Gettysburg re-played 22-24th May 2011.

Sedgewick on the Ridge

Sedgewick bolsters the defence line on Cemetery Ridge on the 3rd July, second day here at the Wargames Holiday Centre.

I think I need to offer a measure of explanation in this Battle Report. Those of you that have played at the Wargames Holiday Centre will already be familiar with the methods we use. It goes without saying that we provide the stage, the backdrop, the props and you the public provide the WOW factor. Well this weekend was no exception. The rules are a slant on a mixture of Fire & Fury, along with Fire & Fury regimental. The weapon statistics, movement and command are from the new ruleset, while the makeup of the Orders of Battle are all brigades.

Bufords Cavalry

Bufords Cavalry Division in reserve.

After setting up the battlefield of Gettysburg the guys were given their Orders of Battle. Advised on deployment, reserves and special rules for terrain. In order to facilitate the “Fog of War” the armies were set up on tiles initially. The Confederates were allowed six “dummy” tiles to deploy as a division as well, in lieu of the Division hidden in the woods in front of Culp’s Hill.

View of the battlefield Saturday

A view of the battlefield on Saturday as the Union push forward to support Sickles Corps.

As we started the battle on the Friday night conducting the first move on tiles it certainly had a WOW factor. The Confederate Army of Virginia, conscious of it’s lack of manpower converged the best part of two Corps opposite the angle. Pickett was en-route and one of Ewell’s divisions (Early) was hidden in the woods north of Culp’s hill, due to burst forth on turn five. The Rebs needed a hammer blow.

Attacking I Corps

Taken on the Sunday, this photo shows the determined efforts of Hill’s boys to drive back Reynolds Corps.

A.P. Hill’s Corps was deployed along the Peach Orchard and The Wheat field and was ordered to press an attack against Sickles III Corps, this being out on a salient of high ground, proud of the Union line.

Attacking Sickles

Heth’s division attacks Union III Corps near the Wheatfield.

On the Union side the guys were a little stretched with their deployment initially, Sedgewick was coming in from the east, Pleasonton was out to the North East battling with Stuart and remnants of his Corps.

Cut them off

Heth’s division looks to cut Sickles off.

So with the scene set and the deployment available to the remaining Corps it was over to the Generals for the weekend.

Early in the day the Union began moving their troops from Reynold’s I Corps on to Round top, Little Round top was garrisoned by the artillery of I corps and a couple of brigades from the same corps.

The rest of the Union line stretched along the Cemetery ridge down to the Angle, then around and over Cemetery Hill and along to Culps Hill. The Confederates as mentioned earlier had converged two of their Corps under Longstreet and Ewell and began driving hard at the “Angle”, brigade after brigade began to “doublequick” toward the Union line. Howard’s XI Corps braced itself for the inevitable crunch and began moving the rest of their Corps west from Culp’s Hill to bolster the defence of Cemetery Hill and the Angle. This could be an ideal opportunity for Jubal Early’s division to arrive through the trees in front of Culp’s Hill.

Howards division

Howards men manning the defences on top of Culp’s Hill.

Over on the Union left the troops began to manoeuvre to support Sickles III Corps, who instead of falling back, began to attack the Confederate divisions coming toward them. The Union V Corps was coming forward in direct support, while the I Corps came down from the Roundtops into the Devils Den and began advancing toward the Confederate divisions of A.P.Hill’s III Corps.

Battle in the Peach Orchard

Fighting begins for the Peach Orchard.

The Union forces under Hancock massed on and behind Cemetery ridge began to pound the advancing Brigades from Longstreet’s Corps, the Union reserve batteries slowly moving into position in support of the II Corps.

Over on the Confederate right opposite the Angle the Divisions of Ewell’s Corps were pressing on, the terrain mean’t that they were coming in on a narrow front, but these were some of the best troops with many Crack and Veteran troops in their ranks.

The opening salvo’s from Cemetery ridge cut great swathes through the Confederate troops, the inferno of Cannon fire depleting the batteries ammunition on the ridge very quickly. So much so that three of the batteries had to stop firing to replenish their supplies. This wasn’t a problem though as the reserve batteries then took up the fight. The chap controlling the Cemetery ridge had a tremendous amount of luck, rolling “9” and “0”’s in rapid succession, causing the Rebs to remove two stands at a time from their Brigades. On the Rebs came, very much in the style of Pickett!

The Ridge

Into the wall of death came the rebel lines.

