Sunday, November 19, 2017

The Mariners' Museum, Part One: Entrance and American Civil War

A couple of rainy Sundays ago, I packed up my wife and son and took off to the Mariner's Museum located up the road in Newport News, Virginia. I had been planning a trip to the museum for years, but never got around to it. Having visited today, I could kick myself for not having visited earlier.

The museum is one of the premier attractions in the Hampton Roads area and prides itself as the home of the original turret of the USS Monitor. The famous battle between "the Monitor and the Merrimac" occurred only a short distance away from the museum. (ed. it was actually a battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia, which was remodeled from the captured USS Merrimac into a gunship).

The visit turned out to be much more. The miniature ship collection of August Crabtree is purported to be one of the finest, if not the finest, miniature ship collections in the world. It was truly awesome, and I had no idea that the museum housed this outstanding exhibit.

There were entire sections covering World War 2, the War of 1812, the Spanish-American War, and even the Napoleonic Wars (with a huge section dedicated to Admiral Nelson).

This is just part one of the blog post, focusing on the entrance and the museum's section covering the famous battle between the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia.

If you are in the area, you must visit this museum. You will not be disappointed. These pictures do not do the museum justice; it really is a hidden gem in Tidewater, Virginia.

As we entered the museum, we were met with several interesting artifacts.

The entrance to the museum, guarded by 2 Spanish harbor cannon

This Spanish 24 lb cannon guarded Fortress Cabana in Havana Cuba and is dated 1721 and displays the coat of arms of Phiulip V, King of Spain

This beauty also helped guard Fortress Cabana and is dated 1746. It displays the coat of arms of Spanish King Ferdinand VI

Upon entering the museum, you are greeted with the figurehead of the HMS Formidable, dated 1825

The Eagle Figurehead of the USS Lancaster, circa 1881

The jewel of the museum is its USS Monitor section, housing items and educational materials of both the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia.

Entering the American Civil War section, here is a 9" Dahlgren gun from the CSS Virginia that was shot away by the USS Cumberland

The USS Monitor's Engine Room Clock

A full scale model of the CSS Virginia

Personal items purportedly owned by the Captain of the CSS Virginia

The museum has a myriad of educational displays posted throughout

More detailed info on the CSS Virginia, including the ship's wheel

A reconstruction on what the USS Monitor's turret looked like when discovered

A modern-day view the turret house

Built by the Newport News Shipyard, this full-scale reconstruction of the USS Monitor lies outside the doors

The actual turret of the USS Monitor is painstakingly preserved

These pictures really do not do the museum justice. The Mariner's Museum is an incredible national treasure. An up-close and personal visit is highly recommended. The pictures above are not to be used for any commercial purposes and are meant to merely educate and entice others to visit this superb museum. 

Next:  The Crabtree collection, the Napoleonic Wars, and other eras

Sunday, October 29, 2017

SAGA on a rainy Sunday

It's pouring outside and, as chance would have it, I just happened to finish basing and flocking my newly received 28mm Anglo-Saxons from Evil Bob's Painting Service. So, in short order, I set up a simple table with sparse terrain and got everything ready for a SAGA game.

SAGA, if you are not familiar with it, is a Dark Ages skirmish rules system that has since expanded from Dark Age Viking combat to the Crusades, King Arthur's wars, and beyond. It's fast, brutal, fun as hell, and easy to set up. My son and I battled it out with 6 "points" of forces each (about 40-50 figures per side). He took the Vikings and I took my newly based Saxons.

A unit of Saxon warriors awaits a Viking charge uphill

I stayed motionless on a hill and let him come to me. Taking full advantage of the defensive bonuses of the Saxon battle board (with less dice to have to activate units with), I stood like a wall as he led the attack with his hearthguard units (elite hirdmen). Rolling uncharacteristically poorly, my son bounced off my warrior units with heavy losses. As I counterattacked downhill, he knew he was in trouble. He did manage to eliminate one of my warrior units, but I had done so much damage that we called it by turn 6. It was an overwhelming Saxon victory (rare for me....he usually takes me out with his Vikings).

SAGA was perfect for a quick and easy game to pass the rainy day. We will be trying out the Anglo-Danish forces next.

