“In Dixie Land I’ll Make My Stand”: Building a 10mm Confederate Army (Part 3)

Rodes’ Division at Gettysburg

As discussed in Part 1 and Part 2 of this series, I’ve been building 10mm Confederate and Union armies for the American Civil War, using the orders of battle for the first day of the iconic Battle of Gettysburg as my immediate ‘to do’ list.  On that day, the leading elements of General A. P. Hill’s Confederate III Corps encountered Buford’s Union 1st Cavalry Division near the Pennsylvania town of Gettysburg.  The battle rapidly sucked in the rest of the III Corps, as well as Ewell’s Confederate II Corps, Reynolds’ Union I Corps, Howard’s Union XI Corps and Slocum’s Union XII Corps.  Over the next few days the battle would suck in the rest of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia and the Union Army of the Potomac.

My ACW armies are organised for Brigade Fire & Fury rules, which are now in their second edition, whereby each unit or troops represents a brigade, each stand of troops represents 200 men and each gun model represents eight guns.

Major General Robert E. Rodes had rather unusually, never served in the regular pre-war U.S. Army.  He had been educated at the Virginia Military Institute (VMI) and upon graduation had been given a place on the VMI teaching staff.  However, a senior professorship was denied to him when Thomas Jackson (later to be immortalised as ‘Stonewall’ Jackson) was selected for that post.  Leaving the VMI, Rodes then embarked on a successful career as the senior civil engineer for the Alabama and Chattanooga Railroad Company.

Upon the outbreak of war, Rodes was commissioned into the Confederate Army as Colonel of the 5th Alabama Infantry in Ewell’s Brigade, but very quickly found himself promoted to Brigadier-General, commanding a brigade of D. H. Hill’s Division.  Badly wounded at Seven Pines, he returned to action at Gaine’s Mill, but was again hospitalised due to the effects of wounds and sickness.  Once recovered, he returned to D. H. Hill’s Division, as part of Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia.  Quickly proving himself as an excellent brigade commander, he successfully held one of the hottest sectors of the bloody battlefield Antietam, the Sunken Road, though was wounded once again.

In 1863 Rodes was appointed to command a division in Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s Corps, becoming the very first one of Lee’s divisional commanders who had not graduated from West Point.  At Chancellorsville, Rodes’ Division led the devastating flank attack that broke the Union XI Corps.  Mortally wounded at Chancellorsville, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson ordered from his death-bed that Rodes be promoted to Major General.

On 1st July 1863, Rodes’ 3rd Division was the first formation of Ewell’s II Corps to arrive on the field of Gettysburg, emerging from the wooded Oak Hill to attack the right flank of the Union I Corps along the railroad cut and the Mummasburg Road.  However, Rodes was uncharacteristically cautious during the pursuit of the broken Union formations and they were able to successfully disengage and reform on Cemetery Hill.  Rodes’ Division then remained largely idle for the rest of the battle.

After Gettysburg, Rodes continued to have a successful career as a divisional commander, though at the Third Battle of Winchester in September 1864 he was struck in the head by a Union shell fragment and was killed instantly.

Above:  Rodes’ 3rd Division of II Corps on parade.  For this formation I used all Pendraken’s ‘marching’ poses, including the ‘Right Shoulder Shift’ pack.

Above: Brigadier General Junius Daniel’s 1st Brigade was the strongest brigade in the division, being formed from the 32nd, 43rd, 45th & 53rd North Carolina Infantry Regiments and the 2nd North Carolina Battalion (I’m not sure why this last unit was identified as a ‘Battalion’ – a reserve/replacement unit, perhaps?).  This brigade arrived on the right of Rodes’ Division and was immediately thrown into some bitter fighting along the railroad cut, consequently suffering high casualties.  Starting the battle with 2,160 men (11 bases in Brigade Fire & Fury), the division suffered 950 casualties, equating to 44%.

Above:  Brigadier George Doles’ 2nd Brigade was formed from the 4th, 12th, 21st & 44th Georgia Infantry Regiments and started the Battle of Gettysburg with 1,325 men (7 bases in Brigade Fire & Fury).  The Brigade suffered proportionately light casualties during the four days of the battle, losing 220 men or 17% of its strength.

Above: Brigadier General Alfred Iverson’s 3rd Brigade was formed from the 5th, 12th, 20th & 23rd North Carolina Infantry Regiments, totalling 1,385 men (7 bases in Brigade Fire & Fury).  Being placed in the centre of Rodes’ line and thrown into the ‘angle’ between Cutler’s and Baxter’s Union Brigades, the brigade suffered proportionately heavy losses; 900 men or 65% of their strength.

Above:  Brigadier General Stephen D. Ramseur’s 4th Brigade was yet another formation from North Carolina, comprising the 2nd, 4th, 14th & 30th North Carolina Infantry Regiments.  The brigade started Gettysburg with 1,025 men and suffered the loss of 280, or 27% of its strength.

Above:  Colonel Edward A. O’Neal’s 5th Brigade was formed from the 3rd, 5th, 6th, 12th and 26th Alabama Infantry Regiments (as mentioned above, Rodes had been Colonel of the 5th Alabama in 1861), for a total of 1,688 men (9 bases).  The brigade suffered relatively high losses; 695 men or 41% of its strength.

Above:  Lieutenant Colonel Thomas H. Carter’s Divisional Artillery Battalion comprised four batteries, each of four guns:

Captain Reese’s Jefferson Davis Alabama Artillery (4x Ordnance 3-inch Rifles).
Captain Carter’s King William Virginia Artillery (2x 12pdr Napoleons & 2x 10pdr Parrott Rifles).
Captain Page’s Morris Virginia Artillery (4x 12pdr Napoleons).
Captain Fry’s Orange Virginia Artillery (2x Ordnance 3-inch Rifles & 2x 10pdr Parrott Rifles).

In Brigade Fire & Fury, each gun model represents a ‘battery’ of eight guns, so the sixteen guns are here represented by two models; namely an iron 10pdr Parrott Rifle and a brass 12pdr Napoleon.  In game terms these are classed as a battery of ‘Light Rifles’ and a battery of mixed ‘Rifles & Napoleons’.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  All the models are by Pendraken.  More ACW stuff to come, including A.P. Hill’s Confederate Division, Confederate cavalry and the Union XII Corps.

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, American Civil War Confederate Army, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Painted Units | 2 Comments

My 2019/2020 Demo Game: The Cassinga Raid, Angola 1978 (Part 5: The Scenario)

As discussed in the previous articles here, here and here, I decided last year to do a demo game based on the controversial 1978 Cassinga Raid, which was an early engagement in South Africa’s ‘Border War’ in Angola.  I took it to Warfare 2019 in Reading last November, where it won the trophy for Best Demo Game and I’ll be taking it to two more shows in 2020 – Partizan 2020 in Newark in May and Crusade 2020 in Penarth, which takes place in two weeks, on Saturday 25th January.

I don’t yet have any players for either show, so let me know if you want to come and play! 🙂

The game is designed for Battlefront: First Echelon, which is my own long-in-development Cold War variant of Battlefront: WWII by Fire & Fury Games.  However, this scenario (and indeed much of the Border War) is so low-tech that the Battlefront: WWII rules can be used as they are, using the appropriate unit cards and scenario rules (see below).

So as I haven’t posted it yet, here’s the full scenario:

The Cassinga Raid, 4th May 1978

Historical Overview

The Angolan Civil War began in 1975 following the sudden end of Portuguese colonial rule in the country and the subsequent scramble for power by various rival independence movements.  The Soviet Union and Cuba were very quick to throw their political and military backing behind the People’s Movement for the Liberation of Angola (MPLA) faction, who quickly defeated their US and South African-backed FNLA and UNITA rivals to become the de facto Angolan Government.

The MPLA soon began providing other African liberation movements with bases, protection and logistical support; most notably for the South-West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) and its military arm, the People’s Liberation Army of Namibia (PLAN).  SWAPO-PLAN rapidly began training guerrillas and launching raids across the border into South-West Africa (modern-day Namibia), which had been ruled by South Africa since the end of WW1.

By 1978 the South African Government decided that it could not tolerate any further attacks and ordered the South African Defence Force (SADF) to mount a limited strike into Angola, with the intention of destroying SWAPO-PLAN’s bases and thus preventing further raids.

Two mechanised spearheads of the SADF’s Operation REINDEER would strike at SWAPO-PLAN forward bases near the border, but the third spearhead would be a parachute assault on Objective ALPHA, which was SWAPO-PLAN’s main headquarters and training base at ‘Camp Moscow’ (the former mining settlement of Cassinga).  This assault succeeded by the skin of its teeth, with the paras completing their objective and extracting by helicopter just as a Cuban armoured relief column arrived to oppose them.

From a military standpoint, the Cassinga Raid proved to be highly effective (despite some extremely shoddy planning and potentially disastrous decisions) and SWAPO-PLAN operations reduced markedly during the following year.  However, it was politically disastrous for South Africa, being reported internationally as a deliberate attack on a refugee camp and as a ‘massacre of the innocents’.

Regardless of the controversies, the raid makes a very interesting tactical situation and we have based our scenario primarily on the dissertation by General Edward McGill Alexander, which seems to be the most balanced and comprehensive account of the battle produced to date.

Briefing for Colonel Jan Breytenbach, Commanding Officer, SADF Composite Parachute Battalion

Situation

The increased level of SWAPO-PLAN terrorist raids from Angola into South West Africa has become intolerable to the government and a limited offensive, code-named Operation REINDEER has been put in motion to seek out and destroy SWAPO-PLAN within their Angolan safe-havens.  Two of the three battlegroups taking part in the operation will be ground-based, but the newly-created 44 Parachute Brigade has been tasked with forming the third element of the operation; taking the fight to the enemy deep within Angola.

You have assembled a Composite Parachute Battalion from the Citizen’s Force reservist 2 & 3 Para Battalions, leavened with a sprinkling of regulars from 1 Para Battalion.  This will be inserted by parachute onto the SWAPO-PLAN base, designated Objective ALPHA (the former iron ore mine of Cassinga) and will then be extracted by helicopter.  The SAAF promises that there will be ample close air support for the assault.  The construction of a nearby SA-3 SAM site means that this type of operation will probably not be possible in the future, so you need to get the job done.

Mission

Your Composite Parachute Battalion is to assault the SWAPO-PLAN base at Cassinga, with the intention of inflicting maximum personnel and material losses on the enemy.

Execution – General Outline

The battalion will comprise a tactical headquarters, four understrength rifle companies, two independent rifle platoons, a mortar platoon and an anti-tank platoon, plus an airborne reserve consisting of a reinforced rifle company (see Order of Battle below).

Following electronic jamming and a preparatory air bombardment by the SAAF, the battalion will jump from C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall aircraft onto their designated DZs surrounding Objective ALPHA (see DZ Map below) and will assault the objective to achieve the Mission.  The Battalion will then extract by helicopter in two or three lifts as necessary, from the designated Helicopter Landing Zones (see LZ Map below).

Aside from those Cuban and other foreign advisors involved in training SWAPO, you are wherever possible, to avoid direct confrontation with FAPLA (Angolan Armed Forces), Cuban or other non-SWAPO military units.  There is a Cuban armoured battlegroup at Tetchamutete (only 15km to the south), consisting of a company of T-34 tanks and several companies of armoured infantry, but we are hoping that the SAAF jamming effort will restrict their ability to respond effectively to our operation.

Execution – Detailed Tasks

The sub-unit taskings are:

• A & B Companies, with the Battalion Headquarters and Mortar Platoon, will drop to the west and will directly assault the objective.

• C Company will drop to the east of the objective and will establish a stop-line to prevent enemy forces from escaping in that direction.

• D Company (-), with the Anti-Tank Platoon, will drop to the south of the objective and take the SWAPO Engineer Compound at the southern end of the town before establishing a stop-line to prevent escape, as well as to prevent any intervention from the Cuban garrison at Tetchamutete.

• E Company is the airborne reserve and will remain on board its C-160 Transall aircraft until called in to reinforce the operation.

• 11 Independent Platoon will land to the north of the objective and will assault the tented training camp before rendezvousing with the battalion.

• 9 Independent Platoon will land to the north of the objective and will assault a complex of brick buildings, thought to be the Cuban advisors’ accommodation, before establishing a stop-line to prevent escape along the road to the north.

• Further paratroops and a medical team are being deployed to defend the Helicopter Admin Area, which has been established deep in the Bush and well away from any enemy forces.

• We estimate that it will take two hours (8 turns) to subdue the SWAPO-PLAN garrison, retrieve documents and prisoners and destroy defensive weapons and structures. The first helicopter lift is therefore planned for 1000hrs (Turn 8).

Preparatory South African Air Attacks

During the Close Air support Phase of the South African Turn 1, the South African player will conduct a series of pre-planned air attacks on Cassinga.  These will happen automatically and there is no Call For Fire roll to bring these in.  There will also be no SWAPO AA fire:

1.  A formation of Canberra bombers will conduct an ‘Alpha-Bomb’ attack on the centre of Cassinga, timed to catch the bulk of the SWAPO personnel at the daily morning parade on the parade-ground.  These were hundreds of spherical, basket-ball sized fragmentation bombs, which would arm on impact, then bounce back up and explode at approximately 10 feet from the ground. Historically this attack probably caused the majority of casualties on the day. The beaten zone for the Alpha-Bombs is 4x Large IDF Templates wide by 4x Large IDF Templates deep (500x800m), centred on the road-junction in the centre of the town and aligned along the north-south main road.  This should completely encompass the parade-ground and a lot more besides. All SWAPO units within this beaten zone will be attacked with an air-to-ground modifier of +3. Units within Built-Up-Sectors, Bunkers and Trenches will gain an additional -1 cover modifier on top of their normal cover modifier, as these are light fragmentation weapons with little penetrative effect.

2.  Two Buccaneer ground-attack aircraft will attack the tented training camp and one of the identified AA sites (player’s choice) with bombs.  These aircraft may return in Turn 2 to make a second attack on these targets (which does not require an Air Support roll), or any target identified by the Forward Air Controllers (this DOES require a Call For Fire roll).  The Buccaneer attacks may not overlap the Canberra attack.  The Buccaneers will return to base at the end of Turn 2.

3.  Once the Canberras and Buccaneers have made their initial strikes, a single Mirage III may perform a single strafing run on any target (for this attack they do not need to be spotted and an Air Support roll is not required).  Note that the Mirage attack may in this instance overlap the Canberra or Buccaneer attacks and may therefore exploit any previous Disorder caused by the previous attacks. The Mirage will then return to base.

