Sunday, 26 July 2015

Franco-Prussian War Campaign - Part 2

The action resumed this weekend, with further battles as the German III Army pushed forward on both flanks, keeping up the pressure on the French.

The campaign account continues..

6th August: Two battles were fought on this day, at Sturzelbronn and Walburg.

The Battle of Sturzelbronn

On the northern flank the Bavarian II Korps encountered elements of V Corps at Sturzelbronn in the foothills of the Vosges and immediately engaged, 3rd Division following 4th Division into action. The French began the action with their 1st Division deployed in key positions, being successively reinforced from the south by the tired but still spirited 2nd and 3rd Divisions who had fought at Worth 2 days previously. The French 1st Division took heavy casualties from massed Bavarian batteries and fell back, while both sides’ cavalry divisions were used aggressively, causing considerable disruption to the enemy. Eventually their losses, coupled with the collapse of their left flank (and the loss of no less than 3 generals), forced the French to cede the field to the Bavarians and withdraw toward Bitche, and away from the rest of MacMahon’s army.

The battlefield near Sturzelbronn, looking east:

The French 1st Division looking fairly frail as they take up their defensive positions. They'll be casting anxious glances to the right in the hope that the rest of the Corps arrives before the Bavarian hordes do:

Naturally the Bavarians win the race, and they waste no time in forming up for an assault while their artillery masses in the centre:

Despite some stubborn resistance, the French left flank is pushed from the farm complex and the overall position is compromised:

On the other flank Bavarian Cuirassiers pin the arriving French reinforcements with a sudden charge:

Simultaneously the French cavalry had launched an attack of its own over the hill behind the Bavarian flank and chaos ensued for a while. Not standing around to be routed, the French took advantage of the confusion and withdrew to the west.

The Battle of Walburg

Meanwhile to the south MacMahon saw an opportunity to strike a counter-blow at the over-extended German left flank, but his surprise advance to Walburg on the Sauer by a now-concentrated 7th Corps met unexpectedly strong opposition in the form of Prussian V Korps supported by IV Cavalry Division. In this meeting engagement the Prussians, after careful study of the ground, executed a very aggressive plan, launching the cavalry forward at the outset on the left to pin back the French, allowing time and space for a grand battery to assemble in the centre. Although the cavalry were decimated by close range fire, the well-placed artillery did likewise to the arriving French cavalry and reserve artillery in the centre. On the Prussian right the 9th Division took heavy losses from Chassepot fire while getting into position for an assault which, late in the day, put enough pressure on the French left to compound the collapse in the centre and forced a withdrawal from the field. The French had fought well and retreated in good order towards Hagenau, while the Prussians were left in no condition to follow up their narrow victory.

As in previous encounter battles, the Germans chose to concentrate their strength to allow their massed batteries and infantry assaults to negate the advantage the French Chassepot would have over a wider front:

With the grand battery already formed and doing severe damage to the French, the IV Cavalry Division erupts from the woods on the flank to buy time for the infantry to assemble:

On the other flank the French fired into the masses as fast as the could, but still they came on. More Prussians attacked from the woods, turning the French position:

Once the cavalry had done its job (at great cost), the other Prussian division formed its own sledgehammer to crack the French right:

General view, as the Prussian commander re-aligns his massed Krupps:

The decisive moment, as the French centre collapses in the face of massed shellfire and the arrival of the Prussian infantry on the hill (despite the latter having taken severe casualties in the process):

Final positions, with too few French left holding the line. Their flanks had held to this point, but a general retreat was ordered when the centre gave way:

The campaign was reaching its climax then. With French losses mounting and the advancing Germans splitting the Army of Alsace, MacMahon would be forced to pull back to re-group for what might be a final stand. Although he’d lost contact with the retreating 5th Corps, which would now come under the control of the equally beleaguered main army to the west, he still had 1st and 7th Corps reasonably concentrated and with a few days’ rest they should be able to put up a decent fight if suitable ground could be found for a battle. Staff officers hastened west to identify the Position Magnifique upon which the defence of Alsace would depend.

