Thursday, September 4, 2014

A Tale of Two Battles

Games for me lately have been hit or miss due to work and reenacting.  So I was happy to get to play in our regularly scheduled game at Fire for Effect (now Adventure Games) in Oshkosh, WI.  Our Battlefront Rangers came prepared to offer demo games with our travelling kit, as well as both sides of a 1000 and 1500 point game.  Decorated with Battlefront buildings and terrain we had an attractive table.

With no new players we went for the 1500 point game with the "Sardinien" panzergrenadiers against US armored infantry.  The random Pincer (defensive) mission had half the Americans in delayed reserve, meaning they only had self-propelled artillery and an ambush platoon available.

Looking at the table and starting positions.

MkIVh with SPAA support are our maneuver element

Thunderbolts show up a lot to attack our 12 cm. mortars and guns

With the inevitable result

Stuarts spring an ambush but pay the price

With only two platoons on table the Germans advance unopposed

Getting too close, the Stuarts are assaulted from cover

Racing back to defend the objective they are too late

As it turned out the respective force compositions coupled with the mission did not match up well.  The American armored infantry only had one chance to even get on table and it ended after three turns. 

So since we had time and extra hands, we set up the other 1500 point game using the same table.  This time 1945 Gebirgsjagers heavy with panzerfausts against Churchills and no infantry.  The mission rolled was Counterattack (mobile battle).  With only one mobile platoon the Germans got to have everything available with an ambushing element.  I wanted to give my Churchills some table time so had them plus recon, SPAT, some 25 pdrs. and limited air support.

Limited Spitfires keep the artillery pinned throughout

Moving cautiously against the dug in Germans

Swinging wide to the left

Knowing the Germans have an ambush element, the Brens sneak

Sturmvogel strikes!

Effective strike, but the ambushing Hetzers burn

Ranger Paul says, "my poor Hetzers..."

The end

Once again the charmed-life recon Bren section win a game.  This is something like #4 for them.  It was well that the attackers and defenders matched up as they did.  The Gebirgsjagers were well suited for defense but would have had a difficult time attacking the armor-heavy British.

Thanks to all that played.  Good times and good sports.

Empires Made and/or Broken

Raevski's VII Corps and Tuchkov's III Corps with cavalry support under Bagration from 1812 are arrayed against Vandamme's 1815 corps with additional attachments including Guard cavalry.  Both sides were expected to attack at least somewhere.

The first hourly round saw both sides have elements that failed to activate their orders despite the first round modifier.  That didn't keep us from locking horns however in strong action.  For the Russians from left to right the grenadier division went into action with Cossack flank support.  The line infantry and cavalry decided to sit out the first hour.  Raevski got all his formations moving.  The line division heavily engaged with a Russian grand battery hitting the French flank and a line division and cavalry following their orders and hitting empty air. 

The Russian left

Russian grand battery and right

Deadly combat on the left

Hammer blow follows blow on the left

The counter-attack begins

On the right the French cavalry is gone and the French are just hanging on

Piling on the pressure on the Russian right

 After three "hours" of combat the French threw in the towel.  Totally blunted on the Russian left and losing on the right they failed their personal morale test.  Both sides had uncommitted reserves, but having thrown their best shot and missed, it was a natural result.  The amazing thing was that the Russians had the tactical initiative every hour.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Somewhere in East Prussia...

My Dearest Grand Duke Orzepovski,

It is with the deepest regret that I must report on the recent engagement with the forces of Germania near Sonnenfeld.  In conjunction with the Tsar’s forces, may he reign a thousand years, we brought your enemies to battle in late morning and ended the engagement only after the utmost efforts.  Our forces were well matched, perhaps even precisely so and looking at the ground it appeared obvious that it would be an infantry fight initially.  Even though we possessed no advantage we judged it our duty to attack and drive the enemy away.


We opened the battle with our infantry advancing across a broad front with the Cossacks and Dragoons interspersed to provide more immediate aid.  The cuirassier brigade was held in deep reserve until needed.

Initially it seemed as though the old gods of war were favoring us and we drove our enemies back everywhere except on the for right where we were out-numbered.  The only set-back we experienced involved the new, experimental Jäger Corps.  To our dismay the only strongpoint on the field was occupied with ease by the Prussian Jägers.  Judging that it would be a constant drain of manpower, the Dainava Forest Jägers assaulted them.  Unfortunately in their eagerness to prove themselves they took unnecessary risks and losses, which caused them to rout away, never to be seen again.  This experiment requires more research.

Having cleared the dominant ridge of the enemy and taking a gun, our light and medium cavalry sought an opening to exploit.  On the right a skillful action was being fought by Brigadier Beck against superior number which also seemed as favored by the gods as we were on the main battlefield.

I can only write with admiration for the fighting power of the infantry on both sides.  The execution was great and the toll on manpower severe.  Many units were broken, only to rally and return to the fray.  By early afternoon neither side had any infantry reserves left, which is hardly surprising given the parity of the armies.  About this time we resorted to the bayonet with success and the Russian dragoons and your own Palanga Dragoons covered themselves with glory by charging and routing Prussian infantry units, admittedly already greatly weakened.  The Palanga Dragoons pursued their foes to extinction, unfortunately not returning to the fray.

