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.

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Battles at Pedamonte - 1809

Time for another big game. This ones for "lurker Robert" who called me up for posting about things "not Napoleonic" - heresy. I hope you approve?

We set up the table at the end of one session and came up with some army composition guide lines. We wanted to go big and play something out over about three weeks. From memory the restrictions were as follows;

Max 50 units
Max 4 Guard grade units
Max 4 batteries
Min 10 2nd class grade units

That was it -otherwise take what ever you want! We don't do points, so in the absence of a pre-written scenario from a book or one created by one of us we use this method of producing unbalanced and often arbitrary armies. It is inherently messed up but gets two armies with an internal structure onto the table top. It also allows players to use some of the fancy kit they have without going OTT. We all know what size the various units should be and what brigade and divisional builds should look like.  It is very open to abuse but this gets policed by the teams - usually - we are all apparently close friends afterall!

There are lots of photos all of which are captioned and tell the story below.

The battlefield and deployment

Looking north east, Austrian front lines with allies & reserves on the left. Opposite are the first French brigades with more behind on the rear table. It became clear that a third French line, namely the reserves were still off table way to the rear. This seems to how to play on this size of table.      

Looking south east. Mostly Austrian cavalry! Two brigades of lights with horse artillery on the front with three regiments of heavies in reserve at the rear. One can just see the Austrian central columes mid picture and Russian Guard behind them. There's a lot of kit here!    

Looking south east over the French deployment. Oodles of French light cavalry with dragoons in support. Barely visible is a vast 8 battalion strong colume behind the trees, another beyond that and finally the French reserve cuirassiers on the extreme point of the board.

Looking due west from behind the French centre. The colume I mentioned above looks scary from here.  Bavarians next in the centre. Both formations are preceeded by light cavalry and light battalions. Text book stuff.  

Looking south west from the French positions. Beyond the Bavarians is another scary colume.
The French forward centre and left is mostly battalions of veteran or elite legere flanked by yet another light cavalry brigade with attached horse artillery.   

Looking down along the French second line.
As you see the table was reasonably uncluttered but had some key features of tactical importance. These were; hills, a lake/pond, small woods and rough ground plus two villages, both of which were set away from the centre as I didn't want a game about assaulting towns yet again.

Deployment was kept simple to allow us to get to grips with playing over three separate table tops. We need to vary this in the future allowing for deep flank marches and converging lines of march etc.    

First turns.
Here in the northern sector both sides light cavalry rush forward. The French need to secure the ground for the advance of that massive colume. Also hopefully driving the Austrian and Russian lights away thereby turning the flank on the centre just as the colume attacks.
Ballsy big game strategy on show here!
The Austrians need to prevent this and attack the unwieldy colume in the flank.   

The French left in motion against my Austrians. Light cavalry with horse battery attempt to work around the wood whilst good quality foot pin the Austrian blocks.
To the right more of those intimidating attack columes grind forward. 

Austrian brigade in reserve behind the southern flank. For now they are in perfect order. 

Russian Life Guard with Guard 12lb foot battery - our final reserve.
6 x 32 strong battalions, 3 Guard, 3 Elite.

Another shot of the Russian Guards. Also appearing are some Austrian Landwher hanging about in line and top left is one of four Austrian Grenadiers battalions lurking about in support of the centre.

Austrian heavy cavalry reserve at rest on the north western flank. Safely on the rear table out of harms way.
2 x 24 Cuirassier and 1 x 24 Dragoons. 

Early action

French and Russian lancers open the account. The battle for supremacy here would see-saw violently and drag on for ages. Both sides committing ever more regiments to the fray.

Action approaches in the south. The French won the battle for position managing to insert a horse battery at the end of their line ready to properly mess up the advancing Austrians. The seemingly "thin blue line" is infact very high quality legere who are more than capable of out shooting the Austrian battalion blocks.
Both side have support in depth.

