zondag 5 februari 2017

The Campaign rules - an interim evaluation.

Campaign rules – gunpowder era
Turenne’s campaign of 1674 was remarkable for two reasons, the numerical superiority of the allied forces and the season in which the third operation was executed, the winter. Despite the success at Sinsheim, General Bournonville did meet Generals Lorraine and Caprara approximately three months later bringing their combined strength in excess of 40,000 men. To meet this, Turenne was able to gather 16,000 for the subsequent action. Using the basic 12 element a side game you don’t quite reach a sense of urgency than say having 40 elements facing 16.

To bring the disparity between armies to a manageable level there are two features in the rules that will be of help. The first item, the quality of command, is an option currently found in the DBA-HX3 rules section titled generals. Cautious generals are likely to signal retreat earlier than their stout hearted brethren, for them we reduce the number required to reach demoralisation by one. This works rather well to balance a game using uneven sides.

The second item can be found in the basic rule set under allied contingents. Such elements comprising an allied contingent may not move as a group with elements of the host army. This works well for our campaign as the Imperial army consisted of troops from six different regions and would be further complicated by the arrival of Prince Ferdinand of Brandenburg.

Reviewing the Imperial forces as three commands, each hosting an allied contingent, the disparity of numbers looks more palpable for an energetic French player.

Further, the number of stratagems has been increased. As their number grows, each of the general types will have a selection at their command bold generals having a greater repertoire of options to use.

Illustration, the Battle of Sinsheim (Wiki, public domain).. 

donderdag 2 februari 2017

18th C. Sojourn – concluding the summer campaign.

Concluding the Imperial command had been taken by surprise Turenne moved his main column on the 15th to Sint Leon-Rot. An advance guard screened any further reprisal emitting from the north and during the war council that evening Turenne presented in detail the purpose of this expedition. It was known that General Bournonville was assembling a force in Franconia to join Generals Lorraine and Caprara. To meet their combined strength in open battle would not be possible, but one could delay their junction and this was how it would be done.

Caught by surprise, both Lorraine and Caprara were debating how best to deal with Turenne’s presence on the right bank. Realizing Turenne may be bold enough to seize Sinsheim and prevent a juncture with General Bourneville they called in their detachments, gathered supplies and prepared to march toward Sinsheim. Finally after delays, lost couriers and sufficient supplies, the Imperial column set off to Neckargemund reaching it on the 16th. From their encampment that evening, one could not notice the horizon to the south was unusually brighter. 

Situation on 16 June, 1674.

Sinsheim had fallen during the early morning hours of the 16th. The burgher guard seeing numbers of carts loaded with wounded including an Imperial general opened the gates when they heard their escorts shouting the ‘open the gates, the French are near’. Once inside, the dead and wounded came to life disarming the burgher guard and throughout the day thousands of French troops were destroying all war material setting it ablaze. Many of the town’s inhabitants had fled to nearby hills and watched the conflagration spread.

French scouts reported no Imperial presence approached from the either north or east, but Turenne felt Lorraine and Caprara would be arriving soon. So during the early hours of the 17th, Turenne marched his column back toward Sint Leon-Rot. Scouts now confirmed his suspicions when he learned of Imperial troops approaching from Neckargemund. 

Situation on 17 June, 1674.

Retracing his steps back to the Rhine, Turenne set fields and farm areas to the torch to cover their retreat and on the 20th, six days after starting the minor campaign, Turenne was back in Alsatia with negligible loss to his command.

The damage done to the Imperial side, well that is another story. 

Situation on 20 June, 1674.

Historical note.
The battle at Sinsheim did happen and it turned out to be a French victory. Charged with the defence of Alsatia with only 10,000 troops and aware that Bournonville together with Lorraine and Caprara would bring their forces to strength of 50,000, Turenne did the only thing he could do, he attacked. The setback did delay Imperial plans, but General Bournonville was devising a counter-stroke, the invasion of Alsatia.

In our simulation, the Imperial player knew what had to be done, but the cards did not fall in his favour. As a consequence he was immobilised on the crucial day of the 16th. The capture of the Imperial general during the skirmish near Ketsch supplied the French player with an excellent ruse. It worked and the French gained entrance into Sinsheim raze it.  

woensdag 1 februari 2017

Turenne’s operations of June (1674). {1}

Astride his favourite piebald Maréchal Turenne watched impatiently as the procession of more than 7,000 horse and foot filed past. Through the night and early hours of 14 June, engineers and their teams had assembled a pontoon bridge below Phillipsburg enabling the Maréchal to execute a manoeuvre of surprise to the Imperial Army stationed near Heidelberg. Hours before, the Marquis de Claremont had marched his column of horse and dragoons northward to screen the main column. {2} 

In the early afternoon hours of the 14th de Claremont encountered foraging parties north of Hochenheim and gave chase. Abandoning their carts, these fell back triggering an alarm sending couriers speeding back to the main encampment. Generals Lorraine and Caprara responded by sending a ‘division’ of cavalry to ascertain the situation.

Skirmish near Ketsch, 1700 hours.
The ‘division’ of cavalry together with two battalions of foot deployed their formations between a wooded area and the wheat fields. The French deployment matched the Imperial line but was encumbered by wheat fields in the centre of their battle line. {3}

The action was brisk, as the French did not stir allowing the Imperial line to advance. Seeing the wheat fields had split the French line, the Imperial troops split into two formations; the left wing comprised of heavy horse and the right wing had the two battalions of foot supported by squadrons of horse and dragoons. The Imperial Cuirassiers struck first breaking the French dragoons, but in their impetuousness cost them dearly as the French counter attacked front and flank sealing the fate of half the mounted force.

The right wing, keeping pace with the battalions of foot were no closer to engaging the French left as their squadrons were retreating, but not off the battlefield but to reinforce their right flank. This shift of strength helps destroy the Imperial left wing and with no recourse their troops broke off the action. {4} 

{1} The rules used for this and subsequent games are the DBA-HX3 variant and are available at the DBA Fanaticus Wiki .
{2} The map is of the area of operations for the 14th to the 20th of June.
{3} Each side deployed the smallest allowable command size for the big battle game (six elements).   
{4} Both generals were actively engaged in this fight. During the rout both cuirassier units the general for the Imperial side was captured. 

Turenne’s plan unfolds, 15 June.