Wednesday, 7 June 2017

Battle of Kalisz 1813. Game at NBHW.

Last Saturday, 3rd June, saw me at NBHW for a game of Shako II in 28mm. The game was to be a scenario based on the Battle of Kalisz 1813. This battle was fought at the tail end of the retreat from Moscow between VII Saxon Corps led by General Reynier and the pursuing Russian advance guard corps under General von Wintingerode.
VII corps were trying to get their forces back over the Prosna river via the bridges in Kalisz while the Russians realising the importance of these bridges were aiming to capture the town.

Map from

How the above map translated to our table

View from Kalisz of the retiring VII Corps and advancing Russians.

General Gablentz's column trying to reach
Kalisz before being cut off.

Trubetzki's Cavalry tasked with cutting off Gablentz's column.

Steindel's Brigade on the Saxon left flank.
(My adversary for the day)

Russian II Infantry Corps of Prinz Eugen looking towards the suburb of
Tyniec and Kalisz beyond.

I was given command of the Russian right flank, specifically the Combined Cavalry Division of General-Lieutenant Lanskoi. My task was to prevent the Saxons of Steindel's Brigade from reaching Kalisz, destroying them if the opportunity arose, as well as trying to delay Devaux's Brigade, on the other side of the river, from re-enforcing Kalisz too soon.

Delaying action commences, "Charge!"

My plan was to charge the three Saxon battalions in range with my regular cavalry and attempt to feint away from any that managed to form square. My cossacks would loiter on the wings to take advantage of any openings. As can be seen above this sort of worked. My Horse Jagers caught the left battalion in line, my centre Hussar regiment forced their target into square and withdrew safely but my right hand Hussar regiment failed to obey the withdraw order after forcing their target into square and charged home.
The result of this was, left battalion destroyed! "Hussar!" and breakthrough advance into the flank of the artillery battery. Right battalion, Saxon grenadiers, not so good. Hussars take several casualties and retreat but don't break and are rallied. Unfortunately the forward unit of cossacks on the right got into cannister range of the pesky French battery across the river and were eventually routed.

Horse Jagers overrun the artillery battery and pause to reform. Cossacks start to
take artillery fire from across the river.

After a pause to reform the Horse Jagers charged and destroyed the Saxon square to their front

Third victory to the Horse Jagers.

My other, independent, Cossack brigade I now moved around the village to deal with the Saxon skirmisher unit taking pot shots at the artillery. These were soon taken care of but at the cost of half the brigade, lost to supporting artillery fire from across the river.
With the remaining two battalions safety in square and the French re-enforcements concentrating on me rather than moving on Kalisz, I withdrew my forces out of cannister and musket range and waited for artillery support to arrive. This it duly did but not before a lucky long range ball shot finally persuaded my weakened Hussar unit to withdraw from the battle.
The Russian battery that moved to support me soon saw off the last of the Saxons and with the French across the river now moving to support their centre my battle was effectively over.
The remains of the independent Cossack brigade were repositioned behind the village to guard the right flank and I started to move the rest of my command behind our centre to support the under pressure left flank and centre.
It was roughly at this point the game was called for the day.

The Prus... sorry Russian reserve assault
the very stubborn Poles whilst the fight
for Tyniec rages.

The reserve rebuffed, Tyniec lost and my
Cavalry moving to cover the retreat.
Game over.

All in all a very enjoyable days wargaming with much laughter, not all forced, and a result that was fairly accurate to the historical outcome.
As can been seen I have concentrated mainly on my command area in this write up, for lots more pictures and the full AAR see the club Facebook page Kalisz 1813


Thursday, 1 June 2017

Basing My Napoleonic Figures, Addendum.

After my previous post on basing my Napoleonic figures I was asked on a couple of wargaming groups/forums how I base my French. After pointing out that "I don't do French" I started wondering how I would. After looking at some of our group's photographs of Napoleonic games and how they base their French, taking into account the requirement for them to be used for both Shako II and Black Powder rules, I came up with the following guide which I hope may be useful to those that choose to play the French.

The mounted officer in the first battalion is optional and appears to be a way that club members identify the lead battalion of a regiment.
Artillery, Cavalry and Command would be based the same as in the British post with the exception that one cavalry base may feature one or two "elite" company troopers.


Saturday, 27 May 2017

Painting a 28mm British Napoleonic Battalion.

