Wednesday, 18 March 2015

100th Post! A Belated Account of Ayton 2014

I'm quite pleased to have made it to a hundred posts. You're never sure with this sort of thing if you'll keep it going or if it will just fizzle out. Anyway, it's been fun so far so I'll see if I can get to 200.

I didn't have much new to post about but then, with Ayton 2015 fast approaching, I realised that I never did share my account of the Ayton 2014 campaign, other than with Henry Hyde. So, here is the official Medetian history, not too biased I hope, but naturally concentrating on my perspective of the pre-weekend planning and the on-table events themselves..


Ayton 2014 – Grenouisse Ascendant (but not for long..)

The Medetian Experience


The Plan

General Barolo, on finding himself appointed to the role of the Duke’s Chief of Staff, set about making the best of this dubious honour. Reining in some of the more impetuous allied commanders (Borscht and Darien particularly) was the first priority so that a discussion could take place about plans and timings. A conference was duly called and hosted by General Hauptzeige in the Governor’s Palace in Castell Sebastian. Numerous ideas were put forth, although geography, initial deployments and limited campaign time clearly suggested a two-pronged invasion, from the east by land, and from the west by sea.

With the Duke absent, the fact that the conference generated a reasonably coherent plan, with everyone more or less in agreement, was a welcome surprise. That the various contingents’ own intentions (some of which were already being implemented!) were largely incorporated in the combined plan was no doubt the reason for such co-operation.

In short, the aggressive Borschtians, already occupying the island off the Duchy’s southern coast, were to invade Granprix from west of the capital and its river lines. The Prunkland bridging column, kindly loaned by Hauptzeige, would go with them to assist in their advance east, and the doughty Wheyeydians would take ship to land in their support. Subject to what opposition they encountered, they would attempt to approach Pescadrix from the west and hopefully draw off a proportion of the defenders’ strength.

The eastern pincer would be a larger affair, with the main army departing Kap Ludwig and marching straight for Pescadrix, intending to smash through any opposition it encountered. The Medetians would lead on the coast road, with light troops covering the hilly right flank where enemy advanced forces might be lurking. The rest of the main army would follow closely, consisting of the infantry and light troops of Darien, and the army of Prunkland, who would be last to depart. The Granprixian forces under the Duke would land by sea further along the coast and thereby link up with the main army, creating a combined (and hopefully unstoppable) force of over 2,000 figures.

The Darien cavalry, a mighty host in itself, would leave early and make its way north west through the hills and forests, aiming to cut the road north of Pescadrix and sever the enemy’s communications with Grenouisse. This force would then move south to close the net around the capital and hopefully re-join the main army for a final show-down close to the city. This part of the plan was altered mid-campaign as the cavalry column would not have arrived in time, so instead the Darienite cavalry marched to the right of the main army and was close enough to be able to make a crucial contribution to both battles.

Substantial naval forces would carry out a number of operations, including escorting the Borschtians, Wheyeydians and Granprixians to their landing sites, scouting the enemy coast for activity and defences, covering the main army’s left flank from enemy naval intervention, and keeping an eye on things back at Castell Sebastian in case a coup de main was attempted by anyone (‘friend’ or foe). The weather was, as always, unpredictable but in the main these activities were carried out without too much mis-hap. Naval clashes took place, and a major battle is understood to have taken place late in the campaign, of which reports have not yet been received.

Many plots, intrigues and subterfuges were also planned during this period, and some were even implemented; a most interesting time it certainly was! General E Pickled, apparently dithering to and fro on the coast road, was shot and wounded in the arm despite his cavalry escort, leading to suggestions that his own side might have been responsible. The true motives of the Darienites and their Inquisition were suspected by many among the Duke’s allies, and efforts were made to observe their actions and restrict their access to the Kap once the army had departed. Prunkland in particular was sensitive to the risk of a coup in Castell Sebastian when the campaign was occupying our attention, and contingencies were put in place to defend against dastardly actions from disappearing cavalry columns, disguised infantry, mischievous feathered natives and sneaky naval forces. 