Crown Prince Frederick William received the reports of the two battles with some relief, neither action having been sanctioned, or expected, at the start of the day. His two Corps commanders had acted aggressively however, and secured victories which gained important positions and served to split the enemy army. Despite the cost, the campaign was progressing well and, while orders went out to halt the advance and for the army to re-group, the Prince gathered his commanders and staff to plan the final act in the battle for Alsace…

Situation at the end of 6th August:

The rotated counters denote the formations that fought on the 6th.

We're looking forward to a grand finale at the next session. :)

Sunday, 12 July 2015

Franco-Prussian War Campaign

The Franco-Prussian War began today, with some initial map moves and a couple of frontier battles fought in 6mm. Simon is playing the Crown Prince Friedrich Wilhelm, commander of German III Army tasked with crossing the border into Alsace and defeating the French defenders under Marshal MacMahon (me).

Campaign Account

Opening Clashes (12/07/2015)

1st August 1870: III Army crossed the border and attacked the French 2nd Division (of 1st Corps) stationed at Wissembourg. The lead divisions of Prussian V Korps and Bavarian II Korps pushed forward, the former taking much heavier casualties than the latter during the battle. The French were reinforced by 1st Division from the south and by a brigade from 5th Corps stationed to the west. These arrivals helped to stabilise the collapsing position of the beleaguered 2nd Division, but only long enough to allow the inevitable retreat to be conducted with some degree of order. The German artillery, massed in large batteries, dominated the battlefield and successive French formations were pulverized on coming into action. The French withdrew south to Soultz, retreating further when Prussian XI Korps followed up after the battle.

The Battle of Wissembourg:

The initial French positions, somewhat scattered and with the Bavarians already marching into Wissembourg:

Reinforcements arrive to prop up the French left flank:

On the opposite side of the field, Prussian dragoons form up in the woods to threaten the French right flank..

While massed Prussian battalions storm over the railway line:

French cavalry charge into the flank of the Bavarians as they debouch from Wissembourg, and in a relatively bloodless fight tumble them back again, relieving pressure on the defenders for a few precious minutes:

2nd August: V Korps remained at Wissembourg for two days to recover, while the much less molested Bavarian II Korps moved west to Lembach to protect the right flank of the advancing German army. The Baden Division followed XI Korps, although its Wurttemberg allies were slow in rousing themselves to cross the border, as was Bavarian I Korps which was held in reserve due to its relative lack of campaign readiness at the outset of the war. IV Cavalry Division moved up through Wissembourg and Soultz to be in place to support the rest of the army’s advance south.

3rd August: Other French formations were beginning to converge on the forces retreating from Wissembourg, the remaining 2 divisions of 1st Corps concentrating at Hagenau, and elements of 5th Corps coming down from the eastern slopes of the Vosges towards Sturzelbronn and Reichshoffen. 7th Corps was beginning to entrain further south nearer Belfort, ordered by Marshal MacMahon to come north to reinforce the worsening situation. The Baden Division probed as far as Walburg, with an unidentified French screen withdrawing in front of them.  

4th August: Taking the lead towards the south west, XI Korps approached Worth, where to the north of the town they encountered a French force assembled  from 1st Corps’ 3rd Division and, eventually,  three brigades from 5th Corps that had moved forward overnight on orders from the Marshal. In a bend of the river Sauer the close terrain forced the two armies together into a hard-fought battle. Repeated French spoiling attacks and counter-attacks delayed and, in places, even pushed back the Prussians whose left flank could make little headway until events unfolded on the right. Here, the 4th Cavalry Division came up in the afternoon and pushed past the open French left, threatening the road west to Reichshoffen.  In the centre a very powerful central artillery line was established, comprising no less than a dozen batteries which systematically destroyed the French centre and reserves. With their flank and rear threatened and the Prussians preparing to renew their assault along the line, the French used their remaining intact units to cover their retreat and break off the battle.

The Battle of Worth:

The Prussian XI Korps deployed aggressively and attacked in a well-organised manner. From the outset the French were hard put to protect their lines of communication. 

