Friday 31 March 2023

Austrian Grenz Regiment, Number 6

This unit is the Varazdin (Warasdiner)-Stankt Georger Regiment, number 6.

Formed in 1749 the Regiment was recruited from that part of modern day Croatia and Serbia that lies east and southeast of Zagreb. Each of its twelve companies were recruited from different localities. In 1769 the regiment was designated number 65 under the inhaber Guicciardi and in 1798 it assumed the title of Varazdin-Stankt Georger Regiment, Number 6.

Its main involvement in the Napoleonic wars was in the 1809 campaign where three battalions (two line and one reserve) of the regiment served across the VI Corps. It was heavily involved in the preliminary actions of the campaign, specifically at Landshut, Neumarkt and Edelsberg. At the Battle of Aspen they fought In Nordmann’s Brigade, but had been so worn down by fighting that the two line battalions counted less than 550 men. It was also engaged at Wagram.

The regiment continued in Austrian service until 1871, when it was disbanded.

I am pleased with the way the brown coats contrast with the light blue pants, and the less formal marching pose suits these border troops and provides a good contrast with the more formal German battalions.

Overseen here by their Austrian master.

Monday 27 March 2023

The American Revolution in Virginia.

NOTE: Additional images were received after this item was posted. They are at the end of the post.

Sunday’s AWI game was set in Virginia. I wanted a game that would involve the British, Hessians, Americans and French and thought that an interesting field action might be a British attempt to halt the Franco-American force in Northern Virginia. And what better place for them to do that than long the banks of Bull Run.

So I set up a terrain based on the field of the ACW battlefield of the First Bull Run from Sudley Ford to Blackburn’s Ford. My interpretation of the terrain is as below (the actual table layout did not follow the plan exactly, but was close enough).

Since we had eight players, the forces needed to be considerable and were:

  • British: 18 line infantry battalions, 1 small cavalry unit, 3 field batteries
  • Hessians: 4 line battalions, 2 jäger companies, 2 amusettes, 1 field battery
  • Americans: 13 Continental battalions, 2 units of riflemen, 12 militia units, 1 cavalry squadron 4 field batteries 
  • French: 6 line battalions, 1 cavalry squadron, 1 field battery
The British were expecting an attack across Bull Run. At the start of the game one British brigade and the Hessians was in camp near the road junction on the lower left section of the table. Another brigade was in camp in the section to their left. The remainder of the force could be deployed anywhere below Bull Run, but not in the two top left sections and not within 150mm of a ford or the bridge.

The Franco-Americans could march onto the table at any point on the top edge, but did not see the British deployment until after they made their plan. All they knew of the British deployment was the location of the camps and that British patrols had been seen on the hills on the left.

Each side had three objectives and had to achieve two objectives to avoid conceding the game:
  • The British
    • Control the crossroad in the second to left lower sector at the end of the game
    • Control the road junction on the right of the table at the end of the game
    • At the end of the game 9 battalions had to be on the field in good order
  • The Franco-Americans 
    • Control two of the three lower left sections  at the end of the game
    • There could be no good order British units north of Bull Run at the end of the game
    • At the end of the game 11 Continental battalions had to be on the field in good order
Although they significantly outnumbered the British, the Franco-Americans had a tough task since nearly half their force was raw militia and a number of those units were classed tiny.

Here is how the game went.

The British deployed their two free brigades in the two left zones on the left while the rest of the force was positioned on the right. A large gap existed between the two wings, opposite the big bend in Bull Run.

The British extreme right

Their position further to the right (on Henry House Hill)

And the British left, where the Hessians have reacted to the American approach and win the race to the hill in front of the camps

The Franco-Americans chose to put two brigades opposite the British camps, the French in the big bend of Bull Run and one two brigades on the right. A reserve consisting entirely of small and tiny militia units were held off the table. With this deployment they began their advance.

The Hessians took the hill to their front and then charged down hill onto the freshly deployed Americans

The quickly drove off three American regiments and their artillery support

On the opposite flank the British also took the fight to the Americans. This action would hold the Americans on the northern bank here for most of the battle.

To the left of the Hessians the British troops held another American brigade at bay (above and below)

But here come the French

They crossed Bull Run unopposed

Then they swung right to cut off the British on Henry House Hill

The American reserve marched boldly across the bridge into a wall of British fire and bayonets and two British battalions sent them promptly back across the bridge.

While those two battalions were dealing with British the Militia, the French infantry cleared the other two from Henry House Hill

The Hessians and British meanwhile crushed one American brigade and prevented another from crossing the Run.

By 3:00 PM we had a decision. The British held one objective point, but lost the other. They also did not have 9 good order battalions left on the field. The Americans dominated two of the three zones they had to control giving them one objective, but lost a second objective because a Hessian unit was in their side of Bull Run, but they still had  13 good order Continental units on the field. So two objective to one gave a minor Franco-American victory. 

In fact it was the French that carried the day. Their advance was completely unopposed until they reached Henry House Hill. They ended the fight with hardly a scratch.