So once again another forum comment results in another blog entry. This one was, to paraphrase, "would be interested to see how you do your figures" so here's a very rough guide.

A quick comment on how I paint my figures. I block paint colours and then apply a wash. I may, very rarely, highlight some areas after the wash. I don't use wet blending or three colour shading etc, I think the finished figures look fine for wargaming, which is what they are for after all.

With that said here is how I do paint them.

The next unit up in the painting queue wasn't a usual one, it being the Second Battalion of Detachments which was part of Kemmis' Brigade of Campbell's 4th Division at Talavera.
This unit was made up from those troops left behind in Portugal, for various reasons, following the evacuation of Moore's British army from Corunna in January 1809.
For more information on theses units see The British Battalions of Detachment in 1809 by Robert Burnham.
So this unit would have various facing colours, carry no colours and probably have an even more unkempt appearance than the rest of the army.

Main paint colours used not including Facing colours.

Primer, Varnish, and Washes used.

To get a more varied look to this unit I mixed manufacturers and assembled more with bare heads than I would normally. Rear rank are Warlord, front rank Victrix including one of their resin officers, skirmishers Victrix and Perry and a Warlord metal casualty figure.

Assembled and placed on final bases to check fit

The figures were then attached to bottle tops with UHU glue and brush primed using black Vallejo surface primer.

Attached to painting stands and primed.

Then it was time to decide which figures would represent which parent battalions and thus the facing colours and other identifying features required. Having downloaded the tables giving the breakdown of the 2nd Battalion of Detachments I added facing colours to aid with this decision.
Having done this I chose how many figures to do in each facing colour to try and give an overall representation of the historical make up.
This led to the realisation that if I was going to do any figures from the 71st Highlanders I would need some head swaps. Because although, at this time, the parent battalion was back in England and would soon be converted to a Light Infantry unit, those left behind in the Peninsula would still have been in their highland style uniforms. For the 71st this was highland bonnet and tartan trews!
All this resulted in a help call to fellow club members for highlander heads, soon sourced, as well as the following choices for facing colours.

  • Blue: Prussian Blue (965)
  • White: Ivory (918)
  • Yellow: Deep Yellow (915)
  • Black: Black Grey (862)
  • Buff: (976)
  • Gosling Green: A mix I forgot to record but a yellow green.

I paint the knapsacks and attached equipment separately and attach to the figure near the end. I find this gives me better access to heads and more importantly collars when painting.
  • Knapsack: Black (950)
  • Canteen: Pastel Blue (901)
  • Canteen Strap: Leather Brown (871)
  • Blanket: Light (990) or Neutral (992) Grey normally, sometimes with some brown mixed in.
  • Pots, Pans etc: Gunmetal Grey (863) or various browns if covered.
  • Straps: Either Off White (820) or Buff (976) depending on final figure.

Knapsacks in progress.

Onto the figures, I decided to start with the tartan trews having never tried this before. A quick internet search lead to the tartan pattern to be attempted, MacLeod. Quite happy with the results and the decision to only do three.

First attempt at Tartan trews.

My next stage is to paint the large areas so jackets and turnbacks, trousers, headgear, boots and flesh. Note the reversed colours on the drummer and facing colour panels on the drum. As this is a battalion of detachments I have included more figure in locally produced brown trousers than I would for a standard line battalion.

  • Officer/Sgt Jacket: Scarlet (817)
  • Other Ranks Jacket: Dark Vermillion (947)
  • Jacket Turnbacks: Off White (820)
  • Trousers: Off White (820), Chocolate Brown (872), Beige Brown (875), Tartan :)
  • Headgear, Boots, Cartridge box, Scabbards: Black (950)
  • Flesh: Flat Flesh (955)
  • Drum Wood: Light Brown (929)

Jackets, trousers, flesh, black areas plus
backpack and canteen on one piece figure painted.

The two headless highlanders, awaiting bonneted heads.

Next up facing colours. For the collars and shoulder straps I first paint these completely in the edging lace colour, not required on officer figures, and then fill in the facing colour afterwards. This I have found much easier and neater than painting the facing colour first and then trying to paint a thin line around it after. The cuffs are easy, no edging lace except on the drummer. Remember the drummer will have red collar, cuffs and straps if in reversed colour jacket.
I then paint all the equipment straps, remembering to do these buff for buff faced battalions and leather brown for the canteen strap. The haversack and strap are done next then any sashes (facing colour stripe in Sgt's) , shoulder tufts and headgear plumes. Then it's time for hair, musket woodwork and boot gaiters. Last at this stage is the drum bands and cords.

