Tuesday, September 30, 2008

What Colonel Bauer Saw

French regiment Belsunce deployed in 4 ranks. This is actually two 24-figure French battalions (RSM and Old Glory) that I put together to form one larger BAR-sized battalion for this encounter. Click the pix to enlarge the view.

As the Prussian vanguard emerged from the Grueningen road, they fanned out onto the plain in front of Munzenberg. Three squadrons of hussars led the way, forming a line of battle. Behind them was a 600 man battalion of the Heyden Grenadiers (19/25). Bauer also deployed a battery of horse artillery on a low rise to the left of the road, where they could be best employed to rain shell into the battalion of French infantry that he espied in front of the town.

The following picture provides the reader with an overview of the Prussian and French deployment around the town of Munzenberg.

Overview of the battle deployment. French light infantry are deployed in the town; the Horvath Hussars protect the road to Friedberg; the Belsunce regiment and the Clermont-Prince light infantry deploy north of the town. The Prussians are entering the table from the top right corner, with a secondary force arriving in the middle, in order to cut off the French retreat.

Colonel Bauer contemplated the situation before him and thought about it in the context of his general orders (which were to push the Prussian cavalry screen forward and push back the French forward light troops). He was to avoid battle if at all possible in order to maintain secrecy. However, it was clear that his cover was blown after yesterday's kleine krieg action and undoubtedly word of the Prussian presence so close to Frankfurt was on its way to Marshal de Broglie.

Bauer decided to try prying the French out of the town via maneuver before resorting to a stand up fight. He only had one battalion of infantry and wasn't keen on risking it to a stand up fire fight with the French. A D6 was rolled: 1 through 3 meant that the French would stay and fight; while a 4 through 6 would indicate a withdrawal. The bones were rolled, and a "2" appeared. The French would stand and fight.

Accordingly, Bauer sent two squadrons of Black Hussars around the south flank of the village in hopes that they could pose a threat to the main road back to Friedberg. A squadron of dismounted hussars was also detached to this group to provide some protection from any French light infantry that might be prowling around through the little woods that lay in front of the town. The two squadrons of hussars deployed into a two rank line of battle and began to advance towards the two squadrons of French hussars that guarded the line of retreat.

At the same time, a battery of two 6-pound horse artillery dropped trail on a small rise in front of the town and prepared to fire on the French Belsunce regiment. A second squadron of dismounted hussars advanced towards the ridge to the north of the town in order to outflank the Belsunce regiment and stir up any light infantry that might be hiding behind the hill. While the Prussians seeped around the French flanks, Bauer would bombard the French infantry and deploy the Heyden Grenadier battalion to the front. They would wait until things developed on the two French flanks.

Now then, what was Colonel Chalfont to do? And what would you do if you were in Chalfont's shoes? Please feel free to leave your ideas in the commentary section of this blog.

A note about the French Belsunce Regiment: this is comprised of two 24-figure battalions of French that I use for my own "Alter Fritz" rules at a 1 to 30 ratio. The front two ranks are an RSM unit and the back two ranks and the battalion gun are Old Glory figures. The Clermont-Prince light infantry and the Chasseurs de Fischer are from Front Rank. I am tempted to fight a couple of these battles with 24 man units and the BAR rules just to prove that it can be done.

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

On To Munzenberg

Three squadrons of Prussian cavalry approach the hamlet of Munzenberg. Black Hussars (H5) and Zieten Hussars (H2) both from Stadden Miniatures.

The little action at Gruningen yesterday left no doubt in Colonel Bauer's mind that he had bumped into the French cavalry screen that was fanned out northeast of Frankfurt Am Main. It was also clear to him that the French were now aware of the Prussian presence in the area and that the going was due to get tougher in the coming days.

Colonel Bauer had two choices: head north to destroy the French magazine at Geissen on the Lahn River, or continue south towards Frankfurt, via Munzenberg and Freiberg. Since Geissen was a walled town, the odds of taking it without an escalade were deemed to be remote, so Bauer ordered his advance guard to move towards Munzenberg.

The Horvath Hussars had retreated back towards Frankfurt after their ambush and when they rode through Munzenberg, they gave warning to the local French commandant that Prussian light troops were nearby. Accordingly, Colonel Chalfont of the Belsunce Regiment put his regiment on the alert for a Prussian attack. He deployed his single battalion of regular infantry in front of Munzenberg and covered his left flank with some light infantry from the Clermont-Prince regiment. The town protected his right flank. Several companies of Chasseurs de Fischer occuppied the town and the Horvath Hussars were posted behind the town in order to cover the escape route to Freiberg.