In the deep south a French cavalry regiments gets around the woods to meet this 48 strong line deployed ready for just such a thrust. Further support in the shape of a Landwehr square is behind that.
The cavalry rode through the desultory fire and cut down the battalion on the spot before rallying on the spot to charge again. UUUURGH! Typical start from me...   

Landwehr and foot battery support the big battalions at the front.
Their flank has just been horribly exposed to rampaging French cavalry by my failure above.

Meanwhile back up north...

That nasty French colume has arrived with cavalry and artillery support. The small lake even protects a flank as if needed. Cavalry buzz about.

The French have brought up a brigade of Dragoons to press their early advantage. These face off against Austrian Uhlans and Hussars with horse guns in support.  

Way back down south my brigade didn't like the line being cut down and fell back. The hussars charge again, this time wading through canister to cut down the artillery too - finally riding back around the wood to catch some breath and reform! Ye Gads. By the time this lot was sorted out the game was nearly over. retreating battalions fell back into the supporting brigade causing disorder and chaos here on the main table and that behind.   

The French deploy the Guard artillery as a Grand Battery - this promptly takes one gun model off the Austrian battery!   
So why the Battles at Piedmonte? Why not the Battle of Piedmonte? You may well ask. The answer is as follows; there is more than one town in this region called Piedmonte - simple! In fact there are four Piedmontes all within 2 miles of each other.

Over the years various civic authorities have attempted to impose some order to the situation. For example Marius Serronti led protracted negotiations in the 1740's attempting to distinguish each from the other by adding a descriptive pronoun to each such as "east", "north", "small", "large" etc. All of this fell deaf ears. As far as the Piedmontese of each Piedmonte is concerned there is only one Piedmonte - their own. None are aggressive about it, just adamant. No one seems to care in the locality that there are three others.

Now, for bureaucratic reasons one can see how an outside authority might wish to distinguish between the four Piedmontes. It's very difficult to tax anything if you can't quite pin down who/what is where. Things are complicated further when you look a little deeper, it seems there are only about four or five surnames in use and about ten christian names for each gender. To really cause a headache most of the street names are also duplicated in each town. Great for avoiding tax! And there you have it, Piedmonte is a very simple tax haven. They don't make or export much, they just have fun amd don't pay tax.  

Outsiders refer to the area as The Pedamontes, locals stick to Pedamonte. Apparently a local can tell which Pedamonte is being referred to by some slight inflection of pronunciation, who knows?

Hence we refer the Battles at Pedamonte.              

Things hot up pretty much everywhere

To compound my woes the French bring up their Cuirassier brigade - sensing blood these reserves are rushed up to deliver a coup de grace. They just need to find a way through.

The Old Guard Grand Battery.
Although very powerful and making its presence felt, this wasn't as devastating as I expected. 

French columes advance to either side if the Grand Batteries corridor of fire.

Here they come. A well supported Divisional colume of two brigades heads forward.

The French central position.
Rich slips some dodgy Dutchmen between a battery and the lakeside (a pond really). 

Tony directs his battalions with a stern expression of determination.

Not how Chris would have planned it! French dragoons catch Hussars at the halt and faltered.
Is this going totally tits up for the hapless allies or what? 

Russian horse battery supporting the Austrian light cavalry dish out some fire on.... 

....the hordes of French light cavalry streaming forward alongside that silly great big colume. 

A good panoramic shot from north to south. Tony & Rich compare light sabres - Jedi scum!
The centres haven't even closed yet, it's all happening on the flanks. 

Where the northern sector joins the centre.
One battle weary regiment of Russian Uhlans holds the hillside in the face of incredible pressure.
Behind them the first Russian Guard guns enter the main battle zone.   

And another view from the Uhlans perspective.

From behind the Austrian centre.
The town of Pedamonte, then my savaged formations being driven back in confusion by Rich's rampant light cavalry are top right . Bavarian and Dutch troops occupy the heights over looking Pedamonte in front of which my other Division is being squeezed as well. 

On the southern flank I am getting back some semblance of order. Note French Cuirassiers deploying in the rear.
The French lights have regrouped and are threatening me again - outrageous cheek! 

