Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Saturday, 3 March 2012

Battle of Zumstadt - Fords of Missen campaign 1813

Our latest game was again taken from the Fords Of Missen mini campaign set in Germany in 1813. A powerful French force is marching along a river valley to join up with the rest of the Grande Armee. The French plan is to converge at Missen and deal a knock out blow to the Russian army there. Naturally the Russians had other ideas and have set a trap. The Russian General has deployed on the heights of the valley on each side and astride the French line of march at the village of Zumstadt which controls the bridge over the Misser. The wily Russian also has a large reserve off table and access to more if urgently needed.

The 15mm campaign moves, French entering from the left;
 Russians in front and to both sides! 

The French deploy from the road. Four cavalry regiments plus a horse battery move to deal with Russian cavalry on the hill in the foreground - hammer v nut?
Chris gave me two brigades to run about with this evening. The Italians (4 x 36) were to assault Zumstadt with support from the Light Cavalry Brigade, (2 x 24 Hussars plus horse battery). The other brigade was of  three battalions (3 x 36) with a foot battery attached; this was to attack the Russians on the bluffs overlooking the valley and ultimately support the attack on Zumstadt. For completeness it should be noted that this brigade also had some lancers attached - these somehow ended up stuck in front of Russian lines and basically got shot to bits very quickly before pissing off!      
Dashing hussars dash about looking dashing.
That's their job.
Chris decided to take the heavy cavalry for an outing - glory boy! These had orders to destroy the Russian cavalry on the other bluff overlooking the valley, basically 32 Dragoons and 16 Hussars. To do this he assigned both regiments of elite Saxon Cuirassiers and a third regiment of French Cuirassiers, just in case this wasn't enough he added 24 Hussars plus another horse battery - not taking any chances then?
Should these be successful they would then sweep down to cut off Zumstadt from the reinforcements we knew could join the game later on, something like another 6 x 32 Russians with another 12lb battery. So an aggressive and sound plan - attack everywhere to deny the Russians the chance to consolidate or reinforce.

Italian line making a lot of noise - they've got no idea what Russian infantry are like!

More Italians - this time looking rather shifty.
The initial moves saw the Italian attack develop and the French infantry begin to deploy for the uphill assault while the artillery banged away at the waiting Russians. The only real damage caused was by Russian musketeers to the aforementioned idiot lancers - tragic!  The Russians messed about a little but pretty much settled down to await the onslaught - dumb animals.

Those hussars again - note the red light from Chris's laser pointer - freaky.

Looking from behind Zumstadt towards the French advance. The Russian reception committee have arranged three lines  with artillery support plus three more battalions in and around Zumstadt. More Russians lining the ridge to the left.    
My attack by the French on the bluffs was starting to shape up when things suddenly went wrong in a big way. Rich sent out a few skirmishing jaegers to take pot shots and generally make a nuisance of themselves which is their job of course. What no one expected was the deadly accuracy of the shooting and the chaos this caused - a gun and crew were removed, men fell like flies and then in the madness of the situation the jaegers captured the Brigadier; Dupont - hero of France - captured! By jaeger! The shame of it!

This farce left the Brigade leaderless and unable to order charges, morale tests loomed...    

Splendid fellows - Russian Dragoons - polished and sparkling.

The same regiment, 32 strong. 

Elite company of the 5th Hussars - these are so pretty, I love them.

Rich attacks my legere with his light sabre - the filthy swine!

The shame of it! Dupont, "hero of France", is captured and presented to the Russian C in C. 
Now, Dupont has appeared in our games throughout the ages including Sci-fi games et al!
He is a survivor, a cad, a favourite of the ladies, and a self promoting chancer! He is also very lucky. Good fortune was to shine on Dupont this day as on many others. As luck would have it the Russian C-in-C was his cousin, thrice removed, but a cousin none the less! At once champagne and nibbles were called for, the tents were struck and the two fell into idle banter about their shared childhood in the courts of Europe and their exploits since. For them the battle was forgotten and the picnic began - blissful!  

Poorly photographed Russian Hussars making a go of it by charging a hell of a lot of French cavalry - URRAH!
Nut v hammer?
Back in the real world the two cavalry brigades were squaring off . The French horse guns were deployed and started banging away at the Hussars and Dragoons on the hillsides. Not content to sit and take this the plucky colonel of Hussars decided to take matters into his own hands, spurring his horse forward they swept down the hill and straight at the French light horse who outnumbered them! The ensuing melee was embarrassing for the French who were forced back - even the horse battery was limbered up and retired!

Very important people and very well dressed too - Italian Guards. Stop laughing!
Victrix with Perry mounted office, GMB flag, Barry Hill paint job.

French skirmishers are sent packing by an angry Russian bayonet charge - Grrrrr.
These are some of the Front Rank toys we picked up from Ian Hinds on our road trip last year.  

The dangers of buying on ebay when pissed. These veterans are almost certainly by Minifigs and have a strange old skool charm, maybe a new flag pole and gloss varnish would help, the mossy basing looks quite good though. Frankly these look just like everything else from three feet away which is how it happens on the table top! Sigh. 

