Category Archives: Napoleonic

A Little Painting & Basing

As regular readers know I have been using the Volley & Bayonet rules for many years for my 18th and 19th Century wargaming. In my view they are an excellent set of rules and a level that aligns to my reading of the great battles of the period. Indeed, the rules have allowed me to refight many of the great battles of the period. Some that spring to mind are Aspern-Essling, Ligny, Waterloo, Antietam, Gettysburg and Chickamauga, along with many others. All possible due to the very clever period specific rules.

Each historical refight has provided a fascinating game, but also they have provide an opportunity to further understand these battles. These refights have also been supplemented by many fictional encounters, ideal when time is lacking. These of course lack the historical background yet provide their own interesting narrative. Not unlike  the narrative of historical battles of the period. For me that’s a sign of a good set of rules.

But of course playing these battles requires miniatures to be painted. Our lockdown, due to the pandemic, provided a little more time to dust of various miniatures in my burgeoning lead pile, pick up a paintbrush, and paint what ended up being rather a lot of miniatures.

Now, some background. Over recent years I have been slowly focussing my limited painting time on the refurbishment of several of my miniature armies. All of which use 1/300th or 6mm miniatures from Heroics & Ros. This typically has meant a combination of rebasing miniatures – including increasing the number of figures per base, increasing the figure variety on bases, changing my labelling system and painting additional miniatures.

Some armies, such as the Anglo-Dutch and Brunswick troops shown above, have newly painted figures to supplement those previously painted allowing rebasing to continue.

Other projects have been relatively small, a sub project if you like. An example being the expansion of my Napoleonic Russians which were woefully short of cavalry. These can be seen above and below.

Now of course the pandemic ensured I couldn’t order more miniatures, or at least expect them to arrive quickly. So as mentioned the focus was on the lead mountain. Over the years I have collected a lot of odds and ends in second purchases. So one day I sat down and lay out all the second hand unpainted French Napoleonic figures purchased at bargain prices. After some thought I realised that I had almost enough for another large expansion project.

Above and below Napoleonic French cavalry for my Waterloo project. All are newly painted. Each cavalry stand represents a brigade of 1000 to 1500 men.

Here I’ve opted to model two regiments per brigade using the Hundred Days Orders of Battle. So any brigade here will have the correct facings for its historical equivalent. Above are four brigades of Dragoons in front, each brigade having two Dragoon regiments. Behind are four brigades of Cuirassiers. In total above there are the equivalent of 8000 French cavalry.

Below, another eight eight French cavalry brigades also for Waterloo, many of which are light cavalry. There include Lancers, Chasseurs and Hussars to name a few.

Currently on the painting table are the infantry, an additional 400 French infantry. This project, when added to previously painted miniatures, will see all the French units present in the Hundred Days campaign completed. This will allow the battles of Waterloo and Wavre to be refought on one long table. A project I’ve often pondered, but that really seemed unachievable.

However, I’m getting ahead of myself. Before starting the French I started on my American Civil War armies.

Above and below a portion of the Confederate reinforcements.

Like the cavalry previously each infantry stand is 1.5″ square. Now however each brigade stand typically represents 1500 to 2500 men. Each stand has between 25 to 28 figures per base with additional figure variation adding, I feel, to the overall visuals.

Returning readers may also note the use of white text on black labels, something that I am increasingly pleased with. Of course changing labels in part of the army means doing all the bases.

Of course the Union army also needs reinforcements and these too have had some focus. In addition to several Union infantry brigades I have added artillery.

Below, a massive Union deployment of rifled artillery. In Volley & Bayonet an artillery stand typically represents 12 guns. With a frontage of 0.75″ per stand at the ground scale we are using each artillery stand frontage is around 150 yards.

Combining all the painting, the photos being just a subset, over recent months many hundreds of new figures have been painted and merged into the existing armies. A very pleasing result.