McLaws Division was linking the I Corps with II Corps, the Angle becoming a Hotbed of fire fights, the low wall providing a buttress for the Union defenders of Howards Corps. Ewells Boys pressed on supported by McLaws and Hood. It was at this point that Hood caught a shrapnel burst tearing his arm from his body. While this brave Confederate was removed from the field his division pressed up the slope to Cemetery ridge and the Angle.

Johnson’s Division pressed North past the Angle on to Cemetery Hill, Rodes linked with McLaws and charged into the Angle pressing the end of Cemetery ridge. The first turns of combat were desperate, with the Confederates temporarily capturing the Angle, only to be repulsed by Howard’s boys in blue! The Confederates rallied and went at it again, over the wall and on to the Union reserves in Howards Corps. It was around this time that news arrives from scouts of Pleasonton’s Corps of Confederates in the woods north of Culp’s Hill (due to the majority of the Union Cavalry remaining off table, this enhanced the spot by this force for any covert manoeuvring)

Battle at Culp's hill

Early springs from the cover of the woods outside the defences of Culp’s Hill but is repulsed.

Howard’s remaining Divisions swung back to the defence of the hill, rushing back into their temporary bulwarks.

Meanwhile over in Devils Den, the Wheat field and the Peach Orchard, the battle raged on. Sickles Corps was conducting a desperate last stand while the Union’s I and V Corps pressed on in support. A.P.Hill was suffering something of a bloody nose, but his boys were pressing home the attack, pushing the Union III Corps back on it’s supports.

Lee began sending out requests for Stuart, where was he, what were the movements of the Union Cavalry?

The day closed with the Union holding all along the original line except for the round tops and the Angle, the former being bypassed on to the other side of Devils Den. Facing Hill’s Boys and drawing a line north east to the base of Cemetery ridge.

The Confederates held the Angle!

Just as the light faded, the troops of Sykes V Corps reported large bodies of Confederate Cavalry moving in behing Hill’s Corps, while on Cemetery ridge the troops of Hancock’s Corps reported firing upon Pickett’s division at extreme range.

Overnight the armies re-dressed their lines, the Union falling back on to the round tops and maintaining a line due North along Cemetery Ridge up to the Angle then North East to Cemetery Hill, then east along Culp’s Hill. During the night Early’s division was seen moving west to link up with the rest of Ewell’s Corps. The Union responded by manoeuvring parallel to them and supporting the rest of Howard’s Corps.

Sunday Morning, before the teams arrive.

The battlefield early on Sunday morning, just before the players arrive and before the redeployment and collecting of stragglers.

A number of stragglers and lightly wounded came back to the colours over night and the battle began again in earnest. The Angle was attacked again, Lee overseeing the proceedings, both I and II Corps of the Army of Virginia thrust in to Howard’s defenders, the fighting was desperate.

Johnsons Division

Johnson’s Division pushing past the outskirts of Gettysburg, in an attept to capture Cemetery Hill.

Pickett took up Hood’s position opposite the Cemetery ridge, while Jeb Stuarts mounted brigades moved into a more central role preparing to take the ridge at a gallop! Pickett advanced to support the troops attacking the Union defenders of the Angle and all hell let loose as the lead brigades of Stuarts cavalry rode forward into range of the Union gun line on the ridge.

To the right of Stuart the troops of V Corps under Sykes began to swing on to the flank of the advancing cavalry, who themselves became flanked by the infantry from McLaws division who were looking to support the bold move of the confederates.

Over on the far right of the Confederate line opposite the round tops the Union again descended into the Den and began exchanging Volleys with the troops in Hill’s Corps, the exchange here became very bloody with Hill giving ground gradually.

Stuart

Stuarts charge!

The Confederates believed their chance was to take cemetery ridge with the massed cavalry charge along with infantry support. Once again they stormed the bloody Angle and pushed up on to the Ridge, again they were thrown back. The first brigades of Reb cavalry closed on the Union line, and the very first brigade checked, pulled up then retreated out of close range. The brigade beside this passed them and smashed into the Union line, pushing the blue clad infantry back. On came the rest of Stuarts cavalry.

Pickett Supports Stuart

Pickett’s division attacks in support of Stuarts charge.

Now was the time for the Union to commit all their reserves, the gun line strengthened, Sedgewick, (who had been held in reserve all day) stepped up onto the ridge and opened fire on to the luckless cavalry. The firing was so intense that a whole brigade seemed to disappear. The rest of the Cavalry retired out of close range and a desultory exchange of fire began to take place.

Reynolds on Roundtop

The Union I Corps takes up position early on Saturday morning.

Pickett’s division was knocked back but Rodes division made some headway, faltering just at the top of the ridge.

Ewell’s Corps attacked the defenders of Cemetery Hill but again were repulsed from the ridge!

