15 November 2016

The Great SYW Battlefield Tour Oct 2016

Here are a few pictures of a great tour of Frederick the Greats battlefiels of the 7YW, I took part in earlier in October this year. The trip was organized by the great guys of the US based so called "Seven Year's War Association" & guided by the good professor Christopher Duffy. Its the man soley responsible for my continued passion to the subject. Its all his fault, and I am so thankful. I had the honour to be part of this wonderful trip. Below see a few images of the gang taking part.

The Gang seen at the monument on the battlefield of Kolin. I say its the largest gathering of educated experts ever to assemble around this monument. All are SYW experts. No doubt.

The battlefield of Kolin in closer investigation. Charles Grant judges the field of fire from the Austrian held village of Krechor Church on the right flank of their Kolin position. I am awaiting his future writings on the subject. 

The Gang seen in front of the famous Church walls of the village of Lutnia/Leuthen in Poland today.

Another cold and rainy day. The Gang taking pictures of the churchtower of Hochkirch from a distance in the direction of Bautzen. :-) The guys aren't photo adict Japaneese tourists, as this image may imply, be sure, they are all US Americans :-)
From this image you can tell the sort of excitement we all shared when seeing the historic grounds of history.  This church tower formed such a formidal land mark in the area. Also important in Napoleons 1813 battle of Bautzen I learned.  
In the wake of this great trip, I started painting some Russians. The battlefields of Kunersdorf & Zorndorf were the last we visited. Kunersdorf was so special as I managed to arrange for a meeting with a local Polish Historian who showed us his past years exgravations from the battlefield & some interesting sites on the ground. It was a real highlight of this trip. I haven't done all that many photos. A good journal of our trip can be found on Jim Purky's Blog (Der Alte Fritz) at:
See his October 2016 articles here.
Below see an image of my latest work-in-progress. The Kunersdorf battlefield left me with a deep impression. Now I started remastering My Russian Army, inheritted some years ago from a late loved friend of mine

More on this with my next article. Stay tuned. 

05 September 2016

Hanoverian SYW Artillery

With the below, I present my new scratch built Hanoverian 30-pdr or 8 inch howitzer. For long I have been in search of good source that would provide a good general picture on how Hanoverian ordnance would have looked like in distiction to my in depth researched and presented French or Prussian ordnance.
I still need to make a visit to the State Archives of Lower Saxony found in Hannover and Buckeburg (much of the former Brunswick-Luneburg territories). The latter does keep a lot of artillery draftsnot so much Hanoverian, I'm arfaid)while the former has but few drafts listed with the libraries finder.
Its not all that much I have for the time being, but enough to give it a start. Now, lets close in on the issue.
A general overview on SYW Hanoverian ordnance can be found at Kronoskaf SYW Online Source Project http://www.kronoskaf.com/syw/index.php?title=Hanoverian_Artillery_Equipment . Most of this articles content was edited by myself, so there is no need to repeat it all here. This article's focus is the ‘looks’ of Hanoverian guns of this period. Lets first have a look at the result.

The barrels looks are my take based on an illustration found in Scharnorst, Handbuch für die Officiere, …etc. Erster Theil von der Artillerie, …etc., publ. Hannover 1787. It shows a Hanoverian howitzer barrel of the 1780's fielded new ordnance. Its most distinctive feature is the odd rounded breech at the base of the barrel instead of a button. I believe models cast earlier has a much similar construction. The carriage bracket cheeks are based on a Danish construction. Its most distinctive feature is its cornice shaped part in front of the trunnions. A feature, often found with mortar stools.

Above see some W-I-P images of the piece placed next to the French 8 inch howitzer. 
The manner of the iron straps I have done based on a draft of a Hanoverian 24-pounder carriage. The songle draft I could find so far.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.
I identify the above draft as Hanoverian, for it includes the ‘Calenberg Fuß’ as foot scale. It was the official unit used in Brunswick-Lunebourg, and I'm not aware it was used in any other German principality. This was the easy part. More difficult it is to make an assessment regarding it's dating. My best guess would be to date it at around 1720, but it could also be late 17th century as well as it could be after 1730 to mid 18th century. Very difficult to say.

20 July 2016

My 7YW French 8 inch Howitzer model plus my new French ammunition cart models

Finally, 3 years after presenting my research on the single French design howitzer construction of the SYW period, I managed to do my own scratch built model of the piece.
Its a heavy battery gun, not likely to see employment in a moving engagement. Its certainly not a field gun. 

At the 1:55 scale for my 30 mm flats or 1:56 for 28 mm 3D miniatures, the bore of this piece arrives at approx. 4 mm by scaling this pieces bore of 8 inch 3 lines or 8.25 inch down.
Close-up view of the barrel, which is a conversion of a model supplied by MiniFigs I purchased many yeas ago. I added sculptured dolphins and 2 rings on the chase using ‘green stuff’, based on my earlier illustration of this piece seen below.
MiniFigs did a rather good job, as their take of what should be an 8 inch howitzer is a rather dead-on-target match to the French model. I believe their template was either the French Gribeauval M 1767 or a similar English model of the same period. Anyway, the barrel is rather dead on with the earlier French construction as can be seen below with my print-out to scale.
An earlier scratch built howitzer model of mine wasn't all that bad as well. I will use this one to turn it into an Hannoverian 30-pdr howitzer, which is likewise a 8 inch class piece. The bracket cheeks will be replaced by a Danish design of this period. My gut instinct says, Hannoverian designs may have been rather similar.

