Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Aug 7 2018 06:00PM

Painting has taken a bit of a back seat over the past few months as the warm sunny weather has been keeping me outside. For the first time in ages I have picked up my paint brushes with the intent of finishing off some Marlburian dismounted dragoons that have been sitting idly on my painting table for some months.


At the outset of the War of Spanish Succession dragoons were still primarily mounted infantry. Horses, often poor nags, were used for mobility but the men would dismount to fight. French dragoons continued to operate this way for most of the war, their great value being internal security, foraging, scouting and briefly holding strong points ahead or on the flanks of the main army. As the war progressed many Allied dragoons increasingly became second class cavalry — paid less and riding smaller, less well trained mounts than troopers of horse. By the end of the war dragoon regiments in some nations (Denmark for example) had been converted into proper regiments of horse. Britain went the other direction. Regiments of horse were re-designated as dragoons as a cost saving measure as dragoons were paid less than horse.


Austian dragoons in action against the French
Austian dragoons in action against the French

Although most Allied dragoon regiments operated as second rate cavalry in the major battles of the War of Spanish Succession, there were occasions in the early years when they dismounted. Dismounted Imperial dragoons at Friedlingen (1702) supported battalions of converged grenadiers to attack the French in the hills of the Black Forest. At Schellenberg (1703) the North British Dragoons (later the Scots Greys) dismounted to support an attack up the steep hillside. Some allied dragoons also dismounted at Blenheim (1704).


Dismounted French dragoons (red coats) supporting Swiss foot
Dismounted French dragoons (red coats) supporting Swiss foot

I have dismounted figures and horse-holders for all my French dragoon regiments and I thought it about time I did the same for some of my British and Imperialists. Finding suitable miniatures is a bit tricky as not many manufacturers make dismounted dragoon figures wearing tricorns suitable for the allied units I wished to represent. I eventually settled on Blue Moon Miniatures who have a set of tricorn-wearing dismounted dragoons in their Great Northern War range.


These new recruits to my army will probably be enough to provide the allied dismounted dragoons I may need for future engagements. The British can also serve as Dutch as Dutch dragoons all wore red coats. The blue and grey-coated Imperialists could also double as Prussians and other Germans.


Dismounted British Dragoons
Dismounted British Dragoons


Guidon of the North British Dragoons (Scots Greys)
Guidon of the North British Dragoons (Scots Greys)


Imperial Bayreuth (blue) and Swabian Hoenzollern (grey) Dragoons
Imperial Bayreuth (blue) and Swabian Hoenzollern (grey) Dragoons



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.







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