Friday, July 3, 2020


The Meanderer's Copy of the subject volume. 

The History of the Last Campagne in the Spanish Netherlands, Anno Dom 1693, Edward D'Auvergne, can be read online or downloaded in pdf form via Google Books.  

In this post, dear readers, we take a diversion (a meander) into the the eighth installment of my e-book for antiquarians series. In these, I share passages and commentary on an open access e-book of interest that has been scanned and made available in its original form on the interwebs, rendering as close to an authentic reading experience as possible--for free--of an antiquarian volume of interest. If you click the "e-book" link in the blog labels to the right, you can find the other e-book posts. In this case, we visit a contemporary English language account of one of the the wars of Louis XIV: specifically, an account of the campaign of 1693 of the Nine Years War (or War of the Grand Alliance.).  This account was done by Edward D' Auvergne, Chaplain to the Scots Guards, and has first hand accounts of the campaign--it was also penned in November 1693, so is told from a contemporary viewpoint as events were unfolding.  The 1693 campaign had the major battles of the war, Steenkerke and Neerwinden (or Landen) primary among them, as well as the engagement of Leuze and several major siege operations, such Charleroi and Namur.  In addition, this narrative provides a complete picture of a military campaigning of the era, providing both information and inspiration for big battles and small unit actions.  The latter is perfect stuff for rules such as The Perfect Captain's Actions series, Osprey's Pikeman's Lament or my very own modest Smalle Warre system.  Finally, for those peculiar fellows who, like me, derive some small and unreasonable pleasure from reading 17th century typology where "f" is "s"--this book is right up your alley!  

Despite being from an English perspective, this little tome has complete orders of battle for both the French and Grand Alliance.  Of particular interest is the contemporary convention for publishing army lists, which runs in order of preference: Page 1 is the Right Wing of Horse. Page 2 is the "Body" of Foot. Page 3 is the Left Wing of Horse.  Each section is then divided into a first and second line, with the squadrons and battalions bracketed into brigades.  Interestingly, this format provides both a listing and an abstract representation the army deployment--albeit "mirrored" since we read from left to right but the list proceeds from right to left.  Also of interest is the term of art of the era, which provides insight into operations.  The middle of the army is not referred to as the "center" but as the "body"--and this is  synonymous with the infantry lines (ie, the "body" of foot).  In this post, as in previous ones, I have included images from the original text as samples: you should be able to clix pix for BIG PIX in order to view them for yourself in this blog. Nevertheless, I encourage more in depth reading via the online text:

(Marshall Luxuembourg)
(Marshall Boufflers)

(Detached Allied Body of Horse)

 Although often mentioned, this narrative brings home how much operations were shaped by the imperatives of logistics--particularly with multiple large armies operating in a relatively small theater of operations.  It is safe to say that pitched battles represented one form of conflict, but there was an equally, if not more important, form of conflict going on all the time as armies fought to both control resources and deny them to the opposing sides.  All of these provide grist for the gaming mill.

The imperative to provide grazing and fodder for the thousands of livestock, the cavalry in particular, was often a major consideration in army operations as well as a security challenge. Here is a fascinating narrative of combat between small bodies of troops over grazing horses, one that probably is not unique to this campaign:
Below is an account of a more sizeable mission to gather forced "contributions" from enemy territory (something we would call a "raid" nowadays).  It is interesting to note in the below how flexible these armies actually were. Note the specific task organization of the raiding force gathered together for this kind of mission ( also the types involved: dragoons, grenadiers, etc):
There are several accounts of combats brought about by either protecting or trying to intercept convoys--another common component of warfare in the era that is not often mentioned:
There are fascinating glimpses into assumptions and imperatives for managing armies on campaign during this era, such as avoiding wooded areas in order to limit desertions.  In this particular passage, a common set of woods between the armies becomes an avenue for desertions from both. It is also interesting to note the illustration of another bit of 17th Century military culture--captured or deserting troops taking up service in opposing armies. In this case, it mentions Swiss deserters from the French army getting rounded up and impressed into service with the Swiss regiments in Dutch service:  
One normally associates lines of entrenchments stretching across (modern day) Belgium and the low countries with the Great War. However, this was also the case during the War of the Spanish Succession and the Nine Years War. In order to control territory (and to prevent the enemy from raiding and denuding territory) there were extensive "lines" dotted with redoubts stretching across the landscape. For instance, during the War of the Spanish Succession the "Lines of Brabant" consisted of an arc of 70 miles of fieldworks stretching from Antwerp to Namur. The same thing happened during the Nine Years War, which preceded the WSS. Punching through these lines in order to raid the territory on the other side provides another model of operation not often thought of. Below is a particularly interesting narrative of the allied operation to storm the Point David Redoubt in order to break through the French lines, led by four battalions with a task organized group of grenadiers and pikemen in support--the pikes being bundled together in fours to be used as planks over which fascines would be laid to get over the ditch: try finding that in a set of wargame rules!
The full account of this action is too extensive to reproduce here. I would recommend finding it and reading it in the online text (it starts on page 41).   After the above breakthrough, there is an account of the ongoing operation into enemy territory. It provides both an example of how the armies operated in these missions as well as a reminder of the brutality of warfare, in this case the burning of towns prior to withdrawing in order to denude the area of resources. 

Well, I think that's more than enough to give a sense of this small text. There are also quite detailed accounts of the major battles and sieges, which I will leave to you, dear reader, to discover for yourself in the readily available online e-text. Highly recommended for anyone with an interest in the era! 


