Thursday, August 30, 2007

Never right and wrong again…

Neither yes and no

Ok, well I was part right about the Spanish and part wrong. Dave, the Zoroastro of the 200-ers, has been doing some digging. I was right about the Granada battalions being the two missing regular units, but hopelessly wrong about the Catalans. He has been trying to make sense of Jose Bueno’s book on the Spanish Army in 1808 and the two battalions of Catalonian Volunteers are not the regular light infantry units I supposed. Neither are they levies as Oman supposed either.

Turns out they are the Rondas Volantes de Catalunya, a sort of Gendarmerie charged with anti-smuggling operations (or probably just those the unit itself was not involved with) and looks like being some sort of Miquelet-type light infantry. The pic below has them looking rather dashing, and the blue goes by the name of ‘azul celeste’ – heavenly blue. Dave suggested, and I agree, that the FR Guerillas in cape would be the best representation of this bunch, so off we go again.

126: Rondas Volantes di Catalunya

Diesbach completed

The flags arrived from Vaubanner this week and I took a few shots of the completed unit (see below). How fast this project progresses is dependent on money, or rather if I can sell the Finns or not. I try to keep to a strict annual budget for buying figures and terrain and I have reached it for 2007! So, if the Finns go then fine (and there is just over a day left to go) and I had a question about them yesterday, but I am not convinced that they will sell. If they do then that means a lot more WAS figures. But there is also the issue of what the Eureka Dutch WAS will look like, and I will have to turn to them for some of the Spanish, notably the troops with turnbacks and collar but no lapels.



In the meantime, enjoy the photos





































Talking to a brick wall




I have also been doing some more work on my 15mm Vauban Fortress, seen here with some 1790’s Austrians in residence. I have a few more pieces to paint to complete it, but it looks jolly impressive on the edge of a table, so when it is fully complete and can stand alone it should be real fun.



K

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Birthday Boy

Grumpy Old men

Yes, today I am 35. I am now officially eligible to join the age segment of Grumpy Old Men. This group, so it has been scientifically established, occurs at the age of 35 with the realisation that you are no longer young and all there is to look forward to is the mortgage payments, divorce, the kid’s university fees and a general loss of vitality. Also, in Gay years, that makes me around 70.

Grumpy Old Men: Holtzendorff and L'Estocq

People who have known me a long time are well aware that in fact this is the moment my life has been building up to. Middle Aged at 18 I was only waiting for time to catch up. People, rather oddly in my view, seem to be committed to convincing me I am still ‘young’ somehow. I regard this as somehow futile and in denial of the facts. Now I can justifiably moan about hoodies, loud music and reminisce about snowy winters and sunny summers. In other words begin to take refuge in the past. Soon I will be reading the Daily Mail with its promises of a better yesterday and start blaming everything on asylum seekers.

IR3 'Erzherzog Karl'

The next big sea-change, apparently, is at 55, with the realisation that it is only ten years or less to retirement and the mortgage will be paid off, the kids are out of your hair (at last) and you can actually enjoy yourself as the other half has got heartily sick of you and will do anything to encourage you to get out from underfoot. Roll on…

Reportage

Otherwise nothing much to report on the painting front; I have finished Regiment ‘Diesbach’ but I am waiting for the flags I ordered to arrive from Vaubanner before taking more pictures. I have also managed to complete the last half dozen Austrian Uhlans from UlR2. The next batch to get started is eight more Catalan light infantry to finish the unit I did last week.

UlR2 'Schwarzenberg' in line

The Finns are not going well. Five days to go and no bids, with only three watchers. Maybe they are overpriced? I suspect, though, that they are too esoteric as most WW2 wargamers want to play late war with bags of armour. The Finns, allowed nothing heavier than a StuG III is hardly in that league.

I have been doing a bit more thinking about my Fictitious Wars campaign. This has been going on-and-off for ages, since I left University in fact. I am thinking about abandoning the 20mm plastic route and going for the 10mm Pendraken range and start the whole thing all over again. But this is part of my weakness, the inability to concentrate on one thing. I found myself today looking longingly at my 15mm Marlburian stuff as well…

Next on this blog I guess I must get round to looking at the Eylau refight of earlier this year. It will take a certain amount of self-flagellation to do so, of course, but I think it is time.

J

Monday, August 20, 2007

Linguistic Gymnastics

Does anyone speak Catalan?

Well, the latest lot of Spanish are done ad do they look good. There is a saying in my part of the world that ‘red and green should not be seen, except upon a fool’. Well, this lot may be foolish but they certainly look good.



In one of Coupigny’s Brigades there are two battalions of light troops, the 1st and 2nd Volunteers of Barcelona. I am still trying to convince Trevor that these were not levies from Barcelona but regular light infantry battalions. If nothing else, common sense dictates that if they were levies from Barcelona they are a long way from home if they are in the Bailen order of battle.



It is so often the way though, that the initial evidence often robs people of their powers of interpretation. The list is from Oman, who was not there either and clearly pieced things together after the fact. A similar issue has come up over the two Granada battalions in the division as distinct from the Provincial Militia of Granada. As the first battalion of the Regiment was also present elsewhere I am pretty convinced these are the other two regular battalions. It would make sense given the character of the army. If this was Palafox’ Army of the Reserve which had vast numbers of hastily raised volunteers and levies I would be far less certain.



Anyway, this is 8 figures of a total of two battalions of 16 figures each. I enjoyed painting them a great deal, as there was no equipment they were also very quick to do.

