Wednesday 27 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 6) Cry Havoc!

The view from the French side of the hill. The panorama is becoming rather disturbing to the French command as their troops are being hemmed in by the geography of the battlefield and their two brigades of infantry are now facing four deployed brigades of the Allies. The question is even if the French want to deploy more troops where can they fit them in? They need to push forwards with all haste to create some breathing space (see below): 

From Marlborough's and Prince Eugene's perspective although the Allies are fully deployed the fight is far from over. The Allies need to press forwards and break the last line of French and Bavarian resistance or the French will have time to fully deploy their reserves (see below):

At this point the Allies face a new moment of crisis as the guns of the French from across the river find the range of the most advanced Prussians forming the final part of the "closed gate". The Prussians panicked and retired, flinching at the fire. If the enemy had been near it would have been a rout. As it was it was an ungainly display of mob rule. As it was the "gap" was serious enough. Thankfully (for the Allies) the last Prussian cavalry arrived in force to plug the gap (see below):

Meanwhile the British infantry started once again on their remorseless advance, John Churchill with them every step of the way, picking his way through the corpse strewn field being an inspiration to his troops. Then with an impressive display of ordered musketry the British infantry disordered the French battalions facing them (see below): 

The French line was shattered and turned tail and fled, causing havoc (disordering) amongst the Bavarian infantry behind who in turn were swept away (umpire's ruling). The crisis was now turned on the French as their infantry flank melted away (see below):

To the north a flood of fresh Prussian cavalry engulfed the last remaining fresh French cavalry regiment. All that remained to stop the Allies now were composite squadrons of tired French horse and a few, although still fresh, compacted battalions of infantry (see below):

Seeing the debacle unfold the French troops still north of the river yet to cross were ordered by their officers to halt. The troops already across were promptly about faced and retired. The French army was in full retreat and needed a stiff rearguard action to avoid complete destruction (see below):

A sight for Queen Anne! The mass of Allied infantry advancing, some four lines deep was an awe inspiring sight, but put the fear of God into the French rearguard troops that had to face them (see below, Hanoverian's and Prussians, the British are out of the picture to the left):

Next: Closing Time

Monday 25 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 5) The Gristle and Grease of Battle

The battle continued into its third phase, the Allies push forward with tired troops to gain critical objectives.

Although mighty events had swung in favour of the Allies to the north the battle still hung in the balance. The French reverses in cavalry fortunes were quickly made good by squadrons of fresh troopers arriving new from line of march. This foretold of a possible French strategic dilemma, their entry points were fast becoming choke points. New troops arriving were finding themselves hurled into combat straight away. The French could not afford to lose any more ground or be "choked". A large body of the French lay across the wrong side of the river. The Allies conversely still had to completely "shut the door" with the swinging wing of infantry or risk the numerous French cavalry squadrons running amok in their backfield.

So the Prussian Cavalry general, already victorious in one major combat, considered another gambit to save the northern flank. Rather than wait, which meant to become outnumbered by the arriving French, he decided to press his minor advantage [1:1 odds with his commanding presence] and fight the battle where he wanted it to be, thus at the very least 'buy time' for the infantry gate to close. Once more he brought his troopers to the charge (see below, far top left the Prussians cavalry charge [brown horses hitting a line of black] while the infantry order their lines with the flourish of a small skirmish at the river):

The combat goes against the brave Prussians, they are fought to a standstill, the presence of the general saving a rout. Disordered they lay at the mercy of a reinforced (and importantly ordered) French attack. With the noteworthy discreteness associated with the careful Dragoons, a Prussian regiment stealthily occupied the windmill to secure the northern flank of the infantry gate (see below, there can only be a bad outcome next for the mounted Prussians now):

The Prussian formation disintegrates being outnumbered 3:1 and heads in total disorder of the river minus a stand, carrying the Prussian general with them. The French gather themselves to exploit whatever openings are left in the approaching Allied infantry formation. The French desperately need to change the momentum of this battle in their favour by a stroke of genius, as expected by Louis XIV (see below):

Meanwhile in the south, John Churchill calls forth the British to press the French (aided by some despicable Bavarian's who have recently changed sides) and advance out of their defensive strongholds. He sees that a sudden reverse would sow complete confusion in the (too) tightly packed battalions of French infantry. Again the British contest with the Swiss a village whose name history will soon forget but forever be a grave for many a brave soldier (see below):

Standing back we now see that the northern infantry gate is closed shut. The victorious French cavalry are denied easy infantry pickings. Instead they see a continuous line of bayonet, behind which fresh Allied cavalry reinforcements can be seen and even limbering cannon. Nought can be gained here with a futile charge. The French army is crammed into a defensive perimeter. History had it that the French commander across the river declined at this point to send troops, however on this fateful day (by roll of an important command dice) he saw fit to support his fellow French. Additional French is the last thing Marlborough wants to see (see below, the French infantry are looking disordered in the south):

Once disordered the French infantry yield before the march of the redcoats. The constant drilling has made them the pride of the whole Allied army. The Swiss are routed, a village taken and the first line French infantry brigade find itself in peril. The redoubt of individual French battalions was not in doubt, rallying and rejoining the fight time after time, but the whole as a line buckled (see below):

Next: Application of pressure with all arms!

