Happy Birthday Jemima Fawr!

It’s party-time here at Fawr Towers, as this blog is one year-old today! 🙂

During the past year, this blog has received over 20,000 hits from sufferers of insomnia seeking a cure for their affliction; no doubt with a very high success rate!  OK, we haven’t exactly gone ‘viral’ and probably not even ‘bacterial’, but I do take great satisfaction in knowing that this blog has at least gone ‘fungal’.

There’s still a lot more to write about and now that the weather is improving (the Welsh rain is now precipitating vertically instead of horizontally), I can finally go outside and photograph all the models I painted during the winter.  There are also tons of ‘blasts from the past’ in terms of game reports, scenarios and other odds and sods, so watch this space!

At the moment I’m painting lots of 15mm Cold War Canadians, Soviets and Americans for a forthcoming show demo-game based on the Cold War classic ‘First Clash’, some 1/100th South African aircraft for another show demo-game recreating the controversial Cassinga Raid in Angola, circa 1978 and a section of 28mm ‘Old Girls’ for the Slebech Castle Ladies’ College Cadet Corps, who will shortly be marching to Newark for our big ‘Very British Civil War 1938′ game at Partizan 2019.

I’m also really enjoying the 10mm American Civil War project that I started last June – going with 10mm really paid off, as I was quickly able to get some large armies on the table and refight some historical battles in a very short time-frame.  Fire & Fury 2nd Edition is also a really great set of rules and even though I keep getting my arse handed to me, I’m really enjoying the games.

So thanks to all of you who are daft enough to follow my wargame-witterings and apologies to all those who went on to the web to research Wales’ greatest heroine, only then to end up falling down this rabbit-hole of idiocy…

JF

Posted in Uncategorised | 2 Comments

The Battle of Raab, 14th June 1809 – A Scenario for Napoleon’s Battles

Prince Eugène, Viceroy of Italy

Following my various game-reports, a few people have asked for the full versions of the scenarios, so that they can play them as well.  Until now, I’ve generally tried to give a rough outline of the scenario, in order to keep the article accessible to those who don’t play a particular set of rules, but people clearly want to try them out, so I’m going to start posting up scenarios, including all the rules-specific details.  I’ll generally try to keep these as separate articles from the game-reports, so that people can ignore all the ‘nitty-gritty’ if they wish.

Most of my WW2 and Cold War scenarios can be found posted on the Fire & Fury/Battlefront: WWII Scenario Page and my orders of battle and army-lists can be found on their Orders of Battle Page.  While Wargames Illustrated and Caliver Books have published a few of my Napoleonic and 18th Century scenarios over the years, they never paid me a penny for them, so as I retain the copyright I’ll post them up here, along with a load of unpublished scenarios, starting with this one…

I posted a battle report for our refight of the Battle of Raab last June, but didn’t go into great detail regarding the scenario details.  I’ve already covered the historical background in the previous report, so won’t repeat myself here.

The rules used are Napoleon’s Battles, originally by Avalon Hill, but now in its 4th Edition by Capitan Games.  Napoleon’s Battles is a ‘grand-tactical’ ruleset, where each unit represents a brigade or large regiment and each figure represents around 100 men.  This scenario could therefore be easily modified for rules designed for a similar level of play, such as Age of Eagles.

The Battle of Raab as it appeared on our table

French Objective:

You are to attack the army of Archduke John and destroy him or drive him from the field, with the intention of preventing him from linking up with Archduke Charles’ main army north of Vienna.  (In game terms, to achieve victory, the Austrian Army must be pushed below its Army Morale rating)

Austrian Objective: 

You are to hold your ground and resist the assault of Eugène’s army, with the intention of inflicting sufficient damage on Eugène to force him to break off his pursuit of your army and allow you to link up with Archduke Charles north of Vienna.  (In game terms, in order to claim victory, the Austrian Army must not be pushed below its Army Morale level before the end of the scenario.  A Total Victory will be achieved if the French Army is pushed below its Army Morale level).

Game Length and Sequence:

The game lasts 17 turns, starting with the French 0900hrs turn and ending with the Austrian 1730hrs turn.  While there is still plenty of daylight left at that time of day, both armies will have ground to a halt due to fatigue.

Terrain:

Each square on the map represents 1 square foot on the table, for a total table size of 6’x5′.

The Kis-Megyer Farm is strongly fortified with a +4 defensive modifier.  All other villages and farms have a +1 defensive modifier.

The Pancza Stream is not fordable to artillery at any point.  Artillery is therefore limited to crossing at one of the three bridges.  Cavalry may only ford the Pancza from a point 12 inches upstream of the Kis-Megyer, to the table edge.  Infantry and Generals may ford the Pancza at any point.  When fording, units class the Pancza as Rough Terrain.

The un-named stream bisecting Mescerys’ position is a very minor feature and may be ignored for game purposes.

French Light Infantry

French Order of Battle:

L’Armée d’Italie

Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, Viceroi d’Italie
13”G(10)+1D
[5 Free Rolls]
[13M]

VI Corps – Général de Division Grenier – 9”G(7)+1 [4F]

1st Division – Général de Division Seras – 3”G(5)+0
1er Brigade – 28 FrLN [14D]
2e Brigade – 28 FrLN [14D]
9e Chasseurs à Cheval – 8 FrLC [4D]

2nd Division – Général de Division Durutte – 3”G(6)+1
1er Brigade – 28 FrLN [14D]
62e Infanterie de Ligne (2nd Brigade) – 16 FrLN [8D]
102e Infanterie de Ligne (2nd Brigade) – 16 FrLN [8D]
6e Chasseurs à Cheval – 8 FrLC [4D]

XII Corps – Général de Division Baraguèy d’Hilliers – 8”P(4)-1 [3F]

1st Division – Général de Division Pacthod – 3”G(5)+1
1er Brigade – 24 FrLT [12D]
2e Brigade – 16 FrLN [8D]

2nd Division – Général de Division Severoli – 4”G(4)+0
1st & 2nd Italian Line – 24 ItLN [12D]
4th & 7th Italian Line – 28 ItLN [14D]
112e Infanterie de Ligne – 16 FrLN [8D]

Corps Grouchy – Général de Division Grouchy – 8”G(5)+1 [3F]

Reserve Cavalry Division – Général de Division Montbrun – 4”E(8)+2
Jacquinot’s Brigade (1er & 2e Chasseurs à Cheval & 7e Hussards) – 16 FrLC [8D]
Guédin’s Brigade (7e & 30e Dragons) – 16 FrLC [8D]
Italian Dragoon Regiments – 12 ItLC [6D]
4/2e Horse Artillery – Fr4#
6/2e Horse Artillery – Fr4#

Dragoon Division – Général de Division Pully (from V Corps) – 4”G(6)+0
23e, 28e & 29e Dragons – 16 FrLC [8D]

Cavalry Brigade – Général de Brigade Colbert (from II Corps) – 4”A(6)+1
Colbert’s Brigade (7e & 20e Chasseurs à Cheval & 9e Hussards) – 20 FrLC [10D]

Unattached Formations

Italian Royal Guard – Général de Brigade Lecchi – 4”G(6)+1 [2F]
Italian Guard Infantry – 16 ItGD [6D]
Italian Guard Cavalry – 8 ItGCV [3D]
1st Italian Guard Horse Battery – It6#

Light Cavalry Division – Général de Division Sahuc – 3”G(5)+1 [1F]
8e & 25e Chasseurs à Cheval – 16 FrLC [8D]

Baden Contingent (Independent) – Général de Division Lauriston – 4”G(7)+1 [1F]
1. Leib-Infanterie-Regiment Grossherzog – 16 BdLN [8D]
2. Linien-Infanterie-Regiment Erbgrossherzog – 16 BdLN [8D]
Reitende-Batterie – Bd6# (Half)

Général de Division Grouchy

Notes

1. The original ‘Corps Grouchy’ was split up prior to the battle. Grouchy was then placed in command of the massed cavalry on the right wing.

2. Lauriston’s Badeners arrived after the start of the battle (Game Turn 2). They had marched down from the main army at Vienna and were not attached to any particular corps. They arrive in march column on the road at Point A.

3. Colbert’s cavalry brigade arrived after the start of the battle (Game Turn 2). They arrive in march column on the road at Point B and are assigned to Grouchy’s Corps.

4. Marshal MacDonald (V Corps) arrived with Lamarque’s infantry division at around 4pm, when the battle had effectively finished, so these troops are not included in this scenario.

Hungarian Insurrection Hussars

Austrian Order of Battle:

Armee von Innerösterreich

Feldmarschall Erzherzog Johann
11”G(10)+0
[5 Free Rolls]
[14M]

General Wing Commander
General der Cavallerie Erzherzog Josef Palatin
9”G(6)+0

Left Wing – Feldmarschalleutnant (FML) Mescery – 4”G(7)+1 [3F]
Husaren-Regiment 2 Erzherzog Josef (Andrasy’s Brigade) – 12 AsLC [6D]
Husaren-Regiment 5 Ott (Gosztony’s Brigade) – 12 AsLC [6D]
Gosztony’s Insurrection Hussar Brigade – 16 AsILC [10D]
Andrasy’s Insurrection Hussar Brigade – 16 AsILC [10D]
Hadik’s Insurrection Hussar Brigade – 16 AsILC [10D]
Cavalry Half-Battery – As3# (Half)

Centre – FML Graf Colloredo – 4”A(8)+1 [2F]
Infanterie-Regiment 61 St. Julien & Infanterie-Regiment 62 Franz Jellacíc – 16 AsLN [8D]
Infanterie-Regiment 27 Strassoldo – 16 AsLN [8D]
Marziani’s Insurrection Brigade – 20 AsILT [12D]
Lutz’s Landwehr Brigade – 20 AsLW [14D]

Right Wing – FML Baron Jellacíc – 4”A(6)+1 [3F]
Infanterie-Regiment 32 Esterházy & Infanterie-Regiment 45 De Vaux – 16 AsLN [8D]
Grenze-Infanterie-Regiment 10 (1. Banal) (Sebottendorf’s Brigade) – 20 AsGRZ [12D]
Legisfeld’s Landwehr Brigade – 16 AsLW [11D]
Eckhart’s Insurrection Brigade – 16 AsILT [10D]
Besan’s Cavalry Brigade – 12 AsLC [6D]
Siegenfeld’s Insurrection Hussar Brigade – 12 AsILC [7D]
Cavalry Half-Battery – As3# (Half)

Reserve Corps – FML Baron Frimont – 3”G(8)+0 [3F]
Infanterie-Regiment 16 Lusignan (Gajoli’s Brigade) – 16 AsLN [8D]
Infanterie-Regiment 19 Alvinczy – 20 AsLN [10D]
Kleinmeyer’s Grenadier Brigade – 16 AsGN [6D]
Ottingshausen’s Light Infantry Brigade – 16 AsGRZ [10D]
Position Battery – As12#
Position Battery – As12#

Notes

1. Erzherzog Josef (Archduke Joseph) is a general Wing Commander and may take command of any division.

2. The Austrian order of battle is very complicated, with units of various types frequently being mixed together within the same brigades.  I’ve therefore applied a healthy dollop of ‘fudge’ for playability; for example, separating out line infantry, landwehr and insurrection infantry units and grouping them in distinct ‘brigades’.

Hungarian Insurrection Infantry

 

Napoleon’s Battles Unit Information Chart for Raab 1809:

Austrian Grenadiers

That’s all of it, so have fun and let me know how the scenario plays!  It’s certainly a tough one for the Austrian defender, but the French certainly didn’t have it all their own way in our game.  Please comment below if you’d like a copy of the unit-labels.  For some reason I’m struggling to import the labels (set up as a MS Word table) into this blog-post, but I can always e-mail them if you want them.  I can automatically see your e-mail address when you post on here, so can e-mail it straight to you – no need to post your e-mail address.

