Saturday, 19 January 2013

Charlie and David Sweet: The Battle of Beattenburg

My recent blog entry about Charlie Sweet and his gridded wargames produced a flurry of interest from several regular blog readers and several interesting items from Dick Bryant, the former editor and publisher of THE COURIER. Dick has kindly given permission for these to be re-published on my blog ... and here is the first!

THE BATTLE OF BEATTENBURG
by David Sweet

The Battle of Beattenburg was fought at the Sweet home on Jan. 18, 1970. An attempt was made to give each subordinate a compact force containing all arms and to keep interference from the supreme commanders (both of whom are noted meddlers) to a minimum by limiting their personal powers and forces. The MGC Sweet-modified Napoleonic rules were used. (ED NOTE - These rules will be published in THE COURIER starting next month).

FRANCO-ALLIED ARMY:
Headquarters - Napoleon, CIC (Dave Sweet)
40pts
1st Division (French) - Ney (Bob Bonia)
180pts
2nd Division (French) - Poniatowski (Bruce Weeks)
180pts
3rd Division (Swedish) - Bernadotte (Jim Parcella)
180pts
580pts

ANGLO-AUSTRIAN ARMY:
1st Division (British) - Picton (Art Fallon)
180pts
2nd Division (British) - Brunswick (Dick Bryant)
180pts
3rd Division - Archduke Charles (Scott Zanni)
180pts
Headquarters - Wellington, CIC (Charlie Sweet)
40pts
580pts

A garrison on top of the Scrubenspitz (see map) or in Badburg at the end of the game worth 30 points, while one in Schloss Beatten was worth 35, so these became the focal points. Napoleon was having one of his off days, and only ordered that each of the three above objectives be taken. He did manage to add that Ney should not attempt to cross the Angle (a rather odd job for "the bravest of the brave"), and that Bernadotte should not delay.

Wellington was considerably more alert and intelligent. if the Austrians crossed the Angle, he saw that they would be destroyed, so he ordered them merely to hold the river line and to support the center. Picton was ordered to seize the Scrubenspitz but also to swing his cavalry into the center, Brunswick to spearhead the capture of Scholss Beatten. Both commanders took a position to the rear of the vital center.

Ney was the only successful Frenchman. He swept into his objective virtually untouched, and establishing a line along the Angle, poured fire into the Austrians, who were clumped rather ineffectively by the mill and northeastern road. Archduke Charles became even more helpless after Ney's fantastically accurate artillery fire knocked out every Austrian gun as well as a British rocket battery which wandered too close. Charles attempted a counterattack by sending his cavalry through the north end of Beattenburg and across the road bridge, but Ney personally led his dragoons, hussars, and line grenadiers and beat them off.

On the other flank, Bernadotte accidentally dropped a howitzer shell into the woods and burnt up an entire infantry regiment (12 points). Weakened and shaken (to perform this feat he not only had to miserably misfire but also roll "snake-eyes"), Bernadotte could not reach the top of the Scrubenspitz in sufficient strength. Picton's infantry pushed him off after a fierce struggle, while the Household cavalry destroyed the Swedish dragoons piecemeal. At this point Bernadotte's artillery finally got into position and nearly salvaged the flank, killing many British cavalry including Picton himself and destroying a horse gun. However, the Swedes were too weakened to retake the Scrubenspitz.

The fiercest struggle was in the center. Poniatowski seized Schloss Beatten first with some Voltigeurs. They were immediately attacked by the Scots Greys, 8th Light Dragoons, and the Black Watch. Poniatowski coldly refused to support the Voltigeurs (who were cut down), saving his infantry for a withering blast of fire, the effects of which allowed him to reoccupy Schloss Beatten. Thereafter the castle changed hands every move until the 8th and final move. Wellington brought in troops from the other two Divisions, in addition to his headquarters units, to support the center. Napoleon's error became apparent when, besides his headquarters units, he could only throw in the Swedish Life Guard as reinforcements.

Finally Napoleon began to advance with the Old Guard as Wellington advanced with the Peter Duka Grenadiers (the hosts had run out of Highland regiments for use as guards). At that very moment Wellington's guard howitzer dropped a shell into the French rear and killed the Emperor himself. Enraged, the French guard artillery dropped a shell square onto Wellington and followed it with one that killed Brunswick. Nevertheless the Marines, supported by peter Duka Grenadiers and the Horse Guards, pressed on. They swept into Schloss Beaten against the fatally weakened French on the 8th move. Poniatowski died defending the castle. At this point the French had only the Old Guard and two patched up batteries south of the Angle and had lost two objectives, so they conceded without even counting points.

Archduke Charles was given the worst position on the board and had all his guns destroyed. he was unable to recover from these early setbacks. Both of Bernadotte's artillery (Napoleon's fault, not his) and his cavalry (his fault, not Napoleon's) were poorly placed, and neither the infantry, who fought quite well, nor the later good shooting of the artillery could make up for these mistakes. Brunswick and Poniatowski performed creditably, forced by the strategy to fight a straight slugging match and hampered as they were by suggestions from their superiors. Honors for the subordinates go to Picton and Ney. Picton not only captured his objective, but detached valuable cavalry to aid the center. Ney was really tremendous. Using a miniature gun for the first time, he blasted the Austrians (and stray British) to pieces. Ney's infantry were also placed for maximum volley power.

Napoleon worked to overcome his original mistake. Unfortunately he did not see it until about the 4th turn. As a tactician, Napoleon was excellent - he used the Old Guard and guard howitzer perfectly. However, as a strategist, he failed miserably.

Wellington was considerably better. He tried for only two objectives, realizing that they were all that he needed to win the game. He encouraged cooperation between his subordinates to reinforce each other and to cover the weak points. His tactics were as good as his strategy. Thus under Wellington's plan and direction the Anglo-Austrian Army was victorious, while a certain defeated CIC slunk back into the darkness (he has a long loosing streak going) and vowed revenge.



ABOVE: The Battle of Beattenburg - the Allies advance of Schloss Beatten
BELOW: The Allied left. Scrubenspitz is in the center.


6 comments:

  1. Thanks Bob and Dick,
    I love getting a chance to see these vintage game reports, with pictures. It was rare glimpses of games such as this that drew me into this hobby so long ago.

    I hope to see the rules promised in the report as well!
    =Steve

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  2. Steven Page,

    I am very pleased that you enjoyed reading it as much as I did.

    I like doing my bit for wargaming archaeology by digging out stuff that might otherwise be lost.

    Dick Bryant has sent me three pages of the rules Charlie Sweet used, and I hope to be able to transcribe them in due course.

    All the best,

    Bob

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  3. It was reports like this one in the Courier that made me aware of Dave and Charlie quite a few years before I met them; my earliest issues of the Courier are from 1969, IIRC, at which time I was 14 years old!

    Peter

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  4. Gonsalvo (Peter),

    It is great to look back at how things used to be done ... and to realise (in my case, at least) how inspirational these articles were to new/young wargamers. Most wargaming magazines may be a lot glossier now, but a lot of them (there are still some honourable exceptions)seem to have 'lost' something in the process.

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete
  5. Conrad Kinch,

    With luck there will be more ... including something about the rules!

    All the best,

    Bob

    ReplyDelete