Saturday, 17 November 2012

SYW - Fitzjames' Horse

As a result of doing some family history research a few years ago I discovered that my paternal ancestors were prominent within the Irish Brigade of France (largely recruited from Irish Catholics and known as 'The Wild Geese') during the 18th century. Hence, since that time I've had a fascination with regiments within brigade.

I was always going to have at least one regiment from the brigade represented in my fledgling 28mm SYW French army, with Fitzjames' Horse being the first to get a coat or two of paint. The regiment was originally part of James II personal army that fought in the war against William of Orange in Ireland, before it was evacuated to France after James' defeat, although at that time is was known as Sheldon's Horse. It had the misfortune of being one of the most-destroyed regiments of the 18th century; it was decimated at Neerwinden (1692); badly mauled at Ramillies, Oudenarde and Malplaquet during the Marlburian Wars; captured during the '45 rebellion (1746); annihilated at Rossbach (1757), and completely eliminated at Wilhelmstahl (1762) during the Seven Years War. So, it's a well seasoned regiment....albeit, somewhat unlucky.

I've taken some artistic license in representing the trumpeter in my unit. It is recorded that the trumpeters in the regiment wore yellow coats (the colour of the Stuarts) along with the white and green lace of the Duke of Berwick (James Fitzjames) and his descendants. Berwick was the natural son of James II who became a marshal of France. I decided to add red cuffs to my trumpeter to give some continuity with the rest of the unit, although I've haven't found any evidence to suggest this occurred in history. I've also painted my regiment for the period of the 1740s so that it could be used in my 1745 Jacobite Rebellion project. In 1758 the regiment replaced it's felt cocked hats with grenadier-style bearskin hats.

The flag is one of the superb GMB flags made by Grahame Black, while the figures are Front Rank.

Fitzjames' Horse charging to destruction

I've also included a couple of snapshots of several Zulu War commanders that have been half painted for over 12 months and finally finished off last month. These are from the outstanding Empress Miniatures range. Unfortunately the close-up photos have exposed a need for a bit of touch-up paint work.              

Saturday, 20 October 2012

Conquest 2012

Christchurch's annual wargaming convention, 'Conquest', is being held this weekend at the St Albans - Shirley Workingmens Club. This year the Southern Strategists put on a 28mm Seven Years War demo game (well, really Chris Packer did all the work by providing the rules, figures and most of the terrain). We used the Die Kriegskunst rules that are based on the General de Brigade system which provided a free-flowing and very enjoyable game....but of course I'm bound to say that I was on the victorious side (which is very unusual !).

The scenario Chris put together was not based on any actual battle which allowed the commanders of both the Austrian and Prussian armies the freedom to fight as they pleased.....or as well as their dice throwing allowed! The luckless Prussians were commanded by Rodger 'John Bell Hood' Wood and Chris 'Tiny' Packer, while the Austrians were led by Adrian Powell, Seamus Stack and myself. The Prussians had an advantage of having a strategically placed battery placed on a hill in the centre of the line, while the Austrians held a town on their right flank. The terrain ensured that the cavalry could only fight on one flank, leading to a  substantial clash of sabres that helped to determine the outcome of the battle.

Being exposed to the Prussian guns in the centre the Austrian infantry was forced to charge the battery from the outset or face destruction. Thanks to some fortunate dice throwing from Seamus the battery was destroyed early on, while a massed cavalry melee on the Austrian left flank led to the elimination of the Prussian cavalry, thus exposing the Prussian infantry in the centre. The Prussians advanced on their left flank but became exhausted after failing to capture the town due to a wall of effective Austrian musketry. The Austrian artillery proved very effective against the Prussian grenadiers who were decimated. However, the Austrians didn't have it all their own unfortunate dice throw saw the Austrian brigade commander in the centre being captured after his horse bolted in the direction of the enemy. The Prussian infantry took advantage of this and pushed back several Austrian battalions before the collapse of the Prussian right flank that determined the final outcome of the engagement.

