Sunday, August 31, 2008

War of the 5th Coalition:

rpardo has asked if I have any website focusing on this and I do not yet.

My first thoughts can be seen here.

I am hopeful to find as many interested gamers as possible to co-ordinate some sort of a re-creation of the 5th Coaltion.

I have recently re-read Osprey Campaign Series #33 In the back of this book there is an excellent treatise of wargaming this campaign by Dr. David Chandler.

I am keen to make some attempt at this sort of kreigspeil on as large a scale as we can possibly muster.

Dr. Chandler wrote of using a mail system to manage things, we can do this now on a planetary scale with e-mail.

I did a similar sort of thing on a smaller scale during the mid 1990's using e-mail to co-ordinate some games. The french player decided to 'quit' due to other life needs and we decided to end the game with a second French Revolution taking place in 1807. Talk about a wild series of battles!!! Davout ended up as the new 'grand general' after a massive series of battles in northern Italy. Everyone at the final battle had a great time.

We may be able to limit things more in scope so that only about the next 9-12 months will be involved.

Perhaps there are enough interested Napoleonic players or participants to pull this off?

Drop me a comment or email via the link on my information page here in blogger.
More building thoughts:

Stokes of The Grand Duchy of Stollen, 1768 has posted an interesting, thought-provoking question :

How Do We Introduce New Blood to the Wargaming Hobby?

Here is my response, posted in an effort to expand the conversation:

Thank you for re-posting your thoughts Stokes.

Having been part of a larger club and moved about during my military career gave me exposure to different regions of Canada and locations with vastly different population density.

Where there are lots of people, you will find lots of players.

Just basic statistics.

Now some demographic thoughts:
age 6-13 (male or female) will play in almost anything. Keep it fast-paced with simple 'game' methods and they will stay 'in' the game.
Girl Gamer Thoughts and;
Girls & Minis
13-17 Boys: generally a transition time and while there are some that will either start or continue with minis during this time it has been my experience that this is the 'drift away' period for many. It is the 'experimantation' factor that comes into play and keeping anything consistent can be a challenge.
13-17 Girls: The first flower of womanhood comes on most stronly here. To many our hobby is seen as "childish" (even though giants like Winston Churchill played games with toy soldiers his whole life), and just as dolls and toy horses are put away during this time for girls so too are the colorful miniatures.

-->please remember these are generalizations and there are always exceptions<--

17-24 Male and Female: This is the 'bonding' time for many, when great and giant changes are happening. When the migration goes on, leaving home (just for a while or permanently), changing from high school to more advanced education or becoming a part of the workforce. All these adjustments take a toll in time for everyone. Especially when new children are brought into the mix.
This age cohort has always been the hardest for any organization to hold onto (past 19 or so) or to attract for a volunteer basis. Yes playing in these games or within our activity is equivalent to a volunteer organization. One where the tangible results are less are not 'raising money' for some cause (though I have seen one group that did that during thier annual convention) or building a reservoir or some such 'tangible' thing. Awareness of history in a person is such a hard thing to place a value on.

25-32: Men; now it gets easier to attract them to our they are often set within a career (for a while) and may have some time or inclination to have a small escape. The Trumpeter Club has had a good result with many from this age group whom have continued within the hobby. Certainly for me it was when I 'came back' to minis hobby actions.

25-???: Women: Here I will admit no awareness as I just do not see many active. Unless their spouses and or children are taking part, then they are involved either as part of set-up or organizing such things as the canteen at the events or driving the younger set from home to the event locations.

32-++ Men: It has been my experience that the groups will catch the fellows later in life only if those groups take any effort to advertise. They may catch the men as fathers of younger players (such as those that come out to a role-play or 40K tournament and see some historical game display or such like), or outright as advertised minis games. The point here is you will not 'introduce' anybody to anything unless you are extending your hand. Take some time to advertise, put on a demo game at a hobby store, run a game at the local recreation center (if they will let you in see: my own challenges and success for some details.

In the end Stokes the answer to your question is to, as grimsby mariner puts it, POR = Press On Regardless.

Do a demo at your university, better yet do it with written orders in one of the foreign language classes that you teach and time the written orders section so that there is no time to 'research' the right phrases but you have to do it in real time, just like the real world.

You do not need anything more than what you already have, use the Charge! rules and have plenty of snacks on hand...see what results!

Sunday, August 24, 2008


Below you will find a posting about a recent game of Quatre Bras that I did with my son last month.

He had a great time setting up the map...I just gave him the basic map and some materials, showed him where I had mowed back the lawn (and not) so that Bossu Woods would be represented by tall grasses and left him to do the rest.

