Sunday, 24 September 2017

Battle of Cheriton Inspired ECW Game

On Sunday I made one of my rare forays to play an all day game with the group I have wargamed with for around 25 years. Today the period was English Civil War and our host Barry had set up his huge 12’ x 6’ table with a scenario based roughly on the Battle of Cheriton in March 1644. Following is a brief outline of the real battle courtesy of Wikipedia

The Battle of Cheriton was an important Parliamentarian victory in the English Civil War. It took place on 29 March 1644 and resulted in the defeat of a Royalist army, which threw King Charles I onto the defensive for the remainder of the year.
Early in 1644, a Royalist army under Lord Hopton faced a Parliamentarian army under Sir William Waller in the southern counties of England. After some reverses during the previous December, culminating in the Battle of Alton, Hopton had withdrawn to Winchester to regroup and recruit. He was joined here by a detachment from the King's main "Oxford Army" under the Earl of Forth, who unwillingly took command of the army. They resumed their advance eastward early in March.
Waller's army of the "Southern Association" had also been reinforced by detachments from the main Parliamentarian army under the Earl of Essex and the London Trained Bands, and was advancing westward from his winter quarters near Arundel. Forth and Hopton determined to seize New Alresford, thus placing themselves between Waller and London. They forestalled the Parliamentarian cavalry under Sir William Balfour, and occupied the town late on 27 March.
On 28 March, the Royalists advanced cautiously south from Alresford. An advanced guard under Sir George Lisle occupied an outpost position near Cheriton as night fell, and reported that the Parliamentarians were retreating.
The Parliamentarians had been outmanoeuvred up to this point, and had indeed begun to retreat, but overnight Waller changed his mind and ordered an advance. As dawn broke, the City of London Brigade occupied Cheriton Wood. Hopton had moved to Lisle's outpost, and realised that it would have to be hastily withdrawn. The Royalists fell back to a ridge north of the wood, as Waller advanced.
Hopton determined to recapture Cheriton Wood, and sent forward 1,000 "commanded" musketeers under a Colonel Appleyard, supported by a battery of guns. There was some hot fighting, but the Parliamentarians abandoned the wood. Forth and Hopton intended to stand on the defensive at this point, but an impetuous infantry commander, Sir Henry Bard, launched his regiment of foot against the Parliamentarian left wing horse. Bard's regiment was overwhelmed and destroyed by a charge from Sir Arthur Haselrig's regiment of horse. (This was not his famed Cuirassier regiment which had been destroyed at Roundway Down some 8 months earlier, instead the regiment had been rebuilt as 'regular' cavalry since September 1643). The Royalist cavalry on the right wing tried to support him, but were forced to make disjointed attacks along narrow lanes and were defeated in turn.
Hopton sent the Royalist horse from the left wing under Sir Edward Stawell to make a better prepared attack, but they were also defeated. Haselrig's regiment now attacked the Royalist foot moving up in support, and drove them back. The Parliamentarians also attacked the Royalist left, which had been denuded of its horse, and regained Cheriton Wood.
The Royalists fell back to their ridge, but Hopton and Forth realised they could not withstand a deliberate Parliamentarian attack the next day. As evening fell, the Royalists retreated to Basing House, having lost many brave cavaliers including their Lieutenant General of Horse: Lord John Stuart, Major General of Horse: Sir John Smith, Sir Edward Stowell and Henry Sandys of the Vyne, grandson of William, Fourth Lord Sandys. In addition to these casualties, Raoul Fleury (c/o of the Queens Regiment) and the aforementioned Sir Henry Bard were both badly wounded.
The defeat of Forth's and Hopton's army left the King's plans of a thrust into Sussex and Kent in tatters. It also allowed the Parliamentarian armies of Essex and Waller to concentrate against the King at Oxford. The king merged the remnants of Hopton's army into his own at the review held at Aldbourne during April 1644. The infantry was formed into a single brigade under Sir Bernard Astley while most of the cavalry was formed into Sir Humphrey Bennett's brigade, with other remnants joining Lord Wilmot's brigade.
Although Charles was able to partly restore the situation later in 1644 by gaining victories at Cropredy Bridge and Lostwithiel, the Royalists could never again resume the offensive in the south of England. The prominent Royalist statesman, the Earl of Clarendon, considered the battle a disaster.

Our scenario followed most of the layout for the actual battle, but with reduced numbers. All the Parliamentarians were graded as Raw. The Royalist horse and one regiment of foot were graded Trained, with the remainder Raw. We used our own “house” rules. 

The Parliamentarians had a left wing of two horse units, including Haselrigs, a gun and three regiments of foot. The right wing consisted of two regiments of foot, two of horse, two guns and the detached “commanded” musketeers in the woods.

