Sunday 29 November 2009

Battle of Naumburg

Imperial Garde attack Naumburg

We never did get to wargame Vimerio! You may remember that we set the game up to play whilst we were waiting for a battle to fight from the PBEM Halle campaing. Well just the day after we set up the Vimerio game on the wargames table, the campaign produced its first wargame.

Because of the hidden movement in the campaing, Naumburg was not anticipated - least of all by me. But the campaign games take priority as the campaign is paused until the battle is resolved. So I had to clear the Vimerio table and replace it with the Naumburg one.

Then after just four moves the Russian commander ordered a withdrawal. Four wargame moves are the same as one campaign move, and each player is allowed to issue new orders each campaign move. Because the two corps had not actually met on the table, the Russian player was able to withdraw his corps without loss.

The corps in the campaign are now very close to each other, and there could be another battle at any time. So we are reluctant to set up Vimerio in case the same thing happens again.

If you would like to read the (short) battle report you can find it at:


Thursday 26 November 2009

Return to the Coa

This is one of those battlefields which reward plenty of time to wander and ponder or just sit and think or read. Our previous visit was with a coach load of tourists, when we had little time to appreciate the finer points of the battlefield.

This time we had a full afternoon and evening, and we came prepared with many descriptions of the battle, including some first hand accounts. We also had time to ramble around the area and take lots of photographs.

You can see them all here:


Wednesday 25 November 2009

New Forum for PBEM Campaign

Now that both sides are in contact along the river Saale in the PBEM campaign there have been a lot of questions raised regarding the rules. At this stage I need quick answers from each player to avoid slowing down the campaign, and these emails require a lot of time and cause delay. Worse, different players often ask the same questions but in a slightly different way, and that requires two long answers.

So I have started a new forum just to deal with the current PBEM campaign. In this way all players can read all questions raised, and also my answers. If they wish they can take part in the discussion, but need not if they don't want to. But all will have the opportunity to read all that is written about the rules and any problems arising from the campaign.

The blog will remain the public record of the campaign, but if anyone would like to follow the background they will find it at:


Monday 23 November 2009

Battle of Vimerio

Starting positions for the battle of Vimerio

Its been a very frustrating week. All of my efforts have gone into setting up the new PBEM Halle campaign and getting it started. Our wargaming has been put on hold and we are both missing it.

Jan and I will wargame any battles which need to be fought for the PBEM campaign, and we need to be able to wargame them quite quickly to avoid holding the campaign up. However we anticipated that there would be periods when there was a lot of campaign movement, but no fighting. So I came up with the idea of fighting Wellington's Battles to give us an ongoing wargame to fight.

Last Wednesday I set up Vimerio, which was to be the second in the Wellington's Battles series. For various reasons we were unable to get started on the game before the weekend, but expected we could start it on Saturday and finish Sunday.

On Friday the campaign movement resulted in two cavalry contacts. This involves four players, and each had to confirm what they wanted to do before I could proceed with the campaign. Unfortunately they live all over the world, so time zones (not to mention real life) get in the way. By Saturday I had three replies, but had to wait until Monday for the fourth. What the players decided could easily result in a campaign battle, so Jan and I could not start Vimerio until I received the fourth reply. And it could have arrived at any time.

So no wargame over the weekend. Today I got a reply, but one which requires clarification. So another wait. Meanwhile the table (see above) sits there waiting for us. Tonight I expect confirmation about the campaign.

However we have a busy few days coming up, and are not likely to be able to start either Vimerio or a campaign game.

I wanted to open my 1813 campaign to PBEM, so I can't really complain. Indeed I am really enjoying the experience, but I do miss the days when we could set up a game whenever we liked and play for as long as we liked.

Saturday 21 November 2009

Russians enter Leipzig

Although the King of Saxony has declared his country neutral this has not prevented the Russian army from entering Leipzig and taking possession of its military stores. Cossacks are approaching the east bank of the river Saale as the 1813 Halle campaign "hots up".

