29 March 2014

The Battle of Schweinsberg*** - a ‘near’ historical scenario - or the true story as to where his lordship Granby really lost his wig

With all my many new French regiments painted and the entire Allied Army's guns remastered during the last three months, the time now has come, to see My Seven Years' War French Army giving battle to My Britannic Majesty's Army in Germany.
Untitled painting by Richard Knötel. Collection of the Rastatt Army Museum WGM, Germany.
A very biased English sides take on the state of affairs, really. The below will reveal the ‘true’ story.
I put up a ‘near historical’ battle based on the rather authentic strategic situation at the beginning of Broglie's invasion of Lower Hesse June 1760. Our group usually plays refights of historical battles. This time we fought a battle that was short of having really taken place. The 1760 campaign in Western Germany is my absolute favorite. Unfortunately, the belligerent forces did not fight a major battle with this campaign – just minor Affaires, as the French used to put it. I will have to interfere here and breech a path for some more epic stuff. It doesn't take much to arrive here. Just minor twists to the one or other regulating screw, and this campaign will furnish about half a dozen major battles that were dead close of really having been fought.

Historical Background

To start with, above sketch shows the historical situation at nighttime 24 June (see the orbats below). The French stole the Allies a march or two, crossed the Ohm river June 24, and set up camp around Niederklein. Ferdinand really wanted to set up his defense of Lower Hesse by taking advantage of the strong Ohm position between Schweinsberg and Homberg, but entirely screwed it. Despite the warnings of his forward elements placed along the Ohm, he was unwilling to advance from his camp near Fritzlar. He did so only at 01.30h June 24. Too late, as during the afternoon that day, the French pushed back all Allied advance troops and crossed the river. Only now Ferdinand realized matters became serious - Broglie was about to spoil his entire campaign planing. He now ordered the army to continue marching all the way to Neustadt, where it arrived at midnight all exhausted, having covered a distance traced out for two marches of 5.5 German miles in 24 hours (approx. 41 km). Also the Erbprince's force had spent most of the two last days force marching to join general Imhoff's pressed force at Amöneburg. Broglie was found with most of his force already across the river, and had all approaches well guarded by his forward light troops, while most of Ferdinand's troops were seen exhausted spitting along the roadsides between Neustadt and Erxdoff. 
Now, at this point I decided to alter the historic situation. I assume Ferdinand had stepped off his Camp of Fritzlar 1 or 2 days earlier and was found in Neustadt well rested and prepared to give battle June 25 or 26. Lusace's reserve of the right was still found encamped between Haarhausen and Homberg on the left bank of the Ohm - historically, he formed up on the right of Broglie near Kirtorf (Kirchdorff with above map) June 25.
Historically, Ferdinand gave up his idea to attack, but withdrew to a position behind the Schwalm river June 26. In fear of being attacked by the French in his Neustadt position June 26, he formed up his army which had to spend the night under arms in the open. Oddly enough, also Broglie feared to be attacked and ordered his entire army to form up in line of battle on the morning 26 June. Also Ferdinand would have been more determined then he really was. That's all it takes to arrive at the desired epic battle.

My Volley & Bayonet Scenario 
As a result of limited table size, I doubled distances and round about halved the original Army's troop strength. The French had amassed about a 100.000 men opposing about 55.000 Allies. They would all fit onto my table, but I thought it would have become too crowded allowing for but little maneuvering. Now, a regiment would represent a brigade and the battlefield measured a more spacey 18.000 by 11.400 Yards. The forces engaged can be seen on my two below orbat sheets. They are the breakdown of the historic orders of battle for this day. I have of course inserted my units here. To my delight, a many are really authentic. Most obvious, it is the historic Saxons with Lusace's corps that are missing. They will yet have to be painted. For the time being, they had been substituted by my more then worthy Bavarians - tested comrades-in-arms of the French, anyway.
My French Army miniatures formed up as per above ordre de bataille.

Here is my Allied Army.
Anyone familiar with the rules will notice my French army is rated a somewhat better fighting force than in the usual orbats for the SYW French. Also the Allies have been given a good number of morale 6 units combined with a rather high division exhaustion. 

With our game the attacking Allies were free to choose the battlefield area according to their plan of attack. All woods were rather open and passable for all arms. The numerous runs found here had no marshy banks except for the run around Blasdorff bridge on the French left. The Ohm river was passable only at the bridges. One at Amöneburg, another one at Homberg, plus the three pontoon bridges the French jetted across the Ohm the other day.

