Thursday, 2 January 2020

New Year's Resolutions

Phew, that was a good one, if somewhat perilous. The lump in the landscape we chose to shin up this year was Castle Rock, which is about three hours drive north of Wellington.
Castle Rock, aka The Crag of Doom
There's a charming Department of Conservation sign just before the ascent which basically says: "Abandon all hope all ye who are daft enough to try this". I'm not entirely sure how we survived. There is absolutely nothing to hold onto on the way up or at the tiny little ledge at the top.
At the top. To give you a sense of scale, you may just be able to make out the lighthouse
 out there close to the end of the point.
My New Year's Resolution is not to do that again. On the plus side, the prospect of painting a regiment of cuirassiers suddenly didn't seem nearly so bad.

I'm still at the prepping stage with these. They're all vintage, never-before-painted Hinton Hunt FN 102s, and if you'd seen all the flash on them you'd understand why. It took me about five hours to carve it all off. By the end I was covered in little lead shavings.
Including one I did earlier.
They look quite smart now I've managed to clean them up, and there's the added enticement of the little command group I converted for them this afternoon.


I can't wait to get stuck into them!

Yours, and wishing you all the best for 2020,
WM

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Sunday, 8 December 2019

The Battle of the Holzberg 2

A feint chance of success

As the Prussians advanced, the Holzberg massif seemed to loom ever larger. Only the line of Silesian riflemen going on ahead could be seen by the massed ranks at the foot of the hill.


Prussian masses: What can you see up there?
Driberg trotted up and down in the rear, urging on his men.

Driberg: Up ze Guts, I tell you!
Realising nothing would divert the Prussians from their course, the Emperor decided to abandon his feint  towards the Prussian left and direct everything towards the heights. The Bavarian 4th Line Infantry duly altered their line of march and swerved in behind the Swiss.

Napoleon (exasperated): For goodness sake, those Prussians are too stupid
to even notice when I'm out manoeuvring them!
Moments later the cannon began to fire. First blood was to the Prussians against the Vistula Lancers on the French right. To the horror of the Polish troopers, their beloved commander, Marshal Murat, was also struck down.

Murat: If I play dead nobody will blame me for anything this time!
Retribution was swift. In almost the same instant, the elite Prussian Garde du Corps was hit by the French Artillerie a pied de la Garde.

Napoleon: Not so showy now, I think!
A wavering in the ranks

Not all was well, it seemed, in the Prussian ranks. Wallmoden's men in particular appeared much less keen to advance. Only a few Silesian riflemen had dared to approach the French left.

Silesians: We'll just tiptoe up und take a peek!
No such hesitation appeared to effect the French. The fusiliers of French First Division confidently wheeled into line, strongly supported by cavalry and artillery...
....
.
..while on their left, the crack 13e Légère stole into the woods. The Emperor was confident that no-one attempting to pass the western end of the Holzberg could possibly survive First Division's deadly crossfire.


With their flanks secure and with powerful support in the rear, the Swiss swarmed up the slopes of the Holzberg.


Opposing them, the first wave of Prussian infantry also surged up onto the hill


With the enemy now well and truly committed, the Emperor had no hesitation in unleashing his guard. Pressed together and unable to manoeuvre, the Emperor had no doubt whatsoever that the raw Prussian levies would be swiftly crushed.

Napoleon: (Yawn). Come on then, lets get this over with,
The Ogre strikes

In an instant, the Swiss charged across the hilltop and smashed into the troops opposite. The Prussian 9th Reserve Regiment was sent tumbling down the slopes. The 6th Reserve Regiment following on behind braced for the impact that was sure to follow. Driberg's plans seemed to be in tatters.


With the 45th and the 4th Bavarians also coming on to the hill, the Emperor's echeloned approach was paying dividends. The Prussians on the Holzberg were outnumbered three to two.


At the same time, the 13e Légère prepared to pounce on the unwary Lützowers on the Prussian right.



The decisive moment had arrived. Half the Prussian infantry were on the brink of being overthrown.


