24 September 2016

Charles Grant's "Holding Action (1)". . .

 Looking past Hasenpfeffer village to the northwestern corner of the eventual battlefield.

You have to strike while the iron is hot as the saying goes, so I got busy following the Young Master's bedtime this evening, brought my mug of coffee back down here to Zum Stollenkeller Mk II, and set up for the next battle in my campaign.  

This time, it will be Charles Grant's "Holding Action (1)" from Scenarios for Wargames (pp. 14-15), eventually laid out and fought on a 12' x 6' table.  Delusions of grandeur and all that you know.  I'll reduce the suggested forces ever so slightly to fit what I have.  There might even be a couple of units making an appearance that have not appeared on the table in a few years.  I'll also use a slightly modified version of Donald Featherstone's rules as presented in Battles with Model SoldiersIt should be good fun.

Here's the situation.  On the run after his shattering loss at The Battle of Doltz, General Phillipe de Latte must fight a holding action against the pursuing Stollenian army, once more commanded by that mid-18th century posterchild for Pepto-Bismol, General von Bauchschmerzen.  'Bauchschmerzen' means tummy troubles or pains in German by the way.  Ah, the unmitigated joys of being married to a German speaker!

Not quite sure when the next battle will actually commence given my level of activity and occupation with student essays over the next couple of weeks.  About 130 two to three page essays from three courses, so do the math.  Sigh.  Well, it pays the bills and allows me to indulge my hobby after too many rather lean years, and there are certainly far worse things in life.  Perhaps the planned battle can function as a sort of carrot at the end of a stick?  You know.  As a reward for finishing with the essays on the other side?  

In any case, I'm getting the hang of using these four Woodland Scenics Ready Grass Mats, minimizing the straight edges that must be disguised.  However, the Hotz felt fields really help here, and I will very probably order a set or two of 2" felt roads to help disguise the rest.  Hotz products go very well with the grass mats and stay put rather nicely once placed on top of the former.  As mentioned in a post during August, I don't know what in the world took me so long to step up my terrain game, but you live, and you learn.  And now I am off to bed.  Goodnight all!

-- Stokes

 The view over the early Autumn fields to the southwest.

 And again, this time looking to the southeast.  There may, or may not be Hotz roads in place by the time the battle happens.

A view over the gentle ridges toward the eastern edge of the field.

 Here's an Orson Wells inspired crane shot that gives a better impression of the ridgeline the runs from the southwest to the northeast across the western end of the battlefield.

And another crane shot, this time of Hasenpfeffer village.  Look very closely, and you'll see Charlton Heston and Janet Leigh speeding away from the scene in a Cadillac convertible.

The Conclusion of The Battle of Doltz. . .

De Latte made the tough call to order his remaining infantry to face about and make an orderly withdrawal.

By 3pm that afternoon, and after a long lull in the battle, General de Latte could see how things were headed across the field.  His Ermland Garde had been reduced to only a few men remaining with the colors thanks to Stollenian musketry and numerous prisoners taken during a short, but sharp period of hand to hand combat.  His cavalry had been rendered largely ineffective, and his flank attack on the Stollenian left never quite managed to get off the ground.  That's not even mentioning the heavy casualties sustained by the leading platoons of the Flickenhoffer Fusiliers.  It was time to sue for peace.

An aide de camp, whose name has been lost to history, was sent toward the Stollenian line with white flag in hand.

General von Bacushschmerzen and staff received him in the most gentlemanly of ways and agreed to permit the remaining Zichenauer army to retreat unmolested with the proviso that. . .

They leave behind, in the words of the nearby Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II (a man who embodied the very concept of a schlachtenbummler), their "rather spiffing" Minden Swedish four-pounder cannon as trophies of war.

 Thirty minutes later, word had been conveyed to the various units comprising General de Latte's defeated army.  Here, at the western edge of the field, his hussars and baggage train begin their withdrawal from the field.

