Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Battle Reports and orders after the Battle of Noswego.

With period spelling by request.

General Du Gormand's Report of the Battle of Noswego.

General as ordered we remained in Noswego on the night of the 3rd of March at 05;00 hours on the morning of the 4th the British open the battle with a barrage from 2 batteries of cannon positioned on the south bank in the town of Noswego and the British Horse crossed the river in force using the fords west of the town this advance was supported by elements of colonial troops.

The Fords where defended by our 3 regiment's of Horse who once again managed to send the British from the field with Les Chasseurs a Cheval du Bretagne under the command of Col. Pierre Nardin being the heros of the engagement and capturing a British officer Col. Frazer who was second in command of British forces.

It was just before noon when the town could not be held due to British guns making the position unholdable so our infantry and guns withdrew to the heights above the town and inflicted heavy losses on the enemy one barrage hit the British general staff it is believed General Lord Ponsemby was killed.

Some set backs where incured latter in the day as the weather turned and heavy rain made the withdrawl of the guns impossible these where eventually captured by the British.

Total British strength in the area was 3 regiments of horse 2 batteries of cannon 3 regiments of light infantry and 7 regiments of foot it appears to be the main body of the British army.

General Du Gormand's Orders

These orders where sent to you and cian using the reply all to look like a mistake feeding false information to the enemy

French orders to the troops at Noswego

Col. Florian du Anhalt based on your last battle report it is my belief that with the reinforcemnts that have been marching through the pass in the last few days which should arrive at your position on the 5th-6th of March that you will have the forces and oportunity to deliver a crushing defeat to the British at Noswego although the loss of the guns is a set back but honour dicates that they be retrieved.
Based on your reports and the information provided by Col Frazer it is certain that the enemies moral is low and a quick attack could achieve a great victory for France.
The infantry and guns should occupy the high ground above the town and force the british to withdraw further into the town or advance either will pull their troops away from the ford where our main attack will be lanched against using both Horse light infantry and our native troops this force will then break into the British rear area and haras thier supply lines forcing them to halt their advance.

General Du Gormand's Actual Orders

General orders to the army at St Elizabeth are to prepare a defensive position around the town digging trenches constructing fortiifcations, Aslo to carry out patrols of the approaches searching for the native troops.

The troops at Noswego will withdraw along the road using the light horse which withdrew from the field in good order to as a rear guard the army is to withdraw to Ashkazi and prepare for a delaying action if the terrain is good for defending.

Col. Shaw's Report

From Colnel Shaw, Montemerency Pass
To General James Wolfe

General Wolfe,

Our first proper engagement with the French was a success. We have taken the bridge over the Noswego, driven the French from the field and captured the French guns! Unfortunately, this cost the lives of two of our finest officers: General Lord Ponsonby was killed from a distance by a French sharpshooter, and Col. Fraser of the Royal Scots was captured by the French while leading a cavalry assault against their rear flank.

We intend to press forward with all haste.

Col. Robert Shaw.

Followed by...

Now for my orders to the troops!

I'ld love to stay here for a bit and recoup, but we don't have the time. You mentioned that it will take a full day to get our affairs in order after the battle, so I'll take advantage of the wait by sending out scouts on horseback to see what lies ahead. They are to range as far forward as they possibly can in one day and night. I want the entire army to be ready to move out on the second morning after the battle, but my orders to them will depend on the scouts reports. Their marching order is to remain the same as the first one I sent you, with the exception of Morgans rangers. I'm not sure what to do with them, because I'm not actually sure what punishment would be appropriate for fleeing the field. The rangers I'm tempted to leave alone, but would a flogging be appropriate for Morgan himself? I don't know how these things work, considering they're pretty much mercenaries.

Also, how much powder and shot do I have for those French cannon? I presume they left what they had behind, but will I be able to use them for the rest of the campaign or will my supplies of ammunition not be able to stretch that far?

Umpire Response to Col. Shaw

Your scouts report that the way forward is open country, with the valley narrowing slightly as you move northwards. Your scouts have identified chimney smoke approximately 10 miles ahead. They have been hampered in their duties by a strong screen of French light cavalry.