There was a cloud of dust upon the road from Gruningen and a flock of birds took flight as 600 sets of hooves pounded upon the dirt track. This is what Colonel Chalfont saw (see the picture above, and please click the pix to enlarge the view). Did Chalfont have enough troops to stop this Prussian raid, or would he have to retreat to Freiberg? Find out tomorrow.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Ambush At Gruningen

Black Hussars see Gallian light cavalry and charge out of the town of Gruningen in pursuit.

After the little scare at Alsfeld, Colonel Bauer of the Black Hussars was a bit on edge as he moved southwest to cross the Ohm River and secure a forward base at Grunberg. A roll of the dice determined that nothing unusual happened that day, so Bauer's task force rode into Grunberg without opposition. Since this was Day 2, a roll of 2 or less on one D6 would result in some kind of action or sighting of Gallian light troops.

A Short Geography Lesson
I don't know how to load maps into this blog, so bear with me as I describe the terrain over which this reconnaissance patrol is taking place. Picture, if you will, a four-sided diamond tipped on its side. The right most tip of the diamond is Fulda, where the Erbprinz Friedrich's army is stationed. Yes, this is the famous Fulda Gap where the Germanian army has been fending off the Gallians for over a year. At the left most tip of the diamond is the free city of Frankfurt. However, the Gallians have ensconced themselves in the town, uninvited of course, and have set up their forward base of operations for the campaign in western Germania. So Frankfurt Am Main is very important to the Gallian army.

In the middle of the diamond, one finds the mountain ridge known as the Vogelsberg. It is impassable, but patrols could probably scale its heights and use it as an observation point. The bottom part of the diamond is the main road from Fulda to Frankfurt. The upper part of the diamond is the longer route to Frankfurt. An army passing through here would have to cross several rivers along the way: the Schwaim and the Ohm and eventually the Neida, which flows forth from the Vogelsberg. However, this route is closer to Hesse Kasel which sort of provides protection for the right flank of any army traveling this route towards Frankfurt.

So Colonel Bauer's task force is travelling along the upper portion of the diamond, north of the Vogelsberg, and the larger cavalry screen is advancing along the lower portion of the diamond, south of the Vogelsberg.

Day Three: action at Gruningen
I rolled a 2 on the D6 so that meant that Bauer was finally going to run into Gallian patrols today. What would he see? A roll of 1-2 (cavalry), 3-4 (infantry) or 5-6 (both infantry and cavalry) on the olde D6 would decide the outcome. I rolled a 5, so both infantry and cavalry appeared on the table. I then rolled a D6 for each type of troop to see how many would appear. Odd resulted in one unit and Even resulted in two units. I rolled Odd for both so only one unit of light infantry (Chasseurs de Fischer) and one unit of hussars (Horvath Hussars) arrived on the table for the Gallians.

Sorry about the blurry picture, but it is the only one that I have that depicts the ambush that the Gallian light troops set up for the Germanians.

The Gallians were vastly outnumbered and had no intention of trying to fight it out against the Germanians. However, they did decide that an ambush was highly feasible in this situation. If you look at the blurry picture above, you can visualize how the ambush was set up. First, the Gallians sent a troop of irregular lancers up the road towards Gruningen to act as the bait for the trap. They were to lure the aggressive Germanians into a charge and then turn tail to the rear. Outside of the town, a ridge provided terrific cover for two squadrons of Horvath Hussars. The hussars were to wait until the Germanians chased the irregulars down the road and then they would charge them in the flank. To make things even tougher, half a company of Fischer Chasseurs hid themselves in the wooded area on the ridge, providing flank protection for the Horvath Hussars. The other company of chasseurs deployed in a woods that was at the bottom of the picture above (not shown). They would be in position to fire into the flank of the Germanians as they galloped down the road.

Chasseurs de Fischer from Front Rank Miniatures deploy in the woods north of the town and prepare to shoot into the flank of any passing Germanian troops.

The ambush is sprung: the first squadron of the Black Hussars chase the irregular lancers down the road. Then the Horvath Hussars charge from behind the ridge and hit the Germanian hussars in the flank. Foot chasseurs in the woods beyond pepper the Germanians with musket fire.

Germanian grenadiers move forward to take out the Gallian light infantry, who are forced to fall back. The supporting 2nd (white horses) and 3rd squadrons of the Black Hussars arrive and add their weight to the attack, causing the Horvath Hussars to fall back.

The Horvath Hussars retire from the field. They have done their job in delaying the Germanians and now it is time to bring their intelligence back to their own encampment.

