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.

17 August 2016

Some Additional Terrain Features. . .

 An aerial view of six new Hotz Mats felt fields (available in packs of four 25mm fields or four 15mm fields), which disguise the edges my Woodland Scenics mats nicely.

Kind of quiet around Stollen Central the last couple of days as far as our Battle of Doltz game goes.  School begins for everyone in two weeks during the week of the 29th, so we have been involved with several preparatory meetings with new teachers and related staff at his school for the Young Master as well as our own stuff on campus.  Summers are always relatively carefree, but then you come crashing down to earth like Icarus every mid-August!  

Now, the uninitiated might say something like, "Quit your complaining!  It must be nice having 3.5 months off each summer and month at Christmas and New Years."  And that is true.  Yes, it is.  But things have a way of evening out.  We pay for those chunks of what seem like totally free time once a new semester starts when life gets very, very busy.  We also reliably bring work home with us in the evenings, there are classes to plan four or five days a week, and we are always reading in our respective areas of (ahem) expertise with the aim of publishing articles and books to help advance the thinking in those areas.  That's not even taking service to the institution into consideration which is not only time consuming, but sometimes dealing with petty, neurotic colleagues is not exactly easy either.  I wouldn't trade the academic life for anything however as it has made things extremely interesting, brought about all kinds of new opportunities, and, in some ways, made working life rewarding even in view of the occasional frustrations.

Anyway, I plan to return to the Battle of Doltz this evening and carry on with Turn Four.

In the meantime, the mail lady delivered a small package from Eric Hotz, proprietor of Hotz Artworks, earlier this afternoon.  It contained four felt and flock 25mm fields and four of the same but in 15mm size.  See for yourselves, but I think they will help to break up the broad, golf course like expanse of the Woodland Scenics Ready Grass mats.  The felt fields not only add considerable visual interest to the tabletop, but they conform nicely to the slopes beneath.  You can also cut them into odd shapes like American gamer Bruce Weigle has done for his 1866 games.  There are many examples of his stunning terrain on the Hotz Mats website by the way.  Now, if only my additional two packages of fields would just arrive.

Ok, back to syllabi revision or me.  Still a few hours of work let this afternoon.

-- Stokes

 Here is another shot across the valley separating the two armies.

And a third one, this time a little less dark as the clouds have blown away.  If you are seeking durable, realistic, and easy-to-use scenic items to dress up your table top, I would heartily suggest these felt fields Hotz Mats.  They are also reasonably priced!

15 August 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Four. . .

General de Latte's brigade of Flickenhoffer Fusiliers and Provinces' Provisional Regiment continues its flanking movement at the start of Turn Four.

At approximately 11:15am, the start if Turn Four in the Battle of Doltz, a standoff of sorts developed over much of the battlefield along with the clearing off of General von Bauchschmerzen's few remaining jaegers on his left flank.  And it is there that events were the most interesting so far during the battle.  But these artists' renderings provide a much clearer picture of the battle than can I.  Please have a look and, to appropriate one of Mr. Kinch's terms, click each picture to 'embiggen.'

-- Stokes

 The Flickenhoffer Fusiliers has just about cleared Hasenpfefferwald and should soon be in position to form a firing line opposition General von Bauchschmeren's own troops.

A third photograph provides a good idea of how close the opposing bodies of troops are to one another.

Concerned about his left flank and the rather disobedient troops guarding it, General von Bauchschmerzen and his staff have again moved to that part of the position just in case.

Meanwhile, General de Latte's retinue of haughty hipster baristas (those filthy coffee bean chewers) in fancy dress has rejoined their commander for more military mischief depending on what unfolds during the rest of Turn Four.

And what of General de Latte's Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats?  Having polished off the last of von Bauchschmerzen's Corps of Jaegers, they have made an orderly retreat back into Hasenpfefferwald to screen the approach of the Flickenhoffer Fusiliers and Provinces' Provincials approaching from the rear.

14 August 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Three Continued. . .

The Ermland Garde, who earlier this turn moved onto the crest o the southern ridge and into the open with a loud "Huzzah!" have taken three more hits from the enemy artillery just across the valley.  Ouch!  General de Latte sees this and sends hasty orders for the the unit to pull back behind the ridge line once again. 

Although still early in the game, The Battle of Doltz has thrown a few rather interesting wrenches (spanners) into the works of the respective commanders' plans.  These have taken the form of recalcitrant subordinate officers who have not always understood their superiors' orders, overly eager troops moving ahead without order to do so, and a combat on one flank that has taken on a life of it own.  Suffice to say, General von Bauchschmerzen and General de Latte have experienced a bit of (realistic) confusion and frustration so far.

