Category Archives: Volley & Bayonet

Eugene on Campaign

During July I’ve managed to fit in three Volley & Bayonet games. First an American War of Independence refight of the Battle of Cowpens, in 3mm scale. This was in turn followed by a fictional 1864 American Civil War game in 6mm. Most recently, shaking free of the American theme, a Marlburian game in 15mm hosted by Robin and drawing on the well painted armies in Adrian’s collection. Three very different, due to the period specific rules, but fascinating games.

As I’ve mentioned previously Volley & Bayonet works just as well irrespective of the figure scale. Fortunately our group of gamers are more than happy to switch between either scale.

Here are a handful of pictures of the most recent game, where the Allies are attacking a French army deployed in a defensive positions comprised of towns, hills and woods. To make matters worse several field works have been placed to further bolster the French positions. Each infantry or cavalry stand represents around 1000 to 1500 men.

Above the Allied left wing prepare to engage the French right wing. The artillery once deployed were unable to move due to the civilian teams. As it transpired the limited Allied artillery was woefully ineffective in this sector.

Below, a view of the Allied right and the focus of the Allied main attack. The Allied artillery is not unlimited yet, which accounts for it’s facing. After several failed attempts the nearby town was taken by Allied Grenadiers with Prince Eugene, the Allied commander, at their front.

During the course of the battle increasing French reserves were dispatched to the French left, thus weakening the centre. This eventually resulted in a massed attack by Imperialist cavalry. In time this was supported by more cavalry and Imperialist infantry.

Above, the French cavalry on the left cover the hole in the French centre.

Another view, this time from the French lines on the French right. The French works here were eventually taken when the French infantry retired, a reaction to the worsening situation in the centre.

A fascinating game for the three players and a great way to spend a winters evening. Next, I think it’s back to the American Civil War…

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Lee & Meade at Hazel Run

Continuing what seems to be an American Civil War theme, I’ve recently posted a report of one of our recent Friday evening Volley & Bayonet encounters. Using armies based on the Bristoe Campaign of October 1863, we deployed the figures for what was a most enjoyable game. Enjoyable from a game perspective, but equally interesting from an historical perspective.

To place it in some context just outside of Fredericksburg are the battlefields of Chancellorsville, the Wilderness and Spotsylvania. The last two cover Grant’s 1864 Overland Campaign – where Meade commanded much of the Union army. Unlike the Campaigns of 1862 here Grant, despite being fought to a standstill, just wouldn’t break off. Instead the Union army slipped east, eventually ending around Petersburg.

For me this most recent fictional battle reminded me of the impacts of the terrain and the resolve the commanders had to damage the enemy army. In our game our “Wilderness”, despite being much smaller and of course meaning the field was considerably more open, had a similar impact. Further, like the actual battles at the Wilderness and Spotsylvania, casualties were horrific.

You will find a summary of Hamstrung at Hazel Run, our fictional game, in my Volley & Bayonet section. For those interested in a summary of my visit to the Wilderness Battlefield posted a couple of years back, it can be found 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.

On Campaign with the Count of Nassau

I’m very fortunate with my wargaming. Yes, it’s true and every so often it’s worth reminding myself of that. I’ve been playing Volley & Bayonet since 1994 when the first edition came out. Despite playing the rules for 23 years now the rules keep producing outstanding games. Partly that is because there is a such a pleasant group to play against locally. However there are other reasons, including the obvious – the rules are just really good!

In the last few weeks I’ve played a couple of outstanding Napoleonic encounters, while just a week ago a challenging American Civil War battle with a completely different feel. Then, last night I was able to try another sub-period, in particular a Marlburian game. Above, Dutch infantry advance against the French during the game.

So what is different? Well, in the Marlburian period the infantry are slow, musket fire is poor and artillery is moved by civilians. A far cry from the Seven Years War never mind the Napoleonic or American Civil Wars. The basic rules are of course the same, so the mechanics are familiar. However, each sub-period has several small differences and these transform the game. 

These much to be said for wargaming the black powder era and I just can’t go past Volley & Bayonet. If you are interested in our latest game have a look at a series of photos which can be found here.

Kolin Battlefield 

Being in Prague recently I took the opportunity to visit the battlefield of Kolin. As it transpired I was on the battlefield on the 13th of June, just short of the anniversary. Unlike some who have visited this battlefield as part of a tour, I was visiting by myself so ensured I had a reasonable selection of maps. In particular I had “Fredrick the Great A Military Life” by Christopher Duffy and “Kolin 1757” by Simon Millar. For completeness I also took a copy of Frank Chadwick’s Kolin Scenario map designed for use with  Volley & Bayonet. I found Millar’s maps particularly useful on the day.