  • Lace: White (951)
  • Equipment Straps: Off White (820) or Buff (976)
  • Canteen Strap: Leather Brown (871)
  • Haversack: Buff (976)
  • Officer/Sgt Sash: Red (926)
  • Shoulder Tufts: Off White (820)
  • Hair: Various colours
  • Musket wood: Flat Brown (984)
  • Gaiters: Basalt Grey (869)
  • Plumes: Off White (820), Off White (820)/Dark Vermillion (947), or Deep Green (970)
  • Drum Bands: Scarlet (817)
  • Drum Cords: Off White (820)

Equipment straps, haversack, facing colours, sashes, plumes,
gaiters, hair and musket woodwork done.
Also highlander heads added.

Next I paint the jacket and cuff, button hole lace as well as wing lace on the flank companies, remembering the officers will be either silver or gold depending on the regiment. Then all the other metallics get painted; musket metalwork and bayonets, swords, pikes, buttons, shako plates, chest strap plates, canteen stoppers, scabbard tips and any buckles.
I then attach the knapsacks and touch up any paint affected while doing this.

  • Lace:White (951)
  • Officers Lace / Metalwork / Buttons: Silver (997), Gold (996)
  • Shako / Chest Plates: Brass (801)
  • White Metal Buttons: Gunmetal Grey (863)
  • Barrels/Locks: Gunmetal Grey (863)
  • Musket Butt Plate / Trigger guard: Brass (801)
  • Bayonets, Swords, Pikes: Oily Steel (865)
  • Officer Sword Hilts: Gold (996)
  • Other Sword Hilts: Brass (801)
  • Scabbard Tips: Brass (801)
  • Misc Buckles: Brass (801)

Jacket lace and all metalwork painted, Knapsacks attached.

The drummer also has a sort of half apron leg protector, this I paint either Off White or Ivory, to give contrast, depending on trouser colour.

Close up of drummer, decided to try a unit
crest on the drum face.

The last stage before applying the washes is to paint the bases using a brown craft paint that I also prime my MDF bases with and then check each figure for any omissions, error or paint splashes.

Bases painted and final check for touch ups before washes.

The first wash is on the flesh areas using Agrax Earthshade from Games Workshop. I used to paint the eyes but don't any more unless they are really wide eyed. I then use the Vallejo Game Colour Wash Sepia Shade on the rest of the figure. This is a dip but I prefer the control of brushing it on. I use this colour rather than a more black based wash as I think it gives a more dusty looking effect, which suits the Peninsula environment they will be "fighting" in.

Washes finished awaiting varnishing.
Casualty attached to his final base and plastic shako added.

Washes finished awaiting varnishing.
Better view of the highlanders.

Next comes the varnishing which again I brush on. I use an Acrylic Polyurethane Matte Varnish 27.527 from Vallejo but this has now been superseded so I will have to try it's replacement when this tub runs out. After the varnish dries they are removed from the bottle tops and fixed to their permanent bases, figure bases trimmed as required. I use superglue for this, other people use various other glues. The casualty figure, as a single figure base has the basing done before a spray varnish is used to seal the whole thing.

All ready for the basing texture etc.

How I chose the base sizes and how I texture them I covered Here on a previous post.

I hope this proves of some use to people, if nothing else it should help me remember in the future.


Basing completed.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Talavera 1809 Afternoon attack

After the previous two warm up games there was a good turnout on Saturday 14th January 2017 for the first all day game of the year at NBHW. The main afternoon assault by the French at the Battle of Talavera July 28th 1809.

Effects on units from the previously played morning attack were applied and forces set up. Once again Black Powder were the rules used, at 2/3rd distances. One exception to this was the ranges for artillery. After setting up the table and positioning the artillery in their historical locations it was discovered that at 2/3rd distances they couldn't hit areas they did historically, so we used full distance range measurements for the cannons.

The French players decided to use their artillery to batter the British troops and this they did for some time. Two British battalions were forced from the field with crippling losses before the order came that the battalions had better lie down under the fierce French bombardment. This reduced casualties as the French cannon roared on.
The French awaited the movement of Maubourg's 1st Dragoon Division to the left flank which was then to attack and defeat the Spanish. The Spanish were not helping their preparedness for the coming attack as one brigade went off to the right and another edged to the left, seeking the comfort of the redoubt and it’s artillery it seemed. This left a huge hole in their lines, it just begged for the French cavalry to arrive and break in.