Melee in SAGA

Viking hearthguard fighters strike Saxon warriors

A Saxon warlord takes on a fatigued Viking unit

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Ukraine, 1943

Leutnant Schmidt peered through his binoculars to survey the area. A burned-out building next to a wooded area looked like a perfect place for Soviet infantry.  The building appeared to be an old farmhouse before the war; now it was just cover for the enemy. The ground between the platoon leader's position and the opposite woods was wide open; it would be tricky to advance if the Soviets decided to launch an attack. Under orders to sieze the wooded area opposite his current position in order to set up a staging area for another push onto Kharkov, Otto Schmidt had an imposing force under his command. Along with the three squads of his infantry platoon, Leutnant had a 50mm mortar team and a Marder II tank at his disposal. 

Schmidt resolved to be patient and use the Marder II to cover the advance of his infantry over the open terrain. The woods on the right flank offered an opportunity to use some cover and move forward towards the objective. Looking around at his veteran Wehrmacht troops, Schmidt knew that many of them had seen almost constant action. So many faces were no longer there. The Leutnant knew that he had to capture the objective, but he would not squander his men to do it. Steeling himself to carry out the plan, Schmidt began barking orders for his men to begin is yet another fight. 

Leytenant Andrei Sokolov was tasked with holding the woods as long as possible. His job was to make the vermin pay in blood for the ground. Sokolov had risen rapidly through the ranks; the junior officers in his company were all dead and now it was his turn to command. At least the bosses tasked him to delay any enemy advance to the point of breaking, and then to melt into the woods. A good sign. A year ago, the bosses demanded that all patriot Soviet soldiers die to the last man. Sokolov was willing to sacrifice all for the motherland, and he was determined to make the enemy bleed. Having a T-34 tank to anchor his right flank and a seasoned sniper, Vasily, loaned from his sister unit, the Leytenant was confident that his men would stand. Gripping his pistol in one hand and binoculars in the other, Sokolov sensed a movement and a flash of metal in the distance. "For Mother Russia....let them come."

The Scenario

It was time for a pick-up game of Chain of Command, the scenario selected from the main rules book: A Delaying Action. Set in March of 1943, during the German counteroffensive towards Kharkov, a German Wehrmacht platoon is tasked with seizing an objective in wooded terrain. To win a victory, the Germans must either occupy and hold the objective or cause the Soviet Force Morale to drop to zero before the end of Turn 3. The Soviets win by denying the Germans their victory conditions. Initial Force Morale was 9 for both sides.

The terrain is detailed in the map below. All woods are light cover with visibility limited to 4". The burned-out structure is considered heavy cover. There are multiple hilly areas that can block Line of Sight. After the patrol phase was conducted, the jump-off points were placed and are designated on the map. The German objective and entry points for both sides' AFV's are portrayed as well.

Orders of Battle:

Wehrmacht infantry platoon

Leutnant Schmidt, Senior Leader armed with machine pistol
Panzerschreck team, 2 members

Squads 1-3:
Obergefreiter, armed with machine pistol, panzerfaust 60

LMG team: MG34 with 2 crew, 1 rifleman armed with bolt action rifle
Rifle team:  6 riflemen, armed with bolt action rifles


Marder II tank
50mm mortar team with 2 crew

Soviet infantry platoon

Leytenant Andrei Sokolov, Senior Leader armed with pistol

Squads 1-2:
Serzhant, armed with SMG
LMG with 2 crew
7 riflemen, armed with bolt action rifles

SMG Squad:
Serzhant, armed with SMG
7 infantry, armed with SMG's

T-34 tank
Sniper team

The Game

Turn One

The Germans, as the attackers, moved first. They elected to bring on the Marder II at its entry point, as well as the 50mm mortar team at the center jump-off point in a covered position behind a hill. The Soviets countered by moving the T-34 tank onto the table and throwing an infantry squad into the burned-out structure. The SMG squad rounded out the Soviet deployment by arriving at the southern-most jump-off point in the woods (which happens to be the German objective).

The Marder II tank and mortar team arrive on the table

The T-34 lumbers toward the German position

Soviet infantry take cover in the burned-out farmhouse

The SMG squad deploys on the Soviet left flank

The Germans move the Marder II up to the top of the hill for a firing position, while the 2nd squad deploys near the tank in the woods. The 1st German squad deploys on the right flank and immediately takes fire from the Soviets in the structure, absorbing a bit of shock.  The Soviet commander realizes that the southern-most woods are a path for the Germans to reach his position under cover and gives the order for the SMG squad to begin moving in that direction to blunt any German advance. 

