Battle of Gefrees July 1809

Another small battle from the Franco-Austrian 1809 campaign. The battle of Gefrees occurred in southern modern Germany, near Bayreuth, and basically in the same location where the French started their 1806 campaign marches into 1806 Prussian territory, leading up to the battle of initial Battle of Saalfeld, then Jena and Auerstadt.

Accounts for the action on the Gefrees battlefield are sparse in number.  WR favorite go to source is the excellent 1809 Thunder on the Danube three-volume series written by John Gill. These books are a great source for the well-known and documented battles, and more importantly to WR, the more obscure battles fought during this campaign. but for the Battle of Gefrees, fought on July 8th and just before the signed armistice, the details are lacking for a detailed scenario. The background in Gill’s volume III book (Wagram & Znaim), has the story starting on page 290 with the sub-title of “Thunder in Bayreuth” section and reads up to page 299, before covering the Black Duke’s post armistice march to the Hanoverian coast. Specifically on mid page 297, there is a single paragraph on the Gefree battle…. per Gill a small skirmishing action it seems, ended with a violent thunderstorm of rain. So another well written source is needed and quickly found in the old First Empire magazine. The Battle of Gefrees First Empire (FE) magazine article by John (Jack) Gill appeared in issue #12 and covers in detail the short southern Germany (Bayreuth region) campaign and the battle. It is surprising that the book 1809 Thunder on the Danube has limited storyline compared to the same author’s FE article on this engagement. WR’s tabletop scenario is based upon this old FE article.

The old FE magazine article found on the internet as a .pdf file:  Gefrees 1809 Empire #12

The Danube theater wide situation at the start of July has the Battle of Wargarm (July 5th & 6th) forthcoming and the converging French Armies of Germany, Italy, and Dalmatia in general pursuit of the retiring Austrians. During the pursuit the engagement at Hollabrunn (July 9th) and the final major Battle of Znaim, fought on July 10th into the 11th occurs, leading to the signed campaign ending armistice during the evening of 11th (effective July 12th).

King Jerome

FML Kienmayer

GD Junot

        

Back in the rear area of Bavarian Bayreuth, Austrian Bohemia, and southern Saxony, the French and Austrians, along with their Germanic state allies, march and fight several smaller engagements during early July. In particular the confrontation of FML Kienmayer and his two French opponents; GD Junot and King Jerome of Westphalia, is the subject of this blog article. The Battle of Gefrees came from Archduke’s Charles’s earlier strategic plans after the Battle of Aspern-Essling. Archduke Charles desired peripheral theaters for limited operations to discomfort the French across the Danube river at Vienna and threaten the French line of communication back to France. With the Italian, Tyrol, and Polish theaters closing down at that time, only the Bohemian border with Saxony remained open for Austrian offensive action. The Saxon border frontier was open to Austrian military advance being ill defended, the possibility possible of sparking anti-french uprising (especially after the von Schill’s ride and raid), and reduction of the Confederation of the Rhine military efforts against Austria.

In May, the future Austrian grand military effort for this Saxon border raid adventure was limited to depot troops, the local landwehr formations, and several line detachments. Two small divisions slowly formed under the command of GM Carl Friedrich Freiherr Am Ende around Theresienstadt (8,600 and 10 cannon), up river from Dresden, and FML Paul Radivojevich (4,400 and 4 cannon) to advance on French held Bavarian Bayreuth from Eger. The French rear area and realms of the German allies had equally an odd mixture of units and formations, mostly newly raised recruits, depot, and provisional troops. The stalwart Marshal Francois Kellermann used his skill to form a Reserve Corps based around Hanau. Further north the new Kingdom of Westphalia, with their new army regiments, and the occasional Dutch, Saxon, Danes, and even Portuguese units, forming the French 10th Corps under King Jerome.

