Friday, August 18, 2017

Let's Play Fontenoy!

Fritz & Staff at the Savage Swan Inn discussing battle plans.

I want to take a little bit of a break from fighting AWI campaign battles and travel back to Europe to fight some tricorn era battles, namely the Charles Grant scenario for Fontenoy. I will be trying out one of the two Grant scenarios for Fontenoy in his book, "Wargaming in History - Volume 2 - Dettingen, Fontenoy and Lauffeld."  I plan to fight the scenario "The Whole Battle" but leave out the Dutch contingent and their attack from the left wing of the Duke of Cumberland's Pragmatic Army. The book also presents a smaller scenario called, "The Infernal Column"

Since I do not have any British or French Minden figures painted, I will have to use the Grant devise of substituting other nations' figures for those of the actual forces in the battle. Grant pere and fils use this mechanism frequently in their battles and so I plan to do the same, using my Minden Prussians for the British and my Minden Austrians for the French.

Another view of Frederick at the town of Vezon, behind the Prussian lines.

The tabletop layout that I am using is shown in the two pictures below. The Austrians are defending a ridge that provides some dead ground that will hide their troops from the view of the Prussians. Anchoring the Austrian left flank is the Berry Wood and the Redoubt d'Eu. The woods is teaming with Croat light infantry (substituting for the Arquebusiers de Grassin) that will pose a tactical problem for any attackers.

The Austrian center is manned by two battalions of elite grenadiers and four more musketeer battalions. All of the Austrian cavalry backs up the Austrian center.

Anchoring the Austrian right flank is the fortified town of Fontenoy.

Area of the battlefield where the British "Infernal Column" attacked the French position. In this case though, the Prussians are standing in for the British and the Austrians for the French.

Aerial view of the Fontenoy battlefield with annotations.
Here are several views of the town of Fontenoy. The Austrians have spent considerable time improving the defenses of the town with entrenchments and abatis. The town may hold up to three battalions of infantry.

The town of Fontenoy has been turned into a stronghold with entrenchments and abatis. The town can hold up to three battalions of infantry. Fontenoy anchors the Austrian right flank.

Austrian reserves await orders to enter the town.

Front view of Fontenoy, from the Prussian point of view.

The Austrian cavalry is deployed in the center and is hidden from the view of the Prussians in the area of dead ground behind the ridge. The Austrians have 10 squadrons (12 figures each) of cavalry.

Austrian cavalry is positioned behind the ridge in the center of the Austrian battle line, awaiting orders to engage the enemy.

Maurice de Saxe devised the cunning plan to draw the Prussians into a battle on ground of his choosing. He expects the Prussians to attack straight up the middle, so he has created a number of little surprises for the attacker. As the attacker marches into the center of the Austrian line, he will find that his troops are subject to an enfilading fire from the artillery positioned in the Redoubt d'Eu and from the town of Fontenoy. Light infantry in the Berry Wood will also pepper the Prussian soldiers in the right flank as they march towards the center.

Maurice de Saxe has a bad case of Dropsy, so he has to conduct the management of the coming battle from a wicker chariot.

The Redoubt d'Eu anchors the Austrian left flank.

Austrian center looking at the Prussian deployment. I added a back table for the Prussian cavalry after the initial set up and posting. This alleviates the traffic jam of figures at the table edge on the main table.

The Prussian deployment is fairly straight forward - they will simply attack in the center and hope that might of arms will force a break through of the Austrian center and win the battle. The Prussians have placed their best infantry - the Guards, in the center along with four battalions of musketeers.

The Prussian Guards (IR15/II/III) will lead the attack on the Austrian center today.

The Prussian left wing, shown below, will merely demonstrate in front of Fontenoy to keep the attention of the garrison on them, rather than on the main attack in the center.

IR22 Dessau protects the Prussian left flank and faces the town of Fontenoy.

The Prussians have seven squadrons of heavy cavalry in the center, deployed behind the infantry.

Next in line come the Prussian cavalry - 7 squadrons.

The Prussian cavalry awaits in reserve on the back table near the town of Vezon.

Prussian Jagers will enter the Berry Wood and flush out the Croats.

Prussian Jagers prepare to enter the woods to flush out the expected Croats.

I plan on playing Fontenoy as a solo game over the coming weekend and I will post a lot of pictures of the battle as part of the post game report of the action.

So what do you think, does this look like fun?

Thursday, August 17, 2017

SYW Austrian Artillery Goes Into Action

This evening I was scrolling through some of the 13,000 plus pictures that are on my desktop computer and stumbled across this series of an Austrian 12-pounder getting ready to go into action. I thought that they deserved to have a second look by the readers of this blog.