Johnson

Johnson’s division battling it’s way toward Cemetery Hill

All in all the Union had won the day, holding the Confederates from their ridge, the idea of closing up the Corps, refusing their right flank and pushing in to the Angle nearly won it but the numbers told. In a valiant attempt the cavalry of Jeb Stuart looked as thought they were going to make it but they just couldn’t force the Union line back far enough.

All in all a great weekend, all the generals enjoyed their fight and went home talking of coming back for more!

The New Waterloo was played out last weekend at the Wargames Holiday Centre, as always the protagonists turned up for the game late Friday afternoon.

This version of Waterloo was going to be far different to any other I had played or indeed run before. We turned the whole battlefield around 180 degrees, this means that the new position for Plancenoit would be far more historical locating it more south of south-east from the French front line. Hougomont would also be better located geographically, being nearer the French deployment.

The French assault

The French assault the Papelotte area and ridge.

While I am on the subject of change, I’ve looked at some of the “In the Grand Manner” rulings and taken advice from people out there who play a great deal and made a few changes. Key ones being that there is no more “doubling” unless routing or charging, (people always forget whether it was two or three turns since they last doubled). This has been encompassed with the “tactical march” formations are allowed to make a tactical march move anywhere on the table. The whole turn must be in this manoeuvre, the change of formation being in the following turn, unless the unit is receiving a charge.

moving to occupy Plancenoit

The French move on Plancenoit.

This means reserves can be brought into place quickly while losing nothing of the feel of the game.

British Hussars

British Light Cavalry.

The sides were chosen, the tiles written and the tactics discussed and put into practice.

Veterans outside Frischermont

French Veterans line out just outside Plancenoit, near Frischermont.

We have had some new additions at the WHC in the last few weeks, Dave Docherty of One man and his brushes fame has painted a beautiful new battalion of British Foot Guards specifically for the replay on the anniversary. He also put a surprise into play by presenting us with a scratch built Rocket troop using Front Rank RHA, converting the gunners to hold rockets and building a rocket launcher from wire. Fantastic!!!!

Massed French Troops pour forward

French Troops from D’Erlos Corps and Kellermanns Cavalry pour forward on Saturday afternoon.

The French deployment was fairly historical with limitations put on them by me, the Umpire. All the Guard were held in reserve, either side of the Brussels highway south of La Belle Alliance along with Lobau’s Vi Corps. The Allies were deployed in the usual place behind the ridge, the British Guards being deployed at Hougomont with the rest of the army being deployed right down to Papelotte. Any divisions held behind the ridge were to be represented by a single tile, thus giving nothing away to the French.

The die was cast and battle was set, the first turn on tiles was completed and people retired for an evening of merriment at the local.

Saturday morning saw the battle begin in earnest, with the Prussians now having so much room to deploy and a nine to ten foot distance to get to Plancenoit they were seen right from the off! Lobau began manoeuvring toward Plancenoit. The Corps of Reille began the bombardment of the ridge, while Jerome’s division began the attack on Hougomont.

D’Erlons Corps began to probe the Papelotte position and the ridge to the west of this farm. All the French Heavy Cavalry corps were held in reserve waiting for the moment to smash through.

KGL engage the Cuirassier

The Cuirassier of Milhaud’s Corps take on the KGL brigade of cavalry early on Saturday afternoon.

Along the Allied line the British and Hanoverian troops awaited the impending assault, the light battalion of the KGL opened fire on the French Division of Girard as it started into the garden of the farm house, all the skirmish screen being shot away in short order.

The assault on Hougomont was getting tense for the allies, the Guard battalion holding the Orchard was reinforced by another battalion of Guards and the initial exchanges saw the first battalion of Guards become decimated by close range fire from Reilles artillery. The resulting melee in the Orchard saw the Guards give ground, being reduced to half strength!

Early on the Saturday

Prussian Cavalry push on to Plancenoit.

Around Papelotte the news that the Prussians were arriving gave the commanders there confidence. Vandeleurs light cavalry brigade pushed forward to link up with the Prussian brigades freshly arrived. This prompted Milhaud’s Cavalry Corps moving west to counter this while Kellermanns Cavalry supported the two divisions of D’Erlons corps that was fast approaching the ridge.

Prussian Horse Battery goes down!

A Prussian Horse Battery is overrun by French infantry near Plancenoit.

By lunch time on Saturday, the Prussians were fully engaged with Lobau’s troops and the fighting east of Plancenoit and Frischermont began in earnest. The battle raged back and forth! More Prussians were arriving all the time and the French needed to hold, so some talk of the Young Guard being released was mentioned.