Also the La Valliere 4lb’s have arrived today for the Horse Battery. These are from Elite and have long ornate barrels: they look far more like turn-of-the century pieces and may be good for the Spanish, but will certainly not do for the Prussian 1806 3lb battery I am still trying to put together.

Speaking of impossible languages, how about Finnish?

The next lot to be sold are the 20mm Finns I have. The 15mm ACW stuff looks destined to go for the £75 asking price, maybe more.

37mm Bofors Anti Tank gun and crew

I have now dug out my Finns and I have around two battalions of 3 companies, some maxims and so on. 4 field guns and a Bofors 37mm AT gun plus some tanks. Thinking about it my mate Adam must have more of this: certainly another 37mm, a Praga truck, the fearsome FT17 and half a dozen cavalry. The FT17 fought a titanic clash with a Russian BA10 armoured car I remember. Neither side managed to hit the other for ages, until eventually the BA got lucky first.



There is a lot of fun in the Finns, but Adam now lives in Norfolk and I have no desire to build up a Russian 39-40 force to match this lot. I did, though, leave the T26s and the OT33 unmarked to allow them to be used by both sides. Not so the Vickers 6-tonner and the Landsverk Armoured cars.





So, they will go up on ebay in the next few days, hopefully they will fetch the £200 I am looking for. The money will be redeployed to pay for yet more WAS troops…

J

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A few of the first

Ordenes Militares

Well, here is the first full Spanish unit: the first battalion of the Ordenes Militares Regiment from Coupigny’s division. I have to say that I like white as a basic uniform colour. It is, admittedly, a real pain to paint as things can easily go wrong and you just end up with a white blob. I have tried to avoid this to some extent by painting the woollen uniform in a slightly off shade as compared to the cross belting. Although it is almost imperceptible, it helps. In the case of this unit there were also white cuffs and turnbacks and I did these in brilliant rather than off white as well. It may not be 100 per cent accurate but it helps distinguish the two, also the cuffs and cuff flaps are piped in blue.



I also did the Colonel from this regiment as the Brigade commander for this brigade. I am not really that happy with him I confess, but he looks ok and not too shameful. With no equipment to speak of except the bayonet and cartouche box the Spanish as a whole painted up quite quickly, or rather I was able to do batches of eight figures rather than six.



The real challenge was the lace for the Grenadier’s sealskins. I took a fairly simple design from a period print and, well, it looks ok but is wobbly in places. Another wobbly issue was the standards. The colours themselves were from the excellent GMB, but I chose to use Front Rank standard tops with fleur de lys and honour ribbons for a change. Well, they look fine except that I simply could not bring myself to try and paint something meaningful on them as it would look terrible, so I just did squiggles.



Churchillian Intermezzo

I was watching the Stephen Fry bio “50 not out” last night. I won the Stephen Fry award at school so I have had more than a passing interest in his career over the past 20 years. Anyway in a clip he told a story which I thought very funny and will pass on here.

In the 50’s, during Churchill’s second premiership, he was awoken at 4am by a Private Secretary.

WC: “What is it? Has war broken out? Have we lost Somalia…?”

PS (Trying to stem the tide of confusion) : “No, Prime Minister. I am afraid that there is a bit of a scandal brewing.”

WC: “What?”

PS: “Well sir, last night one of your backbenchers was, er, discovered in Hyde Park with a Guardsman sir. I am afraid the newspapers have got hold of it and it is going to be in some of the early editions.”

WC: “Ah, I see…Last night?”

PS: “Yes sir.”

WC: “Cold last night wasn’t it?”

PS (a bit flummoxed): “Yes sir, I think it was the coldest February night for 17 years.”

WC: (Smiling to himself): “Ah…makes you proud to be British.”

The old man went back to sleep again.

The Gnomes of Zurich

And here, as a change of pace, are the first batch of a full War of Austrian Succession unit. These are Front Rank SYW French painted as Regiment Diesbach, a Swiss Regiment in Savoyard service. I must say I am very happy with the way that these turned out and the figures seem to have worked out fine. The only real issues are that they have a collar, the musket is slightly wrong and there is no plate on the cartouche box. That said the regiment was in collar by 1744 according to Manley, so I am not too phased about that.



The command figures are a little less satisfying as you cannot get an Ensign or a Drummer in this range with lapels or turnbacks. But the front of the Ensign will be masked by the standard anyway, so it is not too bad. The flags will come from Vaubanner in Canada who so a good range of WAS flags. The 15mm ACW stuff already has one bidder and another 7 watchers, and that will pay for enough flags to be going on with plus a few more Front Rank figures.



The mounted officer in cape is actually the Front Rank British Dragoon officer: that cape covers a multitude of sins and textures well with the blue. This battalion will have another two bases of four musketeers and a half base of two grenadiers on completion. Using the Age of Reason supplement I cited in an earlier entry I will be able to make use of firing figures too with a kneeling front rank.

Next on the list…

Well, eight Catalan light infantry for Coupigny are currently next in the line of fire and are already undercoated. Going slowly are the last six uhlans from UlR2 “Schwarzenberg”, the Austrians are taking back seat now to the Spanish. I reckon that if I do one Spanish Napoleonic batch and then a batch of something else as a cycle I should finish Coupigny in time without getting too bored.

Here’s hoping

J

Saturday, August 11, 2007

Ole, Senor and Costa Brava...