While at the eastern end of the valley, de Latte's remaining infantry too begin an orderly retreat.  His immediate subordinate Major di Biscotti exclaimed as their tired troops marched past, "I say!  Who's for a few scoops of mango gelato back at my tent?"

The Stollenian center, while battered, had managed to hold, preventing further inroads into the Mark of Schleiz, and fending off the latest Zichenauer invasion of Stollenian territory.  At least for the moment.  As the sun neared the horizon early that evening -- and witnesses could never be entirely sure given how the local Low German patois was butchered by a heavy French accent -- the following threat was heard from across the valley, "You may have won this time von Bauchschmerzen, but we'll be back!" The hard fought Battle of Doltz was at an end.

Thank you everyone for your patience and interest during the last month or so.  I hope that you have enjoyed the tabletop events presented here as The Battle o Doltz.  Thanks as well to my generals from afar Greg Horne, who starred as General de Latte, and also Ross MacFarlane, who starred as General von Bauchschmerzen.  While there might have been another turn or two left in the game, it seemed fairly clear that the Zichenauer attack had run out of steam, in particular given the heavy casualties suffered by General de Latte's Ermland Garde and his artillery's general inability to find its range and do much damage to the Stollenian center during the seven turns.  

We have also had a couple of minor incidents here recently in which a few odd soldiers have been handled without permission and kind of roughly at that.  Suffice to say, someone needs to learn to handle others' possessions with greater care and wait until he is supervised by Dad.  It therefore makes good sense to clear away the game and replace the soldiers in their plastic tubs in the closet for the time being to remove any future temptations for idle young hands.  

Fear not however.  A solo affair will follow in a few weeks, continuing the misadventures of our good generals as General de Latte attempts to carry out his standing orders from the conniving Princess Antonia III, that is to invade and establish a toehold in the Grand Duchy of Stollen, so the long-contested, and resource-rich, Mark of Schleiz will fall once again under Zichenauer control.

-- Stokes

18 September 2016

The Battle of Doltz, Odds, and Ends. . .

General de Latte (blue coat), Major di Biscotti (white coat to his left), and their aides consider their options.

Just before 2pm that afternoon, General de Latte, his second in command Major di Biscotti, and their aides took stock of the situation that had developed.   The former snapped his spyglass shut, cleared his throat, and said to di Biscotti, 

      "As I see it, we don't have many options at this point.  We may yet win the cavalry engagement and roll up von Bauchschmerzen's cabbage eaters from the far side.  On the other hand, I see little prospect of winning the firefight now!"  Di Biscotti nodded and mumbled a reply through a mouthful of stale pastry,

      "Mmmpf!  Ba baba schtopf aaarrruumpf?"  Puzzled by di Biscotti's enigmatic answer. . . and displeased by his crass manners, de Latte snacked his forehead in frustration and turned his gaze skyward.


In other news, painting has continued apiece, when and where possible, on those six Fife & Drum Prussian limber teams.  While these is still much to finish before glossing and terraining of bases can take place, they are beginning to look like something.  

I was rereading an article on figure painting in an early issue of Battlegames Thursday or Friday evening, which made the point that figures tend to take longer to come together, visually speaking, when a white basecoat method is used as opposed to a more forgiving black basecoat approach that has become more popular since the heady days of the 1960s, 70s, and early 80s when historical miniature wargaming seems to heave been at its peak.  Black, of course, immediately makes things look more crisp and clean, but coverage is sometimes a problem with the brighter colors like reds, yellows, and so forth.  

No matter, I'll stick to my white basecoat at this point since I like the way it makes the finished figures look, and it is much less time consuming to work with washes and stands that, to a certain extent, run over the surfaces of figures, rather than laboriously brushing everything over figures that have been undercoated in black.  If your approach to painting is along the same lines as the Foundry or Dallimore three-shade methods, that's at least three passes with each color before you can call everything done.  

Now, there are hobbyists and professional painters around who CAN do this in fairly short order, churning out impressively sized units in the process, and more power to them.  Yours truly, however, has never been able to replicate that level of painting output and quality.  Sad but true, so my kind of old-fashioned white basecoat method will be around for a while yet.