The Royalist left consisted of two units of commanded musketeers in the woods, two regiments of horse, two of infantry and one gun. The right was one regiment of horse, two of foot and one gun.

The game lasted about four hours, by which time we had basically fought each other to a standstill. The entire Royalist left wing was destroyed and the right wing lost its cavalry and gun. The Parliamentarian right retained one cavalry and one infantry regiment, and the left their original two cavalry and two of the three infantry – a bloody engagement indeed!

Here is my map of our original layout as the game commenced:

The initial several moves were desultory, as both sides engaged in an exchange of cannon fire. Barry our umpire was getting increasingly frustrated with our lack of proper aggressive spirit! The Royalists had the better of the exchange of gunfire, scoring several hit on the left wing cavalry and forcing them to retire to cover behind the ridge. A poor activation roll also led to the Parliamentarian left wing losing it one artillery piece! On the right, the Parliamentarian guns also forced the cavalry to retire and one infantry regiment to quit the field but in the woods, the Royalists soon had the better of the firefight and destroyed the Parliamentarian commanded shot.
The Royalist cavalry now advanced simultaneously, the right flank unit moving adjacent to the woods in the centre of the field, whilst the two regiments from the left flank moved up to support the commanded shot emerging from the woods. The Parliamentarian right had to hastily redeploy towards the centre to face this threat to their flank whilst the left flank advanced to engage the two regiments on the heights before them.
There now followed the strangest combat of the day, whereby a regiment of Royalist cavalry charged a lone gun and after two rounds of combat, not only lost, but rolled such a poor activation dice that they quit the field entirely! The cavalry adjacent to the woods were also forced to retire to the centre of the Royalist line. 

The commanded shot from Cheriton wood and the remaining cavalry continued to press on the Parliamentarian right, the remaining infantry unit descending the hill and attacking and destroying the gun in the centre of the Parliaments position. However, disastrous activation rolling again led to this victorious unit fleeing the field!

The Royalist cavalry redeployed from the centre back to face the Parliaments left flank and charged Haselrigs unit. Two or three rounds of combat ensued until the Lobsters were pushed back; however, both units had exhausted each other in this combat, and the second Parliamentarian cavalry regiment succeeded in getting in the rear of the victorious Royalists, charging them and wiping them out. The Royalist infantry charged off their hill - one unit suffered heavy musketry and failed to go in, the second pressed home courageously and destroyed their opposition. Meanwhile, the third, unengaged Parliamentarian foot regiment advanced up the hill and wiped out the Royalist artillery there.

The combat on the other wing had continued in the meantime, with the last remnant of the Royalist left, a lone cavalry regiment, destroying one of the two regiments of foot. However, they were then assaulted from each side by the remaining Parliamentarian infantry and a cavalry regiment.

This is where we ended the game - maybe Parliament won, but in effect, it was closer to a draw - Parliament had more units remaining on the table, but the two Royalist units included one that was Trained as opposed to Raw and the bulk of the surviving Parliamentarians were very tired from the days combat!

Here are some pictures I took of the game, The figures are a mixture of Front Rank and Foundry, mostly painted 20+ years ago, but still looking pretty impressive today.

 The Royalist deployment before the game commenced
The Parliamentarian left wing
 One of the Parliaments Raw Regiments of Foot
 The cavalry on Parliaments left redeploy to cover after several hits from Royalist artillery
The Royalist Commanded Shot advancing through Cheriton Woods
 The Parliamentarian left redeploying as the commanded shot win the fight in the woods and threaten their flank
 The left wing cavalry move forward again
 The Royalist cavalry from the right flank advancing towards the centre of the table
 The Parliamentarian left begin their advance
Meanwhile, on the opposite hill, two regiments of Royalists plus a gun await them
 The Cavalry redeployed on the left flank to support the infantry advance
 The infamous Royalist cavalry charge on the Parliaments right wing - a single gun won two rounds of combat and then drove them off!
 The Royalist commanded shot advancing from Cheriton Woods
 The second round of cavalry v's gunners melee
And Royalist cavalry unit has quit the field and its support has retired some distance!
The Parliamentarian left wing continues to advance
 The Royalist right with the cavalry in the centre of the line, before they moved back to the wing
 A general aerial view of the action on the Parliamentarian left wing - the Royalist infantry has begun to descend from the hill
 The Royalist infantry smashes into one of the Parliaments gun batteries in the centre of the field
 The cavalry combat on the Parliaments left - note the second Parliamentarian regiment ready to charge the rear of their opponents
 The result of the Royalist charge on their right - the blue unit has destroyed one Parliamentarian regiment but the red unit (Queens Guards, the only trained infantry on the field) failed to charge home after withering musket fire from the white regiment
 The Royalist cavalry have pushed back Haselrigs regiment but it is a pyrrhic victory, as the second Parliamentarian regiment charges into their rear and destroys them
 The last action on the Parliaments right - the yellow coated Royalist cavalry about to be decimated by simultaneous flank attacks
The two Parliamentarian horse regiments facing each other after the destruction of the Royalist cavalry
 Final view - the only two remaining Royalist units on the table (blue and red uniforms)
The commander of the Parliamentarian left wing

