Wednesday, December 31, 2014

51st (2nd Yorkshire West Riding) Light Infantry


So, for Xmas 2013 I treated myself to a heap of AB Miniatures that had been painted by Dragon Painting Services.  I might have gone for a different mix of units, but the deal was to good to pass on.

With this unit I have now rebased, repaired and tarted up all the figures.

The 72 British light infantry figures, unbased and being worked on.

The figures provide three units of 24.  Two I left in buff facings.

Not much work was required, although I did redo the shako ornaments (here is a before picture).

A few paint chips, but no broken bayonets.  In fact, no bayonets at all.

The third unit I did in the light green of the 51st and gave them a new flag.  Facings turned out nice and bright, but the flag I fluffed - using paper and PVA you only really get one chance to position and then the green paint I used didn't really match so I ended up painting a bit more than I intended.

In march column.

Column showing blotchy flag.

Fancy square with flag artfully hidden.

I like how the officer is posing for his photo.

For comparison purposes, this site has an amazingly well painted unit of ABs for this regiment:

Here is a pic from that site:

And here is the price tag:

Now it is full steam ahead on figures I'll be painting from scratch to make up the forces for Waterloo 2015.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Plancenoit - Observations

The game was designed to test the Napoleon's Battles rules (2nd Edition) as a simulation of the Prussian attack on Plancenoit.  It was more a battle against the terrain for the Prussian, but a sign of its success was that it was thought provoking (I'm interpreting that as a positive thing).

Observations from the Prussian Player

Mark B subsequently asked me some questions:

1. The delay caused by the guns and infantry coming on first, and clogging the roads, was annoying.  Is the citation for the "order of arrival on the field" reliable? 

Yes, the Prussian order of march is well documented.  The IV Corps cavalry were at the very back and in the course of the march overtook the 13 and 14 Brigades.  I think this all stems from the retreat from Ligny/Warve.  It would be interesting to try out with the SPI board game what the march looks like (I did that to set up the Ottignies scenario).

I think there is a problem with unit size on the table top and particularly with the cavalry. The Prussians seemed to use their cavalry more in detachments, something that is not really catered for in the rules.  It just strikes me that the cavalry formations are too big.

2. Secondly, how do the sources discuss the French "reaction time" upon first noticing the Krauts?  It is contentious, but it seems Napoleon knew quiet early.  Could it be that the French saw the approach and 20 minutes elapsed before French troops stating moving to Plancenoit or something akin to that?

The Fichermont position was close to where Durutte's 4th Division and Jaquinot's cavalry Division were deployed.  The French didn't attempt to fortify Plancenoit.  Also I think the Prussians originally went north before turning south (some at least).  

From Adkin's excellent book, The Waterloo Companion, Napoleon knew at 1300 and Lobau was dispatched at that time.  He was in position for about two hours before the Prussians started attacking at 1630. (Pages 379 to 391 and page 411).

3. I could have deployed MUCH more quickly if there wasn't any immediate French presence.  

Yes, I was a bit adventurous advancing with the 19th Division and got in to trouble as a result.  The French cavalry do not start on react.

It appears that Lobau deployed between the two woods.  I had the 20th in the Fichermont Wood and later advanced with the 19th into the other woods.  Also from Adkin's, he has the French cavalry positioned in front (Map 36 page 384).

4. The moment of deployment, from road column to brigades, took roughly 5 turns I think  - what's your recollection?  

I think the problem is the space a brigade takes up on the road and then the time taken to 'close up' when deploying.

Checking against the photos, von Losthin is deployed after two turns.  Hiller had more trouble due to the wood, but was inaction by the end of the 1630 turn (effectively four turns).  There was a degree of caution due to the French artillery and cavalry, but even so, these times work with the real battle.

5. It may be that a deployment, if unhindered by a French presence could be done in say 3 moves?  

The horror is the woods.  I was ruling that you could always change formation out of march column on a road in woods as it counted as clear for movement, even though the subsequent deployment puts the unit in the woods, regardless of movement available.  

6. And, as you suggested, forced marching is the order of the day.  Historically the Prussians did rush there.    That could reduce it to two turns? 

It would be interesting to try with force marching.  However in a counter argument the roads were mud and they possibly are force marching just to have a normal movement rate.

Also if the Prussians can force march so can the French...

Limiting the availability of force marching to troops in march column might be an option.  It is not a rule I have used much.

7. How long in realtime is a turn?  

30 minutes.  Ground scale is 1" equals 100 yards.  Figure scale is 1 infnatry figure equals 120 men, 1 cavalry figure is 80 troopers and 1 gun is a heavy or horse battery.

My Observations

The Prussian artillery allocation can also be changed so the two batteries with the cavalry are corps guns and there was also one 12pdr too many based on some sources.

