Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ten Years of Blogging - Anniversary

Lady Emma versus Lord Paddington in one of our Teddy Bear games.

It nearly escaped my notice that on August 28, 2007 I created the Der Alte Fritz Journal and published my first post. Accordingly, I have recently hit the Ten Year Anniversary of this blog, which is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself... and I do say so.

I was checking out some of the statistics that Blogger keeps for my blog and it indicates that there have been 1,133,081 visitors since its inception and 1,068 posts have been made to this blog, or an average of 107 posts per year, or approximately one every 3 or 4 days. It has always been my goal to post 100 threads or more to this blog each year. There's no particular reason for one hundred as the magic number, but it just seems like a good target to reach for each year.

Teddy Bear Wars with my daughter: probably the most popular posts on my blog.
The Winner!

The Grumpy old loser!

When I started the blog back in August 2007, we were still in mesmerization of Old School wargaming and the creation of imaginery states in the 18th Century, or "Imaginations". The Old School fad seems to have run its course, but a number of war gamers continue to be influenced by the likes of Peter Young, Charles Grant Sr., Don Featherstone and Jack Scruby. I do not include Peter Gilder in the Old School ranks, but he has certainly left his mark on the hobby and continues to influence it too.

Some Thank Yous
I want to thank Greg Horne and Stokes Schwartz for giving me the nudge to start this blog. I wouldn't have done it had they not blazed the trail of wargame blogging. Another shout out goes to Henry Hyde for his help in some of the technical aspects of blogging and social media. Henry's Battlegames magzine seemed to bring everything together into an enjoyable read every other month. I miss Battlegames, but I would imagine that Henry is happy to escape the hectic, never ending pace of monthly or quarterly publications. I know that it eventually burned me out after seven years of publishing the Seven Years War Association Journal back in the 1990s.

I also thank my war gaming partner in crime, Bill Protz, for all of his encouragement and sharing of ideas on gaming with an emphasis on the socializing aspect of wargaming. Bill created his set of big battalion (1:10 figure ratio) rules, called "Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime" or "BAR" for short. Bill and I have crossed swords, figuratively, on the field of Mars as his Gallia (France) and my Germania (Prussia) nations fought all over Europe in the 18th Century and continue to do so to this day.

I would also reach out to Hal Thinglum, who published MWAN for many years and provided inspiration for my blogging efforts. Bill and Hal are two of the nicest people that you could ever hope to meet in this hobby. Their courtesy towards others, a belief that there is no such thing as a bad wargamer, their enthusiasm for the hobby and their belief that war gaming should be fun are standards that I have tried to adopt to my own efforts on my blog, my wargaming forum, and in my personal encounters with people at games and wargame conventions. It is one thing to call yourself a gentleman, and quite another to actually be one.

Some Benefits
One of the great bonuses of blogging and the internet is the number of people that I have met (both in person and in a virtual manner over the internet) in all corners of the world. I have the feeling that I could travel all over the world and find a place to meet one of my blog readers and to have a game or just sit down and have a drink and talk our brains out over wargaming.

A recent example of this the annual wargame weekend in Kenilworth, UK that is an outgrowth of the A Military Gentleman forum. The event started as a gathering of the AMG members in 2015 and continued in 2016 and 2017. With a number of book purchasers of AMG getting kicked out of the forum for God knows what reasons, the conclave in Kenilworth has morphed into its own enterprise that is independent of AMG. I had the opportunity to attend in both 2015 and 2017 and really enjoyed the opportunity to meet, in person, the many people who I have come to know in a "virtual" way over the internet as acquaintences or Fife & Drum/Minden customers.

And Then Along Came Fife & Drum
I never dreamed that I would ever get involved in the hobby from the business angle. That all came out of left field one day in 2010 when my nephew, Alex, let me know that he had been in contact with Richard Ansell about commissioning a range of American Revolution or AWI figures done in a style similar to that of the Minden Miniatures range, created by Richard as a private enterprise of Frank Hammond, for his own SYW collection.

I had no idea that one could start a figure range by commissioning a sculptor to create the figures for oneself, assuming that all figure sculptors only made figures for their own figure range companies. Later I realized that many sculptors do this for a living and are in the business of finding commission work.

So being an admirer of the figures that Richard was then making for Frank's Minden range (and having bought and painted a lot of Mindens) and liking anything that had to do with the 18th Century,  it didn't take much of a push from Alex for me to jump head first into the waters of the miniatures business. Oh dear, what was I thinking?

