Monday, October 16, 2017

AWI Battle of Cheraw Report

Battle of Cheraw - July 1780
(Click/Double Click to enlarge)

I solo played the meeting of Gates' American army with Cornwallis' army at Cheraw, South Carolina over the weekend. The action resulted in a crushing British victory over the Americans, who lost half of their army during the battle and the disengagement from the battlefield. Both Gates and Cornwallis started the battle with 8SPs (strength points). Gates lost 4SPs and Cornwallis lost 1SP (from battle casualties).

Both armies were divided into three brigades of infantry, varying from 3 to 4 units plus a small amount of artillery. The battlefield was mostly light woods with only the roads being in the open.

Please refer to yesterday's post  (  Battlefield Map ) which depicts the tabletop map of the game, the list of troops in each brigade, and the deployment of the respective British and American brigades.

Brigade Deployment Map (double click to enlarge).

Gates decided that it would be better to attack the British before they had the time to deploy into their battle line, than to just sit back and await the British attack. Two of the three British brigades arrived on the tabletop from separate roads that eventually met at a crossroads in the center of the table. Gates sensed that a vigourous attack towards the crossroads could defeat the British brigades in detail.

American Swedish 4-pdr drops trail in the road and sweeps the crossroads with cannister and shot.

Unbeknownst to the American commander, who was taking lunch back in town at the Savage Swan Inn, a third brigade of British light infantry was working its way through the woods and around the left flank of the American deployment. A brigade of three militia battalions were posted on the left to stop such an eventuality.

Horatio Gates dines at the Savage Swan Tavern while the battle commences.

Two of the three militia battalions on the American left flank spring an ambush on the British Converged Light Companies, who are traversing the woods and trying to attack the American left flank.

The American battle plan was actually a very sound one, although not reflected in the eventual American loss. The Pennsylvania Brigade pitched into O'Hare's British brigade before Phillips' British brigade could reach the crossroads. The latter was hotly engaged by the Virginia brigade on the American right wing.

Phillips' British Brigade arrives on the lefthand road.
The Queen's Rangers lead O'Hare's British Brigade onto the table on the righthand road.

O'Hare's Brigade shakes out into a line of battle before it can reach the crossroads.

Phillips' British Brigade on British left wing shoots it out
with the Virginia Brigade on the American right wing.

The two sides got into a heavy firefight of close range musketry, with the Americans giving as good as they got. At one point it looked as if Gates might pull off a victory when, on Turn 4, the Queen's Rangers routed from the center of the battle line, opening up a huge gap. The British regiment to its left, the 4th Regiment of Foot, also went "shaken" from the American fire. If the Pennsylvania Brigade could exploit this gap, then victory could have been the prize.

The Pennsylvania Brigade of Continentals engages O'Hare's British Brigade near the crossroads.
The 1st Virginia (green coats) drives off the Queen's Rangers and advances into the gap created by their rout.

Phillips' fills the gap left by the rout of the Queen's Rangers by bringing
the 27th (Inniskillings) Regt. up to the crossroads.

Another view of the action between O'Hare and the Pennsylvanians.

However, the British began to pile up a string of "first fire initiatives" on Turn 5, Turn 6 and Turn 7 and the cumulative effect began to tell on the American regiments. In my rules, one side gets to fire first (based on an initiative die roll on a D10) and it follows that the other side must first pass a morale check and remove casualties received on that turn before it can fire back. This caused the American fire to diminish considerably, by virtue of fewer numbers of men firing back,  by the third straight turn of losing the first fire. 

Rout of the 2nd Virginia opens up a huge gap in the American center. Gates tries to rally the regiment.

OUTFLANKED! The 1st Pennsylvania Regiment's attrition from casualties shortens its frontage, resulting in its left flank being over-lapped by the British 5th Regiment.

The 1st Maryland Continentals were held in reserve for most of the game,
but now is their time to  support the Pennsylvania Brigade before it crumbles.

SURROUNDED! The 1st & 2nd Pennsylvania regiments are outflanked and virtually surrounded. Only the 1st Maryland regiment, coming up behind the Pennsylvanians, gives them anything but a small hope of extricating themselves from the battleline.

The Pennsylvania Brigade was shot up and shaken to a regiment. The length of the brigade's line began to shrink and this allowed the opposing British brigade of O'Hare overlap the Pennsylvanians. With the American left wing militia caving in to pressure from the Light Brigade and the Pennsylvanians near collapse in the center, I deemed that the British were going to win the battle and so I stopped the game prior to Turn 8.

On the far right flank of the American position, the 4th Virginia (green hunting shirts) and 3rd Virginia (in the smoke) have routed the British 55th Regiment and now have a wide open British left flank to attack. However, it is too late as the rest of the American army is either routing or retiring from the battlefield.

I decreed that each side would loose Strength Points, or "SPs", based on the total number of casualties divided by 30, with 30 being the average size of regiments in the game. Additionaly, the losing side, the Americans, would lose SPs for any unit that was either Routing or Shaken at the end of the game. I reasoned that such units were in no condition to escape capture by the British. As a result, the British lost 1SP from attrition while the Americans lost 4SPs from attrition or capture.

Gates had to decide whether to retreat north over the border and back to his base at Hillsboro, or take the least likely escape route to the east, towards Kingston/Little River and the Atlantic coast.  With information that Tarleton was in the rear burning down Hillsboro, and the liklihood that Cornwallis would pursue the Americans northward, Gates grabbed the option of retreating to the east. This would put the Americans out of supply, but they had three campaign turns to get back into supply before attrition started to set in.

Needless to say, Lord Cornwallis was rightly miffed when his pursuit met up with Tarleton, coming south on the same road from Hillsboro. This meant that somehow Gates had avoided the British pursuit and likely capture of his remaining SPs.

