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The Nacht Reitar strikes

October 12, 2010

Von Pritzwalk’s decision to besiege Dolfstein invariably slowed the hectic pace that the campaign had so far taken.  This was the result of the battering that the forces of both sides had already taken as much as the difficult nature of the besieging operation.

By and large supply convoys were flowing relatively easily into the Allied camp, whereas the situation within Dolfstein grew more and more desperate. Reports abounded of people eating dogs, cats and rats – although the French commandant Colonel Aiselle-Puant was reputedly well stocked with a variety of good vintages.

Fois-Gras was organising his strategy, which recognised that Dolfstein would fall before he was ready to attack the Allies.  Sitting at his campaign table with his dog, Malodorant, beside him the canny old Marshal was hoping to lure the Allies into concentrating on the Frankenberg while he moved against their lines of communication.  However, he was disturbed from his reveries by the arrival of the Prince-Archbishop himself.

‘Ahem’, began Ludwig, ‘Monsieur le Marechal, is your entire campaign plan to sit here and watch the Maritime powers despoil my beautiful land? You have troops doing nothing but sitting around! You are the soldiers of the mighty Sun King! Are you afraid?’

At this Fois-Gras summoned his considerable powers of self-restraint and diplomacy – one of the reasons that King Louis had given him this assignment.

‘My dear Prince, of course we are not simply planning to remain idle. Why, as we speak I have a contingent preparing itself to carry out a relieving expedition to remind the enemy that Dolfstein will never fall. This will be merely the prelude to the ultimate destruction of their army.’

At this, Ludwig appeared somewhat mollified.

‘I knew I could count on you all! I would wish to join this expedition, but I am afraid Princely duties stand in my way. I look forward to hearing of your success, my Lord.’ With this, Ludwig turned and left the camp tent.  Fois-Gras grimaced as his ally minced from the tent.

‘Princely duties,’ he scoffed to Malodorant, ‘is that what he calls dining and otherwise being entertained by his closest companions in his lifeguard?’  The dog looked at his master, sensed his scorn and gave a sympathetic growl.

‘Claude,’ Fois-Gras shouted to his secretary, ‘get me Petit-Fromage and that Bavarian nit-wit,’ the name that Fois-Gras always reserved for the Graf von Hasselhoff, leader of the Bavarian contingent.

Following a quick meeting with his two generals, the plan was set – ‘so that is it, gentlemen. observe the enemy camp, gather intelligence on their supply convoys and see if you can ambush and capture one. But I do not want any unnecessary loss of life. We are only doing this as a sign of good-will towards Frankenberg. I do not want anything disrupting the preparations for our main offensive.’

‘Jawohl, you can count on me Herr Fwa-Gwa!’ barked the Bavarian as he clicked his heels.

‘I am sure I can,’ Fois-Gras replied without betraying an inkling of his fears about the man who liked to call himself the Nacht Reitar.  ‘Petit-Fromage, can I see you about another matter. Thankyou, my Lord.’  With that von Hasselhoff turned and left the room leaving the Marshal and his best general alone.

‘Don’t let him stuff this up, Pierre,’ Fois-Gras let slip his impenetrable mask. I’m giving you a sizeable force, but the Bavarians are good soldiers – I do not want them wasted!’

‘No, my Lord.’

‘Take a regiment of Dragoons and those disgusting Hussars. Stealing is what they do best, and I’ll be glad to have them out of the camp.  Do you know how many I had to flog this month?  And if von shit-for-brains charges a cannon – let him!’  Petit-Fromage smiled. He had known Fois-Gras almost his entire life, but even then the Marshal was something of an enigma to him, hidden behind a wall of courtly etiquette and irrelevant small talk.  But he appreciated it when the inscrutable mask fell and he saw little snippets of the man’s true feelings.

‘You can count on me also, Monsieur.’