So we established the Fife & Drum Miniatures figure company to produce 1/56 scale AWI figures. I quickly learned that producing and selling miniature wargame figures involves a lot of time, effort and work. It is not something that one just does on a lark. I found that the business was consuming nearly all of my spare hobby time and then some. Mrs. Fritz was not particularly happy about the time commitment, but we were eventually able to work out some accomodations in this area; thank goodness!

A part of the business is the research that is required to build the figure range. I had not studied the American Revolution in quite a number of years, so while I knew more about it than the average American, I quickly realized that there was a lot of the history that I did not know. As a result, my library of military history books grew exponentially as I acquired every AWI military history book that I could get my hands on. I don't claim to be an expert these days, but I certainly know a lot more about the American Revolution than I did before starting the F&D venture.

Followed by Minden Miniatures
In 2013, I had the opportunity to acquire the Minden Miniatures SYW figure range and closed the deal with Frank. The Minden figures were (and still are) my favorite wargame miniatures of all time and so I was excited to bring them under the wing of Fife & Drum Miniatures. Talk about time commitments, this probably tripled the amount of time that I was devoting to the business. Yet somehow, I was able to keep on blogging, painting and to a lesser extent, gaming.

I quickly realized that this enterprise was morphing into a full time business and that I needed to do a number of logistical things to transfer F&D/Minden from a hobby to a business. This included things such as setting up an internet page for on-line ordering, creation of logos and marketing pieces, and most importantly, inventory management and financial record keeping. I am retired now and have the time needed to run a figure business, but there is still much work to be done to professionalize the business (which in turn, makes it easier to handle the business side of the enterprise).

While it can be hard work and very time consuming (something to think long and hard about if you every get the bee in your bonnet to enter the commercial market for figures), there are a number of gratifying aspects, chief among these being the customer relationship that I have developed with wargamers all over the world. My local post office looks at me in dread whenever I walk in with a tray full of packages, hoping that they are not all international deliveries. The paper work for customs forms is time consuming as they have to enter all of the information at their terminals. However, I have worked out some protocols with my post office friends, who know me on a first name basis now.

Creating the Fife and Drum Minis Forum
In February of this year, I took the step of creating a talk forum to promote the Fife & Drum and Minden Miniatures figure ranges. Another forum objected to me posting pictures of my figures on their forum, which I can understand. So I decided that having my own forum with my own rules of conduct, etc. would be a good idea.

If you are interested in checking out the fifeanddrumminis forum, then click on the link below and give it a look - no obligation to join:

Fife and Drum Minis Forum

The forum quickly morphed from a My Figures site to something that has taken on a life of its own, relative to talking about anything that has to do with 18th Century military history. I like the direction that the forum has taken and encourge members to post pictures of their projects, regardless of which figures they are using. And best of all, there are no rules on my forum -- you won't get black balled for lurking (an internet term for reading the threads, but not actively participating in the conversation) or not making enough posts each month.

What Is Next?
So what does the future hold? I don't know, probably more of the same because I still enjoy blogging and posting pictures of my toy soldier collection and the after action reports of their battles. My interests include periods such as the Late Roman, Hundred Years War, War of the Roses, Great Northern War, WAS-SYW, AWI, Napoleonics, ACW and 19th Century Colonials (particularly the Sudan), so there is no dearth of topics that I can touch on this blog.

The Management.
I would imagine that in 2027, God willing and I am still breathing, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of blogging. What with the rapid rate of technology advances, there could well be something that replaces the internet and blogging. Whatever it is, I shall be doing it too.

Finally, I want to thank my many readers for your continued support of my blog. Your participation, both the lurking and comments type, give me a lot of inspiration and I enjoy the relationships that I have developed with so many of you over the years.

I am having so much FUN DOING THIS!!!

Cheers and best regards,


Monday, September 25, 2017

Battle of Reichenberg Report

Austrian brigade of General Beck marches through the woods.

I fought the Battle of Reichenberg from the 1762 campaign around Schweidnitz today. For convience, please click on this link  Here  to my blog thread that describes the historical background and purpose of the battle of Reichenbach. 

I played the battle as a solo game, but it should really be played with three players on each side. The scenario is largely focused on the action between the Austrian flanking column of Beck versus the Prussian army of Bevern. The game reached a definite conclusion in eight turns.

Please click on each picture to enlarge the view. You can even double click each picture for an even larger view.

Map illustrating the 3 attack columns of Beck's corps.

One feature of the scenario is the existence of a mixed force of Austrian dragoons (2 squadrons) and infantry (two battalions) that are positioned at Ober-Peilau in the map above. This force never attacked, but they caught the attention of the Prussians, who couldn't simply move all of their infantry to counter Beck's flanking movement. The Prussians, of course, do not know that these are "dummy troops", but undoubtedly they will figure it out during the course of the game.