The Marder II moves up as German infantry deploy to its flank

The German 1st squad takes fire from the building across the field

More Russian infantry deploys in the woods next to the T-34, which halts its advance, seemingly to secure the Soviet left flank. 

The Soviet right flank is secure as the T-34 and supporting infantry settle in their positions

In Phase three, the Germans rolled double 6s on their command dice, which allows them to move twice in a row. The 50mm mortar team swings into action, beginning to shower shells onto the structure in indirect fire. The Marder II also takes the initiative to fire at the T-34, hitting but having no effect in this phase. The hull-mounted machine gun in the Marder II did do some damage on the infantry deployed near the enemy tank.  In Phase four, the Germans move again. This time the Marder II hits the T-34 and damages the gun sights, affecting any future shooting by the Soviet tank. By now, the mortar team and fire from the 1st squad were beginning to have an effect on the Soviet infantry in the building, taking shock and their first casualty. The Soviets deployed the Senior leader to the structure, who promptly rallied off shock. The SMG squad moves further through the woods toward the German 1st squad position. The hapless T-34, with its damaged gun optics fired at the Marder II, but had no effect. 

The German and Soviet infantry continued to exchange fire, with the Soviets getting the worst of it. The infantry in the structure was beginning to take serious losses, as the Soviet Leytenant rallies off shock, but seeing the writing on the wall. The Soviet Senior commander gave the order to throw a smoke grenade and give the tiny garrison time to recover. Seeing the smoke grenade block the LOS to them, the German 1st squad took their chance and raced to the southern woods in order to approach the Soviet left flank from cover. Little did they know that they were on a collision course with the SMG squad moving their way. 

The SMG squad moves into the woods closer to the German position

Smoke is deployed by the Russians, as the German 1st squad takes their opportunity to move out

A smoke grenade is deployed by the Soviets inside the structure

German and Soviet infantry approach each other in the woods

The Soviet SMG squad decided to engage the German 1st squad in close combat. Being armed with SMG's, the Soviets felt that they had a distinct advantage even thought they were slightly outnumbered. The opposing squads clashed in the woods, with the Soviets rolling 23 hit dice to the Germans' 21 dice. It was a brutal fight, but the Germans beat the odds and barely came out on top, with 7 casualties inflicted on the Soviets and 6 killed on the German side. The SMG squad, with the exception of their wounded Serzhant, was eliminated. The Germans had 3 riflemen left, their Obergefreiter lay dead and were pinned due to shock. Force Morale rolls were made and both sides dropped from 9 to 7. 

The Germans and Soviets clash in close combat

After rallying shock away inside the structure, the Soviet commander used a "Chain of Command" die and ended Turn One. 

The Duel

The two opposing tanks locked themselves in a duel to the death as the infantry around them maneuvered and engaged each other. The Marder II, with the double 6's thrown by the German commander in the command dice phase, had a huge advantage by firing twice in a row at the T-34, damaging the Soviet tank's gun sights. The two tanks would battle it out for the rest of the game, with the Marder II hitting consistently and adding shock to the Soviet tank. Panicking the gunner at one point, the Soviet was unable to return fire in a phase, which added to its woes. The Marder II continued to hit, immobilizing the enemy tank, and adding more shock, which the T-34 commander was unable to rally off while continuing to fire. Once the German tank got in a few points of shock, the Soviet tank resumed an entirely defensive stance. It was only a matter of time before the Soviet commander panicked and the entire crew bailed out of the T-34, leaving it on the field.  As the Soviet tank was eliminated as a threat, the Marder II continued to support the German infantry in the last phases of the game. 

Turn Two

To begin Turn Two, the Soviets moved first (rolling double 6's again the previous phase) and began to put fire onto the now-deployed 3rd squad, which had taken the place on the German right flank as the 1st squad moved out to clash with the Soviets in the woods. In the German phase, the Senior commander, Leutnant Schmidt moved out to rally the pinned 1st squad. Surviving sniper and infantry fire from the building, Schmidt made it to cover and promptly rallied the remnants of the squad and pushed them to advance toward the Russian position. Meeting the wounded Serzhant in the woods, and losing a rifleman to the bold leader, the tiny German force finally put the junior leader out of his misery. The ensuing Soviet Force Morale is now 6. 

