Legio Wargames

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By smacdowall, May 22 2018 12:01PM

Oudenarde is perhaps the most interesting of Marlborough’s battles. It is also the most difficult to recreate on the wargames table. It was a classic encounter battle with both sides meeting on the march and then deploying for a battle which gradually unfolded throughout the afternoon and evening of 9 July 1708.


Dragoons from the French covering force
Dragoons from the French covering force

In our first attempt to turn Oudenarde into a game (many years ago) we barely got beyond the opening moves before running out of time. It was for this reason that I decided to split the game into two parts.


The first part was fought with 25/28mm miniatures a few months ago. It recreated Cadogan’s initial crossing of the Scheldt and their encounter with the French covering force and the isolated Swiss/French battalions at Eyne and Heurne. This roughly represented the actions of the historical battle from 13:00 to 17:00. The full account of this initial game be found here.



The situation at the end of the first game
The situation at the end of the first game

The second game, fought a couple of days ago, picked up where the first one left off but this time it was fought with 15mm miniatures. The rules were the same — Close Fire and European Order which is available as a free download from the Rules section of my website. For the second game we used a scale of 1:50 and then halved the total number of battalions and squadrons. This enabled us to fight out the action on a 10 foot by 6 foot table.


Deployment for the second game on a !0'x6' table
Deployment for the second game on a !0'x6' table

The game started at the point representing 17:00 on the day of the historical battle. Rather than using the historical deployment at that time we used the position of the troops when the first game ended. This had Vendome, attached to Grimaldi’s brigade of horse, well behind Marlborough’s right flank after chasing off his Hanoverian and Prussian horse. The French foot brigades of Seluc and Dubarail were moving forward to support the cavalry breakthrough and to counter-attack the allied foot.


Cadogan's Brigade to the north of Heurne
Cadogan's Brigade to the north of Heurne

Cadogan had cleared Eyne and Heurne and were in a position not dissimilar from their historical counterparts. Meanwhile the centre and left of the French army were moving towards Mullem under the command of the Duke of Burgundy with the intention of forming a defensive line along the Rooigembeek or Norken stream.


Tilly deploys his Dutch and Danish cavalry
Tilly deploys his Dutch and Danish cavalry

Ouwerkerk’s Dutch and Danes were advancing up the road from Oudenarde towards the heights of Oycke only to find their path blocked by Grimaldi’s pursing French cavalry. Tilly, leading the Dutch advance guard, deployed his horse to drive them off. Fired up by his pervious victories, Vendome was tempted to fight it out but wisely decided to pull back to rally Grimaldi’s horse behind the Diepenbeek.


The Duke of Burgundy's HQ at the windmill
The Duke of Burgundy's HQ at the windmill

Ouwerkerk’s column pressed on towards Oycke with the intention of surrounding the French who had pushed forward into the salient and were looking dangerously exposed. The other two thirds of the French army was forming a defensive position along the Molenbeek and the Duke of Burgundy, who had set up his headquarters at the Royegem windmill, showed no sign of reinforcing Vendome’s initial success.


A Fierce fire fight develops around Herlegem
A Fierce fire fight develops around Herlegem

Eugene took command of the Allied right and began to press forward against the French left. Argyle with 9 battalions of English, Hanoverians and other Germans moved up in support to push on to occupy Herlegem. A fierce fire-fight developed around Herlegem as Gauvin’s Haonverians were assaulted by Arpajon’s French foot supported by a battery of guns deployed in front of Mullem.


Lottum's brigade deploys
Lottum's brigade deploys

Lottum’s 10 battalions of Scots and Germans advanced to plug the dangerous gap beyond Schaerken. This allowed Marlborough to send Natzmer’s remaining Prussian horse forward to protect the flank of Ouwekerk’s column.



Vendome's opportunity
Vendome's opportunity

Unfortunately for the allies Vendome had managed to rally his horse and he had spotted an opportunity.


Grimaldi's French cavalry drive off Natzmer's Prussians
Grimaldi's French cavalry drive off Natzmer's Prussians

As the Prussians moved forward they were hit in the flank by a devastating charge which swept them from the field and shattered the morale of Ouwerkerk’s men, slowed the advance of the column, and also shattered both Ouwerkerk’s and Marlborough’s confidence.