Great fun had by all and there was plenty of interest from follow gamers and members of the public. There were about 110 gamers registered in the Flames of War, DBA, 40K and other fantasy based competitions, with the two halls packed with gaming tables. There were about 8 blokes playing in a Saga competition, with a Grand Manner Dark Ages castle providing an attractive centre-piece in their area. Tim Driver (owner of Comic Compulsions and sponsor of the convention) and friends put on a very colourful 'Pike and Shotte' English Civil War demo game next to ours which equally proved popular with the public. Tim very kindly sponsored new tape measures for every gamer playing at the convention....much appreciated, Tim !                 


Rodger's Prussian infantry stemming the Austrian advance

Adrian's Austrian infantry and artillery providing a sold defence

A cavalry skirmish in Tim's ECW game

Chris's Prussians approach the town on the Prussian left flank 

The hand of God (with ruler attached) orders another Prussian advance in the centre

Hungarian infantry advancing

Another doomed Prussian attack in the centre

Prince Rupert's foote (in blue) take on the Parliament rabble in Tim's ECW game

The Grand Manner Dark Age castle in the Saga area 

Rodger's sole -surviving Prussian unit about to receive the coup de grace on the Prussian right flank

Seamus sends his Austrian infantry to deal with the Prussian guns

The cavalry melee on the Austrian left flank. The Prussian cuirassiers wait in the rear  for an opportunity to enter the fray.  

The battlefield from the Austrian left flank. Tim's is playing his ECW  'Pike & Shotte' game next to us. 

The Austrians hold the town while the Prussians advance screened by  light troops. Rodger 'John Bell Hood' Wood pensively looks on. The beard is just right for the Gettysburg game next July ! 

Chris's Prussian infantry advance on the town.

A fire-fight in the forest in the centre of the field.

Austrians looking solid defending the town

Seamus's Old Glory Austrian infantry charging the guns...fortune favours the brave !  

Adrian's Austrian centre about to be attacked by Chris's Prussians.

The masters and the apprentice....left to right: Rodger, Chris, Vinny (with pint), Adrian and Seamus

Saturday, 29 September 2012

Borodino in Christchurch

Well, it's been a few months since I last posted on the blog. In that time I have submitted my PhD thesis on the Officer Corps of the New Zealand army from 1909 to 1945, as well as finishing off the manuscript for my second Osprey Men-at-Arms title, 'The 2nd New Zealand Expeditionary Force in World War 2.' I'm still waiting for the thesis to be examined, while the Osprey book is due for release in February 2013.

Now that they are out of the way I can concentrate on some of my wargaming projects that are in need of attention.

Several weeks ago my 11-year-old son, Seamus, and I, along with most of the other Southern Strategists, took part in the Borodino refight held at the Cavaliers Wargaming Club here in Christchurch. This game was the biggest 28mm game held in New Zealand for many years (if ever), which involved over 25 participants, around 4,500 infantry figures, 1,100 cavalry figures and about 160 artillery pieces. The event was truly spectacular, with the fraternal spirit of the gamers ensuring that everybody had an enjoyable time and that there was no unnecessary over-competitive behaviour that can spoil competition games.

Unfortunately due to sporting commitments we were only able to attend the first day of the game, but felt privileged to do so. Seamus and I were part of the Grande Armee, and together we commanded a division under Prince Eugene (Kent Galpin) on the left flank....although to be honest I didn't command much as Seamus was throwing so well with the dice that I took a back seat to proceedings. In fact, Seamus should have been awarded the Legion d'Honour for the fight he put up against the mass of Russian cavalry that threatened to outflank the French left flank. Eventually our division was destroyed and the other commanders (Rodger Wood and Kent) ably plugged the gap with reinforcements that held the ground until the end of the battle.

The Russian right flank before troops were placed on the table

The freshly painted 10th Chasseurs a cheval who performed with credit  in their first  outing.

Seamus (right) scouting the Russian positions before bringing our division forward. 

The Russian fleches in the centre (commanded by Count Houstonich)

The fleches changed hands multiple times before the Russian centre finally collapsed.

The briefing before the game commenced. Southern Strategist Rodger Wood stands  to the right ready to defend the French left flank.

The French right flank that succeeded in turning the Russians.

Count Houstonich (Dave Houston) who defended and recaptured the fleches numerous times for two days before finally running out of troops.  

The vanguard of Prince Eugene's corps at the beginning of the game attacking the town of Borodino.

