Posts from the ‘After Action Report’ Category

Battle of Magnesia, 190 BC – After Action Report

words & photos by Stuart Insch.

Ruleset used: Stuart’s own set based on “Ancient and Medieval Warfare” by Neil Thomas.


Battle Of Magnesia

We like to try to stick to a single set of rules for a few weeks at the club. This lets everyone get use to the rules and the period and get into it, before we move off into something different. With a couple of members really just kicking off their armies it helps to give them something to keep the painting going. For the rest of us it saved having to remember of this week if numbers are good, do we get saving throws and how far do things move!

With a couple of buckshee weekends I’ve been able to get back to playing Ancients. My first attempt was scuppered when I had to deal with a work emergency and nearly had to fly off that afternoon, but I’ve managed four games since which have more than made up for it.

The culmination of this was last Sunday’s refight of Magnesia.  This battle effectively spelled the end of the territorial ambitions of the successor kingdoms and brought Rome armies to the eastern Mediterranean. The Seleucid army was defeated by the Romans in a battle which saw pikemen, scythed chariots, Celts, elephants and cataphracts clash with the three lined Roman republican legion and its Latin allies.

This refight of the battle was a short notice affair because of some unexpected free time last Sunday. So armies were quickly put together and some stand ins were required. However the key elements were all present and we got kicked off with an attack on both flanks from the Seleucid.

Quite quickly the attack on the right got bogged down with the Cataphracts and Aegma becoming tangled up with the Latins. This ground on slowly for the most of the battle. Neither side gaining the upper hand until quite late in the day. Whilst the Seleucid cavalry failed to defeat their foe, they were able to tie up large numbers of the Romans which kept the Phalanx secure from attacks on its own flank.

On the left the Seleucid swept away the enemy light cavalry and infantry and that side became a swirling series of melees which drew in the Pergamene troops as well. Again neither side had the upper hand for much of the battle, but as it drew to its close it seemed the Seleucids were starting to edge ahead.

When the two central portions of the armies clashed the Seleucids pushed their elephants out just ahead of the phalanx. Faced with these creatures there was little the Romans could do but hang on and hope their multi line formation could soak up the damage. However the pike versus legion combats seem to grind away with the phalangites slowly losing an extra casualty here or there, succumbing to the effective gladius in the press of melee. And so it was with this fight. At a critical moment a phalanx battalion was lost, the Romans turned to their flank to take an Elephant which was carving up a neighbouring unit of hastati. This caused it to go berserk and it turned and crashed into the side of another beast on its right, causing its death in the smash. Suddenly this left a hole in the front line and several fresh Romans units able to exploit it.

With the flanks if not safe then at least secure the Romans would have been able to push through the centre and overlap the remaining phalanx units. No second line for the Seleucids and no reinforcement meant that after several hours of playing, the game was over.

What a way to spend a Sunday afternoon!

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The Raid on Wurstdorf – Honours of War Scenario

words & pics by Stuart Insch


HOW are proving an excellent set of rules. Last night we played this scenario from the HOW forum as I hadn’t had a chance to put together something of my own. You can find it here HOW Forum

We used my Russians as the Pragmatic army and a mix of Hessians and Hoegaarden troops for the French.

An excellent little scenario for a great club game. The “French” achieved their objective of scoring the forage, but the “pragmatic” forces broke their army in the process. A somewhat Pyrrhic victory.

Highlights included the early destruction of the French advance Dragoons following a spirited charge and follow up by the Kuirassier. And on the last turn a death or glory charge by French cavalry into the hussars only to be shot up badly on the way past by musketry which caused heavy casualties and lead them to being destroyed.

Some piccies below!

“Nightmare on the Berezina” – After Action Report

Words by Alistair Massey


The Berezina crossing is often portrayed as the end of Napoleon’s army in Russia. This is only half-correct. It is true that an estimated thirty thousand stragglers and non-combatants failed to cross to the western side, but the actions of the rearguard formed by Victor’s IX Corps and the army’s vanguard saved the Emperor from complete destruction. That the river was bridged at all was a miracle of improvisation and leadership by General Eblé. He countermanded Napoleon’s order to destroy the pontoon train, saving two field forges and eight wagons loaded with charcoal and tools. He also instructed hi sappers to each carry a tool and fitments. Napoleon also played his part by tricking the Russians into believing that the crossing would be elsewhere.

The initial set-up. French rearguard - foreground & centre.

The initial set-up. French rearguard – foreground & centre.

OWG refought the rearguard action on the east side of the river on 28th November. The French division of 5,000 was commanded by GD Girard, which comprised a Polish Brigade under GB Ouviller, the Baden Brigade under GB Hochberg, a small reserve of the 4/55th  and four 12 pounders under an artillery officer and three depleted cavalry regiments of Baden and Berg under GB Fournier.

The Russians were commanded by their Advance Guard commander, MG Vlastov, who was also in charge of a mixed force of 2,500 and 12 guns supported by an Infantry Brigade of 4,000 and 24 guns under MG Berg, a mixed force under MG Fock of 1,000  and a cavalry brigade of 600, totalling 8,000.

Beginning at 1400, the French forces defended the line of difficult marshy ground in the stream valley. Vlastov’s brigade fixed the Polish brigade and its skirmish screen with a series of probing actions while the  Russian artillery was brought up. After a concerted attack in the centre a Polish battery and a battalion were overurn. General of Brigade Ouvillor had no option but to order a withdrawal to a final stop line on the river bend to cover the south of Sudyanka.

Fierce fighting on the French left flank......

The pressure during the next hour mounted on the French left flank, the Baden brigadier Hochberg panicked and blundered into the enemy lines. Shortly thereafter the Baden morale collapsed and they fled the field in disgrace. Disaster loomed for the French side but the remaining brigades stood their ground.

All that remains of the Austrians after their disasterous "Snake-eyes" morale throw.......

All that remains of the Austrians after their disasterous “Snake-eyes” morale throw…….

The Russians realised that they were on the brink of victory but had to continue with their ENGAGE orders to ASSAULT. Their command suffered from casualties and unhelpful throws. Somehow the Poles managed to extricate themselves and take some of the steam out of the Russians advancing towards the bridges. Meanwhile on the right flank, the Russians came within a whisker of contact in the northern part of the village but were stopped by the 4/55th Battalion and four 12 pounders (the only French troops on the table).

The last hope of the French - Napoleons "Beautiful Daughters"

This was followed by two decisive charges by deftly controlled Baden/Berg cavalry. It attacked the rear and flanks of the battalions spearheading the attack. With nightfall, the Russian bid for victory was extinguished.

Russian Losses: 70 figures = 1,400 men (not including routers in last two turns)

French Losses: 87 figures = 1,740 men + 12 guns lost or overrun

NB: Sources differ for OB information. Our OB was based on Digby Smith’s Data Book.

The Historical Battle:

This involved French artillery support from the other side of the river for a limited period, which we might factor in for the next refight. We might allow Russian pioneers to bridge the stream for artillery, though the ground would still be difficult. Although the Russian artillery fire managed to panic the estimated 30,000 stragglers and non-combatants, the action fizzled out at about 1800 in an artillery duel and skirmishing. However, one similarity was that the 360 German cavalry played a vital role. In the historical battle they heroically sacrificed themselves to prevent the Russians from outflanking the French on the left of their defensive position. Losses were heavy on both sides. The Baden Brigade lost 28 dead and wounded officers and 1,100 dead and wounded men; a total of 900 remained in arms.

Berezina - Area Map