Thursday, May 24, 2012

Part 3: The Battle of Costa Blanca (The End)

Date: 12 May 1808/2012

Location: Costa Blanca, Iberia
Situation: Game #2 French Army Arrives

The previous posting described portions of Game #1, a reconnaissance game. See:

Britannian Left Flank

General Paget commanded the red coat left flank. His mission was to delay the French advance for as long as possible and later fall back to Costa Blanca or to the northwest.

Portuguese (left) and British (right) Rifles
fire on two French battalions.

To their right the Royal Marines stand fast
as more French approach.
The 16th Light Dragoons are....

Withdrawing to Costa Blanca covered by more Rifles.
The odds are....

Too great for the British.
Three French battalions (left) inexorably advance
covered by a cloud of skirmishers.

All British will retreat to their "Back Table"
in a fighting withdrawal.

Closest to the bottom of the image the toll begins to rise on the nearest French battalion; it's volitgeurs were felled to a man. The Royal Marines (to the right of the image not shown. See previous photo) in particular suffered terribly from French skirmisher fire.

Except for the Portuguese Rifles who retire to a wooded ridge on the left flank all British forces retreated and were lucky to get away.

General Paget did have one hand to play. During the above action, his 15th Hussars managed to ride from the extreme left, (on a Side Table) then turn right and penetrate deeply into the French rear. He hoped this would discombobulate the French advance against him. Did it? For this curious story bordering on disobedience to orders see:

Britannian Center

Lt. Colonel Charles Gordon (Jim P. Der Alte Fritz) was the overall commander in the center and right. His mission was to hold Costa Blanca or if unable, fall back to the north.

The 9th Foot marched into the battlefield center pushing back a screen of Chasseurs A Cheval. The red coats were careful not to fire and waste a very potent first fire bonus on them.

The reason? Large numbers of French infantry were known to be approaching the battlefield. They are shown here as the Chasseurs A Cheval depart.

The 9th has it's work cut out for it.
The battalion has a small reserve and it's....

Light company has deployed in cover along the river bank to....

Soon give fire upon the advancing foe. French strength exceeded that of the British locally by 50%. Given events on the right flank, the 9th would soon began to withdraw.

Britannian Right Flank

Jim's new Polish Lancers with French infantry nearby have pushed back the British. Note Hacienda Robles on the French Back Table in the upper left of the image. Stan G. defended that position with some of his British collection. Unfortunately I do not have photos of this.

At the top of the image a French cavalry regiment appears to have penetrated into Costa Blanca threatening the British hold on the village.

Lt. Col. Charles Gordon's 83rd Foot did the best it could but the British were forced to withdraw to their Back Table.

Closing Remarks

1. Units are 25-28mms based on a 1:10 ratio of miniatures to real men. Castings are based individually facilitating flexible ratios, formation changes and casualty removal. No rosters are needed. Magnetics are used with underlying movement trays.

2. Prodigious and sincere thanks to Jim P. Der Alte Fritz, Curt B., Earl K. and Stan G. who participated with distinction in the two games.

3. Jim, Curt and Stan added their collections to mine to make the two games played an extremely colorful ensemble of Old School gaming with modern accents to make game play faster and more efficient. The morning and afternoon games consumed roughly two and three hours to play respectively.

4. By our usual quitting time of the turn in progress at 4:30pm, the British were in full retreat off the Main Table onto their Back Table. Though a French victory was certain half way through the afternoon, the dynamic of a fighting withdrawal was the idea. Delay the French as long as possible and hope for some event to discombobulate them. The last card the British had to play was the arrival of the 16th Light Dragoons into central reserve on our Back Table. At 4:30 they were ready to charge onto the Main Table to disrupt French cavalry threatening the withdrawal of the 83rd. Foot. This could have bought more time but the outcome would not have changed. Alas we then decided to conclude, have a companionable chat and pack up.

5. Curt and Earl's French battle plan called for a heavy push in the center with lighter pressure on the flanks. It was a good plan with success everywhere for them.

6. The 9th. 16th., 83rd. and all rifles on the left flank are castings from Elite Miniatures. A lot of the French are Dixon and Old Glory. Many thanks to Jeff C. who mailed the Portuguese to participate!

7. To paraphrase the Duke of Wellington about Waterloo, "They came at us in the same old way." What he meant was in columns. In Spain the French used columns designed to shock their foe whilst the British used lines to shoot them down. Most in our group do Seven Years' War a lot. Columns to us are a horror. Lines are the thing - the only thing 99% of the time. Thus, at game end, it dawned on us we might need extra provisions to encourage use of French columns.

8. Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 adapted to Napoleonics. Our play tests go back about three years with 1-2 games annually. We hope to have another game very soon. Indeed, Der Alte has already commenced his next battalion, Curt is talking about more cavalry for himself and I have the 5th Foot waiting for my brushes after August. Tally-Ho!

9. Thank you for looking in. Your comments as always are very welcome below.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Part 2: The Battle of Costa Blanca

Date: 12 May 1808/2012
Location: Costa Blanca, Iberia
Situation: Game #1 Reconnaissance

The previous posting was a flashback to a small portion of the Battle of Costa Blanca.

Britannian Right Flank

Return with me now to the first day as the British occupy the area, desire to place explosives on a bridge leading into the port and scout in the direction of an expected French Army to learn their whereabouts and strengths.

Brigadier Gildner's force enters the port of Costa Blanca.

Royal Marines form up outside headquarters.

Mission: Place explosive charges at a bridge two turns of marching to the left. But....

They retired and formed a square. Why?