With the battle of Cheraw over, it is now on to Turn 8 (August 1780) of the South Carolina Campaign.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Battle of Cheraw Game Map

Battle of Cheraw tabletop. American forces are on the right and British forces are on the left.
Click/double click to enlarge

The basic map of the tabletop battlefield is shown below. The British army has three brigades, of which two are marching onto the table at the start of the game. The Light Brigade (on the right) is hidden from view and is attempting to march through the woods and engage the left flank of the American army, where only some militia are posted.

The American forces begin the game already deployed on the table in three brigades as shown in the map below. The Virginia Brigade (4 regiments) is posted on the American right wing; the Pennsylvania Brigade (3 regiments and 2 x 6-pd cannon) is deployed in the center; and three regiments of militia are posted on the American left flank. A small regiment of Continental dragoons are also posted on the left flank to provide some support and inspiration to the militia, who are prone to running away.

Battle of Cheraw Deployment Map - click/double click to enlarge

Terrain Rules: All of the tabletop is covered with an open woods, which reduces movement to half speed. The exception are the open areas where there are either roads, farms or towns.

Fife & Drum Rules: I used my own Fife & Drum rules for the American Revolution. The system determines the initiative for each turn based on a D10 die roll by the commanders-in-chief of each army, with high die winning. Gates also has a minus one to each die roll while Cornwallis has a plus one for his die rolls. 

The game will last a maximum of 12 game turns. Presumably the results of the battle will be obvious to both sides. Either side may withdraw from the battlefield at the end of turn 12.

British Forces - Lt. General Lord Cornwallis commanding

Phillips' Brigade (left flank)
55th Regiment
27th Regiment
4th Regiment
one-pound amusette

O'Hare's Brigade (center)

5th Regiment
44th Regiment
Queen's Rangers
2 x 3-pound cannon
17th Light Dragoons

Ferguson's Light Brigade

1st Battalion of Converged Light Infantry Companies
2nd Battalion of Converged Light Infantry Companies
Ferguson's Rifles

American Forces - General Horatio Gates commanding

Virginia Brigade (Woffard)
1st Virginia
2nd Virginia
3rd Virginia
4th Virginia

(the Virginia Brigade regiments are all wearing hunting shirts)

Pennsylvania Brigade (Cadwalader)
1st Maryland
1st Pennsylvania
2nd Pennsylvania
2 x 6-pound cannon

Militia (Adams)
3 x regiments of militia

I will follow up with another blog posting tonight or tomorrow that describes the game results and includes lots and lots of nice color pictures.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

Setting My Table for the Battle of Cheraw

An overhead view of the battle of Cheraw battlefield. (Click the twice picture to enlarge).

The other day I cleared my game table of the detritus from my recent SYW action at Reichenbach and began setting up the terrain for the AWI battle at Cheraw, South Carolina. As you can see from the picture of the game table at the top of this page, it is rather covered by trees. I picked up this idea from the Camden battlefield, in which the troops of both armies fought largely in forested areas.

I rather like the effect achieved from using a variety of different trees, colors and sizes. The tall green trees were made by Herb Gundt and the rest are either K&M trees or Woodland Scenics trees.

A view of the wooded terrain on the battlefield.
There are three built up areas, using that term loosely: the village of Cheraw in the upper right corner of the picture; The Ray Farm in the upper left corner, and a smaller un-named farm in the lower left corner. Other than some open tilled fields and the road network, the battle will be fought in open forest areas - the undergrowth has been cleared by farmers or livestock so there is visibility through the trees. Movement speed will be reduced for units that are moving through the woods.

A view the village of Cheraw, with the black smith in the foreground and the  tavern with the window dormers.

An aerial view of Cheraw. Areas surrounded by snake rail fences are open areas - everything else is in the forested areas.

Life in the American camp outside of Cheraw. A few of the camp followers are seeking spiritual comfort.

The Benedict Ray Farmsted - an infamous gathering place of Tories.
(Road dust copy right of the Benedict Ray Foundation)

The South Carolina Campaign - Situation Update
Those of you who are searching through your reference libraries for information on this battle will be surely disappointed because Cheraw is a fictional battle that has been generated by my South Carolina Campaign of 1780. See the campaign map below - armies are allowed to move up to two dots at the start of each campaign turn. The armies also have to be in supply (that is, have an uninterupted line of dots from the army to a supply base).

South Carolina Campaign Map. Cornwallis' 8SPs have inadvertantly been left off of the map. He should be at Cheraw. (Click on the map to enlarge the view, double click for an even larger map)

The British army, led by Cornwallis, has chased down the American army commanded by Gates at the town of Cheraw, which lies near the border of North and South Carolina. And unbeknownst to Gates, his supply base at Hillsborough, North Carolina has been captured and destroyed by Banastre Tarleton's raiding force. Accordingly, Gates is caught between the proverbial rock and a hard place with British forces to his front and rear. Should he lose his battle to Cornwallis, he cannot retreat to any location where his army is still in supply and thus could lose the rest of his army through attrition.

So there is a lot at stake at Cheraw, South Carolina.

I plan on playing the Battle of Cheraw over the next several days, so there should be multiple posts over the same period of time.

Monday, October 9, 2017

A Compendium of the Charles S. Grant Publications

Two of the Charles S. Grant books from his most recent series, "Refighting History."

A Grant battle always features big battalions of 53 figures and cavalry regiments of 27 figures. The above picture depicts one of our "Batailles de l'Ancien Regime" (or BAR for short) battles last year. Our 60 figure battalions and the rules are inspired by The Wargame Rules, in part.

In the course of looking up some information in one of Charles S. Grant's books, I started to write down the various titles of his books and publications so that I could go back and find articles or stories that I might be looking for in the future. So I figured that I might as well post that list on this blog so that others could benefit from it too.

The list does not include any of Grant's books on the Napoleonic Peninsula War, Egypt or any of his books on Marlborough.

The Wargame Series

"The Wargame" - originally printed in 1971 by his father, Charles Grant, and reprinted in 2007 by Ken Trotman.