The Danes under the command of von Altefisch are given the role of escorting the supply column towards…

The Allied camp outside the siege lines around Dolfstein.  Here is a mixed Dutch Brigade under Van Klogg.  Along the way is…

An English Dragoon regiment in a small farm and a Dutch Dragoon regiment guarding both sides of the pontoon crossings under von Hinder-Entz.

The raiding force appears from the south. Von Hasselhoff is eager to get his troops into battle.  ‘You take the Hussars’, says Petit-Fromage, ‘and I’ll guard your flank with the Kurassiers and the Dragoons.’

Spotting the Bavarian advance the Danes deploy for battle and send the baggage off towards the pontoons before they are sealed off by the Franco-Bavarian cavalry.

Petit-Fromage moves towards the pontoons as the Dopff Dragoons urgently begin to form up. The English Dragoons release a volley into the flank of the Listenois Dragoons, disordering them for a turn – but will it be enough?

Ignoring pass through fire the cheeky Hussars charge between the farm and the Danes and capture the baggage! Well, it is what they do best – but will they get it back to their own lines?

The Dopff Dragoons hold up the Kurassiers and Dragoons of the enemy just long enough to enable the Dutch infantry to cross the pontoons and form up.  At close range the volleys are delivered – and the Franco-Bavarian cavalry are driven back. ‘Better get that supply train out of here von Hasselhoff…’

The situation after the Hussars have captured the baggage.  One Bavarian infantry unit is occupying the fire of the English Dragoons in the farm, while the other two are concentrating on pinning the Danes. The fourth unit has already broken amidst the impetuous charges of von Hasselhoff. Fois-Gras will not be pleased!

Another Bavarian regiment is destroyed and it looks like von Hasselhoff has gone back to drag another unit into the fight!  The Hussars were effectively blocked from getting the wagons free, and even more importantly there was a unit with an open flank right in front of them.  They therefore sent the baggage train ahead and charged into the Sjallandske Infantry regiment, riding them down and rendering them hors de combat.  But ambition got the better of them, and charging the Sjaellandske Ryttare in the flank saw this regiment turn and meet them.  The Danes showed no mercy, and the Hussars were cut to pieces, scurrying for the woods.  Another Franco-Bavarian regiment lost, but not one Fois-Gras will mourn too much.

The final moments just before the supply wagons are lost. The Dutch Hoornberg Horse have charged around the Franco-Bavarian right flank and the Prins Georg regiment is advancing on their left, but they are too late and now out of effective command range.  von Hasselhoff is knocked from his horse by a stray bullet and Petit-Fromage orders the army to fall back.  With h the Dutch preoccupied with the baggage the cavalry makes it out out of combat easily. The two infantry regiments have a little more problem, but are not destroyed.

 

‘Monsieur le Marechal, I am pleased to report success in capturing the enemy supply train!’ Fois-Gras eyed up Petit-Fromage – he knew very well that this was not the end of the story.

‘How many did we lose?’

‘I regret that two of the Bavarian regiments suffered grievously although a number are beginning to reappear in the camp. It will take some time to rebuild them.  The Hussars were also broken.’

‘I’m sure they will turn up in the middle of the night looking for something to steal.  And the Graf?’

‘Wounded and being attended to by the doctor’s, my Lord. He should pull through quite easily.’

‘How… unfortunate… for him of course.  And the supply train.’

‘Rich pickings – we found a paychest.’

‘A success then,’ Fois-Gras looked to his left and found a knucklebone on his dinner plate. ‘Malodorant, we dine well tonight!’ he said as the hound tore into the meaty morsel.

 

Joining like minds

August 16, 2010

Frankenberg has been invited to join the imagi-nation world of Emperor and Elector. At first, being a novice with these things, I wasn’t too sure what was happening with the feeds etc, but it all seems to be in place. Meanwhile I have created a mirror Frankenberg site on blogspot, thinking that this was necessary.  Sigh, one day I’ll get the hang of it all.