We used SHAKO rules at double scale. It was near the end of the game when my son exclaimed that he finnaly SAW what was going on with the tabletop games. That he had the sense of movement and counter-movement that we had talked about before while using the tabletop minis.

Perhaps this make an argument better for the use of 6mm figs on the tabletop...

For me I think it means I may need to investigate 54mm figs, so as to better game out Garden Wars!
Garden Wars = Quatre Bras

A while back, last month actually, I did a garden game with my son using the newly painted British Troops and some French.

I was not ready with a large lot of red coats (which my son really likes) so I chose to set up a "Quatre Bras" like scenario...

First I mowed the lawn back very short in most areas, with a 'taller' section, that you can see has a 'brighter green', it was under a trampoline that shades the area and concentrates the moisture, permitting the grass to grow tall and bright green.

So we laid out the map, I cut out the road and water pieces and my son got to lay them out on the lawn. He chose to place Gemioncourt on the opposite side of the river...

That is our dog off to one side to give an impression of how big the area is.

We than laid out our forces...

That is yours truly setting out my cavalry.
Again just so that you have a clear idea of how large the 'playing area' was.

So NEY, had two Infantry Divisions, a Dragoon Division and a Chasseur Detachment. Along with three Foot Batteries and two Horse Batteries.

NEY and his ADC planning their actions...

Wellsley had two British Infantry Divisions, a "Dutch" Infantry Division and a mixed Cavalry Force. Along with the British were two Royal Artillery Foot Batteries and the Dutchmen had a Horse Battery.

My son placing his troops in the 'trap' he had planned for the frenchies...

The view when 'up close' has a different feel than when looking at the troops on the game tabletop. We used SHAKO rules (version 1) with a 'double scale' option so that the troops could move and fire double their normal distances (allowing us to walk between them more easily).

Some French Infantry seen closer...

The first part of my son's 'trap' was to launch his Dutch Cavalry across the bridge in an effort to 'stop' the French columns moving quickly along the road...

Dutch Horse rapidly crosses a bridge to 'get at' the head of the French column.

Meanwhile, over on the French far right, the Dragoon Division was rushing towards the other river crossing near Thyle. The British and Allied force had not deployed any men to cover this crossing...

A French Dragoon Division in column of squadrons.

The French column did deploy the 'head' into a fighting line, by having the troops on the 'road' move into line, while the following forces broke out to the left in columns.

A 'wide view' of the column, the measuring stick you can see is 9" long.

The Dutch horse, Dragoons & Hussars, engaged the French on the road, directly. The Hussars were entirely routed, while the Dragoons managed to get a French Battery entangled in its own train and close with an Infantry column (forcing it into square) before smartly retiring back across the river.

Here the French line delivers fire, then managed to break the Dutch Hussars without going into square!

The Dutch Horse were apparently the 'cheeze' in the 'trap'...

The backs of the Dutch Dragoons as they recovered to their commander
(yes the one sporting a Vile Stagonia flag!).

Meanwhile the French Dragoon Division had started the river crossing near Thyle...

French Dragoons compress down to a single file as they press across the river.

In the French Center, a force of Chassuers A Cheval had arrived and taken post as NEY's new 'reserve'...

Taking post in reserve are a squadron of the Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval.

British forces near Quatre Bras had yet to see action, but were now being informed of the need to prepare to defend against marauding French Cavalry...had the 'trap' not worked?

The Allied high command, sending out riders to inform brigades to ready defences against French Dragoons...

The 'trap' has failed...
French Dragoons were now pouring across the river at Thyle and massing along the roads heading towards the Allied left flank. The Dutch Infantry were starting to move to cover that flank, however it was becoming clear that they would not get 'into position' before the French would be ready to start charges.

A wide veiw of the developing battlefield. French Dragoons are on the 'road' in two columns in the center of the image. Quatre Bras is up near the 'top center'. The darker green of Bossu Wood can be seen stretching across the top from center to left.

The French pour across on the left near Gemioncourt.
Now that the 'trap' was sprung, the French did not hesitate to press across the river and along the flank of Bossu Woods. Two great columns raced in the gap between the woods and the 'river' start. Another double-quick-time marched along the road driving hard to pass the now 'turned' Dutchmen.

Artillery Barrage:
"Drive them back!" comes the order to the gunners of the Royal Artillery, whom were placed near the crossroads, now seeing the long dark lines of French Infantry columns racing towards them.

A Royal Artillery Battery in action.

Unfortunately for the Dutchmen the French batteries were also in action...directed at their backs!

The Dutch Infantry collapsed after three salvoes, they lost heart in the battle and confidence in themselves as they fled the field, leaving only the Dragoon remnant behind as the sole Dutch 'allied' force.