I also placed two Austrian batteries of artillery off table and had them firing at long range at the Prussian forces deployed on the Fischer-Berg and Spittel-Berg. The Austrians needed a die roll of "1" on a D10 since the Prussians were in prepared earthworks. The Prussian artillery could hit the Austrian artillery on a die roll of "2" on a D10, since the Austrian artillery was deployed in the open.

Austrian brigades of St. Ignon (cavalry) and Simbschen (infantry) demonstrate in front of the Prussian line. They are a decoy and never engage in the battle.

Prussian redoubt atop the Fischer-Berg.

The Fight for the Girls-Berg
The second (middle) of Beck's three columns was a mixed force of Grenadiers, Croats and a small 3-pound cannon, given the task of capturing the high ground known as the Girls-Berg. This feature had a commanding view of the Prussian deployment on the Fischer-Berg and the Spittle-Berg and a cannon atop the summit would have enfilading fire on the Prussian defenses.

Bevern had posted a single battalion of the von Diericke Fusilier Regiment (IR49/1) on the Girls-Berg, figuring that one battalion would be sufficient to defend this difficult ground. The second battalion of the regiment was posted between the Girls-Berg and the Fischer-Berg and it could easily march to support its sister battalion if any trouble brewed.
The Austrian Grenadier battalion was on the left and the Croat Ottocaner battalion was on the right. The 3-pounder was posted on the left flank of the Grenadiers. The assault commenced immediately on Turn One. Meanwhile, Beck would march the remainder of his column through the woods that was behind the Prussians (they had to wait until Turn Four before they could be placed on the table.
Turn Four: A desperate struggle to control the key Girls-Berg position.

The lone Prussian fusilier battalion held its own against twice its number. The two sides commenced firing at one another on Turn Two, when the Grenadiers inflicted four hits on the Fusiliers, who passed their morale test. The Prussian fusiliers fired back and their volley caused the Croats to go Shaken, forcing them to fall back half a move.

The Prussian fusiliers took three more hits on Turn Three and managed to pass their morale test yet again. Meanwhile, the second battalion of fusiliers was marching as fast as they could to help their commrades defend the Girls-Berg.

Action on the Girls-Berg
Both sides traded musket fire over the next three turns, taking terrible casualties, but neither side faltered. Finally, on Turn Seven, the first battalion of the fusiliers decided that it was time to settle the issue with the bayonet, so they charged the unformed Croats and routed them off the Girls-Berg. While this was going on, the fresh second battalion was cutting up the Austrian Grenadiers, who still managed to hold the summit of the hill.

Beck's Austrian Column Attacks the Prussian Rear.
I measured the distance from the table edge to the point where the Austrian march through the woods would bring them to the point where they could roll out of the woods and attack the Prussian rear. Since infantry moves at half speed through the woods, it would have taken about 10 turns for Beck's contingent to arrive in position. So I arbitrarily decided that they could arrive on the table on Turn Four. However, the Austrian regulars (3 battalions) would be required to emerge from the woods in a column of march, before they could deploy into line formation. The unformed Croats (2 battalions) could do what they pretty darn well pleased whilst in the woods - afterall, they are light troops.

On Turn 4, Beck's corps finally emerges from the woods after a difficult march around the rear of the Prussian deployment.
The overhead view of the battle on Turn Four is shown in the picture below. You can see that one Prussian musketeer battalion, in line formation, is moving towards the threat while a column of grenadiers closes in on the Austrians.

An overhead view of the battlefield at the time that Beck arrives. Two Prussian battalions can be seen marching towards the woods to confront Beck's attack.

Beck's troops sortied out of the woods on Turn Four, and did so before any Prussian infantry could contest the move, thus the Austrian regulars were able to form a battle line without paying the price for being fired at whilst in column formation. The fighting in this area was in a low lying marshy area called the Schober-Grund.

The following overhead view of the battlefield defines the geographical features of the terrain. Please click or double click the picture to enlarge the view.

Overhead view of the battle field from the Girls-Berg fight at the bottom and heading through the Schober-Grund at the top, as Beck's corps emerges from the woods to attack the Prussian rear.

On or around Turn Six, the Prussian commander realized that his infantry had a decided advantage over the Croats if they should happen to cross bayonets in a melee. Formed versus unformed troops in melee gives the formed unit a major advantage (i.e. they need 9's or less on a D10) while the unformed unit is at a major disadvantage (needing a 2 or less on a D10). In other words, the formed unit is virtually an automatic winner of the melee. Indeed, the Croats got too close to some Prussian grenadiers, who promptly charged them and slaughtered them in the melee. The Croats had the good fortune of failing their morale test so that they could run away from the Prussians.

