Sunday, October 13, 2013

Battle of Callinicum April 19, 531 A.D

 On Saturday, October 12th  I staged a re-fight of Callinicum at the South Bay Game Club using Scutarii.   The Sassanids had made one of their raids into Byzantine territory with about 15,000 Persian cavalry and 5000 Arab allied cavalry and were returning home.   Belisarius had been following them with about 3000 cavalry and 5000 infantry.  He was joined by Hermogenes, the Magistar Officiorium (the highest political office other than the emperor)  and was forced to engage the Persian army.   The battle took place across the river from the town of Callinicum on level ground with rising ground away from the river.   Belisarius placed about 6500 heavy infantry on his left flank next to the river, then his heavy cavalry (in groups of 4000, 3000, and 4000),  next were about 2500 light infantry Isaurians, and on his right flank were 5000 Arab light cavalry.   Hermogenes and Belisarius were in reserve behind the center 3000 cavalry with their Bucellari totaling about 1000 men.  Total figures - 368 cavalry, 496 infantry, plus generals.

The Persians placed their 5000 Arab allies on their left flank opposite the Arab allies of the Byzantines.  They had two bodies of about 5000 horse forming their front line and another 5000 in reserve behind them.  440 cavalry figures plus generals.

Historically the Byzantines held their positions allowing the Persians to have the initiative.   After some preliminary skirmishing the Persians attacked the Byzantine right flank with their Arab allies and part of their cavalry.   The Arab cavalry opposing them fled exposing the Byzantine right flank.   The Byzantines managed to hold their position after falling back towards the river and the Persians broke off the engagement and left.   There are two versions of Belisarius' conduct during the battle.   One has him fleeing across the river after finding some boats.   The other has him remaining with the army and bolstering its morale.

Our game did not follow history as the Byzantine players chose to advance their army and immediately engage the opposing Persian cavalry.   Their Arab cavalry skirmished with the Arabs on the Persian side.  The Byzantine heavy infantry's advance caused the Persian cavalry facing them to evade away.   The infantry then attempted to halt its advance instead of continuing to chase the Persian cavalry.  However,  their discipline was not good enough and almost half the front rank formations continued to chase them becoming disorganized.

Meanwhile in the center the Byzantine cavalry ran straight into the Persian reserve formation  which had advanced forward as the left body of Persian cavalry moved towards its left flank.   This would be a disaster for the Byzantines as most of their cavalry was only armed with bows and swords while the Persian reserve had lances in addition to their bows.   The rest of the Persian cavalry only had bows and swords.   The front line of the Byzantine cavalry had been deployed in skirmish order with the second line in close order.  Being in open order each Byzantine unit ended up contacting two of the Persian units.

Although their armor was equal each Byzantine unit only had two melee dice vs the total of 8 melee dice for the two Persian units they were fighting.   After three rounds of melee (two for the initial turn of contact when the Byzantines chose to move first and one for the second when the Persians gained the initiative and chose to move first), four Byzantine units broke when it was their turn and they had to test morale.   This caused other units behind and near them to rout, including Belisarius' Bucellari.   The game was called at this point as the Byzantines only had Hermogenes Bucellari and a few other cavalry units available to attempt to plug the huge gap in their battle line.

Arab cavalry skirmishing

View of the battle.  Byzantines on left.  Persians on right.

end of battle
Photos by Lawrence from the South Bay Game Club.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Lost Battles at the Miniature Wargaming Society (Sacramento)

This past Sunday I drove up to the Sacramento area to visit the Miniature Wagaming Society.  I had been in contact with Greg on the MWS yahoo group about playing Lost Battles.   The MWS meets at the Carmichael Library.   They have use of a large room with a lot of tables and chairs.   The main game being played was Gettysburg using Volley and Bayonet rules and 3mm figures.   There were three other board games also being played.

Greg and I managed to play three different battles from about 10 in the morning until 3:30 in the afternoon with a half hour lunch break.   The three in order of play were Marathon, Raphaia, and Hydaspes.  We used my 6mm figures and had the rule books from the board game.  The figures are a mix of Bacchus, Rapier, Heroics and Ros, and Irregular.   All the hoplites and phalangites are from Rapier.   The Indians are mix of Bacchus and H&R.   The Persians are a mix of Bacchus and Rapier with some H&R cavalry.  The games were played on a felt mat with 14 inch squares on a 5 foot by 6 foot table.

