vrijdag 4 maart 2016

12. Into the Sudan (1840)

This engagement is pure fiction yet one that I greatly enjoyed during our experimenting with the older DBA-HX using 2.2. That was two years ago and since DBA-HX has been upgraded with 3.0  I wanted to replay this “classic” battle using the same composition of forces.

The original game was played on a 4’ x 4’ board with both sides deploying as per DBA 2.2 and this replay made use of the 80 x 160 cm board which brought the deployment areas closer. The Sudanese lost the first battle, perhaps with the newer version that could work to their advantage.

The original army lists can be read at the following link. The reader will note some of the changes made to troop types.

command one, 3rd in command.         
2 x Cavalry             British regiments
2 x Cavalry             Sepoy regiments.
2 x Skirmishers         Combined light coys.

command two, (CinC)
3 x Line Infantry       British regiments
6 x Line Infantry       Presidency Sepoy regiments.
1 x Cavalry             Presidency Guard
2 x Heavy Artillery

command three, 2nd in command.
2 x Line Infantry       European regiments.
4 x Line Infantry       Sepoy regiments.
2 x Jaeger              Nasiri battalions.  
1 x Horse Artillery    
Total – 27 elements

command one, 2nd in command 
8 x Cavalry
4 x Cameleers
command two, 4th in command.
8 x Horde (fast)       levy
4 x Warrior             Melee weapons.
4 x Skirmishers         musket armed.
command three (CinC.)
8 x Horde (fast)       levy
4 x Warrior             Melee weapons.
4 x Skirmishers
command four, 3rd in command.
12 x Warrior           Hadendoa tribesmen.
Total – 56 elements

This game followed the standard method of terrain selection and placement as per DBA 3.0. Sudan, as defender, rolled consistently to place 4 of the 5 pieces in the same quadrant and the Anglo-Indian player joyfully seized this gift and would anchor their right wing among the hilly area and stretch the central command across the open ground to end at the rough ground. The cavalry brigade would form behind as a reserve.

Sudan adjusted its battle plan and would fix the infidel’s main position with two commands of the faithful while the Hadendoa and cavalry would encircle both flanks; the cavalry on the open side on the right and the Hadendoa, through the hilly area on the left. 

Opening moves
A general advance by Sudan was launched at the start of the battle. By turn three the turning moves were progressing well while the centre two commands were making their way forward despite the effective artillery barrage.

The British adjusted their main battle line to counter the assault on the centre while the cavalry brigade wheeled to the left preparing to charge the oncoming Sudan cavalry.

As allies, the Hadendoa were not encountering too many problems despite their poor pip throws. Maneuvering in compact formations a portion would occupy the Nasiri battalion now positioned atop the hill while the remainder would skirt the position and take the British in the flank.

At the opposite flank, the Sudanese meet the British cavalry head on. In subsequent turns, the Sudanese would steadily overlap the British and Sepoy regiments.

Middle game
The allocation of pip scores meant the central command taking the highest score would progressively apply pressure to the central British command. Despite having large number of Horde, requiring an extra pip to move, contact with the British formations would come soon.

In two turns, the Sudanese main command stretched the British line to where dangerous gaps now appeared.

On the British right flank, the reserve formed line to meet the Hadendoa moving across the valley floor. The Horse battery unlimbered to the right of the line to add its weight. Atop the hill, the Nasiri were fighting off twice their number.

By a miracle, the British cavalry had endured the Sudanese onslaught for four turns with each side losing an element.

The Sudanese central command, feeding more troops into the struggle was widening the breach in the British line. At the upper left, the third Sudanese command can be seen pretty much in the same position as four turns ago. Recipient of the lowest pip score meant the Hordes remained incapable of moving any further. Despite the low score, the skirmishers attached to the command did move forward to engage the British infantry.   

End game
By turn eight, the battle which had edge in favour for the British suddenly turned against them. In two bounds, all the British and Sepoy cavalry were destroyed and on the left flank, the Nasiri were wiped out to a man as well as the British reserve holding the valley entrance. The two Anglo-Indian commands became demoralized and therefore game over. Sudan lost 15 elements (7 Horde) to the British 12.

The original game was played in August of 2013 and though it did test some draft items for 3.0, there were still many items from 2.2 that made the game longer to play out. This game was finished in eight turns or just over an hour of actual time.