Posted in Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | 6 Comments

The Battle of Champion Hill, 16th May 1863 (Fire & Fury 10mm ACW)

Following our last ACW game , the Battle of Cedar Mountain, I had some very positive feedback from none other than Rich Hassenauer, author of the Fire & Fury family of rules.  He liked what I’d done with his old Fire & Fury 1st Edition scenarios and asked if we’d be interested in playtesting some of the new, improved scenarios for Brigade Fire & Fury 2nd Edition.  Of course, the answer was a resounding “Yes please!” and so he sent me a draft copy of his revised scenario for the Battle of Champion Hill, which will be appearing in the new Great Western Battles Scenario Book (2nd Edition).

As in the original Great Western Battles Scenario Book, Champion Hill can be played as a full scenario or as a smaller scenario, concentrating on the most intense part of the fighting around Champion Hill itself.  Rich wanted us to test the smaller of the two scenarios (which is a good job, as I don’t yet have enough troops painted to play the full scenario!).

Major General Ulysses S Grant

Ordinarily at this point, I would present a detailed map of the battlefield and orders of battle for both sides, but as we’re testing Rich’s scenario, I will instead just recommend that readers buy the new book when it comes out! 🙂

In a nutshell, General Ulysses S Grant’s Union Army of the Tennessee, in late April 1863 crossed the Missippi River downstream of the Confederate stroghold of Vicksburg.  He marched west to the strategically-important railway junction of Jackson and there defeated the Confederate army of General Joseph E Johnston (commander of all Confederate forces in the region).  With the threat to his flank neutralised, Grant marched his army back west, to besiege Vicksburg on the banks of the Mississppi.

Lieutenant General John C Pemberton

However, another Confederate force, consisting of three divisions under the command of General John C Pemberton, had been ordered by Johnston to engage Grant’s army.  Pemberton disagreed with his orders, deciding that this would be a suicide mission and instead ordered his army to engage the Union supply trains.  However, a second order, repeating the first order in forceful terms, arrived from Johnston and Pemberton had no choice but to go along with his commander’s wishes.

Reversing his march, Pemberton was alarmed to discover that his army was actually using the same road as the Union forces and his advanced guard (Stevenson’s Division) very quickly encountered the Union advanced guard at Champion Hill, which was the highest point on the road along which both armies were marching.

With Sherman’s XV Corps left behind to cover the rear at Jackson, Grant now ordered McPherson’s XVII Corps to launch a direct assault on the Confederates on Champion Hill.  McClernand’s XIII Corps meanwhile, was ordered to attack the Confederate right flank, but to proceed cautiously due to the broken terrain, lack of intelligence on the enemy positions and high potential for ambush…

Once again, this game was played at the Carmarthen Old Guard club, using my 10mm figures and my diabolical carpet-tile terrain (I really must finish making those trees…).  The map for this scenario is rather complex, so I chopped up some old terrain boards from our 2008 Angola demo game to create the required long ridge, with spurs extending from both sides.  The ‘bare bones’ of the terrain therefore looks like this:

We were also very fortunate in being joined by some new club-members and Fire & Fury veterans, Peter Williams and John Watts.  They very kindly brought with them a large collection of beautiful 10mm figures and buildings.  We used their buildings in the game, but as I’d already organised and labelled my troops, we stuck with mine for this game.  Peter and John joined Tom Kitchen on the Confederate side, while Alan Davison and Andy James took the Union forces.  Once again, Alan sadly had to leave early for work, so I took over his Union troops at that point.  Hopefully I could make a better show of it than last time…

Above: General McPherson, commanding the XVII Corps, passes the Champion House.  In front of him is Hovey’s Division from XIII Corps, which has been placed under McPherson’s command.  These first few photos were taken by a friend who even printed off a modern photo of the Champion Hill battlefield to use as a backdrop!  He doesn’t like them, so refused to let me name him on here, but they’re A LOT better than my pathetic mobile phone photos!

Above: Hovey’s division consisted of Slack’s (here represented by the Zouaves) and McGinnis’ Brigades, plus two batteries of artillery.  Note that there were historically no Zouave units involved in this battle; I’d simply maxed out my collection and was forced to use them in lieu of troops with standard Union uniforms (McGinnis’ brigade here has two command stands for the same reason – I’d run out of ordinary infantry stands)!  McPherson also has Crocker’s Division marching up behind him, but still some way distant and not scheduled to arrive until Turn 8.

Above: A gratuitous close-up of the unhistorical Zouaves… Well I like them…

Above: And so to my rubbish photos… On Hovey’s right is Logan’s Division of XVII Corps, consisting of the brigades of Leggett (left), J E Smith (centre) and Stevenson (right), plus three batteries of artillery.  Stevenson’s Brigade was placed far out on the right flank and one battery was deployed a very long way forward; just off-camera to the right.

Above: A wider view of the Union right wing, showing Stevenson’s Brigade in the woods on the extreme right flank and Battery ‘D’ of the 1st Illinois Artillery deployed well forward and perilously close to the Confederate lines.

Above: Way off beyond Hovey’s left flank, the advance guard of Osterhaus’ Division of McClernand’s XIII Corps (Garrard’s Brigade) is skirmishing with the Confederate right flank-guard (Jackson’s Brigade).  Despite an overwhelming superiority in numbers, Osterhaus has been ordered to advance cautiously and as a consequence, the scenario severely limits his actions until Turn 8 or until Jackson’s brigade is swept away by the advance of McPherson’s XVII Corps.  Osterhaus also has Lindsey’s Brigade and two batteries of artillery following on behind, but these are similarly limited by McClernand’s cautious orders.

Above: Beyond Champion Hill, Pemberton sets up his HQ at the Roberts House.

Above: Straddling Champion Hill, Stevenson’s Confederate Division is deployed on a wide frontage: Centred on Wadell’s Battery at the crest of the hill, Cumming’s Brigade is deployed on the right, with his right flank refused to link with Jackson’s Brigade (seen earlier) forming the flank-guard.

Above:  S D Lee’s Brigade (seen here) is deployed on the left of Champion Hill, lining the edge of the woodland, facing Logan’s Union Division.

Above: Barton’s Brigade forms Stevenson’s left flank-guard in the wooded valley, with Corput’s Battery in support at the Austin House.

Above: McPherson wastes no time in urging his troops forward into the assault!  Supported by four batteries of artillery, Logan’s Division surges forward to take on S D Lee’s Brigade on the edge of the wood.  However, Stevenson’s Brigade (in the foreground), well away from the watchful eyes of senior officers, struggles to make headway through the soggy woodland on the right flank.

Above: The first attack on Champion Hill falters as first the Union artillery fails to cause significant damage on S D Lee’s Confederates and then McGinnis’ and J E Smith’s Brigades are all halted by the devastating weight of return fire from the treeline.  Leggett’s Brigade manages to charge home, but gets the worst of the melee and is thrown back in disorder.

Above: Logan moves forward to rally Leggett’s men as they lick their wounds  and prepare to charge again.  At the crest of Champion Hill, Pemberton’s headquarters flag is glimpsed through the trees as he moves forward for a better view of the action.

Above: On the Union right flank, Stevenson’s Brigade proves extremely reluctant to move forward to engage Barton in the dense woodland.

Above: On the other side of Champion Hill, Slack’s Brigade moves forward through the woods and is soon engaged in a sharp firefight with Cumming’s Rebels.

Above: Following the failed Union charge, the Union artillery starts to take Lee’s Confederate Brigade to task, forcing Lee to fall back from the edge of the woodland.  Wadell’s Confederate Battery is also silenced by the Union guns and falls back to the critical crossroads (the key piece of terrain on the Rebel side of Champion Hill). The Union infantry are soon surging forward once again, with McGinnis, Leggett and Smith again charging Lee.  On the western flank of the battle, Stevenson is finally persuaded to engage Barton.

Above: Lee’s Confederate Brigade pours withering fire into McGinnis’ and Leggett’s Brigades, once again halting their charge.  However, J E Smith’s boys weather the storm and carry their bayonets into the woods.  Lee suffers heavy casualties from return fire and Smith’s Brigade strikes hard, utterly routing Lee’s Rebels!  As the Rebels flee back past the crossroads, Smith’s jubilant troops charge after them, heedless of the danger…

Above:  However, despite their victory against S D Lee and the deep breakthrough in the centre, the battle for the flanks has not gone the Union’s way.  On the right, Stevenson has been repulsed by Barton and on the left, Slack has been repulsed by Cumming!

Above: Pemberton manages to rally the remnants of S D Lee’s Brigade at the Cabins, but Logan urges Smith to charge on and smash Lee’s Rebels utterly!  Lee’s boys still haven’t had the opportunity to replenish their ammunition pouches, but nevertheless manage to disorder Smith’s brigade with musketry.  However, Lee is disordered in turn and the combat is close…

Above: To Logan’s horror and disbelief, Smith’s now-depleted brigade is thrown back by Lee’s resurgent Rebels!

Above: McGinnis’ Brigade meanwhile, moves up to the edge of the woodland, immediately overlooking the objective crossroads (and Waddell’s Battery).  Victory is within McPherson’s grasp!

Above: However, on McGinnis’ left, Cumming’s Rebels are still holding the opposite slope of Champion Hill, while Slack’s worn Union Brigade is reluctant to have another crack until reinforcements arrive.

Above: McGinnis’ Brigade moves out to take the objective crossroads for the Union!  From this point forth, all Confederate manoeuvre rolls would suffer a -1 modifier until they recaptured the crossroads )at which point the penalty would pass to the Union side and so on).  Waddell’s Battery had already withdrawn to re-deploy near the Roberts House, where it was soon joined by Langan’s freshly-arrived battery and Cockrell’s Brigade from Bowen’s division.  J E Smith’s Brigade meanwhile, was pulling back into the woods, all the time under fire from from Lee’s resurgent Rebel Brigade and Corput’s Battery.

Above: Union celebrations were extremely short-lived, as Cockrell’s fresh Confederate brigade charged the crossroads!  After a bitter and closely-fought combat, McGinnis was pushed grudgingly back into the woodland.

Above: In the meantime, further reinforcements arrive for Bowen’s Confederate Division, in the form of Green’s Brigade and Lowe’s Battery.  The Confederates soon establish a powerful base of fire at the Roberts House, which dominates the crossroads.  McPherson attempts to establish a Union battery at the crest of Champion Hill, but this is immediately silenced and forced to retire.

Above: In the centre, J E Smith’s brigade mills about in confusion at the wood’s far edge as it is steadily crushed by the weight of fire from Lee’s vengeful brigade and supporting artillery.  McGinnis’ Brigade is also suffering as Cockrell’s Rebels charge again and throw McGinnis back, deep into the woods and well away from the critical crossroads.

Above: On the far eastern flank of the battle, everyone had almost forgotten about the ‘Mexican Stand-Off’ between Osterhaus’ Union Division and Jackson’s tiny Rebel brigade.  But at long last, it was finally Turn 8 and Garrard’s Brigade, with Lindsey’s Brigade in close support, was free to join the battle!  A devastating charge saw Jackson’s tiny command utterly annihilated.  Osterhaus’s Division charged on toward the rear of Cumming’s Rebel Brigade, though they had now become visible to the Rebel batteries at the Roberts House, who quickly swung their guns around to enfilade the advancing Union troops.  Osterhaus meanwhile ordered his two batteries to move forward as soon as they could, in order to take the Rebel guns under fire.

Above: The timely arrival of Crocker’s Division sees the pendulum swing back to the Union as Crocker shores up McPherson’s flagging command.  Crocker immediately launches Sanborn’s Brigade into the assault, driving straight up the road onto Champion Hill and joining Slack’s depleted brigade in a charge on Cumming’s persistent Rebel brigade.  Holmes’ Brigade follows up behind Sanborn.  Three more batteries of artillery also arrive, but at present they can do little except wait for an opportunity to move forward.

Above: Crocker also sends Boomer’s Brigade to the right flank, to assist Stevenson in his ongoing fight against Barton’s extremely persistent Rebel brigade.

Above: On the Confederate right flank, Cumming’s heroic brigade, already outflanked by Osterhaus, finally breaks in the face of an overwhelming combined charge by Slack and Sanborn.  As the Rebels break and run for the safety of the gun-line and Buford’s newly-arrived brigade, the jubilant Union infantry swarm forward to once again take the crossroads.  However, the Confederate artillery is swift to exact vengeance and soon subjects the advancing Bluebellies to a withering hail of fire.