Of course painting is one thing, getting them on the table is another. Long delayed by the pandemic over the last few weeks we have finally returned to some rewarding multiplayer games using Volley & Bayonet. These games have of course provided an opportunity to deploy portions of my American Civil War armies. You can find a short game report of one of these games here.

In the Field with Grouchy

One of the aspects of Volley & Bayonet which I particularly enjoy is the ability to refight the great battles of the black powder period. Over the years I have indeed been fortunate to refight many of these famous battles, including many from the Napoleonic Wars. These include all those from the Hundred Days Campaign.

Over the last week I’ve revisited the smaller battle of Wavre and twice resolved this battle on the table. First playing against Jim, who I unfortunately infrequently manage a Volley & Bayonet game against. You can find an account of the game here.

Then more recently, we refought the battle as a multiplayer game during our usual Friday evening gaming slot. A report of this game can be found here.

Both refights of course had similarities, yet each was different as players all approached the battles from a different perspective, each with their own views of what could be effective. Indeed at one point there was significant debate in the second refight between the two Prussian commanders who had very different styles – one deliberate and one more aggressive.

Few rule sets produce a narrative which is so similar to these great battles. Yet the games don’t become bogged down with excessive detail. Indeed, as I’ve read accounts of the action at Wavre during the week I’m reminded of the similar narrative that could easily be applied to our refights. A fact that even after using these rules for over 23 years continues to fascinate me.

Disaster for Davout

A couple of photos from this evenings Volley & Bayonet game set in 1806. The French comprising Davout’s III Corps, reinforced by elements of Lefebvre’s Reserve Corps and not fully deployed, are caught by the advancing Prussians. While the French were of extremely high morale the numerically superior and concentrated Prussians and Saxons advanced with great élan.

Above and below the French centre. The town was secured initially by Gudin’s Division that formed the French right. Morand’s Division eventually deployed to the left towards an area of cornfields. The disordered Prussian guns provoked a French attack, which unfortunately failed to achieve the hoped for dramatic breakthrough.

Below, a view which shows the French right and centre. French cavalry, including Nansouty’s Heavy Cavalry Division in the forefound, was heavily outnumbered by Prussian cavalry.

The French left eventually expanded to past the cornfields but was outflanked by Saxon cavalry and forced to retire. Below, just prior to retiring, Friant’s Division with Hulin’s Guard Division in the left foreground.

However, the battle was decided in the centre where repeated French attacks were thrown back with heavy casualties. Indeed, Morand’s Division eventually collapsed after several hours of fighting. A truely fascinating encounter, but with a very different result than that at Auerstedt.

Advance to Kutzenberg

Last Friday evening found three of us deploying our armies for another 1813 game using Volley & Bayonet. These days we often use the “Road to Glory” Scenario System to develop our Friday evening games and as always it produced an excellent battle.

Having organised a couple of slightly larger armies, 4000 points rather than or typical 3000 points the armies were deployed. Ney commanded four corps which were opposed by two reinforced Austrian corps and a weak Prussian corps.

Given the game a week prior was set in 1813 it seemed fitting to somehow link the two. A few photos of the game, as well as a brief summary, can be found here.

Eagles on the Weissbach

A very busy January has prevented any Volley & Bayonet so it was pleasing to finally be able to organise a multiplayer game for last Friday evening. 

I’ve been using Volley & Bayonet, across two versions, for well over 20 years. Yet every time I use them I’m reminded how much enjoyment they provide and how they create a game that follows the accounts of the great battles of the period. Dramatic events unfold as armies comprising multiple divisions and corps manoeuvre and clash on the table.

We opted to use the Road to Glory System to develop the scenario with each army comprised of 3000 points of troops. With 1813 armies often comprising poorly drilled troops. Therefore even 3000 points can produce reasonable sized armies. I was particularly keen to deploy my Austrians and prepared for a dynamic engagement. I just hadn’t realised how dynamic the upcoming battle would be!

These days I don’t attempt to provide photo reports of all my games, but this time I felt I should make an exception. Therefore a short account of our game can be found here. I’m looking forward to our next encounter in a weeks time…