Saturday, 23 March 2019

Dappol Grapple Part 2

The Silesian rifleman lining the hedgerows grimly selected their targets as the French mass advanced across the open fields.

Meanwhile, the 7th Lancers clattered forward unopposed. Murat, however, felt strangely uneasy. The fate of all Europe seemed to hang in the balance.

Murat: The eyes of the Emperor are upon us boys, so don't cock it up!

The Death Ride von Dörnberg

Dörnberg knew that unless he acted the French cavalry would be pouring onto his open flank within moments. It was time to do or die.

Dörnberg: Time for a bit of Warsaw Coleslaw lads! Charge!

With a cry of "Hurrah!", the Estorffs charged straight towards the Poles. Lowering their lances, the Poles immediately spurred their horses into a countercharge. Within an instant the two regiments were upon each other.

rumble, rumble, rumble...………….ting!
Murat: Go get 'em boys. Those damn Prussians 've got my Polish crown in a vault in Berlin, you know!
Meanwhile, pausing only to straighten his line, Soult marched his men straight towards the cottages. The Silesian  riflemen behind the hedgerows began picking off the voltigeurs, but could do nothing to halt the advance.

Soult: We must be dressed to impress!
 The French army opened its arms, preparing to embrace....

Napoleon: Let's let them feel the love then, shall we?

...only to receive a sharp rebuke from the defiant Germans as Murat's men were decimated by Dörnberg's Dandified Desperados.

Murat: Nooooooooooooooo!!!!

As their captain was cut down by the furious Teutonic onslaught, the shaken lancers fell back and then broke. The pursuing Estorffs then charged straight in to the Guard Dragoons who had been forming up in the rear.
Ornano: We've been Pole-vaulted!

The leading French battalion formed square, bringing the entire flanking column to a shuddering halt. Dörnberg's desperate gamble seemed to have paid off handsomely.

That far-off afternoon suddenly seem to flicker in and out of view. The atmosphere was electric.

Napoleon: Eugene!!!! Do something!

As the sound and pictures crackled and fizzed, JC and I thought we could hear the Emperor furiously shouting something. It took a couple of sharps thumps on the time machine to restore reception. As the picture resharpened, we could see that Ornano's men had made short work of the Estorffs and were chasing their shattered remnants far into the German rear. Dörnberg, alas, was dead.

Meanwhile, the inexorable French pincer movement was also beginning to have an effect.

Held up by the hedgerows to their rear, the Silesian riflemen were mercilessly shot down as they tried to retreat.

Castella de Berlans and the Swiss, however, had been made to pay dearly for their advance against the Silesians on the far left.

Swiss: We're getting more holes than our cheese!
Moments later, Alten and the Bremen Battalion, disordered by the hail of shot tearing through the cottage, were engulfed by flames as the thatch was set alight by a French cannon ball.

Alten: Now that is the flaming limit.

The Lützowers also started to take losses from the storm of French shot. Another French cannon ball tore through the walls, killing von Arentschildt. Lützow's men cried out: "Vhere are ze Prussians!"
Lützow: : It's Hanover for him!
With the fire taking hold in the ancient and tinder-dry timbers of the cottage, Alten's men were swiftly forced to evacuate. The French infantry surged forward, determined to follow up their advantage,

Napoleon: Ah, there's like coming home to a real fire!
Forced back into the narrow lane between the buildings, the Bremen Battalion started falling fast in the hail of French museketry. Alten could do little except continue the retreat.

Alten: It's getting a bit too hot for us, boys!

The only hope was for night and the Prussians. The prayers of the Lützowers seem to have been heard, however, for as the shadows lengthened in that late afternoon, the Prussian army burst onto the field.
Prussians: Dat Dat Daaaa!

Ornano had no option but to launch his blown dragoons into the Prussian masses.
Onano: Have we got to do everything round here!

It was now a race against time. The clockwork on our time machine was running out.
Napoleon: Drat! Those cursed Rosbeefs are going to get away!