Ole

Well the first Spanish for Coupigny’s Division are done. The order from Front Rank arrived yesterday so I chose the smallest Spanish unit (7 figures strong) and got cracking to see how they looked.



This unit is the Truxillo Provincial Militia, one of the five Provincial Militia battalions that were with Coupigny. The rest, as you can see below, are much stronger. I painted them in blue faced red. The battalion was probably in white by then, and I will paint the other 4 battalions in white faced red, but I thought some would look fun in blue. I also chose the figures in top hat to represent the militia, although there are issues with the coat in this regard: it is actually a coatee rather than a coat and with the linen trousers, blue coat and top hat they have the feel of an early Victorian party of bluejackets!



























The orbat I am working to for Coupigny is as follows:

Brigade
1/Ceuta Regiment
2/Ceuta Regiment
2/Granada Regiment
3/Granada Regiment
Granada Provincial Militia

Brigade
1/ Ordones Militares Regiment
2/Ordones Militares Regiment
1st Catalionian Volunteers
2nd Catalonian Volunteers
Truxillo Militia

Brigade
3/Ordones Militares Regiment
Bujalance Militia
Cuenca Militia
Cuidad Real Militia

Unattached
Bourbon Line Cavalry
2nd Horse Battery

I am doing the line battalions and the Catalan light infantry 16 figures strong. Some of these battalions will be this strong when we refight Bailen next year and, at 4 companies per battalion the maths actually work. Equally, apart from the Truxillo battalion, I am doing the militia at 12 men per unit. I have not bothered getting more grenadiers for these battalions, although they should have them. Instead they are all in top hat. The Bourbon cavalry will be 13 strong. According to the orbat there were 401 of them plus 120 men from the Espana Regiment. I have conflated these into one unit, as at 1:40 a force of 3 men will be totally useless. Everything is Front Rank except I have on order 2 La Valliere 4lb for the Horse Battery from Elite.



As a division goes it has lots of infantry, but with only 6 4lb guns in support the least said about artillery the better. One regiment of heavy cavalry is not bad in terms of cavalry support: I have been spoiled by the Austrians to expect a lot more. The trouble is that this is the picture across the army as there is no specific cavalry division to take up the slack. But I am looking forward to painting them, and the 1/Ordones Militares is already on the stocks.

WAS update



Well, I have bitten the bullet and ordered some figures that will, hopefully, work for WAS. This is by way of being my birthday present to myself, but with these, the Austrians, Spanish and French I have I will have plenty to keep me busy until after next Xmas. I read on the TMP site of a gut who had painted 800 in 3 months! I am lucky if I manage a tenth of that in the same time frame. Still, winging their way towards me are enough troops for 4 Spanish and 3 Sardinian battalions. These are from the Front Rank French SYW range, either with turnbacks and lapels for the Sardinians or without lapels for the Spanish. If they will not work then they will simply be the start of an SYW French army instead.

ACW For sale



As I mentioned in my last posting I have decided to sell my ACW Confederates. I never use them and they are just taking up space. I have moved around enough to realise that doing just one side while a mate does the other is fine, until you move 200 miles away. So I will keep my 15mm Marlburian, and 15mm Napoleonics and Revolutionary collections but am looking very hard at what is just ballast. The ACW collection is the biggest one. URL is here if anyone is interested:

http://tinyurl.com/2weoka

Anyone interested is free to leave a comment or send an email.

J

Thursday, August 9, 2007

A holiday in Italy

New Period

I have been toying over the past few months with a new period. So far you would get the impression that I only have an interest in Napoleonics. This is not true. I have a sizeable and well-used collection of 1792-97 French and Austrians and there will be more about those later. I also have a good collection of 15mm Marlburians, and more of both periods that need painting somehow! I also own a good number of Essex 15mm ACW, but this is all Confederate and I never use it. Off to ebay it will go I think.


Spanish Field Gun with gunners and
helpers from Hibernia and Lombardia Regiments


Instead I was looking for a good period, Horse & Musket, to get into where the battles were not too large and there was not a lot of expensive cavalry. After a little bit of research I decided that the War of the Austrian Succession in Italy would be ideal. Numbers are relatively few, cavalry is not terribly dominant and the countries represented are unusual. I did not want to get bogged down into an Austrian/Prussian or British/French campaign, I might as well do SYW then.

WAS Italy: Countries involved

The campaign in Italy stretched from 1742 to 1748 and involved a number of countries. On one side Austria and Savoy faced the combined strengths of Naples, Spain, Modena, Genoa and France. Units are varied, from Grenz and Albanian skirmishers to 12 battalions of Spanish Guard, and the number of cavalry regiments is few, as Italy was never good cavalry country anyway. I have also decided not to get involved in the campaigns in Savoy, which rules out much of the Piedmontese army and the French for several years until Genoa enters the war. Also, in August 1742, the British compelled Naples to withdraw its troops from the Spanish army by threatening to bombard the city itself.

Deadey Dick, from IR Andrassy

So, in 1742 that really leaves the Spanish versus the Austrians plus a few Piedmontese (Modena having been totally overrun earlier in the year). This, to me, seems a good place to start, adding troops as the years go on. So I will start by looking at the orbat for Camposanto.

Figure scale and rules

I had initially thought of doing the figure scale at 1:50, but a look at how many figures some of the Spanish would be down to forced a re-think. The Spanish Guard battalions were under 400 strong each when they landed at Ortobello in 1741. The regular battalions were equally weak in some cases whilst the foreign troops started off better by 1743 they looked considerably worse. I also wanted to use Age of Reason rules, with some of the additions for 4 rank line from the Marlburian amendments, and having 6 and 7 man battalions running around did not appeal.
So I have decided that 1:33 is more workable. As the Austrians are not the massive formations of the SYW and later this is workable. It also means that Spanish Guard battalions are now 10 or 11 figures strong which makes them a realistic prospect in AoR.