The Croats are about to find themselves on the business end of quite a few Prussian bayonets.

Thus one battalion of the Kremzow Grenadiers (17/22) charged some brown-coated Croats from the front while the Wedell Grenadiers (1/23) hit them in the flank, which vaporized the unfortunate Croats. The Kremzow Grenadiers then engaged one of the Hungarian Nikolas Esterhazy battalions in a firefight.

While that was going on, the Wedell Grenadiers continued to advance through the woods in a two stand wide attack column (I only allow this formation for grenadiers in my rules) and tumbled into a battalion of blue-coated Croats. The outcome repeated itself and the Croats scampered away from the battlefield. The Wedell Grenadiers now found themselves behind the Austrian battle line! So on Turn Eight they turned facing, reformed and charged into the rear of the Nikolas Esterhazy battalion, which they destoyed.

The charge of the Wedell Grenadiers into the rear of the Nikolas Esterhazy battalion.  This effectively decided the game for the Prussians.

At this point, General Beck could see that any further fighting was pointless, as he was down to two battalions of regulars facing off against twice his number in the Schober-Grund. On the Girls-Berg, his grenadier battalion was still fighting it out with the two battalions of the von Diericke fusiliers. Beck tipped his tricorn to the Prussian commander and retired from the field. It was a Prussian victory that played out closely to the historical action.

Battle lines are drawn in the marshy Schober-Grund, prior to the destruction of the Esterhazy battalion, shown in the lower left side of the above picture.

Special mention and battle honours should go out to the Wedell Grenadiers for their three melee victories, the von Diericke fusiliers for holding onto the Girls-Berg, and the Bayreuth Dragoons, who carved their way through the Austrian cavalry (see cavalry melee section below).

Brentano's and Lacy's corps never arrive at the front of the Prussian line, as they were supposed to do, leaving Beck hanging out to dry in the Schober-Grund. For this reason, I did not use any infantry troops to represent the other two Austrian corps.

Historically, Brentano and Lacy didn't attack because they feared that their left flanks would be over run by Prussian cavalry. The great cavalry melee between O'Donnell's Austrian cuirassiers and Lentulus' Prussian dragoons was played out as a separate scenario for the overall battle of Reichenbach (see story line below).

The Cavalry Battle
I am not going to go into the details of the large cavalry melee that occured on the Prussian right flank (Austrian left flank), but will let the picture captions tell the story. The Austrian cavalry, commended by O'Donnell, had 6 squadrons of cuirassiers. The Prussian cavalry of Lentulus had 6 squadrons of heavy dragoons and 1 squadron of hussars. So the two sides were relatively even, although the Austrians had better melee cavalry since they all were cuirassiers.

Prussian cavalry doctrine calls for cuirassiers in the first line, dragoons in the second line, and light hussars in the third line.
The Prussian cavalry quickly gained the upper hand as the two sides thundered closer and closer to each other across the flat farm fields. As they both neared charging distance, the Prussians drew the first movement initiative and their charge caught the Austrians at the halt, giving the Prussians an advantage in the first round of the melee.

Since cavalry do nothing but melee, this part of the battle was over at the end of Turn Four. The Austrians lost 38 figures compared to only 18 lost for the Prussians. Despite the first round advantage for the Prussians, it was poor Austrian dice rolling that did them in.

In my rules, melees only last three rounds, at which point both surviving (i.e. not routing or shaken) sides will retire a full move back towards their own lines to reform.

The grand cavalry melee on the right flank of the Prussian battle line.

The Prussian dragoons gave the Austrians a good thrashing, as you can see in the disparity of remaining figures in the picture below. Since this was a solo game, I didn't see the need to keep fighting the cavalry melee as the Austrians would likely have been wiped out in another three rounds of melee.

Historically, the Austrian cavalry was giving the Prussian cavalry a hard time, until King Frederick arrived at the head of a large contingent of cuirassiers, hussars and Bosniak lancers, which tipped the scales in the Prussians' favor.

The Prussians decisively win the cavalry melee and then both sides retire back to their lines as melees only last three turns in my rules.

The end (or is it?).

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Basing Solution?

Prussian fusilier regiment Prinz Heinrich - IR35 using the proposed new basing method.

Recall that a couple of weeks ago I was pondering some solutions to my basing of SYW figures, with the aim of getting the figures closer together than I have been doing with my present collection. Currently, I use five stands measuring 40mm by 60mm with the flags on the middle stand. 