Additional images (provided by John L.) added since the initial post.

Saturday 25 March 2023

Landwehr Battalion, Regiment Froon, No 54

Before my brief painting hiatus I started work on thus unit, completing 24 figures before the lead pile flattened. With the arrival of the last parcels the remaining 12 figures could join the unit.

It seems that in 1813 and 1814 the Austrian military establishment swelled considerably. Where regiments had previously counted only two field battalions, they expanded to three or four battalions. Often the fourth battalion was a Landwehr battalion. So this is what I have done here, established a Landwehr battalion in Regiment Froon.

Also completed with the arrival of the two parcels were two stands of the Second Battalion of the Russian Lieb Grenadiers that suffered from a failure to order enough command sprues with my previous order.

Wednesday 22 March 2023

A Definition of Happiness


The lead/plastic pile restored!

The first six figures have made it to the painting queue…

Friday 17 March 2023

A Brief Hiatus

Life in my hobby world is slow at the moment. This is largely because I have flattened the lead pile and replacement stocks not due for another week or so. While I am not completely void of hobby tasks there is nothing of significant interest to show right now.

One thing I have been doing a bit more of in these quiet days, is reading and the work that has captured my attention is Earl J. Hess’ Civil War Infantry Tactics: Training, Combat, and Small-Unit Effectiveness, Louisiana State University Press, 2015.

Now my wargaming experience started with the American Civil War, my first love so to speak and you never forget your first love, right (although some times that is a memory you need to push to the back of your mind and shudder). I have been a student of the war for some 40 years and have a few other works by Hess in my collection: Pea Ridge: Civil War Campaign in the West (co-written with William Shea), Pickett’s Charge: the Last Attack at Gettysburg and The Rifle Musket in Civil War Combat— Reality and Myth. He is an excellent researcher and in age when historians spend most of their time apologising for things they, their parents and their grand-parents are not responsible for he does a really good job of digging up the type of detail that we wargamers like. His work on the rifled musket goes a long way to dismissing the long held theory that it was that the weapon that was a revolution in infantry tactics, an idea originally expressed by Paddy Griffith back in 1987.

In this work Hess argues quite successfully that the traditional view that linear tactics were inadequate to  meet the cluttered nature of the American battlefield was quite false. Neither did the rifled musket render the offensive obsolete. In over 400 tactical examples he shows that effective unit commanders were more than capable of overcoming obstacles, maintaining cohesion and forward movement. 

He also agrees that although the Civil War remains America’s bloodiest war per capita, battlefield casualties were no greater than losses suffered in other eighteenth and nineteenth century battles.

Things of interest to me was to see how common mixed order, line and column, was. Also how difficult a manoeuvre wheels were, especially brigade wheels and that once started an oblique movement could be difficult to control - as several regiments in Pickett’s division found at Gettysburg when their obliquing line met Pettigrew’s advancing column and were squeezed out of the line.

For any one who has a strong interest in Civil War tactics, I would suggest this is a must read.

Monday 13 March 2023

A Napoleonic Extravaganza

Yesterday we played a large Napoleonic game. A Russo-Prussian force of 32 battalions, four cavalry regiments and eight batteries was charged with securing control of a crossroads at the centre of the table. Opposing us was a stronger Franco-Bavarian force of at least 35 battalions (10 of which were guard) 13 cavalry regiments and nine batteries.

The terrain was very constrictive, with a river crossable at only two fords and a bridge cutting off about a quarter of the table. A village and a wood at the opposite end  closed out that flank but a large walled farm the centre effectively divided the table in two and seriously constricted the area in which large bodies could be manoeuvred. 

The battlefield before the armies arrived

The Russians took the right flank and the Prussians the left. Opposite us the Bavarians held the left, opposite the Russians, the Guard held the centre and a combined Franco-Wurtemberg force held their right.
The initial deployments from the Russian end of the table.

The reverse view with the armies in motion

The Guard brigades deploy opposite the walled farm

The  Bavarians on the move: in the foreground they are preparing to cross the river, and further away are facing the Russians 

The Prussian Jägers moved quickly to secure the walled farm while the artillery of both sides sought to soften up the infantry.

Then the Russian grenadiers began their advance.

Then the line brigades stepped off.

The Prussians were quickly into the thick of it.

The Russian Grenadiers attacked the Guard light infantry

The Emperor seemed indifferent

But his generals were nervous under his eye.

And with good reason, for here come the Russian Cuirassiers

They slammed into the flank of the Guard lights who had driven off a battalion of Russian grenadiers

The Bavarians put up a wall of bayonets, but struggled to make headway,

The Guard lancers and Russian Cuirassiers were quickly embroiled in an extended melee.

 Meanwhile the Guard infantry found themselves in an awkward position, their front divided by the walled farm

Their commander desperately tried to maintain order 

Despite huge pressure the Prussian lines held

The fighting raged along the length of the table.

In the end the sun set with a slight advantage to the Russo-Prussians.

Photo credits: me and John L.