Parachute Drop Procedure

Each South African Manoeuvre Element (ME – a Company, Independent Platoon or Battlegroup HQ)  is allocated to a pre-determined Drop Zone (DZ), in accordance with the mission plan.  These DZs may not be changed.

Every ‘unit’ (i.e. individual troop-stand) in each South African ME is represented by a Drop Marker made of thin card or heavy paper (normal printer-paper is a bit too light for the job!) and matching the base-size of each unit.  The Drop Marker must display exactly what the unit type is and which ME it belongs to, exactly matching the order of battle.

Each ME’s Drop Markers are then arranged in a single row, along a 12-inch ruler, representing the ‘stick’ of paratroops.  The order of troops within the stick is entirely up to the South African player.

Once the initial air attacks on Cassinga have been completed (see above), hold another 12-inch ruler or dowel (or one of my flight-stands) vertically in the centre of a DZ and place the ruler holding the appropriate ME ‘stick’ across the top of it, to make a ‘T’.  Each ‘stick’ of Paras must be aligned north-south.

As an extra challenge, the umpire may decide to double the drop-height, due to the historically scattered drops by all except C Company and 9 Independent Platoon.

Then flip the ruler over to drop the paras onto the DZ.

Once all Drop Markers have been dropped, roll on the Bail-Out Table for each marker, using the following modifiers:

+0 Landed within 1 inch of an undisordered enemy Troop or Gun unit.
+1 Landed in a River, Pond or off the table.†‡
+2 Landed on Woodland, Swamp, Built-Up Sector*, Wall*, Hedge*, Trenches*, Bunker* or if the marker is hung up on a tree model in Bush terrain.
+3 Landed in Bush, Clear terrain or on a Road or Path.

* If a Drop Marker lands on or touching a BUS, Trench or Bunker, it is placed immediately adjacent to that feature and outside it (i.e. it will not drop immediately into field defences!). If a Drop Marker lands on a wall or hedge it must be placed immediately adjacent to that feature, on whichever side the majority of the marker landed.

† For a bit of devilish amusement, my terrain includes a crocodile lurking in one of the water-features… Any unit landing on the crocodile is instantly KOd and any unit landing within 1 inch of it suffers the +0 landing modifier.

‡ If a unit lands off-table, place the marker on the edge of the table at the closest point to their planned DZ.

Drop Markers that survive the landing are immediately replaced by models (plus Suppression or Disorder Markers where appropriate), which must be placed within the ‘footprint’ of the marker, though may face any direction.

The above procedure takes place at the end of the Air Support Phase and before the Offensive Fire Phase.  South African units may then conduct Offensive Fire, Manoeuvres and Close Assaults as normal.

Airborne Reserve Company

To call in the reserve E Company, one of the South African ground-based FACs must make a successful call for Close air Support on the turn before E Company is due to drop.  The DZ for the drop must be designated at the time the successful call is made and must be any one of the designated DZs.  Once designated this may not be changed, though it may be cancelled on a second successful Call for Fire roll during the turn in which it is due to arrive (in which case the company goes back into reserve and may be called again).

If the reserve E Company is called in, their C-160 may be subjected to AA fire.  If the aircraft is Suppressed, Disordered or Knocked Out, roll on the Bail Out Table for each unit first before rolling again for landing using the above procedure.

Be aware that if E Company is called in, this will require a third helicopter lift to extract.

Calls for Fire

The South Africans may use the WW2 British Call-For-Fire Table.

Only the South African Mortar Platoon may fire as a battery and concentrate fire.  Note that in order to fire as a battery, each of the platoon’s mortars must be emplaced within 2 inches of the next mortar in the platoon, as per the standard rules.

Any SWAPO, FAPLA or Cuban weapons with an IDF capability (such as 60mm mortars and B10 82mm recoilless rifles) may only fire IDF at self-observed targets.

All mortars may fire HE Shelling, Random Shelling or Smoke missions.  B10 Recoilless rifles may not fire Smoke.  Only the South African Mortar Platoon may concentrate fire, as mentioned above.

Close Air Support

Turn 2:  A Cessna 185A Air Observation Post will arrive to coordinate Close Air Support.  It will remain in situ over the table until withdrawn or destroyed.

Turn 3:  A single Buccaneer armed with rockets will become available to perform Close Air Support missions.  It may perform two rocket or tank-busting attacks (in subsequent turns) before returning to base.

Once the Buccaneer has returned to base, a Mirage III will become available to perform a single strafing or tank-busting attack.

Turn 6:  A single Buccaneer will return to provide Close Air Support, again armed with rockets. It may conduct two Rocket or Tank-Busting attacks (in subsequent turns).  It may then conduct a single ‘Show of Force’ as a third attack, which is conducted in the same manner as a Strafing attack (-1 versus Vehicles and 0 versus Troops, Guns & Soft Vehicles), but any KO results are commuted to Disorder.

Once the Buccaneer has returned to base, a Mirage III will again become available to perform a single attack.

Another rocket-armed Buccaneer CAS mission will become available 3 turns after the Buccaneer returns to base.

This sequence of Buccaneer and Mirage support is repeated until the end of the scenario or until the SAAF lose two Buccaneers, at which point all further Buccaneer CAS missions will be halted and the Mirage IIIs will halt their strafing runs (the Mirages were meant to be providing air defence in any case, not conducting strafing runs!).

If there is no FAC available to direct an air strike, fighter-bombers may self-observe vehicles or AA guns by rolling on the Close Air Support table with an additional -3.

Recovery of Intelligence

It is thought from aerial reconnaissance that the brick building east of the parade square is the camp headquarters building and is therefore most likely to contain intelligence material.  It takes a unit one whole turn occupying a Built-Up Sector to effectively search it.  Any intelligence material contained therein will be revealed by the umpire.

When an enemy unit is knocked out in close combat, roll a D10.  On a roll of 8, 9 or 10 that unit will be captured and may be extracted for interrogation.  Add +1 to the roll if a Command unit is involved in the combat.  Treat PoWs in the same manner as casualty markers (see below).

Demolishing Structures

Structures (i.e. brick BUSs and bunkers) will be destroyed if they are subjected to an unmodified roll of 10 during an air-strike.  Otherwise they may be demolished by troops occupying them and performing ‘Improve Position’ actions, as per the standard Battlefront: WWII rules.

Intelligence may not be recovered from demolished structures.

South African Casualties

When a South African ground unit is KOd, replace it with a casualty marker.

Casualty markers may be moved if there is a friendly unit in base-to-base contact, but may only do so at half speed.

Units with casualty markers attached may not initiate close combat, but may perform any other action.

Casualty markers may ‘self-load’ onto landed helicopters within 1 inch.

Casualty markers left behind after extraction will be worth a lot more Victory Points to SWAPO (see below).

Helicopter Extraction

The helicopter extraction force is waiting, deep in the bush, at the Helicopter Admin Area (HAA), for the order to tale off, fly in to Cassinga and extract the paratroops (in at least two lifts).  This will normally consist of six Puma transport helicopters, but there is one additional Puma helicopter held in reserve at the Helicopter Admin Area.  This reserve helicopter may be brought in to replace losses for 2nd and subsequent lifts and may be added in any circumstances to the final lift.

The South African player must make a successful Air Support roll on the turn BEFORE the helicopters are due to arrive, designating each helicopter to one of the pre-planned LZs. Only one Air support roll is needed, regardless of the number of helicopters and LZs being used.  The South African player must make a note of how many helicopters are allocated to each LZ.

The SADF plan estimates that the first lift from Cassinga will take place at 1000hrs, so the South African player may not call for helicopter extraction before the Air Support phase of Turn 6.

Once successfully called in, the helicopters will arrive during the Air Support phase of the FOLLOWING turn.  They will arrive on the table-edge as a single formation from any direction, before splitting and moving to their allocated LZs.

The Pumas will fly at Nap-of-Earth and are therefore treated for line-of-sight and spotting purposes, as a large, moving vehicle.

The Pumas have an Armour rating of 0 and may carry 4T.  They are only armed (with a door gun) when troops are loaded (i.e. the loaded infantry use their own machine guns to defend the aircraft when on the ground – e.g. if troops have boarded the helicopter but enemy troops appear before take-off).

Each landed helicopter fills the ‘footprint’ of a Small IDF template. These may not overlap and may not protrude outside of a designated LZ.

If the enemy has occupied a designated LZ, any helicopters allocated to that LZ will still have to fly to that LZ (and be subjected to AA fire), but may then immediately divert to an alternate LZ.

The helicopters will stay on the ground for as long as the South African player desires and will depart again during the South African Air Support phase.

It takes 1 action for a unit to board a helicopter during the Manoeuvre Phase.

Provided they are within 1 inch of a helicopter, units may board using a Panic, Retreat or Rally action.

Commanders, FACs, 60mm mortars and Anti-Tank Teams may count as ½ units toward the helicopter’s maximum loading capacity, due to their low manpower.  It will therefore be necessary to keep track of casualty markers resulting from these units (perhaps different sizes of base for the casualty figure, or a different number of casualty figures on the base).

While on the ground, helicopters may be spotted and targeted as large soft vehicles.

The helicopter formation will not return until the 4th turn after the last helicopter has departed the table.

If a helicopter is destroyed with troops on board, the troops will attempt to bail out at that point as if from a destroyed vehicle, though with an additional -3 modifier.  An extra Troop unit is created for the aircrew; if they survive the crash they will use the same stats as a FO unit.

For the purposes of this scenario, any Suppression or Disorder markers collected by the helicopters are automatically removed at the start of the South African Air Support phase. Their only effect is on the ability of any loaded troops to fire or the ability of the crew to defend the helicopter during close assault on the ground.

If a grounded helicopter is engaged in close combat while on the ground it will defend itself with a close combat rating of +0/+0 and may never be outflanked.  Any losing result will destroy the helicopter; boarded troops may then attempt to bail out in the normal manner and will immediately conduct a Fall Back action Disordered, regardless of the result of their Bail Out roll.  Any casualty markers will be automatically knocked out and handed to the SWAPO/Cuban player for later VP calculation.

If a loaded helicopter is shot down while attempting to depart the table, the passengers may attempt to bail out as if from a vehicle, though with an additional -3 modifier.  Any casualty markers are automatically knocked out and handed to the SWAPO/Cuban player for later VP calculation.

If a loaded helicopter departs the table with a Suppression or Disorder marker, any loaded troops or casualty markers must roll on the bail-out table as they leave the table and any units knocked out as a result must be added to the casualty total.

Victory Points

Each Knocked Out SWAPO Troop unit +1 VP
Each Knocked Out SWAPO Commander or Hvy Wpn +2 VPs
Each Captured SWAPO troop unit or Heavy Weapon +2 VPs
Each Captured SWAPO Commander +5 VPs
Knocked Out Dimo Hamaambo +10 VPs
Captured Dimo Hamaambo +50 VPs
Each Searched BUS +2 VPs
Each Demolished BUS or Bunker +2 VPs
Discovered Document Cache +50 VPs
Each Knocked Out Cuban/FAPLA Armoured Vehicle +1 VP
Each Cuban/FAPLA ME reduced by 25% +1 VP
Each Cuban/FAPLA ME reduced by 50% +2 VPs
Each Cuban/FAPLA ME reduced by 75% +3 VPs
Each Captured Cuban/FAPLA unit Same as Knocked Out (no added value)

Briefing for SWAPO-PLAN Army Commander Dimo Hamaambo at Camp MOSCOW

Situation

Things have been busy at Camp MOSCOW (Cassinga) recently. The latest batch of recruits are just completing their training and you now have four fully-trained Detachments ready to send sown south to Camp VIETNAM, ready for the annual infiltration campaign into Namibia.  This year’s infiltration will undoubtedly be a lot harder than last year, as the Boers have been heavily reinforcing the border area, while their special forces have been ambushing your cadres even on the Angolan side of the border.

Things are much safer here, however.  The border is 260km away and the only risk is from air attack; the threat even of that will be removed once your Russian friends finish building the nearby SAM site.  Nevertheless, your camp is well-prepared for all eventualities and has extensive entrenched defences and heavy weapons, as well as a nearby Cuban garrison at Tetchamutete, only 10 miles away.

It is now 0800hrs and you are having your breakfast in your house while the revolutionary cadres assemble on the parade square outside to salute the flags of Free Namibia and Angola and to receive their daily orders and work-tasks.  Your signals officer is grumbling that all the frequencies seem to be jammed and he can’t raise anyone on the radio, not even the Cubans at Tetchamutete.  You are about to reply, but what’s that sound…?  Jets?  You look out of the window and four twin-engined jet-bombers are flying in line-abreast down the line of the main road.  From the engine configuration they’re Illyushin 28s and are probably Cubans giving your cadres a fraternal revolutionary fly-past.  Cadres and even the anti-aircraft gunners are waving to the fly-boys…

But why are the bomb-doors open…?

As you watch, each bomber disgorges dozens of what appear to be tiny black footballs and you realise with horror that they are enemy bombers!

The world erupts around you…

Mission

Survive! And try to save as many of your cadres as you can while you’re at it!

Execution

Your order of battle can be found below, though half of it is probably already dead.  You have/had a Headquarters and Defence Group, four ‘Front Detachments’, which are rifle company-sized units, a Training Company, a Reconnaissance Company and an Engineer Company.  Note that the Front Detachment and Training Company have only mixed and obsolete weapons, so use the Guerrillas unit card (FA-40).  The Reconnaissance Company uses the Infantry card (FA-37) and the Engineers use the Combat Engineer card (FA-38).

The bulk of the Front Detachments are currently on parade on the parade square; this includes the commander of each Detachment and two-thirds of the rifle sections in each Detachment.  These are formed up in close order.  The rest of each Detachment, including the Detachment mortar section, is deployed on guard duty within the Detachment’s designated defence zone (see the deployment map at Annex B).

The Training Company is conducting its own small parade within its tented camp area (formed up in close order).

The Reconnaissance Company and Engineer Company are senior enough to be excused morning parade and are therefore deployed within the built-up-sectors in their respective deployment area.  One section in each company may alternatively be deployed within in an entrenchment within their deployment area.

Commander Dimo himself is deployed within his house, which is a concrete building on the north side of the parade square. The two heavy anti-aircraft are dug into weapons pits at the western end of the north-west trench-line.  The rest of the Headquarters Group’s heavy weapons are spread evenly around the perimeter; allocate one heavy weapon (either an 82mm B-10 recoilless rifle or a DShK 12.7mm HMG) to each of the four Front Detachment defence areas and deploy within an entrenchment.

