05 June 2016

The Action of Volkmarsen*** 24 July 1760 – The Day of the Light Troops

Here is my next game – another Scenario, based on my 1760 Summer Campaign in Lower Hessen with its French versus Allies historic unfought ‘Near Battles’ being fought. I must say, so far, my project has turned into a nice ‘scenario generator’ producing great games in multiples. This time it’s the Action at Volkmarsen on the Twiste rivulet. 

The French army passes the village of Külte.

The French army closes in on Volkmarsen, the walled town seen on the banks of the Twiste rivulet.
I simply follow French maréchal Broglie’s plan to tour the landscapes or regions of the Grimm Brothers fairy-tales with his 1760 summer campaign. I do not want to detract from the great work of the Brothers Grimm, but I find it so compelling to add my own imagination in the wake of Broglie's progress within the lands Grimm's fairy-tales. The Hesse-Waldeck region really is the home of the Snow White tale. The historic Snow White is believed to be based on the story of an ill-fated love affair of a young exceptionally pretty and brilliant Waldeck princess with young Habsburg/Spanish prince Phillip – later Phillip II – at the court of Brussels. She simply wasn’t a match adhering to standards, and was poisoned in the event just to avoid improper Habsburg-Waldeck marriage then.

The combat of Volkmarsen isn’t based on a near – but a real historic action. All the French troops listed on my above orbat sheets were the ones that took part in the affair, really. Also the historic order of battle for the Allied corps of general Spörcken is authentic as well has the troops under Wangenheim and Oheimb deployed to support him.

The scenario is based on the same 24 July operation that also my earlier Saxenhausen battle further below is based on. What makes it so interesting to me is the rather unusual vast number of light troops committed in this battle. More then 50% of the French total Lights of the Army took part here, and also a good part of the Allies Lights were involved. I never played a SYW game with so many light troops involved. I’m curious how it will play. 

The odds in numbers in favour of the French should be somewhat offset by the nature of the terrain, with the Allies found well concealed by a number of mostly marshy banked streams or rivulets, crossable at the bridges and marked fords only.
General Chabot's command of about 7,000 light troops closing in on Spörcken's position
The Kugelsburg ruin ontop Kugelsberg hill, occupied by parts of Spörken's light troops. As I don't have the Légion Britannique, my lights are substituted by Highlanders, Jägers, and Hussards

Spörcken with his forward troops near the walled town of Volkmarsen

Spörckens camp ontop the Scheid high ground

From all I was able to collect, the real historic action was fought for the most part as a mere cannonade, with only some of the light troops actually being committed. That’s why it is found below the horizon of most of the available history accounts, I believe. And it is also the reason why it cannot be entitled a battle. Neither were the 2 armies main forces involved, nor did the action end up in a general engagement of most troops present. The newly raised Légion Britannique had its ‘baptism of fire’ that day as it engaged in a smart fight for the contest of its advanced position around the village of Külte. This part of the historic action, I have not included with my scenario. I start with the French being master of Külte and at the point to advance on Volkmarsen. The troops told to support Spörcken never did so, but were either found committed by the force of general Clozen, or the force of the grenadiers of general St.Pern with that days general attack of the entire French army. The minor changes I did to turn it into my Scenario are 1st: the supports of Wangenheim and Oheimb really being in support as off table reserves, & 2nd: as a result of it, the French force of Clozen told to prevent this will also engage. I assumed, old general de St.Pern either was found lost – as at Krefeld in 1758, or lacked the required determination to beat or at least tie his opponents – as happened with his somewhat screwed attack at Bork (Westphalia), 29 Sept. 1758. General Kielmansegg’s few troops as part of Wangenheim’s command were enough to tackle him, and the remainder managed to march off to support poor pressed Spörcken at Volkmarsen. 

The report on how the game went will follow once it has being played. Hopefully next Saturday.