Once again, French cavalry bravely deny the enemy space and time to deploy. Although this was an early sacrifice of much of the cavalry division, by the end of the battle it had brought dividends in terms of the delay it had caused the enemy's central attack:

The dastardly German commander plots his attack. I can apologise for the sunny, washed out appearance of the photos, but not for the sartorial elegance:

French infantry make a final counter-attack to hold back the enemy, it was just enough to buy time for the retreat:

The Prussian IV Cavalry Division pins down the French left wing and the defenders know it's time to fall back before they're cut off:

5th August: With their stout defence at Worth just sufficient to protect both of their possible lines of retreat, the French chose to fall back to the west, in the direction of the main army and to maintain communications with the rest of France. This had the potential of splitting the Army of Alsace, with the rest still to the south east and the Germans in a position to exploit their central position between them.

Positions as of the end of the 5th August, with the rotated counters donating the units which fought the battle near Worth:

Hopefully there'll be a chance to progress the campaign soon.

Friday, 10 July 2015

Insulation Foam Walls Test

I have plans to make some simple ruins for the Frostgrave fantasy game setting, and for other 28mm gaming purposes. I will mix and match between bought stuff (mainly MDF) and scratchbuilt. For the latter I've decided to try XPS insulation foam board, so I ordered some sheets in 6mm and 10mm thicknesses to have a go with.

So far I've only managed a few minutes with this material - which involved snapping off a small piece from the 6mm sheet and etching some stonework on one side with a biro. This was much easier and quicker than I expected and I slapped on some undercoat and a couple of grey drybrushes to see what it would look like painted.

I'm happy enough with the results and look forward to trying some proper pieces, L-shapes, etc, with the 10mm material.



I don't have particularly grand architectural plans, I just want some wall ruins, with some window and door openings and a few partial upstairs floors to get a bit of height on the table. I think I need a quiet Sunday to really get going on this, but that may be a while away as things stand.

The ease with which this material can be carved has given me some other project ideas, so I may see if thinner sheets are available too.

Tuesday, 7 July 2015

Some Fantasy Dabbling

It's been a bit quiet on the Medetian front of late, caused by the usual excuses of a busy time at work and lots of other commitments. Still, I've managed a few bits of effort here and there - mostly around something new (which of course I need like a hole in the head..)

For quite a while now I've been thinking about trying to find a way of playing some fantasy games, based on a party of adventurers and some linked dungeon-crawls - you know the sort of thing. There are lots of games out there for this type of thing, including boardgames and board/figure cross-over games, etc. I hadn't done a lot of research and was even thinking of designing something myself (and was a bit put off by the idea of having to obtain lots of floorplans or 3D dungeon scenery), so nothing was really happening with this idea. Then along came Frostgrave, which looks very nicely done, and likely to be spot on for me.

I have a reasonable head-start with stuff for this, including winter/snow terrain boards (although I appreciate that you can ignore this element of the background and set your games in any type of setting), buildings (although more on that later) - and lots of old figures from D&D and Rolemaster days.

I had a bit of nostalgic fun looking through these veteran figures from the '80s and selected the most suitable for use with Frostgrave. They'd need re-painting but doing them one at a time should be quite good fun, so I've re-undercoated and re-based some. Where they were slotta based, I've done some fudging to get them onto 2p coins. I haven't decided on the basing style yet, in terms of surface texture and painting, so for now I'm just giving them a smoothing coat of plaster to make things match.

Initially I'm working on two parties (referred to as Warbands in the game), one 'good' and one 'evil' in style. This is just for fun really, and to differentiate between the figures in a reasonably logical way. I've also got quite a few suitable monsters and other nasties that might be encountered, so should be able to get some early games in (when my pre-ordered rulebook arrives) without too much work.

The first few done:

Good old traditional adventurer types will fit into the henchmen categories, and a wizard with a pointy hat and staff will always be useful:

A Wizard and Apprentice team:

GW Empire Militia kit bashing. Lots of potential in these figures, from the 12 I had on sprues I've managed to make (in Frostgrave terms) 6 Thugs, 2 Infantrymen, 1 Archer, 1 Crossbowman, 1 Tracker and a Thief:

Of which two have been painted so far:

More old figure candidates for a possible repaint (not that I'm really likely to need more, but hey):

Some treasure markers to paint (Fenris Games):

Ideas on scenery next..