The first squadron, von Arnim's, was chopped up rather nicely. It was fired on from one flank and charged into their right by the Horvath Hussars. The second squadron (white horses) rode up to assist their comrades and they lost a few troopers from the musketry of the Chasseurs de Fischer, hidden in the woods on the hill.

Once Bauer realized the extent of the ambush, he hurried up his grenadier battalion, sending half to the left and half to the right in order to root out the Gallian light infantry. The Chasseurs de Fischer were outnumbered and so they retired back into the woods and hills to avoid the Germanian cavalry. With the flanks secured by the grenadiers, Bauer then sent the third squadron of Black hussars forward into the cavalry fight. He held back the two squadrons of Zieten (Blue) hussars in Gruningen as a reserve, but they were not needed. His Gallian counterpart realized that he could do no more on this battleground, so the order was issued to retire and fall back towards Friedberg, on the road to Frankfurt, to report the presence of the Germanian light cavalry.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Nothing But A Misfire...

All is quiet in Alsfeld as Bauer's hussars depart for Gruningen.

As the shot rang out, the streets of Alsfeld were filled with pandemonium as the first troop of the Black Hussars scurried for cover. The second troop rode around the perimeter of the town and sealed off the exits from the town, but nary an enemy rider or foot soldier appeared. Gradually Captain von Arnim was able to restore order within the troop and it was ascertained that one of the troopers had dropped his muskatoon, causing it to accidently fire.

Colonel Bauer rode to the edge of town and conferred with von Arnim, listening to his report. Having decided that the town was cleared of hostile forces, the order was issued to encamp around the town for the evening. Von Arnim's squadron proceeded beyond the town (to the southwest) and established a picket line of 60 riders from the first troop of his squadron. The second troop dismounted and set up a road block on the outskirts of the town as a precaution.

The next morning, the task force saddled up and moved down the road towards Ruppertenrod, where they would cross the river Ohm. From there, they continued on towards Grunberg. Where were they heading? To Geissen perhaps, which was thought to be occuppied by Gallian troops, or further south in the direction of Frankfurt?

Campaign Notes
I want to thank everyone for the creative suggestions with regard to the origin of the musket shot. I settled the outcome with a D6 die. A roll of 1-2 was a misfire; 3-4 was a jager hunting in the woods; and a roll of 5-6 meant enemy forces were setting an ambush. Fortunately for Captain von Arnim, I rolled a "1", so it was merely a misfire.

For each day of the campaign, I begin by rolling a D6 die. If the roll is equal to the number of days on campaign or less, then enemy pickets will appear. The appearance of the enemy will trigger another die roll to determine whether it is a force of cavalry (1-2), light infantry (3-4) or both (5-6). Then a further die roll can be used to determine the number of infantry or cavalry units that are spotted. So on Day 1, I rolled a "1" on my D6 and so that set off an action of some type. As it turned out, it was merely a misfire. On the current Day 2, I rolled a "3" so no enemy forces were spotted. Thus Colonel Bauer's task force proceeded to Grunberg without being detected by Gallian pickets.

Things are likely to heat up tomorrow though, as I just rolled a "1" for my Day 3 die roll. Come back tomorrow to find out what Colonel Bauer saw.

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Incident At Alsfeld

The first troop/first squadron of HR5 gallops into Alsfeld hoping to surprise any enemy pickets that might be in the town. Stadden figures, HG Walls buildings, and Alte Fritz constructed road sections.

Colonel Bauer's advance guard departed from its base in Hersfeld yesterday and rode southwest in the direction of Alsfeld, on the Schwalm River. His force consisted of 3 squadrons of his own Black Hussars (HR5), 2 squadrons of the Zieten Hussars (HR2), 2 six-pound horse artillery guns, and the Heyden Grenadier Battalion (19/25).

Once the task force crossed the river, they would be leaving the friendly territory of the Landgraf of Hesse Kassel. Alsfeld is approximately 20 miles from Bauer's starting point and represented a full day's march for Bauer's little force. One would think that such a force could march faster, but the inclusion of the infantry would slow things down a little bit. That was all right to Bauer's way of thinking, because he did not want to attract attention to his little enterprise. He wanted the French to focus on the main cavalry screen that was fanning out from Fulda in the direction of Hanau and Frankfurt.

As Bauer's band approached Alsfeld, he directed the two squadrons of Zieten Hussars to head up river to a ford where they would cross the river and circle around behind the village of Alsfeld while his main body crossed the river at the town. Once Bauer was certain that the Zieten Hussars had crossed, he gave a nod to Captain von Arnim (commander of the first squadron), who then directed one troop of his squadron to gallop through the center of town while the second troop worked its way around the flank. If there were any enemy pickets in the town, then they would be caught in the three-pronged vice that was closing around the village.