In the meantime please vote in my poll. it is an overwhelming response of two votes so far. A few more would be appreciated…

Nate

What the heck is happening?

August 15, 2010

The Frankenberg campaign is in hiatus at the moment, which is a touch annoying as the Allies look to secure their gains so far and Fois-Gras plots his next move.  The reason is that I am scurrying to finish the forces for both sides before I move on to the next phase. In the meantime, I think a poll might be in order. Having broken the Khutzewald line the Allies are left with a number of choices – should they cross to the north of the Klein Rhein and storm the Frankenberg (the fortified heights above the city), besiege Dolfstein or press south and try to storm Uberallesheim?  (Click here for a situation map).

In the meantime, my painting progress is being charted at my main blog http://ndcblog.wordpress.com/

Ludwig VIII, Prince-Archbishop of Frankenberg

May 9, 2010

Well, here he is, the Prince Archbishop himself. He is made out of a dismounted Dutch officer, with a French Dragoon head filed down and green stuff modelled gown and fringe. The fringe actually looks more like a fur band around the hat, but never mind. Ludwig looks eager for action, advancing sword in hand, but he is actually suffering from the runs and is discarding his paraphernalia as he heads for the nearest bush!

On the same base is Luddie’s herald, Ernst, carrying the standard of the ecclesiastical Principality. It has a wurst representing the people crossed with a key to the Kingdom of Heaven. Black and Gold are the traditional colours of Frankenberg, whilst the pink cross was put there by Ludwig himself. The standard was handpainted – I don’t think I could do this on the computer!

Ernst wears the uniform of the Frankenberg Leibgarde – a pink coat with yellow cuffs, and a purple rosette on his tricorne. The next troops painted will be the Frankenberg militia.

More Marlburian troops have been completed, and are on display here: http://ndcblog.wordpress.com/2010/05/09/first-stage-of-the-marlburians-complete/

Breaking the Khutzewald line

May 3, 2010

Apologies, this game was played a fortnight ago, but as I have only recently regained my beloved broadband internet, it has not previously been possible to tell the tale.

On 1st June von Pritzwalk led his men out against the Khutzewald line. His scouts had reported that it was held rather thinly – in fact only three regiments of infantry and some Dragoons appeared to be there. His inital reaction was to suspect the French of a devious trick, but on 31st May he was informed that the Austrians had attacked in the east and he surmised that this was where Fois-Gras had disappeared to with the bulk of his army.

There were two villages on the line – Pfefferheim, where the Kartoffelwasser stream runs into the Klein-Rhein River, and Tapffheim, further down the Kartoffelwasser. From Tapffheim a series of earthworks ran to the dense Khutzewald forest. Pfefferheim was garrisoned by the Lyonnais regiment; the Kartoffelwasser was watched by the Listenois Dragoons; the Picardie regiment held Tapffheim; and the Champagne regiment manned the earthworks in the south.

Von Pritzwalk’s plan was to feint in the north towards Pfefferheim with the English brigade, while making his main move in the south. By taking Tapffheim he planned to turn the flank of the French and cut the most direct communications with France.

Tapffheim and the earthworks leading to the Khutzewald. Stairs’ Dragoons have just decimated the Champagne regiment. Apologies for the poor photography – it was the first shot of the day!

The first move was to make an overwhelming cavalry attack on the Champagne regiment.  This proved to be a spectacular charge, riding over the barrier and cutting the regiment to shreds in a single turn. Victory for the Confederates was looking inevitable! All that was required was for the Dutch Brigade to take Tapffheim, and the victory would be won.

Pfefferheim and Maykit’s over-exuberance costs the Confederates dearly. The Lyonnais regment is building up an impressive record.

