Friday, 31 January 2014

2/2e Legere - Peninsular War

It was way back on the 6th of July last year when I featured the new range of 18mm figures from Xan by painting up one of the battalions I would need for Oporto, namely the 2e Legere.

JJ's Blog Post 2e Legere

I detailed on that post the history of the regiment and its role in the Peninsula .If you want to read on, just follow the link to the original post. I couldn't help noticing that my first battalion looks a lot smarter than the second as I have done more of a campaign look for this battalion and I think it all adds variety to the eye when they are on the table.

I have also given my second battalion an Eagle, which strictly speaking should have been handed in for a battalion fanion, but it is well recorded that a lot of second battalions hung on to their Eagle's. The French units, unlike the British are rather more generic in character and so I am sure the 2/2e Legere will double up as a first battalion of another regiment at some stage.

As with the first battalion the figures are from the Xan range, save the mounted officer who is an AB figure. I guess I should have given him a red tip to his plume to indicate a major in the regiment, but as he may end up being a colonel in other games I decided to leave him as done. The flag is from GMB

The Force plan for the French at Oporto looks like this

French Order of Battle:Corps: Marshal Nicolas Soult
Henri Delaborde/Foyʼs Infantry Division
17th Legere (3 battalions), 70th Ligne (3 bns) and 86th Ligne (3 bns)
Pierre Merle Infantry Division
2nd Legere (4 bns), 4th Legere (4 bns), 36th Ligne (3 bns)
Jean Franceschiʼs Cavalry Division:
1st Hussars, 8th Dragoons, 22nd Chasseurs a Cheval.
Artillery: Probably 2 x 6lbr Foot and 1 x 6lbr Horse Batteries.

All the units are complete except for three more battalions of Legere and the 1st Hussars.

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

66th (Berkshire) Foot

Not exactly the 66th Foot. 
But the closest I could find.
The green facings weren't
this dark green until 1815.
Ok, if you've had enough of battalions of redcoats, and there were plenty of French Generals who felt the same way, you'll be pleased to know that this is my last battalion required to do Oporto and I can now move on to the other units required.

The 2/66th (Berkshire)Foot completes my British Infantry component as listed below which took part in the action.

The 2nd Coldstream Guards
3rd Guards, now the Scots Guards
3rd Buffs, the East Kent Regiment *
7th Royal Fusiliers
9th Foot, later the Norfolk Regiment
48th Foot, later the Northamptonshire Regimentt *
53rd Foot, later the King’s Shropshire Light Infantry
60th (Rifles)Foot, later the King’s Royal Rifle Corps
66th Foot, later the Royal Berkshire Regiment *
83rd Foot, later the Royal Ulster Rifles
97th Foot, later the Queen’s Own Royal West Kent Regiment
* these regiments have Douro as a battle honour.

In addition the four KGL battalions (1st, 2nd, 5th and 7th) are done.

The 66th are listed by CE Franklin as having yellowish-green facings, with the officers lace and buttons being silver. The facings later changed to the darker gosling green as depicted in the illustration above.

A good source of history about the regiment
The Wardrobe - History of the 66th Regiment

To quote
"The outbreak of the Seven Years' War in 1756 made it necessary to increase the size of the army and a number of regiments, amongst them the 19th Regiment (later to become the Green Howards), were ordered to raise second battalions. Two years later these battalions became regiments in their own right and were re-numbered accordingly, the second battalion of the 19th becoming the 66th Regiment of Foot. However, the 66th itself played no active part in the Seven Years' War............

In 1803 the 66th was ordered to raise a second battalion, the men coming from the newly formed Army of Reserve. The original intention had been that the new second battalion should remain as a permanent home based recruiting and drafting unit for the senior battalion. This system soon collapsed under the stress of war and in 1809 the 2nd/66th was ordered to active service in the Peninsular War under Wellington and gained the battle honours 'Douro', 'Talavera', 'Albuera', 'Vittoria', 'Pyrenees', 'Nivelle', 'Nive', 'Orthes' and 'Peninsula'. At Albuhera the 2nd/66th lost its Colours and was all but cut to pieces by the Polish cavalry, with only 52 men still standing when the unit was relieved.