I want to use Age of Reason because I like them, have played them before and found them able to deliver a decision. I have adopted the slightly different basing system suggested in the Marlburian Supplement on the warflag website

(http://www.warflag.com/marlborough/aor.html)

this allows me to rebase on the 4-rank line bases as suggested. I will also tweak some of the fire bonuses a bit, particularly giving a bonus if Grenadiers are kept with their parent battalions. I am sure that, as I go along, I will adapt and add stuff specifically for the WAS and the Italian theatre or simply write my own. But I also want to try the computer moderated rules to see if that gives any radically different results.

"Begorrah, all the way from the Emerald Isle and they give me this bucket"
Soldier from the Spanish 'Hibernia' Regiment

Figures

This is a bit tricky as proper WAS figures are like rocking horse droppings. Unless you want to mess around with Jacobites you struggle. But some figures from SYW ranges, particularly Front Rank and Crusader, can be pressed into service. Some concessions, of course, have to be made. The pictures on here are both figures from the Crusader SYW range: Austrian Grenz personalities and Austrian gun crew. The former I wanted to try out as regular Hungarian infantry and are painted up as IR Andrassy. There are concessions: no turn backs, wrong type of musket, but nothing too radical. Equally I painted the gunners up as Spanish, and the major problem is that the figures are in boots rather than gaiters. The infantry ‘helpers’ though look fine: one painted as a soldier from the Lombardia Regiment (but I foolishly did the turnbacks in red, they should be white) and Regiment Ibernia. As they had no lapels they worked nicely, although they lacked a cockade.

I will get some more samples as the months wear on and continue researching and painting and I will keep you posted.

J

Saturday, August 4, 2007

The despatch of General Hohenlohe

Victory Despatch

It was not beyond Peter to do a bit of spin, and below is the reproduction of his account of the battle, portrayed as a despatch to the Prussian King. As he commented at the end of the game "Well, we did our job, the fact that he mucked up his is hardly our fault."



From: General der Infantrie Friedrich Ludwig, F├╝rst zu Hohenlohe-Ingelfingen

To: His Most Excellent Majesty King Willhelm of Prussia


Report on an Action between Prussian Forces and the French Grand Army

It is my great honour to report to Your Majesty that an action took place today between the forces that you so graciously placed under my command and those of the Corsican Usurper, Bonaparte. After a relatively restless night, and mindful of Your Majesty’s desire to fall upon the flank of the enemy, I issued instructions to my Army to conduct a defensive battle on the high ground above the city of Jena. It was my intention to pin the enemy in place ready for your Majesty’s decisive blow to fall. My battle plan called for a Vanguard battle conducted by von Tautenzeim to hold the enemy around the villages of Closewitz and Lutzeroda. This would allow time for the remainder of my forces to form a main battlefront along the line formed by the villages of Lehesten, Alt Gonna, Krippendorf and Vierzehnheilgen. I was confident that our men would be able to hold back the invader until called upon to assist your Majesty in finally destroying them.

Unfortunately my men had become somewhat scattered and confused in the night, with many commands mixed up and units out of place. Thus, it took some little time to restore order and to begin to implement my orders for the day’s actions. While we were thus engaged, the enemy, using the cover of the early morning mist, launched an assault. The fighting at this early hour was particularly severe and Your Majesty’s Vanguard was particularly hard pressed. Indeed, it was only the stalwart bravery and fanatical defensive resilience of these lead Regiments that prevented the enemy in breaking through. On several occasions our men stood their ground against waves of cavalry, driving them back at bayonet point and saving their comrades from envelopment, capture or death.

I must commend to Your Majesty Generalmajor von Tauentzein for his inspirational leadership to the men under his command during these frantic opening hours.
von Tautenzein bought the time necessary to bring the rest of my Army into line.

I arraigned the force with von Holtzendorff’s command on my left; von Grawert forming the centre and von Zeschwitz our Right Flank. The mist gave cause to great confusion, which fortunately gave as many problems to the enemy as it did to us. I could hear the sounds of battle on the high ground of the Dornberg but was unable to discern what was happening. Against the worst, I ordered Generalleutnant von Grawert to send cavalry forward to support our gallant Vanguard in breaking free of contact with the enemy.

It was an inspirational sight, and gave much heart to our men, to see the gallant waves of our cavalry ride against the enemy. In this way, von Tauentzein was able to extract the greatest part of his formation from battle and then reform them in safety in our rear.
While battle had been building in the centre, the enemy had tried to infiltrate his way around both of our flanks. On the left, a full French Corps under Soult was attempting to find a route up onto the high ground and had found a suitable road to exploit.

von Holtzendorff, mindful of my orders to guard this approach, had sent forward some of his cavalry to guard the route. When these gallant troopers saw Frenchmen to their front they immediately charged. Little did these heroes realise that just beyond the crest was the whole of Soult’s Corps. They crashed into the French vanguard skirmishers and sent them hurtling back into the massed ranks of the enemy, shattering the enemy’s cohesion and pride. Having found and fixed the enemy so spectacularly, this outstanding unit proceeded to fight for its very life, there at the head of Soult’s men.

