Tuesday, March 23, 2010

CW2010 The Defence of St. Michel

As dawn approached, muffled drums beat the long roll and the defenders of St. Michel fell in and were marched to their appointed places.
In St. Michel itself, the St Stephen Folk Battalion and a regiment of North Polemburg Militia, occupied the houses. In close support were the remaining companies of MacDuff's Fusiliers, 1 gun of the Rosmark Frontier Artillery and 2 guns of the North Polemburg artillery. Off to the far left, hidden behind and in a small woods and hilltop farm was North Polemburg's Queen Jennifer's Regiment and a company of the Volunteers of St. Lambert.
On the right flank, behind a low ridge, were the massed cavalry squadrons of the army. The white horses of the North Polemburg Dragoons, Rosmark's Crown Prince Dragoons, Fitzjames Horse, Yellow Hussars and the Lancers of St. Lambert, 11 squadrons in all. Ensconced in a farm on top of the hill were the Hawks, one of the North Polemburg Regiments who had marched to stand with their allies in their time of danger. (Rumours that the North Polemburg were already massed on the Rosish/Schoeffen-Buschhagen border for another purpose, have never been substantiated.) Covering the inner flank of the Hawks were the remnants of the Pandours.
As the morning mist cleared, the massed forces of the Pragmatic Army could be seen, filling the narrow defile between South Wood and Forest Hill. It seemed impossible at first that so many troops could be squeezed in to such a small area, but based on reports about the column which had forced its way through the Walmar River Pass, the defenders expected to see even more troops. (Rumour has it that one of the allied regiments disappeared over night leaving the attack one regiment short in addition to the heavy losses suffered when forcing the pass but this has been officially denied. The official version is that the Kamdenjard and Burgdorf-Reuthenheim contingents were back in barracks and had never been included in the campaign. All we can say for sure is that they were not engaged in any of the battles)
Due to inaccurate maps, the Pragmatic artillery had been positioned on top of various hills with the expectation of being able to fire over head in support of the attack. Once the morning mist cleared, it became clear that the hills were not high enough and the attack had to go in unsupported while the guns were advanced. On their left, the Wachovian and Stanzback-Anwatch light infantry filtered forward through South Wood, supported by a composite allied cavalry regiment. The opposing squadrons eyed each other through the day but an attack by either looked likely to incur casualties for little gain. It was left to the VieganBurgher and Von Hoggendorf Composite Regiment to lead the attack into the mouth of the defender's guns.
As the attacking infantry reeled from the heavy doses of cannister, a new threat emerged as the Volunteers of St. Lambert advanced from cover on their flank and opened fire. Queen Jennifer's Regiment followed behind them and a long drawn out musketry duel with the Konig Rupert Jaegers ensued and any advance on that flank stalled.
In the center, the Fredonians then advanced along with the Saxe Kirchdorf contingent which they were brigaded with. The Yellow Hussars and Pandours had been extended to the left to try to cover the gap in the middle of the defensive line. Seeing the enemy infantry advance, the Hussars drew sabers and charged.  The infantry, caught by surprise, fired a ragged long range volley then the Hussars were amongst them, hacking and slashing.Within minutes, the remnants of the infantry was streaming to the rear while the Hussars rallied back clutching a trophy to hang in the village church. Beyond the Fredonians, the SB Prince's Dragoons had edged forward then, fearful of the cannister fire, edged back and finally waited, fretting until the path was clear. By then it was too late and the Rosish Hussars had rallied behind their light infantry, redy to attack again.
A brief pause fell over the battlefield as the Pragmatic army reordered its ranks and prepared a new assault under the cover of an intensified barrage. On the right, the reconstituted Wachovians came forward. (Word is that the Bollmer-Hunz contingent was issued Wachovian uniforms and pressed into to service to make good the previous day's losses.)  On the left, the Stanzbach-Anwatch Regiment and light infantry advanced and opened a long range fire which was answered by the Pandours and the Hawks.
In the center, the Combined Grenadiers advanced resolutely but suddenly there was a pause and then the whole army began to slowly fallback. The High Comand had looked at its losses before a serious assault had even begun and considered the long road home. The game no longer looked worth the candle and suddenly getting the army home became the priority.

Would one more regiment have helped? or would it have merely added to the butcher's bill on both sides? Historians will argue the point for years as they will debate why cavalry was posted in front of the town, why the guns were scattered along the line, why the infantry attacks were pieceme and why so much infantry was deployed in front of the irrelevent farm position. As always such moves can never be proved rght or wrong in themselves but perhaps future amateur historians will refight the battle and see if thay can do better.
The Pragmatic Gold Wagons heading homewards.