"The Wargame Companion" - (2008 - Ken Trotman) a paperback supplement to the original "The Wargame" book. This is one of my favorite Grant books because it provides a lot of the background story to the original book and is chock full of anecdotes about his Father and Peter Young that will bring you a good chuckle or two.

"The Wargame Rules" - (2012 - Ken Trotman) a paperback publication that puts all of the original rules found in the book, The Wargame, and includes all of the rules additions that the Grant family has added over the years. With all of the rules adjustments, the rules have advanced far beyond the "Old School" designation and are a modern set of rules that are a joy to read and easy to play.

Wargaming In History Series

These were a set of 12 hard cover, full color books published by Ken Trotman from 2009 through 2015. Seven of the titles were writen by Charles S. Grant and cover 18th Century topics, other than one title for the Peninsula War. The first two volumes were co-written by Phil Olley, with Grant going solo after that.

Volume 1 - Krefeld, Sandershausen and Lutterberg - 1758 (2009 - Ken Trotman).
Volume 2 - Dettingen, Fontenoy and Laufeld (2010 - Ken Trotman)
Volume 4 - Hastenbach, Rossbach and Leuthen (2011 - Ken Trotman)
Volume 5 - Minden, Kunersdorf, the Action at Torgau and Maxen
Volume 7 - Peninsular Actions (2012 - Ken Trotman)
Volume 9 - Lobositz, Reichenberg, Prague and Kolin (2013 - Ken Trotman)
Volume 11 - SYW Small Actions (2015 - Ken Trotman)

Battle Games Magazine and related Publications

"Battle Games Table Top Teasers - Volume 1"  (2008 - Battle Games Publications). 
This is a set of 12 of the Table Top Teasers that appeared in Battle Games magazine. It features a reprint of the articles, but then does something unique: employes a group of wargame writers to play the scenarios on their own and then report how their game went.  Many of the teaser reports conveyed the scenario to a completely different historical period. For example, my contribution takes a SYW action and transfers it to a battle during the American Civil War.

Battle Games Issues with Grant's Table Top Teasers

Issue 1 (March/April 2006) - Pontoon - using pontoons in river crossing scenarios.
Issue 2 (May/June 2006) - Can you demolish "The Bridge at Kronstadt"?
Issue 3 (July/August 2006) - The Tactical Use of Forests in Your Wargames
Issue 4 (September/October 2006) - Plunder and Pillage - a raid scenario to fetch supplies
[NOTE: this issue also contains a marvelous article about a refight of the Peter Young "Battle of Sittangbad" from his "Charge"book, that accurately recreates all of the forces and terrain featured in the Charge book.]

Issue 5 (November/December 2006) - Trouble on Treasure Island - a lighter Beer & Pretzels game.
Issue 6 (January/February 2007) - Napoleon's troops rob Egypt of Ancient Antiquities
Issue 7 (March/April 2007) - River Convoy, or "Messing About on the River".
Issue 8 (June/July 2007) - Seize the Pass, "The Battle of Soggy Bottom".
[NOTE: this issue also has an article about a recreation of the Grant "Mollwitz" scenario at Partizan. Grant himself participates in the game and brought all of the original plastic Spencer Smith figures that featured prominently in the book, "The Wargame".]

Issue 9 (August/September 2007) - Turning the Flank, or "Losing Two Fords".
Issue 10 (November/December 2007) - Siege Train, or "Caught on the Move".
Issue 11 (January/February 2008) - Insurgency, or "All's Well That Ends Well".
Issue 12 (March/April 2008) - Fighting rearguard actions.
Issue 13 (May/June 2008) - Fighting withdrawal, or "Over the hills and far away".
Issue 14 (July/August 2008) - Reconnaissance in Force
Issue 15 (September/October 2008) - Visitors with Intent. 3 different sides, each with own agenda.
Issue 16 (January/February 2009) - Confrontation on the Islands. Crossing 2 islands in a major river.
Issue 17 (March/April 2009) - A Dashing Rescue. A small skirmish raid style of game.
Issue 18 (July/August 2009) - Breakout! or "Tonight there's going to be a jailbreak".
Issue 19 (September/October 2009) - Gaining the Initiative (by Charlie Grant) - a battle that carries over to a second day's new action.

Issue 20 (November/December 2009) - An Affair of Outposts - an introduction to map moving.
Issue 21 (January/February 2010) - Night Moves. Preliminary action leading to main action.
Issue 22 (March/April 2010) - The Defense of Twin Peaks. A desperate rear-guard action.
Issue 23 (September/October 2010) - Cavalry Encounter. An exciting all-cavalry scenario.

Going forward, Battle Games were only numbered by issue number, without the month dating.

Issue 24 - Run on the Bank, or "A Bridge too Far?" This is the last Grant Table Top Teaser to appear in Battle Games, as Charles needed to devote more time to his growing book publishing commitments. Going forward, Battle Games used the Table Top Teaser format in a new series called "Command Challenge". Similar to TTT, but writen by different authors, including several that I wrote.

Refighting History Series

After Ken Trotman ceased publishing new books in 2015, Charles started a series of larger format hard cover, full color books that are published by Partizan Press. The first three titles (I assume that more are in the works since this is an on-going and active series) are listed below:

Volume 1 - SYW Fighting Withdrawals (2016 - Partizan Press)
Volume 2 - WAS Mollwitz, Chotusitz and Sahay (2016 - Partizan Press)
Volume 3 - WAS Hohenfriedberg, Soor and Rocoux (2016 - Partizan Press)

Charles S. Grant's Mini-campaign Series
Charles has developed and published (via Caliver Books) a series of six mini-campaigns, each of which are independent of the others. Each campaign has five Table Top Teasers that you can play linked together in a campaign, or fought as an independent scenario.