This action by a single Regiment held Soult and his Corps out of the battle for several hours. Your Majesty will want to know who these dedicated soldiers were, and it is my bitter pleasure to inform you that these martial titans were Schimmelpfennig Hussars. Regrettably, the unit was lost in the action, with only a few badly injured stragglers making it back to our lines. I am sure that your Majesty will find time to reward the survivors of this gallant action, and perhaps ensure that the wives and children of such German heroes never want for anything.


On the other side of the battle, the French had found another route forward and Augereau’s Corps quickly pressed forward to engage the skirmishers that von Zeschwitz had thrown forward at my suggestion. In a series of fiercely fought clashes amongst the thick woods and steep valleys, the enemy Voltiguers threw our men back. Unfortunately for them, their victories filled them with confidence and they burst from the woods around Isserstadt in pursuit. It was there that they died, as Your Majesty’s cavalry rode them down, killing huge numbers of them and putting the rest to flight. The French cavalry that was sent forward was shattered by the combined action of our Saxon light cavalry acting in conjunction with their Cuirassiers comrades. So successful were they that they also managed to sabre to death a number of French batteries before they could bring their guns into action. By the time that Augereau was able to bring up more men our flank there was secure and was not to be seriously threatened until much later in the afternoon.


The enemy closed up on our main battle line by late morning and tried to overrun us in a series of hasty and rushed attacks. Steadfastedly holding their positions, our men repulsed wave after wave of attacks and could have stood their ‘til the Angels blew their trumpets for the ending of the world, but that was not to be. Seizing an opportunity, the Corsican gathered together a massive number of cannon, and proceeded to inflict horrendous casualties on the gallant men in the centre of my line. At last, unable to take any more of this horrendous punishment, these poor lads pulled back.

Fortunately I had already sensed a problem in this area and had inveigled on von Grawert to send some cavalry to their rear to support them. As the French gunners moved forward to exploit their success they were charged by this cavalry and although the engagement was inconclusive it prevented the French making any more inroads here.
On my left flank, the French General Soult finally recovered from the debacle inflicted upon him by the gallant Schimmelpfennig Hussars and advanced to engage von Holtzendorff’s men. The French showed reckless bravery in charging our guns, taking horrendous casualties as they did so. They managed to force von Holtzendorff’s artillerymen back, but at the cost of many shattered and routed units. Their cavalry tried to outflank us, making their way to our north. von Holtzendorff sent his remaining cavalry to contest that area with them and a wild swirling cavalry battle ensued. Although the French came out of it slightly ahead of our men, their units were so badly used that they were unable to play any further useful part in the battle.

Over on the other flank, General Ney and his Corps arrived in the early afternoon and battered their way into Isserstadt. Despite a gallant and hard fought defence, eventually the French owned the town. However, as they attempted to exploit this victory they were met with massed musket and artillery fire that halted them. With our cavalry constantly menacing them they formed square and were pummelled mercilessly for several hours. The effect of all this was to put a dog leg in the French attack line around the village of Kotscau as their left was held, but the centre and right made slow progress. I could see an opportunity for my army to do more than just hold the French, and sent urgent word to Generalleutnant von Ruechel to bring his forces up as a matter of urgency. I felt that, if I could quickly bring them on line, then I could use them to launch a strike into the French line that would break it at its crooked point and split it asunder. von ruechel and von Zeschwitz would then be able to exploit deep into the French rear and roll them up. With this in mind, I knew that I had to hold the French attention firmly in the centre and keep him closely engaged.

Reluctantly I looked to Generalmajor von Tauentzein and his gallant men who had so valiantly bought us the time we needed as the morning’s early sun fought its way through the mists. With nary a backward glance his whole division moved forward to support von Grawert’s beleagured troops and stiffen the line.
And just in time too. As von Tauentzein took position the Corsican’s Guard appeared through the smoke and mist of battle moving straight towards him. If his lads had not answered my call the French would have burst through and all would have been lost. Confident of their martial valour the French came on, only to be met by the resolute vollies of our soldiers. The Guard staggered but still came on. Another volley decimated their ranks and forced them to halt. For some of these Frenchmen our Prussian fire was too much and they broke, running for the rear and safety. Guardsmen indeed! Not a match for Your Majesty’s Musketeers. I knew that this was our moment, the moment when we could inflict the crushing blow and looked for von Ruechel.

As I peered away to the south west an exhausted courier reached me to inform me that the division was delayed and would only reach me in about 30 to 40 minutes. With darkness gathering the fighting dwindled.

Majesty. We hold the field and had inflicted grievous harm on the enemy. If luck had been with us I know we could have inflicted a crushing and humiliating defeat on the enemy. Perhaps God has denied me this victory to teach me humility, and I surrender myself to His Will.

I remain here on the heights above Jena and await your further commands.
I am, as always Sire, Your Obedient servant

Hohenlohe

Jena: the broader view

So what happened in the wider battle?

From the earliest moves it was clear that David as Boney was intent on pushing fast and hard. The fact that the French had been able to deploy closer meant that I was forced out of my position earlier than anticipated, but that the type of hurried attack being undertaken meant than I was not losing as many men as I would have done if he had undertaken a more painstaking assault.


Lannes' attack on Tauentzien

As Lannes came at Tauentzien the troops under Augereau drove at the predominantly Saxon division of Zeschwitz. Historically they seem to have had a far quieter time of it than they did in the game. Basically the French carved through the woods and rough terrain but as they came out of the Isserstedter Forst they ran up against determined resistance in Isserstedt itself and in the more open territory around it. Some great coups by Zeschwitz’ forces effectively reduced Augereau’s ability to make any progress. Things here ground to a halt for a while until the arrival of Ney.