The Soviets then threw triple 6's in their command phase, ending Turn Two, but not before Vasily, the sniper, wounded the German 3rd squad's commander. 

Turn Three

The Germans opened Turn Three in devastating fashion. Mortar and infantry fire inflict more casualties on the Soviet infantry in the building, pinning the rest of the squad, killing the Serzhant and wounding the intrepid Leytenant Sokolov. The Soviet Force Morale is now 3, with the added result of losing 2 command dice. The Marder II finally dispatches the T-34 and the crew panics off of the table. 

Leutnant Schmidt sees the opportunity and moves the remainder of 1st squad through the woods and to the objective. The Marder II begins to approach the building, with the 2nd squad emerging from the woods, using the tank as cover. Soviet sniper fire wounds the 2nd squad's Obergefreiter and a last gasp from the LMG inside the building inflicts a kill on the 2nd squad. The 2nd squad is forced to assume a tactical stance. 

The German 2nd squad moves out behind the tank

The Soviet fire was for nothing; devastating fire from 3rd squad eliminated the remaining members of Soviet troops inside the structure. The only one that remained was a severely wounded Leytenant Sokolov, who was determined to fight to his death. Soviet Force Morale was now at 2.

As the German forces began to converge on the Soviet position, the Russian infantry on the right flank realized that the objective was in clear danger of being captured. The soldiers began to move out through the woods.

Soviet infantry, pinned and exhausted, were to be eliminated by German firepower shortly

Before the Soviets could reach the objective, Leutnant Schmidt and his rag-tag 1st squad rolled well and were able to occupy the objective. Immediately after this move, the German player used an accumulated "Chain of Command" die and ended the turn. 

The game was over. The Germans were patient and quite willing to use their superior firepower against their opponents and wear them down. The Marder II luckily "got the jump" on the T-34, from which the Soviet tank never recovered. It was a well-deserved, but close, victory for Leutnant Schmidt's force. Soviet losses included 18 infantry, 2 Serzhants killed, and one Leytenant wounded. The damaged T-34 was left unoccupied on the field. The Germans lost 8 infantry, 1 Obergefreiter killed and 1 wounded. 

The T-34 tank lay smoking and ruined 

This game of Chain of Command was highly entertaining and close until the end. In my humble opinion, it is the finest simulation of World War Two combat. I can't wait until the next game !

Leutnant Schmidt was satisfied with the victory and the meager losses versus a determined foe. "We survived another day, but tomorrow will bring more horror and challenge." He dropped behind a tree, exhausted from the action. Closing his eyes for a second, he was interrupted by a call on the radio from his superiors with yet another task. 

Postscript:  Leutnant Schmidt would win the Iron Cross for his bravery on this day. Only a month later, he would lie dead as so many other German soldiers in the rubble of Kharkov. 

Leytenant Sokolov was bleeding out. He knew that his time had come, as he lay on the floor of the ruined farmhouse, seeing his men motionless and bloodied around him. Hearing a German voice coming closer to the entrance, the brave patriot Sokolov closed his eyes for the last time, as a last flash of violence engulfed him. 

Vasily moved, seemingly effortlessly, through the thick woods toward the Soviet lines. "What a shit storm," he grumbled. 

Friday, October 13, 2017

Belgian Crossroads, 1815 (Part Two, The Game)

Already a warm and muggy day, Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d'Erlon nervously takes the telescope from his eye. His cavalry scouts were correct; there were Brunswick infantry and cavalry up ahead near the small village of Gosselies.  On the march since midnight while crossing the Sambre river at Charleroi, his troops were tired but committed to advancing ahead. They were, of course, brave French soldiers and thoroughly used to such rapid marching. It was now 11:30 am and d'Erlon braced himself for a fight. Although there was token resistance at Charleroi, it was evident that the enemy would resist the French advance all the way to Brussels. d'Erlon had only recently assumed command of I Corps of the Armee du Nord, but he realized from his long service that the Emperor Napoleon suffered no fools. If there were enemy troops ahead, he would smash the opposition and continue the advance. There was no time to waste; Napoleon's plan hinged on the element of surprise in order to defeat the combined British, Prussians, and their lesser allies. The commander gave the order to advance without delay and push these Brunswickers aside.

