Wednesday, June 18, 2008

The Battle of Ansell

The climactic battle of the campaign came after weeks of intricate maneuvers. Troops marched here, troops marched there, and then they marched somewhere else. It was all terribly confusing, and in the end the two sides stood staring at each other outside the town of Ansell, each determined to drive the other from the field.

A note here, battles in this period were more by seduction than brute force. Oh, the fighting was certainly nasty enough, but you had to lull the enemy into battle, you did not have the ability to force it upon him. That was what happened here. Each side thought they would gain by a victory, each thought they would lose by a defeat, and that the consequences of defeat, while bad enough, were outweighed by the dazzling promise of a victory.

Because of the woods on one flank, and a river on the other, this was going to be a head-on slugfest. So much the better, then neither side could claim that they were cheated of victory by some sly trick of marching. The ground itself had a few hills on the flanks that had not been farmed and so were rough. But most of the battlefield was flat and easy for the men and horses to march over.

The Elector interleaved his forces, wanting to throw a combination of attacks at his opponent. Most important of all, he kept a reserve back out of the fighting, putting it behind his right flank. The Duke went for a heavily weighted right of his own, but otherwise had his troops in a standard formation with foot in the middle and horse on each flank.

No battle goes quite the way it is planned, which might explain why generals prefer sieges. In the Battle of Ansell, both sides surged forward. The cavalry clashed in a repeated series of charges and countercharges before mosytly retiring behind the foot. The exception was the Rijktwats Te Paard. They got cut off in the enemy’s formation, and caused all sorts of consternation as they beat back attack after attack. In the end they too had to retire, but only after having repulsed all attacks. But on this flank the Duke’s forces had been so badly confused that night fell before they could sort out the tangle of units and press forward.

The decision, though, was on the western flank of the two armies (right for the Elector, left for the Duke). The cavalry did not have room to maneuver, and after several fruitless charges against the lone Electoral cavalry brigade in the area, they had to withdraw. The foot got engaged into a long series of musketry exchanges. The Elector’s troops shot a little straighter than the Duke’s. The latter’s troops clung to their line manfully, but in the end the punishment they were taken proved too much and they fled from the field.

The sun set on a long battle. Gallantry was displayed on both sides. The foot stuck manfully to their task, while the cavalry on both sides displayed an excellent espirit de corps that bodes well for the future. The Elector had brought 46,000 men, and lost 2,000. The Duke's forces suffered the worst (especially when their morale collapsed), losing 9,000 men out of 45,000.


Okay - this was a VnB ver. 1 linear battle. Some friends came over and I put out the troops. Almost all units were involved except the dragoons.

This did not include Partially Trained troops or Early Firelock Drill, both of which I'll use starting next month. We did not use the "when a unit routs it loses one hit automatically" rule. This seems to work for when units have 7 or 8 hits, but when they have 3 hits, nobody was sure it was needed. We might try it, though. But with commands going exhausted, a collapse was inevitable. Things sure go bad when half the army suffers a morale collapse.

One of the complaints was that there weren't enough generals. This is an issue in Volley & Bayonet, and a house rule might be put in. We also like the idea of offing these lead generals, and are always open to a house rule. Neither side had battalion guns. That's awaiting 2.0.

I'm going to upgrade my markers for various conditions. Colored slips of paper didn't do much.

The above description doesn't do justice to how the fighting went. In the future people will resume a practice of keeping a log of events. But this was very much a frontal battle with all of the losses that you get from that.

As a measure of the game, people were talking tactics at the end. Everyone was comfortable with the rules.

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