A view of the Massed French attack.

The French Assault on the Allied ridge.

Vandeleur’s Light Dragoon regiments ran into the lead regiments of Milhaud’s Cuirassier and the bloody engagement saw several squadrons drawn into the fight. A flippant remark by the Umpire saw all the brigade of plucky Light Dragoons committed against a full regiment of Cuirassier, poor Bob only managed one six out of twenty four though and the Cuirassier squadron threw four out of his twelve. Vandeleur scurried back to the ridge with his tail between his legs. (Sorry Bob, I’ll keep my mouth shut next time).

Carabinier and Dragoons

Heavy cavalry from Kellermanns Corps.

L'Heritiers Dragoons

L’Heritiers Dragoons, probably the most successful cavalry of the battle.

The ridge to the east of La Haye Sainte was fast being approached by the two French divisions from D’Erlons Corps amd the Allies responded by sending the 95th Rifles out to enfilade the advancing mass in the flank. The plucky commander of the divisions pressed his attack home though and beat the Highlanders holding the ridge here. The Dragoons and Carabinier from Kellermanns Corps were preparing to ride down the resulting mass of unformed infantry when the Union brigade emerged from behind the ridge.

Scots Greys emerge from over the ridge and into the Fray.

Deathhhhh!

Scots Greys meet their match.

The Scots Greys and Inniskilling Dragoons led the charge and the two cavalry forces collided in the biggest cavalry melee of the weekend. The fight went the full three rounds with all the reserves being drawn in. The infantry were saved, but the Union brigade was shattered, then Kellermann rallied the Carabinier and Dragoons and roused them for another charge, this time running down the Brunswick Foot Artillery and the remaining cavalry from Vandeluer’s brigade.

Lobau

Commander of the French VI Corps, Lobau.

Still the Prussians pushed on, there were now four brigades on the table and still more on their way, could the French hold?

Time for a well earned pint and a slap up meal.

Sunday dawned, the guys turned up bright eyed and bushy tailed and we set off again. The casualties from the area of Hougomont were light on both sides. La Haye had not been troubled, however, at the eastern end of the battlefield Papelotte, Frischermont, Smohain and Plancenoit were carnage.

The French commanders decided to release the Young Guard and the Guard cavalry. To the east of Hougomont the Household cavalry had shown their face in support of the Dutch and Belgian cavalry and the Cavalry of the French Guard were moving to stop them and support the taking of the Chateau. The British Life Guards had got lucky and managed to ride down two battalions of Frenchmen just outside the Orchard to the east of Hougomont!

Outside Plancenoit the Prussians again poured forward, volleys from Lobau’s Corps crashing into the Blue and Black ranks of Germans. One of the Prussian artillery batteries from Bulow’s corps was overrun during a counter attack by the French infantry. There were now six brigades of Prussians on the field, stretching from east of Plancenoit, north through Frischermont to Smohain and now linking up with the British division occupying Papelotte.

The French divisions of Durutte and Marcognet renewed the assault in the Papelotte area, covered by the Cuirassier of Milhaud’s Cavalry Corps. The melee saw the French repulsed but they rallied and readied themselves again.

Overview of Papelotte ridge

The Papelotte area on the Sunday.

Will this be enough?

The Brunswick Corps along with their British Allies move to plug the gap.

At this point in the battle Duhesme and the divisions of the Young Guard were seen moving toward the Papelotte area, column of attack they marched resolutely on. The British realised they didn’t have anything to stop them now, they needed the Prussians to press the attack and put the French on the back foot in the Papelotte and Smohain area. It was slow work but the Prussians were trying.

In Hougomont the Guards moved to the edge of the Orchard, opening up on the French infantry of Jerome’s division. The French held their ground, these brave Frenchmen were holding up one Guards division and two of the Dutch/Belgian divisions in the area not to mention the Dutch/Belgian cavalry and the Household Cavalry that were committed here!

The Farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, still sat unmolested, the French division sitting on the Garden of the farmhouse trading shots with the KGL Lights inside.

Lunchtime on the Sunday saw the Old Guard released, the mass of nine battalion of Bearskins started their inexorable advance to the Allied ridge. By the time the Young Guard had finished with what remained of the defenders of the ridge between Papelotte and La Haye Sainte, it would be easy for the Grumblers.

The Young Guard advance.

So the battle came to a natural finish, the Allied forces had nothing to stop the French advance, their infantry around Papelotte had been decimated, the French cavalry had won the day and punched a large hole in the Allied line. The Prussians were slowly making headway but only around Smohain and Plancenoit.

The Young Guard advance to the ridge.