Tower Hill. 
A French Chasseur Regiment (not shown) has appeared beyond the lower right. Two companies of rifles await their arrival. The marines are in the upper left of the image.

Britannian Left Flank

Lord Paget was ordered to scout the terrain ahead to discover the whereabouts and strength of the French Army and report information back to headquarters.

On the extreme left flank the 15th Hussars see nothing so far. Next to their right....

Beyond a wooded ridge Portuguese Rifles and a section of 16th Light Dragoons are also scouting and moving ahead.

Lord Paget himself with the rest of the 16th and two companies of 95th Rifles also scouting ahead to the right of the previous image. Note importance placed on formed reserves. No French have been seen yet using recon. rules designed for this scenario.

French skirmishers suddenly appear! Are they facing the wrong way? No. They just ambushed the 15th Hussars you saw a few images ago with deadly effect. The French are on the edge of the Main Table facing the 15th Hussars on a Side Table.

Paget's horsemen finally find something previously hidden in cover; French Chasseurs A Cheval. Before discovery Curt and I threw 1D6 against each other. I lost and had to send two troopers to gather the sheep and take them to the rear for the dinner table. Note other units of Paget's command in the distance who have discovered nothing as they continued to move forward.

Time to fall back

Closing Remarks:

1. We had two games. The first was a morning scouting game described in the text above. The second was played after lunch. Part 3 will close the AAR with the afternoon game.

2. French Players: Curt B and Earl K.

3. British Players: Stan G., Jim P. (Der Alte Fritz) and Bill P. (yours truly).

4. Comments welcome below.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Part 1: Battle of Costa Blanca

Date: 12-15 May 1808/2012
Location: Costa Blanca, Iberia
Situation: British Extreme Left Flank
The Battle Of Costa Blanca

Three days after the battle, several officers of the 16th Light Dragoons discuss mixed reports about their brother regiment; the 15th Hussars. We find the former billeted at a roadside inn enjoying breakfast twenty miles north of Costa Blanca. The army is in retreat.

Erskine (left): "You would think a well-to-do inn might serve a tolerable breakfast.

Wesson: "Complain'n again? Lucky we are to have a decent place to sleep. We could be with the 15th under the discontented eye of the general camped in the rain and 'orrible mud."

Erskine: "Aye, there is that. The 15th will know the scowl of the general for many a day. I heard when the Emsdorf lads trotted by ol' General Pettygree they were rid'n mighty proud until...."

Staff Officer: "The 15th is coming into camp General."

Pettygree: Colonel Stuart Sir. A moment if you please.

Stuart: "Aye Sir. Regiment. Hal---'alt." 

Stuart: "General."

Pettygree: "I understood Sir, your regiment was to form a central reserve at Costa Blanca.

Stuart: "At first Sir. At first. My Lord Paget in command of the left wing saw an opportunity to confound the French by rid'n wide to the left and into their rear. He thought the confusion might stop 'em cold there."

Wesson: "An' that's what they did.

Wesson: "Colonel Stuart led his two squadrons wide to the left beyond any French vedettes and picquets. The sounds of battle were clearly heard far to his right but action was blocked by a forested ridge."

Wesson: "When the 15th passed by that ridge, they wheeled right by echelon into the rear of the Duke of Bensonville's French Brigade where a Chasseur A Cheval regiment faced them and...."

Wesson: "With the memory of Emsdorf and that battle honour on their swallow-tailed flags, Stuart ordered a charge at the gallop. [Melee round #1 Losses: British 4 and French 9. Saving throws were significantly above and below average respectively.]

Erskine: "I heard the 15th pushed back the French cutting down more of 'em. [French lost 7 more, routed, were pursued and cut down by the 15th.]

Bolles (right): "Aye but did you know....

Bolles: "A second French Chasseur A Cheval Regiment had come up disorderly in support of their friends and when they saw the 15th coming on in pursuit, they evaded across a bridge to safety.

Stuart: "And General when that second Chasseur Regiment abandoned the field to us, I considered charging on but thought we had done all we could for the moment. Off to my right there were three French battalions. I thought at least one would have to eventually turn to face me in their rear.

General: "This would have slowed their attack on our left wing, Paget's sector. However, Paget retired from the field to support our forces in Costa Blanca. Your regiment was needed in central reserve to counter a surprise French breakthrough. Only the 16th Light Dragoons were there for this service. Still even with you there we were significantly outnumbered unable to hold the port more than a moment longer."

Pettygree: Very well Colonel. Take your men into camp and rest 'em for tomorrow we continue the retreat north."

Stuart: "Very good General."

Closing Remarks:

1) Yours truly is happiest commanding cavalry in tabletop games. When Lord Paget ordered the 15th to swing wide, Stuart (me) eagerly obeyed.

2) The 15th some will recall was formed during the Seven Years' War as a light dragoon regiment. It's celebrated successful charge at Emsdorf in 1760 won distinction and regimental pride. Their successors desired to continue that tradition at Costa Blanca.

3) Der Alte Fritz commanded the British Army. He was positioned in the environs of Costa Blanca on our right flank. Paget, (yours truly) had the left. Stuart was far to the left of Paget.

4) A certain black coach somehow has appeared in Iberia. (Left behind by it's owner actually.)

5) There are more photos to be posted another time. Meanwhile, I thought the above story might be of interest. Why not read it again and ride with Stuart. Der Alte rightfully was reminded of J.E.B. Stuart from our American Civil War. Indeed, I named the regimental colonel after him as a result. Seems fitting and proper don't you think?

6) Remarks welcome as always.