The artillery horses and the driver are from RSM miniatures. The limber and 12-pounder are Berliner Zinnfiguren models. The artillery crewmen and laborers are from Minden Miniatures.

Austrian 12-pounder limbered and on the move.

Unlimbering the piece.

Unlimbered and ready for action

The whole Austrian battery of 6-pounders and 12-pounders.

The 2-wheel ammunition cart from Minden Miniatures.

Minden Austrian 6-pounder

Minden Austrian 7-pound Howitzer

The Minden Austrian 12-pounder

The Minden Austrian 3-pounder

All of the Minden Austrian artillery equipment shown above are available on the Fife & Drum webstore:

Fife & Drum webstore

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Fisher's Crossing Battle Returns & Turn 6 of the Campaign

"Traffic Jam in Catawba Town - May 1780" - thanks and a tip of the tricorn goes to Chris Gregg who touched up the original photograph by removing figure bases and replacing them with road effects, adding light and shadows where they should be, and enhancing the overall look of the picture.

Here is the original photo of the traffic jam before Chris Gregg worked his magic. Compare this picture to the one at the top of this page and examine the differences. I think that Chris did an excellent job on the photo editing. Click to enlarge this picture as well.

Battle of Fisher's Crossing Returns

British Army

The Crown forces went into the battle with 198 figures for all combat arms and suffered 36 killed or wounded, 41 captured and 121 remaining figures. Major Wemyss' capture is not included in the captured tally for the game.

The 55th Regt started the game with 32 figures and had 11 killed or wounded, but the 21 remaining figures were all captured! Unit eliminated from the campaign.

The 4th Regt started the game with 32 figures and had 12 killed or wounded and 20 captured. Unit eliminated from the campaign.

The Loyalist regiment started with 24 figures, had 13 killed or wounded, leaving 11 survivors. Since the losing side has to forfiet one SP for losing the battle, I decided to allocate that loss to the Loyalist regiment Unit eliminated from the campaign.

Continental Army

The Continental army commanded by Baron De Kalb went into battle with 195 figures (of which 52 were low quality militia troops). The Americans had casualties of 25 figures killed or wounded and non were captured.

Notable losses included the following:

1st Maryland       - 8 KW - 12 remaining
6th Maryland      - 5 KW - 19 remaining
1st Pennsylvania - 1 KW - 29 remaining
Catawba Militia  - 7 KW - 13 remaining
Mounted Militia  - 4 KW - 8 remaining

The Delaware regiment (24 figures) and 3rd SC (25 figures) and 2nd Catawba Militia reported no losses, as did the 1st & 3rd Dragoons (20 figures).

Turn Five Campaign Results
Sumter captured the Loyalist supply base at Augusta, Georgia and coupled with DeKalb's victory over Webster's Crown Forces at Catawba Town, have largely secured the Back Country as a Rebel strong hold and recruiting area. However, the British still hold Ninety Six with 3SPs under the command of Cruger.

Marion's attempt to capture Georgetown in the Tidewater region, on the coast, failed when the garrison refused to surrender. Marion's attempted siege would be lifted on the next turn when reinforcments arrived by sea from Charleston. The British reinforcements could have marched overland from Charleston, but would have risked having a battle with the Rebels. They elected to have the Royal Navy transport them by sea, so as to reinforce Georgetown without having a battle.

Banastre Tarleton is raiding in North Carolina and hoping to cut off the supply lines of Gates and De Kalb by capturing the main Rebel supply base at Hillsboro, NC where their is 1SP defending the base; or the secondary supply base at Charlotte, NC which is undefended.

Turn Six Map Moves
The map for Turn 6 is shown below:

Turn 6 Campaign Map - Click to enlarge.

British Map Moves

Tarleton - moves 3SPs one dot to Salisbury, NC in an effort to cut off De Kalb's supply line.

Webster - reduced from 7SPs to 4SPs as a result of his loss at Fisher's Crossing. He automatically moved two dots away away from the battle site to Camden, via Winnsboro. Cornwallis takes over command of Webster's remaining army.

Cornwallis - now has an army of 11SPs based in Camden, SC, where he remains this turn.

Rawdon - in Charleston with 7SPs; sends 2SPs to Georgetown

Maitland - his 2SPs in Georgetown now reinforced to 4SPs

Stewart- remains at Savannah with 6SPs

American Map Moves

Marion - falls back 2 dots with 3SPs to Kingston

Gates - holds at Cheraw with 8SPs

DeKalb - adds 1SP for his battle victory for a total of 9Sps. Sends 3SPs with Colonel Otho Williams back to Charlotte, NC to protect his supply base from Tarleton's raid. He keeps 6SPs at Catawba Town.