Some have criticized my basing for having the individual figures a little too far apart, rather than shoulder to shoulder...and this is OK because all feedback is good.

Part of the reason for my current system is to have some space on the edges of the stand so that it can be picked up with someone's fingers haphazzardly mashing the muskets and bayonets of my figures.

Here is a unit using my existing basing system of five 40mm by 60mm stands. Admittedly the figures are not exactly shoulder to shoulder, but I like them and I don't plan on rebasing my entire Prussian and Austrian armies,.

With that in mind, I experimented with a tighter appearance for the battalion, using two 40mm by 60mm stands and two 40mm by 80mm stands. The larger stands were put on the ends of the battalion line. These stands had 8 rank and file soldiers and then one drummer who was offset from the rest of the battalion. The 40mm by 60mm stands had 8 figures on one of them and on the command stand there were 6 figures. This was done to keep the size of the battalion down, because I was now increasing the battalion from 30 to 32 figures.

One of the issues with my suggested system of four stands 40mm by 80mm was that this placed the flags a little bit off center when all of the stands were drawn up in a line. So I pondered this for awhile and hit on the idea of going back to four 40mm by 60mm stands and then one smaller stand in the center that would hold the two flags, an officer and a drummer or NCO.

This picture compares the new proposed system with the old proposed system. Note the addition of the extrea base in the center to hold the two flags, keeping them in the center of the line.

So this is where I am today. One other note, I may increase the unit size to 34 figures so as to place one more soldier on each of the two end stands, filling up a hole created by offsetting the drummer out onto the flank.

What do you think, dear readers? I would like to hear your opinions before I start gluing figures to bases. I only want to do this basing one time. LOL.

Friday, September 15, 2017

De Cluttering the Closet O' Lead

The Dumpster: the contents of a 20 foot long dumpster after a week's worth of throwing things out.

With the Heiress off to college and having lots of time on my hands, I thought that now was a good time to start decluttering the house and throwing things away. So I hired a 20-foot long dumpster and parked in my driveway for a week and filled it with things in the garage and basement that were either never used or not currently needed. I used the one year rule: if it hadn't been used over the past year, then I would throw it away.

Once this part of the project was finished, it was on to decluttering the dreaded Closet O' Lead, which was a disasterous mess.

The "Before" picture. It's almost embarrasing to show this.
As you can see, the room was a complete mess and it was getting difficult to find things. The righthand side was full of wargame armies in the long plastic bins, and lots of unpainted figures that I've collected over the past dozen years, and never used.

The lefthand side shelves hold my Minden and Fife & Drum inventory. The pile of bags on the floor are from a new shipment of castings from Griffin Moulds that need to be put away. The grey double box thingy is my indoor paint spraying booth (note the fan on the left side). I only use this on days that are too humid, so as not to get Fuzzy Primed Figures. The back table, now cleared, held my workbench, which was never used because it was too small and I didn't like working in a cave.

My plan was to put a new shipping and packing table inside the Closet O' Lead so that I could be closer to the figure inventory of Minden and Fife & Drum figures. I did a little measuring and found that I could put the 6-foot packing table in the room while still having space for the four other shelves that hold my painted figures and unpainted castings for project.

The problem is that one can't move the shelves with all of that lead weight, so I had to remove EVERYTHING from all four shelves. That was an exhausting chore in and of itself. I was reluctant to do it, but once I pitched into the work, it went fairly fast.

First I had to remove all of the boxes of figures from each shelf so that I could move them around.

Next, I started the assembly of the work table. I bought the 6-foot table from ULine and they delivered it this morning. I had ordered the attractive maple top and this weighed a ton. I had to put it on a hand cart and carry it around to the front door. At this point, it was a two-person job and so Mrs. Fritz helped me to pick of the table and nudge it through the front door and into the hallway. We slid the table on a rug, which was Mrs. Fritz's idea, and then let gravity do the work of taking the table top down to the basement.

The assembly of the legs was easy enough, but attaching the table top was a monster of a job. I had to turn the surfac upside down and then screw 16 wood screws into pre-drilled holes in the underside. I started with a large screw driver, but eventually each screw needed a wrench to finish the job. This was very tedious and difficult. However, after about four screws, I had the method down and the job became easier.

I bought a new shipping/packing table from ULine and began to assemble it. The maple top weighed a ton and nearly did me in trying to move it from the driveway to the basement.

With the table all assembled and upside down, I somehow had to turn it rightside up and shove it into its final place. Recall that the table top weighs a ton, add to that the weight of the legs and supports, and you can see that righting the work bench would require Olympic Weight Lifting prowess. I was able to turn the table onto its side, don't know where I got the strength for that, and then placed some shims (in this case, a couple of hammers) under the table edge. This gave me some leverage to lift the table onto its feet. Again, I don't know how I found the strength to do it, but I did.