Victorious French cavalry
Victorious French cavalry

Vendome reigned in his horse and pulled them back. Realising that he would get no support from Burgundy, Vendome rode off to command Dubarail’s and Seluc’s brigades of foot to halt their advance and turn back. Without support from the rest of the French army he knew his foot had little hope of breaking through Lottum’s men who had now deployed in line and were advancing towards the isolated French brigades. Further more he realised that once Ouwerkerk’s column deployed on his right, his men risked being surrounded.



The French drive the Hanoverians from Herlegem
The French drive the Hanoverians from Herlegem

Unaware of Vendome’s intent, Arpajon’s brigade, led by the Piedmont regiment, took Herlegem from the hard-pressed Hanoverians. They were now dangerously out on a limb.


The French left wing deploys
The French left wing deploys

By this time the French left wing, led by the Irish brigade, had begun to deploy and were pressing up against the bridge over the Rooigembeek. It was being stoutly defended by the English foot guards, supported by dismounted dragoons. Lumley, commanding horse and dragoons on the allied far right, conducted a series of skilful interventions which stopped superior numbers of French cavalry dead in their tracks.


French cavalry take the heights of Oycke
French cavalry take the heights of Oycke


Ouwerkerk's column is left without cavalry support
Ouwerkerk's column is left without cavalry support

Vendome did much the same on the other flank. In a series of timely charges, aided by excellent die rolling, he drove off all the allied cavalry from the heights of Oycke. This left Ouwerkerk’s foot with little chance of rolling up the French right without mounted support.


Burgundy releases his reserve
Burgundy releases his reserve

As Burgundy finally released his reserve cavalry to face the flanking Dutch, the sun was beginning to set. It was clear that there would be no decisive outcome. With the notable exception of Lumley’s gallant troopers, the allies had lost almost all their horse. The French army was still more or less intact and, with the exception of Arpajon’s exposed brigade, they were in a good defensive position.


The situation at endgame from the French left looking west
The situation at endgame from the French left looking west

The game was certainly a French victory. The Duke of Burgundy busily wrote a dispatch to his grandfather King Louis XIV telling him how he had won the battle by insisting on a defensive strategy against Vendome’s aggressive tendencies. In reality it was Vendome’s skilful, controlled cavalry charges that won the day. Eugene’s active defence prevented an allied disaster with Lumley conducting the same sort of skilful cavalry actions as Vendome.


















By smacdowall, May 1 2018 02:26PM

On 7 April I took my 6mm Macedonians (reinforced by Geoff Fabron’s) to The Society of Ancients Battle Day at Bletchley. Now in its 15th year, the Battle Day aims to refight a historic battle with different rules-sets and miniature scales. You do not have to be a member to attend. With 15 games this year we almost matched the record of 17 in 2015 for the show down between Alexander the Great and the Indian King Porus at the Hydaspes.


Eumenes line with the silver shields on the right
Eumenes line with the silver shields on the right

I have a reasonable collection of Macedonians in both 25/28mm and 6mm scales. Given the large numbers of troops involved at Paraitakene (close to 40,000 on each side) I decided that 6mm was the best scale to go for. Deployed en-masse 6mm miniatures look really impressive on the table top and you can replicate the sweeping cavalry actions on the flanks even on a relatively small table. Six by four feet was all we needed. It helped that Geoff had a significant number of 6mm Macedonians so that I did not have to paint up too many more to field the two armies.


I decided to scale the armies at one 20mm square base representing approximately 400 infantry, 150 cavalry or 10 elephants. This was roughly one 6mm miniature to 25 men or 10 elephants. Technically a light infantry base modelled far less men than a close packed heavy infantry base but I chose to ignore this for the reason given above.


Antigonus advances in echelon
Antigonus advances in echelon

I deployed both wargames armies as they had been deployed historically. Then I allowed the players do decide their own tactics. The rules I used were my own Legio VI designed for 6mm big battles and stripped down to represent only those troops used in the early Alexandrian successor battles. These (Legio VI Diadochi) can be downloaded for free from my website. www.legio-wargames.com/rules.


