Thursday, October 18, 2018

Testing the Dervish Again

The Camel Corps in close quarters melee with the Dervish army.


Wednesday evening we played the first of three games in our Mafrica Campaign. Each game leads to a follow on game until we reach our objective, which is Omdurman in the Mafrica version of the Sudan. Our games are designed to be short 2 hour games that we can play on weekday evenings. 

We are using 54mm toy soldiers as our figures. The majority of the figures are from the Britains "War Along the Nile" range of figures, as well as some John Jenkins Designs figures and some Armies In Plastic figures. I also use a few of my Trophy Miniatures Navy Gatling Gun crews.

Royal Navy sailors disembark from the transport ship.

The Camel Corps deploys on the left...
...while the Royal Marines deploy on the right...

...and two companies of e Gordon Highlanders have moved inland and established a fortified camp.

The commander of the isolated outpost sends a message back to the landing area:
"Dervish warbands are massing to our front. Expect attack momentarily. Require help. Urgent!"

The Camel Corps move forward under the watchful eye of Major Edwards.

Royal Navy sailors prolong their Gatling Gun forward to help the Gordons.

The Dervish and their Hadandowah allies mass in front of the outpost.

Here they come!
The Gordons are in a bit of a pickle as the Dervish manage to breach the walls of the kraal. Off in the distance the Marines are marching to the sound of the guns, but have to stop and deal with some rifle-armed Hadendawah

The Gordons defend the stone kraal against the Dervish charge.

The first wave of the Hadendowah close quickly and reach the stone wall.

It becomes a desperate hand to hand fight as the Dervish get inside the kraal.

More of the foes reach the other side of the kraal and get ready to leap over the wall!

As so often happens in a game, one player is so absorbed in his own problems that he can't pay much attention to what is going on at the other end of the table. I commanded the Camel Corps regiment - four companies in all. Another warband of natives were headed my way.

Some skirmishers are sent ahead of the brigade to see what is happening in the brush. Dangerous work!

The presence of the Royal Navy Gatling Gun helps to calm the nerves of the men.

Camel Corps firing line calmly awaits the charge.

Major Edwards shouts the order: "fire!"

The natives rush towards the Camel Corps' zariba.

They close in front of the zariba where the thin blue line awaits.

The Hadendowah win the first round of melee and push the Camel Corps back aways, but then two more companies  charge in and hit the natives in the flank

The Hadandowah lose the melee as they are vastly outnumbered by the Camel Corps now. However, they refuse to rout and melt back into the brush.

 How did the battle turn out?

Well, we won't know for awhile as time ran out on our two hour wargame. The Gordons somehow managed to hold their ground at the kraal, albeit with fewer men than they had at the start of the game. It looked like the Royal Marines were within a turn's move of relieving the Gordons. On the other side of the field, the Camel Corps fended off the natives with only 6 casualties (and some very good saving throws by Major Edwards).

More Dervish warriors were reassembling near the kraal and looking for any excuse to charge again, but we all deemed that they would likely retire in some semblence of good order and live to fight another day.

So I guess that it was a slight British victory in that they would have been able to rescue the beleagured Gordon Highlanders. Accordingly, this will generate Game #2 of the Mafrica Campaign at some date in the near future.

We used the 19th Century variation of the Batailles dans 'Ancien Regime (or BAR) which worked very well for the British Colonial era. Some of the variations include a rapid fire factor of +6 for the Imperials (but they could only have a maximum of 4 volley fires like this - determined by the roll of a D4), and a "Fanatical Native" bonus of +2 in melee and +1 for Saving throws. As a consequence, the Hadandowah  saved on a die roll of anything but a 1 or a 2. This made them extremely had to put down. This was kind of offset by "The 10% Rule" which requires the natives to roll a D6 to see if they will fall back or stay in the fight. This saved the British' bacon a number of times over the course of the game.

Finally, it was a lot of fun to use the large 54mm toy soldiers for our game. The figures are exquisitely detailed and they photograph quite nicely, as you can see from the pictures in this blog posting.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Battle of Hochkirch - 260th Anniversary Today

Hochkirch church and the Alter Fritz pub.
Photo taken by me in 1994.

Well, October 14, 1758 was a very bad day for the Prussian king Frederick II. The Austrian general Daun launched a six-prong attack on the Prussian position from multiple directions, or "converging columns" as Christopher Duffy likes to call it. The battle of Hochkirch was a devastating loss for the Prussians as they lost over 9,000 of their 30,000 man army. The Austrians outnumbered the Prussians by nearly three to one.