Your cavalry are shaky in the extreme at present, though Colonel Charleton is doing is best to rally them. The general feeling appears to be one of resentment over having been placed under an officer of Foot and a understanding that Col. Frazer got his just deserts. They are in short, wet, sulky and complaining. It is unlikely that they are to be entirely depended upon in the next battle.

The French guns are of a different calibre to your own, so you cannot use your own ammunition. You have a small quantity of shot, 3 roundshot and a fair quantity of case for each gun.

What are your orders Sir?

Col. Shaw's Response

Very well.

Since we have crossed the Noswego, it is no longer as important that we move at great speed. I see no reason to push these already exhausted soldiers too hard, particularly the horse and those unfortunate rangers. Ponsonby drove those poor souls far too hard. We can afford to be slightly more leisurely. We will form up and march out tomorrow morning.

Since the majority of the enemy action to our front seems to be light cavalry, the advance guard will be comprised of a screen of heavy foot, who will clear the open country ahead and look for an appropriate camping ground while the more vulnerable units move forward.

Here is the marching order:

The advance guard will be entirely comprised of three units of Heavy Foot: 1/15th Foot (Amherst's), 1/17th Foot (Forbe's) and 1/22nd Foot (Whitmore's). I don't want them to take any risks: Gormand is a cruel and cunning General, and we don't want to give him too many opportunities to harry us as we advance along the pass. If they encounter any enemy resistance they are to dig in and send couriers back to us. Now that we've completed the mad dash for the bridge, slow and steady is to be the order of the day.

For the time being, our cavalry is only to be used for guard duties along the flanks. The Flank Guard will be composed of our light cavalry. Their role is to be a rapidly deployable reinforcement in the case of an enemy action. Under no circumstances do I want them to face enemy units on their own: their fighting spirit has taken too much of a hit to allow that. I hope we don't have to order them into a combat. I'd rather they get some time to think about what it means to be British, and to get their fighting spirit back up. After all, at Crecy we destroyed the French cavalry for hundreds of years. Let's not give them the chance to return the favour, eh boys?

The Rear Guard will be comprised of our Heavy cavalry, and two units of Light Foot: the 1/60th Light Foot (Royal Americans), and the Provisional Light Infantry Battalion. I am putting so many units on Rear Guard because while I don't expect any French attacks from behind, I do suspect that Gormand is fiendish enough to get Indians to harry us from the rear.

The Main Body shall, therefore, be the following:
2/1st Foot (Royal Scots)
1/28th Foot (Bragg's) - to be given light duties as reward for taking French cannon
1/35th Foot (Otways)
Captain FitzPatricks Rangers - to be given light duties
Both units of guns
The Supply Train - now with extra French guns

The French guns are to be placed in the supply train until we reach St. Elizabeth, where the roundshot will be useful for breaching their defences.

Also, since we've lost a few officers, I want the records searched for possible Officer material.

You all know your duties. The French have proven that they are both brave and skilled, but we have driven them back and taken their cannon. They have learned that we will not hesitate to bring the fight to them, no matter the cost. Now let's get out there and kill some Papists, for King and country.

Col. Shaw.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

The Battle of Noswego, a fair and accurate depiction of the action drawn from details of Col. Shaw's dispatch. The Edinburgh Currant June 4th 1757.

Our (pseudo) FIW campaign rolls on and has thrown up a couple of interesting questions.

The last battle was a contested river crossing. It started out well for the British, who had managed to assemble over a two to one advantage in numbers.

It didn't end so brightly.

The American rangers who had been so badly cut up the day before, were used to scout the river at night and then to spearhead an attack across a ford. 30% odd casualties and no sleep for 48 hours will sap anyone's morale. I think Cian has seen "The Last of the Mohicans" a bit to often, so they refused to fight and quit the field.

The British infantry marched forward to pin the French at the bridge while the cavalry hammered across the ford to cut off the French line of retreat. The French cavalry charged them, then feigned flight and managed to the get the British cavalry to charge right under the guns ensconced in the town, which made hash of them. The survivors were then charged by the remaining French cavalry and wiped out, the British second in command being taken captive.

