Following on from my article regarding the use of howitzer shells in long guns in the 1793-5 campaigns in Flanders, here is the full text from the experiments during the siege of Gibraltar;
"(Sept. 25) An experiment was recomd. by Capt. (now Major) Mercier, 39 regt., viz.: to fire out of guns 51/2" shells with short fuses, which was tried on 25 Sept. and found to answer extremely well. These small shells, according to Mercier's method, were despatched with such precision, and the fuses calculated to such exactness that the shell often burst over the enemy and wounded them before they could get under cover. This mode of annoyance was desirable on many accounts: less powder, and the enemy more seriously molested. The former was an advantage of no small consequence since it enabled the Governor to reserve, at this period, what might probably be expended to greater benefit on some future occasion; it will also account for the extraordinary no. of shells which were discharged from the Garrison. The enemy attempted this practice, but never could bring it to perfection."
(Source: Minutes of the Proceedings of the Royal Artillery Institution, vol.29, 1902-3, p.93)
James and I had a great day demonstrating "Wellington's First Battle" at Salute this year. Again we used Blackpowder(TM) to run the game of Boxtel in 1794. The Gallery shows the game as it unfolded on the day. James played the French, he quickly advanced Daendels' brigade to crowd the British Guards. The subsequent firefight developed with both sides becoming close to broken. Eventually it was the Guards brigade that was broken. The retreat of the British thus mimicked the real events at least with respect to outcome. Thanks to everyone who stopped by for a chat.
My thanks to several attendees whose photos I have added to this gallery to complete the story. Their blogs contain many other excellent photos of the games at Salute;
On Saturday 15th June 2013, we took our Wellington's First Battle demonstration game to the Phalanx Show run by the Spartans - the St. Helens Wargaming Society.
Although a long drive it was a great day out. The venue is large and was well laid out with good supporting materials. We were fortunate enough to win both the "Best Demonstration Game" and the "Best in Show" prizes - so the drive home seemed a lot shorter!
The game resulted in a French victory for James, after Colonel Vyse became a bit too ambitious and got his fragile cavalry brigade broken. The combat was however close as the British Guards brigade were successfully holding off the superior numbers of Daendels brigade;
The British left on the final move
The result of the somewhat disastrous British Cavalry charge
On a snowy 24th March 2013, I attended the new Cannon show at Retford. The show is hosted by the Retford Wargames Group and is named after a Crimean War cannon that is a key feature in the town.
The game generated a high level of interest from attendees both young and old.
Here are some of my photographs of the venue and game, which was played using Black Powder;
Nice light and airy venue - the other upstairs hall was splendid
The table set up with plenty of room for supporting materials
As the British emerge from Schyndel they can see the French vedettes in the early morning mist
Daendels brigade is struggling to get forward as it can't use "brigade moves" in the first two turns
The British Light Dragoons advance boldly to drive off the French Hussars .....
... only to be broken in the ensuing cavalry combat and resulting sweeping advance. Meanwhile Daendels finally gets his brigade moving forward - his battalion guns looking for the convenient bridge.
The French Hussars are driven off by the advancing British Guards
Wesley's brigade looks on from their position in reserve near Schyndel
The French infantry arrive to drive back the British Guards, breaking the First Foot Guards
Some links featuring other photographs of the game;
Meglomanic's blogRetford Wargames Group
The Retford Wargames Group's website is; Retford Wargames Group
Before I decided to make custom designed terrain boards for my Boxtel game, I needed to find a way to represent the many drainage ditches that covered the battlefield around Schyndel. There was several feet of ditches to be made and therefore they needed to be relatively inexpensive. The ditches also needed to be fairly narrow to fit in with the ground scale represented. Finally the ditches needed to be flexible, as those I was modelling were not straight. This post illustrates the solution that I came up with I came up with;
Obviously ditches should be below the surface of the table, consequently for my purposes an illusion has to be created. I decided that the best way to do this was to assume that the ditches were lined with bushes. This assumption enabled me to design the ditches based on the Javis Flexible Hedging product;
Placing the hedge on its side, I then used a soldering iron to melt the centre of the piece - as shown in this before and after shot;
In order to give the pieces some weight, so that theywould stay in place - I then glued the ends to two pence pieces and covered them with flock and gravel.
The whole was then painted appropriately. These photos show the finished product in play - not as good as my custom built terrain boards but a lot better than chalk marks on the cloth!
Some Dutch ditches today;
Finally a contemporary cartoon of the Duke of York battling to escape one of these pesky ditches in May 1794, when his army was all but surrounded;
On a very sunny December 1st we took our demonstration game of Wellington's First Battle to Pudsey Civic Hall near Leeds in the UK.
The strong sun dispersing the mist rather quicker than happened on 15th September 1794, revealing the British emerging from Schyndel on the right, while the French are deployed to the left, their hussars keeping close to their supporting light infantry. Although the action is known to history as the combat of Boxtel, that town is actually two game board lengths away from the heart of the action.