Looking at the map of the battle below, observe how columns of infantry and cavalry (O'Donnel, Loudon, Main Army - Daun, Wiese and Colloredo) are converging on the Prussian right flank that rests on the town of Hochkirch. There was another large column, commanded by Arenberg, that is off map, just to the right up the "L-shaped" Prussian lines in the upper righthand corner of the map.

Battle of Hochkirch map by Christopher Duffy
"The Army of Frederick the Great" 2nd Edition.

I have posted a number of pictures that I took during the 2016 Christopher Duffy tour of Frederician battlefield sites. I have tried to identify where each picture is relative to the map above. I had previously visited Hochkirch in 1994 on another tour with Christopher Duffy. Enjoy the photo tour of the battlefield and be sure to click or double click onto each picture to enlarge the image.

Daun and the main portion of the Austrian army approached from south of the village.

Entry into Hochkirch from Loudon's position in the South East corner of the map.

The high ground in this picture is approximately at the position of the artillery fleches
that are shown on the map just south of Hochkirch

Charles Grant (pointing) directs the attention of Tod Kershner, Jude Becker and Christian Rogge
(from right to left of Charles). They are standing near the site of the
 artillery fleche that is closest to the town on our map.

Christopher Duffy and friends stand inside the churchyard.

Sign outside of the Alter Fritz gasthaus.

A view of the wall that surrounds the Hochkirch church. The two gentlemen in front of the wall
provide a sense of the size and height of the wall.

Christopher Duffy and Jim Mitchel pose in front of the church. To the right of them is the start of the Blutgasse where much of the in-town fighting occurred. This picture was taken by me in 1994.

Major Langern of the IR19 Margraf Karl regiment defended the church yard until they ran out of ammunition. The survivors attempted to break out through the gate shown in the picture (now known as Langern's Gate), but they were slaughtered by the waiting Austrians. The flow of their blood gave rise to the street being call the "Blutgasse."

The Alter Fritz pub was closed-out of business in 2016. We ate lunch here and drank Rex Pils beer in the 1994 trip.

Looking north from Hochkirch towards the Prussian left flank at Rodewitz.

The town of Hochkirch and the battlefield site are still in near-pristine condition. However, it is evident that developers are building many new houses on the outskirts of the town and will soon encroach on the battlefield. The difference in the site from my first visit in 1994 to my recent visit in 2016 is like night and day - not good.

Friday, October 12, 2018

Austrian Firing Line & Other Things

Austrian Regiment Lacy Firing Line


I completed the basing of the Austrian firing line that I posted HERE several days ago and thought that I would show off the unit with its finished bases. I think that the battalion Lacy turned out rather nicely.

As you may recall, I used the Fife & Drum AWI Hessian musketeers in firing line poses for the figures and simply painted them with Austrian white coats and red facings. Then I finished them off with flags from GMB Designs.

Side view of the battalion

Prussian Gohr (11/14) Grenadiers Work in Progress

Grenadiers from the IR11 von Below Prussian regiment.

More of the von Below grenadiers
My next project on the painting table is one of the Prussian grenadier battalions that served in the East Prussia and Pommerian areas of the Prussian realm. I have completed the 16 grenadiers for half of the battalion - IR11 von Below. I have started the grenadiers from IR14 von Lehwaldt which comprise the other half of the battalion.

I should have these done by next week.


Friday, October 5, 2018

Types of the SYW Russian Army

Russians (left) versus Prussians (right) at the Battle of Zorndorf.
This scenario was fought at the Seven Years War Association convention in March 2018.

Click on all pictures to enlarge the view.

 suppose that a number of my blog readers are getting tired of me posting pictures of SYW Russians on the blog, but because they are a new figure range under the Minden Miniatures umbrella, I am going to be "Russia Oriented" for quite awhile. So please bear with me.

Why I like the Russian Army
I can think of a number of reasons to like the Russian army, starting with the fact that the Russians were one of Frederick the Great's primary opponents - and Frederick never defeated the Russians. That in its own right should be enough to have a Russian army in your SYW figure collection.

Second, the battles versus the Russians generate some very good wargaming scenarios: Gross Jagersdorf in 1757, Zorndorf in 1758, and Kunersdorf in 1759. Paltzig (or Kay) does not make for a very even scenario unless you simply enjoy slaughtering the Prussians. As an added bonus, you could even have the Russians switching sides and joining the Prussian army in a Silesian scenario. For a brief period of time, during the reign of Peter III, Prussia and Russia were allies.