Above:  With the Union left wing halted by the weight of Confederate artillery fire, Pemberton throws Loring’s fresh division into the attack.  Loring’s charge succeeds in driving back Slack, Sanborn and Osterhaus’ artillery and recaptures the crossroads once again.  However, Osterhaus’ infantry holds firm and then outflanks and punishes Buford’s Brigade.

Above:  Crocker quickly rallies Sanborn’s Brigade and throws them back down the hill against Green’s Brigade, which is now occupying the crossroads.  The Union artillery meanwhile, gallops forward and desperately unlimbers atop Champion Hill, in an effort to establish a battery to counter the Confederate Grand Battery at the Roberts House.

Above: Alas, Union hopes are dashed as Sanborn’s battered brigade is routed.  Holmes’ fresh brigade attempts to move forward but is crushed by the weight of fire from the Confederate guns.

Above: On the Confederate left flank, Barton’s Brigade continues to frustrate the Bluebellies.  Stevenson’s Brigade has been steadily getting the worst of the ongoing firefight, and is now joined by Leggett’s worn brigade, but it’s still not enough.  Behind them, McGinnis is joined by Boomer in attacking through the woods, in an attempt to reach the crossroads, but they can make little headway against dogged Confederate resistance.

Above: Back at the Roberts House, Pemberton is alarmed by the sudden appearance of Union troops emerging from the woods on the right flank of the Grand Battery!  This fresh Union formation is Carr’s Division of McClernand’s XIII Corps.  The Confederate gunners frantically limber up their guns and drive them to safety…

However, it’s all too little, too late…  McPherson’s XVII Corps is a spent force and Pemberton is able to re-align his artillery and uncommitted reserves to face McClernand’s XIII Corps and at the end of the scenario, the crossroads, despite having change hands four times, is firmly in Rebel hands.

It was a very near-run thing and a cracking scenario that would definitely reward a replay!

My thanks to Rich Hasenauer for kindly allowing us to test the scenario and my thanks again to the Carmarthen Old Guard play-testers: Andy James, Alan Davison, Tom Kitchen, Peter Williams and John Watts.

The models are all Pendraken 10mm figures from my own collection.  The buildings are mostly Timecast Models from Peter Williams’ collection.

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games, Scenarios | 4 Comments

And Now For Something Completely Different…

Posted in Uncategorised | 4 Comments

“I’m Leaving on a Jet-Plane…”

Well, it’s time once again to leave soggy Wales and head off to warmer climes for a while.  Here are some of Nelson’s holiday snaps from his visit to the same resort in 1797.  He came away from his visit 50% armless, but with any luck I might be able to get 100% legless…

Posted in Napoleonic Wars | Leave a comment

Black Cat v White Tiger: The 1st Battle of Bishenpur (Imphal 1944)

This game was our ‘Battlefront Big Bovvy Bash’ game at The Tank Museum, Bovington in 2011.  Most of our Bovvy games have been set firmly in the NW European Campaign, but we have gone ‘off-piste’ a couple of times – to Angola in 2008 and India/Burma in 2011, as shown here.

The full scenario can be found on the Battlefront: WWII (Fire & Fury Games) website’ Scenario Page.

The outline scenario is that in March 1944, the Japanese 15th Army in Burma launched its main offensive, Operation U-Go, into India with the intention of surrounding and then destroying the Commonwealth IV Indian Corps at Imphal before pushing on to cut the supply lines for US-Chinese forces in Assam and the associated USAAF air-supply effort to China over the ‘hump’ of the Himalaya.  From there the Japanese could then go on to threaten the major Allied hub of Calcutta and indeed, all of India.

The Japanese 33rd ‘White Tiger’ Division was tasked with providing the southern pincer to the operation and over several weeks pushed the Indian 17th ‘Black Cat’ Division back up the Tiddim Road (the only all-weather road in the region) until they finally arrived on the high Imphal Plain.  Most of the plain is filled by Logtak Lake, with Imphal city at the northern end of the lake.  On the western side of the lake lies the small town of Bishenpur, which sits on the point at which the Silchar Track (one of only two Allied supply-routes into Imphal) enters the Imphal Plain and joins the Tiddim Road.

While a strong force infiltrated through the western mountains to cut the Silchar Track, the rest of the Japanese 33rd Division pushed forward onto the flat, open paddy of the Imphal Plain.  At night they would infiltrate into villages and quickly fortify them against Allied counter-attack.  These villages stood like islands among the paddy; often built on platforms of high ground, thick with tree-cover and surrounded by flood-banks and thick hedges, they soon became veritable fortresses.

The Japanese had taken the village of Ningthoukong on 22nd April and all attempts to re-take it were repulsed.  The Japanese then took Potsangbam on 29th April and now directly threatened Bishenpur.  By this time the Japanese had cut the Silchar Track by destroying a critical bridge, so Bishenpur no longer had that strategic value, but it was still a major bastion for the Allied defence of Imphal and had to be held.  To that end, the Japanese needed to be pushed back from Bishenpur and that required a further effort to recapture Potsangbam and Ningthoukong…

On 8th May 1944, a major assault was launched by the Indian 32 Brigade, preceded by massive air and artillery preparation and supported by the tanks of 254 Indian Tank Brigade.  The defenders, being a regimental-sized group formed by the 2nd Battalion of the 213th Regiment, the 4th Engineer Battalion and supporting elements, dug in deep and prepared to give their lives for the Emperor…

1. As dawn broke on 8th May 1944, the villages of Ningthoukong and Potsangbam, on the western shore of Logtak Lake, a few miles south of Imphal, were subjected to an intense bombardment by B-24 Liberator bombers of the Allied Strategic Air Force, followed up by three squadrons of Indian and RAF Vengeance dive-bombers. In game terms, the Japanese defenders were subjected to three waves of four Vengeance dive-bombers. However, as we only have one Vengeance model, Hurricanes and Thunderbolts acted as ‘stand-in’ Vengeances.

2. The intense air attack goes in on Potsangbam, successfully eliminating several bunkers in the western fringe of the village, plus most of its anti-tank defences and a 105mm artillery FO. However, two Vengeances are shot down by accurate Japanese 13mm AA fire.

3. With the air attacks nearing completion, the guns of the Bishenpur ‘Gun-Box’ open up with HE and smoke to support the attack on Potsangbam by the 9/14th Punjab Regiment.

4. An RAF Dakota makes a much-needed supply drop to the beleaguered garrison of Bishenpur.

5. Dug in deep behind minefields and barbed wire, the Japanese, stunned by the ferocity of the air and artillery attacks, await the Indian attack.

6. Keeping well spread-out to minimise the effects of Japanese artillery, the 9/14th Punjabis advance across the open paddy to Potsangbam.

7. The Japanese are defending in great depth and even the smallest hamlets have platoon-sized outposts. Here we see the garrison of Awang Khunou.

8. The Lee tanks of 3rd Carabiniers move forward to support the Punjabi attack. However, their movement through the village of Chothe attracts Japanese 105mm fire, which causes little damage to the tanks, but smashes down onto the defenders (4th (Sikh) Bn/12th Frontier Fore Regiment) and the Punjabis moving forward through Chothe.

9. The armoured column, including a Valentine Bridgelayer tank, moves past Chothe and the Sikh defenders of Point 2614.

10. Overall view of the opening stages of the battle.

11. The second infantry battalion involved in the attack – The 1st West Yorkshire Regiment, marches up through the Bishenpur Box.

12. Another air-strike goes in on Potsangbam. The Japanese defence is disrupted even further, but a third Vengeance goes down in flames.

13. As his forward positions come under attack, Major Isagoda, commanding the 2nd Bn, 213th Infantry Regiment, orders his supporting battery of 320mm Spigot Mortars to open fire. The battery’s transport elephants look on, seemingly nonplussed by either the bombing or the spigot mortars! Please note that due to an administrative/geographical cock-up, the flags indicating the objective location ‘East Potsangbam’ should read ‘South Potsangbam’ similarly, ‘West Potsangbam’ should read ‘North Potsangbam. The same error occurred with the objective flags for Ningthoukong.

14. In Ningthoukong, the unengaged reserves wait in their trenches and bunkers, along with Colonel Taguchi.

15. In Awang Khunou, a Japanese 20mm AA gun scans the sky for Allied aircraft.

16. Meanwhile, back in Bishenpur, the gunners of an Indian Mountain Battery and their supporting Sikh infantry receive a nasty surprise! A ‘gun-busting’ party of Japanese engineers has infiltrated through the wire and minefield under cover of darkness and is already on top of the sleepy defenders. In game terms, there was no defensive fire for the Sikhs – we went straight to close combat.

17. In the first clash, two of the three Sikh infantry sections defending the perimeter were wiped out by the Japanese sappers. The third Sikh section beat off their assailants, but the supporting FO team was wiped out in a concussive detonation, as the attacking sappers blew themselves up along with the observation post. As the surviving sappers drove on to the guns, they cut down a further two Sikh infantry sections and the Sikh company command post. Two charges were then made against the gun positions themselves, but the Indian gunners valiantly beat them off in hand to hand combat, before finally finishing them with point-blank 3.7-inch HE fire. Havildar Ferrore Singh was nominated for the VC for defending his gun in the finest traditions of the Indian Artillery.

18. Closely supported by a half-squadron of the 3rd Carabiniers and preceded by smoke, the first Punjabi troops break into the Potsangbam position.

19. However, two heavy machine guns are dug in to the rear of the forward trenches and these guns take a heavy toll of the Indian attackers.

20. As more Punjabi troops are fed into the attack, the Japanese artillery fire intensifies, thinning out the ranks of the reinforcements. Meanwhile, the second half-squadron of the Carabiniers moves forward with the Valentine bridgelayer, with the intention of bridging the Potsangbam nullah and opening up a route for the tanks and the 1st West Yorks to work around the western flank of the village.

21. As the HMGs keep the Punjabis pinned in the outer trenches, Major Isagoda organises a counter-atatck with his attached company of engineers and pushes the Punjabis back out of the village.

22. Japanese reserves begin to move up. The 33rd Division Tankette Company leads the 11th Company of 3/214th Infantry Regiment through Ningthoukong. Their mission is to take the village of Kha Aimol, in the foothills of the western mountains, and to hold it as a western bastion of their defence line in the plain (it’s also worth 1 VP!).

23. Colonel Taguchi also orders a second engineer company forward from Ningthoukong, to reinforce Isagoda’s beleaguered position at Potsangbam.

24. As the battle for Potsangbam intensifies, the Carabiniers, with the bridgelayer, reach the nullah and prepare to drop the bridge across it. However, to their rear the 1st West Yorks are suffering casualties as they attempt to follow up through Chothe, which is still under artillery fire.

25. The Japanese tankettes turn off the Imphal-Tiddim road and head west towards Kha Aimol.

26. As the Punjabis suffer in the trenches, the Carabiniers are reluctant to get embroiled in the closely-vegetated and fortified terrain of the village.

27. The Royal Artillery and Indian Artillery Batteries renew their efforts in response to the increasingly desperate Punjabi calls for support.

28. A traffic-jam of truly monumental (indeed, military) proportions begins to emerge as the 1st West Yorks attempt to march south, but are blocked by the delayed Punjabis to their front, exacerbated by sporadic artillery fire at the head of the column, around Chothe. The 92nd Field Company of the Bombay Sappers & Miners also approaches the Bishenpur crossroads from the Silchar Track, creating a huge concentration of Allied infantry. But it’s ok, as there is absolutely no way that the Japanese could possible spot them…

29. Covered by the Lees, the Valentine extends its scissors bridge across the nullah.

30. Yet another Vengeance dive-bomber screams down out of the sky, to exact revenge upon the Japanese AA gunners.

31. Reassured by the promises of reinforcements, Major Isagoda masses his remaining infantry and engineers for another counter-attack on the Punjabis in western Potsangbam.

32. As a Punjabi assault pioneer team enters the fight, a 2-inch mortar team launches a desperate assault on one of the troublesome HMG positions!  Don’t mess with angry 2-inch mortar teams… In our games, 2-inch mortar teams seem to have mystical qualities of luck and almost always beat far stronger units in hand-to-hand combat…

33. A fiendish new weapon of war makes its presence known as a Lee tank is blown to smithereens by a direct hit from a 320mm spigot-mortar round!