The Allies decided to attack the French left, and the battlefield was set up accordingly. Ferdinand decided that Imhoff and the Erbprinz were to fall upon the French left, while Ferdinand's main force was to attack frontally right through the woods separating both armies between Allendorf and Niederklein to exert as much pressure as possible. His cavalry wings of Granby and Oheimb were combined on the left, where the terrain was found more open. Accordingly, as part of the pre-battle off table movement, the Erbprinz deployed behind Imhoff. The latter was to seize and secure the passages around Blasdorff bridge at daybreak prior to the arrival of the Erbprinz, who was to execute the principal attack turning the French left wing and dislodge the French from the heights of Niederklein.

To the first alarm, the French formed up in order of battle with Lusace still on the far bank of the Ohm. It would take him some time to arrive on the scene. The army was determined to defend its position and beat off the Allied attack. Condé's avantgardes were spread across the front. Blaisel's volontaires de Clermont had occupied Kirchdorff. His converged elites of the infantry were initially encamped ahead of the first line around the small village of Lehrbach behind a run with the same name.

The Battle

View across the front of the deployed French army. Foreground shows the cavalry of the right and the 1st Infanterie division under d'Havré deployed to the right of the village of Dannenrod. Next to the castle of Schweinsberg (centre left) you see the Carabiniers and the heavy artillerie park awaiting orders as to where they should reinforce the French position.
View of the French left deployed between Niederklein and the Allies held crossing of the Netzebach at Blasdorff Bridge were you see Imhoff's Light's already in position. Imhoff screens the approaching column of the crack division under command of the Erbprinz. You can also see Ferdinand's main force advancing trough the open woods separating both armies in their front. Note the body of horse seen at the upper left edge of the table. That is Granby's Cavalerie of the Right. It seems none of Ferdinand's aide-de-camps had issued any orders to him. While the rest of the army is found in full motion, the poor man is halting and waiting for someone to tell him what to do. Oddly enough, Ferdinand opted for the French left to be turned, the single area where the heights of Niederklein were most difficult to access. In the event, the area around Blasdorff became the scene of the hottest fighting. ‘Blasdorff Bridge’ – a location reminding me of Young & Lawford's scenario of ‘Blasthof Bridge’ in their classic 1967 published Charge! Or how to play Wargames. I wonder if there was an intended connection? Really, much of the northern section of the battlefield was the scene of the popular action of Emsdorf, fought 15 July 1760. With my old map, all those ‘…dorff’ places are found in the old German reading with double ‘f’. Nowadays, its just one. Historically, it was general Glaubitz force which finally surrendered around Niederklein. It would have been the regiment/brigade of Anhalt, part of Lusace's Corps with my above orbat – but ‘nay’ – not today! 

The French decided for a forward defense and denied the Allies the crossing for a considerable time.
The regiment of Auvergne defended the crossing with utmost bravery, anticipating its historical brave fight at Klosterkamp. More decisive, I was told from English prisoner officers, it was Guerchy's battery that spit terror and carnage among the attacking Allies.

Hardly one of its devastating canister brooms missed its target. It was too much for the Erbprinz.
In the centre around Niederklein, general Rooth's division descended from their hill and engaged the division of Wangenheim. 
To my Irish brigade as well as to my recently painted Aquitaine, this was to be their first test of battle.
The regiments fought well. The Irish had the misfortune to have colonel Huth's Hessian heavy 12-pounders right to their front. It killed them rather soon. Aquitaine performed marvelously. Sustaining a heavy fire, it refused to give way, though, the division was soon found exhausted. 
Here have a view of the Hessian 12-pdr. Scratch built around last Christmas, with dimensions based on original source. A Prussian Brummer-class heavy battery piece. Only when Wutginau's Hessian division started to outflank Aquitaine and Condé – all that remained from Rooth's division – it withdrew back to the highgrounds along with Condé, but not before they succeeded in knocking out the Hannoverian regiment of Hardenberg. Can't believe the two really exchanged fire, as I longed for at the bottom of my previous article "My Way to paint 30 mm ‘Flat’ Miniatures – Might serve as a Tutorial". I swear to Mars, this isn't scripted reality here. They really opposed another – and Aquitaine won. Hah! What a fine regiment it is.
Now back to the events. This fight delayed the centre of the Allies to cross the Klein run for a while. Further to the French right, Blaisel's Lights and the Cavalerie of the Right, denied the Allies any significant progress with a number of smart moves. 
View of the situation on the French right. 1) is Blaisel's avantgarde at Krichdorff, 2) is Condé's Grenadiers & Chasseurs of the Army, 3) is Lusace's Corps at Homberg. With Granby's cavalerie delayed arrival, Oheimb's cavalerie of the Left tried to open a path for the Allies on the French right on their own, but were repulsed by the joint counterattack of Lusace's arriving escadrons as well as the Carabiniers. The latter had concealed themselves on the high ground behind the infanterie around Niederklein, by taking advantage of my flats rather slim sillhouette. My Opponent failed to identify them as cavalry and in the event, his horse was caught in flank by the Carabiniers smart timed counterattack. That day, the regiment anticipated what is known as ‘hull down’ position in modern armoured warfare. Make it the French invention ‘horse down’ position for cavalry in the SYW. Worked out charmingly. 
It gained the French right wing all the time needed for Lusace to pass the Ohm at Homberg and march his force straight in the direction of Kirchdorff into an outflanking position. Only after Lusace had deployed along the Lehrbach, Granby's cavalry finally appeared on the scene. But by this time, Oheimb's cavalry was already found defeated and Wutginau's division was the sole intact body of troops around. Too few to deal with the entire French right wing plus Lusace's Corps.