June 10th, the regional campaign starts, sees GM Am Ende cross the Saxon border and quickly control Dresden with his Brunswick and Hesse-Kassel small Frei corps allies joining him. Further northwestern marching towards Leipzig quickly ends with the cautious and indecisive GM Am Ende, a true Austrian commander, when faced by the energetic Saxon local commander von Thielmann. Oberst von Thielmann, soon joined by the marching Saxon-Polish command of GM von Dyherrn’s return from Poland, falls back before the Austrian torpid advance till joined by King Jerome’s 10th Corps at Leipzig (June 23rd). The combined Saxon and Westphalian forces immediately advanced on Dresden, with GM Am Ende quickly retreating across the Austrian border post-haste before their advance. Meanwhile, FML Radivojevich has crossed the Eger area border and occupies Bayreuth, while sending raiding groups towards Bamberg and Nuremberg. By the end of June, these raiding groups are forced to retire by the gathering French Reserve Corps under Marshal Kellermann at Hanau, soon to be commanded by GD Junot.

The start of July found FML Radivojevich back in Bayreuth and then compelled to retire on Bindloch on July 6th, the same time period days of the savage battle of Wargram. While GM Am Ende returned to Austrian territory, regrouping his command and remained camped across the Austrian border, FML Radivojevich soon had two separate French forces moving in his direction at the start of July. GD Jean-Andoche Junot, who recently taken the place of Kellermann in command of the Reserve Corps at Hanau, marched from Hanau to Wurzburg then towards Bamberg (July 5th). At Bamberg Junot is joined by GD Jean Delaroche with Bavarian depot battalion and two raw French provisional dragoon regiments coming north from Bavarian territory. With the enlarged, but untrained mounted arm available, GD Junot continues his advance against the worried FML Radivojevich, who quickly retreats towards Bindloch, as the French re-occupy Bayreuth.

FML Kienmayer rides to the rescue and arrives sometime during Am Ende’s early adventure into Saxony then retirement back to Austrian territory. Quickly he brought purpose to the enterprise and apprehensive about his forces being separated and facing superior enemy formations, he decides to exploit his central position to defeat each of the Franco-German corps in turn. Feeling the X Corps are overly enjoying their stay at pleasant Dresden, he saw Junot’s advance against FML Radivojevich as the immediate threat to his two corps. Dividing Am Ende’s command in half, he marches quickly westward toward Plauen, leaving the remainder under GM Am Ende to guard the border passes into Austria. Radivojevich’s ADC carrying messages for aid reach FML Kienmayer at Plausen (July 5th). Told to hold the Bindloch for as long as possible in reply notes, Kienmayer marches to Hof and aid of Radivojevich, leaving the Brunswick and Hessian troops at Plausen for the moment. Pressured by Junot’s advance, FML Radivojevich unknowing of FML Kienmayer’s response and actions, slowly retires to Gefrees. Under direct skirmishing with the French advance troops, Radivojevich holds Grefees position during the night of July 7th.

Gefrees and view of the surrounding countryside. (Wikipedia photo)

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Ludendorff Bridge Hollywood AAR

Previously WR reported on his basic Flames of War 20mm scale Ludendorff Bridge 1945 scenario played as the morning game at Gamex 2018. For the second or afternoon Flames of War (FOW) game scenario, the same terraced tabletop was used but the units and platoons involved had slight changes for both sides. These changes converted what the basic FOW Ludendorff scenario was, to what WR calls his “Hollywood movie” version, following what is seen in “The Bridge at Remagen” movie (1969). To save some writing, WR refers the reader to the previous Ludendorff Bridge – Remagen 1945 article for specific details on the scenario written at end of scenario write-up. For this Hollywood themed scenario, the following changes are made from the basic scenario; platoon addition or change, team attachments, and adjusted starting positions are listed:

For the German side:

  1. The German 2cm Flak36 platoon is exchanged out for a Reluctant Conscript 88mm Flak platoon of three 88mm A/A guns, their Cmd SMG team, and attached HMG team. all in entrenchment or gun pits. This 888mm Flak36 battery is positioned forward on the Erpeler Ley, till placed on the 3rd level mountain edge overlooking the entire scenario tabletop.
  2. The 2iC SMG team in company HQ is exchanged out for 2iC MG team starting in the same position per scenario notes.
  3. The sunken river barge is anchored (placed) on the opposite side of the bridge, in center of river, and about 3″ from bridge. Change out the sniper team for an independent trained HMG team, concealed and “gone to river” status.