The PBEM campaign is approaching the first critcial phase, when the cavalry screens of each army contact each other, and both try to find out what the enemy is doing but prevent them from doing the same. With four corps, and four players, per side the next few moves of the campaign will be interesting as I try to keep track of who can see who and what each of them do.

You can follow the progress of the campaign by clicking on 1813 PBEM Halle Campaign Blog buttion on the right.

Thursday 19 November 2009

Napoleon on the March

Napoleon reviews his army at Fulda

The 1813 Halle PBEM campaign has finally started. Napoleon and Kutuzov are marching towards the river Saale and the first campaign moves have taken place. The rules have changed considerably from the previous Magdeburg campaign, and there has been some delay as I exchanged emails with the ten players to get the first moves done. The whole routine is different this time, and there have been a few teething problems.

The system is now in place. Napoleon and Kutuzov send daily orders to their eight corps commanders, who then issue daily movement orders. I plot both on the campaign map, notify the corps commanders if they have a contact with the enemy, and they then confirm what they want to do. There are three moves each campaign day to allow for all of this to happen. I then send a daily situation report to Napoleon and Kutuzov, and they issue the next days daily orders.

We have completed the first day and are starting on the second. So far so good. Mind there has been no contact with the enemy yet! I remember reading that one general (I can't remember who) said something along the lines that all plans go out of the window as soon as the two armies meet in battle. We shall see.

There will be a daily report on the blog. As all movement is hidden from the enemy it will not be a daily updated map as with Madgeburg. The blog will be a general account of the campaign, along the lines of a newspaper or bulletin. I have to be careful not to give the players too much information about what the other side is doing. If you would like to follow it you can do so by clicking on PBEM 1813 Halle Campaign on the right.

Wednesday 18 November 2009

Visit to Almeida in Portugal

Almeida was an important border fortress in 1810 when it protected Portugal from invasion from Spain. It was also the setting for Bernard Cornwall's "Sharpe's Gold", which tells the story of the explosion which led to the premature surrender of the garrison to Marshal Ney in the same year and opened the road to Busacco and the Lines of Torres Vedras.

We visited the town in 1994 and this weeks "Walking Napoleonic Battlefields" deals with that visit. To read about it click on Spain and Portugalal Two on the right.

Sunday 15 November 2009

Battle of Rolica

This is the first of a new series of wargames based on Wellington's Peninsular battles. Each wargame will be based on one of Wellington's battles, but is not intended to be a refight of the historical battle.

Orders of battle will be changed to allow for a more balanced wargame. The idea is to have an enjoyable wargame, rather than a historical refight.

The first is based on Rolica, Wellesley's first battle in the Peninsular.

You can read the battle report by clicking on Wellingtons Battles on the blog list on the right.

Friday 13 November 2009

Start of PBEM Halle Campaign

There has been an unexpected delay in starting the Halle campaign. The start up enmails went out on Monday, together with maps and player briefings. The first stage is for Napoleon and Kutuzov to issue their initial campaign objectives, and I did not set a deadline as I wanted them to have plenty of time to plan their campaign.

I was not surprised to be advised that they would like to delay until Monday, so that they could consult their corps commanders. However getting replies when they are spread throughout the world can be a time consuming problem. I have asked for the initial orders by Monday at the latest.

Each corps commander will then have to issue movement orders for the following day. The days are broken into three moves, each of four hours. So when the two armies get close together a lot might happen during one campaign day. They will also have to choose their route with care, as there are movement penalties for moving off road or through difficult terrain. Finally they will have to ensure that they have a clear supply route to their forward supply depots.

Nine of the ten players took part in the Magdeburg campaign, so I know they can be trusted to respond promptly and issue orders on time. However that was a very simple campaign compared to this one. All corps were displayed on the daily situation map, so there was little need for careful planning. It will be interesting to see how they get on with this more complicated campaign.

