Monday, December 15, 2014

Castalla April 13, 1813 Lasalle AAR

Doing Castalla was a bit of a chore given the general lack of information available on the internet. Being one of the larger battles in Eastern Spain, I had suspected a wargamer's map to be found somewhere. Outside of finding the general map made from sketches, I had to create one using Battle Chronicler. I must thank Phil for his inspiration on his own blog's battles using that program. Oman's A History of the Peninsular War Volume VI contained good background information of the battle plan for Murray and Suchet. It was not as in depth as I would have liked (or expected), but it had enough information to allow the scenario to go forward. If anyone is wanting a copy of the deployment map, OOB and other scenario description I created, you may email me at:

Here we see early on, the French right under Generals Harispe and Habert surging forward against Colonel Adam's Anglo-Sicilian brigade on the Anglo-Allied left. More in the center we have General Robert moving against General Mackenzie's division anchored atop the ridge. General Whittingham's Spanish division stands in reserve.

Robert's division looks to try and exploit a gap between Mackenzie's defensive line and the castle. This would turn out to be an important sector later in the battle.

General Clinton's Anglo-Sicilian division was really not engaged much during the historical battle and this would be not much different. Behind it, General Roche's Spanish division stands as a reserve force. There were certain scenario restrictions on how this force could become activated during the battle. It was one of the only forces that had elements of all arms, albeit not of much quality.

The French continue to approach and arrange themselves for the uphill assault. During the historical battle, I believe Robert's men were kept entirely in reserve. In this scenario, they were allowed to throw everything at the Anglo-Allies given the fact they were at a numerical disadvantage.

The Calabrian Free Corps and the Sicilian Light Dragoons begin to get up close and personal with Harispe's leading battalions. One of Habert's battalions can be seen inching closer, careful not to rush the twin British batteries atop the ridge line. Robert on the far end, the largest of the French commands, is still positioning itself. Having eight battalions, it had some punch against the opposing battalions of Mackenzie.

A much better view of the advance. Have to thank fellow group gamer Tim for the quick production of specific hills for the scenario.

After some cannon fire, the British battalion falls back behind an Italian unit (we had to use Portuguese as stand ins). The attempts to weaken each other's leading battalions had only a minor impact on the upcoming assault.

Slightly out of focus, but Clinton and Roche stand and await General Boussart's cavalry brigade. Clinton's force manhandles the guns to help bring them into range and goad the French from their distant position. It eventually works.

Robert's men finally make the climb. Disruptions begin to mount for the French, but not enough to halt the advance. To the extreme upper right, Habert's men do the same.

The Allies try to angle their battalions to try and line up more shots on the leading elements of the French assault. By this point, all of the French infantry forces were engaged in either firefights or melees.

Robert's men fight to take the gap in the line. The British battalion here will be broken leaving the other battalion on the end of the ridge to fight on almost alone.

Colonel Adam's men haven't done so well here. Harispe's men have knocked out some battalions and now Whittingham's Spanish find themselves now confronted with fighting the French. The Spanish 5th Grenadier battalion, the remaining battery on the center of the ridge and some Italians now keep the line intact. The British line troops here have not done well.

Boussart's cavalry and a stray battalion of Robert (looking back, this infantry battalion might have been out of command) slowly move up. Not pictured off to the left, is the French 4th Hussars who are trying to work there way down the other side of the flooded stream. The slow artillery duel here is largely ineffective and only of nuisance value.

Robert's division now stands to take this sector unless some reserve are brought up. At this point, Roche is still unable to be activated. Since I was commanding Roche and Clinton, I had only Clinton to do something with here. I detached a British battalion to go around the castle and village to help plug the gap, but it will be another couple of turns before they can come up.

The British units from Mackenzie and Adam have essentially been all broken and it is up to the second class Spanish and various Italian units to hold on. The 20th Light Dragoons makes a charge attempt on the far flank to stem the tide. All of the close proximity musket fire is beginning to take its toll on the French battalions.

The remains of Mackenzie's command refuse their flank against Robert's men. One of Clinton's battalions can just barely be seen popping it's head around the back of the village. The artillery limbered and fell back to prevent from being overran. In the rear, the Sicilian Light Dragoons that were sent to aid the center were recalled to assist the flank. This counter order kept them out of the fighting for several turns.