For the Americans:

  1. Add Armored Mortar platoon (81mm mortar) to the reinforcements pool. This Confident Veteran platoon has Cmd Carbine team, M2 or M3 H/T with .50cal AAMG, and three M4a1 81mm H/T. Following the delayed Reserves rules, roll on turn three for possible arrival at zone 3 table edge.
  2. If the Pershing Heavy tank platoon is destroyed, starting on turn three or later, a replacement light tank platoon will arrive. Players agreement, either Confident Veteran  M24 Chaffee platoon (four tanks), or a M18 HellCat platoon (four tanks) without their TD rules applied… just a common tank platoon for scenario. Delayed Reserves rule applies again.
  3. The Engineer platoon has special Ludendorff Bridge rules to follow for repairing or clearing the bridge for vehicle passage.

Remember WR adjusted the map squares to be 15″ wide and 12″ deep for his tabletop since he uses 20mm scale miniatures and basing.

Faced by the deadly 88mm AA Flak36 battery, the American have to target the hated cannon with their armor main guns, those same 90mm, 76mm, and 75mm tank cannon, to blast apart the German tank killing battery. So thoughtful planning the movement and fire control is paramount for the 1st turn. No double timing with the Shermans….. they will be pulped. Even the Pershing platoon needs to keep their distance to upgrade their armor factor by one… 10 to at long-range 11 vs, the 13 AT rating of the 88mm cannon. The Sherman crews just leave the turret and hull hatches open…. 88mm shells will come and go (7 to at long-range 8 vs. 13) against their armor hulls. This of course leaves the 3.7cm Flak 38 gun pit cannon complete alone for the start of the scenario…. all eight of them as they eye the American infantry. A different game mechanic situation is already in place. Much discussion at the lunch break between the scenario games…. let’s now see what the teams actually do on the tabletop. Continue reading

Gamex 2018 convention

This year WR could only attend the Strategicon Gamex convention on Sunday, instead of the normal Saturday and Sunday for the four-day event. So his brief convention report can only show and describe the Sunday games seen briefly while running (with Daniel) his 20mm Ludendorff – Remagen Bridge FOW 1945 scenario. The direct PEL comments copied below, with photos.

Remagen Bridge 1945 – Flames of War Ver3.0 Late War

Arriving before the intact Ludendorff bridge at Remagen, the American elements of the 9th Armored Division received orders to rush the bridge with explosive charges in place. Charging across, the lead platoon tried to clear the charges, saw the lit fuse,…. and bang, the bridge erupted in blast and smoke. The rest is history as those same dazed Americans created a beachhead across the Rhine. Will history repeat? For More information: https://wargamerabbit.wordpress.com/2017/12/24/ludendorff-bridge-1945/

Start of the Ludendorff Bridge scenario. Complete details on separate blog article with many turn by turn photos. See link above in text.

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Ludendorff Bridge AAR

This past Memorial Day weekend WR attended the regional Strategicon Gamex convention based near the Los Angeles Airport or LAX (Hilton hotel). Joined by his son Daniel as GM, the scenario for the convention was the much awaited Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen 1945 Flames of War (FOW) MRB Ver3.0 project. Details for the FOW scenario, hints and notes, and the preparation of 20mm (1/72) miniatures / terrain have been covered in previous articles links below.

Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario, including the basic and “Hollywood movie” scenario versions: Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) March 1945 and the Ludendorff Bridge Preparation.

Scenario map 12″x12″ square grid. WR’s version uses 20mm scale miniatures so WR enlarges width by 25% or 15″ wide by 12″ depth.

Table terrain setup clearly shows the Ludendorff Bridge, the Rhine River, the barge, the Erpeler Ley mountain, and railroad ramps with stonework arches leading to the tunnel portal position.

The starting American set up: Pictured below, the Pershing heavy tank platoon, the leading Armoured Rifle platoon (without transport), the Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, and the defending VolksGrenadier platoon guarding the RR ramp leading to the bridge.

Starting American positions with the Co. HQ CinC, 2iC teams, the Armored Rifle platoon, and the Pershing heavy tank platoon. Also pictured the defending VolksGrenadier platoon at bridge ramp.

The defending German starting position: The 2cm Flak36 gun pit battery up on the Erleper Ley mountain, the Flak38 3.7cm battery along the riverbank, and a portion of the Volks Artillery battery lower right corner seen. Not pictured below, behind the Erleper Ley mountain at tunnel portal, is the German Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, plus the VolksSturm platoon.