The other change is to add Blucher (and of course there is the Prussian I and II Corps to fit in).

A lot of scenarios don't have marching troops (except reinforcements) and there seems to be a problem matching march time with battle time.  I was keen to see how it worked for the Prussians at Waterloo using Napoleon's Battles.  

As we saw it is a challenge.  In part units just take up so much space and even though passing through is relatively easy, you still have to have space to fit.  Add in all the woods and stuff and it creates a real problem.

What happened differently was that in the real battle the Prussians pushed Lobau back after just three turns (1630 to 1700) and then at 1800 had started to attack Plancenoit.

If I had stayed deployed in the open ground that might well have happened.  

However in any game of Waterloo were I am commanding the French I would be pushing Lobau forward, although that would risk putting him out of command.  The aim would be to bottle the Prussians up in the Bois de Paris.

All up we played for about eight hours so that means doing the whole battle in one day will be a serious challenge.

The printed battlefield worked well.  Some items need a bit of adjusting (mainly to provide effective gaps between terrain pieces - something that would aid both sides). 

This is the jpeg by Alfonso Peral that the battlefield was printed from.  

Plancenoit - The Game

I have been planning a scenario based on this part of the Battle of Waterloo using Napoleon's Battles for some time and last weekend I was able to to see it come to fruition with the help of Mark B.

The French VI Corps deployed on the high ground south from the Fichermont Wood.

The Prussians just emerging from the Bois de Paris.

1500 Turn with the French deployment of the 20th Division in the Fichemont Wood and the two brigades of the 19th Division to the south.  The cavalry of the 3rd and 5th Cavalry Division are just off the lower left hand corner.  The Prussians enter at Aywiers in march column and have spread through the wood with the 3rd and 4th Silesian Landwher while the 15th Infantry Regiment is pushing down the Lasne valley towards Plancenoit, which is over a mile away.

For this game were were using the revised scenario map that was published in the Napoleon's Battles Yahoo Group in September 2004 by Alfonso Peral.  It has been printed on two rolls of paper and saved a lot of agonising over terrain.

1530 and the Prussians start to deploy.  The 16th Brigade (Hiller) is advancing through the north of the Bois de Paris and the massive Corps Reserve Artillery is now also on the table.  Artillery in march column takes up a good amount of space (400 yards or 4") and the Prussian deployment area is quickly filling up.

General von Losthin peers over the rise.  The dark brown is the highest elevation, the yellow brown the second and the green the third, so both forces are separated by a rise.

The French feeling confident in a good defensive position.

On the banks of the Lasne the 15IR see more French arrayed in a good defensive position.

1600 turn end.  Losthin is now deployed and moving forward.  The Prussian artillery is moving up and their cavalry has arrived.

This is the start of the fighting around the Hannotelet farm

The farm is no more than a landmark.

By the end of the 1630 turn fighting has commenced.  The French artillery scores a hit on the 2nd Silesian Landwher as it appears over the rise.  Its companion regiment has been pushed forward to fire on the French in the Fichermont Wood.  

1700 and the Prussian cavalry is struggling to deploy as is the Prussian artillery.  The 2nd Silesian has suffered further accurate fire and is pulling back.  Prussian artillery has got into action disabling one of the French batteries as Losthin's troops continue the advance, trading shots with the French of the 19th Division.

1730 and the 5th Cavalry Division launches an attack before the mass of Prussian artillery can unlimber.  The 3rd Silesian Landwher protecting the artillery forms square and the French cavalry bounce harmlessly away.

The French cavalry are unable to make any impact.

However one of the French brigades of the 19th Division met the Prussian 15IR and in a sharp encounter drove it off.  There are plenty more Prussians coming as the 13th and 14th Brigades have now reached the battlefield.  Note: A Prussian brigade is a formation equivalent to other nations' divisions.

That was the end of the French 1800 turn, we had been playing for about 4 hours and decided to call a halt for the day.  At this stage of the actual battle the Young Guard were hurrying to Plancenoit.  They don't seem to be needed at present...

Not part of the Bois de Paris, but a magnificent hibiscus adjoining Mark B's wargames room.

End of the Prussian 1800 turn.  Blucher has arrived.  I had not considered him part of the scenario, but at this stage felt his presence was required.  I also ruled that single units in march column could count as a continuous column and thereby get command benefits, provided they stayed on the road (or rather muddy track).  The tracks were also considered to provide clear going for march columns through the wood.

While Blucher fails to immediately rally the 15IR the Prussians have had success with the 4th Silesian Landwher which has pressed forward and shot up the French cavalry.  The French 12pdr battery has also been hit.