This is a nice way to fight a series of related battles in a short period of time, wherein the results of the earlier battles bear on the troop strengths of the succeeding battle. The campaigns generally involve Grant's own Grand Duchy of Lorraine (France) army fighting the Vereingte Frei Stadt or "VFS" for short (Prussia and its Electoral allies), but one could easily substitute one's own SYW armies or any other Horse and Musket period wars and armies.

"Raid on St. Michel" - (2008 - Caliver Books) a collection of 5 table top teasers.

"Annexation of Chriraz - (2008 - Caliver Books)

"The Wolfenbuttel War" - (2012 - Caliver Books) a mini-campaign based on the 1815 Waterloo Campaign, but played with SYW era armies.

"The Seige of La Crenoil" - (2013 - Caliver Books)

"Attack on the Junger" - (2014 - Partizan Press)

"Border Raid - Pillage of Procraster" - (2015 - Partizan Press)

The Wargamers' Annual

In 2009, Charles commenced publishing an annual magazine on wargaming which featured written contributions by an All-Star list of wargamers including Phil Olley, Barry Hilton, Stokes Schwartz and many, many more including, ahem, myself. I apologize for leaving anyone's name off of this short list. The magazines were probably inspired by the ones that Duncan MacFarlane did for his Wargames Illustrated publication (these were the four issues with the yellow covers). All of these new Annuals are published by Partizan Press. In 2014, Charles had so much content available that he added a second Summer Special issue for each year.

2010 - Volume 1 Annual for 2010 (78 pages)
2011 - Annual for 2011 (88 pages)
2012 - Annual for 2012 (88 pages)
2013 - Annual for 2013 (increased from 88 pages to 112 pages)
2014 - Annual for 2014 (120 pages)
2014 - Summer Special for 2014 (72 pages)
2015 - Annual for 2015 (72 pages)
2015 - Summer Special for 2015 (72 pages)
2016 - Annual for 2016  (72 pages)
(there might be a Summer Special, but I am not sure of this)

Links to Book Reviews that I have done on my blog

The following is a list of book reviews (click on the links to my blog reviews) that I have done on my blog. It looks like I need to do a few more:

Wargaming in History Volume 1

Wargaming In History Volume 4

Wargaming in History Volume 9

The Siege of La Crenoil


Well there you have, nearly all of the articles and books writen or published by Charles S. Grant listed in one place and at your disposal to find and peruse. For a long time I had been trying to find the TTT scenario that I finally found in Issue 17, so in the course of gathering all of the information, I happened to stumble upon the scenario, much to my joy.

There are probably a number of other Charles S. Grant articles that I have missed, notably those prior to 2008 when I first became acquaited with Charles' articles and books. I like his writing so much that I will usually buy the books sight unseen, because I know that the content therein will provide many enjoyable hours of reading or the playing of wargame scenarios. There are some other Grant articles in Practical Wargamer magazine, which is now out of print, edited and published by Stuart Asquith.

I continue to be enamored by the continuing conflict between the Grand Duchy of Lorraine and the Vereingte Frei Stadt armies. I am a bit partial to the VFS side of the frey since it has a Prussian-like quality to it. I have no doubt that there will be many more books to add to this list in the future.


Saturday, October 7, 2017

Fort Donelson ACW Site

The Confederate view of the Cumberland River from one of the river batteries. The Union ironclad gunboats sailed right down the middle of the river and got hammered by the Confederate shore batteries.

This week I was had the opportunity to visit Fort Donelson National Military Battlefield located in Dover, Tennessee. I was visiting my daughter in nearby Carbondale, Illinois for her birthday and decided to take advantage of the site's proximity to pay it a visit.

Entrance to Fort Donelson National Battlefield Park.
It was about a two hour drive from Carbondale and I had to be back by 2PM, so I hit the road by 8AM so that I would have time to make the round trip and hopefully spend at least an hour at the battlefield site.

I spent about fifteen minutes at the visitors' center, which currently shares space with the local county tourist office while a new visitors' center is being constructed. There is not much to see here, but the bookshop is decent with plenty of books available for the campaign and the eventual battle.

An overview of the campaign, as provided by one of the park brochure handouts that are available to visitors:

Winter 1862 marked a turning point in the Civil War. The North finally achieved its first major victory and gained an unlikely hero nicknamed "Unconditional Surrender" Grant. The Confederacy lost control  of major rivers (the Tennessee and the Cumberland rivers) and supply lines, territory in Western Kentucky and Middle Tennessee, and over 13,000 Confederate soldiers were imprisoned in Northern prison camps.

Today, Fort Donelson National Battlefield interprets the story and the legacy of the 1862 campaign between Union forces commanded by Ulysses S. Grant and Confederate forces commanded by John Floyd and others. The National Park Service preserves the earthen fort and outer defenses, surrender site, and National Cemetary.

The Campaign -Winter of 1862

Union Brigadier General Ulysses S. Grant, a relatively unknown commander in the backwater districts of the Western Theater under the overall command of Major General Henry ('Old Brains') Halleck, endeavored to attack both Fort Henry on the Tennessee River and Fort Donelson on the Cumberland River. Both forts were within a dozen miles of each other and they commanded key points of these two rivers, both of which flowed into the heartland of the Confederacy.

Fort Henry was ill-situated on low ground that was subject to flooding and surrounded by higher ground. The Confederates had begun construction of a supporting fort, Fort Heiman, on the opposite side of the Tennessee River. The Tennessee River flows southward into the heart of the Confederacy as far as Alabama, so that gives one an idea of that river's importance in the Western Theater campaigns of the Civil War. On February 6, 1862, ironclad gunboats commanded by Flag Officer Andrew Foote approached Fort Henry and opened fire with a bombardment that lasted for an hour. Foote's gunboats moved into point blank range and pounded the fort into submission. About 2,500 Confederate soldiers escaped to nearby Fort Donelson just before General Lloyd Tilghman surrendered the fort to Foote. The action was so quick that Grant's infantry were still approaching Fort Henry from the land side prior to its surrender.

