Category Archives: Volley & Bayonet

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.

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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.

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.

Move Swiftly, Strike Vigorously!

A couple of weeks ago four of us gathered for another Volley & Bayonet encounter. Given we have played a few Napoleonic games of late we decided on an American Civil War encounter set in 1862. The Union forces were commanded by Jon and Alastair, with Jon proving the Union forces. Opposing them were Robin and I with the Rebels from my collection.

Each army comprised 3000 points with the Rebels fielding two corps and the Union three smaller corps. While I follow the draft lists I tend to construct the divisions on actual orders of battle. For this battle the Rebel order of battle followed closely that of Lee’s army at Second Manassas in August 1862, which therefore defined the strategic situation of a Confederate advance north against Pope while McClellan removed his army from the Peninsula.

Using the Scenario System in the Volley & Bayonet rules the Rebels were found to be concentrated and therefore had the burden of attack. In contrast the Union forces were strung out in line of march yet they would be able to shake their troops out and reinforce the advanced and isolated Union Corps, if they could just hold the line. A photo report of the game can be found on my Volley & Bayonet blog here

Another great game and an excellent Friday evening.

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.