The boys move their troops and keep an eagle eye on the others toys in case of trickery - more of which later.
This series of shots swings gently to the left from behind the French southern flank, it's rather pretty. 

Here we see the extent of the French advance against my wretched Austrians. Here they are again, knocking shit out of my Landwehr square. The rather pretty corner of the table over the bridge was not fought over at all.
Local legend speaks of a troll who lives under it so maybe the generals just ignored it for fear of waking the beast.
Goats avoid it, except Big Billy Goats Gruff.

Bavarians and Dodgy Dutch with French artillery support occupy the heights above Pedamonte. These monkeys turned out to be mostly 2nd Class but luckily for them didn't get much involved in the fighting. By contrast my 2nd Class muck got involved everywhere, mostly to their own detriment sadly.    

The northernmost French colume nears its target as it crests the hill.

Looking due north.

Finally the Austrian high command manages to release some of the reserves. Here the lead battalions and regiments of the Russian Guard infantry and Austrian heavies step onto the main table.  This is exactly what we needed and exactly where we needed it. 

That huge colume seems to have Italians in it - sounds like 2nd Class rubbish to me!
They look pretty splendid though.

The rear of French Hussars - something I would love to have seen on my flank! This might be two regiments mixed up on closer inspection. Those Russian Uhlans opposite were absolute stalwarts.

Here they come! Combined regiments of Westphalian Cuirassiers with French Cuirassiers in support get ready to deliver the knock out blow against the Austrian right.

Up close and personal

Are the French and their allies about to unpick the centre too?

Nice shot of the southern sector seemingly late in the day judging by the sunshine.
No sign of that troll. 

Chris looks down on the wreckage of my Austrians - he's doing much better up norf.
The Old Guard Grand Battery is still at it.
Rich's doesn't really have little stubby fingers.

A retreating Dutch line unforms almost everything it interpenetrates causing paralysis on the hilltop - haha.

Chris is pleased with the arrival of our best troops although it still looks scary.  

Same sector - different angle.

Those Westphalian & French Cuirassiers sneaking through.  
At last the evidence the wargaming world has been waiting for...

Finally caught for the first time on camera; Rich "pinching and inch" in the movement phase.
This time honoured, if underhand, skulduggery is as old wargaming itself. I bet you Wells, Featherstone, Gilder, Grant, Young, all of them contemplated this and, libel aside, possibly even pinched an inch themselves at some point.     

Allied reserves arrive to stabilize the left flank. Note that the cavalry action has severely depleted both sides.

Those poor Uhlans in action again. Even the general seems reluctant to lead them. 

Looking south east.

Looking south west. 

Looking almost west!

Lead battalions of the Russian Guard infantry.
These are Warlord plastics with GMB flags and Bicorne finials.
Painted by Barry Hill, based by me. Possibly a few Front Rank officers etc in there too.  

Some close ups
Russian Guard again, not that close-up on reflection!  

Austrian Cuirassiers from Elite Miniatures, painted by Tony Laughton, based by Chris & I.
GMB flag.

Russian Cuirassiers from Front Rank standing in as Austrians. Tony Laughton paint job, JJ basing

Schwarzenburg's Uhlans from Foundry, painted by Tony Laughton, based by Chris.
Need pennants Chris! 

In the nick of time the Russian Guard artillery deploy and do appalling casualties to the head of Tony's colume - an entire battalion is dispersed on the spot, phew. 

Russian Guardsmen approach the offending Frenchies.

A curiously effective way of capturing the moment. 

Closing in on some decisive moments

The French left closes in my position which is in some confusion still.

The Austrian central Division has just broken and retired! Also one of mine!
The road to Pedamonte lies open to the previously useless French allies.
Some days you wonder why you ever bother.

This hill is now safe and the Russian Guard are about to counter attack, see below...

With the hilltop in safe hands the Russian Guard infantry go over to the attack.
They are well supported by heavy cavalry.

Allied cavalry reserve prepare to clear the field allowing those poor Uhlans some respite.  