With nothing to hold them back the French Dragoon commander ordered an immediate charge into the nearest red coated unit...the 71st Highlanders!

Seen from oblique above the Highlanders are taking a charge in the flank while in line, since they are also engaged in a musket duel with advancing French Infantry.

Just as the French Dragoons were charging, so did the Dutch Dragoons. Straight into a French Foot Battery, scattering the gunners and cutting down the draft teams leaving the guns in a jumble.

Dutch Dragoons take one more action!

Unfortunately the situation was not good for the Highlanders, since their flank was now wide open to the French Dragoons!

French Dragoons strike the 71st Highlanders in the flank after Dutch horsemen move off to charge a gun battery.

Dire consequenses:
The situation from the British position now looked bleak.
With all the Dutch Infantry now gone and a French Dragoon Division moving in from his left, Wellsley was not in any position to even hold his ground.
French Columns were moving up the main road into Quatre Bras, with only the guns to slow them since the Infantry was not yet in position to cover the right flank.
On his left the Dragoons were slaughtering half of his remaining infantry. His own light Dragoons were too far away to engage the forward Dragoons, but were ready to take on the other two formations that were now moving into charge positions further on his left.

The wide view looking south. Again the 'long grass' of Bossu Wood is clearly visible, lying within the wood is a 'yard stick' used to measure 'command span'

The battle done:
With the flanks in collapse and the 'trap' failed, Wellsley wisely ordered a general retreat. Quatre Bras came out the same as its historical counter-part, a modest French Victory.

Seen looking from the south-east, the Bossu Wood again stands out as the lush darker green. (with the same yardstick lying in it).

The Dutch Dragoons would have to fight their way out from the closing French 'trap'.

Dutch Dragoons would have a short celebration, as their charge to take the guns had left open the flank of British the battle was over.

A final moment.
British troops were ready on the far left flank, in squares, while the brigade in the center was not.

Here then can be seen the final die rolls for the last melee. The French total was 11, the British was 6.

A casualty.
We are often warned about using our toy soldiers on the floor. The warning is usually about them getting 'trodden on'.
Sadly for the Wellsley's ADC, this was true.
I came close to damaging the Chasseurs a Cheval, but only 'close'.

An ADC, squashed flat.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Battle of Vimeiro

or as the British came to call it "Vimera".

Wellsleys first real test of battlefield command in the Peninsular War.

His forces had advanced at Rolica, though he outnumbered his opponent by close to 3-1, ultimately the French did at least partially achieve their aim of slowing down the British advance, so that General Junot could assemble his forces.

The British did not advance at the same pace after Rolica, due to Wellsley learning of the impending landing of more British Troops. The decision was made to land them at Porto Novo, with the main body covering the landings near Vimeiro.

So it was that General Junot, intent on breaking up the British opposition to the Imperial plans in Portugal, advanced on the British...unaware that more red-coated infantry had landed and that he, Junot, would have to fight a larger force than his own...

So the field of Mars on this day, 200 years ago, was before the village of Vimeiro.

I hope to get in a game of this battle on the coming weekend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


On this day, 20 August 1808, General Wellesley issued a general order to the effect that:

"...queues were abolished and it was ordered that the hair should be cut short at the neck."

I have been about a long-haired experiment that is coming to an end. Not unlike the British soldiery, I have come to dislike the hair tieing exercise and this day will attend to the removal of my 'ode to the 18th Century'. Going back to a much shorter cropped hair, something that I have had most of my life.

Further that "...the use of hair powder and wigs was to be strictly an option for officers and senior NCO's."

For me: "Wigs? Not with the crop of thick hairs I have already!"
Further: "Powder! Why waste such a valuable store on your hair!"

*wink* I know, it was not gunpowder used in their hair!

The cheering in the ranks only slowed down long enough for the barbers to get about their business.

See Vimeiro 1808 and regimental regulations for details.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

No game.

No players.

Family took all the available time to blog.

More later...much later.

Sunday, August 03, 2008

British Troops land at Figueira da Foz

The landings take from the 1st to the 8th of August 1808 to conduct.

The troops commander Lieutennant-General Sir Arthur Wellesley takes over active field command of the troops he has sailed with from Cork, departing on July 12, 1808; and in time further forces sailing from Gibraltar and Siciliy.

By the 8th of August some 14,000 British troops would be in Portugal, along with 24 guns. The Portugese were present with 26,000 more of their militia and regulars mustering in the north. The Portugese had initiated a blockade of Almeida, thus securing the left flank of the British force in advance of an anticipated march south. These militia and regulars lacked all military supplies including food, though not (yet) an effective fighting force here they were to strike a blow at the French and thus save 'their' Portugal.

With such displays as Carnaval Buarcos, we here 200 years later are glad they did!