Saturday, 31 January 2009

Table Top Battles – The Lauranian Border War (1869) – The Battle of Turga

Scenario

As a result of the incursions by ‘bandits’ along the border between Laurania and its northern neighbour, a group of ‘bandits’ had been captured and imprisoned in Turga by units of the Border Guard. In response to this ‘outrageous’ action (the leader of the ‘bandits’ – Stefan Esterházy – was the son of a senior officer in the northern neighbour’s army) a large force of troops crossed the Lauranian border with the intention of seizing Turga, releasing the captives, and then ‘teaching the Lauranians a lesson’.

The invading force consisted of two battalions of infantry (each four companies strong and with a points value of 3), two companies of light infantry (with a points value of 2 each), and a battery of field artillery (with a points value of 2). They were led by General Tobias Esterházy (rated as ‘Poor’ and therefore with a points value of 1).

The garrison of Turga comprised two companies of Border Guards (rated as light infantry and therefore with a points value of 2). They were, however, to be reinforced by troops that were being sent by rail from Laurania City. These reinforcements were to arrive on two separate trains, each of which carried an infantry battalion (four companies strong and with a points value of 3) and a field artillery battery (with a points value of 2). General Branco, who was to command the Lauranian troops when they came into action, accompanied the first group of reinforcements. General Branco was one of Laurania’s most experienced generals, and was rated ‘Exceptional’ (and therefore had a points value of 3). The first reinforcements were to arrive D6 moves after the start of the battle and the second group were to arrive D6 moves after the first group.

N.B. Trains moved at cavalry movement (i.e. 4 squares per move).

Turn 1

The Lauranians threw a D6 to determine when the first group of reinforcements would arrive. The score was 2. The first group of reinforcements would therefore arrive during Turn 2. They then threw a second D6 to see when the second group of reinforcements would arrive. The score was 5. As a result the second group of reinforcements would arrive during Turn 7.

Both sides then threw a D12 to determine who had the initiative. The invaders gained the initiative and moved first.

The invaders moved down the road from the border towards Turga. The light infantry led the advance along the road and the railway track with the two infantry battalions deployed either side of them in half-battalion columns. General Esterházy followed behind the left-hand company of light infantry; the artillery battery, in turn, followed him.

The company of Lauranian Border Guards that was patrolling the road towards the border fell back to the edge of Turga, whilst those guarding the jail remained at their post.

Turn 2

The invaders again gained the initiative by throwing a higher D12 score and moved and fired first.

The advancing light infantry engaged the company of Border Guards, and their gunfire forced the Border Guards to seek cover in and around the houses on the outskirts of Turga.

In the meantime, a locomotive and wagons was fast approaching the railway station from Laurania City; the first of the Lauranian reinforcements were about to arrive!

Turn 3

The Lauranians gained the initiative by throwing a higher D12 score and moved and fired first.

The train carrying the Lauranian reinforcements finally reached Turga railway station, but the units aboard would not be able to unload until the next turn. In the meantime the two companies of Border Guards held their positions and awaited the invader’s attack.

The invaders continued their advance towards Turga, and the left-hand company of light infantry and the two leading left-hand companies of infantry exchanged gunfire with the Border Guard company that was occupying the houses on the outskirts of Turga. This exchange was ineffective, neither side suffering any significant casualties.

Turn 4

The invaders gained the initiative by throwing a higher D12 score and moved and fired first.

The two leading left-hand units of infantry attempted to flush the Border Guards out of their position but the Border Guards were able to evade their attackers and withdrew to the next line of houses. The remaining units of invaders continued their relentless advance towards the centre of Turga, although the close terrain of houses and woods caused them problems when they tried to maintain their alignment.

The Lauranian reinforcements were unloaded and deployed into the centre of Turga. General Branco realised that the situation fast becoming desperate, and he personally led the artillery battery forward to engage the advancing enemy light infantry. The artillery opened fire on the right-hand company of light infantry … and wiped them out!

Turn 5

The Lauranians gained the initiative by throwing a higher D12 score and moved and fired first.

General Branco realised that by taking the initiative and acting as aggressively as possible he might be able to force the invaders to retreat. He therefore led his troops forward as quickly as possible with the intention of engaging them at close range. The artillery battery fired at the remaining light infantry at point-blank range, and forced them to retreat. The Border Guard company, seeing the General Esterházy was now exposed, opened fire on him … and killed him!

The death of their commander shook the invader’s morale, and they immediately began to withdraw.

Turn 6

The invaders gained the initiative by throwing a higher D12 score and moved and fired first.

The invaders withdrew they way they had come, followed – at a reasonable distance – by the Lauranian infantry battalion and artillery battery. General Branco had no intention engaging the invaders as they still out-numbered his own forces and were more than capable of inflicting considerable casualties on the Lauranian units.

Aftermath

The body of General Esterházy was returned to his country with full military honours. General Branco led the escort himself, and secured the release of the General’s son - Stefan Esterházy – so that he could return home with his father’s body. The remaining ‘bandits’ – who turned out to be a mixture of ex-soldiers, idealistic students, and members of an extreme nationalist party – were all put on trial and given long prison sentences. They were, however, released within weeks as a result of an amnesty granted in celebration of the Lauranian victory at Turga.

Conclusions

I had expected this to be a very intense battle with lots of hand-to-hand fighting in and around Turga. I also expected that the arrival of the two groups of reinforcements would be crucial to the outcome. As it was, the death of General Esterházy was a surprise, and came about when I realised that he had moved into the square next to that occupied by the company of Border Guards. It was too tempting a target not to fire at …and the result was unexpected. Nevertheless, the battle was an enjoyable one to fight, and leaves the way open for further border skirmishes between the two countries at some time in the future.

Notes about the models

The figures are all 15mm Peter Laing figures. The Lauranians are 1870 Prussians and the northern neighbour’s army are 1866 Austro-Hungarians. The roads are strips of masking tape, the ‘sea’ is a piece of blue card cut to the required shape, and the buildings are from a set of wooden toy buildings. The railway track, locomotive, and rolling stock are all from the range of HO9 scale models produced by ROCO.

2 comments:

  1. Very nice little battle, and with Peter Laing's no less...bravo! It makes me want to break out my Perter Laing ECWs for a go...

    --Dave

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  2. Peter Laing's figures were nice little figures. They were not highly detailed, but this meant that they could be easily 'converted' with a quick 'paint job'. I still have quite a few of his figures and like to use them as often as possible. I only wish that they were still easily available today.

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