Monday, 9 July 2018

Neerwinden 1693…(Big Battle Bloggers' Bonanza, Part Deux)


Completing our 'rough guide to Field of Battle' with Tony, FoB Czar Steiner and Dice Demon Steve with the Sunday game.  

Neerwinden (or Landen; history can’t even decide on the names of battles in this period, though the battle designation is also used subsequently during the Napoleonic period) was fought in July 1693.
I should also remind readers that Ed Mueller has done a lot of work for V&B & wargaming in general in the Nine Years War period (1688-97 version), citing it as the Rodney Dangerfield of wars and wargaming; i.e. ‘It don’t get no respect!’ 


Assaulting the guns, as French cavalry pours through the gap...POUR LA GLOIRE!

 The French Army under Luxembourg attacked the hurriedly fortified positions of William III’s Allied Army, during three bloody assaults, eventually driving the allies from the field – from which they for the most part escaped, despite the presence of several less than hospitable waterways at their back (again, William is slated for this positioning, though perhaps we should consider that he was trying to hold disparate allies together and stop them fleeing in the face of superior force – was the positioning perhaps by design?). Losses were heavy, and despite the dyed-in-the-wool historian’s somewhat ill-informed view that ‘yet again, the victory was not exploited due to a lack of pursuit…blah…blah,’ one could argue that armies in this period were neither capable, nor willing for the most part, to engage in serious pursuit ‘post battle’.

Hey. Talk about respect and the Nine Years War all ya like, but it’s taking longer than nine years to read this damned blog post! Get on with it kid!

 It is a prime example of a confrontation designed via Louis XIV’s intended ‘peace and concession forced through the pursuit of rapid victory,’ as France, and to a large extent the allies, were bankrupting themselves in the pursuit of a war which yielded no conclusive result through battle (mainly due to the nature of warfare during the period – but that, as they say, is another story), and negotiating from a position of strength is of course preferable to being forced to offer concessions to a cocky victor.
 
The very thought of it Monsieur…mon Dieu! I put the RAW in Roi de Soleil.
 Aspects of the actual battle:

  • ·        French main assault force on the Allied right (at Neerwinden)
  • ·        Successive lines of infantry and cavalry, poised to exploit a breakthrough in the hasty defences when removed, cover the approaches.
  • ·        It takes 3 assaults to break through and rout the Allied lines.
  • ·        Berwick is famously captured by his own uncle – Marlborough’s brother Charles Churchill, at Neerwinden. Patrick Sarsfield (leading the 2nd batch of Wild Geese Irish after Limerick) is killed during a subsequent cavalry charge, and reputedly breathes his last words as he lies dying…’if only this were for Ireland…’  (I’ll just leave that one hanging there, shall I?) 



Aspects of the re-fight with FoB:

  • ·        French assaults on the Allied defences achieve breakthroughs on the Allied right (under Berwick) and in the centre under Crequi (Sarsfield almost gets to lead a cavalry charge), but the cost of these, despite local success and penetrations into the Allied line, is extremely high with regard to French Army morale.
  • ·        Despite driving the allies back in some locations, their cavalry remain fresh and ready to counterattack behind Neerwinden, but the French army is broken in the attempt (next time, I’ll add another 10 cards to each army’s morale deck in order to prolong the battle perhaps).
  • ·        Luxembourg himself, Berwick at the point of breakthrough, Feuquieres (not pronounced F**ker, honest, despite my best attempts) and Montreval, are all killed in action on the French left. (Yours truly rolled those d20s).
  • ·        Rumsdorp changes hands twice, while Neerwinden would hold out, despite incursions by Berwick and the Irish on the Allied right.
  • ·        The French army gores itself on the crucible of allied defences, allowing William III to escape with most of his cavalry intact. The French army is spread bloody across the battlefield. The French C in C is reputed to have …ahem…criticised his commanders on the left most vociferously. At this time, we are unable to confirm if some of the officers might have been shot in the field due to cowardice and insubordination.

Now that is what we mean by a battle narrative!

That French guy’s overrated!    You tell ‘em Billy, ma wee luv.

 Dispositions:
From the French left: Berwick/Rubental/Montreval/ Bezon, Luxembourg (CiC), Crequi/Sarsfield/Feuquieres, Conti and Lucan (…might be Sarsfield again – some ‘fiction’ there due to lack of source detail)
Allies: Churchill at Neerwinden, Ramsey at Laer, the somewhat abrasive Solmes in support, Tollemache at Neerlanden, supported by Bellasise and Erle.



A breakthrough on the French left.

Berwick’s assault on the Allied right is successful early on, then falters in the face of stoic Scots Guards.


The assault on Neerwinden itself will be made difficult via cannon and 'ard bastards who won't shift!


Another breakthrough in the centre. This will be easy, right? *shakes head*

We should have seen the Gardes Francaise routing from the field as a bit of an omen... Pour la Gloire? ...never mind chaps.



 The allies try to stem the flow of French units into the gap in the centre.


 The bloody crucible at Laer and Neerwinden. Both will hold out. If Berwick can just exploit the gap on the flank...?


 F**ker is shot from the saddle. No…I mean Feuquieres…Fu-Kerrr…Fooo-Caaare
The first noble casualty of the battle...but not the last. 




Look at that gap in the line. If we keep rolling even, getting the decent moves and maneuvers, we can do this...keep an eye out for Allied cavalry...

More units pour in in the centre...but it's bleeding the French in terms of army morale.

 Rumsdorp about to change hands for the first time on the French right.

 Taken by French dragoons.

 Then taken back by English foot.

But the French are stalled. A run of cards benefit the allies, let them form up and consolidate their losses.

It starts to look like a stalemate on the left. Berwick just can't get the lads moving, or at least, such that they can form up to await the Dutch cavalry. 