Thursday, June 11, 2020


A busy Distelfink Room at the old Lancaster Host during Cold Wars 2017

Greetings, fellow shut ins!  In this report, we meander into nonsense.  At various times, I've been the officer responsible for producing our club's newsletter (The Cipher) .  Lacking anything more substantial to offer, hobby-wise, for the moment, I thought I'd convey a bit of frippery that I did for the newsletter a few years ago.  It is in the form of a one-act play, and is based on something that actually happened to me early on a Saturday Morning in the above-pictured Distlefink room at an HMGS convention (it was nearly empty then, being early on Saturday, mind you).  I should add that I go by "William Ferris Hearst" (it's an inside joke) when acting as publisher for our club newsletter (hence the byline in the below). Without further ado, therefore, let the overture fade and curtain rise on our one-act play...

THE PLACE AND TIME:  An HMGS Cold War Convention, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, sometime in the first decade of the new millennium.
YHC: Your Humble Correspondent, Game Master 
Pater: Convention Attendee, Father of Childe
Childe: 9-11ish boy-childe, offspring of Pater
THE SCENE: A corner of the Distelfink Room in the Lancaster Host hotel, early Saturday morning, about 45 minutes before games are scheduled to start.  YHC has driven up early from his (then) abode in the DC Metro area and set up his game so that it is ready to go and on display well ahead of start time: a Nine Years War battle done in glorious 6mm. As is his tradition, he sits quietly at an adjacent table enjoying a small repast before the first game session, eavesdropping on comments of passers-bye as they check out his seemingly unattended table.
[Enter Pater and Childe: Pater wandering distractedly with Childe toddling about in a wobbly orbit around Pater.  YHC notes Pater and Childe approaching]

YHC (Aside): Oh brave sight: father and son taking in the games first thing on a Saturday morning.  "Graying of the hobby" phooey!  Continue, my friends, and you shall have a treat, anon.
 [Pater glides past YHC's table without so much as a look]
YHC (Aside): What? Nary a glance? [casting glance about] Can there be another 6mm League of Augsburg game worthy of note in the room? 
[Childe stops abruptly at YHC's table and stares, mouth open]
YHC (Aside): But wait. See! He pauses: most excellent boye!
Childe: Whoa! Dad, look at this! What is it?
YHC (Aside): Superior imp! Most intelligent boye!
Pater: Hmmm?  [Walks back and bends down to survey YHC's table]
Pater:  Oh, age of Marlborough game.  Before Napoleon and all that.
YHC (Aside): Age of Marl...? Certainly not!  Still, one must make allowances for those not familiar with the Sun King's Wars of the late 17th Century, incredible as that may seem.     I shall therefore be generous. I shall continue to abide.  Ho! The childe speakes again...
Childe:  They're so small!
YHC (Aside):  Marvelous cherub; so young, so discerning.  Clearly the product of superior upbringing.  Yes, 6mm is God's own scale; astonishing to behold.  You lucky lad!
Pater:  Yes, son.  Those are 10mm figures.  Much cheaper than real figures, so people just put scads of them on the table.
YHC (Aside) "10?"..."Scads"..."'Real'?" 
 [chokes on mouthful of scrambled eggs, eyes cross in apoplexy]
Childe: That's what I mean.  What's the big deal?  You spray paint them and that's it. Why do they let them in here?
YHC (Aside): Oh, un-natural! Changeling! Spawn of tartars! 
Pater: Now son...
YHC (Aside): Yes, speake, dear sir...on behalf of all that is good and true in the hobby, on behalf of game masters all, restrain, nay, instruct, nay cuff yon unruly cub!
Pater:...there's much more to it than that. You see? Look closer... [Leans into YHC's game table]
YHC (Aside): Oh, true hearted man. All is forgiven. Continue, do...
Pater (continuing): ...yes, much more to it. You see, after you spray paint them, there's still some work to be done [bending even closer].  You dip them and then add dots for faces.  See here? It takes a knack, I suppose.
YHC (Aside): Oh, most vile! Wounded, pierced to the heart! Would that we still had cossack retainers to chasten such serfs!
[Pater and Childe stroll off contentedly, followed by smoldering gaze of YHC]


Thursday, May 28, 2020


Russo Turkish War Romanian Army Contingent Ready for Inspection.

Greetings, fellow shut ins!  This post brings together, and concludes, the series on my pandemic project of Russo Turkish War era Romanians (for an explanation of the quotes around "completed" see Aly's comment in the May 14 post).  And what better way to mark such a moment than with a parade!  
 Romanian Army in the timeframe sometime after the Russo Turkish War. With minor differences, the look is the same as 1877/78.

Consistent with the parade theme, this post will mainly consist of eye candy (you can find and play appropriate band music in the background).  For the more curious or those seeking more in depth information, there are links to other posts that provide more information and background on each of the elements.  As usual, you may clix pix for BIG PIX.

The backbone the army, the Romanian line infantry These are Outpost figures. 

Romanian cavalry brigade consisting of two regiments of regular red-coated Roshori and one regiment of blue coated Calarashi (territorial cavalry).  Figures are Northstar 1866 Austrian Hussars repurposed as Romanians.  
Photo credit: C. Savulescu (1977) Romania, History of Photography, 1:1, 63-77, DOI.

Flanking the line infantry, two units of brown coated Romanian Chasseurs and two of the celebrated White jacketed Dorobanti Militia. These are all Outpost figures.

Anchoring the line, the Romanian Artillery: four batteries of Krupps. These are Outpost Russian gunners and guns repurposed as Romanians. 
The Romanians arrayed with command in front. 

I am looking forward to some day putting these on the table with my Hugarians: what a colorful combination they would make! 

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