Most of the SWAPO trucks are parked in the Motor Transport Section, which is co-located with 1st Front Detachment.  However, one truck is parked at the Engineer HQ and Dimo’s personal car is parked immediately outside his house.  SWAPO vehicles may only be moved if units have boarded them and they do not count toward ME strengths, losses or VPs.  Their Troop Quality rating will be the same as the best-quality unit that has boarded the vehicle. Cuban/FAPLA vehicles however, are classed as units in their own right and count toward ME strength, losses and VPs.

SWAPO Anti-Aircraft Fire

The shock of the attack means that SWAPO units may not perform AA Fire during Turn 1. They may however conduct Defensive Fire as normal.

Friendly Reinforcements

The Cuban/FAPLA garrison, situated some 15km away at Tetchamutete is your only hope, though communications to them are presently jammed. See the order of battle below.

For game purposes the relief column will automatically arrive on the Tetchamutete road at the start of SWAPO Turn 16, However, if a SWAPO unit manages to escape by vehicle on the Tetchamutete road the column will arrive three turns after that vehicle leaves the table.

Of course an umpire can always bring the column on early to keep things interesting…

Victory Points

Each Knocked Out SADF Troop unit +5 VP
Each Knocked Out SADF Commander +10 VPs
Each Captured SADF Troop unit +25 VPs
Each Captured SADF Company Commander +40 VPs
Knocked Out SADF Battalion Commander +75 VPs
Captured SADF Battalion Commander +100 VPs
Each Destroyed SAAF aircraft + 25 VPs

 

Terrain

Movement Through Trenches

Troop movement along trenches is conducted at half-speed.

Troops do not need to perform a Breach action to enter trenches, though they must perform a Breach to leave trenches, unless it is via a ramp exit or similar.

Units in trenches may not be enfiladed by fire (in reality the zig-zags of field trenches were far more dense than shown on the table and effectively prevented enfilade fire).

Units in trenches may not be outflanked by units moving along the same trenches.

‘Bush’ Terrain Type

The Angolan Bush or ‘Bundu’ is a curious terrain-type: Although a lot more open than what would normally be considered as ‘woodland’, the trees, shrubs and long grass severely restrict lines of sight – not as badly as dense woodland, but more so than what would be considered to be ‘sparse’ terrain in Battlefront: WWII.

A unit may therefore observe through a maximum of 10 inches of Bush terrain. This is cumulative, so a unit can observe through 4 inches of bush, then a clear/sparse area and then another 6 inches of Bush.

A unit observed through Bush terrain is classed as being in Sparse concealment and Soft cover.

The edge of Bush terrain does not block line of sight.

The trees and shrubs of the Bush, as well as numerous termite-hills and small water-holes or dried-out hollows can be punishing on vehicles, so all Vehicle movement through Bush is performed at half-speed. Troops may move at full speed.

Bunkers

Anti-Aircraft Guns, Recoilless rifles and Mortars may not be placed within bunkers.

HMGs such as the DShK may occupy bunkers, but they may not perform AA fire while doing so.

Troops within bunkers may not perform AA fire or use RPGs.

Built-Up Sectors

These are a mixture of soft and hard cover. The hard cover BUSs represent some concrete and mud-brick buildings and compounds, some of which were clustered in the town centre (HQ, stores, hospital, etc), while others were at the northern and southern extremities of the town.

Tented Training Camp

Treat this the same as the Bush: Sparse Concealment, Soft Cover and half-speed for vehicles.

Sequence of Play

The South African player will perform the first turn of the game.

The game will last a maximum of 24 turns or until the SADF loses four helicopters.  Any SADF units left on the table after that point will be classed as captured.

Recovery of Intelligence

Before the game starts, the umpire will place one Intelligence Materials chit beneath one BUS in Cassinga.  This will NOT be the building that the SADF assume to be the HQ building – this is in fact simply a store-building.  The documents are instead to be found in Dimo Hamaambo’s house, which is to the north of the parade square.  If the SADF player has read this scenario, place the chit under a random BUS.

As mentioned in the SADF briefing, PoWs may be captured on a roll of 8, 9 or 10 whenever a SWAPO unit is defeated in close combat.  Add +1 to the roll if a Command unit is involved in the combat.  They are treated in all respects the same as casualty markers.

Modified Victory Conditions (UMPIRE’S EYES ONLY!)

Note that after the first SADF helicopter lift, General Constand Viljoen, the General Officer Commanding the Army, will arrive and will join Breytenbach’s headquarters!  The SWAPO player will then gain double the VPs for knocking out or capturing Breytenbach’s HQ.

Unit Cards

Being a card-carrying technophobe, I haven’t yet worked out how to import pdf documents into this webpage, so go to the Battlefront Card Creator Page and select a list of cards for each side (keep the Ctrl key pressed as you click on each unit card in order to create a list) and it’ll then create a pdf document, with nine cards (3×3) per page that you can then print off.  You’ll need the following unit cards:

SADF-27 – Parachute Infantry
SADF-31 – Assault Pioneers
SADF-34 – Commander
SADF-35 – FO/FAC
SADF-37 – M1 60mm Mortar
SADF-46 – Puma
SADF-51 – Para Antitank Team
SADF-52 – Mirage III CZ
SADF-59 – Cessna 185A
SADF-60 – C-160 Transall
SADF-61 – Buccaneer S Mk 60 (Cassinga)

FA-02 – T-34/85
FA-06 – BRDM-2
FA-09 – BTR-152
FA-21 – UAZ-469
FA-23 – Ural-375
FA-26 – B-10 82mm Recoilless Rifle
FA-28 – DShK 12.7mm AAMG
FA-30 – ZPU-2 Twin 14.5mm AAMG
FA-31 – ZPU-4 Quad 14.5mm AAMG
FA-33 – ZU-23-2 Twin 23mm AAA
FA-36 – Commander
FA-37 – Infantry
FA-38 – Combat Engineers
FA-40 – Guerrillas
FA-43 – Brandt 60mm Mortar
FA-63 – GAZ-66

That’s all of it for now.  I hope to catch up with some of you at Crusade! 🙂

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Cold War - Angolan Border War, Crusade (Show), Games, Partizan (Show), Scenarios, Warfare (Show) | 1 Comment

Masséna’s Counter-Attack at Wagram, 6th July 1809 (A Scenario for ‘Napoleon’s Battles’)

Yesterday was going to be my annual Christmas Game Day at the Carmarthen Old Guard, which this year was to be a Napoleonic game focusing on Marshal Masséna’s counter-attack at the Battle of Wagram, during Napoleon’s Danube Campaign of 1809.  Sadly my oppo Andy has come down with the flu and we’ve therefore had to postpone it 🙁 .  But no matter, this ‘day off’ gives me the ideal opportunity to write up the scenario on the blog… 🙂

This scenario is written for Napoleon’s Battles rules, where each unit represents a brigade or large regiment.  The ruleset Age of Eagles is also set at this scale, so the scenario could be easily converted over (though for Age of Eagles you’ll need to add light and medium foot batteries to both sides – see the notes at the end of the orders of battle below).

Historical Background

Napoleon at Wagram

The Battle of Wagram was the largest battle of the 1809 Danube Campaign, fought over 5th and 6th July 1809 and pitting the bulk of Napoleon’s Army of Germany against the core of Archduke Charles‘ ‘Imperial & Royal’ Austrian Army.  Prior to Wagram, Napoleon’s Army of Germany had first turned back Archduke Charles’ invasion of Bavaria and had then pursued it down the valley of the Danube, capturing Vienna in the process.  Prince Eugène’s Army of Italy had done likewise, driving Archduke John’s Austrian Army from Italy and then pursuing it deep into Hungary.

Archduke Charles

However, despite successive tactical defeats, Archduke Charles’ Army was still largely intact and was concentrated across the Danube from Vienna.  Napoleon’s first attempt to establish a bridgehead across the Danube on 21st & 22nd May was a failure; the Battle of Aspern-Essling was Napoleon’s very first battlefield defeat and cost the life of one of his very best subordinates, Marshal Jean Lannes.  The defeat was due in no small part to the failure to reinforce the bridgehead and this failure was caused by a very rickety string of bridges that the Austrians smashed repeatedly by floating everything they could find, including the kitchen sink down the Danube.

Napoleon’s army crosses from Lobau to the Marchfeld on 5th July 1809

Napoleon’s second attempt to establish a bridgehead north of the Danube was going to be a far less hasty assault and his engineers spent the next six weeks building far stronger bridges, booms and breakwaters to catch floating debris, as well as a ring of fortifications and heavy artillery on the island of Lobau, which would once again be used as the launch-pad for the assault, just as it had been during the Battle of Aspern-Essling.  The Austrians had also been busy, building a string of redoubts around the villages of Aspern, Essling and Gross-Enzersdorf, where Napoleon had made his first assault.

At last, at the start of July, all was ready.  Prince Eugène’s Army of Italy was ordered to reinforce the Emperor’s own army at Vienna and the island of Lobau was stuffed with troops.  Covered by numerous heavy guns, several bridges were built on the eastern side of Lobau, well to the east of the Austrian defence line, and the first assault troops crossed onto the north bank during the night of 4th July.

Klenau

With his line of fortifications outflanked, Archduke Charles decided not to fight on the flat, valley-floor plain of the Marchfeld, where the French cavalry would have the advantage.  Instead he withdrew the bulk of his army north to a low escarpment along the north bank of the Russback stream, east of the village of Deutsch-Wagram.  The Austrian 6. Korps under Klenau was ordered to withdraw to the west and with luck, outflank the French as the advanced north to meet the main Austrian position.

The French army spent 5th July completing their crossing and advancing to contact, with Nordmann’s Austrian Avantgarde Korps withdrawing slowly in front of them.  A few French attacks developed during the evening against the main Austrian position as the army became generally engaged across the front, though the Austrians were too strong to be dislodged from the Wagram Plateau.

Masséna

Archduke Charles now planned to envelop the French left flank during the very early hours of the morning, using Kolowrat’s 3. Korps, reinforced by the elite troops of Liechtenstein’s Reserve Korps and with the exposed flank covered by Klenau’s 6. Korps, which would drive wide around the French left flank and push deep into the French rear – perhaps even cutting them off from their bridges.  This would be accompanied by further night-attacks by Rosenberg’s 4. Korps on the French right flank to keep them off balance.

The results of the attack were mixed; Rosenberg’s night-attacks on the French right flank were easily beaten off by Davout’s 3e Corps veterans, though the Saxons of Bernadotte’s 9e Corps panicked and ran from the key village of Aderklaa, which protected the French left flank.  Napoleon ordered Marshal André Masséna’s 4e Corps forward to re-take Aderklaa.

Carra Saint-Cyr

The battle for Aderklaa was brutal and the divisions of Carra St Cyr and Molitor suffered heavy casualties against determined resistance by the Austrian grenadiers of Liechtenstein’s Reserve Corps.  However, the French could not hold on to Aderklaa and by 1000hrs a further crisis was unfolding on the extreme French left flank: Kolowrat’s Austrian 3. Korps had arrived in the vicinity of Breitenlee to threaten Masséna’s left flank and Klenau’s 6. Korps had driven Boudet’s division from Aspern and Essling, to retake the Austrian redoubts!  The French heavy guns on Lobau stopped any further advance by Klenau, but the threat could not be ignored and Napoleon needed to throw back this Austrian advance.  But who to send…?

Kolowrat

Despite the heavy losses already suffered by his Corps, Masséna was the only man for the job.  He was the only man Napoleon judged to be capable of extracting his corps from action in one sector and then moving it under fire to attack in another sector.  In order to facilitate this move, Napoleon ordered his aide-de-camp, General Jacques Lauriston to form a grand battery of 84 guns (formed from the Imperial Guard and Army of Italy) and to pour a crushing weight of fire onto Kolowrat’s 3. Korps and Liechtenstein’s Grenadiers, in order to prevent them from interfering with Massena’s march.

Legrand

Marshal Bessières, commanding the French Reserve Cavalry Corps, was also ordered to support the move; he sent Nansouty’s Division (one brigade of Carabiniers and two of Cuirassiers) to attack Vukassovich, while St Sulpice’s Division (two brigades of Cuirassiers) was sent south to support Massena.  Durutte’s French Infantry Division and Wrede’s Bavarian Division were also sent to support Massena’s attack.

By 1200hrs and within 90 minutes of the order being given, Legrand’s Division was within range of Essling and was launching its attack on Vincent’s somewhat over-extended Austrian division.  It is at this point that our scenario begins.

The battlefield. Each square represents 12 inches on the table (see Terrain Notes below).

French Briefing

You are to defeat the Austrian flanking attack against our army, with the intention of retaking Aspern & Essling, thus securing our lines of communication and then exploiting that success to drive back the Austrian right wing as far as the line Breitenlee – Kagran.

Total Defeat – If your army’s morale is broken or if you fail to capture any of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Defeat – If you only hold one the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Draw – If you hold two of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Victory – If you hold all three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Total Victory – If the enemy’s morale is broken or if you hold Breitenfeld and there are no undisordered Austrian units forward of the line Breitenfeld – Kagran.

