Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Wednesday, 15 July 2020

Featherstonia: ACW Rules

Once again with sincere thanks to Albannach, today we have Donald Featherstone's American Civil War Rules, as marketed by Wargamer's Newsletter, back when real men carried roundshot bouncesticks.

We're going to slow down the publication rate now - this just to whet the appetite and get things started! Many thanks, Iain - Nobel Prize nomination is being worked on.

***** Late Edit *****

At the end of these rules Don makes reference to the morale effect of having a Fife & Drum band handy on the table (Airfix, converted), to cheer up the troops. This is interesting - you don't suppose Don happened to have such a band available, do you? To set the mood appropriately, here's some Fife & Drum music from the ACW [Google kindly suggested I was looking for Drum & Bass]

I'm interested in this aspect of wargaming - I have been known to discomfit visiting players by subjecting them to my mp3 collection of Napoleonic marches and fanfares during games. While I'm on this digression, I keep meaning to get more seriously involved in putting together companion collections for other nations. I think the Austrian and Prussian material is probably available - British music is a problem - most collections of British Napoleonic marches are played by modern military bands, which probably means saxophones [aargh] and other unacceptable anachronisms, and usually means that you get the Dam Busters in there at some point.

If anyone has any clues on this (off-)topic, please get in touch!


Sunday, 12 July 2020

Featherstonia: An Occasional New Series?

I was very pleased with the reaction to the posting of the programme for the 1965 Military Festival at the Duke of York's HQ. As a result of this, Iain (The Mighty Albannach, no less) has offered to make some more of his personal collection of old documents available for sharing in this way, which is not only very generous, but also suits me very well for a number of reasons, since my painting efforts have stalled for the moment, and actual wargames are likely to be few and far between for a while. Thus I am delighted to take him up on his kind offer.

We'll see how this goes, but he has a good collection of wargames rules (by a number of authors) and of historical and wargaming notes, all of which were available as "handbooks" and could be ordered through Donald Featherstone's Wargamer's Newsletter back in the day. It is possible that some of this material has been collected into more modern publications, but at least you can be confident that the original documents posted here will have been proof-read at some time, which is not always the case elsewhere.

First off, then - appropriately enough - is DFF's very own Rules for Napoleonic Wargames. I believe the rules employed at the 1965 Waterloo game were a cut-down version of these. Please enjoy them, and please treat them with the respect they (and Albannach, and I!) are due. Potentially, there are some real goodies in the pipeline!

Thanks again, Iain!

Thursday, 9 July 2020

Zoom: Battle of Kluis (Vorpommern), 12th Sept 1808

There was a remote wargame hosted here today - a special treat for anyone who likes alternative history...

Outline scenario: The skeleton of this has some bits of actual history in it, if you look for them. Following the French Victory at Vimeiro, and the [much misunderstood] Convention of Cintra, by the terms of which the British Army was evacuated from the Peninsula, attention turns away from Spain for the moment.

There is already a British force in the Baltic, commanded by Sir John Moore and Lord Edward Paget. The original intention was a collaboration with the Swedes to recapture Vorpommern, until recently Swedish Pommerania (next to Mecklenburg), on the Baltic coast. [After the French captured Stralsund in 1807, Vorpommern, the former Swedish Pommerania, has now joined the Confederation of the Rhine, as the new-fangled Duchy of Stralsund-Rügen.] The original Allied plan was for a joint Anglo-Swedish invasion of the (large) island of Rügen. Planning for the joint invasion did not work out - the Swedish King, Gustav IV Adolf, was obsessed with the idea of using the combined force to capture Finland from the Russians instead.

The British are now going ahead with the Rügen invasion without Swedish support. Moore has under his command British and KGL troops - approx 25 units and Leaders. His army includes a rocket battery, which was used with some success at Copenhagen the previous year.