Above image shows the final stage on the French right. Granby's horse is denied to turn the French flank, and Lusaces grenadiers actually dare to close in and pur in their fire. Wutginau's attack on d'Haré's division was repulsed and its remains were now shattered by the French right wing cavalry.
Returning to the more intense fighting around Blasdorff Bridge now. With considerable loss, the Allies finally managed to crush the French defenders, that had to be relieved by St. Perns Grenadiers. This Corps d'élite didn't perform all that well. By some sort of misunderstanding it was found deployed with exposed flanks. The Erbprinz saw his chance, attacked with all what was left and routed the entire division in a single onslaught. Now the Allied army was found completely worn down, while the crisis on the French left could be recovered by the arrival of Condé's grenadiers, as well as with the now engaging French cavalerie of the Left. It was too much for the Allies. The battle was lost. Granby's cavalry was found the single body, that had not been committed. An aide-de-camp of Lusace could clearly see Granby throwing his wig into the Lehrbach in a blaze of anger.
He could do no more then cover the retreat of Ferdinand's utterly defeated army. 


Below I've added the historic battle orders, for anyone interested to prepare this scenario based on his own employed scales and ruleset.
The Allies – Its an Original. Source is the Paris Service Historique de l'Armée de Terre at Château Vincenne. Apparently, it was captured – from Granby's staff ?… . First sheet has the Main Army, the second the detached and advance troops and their locations June 25.

Copyright restricted image – It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.

Copyright restricted image – It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
© 2014 DigAM - digitales archiv marburg / Hessisches Staatsarchiv Marburg,

Above see an incomplete sketch of the French Camp of Schweinsberg. The woods are way too extended. That's because this terrain was held by the Allies then, and as a result, could not be reconnoitred. This type of plans was standard staff work at that time and would have been done with each camp. The colouring was done later, of course. Also the Klein run to the north of the camp is missing. Only the left half of the army is illustrated. The entire right is missing ?!?.

The French Army's order of Battle June 1760.
St. Germain's army of the Lower Rhine has to be ignored here. 
This order of battle makes a dead on match with all the records. The troops not present at Schweinsberg June 25/26 were the Gendarmerie, that was still approaching, the cavalry brigade of Orléans, which was located at Limburg June 23 and joined only after June 27. Also Chabot's Avantgarde including some line troops he had under his command I have not accounted for. They should have been found located at Amöneburg and some other locations between Amöneburg and Marburg monitoring the left flank of Broglie's army.

12 February 2014

My Way to paint 30 mm ‘Flat’ Miniatures – Might serve as a Tutorial

Having been asked so often how I arrive at my painting results, I thought of putting the below tutorial together. I'll invite you to follow me painting a set of 15 SYW French infantry miniatures. I have chosen to turn them into the roughnecks of Aquitaine (template seen in the right background). As my late reading implies, it was one of Frances more formidable fighting units. A must have. Can't believe I set my eye on this regiment only recently. The flag design will be a challenge, and I'm already getting quite excited as to how it will turn out.
While thinking on how to present my method of painting miniatures, I realised I don't have much of what would deserve to be entitled a ‘deliberate technique’. I guess I'm a loose gun sort of bloke - talented - possibly - but rather instinctively painting away at random. 
That's why I decided to let the pics speak for themselves with only a minimum of supporting information. Besides, as I'm no native English speaker, I'm missing most of the needed technical terms anyway.
The priming I do with a white universal paint - that's what the label says, at least.