For the first battle Greg was the Greeks and I was the Persians.   Although I almost broke through the Greek center my army was destroyed and Greg won on points also.  The following photos are from that game showing initial dispositions and the end of each turn.   
The Greek army
Persian army
 The armies close

 Persian flanks destroyed
The Greek flanks close in.

Raphaia was a nail biter as both armies hacked away at each other leaving only a few remaining units on the Seleucid side.   Greg was Ptolemy and I was Antiochus.   The Seleucid army was modified slightly to match the scenario in Strategos by replacing the levy phalanx unit with two average units.   This gave an equal fighting value to both sides.   There were several points during the game where one die roll would have decided the outcome in favor of either side.   The Seleucids quickly drove off Ptolemy's cavalry on their right flank, but their elephants and infantry in the adjacent zone were defeated by Ptolemy's forces.   Antiochus made a valiant charge against the flank of Ptolemy's center.  Eventually Ptolemy's army's morale collapsed and the remaining Seleucid units were left on the battlefield to claim victory.   Afterwords, Antiochus was heard to mutter that he was thinking of changing his name to Pyrhhus.
Seleucids on left, Ptolemy on right
view from Ptolemy's side
Antiochus routs opposing cavalry

Argyraspids fled from the field.
 Ptolemy's left flank turns towards the center.
Remains of the Seleucid army.

The final battle was Hydaspes.  Greg and a new club member (my apologies, but I have forgotten his name) commanded the Indian army and I was Alexander.   Instead of playing cautiously I played as Alexander and rashly made several all out attacks.   The resulting points loss for spent units gave the game victory to Greg though the Indian army was driven from the field.  Greg is on the right in black and the new member is on the left.
Indian starting positions
  Macedonian starting positions.
Early part of the battle.  Alexander's cavalry wing would be held up for several turns as it was unable to score enough hits to eliminate the opposing cavalry.
Macedonian left flank cavalry eliminates their opponents and would sweep around to the rear of the Indian army.  Alexander reserved the turn reversal until the following turn, allowing his troops to take advantage of the openings in the Indian line.
I would like to thank Greg for an enjoyable afternoon and for being a worthy opponent.  The Carmichael Library was a great place to game at.   There were quite a few eating establishments within a short distance of the Library.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Gettysburg, the first day

On July 6th we re-fought the first day of the Battle of Gettysburg using From Manassas to Appomattox..    Bob Bergman, Alan Sissenwen, and Kent were the confederate commanders.   Dan Rygasewicz, John Riley, and Kirk Bollinger were the union commanders.  The composition of the armies was as follows:

Army of Northern Virginia – Lee
III Corps – A. P. Hill
Heth A 7 R
Heth B 6
Pender A 6 12H
Pender B 5
Anderson A 7 10P
Anderson B 7
Pegram R N
McIntosh R N

II Corps – Ewell
Early A 5 R
Early B 5
Rodes A 9 N
Rodes B7
Johnson A 6 10P
Johnson B 5
1st Virginia R 20P
Nelson R N
Army of the Potomac – Meade

Left Wing – Reynolds                                                   

I Corps – Doubleday                                                    
Artillery 3”R, N                                                                    
1st Division 7                                                                       
2nd Division 5                                                                 
3rd Division 7                                                                    
XI Corps – Howard
Artillery 3”R, N           
1st Division 6
2nd Division 5
3rd Division 7

XII Corps – Slocum
Artillery 10P, N           
1st Division 10
2nd Division 8

Buford 8 cav. ½ 3”R
III Corps
Artillery N 10P            
1st Division 11
2nd Division 9

The game scale was one inch = 100 yards, infantry =500, cavalry = 300, and artillery = 12 guns.  Ground scale is one inch = 100 yards..  All infantry were regulars armed with rifle muskets.   Buford's cavalry were also regulars armed with beach loading carbines.  Buford had one half of a stand of rifled artillery.  Due to the large size of the confederate divisions they were divided into two parts.  The store opened at 11 and the game started about 11:30 finishing at 4:30 with a 1/2 hour lunch break.