Speaking of Battlegames, my son, the soon to turn seven years old (Can you believe it??!!) Young Master, has recently taken quite an interest in Dad's old stacks of various wargaming magazines down here on a bookshelf in Zum Stollenkeller Mk II.  He asks at every photograph of vaguely horse and musket looking figures if those are my soldiers, and I have to explain that, no, Dad's time, money, and painting output are far too limitedBut it looks like I might have to assist Santa Claus/Father Christmas with some inexpensive plastic 1/32 or so horse and musket types this year.  Strike while the iron is hot say I!


In another part of my hobby, I am gearing up to reorganize my existing (and future) 30-figure cavalry units into two-squadron regiments in which each 12-figure squadron carries a standard or guidon.  Might one of you visitors to the Grand Duchy of Stollen blog have a single guidon bearer and horse from the plastic Revell SYW 1/72 Austrian Dragoon set that you would be willing to part with?  I can of course pay you something reasonable via PayPal for the figure, horse, and postage.  Just let me know via my private e-mail address: stokes.schwartz@gmail.com.


Finally, there is some potentially exciting news looming on the horizon.  Can't say anymore just yet, you understand, but do stay tuned for more information as it is forthcoming. 

-- Stokes

11 September 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Seven Concluded. . .

Will they, or won't they?  General de Latte's guns fired yet again. . .

By 1:45pm that afternoon, fighting had broken out all along the line between the Army of Stollen, commanded by the defending General von Bauchschmerzen along the nothern ridge, and the Amy of Zichenau under General de Latte whose task was to secure a pathway into the resource rich, and long contested Mark of Schleiz.  It was at this point that events became, shall we say, less than gentlemanly as the fighting intensified.

-- Stokes

This time, they managed to hit the side of a barn, inflicting two casualties on the 1st Musketeers opposite.

General von Bauchschmerzen's own guns fired into the seething mass of enemy infantry before them. . .

Three casualties resulted.

On General von Bauchschmern's lefft flank at the western end of the battlefield, volleys of musketry were exchanged, resulting in a number of losses for both sides.

About half of de Latte's Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats nearby in Hasenpfefferwald took a few potshots at the enemy from extreme range. . .

And managed to bring down an unfortunate drummer on the left flank of the 1st Musketeers.

In the meantime, von Bauchschmerzen's  fresh, second squadron of Reiters mixed it up with one of de Latte's cuirassiers on the western edge of the battlefield, each side losing about a third of its effective strength in the process.

Finally, back in the center, events came to a head as General de Latte's remaining Ermland Garde closed with General de Latte's Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Grenadiers atop the ridge before the village of Doltz.  Many men on either side were lost in the volleys of musketry and vigorous hand-to-hand combat that ensued.

01 September 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn 7. . .

 On the far eastern edge of the field, General de Latte's first squadron of Cuirassiers charged to contact with von Bauchschmerzen's Reiters while the second moved up in support.  In the artist's rendering above, we can also see that the remnants of von Bauchschmerzen's first squadron of Reiters has rallied some distance behind the second. 

Just before 1pm that afternoon, The Battle of Doltz entered a critical phase.  While General von Bauchschmerzen kept a cool head in his wicker carriage and awaited the final Zichenauer assault, General de Latte's plans began to come unraveled as he rashly ordered a general advance to contact, where possible, across his front.

-- Stokes

Meanwhile, de latte ordered his remaining men of the Ermland Garde to  charge the Stollenian guns and Leib Grenadiers atop the norther ridge just before the village of Doltz.

While on the western end of the field, two of the remaining three companies of General de Latte's Flickenhoffer Fusiliers  deployed into line and prepared to engage General von Bauchschmerzen's red-coated Hanseatic Regiment  in a long-range firefight.  Look closely in this photograph, and you'll see a drummer facing the wrong way in the middle distance.  I suspect that the Young Master, who has been forbidden to touch Dad's soliders when he is alone, is behind this development.  Clearly, he shares his father's quirky sense of humor.