Looking north west over the northern sector.
Clearly visible is the shattered head of the colume and the wall of allied reserves about to fall on it with viscous intent.

Despite the French "phasing" and charging first these "Guard" grade troops can counter charge, this allowed the lead Guard regiments to throw back and in one case rout the Italian 2nd classers.
Russian Cuirassiers liquidate the spent French light horse.
Just entering the table is a French Guard Regiment - fashionably late!     

Same action as above.

Even the Uhlans win against these dragoons!

More of the same, BUT now the French centre has occupied Pedamonte and consolidated the hilltop position. 
The end game.

My Austrian formations bracing for impact. Much of this lot is badly shot up, gulp!  

Desperate charge by French lights fails to rescue the northern flank.

Finally an order gets through to the Austrian Grendiers in reserve! They are required to retake Pedamonte with all haste. They fail.

Austrian heavies.

More Austrian heavies.

Everyone's fave Uhlans.

Hammer v nut.

As usual these Italians cheerfully attack Russian Guardsmen with no real idea of the plop ahead of them! 

The Mamluk squadron of the Chasseurs a cheval of the Guard.
They arrived only in time to cover the withdrawal of the remaining French cavalry.
Bicorne Miniatures riders on Front Rank horses.

The northern sector ended in defeat for the French, but only after the intervention of the strongest allied reserves. 

The French centre holding Pedamonte and the heights overlooking it.

These boys were in action since turn one.

French ADC leg sit from Russian heavies.

2nd class French allies run into top class Russian Guards with predictable consequences.
Tony's colume crumbled. 

We won you sourpuss -  what do I have to do to make you happy?

Tony's big attack colume is broken up by the allied reserve in the nick of time. Allied cavalry claim the field in the north. 

No pictures exist of what happened when the Westphalian combined Cuirassiers charged. It wasn't pleasant for the Austrians though - pretty much continuing the theme my flank from turn one. Nevermind. 

The End positions in the centre and north.
So that was a good game. A see saw ding dong battle lasting three nights with over 3000 model participants representing over 60,000 real combatants.

We judged it a French win. The intervention of the allied Guard and Heavy cavalry prevented total collapse. They also proved what these troops can do when massed in the right place against shaken or lesser class enemies.

The tables worked well. When we get the hang of it we'll try fighting across them too as this didn't happen really in this game. The extra space allowed for proper depth which can be increased still further by keeping reserves off table.

French Old Guard Mamluk officer waves good bye!!! 

Hope you enjoyed this one and feel free to comment. See you next time.


  1. A really incredible looking battle! Very much appreciate you sharing!

  2. What a great game and a great gaming room! inspirational. I give this 10/10/.

    1. 10/10 - hi praise indeed, thanks a lot.

  3. Another awesome spectacle! Brilliant blow by blow account, can almost smell the cordite!
    More please chaps.

    1. Cordite? That might actually be dirty Austrian underwear...

  4. JJ this is an awesome battle report accompanied by some simply sensational photographs. Great looking units mate and you and the lads obviously have a great time whenever you game. Great stuff!!

    1. Cheers Carlo, very happy to hear you appreciate our efforts. We do have fun and I for one always look forward to meeting the lads and playing alongside them.
      Have fun yourself and call back.

  5. Hi JJ I'm lurking no longer! Great battle report! Absolutely love the pictures and the descriptions I also like the historical way you guys play that immense french column attack was excellent! :) As always reading your blog always leaves me wanting more! Lol although I realise from my own efforts it takes alot of time and hard work to keep a blog regularly updated! Once again inspirational stuff can't wait till I can muster something similiar myself! One thing I'd like to hear about were the opposing player's plans for the battle, also how do you do deployment is it predetermined or one player deploys then the other? Cheers Rob :)

    1. Hi Robert, I'll try to address you points in a future post! We sat around tonight working up an old school way of doing selection and deployment, more to follow... so you'll have to wait and see.

  6. Lol I seem to check your blog 3 times a day at least so looking forward to it as well as the next update! :)