Mark Phillips came to visit The Loftwaffe on 24th July 2014 and I treated him to an 18th century game using my Spencer Smiths. The rules were my own “Shot, Steel & Stone” from “The Wargaming Compendium” (see The Wargaming Compendium website and The Wargaming Compendium on Amazon ) and the setup was Scenario 10: The Important Bridge from “Scenarios for All Ages” by C S Grant and S A Asquith (CSG Publications).
Both sides have troops arriving, with everything converging on the bridge. To save time, we allowed the troops to start on the table rather than deploying on first move, Marked played Blue, I played Red. The game was superb, full of excitement, with advantage see-sawing this way and that.
The fight for the bridge was epic, as both sides threw cavalry straight at the objective. To begin with, my hussars had a remarkable success against his first regiment of cuirassiers, and won the first round, but the heavies hung on and doggedly hacked their way back into contention, until both sides had to fall back to rest after three rounds of melee. Mark decided to rest his guys at his end of the bridge, whilst I got my light cavalry to pull out and then rest further back, replacing them immediately with a heavy regiment of my own, who crashed into Mark’s hapless cuirassiers and forced them back, sending them into rout after two moves of melee and ending the game in possession of the bridge.
Meanwhile, Mark did well in the west after a shaky start. He sent one of his squadrons of hussars hurtling towards my von Schmidt Musketeers, who delivered a crashing volley at close range to chasten them, and the light horsemen turned tail and fled! Their second squadron fared much better, however: they threw themselves at a squadron of my dragoon regiment and, much to my chagrin, bested my chaps easily. Things got worse for me when, with a certain smugness, I ordered my much-loved Regiment von Eintopf (without their grenadier company this day) to join the fray. even though they managed to catch some of the hussars in the rear and killed a couple of figures unopposed, they they got caught up in the chaos when my dragoon squadron broke and fled, and were hacked to pieces by the hussars, before themselves deciding that discretion was the better part of valour and retreating! Oh, the shame! they were saved only by the fact that the hussars were too exhausted to pursue after three rounds of fighting, and friendly regiments either side made it clear that vengeance would be delivered in hot lead if the hussars ventured any closer.
While this was going on, the second squadron of my dragoons had been trapped between the ongoing melee, enemy infantry advancing to their front and the river. When their colleagues were shattered beside them, a morale test inevitably ensue and… Oh, dear… With a die roll like that (3 on a pair of d6), no wonder they headed for the hills! Fortunately, Regiment von Schmidt and the mercenary Regiment O’Donnell were made of sterner stuff and stood their ground.
Von Schmidt, in fact, continued peppering the enemy skirmishers and infantry heading their way, and by the end of the game were still holding firm on my right flank. Behind them, O’Donnell covered the road, and the woods on their left beside the bridge were held by Von Forstkriecher’s men, who had little to do all day.
On the road, however, I had managed to unlimber a heavy gun and a howitzer that wreaked destruction on the enemy advancing in the centre, blocked only for one move when my hussars initially pulled back off the bridge. For in the centre, as you can see in the photographs, Mark was pushing forward dense columns of infantry alongside the road to support his cavalry. Such a target was an artillerist’s dream, and both roundshot and shell ploughed into the densely-packed ranks, so that by the time they managed to deploy into line, they were already at the point where a morale check was in the offing.
Looking east, I had managed to reach the ford with my infantry, and quickly pushed the first regiment across and into the chateau, securing it as a strongpoint. The second regiment joined them, deploying in a deep formation in front of the western edge of the chateau, their left flank against the woods. The third regiment of musketeers advanced as quickly as they could along the northern bank of the river in column of march, before halting and doing a smart left turn into line. Finally, the artillery battery of medium guns unlimbered and deployed right at the ford, forming the angle of a deadly right-angle into which Mark obligingly marched.
The screams were terrible as my left flank opened up with cannon and musketry. “Be quiet, Mark”, I said, “I’m trying to work out the casualties.” Sure enough, the Blues’ second regiment of musketeers were caught dead-footed, trying to change from column of attack into line, and they were scythed down, already shaken by the roundshot and shell they had taken getting to this point, and with no less than nine figures falling in a single turn, they took to their heels. mark’s first musketeer regiment managed to get to the river line, having deployed into line to reduce casualties, and even loosed off an ineffectual volley at my cavalry on the bridge and my third musketeers opposite them, but with their support now gone, and their flank exposed to the full fury of enfilading fire, Mark conceded the game.
We could have played a couple more moves, I’m sure. mark had managed to get his guns into good positions, one battery on the hills overlooking the chateau, which had just started to be bothersome; and the other battery with an excellent field of fire supporting his troops in the west – he even managed to get a really nasty enfilading shot in on Von Schmidt before I woke up to the danger! But the fact is that the objective of the bridge was in my hands, and he had nothing that could have any real chance of contesting it for at least two moves, so the result was clear.
A truly cracking game, conducted with a real sense of fun and camaraderie throughout, so my thanks to mark, and yet again a huge sigh of relief that my rules seem to work well.