To their left, de Latte's Provinces' Provisional Regiment prepared to break ranks and make their way through Hasenpfefferwald and, covered by the remaining Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats,  attack the Stollenian infantry on the other side.  Close by, General de Latte, Major di Biscotti, and their aides observed the machinations of their brigade.

By about a quarter past one, General de Latte's shattered squadron of hussars could be seen  making their way to the rear of his position to lick their wounds and possibly return to the fray later.

27 August 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Six. . .

 General de Latte's Ermland Garde was shot to pieces by the combined weight of the Stollenian msuketeers and artillery on General von Bauchschmerzen's front line.  His spirits picking up a bit at this most recent and unexpected development, von Bauchschmerzen shouted to his aides, "Gentlemen?  A tall glass of ice-cold chocolate milk if you please.  With plenty of syrup and a straw!"

Shortly after 12:15pm that afternoon, the maneuvering by General de Latte during the opening moves ground to a halt in the face of repeated volleys of musketry and endless hard pounding by General von Bauchschmerzen's well-situated artillery.  Through the powder smoke, it seemed at that point as though the Army of Zichenau had received the vast bulk of casualties, and a turning point was close at hand.  As Gilbert O'Sullivan once lamented, what to do?  What to do?

-- Stokes

On his extreme left flank at the eastern end of the battlefield, von Bauchschmerzen's Hanseatic Regiment  succeeded in eliminating virtually the entire first company of the Flickenhoffer Fusiliers save for a lone drummer boy.

For their part, the Hanseatic Regiment suffered relatively light casualties during this part of the battle.  The regiment started toward the wavering enemy once the smoke cleared but was held in check by the commanind voice of its mounted colonel, who shouted, "Hanseatics!  Damn all that eagerness!"

Back in the center of the field, General von Bacuhschmerzen's Leib Grenadiers, despite their own withering volleys, sustained a not insignificant number of hits to its middle company thanks to enemy musketry.

And the 1st Musketeers managed, yet again to suffer few casualties at the hand of the Zichenauer artillery, who continued to site their guns either too high, or too low with the result that their cannon shots either plowed into the earth far short of the Stollenian line, or sailed harmlessly overhead well to the rear of the Stollenian second line.  What ARE they smoking over there??!!

Sadly, some of the Stollenian artillery crews at the center of General von Bauchschmerzen's line fell to enemy musketry during Turn Six, requiring quick thinking and consolidation of the remaining specialists and infantrymen attached to said guns.

Finally, at the western edge of the battlefield, the ongoing cavalry melee between General de Latte's hussars and General von Bauchschmerzen's Reiters continued without further casualties until about 12:45pm when the squadrons on both sides pulled back as their respective trumpeters sounded the rally.

24 August 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Five. . .

 General de Latte's Flickenhoffer Fusiliers rounded the northern end of Hasenpfefferwald and came within musketry range of the Stollenian line.  General von Bauchschmerzen's Hanseatic Infantry unleashed a blistering first volley into the leading company of the enemy infantry, causing visible gaps to appear in their front ranks.

From about 11:45am, the limited action  at the eastern end of the battlefield turned into a full-fledged battle as the rest of the front between the two armies came alive.  What might have seemed initially like an easy victory to General de Latte was thrown into question as his leading units began to suffer appreciable casualties at the hands of General von Bauchschmerzen's infantry and artillery along his front line.

-- Stokes

Close behind, de Latte's Provinces' Provisional Regiment slowed their pace once the Flickenhoffer Fusiliers to their fore came to a halt when met with enemy fire.

At the same time, de Latte's Ermland Garde neared the Stollenian center where it's 1st company took heavy casualties from ememy artillery.

With many of its men rendered hors de combat during the last half hour or so, the Ermland Garde's advance ground to a halt as the regimental NCOs shouted at the remaining men to close ranks and form up.

On the Stollenian side (the northern) of the valley, casualties remained fairly light with the Zichenauer artillery in the distance managing only a couple of additional hits.