The French deployment with most of their strength not directly visible from Schyndel. Daendels' 6 battalion brigade deployed behind Chassé's advanced guard.
The British advance with the Light Dragoons moving ahead of the Guards brigade with Wesley's (i.e. Wellington) 3rd Brigade bringing up the rear.
Delmas trying to bring up two reluctant battalions which failed successive Black Powder command rolls.
The Guards light companies facing off the French light infantry on the right, supported by the 44th Foot.
The crisis approaches as the Guards brigade deploys across the main road to Boxtel, repulsing the French attack by breaking Daendels' brigade. Each pair of battalion guns on both sides are represented by a model gun with a single crew figure and reduced Black Powder fire effect.
My first article in a series on the British Artillery with the Duke of York in the Austrian Netherlands and United Provinces in 1794, has just been published in Issue 4 of the Smoothbore Ordnance Journal. This article focuses on the correspondence of Colonel John Stewart, Royal Artillery.
Stewart was the artillery commander of Lord Moira's force which joined the Duke of York's army in the Austrian Netherlands in June 1794. Stewart stayed with the Duke of York after Moira's return to the UK. Stewart is an interesting individual who was promoted from the ranks, having joined the Royal Artillery, as a Mattross, in 1747.
While doing the research for Wellington's First Battle in the National Archives, I discovered a letter from Stewart detailing a request for ammunition for the army's artillery (National Archives, Kew, WO 1/170 p.869). This document gives the numbers of guns with the army in October 1794 and the required ammunition. Curiously, the list of guns excludes two "curricle 3 pounder" cannon that Stewart brought with him and that were still with the army in January 1795. The ammunition requirement has created some discussion, as it includes 4⅖ inch shells for firing from the 12 pounder long guns, to the extent of 14% of the total ammunition (which implies that it was used as often as half the frequency of caseshot). This use of shells in long guns, thereby anticipates the first use of Shrapnel's Spherical Caseshot by approximately 10 years, but it fits in nicely with Stephen Summerfield's timeline for the firing of shells from long guns which stretches back to 1744;
Here are some photographs of the terrain boards being prepared;
The boards are 12mm MDF with the ditches routed using a v-shaped profile. The road and ditch networks are drawn on the boards from the master map. The ditches are painted dark brown with black bottoms to maximise impression of depth. They are then filled with Solid Water incorporating some flock and grit for variety.
The roads are a textured masonry paint highlighted with lighter colours.
The grass finish is made using Guagemaster flock based grass matting stuck down carefully with pva, with all edges concealed with additional flock (very time consuming!)
The finished boards dressed with buildings from Hovels, JR Miniatures, Battleground and Total Battle Miniatures; ponds created from painted shell holes; ploughed fields by JR Miniatures; K&M trees.
On Sunday 27th May, I took my representation of the combat of Boxtel on the 15th September 1794, to the Partizan show in Newark, UK. It was very well received. On this occasion the game was played using the Black Powder rules. Here are some photographs of the game in progress.
This photograph shows the initial set up. Part of Schyndel village is shown in the top right corner of the board, (centre right of the image), with Abercromby's Reserve Corps emerging from it led by elements of the 8th, 14th and 16th Light Dragoons and the King's Dragoon Guards and followed by the Guards infantry Brigade. Wesley's 3rd Brigade is marching through the village streets. The main road to Boxtel snakes along the bottom of the board crossing several ditches. Delmas' French 6th Division is deployed in the clearing on the left of the board, shown at the top of this photograph.
The French 8th Hussars form the vedette line awaiting the British as they emerge from the early morning mist. Skirmishing is a challenge when you don't have any carbines!
The French 8 pdr Horse Artillery of the 4th Company 9th Artillery, supporting the skirmishers of the 3rd Battalion of the 30th Light Demibrigade , both units recruited from a mixture of Dutch, Belgian and Swiss soldiers in exile. These figures are all Minifigs.
A close up of the British marching out of Schyndel, these figures are all 15mm Minifigs, with the exception of the general figures, which are from the Wessex AWI range.
On the French right, Daendels' 29th and 199th Demibrigades de Bataille advance to contact, the figures are a mixture of Minifigs and Magister Militum figures.
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The climax of the action as the British Guards have advanced in line, they are about to push back the French light troops but in turn the Guards were forced to retire by Daendels' infantry and the game ended in a draw.
Another shot of the climax, with the young Lt. Col. Arthur Wesley, future Arthur Wellesley, Duke of Wellington, in the bottom right of the image, preparing to form the 33rd Foot into line to protect the retreat of the Guards Brigade. He is wearing a very modern bicorne for the 1790's!
Here are some photos of my latest project;
A view of the the table, please imagine it is actually in the middle of the night;
Dugommier's "Division" assembled for the assault, including the young Napoleon, Victor, Junot and Marmont;
Victor assaults the Saint Louis Redoubt;
Brule advances to attack Fort Mulgrave itself;
and finally J.O.B's print showing Napoleon leading the reserve troops into the redoubt