A great game - to start with, we Parliamentarians thought nothing was going our way, especially after I managed to lose my only gun in about move three or four, and then Paul lost the combat in the woods and the cavalry charged forward - but the staunch defence by his gunners swung the psychological advantage over to us, and some unlucky activation throws by Rick removed half of the Royalist force from the battle!  I was lucky to overcome Chris in the cavalry melee, whilst he had the better of the infantry combat. As I said, not sure we really won, but we did have more intact units on the table when we called "time".

Friday, 22 September 2017

War of 1812 - Battle of Lundy's Lane

On Thursday this week Julian and I tried out my War of 1812 figures using a scenario from the Battle of Lundy's Lane from the Canadian Wargames Group 1812 booklet and the Command and Colors hex based rule set we used a few weeks ago for Talavera.

We had a great little battle that was all done and dusted in a couple of hours, with Julian commanding the victorious US forces.

The scenario started with 5 British battalions, 3 guns and a cavalry unit facing off against 4 US battalions supported by 2 guns. On move 5, the Brits could get one battalion of reinforcement if they rolled 1 or 2 on a D10, on move 8 the US could get 4 battalions if they rolled the same, then move 10 ANOTHER 4 US battalions plus two more guns might arrive and finally on move 12 the British might have another three battalions turn up. If we did not roll 1 or 2, then the next turn it was 1,2 or 3, then 1,2,3 or 4 and so on, until the reinforcement arrived.

Amazingly, I rolled a 1 on move 5, Julian rolled a 2 on move 8 and a then 3 on move 11 so that basically all the reinforcements arrived as soon as they were able to! We didn't make it to move 12 so the final British reinforcements were a moot point.....

We had the usual 1 point per captured flag or leader, with a total required for victory of 7. Incorporating part of the Canadian Groups scenario, the US could gain 2 points by holding the position where the British guns started the game (these guns were not permitted to move from this location)

The game started well for the Brits as they shot up three battalions of US regulars advancing across open ground in front of the heights occupied by the guns and the Royal Scots. However, Julian had a couple of cards that helped him out here, where he was able to roll to replace lost stands, so that although he suffered quite a few casualties, all three battalions survived to close up on the position.

They then unleashed some steady fire on the heights occupied by the Brits and after a couple of rounds, had wiped out the Royal Scots and killed the British commander - two points to the US,.

I was getting some pretty useless action cards which prevented me from doing much in the centre - where all the action was. My light dragoons (actually US light dragoons but I had not brought all my Napoleonic Brits along) charged the right most of Julian's advancing Yanks but they formed square and reduced my potential 4 combat dice to 1! This created a stand off between the cavalry and infantry that lasted the rest of the game.

Meanwhile, I had activated my one battalion of extra regular British infantry, whilst next move, 4 more battalions of US troops arrived. Julian then played a card that allowed up to 4 units to move 4 hexes instead of the usual 1  - and immediately he had 4 fresh units close to the centre of the action.

His first line of three battalions wiped out the artillery battery with small arms fire then assaulted the hill, engaging the two British units there. He captured the artillery position and gained another 2 victory points.

In the next move I was able to play my own bayonet charge card, recapturing the artillery position and destroying a couple of US units - but next move, Julian assaulted again with four fresh battalions PLUS he rolled to successfully bring on another four AND he had that bloody fast movement card again! So now I had two fresh battalions holding the orchard to the left of the hill, two half strength battalions on the hill being attacked by four fresh ones, and a cavalry unit tied up against a square.

That must have been move 11 because the game ended 7 points to 2 and I never got to the point that I had the chance to call on my last reinforcements!

