Sunday, December 4, 2016

The Fun of Austerlitz

I ran a large "loosely based upon the Battle of  Austerlitz" game for Jared's middle school game club yesterday, 211 years and a day after the anniversary of the actual battle. 

Cast of Characters

There were a total of 16 players involved in the game, plus myself, Jared, and Mike as adults assisting them. Will K and his team marked the Allied deployments on the map, and then Will G and his team marked the French deployments after seeing those of the Allies. Unfortunately, the entry sides for the forces got reversed, so we had to switch them back when we set up the troops. So no one started where they expected to. This was perhaps oddly fitting for a battle which began with dense fog in the morning! Both the French and Allied listings below cover the troops in order from North (Olmutz Heights area) to South (Tellnitz area)

Dylan, Sid
Maya, Sydney
Jacob, Will G*
Carter, Thomas R
Max B., Will K*

Thomas B

* = overall side commanders (thus it was truly a Battle of Wills). I have linked all the historical commanders (except Prebyshevsky, for whom a couldn't find a bio on line) to their Wikipedia entries for those players who would like to read more about them!

The scenario, map, and Orders of Battle  for the battle are here. I was asked how many figures were involved, so I totaled then up afterward:

Grand Totals  
91 Infantry x 12 figures/unit = 1092
34 Cavalry x 8 figures/unit = 272
30 Artillery x 6-8 figures per unit = 190 plus 60 guns
Command = 37 French and 22 Allied = 59

TOTAL: 1,613 figures and 60 guns.

For those interested in a brief account of the actual battle and its background, this version at GreatMilitaryBattles .com has good maps, something vital but lacking in many others that I found.

The Game
I managed to leave home on time a little after 7:30 AM, having organized everything in the evenings of the preceding week, and loaded it all up late Friday night. I arrived in Tarrytown around 8:45 AM, and Jared and I, later with some help from Sid, set up first the terrain and then the troops. We kicked off close to on time at 11:15 AM, after a very brief overview of the historical background and the basics of the Field of Battle, 2nd edition rules. About half of the players were completely new to the rules, but they did very well with them. I assisted the players in the South, Jared in the Middle, and Mike in the North. Due to privacy issues, no pictures of the players are included in this post.

Overview of the Battlefield from the North; the Santon mound is the hill with French artillery atop it in the right foreground, the Pratzen Heights are in the distance on the left. The blue felt far to the south represents the frozen Satchsen Mere lakes.  The sketch map of the initial deployments is in the foreground as well. 

View from the South - to the left are the villages of Tellnitz, Sokolnitz, and beyond that the Sokolnitz castle and Pheasantry. 

Marechal Lannes (Max) got his forces moving to the attack early on, but General de Division Suchet (himself a future Marshal of France) was struck by a stray bullet (max rolled a "1" on a D20 for the office check process). This placed Suchet's entire Division out of command, as denoted by the plethora of sheep, chickens, etc. 

Undeterred, Max pushed his advance forward after making use of two LEADERSHIP cards to restore Suchet's men to command. The general was allegedly heard to say "It was just a flesh wound; I'm not dead yet! In fact, I'm feeling much better!" as he brushed the dirt of his gold braid encrusted jacket.  , Max displayed skill by using 2 successive units of French Infantry in line to blast away at the Cuirassiers of Prince Liechtenstein (Thomas B). Unfortunately, his dice rolling talents were less impressive, while Thomas did much better against him; with 4 rolls of D12+2, the best he could do was to force back one of the tough Cuirassiers units with a 1 UI loss. This failure left the French Infantry in line and unloaded, and hideously vulnerable. C-est la Guerre!

Speaking of Thomas, he blasted some French Dragoons at point blank range with his Austrian Cavalry battery, but a charge by his Russian Hussars was repulsed with heavy losses. Meanwhile, Langeron (Catherine) used the Russian batteries to pound the advancing troops of Suchet's Division yet again. 

Lunch time pictures: Overview of the fierce combat taking place in front of Tellnitz and Sokolnitz.  Langeron's (Catherine) Russian infantry is moving to support Liechtenstein's Cavalry (under Thomas B). 

Near are the Russian Infantry of Langeron (Catherine) moving to the South, and far are Preobyshevsky (Max B's) Russian infantry moving down from the Pratzen heights, ;preparing to assault the line of the Goldbach Stream. 