The French advance through the Isserstedt Forst

The third French Marshal, Soult, had also run into trouble. His forces were schlepping up the narrow defile around the Zwatzenhof towards Rollgen and Lehnsten. He was opposed by the very slender forces of Glt Holtzendorf who had been compelled to use two of his cavalry units to intercept some of Lannes troops as they came through the Zwatzen Hof the other side of Closewitz, lapping round Tauentzien’s left flank. But, seizing his chance, Holtzendorf launched the Schimmelpfennig Hussars down the road at the head of Soult’s column. Constricted by the defile Soult was unable to use his superior numbers and the Prussian hussars carved up the front units of his Corps and threw the rest into confusion. For the next few moves the Prussians acted as the ‘cork in the battle’and threw Soult’s advance out of gear. This was to have a profound effect on the French timetable.



Holtzendorff delays Soult

As Tauentzien’s force withdrew behind the Division of Glt Grawert, the latter’s cavalry broke up Lannes’ pursuit allowing Tauentzien’s troops to reform behind Vierzehnheiligen and then march to their new position between Hermstedt and Klein Romstedt. While this was happening Grawert’s force fought off a series of attacks by Lannes increasingly battered divisions.

The arrival of Ney’s force to support Augereau provided some initial relief as the new French forces proved sufficient to eject Zeschwitz from Isserstedt. But they were not enough to break through Zeschwitz’ division, in fact they could not break out of Isserstedt itself. Again the battle here slowed down, and Zeschwitz looked able to successfully contain the French in this sector.


Ney takes Isserstedt

At this stage the Schimmelpfennig’s charge began to have an operational, rather than simply a local, effect. Lannes’ force was spent and unable to break through Grawert. The force that should have been doing this was the Corps under Soult. Although Soult had finally swept aside Holtzendorff, the latter had done a creditable job in delaying the French and now they had two choices. They could pause and wait until Soult was in a position to attack or throw in the only remaining uncommitted infantry force: the Garde Imperiale. The French were facing a dilemma. If they delayed the Prussians would be in a position to bring into action the Division of Glt Ruchel, which was now making an appearance on the road near Frankendorf. Also delay was not David’s natural instinct, as an aggressive cavalryman he clearly wished to maintain the tempo of the attack so the Garde Imperiale were committed.


Soult finally brushes Holtzendorff aside

Supported by their massive battery it was no surprise to anyone that they carved through the tired Division of Grawert. But in the process two battalions were effectively vapourised as they attacked deployed Prussian artillery and the remaining battalions got through to the other side but were very much worse for wear. As Holtzendorff’s remnants withdrew from Lehnsten to Hermstedt and beyond, Hohenlohe needed to buy a little time to bring Ruchel up and ordered Tauentzien to plug the gap until Ruchel could arrive.


The Guard punch through Grawert's Division

And what of Murat’s cavalry? Well it had made an appearance and had plunged into the gap between Zeschwitz’ position and the right flank of Tauentzien. Ruchel had, though, thrown forward his own cavalry supported by Tauentzien’s own sabres to stave them off for as long as possible.

The Garde Imperiale and Tauentzien’s division were on a collision course. But Tauentzien had ensured that his centre-left was composed of the untouched forces of Schomberg’s Brigade and the skirmishers of von Bila, rather than the more mangled troops of GM Zweiffel. The disordered and debilitated Guard came up in two columns. One, composed of two battalions of Garde Chasseur, faced the Prince Maximilian Musketeers. An attempted charge was repulsed with a fine volley and they failed to make contact. The three unscreened Garde Grenadier battalions that made up the second column also suffered at the hands of the Rosen Fusiliers and one promptly routed.

Game end

The game ended here. Soult was still a good two moves away from being able to launch attacks and Murat’s cavalry was still being held up by the cavalry of Ruchel and Tauentzien. Ruchel’s infantry was close enough to allow the Prussians to fall back to a line Wotschau-Klein Romstedt and then along the road if they needed to. Meanwhile Tauentzien was convinced that another round would probably have seen another one, if not two, Old Guard battalions routing. Although the French had one totally fresh corps it would have been unable, on its own, to bring victory. Certainly the hurried attacks undertaken by the French would have made it hard to co-ordinate this with cavalry attacks by Murat.


Last turn

Personal Performance

I won Man of the Match for this battle. I must say I enjoyed the challenge hugely. The high level of operational fluidity, the exposed position, the need to make judgements and decisions were all great fun. It was also an operational level I was comfortable with, indeed I think 4 brigades (three up, one back) is about the limit I expect a player should be able to handle without permanent subordinates. It was also a nice mixed command and I really enjoyed playing it.

K

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The action: Tauentzien's perspective

Opening moves

As I said earier I had decided to go with historical deployments. I was also told that the guy playing Napoleon, David Ronaldson, would come at me 'fast and hard'. Indeed, from later battles he was always a man for command of French cavalry, but in this case he was in command of the French army.

I was not too phased by this, fast and hard would arguably be better than predictable and destructive as I was tasked to preserve as much of my command as possible. As the French deployed Peter, as Hohenlohe, hovered around me and muttered 'they are being allowed to deploy further forward than I had thought'. Oh well...