The main event in the first few turns. Russian and Saxon heavies clash.
Not content to let the hussars make the headlines the two main bodies of cavalry charged and counter charged. The mass of heavy horsemen clashed on the hillside in a deadly and swirling melee; sabres drawing blood or stopped by blackened cuirass and brass helmets.
The result was total and decisive. The Russian Dragoons were routed with massive casualties.
We all sank into silence, Rich and Chris looked up some rules as Tony put the toys away. I took some piccies. War is a mean business.
This sudden collapse allowed the attack develop as planned once the blown horses were recovered and the division redeployed.    

Groovy French caisson by Perry miniatures. Some of those tails need a quick wash of ink, how did I miss that?

Chris and Rich pretend to read rules in embarrassed silence - Tony puts his Dragoons back the box - butchered - again.  
Back in the centre the Italians were about to get tough with the Russians! Three attack columes were bearing down on the first line with malicious intent. However once again in this game Russian musketry proved effective, two of the battalions were stopped and only the third made contact - those were promptly put to the bayonet and sent packing back to their mamma mia's! This was bollocks!

Italian columns approaching a Russian line whilst the hussars line up a charge on another.

Brace for impact ladies! 

French general staff staff milling about behind the lines. Chris likes to keep brigadiers close to the C in C for ease of order changes - control freak.

My Italians attempting to close with Russians from Ian Hinds, now in Tony's "other" collection*
* Tony's "other" collection is basically the Russians that he didn't paint. Tony is a talented painter and modeler and is quite rightly proud of his work. Now the rub is that he simply cannot bare the idea of anyone else touching his toys - ever. This is fine but it does mean that as our games get bigger and bigger he has to use all the Russians and we others can't team up with him, tricky as this is 1812/2012.

The solution was obvious - buy lots of Russians that Tony didn't paint!

Presently this amounts to 13 x 32 Russian line with a foot battery. Add the Russian Guard Corps which I have supplied. The Life Guard Corps is 6 x 32 Guard and Elites, 32 Cuirassier, 32 Hussars, 24 Uhlans, 2 x 6 gun batteries, one each of foot and horse. The Guards can always double as Grenadiers and ordinary cavalry if needed. Rich even has some cossack/tartar types we can throw in as well. So now we can play battles with two or three Russian commanders each leading a decent amount of kit.
Russian jaeger defending Zumstadt. Foundry toys from Ian Hinds.
Duponts ex-brigade had by now had a new general appointed. This one assured us that he had no relations at the Russian Court and no Tsarist sympathies. Time to get the attack underway again. However the time spent mucking about while Dupont was in absentia allowed the Russians to begin to mass for their own attack - this wasn't part of the plan at all!  

Russian line get ready to repel the Italian menace. Foundry toys from Ian Hinds.

"Calm down back there! No ones impressed."
 Excited French officers sabre rattling! 
Whilst the Italian attack was in disarray their French support was showing just how to take out infantry in  line. The 5th Hussars (they get everywhere) gritted their teeth and galloped at a full strength 32 man Russian line, at close range the musketeers let off their volley, men and horses tumbled into the mud but on they came - splendid and glorious! In the last seconds before impact the Russians lost their nerve and broke. Caught by charging cavalry they were liquidated, ceasing to exist.
After their exertions the Hussars rode back to the safety of their own lines for a rest, tea and sandwiches.

I love this regiment; Milanese troops from my Italian collection, a great paint job making the most of really excellent Victrix French plastics, loads of character and variation, GMB flag (which needs edging), paint job by Barry Hill.  

Shame about the focus. Russian fire stops two Italian battalions in their tracks - useless twats. The other column promptly lost the melee - predictably.
The hussars however wither the storm and charge home, the line goes onto retreat as it is hit - not good!  
After the farce of the Italian attack things got worse for them. General Lecchi, hero of Italy, was unfortunate enough to be shot in the cock. I know - awful news.
Whilst he was carried screaming to the rear, (for delicate field surgery with rusty instruments) his brigade was subject to a limited Russian counter attack. The Italians reacted predictably badly to flank attack by grumpy Russians and while no serious harm was done Lecchi's Brigade was reduced to a shadow of a shadow of the shadow that it was initially. Why did I ever lead an attack with  these guys?  
The last seconds before the Russian line is dispersed by jubilant hussars.  
The French Brigade on the right finally managed an attack and pushed the first Russian line off the table edge. More Russians were by now massing and the lines were starting to settle down again. Zumstadt was a  long way off still and the bridge over the Misser further still.

It was late by now and we had to make a decision;
1: Talk through what happens next like grown ups and accept that.
2: Row about the "what ifs" for the next twenty years; "he was never off-side!" etc.
3: Restart next week allowing the Russian supports to enter the fray i.e. have another brilliant wargame!

After much discussion we French allowed the Russians to convince us that "there was no point playing any further because they would so obviously win - pointless game etc". We remain secretly totally unconvinced and I for one will wish to play out the final "what if?" stages of the Battle of Zumstadt some other time.
So we packed up and chatted about the next game, the show down at Missen itself.        

Post game discussion. Chris & I think there's another night in this - the allies don't.   

The same angle as above but from the 15mm version which inspired the battle. 
This was a great game with lots of fighting, some big moves, some big results and some silly outcomes for the French staff. Dupont was released after a few days of his cousin's hospitality whilst poor Lecchi is languishing in agonizing convalescence at the nearby abbey of Missen, where he is cared for by nuns......