Clinton's detached battalion is now on the scene just after two Allied battalions holding the edge of the ridge broke. The good thing here is that the two battalions now occupying the position are completely blown and will need to recover before trying to charge any further. Being in canister range and with a fresh battalion coming up, it doesn't look good for the French here.

It was here, that my two other fellow Allied players had to leave for the day. As it was getting late, I decided since I could stay (most of the figures on the table were mine and I made the scenario, so decided to finish it to the break point). The French needed to only break two more Allied units and the Allies would need to break four more French. During the following turn, I managed to destroy two French battalions (one from Harispe and one from Robert) through canister fire. The Sicilian Light Dragoons managed to counter charge a French battalion attacking what was left of Adam's command. The Sicilian cavalry did well and broke the French battalion. Had my Reaction phase rolling been slightly better, I would have won at this point, despite the appalling loses.

Roche's men had been activated and quickly marched to the center, but they were not fast enough. Clinton's battalions managed to repel a few French cavalry charges without any losses.

What I could not control were the Spanish battalions from being so disadvantaged in combat against French battalions with better morale and superior numbers. Two Spanish battalions broke, and that ended it. It was a French minor victory, unlike the historical battle.

In designing the scenario to fit in with the historical context of the situation, I made the Spanish and most of the Italians with Shaky morale and only minimal training (Amateur). Given the previous few skirmishes with the French that had not ended well, the Allies were not feeling very confident. Lt. Gen. Murray had been wanting to retreat but was finally talked out of it. Seeing how the Allied commander was not confident and considering the losses the Spanish had suffered during the previous skirmishes, it seemed appropriate not to make them Reliable Veterans. The Allies had the numerical advantage combined with terrain features good for defending, but the overall quality was dubious. Murray and Suchet both suspected the Spanish and melting pot of Italian troops (more properly, Neapoltian and Sicilian for the most part) would not stand. Had Suchet made a full attack, he may have had better chances as we can see here from this scenario.

I tried to keep the deployment zones as close to accurate as best could be discerned from some conflicting records. The castle was of no particular interest to Suchet, who had neither the manpower to storm it nor the time to place guns inside of it. Murray tossed in a small garrison just to hang on to it. Knowing this, I had a garrison placed in the castle, but did not permit it to take part considering the historical realities of a relic castle. Murray wanted it held to split the French attack up, which it did. I also refused to allow any command radius or any value at all on Murray due to his general shifty mind and overall incompetence. Little nuances like these are important. The scenario was fun and the work involved gave me a good understanding of this often forgotten theater of the Peninsular War.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Ottoman Turk Nizam-i Cedid

Earlier this year I was presented with an unique opportunity to purchase a very large collection of unpainted Ottoman Turks. The man I purchased them from had bought the army when the figures were first being cast, literally on site from the factory. Freshly minted figures tend to be the best as they do not yet have the excess flash that will inevitably come.

Not possessing any extra time to paint them anytime soon, I decided the price was too good to pass up. So, I ended up with hundreds of Ottomans that I could use for the Seven Years War up through the Napoleonic wars. As fortune would have it, I had enough figures to do a full army for Lasalle along with support. As the sale also included more than enough flags to to do the entire army, everything was setting up quite well. A friend of mine who plays at the games that I blog about was willing to paint them in exchange for painted and unpainted figures.

So first up in a series of posts to include the entire army by unit type as I get them based, is three battalions of Ottoman Nizam-e Cedid from the new model army. Granted, this isn't accurate for the Seven Years War should I use them for Maurice, but there are so many other troops that they wouldn't be needed anyway.

Finding uniform information was quite a feat. Various sites had bits and pieces of the forces but with variations either due to different eras or very likely, a complete lack of standardization. These units were an exception in an experiment to modernize an otherwise outdated army. The two regiments had similar dress with some variation in blue and red being reversed. As to how many battalions per regiment appears to be unknown. For this one, I did three.

Not as flashy and eye catching as French or Russian armies to be sure. They have a minimal level of detail to the uniform. The Old Glory figures are quite well done with clear details and not having unnatural poses. The base of the figures are very wide and so I had to use six figures per stand because quite literally eight would not fit. Others in my group use six, so this will be unnoticeable.