Meanwhile, in the north, the diversionary attack went in. Here General Maykit overstepped his brief. Rather than a mere demonstration, he seriously looked to surround and annihilate the garrison of Pfefferheim. In the confusion his two battalion column trying to organise itself to cross the bridge took an age to get ready. The Guards and the Hanoverians threw themselves across the stream and against the walls to no avail. By the end of the day the Hanoverians would be beyond reconstitution as a unit and recalled by the Elector in a fit of rage that his troops were used so brainlessly.

The assault on Tapffheim and the outnumbered and outgunned Picardie regiment fighting bravely. Von Pritzwalk himself is there to ensure that the assault succeeds. At the back is my Prins Georg Danish regiment, which will evetually be part of a four battalion strong Prusso-Danish Brigade.

But while Maykit went mad, Van Klogg calmly directed his Brigade into a two pronged assault. Led by the Welderen and Brandenbourg  regiments, not to mention a gun expertly worked and deployed at point blank range, the men of the Grand Alliance surged against the village walls. Picardie fought valiantly, rendering Welderen hors de combat, but in the end numbers and firepower told and Tapffheim fell to the relentless attack.

In the centre the advance elements of Fois-Gras’ men had arrived, tired but ready to help their comrades. First into battle were the Villequier regiment, followed by the Gendarmerie. The Maritime Powers redeployed their cavalry to the centre to combat this growing menace, only to find themselves overpowered. Once again the gentlemen of France had the honour of routing their enemies, but it was all too little, too late. With Tapffheim well in hand and dusk arriving the French cavalry covered the withdrawal of the still defiant Lyonnais regiment from Pfefferheim.

Von Pritzwalk had a hardfought strategic victory, but it would take time to put his force back together and renew the offensive.

An enjoyable game and it was certainly a harder slog than either side had expected!  One of the things that I have noticed with the Black Powder rules is the strength of units in built up areas. In a sense this is fair – I can think of a number of circumstances where villages proved especially costly to take – just look at the Battle of Blenheim and the combats at Blindheim and Oberglau. My advice is to mimic the tactics of Marlborough and devote pinning forces to these obstacles and win the battle in the open if at all possible. Of course, as there were no enemy in the open in this game, this was never going to be a workable tactic.

Thanks to John and Terry for helping me to play it out. The next moves in the Wurst War will appear soon hopefully.

Grenzschafen

March 25, 2010

Within two days, Fois-Gras had marched to the other side of the small Principality. Early in the morning on  30th May he attacked the Imperial forces that were bivouacked inside the town of Grenzschafen. Surprise was total, as the scouting Imperial Hussars had found a wine cellar and become quite drunk that night.

By 9am the Imperial troops were in complete rout, 2,000 were prisoner and 16 guns had been captured. The victory was total. Fois-Gras could be satisfied that there would be no more threat from the east, at least in the short term. But he had no time to rest on his laurels. He knew full well that it was only a matter of time before the Allies attacked his lines in the west. In the shadow of the plumes of smoke he gave the orders to rest up and be prepared to move out at dawn the next day.

Grenzschafen burns on the morning of 30th May, 1707.

French troops in the lines near the Khutzewald.

Latest Painting

March 20, 2010

I’ve managed to get some more troops painted and based.  Unfortunately, due to my ongoing internet woes, the pictures of them are uploaded on the NDCBlog website with my other recent painting. They can be found here:

http://ndcblog.wordpress.com/2010/03/15/finally-another-update/

They will all appear here shortly. Within the next 3 weeks I will have another battle report ready where they all feature.

Nate

Bad news for the French

March 19, 2010

Fois-Gras looked at the messenger with the kind of concerned, yet disdainful look that only an aristocrat brought up on the finest truffles could give.

‘Merde!’ he cursed in a foppish, yet decisive way. The message itself, hurriedly scribbled on the back of what looked like a musical score-sheet, bore bad news. Reinforcements from the King of Bavaria had arrived only a day ago, but now a force of Imperial troops had appeared at Grenzschafen. Fois-Gras’ plan to move over to the offensive against Pritzwalk and his forces had been completely foiled.