34. The RAF radar detachment at Imphal reports hostiles approaching…

35. The Japanese Army Air Force in Burma is throwing everything into one last roll of the dice: as Ki-43 ‘Oscar’ fighters engage the Spitfires high above the plain (and are cut to pieces), the remaining force of Ki-51 ‘Sonia’ light attack bombers make a run down the Manipur Valley. Their primary target is the Bishenpur Gun-Box.

36. Close-up of the formation leader.

37. As the Carabiners’ tanks cross the new bridge, the leading elements of the 1st West Yorks fight their way through traffic jams, artillery and Punjabis to follow them.

38. Stuart tanks of the Indian 7th Light Cavalry also now arrive to add their weight to the attack.

39. Elements of the 1st West Yorks avoid the chaos of Chothe altogether as they attempt to comply with their orders.

40. The Bishenpur crossroads is still looking no less crowded as 92 Field Company waits patiently for orders.

41. The tiny Japanese garrison of Kwa Sipahi meanwhile, wonders why they’re being ignored. Was it something they said…?

42. In Potsangbam, the Punjabis continue to grind forward, inch by painful inch.

42. Vengeance dive-bombers and Hurricane IIc fighter-bombers, flying from airfields in India, as well as tactical airfields only a few miles away at Imphal, continue to keep on the pressure.

43. The reinforcement company of engineers reaches Major Isagoda’s command post. However, their march has not gone un-noticed…  A FO situated on the high ground just beyond the tanks in the distance, is already calling for every gun in the Bishenpur Gun-Box to engage massed Japanese infantry in the open…

44. The wrecked bridge at Potsangbam. Just in front of it is the 13mm AA gun that during the early stages of the battle, claimed three Vengeance dive-bombers.

45. At Awang Khunou, a Japanese truck (a GMC 2.5-tonner captured from the Chinese) hides from the marauding Allied aircraft.

46. Having been spotted by the Carabiniers while making their dash to Kha Aimol, the Japanese tankettes are subjected to long-range fire from the Lees.  The leading tankette is suppressed, but the second tankette continues its dash unmolested.

47. The Lee gunners correct their aim and try again…

48. Chaos reigns as the Punjabis attempt to continue their attack and the 1st West Yorks attempt to pass through them… all under Japanese shellfire.

49. A Hurribomber also has a crack at the tankettes, but has little more success than the tanks. Going almost unnoticed, the infantry of 11th Company, who have been ordered to support the tankettes, decide not follow the example of the tankettes in presenting themselves as sky-lined targets. Instead, they sneak up the Ningthoukong nullah.

50. The Bombay Sappers & Miners continue to wait patiently for orders to move forward… Surely the Brigadier hasn’t forgotten about them?!

51. In a desperate attempt to regain the initiative, given the stagnation of the battle in Potsangbam, Brigadier MacKenzie orders a two-pronged assault on the Japanese outpost at Kwa Sipahi. The Sikhs of ‘D’ Company, 4/12th Frontier Force Regiment form the northern pincer of the attack. They are to move forward from their defensive positions at Khoijuman at once. Their positions at Khojuman will be occupied by two platoons of 1/4th Gurkhas, transferred from the Gun Box.  Covered by smoke from the 2-inch mortar section, the leading two platoons of ‘D’ Company break cover and dash forward to the Bishenpur nullah.

52. The western pincer of the attack on Kwa Sipahi will be formed by 92 Field Company, supported by the tanks of 7th Light Cavalry and the battalion mortars of 4/12th FFR. However, as they move through the crossroads, they form the greatest concentration of targets seen by the Japanese to date and instantly attract the attention of a battery of 105mm howitzers. However, despite much disruption, no casualties are actually caused and the Indian sappers press on to Kwa Sipahi.

53. At Potsangbam, the lead elements of 1st West Yorks are finally across the nullah and begin to work down the southern bank. More West Yorks troops work their way up the nullah itself and infiltrate into the position that way.

54. Major Taguchi, initially jubilant in seeing the column of reinforcements marching towards him is horrified to see it cut to ribbons in front of him by the massed British and Indian artillery! Only half of those badly-needed men make it into the Potsangbam perimeter.

55. Air raid sirens suddenly sound around Bishenpur! The formation of Japanese aircraft finally appears over the Gun-Box and is immediately subjected to intense AA fire from two sections of Bofors guns and a section of 3.7-inch Heavy AA Guns, as well as anyone else who can point a rifle into the air! In a phenomenal display of dice-rolling, Richard rolls four 10s in six dice; shooting down two of the five raiders and Disordering a third.

56. To the cheers of British, Indian and Gurkha soldiers, two Sonias come crashing down in flames.

57. The survivors press home their attack, but do little damage beyond disrupting the activities of the 25-Pounder battery present in the Gun Box.

58. The surviving aircraft, one of them trailing smoke and oil, turn away from the target area. They would return…

59. The Gunners climb out of their air-raid shelters and breathe a sigh of relief as they clean up the mess left by the Japanese aircraft.

60. The Japanese tankettes, having run the gauntlet along the paddy-dyke road, finally reach the safety of Kha Aimol and gloriously seize 1 VP for the Emperor!

61. They said they’d be back… The Bombay Sappers & Miners foolishly let themselves be caught in column as the Japanese aircraft return to strafe the road. Amazingly, no serious casualties are suffered!

62. The Bombay Sappers & Miners in close-up. The .30 Cal AAMGs mounted on the supporting Stuart tanks managed to throw off the aim of the Japanese pilot sufficiently to reduce the effectiveness of his attack.  On the right of the Sappers, a company of the 1st West Yorks was also strafed by the returning Japanese aircraft. However, this again caused no serious damage.

63. Screened by smoke from the battalion 3-inch mortars, the Sikh ‘D’ Company presses home its attack on the north-eastern corner of Kwa Sipahi.

64. The Sappers lick their wounds and press on against the western side of Kwa Sipahi.

65. In Potsangbam, the Punjabis continue to grind forward in the continuing, desperate battle of attrition. The Japanese defenders are now seriously thinned out, but the MG Company (now lacking their company commander, who died leading a counter-attack) continues to hammer the Punjabi attackers.  The Japanese AT/AA Company commander also dies for his emperor in a heroic counter-attack.

66. The assault presses home on Kwa Sipahi as the surrounded Japanese platoon desperately defends its bunkers against attacks from all sides.

67. Seizing the initiative, a detachment of Sikhs, with a troop of Stuarts, attempts to establish a second foothold in Potsangbam.

68. Assaulted by Sikhs and Sappers, the Japanese defenders of Kwa Siphahi sell their lives dearly.

69. Allied air reconnaissance spots a new threat: The Japanese 14th Tank Regiment, having finally traversed the hellish Tiddim Road, arrives on the Imphal plain. However, having left the 5th Company (comprising Type 01 Ho-Ni 75mm self-propelled guns) behind as a rearguard at Fort White and having suffered numerous breakdowns, the ‘Regiment’ is now reduced to a mere company in strength. At the head of the column is the much-reduced 6th Company, comprising Stuart tanks captured from the British in 1942. Following behind is the 1st Company, comprising Type 95 Ha-Go light tanks.  [Note that in reality, the 14th Tank Regiment didn’t arrive at Imphal until the 3rd Battle of Bishenpur over a month later, but we decided to include them for a bit of extra spectacle… It is the Tank Museum, after all…]

70. Bringing up the rear of the column are the 2nd and 3rd Companies, plus the Regimental HQ, all equipped with Type 97 Shinhoto Chi-Ha medium tanks. A few of these tanks have been upgraded with armour plate taken from Stuarts wrecked in 1942.

71. Passing through Ningthoukong and Awang Khunou, the column turns off the road at Upokpi, intending to meet the British tanks on the open paddy-plain.

72. A Hurricane IIc circles high over the plain, waiting for targets to be identified to him by the Tactical Control Parties on the ground.

73. The commander of 14th Tank Regiment hopes that by putting his Stuarts at the head of the column, the British will be fooled into holding fire…

74. As the Japanese tanks press optimistically forward, 3rd Carabiniers wait, covering the flank of the continued assault on Potsangbam.

75. 11th Company finally catch up with the tankettes at Kha Aimol, securing the Emperor’s great victory! Banzai!

76. The rest of 11th Company hurries across the paddy fields.

77. The Sikh-sneak flank attack approaches Potsangbam. All that awaits them is the lonely FO for the ‘Mega-Mortar’ Company.

78. The Japanese garrison of Kwa Sipahi, beset on all sides by Sikhs and Bombay Sappers armed with flamethrowers, makes its last stand. The fight is brutal and brief.

79. Having been relieved by 11th Company, the Tankette Company is now free to leave the cover of Kha Aimol and join the attack of 14th Tank Regiment. However, the company soon suffers losses to long-range 75mm fire from the Lees of 3rd Carabiniers.

80. Despite the heroic sacrifice of the 33rd Tankette Company (or perhaps because of it?), the 14th Tank Regiment seems reluctant to exchange fire with the Lee tanks of 3rd Carabiniers and instead ‘assesses the tactical situation’ (i.e. hides) from Upokpi.

90. The lead Ha-Go picks off an unwary section of Yorkshiremen as they move around the southern side of Potsangbam, but otherwise the 14th Tank Regiment remains curiously un-engaged, despite the urgings of Colonel Taguchi.

91. On the northern side of Potsangbam, the Sikhs successfully breach the defences and establish a foothold in the defences. However, one section of Sikhs is beaten off by the heroic mortar FO!  With Kwa Sipahi now securely in Allied hands, the rest of the Sikhs move south to reinforce the foothold and the Bombay Sappers & Miners follow.

92. Pushing down the southern side of Potsangbam and down the nullah, the 1st West Yorks reach the demolished bridge and knock out a 37mm anti-tank gun and one of the anti-aircraft guns situated there. The last remaining defender in this corner of the strongpoint is a solitary section of engineers, but they will soon be overwhelmed. On the northern bank of the nullah, the MG Company maintains its incredible defence.

93. As the Sikhs push into the northeast corner of Potsangbam, Isagoda rushes his last remaining troops to that corner of the perimeter.

94. Finally spurred into action by Taguchi’s encouragement, abuse and downright threats, the 14th Tank Regiment (aided on the flank by the survivors of 33rd Tankette Company) launches a charge reminiscent of the charge of the Takeda cavalry at Nagashino… with much the same result…

95. Though the RHQ, 2nd & 3rd Companies (with the balance of the regiment’s medium tanks) remain intact, the 1st and 6th Companies, together with the 33rd Tankette Company, are exterminated.

96. As Japanese engineers attempt to dislodge the Sikh incursion into a Potsangbam, a Vengeance dives in to provide support.

97. As the last Japanese defenders cling on to their trenches, the MG Company continues hammering away to the bitter end.

98. The remnants of the Japanese reinforcement engineer company launch a desperate counter-attack against the Sikh foothold.

99. The 1st West Yorks finally overwhelm the defenders south of the river, but the Punjabis have suffered catastrophic casualties.  Potsangbam has been recaptured, but at considerable cost, while the Japanese still hold Ningthoukong.

100. The 2011 team photo. From left to right: Mark Davies, Steve Uden, Paul Davison, Phil Shield, Ken Natt, George Gass, Gary Loosen, Andy Parkes, Richard de Ferrars and Martin Small.

101. Gary had forgotten that we were in India this year and was completely unaware that he was being stalked by a very large Hunting Tiger…

102. Overall view of the table. Richard de Ferrars (on the left) describes the game to our friend Trevor Body, formerly of Redoubt Miniatures. Trevor was the first of dozens of people over the weekend to ask “So is this the battle with the tennis court?”. I think our next Burma game will have to be ‘The battle with the tennis court’ if nothing else, but so we can say “Why yes, yes it is.”