4ème Corps d’Armée – Maréchal Massena

11”E(10)+2D
[Army Morale 14M]
[4th Corps Fatigue 8F]
[6 Free Rolls]

1er Division – Général de Division Legrand                                             4”E(7)+1
Ledru’s Brigade                                                                                                           28 FrLT [11D]
Baden 1. Infanterie-Regiment ‘Grossherzog’ (Neuenstein’s Brigade)             16 BdLN [6D]
Baden 2. Infanterie-Regiment ‘Erbgrossherzog’ (Neuenstein’s Brigade)       16 BdLN [6D]
Baden Reitende-Batterie                                                                                           Bd6#
4/2ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                        Fr6#

2ème Division – Général de Division Carra St Cyr                                3”G(6)+1D
Cosson’s Brigade*                                                                                                        16 FrLT [6D]
Dalesme’s Brigade*                                                                                                     28 FrLN [11D]
2/2ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                         Fr6#

Hessen-Darmstädt Contingent – Generalmajor Schinner                 3”A(5)+0
Garder’s Brigade (Leib-Garde Regiment)*                                                             16 HsGD [5D]
Colpe’s Brigade (Leib Regiment)*                                                                            16 HsLN [6D]

3rd Division – Général de Division Molitor                                               5”E(7)+1
Leguay’s Brigade*                                                                                                         24 FrLN [10D]
Viviez’s Brigade*                                                                                                           20 FrLN [8D]
1/4ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                           Fr6#

4ème Division – Général de Division Boudet                                            3”G(6)+1
Fririon’s Brigade                                                                                                           16 FrLT [6D]
Valory’s Brigade                                                                                                            20 FrLN [8D]

4ème Corps Artillery
3/5ème Artillerie à Pied                                                                                              Fr12#

Division de Cavalerie Légère – Général de Division Lasalle              4”E(8)+2
Piré’s Brigade                                                                                                                12 FrLC [5D]
Bruyère’s Brigade                                                                                                         12 FrLC [5D]
Marulaz’s Brigade (23rd Chasseurs & Bavarian, Hessian & Baden cavalry)   20 BdLC [8D]

6ème Corps d’Armée (Elements)

2ème Division – Général de Division Durutte                                          3”G(6)+1 [2F]
Valentin’s Brigade                                                                                                        24 FrLT [10D]
Dessaix’s Brigade                                                                                                         16 FrLN [6D]

7ème Corps d’Armée (Elements)

2ème Division – Generalleutnant von Wrede                                           3”A(7)+0 [3F]
Minucci’s Bavarian Brigade                                                                                       28 BvLN [14D]
Becker’s Bavarian Brigade                                                                                         20 BvLN [10D]
Preysing’s Bavarian Cavalry Brigade                                                                       12 BvLC [5D]
Bavarian Leichte-Batterie ‘Caspers’ (Mounted Artillery)                                    Bv6#
Bavarian Schwere-Fuss-Batterie ‘Dobl’                                                                   Bv12#

Corps de Cavalerie (Elements)

2ème Division de Cavalerie Lourde – Général de Division St Sulpice      3”A(6)+1 [2F]
Fiteau’s Brigade                                                                                                            12 FrHC [4D]
Guiton’s Brigade                                                                                                           12 FrHC [4D]
3/5ème Artillerie à Cheval                                                                                         Fr8#

Molitor

French Order of Battle Notes

1.  Masséna was wounded at Aspern-Essling and as a result was forced to conduct command of this battle from his carriage (which was described as a very conspicuous white phaeton, drawn by white horses).  This carriage moves as a wagon unit with an 18” movement range.  There is a Risk To General on a roll of 1-4 instead of the usual 1-3.

2.  Napoleon’s effects on the army are that he increases the Dispersal rating of all units by one grade and increases the Fatigue rating of all formations by one.  Although he does not appear in this scenario, the Emperor is very close by (at Raasdorf) and these affects are therefore applied.

3.  Each of the brigades in St Cyr’s and Molitor’s Divisions, as well as Schinner’s Hessen-Darmstädt Contingent (marked with a ‘*’), have suffered casualties during the morning assaults on Aderklaa.  Roll 1 D4 for every four bases (rounded up) in the unit and remove the rolled number of figures at the start of the scenario.  So Cosson, Garder & Colpe each roll 1 D4, while Dalesme, Leguay and Viviez each roll 2 D4.

4.  Boudet’s Division lost its organic artillery during the morning’s retreat from Aspern.

5.  Marulaz’s 4th Corps Cavalry Brigade was placed under the command of Lasalle’s Independent Light Cavalry Division for this action.  Lasalle had been semi-permanently assigned to 4th Corps for some time, so counts as part of that corps for the purposes of fatigue calculation.

Durutte

6.  The French Army Morale Level is 14.

7.  Masséna has 6 Free Roll Markers.

8.  Durutte’s Division will be released for manoeuvre at 1300hrs (Turn 5).

9.  Wrede’s Bavarian Division will be released at 1400hrs (Turn 7).

10.  Boudet’s Division has retreated off-table before the start of the game, falling back in the face of Klenau’s advance, to entrenchments in the Lobau Bridgehead.  Boudet’s Division will re-appear (in march column formation) on one of the three roads exiting the southern edge of the table between Aspern and Essling, two turns after those two villages have been fully recaptured by French forces.

Lasalle at Wagram

11.  Schinner’s Hessen-Darmstädt Contingent was actually attached to St Cyr’s Division, though was a very large brigade that during the battle was often given independent tasks.  I’ve therefore split it off as a separate formation.  If you prefer, you can remove Schinner and have the Hessians as part of St Cyr’s Division.

12.  If Lasalle’s Light Cavalry Division is dispersed or becomes permanently fatigued, Lasalle (if he is still alive) may be given a single Cuirassier Brigade from St Sulpice’s Division (Guiton’s or Fiteau’s) and may lead it as a small division (Lasalle was actually killed during this engagement, while temporarily leading a brigade of cuirassiers).

13.  The 4th Corps reserve 12pdr battery may be commanded by any 4th Corps infantry commander (Molitor, St Cyr, Legrand or Schinner).

French Deployment

1.  The deployment shown on the map is only approximate.  All brigade units shown may have their exact positions shifted by up to 6 inches, though divisions may not move closer to the enemy.

2.  Lasalle’s Light Cavalry Division is facing roughly westward, with its brigades in line or column formation.

3.  Masséna’s infantry brigades (i.e. those belonging to Molitor, St Cyr, Legrand and Schinner) are all facing roughly south, one behind the other, in either column or march column formation.

4.  Durutte’s brigades are deployed in column, facing west.

5.  Wrede’s brigades are deployed in column, facing roughly north.

6.  St Sulpice’s brigades are deployed in column or march column, facing roughly south.

7.  Commanders may be placed anywhere on the table, but no closer to the enemy that their furthest-forward brigade unit.

8.  All French and allied artillery starts the game limbered and deployed anywhere within the command-span of their respective commander, but no closer to the enemy than the furthest-forward brigade unit.

Austrian Briefing

You are to defeat the French counter-attack against our flanking attack, with the intention of continuing our attack, thus cutting the French lines of communication with the Lobau Bridgehead.

Total Defeat – If your army’s morale is broken or if you lose Breitenfeld and have no undisordered units forward of the line Breitenfeld – Kagran.

Defeat – If you lose the villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Draw – If you hold one of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Victory – If you hold two of the three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

Total Victory – If the enemy’s morale is broken or if you hold all three villages of Aspern, Essling & Breitenfeld.

6. Korps – FML Klenau

8”G(10)+1
[Army Morale 8M]
[6th Corps Fatigue 4F]
[5 Free Rolls]

Division FML Hohenfeld                                                                                  4”G(8)+1D
Infantry Regiments 14 ‘Klebek’ & 59 ‘Jordis’ (Adler’s Brigade)                      20 AsLN [8D]
Moravian & Lower Austrian Landwehr (Adler’s Brigade)                                20 AsLW [12D]

Division FML Kottulinsky                                                                                4”A(5)+1
Hungarian Infantry Regiment 39 ‘Duka’ (Hoffmeister’s Brigade)                 16 AsLN [6D]
Hungarian Infantry Regiment 60 ‘Gyulai’ (Hoffmeister’s Brigade)               16 AsLN [6D]
Hungarian IRs 31 ‘Benjowsky’ & 51 ‘Splenyi’ (Splenyi’s Brigade)                   28 AsLN [11D]

Division FML Vincent                                                                                        4”A(5)+0
Mariassy’s Brigade (Vienna & Moravian Freiwilligen)                                      24 AsFKI [10D]
Vécsey’s Brigade (Grenze Infantry Regiments 6 & 7)                                        20 AsGRZ [10D]
Wallmoden’s Brigade (HRs 7 ‘Liechtenstein’ & 8 ‘Kienmayer’)                      16 AsLC [6D]
Cavalry Battery                                                                                                          As6#

6. Korps Artillery
Position Battery                                                                                                         As12#

Elements, 3. Korps

Division FML St Julien                                                                                     3”P(4)+0 [3F]
IRs 1 ‘Kaiser’ & 23 ‘Würzburg’ (Lilienberg’s Brigade)                                      24 AsLN [10D]
Infantry Regiment 12 ‘Menfredini’ (Lilienberg’s Brigade)                              20 AsLN [8D]
Infantry Regiments 20 ‘Kaunitz’ & 28 ‘Württemberg’ (Bieber’s Brigade)   28 AsLN [11D]
Wratislaw’s Bohemian Landwehr Brigade                                                         16 AsLW [10D]
Uhlan Regiment 2 ‘Schwarzenberg’ (Schneller’s Brigade)                              12 AsLC [5D]
Cavalry Battery                                                                                                         As6#
Position Battery                                                                                                        As12#

Austrian Order of Battle Notes

1.  For the purposes of this scenario, Klenau acts as an army commander, commanding St Julien’s Division of 3. Korps in addition to his own 6. Korps.

2.  The entire Austrian army was in very good spirits following their victory at Aspern-Essling. Their Dispersal rating has therefore improved by one grade.

3.  The Austrian Army Morale Level is 8.

4.  Klenau has 5 Free Rolls Markers.

5.  The 6. Korps reserve 12pdr battery may be commanded by any 6. Korps divisional commander (Hohenfeld, Kottulinsky or Vincent).

Austrian Deployment

1.  The deployment shown on the map is only approximate. All brigade units shown may have their exact positions shifted by up to 6 inches, though divisions may not move closer to the enemy.

2.  At the start of the game, Vincent must deploy at least one infantry brigade within Essling village.

3.  At the start of the game, St Julien must deploy at least one infantry brigade within Breitenlee village.

4.  Commanders may be placed anywhere on the table, but no closer to the enemy that their furthest-forward brigade unit.

5. All Austrian artillery starts the game limbered or unlimbered as desired and deployed anywhere within the command-span of their respective commander, but no closer to the enemy than the furthest-forward brigade unit.

Terrain Notes

The terrain of the Marchfeld is mostly wide, open and flat farmland, dotted with solidly-build villages, criss-crossed with roads and very little else.

The villages each have a +3 defensive modifier.  Aspern and Stadlau may each hold two brigade units.  All other villages may accommodate one brigade unit.

There are a few small woods around the southern villages and along the banks of the Danube branches.

The redoubts (marked as brown ‘V’-shapes) around Aspern and Essling may be occupied by one brigade unit and/or two batteries and have a defensive modifier of +3.  However, they are only defensible against attacks from the south, so largely only serve as decoration in this scenario and may be happily ignored if your terrain collection lacks sufficient field defences.

Game Information

The game starts with the French 1230hrs turn and ends with the Austrian 1930hrs turn (20 turns total).

 

Game Unit Labels

French Unit Labels

Austrian Unit Labels

Note For Players of Age of Eagles

Although I’ve never played AoE, it is set at the same command-level as Napoleon’s Battles, so it should be relatively easy to convert the orders of battle across to AoE. However, Napoleon’s Battles only includes separate artillery batteries to represent horse artillery and heavy foot artillery, so players of AoW will need to know how many more guns to add. Here’s what was present in terms of light foot artillery (note that most sources differ on exactly who had what, but this is my best stab, based on Bowden and Gill):

French & Allied Light Foot Artillery

Legrand’s Division
3/5e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr)
Baden Fuss-Batterie (6pdr)

Carra St Cyr’s Division
7/5e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr)
Hessen-Darmstadt Fuss-Batterie (6pdr)

Molitor’s Division
21/1er Artillerie à Pied (4pdr)
8/2e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr)

Boudet’s Division
1/7e Artillerie à Pied (6pdr) (wiped out during the morning)

Durutte’s Division
Unidentified 6pdr Battery

Wrede’s Division
Fuss-Batterie ‘Berchem’ (6pdr)
Fuss-Batterie ‘Dorn’ (6pdr)

Austrian Light Foot Artillery

Hohenfeld’s Division
Adler’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)

Kottulinsky’s Division
Hoffmeister’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Splenyi’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr)

Vincent’s Division
Mariassy’s Brigade Battery (3pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr) (Bowden instead says a second 3pdr Brigade Battery)

6. Korps Artillery Reserve
Position Battery (6pdr) (Gill does not include the 12pdr Position Battery listed by Bowden – both list this 6pdr battery)

St Julien’s Division
Lilienberg’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Bieber’s Brigade Battery (6pdr)
Position Battery (6pdr)

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | 9 Comments

The Action at Shiloh Church, 6th April 1862 (Part 2)

In my last post I described the initial stages of our refight of the action at Shiloh Church, which was part of the Battle of Shiloh, fought on 6th April 1862.  The rules used were Brigade Fire & Fury (2nd Edition) and the scenario was taken from Fire & Fury Games’ Great Western Battles (2nd Edition) scenario book.

Although a relatively small scenario, the map is rather ‘busy’ and took quite a bit of time to set up.  The scenario is also then quite involved, with reinforcements marching on to table and taking time to get into action, so it was rather ambitious to get this done in a single club night!  But by luck, we reached a stage in the game where the entire Union force had fallen back to a second defensive line and had completely disengaged with the Confederates.  This enabled us to easily set the game up again for a continuation of the scenario.

In the meantime, I had a query regarding the scenario for the author, Rich Hasenauer and he was kind enough to send me a prompt reply.  My question was regarding the initial setup of the scenario: There are scenario rules for Union forces being surprised on the 1st turn and suffering reduced firepower as a direct result.  I was therefore wondering if this meant that Confederate units were meant to be able to charge them on turn 1?  Our interpretation of the scenario map meant that it was impossible for most of the Confederate units to reach the Union units on turn 1 and only Cleburne’s Brigade was able to get within sighting-distance of the Union units.

Rich’s answer is YES, the two leading Confederate brigades (Pond’s and Cleburne’s) should be able to (just) charge the Union lines on a ‘Well Handled’ manoeuvre result.  Pond should also be able to reach McDowell on a ‘Double Quick’ manoeuvre result.  He’s going to post some errata to clarify that point.  So we did that wrong… Ah, well…

Above:  The full Battle of Shiloh scenario map.  The Shiloh Church sub-scenario happens on the lower left-hand side of the map.

Above: On the Confederate left flank, Pond’s Brigade, having beaten back McDowell’s Union Brigade, busies itself with looting McDowell’s former camp.  As McDowell conducts an ordered withdrawal across the open ground of the Howell Field, the Confederate corps commander, General Leonidas Polk arrives to survey the scene, followed by Johnson’s Brigade.  However, Pond’s Brigade belongs to Ruggles’ Division of Hardee’s Corps, not to Polk, and can’t be persuaded to move any further forward.

Above:  In the Confederate centre, Russell’s Brigade (of Clark’s Division) also conduct a little light looting (of Buckland’s camp) before continuing their advance.  A battery attempts to deploy on the road alongside Russell, but is immediately driven off by Union artillery firing down the road.  Undeterred, more Rebel artillery moves forward, accompanied by Cleburne’s battered brigade, which in game terms is already ‘worn’.

Above:  A little way to the right, Stewart’s Brigade (of Clark’s Division) is freshly-arrived and moves forward to plug the gap between Clark and Ruggles.

