Legio Wargames

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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, 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.






By smacdowall, Mar 9 2018 06:53PM

For an upcoming refight of the Battle of Oudenarde I intend to field half of the 175 battalions and 320 squadrons in 15mm. Each battalion will be 3-4 bases with 4 foot miniatures per base. A squadron will be represented by single base of two mounted figures.

I have most of the French but need a few more to bring up the numbers. I decided to take this opportunity to paint up a few more foreign battalions to reinforce King Louis XIV's armies of the early 1700s.


Regiment Royal Italien
Regiment Royal Italien

First up is the Royal Italien. Brown coats had been relatively common in the French army of the 1600s but by 1708 they had been replaced by the more familiar white-grey. This regiment, recruited from Italy, kept their brown coats with red facings throughout the war or Spanish Succession. At Oudenarde they fought in the first line brigaded with 4 French battalions.


Regiment de la Marck
Regiment de la Marck

The German Regiment de la Marck is next. The Comte de la March (Graf von der Mark) commanded a French brigade at Oudenarde including two battalions of his regiment. Like all German regiments serving in the French army, de la Marck wore blue coats, most probably a relatively light shade. In their case with yellow cuffs.

Regiment Dorrington
Regiment Dorrington

Finally we have the Irish Regiment Dorrington. As far as I can tell, Regiment Dorrington did not fight at Oudenarde although some Irish did. I already had a brigade of 3 battalions of Irish and wanted to bring it up to 4 battalions. As Dorrington (later Roth) fought in many engagements of the war I decided to include them. All Irish regiments wore red coats. Dorrington had blue cuffs and waistcoats and their flag was a very English-looking St George's cross.


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