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Sunday, 26 February 2017

Towton 1461

Not far from where I live is the site of what was probably the bloodiest battle in British history. Fought in a blizzard on Palm Sunday in 1461 the battle of Towton saw House of York and the beginning of the reign of Edward IV. As I mentioned previously I have fought a number of the battles of the Wars of the Roses across my table and having visited the battlefield on a number of occasions with my friend Nick I thought I would give Towton a go.

By this point I had fallen out with Warhammer Historical, largely because of the large amount of dice rolling - it does give a quite 'heroic' feel to the fighting but after a long game I almost felt like I had actually been fighting.I have also found that I don't like moving large numbers of figures individually any more so I experimented with some rules ideas. First off I tried adapting the old Charge! rules, using large movement trays to hold the units but it was basically a bloodbath and didn't really give smaller units much of a chance so I tried again. This time I made up my own rules using element basing - it was much more manageable but it is quite a while since the experiment and I didn't make any notes so I am afraid I can't remember if the rules were any good!

The battle was fought with quite a lot of figures and used historical deployments (as far as they are known) with the order of battle being based on the Poleaxed source book. Norfolk's contingent arrived late on the battlefield and were diced for each turn.

There were no notes but there are some pictures:

The Lancastrians form their 'battles'.

If I was clever I would have cropped these so they fitted together to give a continuous view of the table - but I'm not -still you get the idea...

At last ! some Yorkists - Edward IV, De la Pole (Suffolk) & Howard (Surrey) - Figures are old Citadel, Irregular Miniatures and some Grenadier and Front Rank at the back.

Fauconberg and other Neville adherents.

Battle is joined - Earl Percy leads the Northern Earls against the Yorkist left where they are met by contingent of mercenary pikemen.

The Northern Levies (assorted peasant figures; mostly Essex with a mate from Standard Games) are fed into the melee.

While in the centre more northern retinues (possibly more Percys) clash with Yorkist nobles.
But there are no more photographs. I recall that Mowbray struggled onto the field to turn the tide in an imitation of history but you will just have to imagine that!
Next post might be a review of something...

Sunday, 19 February 2017

My interests span a whole range of historical periods and a few years ago I attended a course on the medieval gentry at the University of York. It didn't cover the Wars of the Roses but it rekindled my interest in that period and I was able to pressgang my tutor into joining me for a couple of games. The games were played using the Warhammer Historical rules but none of the reports have survived. Whilst we enjoyed the games I began experimenting with my own rules and expanded my armies. Unusually for me the figures are '28mm' and mostly metal (they are a legacy of playing Warhammer in my youth).

A rather dark picture of my Lancastrian army. No particular battle being refought here but I'm quite pleased with the flags. Figures are mostly Perry Miniatures with some old Grenadier in the background.


Percy (we speak not of him)

Some of his retinue  - I even did them livery badges - I gave up on this as it means you can only use them for one thing - leave off the badges - save yourself a job and make your army more versatile...

En Masse !

His Royal Majesty - Henry - Sixth of that name- looking rather more magnificent than is historically accurate! Next post should see these chaps embroiled in Britain's bloodiest battle.

Friday, 17 February 2017

Intrigued by this recent surge in the use of fleece blankets as wargames cloths I nipped to JYSK and bought myself a couple of green ones and a couple of sand coloured ones only to find that the latter look decidedly pink now I've got them home - might be OK with a bit of a spray. What I don't get is that the ones you can buy from specialist suppliers are about £60 (presumably because they have pretty terrain printed on?) but my high street equivalents were £3.99 ... 

Sunday, 5 February 2017

Well, today was the annual York wargames show and for the first time in many years I did not attend. I have no problem with the show, no axe to grind, this is not a protest. I simply have no money to buy stuff and nowhere to put anything I buy. In fact I may make this a year of not starting anything new. Most wargamers have too much stuff and flit frm one project to another but my hobby has become ridiculous I only have a small house and finite amount of spce - time to pull my horns in and work through some of the stuff I have already got!
Instead of the going to the show I started the first of my 1809 refights - Sacile:

There will be a full report on this game when it is completed.

I also painted some WW2 SS troops - Have never done any before as I always regarded them as somewhat distasteful (not to mention hard to paint) but if you are refighting actual battles you need t try and represent the troops that were actually there.

I think I made the camouflage over complex but I was trying to copy a pattern and then changed my mind half way through- I have a technique now so the next lot should be better. (Figures are Italeri and Caesar)

Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Austerlitz – A different kind of Anniversary

Through 2015 I conducted a number of what I call ‘refights’ (wargames based on historic battles) on the two hundredth anniversary of some of the battles of the 1815 campaign. They can be seen here:

At the end of the year I did something a little different.

Once upon a time I met a young lady and took her on a tour of my local hostelries. In the course of this evening it emerged that she had been told about my hobby by some of my colleagues and I was called upon to explain. The end result of this was the, now famous, tale that I recreated the battle of Austerlitz on a table in the Town Arms using beer mats and ash trays on our first date so she shouldn't have been massively surprised by what she has had to live with since. To celebrate twenty years of domestic bliss I decided to refight the battle properly. This was the result.

Problem one – Austerlitz is a BIG battle and my table is pretty small and as it is in the loft has a corner missing where the chimney goes through the roof. Still with a bit of juggling I managed a rough approximation.

Problem two – Well I know what happened in some detail so reproducing the element of surprise was going to be difficult. To get around this I used a historical deployment with various random factors to determine the arrival of Davout and the allies’ divergence from their historical orders.