Blucher reviewed the situation and realised that there was little he could do other than conduct an orderly retreat. All was far from lost. The French had been severely mauled and could be stopped another day.
Blucher: Ve're late Clausewitz! Zat ist ze last time I let you do ze navigating!

The French struggled to reorganise in the gathering darkness, but could not prevent the escape. In the confusion Ney was hit by a stray shot coming from the churchyard.....

French: Time to start frying the onions, lads.
...and Davout was felled by a Russo-German cannon ball as it raked through his beloved 67th.

It was a costly victory.

…..And so it ended. Wellington Lad II declared a narrow French tactical victory, which just about salvaged the family honour. JC, however, claimed the morale victory, and I was forced to agree. The insane charge of the Estorffs had mucked up my plans completely! JC was chuckling all the way back down the hallway as he headed back to his car.

Those were the days.


Friday, 15 March 2019

No Title

No post this week. The awful terrorist atrocity in Christchurch has taken the wind out of the sails of a lot of us down this way. Our PM says this is not who we are, and we're all desperate to believe it.


Saturday, 9 March 2019

A Dappol Grapple

My good friend, JC, came over for another whirl in my Hintonian time machine early in the New Year. Cherishing memories of the trouncing he gave me in the summer of '69, he wanted to see if he could repeat the experience by thrashing me for a second time. The tables, however, had been turned. It would be an outnumbered Coalition force, this time, attempting to hold ground against the might of the French Empire.

Stepping out of the time machine into another bright Sunday morning in that fateful year, we found the situation to be as follows:

It is early morning, and Major-General Wilhelm Daniel von Arentschildt, in temporary command of Wallmoden's Corps, has been ordered to hold the village of Dappol at all costs until the Prussian army can march to his aid. For several hours they are all that stand between Napoleon and the Prussian capital, Berlin.

Once upon a time, in the little village of Dappol…..

General Alten and his famous Bremen Battalion, the conquerors of the Imperial Guard, occupied the houses with a thin screen of Prussian riflemen in front of them to warn of the enemy's approach.

Alten: Prussia be damned. We're here for Hanover and King George!

General Lyon and the 73rd,  newly arrived from England, took to the open fields on the left flank...

Lyon: This is where we draw the line, chaps!

…while General Pirch and the Russo-Germans held the right.

Pirch: Ze last mann standing vill counterattack!

Between them were the Lützowers, garrisoning the church. Arentschildt calculated that the interlocking fire of his four battalions would destroy any Frenchmen daring to approach.

Lützow: Praise ze Lord, Lützowers, und pass ze ammunition!
Arentschildt's wild card was the Estorff Hussars. Dörnberg's Dandies steeled themselves to sell their lives dearly, although a few also pointed out that as it was Sunday they really shouldn't be trading at all, and perhaps, you know, they should come back during the week.....

Dörnberg: I'd like to say it's death or glory, boys, but I zink ve're going to get a bit of both.

As the horses stamped and chafed in the early morning mist, the church bells rang, calling the faithful to prayer. At that very moment the fog dispersed to reveal a mighty French host arrayed in front of the village. A reinforced infantry division, supported by the Imperial Guard, massed in front....

Napoleon: Ta daaaa!!

 …..while another huge column prepared to sweep around the open eastern flank.

Murat (to the 7th Vistulas): Ha Ha Ha! We can't lose this time!

The French, in their Sunday best, had also come to hear the Lesson.

Davout: Just a little morning stroll, mes enfants, and then it's dinner with a Berliner!

and also, perhaps, to dispense few lessons of their own.

De Beauharnais: What, no Leib Hussars? Where's the fun in that?

With a wave of an Imperial arm, the Emperor signalled the army to advance.

Napoleon: What are we waiting for, Marbot? Tell them to get a move on!
A lone French battery on a hill opened the battle with a crashing volley against the village.

Gunners: A little something for the donation box!
With trumpets blaring and cymbals crashing, the French army lurched into motion.

French Army: Vive L'Empereur!
To be continued.....


Saturday, 2 March 2019

Tabletop Teaser.....