Frederick William, the Duke of Brunswick, patiently sat in his saddle watching the French cavalry scouts emerge from the woods.  "The frogs are on the march, and coming this way. Don't worry lads, we'll stop them." Although he was confident to all around him, he knew deep down that this would be an overwhelming force to deal with. Having just arrived in the area of Gosselies, the Duke gave orders to his division in order to assume a defensive position. After turning to one of his trusted aides, he sent a message to the Dutch General Chasse to march to the sound of the guns with his 3rd Netherlands infantry division and arrive in support. "We'll hold them here," he said quietly almost to himself. "If we can hold but a few hours, the Dutch, Belgians, and Wellington's lobsters will soon arrive." As he uttered this statement, the dust in the distance rose up to reveal what seemed like a full division of French infantry following the already substantial cavalry force that was gathering. With a sigh, the Duke set about to organize the defense.

Our current game features a defensive action made up of troops from Brunswick and the 3rd Netherlands division attempting to hold the area around the village of Gosselies in the face of a rapidly advancing French corps under d'Erlon. Gosselies lies between the town of Charleroi and the Quatre Bras battlefield, and lies directly in the path of the French objective: Brussels. This game was played out using the excellent rules General d'Armee and features multiple divisions on both sides. A meeting engagement, the scenario features reinforcements whose entry was planned prior to the game and were dependent on die rolls in order to enter the tabletop.

Full scenario details and orders of battle can be found in Part One of the blog:

The War Game

It is important to note that the opposing forces were organized differently when it came to command and control, which makes up a critical part of General d'Armee. The allied divisions (when the Dutch-Belgians finally appear) were independent of each other and therefore had no unifying Corps commander to add ADC's to the activation process. The French, on the other hand, had a Corps commander in d'Erlon, who was able to add up to 2 ADC's each turn to the division of his choice.

Randomly selected, it was determined that the French 2nd division under General de Division Donzelet would enter the battlefield first, behind the already formed cavalry division under Jacquinot. The 1st division under General de Division Quiot would arrive as reinforcements on the road to the right of Gosselies.

On the Brunswick side, the cavalry was placed on the extreme right flank, while the infantry was advancing to the right and left of the main village. The 3rd Netherlands division would enter the table on the left rear of the Brunswick position. The large wooded area opposite the French cavalry was noted to be very important to put the Jagers (with rifles) in order to control any flanking movement by the French.

The Opening Stages of Battle

On Turn 1, neither side received any reinforcements. On the French side, the cavalry and horse guns of Gobrecht's Lancer brigade maneuvered to cover the entry of Donzelet's division, which marched onto the left side of the table in maneuver columns.  In the center, Von Specht's brigade of Brunswick infantry formed into line and advanced toward the village of Gosselies. By Turn 2, the Brunswick jagers of Buttlar's light brigade moved through the woods on the French left and began to use their rifles to harass and weaken the horse guns that were deployed to cover the French deployment. In the center, Von Specht's brigade became Hesitant and was unable to advance further to Gosselies. Already, the command and control issues had begun for the allies. The French guns answered back and inflicted casualties on the jagers at the edge of the woods, while Gobrecht's Lancers began to take casualties from the Brunswick guns on the heights. It was obvious that the wooded area on the French left was a critical point to defend and, without French infantry support, the cavalry were powerless to eject the irritating jagers.

French cavalry form up opposite the Brunswick right

Brunswick jagers inflict casualties on French horse artillery from their position in the woods

Donzelet's division, led by General de Brigade Schmitz's brigade, advances up the slope towards the awaiting Brunswick troops. Brunswick cavalry on the French left also advance toward Bruno's hussars and chasseurs, obviously itching for a fight. 

Donzelet's division advances toward the Brunswick infantry, supported by Lancers

French and Brunswick cavalry begin to engage each other as the pesky jagers continue their harassing fire

On Turn 3, Quiot's infantry division enters the table on the right of Donzelet's division. There is no sight of the 3rd Netherlands division at this point. Brunswick artillery and skirmish fire was beginning to take a toll on the advancing French. The jagers were hammering the horse guns from their covered position. Schmitz's brigade continued to advance toward the heights and the village. 