There is also another interesting source illustrating a French howitzer, unfortunately incomplete.
The afore illustration along with some rather interesting information about French artillery material, actually being fielded during the SYW in Germany derives from an appendix found with the German 1766 published translation of the French original book by Le Blond, L'Artillerie Raisonnée, etc., first published Paris 1761. The appendix is the German editor's/author's add on, missing with the original French edition. The author was a certain Johann Wilhelm Jäger, Ingenieur Capitaine-Lieutenant and appointed Master of Ordnance of the Burghers Arsenal of the City of Frankfurt/Main. His illustrated barrel is a 6.5 inch piece, as per its caption. The somewhat cropped line should read 6 1/2 Zoll, to my understanding. Thats interesting. Apart from the 8 inch model, I have read only of 16 pounder models fielded in 1760. This 6.5 inch piece would be a 12 pound stone class of howitzer, rather then 16 pound stone. Possibly this isn't a French manufactured piece, but an import. Possibly purchased from Nuremberg?!?. In any case, I will try to get copies of the entire foldout sheets from the library which keeps the original book.

Next, I also did 4 ammunition carts for my French artillery. 

The below draft served as template for my three French carts.

Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart, Germany.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.

The wonderful draft gave me the dimensions. The two models with the red coloured wax cloth covers were done according to the draft, more or less. The other with a wood construction cover I did according to the carts seen in the right background on the below oil painting. It has the drafts recommended dimensions with the ammunition container measuring 2h x 6l x 3w feet and the cover with a height of 1 foot. The two earlier ones with the wax cloth cover are slimmer with a width of only 2 feet. 3 feet lookod odd to me in the beginning, but now I believe 3 feet is just right.
There was also a 4-wheel construction found as per the below draft.
Source: copyright restricted
Digital Collection
Württembergische Landesbibliothek, Stuttgart, Germany.
It is published here for purely academic use without any commercial intention.

Also interesting is the below drawingalbeit incomplete and somewhat more scetchyit is rather similar to the above construction. It also provides a view to the way the ammunition was stored inside. This sheet is also found in the afore mentioned Jäger appendix.
Most oviously, this 4-wheel construction was used with the French ‘Swedish’ light 4-pounder battalion gun, for it also carried a share of musket rounds, stored in 50 round packages, in the centre box of the wagon. As per Jäger's caption it held 70 container boxes for an equal number of cannister rounds in the front part, and apparently the same number of boxes for shot cartiges in the rear, or a total of 140 cannon rounds, not including the ready ammunition stored in a coffre carried on the pieces limber (unfortunately undisclosed with the google library copy). This caisson entitled wagon is illustrated with a cover made of thin zinc plate instead of the former custom wax cloth, to provide better protection against fire. During an action somewhere near Cassel, Jäger explains, an Allied howitzer shell exploded near one of these caissons with the shells burning fragments setting the caisson aflame resuting in it exploding and killing a many men from among the nearby standing infantry battalion. Most apparently, this story does allude to the elsewhere documented incident at Korbach, 10 July 1760, were precisely this happended to a battalion of the regiment Auvergene. Seen from Frankfurt, Korbach is indeed ‘somewhere near’ Kassel. Therefore I would assume this sheet metal cover caissons must have first seen servive with the 1761 campaign. I think I will do 1 or 2 of these caissons as well. 
Source: image gallery of Kieler Zinnfiguren foundry at http://www.kieler-zinnfiguren.de/Listen/siebenj-Krieg.html

Above miniatures are from a wonderful series of casts of French train wagons and draught horses. I hope Kieler Zinnfiguren still sells them. I will need a whole load of them.

29 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.

Finally, 18 June, it has been played. See the below for more details of the scenario settings and AAR.