Next up will be the Jannisaries units.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Montmirail February 11, 1814 Lasalle AAR

Using Lasalle, we tried a scenario outside of the normal scale of play. To do Montmirail, we had to do a few substitutions for the vast French guard units and artillery needed to play. Here is the center of the allied line with the Russian cavalry corps and with the infantry to the left of the picture.

The Prussian corps on the far left of the allied line. The Prussians lacked the number of cavalry for fast exploitation against the weak French right, or heavy guns with which to use canister. Everything relied on the slow moving infantry backed up by the lone hussar cavalry regiment while the landwehr cavalry regiment was back on the hill.

We see the Russian infantry trying to use their sheer number of battalions to simply drive the French back in a sweeping motion. French guard cavalry were quick into action here to try and use dense deployment against the Russians forming square. Sometimes it works, sometimes not so much. Russian artillery was generally ineffective in this scenario due to the inability to have line of sight to the enemy.

Some of the Russian battalions have disappeared it will be noted. The guard cavalry was probably handled a bit more aggressively than done so historically, but without it there was little hope of holding the Russian infantry back until the Old Guard made their full appearance.

The Russian cavalry corps advances forward in a rush. The French have managed to pull up artillery on the hill opposite this line (part of which can be seen on the bottom left). One battery was silenced and the opportunity to move forward was now since all of the Russian artillery could not be deployed. The Cossack brigade on the right will receive a nasty series of clashes with guard lancers and part of the Empress's dragoons.

After several clashes in which the Russian cossacks were decimated, the guard lancers units were eventually smashed and driven from the field. The Russian cavalry managed to eventually obtain the upper hand despite the combat disadvantages.

Of the 12 Russian cavalry units beginning here, 8 remain (one is engaged against lancers as seen before). The guard cavalry have a good advantage in combat and the Russian cavalry here are neither heavy nor guard. Considering the Russian cavalry managed to eliminate a greater number of guard cavalry regiments, it was a tactical victory here.

As the Russian infantry numbers dwindled toward the middle, the French guard advanced and pushed as far forward as it could. Russian artillery now having access to line of sight, managed to form a bulwark that halted the advance any further on this point.

Here we see the Russian hussar unit after it finished off the last guard cavalry unit and occupied the position. This inadvertently held up the guard infantry reinforcements here and they were forced out of march column to face the cavalry. Not pictured, the hussars behind are going to assault the artillery battery and start working on the infantry coming up, now without cavalry support.

Here we can see the guard has managed to carve out a large area of domination on the Russian right. The village on the upper left has now been taken by the French and Russian infantry casualties have continued to mount. The center of the line proves to be too much for such a brazen use of the guard, but the guard do not die easily.

This image demonstrates the Russian line being broken in some areas in bitter fighting. Not having Russian cavalry here and having it all concentrated into a corps in the center of the line has proven that historically, the allies haven't yet mastered combined arms being necessary for victory. To the upper right, artillery is now able to deploy, but with no real expectation of any proper support.

The Prussian advance has finally made a noticeable achievement. The leading Landwehr infantry unit will be wiped out, but the remaining units are able to handle the incoming fire now that numbers can be brought to bear. The Prussian artillery has managed to temporarily silence the guard horse artillery batteries off and on during the game. The Dutch 2nd Red Lancers can be seen before their demise in the upper background, as previously mentioned before. We had to use artillery stands not properly based for the rules because the scenario called for so much artillery that we couldn't get it done in time for the game. As such, the space between the batteries was to maintain what would be the proper frontage.

A French battery forced to limber up from counter battery fire. Although the Prussian guns did little damage, they did prevent lots of French fire during the game and prevented any serious loss of the Prussian column. The last guard cavalry unit here (I guess other squadrons from the Red Lancers) is being occupied by the hussar cavalry regiment. Clearly a gamble on my part, but I knew the enemy would not risk attacking the infantry when they could be hit with cavalry with a counter charge at the same time. With the hussars being valiant, they were a fair match.

The guard cavalry can be seen attacking everything here. Before the advance of a Russian battalion toward the center to avoid being hit by their own artillery, an Old Guard battalion rushes some artillery. The attempt to cut the line in two seems to be working.