A good old German brand. The multi lingual text on its label indicates you can buy it basically anywhere across the globe.
I tried priming with black - once, but that was no good for my way of painting. I stay with white. Its so much better. Actually when applied to the metal, it'll turn light grey, really.
I should note, that I use artists fine oils with the required additives and also modeller's matt enamels.
Both can also be mixed quite well. Such a mix I often use as initial base coating, as it dries more quickly and allows for a more speedy progress. If you aren't in a hurry, you don't need them.
Given the slow drying of oil colours, they are best prepared in a little box that can be closed to keep annoying dust off.
The first step is simply to apply a base cover to every part of the figure. I'll cover the coat, vest, breeches, and gaiters, etc. The faces and hands, I do in a flipped manner. I start off dark with a red-brown – ‘English Red’, I find best here – and then work in the lights with white.
I add white onto the forehead, nose, the cheeks, and the chin. This works best while the initial red coating hasn't dried yet. Unfortunately, here I was too slow, so that the white didn't mix with the red so well. I have done this better before. No worries. I'm only starting. Plenty of opportunities to correct later if you happen to have your brush loaded with the right shade of colour at a later stage.  Really, seeing the figures at this vastly increased scale, my paint work looks terribly inaccurate. A lot more then it actually is. The real figure, seen from about a foot distant, looks perfectly fine.
Initial coating of the figures is continued. I also do the cartridge bags, the rucksacks, etc. Do you notice the flag. It looks awesome. Must be a design by Yves Saint-Laurent or Missoni. How stylish it is. That's what I love with the French army.  Prussian ones manufactured by this obscure Bunzelockwitz Silk Painters Ltd. located at Berlin Hackische Höfe will never be a match. 
I also started the first shading with the drum. Before you engage into the shading part of the paint work, you'll have to decide at what level of 3D appeal you want to arrive. The below sketch will illustrate the issue with an odd cylinder (Fig. I) – Yes, that is a cylinder. 
It will be more obvious if you illustrate it as Fig. II and even more so as with Fig. III. I usually seek to arrive at Fig. III. This sketch also serves as a good eye-ball calibrator if you do it for yourself before starting to paint. That said you can now see how I do it when sculpting the coats, to begin with. I dash off rather boldly and line out the dark parts in a rather sketchy manner. 

Right after that I use the coats initial base colour again and mix it into the dark creating gradients from darker to lighter where I want it.
This way works better then painting the dark parts into the cover while it is still wet in order to arrive at the gradients. You have better control of what you are doing. Too much dark can be easily removed with a brush stroke of cleaner instead of colour. You can't do that when painting into the wet cover.
The result is seen below.

With pretty much the same method, I did the shading and lightening of the two tambours blue coats. Different to the white coats, I started off with applying the light parts first. Not too much to avoid arriving at a light blue coat. The dark parts are applied only after. Less detail is needed here since both coats will receive a lot of lace later.
Next, I place some light onto the rucksack and cartridge bags. Again this is done rather sketchy with its initial step. 
Thereafter I paint in the gradients much the same way as it was done with the coats. The same way, I model the tricornes. I add the lightening with a light blue, and by using a dark brown, I also took the time to give the sabers including the hilts a dark brown cover. The same colour I also used to outline the muskets as well as the cartridge bags. 
I also gave the red parts of the tambours some further treatment by adding lights as well as the darker parts. Muskets as well as the flag bar and officers esponton do also receive a light lining.
Now also the gaiters will receive more attention. Again, the dark parts are added as seen below. 

Thereafter meleed into the white as done before.
As next major step, the rucksacks are added the dark parts and the white coats and gaiters will receice a highlight cover. This is oncemore an opportunity to increase the 3D appearance of the figures. 

Not sure if you can see it on the photo, but I aimed at arriving at two different shades of white - or better an off-white. More yellowish for the coats, and more cool greyish for the gaiters. I have tried this several times before, but with poor outcome. You could hardly tell in the end. This time, it has worked quite well. After this step, the job is nearly done. Last comes the buttons and lace. As can be seen, I have already started here. Also the belts will receive more light and darker shading as well as outlining. Below see an image of the entire unit in its present nearly finished state.

Indeed, the God of Battle watching seems to be pleased – and – I guess he is seriously reconsidering the flag design of his Garde Impériale.
Aquitaine paint job completed. I'm pleased. To the right we see the Hannoverian regiment Hardenberg. It can hardly await the moment of first contact to exchange fire with Aquitaine. 
Aquitaine based and in company of Frances most tested SYW fighting units in Germany. Left 2 are Auvergne, the other is Belzunce (one stand missing with the photo). Auvergne is formally La Reine. I overpainted la Reine and turned it into this regiment, as la Reine belongs to Americas annals, not so much to the war in Germany. I need Auvergne for Minden as well as for my 1760 campaign project.