Sunday, 30 April 2017

Le Duc on the Road - Part V - Dunluce Castle

Dunluce Castle is another of Northern Ireland's trademark ancient ruined castles. That said, new archaeological evidence suggests that there have been much older historical fortifications on the site and that there was a quite modern (for the time) town there, which was destroyed during the 1641 rebellion/uprising (depending on the historical point of view).

It really is wonderfully situated, and surrounded by steep drops on each side. Perfect defensive position.

First used by the McQuillans, it became the seat of Clan McDonell in the 16th century, and served as the seat of the Earl of Antrim until after the Boyne in 1690.

Less historically significant, it has also been used to film the latter parts of the less than stellar Jackie Chan movie, The Medallion (but Clare Forlani was also in it, so how bad can it be :)  ).

The view from the approach across the bridge.

The 'drop' down to the caves below, which run beneath the castle.  D&D anyone?

View to the west along the coast, toward Portrush.

 View to the east, and some of the beautiful (if dangerous) coastline. Running smuggling ops onto this coast in the nineteenth century might not have been the most advisable occupation.

View from the original 'inn' structure, where merchants and travelling mercenaries might have stayed until gaining hospitality / entry to the castle.

The interior of the original Manor House. Interesting features here like some of the original plaster on the walls, remnants of the original stairs and...

  ...graffiti on the fireplace from the nineteenth century, when the 1850 equivalent of delinquents raised the bar, by engraving their street art into the fireplace...those crazy kids.

Visitor signage is excellent as usual.
 ...though not all areas are accessible on the day. Damn you Health & Safety...

 A model of the topography and positioning of the original castle (and the strangely 'disappeared' surrounding town).

 A pic on the way out - showing the commanding bluffs and that wonderful cave network below (the pics in the caves never really came out).

And this is just the start of the better weather. Who knows where Le Duc could end up in the summer months ?

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Game 54 - Chatterton's Hill, 1776 (with Maurice)

There's always a need for another game of Sam Mustafa's excellent Maurice - and we especially enjoy it with the American Revolution.

 This game was loosely based on the action at Chatterton's Hill from Steve Jones' excellent Rebellion sourcebook for BP, and yet again highlighted some of the unique advantages with the Maurice system. There can be chaos in terms of what you can do, though the resource management is very much by choice. For example:

  • We had instances here, where on both sides, decisions had to be made with regard to dividing forces, and that meant that the focus had to be placed on one or other flank. In the American case in this scenario, it meant that the commander was stretched, operating on one flank in terms of moving troops to defend against the flank attacked, while also trying to pull reinforcements from the other, while the British player simply pushed the bulk of his force onto the American right, and was able to effectively ignore the left (the 'lethal volley' bonus really helped here in terms of gaining ground on the hill that the Americans held).
  • Though you sometimes don't get the card mix you'd prefer, it's the resource management that is the real crux of Maurice - forcing you to focus on where the action needs to be - but of course, there's always too much to do, and there's always a need to keep forces together - even though you can't - and that's where the mechanisms really work. If you get that wrong, especially as the defender, it has real consequences as the attacker eats into your flank.
  • Still a great game, and must get some Seven Years War 15mm finished in order to do some earlier battles with more cavalry. (The British cavalry didn't even move here- but then, it didn't need to, which is what we read about in historical accounts, as opposed to what happens in some wargame rules. There needs to be something stronger than a simple activation dice roll as with BP).

 The British made their initial crossings from Wolf Hill across the Bronx Rover. The objective was the road behind the ridgeline. That said, I had never seen an attacker capture an objective in Maurice yet, without having their morale level reduced to zero. (Today changed that one...)

  Well ensconced upon Chatterton's Hill, the Americans had a large amount of Levy & Militia, whose lack of 'Lethal Vollies' (in contrast to the British) would have an effect later.

  'Steady Lads. Wait 'til you see the whites of their eyes...' (Actually mate, they're going to do a flanking action...wait for it...)