Thursday 12 November 2009

Visit to Fort Conception

This week deals with our visit to this isolated and abandoned fort on the Spanish and Portuguese border, which was a temporary home to the Light Division between 1810 and 1813.

You can read the blog by clicking on the link to Walking Portugal and Spain Two on the right.

Wednesday 11 November 2009

1813 PBEM Magdeburg Campaign Completed

PBEM Madgeburg Campaign Report

Unlike the ill fated 1806 PBEM campaign, my own first attempt at running a PBEM campaign was a great success, very enjoyable and seemed to work well for all concerned. It was run on a daily basis, with movement orders received and the situation updated on the blog each day.

The campaign started on 30 September 2009 and lasted for five weeks.

The declared purpose of the campaign was to see whether my solo campaign could be adapted to a multiplayer PBEM campaign. It has proved that this is possible, but with major adjustments to the original campaign.

The aim of the original campaign, and the PBEM one, is to produce good wargames. It has failed to achieve this aim and if we continue to run a PBEM campaign Jan and I will have to arrange some alternative method of providing our regular wargames.

There were 10 players taking part in the campaign. Each was required to submit orders daily by email, and most managed to do so. Where it was not possible the two CinC did so. However this only happened once or twice.

I had not put a great deal of thought into the different requirements of a PBEM campaign as opposed to a solo one, and I made this clear to all players before we started. As a result there was one major change during the campaign to allow for reinforcements during a battle.

I am very grateful to all of the players who took part and accepted the changes imposed on them during the course of the campaign. I am also happy to report that 9 of the 10 will be taking part in the next campaign which starts next week.

From my point of view it worked very well, and I really enjoyed it. I hope, and expect, that the next campaign will be even more fun – both for myself and the players. It is a much more ambitious campaign, with hidden movement and greater reliance on the corps commanders keeping the commanders in chief informed of developments.

My role in the new campaign will be two fold. First as Games Master or Umpire. Second as chief of staff to both commanders in chief and corps commanders. In this way I hope to be able to remove a lot of the paperwork and administration from them. I will also be able to feed in reports from patrols and spies.

I have suggested to the players that they might like to post their comments on the forum, and I hope that they might do so.

If you would like to read about the campaign, including the battle reports, they can be found at label 11 on the right.

Tuesday 10 November 2009

1806 PBEM Campaign - No Progress

I was hoping that when I returned from our weekend in Cartagena I would find an update on the 1806 PBEM campaign I had been involved in since July. Unfortunately there was nothing from the umpire, but there were a couple of emails from other players who had not heard anything either.

Its not about a month since anything has happened in the campaign, and about two or three weeks since the last communication. So things are not looking good for the campaign. There may of course be a perfectly good reason for the continued silence, for example last time it was because the local telephone lines had been cut by a builder!

It would be a shame if the whole thing were to just fade away. I don't know about the other players (such seems to be the nature of PBEM), but I put in a lot of effort into planning the campaign and took the part seriously. If there were to be no further contact I doubt that I would bother again.

By comparison my own Magdeburg campaign has been very successful. We have managed a move each day for a month, though a large part of that has been wargaming the critical battle of the campaign. But all 10 players have submitted their orders on time each day, and have apparently put a lot of thought into their role. I will shortly be compiling a summary of the campaign, and asking each player for his comments. I have gained a lot of experience from this first effort at running a PBEM, and am very much looking forward to starting another one next week and correcting the earlier errors.

Sunday 8 November 2009

Short break in Cartagena

If any of you have called by in the past few days you will have noticed that I have not been posting. Jan and I had a short break to Cartagena with a couple of friends. For those of you who have not been, its a beautiful city and well worth a visit. Just one big drawback, it appears to have no Napoleonic history at all!

You may know that it is is in the south east corner of Spain, and I realised it was quite far from the centre of attention as far as Napoleon's marshals and generals were concerned. I seem to remember that Soult had sent the occasional body of troops towards Murcia and Cartagena, but could not find anything of real note.

