Sunday, 28 October 2018

A Game of Two Halves - or Two Battles in One Day

Napoleonic Warfare in Egypt 1801

Today we met up for my first game in many weeks, to put into use the beautiful collection of Perry "Napoleon in Egypt" figures that our great friend Mark has collected and painted over the last few months.

As an added bonus, Mark informed us that we were actually going to play TWO games, one prior to lunch and the second in the apres midi.

We selected sides - Paul, Barry and I were the British, with Mark, Rick and Chris the French, then Mark spoke to each side separately to give us our objectives and explain the first game, which was the British landing on the isthmus adjacent to Alexandria, described thus in Wikipedia:

"The British corps, under the command of Lieutenant-General Sir Ralph Abercromby, had been sent to Egypt to remove the French garrison from the region, following Napoleon's departure in August 1799. On 1 March 1801, the British corps, originally consisting of 15,300 men but much affected by disease, carried by a fleet of 175 ships, arrived at the natural harbour of Abu Qir, (known to the British as "Aboukir Bay"), some 23 kilometres (14 miles) from the port city of Alexandria. On 8 March, the British vanguard of 5,500 came ashore by boat, opposed by a French force of some 2,000 drawn up on the sand dunes overlooking the landing beach, an action known as the Second Battle of Abukir. The outcome had essentially been decided in the first 20 minutes of the landfall, when Major General John Moore, commanding the centre of the British line, carried the main French position on a sand dune with a bayonet charge; the French were forced to retreat and the whole British corps had landed by nightfall."

Mark had created approximately 20 printed cards to represent the landing boats. Three were cutters, armed with a carronade in the prow, the remainder flat bottomed transports. As we only had 12 battalions and one battery to land, we were able to use around 6 of the boats as decoys, and decided to put them all together on our left wing, with the three cutters next in line. Thus, the left wing of our actual landing force was near the middle of the table. The French fell for this deception and placed half their infantry on their right flank, to oppose a non existent threat there!

In essence, the game reached the same result as outlined above, although we had a bit more bloodshed and it was an unmitigated disaster for the Brigade of Guards - not that the rest of the army were too concerned to see those prancing poppinjays get a bloody nose!

An image of the landing

A contemporary map of the landing and subsequent battle

The beach at dawn

Move three and the bateaux approach the sand

The humbugged enemy - a brigade of Legere lie in wait of - empty boats!

The solitary French cavalry in the centre

The French view of the initial landing

The first units step ashore....

…. and more....

….and more!

The view from the French position where they skulked in the dead ground 

The British left flank comprising the Coldstream and Third Guards, a battalion of Marines and our solitary gun battery

The British begin their advance up the beach

General John Moore's Brigade - commanded by yours truly - on the British right flank

Action in the centre as Paul's two units move against the French battery supported by the cavalry

The Brigade of Guards advance perfectly in step and with exemplary dressing of the lines...

...and are assaulted from front and flank simultaneously by SIX battalions of Froggies!

Meanwhile, Moore's Brigade moves onto the main sand hill, the primary objective for the British force

One battalion of Guards has already departed, the second engages in a desperate melee

In the centre, Paul moves forward cautiously against the battery, with cavalry threatening his left flank

Having dispensed with the Foot Guards, the French Light Infantry advance on the flank of the Marine battalion

But it was too late, Moore's five battalions had captured the main feature, and were joined there by Paul's two battalions. Barry even managed to extract the Marines and his gun battery from the clutches of the French infantry, thanks in part to some great assistance from the Royal Navy, whose broadsides did significant slaughter on the French. 

Game One over - a British Victory!

On to the afternoon, and Game Two, the Battle of Abukir, which is summarized as below on Wikipedia:

"A personal reconnaissance by Abercrombie had shown that a French force of nearly 5,000 men under General François Lanusse were holding a ridge of high ground which crossed the western end of the isthmus; their line rested on the ruins of the Nicoplois of Alexandria at the north and the Alexandria Canal at the south, and had been strengthened by the construction of a redoubt. Accordingly, on March 13, the British began their advance at first light, in two lines. The French unleashed a fierce fire from their artillery and muskets on the 92nd Regiment of Foot which was leading the left column and mounted a cavalry charge against the 90th Regiment of Foot which was leading the right. Few of the French cavalry reached the British line, most being driven off by an effective volley of musketry. As the British lines continued their advance, the French began to withdraw to their fortifications on a further ridge just outside Alexandria; Dillon's Regiment (composed of various foreign troops and French émigré officers) captured two French guns by the canal in a bayonet charge."

Game two and the same command - five battalions under General Moore on the British right flank

The centre four battalions commanded by Paul

The French spread across the ridge of high ground ahead of us

The French force in the Nicoplois of Alexandria, commanded by Mark

The British centre advances 

Rick's cavalry brigade comes forward to engage the British

The British left flank, comprising four émigré battalions and commanded bay Barry, are confronted by Chris's demi brigades in ordre mixte 

Paul's battalions in the centre deploy into line

As do my units on our right flank - our combined musketry quickly destroyed or drove off two of Rick's three cavalry units

A general view from the French left flank

On the French right, Barry's units have all been destroyed and Chris has turned his attention on Paul

On the French left, only Mark's isolated units remain as Rick and the second of Chris's battalions have all decamped

View from the Nicoplois of Alexandria as the British advance in the centre unopposed

Two final views of the virtually deserted field - two thirds of the British and three quarters of the French army had quit the field. the road to Alexandria lay open but the British were too weak to exploit it.

Mark thought this was a British victory but I was not so sure, possibly a draw but with the British slightly more advantaged. Both games were great fun and it was nice to command smaller numbers of troops for a change and have time for two separate games in one day. It was also interesting that without any prior knowledge of what really happened, the outcomes of both games mirrored the actual battles, even to the point where the British musketry overwhelmed the French cavalry attacks.

Friday, 19 October 2018

The Meaning of Bydand

Hi Guys,

Anyone reading this - have a look at this item on You Tube . About a thirty minute watch. Its from my old local TV station in Scotland from 30 year ago - My God - it was only 1990 - is it really that long ago?

Thursday, 18 October 2018

One New AWI British Officer - and some old British Napoleonic Rocket Troops

I finished off this AWI officer a couple of days ago - he has been lying around on the paining desk for literally years - I think I inherited him from someone else, as he was 75% painted already but not in my style - anyway, I retouched all the worn areas and finished him off.

Then, because I am suffering withdrawal symptoms, I pulled out some Napoleonic/War of 1812 figures - the first couple were painted quite recently and the Old Glory rocket troops about 5-8 years ago

Thursday, 11 October 2018

Three British Napoleonic Colonels

I have not posted in the last few weeks for a couple of reasons - personal and gaming.

My time has been mostly taken up with personal family events - I was at the other end of the N Island for 4 days in each of the last two weeks - PLUS I am basically running out of stuff to paint - not a normal problem for most gamers I know!

Over the last week, as things have returned to normal, I have been able to complete these three 28mm British officers from Warlord - the one with the telescope is in the "Waterloo" uniform - and the other two wear the "Peninsular" one.