To the casual reader, pitting 56 elements against 27 may seem excessive, but considering numbers recorded in such encounters the game still played well. A win for the British is not impossible as this has already been proven. Keeping the artillery field of fire unobstructed is crucial as even simple recoils will force the native opponent to expend more pips.

The Sudanese player used the Horde to effectively screen his main fighting strength (warriors) from enemy fire. Horde cost nothing, but the warriors do. If the Horde do manage to contact the infantry, they will remain in contact as a “more than score” in combat will have no effect on them. Horde does follow up enemy recoils including mounted.  


woensdag 24 februari 2016

11. Discord in the Punjab (late 1830’s).

Readers, who have followed the rise of the East India Company during the 18th and 19th century, are aware of the methodical methods used by the company to undermine the various principalities. Through the use of subsidies and treaties, the Company ensured its continual expansion with a minimum of force.
Inciting rebellion to undermine the political strength was another method that delivered success. This is one such scenario which takes place in Northern India of the late 1830’s.

"Pope1880NorthWesternProv2" by W. H. Allen and Co. - Pope, G. U. (1880), 

Royalist troops (patterned after the Mysore & Coorg, 1700–1834) forming two commands.
6 x Cavalry                                       European trained cavalry.
4 x Light Horse                               Tribal horsemen.
6 x Conscript                                    European trained infantry.
4 x Warrior                                      Bow armed.
2 x Horde, (fast)                            Poorly-armed tribesmen.
2 x Light Artillery                          

Rebel troops (patterned after the Afghan list) forming two commands.
6 x Cavalry                                       Note; subject to compulsory pursuit.
2 x Light Horse                               Mercenary (Pindari).
2 x Warrior                                      Musket armed.
4 x Skirmishers                               Musket armed.
8 x Warrior                                      Melee weapons.
2 x Warrior                                      Rajput (compulsory pursuit).

Deploying for Battle.
In contrast to the previous battle, this one takes place in the highlands of the Punjab. Difficult hills cluster the centre of the board and surrounding them are woods. Coursing between the hills is a dry river bed essentially splitting the battlefield in two. This functions in the same manner as a standard river for this game with the first element attempting to cross must dice for its characteristic.

The rebel troops have split their forces into two commands, the larger of the two holding the cluster of hills and a smaller command positioned on the plain to the left. Predominantly cavalry, these would threaten the flank of the Royalist army. 

The Royalist deployment organized their forces in a similar manner with a small mobile command operating on the left. The plan was to anchor the central command on the hill to the right while assaulting the main rebel position. The European trained troops were split to cover the flanks of the central command. Further to the right was a mix detachment of cavalry to deter any crossing of the dry river. 

Opening moves.
The first three turns involve more maneuvering on both sides; the Rebels attempting to flank the Royalist right and the Royalist attempting the same on the opposite flank. In the meantime, the Royalist main body was forming at the base of the hills ignoring the incidental musket shots. The Royalist artillery was now firing at troops positioned on the crest. In the subsequent bound, the Rebels claimed their first victim.

Middle game.
Playing an aggressive game, the Rebels launched their infantry at the trained infantry of the main body. If these were crushed, the remaining infantry would become easy prey. Likewise, the Rebel left were crossing the dry river bed and encountering steeper banks than they had anticipated. This did not deter the Rebel LH as like a cobra they slipped through the Royalist line creating panic.

At turn 5 both sides were now engaged up and down the line. The Royalist cavalry were now stalled and the trained infantry had their hands full beating back successive charges by Rebel infantry. Through the tumult and din of battle a second column of trained infantry were moving on the Rebel rear ignoring the muskets shots coming from the hills.

By this time, the Rebel main command was down by 2.

End game.
Bringing order to the chaos, the trained troops were earning their roti and dispatched another two elements of warriors. On the Royalist flank, the Pindari LH recovered their wits and sent another Rebel element to the next world. The total losses were enough for the Rebel leader to sound a general retreat melt into the hills beyond.

Technically a Royalist victory, the Rebel leader did escape with the majority of his troops and would fight again another day. For this particular game, the Rebel forces with one command demoralized would break off the conflict and exit the field. With the Battle Map System, these small conflicts could form part of a mini-campaign with the Rebels forces becoming elusive and frustrate any Royalist punitive expeditions.