General view of the battlefield - Brits position on the right, US attacking from the left. The British gun position was on the nearest hill hex to the camera

The Candian Wargames Group version of the scenario that we used for the map - we did not use their rule set however 

 The British left, a regular battalion, a militia battalion (played by Canadian Voltiguers in grey) and behind them, the Light Dragoons - as mentioned, represented by the US rather than British figures
 The third regular battalion, represented by one of my two West India Regiment battalions - all the figures shown are Old Glory by the way
 The figures representing The Royal Scots on the hill - they are OG Second Edition figures
 One of the regular US infantry battalions
 The main advance by three of the four US battalions, heads towards the British centre
 The Glengarry Light Infantry (rifle armed according to the scenario) in position next to the Royal Scots
 A slightly reduced US battalion with the leader figure (US Light Dragoon) attached 
 The US advance - note the absence of the Royal Scots between the guns and the Glengarries......!
 Another view from the US side - they should have been wiped out by rifle and artillery fire but I just could not draw the right cards! The Glengarry  Light Infantry have been driven back and the artillery reduced from 3 guns to 1 by mausketry
 The British left flank was secure the entire game, but these three battalions would have been more use in the centre!
 The first US assault - three US battalions on the hill, the artillery wiped out and their position taken
 Close up of the successful US assault
 British counter attack - two US battalions wiped out
 And the second wave of US regulars arrive to retake the position

The inconclusive melee between the Light Dragoons and a square of US infantry - in the rear the victorious American forces occupy the heights

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Sunday 10 September a "The Men Who Would Be Kings" game.

Today I went over to Andrews place and took with me some of my Colonial British collection, as well as the recently painted Zombie Survivors women featured earlier in the week on this blog. Julian was due to come to but as it turned out, he did not arrive until after lunch, so we tailored the game accordingly.

We have played two or three games of TMWWBK before and they have all gone well for the British, but today was a different story. Andrew had upgraded his native forces to obsolete rifles rather than muskets, but there still seemed to be about twice as many of them as there were of the British. I think I made a mistake choosing two units of lancers - in the close country in which the game was fought, another two infantry units with rifles would have been more useful. I also rolled my unit morale a bit averagely - both cavalry were grade 5 (the best possible) bit two infantry were 6 and one infantry was a grade 7.

We also had some specific task cards borrowed from the medieval version of the same game, giving us game points for achieving certain tasks - Andrew had a really good card which was to avoid having his overall leader involved in any combat for the whole game and he would gain 3 victory points! His second card (unknown to me) was to initiate the first combat, which he duly did in move two or three. In turn, my task was to have one of my nits closer to the enemy base line than any enemy unit at the end of a game turn, to gain 1 point and the second was something pretty unachievable, like destroying more than half they enemy force. 

In previous games, the Brits modern rifles have had a battle winning impact, with a range of 24 " compared with 12" for the muskets, but with the natives now sporting rifles, albeit less modern than my boys, their maximum range was increased to 18". In addition, there seemed to be a lot more cover in this game than  previously, which added an extra kill dice requirement if the target was in the terrain - so at long range, you needed to get 3 hits per infantry figure.

The writing was already on the wall I think before Julian arrived, but after lunch, he added another three units of rifle armed Pathans to Andrews force whilst I gained two more Indian army units. I pulled back into more defensible position but I really did not have enough troops to contain the 2:1 or greater advantage of the natives. On top of all this, my dice rolling throughout the day was abysmal - in most cases, I was rolling 12 dice - even my six lancers got to double their melee dice up to 12 when they were charging - but I would be lucky to roll 2 or 3 hits, and in many cases I needed 3 to kill one wily Pathan, sniping at me from the concealment of the abundant cover. I did manage a couple of good volleys near the end of the game that more or less wiped out an entire unit in one shot, but it was far too late and the Pathans were also able to destroy two of my five infantry units by rifle fire. 

The game was still a good way to spend a wet and windy Auckland day but it was a decisive defeat for the Empire forces.

The images show my British troops - all Old Glory - plus Andrews natives, an eclectic mix of ranges and - in the last few images - Julian's Pathans who are once again Old Glory sculpts.

Royal Marine Light Infantry

 Most of the British force deployed on the base line at the start of the game
 View along the British Base line - Bengal Lancers nearest the camera
One of Andrews excellent home produced scenery pieces

 The Bengal Lancers advance to engage native cavalry on the British left flank

British infantry advance in the centre

 Native cavalry on the opposite flank
The Bengal lancers engage with the native cavalry...

 ...and drive them back. They continued with a break through and inflicted another casualty but then suffered rifle fire from the adjacent infantry and had to retire
The native cavalry on the other flank open fire on the British lancers

And the lancers charge them.......

 ....killing most of them and driving off the remainder
                                      A general view of the centre of the table from the British side
 Julian's three extra units join the fray from the British left
The British pull back to a stronger defensive position

 A view of the advancing natives from the British position
Julian's Pathans advance 

 Andrews native forces in the centre advance en masse
 Above and below - the final British defensive position

 Andrews forces continue to advance despite losing a unit to short range rifle fire
 The Pathans on the British left move in for the kill
 A final view before two British units disappeared and the game ended

The victors - Pathans occupy positions previously held by the Royal Marine Light Infantry