At the end of Sunday it was agreed that the French had won the day.

It was a new way of fighting the battle, the Prussians had started on turn 2, which may seem early but historically they were seen on the field as early as 13.30, Prussian Hussars being captured. Napoleon had seen them from the heights of Rossomme.

Advancing over nine feet means that the French can manoeuvre to stop them, should the Prussians succeed in getting their brigades on in force early it may have been a different story, but the first three brigades of Bulow were followed by a belated brigade from Pirch and then Ziethen, finally their last brigade arriving into the melting pot around lunchtime.

French Cuirassier

French Cuirassier pressing the Prussians at Smohain.

I decided to allow the French to make their own decision as to when they could release the Guard. I explained that the key features would carry victory points which would increase or decrease in value, depending on the arrival of the Prussians. There was a negative effect to these “victory points” if the various Guard units were released and when. So it was up to them if they wanted to throw the Old Guard in on turn 2, it would carry massive minuses and may have cost them the battle. This is in an effort to make it their decision and bring something of the campaign effect into the game. The players all agreed that it worked very well and these are from the more seasoned campaigners!

Good news, so until the Gettysburg write up, roll high!

Dave Docherty has recently come back into the fold of historical Wargaming, he has taken his time and come back with something of a bang. To start with he painted a French Cavalry commander of heavy cavalry, suitably pinned and converted, this was a welcome addition to the Wargames Holiday Centre. Next came an entire Austrian Grenadier division and a single British Commander. You will have seen all these recently here in the Pic of the Day.

The latest addition though deserves a special review. Dave started with some Front Rank figures from his own collection (these figures are over ten years old). He started with coverting these, replacing officers hands and weapons along with the sergeants spontoons. The Flags are GMB flags and the rest is all Daves!!

Here are a few shots of them.

Behind the Garden wall.

Close up

Behind the Garden wall a close up.

Overhead from another angle

A view from above.

overhead shot

A close up from above.

They are exceptionally nice and I was lucky enough to get them in use defending Hougomont recently.

The final piece is another Front Rank offering which Dave has converted, again the weapons have been replaced, Dave making the rockets himself and the launcher.

Front

A front view of the Rocket troop.

Right Side

A side view of the Rocket troop.

Left side

A left side view of the Rocket troop.

Brilliant, thank you very much Dave.

Fuentes D’Onoro 1811.

This weekend was to be our second foray into the Spanish peninsular! The French and the Allies were decided, the tactics discussed and the tiles laid out! Early on the first day the French under Marshal Massena began to probe the allied defensive line. We started the manoeuvreing on the first day of the battle, 3rd May.

Kings German Legion Move out to engage the French Cavalry

The Kings German Legion manoeuvre into position.

The French pushed hard all along the Allied lines, they pressed the defenders of Fuentes d’Onoro ealt on but were repulsed with minor losses.

Portuguese in Square

Troops of the Portuguese division form square to defend against Montbrun’s cavalry.

The British moving the Portuguese Divisions out to the far right of their lines to attempt to prevent a sweeping flank move by Montbruns cavalry, which appeared to be moving en-masse to turn the allied right flank.

Some Pseudo Frenchmen

Some of our Bavarian troops utilised as french allies within the divisions of french infantry.

Outnumbered significantly the Portuguese Cavalry brigade did far better than anyone expected, one regiment of them routing a French Hussar regiment and then a Polish Lancer regiment from the field in quick succession.

The British Divisions move to counterattack near Fuentes D'Onoro

British infantry moving to support the flank of Fuentes D’Onoro.

All along the front the Allied infantry poured fire into the advancing columns of French infantry. One British battalion got caught by Dragoons in line and were cut down mercilessly!

Across the river and up the slope to the village

The first assault against the village of fuentes d’Onoro, this brave attempt was thwarted.

The Battle began to intensify and the French charged the ridge with the Highlanders tenaciously hanging on, disputing every inch of ground. Three rounds of combat saw the French repulsed, but the Highlanders were shattered albeit at the cost of three battalions of French first class line infantry.

British defence

British infantry in the Allied defence line.

The French withdrew due to pressure on their flanks by an advance of the British line pouring volleys into the regrouping French infantry. The advance of the British infantry was stopped by the presence of another regiment of French Dragoons.

The exchange of fire was fierce!

The exchange of fire was dramatic, this french battery of D’Erlon’s corps was severely hit by the Allied defence line.

The battle rolled back and forth for the rest of the afternoon. The casualties mounting on both sides.

Moving to support the right flank

British Light Dragoons moving out to support the pressure on the allied right flank.