Above:  On the Confederate right flank, General Ruggles leads Anderson’s Brigade across the Shiloh Branch and into the woods beyond, aiming to turn the Union left flank at the Review Field.  Behind him, Wood’s Brigade of Hindman’s Division arrives on the field.  Hindman’s Division was manoeuvring to outflank Sherman’s original line along the Shiloh Branch, but has been overtaken by events.

Above:  Despite the initial repulse of Sherman’s Division, a second Union defensive line is now starting to solidify beyond Shiloh Church, stiffened by the arrival of McClernand’s Division.  On the right of the picture, Raith’s Brigade, reinforced by an artillery battery, is forming up along the line of their camp.  Behind Raith, Marsh’s Brigade is deploying along with an artillery battery, to cover the open ground of the Review Field.  Behind them, Hildebrand’s routed brigade has rallied and now waits in reserve.  In the centre, Sherman’s two batteries have fallen back and have re-deployed to fire down the road.  In the distance, Ullyssees S Grant can be seen galloping to the battle along the road.

Above:  On the Union right flank, Buckland’s battered brigade is falling back across the corner of the Howell Field to a new position alongside the central battery.  Behind them, Hare’s Brigade is taking up positions along the edge of the Howell Field and McDowell’s Brigade has now successfully fallen back to the edge of the wood, from where it can sweep the open ground of the Howell Field with rifle-fire.

Above:  McDowell’s Brigade in close-up.

Above:  On the far Confederate right flank, Shaver’s Brigade of Hindman’s Division (Hardee’s Corps) has appeared on the edge of the Review Field.  This flanking move could have been fatal for the Union position, had McClernand not specifically placed Marsh’s Brigade, together with a battery of artillery there as a flank-guard against just such an occurrence.  Marsh immediately takes Shaver under fire and the supporting artillery knocks out a battery of Rebel artillery that tries to establish itself at the edge of the field.  Shaver is unable to reply, as his men only have short-ranged smoothbore muskets (Marsh has a mixture of smoothbores and rifles).

Above:  In the Confederate centre, Clark’s Division (Russell’s and and Stewart’s Brigades) pushes forward past Shiloh Church, while Cleburne’s Brigade moves to support Ruggles’ and Hindman’s attack on the right flank.

Above:  Behind Russell’s Brigade, a few damaged artillery batteries wait in reserve; there is precious little opportunity to use them in this terrain and as casualties are mounting, the Confederates can’t afford to offer such easy targets to the Bluebellies.

Above:  On the Confederate left, Pond’s Brigade is still resolutely refusing to move forward and Polk lacks the authority to order it to do so.  However, Johnson’s Brigade has now deployed at the edge of Howell’s Field and is ready to renew the assault against McDowell, who waits on the opposite side of the field.  Rebel artillery has also deployed at the Howell Field, but proves incapable of hitting anything…

Above:  Grant’s army has now formed a large salient around the central crossroads.  On the left of the photo, Hare’s and Buckland’s Brigades line the edge of the Howell Field.  In the centre, two batteries dominate the central road, flanked by another battery and Raith’s Brigade guarding Raith’s camp.  On Raith’s left, Marsh’s Brigade and a battery of artillery guard the flank at the Review Field.  Hildebrand’s and Veatch’s Brigades wait in reserve.

Above:  At long last, a massive coordinated Confederate assault erupts against the Union line!  On the Confederate right, it becomes very apparent to Shaver that he is totally out-gunned by Marsh, so he opts to decide the issue by bayonet.  On his left, Ruggles personally leads Anderson’s Brigade forward against Raith, while Hindman brings Wood’s Brigade up in support.  On the Union side, Grant manoeuvres Veatch’s Brigade to support Marsh’s left flank at the Review Field.

Above:  In the Centre, Russell’s Brigade attacks Buckland, though Stewart has a crisis of confidence and fails to join Anderson’s assault on Raith.

Above:  On the Confederate left, Johnson joins in the fun and charges across the Howell Field to engage McDowell.  He expects to suffer some flanking fire from Hare’s Brigade on the right, but by sheer luck, Hare’s is the only Union brigade in the battle to be equipped with smoothbore muskets and they simply don’t have the range!

Above:  Despite the odds being generally against the Confederates in the centre, the Union salient is utterly smashed and the Bluebellies fall back in disorder (severely trampling Raith’s tents, as can be seen…)!  Russell in particular, breaks through Buckland’s line and pushes deep into the Union position, overrunning one of the Union batteries [Peter, playing Grant, suffered some of the most appalling dice-rolling ever seen in the club, rolling 1 after 1 after 1…].

Above:  However, despite having the odds in his favour, Johnson is beaten off by the redoubtable McDowell.  Hare now advances against Johnson’s exposed right flank, hoping to enfilade Johnson’s line and crush him under the weight of fire.  However, Johnson manages to pull back to the safety of the trees without serious loss [Peter’s dice-rolling again…]

Above:  However, Union retribution is swift and Grant throws Veatch’s Brigade forward to stabilise his left flank.  Shaver’s Rebels suffer heavy casualties and are thrown back across the Review Field, disordering Wood’s supporting brigade in the process.  Hindman rides forward, seizes a Battle Flag and leads Wood’s Brigade forward against Veatch!  However, Hindman’s efforts are for naught as Wood is pushed back after a dogged struggle.

Above:  Unfortunately for the Rebels, orders arrive from General Hardee, calling Hindman’s Division (Wood’s & Shaver’s Brigades) away to another sector of the battlefield.  It’s now left to Anderson’s Brigade and Cleburne’s Brigade (which suffered heavy casualties during the initial stages of the battle on the Shiloh Branch) to retake the Review Field.  In the meantime, Hubbard’s Battery makes life miserable for Veatch.

Above:  The initial Confederate jubilation in the centre was also short-lived as Russell’s Brigade was subjected to canister fire by the two surviving Union artillery batteries, plus Raith’s and Hildebrand’s Brigade.  Russell’s men broke and ran, but the gap was quickly plugged by Stewart’s Brigade.

Above:  Once again, Stewart was subjected to fire by the Union artillery and by Hildebrand’s Brigade, but a short, sharp charge soon got rid of Hildebrand.

Above: On the Confederate left, Johnson’s Brigade had by some miracle, managed to escape destruction in the Howell Field and had retreated back to the safety of the woods.  By another miracle and at long last, Pond had managed to rally his brigade and now charged McDowell!

Above:  But once again, McDowell’s green troops held their ground and Pond was thrown back from the Howell Field.  With the field clear of friendly troops, the Confederate artillery re-commenced their ineffectual fire across the Howell Field…  On their left, Trabue’s newly-arrived Brigade had formed column and was driving into Owl Creek Swamp in an attempt to outflank McDowell, but it all seemed too little, too late…

Above:  Over on the right flank, Ruggles once again had his sabre in hand as he led Anderson’s Brigade in a charge against Veatch’s Brigade at the Review Field.  Cleburne’s Brigade hadn’t had time to change formation from column to line, but joined the attack regardless!  However, Cleburne’s men suffered for their boldness, as their column was shot to pieces and halted in the open ground of the Review Field.  Cleburne himself narrowly avoided death for a second time (having already received a flesh wound during his failed assault across the Shiloh Branch), as one of his staff officers was killed alongside him!  Anderson’s Brigade charged on alone and threw back Veatch’s Brigade, but it wasn’t the killer-blow that it could have been, had Cleburne been there with them.

Although the Confederates were still steadily pushing forward, ahead of them, Marsh’s Brigade had already re-formed along the Pitsburg-Corinth Road and would no doubt prove to be yet another tough nut to be cracked!  Veatch’s Brigade was also already reforming at the far side of the Woolf Field, alongside some fresh reinforcements in the form of the 15th & 16th Iowa Regiments.  Hare and especially McDowell were also still standing firm on the Union right flank.

At 24 stands lost, the Confederate army was now well past its Heavy Casualty threshold of 17 stands and was therefore suffering an additional penalty on every Manoeuvre roll.

On the Confederate side, Pond’s, Stewart’s, Anderson’s and Johnson’s Brigades were still Fresh, but Anderson and Johnson were only 1 casualty away from becoming Worn.  Pond also had severe command and control issues that would only be solved by bringing Ruggles (who was busy leading Anderson’s Brigade) over from the opposite flank.  Cleburne’s and Russell’s Brigades were both Worn, with Russel being only 1 casualty away from becoming Spent.  Shaver’s and Wood’s Brigades had both been withdrawn.  The Confederates had lost two batteries and two of the five remaining batteries were damaged.  The Confederates still had Wharton’s Cavalry yet to arrive (in rear of Pond et al on the left flank), but with a strength of just 3, they were hardly going to tip the balance!

On the Union side, Marsh’s, Hare’s and McDowell’s Brigades were still Fresh, as was the newly-arrived composite brigade formed by the 15th & 16th Iowa Regiments.  Hildebrand’s, Veatch’s and Raith’s Brigades were Worn, with Hildebrand only 1 casualty away from becoming Spent.  Buckland’s Brigade was Spent.  The Union army had lost one of its four batteries, though the remaining three were intact.

The Union forces had suffered the loss of 15 stands against their threshold of 17, but were still in possession of the key terrain; namely the Highman Creek, running diagonally across the corner of the table in front of Veatch’s camp. The Confederates therefore decided that there was no possibility of them achieving victory and so were forced to concede the field.

I lose again… 🙁

Thanks to Andy, Peter and Alan for a great game! 🙂

All models are Pendraken 10mm from my collection.

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games | Leave a comment

The Action at Shiloh Church, 6th April 1862 (Part 1)

After something of a break due to the build-up to my recent demo game, I decided to do an American Civil War game in club last week, once again using the superlative Brigade Fire & Fury 2nd Edition rules.  I decided to play one of the smaller scenarios from the excellent new Great Western Battles 2nd Edition Scenario Book; namely the ‘Shiloh Church’ sub-scenario from the Battle of Shiloh scenario (which includes the main ‘grand battle’ scenario and two smaller sub-scenarios – ‘Shiloh Church’ and ‘The Hornet’s Nest’).

It’s worth mentioning at this point that the author Rich Hasenauer has included smaller sub-scenarios and ‘focused’ small scenarios for some of the battles presented in the book and while there is some overlap, the list of battles presented is actually quite different to the 1st Edition scenario book.  The full list of scenarios in the 2nd Edition is:

Shiloh 6th April 1862
Shiloh Church (Shiloh sub-scenario)
The Hornet’s Nest (Shiloh sub-scenario)
Corinth (1st Day) 3rd October 1862
Corinth (2nd Day) 4th October 1862
Perryville 8th October 1862
Murfreesboro 31st December 1862
Champion Hill 16th May 1863 (we actually play-tested this scenario earlier in the year)
Chickamauga (1st Day) 19th September 1863
Chickamauga (2nd Day) 20th September 1863
Pleasant Hill 9th April 1864
Atlanta 22nd July 1864
Hardee Turns The Flank (Atlanta sub-scenario)
Cheatham Enters The Fray (Atlanta sub-scenario)
Spring Hill 29th November 1864
Franklin 30th November 1864

Above:  The map for the full Battle of Shiloh scenario.  The Shiloh Church sub-scenario happens on the left-hand three feet of the map and up as far as the ‘Cavalry Field’.  It starts with Ruggles’ Confederate Division (Polk’s Corps), intermixed with some of Hardee’s Corps, assaulting Sherman’s Union Division, which is surprised in camp near Shiloh Church.  Cleburne’s Union Division meanwhile, is still in its tents to Sherman’s rear.

Above: The left wing of the Confederate army advances through the woods to assault the Union encampment.  As with so many ACW battles, the bulk of the table here is classed as woodland, with the few open fields being delineated by fences.  Here the area to the left of the river is woodland, but the area to the right enclosed by the fence, is open (marked as the Rhea Field on the map).

Above: Cleburne’s Brigade leads the assault, being the left-flanking brigade for Hardee’s Corps.  Hardee isn’t on table, but the scenario rules allow him to influence any of his units within 6 inches of the right-hand table edge (reduced to 2 inches through woodland).  This means that at the start of the game, Cleburne lacks a senior leader to provide encouragement.  Cleburne is however, an Exceptional brigadier, so can manage reasonably well on his own.  The second line is formed by Anderson’s Brigade, which belongs to Ruggles’ Division of Polk’s Corps.  Ruggles is the mounted divisional leader to the left of the line.  These troops are all Green and poorly-armed with smoothbore muskets.  Their artillery is little better, being poorly-trained and armed with mainly smoothbore pieces, with only an occasional Napoleon or rifled piece.

Above:  On the extreme Confederate left flank is Pond’s Brigade, which also belongs to Ruggles’ Division.  Pond also has some boggy ground to contend with on the left flank, in addition to the water-obstacle of the Shiloh Branch.  Again, these troops are Green, but there are at least a few rifled muskets among the ranks this time.

Above:  Hastily roused from their beds and deploying from their lovingly-modelled tents 😉 , Sherman’s Division rushes to occupy defensive positions along the edge of the wood, facing the Shiloh Branch.  There is a strip of open ground along their side of the river (the edge of which is delineated by the fence), which potentially gives them a killing-ground in which to stop the Rebs.  On the left of Sherman’s line (on the right of this picture) is Hildebrand’s Brigade with an attached battery of 12pdr Napoleons.  In the centre is Buckland’s Brigade with an attached battery of rifled guns and on the right flank (out of shot) is McDowell’s Brigade, which is facing Pond’s Confederates.

Above:  A view of Sherman’s left flank, with Hildebrand’s Brigade closest to the camera and Shiloh Church (which is little more than a log cabin) to the rear.  Next to Shiloh Church, Raith’s Brigade of McClernand’s Division is still lounging around in its encampment, unaware of the approaching Rebs.

Above:  To Sherman’s rear is the rest of McClernand’s Division (Hare’s and Marsh’s Brigades, plus a couple of artillery batteries), still fast asleep and widely dispersed in its encampments.

Above:  Cleburne’s Confederate Brigade advances to the Shiloh Branch, partly surprising Sherman’s Bluebellies.  The Union troops only fire with half-effect, but there are an awful lot of them!  Cleburne is still on the edge of woodland and gains some cover-benefit from that, though Cleburne’s men are soon suffering casualties and disorder from a withering hail of fire.  The Rebs attempt to return fire, but are hampered by their short-ranged smoothbore muskets.

Above:  While Cleburne mounts his frontal assault, Ruggles orders Anderson’s Brigade and a battery of artillery to deploy on Cleburne’s right.  One of Hardee’s batteries also attempts to deploy on the right flank, but is immediately driven back by Union fire.  Nevertheless, Ruggles’ gunners are soon inflicting damage on Hildebrand’s Union infantry.