View from atop the Pratzen heights looking Southwest towards Sokolnitz Castle and Kobelnitz.

Russian positions atop the Pratzen Heights; Murat's Cavalry Reserve is moving up to try to charge the gun line. 

Heavy Artillery fire from the Allied center has already repulsed the Carabiniers. 

Looking to the North and the Stare Vinrohady peak. The building in the foreground is Pratzen itself.

Looking down from the Stare Vinrohady at a determined French attack. 

Austrian and Hungarian infantry of Kollowrat's (Niky) command. 

The far Allied right, with the village of Blasowitz in the foreground, and Buxhoden's (Maya, Sydney) Russian infantry defending the flank. 

Long view of the table at Lunch break, looking from the North to the South. 

Soult's (Dylan and Sid) Corps, with the Santon mound in the foreground. 

Davout's (Jacob and Will G) Corps, infantry and Cavalry moving to the attack; that defensive position looks awfully solid!

Murat's cavalry Reserve trotting forward, attempting to catch the Russian artillery while it is "unloaded". 

Bernadotte (Hadi) has been largely awaiting events. Like much of the French forces, the guns are screened by terrain and their own troops, and unable to fire effectively. 

St Hilaire's Division of Bernadotte's Corps, near the Sokolnitz caste. 

Back to the action between Lannes (Max) and Liechtenstein (Thomas). The charge by 2 Austrian  Cuirassier regiments has over run and destroyed one of the French line infantry units to its front, and even the Cossacks manage a charge that drove off a second French infantry unit.

Buxhoden's (Catherine) Russian Infantry advance, attempting to take some pressure off Liechtenstein (Thomas), while Bernadotte (Hadi) continues to have difficulty getting his men into action. 

Austrian Cuirassiers are "engaged" with some French infantry precariously to their front, but as yet unable to come to blows with them. 

This overview of the battle from the North shows some Austrian Hussars threatening the French Left flank. Meanwhile, Hohenlohe's Austrian and Hungarian infantry is launching a frontal attack of their own. 

French dragoons charge the Austrian guns; this doesn't end well for the horsemen, if I recall. 

Russians from Prebyshevzky's (Max B, Will B)  column enter the woods of the Pheasantry, and prepare to ford the Goldbach stream!

Austrian Jagers prepare to fire at the flank of some rather over-extended looking Dragoons. 

The Russian Imperial Guard reserves enter the table between Blasowitz and Holbitz; if this continues they may threaten the French Line of retreat. 

Lannes (Max) tries the "shoot 'em up" trick again on the Austrian Cuirassiers, who remain seemingly impervious to French musketry! Meanwhile, Walther's Dragoons (under Davout/Max) have successfully over run the Austrian cavalry battery and mauled a Cossack regiment, making good use of a timely MELEE card. 

The French cavalry charge in the center is running out of gas... and horses!  Bagration's guns (Carter and Thomas R) have enjoyed hot shooting dice and some timely ARTILLERY FIREPOWER cards, turning the troopers of Murat (Griff) back in red ruin. 

With the defeat of Murat's cavalry, Bagration's infantry moves to the Attack as well. 

Overview from the North, showing the Italian Dragoons charging a line of Grenz in front of Blasowitz village. A French Infantry regiment is stationed to protect the Santon and the guns upon it. The French Imperial Guard could also have entered by now, but as we were fast closing in on the planned 4 PM stop time, we decided against taking them out of their box just in time to put them back in again. 

Shortly after this we ended the game; at that point, both sides had 33 Morale Points remaining, but the Allies had started with 7 fewer, and were clearly in the better position everywhere except in the South, where Lannes' attack had made steady progress. thus, a marginal victory was awarded to the Allied side. In defense of the French, it is easier to defend a position than to attack one! All of the players were good sports and seemed to pick up the rules concepts quite well. Hopefully we will get a chance to do it again, although probably something less grandiose next time! The large, brightly lit Art Room that we played the game in was a perfect locale for the game as well. Thanks to Jared for hosting the event, and to all of the players. You were all a pleasure to work with!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Rushin' Russian Infantry

Aside from the various expansion needed for our 2012 Borodino Project, my rather large Russian Napoleonic army has seen little tabletop time, in part because I've been able to use Barry's excellent Front Rank Russians for most of the games where Ruskis are called for. The Austerlitz game this Saturday, though, will be done using all my own troops, the bulk of which are Minifigs. When I counted up the needed units, I discovered that I would be short at least three units of Russian Line Infantry (Musketeers). A search of the Great Lead Pile confirmed my recollection that I had sufficient lead for several more Russian units, and that most of them were wearing Greatcoats - both suitable for December weather, and speeding up painting time. So three units were added to the painting queue last month, and they are now marching off the painting table for your review!