Looking at the map rolled out on the camp table in front of him, held down by two half empty and two fully empty glasses of brandy, a deep thought creased his forehead. If he could establish a line between the Klein-Rhein and the Khutzewald that could be defended lightly, he would force march his best troops east and deal with the Imperials in a surprise attack. Should the maritime powers be bold enough to attack, a second line was to be constructed by the peasants of Frankenberg outside Dolfstein. The holding force would retire upon these lines.

Taking another gulp of Brandy, and patting his faithful dog, Malodorant, Fois-Gras signalled to his aides-de-camp.

‘Get ze Garde, ze Gendarmerie, ze La Marck Regiment and ze Villequier regiment readee. We marsh in sree ow-ers.’  Oh, and ze Bavieres aussi. Tout de suite!’ (translation for those ungentlemanly enough amongst you to be ignorant of the universal tongue of Europe: ‘Hurry it up, we’re going in three hours.’)

Monsieur le Marquis de Fois-Gras outside Dolfstein, with his dog Malodorant and assorted aides-de-camp.

Second Battle of Rheineck

January 13, 2010

On the 21st May 1707 the Confederate forces received reinforcements and a new general, the Prussian Wilhelm von Pritzwalk. He immediately set about organising his forces for a flank march to turn the French position at Rheineck. Leaving a Brigade to spread out in front of the French lines and ordering them to light extra campfires at night, he constructed pontoons northeast of Rheineck and crossed the rest of his force to the right bank of the Frank river. His plan was to march down this bank and bridge the river again behind the French position. It called for speed and guile, and the wily Prussian had both. He set up the new pontoons on the early morning of the 26th May.  French piquets had spotted dust clouds on the northern bank, and Fois-Gras immediately realised the situation. Ever aggressive, his immediate thought was to defeat the weak screening force that must be holding the Allied position opposite his lines. Then he decided that time was against him and concentrated his forces for a withdrawal.

Meanwhile, the first elements of the Allied forces were crossing the Frank in a hurried fashion. The scene was set for a battle where reserves would arrive piecemeal and advance into battle.

No artists were present at the battle, it being far too hurried an affair for any lazy bohemian to keep up, and it would be insulting to publish here any of the wildly inaccurate engravings that were produced in later years.  Instead, the author has walked the ground and found it remarkably unchanged. Upon a satellite map he has indicated the general movements of the troops as best as he can make out.

Although the epic cavalry clash on the Left wing of the Allied position was technically a victory for the Maritime powers, the ability of Fois-Gras to marshal the Gendarmerie,  reposition it in his centre, and help batter his way through Lord Maykitt’s English brigade proved vital. After a hard fought encounter, the French opened the road to Frankenberg and escaped.

Noteworthy was the defeat of the Gardes Francaises, after an appallingly disordered advance they received a volley point blank and broke to the rear. The First Foot Guards was the regiment responsible, and the meeting of the guards at Rheineck is a renowned moment in the Wurst war, and indeed in the whole of the wars of the Spanish Succession.

Of all the Allied foot regiments in battle, Churchill’s foot was the most important, continuing to attack even as the rest of the Allied army withdrew to defensive positions at the pontoon bridgehead.

As night fell, the Allies attempted to reorganise their battered army around the bridgehead, but it was in too parlous a state to renew the offensive as the French army manning the lines at Rheineck slipped east, covered by the Gendarmerie, full of fighting fettle following their splendid battlefield performance.

Having won the strategic victory of forcing the lines of Rheineck, Pritzwalk retired to his tent to imbibe some schnapps and prepare his next move. Fois-Gras, hurting from being outmanouevred but pleased that his small force had acquitted itself so well twice in the space of a fortnight, sipped brandy and contemplated the map for his next move. At 2am he was reached by a rider with good news – reinforcements had entered the Archbishopric!