Game Notes

The game was mostly a joint-effort between myself and my good friend Martin Small, with the Punjabi battalion being supplied by Andy Parkes and the Gurkha company by Edward Sturges.  The models were from a variety of manufacturers – mostly Peter Pig infantry, but the Sikhs, artillery and Indian sappers are by Flames of War. The vehicles and guns are a mix of Flames of War, Skytrex, Peter Pig, Quality Castings and QRF. The aircraft a mixture of the scratch-builds mentioned above, plus repainted plastic and die-cast toys and beautiful models by Armaments in Miniature (the Hurricanes and all but one of the Sonias).

The buildings were mostly scratch-built by Martin, as were the Japanese spigot-mortars, the magnificent Valentine Bridgelayer, the beautiful Vengeance dive-bomber and one of the Sonia bombers.

The trees are do-it-yourself models by Woodland Scenics (I’ve got around 200 of them here to build… 🙁 ).

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: WW2, Bovington Show Games, Games, Scenarios, World War 2, World War 2 - Burma Campaign | 6 Comments

A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938: Armour of the Fish Guards

Hello. This is Huw Puw, reporting once again for The Fish Guardian.

This week I’m reporting from the bustling metropolis of Fishguard; not so much ‘Land of My Fathers’, but more ‘Land of My Aunties’…

Regular readers will remember that in my last dispatch I was still assigned to the Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes, chasing fascists up hill and down ladies’ outfitters.  It was fun for a while, but frankly I needed a break from the endless death, destruction, cross-dressing and startled bleating from surprised sheep.

Imagine my relief then, when my editor replied to my request, “Stick it where the sun doesn’t shine, Puw!”  He clearly meant Fishguard, so I packed my bags and set off for home.  Ah, Fishguard, Fishguard; so good they named it er, ‘Fishguard’…  Yes, it’s a strange name.  Were Fishguard’s founding fathers guarding fish?  If so, from whom?  Or were the fish themselves the guards…?

The ‘White Eagle’ Flag of the FWA

I digress.  So, while heading for home, I passed through the village of Dinas, now turned into a military encampment by the Free Wales Army (FWA).  The men of the FWA’s senior regiment in the area, The Fish Guards, looked resplendent in their smart green uniforms, though their general demeanour seems to be of Blackshirts who’ve eaten a bit too much Cawl and whose shirts have turned green in the wash…  Strangest of all is their stylised ‘White Eagle’ symbol, emblazoned on their flags and armbands, which looks like a slightly limp asterisk.

I digress again.  One of the Fish Guards’ officers recognised me – he’d led the FWA platoon that fought alongside Cantref Cemaes’ 9th Regiment at Penclippin Farm.  After the inevitable moment where he clearly knows me, but I neither know nor care who he is (it happens a lot), he invited me to come and see the latest new wonder-weapons that would win the war for the FWA.

I could hardly contain my excitement…

Just as I got my camera out, an armoured column came rumbling along the road.  The FWA’s ‘Glyndwr’ Light Tank came first, which I’d seen before.  However, The FWA have clearly been taking notes during their attachment to the Army of Cantref Cemaes, as trundling along the road behind it came yet another wheeled and turreted armoured box – a design theme that seems universal to all armies in the current round of unpleasantness.  I pretended to look interested as the FWA officer told me that the excessive height was in order to enable it to fight over typical tall Pembrokeshire hedgerows…  Ingenious.

Based on a Thornycroft parcel van, the thing is called ‘Jemima Fawr’ (‘Big Jemima’) and is named for the Fishguard ‘heroine’ of 1797 (a feminine noun doesn’t really seem appropriate for that six-foot cobbler and pub bouncer who beat l’escargot out of twelve French soldiers single-handed).  Not to be confused with the Republic of Cantref Cemaes’ ‘Jemima’ Light Tank, which was named after a duck.

The dull, grey, mottled paint-scheme is, I presume, meant to reflect that dull, grey, mottled landscape (and indeed people) of the landscape around Fishguard.

The Jemima Fawr’s armament is apparently a Vickers machine gun in the front, with another machine gun in the turret, allied to a 4-INCH(??!!!) gun.  I think he must be exaggerating…  My Aunty Dilys tells me that it’s not uncommon for men to claim that they have four inches when they actually have two…

Nevertheless, I look forward to seeing it fire it’s main armament – especially if they don’t tie it down and chock the wheels first…

However, the best was saved for last…  Being towed behind Jemima Fawr was the ‘Mabinogion’ Mk I Mobile Gun Emplacement.  This has been designed with the FWA’s fortress doctrine clearly in mind.  As is well known, the FWA at Fishguard has established a string of defensive positions from Wolf’s Castle to the Preseli Hills that they have named the ‘Mabinogion Line’.  However, they ran out of cash very quickly, so the ‘Line’ is more of a ‘Dotted Line’…

The Mabinogion Mobile Gun Position is therefore an ‘ingenious’ solution to the problem: If there isn’t a fortification in front of the enemy, you bring the fortification to him!

Brilliant…

The Mabionogion has a single crewman, which I imagine makes it easier to identify bodies than in a tank and provides them with a handy, ready-to-deploy coffin.  The Mk I shown here is armed with a 37mm gun, which is apparently capable of penetrating even the toughest Blackshirt’s black shirt.  The Mk II is apparently armed with a machine gun.  I’m further told that the Mabinogion is based on a Danish design.  The Danes have apparently developed these in response to the growing threat from Herr Hitler’s Germany.  If they’re as good as the FWA claim, the Danes should have no trouble at all in repelling a German invasion…

This is Huw Puw, reporting from Fishguard for the Fish Guardian, signing off.

 

All the models shown are from the collection of my good (and much-abused) friend Martin Small.  The Jemima Fawr was converted by Martin from a plastic Thornycroft parcel van model (he didn’t tell me who made the original model).

The Mabinogion is completely scratch-built and really is based on an actual thing he saw in Copenhagen!

The Glyndwr was built by someone in eBayland.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Painted Units, VBCW - A Very British Civil War, VBCW Welsh Nationalist | 4 Comments

“A Game of Two Halves”: The Battle of Cedar Mountain, 9th August 1862 (Fire & Fury 2nd Edition)

Last weekend we had another all-day gaming session at the Carmarthen Old Guard and Alan, Andy and I once again decided to do an American Civil War historical refight in 10mm with the superb Fire & Fury 2nd Edition rules.  I’m still building up my armies, so the choice of historical scenarios is limited by what I can field, but the Battle of Cedar Mountain from the Fire & Fury 1st Edition ‘Great Eastern Battles’ scenario book fitted the bill.

On paper the Union Army at Cedar Mountain doesn’t look like it has the slightest chance of winning, as it’s outnumbered 2:1 and is attacking!  However, a lot of the Confederate Army starts the scenario detached or on the march and are exhausted following a long march in searing heat.  The Union Army meanwhile starts with a massive artillery superiority and the element of surprise…

The Battle of Cedar Mountain was the first major battle of the Northern Virginia Campaign (a.k.a. the Second Manassas or Second Bull Run Campaign) of 1862: With George McClellan’s Union Army of the Potomac bottled up in the Virginia Peninsula following his disastrous Peninsula Campaign, Robert E Lee decided to strike north towards Washington.  In the meantime, the Union had ordered John Pope’s Union Army of Virginia to strike south from Manassas, to threaten Richmond and thereby take the pressure off McClellan.  However, the Confederates were quicker off the mark and before Pope’s army could concentrate, Thomas ‘Stonewall’ Jackson’s 24,000 men were already advancing north along the eastern side of the Blue Ridge Mountains, driving back Pope’s cavalry picquets and making a bee-line for the huge Union depot at Manassas Junction.  The only Union force in position to oppose Jackson was Nathaniel Banks’ II Corps of the Army of Virginia, which was positioned south of the town of Culpepper Courthouse.

However, the weather was scorching and the Confederate troops suffered in the heat as they marched north.  The Confederate generals were also suffering, as Jackson was being characteristically secretive about his plans.  Consequently, as battle was joined along the Cedar Creek, an indecisive artillery duel commenced between Winder’s and Ewell’s Confederate Divisions and the Union II Corps while the confused Confederate commanders waited for detailed orders to come from Jackson.

However, Nathaniel Banks was about to seize the initiative in spectacular fashion: as the exhausted and bewildered Confederate troops settled into their new position, Crawford’s Union infantry brigade burst like a tidal wave upon Winder’s Division, rapidly rolling up the flank and forcing Jackson to draw his sword for the one and only time of his Confederate career as he tried desperately to rally his men.  It didn’t help matters that General Winder had also been killed by Union artillery during this moment of crisis.  All seemed lost, but then A.P. Hill’s ‘Light Division’ arrived and first halted, then drove the Union troops back.  Ewell’s divisional also came down from its dominant position on Cedar Mountain and drove into the Union flank.  Jackson had snatched victory from the jaws of defeat, but would our game repeat or change history…?

Order of Battle, II Corps of the Union Army of Virginia – Brigadier General Nathaniel P Banks (1 Corps Leader)

Williams’ Division (1 Leader)
Crawford’s Brigade (E): 12 bases [12/8/5, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Gordon’s Brigade: 13 bases [13/9/6, Veteran, Rifled Musket]

Auger’s Division (1 Leader)
Geary’s Brigade (E): 7 bases [7/6/4, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Prince’s Brigade: 9 bases [9/7/5, Green, Rifled Musket]
Greene’s Brigade (E): 4 bases [4/3/2, Veteran, Rifled Musket]

Cavalry Brigade
Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade: 8 bases [8/6/4, Experienced, Breech-Loaders]

II Corps Artillery Reserve
1st Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles]
2nd Battery [Crack, Napoleons]
3rd Battery [Crack, Heavy Rifles]
4th Battery [Experienced, Napoleons]
5th Battery [Veteran, Light Rifles]
6th Battery [Crack, Light Rifles]

Order of Battle, Left Wing of the Confederate Army of Northern Virginia – Brigadier General Thomas J ‘Stonewall’ Jackson (1 (E) Corps Leader)

Ewell’s Division (1 (E) Leader)*
Early’s Brigade (E): 11 bases [11/10/8, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Forno’s Brigade*: 18 bases [18/14/9, Veteran, Rifled Musket]
Trimble’s Brigade (E)*: 13 bases [13/10/7, Experienced, Rifled Musket]
1st Battery* [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]
2nd Battery* [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]
3rd Battery [Experienced, Napoleons]

Winder’s Division (1 Leader)
Ronald’s (Stonewall) Brigade: 7 bases [7/6/5, Veteran, Rifled Musket]
Garnett’s Brigade: 6 bases [6/5/4, Green, Rifled Musket]
Taliaferro’s Brigade (E): 9 bases [9/8/7, Green, Rifled Musket]
1st Battery [Experienced, Light Rifles]
2nd Battery [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Smoothbores]

A P Hill’s ‘Light’ Division (1 (E) Leader)
Branch’s Brigade†: 13 bases [13/11/9, Experienced, Rifled Musket]
Archer’s Brigade†: 13 bases [13/10/7, Veteran, Rifled Musket]
Thomas’ Brigade: 13 bases [13/10/7, Crack, Rifled Musket]
Pender’s Brigade†: 13 bases [13/10/7, Crack, Rifled Musket]
1st Battery† [Experienced, Mixed Rifles & Smoothbores]
2nd Battery† [Veteran, Mixed Rifles & Napoleons]

Scenario Notes

* The bulk of Ewell’s Division (except for Early’s Brigade) is positioned on Cedar Mountain and Ewell is reluctant to move off this key piece of terrain until the rest of Jackson’s force arrives and the Union positions are positively identified. These units will therefore remain in position until Turn 5 (1900hrs). Note that Early’s Brigade plus one battery has already been moved to reinforce Winder and may be moved as normal.

† The bulk of A.P. Hill’s Light Division will arrive as reinforcements on Turn 1, in March Column at Point A. The artillery batteries are at the back of the column. Note that Thomas’ Brigade is already on table.

Leaders marked with ‘(E)’ are Exceptional Leaders.

The Union army will be considered to have suffered Heavy Casualties once it has lost 18 troop or battery stands.

The Confederate army will be considered to have suffered Heavy Casualties once it has lost 37 troop or battery stands.

The scenario starts at with the Union 1740hrs turn and lasts for eight 20-minute turns, ending with the Confederate 2000hrs turn.

