Monday, December 5, 2016

A Famous Victory - Blenheim: Battle is Joined

Warfare during this period certainly is a methodical affair. It takes Cutts from 12:30 until 2:00 PM to get his leading brigade across the Nebel and launch the first assault on Blenheim. Despite support from the battery next to the village and all three battalions of the famed French Navarre regiment holding the front edge of Blenheim, Rowe's men charge the barricades.  Their combined fire shatters the 1/Navarre, eliminating it. Return fire disrupts a British battalion.

At 2PM, Marlborough orders his center to begin moving to cross the Nebel. Tallard anticipates the movement and has moved his guns forward to oppose the crossing.

Meanwhile on the Anglo-Allied right, Eugene advances his infantry, supported by a pair of light batteries forward toward Lutzingen. D'Arco's cavalry moves to intercept them.

An overview of the battlefield at 2:00 PM.

During the 2:30 turn, the Franco-Bavarians draw just three command points, versus six for the Anglo-Allies. So while Marlborough and Eugene are able to rally and maneuver their forces, the French and Bavarians are very limited in what they can accomplish.

One command point goes to activate the French artillery. Despite being in much closer proximity to the enemy than before, artillery fire this turn is disappointing, causing little damage.

The second command point goes to the division in Blenheim. This is basically a waste. Cutts elects to rally his disordered battalion rather than renew his assault, leaving nothing much to be done in Blenheim - it makes no sense at this point for the French to leave the protection of the village and assault.

The third command point goes to Zurlaben and his cavalry, who charge the British and Hessian horse under Orkney. The leading French cavalry are eight squadrons of the famed French Gendarmes. Two squadrons charge each of the flanking British regiments, with four allocated to the british center regiment. Shoimberg's regiment on the British right, clear of the bog, counter charges 7/ and 8/Gendarmes, stopping them in their tracks and disordering them. 1/ and 2/Gendarmes charge Wood, but are slowed by the bog and only manage to disorder his regiment.

The center is quite a different matter. Windham's lone regiment is hit by overwhelming pistol fire from four squadrons, disordering them. The French then charge home, routing the British regiment and forcing it to retreat a hex and take a -1 Reduction. The victorious French then advance into the space vacated by Windham. having rolled an adjusted "9" during their shock attack, the French could have actually continued with another shock attack if they hadn't advanced into the bog - which prevents charges.

I'm really very impressed with the cavalry rules in this system. Depending on which nationality the cavalry are, they perform different types of charges. English and native Dutch horse perform "full-tilt" charges - basically the classic shock action charge with drawn swords, which was actually very unusual during this period. Marlborough trained his horsemen in the spirit of Gustavus Adolphus and didn't even issue his cavalry powder and shot for their pistols! Other nationalities perform the caracole, a tactic whereby ranks of cavalry ride forward and discharge their pistols, then ride back while the next rank rides forward. There's no shock at all. Finally the French combine a caracole and then a short range charge, which reduces the effectiveness of both, but allows both firing and shock - which can have impressive results with sufficient numbers as seen above. The system manages to support these three different types of charges with easy to resolve rules, and even manages to allow counter charges by the English/Dutch horse! A very impressive system, indeed!