Finally after a withering artillery barrage
the French Divisions advance.
The British move forward to the Portina to greet them.

After a lunch break was taken the French battalions of Villatte’s 3rd Division of 1 Corps surged forward to the Portina stream, Lapisse’s battalions of the 2nd Division endeavoured to keep up alongside in support. On the left the French cavalry drew up and charged. This attack was initially successful, the Spanish cavalry (understrength due to a lack of suitable figures) and nearby infantry were driven in. British light dragoons of Cotton's Brigade were thrown in to hold the French horse but were also defeated and thrown back. However the tiring French cavalry were beaten off by the Spanish foot around the Redoubt and withdrew, so close to achieving their aim.

Units of Bassecourt's Spanish 5th Infantry Division
await Ruffin's French Division on the allied left flank.

On the left of the allied line the Spanish of Bassecourt's 5th Infantry Division and Albuquerque's 2nd Cavalry division held Ruffin's battle weary 1st Division of 1 Corps in check.
Opposite the redoubt the 3rd Division of 4 Corps, made up of Confederation of the Rhine units, commanded by Leval seemed hesitant to leave the protection of the olive groves, leaving the 1st and 2nd divisions of 4 Corps to advance in support of 1 Corps to their right.

A warm welcome for the French columns.
The British right wing reposition behind the Spanish, just in case,
while the light dragoons head off to try and deal with the
rampaging French dragoons.

At this point, all along the Portina, the French advance that had set off with great élan was stalled as the British volleys poured into the French columns as they struggled to clear the stream. Casualties mounted among the French battalions as the British fire discipline told, despite the French artillery targeting British formations where they could. A battalion of the 48th Foot from Hill's 2nd Division was lost to this artillery fire as it moved to secure the British left. This position was the one worry for the British command as the British heavy cavalry brigade under General Fane repeatedly failed to come up in support. Despite these anxieties, British volleys won the day as the French, unable to come to grips, grudgingly withdrew.

An Anglo-Spanish win, after defeat the last time the battle was played, but a win for all those who paticipated.

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Talavera 1809 Morning Attack

Friday the 6th of January saw the first game of the year at NBHW with the second of the two Talavera prequel games. This game was of the French assault on the morning of the 28th July 1809, again in 28mm using Black Powder and once again with the outcome planned to effect the final battle.

The results from the previous game were factored in with units starting with casualties or at a reduced size. The table layout was enlarged to accommodate the extra troops involved and some of the restrictions from the night game rescinded. It was also our first attempt at representing the combined light battalions formed by the British brigades detaching their light companies. We didn't quite get this right on the night but corrected it for the following game.

The French columns advance with support from their artillery.

The French infantry advance was very tardy, but the rapid advance of General Beaumont's French light cavalry on their right forced some British combined light companies into square. The attendant horse battery struggled to bring it's guns forward over the Portina stream but three French battalions did for the square with deadly volleys of musketry.

The French approach the Portina stream
with the British light detachments to the fore.
Preparing to cross, if they can just stop getting "Disordered"

More and more French infantry now gained the Portina and engaged the British light infantry screen in an uneven duel that saw the latter largely defeated across the field. General Villatte's division advanced but little, as it did on the day, but attendant cavalry under General Merlin advanced with abandon, the Vistula Legion lancers leading. They were hit severely by British artillery and forced to retire, with casualties heavy among the Polish horse.

An ill thought out advance by the Polish Light Horse straight
into the welcoming arms of Elliot's Company Royal Artillery.
A "Blunder" roll to be fair if my memory serves.

On the British left the 14th and 16th Light Dragoons of Cotton's brigade formed up and the 14th counter charged the oncoming 5th Chasseurs à Cheval. The French horse were defeated and sent into disarray. The French horse battery, still negotiating the Portina, only just saw the danger and rapidly pulled back it's guns toward friendly infantry.

With this last action, the game was called. Both sides cannon had done some good work, the British cannon on the right particularly, and the French were happy to have seen off the British light infantry screen that may well have future consequences for the British? The French battalions were deemed to have retired from the Portina, far from defeated, as they were historically on the actual morning attack.