Above:  Pond’s Confederate Brigade on the opposite flank has still has not contacted McDowell’s Union Brigade, thanks to the boggy ground along the banks of the Shiloh Branch.

Above:  Back at Shiloh Church, Cleburne’s dynamic leadership quickly sorts out the disorder in his brigade’s ranks and the ‘Rebel Yell’ is heard for the first time this day, as his men throw themselves across the river and the open ground beyond, to assault Buckland’s line.  The joint effects of close-range musketry and canister inflict further losses on Cleburne, but effective return fire disorders Buckland’s line and Cleburne’s boys close to contact!  A prolonged combat sees both sides suffer casualties, but Cleburne’s men are finally forced back across the Shiloh Branch.  But no matter, as Russell’s Brigade (the first brigade to arrive from Clark’s Division of Polk’s Corps) is already formed up and ready to renew the assault.  Two more artillery batteries have also been added to the Confederate right wing.

Above: On the Confederate right flank, Anderson’s Brigade has crossed the stream and moves forward as the Rebel artillery starts to punish Hildebrand’s Union Brigade.

Above: Over on the left flank, Pond’s Brigade has finally struggled across the Shiloh Branch and is skirmishing with McDowell.

 

Above: As Pond engages McDowell more closely, General Polk arrives with reinforcements in the form of B. Johnson’s Brigade and a battery of artillery and moves up to support Pond’s attack.

Above: Buckland’s Union Brigade struggles to reform its ranks following the combat with Cleburne and Russell’s Rebel Brigade is swift to take advantage!  The Rebel Yell is heard once again as Russell’s boys charge across the Shiloh Branch.

Above:  On the Rebel right flank, Anderson’s Brigade continues its flanking move, clearing the gun-line and thus allowing the Rebel artillery to support Russell’s attack.

Above: Unseen by the Union side, Hardee is also moving Confederate formations (primarily Hindman’s Division) to outflank Sherman’s line at Shiloh Church and these brigades will soon arrive on Anderson’s right flank.

Above:  The battle at the bridge is hard-fought, but Buckland’s Union Brigade is grudgingly forced to give ground and falls back on its camp.

Above: Despite Russell’s success, Cleburne struggles to rally his worn brigade south of the bridge.  At the bridge, two newly-arrived Rebel batteries suffer losses from accurate Union counter-battery fire, but at long last, the Union line is starting to crumble and one of the Union batteries has withdrawn along with Buckland’s Brigade.

Above: Following the combat against Russell, Buckland initially only fell back as far as the camp.  However, his men then suffered a further crisis of confidence and retreated back through the woods to form a new line near Shiloh Church, leaving Russell’s men to loot their camp at leisure.

Above: On the Union left, Hildebrand’s Brigade had not been in close combat, but had suffered a constant trickle of casualties due to accurate Confederate artillery and musketry fire.  then, with the collapse of Buckland’s Brigade on their right flank, their confidence was completely shattered and the brigade broke and ran for the relative safety of McClernand’s Division!  finding themselves suddenly alone, the supporting artillery pull back to Shiloh Church, where Raith’s Brigade is finally starting to form up.

Above:  As Hildebrand’s men stream back in panic, McClernand’s Division forms up on the road and prepares to march to Sherman’s aid.

Above:  On the Confederate left flank, Pond’s Rebels finally get to grips with McDowell.

Above:  With only light casualties on both sides, McDowell withdraws steadily through his camp, under intense pressure from the Rebels.

Above: McDowell is in a very isolated position and is facing increasing numbers of Rebs.  McDowell therefore takes the decision to pull back further, anchoring his right flank on the bog, his left flank on Buckland’s wavering Brigade and using the open ground of the Howell Field as a killing-ground (all the while waiting for McClernand to support him).

Above:  As McDowell pulls back, Pond’s Rebels pause a while to loot the camp.

Above:  As McDowell pulls back through the Howell Field, he breathes a sigh of relief as he spots one of McClernand’s Brigades approaching from the rear.

Above:  Having finally roused himself, McClernand quickly deploys his division to receive the Rebel assault.  In the distance, Hare’s Brigade is sent to the right wing, to support McDowell, while the centre is reinforced by a third battery of artillery at Shiloh Church.  In the foreground, Raith’s Brigade forms a new line at their camp and attempts to plug the gap left by Hildebrand’s routed Brigade.

Above:  To Raith’s rear, Marsh’s newly-arrived Brigade moves to cover the left flank, but is alarmed to spot new Rebel formations approaching from that quarter (these new Rebels are the lead elements of Hindman’s Division of Hardee’s Corps, which have appeared on the flank of Sherman’s former position).  McClernand therefore deploys an artillery battery to sweep the open ground of the Review Field (on the right of the photo) and support the left flank.  In the distance, Veatch’s Brigade is also on the march.

Above:  With their immediate front suddenly clear of enemies, the Rebel guns cease fire and limber up to join the advance…

We will be continuing this game at the weekend… 🙂

 

 

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games | Leave a comment

Some More Napoleonic Reinforcements

Yes I know, it’s all been a bit Cold War here just lately, so here’s an antidote: some AB Figures 15mm Napoleonics I painted back in the spring and summer…

French & Polish

Above:  I had a couple of Polish Chasseur à Cheval figures left over, so thought I’d stick them together with a general of cuirassiers to create a Franco-Polish cavalry corps commander base.  This represents Général de Division François Étienne de Kellermann, son of Marshal Kellermann and often referred to as ‘Kellermann the Younger’.  In the latter half of 1813 Kellermann was placed in command of the French 4th (Polish) Reserve Cavalry Corps and commanded it during the Battle of Liebertwolkwitz (prelude to the Battle of Leipzig) on 14th October 1813.  Shortly after that battle and before the start of the Battle of Leipzig ‘proper’ on 16th October 1813, Marshal Murat elevated Kellerman to command a wing consisting of his own 4th Reserve Cavalry Corps (now commanded by the Polish General Sockolnicki) and Pajol’s 5th Reserve Cavalry Corps.

Kellermann is wearing the uniform of a Général de Division, though ‘accessorised’ with the addition of an ornate cuirass and helmet and a leopard-skin shabraque.  There is a portrait of Kellermann wearing cuirassier kit of this ornate style and the painting at the top is based on Kellermann at the Battle of Quatre-Bras in 1815.  The officer on the right is wearing the uniform of a Duchy of Warsaw staff officer.  The escorting trooper on the left is wearing the uniform of the Duchy of Warsaw 1st Chasseur à Cheval Regiment.

Above:  A couple of skirmisher bases for the French 9th Light Infantry Regiment.  These are from one of the four Chasseur (Centre) Companies in each battalion, as signified by their red-tipped green plumes and green fringed epaulettes with red crescents.  Most regiments had slight variations in terms of the fine details of cuffs, epaulettes, plumes, elite company distinctions, etc, many of which are not recorded or changed so frequently that they are near-impossible to research.  However, the 9th Light Infantry were recorded in 1809 as having the plume and epaulette colours shown, with white shako-cords (these were very common colours anyway, though some regiments had plain green, without the red details).  Their cuffs were plain blue ‘Brandenburg’ style with a red cuff-flap (yellow cuff-flaps for the Voltigeur Company).  The gaiter lace and tassels were white for all companies.

Above:  I’ve posted them here before, but here is a full battalion of the 9th Light Infantry in close order, showing the elite Carabinier and Voltigeur Companies:

Above:  Some time ago, I did an article on some ‘Foreign Legions’ that were fighting with the French Army in the Peninsular War.  However, one slipped through the net, so here is the Regiment de Prusse, which was raised in November 1806 from men who had deserted the Prussian Army.  Somewhat unsurprisingly, the regiment suffered heavily from desertion (who’d have thought it…?) and had a very poor fighting reputation, even losing its colour during one engagement without firing a shot.  In 1811 they were re-designated as the 4th Foreign Regiment.

Eighty men from the regiment were present at the Battle of Salamanca and we therefore needed them for one of our General de Brigade Mega-Games at the National Army Museum in Chelsea (which I used to help organise, along with Dave Brown and Mark Urban).  General de Brigade is played at 1:20 ratio, so we just needed a small skirmisher unit of four figures.  I quickly slapped the paint on to these on the night before the game, so the painting is definitely not up to my usual standard, with no shading or buttons! 🙁

These are Chasseur (Centre) Company men.  I’ve given them green campaign trousers, but their regulation legwear was green breeches and light infantry-style gaiters with yellow lace and tassels.  Some sources show ‘Spencer’ coats with square lapels and no fringed epaulettes.  The elite Carabinier and Voltigeur Companies had red and yellow distinctions respectively and officers are shown in cocked hats with black plumes.  Drummers apparently had white coats with red facings, green breeches and white plumes.

Bavaria

Above:  Lieutenant General Karl Phillip von Wrede.  This model is based on a portrait of Wrede (right), showing him wearing a French-style single-breasted coatee without lapels, but with lots of silver foliate lace down the front.  Bavarian generals normally wore double-breasted coats with square scarlet lapels, edged in silver foliate lace, but it’s rather difficult to match a suitable figure from the AB Figures range (though I have seen some 1806 Prussian generals used for the job).  For this figure I’ve used a French general, but filed off his fringed epaulettes.

Above:  The Bavarian 1st Light Infantry Battalion.  Each Bavarian infantry brigade typically consisted of two Infantry Regiments (each of two battalions) and a Light Infantry Battalion, for a total of five battalions per brigade.  There were two brigades per division, plus a cavalry brigade.  As previously mentioned, I use Napoleon’s Battles rules, where every unit on the table typically represents a brigade rather than a battalion.  You might therefore be wondering therefore, why I’ve painted Light Infantry, as there were no Bavarian Light Infantry brigades.  However, I do occasionally play other rulesets such as General de Brigade, so each of my ‘brigades’ then becomes a ‘battalion’ and it’s therefore handy to have every fifth Bavarian unit painted as Light Infantry.

Above: All Bavarian Light Infantry Battalions had essentially the same uniform of a dark green coat, grey breeches, white belts and leather crested helmet.  Battalions were distinguished by the colour of the collar, which in the case of the 1st Battalion was red.  Note that the green plume indicated the elite flank company, while the centre companies had small coloured tufts to identify the company.  However, all of AB’s firing Bavarian figures have plumes, so I’ve painted them green.  A second elite company, designated ‘Carabiniers’ was added in 1811 and these had red plumes as shown above.

Above:  Bavarian artillery.  These are actually Battle Honours models, which were sculpted by Tony Barton during the 1980s, long before he started his own company, AB Figures.  These models belonged to my old Napoleonic collaborator Richard Boulton.  He tragically died of leukaemia around 23 years ago, aged only 28 and after his death, his wife gave me a few packs of unpainted Bavarian artillery she’d found at the back of a drawer.  It’s taken me a while to get them painted, but they’re finally done and I used a few more for Baden artillery.

Brunswick

Above:  Brunswick Horse Artillery 1815.  At long last earlier this year, Mr Barton finally got around to finishing off the Waterloo Brunswickers, which along with the Ottoman Turks, was the very first range of figures to appear in AB figures’ catalogue.  For the last 25 years I’ve made do with some Old Glory 15s gunners, but my AB Brunswickers are complete at last!  However, looking at the zoomed-in photos I can now see that my eyesight is starting to let me down when painting the fine detail, such as the yellow piping and death’s head badges on these.  So it might be time to get a magnifier… 🙁

Above:  In Napoleon’s Battles only heavy and horse artillery is represented, so light foot artillery isn’t normally needed.  However, I have a few friends who play Age of Eagles, which is set at the same level (each unit representing a brigade), but does include the light foot artillery.  Consequently, I’ve been getting some additional foot artillery for my collections, starting with this one for the Brunswickers.

Anyway, that’s enough for now! 🙂

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Minor States, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | 2 Comments

My 2019/2020 Demo Game: The Cassinga Raid, Angola 1978 (Part 4): The Game!

At long last, all that research, scenario-writing, model-making and terrain-building finally paid off last weekend as our Carringa Raid game took the prize for Best Demo Game at Warfare 2019!  As regular readers will know, I only do demo games at shows for the celebrity status, adulation, free drugs and groupies, but where these are not forthcoming a nice trophy will do… 🙂

I’ll post the full scenario up later for others who want to play it, but here’s the report from Saturday’s game.  We actually played the game twice (when I say ‘we’, it was mostly Paddy and Richard who did the playing, while I did a bit of umpiring and A LOT of talking to people), but my phone used up all its photo-storage on the Saturday afternoon, so I didn’t get any photos of the sunday game or the rest of the show! 🙁

Rules used are Battlefront: WWII, which needs very little modification for such a low-tech engagement, beyond using the specific unit cards, which can be downloaded from the Battlefront: WWII Unit Card Generator.

The Battle of Cassinga was one of three main elements of Operation REINDEER, which was the first major ‘external’ operation conducted by the South African Defence Force (SADF) with the intention of attacking the People’s Army of Namibia (PLAN), the military wing of the South West African People’s Organisation (SWAPO) in its ‘safe harbour’ base areas within Angola.  The assault was initiated by devastating airstrikes that coincided with SWAPO-PLAN’s morning parade.  This was then followed by the drop of a parachute battalion, which then performed a ground assault before being extracted by helicopters, but not before coming under attack from Cuban tanks and mechanised infantry.  While a military success for the SADF and a disaster for SWAPO-PLAN, the battle provided anti-South African forces with a propaganda coup and remains an extremely controversial and contentious subject to this day… But it does make a very interesting wargame…

Above:  The map for the historical South African assault plan.  The scattered drop, caused by poor planning and mis-scaled maps, caused the drop to be far more scattered (this was reflected in both our games) and this plan was heavily modified ‘on the fly’.  The scale for this map is 1 square = 1km = 2 feet of table.  Note that I’d originally planned to do this on a 6′ x 8′ table and drew the map accordingly, but then realised I could fit all the action happily onto a 6′ x 6′ table, hence the overlaid grid.

Above:  An overview of the battlefield at 0800hrs.  As Commander Dim Hamaambo’s SWAPO-PLAN forces hold their morning parade in Cassinga, the sound of jet engines approaches…

Above:  The initial air-strike, conducted by SAAF Canberra bombers carrying hundreds of 10lb ‘Alpha-Bombs’ (small, spherical anti-personnel bombs) lays waste to a 500m x 800m swathe of central Cassinga.

Above:  The casualties on the parade square are horrific, with around 50% of the assembled revolutionary cadres being cut down in this cowardly attack!

Above:  Further aerial death arrives in the form of SAAF Buccaneer fighter-bombers.