Though our successes were numerous in the center, on the flanks things began to sour.  Brigadier Beck began to feel the combination of numbers and quality, plus he faced the arrival of Prussian dragoons.  On the left the Prussians were so desperate that they began to commit their cuirassiers.  The Russian grenadiers were taken partly unawares and were routed away.  Similarly a group of Bosniaks routed your loyal Cossacks.  Though musketry restored the balance, much damage was done and the field piece recaptured.  Similarly the Jonava Musketeers, involved in an infantry firefight, were surprised by Prussian dragoons emerging from the woods and could only get off a weak volley.  The result was predictable though the dragoons did not long enjoy their victory.

By late afternoon most of our infantry regiments were at or below 50% strength.  Although we continued to resist with great devotion it appeared we were not going to drive away our adversaries.  So the battle came to a close, though many such victories of a similar nature will ruin our enemy.

We will rally the survivors and reorganize the army for future operations.  I regret that it will be some time before we can resume offensive movements since only the cavalry is fit for action.  In the interim we will adopt a defensive posture.

Until then, I have to honor to remain Sire, your humble and obedient servant,

General Arkady Grigorovich Ouromov

Friday, August 8, 2014

Mobilize the militia!

With war with Germania looming, Grand Duke Orzepovski has authorized the mobilization of the town militias and is personally conducting a tour to instill confidence in the towns people.

In carrying out the policy, the magnates of Litharus rely on their towns not simply as fortified points of defense. When necessary, towns mobilize their militias, and could be further utilized for the maintenance of permanent garrison battalions and concentration of local military groups made up of mercenary soldiers and servitude boyars.
Called out for exercise in the presence of the Grand Duke
Town militias existed as early as the beginning of the 16th century, when Litharusians defended their towns from invasion by the Crimean Tartars. Town inhabitants, most likely generically related to the town militias of Kievan Ruthenia, allied themselves with the lord’s feudal detachments.
Townsmen in their own clothing turn out
In practice, most militias were concentrated in larger, fortified towns and were utilized mainly for local defense. The existence of the town militia was of primary concern not only to the magnates, who strove to exploit all resources, including human ones, for the defense of their holdings, but also to the inhabitants of the towns themselves.
"But they come late, shoot poorly and are slow to reload...."
Working people were dependent on them for their safety since war affected them most of all. The conquest of a town by the enemy was accompanied by looting, rapes, murders, fires, epidemics and, not infrequently, considerable destruction to the town itself. Under conditions of feudal anarchy, frequent wars, and the decline of the central authority in the old Polish Republic, town militias represented a force able to defend the town and its possessions as well as the lives of its inhabitants. The town militias had no independent military significance; they carried on military operations only in defense of siege or raids.
Attempting to form up
Military service of the majority of the townspeople in a magnate's town was considered a local obligation to the lord of the town, and not to the state. The magnate defined the principles of the practical application of this duty, and the higher officials of his administration, or the garrison commanders, exercised a general control over the fulfillment of this duty. As a rule, the magnates, while making use of the town militia, relied on the wealthy merchant class as well as on the members of the town board and the guild elders. One should note that the magnates regarded both the town militia and the towns themselves as tools, a means to political power, and often exposed the towns and their militias to grievous losses.
Wearing traditional woad colors along with greens and browns
Excerpts taken with minor paraphrasing and thanks from:

The Militias of Magnate Towns in Belorussia and Lithuania in the 16th-18th centuries
by Anatol Hryckiewicz (Minsk, BSSR)
translated from Polish by Sigmund S. Birkenmayer and Eugenia J.Okoniewska
edited by Margot Topkins Tutun

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Welcome a new unit

The Grand Duke Alexander Orzepovski of Litharus is pleased to announce the formation of the Dainava Forest Jagers.  It had been noted in previous engagements with Germania that our Pandours, however valiant, have been out-classed by their rifle-armed opponents.  Drawing on the husky hunters and woodsmen of the vast Dainava Forest, a small experimental Jager Corps has been formed.  With a unique Litharusian touch one third of the men are armed with muskets and bayonets, to be able to provide a formed base to operate around as well as to offer a faster rate of fire and the bayonet to the enemy.  (Translation: I had a bunch of mixed figures with no clear use so I created an Imagi-Nation unit.)

Wearing a mid-brown coat with dark green facings it is hoped that they will operate effectively in cover.  Being a mixture of fresh and older recruits, some opt for a more relaxed look to their uniform.  (Translation: I'm told these are mostly OOP Redoubt figures and are an odd lot.)

And so a new half-battalion joins the army, with more than a little bit of whimsy.  At present the Grand Duke has no plans to expand the corps to a full battalion.  (Translation: very unlikely I'd ever stumble across anything similar.)  With the Pandour battalion and pulk of Cossacks we now have a light force with which to wage le petite guerre