Playing the Action of Volkmarsen
All streams, except the Wetterbach, are marshy banked and are impassable for artillery of any kind. All line infantry crossing will loose their battalion guns. Artillery can cross at the existing bridges and the fords found at Billstein Mill, Roden, and Külte.
Between Volkmarsen and Billstein Mill, the Twiste is edged by orchards blocking line of sight and providing some cover for light infantry, but will also disorder formed troops while moving through. All other wooded areas are treated as dense, or as forests in V&B terms.
Special Scenario Rules
As can be seen on my orbit sheet, all French dragoons are treated as light cavalry, in this game based as cavalry skirmishers. In addition, they may dismount and fight as light skirmishing infantry.
All the line cavalry based on massed stands is considered heavy, regardless whether it is dragoons, horse, or cuirassiers
As an additional scenario rule, the French principal force of Du Muy is assumed to have light bridging material marching at the head of its two columns. They receive 2 such bridges which they are allowed to jet across the Twiste Stream at a point of their choosing. Any French unit of Du Muy's Corps may simply be moved to the desired spot at the Twiste Stream, and the bridge construction will commence with the next turn at this chosen spot. It takes 3 hours/turns to complete the construction of such a bridge (here I follow the time scale of the Austrians crossing the Lohe stream at the Battle of Breslau, 22 November 1757. Under the cover of several heavy batteries they managed to throw 7 such column bridges across the Lohe in precisely 3 hours 15 minutes, and within sight of the Prussians! The Austrians took good advantage of the dense morning fog found during this time of season, while its batteries silenced all threatening Prussian guns within a matter of an hour as the weather cleared. To give the French a chance to accomplish something similar without the support of the Austrian siege artillery at hand that day, I decided to cover the Twiste Stream with orchards, extensive enough to conceal it from other but close range vision.)
Victory conditions
The French attack and move first. The game starts with the 9 a.m. turn and ends with the 9 p.m. turn, or earlier if the one or other side is found defeated before. To win, the French must seize either Volkmarsen or the Kugelsburg ruin in combination with the Watchtower on the ‘Scheid’ high grounds (with this game treated as a village). The Allies win if the French fail to archive their objective till nightfall.
Initial deployment
All French troops are deployed on table except the detachment of general Clozen, who will arrive only the turn after the last Allied reenforcement has entered the table (see afore sketch). With our game, all French entered in my simplified house rule cross country march column with all units found with a depth equal the unit frontage if deployed, except artillery, which is found with doubled depth of its bases depth. Du Muy enters in two columns with the lead elements already past Külte and closing in on Volkmarsen. Maréchal Broglie's younger brother's command enters in a single column with the lead elements already near Billstein Mill. Chabot's light troops may deploy formed anywhere within 10 inches/thousand yards of Wieberkirch on the East side of the Erpe Stream.
General Spörken's principal force deploys on the ‘Scheid’ high ground were it was found encamped. Its left aligning towards Lütersheim and its right stretching past the ‘Watchtower’. The light troops of the Légion Britannique may be placed anywhere along Spörken's side of the Wetterbach, Twiste, and Erpe streams. Also the Kugelsburg ruin and the woods to its north may be occupied. In addition, 1 grenadier unit of Spörken's main force may occupy Volkmarsen.
The command of general Oheimb will enter on the South edge of the table between Lütersheim and the Erpe Stream with the 1 p.m. turn, and Wangenheim with the 2 p.m. turn immediately behind Oheimb.

Well then, how did it play?
Saturday 18 June – Kolin & Warterloo Day – we finally managed to gather and play the Action of Volkmarsen. Two players on the French side, including myself, and once more M*** playing the Allies. Possibly not such a good decision with regard my continued desire to see the French victorious. M*** defended his position most brilliant and in combination with his notorious lucky dice – believed to be secretly blessed at Santiago de Compostella – he left the French without a chance.

Initially, all went fine for the French. In two columns Du Muy's Corps passed Külte and neared on Volkmarsen. The first or right column under my command, comprising the artillery and the infantry of the first line, started to form behind the Twiste to the west of Volkmarsen and with the second turn the construction of 2 bridges commenced right in front of them. 
Below see another image of one of my newly scratch build wooden bridges. This image was done at my earlier solo play-test game. For once, those Pionnier miniatures that had spent all their life in my shelf were found with a ‘real’ mission in a game.
L*** commanding the second or left column comprising Castries cavalry and the infantry of general Travers opted to cross the Twiste at the bridge near Volkmarsen.
Here, they met determined opposition. The light troops of Chabot headed for the Kugelsburg hill in an attempt to get into the rear of the enemy.

They met little opposition. M*** let them close in cold blooded by calculating his reinforcements could deal with them at a later stage of the affair.
On the French right, the command of the comte de Broglie closed in on Billstein Mill in an attempt to tie as many Allies as possible in order to prevent them to spoil the construction of the bridges. M*** concentrated most of his artillery against Broglie inflicting heavy loss to the French.

In my game, Broglie's command was represented by my Saxons under Lusace. Note my new scratch build Saxon ammunition cart on the right, that came along with the Saxon Quick Firer guns. Below see a closer take of my new French and Saxon ammunition carts. I'm rather fond of them, though, the Saxon model ended up too large. It should be smaller, now that I see it next to the others.
Broglie's command (my Saxons) were eventually fought down and exhausted before the bridges were completed. At around the same time the Allies reinforcements arrived in the rear of Spörken's force, the bridges were completed and the French infantry started to cross the Twiste. I guess I was too eager to get as many troops across that bloody stream as possible.

The result of it was a rather dense mass of disordered French assembling behind only a light screen of formed troops. Too light, as it turned out. M*** saw the moment to strike and threw in all his cavalry and more infantry at close hand to deliver a most violent and determined blow. The French first line was thrown back causing multiple routs among the disordered troops in the rear. This major accident decided the day. All of Du Muy's first line infantry was smashed in a single strike. The French continued to press forward with all that was left, but with the meanwhile engaging Allied reinforcements, Spörken had more troops then needed to see off any following French attacks. All French objectives remained in Allied hands. A clear Allied victory once more.