Nate

First Battle of Rheineck, 15th May 1707

December 26, 2009

Having quickly occupied Beckstein, the Allies were confident of a swift capture of Frankenberg itself. However, the French commander Le Comte de Fois-Gras had not been idle. He had constructed a fortified line along the River Klein-Rhein (a tributary of the River Frank), and garrisoned it with a strong force. On the 14th May the Allies, consisting largely of British troops under Lord William Maykit (Willie to his friends) camped in the shadow of the Rheinberg hill, in preparation for an advance over the Klein-Rhein the following morning. Maykit was visibly agitated when informed by his scouts that evening of the strength of the French position.

Maykit ordered further scouting and decided on a bold manoeuvre. He would conduct a flanking movement before dawn, whilst demonstrating against the lines with two regiments of English infantry. He hoped to sneak across the Klein-Rhein under the noses of the garrison of Rheineck and assault the French position from the rear.

At 4.30 in the morning of the 15th the advance began, but it was hamstrung by delays.

Dispositions for the battle at dawn, 15th May

Artillery opened up on the French lines from the Rheinberg as Churchill’s and Stanhope’s regiments prepared to engage the main French defences. The plan was to trade shots from the far bank of the river in order to pin the French and generate enough smoke to convince the enemy that the main assault was coming. Initially, Fois-Gras fell for this and sent the La Marck Regiment and Gendarmerie to assist.

But as the first rays of light burst forth, glints from the equipment of the flanking force were seen approaching. a hasty order was rushed to the Gendarmerie – turn to face this new threat. The Gardes Francaises, also about to leave the city were halted and ordered to man the ramparts of Rheineck. Things were looking ominous for the Allies.

The first of the flanking force to cross the Klein-Rhein was Wyndham’s Horse. They were engaged by the Gendarmerie as the British Foot Guards and Hoornberg’s horse completed their crossing. Caught by the gentlemen of France in a headlong charge, the British would not stand. The unit broke and fled the table, and being shaken were unable to return. The Villequier Chevaux-Legers and La Marck regiment also became aware of what was happening and began to move to the aid of the Gendarmerie.

The front as seen from behind Rheineck. Note that the flanking force is not in view.

Meanwhile, Sir Edward Weighward commanding the pinning force had completely lost his head and ordered an advance on the French lines wading through the Klein-Rhein either side of the bridge. Apparently Sir Edward had been present at the Boyne, and was convinced wading through rivers was a perfectly acceptable way to get to grips with the enemy! The results were going to be all too predictable.

Hoornberg’s Horse charged into the Gendarmerie, who were still a little disordered after their previous charge. In a matter of minutes the gentlemen had been repulsed. The Foot Guards became embroiled in a fire fight with the Gardes Francaises. It should have been an even contest, but the Frenchmen were secure behind fortifications. The English Guards were taking a pounding.

The Villequier Chevaux-leger charged into the Dutch cavalry and sent them reeling from the battlefield. The English Guards finally collapsed under a weight of fire, and Churchill’s and Stanhope’s Regiment streamed off towards Beckstein. Only the Brandenbourg Regiment and the artillery were left in any fit state to resist, and were able to retreat safely.

The first battle of Rheineck was a tragic failure for Maykit, despite an audacious plan that might have worked with a little more luck. Weighward’s waste of the pinning force was roundly condemned but the man himself lay dead at the bottom of the Klein-Rhein and was not going to be responsible for any more stuff-ups!

The Allies fell back on Beckstein to rebuild and recover. The French got drunk.

The firefight that turned into a tragic advance for the Allies

The game was a solo affair designed to further familiarise myself with the Black Powder Rules. It also gave me an opportunity to put all my models on the table for the first time since I shifted house. Very enjoyable way to spend a couple of hours.

The Allies must try again soon – but will it be a new plan? Will there be a new commander? Which other regiments will arrive to help out? Stay tuned and find out!