Fort Donelson was located on high ground overlooking a bend in the Cumberland River, which flowed southward to Nashville, TN.  It contained two river batteries having 12 heavy guns that effectively controlled the river. An outer defensive line protected the land side from attack. Grant took about a week to build up and consolidate his infantry force and allow time for Foote to sail his gunboats back up the Tennessee River to Paducah, Kentucky on the Ohio River, and then sail south on the Cumberland River to Fort Donelson. The idea was to stage a combined river and land assault of the fort.

On February 13, 1862, the Union army of 15,000 men began to invest the perimeter of Fort Donelson. Nightfall arrived along with bitter cold temperatures and the men on neither side could afford to build fires, given the proximity of the two lines.

On February 14th, Foote's gunboats commenced a bombardment that lasted 90 minutes, but the Confederate shore batteries were so dominant that Foote suffered much damage and had to retire back down the Cumberland River. The Confederates rejoiced at their victory, but soon it became evident that the greater danger was being starved out by the encircling Union army.

On February 15th, the Confederates organized an attack on the Union right flank with the objective of clearing an escape rout to Nashville for the Confederate army. The attack was so successful that the Union flank was bent all the way back to the middle. The rout to Nashville was now clear. Except that indecision by the Conferate high command threw away the victory when the army was ordered to return to its entrenchments rather than to execute the planned escape. Grant's counter-attack late in the afternoon restored the Union lines to their original positions and gained a lodgement in the trenches on the Confederate right flank. This would compromise the entire forward line of trenches on the following day as the Union forces could roll up the Confederate lines from an enfilading attack.

The Confederates were now completely demoralized and the army surrendered to General Grant on the morning of February 16th. A small force of Confederates, including General Nathan Bedford Forrest's cavalry, escaped during the early hours of the morning.

The Fort
Fort Donelson basically had two defensive positions. First there was the fort proper which stood guard, with 12 heavy cannon, over the bend in the Cumberland River. Since the river flows south to Nashville, Tennessee (the capital of the state of Tennessee), control of the fort gave its owner control of the river and its easy access to Nashville. The loss of Fort Donelson and Nashville was a crippling blow to Confederate control of Tennessee during the Civil War.

Confederate river battery overlooks the Cumberland River.

The fort was protected on the land side by long series of trenches and rifle pits. The trenches seen in the pictures below are those of the fort only. The forward trenches and rifle pits are on private property and thus not part of the national battlefield site. The outer works were manned by 12,000 Confederate troops under the triumvirate command of generals John Floyd, Gideon Pillow and Simon Bolivar Buckner.

Inside entrenchments of the main fort area

Confederate Command and Final Surrender
The Confederate command was rather comical, with three generals and none of them willing to step up and take charge of the situation. John Floyd was a politician turned general, who took the initial command of the fort. When the situation grew worse, he basically turned command over to Brigadier General Gideon Pillow. Pillow wanted nothing to do with the responsibility of surrendering to Grant, so he turned over the command to Simon B. Buckner. Both Floyd and Pillow legged it out of the fort and eventually escaped upriver to Nashville and left poor Brigadier General Simon Buckner holding the bag and the dishonor of surrendering the fort to  the Union general, Ulysses S. Grant. 

When Buckner asked Grant for surrender terms, he received the terse and now famous reply:

Yours of this date proposing armistace and appointment of commissioners to settle terms of capitulation is just received. No terms except unconditional and immediate surrender can be accepted. I propose to move immediately upon your works.

After the surrender, Grant telegraphed his superior, General Henry Halleck in St. Louis, that:

We have taken Fort Donelson and from 12,000 to 15,000 prisoners including Generals Buckner and Bushrod Johnson, also about 20,000 stand of arms, 48 pieces of artillery, 17 heavy guns, from 2,000 to 4,000 horses and large quantities of commissary stores.

Fort Donelson marked the first of three Confederate armies that surrendered to Grant during the Civil War (the others being Pemberton's army at Vicksburg, MS in 1863 and Lee's Army of Northern Virginia at Appomattox in 1865).

12 pound Napoleon behind the Confederate trenches
Close-up view of the Napoleon

A view down the length of one of the Confederate trenches provides and idea of the height and protection provided.

One of the Confederate batteries in the main area of Fort Donelson

Another view of the fort trenches.

This looks like a 10-pound Parrot cannon to me. You can get some perspective of the height of the trenches from this angle.

One of the large Columbiad rifled cannon in the river battery. Some old coot photo bombed the picture.

The Confederate Lower Battery overlooking the Cumberland River.

A big gun.

Some more big guns!

One of the Columbiad rifled cannon. This is allegedly the one that put the USS Carondolet out of action.

The battlefield site is interesting and well worth the visit. I had read a book titled "Grant Invades Tennessee - The 1862 Battles for Forts Henry and Donelson" by Timothy B. Smith, which I highly recommend if you have any interest in the American Civil War. The book was well written, easy to follow with some great maps, and an overall joy to read.

I only had an hour's time to visit the battlefield and limited my visit to the Confederate works. I would like to return for a visit to the surrender site at the Dover Hotel in Dover, TN and to explore some of the outer works on the Confederate left flank (Union right flank). Most of the Union lines are on private property outside of the National Park boundaries, but organizations such as the Civil War Trust have been buying up some of the property to save the ground from development. The work of the Civil War Trust is a boon to ACW history buffs and to future students of the battle going forward.


Saturday, September 30, 2017

Ten Years of Blogging - Anniversary

Lady Emma versus Lord Paddington in one of our Teddy Bear games.

It nearly escaped my notice that on August 28, 2007 I created the Der Alte Fritz Journal and published my first post. Accordingly, I have recently hit the Ten Year Anniversary of this blog, which is quite an accomplishment, if I do say so myself... and I do say so.