I approached the battlefield along the the Kaiser Strasse and visible on the right, in a commanding position, was the spire of Krzeczor church and the Austrian monument. The ground sloped upwards from the Kaiser Strasse to the Austrian positions. Turning off the Kaiser Strasse it was a strait forward process to drive into Krzeczor. A short walk then took me to the Austrian monument. It was at this point it became very apparent how significant the slope was. Unfortunately, the picture doesn’t do the justice to this slope. You can however see vehicles on the Kaiser Strasse.

Then above this sits the earthworks and on the earthworks the monument.

Above, looking back towards the village of Krzeczor, distant right, but obscured. Below the monument.

Walking back to Krzeczor even today the church remains a significant building. While today it is little worse for wear it sits in a commanding position and I was struck by its defensible nature, especially considering the stone wall that surrounds it.

Below, a view from the grounds of the church looking towards the Kaiser Strasse. Just visible in the foreground is a portion of the churchyard wall.

The 800 or so Croats had a strong position, reinforced by additional infantry it would have been extremely difficult to secure.

Now, back to the monument. Of particular interest was that beyond the monument the hill flattened effectively creating a plateau. There is a slight rise towards the Krzeczor Hill summit, illustrated in Millar’s book, but it was a minimal slope compared to that running from the Kaiser Strasse to the village of Krzeczor and monument. I’ve tried to illustrate this in the next two photos.

Above, a view on the plateau from the road between the villages of Krzeczor and Bristivi. Careful inspection will show the rear of the Austrian monument, an eagle wings extended, sitting high among the left wooded area. Krzeczor village is on the right obscured. The Kaiser Strasse is completely obscured from view on the plateau.

Now, the Prussians advanced across this ground, having driven the Croats from their positions, crossed the road where I’m standing and engaged Wied’s Austrians in the distance of the photo below. Again there is almost no level change here.

To the east of these photos is the location of the Oak Woods. As Millar details in his book the Oak Wood has gone. However, driving east from Krzeczor village to Radowesnitz village the terrain is very rolling with multiple undulations and extremely limited line of sight. Millar’s map suggests some undulation but it is if anything understated.

A road from Krzeczor village tracks directly from the rear of the village towards the west end of Krzeczor Hill and behind the Austrians line in the photo above. There is a very gentle slope west to the top of Krzeczor Hill, but on reaching the top, today marked by some trees, the ground sloped off quickly to the west.

From here the Przerovsky Hill (right centre) can be clearly rising in the photo below, This hill marks the western end of the Austrian infantry line. Note the road in the left going downhill towards Libodritz.

The ground from Bristivi through Chotzemitz and Brzesau is also on a slope and uphill from the Kaiser Strasse. However Chotzemitz and Brzesau are effectively hidden from the Kaiser Strasse by intervening ground. This is not apparent on any of the maps.

Przerovsky Hill, west of Krzeczor Hill, is a dominating feature. However the road that connects Chotzemitz to Libodritz is itself steep and would have been a considerable obstacle to advance over. On Duffy and Millar’s map the ridge is extended, on Chadwicks interpretation it isn’t, though in my opinion it needs to be. I couldn’t find anywhere to park on the Prussian side so the photo below is taken from an Austrian perspective.

Between the villages of Chotzemitz and Brzesau Millar provides a photo of a small religious shrine, which I have included below as a reference point.

If you look to the right following the road you see Brzesau, pictured below. This is the area that the Prussian 20th, 25th and 40th Regiments would have advanced over.

To their front was the Przerovsky Hill which can be seen below as the wooded high ground today. A portion of the shrine on the right as reference.

Austrian infantry extend the line from the Przerovsky Hill which marked the end of the Austrian infantry line.

I found the battlefield of Kolin very rewarding to visit. It is very much untouched. As a result it is very easy to see the Prussians and Austrians fighting across the fields even today. The visit however highlighted several points I hadn’t fully appreciated.

Firstly, the two hills form a much longer ridge which must have prevented Frederick from observing the Austrian movements. Some maps show this, but the extent was not apparent. If you are modelling the battlefield with a view to refight the battle I think one long ridge is important.

Secondly, the significant plateau near Krzeczor village. Duffy touches on this when he writes: “…they had cleared the village and reached the celebrated Oak Wood behind. After this first success, instead of finding himself master of an empty ridge, Hulsen discovered that he was face to face with the Austrian division of Wied…” It really is a plateau and until you are on it you can’t see what awaits.

Finally, the rolling terrain around Radowesnitz. If using Volley & Bayonet extending the ridge beyond the Oak Wood will break line of site and help model the rolling terrain.

Now, some logistics. If you are considering such a trip I hired a rental car from Prague’s Hlavni Nadrazi train station which allowed relatively straight forward travel to the battlefield thanks to clear instructions from my iPhone, I was travelling by myself. Your navigator may be as good as my phone but without it I wouldn’t attempt the trip. In fact I had more troble getting out of the train station than actually following the instructions on route.

Finally, I would like to acknowledge the useful advice from my good friend Maurizio Bragaglia. Maurizio answered several questions as I tried to determine the best way to get to the battlefield.