The German starting defensive positions…. the flak 2cm battery on Erpeler Ley, the Flak 3.7cm battery on riverbank, and the Volks Artillery battery lower right of photo.

WR refers the reader to the Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario and note links about the terrain modeled on the tabletop. Continue reading

Battle of Arronches 1801 AAR

Several months ago WR wrote up some background material on the War of the Oranges (Guerra de las Naranjas) during 1801, fought between the invading Spanish army and the defending Portuguese as the main players. Secondary French forces, along with a small French emigrate (English) contingent, marching in the respective rear areas just to add flavor to the proceedings. Later on WR wrote up an enlarged historical scenario engagement between the Spanish and Portuguese armies based upon an action fought near the old town of Arronches in Portugal. That scenario now has seen light to the miniature tabletop and the following After Action Report (AAR) is presented to report the miniatures engagement.

To read the actual scenario design and notes, the forces and units involved, and the battlefield terrain detail, WR refers the reader to the Arronches 1801 article posted on Wargamerabbit:  Battle of Arronches 1801

The scenario starting positions has the Portuguese in army confusion and disarray, surprised by the “fast marching” Spanish advance guard division’s arrival during the mid morning siesta period of the Portuguese army. Only the formed Portuguese now “rearguard” (titled the Advance Guard command) and their cavalry brigade are ready to confront the Spanish army while their main infantry division breaks camp and forms their battalions to march. Not a good way to start a miniature scenario, even the Portuguese HQ starts the scenario with their line of communication towards Portalegre threatened by the Spanish Advance Guard’s division arrival. For the reader’s note, since WR has no 1790 era painted Portuguese, he will use his 1790 Reicharmee as stand in’s for the scenario play.

The Arronches battlefield. The town is off to the left. The Spanish are arriving on the central road. The Portuguese cavalry brigade and escorted wagon train further up the road, across the bridge.

Scenario map. Each square is 12″ or 600 yards.Map legend at right.

View from the west. Clearly the Portuguese 2nd Division is strung out leaving Arronches, heading towards the Portalegre road which has the cavalry brigade and train. Spanish upper right corner. Portuguese “rearguard” and HQ positioned in Arronches.

View from the north. The 2nd Division, cavalry brigade, trains, seen on the battlefield in their starting positions. WR still has to place various “camp and civilians” around the 2nd Division to reflect its “in camp status”.

The eastern table view to complete the 360′ viewing of the terrain and miniature command starting positions, using the wooden block movement system. Dry Caia riverbed clearly marking the battlefield with orange groves across the open fields.

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COE Chariot era Armies

For the regulars who stop by the warren blog, some have noticed the lack of recent posts since March. Even gaming was curtailed for pending miniature projects. Well, the WR has simply been overwhelmed project wise, some of which have caused many evenings of planning, organization of units, glued fingers, worn brushes, trips to the local hardware store, and shipping orders arriving on the doorstep, eagerly adding to the patio pile of tabletop confusion (photos below). Slowly the process became streamlined, the process showed progress, and completion showed the effort involved. What is all this chatter about?…..it is the dreaded basing, re-basing, organizing and formation structure of WR’s ancient Chariot era armies plus some other smaller projects. Five chariot era ancient armies finally had their day under the patio roof…. on hot days, on cold evenings, and the occasion of rain twice.

Clash of Empires (COE) Egyptian, the Assyrians, the Indians, the Chinese, and the Steppe-Nomad armies are the Chariot era armies for this project. After these armies are completely inventoried, the Classical era Greeks, Republican Rome, Imperial Rome, Persians, Macedonian, Successor period, various minor eastern states (like Palmyra), Barbarian regional huge hordes (various), Carthaginian, Picts will follow with their own projects. Then as time permits the Dark age nations (various), early and late medieval, War of the Roses, and medieval Scots will see work next year…. if WR is still alive.

For many years these stored armies have seen limited service on the tabletop. WR hopes the army collection organization, identify what miniatures are painted and based, form units to standard Clash of Empires (COE) organizational unit size, and inventory the unpainted lead (some plastic) miniatures with spreadsheets (.xls) covering all the collections, will lead to more ancient games with the local ancients gamer group. That is the hope and target future goal for this effort. Plus identity what needs to be painted!

