Friday, 1 July 2016

The Battle of La Rothière

It's high time I posted a few pictures of some of the amazing vintage Napoleonics that I saw during my recent travels overseas.

Part of my trip was spent visiting friends and family in the UK. They live all over the country these days, so I hired a car and took to the road. As a certain Roy B (aka Lewisgunner) was on my route, I asked him if he would like to have a visitor and to my very great delight he not only said yes but also invited me to take part in the most spectacular Hinton Hunt war game.

The two sides were the French, commanded by Ian (Stryker) S, with me as his 2IC in charge of the right; and the Coalition, with Roy and Stuart C commanding an enormous force of Russians, Austrians and Bavarians. The fight was to be the Battle La Rothière of 1 February 1814, one of the opening battles of the Campaign de France.

It was an inauspicious start to the campaign. The strategic situation was that Napoleon, with a relatively weak force, had blundered into an army of Austrians, Bavarians and Russians of over twice the size. Napoleon's overconfident advance thus became a desperate defence in which simply securing time to organise an orderly retreat became his main the objective.

I took zillions of photos, but they really didn't do proper justice to Roy's stunning collection.

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
Setting up. I rather foolishly deployed my battalions into straight lines,
 They looked lovely, but made the perfect target for...

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
Stuart's massive  grand battery on the hill directly opposite.

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
Ian, meanwhile, prepared for a defence in depth on the extreme left flank.

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
The mighty massed ranks of Russians and Austrians in the Coalition
centre prepared to advance

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
While on their right, facing Ian, marched the Bavarians

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
Realising my mistake, I awkwardly tried to redeploy towards the centre,
 being raked by Stuart's guns all the while.

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
It was left to the cavalry to defend the flank. Thus began a swirling cavalry battle,
 beginning with the heavies...

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
....and finishing with the lights, where thanks to a run of
ridiculously favourable dice throws...

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
....the French prevailed. The hussars even managed to win the first round
against a Russian square. However, the didn't stick around for a second go...

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
....and nor did the Carabiniers, who foolishly charged Stuart's guns
and were utterly wiped out!
Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
Meanwhile, the Coalition centre steadily advanced....

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
...meeting stiff resistance in the fields....

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
....and on the edges of the town.

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
on the left, however, came disaster, as Roy's cavalry burst on to Ian's right flank!

Hinton Hunt Vintage Napoleonic Battle
After a final desperate charge against the Austrian hordes,
 the French conceded and quit the field!

Not content with providing this wonderful entertainment, Roy and his wife also put me up for the night and fed me like a king. Lovely food, witty and agreeable company, the whole visit was simply glorious. I was at a loss to adequately convey my thanks. I was very touched to be so warmly and generously welcomed.

A special thanks is also due to Stuart C. As I really didn't have a clue how to play Ian's rules, it was Stuart who did all the hard work, He also allowed me to carry out any number of very questionable manoeuvres. This unfailing gallantry, I'm sorry to say, was cruelly rewarded by a seemingly endless run of rotten dice throws. Without these three forms of assistance I think I'd have been utterly crushed by about the 4th turn.

Also on my trip were visits to Ian, Tony and Steve C, of which more in my next few posts.

Best regards to all

WM





9 comments :

  1. Lovely pictures Matt but this has brought back terrible flash-backs of the collapse of the left flank - never have I been so soundly whipped! I thought you made a brave fight of it faced as you were by that huge enemy battery. Still, we live to fight another day!

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    1. There were fousands of 'em, Ian, fousands!

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  2. Beautiful and intense...even if a French victory would have pleased a French member! Very nice report...

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    1. Never fear, Phil. The Emperor escaped and rallied his forces!

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  3. It would have been hard for Napoleon to win , just as it was on the day. He turned to give the allies a bloody nose and did not quite manage it, in real life or on the tabletop. the game was never intended as a 'fair fight' as the French face an enemy that is constantly arrivng on their left flank, whilst fixed to their front....shades of Waterloo. It was a great pleasure to jeetbMatt, he is a gentleman and a scholar.

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  4. Lovely photo's - they certainly show off the table and painting a treat. The good thing about commanding the Russian grand battery is there is limited moving, so more time for cake :-)

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  5. Great looking game Matt (Ian and Roy). That tops the definition of an 'away game'!
    La Rothiere is a beauty to recreate. A real challenge for both sides as a small French force with some real quality tries to hold off the massed attack over a wide front.

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