The last two turns (1940hrs and 2000hrs) are Twilight turns. Maximum visibility will be reduced to 48cm (24 inches in the standard rules) during the 1940hrs turn and then to 24cm (12 inches) during the 2000hrs turn.

Note that these unit ratings are drawn from the original 1st Edition ratings, with the 2nd Edition’s ‘Army Generator’ used to plug the knowledge-gaps.  Note that the morale ratings, especially for the Confederates are weighted downward due to the extreme heat that affected both sides, but especially the Confederates due to their hard march.  Units will therefore reach ‘Worn’ and ‘Spent’ state very quickly, so the players need to pay close attention to their unit labels and Victory Point objectives.

Each square on the map is one foot when playing at our reduced scale for 10mm figures.  20mm in our games is equivalent to a game ‘inch’ (i.e. reduced by 1/5th).  The table should be 6×5 feet when playing with normal Fire & Fury scales.

Special Rules

Crawford’s Charge

During Turn 1 only, Crawford’s Union Brigade may make a Double-Quick move in order to charge Garnett’s Confederate brigade. Crawford does not have to roll on the Manoeuvre Table for this turn only. Garnett has been taken completely by surprise and may not fire or claim the +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier for occupying woods.

Union Withdrawal

Union units may at any point in the game, exit the table at Point B. By doing so, they will not count as having Quit the Field for the purposes of Confederate Victory Point (VP) calculation (though withdrawn Worn and Spent units will still provide the Confederates with VPs as normal).

Victory Conditions

The winner is the side which has accumulated the most VPs by the end of Turn 8. VPs are earned at the following rate:

1 VP Each Worn enemy brigade.
1 VP Each wrecked or captured enemy battery.
1 VP Each killed, wounded or captured Corps or Division Leader or exceptional Brigade Commander.
2 VP Each Spent enemy brigade.
4 VP Each enemy brigade that quits the field or is destroyed.
2 VP (Union only) When one more unspent Union brigade occupies the Key Position, namely the crestline between X & Y, at the end of each Union turn.

The above list is taken from the original scenario, though having played it through I would retrospectively suggest a 5 VP penalty for an army that reaches its Heavy Casualties limit.

Terrain

The map above is a simplified version of the original scenario map.  The original scenario maps are often quite difficult to recreate if you don’t have access to ‘Geo-Hex’ type terrain, which can accurately model contours, so I’ve done my best to redesign the map to a more ‘typical’ (at least for us) wargame table of flat terrain with a few isolated hills… In reality the hill in front of Ronald’s Brigade is a higher hill and the two ridges are spurs extending from that hill.

Woodland – All woodland is classed as Rough Ground and conveys a +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier and a -1 Partial Cover shooting modifier.

Rivers – Both forks of the Cedar Creek are classed as Rough Ground. The two minor tributaries of the Cedar Creek are classed as Broken Ground. Units in March Column formation may cross rivers at full speed via one of the bridges or at Broken Ground speed if crossing the Cedar Creek at Major’s Ford. Troops defending either type of riverbank gain a +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier.

Roads – Units in March Column formation may gain the Good Road Bonus when marching on the Orange-Culpepper Road or the north-south road that runs parallel to and to the rear of the Union lines. All other roads are classed as Open Ground.

Farms – The farms are all simply decorative. They do not block line of sight and may not be occupied. They may be moved for game purposes.  Note that the valley between the two armies was heavily planted with corn and wheat, though these have no effect in this scenario.

Hills – Troops defending hills gain the +1 Favourable Ground combat modifier. Crestlines are marked by fences.

The Game

My apologies for the poor quality of these photos – the room is quite dark and lit with spotlights, which makes photography tricky!

Above: The battlefield as seen from the south, looking from Cedar Mountain and the Slaughter house, across the Cedar Creek and up the valley between the opposing armies.

Above: The bulk of Ewell’s Division (Trimble’s Brigade, Forno’s Brigade and a pair of batteries) is deployed on the Cedar Mountain, which dominates the surrounding landscape.  Ewell is quite comfortable in this position and as a consequence, won’t come down off his hill until Turn 5!

Above: The rest of Ewell’s Division; namely Juball Early’s Brigade and a third battery of artillery, is stationed on the right flank of Winder’s Division, directly opposite the Union army.

Above: To Early’s rear, the first brigade of A.P. Hill’s ‘Light’ Division (Thomas’ Brigade) has just arrived and has moved into a reserve position on the rear slope of the spur.

Above: To Early’s left, Taliaferro’s Brigade forms a long line as far as the Newman House, where Jackson and Winder have their headquarters.  Winder’s two batteries take up position along Taliaferro’s front and have already engaged in a duel with the Union artillery opposite.  North of the main Orange-Culpepper Road, Garnett’s Brigade occupies a somewhat exposed position forward of the main line, on the corner of the woods.

Above: On the extreme left flank of the Confederate army, Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade occupies an isolated position along the edge of the woodland.  This poorly-chosen position meant that he was unable to support the rest of Winder’s Division, but it did mean that this brigade escaped the worst of the disaster that was to befall the division.

Above: The Union line as seen from the north, looking south toward Cedar Mountain.  On the extreme right flank of the Union II Corps is Williams’ Division; Crawford’s Brigade has spotted an opportunity and is already pushing forward toward Garnett’s exposed Rebels on the other wise of the wheatfield.  To Crawford’s rear, Gordon’s Brigade is moving up through the woods to cover the right flank, while Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade is in reserve. On Williams’ left, the bulk of Auger’s Division is also moving forward; Geary’s Brigade is just south of the main road and Prince’s Brigade is on the left flank of the advance.

Above: To the rear of Auger’s Division, six batteries of artillery pour a colossal weight of fire on to the unfortunate Rebels.  Greene’s tiny brigade meanwhile guards the left flank and watches for any movement from Cedar Mountain.  However, Greene is already coming under fire from Ewell’s artillery, positioned high on the slopes of the mountain.

Above: With a huge cheer, Crawford’s Brigade rushes forward with bayonets fixed, to engage Garnett’s Brigade.  The shocked Rebels are too surprised to effectively return fire and Winder’s artillery similarly fails to have any effect.  The Union artillery support however, is devastating; damaging one Rebel battery, silencing another and causing casualties on Taliaferro’s Brigade.  Crawford’s men fire a volley as they go in, causing significant casualties to Garnett’s Brigade at the worst possible moment… As the charge impacts, Garnett’s Brigade completely disintegrates as panicked rebels throw down their arms and stream past Jackson’s headquarters! [In game terms, there had been a truly astonishing display of dice-rolling, with a difference of 15 points between the winning Union and losing Confederate rolls!  Garnett’s Brigade was instantly annihilated]

Above: On the Union left flank however, Greene’s Brigade is suffering under long-range fire from Cedar Mountain and very quickly loses 50% of its strength.  Greene even has a horse shot out from under him, but soon recovers and ordered the neighbouring battery of heavy rifles to engage the artillery on Cedar Mountain.  The Union heavies successfully silence Ewell’s guns for a while and win Greene a reprieve, but for how long?

Above: Jackson attempts to regain the initiative by launching an immediate counter-attack against the advancing Bluebellies.  Early’s Brigade, with Thomas in support, wheels downhill in an attempt to engage Prince and Geary among the corn.  Taliaferro meanwhile launches a charge past the Newman House, in an attempt to drive off Crawford.

Above: However, all the confederate artillery on the spur has been silenced, damaged or driven off and the unchallenged Union guns shred the rash Confederate advance.

Above: Bayard’s Cavalry Brigade moves forward to perhaps exploit Williams’ success.

Taliaffero’s men fight hard in what is an even fight, but are eventually forced to give ground and fall back behind the Newman House.  Drawing his sword for the first time during this war, ‘Stonewall’ Jackson seizes a Battle Flag and rallies the wavering brigade.  The cry goes up “Jackson is here!” and Taliaferro’s men throw themselves once again against Crawford!  Crawford has a brush with death as one of his aides is shot along side him.  However, the Rebels are once again hammered by artillery and the Rebel Yell dies in their throats as they are pushed back once again.

Above: As Winder’s Division crumbles in the face of the determined Union assault, hope arrives in the form of A.P. Hill’s ‘Light’ Division!

Above: Pender’s brigade of veterans leads the Light Division onto the field, followed by the brigades of Branch and Archer.  However, these men are exhausted by the heat and hard marching.

Above: A.P. Hill can’t arrive soon enough, as joined by Geary’s fresh brigade, Crawford renews the assault on Taliaferro. Knowing that they can’t possibly hold for much longer, Winder orders his gunners to save the guns before drawing his sword and joining Jackson in the melee.  North of the Newman House, Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade attempts to come to Jackson’s aide, but they are intercepted by Gordon’s Brigade and are thrown back into the woods with heavy casualties.

Above: The combined weight of Crawford’s and Geary’s Brigades is just too much for Taliaferro’s Brigade to withstand and like Garnett’s Brigade, disintegrates into a panicked mob.  The Rebel artillery batteries, unable to extricate their guns from the dense woodland, are also overrun and captured by Crawford’s jubilant troops.  Jackson this time is unable to save the situation and along with Winder and Taliaferro, is forced to flee along with the mob!  Jackson and Winder both have horses shot out from under them, but manage to escape on foot.  With Jackson missing, the Confederate Army is surely lost…

Above: As a jubilant Banks moves his headquarters forward to Jackson’s former position at the Newman House, the sight before him chills him to the bone; the road from Orange County is filled with advancing Rebel troops!  Heedless to the danger, Crawford and Geary push on into the woods, throwing back Thomas’ Brigade.

Above: The High Tide Mark – Crawford’s rampage finally comes to a halt on the far side of the woods as the enormity of the situation dawns upon him and Pender’s newly-arrived Rebel brigade prepares to charge!  It was at this point that Alan (playing Banks) had to leave for work and left the Union army in my capable hands… What could possibly go wrong…?

Above:  Meanwhile, on the far side of the woods, Gordon’s Brigade continues to push back Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade with long-range musketry.  [Note that Gordon’s Brigade included a single company of Zouaves – Collins’ Zouaves d’Afrique.  This unit eventually went on to be expanded into the 114th Pennsylvania Volunteer Infantry, which I just so happened paint recently.  This therefore gave me the perfect excuse to get them on the table… Even if Zouaves did only form a tiny portion of Gordon’s Brigade… 🙂 ]

Above: Back in the woods, Crawford decides that discretion is perhaps the better part of valour and withdraws his over-extended brigade back toward the Newman House.  However, A.P. Hill is keen to take revenge for Winder’s crushed division and with sabre drawn, leads Pender’s Brigade in a wild charge through the woods.  However, the charge quickly bogs down into a melee and the Rebels eventually get the worse of it, falling back in the face of stiff opposition by Crawford’s veterans.  However, Crawford’s boys are now starting to weaken…

Above:  As Pender’s Brigade, accompanied by A.P. Hill, takes on Crawford in the woods, Branch’s Brigade marches to the right flank to reinforce Thomas and Early.  Archer meanwhile deploys his brigade defensively, supported by two batteries of artillery, just in case Pender should be unsuccessful and/or Gordon’s Zouaves or Bayard’s cavalry get around the flank.

Above: Having beaten back Thomas’ Rebels, Geary pulls back to the Newman House.  Encouraged by Williams, Crawford also attempts to withdraw through the woods, but A.P. Hill and Pender aren’t going to let him get away that easily and charge again!  Again, the Rebels are held off, but at a cost.  Crawford’s Brigade is now starting to buckle and requests urgent assistance from Bayard and Gordon.  They should REALLY be starting to withdraw, but Crawford’s plight persuades them to come to his aid…

Above: Back at Hudson’s Farm, an increasingly worried Greene pleads with Banks to provide him with some more artillery support, as that huge mass of Rebels on Cedar Mountain isn’t going to stand still for much longer!  Banks agrees and sends three more batteries to his position.  However, disaster strikes as Greene is killed by a direct hit from a Rebel gun firing from Cedar Mountain!  Dismayed by the loss of their leader, Greene’s Brigade disintegrates, leaving the gunners to fend for themselves.