Thus far, General von Bauchschmerzen's  Hanseatic Infantry on his far left lank managed to hold in the face of appreciable odds with just two men taken out of action by long range skirmish fire from de Latte's Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats, who skulked just inside the edge of Hasenpfefferwald taking pot shots at the enemy infantry as  opportunities presented themselves.

 General von Bauchschmerzen's 1st Musketeers, however, took the brunt of the enemy artillery and skirmish fire, suffering but nevertheless maintaining the line.

 And on the western end of the battlefield, just before Noon, the cavalry of both sides finally went into action, with the leading squadron of General von Bauchschmerzen's Reiters charging at the last moment into the approaching squadron of Zichenauer hussars.  After a short, sharp melee, both sides suffered light casualties.

Here is a general artist's impression of the Battle of Doltz at about 12:05pm.

And a second quick pencil sketch that illustrates the situation at a quarter past twelve that afternoon.

21 August 2016

Has it really been ten years??!!

 Why, yes!  The Grand Duchy of Stollen blog is ten years old.  What a long, strange, and delightful trip it has been.  

This time way back in 2006, I was busily painting up my first large regiment of infantry just before school started.  That unit of figures is still with me and is one of the regiments holding General von Bauchschmerzen's frontline, the 1st Musketeers, in the current Battle of Doltz.  

Below, you can read the very first blog entry from August 19, 2006.  Oh, and that first regiment of plastic soldiers?  I am ashamed to say that they accompanied us on our camping honeymoon through the Dakotas and Minnesota during late June and early July of that year.  My thinking when I packed the car for us to leave on the morning after our wedding in late June of '06 was that I could grab a few minutes here and there during the trip to prepare the 60+ figures for painting -- with the X-acto hobby knife I took along too -- once we returned three weeks later.  The Grand Duchess has never let me forget that particular less than informed decision.

 Since then, I've babbled incessantly about this and that (often about things that have little or nothing to do with toy soldiers and wargaming), built up a couple of respectably sized mid-18th century armies, refined my painting and modelling skills in the process, read a few books, learned a bit more history, added to my book collection, written a few articles, fought a few tabletop battles, shot off my big mouth, stepped on a few toes, been raked over the coals a few times as a result, made a few friends around the globe, and most recently introduced my son, The Young Master, to the wonders of toy soldiers.  Here's to more of the same for the foreseeable future.

-- Stokes

19 August 1768

"Bist du mein liebhaber?"

This is the question Prince Ruprecht is reported to have uttered to Princess Valerie as she climbed into his stagecoach late one night in the winter of 1768 before they rode over the frontier separating her own Pillau-Zerbst from the prince's Electorate of Zichenau. And her answer of course was, "Ja, schatzi -- Ich bin deine liebhaber!" This, then, is the reason for the latest round of hostilities between my tiny imaginary countries on the fringe of Europe.

Welcome to the blog I have created to tell the ongoing story of my own imaginary 18th century wargame campaign! My inspiration comes from the Old School Wargaming group at Yahoo, Greg Horne (the man behind The Duchy of Alzheim blog -- I love your figures Greg!), and my own fascination with Young and Lawford's chestnut classic Charge!: Or How to Play Wargames, which goes back to 1994 when I purchased a reprint of this wargaming classic. Soooo -- I'm creating two small armies, as well as a few mercenary units, using the marvelous (in my own view) 1/72 SYW figures produced by Revell AG in Germany.

Periodically, I'll report on my painting progress and post a few photos plus a map of Stollen, Zicheneau, and the surrounding principalities sandwiched between extreme northeastern Prussia, Courland, Poland, and Russia.

Enjoy, and please feel free to send me your comments. It's great fun to hear about what other wargamers and figure collectors are up to.