Napoleon (Chris Packer) contemplating his moves from his headquarters.  Note the tray of  empty  Cognac glasses....Napoleon celebrated the occasion by shouting all his commanders a wee tipple before the action commenced...although Seamus had to be happy with a raspberry and coke. 
I've attached some images of the first day of fighting, including my freshly painted regiment of chasseurs a cheval, which managed to blunt a Russian attack before being destroyed....c'est la guerre! There is a series of videos taken of the event placed on Youtube, while more photos of the game can be seen on Rodger's 'Rebel Barracks' blog.  

The event was such a success that next year a similar size game is to be held in honour of the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg...can't wait.

In the mean time I'm working on building up my British and French Seven Years War armies, adding units to my AWI and Napoleonic forces....and perhaps finally finishing off the 28mm brigantine that I've been putting together for over 12 months....we'll see.                

Thursday, 31 May 2012

SYW - Die Kriegskunst

Last weekend we had a special guest at the Mess in Chris Packer, a North Island wargamer who has transferred to Christchurch from Upper Hutt. Chris has a massive collection of Napoleonic and SYW figures and kindly offered to put on a game using the Die Kriegskunst rules (try saying that in mixed company with a few beers on board!) created by Angus Konstam and the Edingburgh Wargaming group. A couple of the other Southern Strategists came along and a convivial Sunday afternnoon of wargaming and jovial banter was had by all. We were all impressed with how well the rules played, giving a fast and bloody result. We only used a fraction of Chris's SYW collection in a small game that saw an Austrian force defending a town against a Prussian force of equal size. A hard task for the Prussians, especially when the cavalry on their right flank routed and the attack on their left flank suffered heavy casualties. However, one Prussian battalion managed to force its way into the town before the Prussian commander conceded that he had insufficient forces left to win the action. Great fun was had by all and hopefully this will be the first of many such games with Chris.
Prussian jagers

Prussian fusiliers

Prussian fusilier command

Austrian commander, Gavin Bowden (left), contemplates his defence while  Chris Packer and Dave Houston (right) plan the Prussian attack. Seamus Stack (foreground) proved an able subordinate of his father who commanded the Austrian right flank.

The Austrian left flank 

Two Austrian battalions held the town

A view of the town from the Prussian lines

Old Fritz himself with his senior commanders

An Austrian German battalion prepared to defend the town
The Prussian cavalry (commanded by Chris) brigade (in blue) charging the Austrian  cavalry

Dave's Prussian infantry launch an attack on the Austrian right flank

Cavalry melee

The first Prussian musketeer battalion decimated by Austrian  artillery and musketry

The Austrian right flank ready to receive the Prussians

The Prussian centre advancing on the town

"The way is forward, mein kinder!'

The Austrian centre defending a road  

The Prussians attempting to turn the Austrian right flank, now minus a destroyed musketeer battalion  
The Prussian cavalry on their right have been repulsed 

Any chance of a Prussian victory relies on victory in the centre 

Mein Gott! The Prussian cavalry are routing!

Prussian grenadier battalions are given the job of taking the town

Before the exchange of musketry

The Prussians charge in on the Austrian right flank

The Austrian musketeer battalion falls back, leaving it to the grenadiers and artillery to hold the flank  

The Prussians moving forward while receiving flanking fire from the town

A Prussian fusilier battalion charging the artillery
Where did those Prussian fusiliers go?...Shot to bits by the canister of the Austrian guns

The Prussians now don't have enough strength to turn the Austrian flank

The Prussian attack succeeds in forcing an Austrian battalion to withdraw 

A Prussian grenadier battalion forces its way into the town  while  a musketeer battalion is in melee with a Hungarian battalion  

The Prussian hopes of victory are dashed as the Austrian left flank prepares to  get behind the exposed Prussian centre 
The victorious Austrian high command breathes a sigh of relief and prepares to celebrate at the local  tavern

Bavarians in Austrian service

A battalion of Austrian light troops

An Austrian Hungarian musketeer battalion

An Austrian musketeer battalion on the march

The successful Austrian cavalry brigade commander, Graf Von Bowden  

Austrian dragoons

Superbly painted Front Rank Prussian musketeers