 Things get interesting now. Using the 'that's not on the map' card, an unplanned for marshy area lies smack bang in the midst of the British advance.

 So the British & Hessians form column and advance around it (rather too quickly as it turned out). The forced flanking action however, should have given the Americans time to move to their right and reinforce. In the event, the presence of British light troops and cavalry on their left flank stopped them, and they did nothing.

  A tense firefight near one of the walled areas near the river, as the Allies cross.

 'Don't worry none Zeke. Every time this here Duc guy is in charge of us Yanks, we always win.'
(Don't speak too soon mate...)

Masses of British and Hessians approach the American right, and there are far too few Continentals to defend.

Two Continental regiments manage to make it to the flank, but are shot away with intense and supported musketry.

 'Need you to move to the other flank boys...!'

 More  American columns move just in time to see militia smashed by elite troops.

 Objectives captured, morale broken. It was over for the Americans before they could get enough Continentals into position.

 'Well maybe I was wrong about this guy Zeke...I think the British are comin' '

 (Remaining unused, the British cavalry successfully guarded the Action Card deck.)

Thursday, 20 April 2017

Le Duc on the Road - Part IV - Enniskillen Castle & Crom Castle

So with school holidays and big kids who prefer to do something more cool, myself and Madame 'Le Duc' returned to a spot where we haven't been for about 20 years - for the military history mind you, not for some vaguely romantic notion *ahem* and all that...

About 20 years ago I did some research in the area related to the then little known Battle of Newtown(butler) in 1689, near Enniskillen. There's a small campaign involving the emerging Enniskillen regiments and Lord Mountcashel and some Jacobite forces, who would become the first of the C17th 'Wild Geese' to fight for France through the 1690s. Good also to see that I got most of my battlefield photographs before they built houses on the site! Anyway, that said, a couple of local Fermanagh attractions are always worth revisiting: the Castle at Enniskillen - also home to the  'Inniskilling' Regimental Museum - and also worth a visit are the remains of the original Crom Castle on the Crom Estate, near Newtownbutler.

 The original 'Water Tower' at Enniskillen Castle - part of the 1600s design, and the newer 19th century barracks.

 A couple of 9 pounders guard the entrance...

 A couple of German guns captured during the Great War, the latter being a 210mm mortar, captured by Lt. J.A.O.Brooke of the Gordon Highlanders on Oct 1914, at Gheluvelt; he was awarded a posthumous V.C. for his actions.

 The Bren gun carrier under cover of the storage room...

A mock up of Cathcart of the Enniskilleners, breaking the ice around the island town in 1689, thus denying Jacobite troops a means of crossing; if memory serves, reputedly one of the authors of one of the primary sources of the time.

 The 'See if you can lift a Matchlock one-handed' exhibit. Ms. Le Duc found it easy. I grimaced horribly...but she uses kettle bells now and then .

 Part of the Waterloo exhibit, with Inniskilling Dragoons and infantry fighting during the period.

The first battalion (ex 27th foot) of the Inniskilling Fusiliers also took part in the Gallipoli campaign in 1915.

A captured German WWI vintage anti tank gun. Reputedly, the recoil could dislocate your shoulder...

A mock up of action from Garigliano River in Italy in 1944. Action across the Gothic line, with seized German MG by Sgt Andy Anderson, who was awarded the Military Medal. Major John Nixon and Capt Bill Vincent from Killarney (who was a generous benefactor to the museum) also represented.

  A modelled piece in 1/35, showing the actions of the Dragoon Guards in Korea.

A view from outside, showing the relative difficulties in taking the island town in the 1600s.

 A swift journey south then the the Crom Estate - and the ruins of Crom Castle. Under siege twice in 1689, this approach during the second siege, would have been used by Lord Mountcashel's troops the day before the battle at Newtownbutler.

Still a lovely place to visit, and the area is dedicated to tourism, having the advantage of the lakes and the scenery. Beware the Irish weather of course - unless you like rain, but there is the odd decent day when the sun pokes through the clouds :)