Now it was just a matter of sliding the table into its place. I used the cardboard sheet that the table top was shipped in as a means of sliding the table around the floor. Take a look at the picture below - can you spot the problem?

The shipping table is now assembled an in place. Can you spot the problem with this picture?

Yep, the backside of the table was facing out and so I had to turn it around 180-degrees, a chore, but not too difficult.

I did a little more fine tuning position of the figure shelves and then began refilling the shelves with all of my figures.

Finally, everything was finished and I ended up with a very clean and useful storage and packing room in the Closet O' Lead. It was hard work, but well worth the effort. The work bench is really great because I can now store my shipping supplies underneath the table on a shelf. And because it is higher, I no longer have to bend over to pack figures or bag sub-component parts into finished goods bags.

The Closet O' Lead is now cleaned up and reorganized and I now have a nifty packing table right next to all of my figure inventory. The higher table (30-inches) is much easier to work on because I don't have to bend over to pack the figures.
Then to top things off, I place a framed poster of the uniforms of the Prussian army, post Seven Years War, atop the bench so as to fill up the cold looking concrete wall with something more cheerful and colorful.

After taking a couple hours of well deserved rest, I started clearing off the old packing table, outside of the Closet O' Lead, so that I could move my finished goods bagged inventory closer to the packing table. Now I can pick an order and carry it a few steps to the packing table and get the order packed and ready to ship. I feel sort of professional now.

Finished goods inventory bins.
But there is still more work to be done.

My Game Room
Some of the clutter in the game room is stuff that I removed from the Closet O' Lead and so it needs to be stored away in the garage, probably, now that I have lots of space in the reorganized garage. There is still a lot of clutter underneath the tables that I would like to deal with, but that is a job for later. I deserve the rest, I think. The tables have a game set up for Reichenbach, which I still need to play.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

The Sands of the Sudan

A quiet and isolated desert oasis, teaming with fanatical Dervish warriors of the Mahdi. (click on all pictures to enlarge the view)

This past weekend Keith L. played host to our group so that we could fight the Dervish in the Sudan once again. Keith is the owner of Peter Gilder's Sudan collection that was featured in Wargames World Issues 1 to 4 in 1989. Given the provenance of the collection, it is a real treat to play the Sudan at Keith's house (although some would say that we really attend so that we can eat the sumptuous lunch that is always served by Donna, Keith's better half.

The gamers all gathered in the basement to take in the vastness of the game tables, which seemed to stretch on endlessly, much like the Sudan. Then, from out of nowhere, loomed our host to greet us. We were caught off guard to find that our game judge was wearing the Dervish Jibbah and some wondered if their dice would have favorable rolls throughout the game.

Our host, Keith L., attired in period Jibbah of the Dervish.

We were using The Sands of the Sudan rules which are basically the Peter Gilder rules that he used at the Wargame Holiday Center. The Dervish forces are usually programmed by card draw and dice throws, and commanded by the game judge, so all players are on the home team running brigades of British and Sudanese/Egyptian troops.

Fritz Pasha going Old School by climbing up on the huge table in order to push his troops forward (short legs, wide table).

One of the advantages of staging a game at Keith's house is that he has a HUGE basement that is large enough to accomodate three 6ft wide by 26ft long game table. The aisles between the tables are virtual and do not exist. One simply hops one's troops from one table to the next.

The vast terrain of the Sudan is remarkably recreated across an endless vista over three game tables, each 6ft wide by 26ft long.

Four brigades of British deploy across a 26 foot long table.

The action commenced promptly at 9:30 AM with four British brigades stepping off smartly from the baseline of the lefthand table. Their objective was to attack the village of El Teb, an important gathering point for the Dervish armies. The left flank cavalry force was commanded by Protz Pasha, who was ordered to skirt around the jebel in front of El Teb and make an dash for the oasis two tables away.

Chuck the Lucky was in the left center and his orders were to follow Protz Pasha around the jebel with his infantry brigade. General Earle commanded a British brigade in the center and his orders were to demonstrate in front the jebel and keep the Dervish attention focused on him. And finally, my alter ego in the Sudan, Colonel Archibald Sinclair, commanded a Brigade of Highlanders and Sudanese troops with orders to skirt the right flank of the jebel and lead the dash into El Teb. A brigade of British Hussars and Indian Guides cavalry were also attached to Sinclair's task force.

The Dervish had built fortifications on a jebel that blocked access to the village of El Teb.