It may be hard to see here, but there is a battalion of Old Guard infantry that has made it deep in the Russian line here. The Russian battalion now seen behind it decided to seal it up and hoping the canister fire would eliminate it. The bend in the Russian line here is clear to see and artillery poses the largest threat to the rampaging guard units.

This image is taken as the last turn we played during the game. The hussar cavalry make a go at the lancers as they entered the woods and the landwehr at the bottom left, attack the limbered guard battery. We did not resolve combat here, but the guns were clearly going to be losses and the cavalry clash probably would have ended indecisively for me unless my opponent rolled poorly.

I had enough movement for both units to make contact on the single battery. Image appears to have been taken during movement, but the battery on the left is limbered (we did not have enough limber models, this why it is turned about) and will be hit with the landwehr cavalry and likely eliminated.

Here we have another follow up to an earlier attack but with the Russian hussars hitting another French battery. In the upper left, we can see two Russian cavalry units have charged the weakened (and almost broken) Old Guard battalion that had been such a battering ram.

Another parting shot of the battle. My fellow player commanding the Russian infantry had to leave at this point and as we began counting the losses, we wonder how it would end. This is turn 16 of 20 and the Russians have lost 13 infantry battalions here.

A parting shot from the French corner. Although it appears the Russians have a numerical advantage still, the losses the Russians have taken would have been too high for them to have stuck around any longer. The Prussians could have rolled up the flank given the sheer numerical advantage. The Russian cavalry held up the guard infantry in the center and Russian artillery able to deploy; but to what end? The French had possession of half or so of the objectives and much of the Russian infantry remaining was already suffering from disruptions. The close proximity meant the the Russian infantry had greater difficulty in rolling off disruptions.

One cannot call it a French major victory due to the guard cavalry be so mauled and the guns that would have been lost. It is likely though the Russians would have fallen back and left the field. The French would not have been able to launch any follow up (as the only cavalry left to speak of were not pursuit cavalry). Having 18+ unit losses from the allies and about half that for the French, we decided to call it a tactical French minor victory. Using a historical setup reveals some mistakes the allies made. Had the Russian infantry and cavalry been more evenly distributed, I believe things could have been different. Had the Prussian wing had a full brigade of cavalry from the Russian cavalry corps, the wing would have been turned quite quickly. But Prussian general Yorck was not in charge and Russian general Osten-Sacken's deployment was the leading cause of the historical and game's loss for the allies.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Lasalle AAR: Russians vs. French

A small fictitious scenario involving combined arms formation of Russians and French. This game is set about 1812 with eight French infantry and four cavalry fighting against ten Russian infantry and six cavalry. Each side had two batteries, but the Russians had an advantage in numbers of guns per battery.

The Russian cavalry brigade of the center was diverse with kurassier, uhlans and dragoons. Opposing them are a couple of battalions of French line infantry and a 12lb battery.

The Russians are more interested in maintaining their line than moving around to occupy the village. Seeing the French light infantry dart toward it will change their mind.

A great overview of the French on the left and the Russians on the right. I station my dragoon brigade behind the river to act as a barrier. When you don't have the advantage of numbers, you must use the terrain to your favor.

The three battalions of the 36th line escorting the 12lb battery. At this range, a march column was still quite safe.

Now the Russian infantry have caught on to where the French were headed and have moved some troops of their own to the village. The Russian cavalry is positioning itself to deal with the almost vacant French center line.

The Cossacks are going in and around the woods while some Uhlans linger behind. The advantage of numbers can be seen here with Russian infantry and artillery to oppose the French dragoon brigade and horse artillery battery here.

Both forces draw closer together. The French columns stagger their advance so as to have room to deploy into line or attack column. The Russians have already deployed.

The three battalions of the 2nd legere are shielded from any fire and can continue the faster formation of a march column to reach the village to secure the flank.

In order for the Russians to squeeze their forces into a smaller area, the artillery assumed a reduced frontage. One advantage I had was forcing them to funnel the Russians in front of their large batteries and block line of sight.

Although I have a cavalry advantage on the flank in quality, I cannot afford to lose any units. I certainly can't trade units against Cossacks. I have to contend to engage a larger force and hold them up as long as possible.

The Russians hesitated in moving into the village but the French manage to slip a battalion into one sector. The other two battalions try to keep the Russians occupied and hopefully inflict more damage with superior shooting.