Driberg frantically attempted to rally his men.

Driberg: It's nutzing, Boys! Ze 9th are only pretending to run avay!!!
A twist of fate

The fate of all Europe hung in the balance. At this critical moment the Emperor seemed to pause. The colour drained from the scene. He hesitated. Somehow the initiative seemed to be slipping....


As the French in turn seemed to waver, the Prussians infantry let out a mighty "Hurrah!", and charged. The 6th Reserve crashed into the Swiss and sent them pell mell back towards the rear.


Not to be outdone, the 10th Silesians charged headlong into the Bavarians, who recoiled in disorder.


It was as nothing, however, compared to the berserker charge of  2nd Neumark Landwehr. The 45e de Ligne never stood a chance.


But it was the slaughter of the 13e Légère in the forest which was the most shocking. As Quiestil's Chasseurs fled, they were relentlessly cut down by von Lützow's merciless Schwarzen Jäger.


The 73rd looked-on aghast.

Lyon: Good heavens, Driberg, there'll be nothing left for us!
La Garde ...stops dead

The Emperor watched in astonishment as his regiments were sent  packing in panic towards the rear. Everything now depended on the 67th and the Guard. 



The Chasseurs, however, could make no headway whatsoever against the implacable Neumarks.


And the 67th were overthrown in very short order by the invincible 6th Reserve.


Only on the right was there any sort of success when the Leib Hussaren rashly decided to charge the Garde artillery.


The Grenadiers à Pied, on the other hand, were stopped dead in their tracks by the Prussian Garde zu Fuß and the Russisch-Deutsche Legion.


With four regiments effectively destroyed, and only a single battalion on the Holzberg against five of the enemy, the Emperor realised that the game was up.


Napoleon: Marbot, the Bulletin is to say: "Having decided on a minor strategic withdrawal..."

Driberg: You see, Zeithen? Straight up ze guts! It never fails!

And so it came to pass that after only seven turns I had suffered my most stunning defeat to date. My opponent, DF, graciously tried to reassure me that it was the luck of the dice, but it was clear to me that I had been thoroughly out-generaled. When playing M&M one must never disperse one's forces. I expect I will have forgotten this by the next battle...

Yours, chastened
WM

Saturday, 30 November 2019

The Battle of the Holzberg

Last weekend my good friend DF, aka the Baron von Driberg (from whom he descends), came round to duff up my Frenchmen. I decided to try out a new venue on this occasion, which was what we quaintly refer to as the "Games Room" but which is actually a rather dark, basementy affair at the back of the house that has become a general dumping ground for tatty old bits of furniture, obsolete electronics and ancient toys.

It's still used by the lads for gigantic Xbox tournaments and the occasional Warhammer stoush with their mates, but if it is to become the wargames room of my dreams it's going to need much better lighting and some heating. It's absolutely freezing in the winter.

The situation

It is the spring of 1813, and following the French victory at Dappol the Grande Armée has debouched onto the North German Plain. Only a single defensible position, the Holzberg (or La Montenbois, if you're a Frenchman), stands between the Emperor and Berlin. At this critical moment, Marshal Blücher is stricken by psychosis and has to be replaced by an obscure Hanoverian, the Baron von Driberg. The Baron, however, has an uncanny resemblance to the Marshal and it is the fervent prayer of the Prussian royal court that the troops won't notice the difference.

With his focus clearly on the Holzberg, the Baron massed his army on the right facing the hill

Driberg: I vant no nonsense zis time - it's straight onto ze hill und
bash up anybody who tries to knock us off it!
To protect his flank, however, the Baron cunningly positioned his elite cavalry behind the woods on the left. There's no point in having them shot up prematurely, he thought.

Troopers (outraged): Ve're going to be left behind by the ze footplodders!!!!
Two divisions were placed in the centre, consisting of three regiments of landwehr and resevists, bolstered by the Russisch-Deutsche Legion, the 1st Silesians and the Foot Guards.