Units arrived at their historical times and locations.    The battle started on the 8:30am turn as the Union I Corps started arriving on the Emmitsburg road.    
The first part of Heth's division arrived at 10:00am, took an hour to get into position and then attacked Buford.  The attack failed to dislodge Buford, but on the next turn his cavalry failed its morale test and became shaken.   John elected to withdraw from Seminary Ridge and fell back towards Gettysburg as more Confederate infantry was arriving.  
Reynods leads part of I Corps towards the south edge of Seminary ridge in an attempt to outflank Heth.
Union cavalry rallies at Gettysburg. as part of I Corps marches through the town.

Buford's cavalry took a voluntary morale test in attempt to recover from shaken status and did so in spectacular fashion by rolling a one.   As the only modifier was the shaken status their morale was so good that they sought revenge for being driven from Seminary ridge and launched a charge on the Confederate infantry on top of the ridge.   As the cavalry came charging up the hill the Rebs let loose with a volley at close range, unseating a good number of union horsemen, causing their charge to falter before making contact.   The cavalry then withdrew again and headed for the east side of Gettysburg.

With Seminary Ridge firmly in Confederate control the Union army withdrew to Cemetary Ridge where it started to entrench.
Confederates take control of Seminary Ridge.
Union infantry takes up position on Cemetary Ridge.

At noon Rhodes' Division arrived north of Gettysburg and proceeded to advance towards the town.
 Rhodes arrives

 By 1:00 his division was in position to assault the union forces on the hill.   However, the confederate assault was halted by fire from the union forces position there and forced to fall back.   For the rest of the afternoon Heth's Corp held its positions along Seminary Ridge and exchanged artillery fire with the Union forces across from them serving as a pinning force to keep them in place while Rhodes and Early would make several assaults on the Union lines.   The fighting was intense and bloody as Bob's confederates and Kirks yankees fought for control of the hills.  Both put up a valiant fight as their forces made one charge after another in a desperate struggle.
The battle for the hills

Fearing a confederate breakthrough on their right flank Dan brought his division with the Iron Brigade over to regain control of the hill.   Their attack shattered two of the Confederate formations, but they were taken in the flank by a third and most were captured.  Seeing the division being withdrawn from the Union left flank Alan led Pender's division in an attack on the Union entrenchments, but was not able to break the Union line.   As the battle hung in balance the Union III Corps was arriving on the Baltimore Turnpike.   Before they could  get into position to regain control of the hills, the morale of the remaining Union troops on the hills collapsed as they saw two fresh Confederate division advancing through the town.   At 7:00pm the Union army was either routing or withdrawing leaving the battlefield in Confederate hands.
Union III Corps arrives in time to be caught in the general rout.

Historically Ewell's corps halted north of Gettysburg and did not attack the hills.   By pressing forward Bob was able to secure victory for the confederates.    Doing this is the best chance the Confederates have of achieving victory.

I would like to thank all who participated.   A special thanks to Kirk and Bob for taking pictures as the batteries in my camera went dead partway into the game.    Three of the above pictures are from Bob (pictures 4, 9, and 10) and five are from Kirk (pictures 3, 5, 8, 11, and 12).

Sunday, June 16, 2013

The Battle of Bibracte 58 B.C.

Julius Caesar had been pursuing the Helveti when he decided to break off the pursuit and replenish his supplies at the town of Bibracte.   The Helveti took this as a sign of weakness and decided to attack.   Caesar had six legions, four veteran and two new, 5000 Gallic cavalry, and some light infantry.   The Gauls had about 92,000 warriors, including some cavalry.

The battle was re-fought at The South Bay Game Club on June 15 using Scutarii.   The rules are available on the Hoplite Research web store at HR Games  and from various dealers in the US   Also Caliver Books in England.  A Yahoo Group has also been  Domus Scutarii

The participants were, starting in the front from left to right, Bill McHugh (not pictured), Manny Granillo, Mike Conley, James Poli, Robert Packard, and Allen Sissenwen.