Williams - marches with 3SPs to Charlotte, NC

Sumter - remains at Augusta, GA with 3SPs since it is a supply base

Fort Charlotte and Hillsboro  - remain with 1SP at each location

Turn Six Results
There are no battles to fight on this turn and there are no forces that are out of supply. There was no  new Patriot Uprising in South Carolina.

We will procede with Turn Seven map moves and post the results within the next couple of days.

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Battle of Fisher's Crossing (Report)

Traffic Jam - 18th Century Style! Two Continental Brigades arrive at the crossroads in Catawba Town at the same time. Fife & Drum Miniatures and terrain pieces by Herb Gundt.

Summary of Events So Far
In May of 1780, the Crown Forces are gaining the upper hand in South Carolina following two major victories over Rebel forces at Winnsboro and McDowell. However, all is not doom and gloom for the Rebels (Americans, or Continentals) as there is a resurgence of partisan activity in the tidewater region led by Francis Marion and another uprising in the back country by the forces of Thomas Sumter. Sumter has recently captured the Loyalist stronghold at Augusta, Georgia while Marion has established a blockade around the fortified town of Georgetown.

The two main field armies of the Americans are commanded by Baron DeKalb (8SPs) at Catawba Town and by Horatio Gates (8SPs) at Cheraw; facing them are Colonel Webster (7SPs) and Lord Cornwallis (8SPs), respectively.

Webster's British army has been pursuing DeKalb's army for a week now, and has finally caught up with the Americans at the Catawba River, at a place known as Fisher's Crossing. After a brief cavalry skirmish (reported earlier on this blog   ( Cavalry Skirmish Report ), the two armies are drawn up in battle formation facing one another on opposite sides of the Catawba River. The map below depicts the battlefield terrain and the initial deployment of the British and American forces, by brigades.

Terrain map and initial deployment of forces (British in Red, Americans in Blue)

The Crown Forces
Colonel Webster has 7SPs ("strength points") of high quality troops that he has organized into three brigades for the coming battle. Note that artillery units are not included in the SPs of each army, artillery being decided by the number of SPs in the army. 

British Battle Plan: Webster's disdain for the quality of the Continental troops is the basis for his decision to launch an all-out attack on the enemy's center with a supporting advance on his left and a screening action on his right.

Left Wing - Major Stuart Grant
5th Regt  (32 figures)
27th Regt. (32 figures)
1 x 1-pound amusette
Major Grant's orders are to find a ford on the British left flank and cross the Catawba River to engage the rebels and support the main attack in the center.

The 5th Regiment and 1-pound Amusette in Grant's Brigade.

Center - Major Henry Wemyss
55th Regt. (32 figures)
Queen's Rangers (24 figures)
2 x 3-pound artillery pieces
Major Wemyss' orders are to organize an assault across the bridge at Fisher's Crossing and charge through the center of the rebel position on the opposite bank.

Wemyss' Brigade establishes a bridgehead on the north bank of the Catawba River.

Right Wing - Major Patrick Ferguson
4th Regt. (32 figures)
Converged Light Battalion (24 figures) - "elite"
16th Light Dragoons (16 figures)
1 x 1-pound amusette
Major Ferguson's orders are to probe the difficult terrain on the right flank and protect the flank of Weymess' attack in the center.

Major Ferguson's British Brigade (16th LD not shown in the picture).

The American Forces
Major General DeKalb ("Baron De Kalb") has organized his Continental army into two infantry brigades and one cavalry brigade. There are also some local independent militia companies that have turned out to support the American army for this particular battle.

American Battle Plan: DeKalb has decided to use a "rear slope" defensive strategy in his fight against the British. He will only show a few of his troops on the crest of the ridge overlooking the Catawba River, but hide the balance of his army behind the ridge. Militia companies will be deployed forward in the wooded areas along the river on both the left and right flanks of the American position while chosen men will man the two rifle pits that guard the bridge at Fisher's Crossing.

Left Wing - Colonel Otho Williams
6th Maryland (24 figures)
3rd South Carolina (30 figures)
1st Pennsylvania (30 figures)
1 x 3-pound cannon
Colonel Williams will deploy the 6th Maryland regiment and the 3-pounder on the ridge to the left of the main road. The 3rd South Carolina Regiment will remain in the dead ground behind the 6th Maryland, unseen by the British. The 1st Pennsylvania regiment will be posted in reserve on the road, behind the ridge, where it can shore up any weaknesses in the army's battle line.