On Turn 4, d'Erlon passes 2 ADC's to Donzelet, who promptly uses the "Forwards" command for Schmitz's brigade, allowing for a faster advance. The 2/13th Legere uses this opportunity to push into the town before Von Specht could react (another Hesitant status). The French beat the odds and entered Gosselies first !  On the French right, Quiot's division was advancing toward the left flank of the Brunswick position, which was anchored by infantry and artillery. In the center, the 1/13th Legere boldly pushes up the slope, taking a ragged volley from the Brunswick 3rd Light battalion. 

French hussars suffered a setback as they charged the Brunswick Uhlans, who promptly countercharged and forced the French to retreat, throwing the French light cavalry into temporary disorder. 

There was still no sign of the Dutch-Belgian troops and the French were advancing very aggressively !

The 1/13th Legere can be seen in the distance pushing up the slope towards the awaiting Brunswick infantry

The French advance takes shape

Quiot's division on the French right begins to engage the Brunswick troops in this sector

Turn 5 sees the 3rd Netherlands division arrive onto the table.During the next two turns, the action would see-saw back and forth. After multiple charges on the French left, the Brunswick cavalry brigade would become Faltered and Retire, but the French cavalry facing them had problems of their own and became Hesitant and unable to follow up. The 1/13th would charge up the center slope but become stopped with heavy casualties. The 3/13th would arrive alongside their brothers on the slope as the Brunswickers rained musket balls downhill. After a failed attempt to dislodge the 2/13th Legere from Gosselies, Von Specht's brigade became Hesitant and had to reform for a new assault on the town. The Jagers in the woods on the French left (having forced away the horse guns due to high casualties), began to focus their aim on the hussars and chasseurs who found themselves Hesitant. The jagers were winning the fight on this flank !

On Turn 7, the Brunswick troops renewed their attack onto Gosselies and, after 2 vicious melee rounds, forced the weakened 2/13th Legere to retire. The Brunswickers now held the town!  Also in the center, French voltigeurs had inflicted casualties on the Brunswick battery commanding the heights. The Lancers of Gobrecht's brigade had already maneuvered closer in anticipation of knocking these guns out. The 2/3rd Lancers then struck, but the Brunswick artillerists aimed well, inflicting heavy canister casualties on the Lancers, forcing the French cavalry to retire. On the French right, the voltigeur screen had been eliminated due to the fire of the Brunswick guns. But the added time allowed Charlet's 1st brigade to deploy in Ordre Mixte. 

The French advance gains steam

The Voltigeurs die in front of the Brunswick guns.....

.....but buy enough time for Charlet's brigade to form up for an attack

The French attack in the center is in full swing by Turn 7
If the Duke of Brunswick's troops fought stubbornly for the first two hours of combat, inflicting severe casualties on the approaching French, Turns 8 and 9 would see the momentum shift to d'Erlon's force. By now, all of the French infantry were under Infantry Assault orders (with designated objectives), a testament to having a Corps commander in the rules system. A brigade of infantry operating under Infantry Assault is able to conduct multiple and/or supported charges. If there is one thing I've learned with the General d'Armee system, attacks need to be planned for and supported properly.
By this time, the full division of French cavalry had swung around to meet the weakened Brunswick cavalry, putting it into a Faltered state. At the end of Turn 9, French chasseurs were beginning to envelop the right flank of the Brunswickers. Donzelet's 2nd brigade was advancing through the woods, forcing the Brunswick jagers back, and following up with formed infantry in attack columns.
French cavalry prepare to sweep around the Brunswick right flank
On the French right, Charlet's brigade advanced and charged in Ordre Mixte, but were stopped cold by Brunswick artillery. The Dutch-Belgian troops were just beginning to form up behind this defensive position and were throwing Belgian jagers into the woods to threaten the French flank. Two French batteries were preparing to bombard the Brunswick troops that had occupied the town of Gosselies.
The action heats up on the French right

The initial charge by Charlet's brigade fails

The most dramatic turn of events came from the charge of the 1/17th Ligne in the center. Having repulsed the 1/13th Legere and stalled the 3/13th Legere, the 3rd Light infantry battalion was charged and routed at the top of the heights by the 1/17th Ligne, who not only had proper support in its charge, but was led personally by General de Brigade Schmitz. The 1/17th Ligne not only routed this Brunswick battalion but continued to break through in Turn 9, crashing directly into the unformed 2nd Light battalion and routing them as well. The entire center of the Brunswick position had been breached. To make matters worse, the Brunswick Light brigade's only artillery battery was severely weakened by French voltigeur fire and dispersed. 

