Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Siege of La Crenoil, by Charles S. Grant

Cover photo of Charles S. Grant's new book on his siege warfare and related campaign

Just before departing for Historicon a couple of weeks ago, I received a packet from the UK containing a copy of the latest work from the prolific pen of Charles S. Grant: The Siege of La Crenoil, Fleisher's Revenge and only now have I had an opportunity to look at the book in detail.

The purpose of the book, of course, is to guide the reader through the inner workings of how to conduct siege warfare on the table top and then tie it into the on-going war between the Grand Duchy of Lorraine and the Vereinigte Freie Stadt (or "VFS" for short). The thought of trying to replicate sieges on the war game table has always intimidated me to a degree, as I held the preconceived notion that such games are inherently complicated. Smack me on the side of the head for that, because Mr. Grant proves that siege games are easy to play and that there is a wealth of scenario ideas that can be played out on the tabletop that are both challenging and fun.

The frame work for the siege campaign lies in the mid 18th Century war between Lorraine and the VFS, circa 1754. The book picks up where the preceeding book, The Annexation of Chiraz left off. The Grand Duchy of Lorraine had spoiled the VFS's attempt to annex Chiraz and they then launched a counter-strike into the state of Wolfenbuttel (see Grant's book The Wolfenbuttel War ), leading to a humiliating defeat of the VFS. Now the leaders of the VFS are plotting their revenge which will see their army advancing into Lorraine territory to invest the key trading city of La Crenoil.

The book then lays out seven Table Top Teasers, all linked one to the previous TTT, which enables the game to string together an informal campaign that can be played out over time (weeks, months etc). The Teasers are all done in the usual Grantian manner or format, beginning with a brief background to place the scenario into a context, followed by a description of the terrain and tabletop layout, a description of the forces that are available to each side, and finally, a set of victory conditions for each side. Grant then follows up with a brief after action report of the scenario, which helps to convey to the reader how to play the scenario and how it might turn out.

TTT #1: The Run For The Fort sees General Fleischer leading a small strike force to cut off a Lorraine supply convoy before it can deliver its supplies to the soon to be invested city of La Crenoil.

TTT#2: Storming The Grammon Revelin has the VFS attempting a daring night attack on a key defensive position of the city's works and an escalade of the same.

TTT#3: Attack on the Siege Park finds the Lorraine forces mounting a daring raid on the VFS artillery park, with the hope of disrupting the timing of the VFS siege.

TTT#4: The Sally - Lorraine forces stage a raid on the nearly-completed VFS siege trenches, hoping to cause maximum damage to the entrenchments.

TTT#5: Storming the Breach (The Forlorn Hope) there is a practicable breach in the city's walls and a VFS forlorn hope force must attack the breach and gain a lodgement in the town so that the rest of the VFS army can storm the city.

TTT#6-V1: Fight Through the Town sees the final storming of the city by the VFS.

TTT#6-V2: Fight Through the Town is a variation of version 1.

The book concludes with some examples of how to wargame the siege and how to organize a simple  (i.e. easy to play) campaign that leads to the siege of the town.

Charles S. Grant illustrates his book with plenty of wonderful color pictures of the two armies in action, and I daresay that I am suitably impressed by the depth and detail of the armies that he has built up over the past 5 or so years. There are vignettes galore and unusual wargame units such as the La Crenoil Fire Brigade, the VFS pioneers and siege train forces. The book concludes with a glossary of siege terms (something that I find very helpful) and a pictorial section featuring some of the famous leaders of both armies, such as the VFS leaders General Fritz von Tarlenheim, Brigadier General Pottsdorf, General Fleischer, Brigadier von Sprackel and of course, the Margrafin von Wolfenbuttel-Oldenburg (otherwise known as "Tutzie"). The Lorrain leaders include General Count Chambrey, Major General Louis Reynaud and Colonel Remy Martin.

As you might guess, I am very impressed with this book and am glad to include it in my collection of wargame books. You can never go wrong with a book produced by the Family Grant and this one should provide hours of fun and reading and/or playing entertainment for you. Now, I had better start getting to work on my entrenchment terrain pieces so that I can start the business of trying out one of these siege games.


  1. I've been casting covetous eyes at the playing the siege as a map game section.

  2. I have only played a siege game, an XVIII Century siege, in fact, and it was a great experience. Very interesting book, I think.

  3. I sadly I agree with you re TMP. There is a viscous underbelly loose on there that some good moderation would sort out quickly. However it's been going on for a long time.

    More power to you blog! I love it.

  4. This series of books is on my current shopping list. I have always been facinated by sieges and there is an interesting Osprey book on Vauban fortifications which is worth a read as a starter. Also if you are ever in Paris, at the Invalides military museum, tucked away on a top floor there are some amazing relief models of whole towns/ Vauban forts etc. It is well worth a visit.


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  7. Dave: I moved (copied) your comment to the Boycotting TMP thread where it belongs. I want to keep Mr. Grant's book review with comments about that instead of about TMP issues.