Sunday 17 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 4) The Ground was Soaked in Blood

As fire and fury erupted in the infantry conflict for the village a more stately procession of squadron after squadron of horse arrayed themselves to the north of Groenenwald, In fact the French had so many horse they sent away a full two regiments to their left flank where the Dragoons of John Churchill were making so much mischief. A decision they bitterly regretted later (see below):

The French were quite happy to play the defensive and form a front to await the outcome of the infantry assault. The Prussian General in turn deployed his cavalry within charge range of the French ti tempt them forwards. Still the French did not come so a  unit of Prussian Dragoons were sent north of the windmill to outflank the French wing. As it stood the Prussians had a tactical advantage of the "charge" bonus and of the attached leadership of a General. Sensing the hour of need was at hand, with his orders to support the Hanoverian infantry to his right and seeing the intent French on pressing their infantry attack in the centre the Prussian General attached himself to the lead cavalry unit and committed unto a desperate charge (see below, yes the French commander at this moment was regretting sending those "extra" horse away to the other flank):

The cavalry line was engulfed with furious hand to hand fighting. After the charge the results seemed to be swinging towards the Allied side as the French were more disordered. As a means using them rather than losing them, the French committed to a cavalry charge against the Hanoverian line infantry to support the final heave of their infantry against the village of Groenewald. With both flanks secured they Hanoverian landsers held fast (see below):  

Meanwhile after more hand-to-hand combat the French cavalry were bested, either being routed or left in disorder. The battle was not over by a long margin but the immediate danger of a central collapse of the Allied line was averted. Eyes turned back to the French Infantry battling in the town to see that they too had been repulsed in their final attack and were reforming, unlike their cavalry who had been scattered (see below):

The Allied line looked much more ordered than the French who were bunched in a compressed salient, hindering each others effective deployment. The danger being that a simple reverse would ripple disorder through the ranks as retreating troops fell back on fresh. The French commander had a worried air about himself at this point. The Allied infantry were ponderously trying to close the door between the central village (Groenewald) and the "windmill" (which unhelpfully had lost its sails) [middle left in the photo] to twist their disadvantaged dangerous "L" into a battle winning position (see below):

The two French regiments of horse reappear from their futile traverse of the French lines to face off the enthused and victorious Prussians who are screening the advancing Allied infantry. The French infantry (now two brigades) although not disordered and are still "packed together" (see below):

With the "crisis" of defence passed, Marlborough now pondered the point of his attack. Additional French reinforcements can be seen moving up in the background. Now was teh time to press the Allied advantage.

Friday 15 September 2017

The War of the Spanish Succession: The Battle of Oudenarde July 11th 1708 (Part 3) O' Fortuna

There then came to the matter of a small village. They, the French had it, and we sir wanted it and that was the matter of it. The men in scarlet advanced, there was disorder all round and the smoke of battle made the scene quite intense (see below, the French and British infantry come to grips with one another):

For a moment the French looked to have the better of it as they regained their order and pressed forwards (see below, the British are stalled and the French battalion has regained its initial composure and a fresh new French brigade of infantry can be seen advancing menacingly):

At this moment John Churchill (Allied C-in-C) stepped forwards and commanded a column of mounted Dragoons to come timely at the gallop and charge the French infantry while they disposed in line and vulnerable to such a swift move. The French infantry in local command were entirely focused upon their British infantry they were too late in coming to aware of this new danger. They broke and fled back into the village whence they first came (see below the action of the charge):

Although the local danger had passed and one jaw of death had been averted the fresh French infantry brigade posed a second jaw even more dangerous (see below the French infantry battalion is scattered but the British line is in disarray):

With the dexterity of a great captain of antiquity Marlborough straitened his lines, withdrawing his cavalry to a useful reserve position but despite his best efforts the "L" of the Allies looked very vulnerable. The whole defensive position depended upon a garrisoned village of Groenewald holding its nerve in teh battle to come (see below, if Groenewald falls [in the centre of the battlefield] the flanks of both Allied brigades would be mercilessly exposed )

It is at this very point the French Commander hurls the fresh French infantry newly arrived on the battlefield. The smoke of battle once again engulfs the field of play (see below, without the expedience of time for a softening up barrage with artillery the French go in):

This gentlemen is warfare in "The Age of Reason", mathematical but more the bloody for its application.

Next: The Dark Heart of the Matter

Wednesday 13 September 2017

Arghh .. Bit Rot

I bought them long ago. I first (with my sensible head on) tried them all to see that they all "worked" then put them back on the shelf for that rainy day when I would need them.

Then that rainy day came and I slipped the CD into the computer and .. nothing, Data .. what data? Sigh. Bit rot?

To be precise I cannot see my Wargames Illustrated CD 3 (The Green One).

Sad face!

The bizarre thing is that I was not searching for an article but for an Old Glory advert which (if my befuddled memory serves me well) showed some 15mm 1815 French Line Infantry. I wanted to use that as a basis of a painting guide. That info I can get from "other" internet image searches however that's not the point.

Instead of "painting" I find myself backing up what I still have on the "old" CDs to an external hard drive to 'make it last longer'. Oh for the cloud in this scenario! There is currently a lot of chunking from my computer's CD Drive to external Hard Drive going on just now!

Saturday 9 September 2017

Missed it but it appeared to be a very good one!

UK Connections 2017 has come and gone. It looked to be a brilliant one judging by the blog posts and write ups:

Interestingly they made the BBC News:

Past Perspectives (MegaGame Designers):

Bob Cordery:

PaxSims (Rex):

I am looking forward to the post-conference lecture slides and audio to be uploaded to their site:

Of interest already is their Introduction to Wargaming download (if you do not know who was Von Rieswitz was then take a sneak peek at slide 5 and find out):

Sadly one of those events I would have loved to have gone to but logistics and time away from the family forbade it :(