Robert was Julius Caesar and James was also a Roman commander.  Mike, Allen, Manny, and Bill commanded the Gauls.   Bill had to leave early for a wedding and was only present for the start of the battle.
Both sides were allowed to deploy their troops as they saw fit.   The Romans formed up on the hills along their table edge, placing their four veteran legions in the front in a double line, the two new legions in the rear and split the light infantry and cavalry evenly between both flanks.  The four veteran legions had 4000 men each and the two new legions had 4500 men for a total 25,000 men represented by fifty 16 figure bases.   They also had twelve 8 figure light infantry bases organized into six 16 figure units of 500, and ten bases of 6 cavalry figures.   Total force 956 figures plus seven generals and escorts.  All figures for the Roman army are from Rapier Miniatures.

The initial Gallic force had 5000 cavalry and 70,000 warriors.   The cavalry had ten 6 figure bases and the infantry had 140 12 figure bases for a total of 1740 figures plus seven generals and escorts.   An additional 34 bases of 12 figures would arrive later raising the total number of figures to 2148..  The Gauls formed up their infantry in a large body four bases deep, placed 2000 cavalry on their left flank, and 3000 cavalry on their right flank.  The Gallic army was a mix of Heroics and Ros, Irregular, Rapier, and Baccus and included figures from my other armies to provide enough units for the battle.

Game scale was one turn = 15 minutes, 1mm = 2 paces (1 inch = 50 paces), and one unit equal to about 500 men.

The battlefield had a stream running across the width of the table in a valley between the hills on both sides edge of the table.  The material for the hills was placed under the game mat.  Both armies deployed on their respective hill lines.

The initial Roman deployment.  Sub0ordinate generals yet to to be placed.  There is a special rule for Roman armies that encourages players to deploy in multiple lines as they did historically.
The Gallic battle line, looking east.
The Gauls advance as the Romans wait for them on the hill slopes.   The Romans have shifted their reserve legions to their flanks.
The cavalry engages on the eastern end of the battlefield.   The Roman commander was slain during the initial contact.
The rest of the Gallic horde continues its advance.
View from the other end of the battlefield.
The cavalry battle continues on the eastern end of the battlefield.  The dice were used to keep track of damage to the units.
The opposing armies make contact.  The cavalry on the western end had already been fighting.
Roman cavalry and light infantry on the eastern flank break and flee.
The fight continues on the western end of the battlefield.
The center of the battle.   A rather dicey situation.   I will probably have to go back to using counters instead of dice.
Later in the battle.   Part of the Gallic center routs.  The Romans had previously pulled back their front line behind their second line of  cohorts as several cohorts in the front rank had become shaken.   This gave them an advantage as they now had fresh forces facing an already worn enemy.
The Gallic right flank starts to back away from the Romans.  With part of their forces routing the Gauls had decided that it would be better to withdraw across the stream to the hills they started on.
Right center of the Roman line.  The second line is engaging the Gauls while the first line attempts to recover from being shaken.
Manny joined the game after our lunch break and took command of the 17,000 Gallic re-enforcements. 
A large hole in the Gallic battle line.
Manny quickly advanced to engage the Roman right flank.  

Manny was able to hit the Roman line in the flank and attacked with seven dice to the single die of the Romans.   However, fortune gave him mixed results.   His attack caused several units on the Roman right to rout, but the single Roman die was able to score a hit and Manny's general died leading his men into battle when he checked for loss of his general.   It was later rumored that he had tripped while dismounting from his chariot.

On the following turn the Romans won the initiative and chose to move second.   The rules use an IgoYougo sequence of play with both sides dicing for initiative at the start of the turn.  The side that wins the initiative die roll gets to decide if they will move first or second during the turn.  For this battle any tie die rolls were won by the Romans.  The first thing that side whose turn it is has to do is check morale of any units that have taken damage during the previous round of combat.   Both sides had taken quite a bit of damage by this point.   As the Gauls started checking morale quite a few units that were already shaken failed their morale and routed.   Units that had someone near them rout also had to check and many of the remaining warriors fled.   Caesar was able to claim a victory though all his cavalry and light infantry had fled.

The game started about 10:30 and finished at 3:30 with a half hour to 45 minute lunch break.