Almost immediately, Dervish started popping up seemingly out of the ground and attacking the Imperials. Protz Pasha seemed to attract the largest group of hostiles (the poor chap) on Turn One and would continue to fight them off for the whole game. A hoard of mounted Dervish nearly overwhelmed Protz Pasha's Camel Corps, but while severely cut up, they survived due to the timely intervention of the Bengal Lancers.

Peter Gilder's Dervish horsemen bear down on the unfortunate Protz Pasha.

Meanwhile, Chuck the Lucky did not live up to his nickname today as he had to face down this hoard of Dervish fanatics.

Colonel Sinclair was having some early success, having sent out his hussars ahead of the brigade in order to trip any ambushes that were hidding in the rugged Sudan terrain. The Highlanders brushed off a small group of Dervish horsemen and bull dogged forward onto the second/middle table. At that point, the sands seemed to erupt with thousands of screaming Dervish intent on wiping out the English dogs. At one point, Sinclair's aide de camp, Cavendish, looked at the looming hoard of warriors and declared to nobody in particular, "we are doomed".

Sinclair's Highland Brigade sees off the charge of the Dervish camelry.
The Highlanders calmly held their ground and tumbled the Dervish back to where they came with the loss of only three of the Good Guys. Said Cavandish, "I knew that we would see them off!"

Osman Benson can't believe that his war band was repelled by the Highlanders, so time to check out the rules just to be sure.

There seemed to be an endless supply of Dervish war bands everywhere we looked.
I don't know what was happening in other parts of the table, because I had my hands full and did not have the time to wander off to the other end of the table. The Highland Brigade was about to traverse the middle table to the third table, when the Dervish let it be known that they had had enough for the day.

The Prime Minister shall be pleased.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

The Battle of Reichenbach - August 16, 1762

Prussian defense of the Fischer-Berg at the Battle of Reichenbach.
This afternoon I cleared my table of Fontenoy terrain and set up the terrain for Reichenbach in 1762. The battle was a part of the Prussian seige of Schweidnitz. 

Game Table Logistics
I wanted to fit everything on to 6x10 feet table, but decided that I needed more depth and thus added the side tables for the game, giving me an extra 2 feet of depth on each side of the table. The map below shows the layout of my war game table, absent the two side table which will run parallel to the horizontal edges of the table. The area of the map where you see woods along the horizontal axis of the table represents one of the side tables. The area of deployment for Lacy's and Brentano's corps represent the side table along the lower horizontal axis.

Map showing the proposed Austrian attack on the Prussian army deployed on the three bergs  (light brown shapes). Click to enlarge the map.

For the purposes of my scenario, I will not be using the Austrian forces of Brentano and Lacy because they never launched their attack on the Prussian position. There was, however, a rather large cavalry action on the open plain to the right of the Prussian position. I wanted to recreate this part of the fight in my scenario so there is an extensive flat part of my game table that will accomodate the cavalry fight simultaneously with the infantry action on the Prussian left.

If you prefer to keep the game on one single table or, more likely, you do not have the space in your gaming room to accomodate side tables, then you could "shift the terrain" downwards such that the Fischer-Berg is nearly at the lower table edge and shift the wooded area where Beck was making his march behind the Prussian position onto the main table. In this manner, the bulk of your fighting will represent the point in time where Beck's troops emerged from the woods and were counter-attacked by the Prussians in the Schrober-Grund. I might try this after fighting the game as I have initially set up the tables.

Historical Background

In August of 1762, the Prussians had the important Silesian fortress town of Schweidnitz under seige and the Austrian commander, Marshal Leopold von Daun, endeavored to come to the aid of the garrison and lift the seige. If the Austrians could hold onto Schweidnitz it would be an important bargaining chip in the inevitable negotiations to end the war. Both sides understood the liklihood of the war winding down within the year, so the stakes were high at Schweidnitz.

Daun's strategy was to make a wide sweeping move around the Prussian army and come into Schweidnitz from the east, via the broad Richenbach plain. Frederick, anticipating this possiblity, positioned a blocking corps of 9,000 troops under the command of the Duke of Bevern in the wooded hills overlooking Reichenbach. The map below shows the relative position of Bevern's army in relation to the town of Reichenbach as well as some of the key troop movements prior to the firing of the guns.

Annotated version of Christopher Duffy's map of Reichenbach, from his book, "By Force of Arms" pages 364-365.