Sunday morning, saw the French looking to wrest the ridge from the British by taking up a 36″ redeployment of their troops, essentially this meant that during the historical second day of the battle, the 4th May, the players would be allowed to reposition their troops up to 36″, this hopefully simulates the re-organisation of the divisions during the “quiet” day preceding the renewal of hostilities.

British line with Rifle skirmishers

The light division deployed on the Sunday to stop the advance of the French Corps of Loison.

The British stuck to their ridge, redeploying some of their battered divisions to the rear while the remaining intact ones stayed put and steeled themselves for the next round.

Loisons corps, which had been kept in reserve during Saturday was sept out to the oposite of the Allied right. The die was cast and the game afoot.

Chasseurs du Po. Part of Loisons Corps

Chasseurs du Po, lining out to exchange fire with the British Light Division.

The combined Grenadiers battalions in the french army drove foward toward Fuentes again, the British Line infantry opened up at long range and smashed the leading battalion with several volleys, two at long range, two more at effective and then one at short when the French charged! French columns from Drouets division driving either side of the village and encountering the supporting battalions, denying the holders of the vilage with support at a crucial moment. Credit to the troops of the combined Grenadiers, they got into the village, ejecting the defenders after the second round of combat.

The French immediately put a fresh Grenadier battalion into the village and braced themselves for the counter attack.

More of the allied defence

The lines of the Allied defence, a dash forward, followed by a quick wihdrawal to regain the safety of the allied ridge.

The Allied right saw the advance of Loison’s Corps and met it with the Light Division, Loison deployed his troops into line and exchanged volleys wth the redoubtable Craufurds boys, not too wise a decision you may think, but a brigade of French Light cavalry drew up on the right flank of the British rifles and appeared over a ridge in time to catch the green jackets in open order! The ensuing charge and volley at effective range emptied fifty percent of the saddles of the chasseurs, amazingly they thundered on, breaking through the rifles and on into the light infantry behind them cutting them down! They fell back after the breakthrough to regroup for another charge.

Charging in to cut down the Rifles

The light cavalry manoeuvred onto the flank of the Light Division and broke into a charge.

This galvanised Loison into pressing his attack, the British Light Division was made of stern stuff, they turned on the advancing French and gave ground gradually reaping a heavy toll.

Poles moving to the assault

Polish infantry advancing to assault the British line of defence across the river Dos Casas.

At the village of Fuentes, the British re-launched the assault with the best part of a division,storming down on to the grenadiers garrisoning it. The French managed two volleys before the Oxfordshire and Devonshire regiments crashed into them, the melee was bloody with a total of seven battalions on the British side and five on the French. The Grenadiers crumbled and fled from the village taking their supports with them.

All in all the British had held the line and the French had been badly mauled! Historically the deployment of the troops had been quite different, The result was the same, but the British had lost a few more of their choice troops than Wellington managed to lose, the British Guards took few casualties and really didn’t get involved being held as a reserve that never got used, the French guard cavalry under Bessieres/Lepic didn’t move out all game, which could have been a great disappointment to the french players, yet as it turned out remained somewhat historical.

The Battle of Blenheim was our first Marlburian re-play at the Wargames Holiday Centre. I was quite excited at the prospect. The test games had offered a smooth playable game with a hell of a lot of accuracy. I couldn’t wait.

The battlefield was laid out in detail, the Nebel Stream, the villages of Blenheim, Oberglau and Unterglau were all in place. All we needed was a team of guys to play the parts of the commanders.

The view of the field from the river Danube

Taken early Sunday morning, the view of the battle from the river Danube, Blenheim is in the foreground.

This weekend proved to be a little special, one of the team members had been away from the hobby for over thirty years and was a little concerned that he may need a bit more experience in gaming before coming along. He was the first person to turn up, so I went through some of the basics of the rules (thankfully he is quite experienced in the period so all the concepts were readily accepted and appreciated). We set about writing the tiles out for the various regiments. Once all the tiles were written it was time to decide on the strategy to win the day.

The French infantry take position.

The French infantry manoeuvre into position to hold the line west of Blenheim.

The British and their allies deployed as they were historically, Cutts deployed in front of Blenheim, Ingoldsby, Blood, Orkney and Churchill in the Centre, supported by Bulow and Rantzau with their respective cavalry formations, on the allied right Eugene of Savoy deployed with a mix of Swabian, German, Dutch and Prussian troops.

Deployment across the Nebel

Cutt’s brigade deploys in force over the Nebel stream.

The French were restricted in their deployment, Tallard and Clerambault deployed behind and in and around Blenheim. The French Cavalry held the Centre while the Elector of Bavaria held the French left flank opposite Eugene of Savoy.