Note there is a picture of the 66th's captured Colour here
Napoleon Series - Albuera Captured Flags

In 1816 the 2nd/66th sailed for St Helena to guard Napoleon, who had been despatched there following his defeat at Waterloo. It was joined the following year by the 1st/66th and on 24 July 1817 the two Battalions were amalgamated. In September that year the officers of the 66th were received by Napoleon. When he died in 1821 it was grenadiers of the 20th and 66th Regiments who bore his body to the grave."

Another useful source on the history of the 66th
National Army Museum

My battalion is composed of figures from the Xan range with a command base from AB. The Colours are from GMB Flags

Next up French Legere, of which there were quite a few battalions in Oporto with Marshall Soult.

Thursday, 16 January 2014

48th Foot, Northamptonshire Regiment - The Heroes of Talavera

Corporal of the 48th
at the time of the
Salamanca Campaign
The 48th Foot is the penultimate battalion I needed to complete for my British army at Oporto and they will feature in the Talavera campaign where both, 1st and 2nd, battalions took part. The 48th became part of Wellington's veteran infantry component to whom he could rely on when the need was most.

The History of the 48th Regiment can be found on the National Army Museum site. To quote,

"In 1741, during the War of the Austrian Succession (1740-48), James Cholmondeley raised a new regiment at Norwich. Three years later it was sent to Flanders, only to be rapidly recalled in 1745 to face the Second Jacobite Rebellion (1745-46) in Scotland, fighting at Falkirk and Culloden in 1746. In 1747 it was given the numeral 59, raised to 48 the following year..............

The regiment moved to Gibraltar in 1799, then to Minorca and Malta the following year. In 1803 the regiment formed a 2nd Battalion. The newly-named 1st Battalion was back in Gibraltar in 1805. Then in 1809 both regiments were sent to serve in the Peninsular War (1807-14), fighting at Talavera (1809), Albuera (1811), Badajoz (1812), Salamanca (1812), Vittoria (1813), Nivelle (1813) and Toulouse (1814).

1st Battalion remained in the Peninsula until 1814. However, 2nd Battalion had suffered so badly by 1811 that most of its survivors had to be absorbed by 1st Battalion, while a handful were sent back to Britain to re-recruit. 2nd Battalion was eventually disbanded in 1814."

Regimental Nickname
The Heroes of Talavera (Wellington stated that the 48th Foot saved the day at Talavera in 1809)

A more detailed account of the history of the two battalions of the regiment that served during the Peninsular War can be found on The Napoleon Series .

My battalion is primarily composed of figures from the Xan range, together with command and skirmish figures from AB. The colours are from GMB.

Next up is my final Oporto battalion for the British force, the 66th Foot (Berkshire Regiment).

Sunday, 12 January 2014

Chain of Command - First Game

Yesterday was a day of firsts, as I experienced my first game of Chain of Command at the Devon Wargames Group at our first meeting of 2014, and if first impressions are anything to go by, I was very smitten. I've posted a summary of our game yesterday on the club blog, but thought I would share my first impressions of the game here.

Chain of Command is a Platoon level game with both sides fielding about three sections/squads of soldiers with attached assets such as the odd tank, machine gun or mortar.

The idea behind the rule set is to model the tactics deployed by the various nations in WWII allowing players to experience some of the tactical dilemmas and solutions faced by the junior commanders of that period.

Fun on the Eastern Front with Chain of Command. Figures and terrain from my friend Nathan's collection
Several members of the Devon Group were involved in the initial play tests of Chain of Command and so based on their thoughts and the excellent pre-production videos and game reports staged by the Lardies, I invested in the full package of rules, pdf format and IPad version together with all the markers which I received last year and I have done nothing with them until yesterday. This because my focus for the foreseeable is on the Peninsular War and my love of WWII is currently on the "back burner".