It is of course more famous for his ancient Roman history, but I thought that I would ask at the tourist information centre. I was quite disappointed to find that the very helpful assistant did not appear to have heard of Napoleon or the Peninsular War of 1807-1814. Certainly not in relation to Cartagena. The city does have an impressive and well preserved 18th century city wall (see photo above), but apparently it was not put to the test during the Peninsular War.

Worse, I was cut off from any contact with the Internet. We had rented a villa at the coast near Cartagena in an area called Mar Menor. This is "out of season" so there was not even a grocery shop open - let alone an Internet cafe. The villa did not even have TV, so not much chance of Internet . Jan was convinced that it would do me good to have a complete break from the Internet - I am not so sure.

Anyway I am back now and ready to get back to the Magdeburg PBEM campaign. My first action was to post the latest move in the Battle of Seehausen, which you can read by clicking label 11 on the right.

Wednesday 4 November 2009

Second visit to Cuidad Rodrigo

We had enjoyed our first visit to Cuidad Rodrigo that we included it in our second visit to Portugal and Spain. This time we were on our own, and had more time to explore the town and the area where the allied guns were positioned to bombard the town.

This is the first new blog since I reorganised the Walking Napoleonic Battlefields blog. You can read about this visit by clicking on Portugal and Spain Two on the right

Tuesday 3 November 2009

Walking Napoloenic Battlefields

When I started the blog I did not realise that it would be running out of space so quickly, but I now find that I have already used 75% of the storeage capacity for photographs on this blog. One of the main reasons is the large number of photographs on the Walking Napoleonic Battlefields blog. So I have started a new blog for all future reports. I have also taken the opportunity to move alll of the old ones, and arrange them in three seperate blogs as follows:

Walking Waterloo
Includes visits to:
Quatre Bras
La Haye Sainte
The Left Flank
Walking Portugal and Spain - One
A coach trip which included visits to:
Elvas and Fort Christoval
The Coa
Fuentes de Onoro
Walking Portugal and Spain – Two
A return visit on our own to:
Torres Vedras
Poco Velho
More Fuentes de Onoro


Sunday 1 November 2009

Refighting Wellington's Battles

Our wargaming has suffered a little since I started the multi player PBEM campaign. Because Jan and I fight the campaign battles as a wargame, we have not done any of our own games for the past month. The campaign games have been very enjoyable, the more so because they were not designed by me. But it does mean that there can be gaps between wargames when the campaign is not providing any battles.

When we ran our own solo campaign we always had a battle waiting to be wargamed. Furthermore I could manipulate the campaign to provide the size of battle I wanted to wargame. Obviously this is not possible with a multi player campaign.

So I have been pondering what we might do to provide interesting non campaign wargames. Neither of us really like "one off games", we prefer to have a reason and something happening as a result of the outcome. Hence our interest in campaigns.

I was reading a blog last night, and it was about refighting Spanish Napleonic wargames as the anniversary comes up. To be honest I dismissed it at the time, as I have never seen a refight of an actual battle which was anything like the "real thing". And as we rely on just 20 scenery boards to produce all of our wargames it is even more difficult to produce a battlefield that looks anything the real one.

Then this morning whilst I was giving the pool its weekly clean I had my "brain wave". We will play "one off" wargames based on Wellington's battles. They will not make any attempt to be a refight of the actual battle, but will bear its name. The scenery will be similar to the real one, but the order of battle will not. In the past I have found that using historical orders of battle for Wellington's battles is very non productive. He tended to fight only on very favourable defensive ground, and only when he outnumbered his opponent. This would produce a very one sided, and not very enjoyable, wargame.

They will also be larger than usual wargames, using my 15mm figures. I tend to use 28mm for the campaign, and we both enjoy the size of game they provide. But it would be nice to have a different order of battle and allowance for cavalry reserves and grand batteries. Not that there will be any of those in the first game, which will be based on Rolica.

I will put a report on the blog and you can see for yourself what you think of the project.