I was checking out some of the statistics that Blogger keeps for my blog and it indicates that there have been 1,133,081 visitors since its inception and 1,068 posts have been made to this blog, or an average of 107 posts per year, or approximately one every 3 or 4 days. It has always been my goal to post 100 threads or more to this blog each year. There's no particular reason for one hundred as the magic number, but it just seems like a good target to reach for each year.

Teddy Bear Wars with my daughter: probably the most popular posts on my blog.
The Winner!

The Grumpy old loser!

When I started the blog back in August 2007, we were still in mesmerization of Old School wargaming and the creation of imaginery states in the 18th Century, or "Imaginations". The Old School fad seems to have run its course, but a number of war gamers continue to be influenced by the likes of Peter Young, Charles Grant Sr., Don Featherstone and Jack Scruby. I do not include Peter Gilder in the Old School ranks, but he has certainly left his mark on the hobby and continues to influence it too.

Some Thank Yous
I want to thank Greg Horne and Stokes Schwartz for giving me the nudge to start this blog. I wouldn't have done it had they not blazed the trail of wargame blogging. Another shout out goes to Henry Hyde for his help in some of the technical aspects of blogging and social media. Henry's Battlegames magzine seemed to bring everything together into an enjoyable read every other month. I miss Battlegames, but I would imagine that Henry is happy to escape the hectic, never ending pace of monthly or quarterly publications. I know that it eventually burned me out after seven years of publishing the Seven Years War Association Journal back in the 1990s.

I also thank my war gaming partner in crime, Bill Protz, for all of his encouragement and sharing of ideas on gaming with an emphasis on the socializing aspect of wargaming. Bill created his set of big battalion (1:10 figure ratio) rules, called "Batailles dans l'Ancien Regime" or "BAR" for short. Bill and I have crossed swords, figuratively, on the field of Mars as his Gallia (France) and my Germania (Prussia) nations fought all over Europe in the 18th Century and continue to do so to this day.

I would also reach out to Hal Thinglum, who published MWAN for many years and provided inspiration for my blogging efforts. Bill and Hal are two of the nicest people that you could ever hope to meet in this hobby. Their courtesy towards others, a belief that there is no such thing as a bad wargamer, their enthusiasm for the hobby and their belief that war gaming should be fun are standards that I have tried to adopt to my own efforts on my blog, my wargaming forum, and in my personal encounters with people at games and wargame conventions. It is one thing to call yourself a gentleman, and quite another to actually be one.

Some Benefits
One of the great bonuses of blogging and the internet is the number of people that I have met (both in person and in a virtual manner over the internet) in all corners of the world. I have the feeling that I could travel all over the world and find a place to meet one of my blog readers and to have a game or just sit down and have a drink and talk our brains out over wargaming.

A recent example of this the annual wargame weekend in Kenilworth, UK that is an outgrowth of the A Military Gentleman forum. The event started as a gathering of the AMG members in 2015 and continued in 2016 and 2017. With a number of book purchasers of AMG getting kicked out of the forum for God knows what reasons, the conclave in Kenilworth has morphed into its own enterprise that is independent of AMG. I had the opportunity to attend in both 2015 and 2017 and really enjoyed the opportunity to meet, in person, the many people who I have come to know in a "virtual" way over the internet as acquaintences or Fife & Drum/Minden customers.

And Then Along Came Fife & Drum
I never dreamed that I would ever get involved in the hobby from the business angle. That all came out of left field one day in 2010 when my nephew, Alex, let me know that he had been in contact with Richard Ansell about commissioning a range of American Revolution or AWI figures done in a style similar to that of the Minden Miniatures range, created by Richard as a private enterprise of Frank Hammond, for his own SYW collection.

I had no idea that one could start a figure range by commissioning a sculptor to create the figures for oneself, assuming that all figure sculptors only made figures for their own figure range companies. Later I realized that many sculptors do this for a living and are in the business of finding commission work.

So being an admirer of the figures that Richard was then making for Frank's Minden range (and having bought and painted a lot of Mindens) and liking anything that had to do with the 18th Century,  it didn't take much of a push from Alex for me to jump head first into the waters of the miniatures business. Oh dear, what was I thinking?

So we established the Fife & Drum Miniatures figure company to produce 1/56 scale AWI figures. I quickly learned that producing and selling miniature wargame figures involves a lot of time, effort and work. It is not something that one just does on a lark. I found that the business was consuming nearly all of my spare hobby time and then some. Mrs. Fritz was not particularly happy about the time commitment, but we were eventually able to work out some accomodations in this area; thank goodness!

A part of the business is the research that is required to build the figure range. I had not studied the American Revolution in quite a number of years, so while I knew more about it than the average American, I quickly realized that there was a lot of the history that I did not know. As a result, my library of military history books grew exponentially as I acquired every AWI military history book that I could get my hands on. I don't claim to be an expert these days, but I certainly know a lot more about the American Revolution than I did before starting the F&D venture.

Followed by Minden Miniatures
In 2013, I had the opportunity to acquire the Minden Miniatures SYW figure range and closed the deal with Frank. The Minden figures were (and still are) my favorite wargame miniatures of all time and so I was excited to bring them under the wing of Fife & Drum Miniatures. Talk about time commitments, this probably tripled the amount of time that I was devoting to the business. Yet somehow, I was able to keep on blogging, painting and to a lesser extent, gaming.

I quickly realized that this enterprise was morphing into a full time business and that I needed to do a number of logistical things to transfer F&D/Minden from a hobby to a business. This included things such as setting up an internet page for on-line ordering, creation of logos and marketing pieces, and most importantly, inventory management and financial record keeping. I am retired now and have the time needed to run a figure business, but there is still much work to be done to professionalize the business (which in turn, makes it easier to handle the business side of the enterprise).

