Wednesday, 30 December 2015

A Coach for His Grace

I finally managed to get round to painting my Warlord "Napoleon's Berlin Carriage". Frustrating model which resisted many attempts to get it to stick together. 

I wanted it looking like it's been travelled in, not just out the showroom! 

Still needs the lamps and driver attached, but almost there now.

Christmas Game - Mollwitz

There's been a lot of discussion on the A Military Gentleman forum about the battle of Mollwitz, Frederick's first battle and the opening gambit of the wars between Prussia and Austria over Silesia. How to represent the armies and whether there was snow or not and if so how best to model this on the table top have been debated with various ideas being suggested. When the topic of a Christmas game came up at my local club it wasn't too difficult for me to find something to put on!

The Battle 
Mollwitz was fought on an April afternoon in 1741 in what is now Poland. Spring you might think, however the topic of snow is mentioned in one source who claims it was up to 2 feet deep! Living in Scotland snow is not unknown in April, indeed we had a flurry in May last year. But I wanted to look into this further. 
The winter of 1740/41 was particularly harsh and cold. Temperatures as low as -12 were recorded indoors. Across Europe people shivered and suffered and a frost fair took place on the Thames that year. In Ireland the bad weather made crops fail and caused a famine which took the lives of more than those killed by the more famous potato famine. Even today that part of Poland does have a 15% chance of heavy snow in April - how much greater would that have been during the period known as the little ice age in the conditions described above? 
Weather conditions appear to have been poor at best and warranted the use of my winter cloth and snowy pines. I also knocked up some frozen streams from white craft foam and snow flock.

The Prussian and Austrian armies had become separated and the former found itself one cold morning a few miles to the rear of its opponent. Frederick decided to give battle and the army advanced and began to deploy, hoping to surprise it's enemy. Surprise was indeed caused with the Austrian army being forced to redeploy hastily to meet this threat to its rear. However it was given time to do so because the Prussians had formed up so far off and we're moving very slowly forward. 

Had Frederick, not quite the tactician he would become in later years, deployed to soon in order to maintain a neat and geometric formation?  Was the wintery conditions a factor - causing the Prussians to be slowed by the snow ? Who knows now but the Austrians were able to reform and prepare for battle, albeit with their normal order reversed. 

It became apparent as the Prussians advanced that they had left their right flank in the air and appeared to be anchoring their formation on the banks of a stream. They had bunched up and some of the units of their first line had been forced into the interval between this and the second line. This was to have an unexpected benefit as the day wore on. 

By early afternoon the armies were close enough to for action to commence. On the Austrian left it had been noted that the Prussian flank was exposed and a heavy cavalry assault was launched in this wing by Ganeral Romer. The Austrian cavalry proved by far the better of the two sides and its better lead, more numerous troops sent the Prussians crashing to the ground or fleeing in defeat. Despite having infantry deployed with the cavalry, the Prussians were unable to prevent their loss and the right flank of their army was left open and exposed to being rolled up. The Prussian general Schwerin, the most experienced man in the field, reccommended that Frederick left their field as things began to look bad and he did so taking no further part in the battle. 

All was not lost however, the grenadiers deployed in the interval between the two lines and other elements of the Prussian infantry turned to face the threat and in the absence of leadership from their command, the unfortunate and late General Schulenberg who had been slain by a cannon ball, fell back in their training and sent volley after crashing volley into the Austian horse, stabilising the situation and allowing the army to continue to advance into range of the Austrian Infantry. 

These fellows didn't have the drill and discipline of their counterparts and still used wooden ramrod straight and a deeper, less effective firing formation. The Prussian musket volleys poured into them and their regiments began to crumble, with one source seeing them crowding round their flags in deep masses. 

Light began to fade and this saved the Austrian army, allowing it to withdraw. However it just have seemed a godsend to the Prussians too that they had driven off their foe despite their cavalry's ineffective performance.
This was the only major action fought between Prussia and Austria for over a year and Frederick used that time to drill and retain, applying the lessons learned from Mollwitz. The Austrians were still engaged against France and Bavaria and so didn't have time to learn or apply any lessons. The next encounter would be a very different battle.

The Game 
I used a 6x4 foot cloth for the battlefield. The terrain was very flat and featureless so a cloth was perfect for this. The material was a synthetic felt bought from John Lewis and did a good job of representing snow. Trees were winter pines from Lemax,  a small copse appears in front of the Prussians as they advanced. As noted above I used craft foam for the frozen stream. This worked well but did curl a bit as the game went on. I will need to look at that.

The Order of Battle and deployment was based on the excellent entry on the battle on the Obscure Battles Blog ( I took the units listed there and working out the average frontage for horse and foot based on some other information I have. My 4x 40mm units represent 2 battalions of infantry so this gave me a ground scale which I was able to us for the game. Forming up the Prussians from the stream left with their flank in the air, just as in the battle, all was set. We didn't quite have enough figures, so there some stand ins were called up, but almost all the infantry were the correct nationality. Lastly I halved all movement and ranges, this being the effect of the snow and to allow the Austrians time to pounce. This worked perfectly and the battle very much followed a historical line. 