Elephants on the rampage
Elephants on the rampage

Just as it had been historically, the elephants looked intimidating but actually had little impact. There was some elephant on elephant action and the gods (the dice) favoured Antigonus. This helped to partially neutralise Eumenes’ elephant superiority. In several cases some elephants broke through the enemy ranks causing disorder, in other cases they rampaged and did the same to their own troops. For this to have a significant impact it required other troops to quickly follow up to exploit the enemy disorder but none of the table-top generals were able to do this.


Antigonus turns Eumenes' left
Antigonus turns Eumenes' left

As our game progressed it looked for a moment that we would get the opposite result from the pre-Battle Day encounter. Antigonus kept the left wing of his phalanx well away from the deadly Silver Shields and punched through on the right. The Eumenes player, however, was able to brush aside Pithon’s light cavalry to move in on the left flank of Antigonus phalanx supported by elephants. The result, therefore, was inconclusive.


The SoA Battle Day
The SoA Battle Day

It was a great day out as ever. Of the 15 games played at the Battle Day the results were relatively even. Antigonus won some, Eumenes won others. This is not particularly surprising. In an even odds battle on flat, featureless terrain, victory was down to the skill of the table-top generals and a goodly amount of luck. In almost all cases it came down to a simple matter. Could your strong right wing turn the enemy flank before he could do the same to you?


Gauls ready for Telamon
Gauls ready for Telamon

The 2019 Battle Day will feature Telamon (Gauls v Romans 225 BC). In 2020 it will be Bosworth (1485) which ended both the Wars of the Roses and King Richard III. So I need to get painting more Gauls.


The Suffolk Levy on the way to Bosworth
The Suffolk Levy on the way to Bosworth

I already have quite a good Wars of the Roses collection. The 2020 Battle Day will give me the focus to concentrated on some of the more important Bosworth contingents.







By smacdowall, Mar 29 2018 12:23AM

With the Society of Ancients Battle Day fast approaching it is time to put the Marlburians off to one side for a moment and get ready. The SoA battle is Paraitakene — the first major battle between the successors of Alexander the Great.


The battle lines deploy
The battle lines deploy

Last weekend I gave it a trial run with 6mm troops scaled at roughly 1:20 to represent the armies of Eumenes and Antigonos. Played out on a 6 foot x 4 foot table we used historical deployment but the players were free to make their own decisions as how to proceed.


Eumenes' centre
Eumenes' centre

Eumenes’ phalanx started out in a solid line behind a screen of light infantry and elephants. Eumenes had twice as many elephants as Antigonos and hordes more light infantry. There were so many light infantry (18,000 of them) that I scaled them down by more than half as there is no record of them doing anything significant in the actual battle.


Antigonos advances in echelon
Antigonos advances in echelon

Although outnumbered in elephants and light infantry, Antigonos had the advantage in cavalry and heavy infantry. His army deployed in echelon with a strong right wing and a refused left.


Eumenes' cavalry advance on his right wing
Eumenes' cavalry advance on his right wing

The game progressed in much the same way as the historical battle. Eumenes’ strong right wing cavalry pushed hard against Antigonos light cavalry. The latter harassed their opponents with javelins and arrows, melting away when threatened. Feeling the need for some light cavalry support on that flank, the Eumenes player transferred some from his left wing just as his historical counterpart had done.


Antigonos' strong right wing closes with Eumenes' left
Antigonos' strong right wing closes with Eumenes' left

Antigonos delayed his right wing attack, looking for a gap in the enemy line to exploit. This is also what the historical Antigonos did. It was possibly a mistake. Although Antigonos’ superior cavalry inevitably triumphed against those holding Eumenes’ left, they did not clear the flank before Eumenes had done so on the other flank. A sturdy defence by some of Eumenes’ left flank cavalry also served to delay Antigonos’s attempt to turn his opponent’s left flank.


The lines close
The lines close

When Eumenes advanced his phalanx he moved off in echelon from the right to match Antigonos’ advance. By doing so the whole of his phalanx would be engaged when the phalanxes met, rather than allowing Antigonos to first hit the weaker part of his line with picked troops.


The push of pike
The push of pike

When the phalanxes clashed the odds were more or less even with success and failure on both sides.