The 6th Maryland (left) and 3rd South Carolina (right) Continental regiments of Colonel Otho Williams' brigade.

Right Wing - Colonel John Eager Howard
1st Delaware (24 figures) - "elite"
1st Maryland (24 figures)
2nd Maryland (24 figures)
2 x 6-pound cannon
Colonel Howard's brigade will deploy to the right of the main road on the ridge. The 1st Maryland and the Delaware regiment will be positioned to the right of the 6-pounders, which have dropped trail in the middle of the road that overlooks the bridge over the Catawba River. The 2nd Maryland will remain in reserve, hidden in the dead ground behind the ridge.

Forward rifle pits flank and protect the approach to the bridge at Fisher's Crossing.

Cavalry Brigade - Colonel William Washington
1st Continental Light Dragoons (16 figures)
3rd Continental Light Dragoons (8 figures)
Colonel Washington will hold his cavalry in reserve behind the ridge and await orders for further action, as required.

Independent Militia Battalions
Marion's SC Mounted Militia (12 figures)
1st Catawba Militia (20 figures)
2nd Catawba Militia (20 figures)
Colonel Marion will deploy his mounted militiamen in the wooded area on the left flank of the Continental army, in front of Colonel Williams' brigade. Their orders are to fire 1-2 times and then retire back to the American lines.

The two Catawba militia regiments will deploy in the wooded area on the right flank (in front of Howard's brigade) of the army's battle line. Their orders are to contest the ford across the Catawba and then to retire back towards Howard's brigade.

Victory Conditions
The American army will win if they continue to hold the ridge overlooking the Catawba River at the end of 12 game turns, or if at any time, they eliminate 3SPs of British units during the battle.

The British army will win if they capture and control the ridge overlooking the Catawba River, or if they eliminate 3SPs of Continental regulars. American militia units will not count towards this elimination number.

The Battle Report
I will largely allow the picture captions to explain what happened during the Battle of Fisher's Crossing.

The British Assault across the River
The British commenced the battle with Wemyss' Brigade moving at the double quick up the road so as to cross the Catawba bridge as quickly as possible to minimize the amount of time spent under the mouth of the cannon across the river. In this they largely succeeded, although the Queen's Rangers took a lot of casualties in the process. Wemyss' 16th Light Dragoons were supposed to charge across the bridge behind the 55th and Queen's Rangers, but it was soon clear that their charge path would be blocked off by their own troops.

On the British right wing, Major Patrick Ferguson advanced his Light Battalion up to the river to engage any rebel riflemen that were probably hidden in the trees. Indeed, they discovered Marion's mounted militia and distressed them with a couple of rounds of 1-pounder shot from the Amusette in the brigade. Ferguson seeing that Weymess needed more weight in numbers, detached the 4th Regt. from his brigade and sent them across the bridge to build up the bridgehead.

On the British left wing, Major Stuart Grant moved one regiment (the 5th) up to the river, near the bridge, looking for a shallow place to ford and help extend the left side of the bridgehead. However, they were not able to find the ford (50% chance of D10 of finding the ford on each turn - bad dice rolling kept them from crossing the river). At the same time, Grant sent the 27th Regiment off to the wooded area on the left flank, where they found the ford and began to cross the Catawba River. On seeing their success, Grant recalled the 5th Regiment and had them follow the 27th across the ford.

The Americans' Response
DeKalb calmly waited as he allowed his militia units to fire a volley and retire, hoping that this would slow down the pace of the British advance. As stated previously, Marion's mounted militia on the American left were roughly handled by the British Light Battalion, so they retired across the river to safety. The chosen riflemen manning the rifle pits were quickly rendered hors de combat and the survivors fled to safety. On the American right flank, two militia battalions traded musketry with the British 27th Regiment. The 1st Catawba Militia routed after receiving one hit. They ran through the supporting 2nd Catawba Militia, causing them to rout as well.

Howard moved the Delaware and 1st Maryland regiments forward towards the river to contest the crossing of the river by Grant's Brigade. Howard held the 2nd Maryland in reserve behind the ridge.

In the center, the American artillery were cleaving great holes through the red and green coats that charged up the road towards them. DeKalb, sensing some danger, ordered the 1st Pennsylvania to march up the road and deploy to the left of the American artillery and steady the battle line.

Colonel William Washington held back the 3rd Continental Dragoons as a backstop in case of an infantry rout, but he also sent the 1st Continental Dragoons forward and to the left flank to see if they could create any mischief.

Continental 6-pounders deployed on the road facing the bridge.

The artillery train showing the limbers and an ammo wagon that is being unloaded. Washington's cavalry brigade can be seen at the upper left and center of the picture.