The process of organization and inventory. Pictured is the Chinese army undergoing the multi-step ten stage process outlined below in the article.

A side view of the Chinese army undergoing the review and organizational process with work table upper right. Stacks of apple boxes (storage) form the backdrop.

So the Clash of Empires army organization basing and inventory project process had a multi-step (1 to 10 stage) format done for each Chariot era army:

(1) Lay out the miniatures and form Clash of Empires (COE) ancient army units based from the rules and list parameters. Typically infantry are 20-30 miniatures for three rank massed formations, cavalry 8-12 miniatures for single rank formation, and skirmisher units 8-14 miniatures formed as loose formations.

(2) Base or glue the loose individual miniatures on their 20mm x 20mm bases (infantry), 25mm x 50mm (cavalry), or larger sizes for special units like elephants, field artillery, or chariots. Most of the basing is standard for the common rules sets in print, including WAB, Hail Caesar, and other non element rules. The individual miniatures are maneuvered on the tabletop using textured sabot trays sized for the formation footprint. Basing included gluing the miniature to the base, then apply putty to build up the base and hide the miniature base footprint. Note that complete miniature units stored in pre-determined sealed OEM bags or boxes are not opened and based pending their actual scheduled painting. Just the loose unpainted miniatures are based for this stage.

(3) Paint… really stain the putted base to a common brown background look.

(4) Dip or brush on a brown or black wash to give some depth and contrast to the miniatures. Only the painted miniatures has this treatment then allowed to quickly dry (except on the rainy days).

(5) Glue a light dusting of fine Woodlands Scenics green or earth blend flocking material with additional fine stones or other color textures to each painted miniature base. The unpainted miniature omitted this step pending their paintwork.

(6) Apply a texture clump of flocking material to decorate the basing. Glue a small piece of Woodland Scenics clump material to roughly half the painted infantry bases or all the painted cavalry and artillery bases. WR did only half the infantry unit bases to avoid a look of massed “bushes” in the unit miniature formation.

(7) Create an excel spreadsheet (.xls) for each army (example spreadsheet below). The spreadsheet has unit numbering slots 1 to 100 with pre-grouped numbers for each type of general unit. The numbering somewhat organizes the unit numbering across all armies. the numbers are assigned out in groups: 1-10 Leadership or Icon units or single miniatures, 11-30 close order cavalry units, 31-40 open order or skirmisher cavalry units, 41-50 chariots, elephants or unique cavalry / infantry units, 50-80 close order infantry units, 81-90 skirmisher infantry units, and 91-00 artillery etc.. The actual unit identity number in reality doesn’t matter in theory as the number is truly a unique number for each unit.

(8) Write down each unit to the army spreadsheet with identifying color, # of painted miniatures in unit, # of unpainted miniatures based in present unit, required miniatures to complete the unit (future purchase), and generic notes including the miniature company manufacturer if known.

(9) Write the unit number with a gold fine marker on rear base edge or bottom side of base (larger bases). By doing this action every unit has an identifying unit number and ease of returning the individual miniatures to the original unit formation, and more importantly, anyone can return the miniatures to the correct labelled storage box location (slotted space in storage apple boxes) without WR direct involvement. Complete unpainted miniature units still in their box or plastic OEM bag are still labelled on the box or bag with black marker unit number.

(10) Lay out the ancient army into the storage cut down apple boxes, construct cardboard gridded zones for each unit based upon unit size. Then label each unit storage gridded zone to match the previously determined unit identifying number. Finally create a unique nationalistic box label to identify each nation’s storage boxes for quick visual locating in the storage shed. Continue reading

OrcCon Feb 2018

During the President day weekend WR travelled to Strategicon – OrcCon 2018 to run two different era games with Daniel. Before presenting the AAR for the Flames of War 1945 Operation Overcast revisit and Battle of Halle 1806 revisit, WR presents some photos of the historical games while walking around the convention ballroom and event details from PEL.

Team Yankee Invitational Tournament Day 1 and 2Team Yankee – GM Troy Hill

Day 1 (Rounds 1, 2, & 3) of the Team Yankee Invitational Tournament. You must contact the game master at troyphoto7@gmail.com to receive instructions on how to register for this event. Two day, five round tourney. 70 points for day 1, 85 points for day 2.

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