While it can be hard work and very time consuming (something to think long and hard about if you every get the bee in your bonnet to enter the commercial market for figures), there are a number of gratifying aspects, chief among these being the customer relationship that I have developed with wargamers all over the world. My local post office looks at me in dread whenever I walk in with a tray full of packages, hoping that they are not all international deliveries. The paper work for customs forms is time consuming as they have to enter all of the information at their terminals. However, I have worked out some protocols with my post office friends, who know me on a first name basis now.

Creating the Fife and Drum Minis Forum
In February of this year, I took the step of creating a talk forum to promote the Fife & Drum and Minden Miniatures figure ranges. Another forum objected to me posting pictures of my figures on their forum, which I can understand. So I decided that having my own forum with my own rules of conduct, etc. would be a good idea.

If you are interested in checking out the fifeanddrumminis forum, then click on the link below and give it a look - no obligation to join:

Fife and Drum Minis Forum

The forum quickly morphed from a My Figures site to something that has taken on a life of its own, relative to talking about anything that has to do with 18th Century military history. I like the direction that the forum has taken and encourge members to post pictures of their projects, regardless of which figures they are using. And best of all, there are no rules on my forum -- you won't get black balled for lurking (an internet term for reading the threads, but not actively participating in the conversation) or not making enough posts each month.

What Is Next?
So what does the future hold? I don't know, probably more of the same because I still enjoy blogging and posting pictures of my toy soldier collection and the after action reports of their battles. My interests include periods such as the Late Roman, Hundred Years War, War of the Roses, Great Northern War, WAS-SYW, AWI, Napoleonics, ACW and 19th Century Colonials (particularly the Sudan), so there is no dearth of topics that I can touch on this blog.

The Management.
I would imagine that in 2027, God willing and I am still breathing, we will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of blogging. What with the rapid rate of technology advances, there could well be something that replaces the internet and blogging. Whatever it is, I shall be doing it too.

Finally, I want to thank my many readers for your continued support of my blog. Your participation, both the lurking and comments type, give me a lot of inspiration and I enjoy the relationships that I have developed with so many of you over the years.

I am having so much FUN DOING THIS!!!

Cheers and best regards,


Monday, September 25, 2017

Battle of Reichenberg Report

Austrian brigade of General Beck marches through the woods.

I fought the Battle of Reichenberg from the 1762 campaign around Schweidnitz today. For convience, please click on this link  Here  to my blog thread that describes the historical background and purpose of the battle of Reichenbach. 

I played the battle as a solo game, but it should really be played with three players on each side. The scenario is largely focused on the action between the Austrian flanking column of Beck versus the Prussian army of Bevern. The game reached a definite conclusion in eight turns.

Please click on each picture to enlarge the view. You can even double click each picture for an even larger view.

Map illustrating the 3 attack columns of Beck's corps.

One feature of the scenario is the existence of a mixed force of Austrian dragoons (2 squadrons) and infantry (two battalions) that are positioned at Ober-Peilau in the map above. This force never attacked, but they caught the attention of the Prussians, who couldn't simply move all of their infantry to counter Beck's flanking movement. The Prussians, of course, do not know that these are "dummy troops", but undoubtedly they will figure it out during the course of the game.

I also placed two Austrian batteries of artillery off table and had them firing at long range at the Prussian forces deployed on the Fischer-Berg and Spittel-Berg. The Austrians needed a die roll of "1" on a D10 since the Prussians were in prepared earthworks. The Prussian artillery could hit the Austrian artillery on a die roll of "2" on a D10, since the Austrian artillery was deployed in the open.

Austrian brigades of St. Ignon (cavalry) and Simbschen (infantry) demonstrate in front of the Prussian line. They are a decoy and never engage in the battle.

Prussian redoubt atop the Fischer-Berg.

The Fight for the Girls-Berg
The second (middle) of Beck's three columns was a mixed force of Grenadiers, Croats and a small 3-pound cannon, given the task of capturing the high ground known as the Girls-Berg. This feature had a commanding view of the Prussian deployment on the Fischer-Berg and the Spittle-Berg and a cannon atop the summit would have enfilading fire on the Prussian defenses.

Bevern had posted a single battalion of the von Diericke Fusilier Regiment (IR49/1) on the Girls-Berg, figuring that one battalion would be sufficient to defend this difficult ground. The second battalion of the regiment was posted between the Girls-Berg and the Fischer-Berg and it could easily march to support its sister battalion if any trouble brewed.
The Austrian Grenadier battalion was on the left and the Croat Ottocaner battalion was on the right. The 3-pounder was posted on the left flank of the Grenadiers. The assault commenced immediately on Turn One. Meanwhile, Beck would march the remainder of his column through the woods that was behind the Prussians (they had to wait until Turn Four before they could be placed on the table.
Turn Four: A desperate struggle to control the key Girls-Berg position.

The lone Prussian fusilier battalion held its own against twice its number. The two sides commenced firing at one another on Turn Two, when the Grenadiers inflicted four hits on the Fusiliers, who passed their morale test. The Prussian fusiliers fired back and their volley caused the Croats to go Shaken, forcing them to fall back half a move.

The Prussian fusiliers took three more hits on Turn Three and managed to pass their morale test yet again. Meanwhile, the second battalion of fusiliers was marching as fast as they could to help their commrades defend the Girls-Berg.

Action on the Girls-Berg
Both sides traded musket fire over the next three turns, taking terrible casualties, but neither side faltered. Finally, on Turn Seven, the first battalion of the fusiliers decided that it was time to settle the issue with the bayonet, so they charged the unformed Croats and routed them off the Girls-Berg. While this was going on, the fresh second battalion was cutting up the Austrian Grenadiers, who still managed to hold the summit of the hill.