Driberg: Foot Guards, shoot anyvun trying to run for it!!!
On the right marched Wallmoden's redcoats and the sinister black mass of the Lützowsches Freikorps. Wallmoden himself, however, hadn't bothered to turn up and Driberg was far from certain he could rely on these freebooters and foreigners.

Driberg: Ze less said about zat lot, ze better!
Meanwhile,  the Emperor had arrayed his forces facing the southern slopes of the Holzberg. With his Guard beside him he was confident of sweeping all before him.

Napoleon: Just look at that miserable Prussian rabble. We'll be in Berlin by teatime.
The advance would be led by the Franco-Swiss-Bavarian division on the right, generously supplied with artillery.


On the left was arrayed the 1st Division with the crack 13e Légère holding the place of honour on the flank. Would they try to envelop the enemy, or march straight for the Holzberg?


In the second line in the centre stood the infantry of the Guard. Driberg eyed them nervously through his telescope. What was that Corsican devil planning?






The Battle is Joined

With his famously blood-curdling battle cry, Driberg signalled the Prussian Army to advance.

Driberg: Up ze Guts, Prussians!
 The Emperor shot a glance at his marshals, who also started to move.

Napoleon: It's time for buns in Berlin, Lads!
All Europe trembled......

To be continued
WM

Friday, 22 November 2019

Harps and Lions Update

This Saturday has been all about prepping figures and fighting a battle, but I haven't got any pictures ready yet, so to be going on with I have an update on the Royal Standard of Charles I that I painted for my friend Rob about 15 months ago.

Rob has finally completed the command base that he had planned for it, which is pictured below. I'm absolutely delighted by this - not least because it shows that I'm not the only one who takes absolutely ages to get round to things!

Wrong but Romantic

I'm guessing that the King is the chap on the left. I recognise the horse-holder, however - he's a Hinchliffe gunner, if I'm not mistaken. I still have one somewhere up in the attic. Whatever they are, they have been beautifully painted.

I've pleaded with Rob to let me show off more pictures of his other wonderful ECW flags and figures, but he won't let me.

Have a great weekend
WM

Edit:

Rob tells me that the figures are:
  • for King Charles, a Warrior Miniature’s CWC7 on horse ??? (answers in a blog comment, please-possibly Essex?);
  • for the bare-headed officer, a Hinchliffe personality General Fairfax (PF23) on LH3 Light Horse Standing Arched Neck;
  • a Hinchliffe Colour Bearer In Helmet ECW11; and
  • a Hinchliffe Gunner Porte Fire ECW18 – less porte fire and powder flask changed with green stuff to a satchel.
Edit 2:

Here's another shot of them with a bit of artistic lighting!



Friday, 15 November 2019

Mind the GàP

I'm off to Auckland on a work gig this weekend, so this week's post is a little earlier than usual.

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers
Officier: Bataillion!

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers
The Grenadiers à Pied have arrived hot foot from the Interior

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers
The Emperor Arrives for the Review

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers
The Guard goes through its evolutions

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Grenadiers

Hinton Hunt Old Guard Infantry
La Garde réunie. Napoleon: Je suis content!
To recap, the figures are:

Hinton Hunt:
FN 29: Grenadiers of the Old Guard, marching x 20
FN 28: Grenadiers of the Old Guard, Sergeant, marching x 1
FN 27: Grenadiers of the Old Guard, Officer, marching x 1
FN 25: Grenadiers of the Old Guard, Drummer, charging x 1 (a David Clayton casting); and

Der Kriegspielers Napoleoniques set #20: Infantry of the Old Guard Command Group, Grenadier Eagle bearer x 1

They're going into battle next week.
Have a great weekend

WM

Edit:

What with all the talk of being shot to pieces and running away in the Comments, I thought I should post this quick test shot of the Guard getting ready for their grand photo session. Muskets & Marshals make guards units almost impossible to beat. That big red splodge, it occurred to me, is probably all that's left of  the last lot to tackle with them.