The Austrian cavalry chewed up the Prussian right, but the infantry turned and closed off the formation, giving the front line enough time to close and begin firing into the Austrian infantry, who began to suffer.   Despite repeated charges the Austrian cavalry commander could not break down the Prussian lines and despite some decent shooting, the outnumbered Austrian infantry were forced to withdraw. 

The result was an excellent refight of the battle with the 7 players, 4 Prussian and 3 Austrians, having to cope with much the same issues as their counterparts did. 

Friday, 25 December 2015

Merry Christmas

Christmas morning!

This morning I received some lovely gifts and amongst them;

From my lovely and thoughtful wife - "A Histroy of the Kingdom of Naples" 1734-1825 by Colleta. A facsimile of a book written by a Neapolitan officer , with a supplement covering the period from 1825-56, just shy of Garibaldi's invasion of Sicily. 

From my son, smart enough to follow his mothers lead - "Fight for a Throne" by Duffy. The Jacobite Rebellion Reconsidered. It's been many years since I last read a history of the '45. Prebble's "Culloden" was my introduction when I was a kid. This book will be a far less emotional and much more up to date and detailed study!!!

I also received "The Curious Bartender - An Odyssey of Malt Bourbon & Rye Whiskies" - this also looks to be an interesting read and one which I am sure will inspire a few choices of bottles and beverages to accompany my games. 

There is a trend to pair whisky with food.....perhaps I could do the same with battles? ☺️

Merry Christmas!

Saturday, 19 December 2015

On the painting table.

A quiet-ish weekend and a chance to sort out the painting table. 

I've been a,amending the rules set I use for my Bier wars games to give some better results for smaller battles. Skirmishing cavalry may play a bigger role in these battles so I wanted to represent a cloud of Cossacks or Hussars rather than a regular formation. I'd already based some napoleonic hussars on an old DVD, but I wanted to be able to take the figures off and use them in other ways. 

I got in touch with the folk at Warbases as they had done my slot type bases for my Pyrrhic army and told them what I wanted. The results dropped thru the letter box today.

Two round bases with a cross shaped slot cut to take 25x50 bases as Modelled here by some Freikorp cavalry who happen to be on individual bases anyway. Once textured and tufted they'll look great I think. 

Also on the table waiting to have their bases done are my two regiments of Neapolitan cavalry - Naples and La Reine, actually cunningly disguised French Cavalry from Crann Tara.

Lurking in the background of the top pic are some Minden labourers who have ahead a few artillery tools added to make them generic gun crew, a Hoegaarden colonial unit from the HSBC awaiting dry brush and flock, pack mules, Ingo's Russians and some Eagle Jaeger who will form the other half of the Carabinier unit I painted the other week. 

Plenty to keep me occupied!

Sunday, 13 December 2015

Russian SYW - Schilling Figuren

I'm looking ahead to next years project as my Neapolitan Army is almost complete. Years ago whilst I worked in Holland I collected and painted a 15mm Russian Army based for Volley and Bayonet. This was made up of Observation Corps troops using French inf in Waistcoat from the Essex F&I range and I think some Old glory figs in normal uniform. I always liked the look of the Observation corps and the small number of units in the formation made it an attractive proposition for 28mm.

But which manufacturer? 

Minden and Crann Tara don't do Russians and their unusual grenadier cap/helmet means other figs can't stand in for them. As much as I like the graceful style of these figures I had to discount them. 

So I took to the net and googled......up popped Ingo's Figuren at Schilling. Link

Infantry and grenadiers are available. Nice clean looking figs, simple poses, decent prices at €1.25 each....right I thought, let's give it a go.

I ordered enough for a unit of infantry for the rules I play. 12 musketeers, 2 standard bearer, officer and....a fifer. I like these and it's a nice wee change from drummers, ask my Neapolitans! Ordering was easy and Ulrike at Schilling was good enough to give me the tracking number so I could check on their progress. (Actually Ulrike was very helpful with this and a couple of other points - a nice guy and great service.)

So here they are - 

           Ingo, Minden, Perry, Ingo, Crann, Minden

They are probably most compatible with Perry miniatures in terms of height and build. Bigger and bulkier than Minden or Crann Tara - not hugely so - they wouldn't mix well in a unit, but then they aren't going to and I'd have no problem placing them against one another on the same table. 

The figs are cleanly cast, with no flash. The level of detail is good, remembering the uniform and equipment is plain and simple. Two poses of musketeer are available, with slightly different arm and head poses, so you can have a little variety. 

Overall I am very pleased with these and plan to stick with them for my Russian infantry for 2016.

Saturday, 12 December 2015

A very sad loss.

A few weeks ago I caught up with an old wargaming friend at the Kirriemuir show. We talked for a little while and did not see each other again after that. We did exchange some emails and discuss rules and figures as we had done over the last couple of years since I left the Aberdeen club. I last heard from him just a week ago. Sadly I received the news that he passed away suddenly and tragically on early Thursday morning.

Ian Macdonald was nice guy, quiet, soft spoken and very knowledgeable of both the hobby and of history in general. I have known him for many many years and faced him across the table and had him by my side in games of every period and scale, every one a pleasure. A gentleman and someone whom I am very pleased to have known and gamed with.  My thoughts go out to his partner and family. He will be greatly missed.

"Hige sceal þē heardra,      heorte þē cēnre,
mōd sceal þē māre,      þē ūre mægen "

Best wishes, rest peacefully and keep rolling 6's