Here is my personal post-battle report with some pics from my perspective (again, courtesy of Major Tom, the photographer-in-chief for the Liphook group and synthetic environment guru for the British Army).



Lannes Attacks

View from the sharp end: Jena from Tauntzein’s perspective

First contact

There is something distinctly satisfying about being the first command to make contact with the enemy, and taking on the role of Tauentzein at Jena made it more-or-less certain that I would be in the firing line first.


As a player I made two decisions, the first about the deployment of the men and the second about the operational plan of the division. In the first case I chose to adopt historical deployments as much as I could, taken from a German staff map from the turn of the century. I did not have to do this and knew it was going to make my job even harder as the brigadiers struggled to get the scattered units back into command in order to face the French. The second decision was to retain the functionality of the division as best I could. Originally Tauentzein held on until the last gasp, but his division disintegrated in the process. My operational orders from Hohenlohe specified that I was to hold on but fall back and form the army reserve on hearing of Frech flank moves (see attached orders) and I was determined to have something to form the reserve with.


The deployment from the map meant that, in effect, brigade Bila was on the left flank, brigade Erichsen on the right, brigade Zweiffel in the centre with Cerrini and his Saxon grenadiers in reserve and holding the village of Lutzeroda with two battalions detatched supporting von Bila. In ‘deep reserve’ was Schonberg’s Saxon brigade, which had historically never received orders to go forward with the rest of Tauentzein’s command and was still in laager at Vierzehnheligen.
The French attack began, and they were allowed to deploy further forward than I had anticipated.

The two infantry divisions of Suchet and Gazan aimed for Closewitz and Lutzeroda respectively whilst the corps cavalry of Lannes was thrown inbetween the two villages. The second surprise came with the rapid fall of Closewitz, garrisoned by Saxon and Prussian grenadiers I had expected it to hold far longer. Instead the division of Suchet made slow but steady progress in the village and against the light infantry of GM von Bila.



The attack on Closewitz

In the centre of the position the cavalry attack against GM von Zweiffel did not produce the spectacular results that the French had seemingly anticipated. Instead of a rapid collapse the brigade gave ground only grudgingly and, when units finally did break (the Saxons, however stayed firm while the Prussians ran) it did not cause the amount of casualties needed to prevent von Zweiffel being able to stitch his brigade back together again.


Closewitz falls


Over on the divisional right, light troops from Gazan’s division plus more from Augereau’s corps made things tough for Erichsen and the Saxon grenadiers holed up in Lutzeroda. Again it was a story of gradual retreat, but the Saxons in Lutzeroda held on far longer than their counterparts in Closewitz and brigade Erichsen was able to withdraw in good order.


The Saxon Grenadiers hold out in 'Fortress' Lutzeroda

Withdrawal

Tauentzein waved his hat and those units still under command fell back on seeing that the French were now through Closewitz and were pressing back von Bila. Erichsen fell back to the right of Vierzehnheligen, the village itself held by Schomberg’s ‘missing’ brigade. Von Zweiffel and Cerrini’s remaining troops were to head for the gap between Vierzehnheiligen and Krippendorf whilst von Bila was to make for Altengonna. Division Grawert had been instructed to use its cavalry to cover my retreat and they successfully did so allowing the division to retreat more-or-less unmolested.


This allowed Tauentzein to follow his orders and form the reserve battle line along the Hermstedt-Klein Romstedt-Gross Romstedt axis. It did, though, take a long time to shepherd the scattered units back onto the road from Vierzehnheligen to Hermstedt but this was finally achieved, including the rallying of the two routing Prussian battalions by Hohenlohe personally. The brigades of Schomberg and Von Zweiffel were, eventually, lined up between Hermstedt and Klein Romstedt whilst Von Bila’s jager and fusiliers screened the line’s left.

Forming the reserve (top right)

Oberst Erichsen, meanwhile, had been detatched to cover the gap inbetween Grawert’s division and Zeschwitz’ Saxons, who were fighting a private battle of their own against Augereau in the difficult terrain around Isserstedt. Eventually ordered to conform to the rest of the division, Erichsen initially refused to disengage and Tauentzein had to personally ride over and argue with his errant brigadier.

Counterattack

While Tauentzein was stitching his division back together the divisions of Holtzendorff and Grawert were trying to contain the French along the Vierzehnhelighen-Krippendorf-Altengonna-Lehesten axis. Holtzendorff’s horse had done sterling work in delaying the corps of Soult coming up from Lobstedt and this was to have serious consequences for the French. They were running out of men. Augereau was fully committed against Zeschwitz and seemingly had nothing to spare, whilst the initial attacking corps of Lannes was totally spent. With Soult delayed Napoleon was forced to commit the Guard in order to keep the momentum of the attack going. Supported by its artillery it was no surprise to anyone that the bearskin festooned steamroller broke through Grawert’s force, but two battalions effectively vapourised whilst doing so and the rest got through looking more than a little ropey.


At this stage division Tauentzein received orders to roll forward and plug the gap until von Ruchel arrived, the head of his column could now clearly be seen. Oberst Erichsen was unleashed again to use his meagre cavalry to stave off the horsemen of Murat whilst the brigades of von Bila, von Zweiffel and von Schomberg goose-stepped forward against the Guard.

Stopping the Guard


And the battered division of Tauentzein succeeded in stopping them. Von Bila’s light troops formed skirmish order against three battalions of the Old Guard Grenadiers and one promptly disintegrated under their withering fire while the other two looked poorly. An attempt by two battalions of Old Guard Chasseur to attack the 1/Prinz Maximilian was repelled by musketry. The Guard had failed to bring victory. Meanwhile the remains of Holtzendorff and Grawert had used Tauentzein’s division as a shield to withdraw behind and were well on their way back to Hermstedt. It was at this point tat the game came to an end.