Above: Responding to the threat posed by Ewell’s Division on Cedar Mountain, Prince’s Brigade begins to pull back through the corn to defend the gun-lines and the army’s line of withdrawal back to Culpepper Courthouse.

Above: Branch’s Brigade marches down the Cedar Creek to relieve Early, who is still holding out at the southern end of the spur.

Above: Bayard’s cavalrymen dismount in the woods to provide support to Crawford’s right flank.  Gordon is also moving forward on Bayard’s right.

Above: Jackson finally finds himself a fresh horse and urges Thomas to recapture the Newman House.  the Rebel Yell is heard once again as Thomas’ men throw themselves at Geary!  Banks now realises his fatal mistake: in moving the guns south to face Cedar Mountain, the Rebels no longer have to worry about Union guns sweeping the crest-line south of the Newman House.  Thomas’ Brigade is completely unmolested as it charges Geary, who finds himself outnumbered 2:1 and is forced to give ground… The Union army has lost control of the key terrain!

Above: In the south, the Union gunners are dismayed to see the huge mass of Ewell’s Division moving down off Cedar Mountain, aiming to roll up the Union left flank.  After firing a few desultory rounds, the four rifle batteries withdraw, leaving the two 12pdr Napoleon batteries to irritate Forno’s Louisiana Tiger Brigade as it attempts to ford the Cedar Creek near Crittenden’s Farm.

Above: But what happened to Winder? After finding a fresh horse, General Winder rode north in search of the last remnants of his division; the Virginians of Ronald’s ‘Stonewall’ Brigade.  finding them broken and fleeing, Winder managed to rally them and bring them back to threaten the right flank of Gordon’s Brigade.

Above: Banks’ II Corps now rapidly starts to collapse.  A.P. Hill leads Pender’s Brigade in yet another charge through the woods.  This time, despite the support of cavalry breech-loaders, the Union fire fails to halt the Rebels and Crawford’s gallant brigade is finally thrown back!  Even worse befalls Geary at the Newman House, as a fresh assault by Thomas completely overruns the Union position.  Geary himself was last seen attempting to rally a knot of men around the house, but was reported missing along with most of his men.  His body was later recovered by the Confederate troops. and buried with honours by Jackson.

Above: Juball Early’s Brigade, having weathered the storm, now re-occupies its former position on the crest of the spur and is soon joined by Jackson and some fresh artillery from A.P. Hill’s Division.  Branch’s Brigade meanwhile streams past as they move forward with Thomas to finish off Auger’s Division in the cornfields.

Above: Prince is unable to withdraw his brigade fast enough and is soon caught by Thomas and Branch with his back to the stream.  Nevertheless, they manage to inflict damage on Thomas’ Brigade and perform a fighting retreat across the stream and back up through the cornfields.

Above: Auger, distracted by the plight of Geary’s and Prince’s Brigades in the valley, makes a truly fatal error… His position in the valley means that the bulk of the artillery finds itself without orders and unable to unlimber in order to face the tidal wave of Rebel infantry coming from the south!  Auger then compounds this error even further by forgetting to move said artillery out of harms way!  Trimble’s Brigade is swift to take advantage of this schoolboy error and overwhelms the nearest battery of 12pdr Napoleons.  A breakthrough charge then sees the second battery captured!  Auger moves up to the crest, but it is too late to do anything other than order the gunners to escape with their guns.

Above: With casualties rapidly escalating, the Union army collapses!  Bayard’s cavalry are swiftly defeated by Pender and mount their horses in order to escape further retribution from the vengeful Rebels.  Gordon’s Brigade also turns about, aiming to beat the Rebels to Culpepper Courthouse…

Above: As the sun starts to set, General Auger escapes with the artillery train, but Prince’s Brigade finds itself trapped in the cornfield and surrounded by the brigades of Thomas, Branch and Trimble.  They attempt to continue their fighting withdrawal, but are quickly outflanked and annihilated.

Above: As the sun sets, the guns on Cedar Mountain finally fall silent.

Above: As the sounds of battle diminish, General ‘Stonewall’ Jackson regains his original position near the Newman House and gives thanks for the day’s victory and thanks that General Banks has ‘snatched defeat from the jaws of victory’!

In conclusion, the Union side actually won the game ‘on points’, but I don’t think there’s a cat in hell’s chance that this could ever be considered to be a victory!  They had earned 8 VPs for Garnett and Taliaferro having quit the field, 4 VPs for Early and Ronald being Spent, 2 VPs for Pender and Thomas being Worn, 2 VPs for capturing two batteries and a further 8 VPs for having occupied the spur for 4 turns.  A total of 24 VPs.  The Rebs on the other hand, had earned 12 VPs for Geary, Greene and Prince having quit the field, 2 VPs for capturing two batteries, 2 VPs for Crawford being Spent and 2 VPs for having killed Greene and Geary, for a total of 18 VPs.  However, the Rebels had also inflicted Heavy Casualties on the Union army and had cut them off from their line of retreat.  I think therefore that the VPs for this scenario need a little work, as it definitely did NOT feel like a Union victory! 🙁

Thanks once again to all at Carmarthen Old Guard, especially to Alan and Andy for making it such a good game.

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Games, Scenarios | 9 Comments

Stalled Projects #1… The War of Spanish Succession in 28mm

Like most wargamers, every so often I get a rush of blood to the wallet and buy a new army (ARMIES in the most catastrophic cases) and start an entirely new project.  In fact, every wargames project starts in this manner, but some are less successful than others…

One such failed project is my 28mm French Army for the War of Spanish Succession

My good mate Jase was back from New Zealand for a few weeks and we went to the ‘Colours’ show at Reading and happened to linger a while in front of the Front Rank Miniatures trade stand…

Those Front Rank Spanish Succession figures looked utterly gorgeous…

Within minutes we’d spent all our cash on lead and were heading back to Wales, considerably poorer.  However, as soon as we got home the figures were under the brush and the first units were looking absolutely spiffing…

Did I say that he was back for a few weeks from New Zealand…?

Well that was a bloody silly idea… How in the name of all that is holy were we meant to have a game?!

Well anyway, I managed to paint a cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade and every so often the mood makes me take the brush to them for a bit more work, but that soon passes…  Maybe one day I’ll finish them off…  They are VERY nice figures…

Above: The 1st Battalion of the Bourbonnais Infantry Regiment.  At the Battle of Blenheim in 1704 [edited: NOT 1715, you idiot!], this regiment fielded two battalions as part of the Marquis de Nangis’ Brigade of the Marquis de Blainville’s Corps, along with a battalion each from the Foix and Agenois Regiments.

Above: The Bourbonnais Regiment in close-up.  Note that this regiment was simply dressed in plain grey/white. The colour of French uniforms was actually the colour of unbleached wool and is theoretically white, but is often depicted as grey.

Most French infantry regiments had a distinguishing facing colour visible at the cuffs and/or distinctive stocking and/or waistcoat colours, but many were simply plain white/grey and Bourbonnais was one of these regiments.  To get this colour I used a light grey (Humbrol 64) as the base colour and used the translucency of Humbrol’s white paint to get the grey show through – I didn’t mix up a grey shade.

Above:  A close-up of the command group of the Bourbonnais Regiment.  The regiment’s button & lace colour was yellow/gold and the drummers wore the ‘Royal Livery’ of dark blue with red facings, waistcoat and stockings, with white & crimson patterned coat-lace, which is repeated on the drum-belts.

Note that some of the Front Rank French officer figures are modelled with waist-sashes, which while common among other armies as the mark of an officer, weren’t officially a part of a French officer’s dress.  However, I had to paint them somehow, so went for white with gold tassels, which was officially the pattern for the cravats attached to French regimental flagstaffs.  I used cream as the base-colour for the sash, to give the white top-coat a subtly different shade, hopefully suggesting silk instead of wool.

Above: A rear-view of the Bourbonnais Regiment.Each French infantry battalion carried two colours; in the 1st Battalion one would be a King’s Colour, which was normally a white cross on a white field (yes, really…).  The other colour was a Regimental Colour, which had a white cross with corner panels in various colours and designs.  A regiment’s 2nd, 3rd and subsequent battalions each carried two Regimental Colours – only the 1st Battalion would carry a King’s Colour.  Very occasionally a regiment might have a design (such as fleur-de-lys or a latin motto) repeated on both the King’s and Regimental Colours.

Note the grenadiers on the right of the line, with their leather grenade-haversacks.  This was the age of grenadiers actually lobbing grenades – after this period hand-grenades went out of fashion for another 200 years and the term ‘grenadier’ was simply an honorific for an elite soldier who guarded the flank of the line.

Above: Soldiers of the La Reine Infantry Regiment.  At Blenheim this regiment fielded three battalions and formed a whole brigade in its own right, that of the Marquis de Buzancois, part of the Marquis de Rosel’s Corps.

The facings and stockings of the La Reine Regiment were red, while the waistcoats were dark blue with white lace piping around the seams and button-holes.  Buttons and lace were silver/white.

The soldiers shown on the right are the regiment’s Grenadiers.  Later in the 18th Century, French Grenadiers would be easily identified by their tall fur caps, but at this time they wore cocked hats like the rest of the battalion (the whole Grenadiers du Roi Regiment did wear fur caps at this time, however).  Grenadiers were distinguished by their moustaches, the additional lace on their coats and their grenade-bag and associated cross-belt.

Above: The de Levy Cavalry Regiment.  At Blenheim this regiment formed one-third of Massenbach’s Cavalry Brigade (alongside the de Royal and de La Ferronaye Regiments), which formed part of the Marquis du Bourg’s Corps.

This regiment had grey/white coats with red facings and gold/yellow buttons and lace (this was a VERY common uniform combination for the French Army of this period).  Shabraques were most likely red, edged yellow, though one source suggests yellow edged red.

Above: The de Levy Regiment’s command group in close-up.  Note the exquisite modelling that Front Rank put into these figures – particularly the texture of the officers’ wigs, the creases of the cloth and the details of lace, buttons and buttonholes.  The quality of casting also equals the quality of modelling. Note also that the officers’ coats are open to reveal breastplates rather than waistcoats.

Above: Another view of the de Levy Regiment, showing the regimental Guidon (cavalry colour).  All the flags shown here are by GMB Designs.

Note that French cavalry tactics of the period emphasised the use of massed volleys of pistol-fire at short-range, hence my choice of pistol-armed figures.  The French cavalry generally did not perform well and generally suffered at the hands of cavalry trained to deliver a full-blooded charge with cold-steel, such as the cavalry of Sweden, Prussia and Great Britain.

Above: A rear-view of the de Levy Regiment, showing the details of the trumpeter’s uniform, which was the livery of the regiment’s Colonel-in-Chief, the Duc de Levy.  Note the ‘false sleeves’ on the back of the coat; these were a common feature of cavalry trumpeter’s uniforms throughout the 18th Century.

Above: The de Royal Cavalry Regiment served in the same brigade as the de Levy Regiment above.  Note that these regiments were usually very small; normally only two squadrons apiece, with no more than 240 men.

Above:  The de Royal Regiment’s uniform was dark blue, faced red with gold/yellow buttons and lace. Quartered black & white hat-cockades are also described for this regiment.  Shabraques were probably dark blue with aurore (i.e. pinkish yellow-orange) edging, though black edging is described in one source.

Above:  The de Royal Regiment’s trumpeters wore Royal Livery, which was very much like that of infantry drummers described above: dark blue with red facings and crimson & white patterned lace.  This regiment’s trumpeters are also recorded as having crimson & white hat-feathers, as shown.

Above: A rear-view of the de Royal Regiment, particularly showing the back of the trumpeter’s coat.

Above:  “All For One And One For All!”  These fine fellows barely need any introduction: they are of course, the legendary King’s Musketeers Regiment (Les Mousquetaires du Roi) of ‘The Three Musketeers’ fame.  Although this regiment barely left the confines of Versailles during this entire period, it was seeing these figures that made me HAVE to build this army and they were consequently the first unit I painted.

Above: Thanks to the BBC, people nowadays expect to see these chaps wearing strange leather fetish-wear, but in reality they wore this spectacular uniform of red coats with blue tabards emblazoned with a sunburst, cross and fleur-de-lys.