I have, and love the format of, another great set of Lardy rules, "I Aint Been Shot Mum", which designed for the next level up at Company level are in my humble opinion the best set of WWII rules out there, combining all the aspects I want in a simulation that is fun to play. Chain of Command carries on in the same vain with a very clever simulation combined with the streamlined rules that pull together casualties and morale effects in one die roll. Not only that but they're fun too.

I don't intend to give another overview of how these rules play as there are lots of game reports and design concept videos out there from the Too Fat Lardies themselves and the many fans of this game who have been playing avidly since their launch last year. In addition, having just played one game, I am hardly qualified to make a thorough assessment. That being said I am very pleased I got these rules and will be very happy to play them again, when I need to scratch my WWII itch in between my Napoleonic adventures.

If you want to play WWII at Platoon Level, then you really want to check out Chain of Command.

Thursday, 9 January 2014

Carnage & Glory II - What's it all about then?

Carnage & Glory II in action over Christmas during our Corunna game
As you will know from my previous posts I have become and am a very keen user of Carnage & Glory II when it comes to playing Napoleonics and I have often mentioned the granularity that these rules give to the game that doing the same with a paper based set of rules would make cumbersome.

To illustrate why I think these rules are so good, I thought I would share the thoughts of the designer Nigel Marsh who took the time to answer a follow up question on the C&GII Yahoo Discussion Group about the design concepts and approach needed by players when playing C&GII. In summary, you need to treat your little metal warriors like the human counterparts they represent.

My question was prompted by the thought that I wanted to be able to brief my players, particularly those new to computer moderated games, on the guiding principles they needed to apply when making their command decisions. I think you might find the following response from Nigel very enlightening.

Obviously C&GII is unlike other traditional rule sets where even the simplest formats require a minimum of accounting, charts and die rolls. In those the players have a literal eye to the mechanics of the system - this is a +1, that is a -2 etc. Some gamers need that approach, and that's fine, they need to measure their chances of success - we don't play to lose.

Some gamers need dice, and that's fine too, they need to balance their general ship with a healthy dose of chance, ‘I lost because I rolled badly’ or ’I won because the dice were with me’. There has to be an imponderable component, nothing should ever be entirely predictable, and C&GII is no different - behind the screen the system is comparing factors, rolling multiple dice, and determining the results. But it's never a simple comparison of numbers balanced to chance. Morale and fatigue play an incredibly important role in the mechanics of the system. 

Whenever I run a game at a convention when new, and even experienced, players are involved, during my briefing I will always point out that the morale and fatigue are represented on a floating scale, and that fatigue is not merely physical, but mental too. Pointing out that combat stress or mental fatigue is a very important factor. I then explain that fresh troops will typically overcome fatigued troops, sometimes regardless of numbers, and situation. Then I explain that 99% of the time a combat unit is input to the computer there will be a resulting fatigue loss to that unit. To recover fatigue a unit needs to avoid movement, avoid fire and combat. With cavalry I'll explain that the horse may be more physically fatigued than the rider. With artillery I'll explain that a limbered battery will recover fatigue more quickly than one deployed for action, explaining that the combat stress of being deployed is more pronounced than when limbered. The players should not think of their units as simple inanimate playing pieces, but that they should perceive of them in human terms, and that  the more they do, the more fatigued they may become.

When it comes to morale, I will explain that a unit will start an engagement with a certain base morale, based upon the troop classification and experience. I will point out that the rating on the print out [C-, B+ etc], is a composite, which in addition to morale classification and experience, also includes fire and combat ratings. I will then explain that morale can go up, and that it can go down, it's not a static component. Therefore, even the most elite unit can be overawed by a less experienced combat opponent, depending on the circumstances. In some cases, less experienced units, may be more impulsive, simply because they do not have a veterans perspective of the inherent dangers of a certain situation - such as charging home on a fresh battalion or battery. A unit can literally 'get its blood up' by stopping an enemy charge, or breaking an enemy line, their morale can soar in such instances. But equally, it can plummet, when it fails to stop a charge, or is broken by fire action, or evicted from a strong point, and recovery may be impossible at that point. Essentially, a unit will experience highs and lows of morale during a game.