18 August 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Four Concluded. . .

General de Latte ordered his Ermland Garde to advance and come to grips with the Stollenian enemy at this point in the battle.  Here are the Ermlanders emerging from behind the southern ridge in perfect order with their slow, measured step, as was their wont.  These are Revell 1/72 (plastic) Austrian grenadiers, by the way, painted during the summer of 2007.  They have held up remarkably well although the bases need retouching following removal from the original single bases two or three years ago.  Of course, the heavy card multiple-figure bases still need to be painted green too, darn it.

By about 11:30am on that fateful day now so many years ago, things began to happen all at once around the battlefield with a flurry of orders issued by both General de Latte and General von Bauchschmerzen as their respective plans became clearer.  The next few turns were crucial in the relatively minor military action that the more comprehensive books on European military and political history remember as The Battle of Doltz.

-- Stokes

Still beyond effective musketry range (21"-23.5"), de Latte's Ermland Garde continued marching in the direction of the Stollenian line as the enemy's shot and shells began to fall among them.  Across the valley, General von Bauchschmerzen's Leib (Grand Duchess Sonja's Own) Granadiers and 1st Musketeers waited silently while their NCOs made final adjustments to the sub-formations and shouted last minute orders to potential slackers and shirkers.  The mounted colonel of the Ermland Garde, one Augustus von Fink-Nödtel, could not be  certain, but nevertheless thought he glimpsed the legendary Oberfedwebel Klatschen of Stollen's Leib Grenadiers opposite through the drifting smoke.  The latter man stood to attention near the regimental colors, a giant in all senses among his fellow men, and calmly surveyed the scene unfolding around him as only experienced senior NCOs can before shouting to the regiment, "Grenadiers. . .  Make ready!"

Elsewwhere, General de Latte and his droogs took off at the gallop toward their right flank, after ordering the Ermlanders forward, to join their brigade of infantry moving up on the Stollenian left just around Hasenpfefferwald.  As they galloped by one farm wife observing the battle remarked to another standing nearby, "He do kind of look like the young Malcolm McDowell, don't 'e?"

 On his own left flank, meanwhile, de Latte's cavalry finally moved into action with his sole squadron of hussars launching their horses forward at a fast trot to the clarion call of their trumpeter, a man whose name has been lost to history.  They were supported by a squadron of de Latte's cuirassiers.

Here is another artist's rendering on the western end of the battlefield.  The question begged, of course, would General von Bauchschmerzen's Reiters meet the enemy at the standstill, or would they spur their own steeds on to a trot?

Meanwhile, on the northern ridge held by General von Bauchschmerzen's army, the 1st Musketeers and the Hanseatic Regiment managed to sort themselves out and formed a continuous line to meet the Zichenauer threat from the east. . .  those devilish Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats who continued to lurk just beyond effective musketry range on the periphery of Hasenpfefferwald.

General de Latte's brigade of the Flickenhoffer Fusiliers and Provinces' Provisional Regiment continued their relentless march around Hasenpfefferwald toward the waiting Stollenian line at the far eastern end of the battlefield. 

 Notice the precise cadence of their step!  You can almost hear the drumbeat.  Aren't they lovely (in the manliest way possible)?

 Just before the first volley was unleashed, the stalwart Stollenian infantry braced itself for the inevitable firefight they knew would begin at any moment.  General von Bauchschmerzen gazed one last time at the approaching enemy through his spyglass, snapped it shut without comment, and called out, to no one in particular, for a couple of anti-acid tablets and a glass of warm milk.

While the respective lines of infantry and skirmishers remained beyond effective musketry range, the artillery on both sides began to inflict appreciable casualties on their respective targets.  Gaps began to appear in their line as men fell, but General de Latte's Ermland Garde nevertheless continued its advance across the valley toward the northern ridge held by General von Bauchschmerzen.

Gaps too began to appear in the Stollenian lines across the valley thanks to the efforts of the Zichenauer guns, but von Bauchschmerzen's 1st Musketeers closed ranks and held.  Between sips of warm milk, the Stollenian General asked one of his aides for the time.  A Captain von Schenker produced an ornate pocket watch and announced that the time was almost a quarter to Noon.  Von Bauchschmerzen nodded grimly, and Turn Four came to an end.


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