The French manoeuvre to keep the line.

The French under Marshal Tallard look to replace their cavalry in the battle line.

The first turn saw the British and Hanoverian Cavalry under Rantzau and Cutts advance toward the Nebel to drop Fascines into the stream to help get their infantry across. The artillery deployed opposite Blenheim and in the centre and opened fire.

The stand off with the French Gendarmes

Cutt’s brigade is halted by the repeated charges of the French Gendarmes.

The French, roused from their camps were a little slow to get going, but once the activity of the Allies in their crossing of the Nebel was appreciated their cavalry swarmed forward to hinder the crossing of the stream.

Swabian advance over the bridge on the Nebel.

Swabian foot advance early in the battle, using a bridge to deploy quickly across the Nebel Stream.

The cavalry on the allied right wing under Eugene galloped forward in an attempt to drive the supporting troops back from around Oberglau and the woods surrounding it. The Austrian Cuirassier under the Prince of Hanover charged into the Bavarian Carabinier on the far right of Eugene’s position. They were met at the halt and received a volley at short range from the pistols of the Carabiniers. The resulting melee saw the Cuirassier retire to re-group.

Bavarian Cavalry move to engage

Bavarian cavalry move to engage Prince Eugenes forces, early in the battle.

A battalion of the Bavarian Lieb Guard were in the village of Oberglau and they prepared their position in readiness for the impending assault. The Saxon Garde obliged and fired a volley at effective range and then charged into the village. The brave Bavarians were facing out of an adjacent side of the village and could not fire a volley at these chargers, in the melee they held on though and the Saxons had to retire. Three times the Saxons charged back into the village and three times they were repulsed. After a while the Bavarians re-inforced the village with a couple of regiments of Bavarian line.

Bavarian moves to Obrglau

Bavarian infantry move into Oberglau to support the 3rd Lieb Battalion.

Surely it would be impossible now.

Austrian Hussars from Eugenes wing

Austrian Hussars emerge from the woods on the flank of the Bavarians, looking to break the deadlock..

Meanwhile over on the French right in Blenheim, Clerambault panicked and threw four more battalions into Blenheim, much to the annoyance of their commander. The rest of the force however managed to by pass the village and took up position on the high ground just opposite the Nebel stream, where Cutts brigade was crossing.

French in Blenheim

The French heavily ensconced within the streets of Blenheim.

The French cavalry had dashed forward to engage any troops crossing the Nebel, which slowed down the British and Hanoverians deployment somewhat from in front of Blenheim toward the centre of the battle near the village of Unterglau, the whole area was cautiously advancing.

Crossing the Nebel

Cutt’s Brigade begins it’s advance.

The Hessians and Palatinate troops rolled forward however, they were not impeded by the stream so much to their front, allowing a free movement, driving volley after volley into the French cavalry that had looked to delay them.

Germans of Ingoldsbys command

Ingoldsby’s German’s push on, firing repeated volleys in an effort to clear the French cavalry.

Marlborough was everywhere urging his troops on!

The reserve of Bulow and Rantzau awaited their moment, positioned behind the main Allied army. Cutts was making slow progress and the crossing of the Nebel caused a certain amount of disruption. Most of the brigade was across the stream now, but to little gain as the French infantry were now replacing their cavalry in the line and the exchange of volleys picked up a pace. Orkney and Ingoldsby took their place in the line linking up Cutts brigade with Eugene’s wing.

Engaging the Bavarian foot

Prince Eugene’s troops move in to support the attack on Oberglau, these troops tied up a lot of the support going to Oberglau.

The British and Hanoverian infantry of Cutts Brigade formed lines of battle three and four battalions deep and stepped forward. On their right came Orkneys British Battalions and then Ingoldsby’s Hessians and Palatinates, to their right were the Saxons, Swabians, Prussians and Dutch of Eugenes force.

The view from Eugenes wing

The view from Eugenes wing.

The French Horse, Cuirassier du Roi and Gendarmes took up position to further delay the advance and began exchanging shots with the advancing lines. They really needed to delay the advancing British to allow their infantry to deploy.

The Hanoverians, supported by a battalion of the British Guards moved on Blenheim, another two French Battalions were fed into Blenheim. The volleys erupted all along the line.

The British deploy at Blenheim

The British and Hanoverians deploy before Blenheim.

Over on the Electors front, Oberglau was hotly contested, there were now three battalions in the village and the Prussians and Saxons were taking a heavy toll on them. Still they hung on though. The whirling mass of cavalry on the far flank of this part of the battlefield continued to charge, take fire and then retire, regroup and go again! Eugenes troops were having a tough time in breaking the Bavarian wing.