The silver shields
The silver shields

Eumenes’ elite Silver Shields, however, made short work of the hastily raised pantodapoi (Persians equipped as phalngites) opposite them. While the rest of the Antigonid line pushed forwards against the regular Macedonians.


The final push
The final push

While the centre engaged in a more or less even struggle the silver shields broke the far left of Antigonos' line. At the same time Eumenes' cavalry managed to work its way around the Antigonid left while Antigonos' cavalry on the other flank had yet to break through.


Eumenes won the day. The elephants on both sides had little impact other than causing some disruption to the opposing phalanxes as they passeed through their lines. Eumenes’ victory was down to the fact that he had been able to turn Antigonos’ left flank before Antigonos could do the same to him.


I shall be replaying the game at the Society of Ancients' Battle Day on Saturday 7 April. Please feel free to join in if you wish. You do not need to be a member to take part. There will be plenty of places for walk-ins but if you wish to secure a place feel free to contact me at smacdowall@hotmail.com

By smacdowall, Mar 16 2018 05:21PM

It has always puzzled me how the Danes managed to provide so many troops for the Dutch, English and Austrian armies during the War of Spanish Succession, while fighting a bitter war with Sweden at the same time. Perhaps the cash from hiring their troops out was worth more to the war effort than the troops themselves.


When looking around at the miniatures we had to refight Oudenarde I realised that although we had a good contingent of Danish foot we had no Danish horse. This needed fixing as the Danes provided a significant body of horse to the Maritime Powers — something in the region of 4000 men.


Danish Cavalry Brigade
Danish Cavalry Brigade

I have therefore painted up a small brigade of Minifig 15mm Danish cavalry in Dutch pay, drawn from three regiments. This is nothing like the full contingent of Danish mounted troops serving with the Maritime Powers but at least they will have some representation in our upcomming battle.


Livregiment til Hest
Livregiment til Hest

First up is the Livregiment til Hest (Life Regiment of Horse). Their uniform is recorded as red coats with yellow lining but like most Danish Horse, they went into battle wearing thick elk skin coats. I decided that my Danes would wear the protective elk skins with cuirass to differentiate them from other troops rather than thier uniform coats. Blackened cuirasses were worn by all Danish horse from 1707 and some regiments are recorded as wearing them earlier. Saddle blankets were usually red, trimmed with the lining colour, although officers might have their's trimmed with gold or silver.


Livregiment close-up
Livregiment close-up

Minifigs do not make cuirassiers without pot helmets. The troopers came from the cavalry command set — presumably intended to be officers of horse. They do not have sashes so they can pass as troopers. The trumpeter and standard bearer come from the Austrian cuirassier command set -- the standard bearer having his lobster pot helmeted head decapitated to be replaced by a tricorn head from my spares.


Speculative cavalry standard
Speculative cavalry standard

I could find no reliable information about Danish cavalry flags from the early 1700’s so I made this one up, based on a later Napoleonic flag.


Danish Brigadier
Danish Brigadier

Officers occasionally wore reversed colours but I decided to paint the brigade commander in the uniform red coat while giving the trumpeter a yellow one. The brigadier is a Minifig Austrian cuirassier officer with his pot helmet replaced by a feather-trimmed tricorn from a French King’s Musketeer in my spares box.


2nd Sjaellandske
2nd Sjaellandske

Next up are two squadrons from the 2nd Sjællandske. I particularly like the unusual violet facing colour of this regiment. I think it is a particularly pleasing visual combination together with the dark buff elk skin coats.


Württemberg-Oels Dragoons
Württemberg-Oels Dragoons

The final squadrons are from the Prince of Württemberg-Oels’ Dragoons. The Danes seem to have increasingly treated their dragoons as cavalry rather than mounted infantry. By the end of the war most dragoon regiments had been reassigned and equipped as cuirassiers. An eyewitness account has Würtemberg-Oels Dragoons in white-grey coats with yellow lining while another source has them in blue. I gave the officer an orange sash as the unit was serving in the Dutch army.


I got much of the uniform information from the excellent tacitus website. This is a great resource for the Great Northern War (and other conflicts). It includes the details of those Danes in the pay of the English, Dutch and Austrians.






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