  1. First, everyone . . . be sure to click on the photos to see larger versions since the smaller photos cut off much of the actual image.

    Ross . . . I really like the look of those North Polemburg Dragoons . . . the blue on blue riding the white horses is really distinctive and they look great.

    -- Jeff

  2. WOW! Old School eye-candy at its best!

    Complimenst and thanks for sharing so entertaining and stimulating!


  3. Thanks Jeff, the North Polemburg troops are all the work of Chris Palmer (Gaslight etc) they are part of the original Not Quite The Seven Years War project.

  4. What about both armies gratifying us with a parade (in quite distant locations, of course!) with an individual presentation of each unit? They deserve it!
    I understand that Sir Alexander Keith's regiment was not invited to the ball?

  5. Hi Jean-Louis. There has been some talk off and on of recording the various armies and uniforms with photos, maybe one day. There are currently 13 recorded states with contingents (players who have contributed at least a company at some point in the last 14 or so years).

    and no, alas Sir Alexander Keith's Regiment, a regiment without a home country, exists in a different universe in which soldiers are fully round but only 30mm tall. They look more than a little out of place amongst the 42mm semi-flats.

  6. Brilliant - and exactly the same result we got when DG and I played this a couple of weeks ago - he was quite downhearted as I even managed to get my cavalry among his wagons, but it looks like you saw a very similar result to the one we had....

  7. Steve, Your game was in my mind as we were setting up. Since I was commanding the right wing, I was tempted to throw my cavalry in and see if I could emulate your success but decided not to risk it since it was quickly going south for the attacker anyway.

    One day I'll have to set this one up as a stand alone game and see if I can win as the attacker.

  8. I reckon this is a pretty difficult one for the attacker to win - DG had done quite well in the two preceding scenario's so his losses were comparatively light which meant that he had as full a force as you could wish for at the start of this game, and he still struggled... like you I'd like another go as well though - I was thinking perhaps a massed attack on the left and then hook round - I think most defenders would put their guns on the St Michel hill, or near St Michel, so attacking from that side would mean lower casualties.... just a thought though....

  9. Not exactly a fight to the finish, but such stirring pictures!! I think my favorite unit is the Stanzbach-Anwatch Light Infantry, though the VieganBurgher and Hoggendorf come close...
    Great stuff!

    I have to admit, from what I could see, the attacker's chances don't look that great. I daresay back in the archives there is an orbats...?

  10. I could do the contingents I have access to in a nice quiet weekend. One of those won't be occurring for several weeks, I'm afraid. I'll pass along to my son your remarks on his Wiegenburgers (Ross, perhaps you can edit the spelling slightly?)

    As the attackers, we certainly did not set up optimally, though some of that was only clear in retrospect. As I recall, we had similar issues with Lobositz last year, regarding the difficulty of pressing an assault properly under the rules.

  11. Ion: this is a play through of a mini-campaign: Raid on St Michel by CS Grant. I'm afraid you'll have to pick upo a copy for full background.

    Rob: My apologies, I've been using the Rosish spelling of names again. I'll go back and edit.
    One certianly needs to be bold, swift and resolute in the attack, without resorting to hasty charges. Defence is easier. I get the feeling that it'll be the Northern Alliance's turn to attack next time? Perhaps we should re- think that siege thing (gulp)

    Steve: I probably shouldn't broadcast my plan, one never knows who is listening :) The rules matter when ot comes to attacks, but using Charge! I would mass my infantry on the right, passing a march column through the woods before forming line and in imitation of Maurice de Saxe at Laufeld (sp) launch a massive infantry column assault directly at the town. Probably 2 regiments wide and several regiments deep. In this case I would push light infantry aggresively forward on the right to both scout the dead ground and cover the flank of the attack. A squadron of Hussars would be a useful back up to the skirmishers. The guns I would mass to the left of the infantry to both do counter battery and bombard the town. The cavalry would be used to screen the left and prevent any move to reinforce the center or attack the flank of the assault. If lack of room forced the cavalry to be in rifle range of the woods then some light onfantry could be detached to screen them.

    The infantry attack would be carried out at full speed without stopping to fire until within close range but then it would stop to fire without wasting time trying to break in to the houses. Even with the defenders taking 1/2 casualties the attackers can usually put twcvie as much fire into the houses and win the firefight by sheer numbers. Might work.

  12. Fabuluso ! So lovely to see all those 40mm figs in action.

    A very enjoyable battle report and pictures

    -- Allan

  13. Fantastic. Great pictures and excellent write up.

    Note to self. Must cast up and paint up more of 40mm PA.