The 1830 turn has seen some major developments.  The fighting in the Fichermont Wood has intensified.  Prussian artillery has now started to engage the French with some success destroying the French 12pdr battery and thus opening up the centre.  A brigade of the French 19th Division has occupied (notionally only - no combat benefit) the Hannotelet farm, but is in danger of being surrounded.  Their divisional commander has been too bold and moved outside command which will delay the rest of his division coming up to offer support.

Intense fighting for the Hannotelet farm.

1900 turn and the Prussians continue to apply pressure.  Both French flanks look like they will disintegrate soon.

The destruction of the 19th Division.  Blucher leads the newly arrived 11IR into contact.  The French, although in line, are disordered and hampered by the wood. They would need a good roll to survive, but sadly that was not the case (Note "0" reads as ten). 

1930 and the Prussians have cleared the way.

2000 but it is still slow going as troops reform and batteries limber up while the mass of Prussian cavalry still struggles to find room.

2030 while there are still two more turns to go, night has fallen and there are no fires raging in Plancenoit to illuminate the place of battle.  The bulk of the Prussians are still a mile away from the crucial town and, while weakened, the French cavalry can still provide a delaying force.

Had Napoleon held on to the Young Guard and brigade of Old Guard just in case or had he committed them to the final attack?


This is a photo from Mark B showing the final position.

Friday, December 26, 2014

79th Highlanders

The penultimate unit of last year's Xmas haul now completed.

First some before shots:

There were six stands all up to rebase, totaling 24 figures, only one of which had a broken bayonet.  Facings had to be changed as I already had the Gordons and as I had also done one lot of the Dragon Painting Service Highland units as the Blackwatch, this lot were going to be the Camerons.

The missing bayonet was replaced by foil from a wine bottle top.  I cut out a slither and attached with super glue and then reinforced with PVA glue before painting.  It seems to have worked, but is rather flexible and easily bends if touched.

As I was completing this unit Doug at Dots of Paint published a post on his highlanders.  Highly recommended for some excellently painted 28mm figures presented as innovative mini dioramas for the tabletop.  I was going to have a go at doing the kilts until I saw his master piece and decided discretion was better (and just gave the DPS painted Gordon tartan a paint over with some dark green which seemed to be all that was needed with this scale - phew!).

My three Highland units for Napoleon's Battles.  Actually only need about three or four stands

A final shot of the 79th with my Gordon Highlanders in the rear.  The 92nd are Essex figures and painted ten years or more ago.  The flags are hand painted and the 32 figure unit is so I can field two 16 figure units if required.

One unit to go and then I need to do a serious stocktake of forces for Waterloo.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

The Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine 1815

While obtaining some books from The Book Depository, this title from Osprey Publishing, Men-at-Arms series popped up: The Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine 1815.

In a moment of weakness I purchased it as well.  I have more than enough information on this subject, but let's not be naive, too much is never enough.

The Book Depository provide an excellent service.  Highly recommended.  In fact they probably do too good a service and I will rue the day when there are no longer any local book sellers, but there's progress for you.

The book turned up in about ten days and better still I resolved to read it.  Being familiar with Osprey books I knew it wouldn't take long.

To put it nicely this book is really just a taste.  The colour plates give it value and I learnt a bit about the North German Federal Army Corps.  The structure was interesting, showcasing units against the background of the various actions fought in 1815.  The content was possibly sufficient by way of introduction, but reminded me more of the sample pages you can sometimes view when browsing eBooks.  This book, it struck me when I finished it, was a sample.

That is not a flaw or even a reason not to purchase (as mentioned the colour plates are in my opinion worth the money).

There is one major flaw though: there are no real recommendations for further reading.  The related titles on the inside of the back cover are exclusively Osprey and struck me as embedded advertising that hadn't been given much thought.

Luckily with Google this defect is easily remedied.  To be fair, when I purchased this book I also purchased Peter Hofschroer's Waterloo 1815 Quatre Bras & Ligny along with his Waterloo 1815 Wavre, Plancenoit & the Race to Paris.

My Prussian Army of the Lower Rhine, while far from an accurate representation of the real thing, will hopefully see plenty of action in the coming months as we head towards the Waterloo Bicentenary.

Monday, December 22, 2014

52nd Light Infantry - But wait, there's more!

The next batch is finished.  I was going to try for a smoke effect, but my cotton wool just looked naff.

The first two photos are not in focus, but the third one has come out fine and you can see the great work Dragon Painting Services did on the faces.

The red on my printer is running out I guess as the flag looks a little washed out (and the red touch up I did stands out a bit).

My old faithful Triang railroad trees in the background.  Well, I think they are Triang.  They go back to the early 70s if not the 1960s.

Two units left to complete: 51st Foot and the 79th Highlanders.