The Gemans of Eugenes wing advance,

The Germans of Prince Eugene advancing into the Maelstrom!

Toward late afternoon it was decided to commit Cutts cavalry regiments to the centre and try to turn the Bavarian right, this would cause a hole to appear, the only troops linking the French with the Bavarians were the Bavarian cavalry

Cutt's cavalry deploys in support of Ingoldsby

The British horse from Cutt’s brigade deploys in support of Ingoldsby, they would be smashing into the Bavarian flank shortly.

Time for the pub now though, a well earned pint and a meal while the finer points of the day were discussed.

Sunday morning, bright eyed and bushy tailed the swords were picked up again and the Allies renewed their attack. The artillery bombardment of Blenheim was proving useless, so it was agreed that the Hanoverians would have to drive the French out, the down side was that their were a lot of French in the village now, so it was going to be tough work.

Early Sunday morning

A view of the battlefield early on the Sunday morning, just before the commanders arrived.

Cutts cavalry reached a bridge across the Nebel and began crossing, this wasn’t unnoticed by the French high command and they began extricating their own cavalry and moving to engage this new threat.

Rantzau was also moved up to support the central advance, the Danish Cuirassier eyeing the new formations of French infantry and artillery. British Horse moved up to the stream and began to cross.

Along the whole front the volleys started again, Frenchmen began to fall at an alarming rate as the British began closing the distance to a short range contest! Some of the battalions proved a little eager and settled into firefights at long and effective range and only the commanders themselves could resolve the problem, urging the troops to close the range.

The Duel begins

The British lines close with the French into short range, a lot of casualties were given and receivd throughout this action, the lines being withdrawn and replaced by fresh ones all to no avail.

The Bavarians had began something of a counter attack, the casualty rate had proved quite high though, even to the point where some of their Land (militia) regiments were now nearing the front lines. The cavalry battle on the very far wing here continued a pace, all the cavalry had now been in action and suffered thirty to forty percent casualties.

Cutt’s cavalry had made the crossing and charged into the Bavarian cavalry holding the centre, if this was lost the French would be split from the Bavarian allies, the flanks would be exposed and all could be lost. The Bavarians stood their ground, gave fire and held the British Horse off! The British retired, regrouped and looked to assault again.

In the Centre of the battlefield the main French and British armies stood toe to toe, mostly at short range and blew great swathes of the battalions down! Nothing gave though, the Wing command of Eugene and the Elector had worn each other down, the Bavarians keeping their position and the upper hand.

The British infantry of Cutt’s brigade tried several attempts at charging the French line only to be repulsed, while the Cavalry of Cutt’s brigade again charged the Bavarian cavalry, looking to drive a wedge between the two armies. Six regiments of British Horse and Dragoon charged again and again, but the stalwart Bavarians held their ground.
The Danish Cuirassier and British Horse filed past the Battle lines of the British infantry and deployed into line. Fire from the French emptied a few saddles, but it proved ineffective at long range. When they were ready they charged forward into the Guns and French Battalions, the fire was poor from the French, only one or two figures were lost and the cavalry smashed into the French, cutting one French battalion down to a stand, they broke and ran! The second line of infantry remained stalwart though. The second wave of cavalry smashed into the line, a hammer blow to break the back of the French battle line, the fire was better this time, one regiment of Horse losing forty percent of it’s men. On they went, into the French infantry, in the ensuing melee the second line of Frenchmen fared better than the first, they were fresher I suppose and the cavalry fell back and looked to reform.

British Horse supports their Danish Cuirassier friends

The British horse from Rantzau’s command advance in support of the charging Danish Cuirassier.

On the Allied far left in front of Blenheim the British and Hanoverians were now in position to push forward on to Blenheim. The French held their fire until the last minute and shot away twenty five percent of the front battalions, still the British advanced and returned the volley. Then they charged, into the streets of Blenheim the hand to hand fighting was bloody. The British looked to their Hanoverian counterparts for support but the luckless Germans broke and fled, leaving the British battalions alone and outnumbered.

The assault on Blenheim

The British and Hanoverian infantry charge into the streets of Blenheim, after some bitter fighting the Hanoverians broke, the british were left with no other option than to retire.

Eventually the British had to retire from the village, they reformed ready for another assault but it was felt that the Allies had lost their chance, the battle was lost and the army began to retire in good order. The French had held the field, the Bavarians had held but suffered huge casualties, I suppose that this would have taken them out of future campaigning. The British and Allied cavalry was still in good condition

Another day perhaps.