Conclusion

I could not fail to be happy with the performance of the division. Reading about Tauentzein himself he came across as stubborn, unimaginative and not a man given to questioning orders, and this is how I tried to play him. I had initially made life harder for myself, and the limited command radius of Prussian generals made flexibility something of a misnomer: it took me a total of five turns to bring the division together for the march to Hermstedt, most of that time was spent trying to get units back in command again. This was frustrating, but very accurate.
I could not help thinking that the French would have done better with a slower but more destructive initial attack rather than the rush-job that seemed to take place. Many units that came back for another round should have been utterly destroyed but, instead, by bouncing me out of the position quickly, more troops survived and came back to haunt them.


I was also proud of, in effect, stopping the Guard. They had been badly worn down by Grawert and, having got through them I had made sure that they faced the intact brigade of Schomberg and von Bila’s light troops. I remain fairly convinced that another turn would have said farewell to yet another battalion facing von Bila, and another failure to press home by the battalions facing Schomberg, resulting in more casualties. Only the ‘Eager’ fate card was going to stop them breaking too.

The boys who stopped the Guard: Fusilier battalion 'Rosen'


My right flank was, it is true, becoming dangerously exposed to Murat’s cavalry and the divisions of Soult were yet to come, but it was close to darkness, I had plenty of withdrawal space, and Ruchel was very close. Understandably the umpires awarded the Prussians a minor victory, I was happy that my division had done its bit...

So who was Tauentzien?



Unlike my earlier research into Kienmayer, Tauntzien presented a greater challenge. I could not find an online biography in either English or German and felt a bit stuck. I did manage to piece together a few facts.




Mythology


Along with the myth that the Prussian army of 1806 was robotic, inflexible and had not really changed since the death of Frederick, ran the notion that all the senior officers were befuddled septuagenarians inhibited by caution. Like all good myths both of them had elements of truth: certainly the Prussian army laid great emphasis on linear tactics and firepower, but they had a very good light infantry doctrine and their flexibility within that framework was considerable. The army was also inculcated with a very aggressive spirit, almost certainly inherited from Frederick’s offensive approach to battle. I had been very keen to bombard the Liphook group with these opinions and worried lest the ‘Chandleresque’ approach prevailed. The fact that at Jena Tauentzien, Grawert and finally Ruchel all launch attacks as their first response to the situation underlines how deeply this belief was held.

The man himself

Then I turned my attention to Tauentzien. Clearly this was a figure with at least some confidence or contacts, having survived the 1806 debacle and the reform period to emerge as commander of Prussian IV Corps in 1813. Born in 1760 and the son of one of Frederick’s officers, he entered the Prussian Army in 1775 and by 1801 was a Major General, a rise possibly attributed to his family’s closeness to the Hohenzollerns. In the 1806 campaign he was only 46 and commanded the Advance Guard of Prince Hohenlohe’s Prusso-Saxon army. He was the first to fight the French in a serious way, being defeated at Schleiz by Marshal Soult, and moved back to rejoin Hohenlohe around Jena.

At Jena he was in command of the front line formation and showed a very aggressive, some might even say perceptive, instinct to attack. This was not only in line with Prussian army doctrine, but Lannes had been tasked with creating space above Jena and as such had to push Tauentzien’s command out of the way. Tauentzien attacking may have enabled him to continue restricting French deployment, but commentators have argued that it was Hohenloe’s fault for not supporting him quickly enough that led to the destruction of his command. Whether it was rashness, a desire to constrain Lannes above Jena or just simply following the rule book, Tauentzien attacked despite a growing numerical inferiority and his own wounds inflicted as the battle progressed.

A good view of him in the battle around Jena comes from the commander of the Saxon Howitzer battery, Kapitan Thullman, who requested permission to withdraw because of heavy losses. “Tauentzien responded by placing his pistol to the captains head and ordering that he continue the action.” In fact Tauentzien continued to fight a delaying action against the advancing French all the way to the heights above Vierzehnheiligen, although by this time much of his command had disintegrated.

After 1806 he was one of the few Prussian generals to remain with the army, some 141 were dismissed, and indeed was promoted to Generalleutnant. He quickly joined the process of reform and in 1813 became Military Governor of Weichsel and prosecuted the siege of Stettin. After the armistice he was given command of Prussian IV Corps. Predominantly Landwehr it was part of the Army of the North and its key task was to cover Berlin. In this role Tauentzien led it in the victories of Gross Beeren and Dennewitz and, after Leipzig, was given the task of reducing the fortresses of Wittenberg and Magdeburg. In 1815 he was assigned to command Prussian VI Corps, but the Hundred Days was over before he got onto French soil. He died as Commandant of Berlin in 1824.

Conclusion

So what to make of this character and how to play him? Well, he sort of struck me as a rather stubborn and bloodyminded fellow, steeped in the Prussian military tradition. The incident with Thullman I found particularly illuminating, clearly the approach of ‘the French might kill you if you stay, I will certainly kill you if you try and leave’ worked. Thullman did not call his bluff. I am not sure I bought the ‘constricting Lannes’ argument. He did not come across as cerebral enough (unlike Yorck, for example) and I saw him as more of a fighting soldier rather than a thinker.