 And then...

Staring through his spyglass at French gains on the left and in the centre, a stray cannonball (or perhaps a well aimed one, fired by a certain gunner who had taken down St Ruth at Aughrim years earlier) decapitates the French commander in chief…as the army threatens to melt into disarray; only the forceful will of senior commanders keeps it in check. (The d20 in the picture was subsequently taken outside, while the other dice were lined up in front of it – so that they could see what happens when the dice don’t obey! Then the hammer came down…dice justice is hard, but fair chez le Duc, I think you’ll agree.)

 This can’t be right. I don’t die until next year???

 Bezon considers moving his cavalry to exploit the gap that Berwick has stopped to have a fag in. He doesn't even know that the C in C has been killed, perhaps.


...and finally gets into position to do some damage, if the boys will just move in.

Neerwinden stymies the French, despite successive (futile) assaults.

 The gap in the centre will see the French Army's main thrust.





 That Allied line holds, and pushes back.

 ...Rumsdorf welcomes its third set of victors on the day.




In a last gasp attempt to take the left flank, Berwick too is shot from the saddle (after letting le Duc down in 3 turns in a row…we can not comment at this time, as to whether he may have been shot by his own men who refused to assault the breech… ‘one more time lads!’, he was heard to scream. Despite the best efforts of our roving reporter, family and friends at St Germain have refused to comment, though Richard Hamilton smacked our cameraman in the face. Tricky Dicky loves a spot of bother. Anthony Hamilton is writing a play about it apparently).


Unbelievably, in the same phase, two more French commanders are killed.


 WTF? – how am I supposed to help the Jacobite cause now??? Who’s gonna win at Almanza?

 
 A second attack on Neerwinden. The British and Dutch hold.

 ...as the French are driven back.


 A last ditch charge in the centre. The French have run out of morale cards - a bad roll on the army morale check, and it could all be over.

The French rally and go in again...but it's too late.
 
 When the army morale card comes up, it's d10 vs d12. with all still left to play for as Allied morale is starting to dwindle...but the French, who have lost 4 of their commanders, including their C in C...withdraw.


Lots of epic touches and a great game, with no less than 3 bloggers present including Tony at Prometheus in Aspic (who we hope to have impressed with regard to FoB, Maurice and Memoir 44 – 4 games in 48 hours is never a bad thing ).
(Next time, must add 10 cards to the morale deck to extend things a little, and make cavalry a little more flexible in terms of movement).

Nine Years War? (No, not that one, the other one…oh never mind) Respect due!

18 comments:

  1. Excellent! This looked like great fun!

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  2. Thanks Jonathan. T'was most excellent. Very quick as we had two real experts on the rules, so we whizzed through the game - but that meant rapid decision making too. Such a story you get from these rules - really makes the game.

    And to see units withdraw, rally, push back in - epic stuff. I think with other rules, there seems to be a loss of drama when you start adding up modifers etc. These rules keep the pressure on.

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    1. Actually, here's something. I'm only seeing now, some of what was happening on the right flank via these pictures. I had no idea that we'd crossed the river on the right for instance. Ha! Talk about Fog of War...

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    2. Like you, I can become so focused on my command's activities, I lose all sense of what is transpiring on another wing. Not only can my BatReps focus on my activities, I often forget to take photos of other parts of the battlefield. The result may be a myopic picture of the battle. I try to be balanced but sometimes in the heat of battle, things get overlooked.

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  3. thanks for all the work in that. I was very interested in your unit size / basing / figure scale / overall look, very good and I am taking some ideas from it, so thanks again.

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    1. Cheers Norm - Ahh now there's a thing.
      I originally had pike blocks behind the three bases, but opted only to place them if the unit went into pike defence - which then gave a negative for firing, a bonus against cavalry - but key - meant that the unit had no flanks.
      ...it's still very much experimental.

      I did recently rebase the units - so three figures to a 1.5" sq base - but staggered 2 up/1 up on alternate bases. Gives more bang for the buck in terms of figure numbers

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  4. Amazing looking game Sir Duc - tough battle for the Officer class (few tears shed)

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    1. Berwick and I have had our fights Jack, but he's not a bad lad.
      Mind you, never have I had so many officers killed in one game.
      That dice is no longer with us...needless to say.

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    2. I managed to lose Cerqui but the officer losses by Le Duc were simply amazing

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  5. Was definately a game of two halves (of the table) despite the expulsion of blue air I was too engrossed in my own flank to see much of what was happening on left.
    But I could see the Army Morale dwindling so knew things were bloody.
    Got to agree FOB builds a superb narrative and just about always generates an exciting game full incident and drama just what I want from my Wargames !
    The after action meal was rather decent too :-)

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    Replies
    1. You've chosen your words well there mate.
      The Missus is reading this...phew.

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  6. Superb report Duc. A very exciting game, with loads if action and loads of dead leaders to boot! Loved the cheeky narrative too! Sounds like one of my reports!

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    1. Cheers Ray.
      Not only have I used your wonderful flags for the units, but I stole your blog post style mate.
      I kind of feel better now that you've acknowledged it. I was kinda concerned about getting slated for my rudeness by the Wargaming Blog Manners Collective... (that exists, right?)

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    2. Ray, your style is contagious! "The Rousell Elements of BatRep Style." That has a nice ring to it. Ray, you ought to consider codifying your style so others may more correctly follow your lead.

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  7. Amazing report duc. I'm currently very jealous of the gaming time you managed to snag!. Looks like you made the most of it!

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    Replies
    1. And relaaaax.
      Yep. We should probably retire and set up a Wargames Holiday Centre.
      We could get a grant from the EU...no, wait, not anymore. DOOOH

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  8. Replies
    1. Cheers George. I think we've all just about recovered by now.

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