14 April 2016

The Battle of Hastenbeck, 26 July 1757 – refought

On 2016 Easter Friday, our group played a refight of the battle of Hastenbeck. Originally we were supposed to be 5 players, but two fell sick the days before, so that we were left with only 3 players. Two on the French side, including myself, and one for the Hannoverian Army. I was also not feeling so well and got struck by a flu for the remainder of the Easter Holidays. That's one of the reasons why this AAR is published only now.
I always believed Hastenbeck is anything but a perfect wargame scenario, as a result of the odd terrain and the considerable French superiority in troops and artillery. As said in my previous article below, that's why it took me 12 years from my extensive research done on this battle to making it a game. How mistaken I was! The game played really well with everybody having a great time. As said in my previous article, the game was played with Volley & Bayonet rules and the scenario was based on Frank Chadwick's "Battle's of the Seven Years War", vol. 2: "The Strategic Flanks". A great scenario to play, and likely to supersede Minden as my favorite SYW French vs. Allies battles. I converted his orbats into my preferred visual layout play sheets with inserting my troops and some non-historic generals in order to minimize re-labeling.

The battle evolved somewhat different as the historic one as a result of the Hannoverian Army's somewhat altered deployment.

According to the scenario, the Allies deployed first anywhere behind a line running East-West between the South edge of Hastenbeck village and North edge of Voremberg, which remained unoccupied to the front of their position. As in the historical battle the Hannoverian's placed their batteries in field works to command the bottleneck between Hastenbeck and the wooded Schrecken heights with the Obensberg hilltop, but also deployed troops to the East of the hills. Strangely, also a cavalry division was placed to the South of the Haste Stream between Hastenbeck and the Weser River, which marked the West edge of the table. Not such a good idea, as it turned out. Most of the superior numbered French cavalry of the left wing fell upon them & the Hannoverians were eliminated in the first turn. Below see the end result of this French 1st turn assault. The Hannoverian horse was found eliminated with a single strike, thanks to the French light horse that managed to move into the rear of the enemy, thus, denying them to fall back across the bridge across the marshy banked Haste Stream. A good start for the French. I instantly went off to my fridge to arrange for our Victory Champagne ice cool – for cheering to this certain French arms day of glory.
The French initial deployment and general plan of attack was otherwise not so different from the historic plan. The terrain simply left us with little alternatives.
The French left wing infantry gets moving forward.
So does the French right under my command. A many photos were done during this game. It took me a while to sort out the best selection for a good narrative. That's another reason for the delay of this AAR.
Meanwhile the Hannoverian Army of Observation was ‘observing’ the French initial moves.
Above see a close-up of Cumberlands Grenadiers under Hardenberg securing the batteries.
The French right wing was reenforced by most of the French cavalry of the right as a result of the entire force of general Oberg to the East of the Schrecken heights. Oberg soon realized that he was opposing far superior numbers of French and withdrew his troops onto the high ground to his rear forming a line along the edge of the woods. Now the battle started in earnest with Cherverts' men executing its flank turning movement. Supported by cavalry he now closed in on Obergs' division that had formed an angle to Cumberland's main position West fo the Schrecken high ground. At the same time Broglie, on the French left, closed in on Hastenbeck supported by the French heavy artillery. 
The French left under Broglie attacking Hastenbeck village
 D'Armentière's Corps of the right closing in on Cumberland's left wing batterie.
Broglie's light troops seize Hastenbeck.
 D'Armentière's guns target Cumberland's batterie.
Chervert's Corps of the far right closes in on Oberg's division.

Close-up of the contest between Chervert's and Oberg's men for the Schrecken high ground securing the flank of Cumberland's position.
Gradually, the French pushed forward taking every Hannoverian strongpoint one by one. First, the Obensberg hilltop was seized by French light troops, next fell Hastenbeck, and the two right hand batteries were captured and its guns silenced.

The brave lads of regiment Piédmont attack the batterie of the centre.
 The guns were silenced…
…and Piédmont seizes the batterie.
The Hannoverians defended every inch of their position like lions, resulting in heavy loss on both sides.

The French cavalerie of the left continued to threaten Cumberland's far right by signalling to pass the stream. General Imhoff's entire division was needed to secure the Haste stream.
 After the batteries had all been taken by the French, they now pushed forward through the defile between Hastenbeck village and the Obensberg hilltop.
The aftermath from the contest for the Schmiedebrink highgroud seen, after the French pressed on forward. A fine example oncemore prooving the old German miniature collectors saying: "Its the dead and dying that'll make your scenery look alive".