Above:  One section of Buccaneers attacks the tented training camp outside Cassinga and again, inflicts massive casualties on SWAPO.

Above:  A second section of Buccaneers attacks the anti-aircraft gun position on the western edge of Cassinga and succeeds in destroying some of the guns.  Tragically for SWAPO, the anti-aircraft gunners were caught napping by this surprise attack.

Above:  Not to be outdone, a section of Mirage III fighters dives down to strafe the parade square, adding to the carnage.

Above:  With Cassinga burning, a large formation of C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall transport aircraft, carrying Jan Breytenbach’s Composite Parachute Battalion, climb to drop altitude and disgorge paratroops on to six Drop Zones around the town.

Above:  Due to an error of scale on their planning maps, some of the drops are catastrophically scattered, particularly on the eastern side of the town.  Breytenbach, along with most of the Battalion Headquarters, Mortar Platoon and part of Bravo Company, lands either in or on the wrong side of the river.

Above:  Alpha Company are probably the most scattered of all and one of its sections comes within a whisker of being lunch for a crocodile…

Above:  Some of Alpha Company land right on top of SWAPO positions around Cassinga, with the Company HQ landing right next to the surviving anti-aircraft gun position!

Above: Yet more of Alpha Company land close to the Training Camp and are intermingled with 11 Independent Platoon.  One section of 11 Platoon goes missing during the drop and is never found.  This means that 11 Platoon is one-third understrength right from the outset.

Above:  9 Independent Platoon land relatively well-concentrated near their objective at the northern end of Cassinga, but initially struggle to organise themselves in the moments following the landing.

Above:  At the top-left of the picture, Charlie Company lands concentrated and in good order.  they quickly move to establish a blocking-line near the cemetery.  Meanwhile, in Cassinga, Commander Hamaambo has survived the air attack and desperately tries to rally his troops.  Some run to defensive positions, while others jump into vehicles and attempt to drive to the safety of the Cuban garrison, 10 miles away at Tetchamutete.  However, the moving trucks become easy prey for prowling Buccaneers.

Above:  At the southern end of town, Delta Company and the Anti-Tank Platoon land well, though alarmingly close to SWAPO positions.  Wasting no time, the paratroops rally and launch an immediate charge on the SWAPO trenches.

Above:  Quickly overwhelming the defenders, Delta Company and the Anti-Tank Platoon clear the trenches and push on to storm the SWAPO Engineer Company HQ at the southern end of the town.  Some of the engineers attempt to escape by truck but are swiftly dealt with by the Anti-Tank Platoon’s RPGs.  However, some of the engineers manage to hold out in a trench and bunker complex beyond the HQ building.

Above:  On the western side of Cassinga, Alpha Company manages to destroy the remaining anti-aircraft gun, but comes under intense fire from the trenches and buildings beyond.  Captain Swart, commanding Alpha Company, is cut down by SWAPO fire and his men take cover while their mortars lay down smoke-screens.  The advance into town has temporarily stalled, though the rest of Alpha and Bravo Companies are finally starting to arrive following the scattered drop.

Above: On the northern edge of Cassinga, 9 Independent Platoon assaults a series of fortified brick buildings that are thought to be accommodation for Cuban advisors.  However, the troops in residence are actually the ‘elite’ SWAPO Reconnaissance Company who, while a cut above the rest of SWAPO-PLAN, prove to be no match for the paratroopers and are quickly pushed back along the trench-line.

Above: Back at the southern end of Cassinga, the Anti-Tank Platoon has dealt with another truck attempting to break out of encirclement.  Meanwhile, Delta Company has finally destroyed the SWAPO Engineer Company and stormed its fortifications, though not without loss, as a section of paratroops is killed while storming the bunker complex.

Above: With Dimo Hamaambo rallying the last of his surviving revolutionary cadres in the eastern trench-line, a Mirage swoops down to make a strafing-run along the trench-line.  However, the South African pilot hasn’t noticed a DShK heavy machine gun lurking among the sandbags… By the time the pilot sees the tracer it’s too late and his aircraft is riddled with .50-calibre bullets.  Trailing smoke and flame, the Mirage streaks over the town to explode in the bush beyond.

Above:  Dismayed by mounting losses and the sight of the Mirage crashing into the bush, Breytenbach orders his airborne reserve, Echo Company to drop onto Charlie Company’s DZ, with the intention of reinforcing the stop-line on the eastern side of town and closing the fist around SWAPO.  However, the addition of Echo Company to the force will now mean a third helicopter lift!

Above:  Echo Company lands well and moves swiftly to take up positions near the cemetery and prevent any escape from Cassinga.

Above:  The orbiting Cessna 185 Forward Air Control aircraft spots some SWAPO attempting to escape into the bush and calls in a Buccaneer strike.  SNEB rockets shred the fleeing guerrillas and the survivors are soon rounded up by Echo Company.

Above:  Dimo Hamaambo, with the last knot of SWAPO survivors, is still holding out in the trenches at the north-eastern corner of Cassinga.  9 Platoon has now cleared the northern villas and moves forward to assault an imposing bunker.  Charlie Company also now move forward, crossing the open ground to support 9 Platoon’s attack.  Alpha and Bravo Companies meanwhile, sweep through the town, clearing the buildings as they go.

Above:  As is always the case with our games, anyone is free to join in the fun and a young chap by the name of Nathaniel joined us to take command of Charlie Company for a few turns.  He had a challenging task ahead of him; assaulting SWAPO who were deeply dug-into a bunker.  Paddy (Breytenbach) passed him three dice to roll, as Richard (Dimo) looked on, confident that his sandbag and log walls would protect him… “Oh no!” cried Natahniel, “I’ve rolled three zeroes!” 🙂

Above:  Commander Dimo could only look on in despair as he rolled his customary ‘1’ and Breytenbach smugly scooped another SWAPO unit into the bag…

Above:  With SWAPO finally neutralised, the first wave of Puma helicopters arrived to fly out the casualties, the PoWs and the two Independent Parachute Platoons.  The rest of the battalion busied itself in searching the town for documents and heavy weapons, as well as with preparing a defence against the predicted Cuban counter-attack.

Above:  The second lift arrived and Alpha, Bravo and Charlie Company Companies embarked, leaving only Delta and Echo Companies, plus the depleted Anti-Tank Platoon, Battalion Headquarters and Mortar Platoon.  Before the helicopters have even lifted off, the sound of tank-engines is heard…

Above:  The Anti-Tank Platoon, holding the former SWAPO Engineer HQ at the southern end of Cassinga, have laid an anti-tank minefield in a narrow strip of open ground, just where any vehicles coming up the road would have to go off-road to avoid a burning truck… A Cuban BRDM-2 armoured car and T-34 tank pass through without incident, though the second T-34 strikes a mine and blows up spectacularly!

Above:  The mine-strike is quickly followed up with a full-scale ambush as the Cuban column is subjected to a volley of RPGs, though to little effect!

Above:  Cuban Motor Rifles frantically bail out of their BTR-152 personnel carriers and rush forward to support the tanks.  However, a Buccaneer appears and destroys a second T-34 with SNEB rockets!  As 60mm mortar bombs land among the Cubans the Buccaneer returns for a second pass, but is driven off by concentrated anti-aircraft fire from vehicle machine guns and some hastily-deployed ZPU-2 anti-aircraft guns.

Above:  Having circumvented the minefield, the survivng T-34 pushes forward, but comes under a heroically suicidal close-assault by the commander of Delta Company, accompanied by a section from the Anti-Tank Platoon and the Assault Pioneer Section!  The Mortar Platoon screens their assault with smoke, but withering fire from the tank and it’s supporting BRDM crushes the valiant charge.  However, their comrades are swift to take revenge, destroying the BRDM and a BTR with long-range RPG fire and driving off the T-34, which retreats back up the road in a state of some panic (somehw managing to traverse the minefield unscathed).  A FAPLA (Angolan Armed Forces) Motor Rifle Company moves forward to deal with the South Africans…

Above:  Meanwhile, on the eastern side of town, the Cuban Motor Rifle Company, supported by a truck-mounted FAPLA company, starts to clear the trenches and buildings in the south-eastern corner of Cassinga.

Above:  However, as the Cubans push forward, a steady trickle of casualties is inflicted by the combined efforts of Echo Company and the Mortar Platoon and the Cubans make slow progress.

Above:  The FAPLA Motor Rifle Company charges the dug-in survivors of Delta Company, but suffer a withering hail of defensive fire.

Above:  Having suffered heavy losses, the FAPLA Motor Rifles pull back to cover.  The T-34 has moved forward in cautious support, but somewhat unsurprisingly, can’t be persuaded to push forward.  Seizing the opportunity, the survivors of Delta Company and the Anti-Tank Platoon make good their escape and withdraw back to Breytenbach’s HQ north of the parade square.  However, they are forced to leave their wounded and the bodies of their comrades to the tender mercies of the Cubans.

Above:  Similarly on the eastern side of Cassinga, mounting casualties among the Cuban Motor Rifles means that they too are reluctant to push forward, despite the threats of their political officer!  The sound of returning helicopters can now be heard…

Above:   As the Pumas swoop in to land on the northern LZs there is a mad rush as the South Africans sprint for their ride out of Cassinga!  The Cuban and FAPLA troops are too far away to intervene and can only watch in frustration as their prey escapes!

Despite the loss of a Mirage and a last-minute flurry of casualties (exacerbated by leaving them behind for the Communists to recover), the SADF amply completed their objective and extracted with more Victory Points than SWAPO (just…).  However, there is the small matter of SWAPO’s automatic 500 VP Sympathetic Western Media Bonus to consider… 😉

My thanks to Paddy Green and Richard de Ferrars for being the prime-movers in running the game (twice!) over the weekend.  Thanks also to Steve Uden for providing the ‘front of house’ all day Saturday and thanks to all those old friends and new who we met over the weekend.

Thanks especially to Phil Chang and Dave Thomas for their excellent company, leading an innocent Welsh boy like me astray on the Friday night…

For once I was absolutely truthful when I told my wife that I was ‘only drinking in Moderation’…   😉

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Cold War - Angolan Border War, Games, Warfare (Show) | 4 Comments

My 2019/2020 Demo Game: The Cassinga Raid, Angola 1978 (Part 3): Smuggy McSmugface…

I’ll post a proper battle report up later (we actually managed to fully play the game twice, but my phone ran out of photo-storage at the end of the first day…), but the game’s first outing at Warfare 2019 in Reading went well… 😀

It was great to finally meet so many people who I’ve only known through the wonder of the interweb, as well as a stack of friends both old and new! 🙂

 

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Cold War - Angolan Border War, Games, Warfare (Show) | Leave a comment

My 2019/2020 Demo Game: The Cassinga Raid, Angola 1978 (Part 2 – the Playtest)

As discussed last time, I’ve spent the last few months building the terrain and forces for a demo-game of the Cassinga Raid, with the intention of going around a few of the UK wargame shows, starting with Warfare in Reading, then Crusade in Penarth, Partizan in Newark and perhaps some others.

So with the terrain built and the troops, tanks and aircraft painted, I took the game down to the Carmarthen Old Guard last week, to get it all set up, check that everything ‘fitted’ and to have a bit of a playtest of some of the scenario mechanics; primarily I wanted to see if my ideas for conducting the opening air-strikes and para-drop worked and if the initial battle between the South African Paras and the SWAPO-PLAN guerrillas would be a good game or too overbalanced toward one side or the other.

As discussed last time, the rules to be used are Battlefront: First Echelon, which is my Cold War adaptation of Fire & Fury’s Battlefront: WWII.  That said, with this being such a relatively low-tech war, we can just use the straight Battlefront: WWII rules with the appropriate unit cards and a few scenario rules covering the helicopter extraction.

Above: The calm before the storm.  In the Angolan town of Cassinga (known to SWAPO-PLAN as Camp Moscow), the bulk of the garrison masses on the parade-square to salute the flags of Angola and Free Namibia and to receive their work and training orders for the day.  Other SWAPO troops are on sentry-duty in the trenches, while on the north edge of town, the new recruits conduct their own parade in their tented camp, while bored anti-aircraft gunners doze in the morning sunshine…

Above:  But what’s this?  It looks as though their Cuban fraternal revolutionary comrades are conducting a fly-past in their honour!   But hang on, those engines don’t look right for Illyushins… Four South African Canberra bombers in line abreast unload 300x 10lb ‘Alpha-Bombs’ onto the parade square.  The spherical, football-sized bombs hit the ground, bounce once and then explode ten feet above the ground, saturating an area 500m x 800m with shrapnel.

Above:  Close behind the Canberras come four Buccaneers, who release 1,000lb bombs onto the anti-aircraft positions and training camp.  A pair of Mirage III fighters then strafe the survivors of the earlier attacks.  Behind all of this comes a wave of C-130 Hercules and C-160 Transall transport aircraft, who start to disgorge paratroops all around the town.

Above: The parade suffers around 20% casualties in the initial bombing-run, while trucks and buildings burn.  Comrade Dimo Hamaambo, the camp commandant, was fortunate enough to be in his house (the red-roofed building) at the time and managed to escape by the skin of his teeth!  The shocked survivors are in various states of disorder.  Meanwhile, the Training Unit has suffered around 40% casualties and the section of ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft guns has been knocked out.  And yet the battle has only just begun…

Above: Commandant Rhys Breytenbach conducts the para-drop for Charlie Company, on the eastern side of the battlefield.  Unlike the historical battle, most of the paras dropped fairly well-concentrated around their DZs.  Two sections land in the ponds of the eastern valley and a lot of sections land Suppressed or Disordered (in game terms), but none are lost, which is a good start.  [Note to self: Make them drop from a higher ‘altitude’ above the table next time… 🙂 ]

Above:  A Mirage III adds to SWAPO’s misery by conducting a strafing-run through the carnage on the parade-square, causing a few more casualties.  At the bottom-left of the photo, Breytenbach’s headquarters group, combined with Captain McQueen’s Bravo Company, has quickly rallied and is making a bee-line for the centre of the town.  On their left, Captain Swart’s Alpha Company has landed more scattered; elements have managed to reach one of the AA positions, but is being badly shot up by the surviving ZPU-4 AA gun in the second AA position, as well as by the infantry and a 60mm mortar section of the SWAPO 1st Detachment in the trenches north of Comrade Dimo’s house.

Above: Back at Breytenbach’s DZ on the western side of the town, the battalion Mortar Platoon, along with Bravo Company’s mortar section, set up their weapons and prepare to conduct fire support.  They are almost immediately in action as Charlie Company calls for support in interdicting some fleeing enemy troops on the eastern side of town, while Alpha Company calls for support in suppressing the ZPU-4, which has already eliminated one section of Paras.