The large Cossack regiment came on strong but my second unit counter charged and the Cossacks were unable to win the melee against the two dragoon units. The other Cossack unit swung around to the end of the flank, but I cannot deal with it at the moment. The uhlans decided to just move around the forest to meet the dragoons.

The Russian dragoons are attempting to align themselves for a charge against the horse artillery battery. The uhlans here are hoping to catch the French line battalion with their lances.

Some horse artillery fire that hit nothing. Much like the rest of my artillery during the game, they were generally unable to earn their worth. Even a bounce through was generally of no effect.

The undaunted Cossacks came on for another round. This time they will find two dragoon units they will have to fight against. The uhlans here decided to do the same and charged the French before they got charged.

My other dragoon unit that was behind the horse artillery battery came forward to protect the guns and engage with the Russian dragoons. in all out assault. The Russian guns sit quiet and patiently.

Toward the other end, the other uhlan unit decided to have a go at the square. The French 12lb battery mauls the kurassier unit and believes it can wipe it out with the next cannister shot.

The Russians have taken part of the town and look to move another unit around and attack the other sector. The Russian and French line troops move closer and exchange fire.

The uhlans and Cossacks failed and were thrown back with loss. My French dragoon unit protecting the guns managed to repel the Russian dragoons and carry on clearing the Russian cavalry. The Square managed to repulse the other uhlan unit, thus successfully winning all combats this turn.

The French have concentrated the infantry to try and gain some opportunity to break the Russian line here. The French legere column in the rear has an engineer which may come in handy when assaulting the other sector of the village.

The stand off in the center. Bot sides are trying to recover some disruptions before going at it again.

Not my dragoons can turn to try and fight off the other Cossack unit on the flank. As much as I'd like to charge forward against the infantry in front of the guns, I have to regain some strength because the uhlans will be back.

I charge forward to try and break the Russian dragoon unit who is weak and near breaking. Regrettably, it doesn't work and I am tossed back for a change. Another failed uhlan charge against the square and now my 12lb battery faces the kurassiers.
The French columns inched a little forward to get into firing range. The Russian line extends a little toward the village to close the gap.

The flanking unit of Cossacks was thrown back but the larger unit has advanced. The infantry in the center have spotted the weakened French dragoon unit falling back and surged forward.

The Russian dragoons bounced back from the French dragoons and the uhlan unit faired no better against the French square.

The final cannister shot brought the Russian kurassier unit to the verge of breaking, but it was able to finish the charge and won the combat against the artillery battery. The unit is now out of command and cannot recover at the moment. The French line unit changes from square into attack column and now moves forward to blast the nearly broken uhlans.

Still some shooting being exchanged between the two lines before any melee is attempted. The Russians have a couple of grenadier units here and so it's important not to be too aggressive until they're weakened first.

The Cossacks attempt to realign to another attempt at the French dragoons. The uhlans here have recovered some of their strength and are moving through the woods to back up their comrades.

The Russian grenadier battalion charges the legere and the other legere battalion joins with a line battalion to attack the Russian line.

The French line battalion that was subjected to repeated charges while in square, manages to blast the Russian uhlan unit out of existence. My horse artillery battery is brought over to finish off the overly brave Russian kurassier, however they evade me in an attempt to save their lives. The Russian infantry decide to turn their attention to the other French line battalion.

The Russian line is broken, two battalions being lost in a single melee. A Russian grenadier battalion is pulled up to occupy the position. The other grendiers on the hill were repulsed and will continue the musket duel.

Two battalions of the 36th line were eliminated in cannister and musketry fire. The Russian dragoon unit is now free to assist the infantry, since my dragoons who opposed them for so long finally broke.

My horse battery limbers in order to put the kurassier in its sights. In truth, it is harmless, but the Russians are close to breaking and I need the kill. I also decided to risk chasing or catching the Russian battery here and nearly succeed.

A close up of the situation on the hill. The Russians know it's all or nothing as they no longer have equal numbers.

The Russian Cossacks and the last uhlan unit are all eliminated. The loss of the these three units break the Russians. We decided to roll and carry out the game a little ways ,basically to see what would happen but it went really bad for me. Glad it was over as I was unable to win any combats and would have lost four units in a single.

Another Russian battalion assaulting the other town sector, to be repulsed. The final situation on the village hill.