And then. . .  There was the veritable hell wrought on yours truly all day Saturday by a particularly nefarious piece of flatpack IKEA furniture with a mind of its own.  In what must be a new world's record for slow, painstaking assembly, it took the 7+ hours to assemble the blasted thing.  And that's not counting the unplanned trip to the hardware store late in the day to replace a couple of stripped screws needed to complete the piece.  Injuries, indignities, and incompetence?  You don't know the half of it!  I have decided, with the clarity brought on by a decent night's sleep, that the Swedes are more evil than the rest of the world perhaps realizes.  

The finished sofa nevertheless looks pretty good in the Grand Duchess' home office.

-- Stokes

Meanwhile, General von Bauchschmerzen's 1st Musketeers have yet again managed to avoid incurring additional casualties from the Zichenauer battery opposite.  What are those blasted artillerymen drinking??!!   

Along the edge of Hasenpfefferwald, things are rather different however.  A hard fought firefight has developed between General von Bauchschmerzen's Corps of Jaegers and General de Latte's Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats, with the former incurring heavy casualties (denoted by the red bingo chips).

Finally, here is a second shot of the firefight which has seen the Corps of Jaegers take the brunt of things.  The company of 18 figures has suffered 11 casualties (more than 50%) and must, presumably, fall back during Turn Four, taking little further part in the battle.

11 August 2016

The Battle of Doltz: Turn Three. . .

At the far eastern edge of the field General de Latte's Flickenhoffer's Fusiliers and Provinces' Provisional Infantry Regiment continued their slog forward in a bid to outflank their enemies.  Above, you can see the former unit begin wheeling its companies into some semblance of line under the watchful eye of their colonel.

By 10:45am that morning, the action now remembered in the history books as The Battle of Doltz was taking shape with fevered maneuvering, thundering cannon salvos, and exchanges of rattling musketry between the respective commanders' grenzers, croats, and jaegers.  Stay tuned or updates later in the day.

-- Stokes

General von Bauchschmerzen has not been blessed with competent unit commanders to quite the same degree as his adversary.  After misinterpretation of earlier orders, he gave the colonel of the Hanseatic Regiment a severe dressing down, explaining the meaning of proper drill and obedience, pointing out that the regiment needed to turn to face the enemy approaching from the east.  Here, said regiment has rushed to correct the situation and left a platoon in reserve under the care of a trusted sergeant.

Nearby, General de Latte's Irish Grenzers (left) and Warshawski Croats (right) have all emerged from Hasenpfefferwald and are taking careful aim at von Buachschmerzen's Corps of Jaegers.

Following his heated exchange with the colonel of the Hanseatic Infantry, General von Bauchschmerzen and his retinue returned to the center, just north of Doltz, where they bumped into the Grand Duke Irwin-Amadeus II (the crimson coated fellow), who flagged them down and exclaimed, "Oh, I say!  Von Bauchschmerzen?  Are there any coffee shops about where we might find a soy cappuccino?  We can't make heads or tails of this blasted map from the Travelers' Aid Society!"

Meanwhile, the fiendish General de Latte has dispatched two aides with orders for his cavalry regiments on the western flank of his line.  WHat could he be up to?  You know how it is with these 30mm French mercenary-adventurers who are veterans of the Seven Years War.  Nope.  Can't trust 'em for a moment.

Amid the din of cannon fire, Major di Biscotti (in white) was heard to ask of his superior and their remaining ADC, "Gentlemen, isn't it about time for elevensies?  I am parched.  Simply parched, you hear!  I have a day-old bearclaw pastry in my valise that we can share with our espressos."

Here is another photograph to illustrate where General de Latte's detached right wing is located early during Turn Three.  In the distance, we can also make out that his Ermland Garde have impetuously moved forward to the crown of the ridge on the southern edge of the battlefield.

General von Bauchschmerzen's Corps of Jaegers initiated a hot exchange of fire with General de Latte's Irish Grenzers and Warshawski Croats as they emerged from Hasenpfefferwald during the latter part off Turn Three.  Thus far, it is unclear which side is suffering more casualties.  The Young Master does love cotton ball musketry and cannon fire smoke by the way.  He asked me about it all day until we carefully added this particular feature to the tabletop battle.

 And here is a handy aerial shot of how the Battle of Doltz has developed during Turn Three.  You can see that things are heating up at the eastern end of the field.  How much longer will it be before the entire front line is ablaze we wonder?


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