Third, the great variety and diversity of troop types that were in the Russian army. And might I add, they had some colorful, if not downright gorgeous, uniforms that are fun to paint. You can have an army that includes grenadiers and musketeers wearing either their green coats or their summer uniforms that consisted of the long sleeved red waistcoat. You can add the Observation Corps - infantry that wear cavalry boots. The Russian cavalry establishment has cuirassiers, horse grenadiers, dragoons, hussars and COSSACKS! My favorite cavalry are the horse grenadiers with their grenadier mitres. And of course, anytime you think about a Russian army, you have to include the exotic Cossacks into the equation.

Fourth, in a word: artillery, artillery, artillery and even more artillery. I really like the variety of cannon in the Russian artillery establishment. You have the Shuvulov ("Secret") howitzers with thei rconical bore, you have the unicorns in various sizes and weights, common variety smooth bore 3/6/12 pounders, and finally, a wide variety of huge howitzers of the regular variety. If you like artillery, then you've got to have a SYW Russian army.

Russian Musketeers

Russian Musketeers in regulation green coats.

Russian Musketeers in Summer Waistcoats

Russian mounted infantry officer

Russian line grenadiers and musketeers in summer waistcoats
Note that the Russian officers, NCOs and musicians wore their green coat in all seasons. So in the Summer, a battalion of musketeers would have the rank and file wearing red waistcoats, but the officers, standard bearers, NCOs and drummers would be wearing green coats.

Russian Grenadiers

The Russian army had both regular standing grenadier regiments and sometimes there were ad hoc grenadier battalions created by drawing off the grenadier companies of the line musketeer regiments and converging them into battalions.

Russian Grenadiers in regulation green coats

Russian Grenadiers in Summer waistcoats.

Russian grenadiers are particularly spectacular to look at with their brass-copper miter plates and the unusual rear flap that covered their necks. Think of them as the first people to turn their caps around in hip hop style, well ahead of their time.

Russian Observation Corps

Peter Shuvulov created his own personal army called the Observation Corps, whose original function was to provide a guard for the artillery. The rank and file were recruited from the garrison regiments, supposedly the best of the worst troops. The OC grew into an establishment of 4 musketeer regiments and one grenadier regiment, so it was quite large. The OC battalions were often supported by the exotic Shuvulov howitzers, which were employed as battalion guns.

Like the regular line infantry, the Observation Corps rank and file fought all of their battles during the Summer campaign season, so they discarded their heavy green coats, leaving them at the baggage park, and then fighting in their red long sleeved waistcoats.

Observation Corps Grenadiers

Observation Corps musketeers

Russian Artillery

Russian artillery battery with limbers and munitions wagons.
Russian 6-lb (left) and 12-pd (right) cannon with artillery crew in either firing or loading poses.

Russian howitzers: 10-pd unicorn (left) and Shuvulov Howitzer (right)

Russian Line Cavalry

The Russian regular cavalry was probably the weak link in the army, able to mount only 7,000 men across 14 regiments ( 5 cuirassier, 5 horse grenadier, and 4 dragoon ). While the regiments in theory had 5 squadrons, the number of squadrons per regiment was usually 2 or 3 squadrons. The cavalry was further handicapped by its lack of suitable horses. Indeed, three of the five cuirassier regiments were not issued with cuirasses and the dragoon regiments were generally just bad. The hussar regiments were considered "irregular cavalry" but they were deemed to be superior to the regular cavalry regiments.
Russian Horse Grenadiers
(RSM heads on Minden torsos, with Minden horses)

Russian Cuirassiers (Minden conversions)

Russian Dragoons (Minden conversions)

Russian Hussars (using Minden Austrian hussars)
Horvath Hussars (left) and Gruzinski Hussars (right)


Russian Cossacks (RSM miniatures on Minden horses)

Russian/Cossack supply wagon (Perry Miniatures)

Russian Generals

Russian General Fermor and his division officers.

Russian officer vignette
(various Minden figures simply painted green to convert into Russians)
I hope that reading this blog post will encourage SYW wargamers to take another look at the Russian army and give due consideration to painting and collecting their own armies. I have included pictures of some of the Minden Russian army figures so as to give readers a visual idea of what the Russian soldiers looked like.