Map of the Granprixian Invasion Plan (click to enlarge)


Key:

Purple – Main Army; Medetia, Prunkland and Darien main force
Green – Darien Cavalry (although in the end they didn’t travel this far to the north)
Grey –  Duke Zigor and his Granprixians
Red – Borscht
Orange - Wheyedia


The Campaign Itself

Somewhat amazingly, due to a combination of a reasonably straight forward plan, some curious enemy dispositions, a bit of luck, and a tremendous fighting spirit, the invasion proceeded very nearly as intended.

The enemy were unable to strongly oppose the main army and fell back before it, abandoning prepared positions without a fight. The army marched forward cautiously but in good spirits, eager to get at the enemy. Granprixian guerilleros were encountered, providing intelligence, confirming that the enemy were out of position guarding against non-existent threats to the north west, and offering assistance in the coming fight. Both were welcome. Some naval skirmishes took place off the coast but, coming as they did after the key landings, without serious impact on the land campaign.

Finally, after a sedate march through the gentle Granprixian littoral, we found an enemy army that was ready to give battle. 


First Battle

The enemy (the armies of Gateway and Altefritzenberg) took up a strong position anchored on the coast and village to their right (Gateway), with wooded hills and earthwork fortifications to their left (Altefritzenberg), and with their combined cavalry in the plain between. Granprixian forces were assigned the extreme left of our attacking army, aiming to capture the village and had assault troops, led by their Grenadiers, literally advancing along the beach. The forces of Darien, Prunkland and Medetia occupied the centre and right of the army, with their units intermingled to give best advantage. A very strong cavalry force (largely from Darien) deployed to the right of the Granprixians, opposite the enemy cavalry. A mighty combined battery dominated the centre, and both close order and light infantry faced the hills and woods ready to advance and throw the enemy from them.

In short, the battle for the village was one of tough fighting and attrition, decided only when the enemy army retreated. Some local guerilleros also swept in by boat behind the Gateway line, intent on causing mischief and confusion. Meanwhile the grand battery pulverised the enemy positions, and some of their cavalry, forcing the Altefritzenbergers to make the decision between being destroyed in place or advancing to their doom. They bravely chose the latter and, by coming to grips with our infantry down the slopes, actually protected themselves from much of the artillery’s fire. The skirmishes among the woods and ponds were prolonged, but a strong column of Medetian battalions, led by the Bravence Regiment, was pushing forward inexorably on the extreme right flank and when the enemy facing them finally broke, the end was in sight. News of our large flanking movement to the north made by the rest of our cavalry (some 130 figures) also hastened the enemy’s decision to give up the fight and save themselves for another day.

The true glory, however, was won on the plain where massed cavalry fought out a tremendous battle of charge and counter-charge. Splendid and in significant numbers though they were, the Gateway regiments, supported by those of Altefritzenberg, were no match for the seemingly endless hordes from Darien. Light cavalry soaked up the charge of the first Gateway wave, and the Darien Cuirassiers’ counter-attack was devastating. Three regiments fell to them in one turn, and in the confusion the legendary General E Pickled was cut down and ridden over while his cavalry fled. Rumours of his death were exaggerated and he has since retired to his estates. His cavalry Brigadier was captured in the same melee.

Although further Gateway battalions and batteries deployed to cover their cavalry’s rout, they could only serve as a rearguard while the rest of their battered army left the field to our victorious troops. Casualties had been mercifully light, and we needed only a day to re-group and resume our march west to liberate Pescadrix.


Second Battle

After a day’s rest a short march took us to within sight of the ramparts of Pescadrix, our final objective. The army pivoted on its left flank, which hugged the coast, and swung around to the north of the city, penning the enemy back against it. Our naval scouts informed us that our Borschtian and Wheyeydian allies had fought an indecisive battle to the west two days before and had re-embarked on their ships to land again between the enemy and the city. General Barolo sent them a message urging them to send a force to approach the city from the west and capture the main bridge over the river.