Problem three – Set up in September and mostly played in October, there wasn’t much natural light and I forgot to compensate for this so a lot of these pictures are a bit ‘atmospheric’!

I used the scenario from the original edition of Volley and bayonet with my usual adapted rules. Compromises were made with the figures as I have very few 1805 uniformed troops so both sides used figures more suitable for later campaigns – They are, as usual, mostly plastic from a variety of manufacturers and all painted by me. The sawdust I have used to make the roads on this occasion was a little courser than my usual brand so less realistic – bit ‘old school’ I guess – but still the best way of marking roads I think...

The bare table looking from Sokolnitz towards the Santon hill at the top. The Pratzen Heights are on the right.
 Turn 1 (6 am):
French initial moves followed historical deployment with Murat’s cavalry moving to menace the allied right (opposite the chimney breast).

Bottom of table – Sokolnitz , nearest the camera The Russians can be seen massing just north of Pratzen, while the Austrians move towards the bridge at Sokolnitz.
The Austrian advanced guard. The Austrians were the first army I rebased using my 'two 60x40 bases per unit' method (here representing brigades) and so some of them retain a plain green covering that reflects their temporary nature - this has now been rectified!( Figures from HaT, Esci and Italeri)
Following the scenario, the allies also have to stick to their historic plan and act as if they are unaware of what is going on (not easy when you are playing both sides – good job I like role playing!)
The Russians deploy south of the Pratzen Heights behind the Austrians.

Austrian cavalry and Grenzers move towards Telnitz, skirting the Satschen Mere.

Turn 2:

No sign of Davout. But the French advance along the line.

Austrian cavalry fail their first reaction test and waltz into Sokolnitz, leaving Przybyczewsky’s Jaegers to deal with Beaumont’s Dragoons by themselves.

Turn 3:
Still no sign of Davout! There is a gaping hole in the French line where he should be.

(Bonaparte waits anxiously for Davout’s arrival – the tree, my first ever wargames tree, was nicked off my Mum’s Christmas cake more than thirty years ago and should probably be retired)
As Murat’s cavalry crash over the Bosenitz Stream I feel hampered by the lack of that corner of the table as this is where Murat’s charge should be taking place.

The Dragoons charge Przybyczewsky’s Jaegers taking them unawares in front and flank and routing them completely but their momentum carries them into the next Russian formation and they suffer minor casualties.
(yellow flag denotes disorder)

 Oudinot’s Grenadiers assault Blasowitz but are repulsed.
The Russian attack in the centre is beaten off :
...but their follow up attack at Blasowitz decimates the Grenadiers.

The Austrian Cavalry cross the Goldbach, penetrating deep into the French right.

(Light troops contest Telnitz)
Turn 4:
Davout is here!

III Corps finally march onto the battlefield and the Emperor's master plan can be implemented at last- or is it too late?

French Dragoons throw the Austrian cavalry back across the stream...

A stiff fight develops around Puntowitz in the centre.

On the left Blasonitz falls to a renewed assault by Oudinot’s Division.
Austrian Uhlans successfully counter attack Davout’s Dragoons and Russian Grenadiers thunder across the bridge into Sokolnitz.

While the Grenzers continue to Skirmish with Telnitz; keeping it occupied.

More Allied cavalry arrives and the Infantry of The Russian Lifeguard moves to occupy the Pratzen Heights. (Reversed guns denote limbered battery)

Turn 5:
A charge by Suhac’s Dagoons (here played by a unit of Chasseurs à Cheval owing to a lack of Dragoons) overthrows and destroys the Austrian Schwartzenberg Uhlan Regiment at Sokolnitz and artillery fire forces the Austrian Light Dragoons back across the stream.

Napoleon attempts to consolidate his position by moving Bernadotte to the centre and Murat moves his Cuirassiers in support.
The Russians ford the Goldbach at Solkolnitz.

Fighting continues in the centre with no result but the French continue to gain ground around Blasewitz in the North.
(Blasewitz top left)
Turn 6:
Kisters Brigade (III Corps) fail to stop the Russian Grenadiers from establishing a bridgehead and are driven off. Despite desperate fighting the Russians cross the Goldbach. They take Kobelnitz …
Turn 7:
Things are getting desperate; the Emperor commits the Guard and feeds I Corps into his centre.
More hand-to-hand fighting around Blaswitz and a fierce scrap develops in the environs of Sokolnitz.

Turn 8:
I Corps stem the flow of Russians across the Goldbach at Puntowitz while in the south Telnitz falls to the Austrians. Both sides position themselves for the decisive stage of the battle.
To the north the allies mass to contain the threat of the French cavalry.
Turn 9:
For a moment it looked as though this turn would see Napoleon’s masterstroke fall. Strong attacks were launched all across the front but it was not to be as they were all thrown back with heavy losses. Victory for the Emperor is now looking unlikely.
Turn 10:
Well luck really wasn’t with the French on this occasion, by the end of this turn they were well and truly beaten. Only the fresh troops of I Corps prevented the dissection of the army.
A remnant held on around Sokolnitz but possessed neither the village nor the castle.
Puntowitz still held but only just.
Blasowitz was burning while the survivors of it garrison died. All divisions (except one in I Corps) had reached their exhaustion points, as set in the scenario.The allies were also in bad shape but one strong push could probably have taken all the remaining villages whereupon the pursuit could have begun.
Basically I am not Napoleon!