The first troop spurred their horses forward and as they galloped into the town, a shot rang out out! What had happened? Stay tuned tomorrow for the rest of the story.

Monday, September 15, 2008

The Vedette

A vedette of Black Hussars leads the patrol into Gallian territory. Note the formed squadrons in the second rank providing support to the first squadron, which has deployed into open order to lead the advance.

The Erbprinz Friedrich has assembled his general staff at Schloss Seewaldt and plans are afoot for the new Autumn campaign into Gallian held territory within the Empire. The objective is the liberation of Frankfurt am Main from Gallian occupation. The capture of Frankfurt would be a severe blow to the Gallian war effort, as it is their most important base of supply and operations in the Empire.

With that objective in mind, the Erbprinz has ordered General von Zieten to throw out a heavy cavalry screen between Fulda (in Hesse Seewald territory) and Frankfurt. The Germanian army's light cavalry contingent outnumbers that of the Gallians, so the cavalry screen should be of sufficient size and depth to keep the Gallians away from the forward areas where the Germanian army will assemble. Hmm, thinks the Erbprinz, maybe next time the Gallians will spend more time painting light cavalry instead of devoting all of their painting resources to cannons and cuirassiers. Serves them right.

The heavy Germanian cavalry screen is designed to attract the attention of the Gallian army that defends the approaches to Frankfurt via the Fulda gap. This has been the main avenue of invasion by both armies, so it should not surprise the Gallians when they see increased light infantry and cavalry operating in this sector.

The forward encampment of Colonel Bauer's Black Hussars

While von Zieten is carrying out his duties, a second cavalry screen, under the command of Colonel Bauer of the Black Hussars, has been ordered to strike west from Hersfeld (on the Fulda River) to Ziegenhain. There it will cross the Schwalm and proceed to Kirchhain on the Ohm. This will position the advance guard to move on to its eventual objective, which I can not disclose at this point.

Monday, September 8, 2008

The Secret Regiment

Der Alte Fritz and his staff (from left to right: von Driessen, von Saldern, the portly Duke of Bevern, der Alte Himself, and his aide de camp von Katte) make preparations for the coming battle that will decide the fate of Europa.

The annual Old School Big Battalion game is fast approaching and der Alte Fritz is scurrying around getting things ready for this gala bash. The game will be played on October 11, 2008 at the Marriott Lincolnshire Resort in the suburbs of Chicago (Lincolnshire, Illinois).

The game preparations include such things as the scenario design, the recruiting of forces for the Gallian (French) and Germanian (Prussian) armies, terrain work, food (lunch and afternoon tea & coffee with snack), et cetera, et cetera. I am also finishing off a few figures for a couple of new units or building up the numbers of existing units for the coming battle. I am also working on (drum roll please) "the secret unit".

I can not reveal the identity of "the secret unit" just yet because the Gallian Colonel Enigma and his band of spies often lurk around the fringes of these parts. I can report that there is much concern and consternation inside the Gallian camp over the possible identity of (everyone, all together now "the secret unit"). Now it is entirely possible that this is nothing but some disinformation designed to discombobulate the Gallian camp. Or is it? Bwhahahaha!!!!

A not-so-secret-unit: CR13 Garde du Corps (standard bearer and red coated officer are from Foundry, the other figures are from Elite Miniatures).

Over the past few months I did add some more squadrons to the Prussian Garde du Corps, bringing them up to 45 figures organized into three squadrons of 15 figures each. They won their first battle honour at the battle of Der Rieterbrucke earlier in the year, when the captured the flags and kettledrums of the Saxon Rutowsky cheveau-legers. They won a second battle honour at this year's Seven Years War Association convention, which elevated them to "Elite" status in our BAR rules system. This makes them "bad to the bone" tough on the battlefield.

People have been asking me how I paint so fast. I guess that the answer is that (1) I simply enjoy painting and view the hobby as one of "painting" as much as it is of "wargaming", (2) I am motivated by the series of games that our group has at Chez Chevert in Brown Deer, Wisconsin, and (3) I endeavor to paint at least one hour per day. Sometimes things get so busy that I can't paint the requisite one hour per day, but Her Highness deigns to give me Saturday for painting, so often I am able to accomplish great things on the weekends. Basically, slow and steady wins the race. If you paint frequently, but in small batches, you will be amazed at how your painting output increases.

Well, I must get back to the painting table to work on the "you know what". Cheers!

Oh, and thank you everyone for all of the kind comments about this blog. I appreciate the comments that people leave on the web page and I encourage you to leave comments or questions. I always answer questions that readers leave in the comments section, except, of course, the identity of "the secret unit".