The Kexholm Musketeer regiment. I have a sneaking suspicion these guys were converted to Grenadiers at some point, but I needed a unit that was both originally in the St Petersburg inspection (so that I could use this gorgeous GMB flag, which was already on hand, like the Lead for the figures), and had green Shoulder Straps in at least one of the later Divisional organizations, and this is the unit that fit the bill!

As usual, the color intensity and artistry of the GMB flags is amazing. Just painting the edges of the flag was all that I needed to do - and I didn't glue it on upside down for once, either! The large GMB flags are hard to fit onto the smaller Old Glory flagstaffs, hoever. ! 

As usual, these Old Glory 28mm figures have lots of animation. The Musketeers have the white-in-green cockades of a 2nd battalion (usually kept in depot). 

I used Craftsmart Khaki for the overcoats of this unit, and different shades of brown for the other 2 units. The "Magic Wash" worked very well on them. 

Next up is the Sofia Musketeer Regiment. Here I need a unit that was originally in the Livonian Inspection (so that I could use another of the beautiful "spare" GMB flags I already had on hand), and with blue shoulder straps.

I have yet to paint the flagstaff and finial, so it is still in "Floral Wire Green"; that detail will be attended to tonight. These Old Glory figures have a different, "relaxed marching" type pose, with the Grenadier company on the right front of the unit. 

Medium brown (Craftsmart Golden Brown) was used for their greatcoats, and they have the green within white cockades of a 1st battalion. Once again, just a bit of the right shade of turquoise blue paint to the edges of the GMB flag, and I am  2/2 at gluing them on right side up on this lot!

When I was failing to find my copy of Nafziger's booklet (for the listing of Inspection and Division distinctions - I went with the listing in the Osprey on the Russian Infantry of the Napoleonic Wars), I saw a site, ? warlord  Games, that claimed that after 1812 the cuffs of the greatcoats were in the Division seniority color (white, red, green, blue). I have never seen that anywhere else before, so I suspect it is an error, and should refer instead to the shoulder straps, as seen above (and on their green jackets). 

The final unit of today's Russian Troika is the Tambov Musketeer regiment. Here I didn't have a GMB flag, but wanted a unit with red shoulder straps, and not from the St Pete or Livonian inspection. 

These great coats, obviously, are a much darker brown (Craftsmart Expresso). 

White within blue cockades for these guys, indicative of the 3rd battalion of a regiment. My Pictoral Guide to Russian cockade and shoulder strap colors of the later Napoleonic Wars is here

Their flag is that of the Moscow Inspection from the Napflag/Warflag site, printed out and enhanced, as usual, with some orange paint... and right side up - 3 out of 3. Woo-Hoo!  :-) 

There we have them - three new units, (almost) all ready for the 211th (plus 1 day) anniversary Battle of Austerlitz this Saturday!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Castle: open for business!

Over the Holiday weekend, I painted the "Sokolnitz" Castle (a "birdhouse purchased at Michael's for a few dollars earlier this month). The color scheme is inspired by the actual Sokolnitz castle that was a feature of the Austerlitz battlefield.

The birdhouse had "blocks" etched into the wood on the front face only; they are lacking on the other faces. After painting, I outlined the grooves with a brown micron pen on the yellow portions, and black on the brown portions. I considered drawing them in on the other faces, and decided it was too much work for too little benefit. Besides, they don't appear on the Castle (Chateau) being modeled. 

The final result looks good enough, I think, although in overall style it's sort of a hybrid of Sokolnitz, Neuschwanstein, and Disney!  In any event, it's done in time for the Austerlitz battle this Saturday!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

French Napoleonic Line Infantry in Bicorne, Part 2

Here are the second pair of new French Napoleonic Line Infantry wearing the older uniforms and Bicorne prior to the adoption of the shako.