The enemy again entrenched and made use of what buildings they could in their defences. The Gateway forces deployed in front of the city while to their right were the Altefritzenbergers behind what earthworks they had prepared in time. The enemy right flank hinged on the customs house, which they’d fortified, and bent back to end literally in the surf. A buzz went through our army when it was revealed that the dastardly King Raoul himself was commanding the Grenouissian troops on that flank.

Fittingly, it was the army of Darien, whose priests had recently ex-communicated the King for his un-Christian ways (and, perhaps, for not granting Darien some Granprixian land in exchange for turning a blind eye) who opposed the Grenouissians. Once again massed cavalry would thunder across the plains.

In the centre, to Darien’s right, were the Prunklanders, ready to descend from the hills and capture the customs house in conjunction with their Darien allies. The right flank of our army was held by the forces of Medetia, with infantry and cavalry (including some regiments borrowed from the rest of the army) facing off against their counter-parts from the Gateway Alliance. The forces of Granprix itself had marched on a wider arc to the north and were due to come down the main road later in support of the Medetians.

Our battle plan was to pin the enemy in front of the city while rolling him up from his right flank, along the coast. Again, despite suffering setbacks and significant casualties, this plan was successfully executed, culminating in the capture of the despised King by Darien’s cavalry as his right flank collapsed.

Again a grand battery from Prunkland and Medetia covered the centre, smashing enemy units at will once it had won the fierce counter-battery duel with which the battle commenced. While the Darien troops swept across the plain, driving back the Grensouisse cavalry and assaulting the customs house, Prunkland supported them and held the centre. The Medetians engaged their Gateway foes and, while the light infantry fought each other to a standstill, the cavalry (led by Prunkland’s finest Cuirassiers) repeated the trouncing of the Gateway mounted arm that they suffered in the first battle. Three fine units were routed and a beautiful standard was captured. With things looking bleak for Gateway, their artillery, supported by the numerous heavy guns on the walls behind them, prevented a general collapse and took a heavy toll on our forces. The Medetian Weissach Grenz, El Z’Teeth Lancers and Rutowski Dragoons were each destroyed trying to come to grips with the Gateway batteries, sacrificing themselves to save the rest of the army from the murderous close range fire.

A cavalry thrust from the Wheyeydians on the other side of the river almost made it to the bridge, but a sudden sighting of Hunmanby’s landing on their southern flank drew them off before they could imperil the Gateway left flank and threaten the city. In their place came Granprixian fanatics and more guerilleros, braving artillery fire from the walls as they swept downstream in their boats. Despite losses they captured the bridge and landed beneath the walls themselves, opening fire on enemy troops there.

Final charges and last stands on all parts of the western battlefield saw dramatic and heroic actions on both sides, but when news of the King’s capture spread the heart went out of the enemy and the fighting began to die down. Gateway and Medetia commanders signalled a tacit ceasefire and the brave defenders began to withdraw into the city, where their fate would no doubt be decided by diplomats eager to extract what advantages they could in the peace negotiations.

The word is that Raoul might be ransomed, but what was not in doubt was that Granprix, and in particular its finest jewel Pescadrix, would be returned to Duke Zigor. The army was victorious and, despite the sadness of its losses, the celebrations would reverberate for days!

So ends the account by General Barolo of the liberation of Granprix, this year of Our Lord, 1748.


3 comments:

  1. A fine and unbiased account in no way tainted by the rose tinted spectacles of time! :)
    My troops still have nightmares about all those bloody guns!

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  2. A splendid report. Nice to be reminded that I'm not the only one to get clobbered by arty!

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  3. Yep, Simon likes to spread the pain among all non-'Grand Battery believers'! I just got to roll some supporting dice every now and then!

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