Above: The SWAPO ZPU-4 AA section, along with the 1st Detachment, make a brave stand against the enraged South African Paras, but are finally overwhelmed by the combined efforts of the HQ, Alpha and Bravo Companies, aided by the Mortar Platoon.  comrade Dimo escapes by the skin of his teeth, fleeing along with the parade survivors for the safety of the eastern trench-line.

Above:  On the eastern side of town, Commandant Forbes’ Charlie Company has managed to extricate itself from the bog and sets up a stop-line around the walled cemetery on the eastern side of the town.  Nevertheless, some SWAPO units from the 3rd Detachment manage to slip past their cordon, through a wide gap to the south-east.

Above:  At the southern edge of the town, Captain Smitt’s sorely-understrength Delta Company manage to storm the SWAPO Engineer Company HQ thanks in no small part to effective supporting fire from Lieutenant Peters’ Anti-Tank Platoon.  However, flanking fire from elements of the SWAPO 4th Detachment in the southwestern trenches (at the bottom-left of the photo), plus an 82mm B10 Recoilless Rifle section, cause them serious problems and one of the Delta Company sections falls victim to SWAPO fire during the assault.  To make matters worse, the SWAPO Engineer Company quickly manages to rally in the trenches beyond the HQ buildings, while the 4th Detachment is soon reinforced by the rest of their unit, who have somehow managed to survive the parade (and the subsequent strafing by a Mirage and rocketing by a Buccaneer) unscathed!

Above: At the northern edge of town, Lieutenant Witt’s 9 Independent Platoon has managed to discomfit the ‘elite’ SWAPO Reconnaissance Company by directing a large volume of suppressive fire onto their accommodation buildings.  One of the SWAPO sections flees and falls back to the safety of the second building.  The Recce Company Commander is made of sterner stuff and holds his ground, though is similarly forced to fall back when the South Africans assault the house.  Witt’s men move forward, though soon find themselves under effective fire from the second house.

Above: In the northwestern corner of the battlefield, Lieutenant Botha’s 9 Independent Platoon has no such trouble and quickly overwhelms the hapless SWAPO Training Unit with a bayonet-charge on their tented encampment.  A couple of SWAPO sections attempt to flee but are ruthlessly cut down and Botha’s men move on to join the assault on the town.

Above: The SWAPO Recce Company, having been forced out of its comfy accommodation, now largely panics and flees eastward, unaware of Charlie Company’s presence there.  However, one determined section holds out in the orange house and delays Witt’s 9 Platoon long enough for the rest of their company to escape.

Above: In the south, Delta Company attempt to maintain the tempo of the advance by attacking the SWAPO Engineer Company in the trenches.  However, the Engineers have recovered their wits, while Delta Company no longer has the support of the Anti-Tank Platoon, which has been left behind at the main road.  Flanking fire from the bunker first disorders one of the Para sections and further fire from the trenches finishes them off.  Nevertheless, the Company Commander and a section of Assault Pioneers reach the trenches and engage in close combat with the SWAPO Engineer HQ Section, but fail to deliver the killer-blow and the SWAPO Engineer commander falls back once again.  Emboldened, the SWAPO Engineers prepare to mount a counter-attack on the severely-weakened Delta Company, which is now reduced to 50% strength!  The South African Anti-Tank Platoon moves forward to assist, but they have their own problems, being still under fire from the 82mm B10 and 4th Detachment’s 60mm mortar.

Above: Charlie Company moves forward, across the open ground, from the cemetery to the outer trenches on the eastern side of Cassinga.  There they engage in a firefight with the survivors of the SWAPO 2nd and 3rd Detachments, who have rallied around Comrade Dimo in the main trench-line.  However, this also means that SWAPO elements are now slipping away on either side of Charlie Company’s line.

Above: Called in by the Forward Air Controller in the orbiting Cessna 185A, a Buccaneer returns to perform a rocket-strike on surviving SWAPO positions.  However, previously unseen 12.7mm DShK heavy machine guns open up and throw off the pilot’s aim.

Above: The South African mortars are directed to switch their fire onto the heavy machine guns.

Above: Hot on the heels of fleeing SWAPO units, Breytenbach’s HQ arrives along with Bravo Company on the bloody parade square.  One heroic SWAPO 4th Detachment section has volunteered to stay behind to cover 4th Detachment’s withdrawal (they are now slipping away to the south, around the rear of Delta Company and the anti-Tank Platoon) and these glorious Heroes of the Revolution successfully fight off a close assault by the enemy before coming within a whisker of killing Breytenbach himself!  However, the rest of Bravo Company has now finished clearing the previous trench-line and soon swamps the lone SWAPO section with fire, before finishing them off with a close assault.

And that was where we had to leave it!

All in all a good play-test, albeit a little slow, as nobody apart from me knew the rules.  It will be A LOT quicker at the shows, where I’ll have a core of players who know the rules intimately and we’ll be able to get to the second phase of the battle; namely the helicopter extractions and Cuban armoured counter-attack.

Nevertheless, it was an interesting tactical situation at the end of the game.  On the South African side, the HQ Company, Bravo, Charlie and the three Independent Platoons were all intact, though Alpha and Delta had lost two sections apiece, meaning that Alpha had suffered 25% casualties and Delta a whopping 50%.  Echo Company had not been called in, so was still sitting pretty in its C-160s, orbiting just south of the border.

On the SWAPO side of things, the Engineer Company was still intact and resisting doggedly against the South Africans at the southern end of the town.  Survivors of 3rd Detachment, a DShK heavy machine gun section and Comrade Dimo himself were moving south to join them and may well have held the bridge long enough for the Cubans to relieve them.  The 1st Detachment and their supporting AA guns and B-10 had been wiped out, while the 2nd and 3rd Detachments had suffered around 50% casualties apiece.  The 4th Detachment had lost one section heroically mounting a rearguard at the parade square, but the rest of them were slipping away to the south, together with a section of B-10 and DShK.  In the north the Recce Company had lost one section, but the rest had managed to escape encirclement.

So at the close of play, the South Africans had inflicted losses of 27 sections out of 54 on SWAPO – exactly 50%.  In return they had lost 4 sections.  So a fairly comprehensive victory for the SADF, but by no means complete, as formed SWAPO units were still resisting in the town and the timescale for the operation was slipping…

Thanks to all at Carmarthen Old Guard; Rhys, Aled, Chris, Andy and Alan for play-testing the game!

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Cold War - Angolan Border War, Games, Scenarios, Warfare (Show) | 5 Comments

My 2019/2020 Demo Game: The Cassinga Raid, Angola 1978 (Part 1)

As mentioned in recent posts, I’ve spent the last few months building terrain-boards, painting troops and sticking together aeroplanes for my forthcoming demo game at Warfare 2019, which will be held on the weekend of 16th/17th November, at the Rivermead Leisure Centre, Reading.  I’ll then be taking the game to some more shows – Crusade 2020 (Penarth, 25th January 2020) and Partizan 2020 (Newark, 17th May 2020).

The scenario I’ve chosen is the Cassinga Raid, which took place on 4th May 1978, being an airborne assault by South African paratroops on the Angolan town of Cassinga, which at the time was a major base for SWAPO-PLAN guerrillas.  The battle was an extremely controversial one and the propaganda war rages on between both sides.  Nevertheless, it is an extremely interesting tactical situation and in my opinion worth wargaming.  I’ve based my scenario on the dissertation by General Edward McGill Alexander, which is the most comprehensive and balanced account of the battle produced to date.  The rules to be used are my Battlefront: First Echelon variant of Fire & Fury Games’ Battlefront: WWII.

So to the terrain…  This is my scenario map.  I was originally going to do it as a 6’x8′ board, but then decided to cut it down to a 6’x6′ board.  The grid in the centre of the map shows the arrangement of the nine 2’x2′ boards, arranged 3×3.  In terms of ground-scale, a 2′ square equates to 1 km square.

After much deliberation regarding building materials, I decided to use high-density 2′ square polystyrene boards: 9x 25mm-thick boards to form the base and 9x 12mm-thick boards, which would form a top-surface into which the trenches, rivers and gullies would be cut before sticking on to the base-boards.  The upper boards were then stuck onto the base-boards using PVA glue:

Once the boards were stuck down, I used Polyfilla to smooth the western river-valley and the boggy eastern valley.  I then used a sanding-block to finish off the Polyfilla, to smooth off the sharp and ragged edges of knife-cuts and to carve the course of the main road.

To add detail to the trenches, I cut about a hundred matchsticks in half and pushed them into the polystyrene every inch or so along the trench-walls, to give the impression of reinforcing posts.  I then topped the trench-edges with a load of pre-made resin sandbag strips by a company called Combat Zone Scenery.  I have to say that the sandbags are rather over-scale for 15mm figures, as in scale they’d be the size of coal-sacks, but they do look effective.  At this time I also added some corners for some very simple bunkers, using polystyrene off-cuts and made some separate bunker roofs out of card and sand and I also used some plastic tubing as culverts for where the main road crosses the boggy valley.

I then slapped some more PVA glue on the boards (carefully avoiding the sandbags and the bits I wanted to leave smooth as rivers and ponds) and spread some sand to give the surface texture.  I used builders’ sharp sand instead of the fine ‘play sand’ I use for model-basing.  Once the sand was dry I sprayed the two valleys, the drainage-ditch and the trenches with dark earth spray-paint, to give them a deeper, darker soil colour, a dark base-colour for the water areas and some shadows in the trenches and bunkers.

The river was then painted in using ‘Teak’ coloured Wilko’s acrylic varnish.  From looking at the area on Google Earth I could see that the eastern valley is dotted with numerous ponds and soggy patches, so these were also added using varnish.  I also added a trickle of varnish to the drainage ditch.  Three very thick coats of varnish seemed to do the trick for the water-features and gave a very nice, glossy finish.

Next the boards needed painting and for the base colour I used Sandtex Middle Stone exterior paint, which is a fairly dark, greyish sand colour and quite closely matches my model base colour, which is Humbrol 72 Khaki Drill.  The two boards shown above have had their water-features varnished and have been painted in Middle Stone.

The next phase of painting was to pick the roads and footpaths out in a lighter shade of cream and finally the whole board was treated to a light dry-brush of white (avoiding the sandbags and water-features).  Now to get the flock out…

For the flock and undergrowth I decided to use the excellent Woodland Scenics range (which I buy in the UK from Hattons) and to ‘colour-code’ areas of terrain in order to clearly define different terrain-types for ease of play.  For the two boggy valleys and the drainage ditch I painted those areas with PVA glue and stuck on lots of Woodland Scenics ‘Clump Foliage’ in a mixture of Mid Green and Light Green.  I then flocked around them with Blended Turf flock, to give a fairly lush green colour.

For the ‘Bush’ terrain that covers most of the table, I again painted the areas with PVA and then sprinkled on some Woodland Scenics ‘Underbrush’ in Olive Green.  That was then followed up with coarse-grade Burnt Grass flock.

I decided to leave the designated helicopter Landing Zones as bare earth, but flocked the other open areas with dappled flock in ‘Earth’ shade.

Concurrently to building the terrain boards I was also making trees from plastic Woodland Scenics tree armatures.  Unlike all the other trees I’ve made lately, these are not based.  Instead I take sewing needles and heat the ‘eye’ end of the needle for around ten seconds in a candle-flame.  The hot needle is then pushed up the trunk and easily melts its way into the plastic to a depth of about 10mm before setting hard (and/or your thumb if you’re not careful and/or wearing good gloves!).  These then can be simply stabbed into polystyrene terrain-pieces; they look a lot better than based trees and don’t damage the boards at all.

Most of the trees were foliated using Foliage Clusters in Mid Green and Light Green, while the rest were covered in Foliage Mesh in the same shades.  By sheer fluke I happened upon the ideal glue for the job, namely Bison Contact Adhesive; I went to my local shop seeking my usual UHU or Bostik, but all they had was Bison, which I hadn’t heard of.  It’s not as runny as UHU, isn’t as stringy or smelly as Bostik and is a lot tackier than either of them, so instantly grips the foliage firmly as soon as it touches.

I need a walled cemetery for the eastern side of the battlefield, so decided to make a generic cemetery that could be used pretty much anywhere from Angola to Normandy.  The walls and gates are from Peter Pig, while the graves are from Magister Militum.

While I’ve already got some grass & wood ‘hootches’ that are useable for Angola, I need some solid brick buildings, so bought these from Peter Pig.  A quick google for Angolan houses suggested some appropriate colour-schemes.

I need some anti-aircraft gun positions, so thought that these Vietnam artillery positions from Timecast might fit the bill.  However, while excellent models, they are a little too large for my puny AA guns and didn’t look ‘right’ during our dress-rehearsal game, so I’m considering other options.

I also need a small tented camp, so this single-piece resin camp model by Peter Pig fitted the bill.  I’ve added the flagpole and SWAPO flag.  I’ve also made two more stand-alone flagpoles, flying the SWAPO and Angolan flags, to be stabbed into the terrain-board in front of the town parade square, as well as some road-signs for a bit of extra detail.

I’ve already covered the aircraft in my previous posts here and here.  While I already had 95% of the required ground units in my collection, there were a few items that were needed for the game.  First was a small company of Cuban T-34/85s.  I already had one T-34/85 by Peter Pig, so bought two more and stuck a Cuban parade-flag on one of them for a bit of ‘local colour’.  Cuban vehicles in Angola were painted standard Soviet Green, but did sometimes have very large turret numbers painted in white, so I added those for a bit of extra interest.  For the rest of the vehicles, my collection already contains all the required items, namely some Ural-375 trucks and UAZ-469 jeeps by Peter Pig, a load of BTR-152s by Skytrex and GAZ-66 trucks and a BRDM-2 armoured car by QRF.

While I’ve got all the SWAPO-PLAN, FAPLA and Cuban infantry I need from Peter Pig, I still needed a few more South Africans, so painted these up a few weeks ago.  They’re Peter Pig Israelis, which are perfect for 1980s South African Paras, but slightly wrong for the 1970s, in that the rifles should be the FN FAL R2 and not the R5 (Galil copy) and the helmets should be British pattern in bare green steel, rather than the cloth-covered plastic helmet of the 1980s.  However, there aren’t really any suitable figures, so 1980s South Africans will have to do.

In the next part I’ll post some photos of Saturday’s dress-rehearsal game, but here’s a taster…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Cold War - Angolan Border War, Games, Partizan (Show), Scenarios, Warfare (Show) | 6 Comments