Word of the British plans has, unfortunately, appeared in The Times, and Bernadotte, whose VIII Corps are based in the Hamburg area (having recently been involved at Kolberg and the siege of Stralsund), has been ordered to send a force to intercept the invaders. This army, commanded by Marshal Brune, comprises French and Confederation troops, with a contingent from the Marquis de Romana's Spanish force, also based at Hamburg. Overall, the French army is very slightly larger than the British - the Spanish and Confederation troops are not wonderful, however.

This is an encounter, in open country; the armies will bump into each other on the moors near the village of Kluis. Moore is hurrying across the island to take station opposite Stralsund, to co-ordinate with the Royal Navy, who will bombard the port. The British are not expecting to meet any French force so soon, and the French have little idea of the nature of the invading force.

The only reason you've never heard of this little campaign is the usual one - Napoleon wasn't there, and therefore nobody is interested.
Spoiler: the British/KGL force won fairly decisively, though there was heavy fighting on the British left and in the centre. A narrative of some sort should emerge from the pictures... 
Initial set-up, with the British/KGL forces on the left, French Allies on the right
Some of Brune's Confederation troops - units from the little army of the Duchy of Stralsund-Rügen; here, on the left, you see the Franzburg Jägers [Scruby figures], on the right the fusilier battalion Putbus [Garrison 20mm]- the Duchy's soldiers fought well enough today, but, when things went against them, they were subject to double retreats. The problem, you see, is that they never cared much for the Swedes when they were in charge, and only joined the Confederation to keep the Prussians out. They don't like the French much either, it turns out.
Sir John Moore, with the controversial rocket troop in the background. The rockets scored a couple of hits, but are generally unreliable. At least there were no accidents. The rockets have mud-brown bases because technically they are part of the British siege train - I knew you would want to have that explained.
British left, with the KGL boys at the far end
The French begin to develop their attack on their right and in the centre; Confederation troops in the foreground, French in the Centre and the Spanish contingent at the far end. [Yes, the Spanish troops should have marched to Denmark and been shipped back home by now, but this is alternative history in action] 
KGL troops positioned behind the pond at the Velkvister Graben. The orange counters were to denote light troops - my original idea was that these counters should be yellow, but yellow looked too close to white on the Zoom picture, so orange it was. We now use white loss counters on Zoom, since the normal red ones don't show up. The bad news was that the orange doesn't show up either...
The quiet end of the field; the village of Kluis can be seen in the foreground, and opposite are the ruins of Schloß Pansewitz, where the Spanish troops are stationed. Nowadays Pansewitz is a Nature Park, but back in 1808 you didn't have to pay to get in
The French assembling their big attack in the centre; Marshal Brune has the white border to his base - he did a good job of organising and bringing up the reserve troops. [Editor's Note: Marshal Guillaume Brune - Billy Broon, as he would be in Scotland - possibly one of Napoleon's less interesting Marshals?]

Same moment, from the French left - Kluis on the far side of the field, Pansewitz in the foreground
Inevitably, the light cavalry of the Duchy got twitchy as the day progressed - Brigadier-General Leberknödel in command...
...and had a bash at the British cavalry opposite...
...this produced a series of lively fights, with a lot of to-and-fro, but the cavalry largely cancelled each other out
General view from the French right, as Brune puts together his main attack
British infantry (all right - with anachronistic uniforms) in the village of Kluis. They gave the place a very nice write-up on TripAdvisor.

Crunch time in the centre - Moore was very pleasantly surprised that his boys held the position well. The bonus die for British line infantry firing from a stationary position is a valuable advantage (though the small cavalry units are not)
The big French attack was suddenly falling back - the big line more or less disappeared...

By this stage there is a big hole in the middle of the field
The British have plenty of troops left - one of the KGL light battalions has been pulled back out of the firing line, with a lot of white loss counters

On the British right, the troops are still watching each other very carefully
The action has slackened elsewhere as the French fall back
Another look at the Nature Park - the Spaniards had no losses; in fact they were not involved at all, though their field battery scored a couple of long range hits
The victory requirement was 8 Victory Points - the British had won 9-4
The British left flank - still holding the ridge next to the pond, as Brune organises his retreat