The French then started to pull out of the town onto the heights behind under pressure from the remorseless tide of redcoats streaming across the bridge. The sight of every English atop a horse, that wasn't being led away captive, streaming away from the town did little for their morale and the advance slowed.

This gave the French time to pull out of the town and re-establish their guns on the heights. As the redcoats dressed the line, a stray roundshot struck General Lord Ponsonby's aide, Captain Simpson, killing the poor man and driving a fragment of his scabbard into Lord Ponsonby's side.

The noble Lord recovered himself after a brief moment and began to give directions to the battalions drawing themselves up in expectation of a rush on the heights. A heavy rain had begun to fall, fouling the powder in the pans and rendering the use of firelocks a chancy business. It was decided that the French would have to be driven off with the bayonet.

Carried by several Grenadiers of the 17th, Lord Ponsonby was giving orders to that effect and that especial efforts were to be made to take the French cannon, when he was treacherously and deliberately targeted by the French gunners. A roundshot crushed his right arm and side completely and he fell mortally wounded.

His subordinate, Col. Shaw took command and lead a charge up the hill by the 17th, the 22nd and the 28th Regiments of Foot. Colonel Anhalt had ordered a general retreat at this point and those French regiments that could were withdrawing in good order. However, a desire by the French gunners of the Batterie Du Courcelle to do more execution lead them to tarry too long and they were were unable to move the guns in time because of the exceeding wetness of the ground.

The guns were taken by men of the 28th (Colonel Bragg's) Regiment of Foot, which along with approaching nightfall marked the end of the battle.

All in all, it was a good game with some real turns of fortune. Cian had said that his objective was the enemy guns and though it cost him dear, he did take them. Dave managed to extricate his force with only minimal casualties (one regiment of Light Horse and the Batterie du Courcelle).

The battle does leave me with some questions though.

- Cian has captured a battery of four French guns, which are probably low on ammunition, having been heavily engaged all day. How likely is it that British gunners could successfully use British ammunition in French guns?

Naturally of course, this depends of what sort of guns they are, but lacking any accurate information (I really should have made this a Napoleonic campaign, i.e. something I know) I've said that both sides are using six pounders.

- How badly is the Pyhrric nature of the victory going to affect the British army? The French army lost a battery which will harm its prestige, but otherwise accomplished miracles.

I actually think this is a battle where both sides can claim some sort of victory, odd that, I didn't really think those happened.

Ponsonby's dead, but he was a new commander and not one that the army were particularly attached to. His successor, Col. Shaw, is a regimental officer and better known, if not as skilled.

The French did not manage to discommode the British infantry, the backbone of the army, in any way. They, in the words of one observer, "Stomped forward like bayonet wielding terminators and took the guns.". Maybe I put too much stock in Wellington's experience, but having your cavalry mauled doesn't seem to have broken British armies in the past. Cian was also so dismissive of the Americans combat refusal, that I'm not sure its going to affect the army's morale much...cripple its ability to scout and leave it prey to marauding Indians, yes, but that's for another day.

Cian is currently trying to work out if he should have Captain Morgan (the Ranger leader) hung for cowardice or have some of them flogged. I've pointed out that both are illegal, but he's still mulling over it. I reckon if he does, it'll most likely lead to the dissolution of the unit and his other American auxiliaries and angry protests from Colonial governors.

Dave, the French player, in an act worthy of "Operation Mincemeat" "accidentally" sent Cian his orders while replying to my email.

The false orders stated that the French having interrogated Col. Frazer were preparing for a sudden and crushing counter attack, in the hope of forcing the British onto the defensive so as to buy time.

Dave's actual orders were for his forces to fall back to the defensible feature and to start digging in.

The ruse did not have the hoped for result as Cian, assuming it was a genuine mistake sent Dave an email informing him that he hadn't read the orders and was deleting the mail.

Shabby Nazi trick or legitimate ruse de geurre?

Who can say, though honesty as the best policy is working for Cian, who seems intent on driving north as quickly as possible.