Beck's Austrian Column Attacks the Prussian Rear.
I measured the distance from the table edge to the point where the Austrian march through the woods would bring them to the point where they could roll out of the woods and attack the Prussian rear. Since infantry moves at half speed through the woods, it would have taken about 10 turns for Beck's contingent to arrive in position. So I arbitrarily decided that they could arrive on the table on Turn Four. However, the Austrian regulars (3 battalions) would be required to emerge from the woods in a column of march, before they could deploy into line formation. The unformed Croats (2 battalions) could do what they pretty darn well pleased whilst in the woods - afterall, they are light troops.

On Turn 4, Beck's corps finally emerges from the woods after a difficult march around the rear of the Prussian deployment.
The overhead view of the battle on Turn Four is shown in the picture below. You can see that one Prussian musketeer battalion, in line formation, is moving towards the threat while a column of grenadiers closes in on the Austrians.

An overhead view of the battlefield at the time that Beck arrives. Two Prussian battalions can be seen marching towards the woods to confront Beck's attack.

Beck's troops sortied out of the woods on Turn Four, and did so before any Prussian infantry could contest the move, thus the Austrian regulars were able to form a battle line without paying the price for being fired at whilst in column formation. The fighting in this area was in a low lying marshy area called the Schober-Grund.

The following overhead view of the battlefield defines the geographical features of the terrain. Please click or double click the picture to enlarge the view.

Overhead view of the battle field from the Girls-Berg fight at the bottom and heading through the Schober-Grund at the top, as Beck's corps emerges from the woods to attack the Prussian rear.

On or around Turn Six, the Prussian commander realized that his infantry had a decided advantage over the Croats if they should happen to cross bayonets in a melee. Formed versus unformed troops in melee gives the formed unit a major advantage (i.e. they need 9's or less on a D10) while the unformed unit is at a major disadvantage (needing a 2 or less on a D10). In other words, the formed unit is virtually an automatic winner of the melee. Indeed, the Croats got too close to some Prussian grenadiers, who promptly charged them and slaughtered them in the melee. The Croats had the good fortune of failing their morale test so that they could run away from the Prussians.

The Croats are about to find themselves on the business end of quite a few Prussian bayonets.

Thus one battalion of the Kremzow Grenadiers (17/22) charged some brown-coated Croats from the front while the Wedell Grenadiers (1/23) hit them in the flank, which vaporized the unfortunate Croats. The Kremzow Grenadiers then engaged one of the Hungarian Nikolas Esterhazy battalions in a firefight.

While that was going on, the Wedell Grenadiers continued to advance through the woods in a two stand wide attack column (I only allow this formation for grenadiers in my rules) and tumbled into a battalion of blue-coated Croats. The outcome repeated itself and the Croats scampered away from the battlefield. The Wedell Grenadiers now found themselves behind the Austrian battle line! So on Turn Eight they turned facing, reformed and charged into the rear of the Nikolas Esterhazy battalion, which they destoyed.

The charge of the Wedell Grenadiers into the rear of the Nikolas Esterhazy battalion.  This effectively decided the game for the Prussians.

At this point, General Beck could see that any further fighting was pointless, as he was down to two battalions of regulars facing off against twice his number in the Schober-Grund. On the Girls-Berg, his grenadier battalion was still fighting it out with the two battalions of the von Diericke fusiliers. Beck tipped his tricorn to the Prussian commander and retired from the field. It was a Prussian victory that played out closely to the historical action.

Battle lines are drawn in the marshy Schober-Grund, prior to the destruction of the Esterhazy battalion, shown in the lower left side of the above picture.

Special mention and battle honours should go out to the Wedell Grenadiers for their three melee victories, the von Diericke fusiliers for holding onto the Girls-Berg, and the Bayreuth Dragoons, who carved their way through the Austrian cavalry (see cavalry melee section below).

Brentano's and Lacy's corps never arrive at the front of the Prussian line, as they were supposed to do, leaving Beck hanging out to dry in the Schober-Grund. For this reason, I did not use any infantry troops to represent the other two Austrian corps.

Historically, Brentano and Lacy didn't attack because they feared that their left flanks would be over run by Prussian cavalry. The great cavalry melee between O'Donnell's Austrian cuirassiers and Lentulus' Prussian dragoons was played out as a separate scenario for the overall battle of Reichenbach (see story line below).

The Cavalry Battle
I am not going to go into the details of the large cavalry melee that occured on the Prussian right flank (Austrian left flank), but will let the picture captions tell the story. The Austrian cavalry, commended by O'Donnell, had 6 squadrons of cuirassiers. The Prussian cavalry of Lentulus had 6 squadrons of heavy dragoons and 1 squadron of hussars. So the two sides were relatively even, although the Austrians had better melee cavalry since they all were cuirassiers.

Prussian cavalry doctrine calls for cuirassiers in the first line, dragoons in the second line, and light hussars in the third line.
The Prussian cavalry quickly gained the upper hand as the two sides thundered closer and closer to each other across the flat farm fields. As they both neared charging distance, the Prussians drew the first movement initiative and their charge caught the Austrians at the halt, giving the Prussians an advantage in the first round of the melee.

Since cavalry do nothing but melee, this part of the battle was over at the end of Turn Four. The Austrians lost 38 figures compared to only 18 lost for the Prussians. Despite the first round advantage for the Prussians, it was poor Austrian dice rolling that did them in.

In my rules, melees only last three rounds, at which point both surviving (i.e. not routing or shaken) sides will retire a full move back towards their own lines to reform.

The grand cavalry melee on the right flank of the Prussian battle line.

The Prussian dragoons gave the Austrians a good thrashing, as you can see in the disparity of remaining figures in the picture below. Since this was a solo game, I didn't see the need to keep fighting the cavalry melee as the Austrians would likely have been wiped out in another three rounds of melee.

Historically, the Austrian cavalry was giving the Prussian cavalry a hard time, until King Frederick arrived at the head of a large contingent of cuirassiers, hussars and Bosniak lancers, which tipped the scales in the Prussians' favor.

The Prussians decisively win the cavalry melee and then both sides retire back to their lines as melees only last three turns in my rules.

The end (or is it?).