This new unit is designated as the 27e Ligne

It is descended from the Lyonnais Regiment, raised in 1616.

The 27e fought at Ulm Eylau, Friedland, Essling, Wagram, Almeida, Lutzen, Dresden, and Waterloo.

Of course, most of these figures are actually wearing the fatigue (forage) cap, or bonnet de police. Note the 5th figure from the left with his bicorne strapped to the back of his pack for safe keeping! These little touches made these Old Glory figures in Campaign Dress especially fun to paint. 

Next up is the 8e Ligne.

Descended from Austrasie regiment, which was raised rather late (1776). 

The 8e fought at Austerlitz, Danzig, Friedland, Vittoria, Essling, Wagram, and Arcis-Aube.

Rather out of fashion by the Empire, I have none the less given this unit some very Republican looking tricolor trousers!

Vive l' France!  (and I see I managed to put the flag on upside down once again - grrr!)

The blue and red Micron pens came in handy for doing the stripes!

Veillons au salut de l'Empire, Hymn of the Napoleonic Empire

Veillons au salut de l'Empire was in fact a revolutionary song composed by Boy-d'Alayrac in 1791. It is derived from an opera created under the old regime, in 1787: "Renaud d'Ast". The tune is that of "Vous qui d’amoureuse aventure" (You who love adventure). Gossec wrote the orchestration of this air in 1792. The revolutionary words were penned by Girey-Dupré. The Empire to which the song refers has no connection with the Imperial regime of Napoleon which would not come into existence for another 13 years. "The Empire" here represents the French Republic and its Sister Republics, the whole of the conquests of Freedom vis-a-vis the monarchies of the continent. With the subsequent establishment of the French Empire under Napoleon, he took advantage of the ambiguity of the title to make this song its unofficial hymn. 

Although I have been aware of this music since about 1970 (I have an old Nonsuch record of Military Marches, Fanfares, and Choruses from the time of Napoleon, which includes it, and it is also referenced in Chandler as well, IIRC, with the lyrics), I had had not realized that is origins were Revolutionary until doing the background research for this post, despite the lyrics which seemed a bit incongruous for the Napoleonic state! I picked out the tune on the piano from the recorded music, and had occasion to play it on my baritone horn once in college as a celebratory tune while I and the rest of the Marching Band were changing out of our (very Napoleonic styled) uniforms. The Band Director heard it and hazarded a guess as to the source of the tune, naming some popular group I'd never heard of. He was quite surprised when I replied (doubtless with horrid pronunciation of the title)
"Veillons au salut de l'Empire, by d'Alarac and Gossec, Hymn of the French Napoleonic Empire." Considering that this was just after the end of the Vietnam War, the Revolutionary lyrics might have been more generally acceptable than the Imperial connection!

Veillons au salut de l'Empire
Veillons au maintien de nos lois
Si le despotisme conspire
Conspirons la perte des rois.
Liberté, que tout mortel te rende hommage
Tremblez, tyrans, vous allez expier vos forfaits !
Plutôt la mort que l'esclavage:
C'est la devise des Français.

Let's ensure the salvation of the Empire,
Let's ensure the maintenance of our laws;
If despotism conspires,
We conspire the downfall of kings!
Freedom! (repeat) that every mortal pays you homage!
Tyrants, tremble! You will atone for your crimes!
Death rather than slavery!
That's the motto of the French

Du salut de notre patrie
Dépend celui de l'univers.
Si jamais elle est asservie
Tous les peuples sont dans les fers.
Liberté, que tout mortel te rende hommage
Tremblez, tyrans, vous allez expier vos forfaits !
Plutôt la mort que l'esclavage:
C'est la devise des Français.

Ennemis de la tyrannie
Paraissez tous, armez vos bras,
Du fond de l'Europe avilie
Marchez avec nous au combat:
Liberté, que ce nom sacré nous rallie
Tremblez, tyrans, vous allez expier vos forfaits !
Nous servons la même patrie
Les hommes libres sont français !

Jurons union éternelle
Avec tous les peuples divers
Jurons une guerre mortelle
A tous les rois de l'univers.
Liberté, que ce nom sacré nous rallie,
Poursuivons les tyrans, punissons leurs forfaits !
On ne voit plus qu'une patrie
Quand on a l'âme d'un Français.