In came now Cumberlands revenge. The Hannoverians had been pushed back to their Alamo Position. With their backs to the wall, they were unwilling to accept defeat and decided for one final all-out attack on Contades Corps of the Centre.

My Co-Player V*** failed about every single morale check resulting in a super disaster. Contades Corps was smashed in a single turn, including our so valuabble heavy guns. This accident decided the day, as by that time also Cheverts Corps of the right along with the right wing cavalerie had been fought down into exhaustion. The French started to run out of troops, and it was only two or three turns to go till nightfall.
Above you see about the final stage of the battle. The Hannoverians somehow managed to form a last final line, that the French were unable to crush. The battle was lost to the French as the French cavalerie attack – most desperate – accross the Haste stream was also a total falure. I knew that happening before, but was unable to prevent V*** from doing such a silly thing.
A great game it was, that we will surely play another time sometime in the near future.

22 March 2016

Upcoming: the battle of Hastenbeck, 26 July 1757 – refought

Our group is  looking forward to this years Easter Friday Wargame at my place. This year it will be a refight of the battle of Hastenbeck, 26 July 1757. Some troops and terrain still needs to be completed. I'm under real stress. My latest paint-jobs have to take part in the game at any price.

Below see a view of my new Hannoverians of regt. Kielmannsegg (IR 12A).

Just a few more brush strokes to give the flag its finish and they'll be ready for play. 

Off course this gorgeous Saxon Quick-Firer has to take part in the game. Finally, I painted some more command figures. 
From left to right you see my take of English mylord Waldgrave, lieut.-general, accompanied by a Highlander.
The Highlander is an old figure of mine which I improved a bit. Remastered, so to say, rather than entirely painted anew. Centre is a Hannoverian general. It could be Wangenheim, once more a remastered rather old figure. He is accompanied by an Hannoverian aide-de-camp from the Foot Guards (new). On the right its general Luckner (new) alongside his aide-de-camp from the Hannoverian Jagers (old). 

All of them will be placed in command somewhere in Cumberland's order of battle. Even though Waldgrave and Luckner certainly had no general command in this battle, I shall find them some division to command, anyway.
I also did a huge pile of scratch-build stream sections along with a bridge, and a good number of field work sections which are awaiting they finish. 

The field-works are the result of my trauma suffered in our Saxenhausen game. Those field works (substituted by stone walls then) left me with a deep impression. I needed to have some more realistic looking models. The gabions seen here are plastic models I recently purchased from Nottingham UK based Warlord Games. you can't beat 8 GBP incl. shipping to Germany for 20 pieces. Just 4 more are scratch made for they had only 20 to sell me – and I needed 24. All needs to be finished by Wednesday night. Thursday night is planned for setting up the table and arranging the troops needed for the game. 
Below see the result of my extensive research I did many years ago. 
My God, I can't believe its 12 years from this illustration to the first time it is turned into a game with My SYW Armies. I must say, my research back then, directed mainly at the historic order of battle of the French forces committed in this battle, stands pretty well to the present day. Of course, I have grown wiser in the meantime. The composition of the cavalry could need a revision. Only many years after I made this map I learned about the identity of the horse of Broglie's Reserve (regts. du Roi, Condé, Beauvillers, and Lameth with total 8 esc) and 4 esc of d'Aubigne dragoons. This will add a 4th regt of dismounted dragoons into d'Armentières division and the order of French cav brigades should be reshuffled somewhat. I haven't had the patience to do that yet.
For our game, we will use the scenario provided by Frank Chadwick's "Battle's of the Seven Years War", vol. 2: The Strategic Flanks for Volley & Bayonet rules. For the greater part, his orbats are based on my work anyway. 

I converted his orbats 1:1 into my preferred visual layout play sheet. Just his suggested French "Ghost" Light Division" I cut down somewhat, as it includes units that have remained in France or were assembling with Soubise's force near Hanau at that time. You may delete it alltogether. I accounted for 3 skirmishing stands. Fine enough.
I'll post some pictures and AAR within short.