Daun proposed to attack Bevern from multiple directions, a tactic that had become fairly standard in his bag of tricks. The Austrian attacking force was thus divided into three columns: Beck (14 btns, 5 cavalry regiments) on the right, FML Brentano (8 btns, 4 cavalry regiments) on the left, and Count Lacy in the center. The plan called for Lacy to demonstrate in the center while Bevern's position was attacked on both flanks by Beck (on the Austrian right/Prussian left) and Brentano (on the Austrian left/Prussian right). O'Donnell's cavalry brigade was detached from Brentano's and Lacy's corps as the Austrians anticipated a cavalry action with their Prussian counterparts.

The War Game Scenario

The scenario involves an Austrian Corps commanded by Beck moving through the woods around the Prussian left flank and then attacking Bevern's army in the rear while Brentano's Corps attacked from the front; or typical Austrian tactics of attacking a position from multiple directions at the same time.

War game table top for the Battle of Reichenbach. Annotations indicate the key terrain features of the battlefield.

Considering that neither Lacy nor Brentano were involved in the attack on Bevern's corps (more about that shortly), we are only going to game the part of the battle involving Beck's corps.

Prussian Forces - Bevern
Bevern had 11 battalions of infantry, including 2 of grenadiers, and three dragoon regiments and one hussar regiment. For the war game, Bevern's army will consist of 7 battalions of infantry, 3 dragoon regiments, and 1 hussar regiment. There are also two 12-pound cannon and two 3-pound cannon.

Prussian War Game Forces

Girls-Berg Defenders:
 2 battalions of fusiliers

Fischer-Berg Defenders:
 1 battalion of musketeers
 2 12-pounder cannon

The gap between the Fischer-Berg and the Spittel-Berg:
 2 battalions of musketeers
 1 3-pounder cannon

Spittel-Berg Defenders:
  2 battalions of grenadiers

Lentulus' Cavalry Brigade on the Left Flank:
  3 regiments of dragoons
  1 regiment of hussars

There is a possiblity of Prussian cavalry reinforcements later in the game.

Austrian Forces - Beck
Beck divided his corps into three columns. The right most column was to swing around the Prussian left flank and fall on the rear of Bevern's position. For this task he had 14 battalions of infantry, 18 grenadier companies (representing approximately 2 battalions), 5 cavalry regiments, and 1 hussar regiment. Beck further divided this column into two groups, with a force of 3 Croat battalions and one grenadier battalion attacking a piece of high ground known as the Girls-Berg. The remaining 11 battalions were to march through the woods beyond the Girls-Berg and emerge from the woods in the rear of the Prussian army.

The Austrian war game commands are as follows:

Beck's main column:
  2 battalions of regular infantry
  1 battalion of elite grenadiers
  2 battalions of Croat light infantry
  1 3-pounder cannon

Beck's second column attacking the Girls-Berg:
  1 battalion of elite grenadiers
  1 battalion of Croat light infantry
  1 3-pounder cannon

Beck's lefthand column (optional as it was unengaged in the battle)
  2 battalions of regulars - Simbschen's brigade
  2 regiments of dragoons - St. Ignon's cavalry brigade

O'Donnell's Cavalry of the left flank:
  2 cuirassier regiments
  1 dragoon regiment

Austrian tactical plan to attack
Beck's column marching through the woods during their flanking movement.

General Beck watches as the tail end of the column passes in front of him. Note the Croats who are flankers protecting the march column.

The third section of Beck's corps was on his left and provided a screen for the flanking movement of the other two columns. The left column consisted of three regiments of cavalry commanded by GFWM St. Ignon (1 cuirassier and 2 dragoon regiments) and three regiments of infantry commanded by GFWM Simbschen. The left column was not engaged in the battle, so it could be left out of the war game scenario entirely.

The Grand Cavalry Battle
Another part of the battle was one of the largest cavalry battles of the SYW in the open plain on the Prussian right flank. Austrian and Prussian cavalry tumbled back and forth until finally Frederick, realizing that a major attack is hitting Bevern, sends cavalry and infantry reinforcements that arrive in the nick of time to win the cavalry battle. You may have seen the painting of Frederick riding to the rescue surrounded by Hussars. It's this battle.

Frederick II leading his cavalry at Reichenbach

Brentano's attack never happened because of the cavalry action that took place on his left flank, so Beck was left to his own devices. Both cavalry brigades start the day with three regiments of horse. The Austrians have three regiments of cuirassiers and the Prussians start with three regiments of dragoons. The Prussian cavalry contingent builds up throughout the day so more units, Prussian cuirassiers and hussars, and even Bosniaken can be added to the order of battle.

The Battle of Reichenbach will be fought as another one of my solo games, using my own Der Alter Fritz rules, which you can download for free from the Fife & Drum Miniatures web site Free Rules

I hope to refight the battle over this coming weekend and post a lot of pictures on this blog.