American defensive position on the north bank of the Catawba River. William's Brigade is at the right of the picture and  Howard's Brigade is at the left of the picture. Washington's cavalry brigade can be seen behind the ridge next to the enclosed fenced field.

Wemyss' Brigade begins its assault on the American center by crossing the bridge and then deploying into line to confront the rebels.
The 4th Regiment from Ferguson's Brigade initially moves to the edge of the river to support the assualt of Wemyss' Brigade, seen crossing the bridge.

Ferguson eventually diverts the 4th Regiment from his brigade across the river to add weight to the British bridgehead.
The Light Battalion and an Amusette advance to the river to protect the British right flank from American riflemen that are deployed in the woods.

Grant's Brigade advances towards the Catawba River, hoping to find a ford to cross. Meanwhile, a pair of 3-pounders advance to support the infantry assault of Wemyss' Brigade.

British 3-pounders drop trail and deploy to support the attack. Colonel Webster can be seen on the right hand  side (lower corner) of the picture. Major Wemyss is the mounted officer seen between the cannon crew and the road.

Grant sends the 27th (Inniskilling) Regiment to cross the river at a newly-discovered ford, to outflank the American right flank. American militia, deployed in the woods, fired a few shorts and then skedaddled.

The critical moment of the battle arrived with the British building up their bridgehead to three battalions on the American side of the river. De Kalb began to envelope the bridgehead from three sides, with the river itself cutting off the fourth side of the British position. Both sides traded murderous musketry with the other. Lousy shooting on the British part did not help their cause, but they were hitting enough rebels to create a level of doubt in DeKalb's mind. Whichever side would flinch first would likely lose the battle.

The British bridgehead is surrounded on three sides as Howard (left) and Williams (right)  advance forward to envelope the bridgehead. Meanwhile, the Continental Dragoons sneak up behind the 6th Maryland infantry in the righthand background of this picture.

The Queen's Rangers were the linchpin that broke first and this would prove to be the turning point in the battle. They routed back across the bridge, opening up a wide gap on the British right side of the bridgehead. The Americans took advantage of the opportunity by moving their dragoons and infantry into position to charge into flank and rear of the remaining British regiments on the north bank of the Catawba River.

The Americans won the initiative die roll on Turn 6 and elected to take the first move rather than the first fire on the turn. As well they should, because this allowed the Americans to charge into the rear of the 4th Regt. with the dragoons and into the flank of the 55th Regt. by the 6th Maryland infantry before the British could react and change facing. It wouldn't have mattered anyway, because a British turn to the danger on their right would have exposed them to a ruinous flank attack on their left. They were damned if they do and damned if they don't.

The resulting charges proved to be the endgame as the British infantry in the bridgehead had no choice but to lay down their weapons and surrender. So the British lost 2SPs and Major Wemyss in the surrender, while the QR regiment, routing, was decimated down to one stand of 8 figures. This ended the battle of Fisher's Crossing. DeKalb declined to pursue the British army, so Webster was able to extract 4 SPs from the battle. He would lose an additional Strenght Point as a consequence of losing the battle, so having begun the day with 7SPs, Webster's British army was reduced to but 3SPs by the end of the day. It was a very successful battle for the Americans and lead to some dark days ahead for the British in our South Carolina 1780 Campaign.

Disaster! The Queen's Rangers rout after cannon fire and musketry cut down half of its complement of men.

The rout of the Queen's Rangers exposes the 55th (left) and 4th (right) regiments to a fatal attack from the flank or rear at the bridgehead.

End Game: the 1st Continental Dragoons charge into the rear of the 4th Regt. while the 6th  Maryland Continentals (yellow & black flag) charge into the flank of the 55th Regt. Both regiments have no choice but to surrender or get cut down to the man.

It was a fun game, lasting only six turns, but there was a lot of action going on. Admittedly, Colonel Webster's charge across the Catawba River bridge was foolish in hindsight (I rolled dice to determine whether Webster would attack or decline to offer battle. Webster's dice made the wrong choice). That said, there was a moment or two when it seemed like the Americans would break first, but some good morale dice rolling saved their bacon in this battle.

The rules used were my own Fife & Drum Rules for the AWI, which you can download for free on the Fife and Drum Miniatures web site. 

You can also refer to the rules tutorial that was posted to my previous blog entry that gives a step by step run through of how to play the rules .

The South Carolina Campaign Continues

I will be posting the moves for Turn Six of our campaign, which represents June 1780, and put the moves on this blog within the next couple of days after readers have had a chance to digest the battle report posted today.