During these politically sensitive situations, the British East India Company was adept with their offers of assistance. Naturally, this came at a price. 

zaterdag 25 juli 2015

6. Reichenberg, Bohemia 1757

The Battle at Reichenberg marked the start of Fredrick’s Bohemian Campaign of 1757. The campaign was unique in that it featured a four pronged attack spread across a front of 200 miles traversing the mountain ranges bordering Bohemia.  

Several years back, we played this campaign starting with Reichenberg and ending with Köningsegg’s arrival at Prague. The campaign used a WRG rule set which meant unit representation was greatly reduced (24 figure bns.).  
Now, with the revised DBA-HX to 3.0 the Battle of Reichenberg can be played with every unit present on a properly scaled battlefield.

Right wing under Major-General von Lacy
Cavalry under Lieutenant-General Count Porporati

1 x Cuirassier,  1 x Elite Cavalry,  3 x Cavalry,  2 x Light Horse,  2 x Grenadier,  14 x Line Infantry, 2 x Grenzer Skirmisher , 2 x Heavy Artillery.
For a total of 13,200 foot and 3,500 horse.

Infantry under Lieutenant-General von Lestwitz
Cavalry under Major-General Eugen von Württemberg

4 x Cavalry (including Hussar), 3 x Grenadier, 10 x Line Infantry, 2 x Conscript, 2 x Heavy Artillery.
In reserve, 1 x Cavalry (Hussar), 1 x Grenadier, 4 x Conscript.
Total force (excluding detachments): 14,500 men (11,450 foot in 15 bns and 3,100 horse in 20 sqns and 12 heavy field pieces

Victory conditions.
Königsegg must hold the Prussian advance until 11.00 hours. This will afford enough time for outlying detachments to destroy supply depots lest these fall into the hands of the enemy. Detachments are also preparing the line of retreat with defensive positions and marking key crossing points along the Iser River.

Historically, the battle started at 07.00 hrs and the Austrians began their retreat by 11.00 hrs. For this game the Austrians must duplicate the period of time so detachments can complete their tasks.

0700 – 0800 hrs.
The Austrians choose not to move out of their positions, so the first hour was marked by the slow cadence of the Prussian wall moving toward the earthworks.

Prussian artillery concentrated their fire on the Austrian artillery position to the flank of their line. Viable targets were screened as the Prussian main line moved closer toward the entrenchments.

0800 – 0900 hrs.
Now in range, the Prussian infantry were firing on the exposed Austrian formations deployed between the entrenchments. On the Prussian left, three battalions of Grenadiers were now the target of enemy artillery and infantry volley fire.

Far to the right, the Prussian cavalry were not eager to start a general cavalry action. They would wait patiently until the infantry would take the heights before moving forward.

0900 – 1000 hrs.
Up to this moment, casualties were very light despite the volley fire and cannonade. In this period, the Prussian Grenadiers ceased their musket fire and assaulted the Austrian line with the bayonet. The Musketeer battalions on the right were successful in taking the north entrenchments. This was a critical moment that was relieved by the elite cavalry units positioned nearby.

Seeing the elite regiments moving away General von Württemberg launched his cavalry regiments against the Austrian Hussars deployed nearby. Joining the Dragoon regiment on the right the sudden attack had the desired effect of eliminating the Hussars and evening the odds.

1000 – 1030 hrs.
The Austrian was holding up well against the repeated charges by the Prussian Grenadiers. The Prussian second line was now adding their weight to the attack. A counter-stroke by the cavalry was needed to balance the situation. Count Porporati collecting the elite regiments moved all his cavalry into one final battle.

General Württemberg, still seen leading the Dragoon regiments lead his squadrons to shatter the Austrian cavalry leaving only the elite regiments to fend off a Prussian pursuit. With the Prussian Grenadiers approaching the Reichenberg road, at 10.45 Königsegg called a general retreat.

 In DBA scoring terms, the Prussians scored a 6 – 3 victory demoralizing a command. From a historical viewpoint, the length of time that the Austrians were engaged with the Prussians was nearly identical and for that I am extremely pleased.

Despite the slight advantage of numbers, the Austrians were not in a position to commit to a long protracted battle. All Austrian columns on the frontier were ordered to gather at Prague to fight the decisive battle against Frederick.

Our replay of the campaign involved a series of rear guard actions, night marches and force marches which resulted in Bevern and Schwerin delaying their meeting by two days. In those two days, Königsegg saved much needed supplies to be sent back to Prague.