after Girard launches his assault on the Spanish positions.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese dragoons of General Otway's command make an appearance on the far northern flank of the Allied positions in response to the success of the French attack on Albuera. In this picture can also be seen a Brigade of Portuguese Infantry under General Campbell also advancing towards Albuera in support of the hard pressed KGL light btlns.

This photo is taken from another angle showing the Portuguese Infantry advance down from the heights towards Albuera. It also shows the British under Genral Stewart and their positions prior to the order to right turn and double time it towrds the Spanish positions to the south. In the distance can be seen General Werle's French columns heading south while the Spanish army also heads in this direction. Also, due to the appearance of General Otway's dragoons the French troops under Genral Godinot have decided to withdraw back over the bridges to the relative safety of the river line. This was the purpose of the French attacks on this position anway, to pin the allied left flank in position and draw them away from the main attack to the south.

In this picture the entire Spanish army can now bee seen completely deployed by 10am and ready to fight the French attacks. The formation comprises of two lines of defense, the first line facing south comprises the Spanish 5th Brigade of General Mourgeon under General Zayas while on his left is two Brigades of the divisions of General's Ballesteros and Lardizabal. The rest of the army stands in reserve behind the main line ready to advance into action when called. Miranda's Spanish foot battery is now unlimbered on the heights about to bombard the advancing French.

This photo is a close-up of General Zayas's first line of defense, General Mourgeon's 5th Brigade consisting of the foot battery, 2nd & 4th btlns of the Real Guardias de Espans, de Irlanda regiment, Veteranos de la Patria and a Zapadore coy. To their front is the Campo Meyer light infantry regiment of General Lardizabal's division. In the real battle they pushed forward to the Albuera river to defend the crossing points but here they were ordered to take position ahead of Zayas. This decision may prove a crucial one in defeating the French voltiguer advance next hour...

In this image the Spanish second reserve line is more clearer showing General Zayas's 2nd line and the troops of General de Espana's which are part of the Spanish 5th army under General Zayas's command.

This picture shows the deployment positions of the allied cavalry comprising the British Dragoon brigade of General Lumley on the left, the 5th army Spanish cavalry brigade of General de Villemur in the centre and Genral Loy's 4th army cavalry brigade on the right of picture. Sadly there are many "ring-ins" here because we simply did not have the time to paint these up for the battle but its how they fight, not how they look that is important...

Stewart's 2nd Division

Once the French were detected moving down from the heights Beresford ordered general Stewart to march his entire division south. These men, comprising three brigades of infantry under general's Colborne, Houghton and Abercrombe had to act quickly to the changing situation. In order to speed up the process the btlns were ordered to stay in two rank deep formation and each man was ordered to make a right turn and march off effectively turning the entire division into one long snaking thin column of march with Colborne leading. To quicken the pace even more the division was ordered to double time it to the south.

You would be hard pressed to find a set of rules that shows figure frontages for such a narrow frontage as just two men so we have placed the btlns in typical single company frontages for simplicity's sake. To show how they turned left again once they faced the French we will revert to line formation first to show it, (provided that is what the British player intends to do of course). In the following two pictures can be seen the begining of this advance order from two different angles to gain perspective.

The French Positions

The following two pictures show the forming up positions of General Girard's Division in attack formation poised ready to strike directly at General Zayas's Spanish division. In the foreground are the voltiguer companies and to their right is the two combined Grenadier btlns in line formation who are ready to drive towards the right of the position directly at brigades of General Lardizabal and General Ballesteros.

The next picture shows the final positions of the French cavalry formations on the extreme left flank opposite their counter-parts on the allied right flank. These regiments although numerous were also severely understrength as we found out and maybe contributed to explain why their impact in the battle was so minor against the inferior allied cavalry.

This image is taken from the rear of the French flanking position looking north. It shows clearly the width of the deployment areas of the French and what they can see in front of hem. General Gazan's Division is still off field at this point but closing in fast from the south east. Also of note is the position taken up by the two French horse batteries who caused such devestation to the allied forces in the real battle. It is hoped they will do the same here.

The final two images here show two different angles taken of the battle array of the Spanish positions showing their battle line ready to receive the French onslaught. The commanders of both sides are now poised ready to take control of the action and either change history or repeat it here...