Prussia Invaded
Dappol in Flames!

Report Follows

The Emperor is on the warpath again....

Full report next weekend


Saturday, 16 February 2019

Testing Times

Painting time has been a bit hard to come by lately, so there isn't a great deal to show apart from the test figure I finished this afternoon.

He's the first of my Lützow Lancers, which will complete the cavalry component of Wallmoden's Corps.

The figure is a Der Kriegspielers Napoleoniques  from set no.139: Prussian Landwehr Lancers. The rest of the regiment will also be DKs, apart from the two command figures which will be conversions of Hinton Hunt recasts.

I'm hoping these won't take too long as I've just found out that I'm to be on my travels again before too long. I'd really like to get another infantry battalion under my belt before I set off. My work stress is mounting rapidly, however, which is usually quite good for my painting rate....We'll see how we go.


Saturday, 2 February 2019

The PEF runs out of puff

Shortly before Christmas I had a bit of good news. This was that although I'd lost all my remaining photos of the battles I fought during my trip to the UK last year, my hosts had kept theirs, so all was not lost after all.

Fans of Stryker's Hinton Hunt Vintage Wargame Figures blog will have already seen the Prussian Expeditionary Force (PEF) in action during the Battle of the Four Generals. Although the side I was  playing with was beaten, the PEF under Ian's command performed splendidly. It was a huge pleasure to meet Ian and his wife again, and the lunch was yum! A big hello to Foy and Goya, too, by the way. You were really nice when I charged headlong into Ian's spotlessly-clean French windows. I completely failed to see these when I tried to sneak out into the back garden for a fag. So there you go: smoking is not only very bad for you, dear readers, it also exposes one to ridicule.*

Battered bonce notwithstanding, a few days later the PEF joined up with another beautiful Prussian army painted by the Archduke. This was but one of the Archduke's magnificent Hinton Hunt armies. The photos which follow were all taken by his Grace himself, who sent them to me a couple of months ago.

Opposing me was the Archduke's friend Ken, who fielded a mighty force of French and Poles. Most of the Poles, I believe, were Ken's, but almost everything else was from the Archduke's collection

Ken's indominable Franco-Poles

My plan was to sneak round Ken's flank with most of the PEF while the Archduke's Prussians did the heavy lifting in the centre. This turned out to be a remarkably stupid plan, as it happened.

The PEF went nowhere, as the Leib Hussars who were leading and protecting them were totally destroyed by Ken's elite Gendarmes, or at least I think that's who they were. They were certainly pretty hard.

The Leib Hussars prepare to meet their doom.
With Ken's cavalry now blocking the approaches to the bridge, there was nothing the PEF could do except form square and have a bit of a breather.

Plan B was to storm the village, but things started to go wrong almost immediately when the Garde du Corps were instantly overthrown.

It was nearly all up to the infantry after that. The Lutzowers did quite well at first by soaking up most of  Ken's artillery fire. The masses of French and Polish infantry behind Ken's guns, however, did not augur well.

Within a couple of moves the Prussian mass de manoeuvre had been whittled away to almost nothing.

Copious swearing by Blucher failed to turn the tide, although it did succeed in giving von Lutzow a bit of a shock.

Ken's strategy, on the other hand, was flawless - all my other units were shot to bits by his deadly skirmishers before his other battalions could even get near them.

His Grace, the Archduke, not only umpired with considerable aplomb, but also put me up for a couple for nights. As if this wasn't enough, the Archduchess is a wonderful cook and a supremely witty hostess who knows how to make the perfect G&T.  It was an altogether amazing and very joyful experience. I don't know what else to say, TA. I was very touched and the whole visit was completely glorious. Thank you.

Although this was the last stand of the PEF, it wasn't the last battle. Rob has also sent me pictures of the battle we fought just a couple of days later with his Spencer Smiths, so watch this space.....

Till then


* For those who may be wondering, the doors survived even if my pride did not. If it's any reassurance, Ian, I've given up charging into plate glass, and I've even made a start on giving up the evil weed too.