The term ‘Musketeers’ confuses a lot of people, as it suggests that they were an infantry regiment.  In fact they, along with the single squadron of Horse Grenadiers, were the ‘Dragoon’ (i.e. mounted infantry) element of the King’s Household Troops (La Maison du Roi) and as a result were issued with infantry-style muskets for dismounted work, as well as pistols and swords for mounted shock-action and they also had drummers rather than trumpeters.  The French Army of this period still used Dragoons primarily as mounted infantry, using horses for mobility but fighting primarily on foot.  However, the majority of armies were increasingly using Dragoons as shock cavalry and the Mousquetaires du Roi also tended to be used as shock cavalry on the rare occasion they appeared on the battlefield.

Above: The Mousquetaires du Roi had two squadrons, though these were much stronger than those of the line cavalry, roughly twice the strength, in fact.  The squadrons were defined by the colour of their horses, with the senior squadron being the ‘Grey Squadron’, and the junior squadron the ‘Black Squadron’.

Above: The Grey Squadron had gold/yellow buttons, coat-lace, hat-lace and shabraque-edging.  Tabards for both squadrons had silver/white lace edging and crosses with gold/yellow fleur-de-lys, though the sunburst behind the cross was different for each squadron; the Grey Squadron had a red sunburst, edged white.  Note that drummers’ tabards were very heavily decorated with strips of lace.

Above:  A rear view of the drummer, showing the details of the tabard.

Above: The Black Squadron had silver/white buttons, coat-lace, hat-lace and shabraque-edging and gold/yellow sunbursts on the tabard.

Above:  A close-up of the right-hand side, showing the details of kit.  Note the powder-flask, suspended by a crimson & yellow cord.

Above:  Close-up of the left-hand side.  I should note here that when painting black horses, I always highlight them with a little red-brown mixed into the black.  For tails and manes I highlight with a very dark grey.

Anyway, that’s it for now.  My next instalment will be our latest ACW game – a refight of the Battle of Cedar Mountain, 1862.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Eighteenth Century, Painted Units, Stalled Projects, War of Spanish Succession | 9 Comments

“And Sheep May Safely Graze”: The Action at Penclippin Farm – A Very British Civil War in Pembrokeshire 1938

Hello. This is Huw Puw reporting once again from the front line for The Fish Guardian.

This week I find myself back in West Carmarthenshire. Having survived the ‘glorious victory’ of Titley Junction, the cross-dressing remnants of the ‘Twm Carnabwth’ Regiment were eventually relieved by a unit of the Welsh Republican Army. We then made our way back to the Republic of Cantref Cemaes for rest, reinforcement, reorganisation and retail therapy.

However, there was no such rest for me! My editor had clearly heard of my survival in Herefordshire and made sure that I was sent on the first available suicide mission. So it was that I soon found myself squelching down the soggy valley of the river Tâf with the reassuringly male soldiers of the 9th ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment.

However, that reassurance was to be short-lived. All armies have needs and none more so than the resource-starved Army of the Republic of Cantref Cemaes. We needn’t go into details, but the ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment clearly has a great need for livestock… One can only hope that as good chapel-raised boys with a love of their Mams’ traditional cooking, they like a lot of Cawl

The objective for this dubious raid was Penclippin Farm, in the hills north of the royalist stronghold of Whitland. This farm is known to be the family seat of one Captain Gough, a loyalist officer with Colonel Foley’s Loyal West Carmarthenshire Greenjackets. Unlike most farms in the ‘Landsker’ borderlands between English-speaking and Welsh-speaking territory, Penclippin had not yet been picked clean by raiders from both sides – mainly due to the strong protection afforded by the Greenjackets and the proximity to the strong garrison at Whitland. Thus its booming flock of prize sheep is a rich, yet well-protected prize.

The 9th ‘Hywel Dda’ Regiment also had a few scores to settle, as many of its men are from the Tâf Valley and Whitland area, with units raised in the nearby villages of Login, Llanglydwen and Glandŵr. The regiment is named for a local hero, the ancient King of Deheubarth and author of the ancient Welsh system of laws, Hywel Dda (‘Hywel The Good’), whose court was at Whitland.

Also joining us for this raid were a motley bunch from the Free Wales Army, calling themselves ‘Y Gwarchodwyr Pysgod’ (‘The Fish Guards’). A more disreputable bunch of cut-throats it would be hard to imagine if I hadn’t already met the ‘Daughters of Rebecca’… These lads were VERY keen to get their hands on the sheep, yet when asked, none of them knew a recipe for Cawl…

Above: Lt Col George Bankcroft advances on Penclippin Farm with one of his own companies and that of the Fish Guards. Two of his companies, led by his 2IC, Major ‘Slaps’ Lewis, advance down the eastern bank of the river. Their woolly quarry is soon sighted…

Above: Thanks to alert patrols and their network of Mams who know and see all, Captain Gough’s ‘A’ Company of the Greenjackets has already set up defensive positions at Penclippin Farm and has called for reinforcements from Whitland.

Above: Lt Col Foley, CO of the Greenjackets, has rushed to the scene with his Headquarters Company and ‘B’ Company, as well as an officer of the local St John’s Ambulance Brigade. He has sent word to the Whitland garrison to send relief forces at once.

Above: How green is your valley? This one is pretty green.

Above: A relief column appears, marching through the shattered village of Cwfelin Boeth.

Above: Captain Alison de Carnelle’s Foot Hussar Company of the Slebech Castle Ladies’ College Cadet Corps, supported by some light armour, is on its way to support the Greenjackets. However, ladies only run when playing hockey…

Above: On the Welsh left flank, the Login and Glandŵr Companies advance.

Above: Reaching the crest of the hill, the Login Company spots its woolly prey. However, the Glandŵr Company unwisely shows itself on the riverbank and is immediately taken under fire by the Greenjackets’ ‘B’ Company.

Above: The cadets continue to march in a ladylike manner, without showing too much ankle… The armour presses on impatiently.

Above: Lt Col Foley meets up with Captain Gough at Penclippin to gain a personal appraisal of the situation. As the bullets start flying, Lt Col Gough’s group scarpers for cover.

Above: The Greenjackets’ ‘B’ Company continue to fire upon the raiders along the riverbank.

Above: The sheep, startled by a group of Welshmen with a determined look in their eye, panic and flee for safety!

Above: However, the sheep soon encounter more Welshmen lurking in the bushes at the bottom of the hill and scurry back up the slope!

Above: With the sheep trapped, the Login Company advances to round them up. On the river bank, the Glandŵr Company becomes more generally engaged with the Greenjackets, but gets the worst of the firefight.

Above: Meanwhile, back at Penclippin, a fierce firefight soon ensues between the Llanglydwen Company and ‘A’ Company of the Greenjackets, defending the farmhouse. The Fish Guards advance, but stay hidden to avoid scaring the sheep. The secret weapon is brought forward – Rocsi the Wonder-Dog!

Above: The humanity! As if this civil war weren’t horrible enough, a Morris Man capers from one of the farm-buildings and calls to one of the Greenjackets as if he recognises one of them! Horrified to be thought of as Morris-men, the Greenjackets temporarily panic, but are soon brought back to their senses and proper military bearing by the stirring sight of the Regimental Colour. War is hell…

Above: [The Morris Man appeared as the result of a particularly hilarious random-event card.  He would appear from a random building and then caper around in a random fashion, forcing morale tests on anyone he came into contact with as he attempted to ‘out’ them as a fellow Morris Man.  War is indeed, Hell.]

Above: Spotting a suitable phone box, I moved forward in order to phone my editor with a live report of the day’s action.

Above: To the Greenjackets’ enormous relief, the Morris Man capers off in search of new prey…

Above: Worried by the distant sound of engines and the rattle of tracks, Major Lewis deploys a ‘Boyos’ anti-tank rifle team…

Above: Ignoring the raging firefight around her, Rocsi successfully rounds up the sheep, along with the Morris Man.

Above: The armour pushes forward, but the Cadets continue to proceed in an orderly and ladylike manner.

Above: Lt Col Foley and Captain Gough watch the Morris Man disappear into the distance. Captain Gough is doubly relieved, as he was terrified of having his shameful secret revealed and being ‘outed’ as a Morris-dancer in front of the men…

Above: I conduct a live interview with one of the Greenjackets “Excuse me, but what is your opinion on the morality of Morris Dancing between consenting adults?”

Above: My interview is rudely interrupted by an armoured car roaring past.

Above: “Captain Gough! Is that you? I didn’t recognise you without the bells, hankies and whiffling-stick!” It’s no good, the Morris Man is back and has outed Captain Gough. Recoiling from the whistles, cat-calls and titters of his men, Captain Gough staggers away from the battle, a broken man.

Above: “Quick boys! Let’s get these girls away and then we can have first dibs!”

Above: As the Login Company covers the theft of the sheep, the Boyos team opens up on the Royalist tankette… And misses.

Above: With the defenders of Penclippin Farm thoroughly suppressed by fire from the Llanglydwen Company, Rocsi herds the sheep back to Welsh lines. The Greenjackets, now alerted to the theft, open fire speculatively on the hedgerows to their front.

Above: The Cadets’ armoured car, spraying machine gun fire, moves somewhat rashly to outflank the Welsh line.

Above: The rest of the Cadets are still in no such rush however, though wisely give the Morris Man a wide berth, as he capers off toward Whitland.

Above: Despite suffering some casualties from the armoured car’s machine gun, the Fish Guards gamely return fire with a volley of Molleston Cocktails (named for the Pembrokeshire village where petrol bombs were first used against Royalist tanks). One finds its mark and disables the armoured car, forcing the crew to bail out.

Above: Inspired by the sacrifice of their armoured car detachment, the Cadets hitch up their skirts and risk showing an ankle to the uncouth soldiery as they step up the pace.

Above: “Excuse me, but is it true that you’re here to give relief to the Greenjackets?”

Above: The Morris Man dances off into the distance. His body was later found face-down in the Tâf, with a service issue Webley bullet in his back.

Above: Lt Col Foley manages to calm Captain Gough and settle his nerves with a tot of Pimms. “Christopher old chap, don’t worry. Your secret is safe with me. Goodness knows, when I was in the Sudan, a chap would do anything to stay sane and Morris, while being an unnatural act abhorred by God, wasn’t unknown. Heaven forbid, at least it’s not Jazz.”

Above: True to form, the cads and bounders known as the Fish Guards, machine gun the armoured car crew as they make good their escape.

Above: The depleted Llanglydwen Company lays down covering fire as Rocsi and her woolly charges make good their escape.

Above: The Boyos team doesn’t get a second chance as the tankette returns fire with twin machine guns, instantly eliminating the threat.

Above: Horrified at the loss of his Boyos, Major Lewis orders the Login Company to disengage.

Above: The surviving armoured car crew make good their escape.

Above: On the other side of the river, the survivors of the Glandŵr Company withdraw northward up the river.

With casualties starting to mount and with the approach of Royalist reinforcements, Lt Col Bankcroft ordered the regiment to disengage and withdraw with its woolly captives. The raid had been partially successful, though had undoubtedly inflicted damage and not a little embarrassment on the King’s forces. The men had definitely earned their ‘Cawl’…

This is Huw Puw signing off.

This was a game played at the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire. The rules played were ‘Went The Day Well’ by Solway, with some minor modifications for sheep-rustling (!).

The figures are mainly by Footsore Miniatures (formerly Musketeer Miniatures), though the ‘Cadets’ are by Hinterland Miniatures and the Morris Man is by Gripping Beast Miniatures. Most were painted by me, though Martin Small painted the Fish Guards.

The Huw Puw figure is a bespoke figure, sculpted and painted for me by Martin Small. He’s based on the John Sparkes TV character of the same name.

The armoured car is a Morris CS9 by Warlord Games, while the tankette is by Empress Miniatures. Crew figures by Hinterland Miniatures.

Buildings are laser-cut models by 4Ground Models. All other scenery is from the collection of the Wargames Association of South Pembrokeshire and was built by Al Broughton.

My apologies for the poor quality of photos this time.

Posted in 28mm Figures, Games, VBCW - A Very British Civil War | 8 Comments