French troops, led by the 1/17th Ligne, push through the Brunswick center

At the end of Turn 9, two out of three Brunswick brigades were in a Falter status. The 3rd Netherlands division, due to arriving late onto the field, was just beginning to deploy. After approximately two hours of combat,  the French were winning.

As we approached Turn 10, it was obvious that this would be a critical point in the battle. In the command phase, disaster continued to strike the Brunswick contingent.  The cavalry suffered a "retire" result, but were dispersed due to reaching their demoralization point. Buttlar's Light brigade received a "sauve qui peut" result (loosely translated as "run for your freakin' lives") and was also dispersed due to its demoralization point. The Duke of Brunswick's right flank and center literally crumbled. At this point, the game was called and the Duke called for a general retreat.

Although the allies had given d'Erlon's corps a bloody nose, the French prevailed, clearing the way forward to Brussels. After calculating losses (I have a standard method for percentages of hits as casualties--it seems roughly accurate when compared to actual battlefield casualty statistics) and factoring in a French cavalry pursuit, the estimated casualties for the allies came to 957 men and 2 guns. The French suffered 858 casualties and 2 guns lost as well. A sharp little fight indeed!

As for honors, General de Brigade Schmitz's charge with the 1/17th Ligne extended the boundaries of glory and was the deciding factor in the collapse of the Brunswick center. For the allies, the Brunswick jagers were especially tough in the woods and hurt the French cavalry significantly until infantry support could engage. Also, the infantry and artillery on the Brunswick left flank proved to be very stubborn in holding off the attack of General de Brigade Chartel's brigade.

Post-game observations

Although I had play-tested General d'Armee prior to this game, I expanded the scope of the battle in this one.  Adding built-up areas, a corps commander, cavalry combats, and oodles of skirmishers really forced me to dig deeper into the rules. I realized that there is a deep subtlety to this system with tons of Napoleonic flavor in the details. I was pleased with how the mechanics modeled combat in this era;  I was sold on the rules before, but now I am turning into a fanatic. Specific points noticed include the following:

-  A corps commander makes a tremendous difference, especially when attacking. I used the ADC's from d'Erlon to inspire the troops to march faster (Forwards), enable a brigade commander to lead his men to victory (Glory), and to commit brigades to a full-scale attack (Infantry Assault). These precious command initiatives made a huge difference in how the French were able to overwhelm the Brunswickers.
- Skirmishers (especially armed with rifles) are nasty in rough terrain and must be dealt with by committing resources. I felt that this simulated Napoleonic conflict especially well.
- Charges need to planned well and supported in order to achieve success. This is evident more in General d'Armee than in any other rules system that I know of.
- Artillery, although batteries can also dish out some damage, are especially vulnerable to enemy skirmishers. The guns need to be supported to be most effective.

As for the scenario, the late arrival of the Dutch-Belgian troops hurt the allies. Also, it would probably strengthen the Brunswick position if they were able to garrison the town of Gosselies from the start (the French totally surprised the allies at how fast they were able to advance and capture the town).

What a great game !  I am definitely looking forward to more battles with General d'Armee !

The Duke of Brunswick sat motionless as he saw his center and right flank deteriorate. The French had demonstrated their usual ferocity and had prevailed this day. Frederick William took comfort that his troops were able to make the enemy pay dearly for this ground. His left flank was still standing firm, but the Dutch and the Belgians weren't even in the fight yet. He reluctantly gave the order to retreat and fight another day. As a good German, he would wholeheartedly look forward to the next battle.

d'Erlon surveyed the field of carnage before him. French strength of arms had driven off the enemy on this day, but at an unacceptable price. The way to Brussels was clear again and his men would need to continue the march shortly.  d'Erlon knew that if the Brunswickers and Dutch would fight this hard, that when the British and the Prussians joined in, there would be hell to pay. After experiencing the discipline and stubbornness of Wellington's men in Spain, he knew that this would not be an easy campaign.