Strength losses can be relative too. For example, a conscript unit, may be more brittle than a veteran unit, and the consequent effect of losing 10% strength to them is much greater, in a morale sense, that the same losses to a veteran unit. A crack guard unit may simply hang in there, taking enormous loss, whilst a conscript militia unit will break to the rear having suffered less than 5% losses. On average, a typical unit will be capable of sustaining losses of between 10 and 25 percent. After that the average unit will have 'had enough'. You may be able to recover it, and get it to 'hold the line', but at the first 'test', it will probably break and run.

Another important element to the game are the compulsory movement markers. These are the visual cues the players will have to determine the relative combat efficiency of their and their opponents units. A white marker [no advance] reflects possible fatigue, morale or strength loss - the unit is beginning to show signs of distress - it may recover fatigue, and may recover morale, but it can't replace losses. The unit's still combat worthy, but it's being tested. A red marker [halt or retire] reflects increased fatigue, morale and strength loss - the unit is showing obvious distress, men are voluntarily abandoning the unit, NCO's and officers are working hard to keep the men in the ranks. In the case of a retirement, the NCO's and officers may be fighting a losing battle, as the unit,to some degree of another, is showing signs of imminent cohesive collapse. Again, the unit may recover fatigue and may recover morale, but it's can't replace losses, and is becoming less sustainable in the line of battle. This unit is in trouble, and both sides know it.

The offensive player that does not take heed of these visual cues will probably lose. A target unit without a marker, either white or red, reflects that its morale is good, its fatigue is rested, and its losses in men are slight. That unit has no need to fear a similarly rated attacking foe; they will typically perform their duty and repulse any attack. Too many gamers will be too impulsive and simply charge home putting their faith in 'rolling a six', or 'columns always beat a line'. When they then get decimated in the defensive fire action, and thrown back in rout, they may cry foul - but the reality is, they are simply getting what they deserved. They should try that again, when the defending unit has a 'halt' marker, in which case I will guarantee - and this is 95 percent predictable - that the halted line will break. The issue for the attacker is to be in the right spot at the right time to affect the charge on the 'halted' unit, and the issue for the defender is to ensure that he has no potential 'halted' units in positions where an attacker can take advantage of the situation.

Sunday, 5 January 2014

53rd Foot (Shropshire Regiment)

53rd Foot
With the completion of the 53rd Foot (The Shropshire Regiment) I now have just two more British battalions to complete for Oporto, before moving on to the cavalry, Portuguese and French Infantry, about another seven units.
The History of the 53rd Foot's participation in the Peninsular War can be found here

A more general history and Regimental information can be found here
The Shropshire Regimental Museum

A beautiful miniature of a certain Captain Sherwood illustrates the red facings of the regiment

To quote the Shropshire Regimental Museum
The "2nd Battalion of the 53rd served through the major stages of the Peninsular War in Portugal, Spain and France, including the battle of Talavera in 1809, the Salamanca campaign in 1812, the major victory at Vittoria in 1813 and the severe fighting in the passes of the Pyrenees.
Pursuing the French army into France itself, the 2-53rd was present in the last great action of the war at Toulouse in 1814.

At the end of the war in 1815, the 2-53rd was appointed to be Napoleon’s guard on St. Helena, a duty it carried out until its return home in 1817 and disbandment on the reduction of the army. Many of its men, however, volunteered for service in the 53rd and joined the regiment in India".

My battalion is composed primarily of Xan minatures, with an AB Command group. The colours are from GMB.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

British Infantry Facings and Lacings - Talavera

With the focus for 2014 being very much on completing Oporto and Talavera, I thought I would compliment the post I did back in June last year which looked at the British units at the Second Battle of Oporto
British Infantry Facings & Lacings Oporto by posting the details of the British Infantry units at Talavera.

The PDF of these units is available as a download in My Resources and Downloads in the right hand bar.