The Seven Years War, Die Kriegskunst, 28mm
This was another “teaser” from Scenarios for Wargames – a real classic. The wagon train scenario has been refought many times, and pictures of one of my games (using the very same wagons) was published in Charles S’ Grant’s Wargamers’ Companion. Anyway, in this little game we decided to play it as a fairly straightforward refight, lifted straight from the book. Blue Force (in this case the French) had to cross the table with a wagon convoy, with the aim of running supplies into a beleaguered town. The convoy was escorted by two regiments of cavalry – one heavy, one light – two battalions of infantry and a detachment of skirmishers. A French cavalry brigade of two regiments was stationed in the town, and could come out to help bring the convoy home. The rest of the garrison – two battalions and a gun battery – had to stay within the earthworks surrounding the town.For their part Red Force (the Prussians) had to stop the convoy from getting through. The Prussian commander had a two regiments of light cavalry and one of heavy cavalry at his disposal, supported by four battalions of infantry and a detachment of jaegers. Each brigade – horse or foot – came on at entry point A to E, depending on a die roll. The wagon train had to start on the western table edge. As it happens the Prussians rolled “A” for their cavalry and “E” for their infantry – good useful entry points, if the two groups could only join forces and get between the convoy and the town.The French convoy decided to enter on the road in the south-west corner of the table, with the cavalry cantering ahead towards the hill in the centre of the table. The infantry and the wagons kept to the main road, so at the first fork they didn’t follow the cavalry off to the left. The plan was to use the cavalry as a screen, to give the infantry time to deploy to face any Prussian threat. For their part the Prussian infantry got off to a slow start, only arriving on the table on Turn 4. By that time the French had passed the first junction. It was now clear that the Prussians had some catching up to do.Things went better for the Prussian cavalry. They entered on Turn 3, and headed north towards the same hill the French were heading towards. The French Bercheny Hussars were in column of march as they rode up the hill, and were taken by surprise by the sudden appearance of twice their number of Prussian hussars. The Death’s Head and Yellow Hussars were in line, and smashed into their French counterparts, effectively wiping them out in a single round of melee. First blood to the Prussians. The Prussian cuirassiers angled a little more to the left, and squared up against their French counterparts. The hard-fought little melee that followed was inconclusive, but the French were eventually forced back towards the back of the small copse to the west of the hill.The Prussian hussars turned around, and reformed, ready to launch a charge against the convoy. The two units of heavy cavalry had disengaged by this stage, and were facing each other to the west of the hill. Meanwhile behind them the Prussian infantry was toiling forward, with two battalions heading for the hill, and the other two towards that distant fork in the road, beyond the battered French heavy cavalry. While all this was going on the convoy had plodded forward, and was now passing the southern edge of the big hill. Ahead of them, in the town, the French cavalry – a mixed regiment of heavy cavalry and the rest of the Bercheny Hussars – were trotting past the earthworks to join forces with the convoy escorts. With the Prussian infantry still in the rear, and French reinforcements on the way, it was now up to the Prussian hussars to repeat their earlier success and win the day.They cantered forward, with the Yellow Hussars on the left, and the Death’s Head Hussars on the right. The Death’s Head cavalrymen found their way blocked by an Irish battalion, while a French line battalion stood in the path of their comrades. Both hussar regiments tried to charge home, but the Irishmen stood their ground, and the black-coated hussars faltered, and refused to ride in. Things went better for their yellow-coated comrades, who bounced back, but inflicted heavy casualties on the battalion from La Conde regiment that bore the brunt of the charge. So, the first charge hadn’t worked. Would there be time for a second one before the French cavalry arrived from the town?They tried – they really did. The Death’s Head Hussars had been taking minor casualties from the Irishmen, but their losses weren’t serious. What really scuppered them was their commander’s ability to roll decent dice, and so the regiment faltered again. On their left the yellow hussars launched another charge, and this time the French battalion broke and ran. The way to the wagons was now clear, apart from a small detachment of French skirmishers. Unfortunately for the Prussians they evaded out of the way, and the hussar’s exploitation charge ran out of steam a little short of the wagons.By now it was clear that the Yellow Hussars were out on a limb. Two regiments of fresh enemy cavalry were bearing down on them from their rear, and the wagons were slipping away. The Prussian infantry had reached the ridge by now, but without cavalry they couldn’t achieve much against the French reinforcements. It was then that the Yellow Hussars had to take another morale test thanks to the fire of those pesky skirmishers, and this time they were forced to retreat. That was really the Prussian’s last roll of the dice.It was at that stage that we ran out of time for the game, which had taken three hours to play. With the Prussian hussars in retreat there was nothing to stop the French from rolling their wagons all the way into the town. Half of the Prussian infantry was still plodding forward, having spent a few turns out of command range. So, victory was duly awarded to the French players – Gyles and Joe – who did a great job in sticking to the script, and keeping the wagon train on the move.