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The Wagon Train, 1760


The Seven Years War, Black Powder, 28mm

We had an AGM this week, so we wanted a game that would be fun but quick. So, I came up with a tried and tested scenario called “The Wagon Train”. It was first devised by Charles Grant Senior, and published in the Wargames Digest in 1961. The original one was set in the American Civil War, but it works for a whole range of periods. Charles’ son Charles S. Grant wrote about it at length in his book The Wargames Companion (2008). Our version was set in the Seven Years War, and the original orders of battle tweaked slightly to match the toys in my collection. I tried to match Grant Senior’s original map (shown above), and as we wanted a quick and simple game we played it out on a 6×4 foot table. We also changed the place names, to make them a little less American, and a bit more Germanic. In our game, the French were escorting the wagon trains filled with supplies from Marsberg to Warburg, escorted by a small force of three infantry battalions. They entered the table at “A” and had to get the wagons off it again at “B”. A screening force of two battalions also appeared at “B”, to help escort the wagons on the last leg of their journey. Mally and Sean played the French, with Sean commanding the screening force. The Hanovarians though, were out to stop them. They had two forces – an infantry Brigade of three battalions, and a cavalry brigade of two regiments. Gyles took charge of the infantry, while Lindsay ran the cavalry. In this scenario the wagons enter the game at the start, along with their escort, but the other forces all have to roll for their arrival turn. The attackers also had to roll for where they came on, with Gyles’ infantry destined to appear at “X” on Turn 3 and Lindsay’s cavalry at “Y” on Turn 4. Sean would appear at “B” on Turn 3. So, the scene was set for another re-run of a classic game. The job of providing the escort fell to the German La Marck regiment, and a battalion of La Couronne. They trooped on down the road, until they were passing the foot of Westenhugel (“West Hill”). There, behind it, they spotted the dust of approaching troops. These were the three Hanovarian regiments of von Scheither, von Wangenheim and von Diebenbroik. The French peeled off the two GErman battalions to hold them off, while the La Couronne battalion took the lead. At that moment the Hanovarian dragoons of von Briedenbach’s regiment appeared – two units of them – and advanced between the two hills and onto the road. At the same time, at “B”, the French reinforcements appeared in column of march – a battalion each of the red-cuffed Tournasis and Cambresis regiments. Sean outdid himself by rolling a “”” on 2D6 for activation, and his French foot fairly raced down the road. Not to be outdone though, Lindsay’s deployed her cavalry, and sent half her regiment charging down the road. The battalion of the La Couronne regiment in their path barely had time to get into line, and fire a volley. They only caused one hit, so the charge went in. The melee that followed though was a draw, and the dragoons were forced to retire to lick their wounds. The second cavalry unit climbed onto Klancishugel (Clancy’s Hill”) beyond the flank of the French infantry, but didn’t have the movement to charge home into the wagon train at the bottom of the hill. Wisely, in their turn, the wagons pulled back a little, and the chance passed. Back on the Westenhugel the two sides had come to blows. The Hanovarians fired a near-perfect volley, but the La Marck regiment held its ground. The two sides were now locked in a fairly bitter firefight, but the Hanovarians were getting the best of it, as they had the edge in numbers. Judging his moment, when both enemy units were disordered, Gyles ordered an all-out charge. At first this went really well. One defending unit was forced to retire back across the road, while the other held, but only just. Then, just in the nick of time, Sean’s reinforcements intervened. All of a sudden the Hanovarian cavalry found itself trapped between two infantry lines. The newcomers fired a volley into the backs of the dragoons on the Klansishugel, who promptly broke and ran.That let the French re-order their lines, and gave the La Marck regiment a breathing space. It was able to cycle one battalion back, and replace it with the fresher troops of the La Couronne regiment. Thwen, when the remaining Hanovarian tried to do charge – having recovered from disorder – they were stymied by poor command dice. Another volley from La Cambresis finished them off. The French though, weren’t having it all their own way. The right-hand battalion of the La Marck regiment was already disordered when it was charged by the von Scheither reginent. This time it was the defenders who broke, leaving a big gap in the French defensive line. Fortunately for them though, the wagons were almost out of reach, having ascended the Klansishugel. They were also well-screened from attack by Sean’s two relatively fresh Fresh infantry battalions. Now, it looked like plain sailing for them. Gyles did what he could, but he couldn’t break through. Now, with four French battalions to his three, he’d no chance of harming the wagon train. SO, he sensibly gave the order to withdraw. The French could now reform and take a gently stroll into Warburg. So, the game ended with a clear French victory, won largely through some great firing rolls by Sean, and some excellent break test rolls by Mally. All in all it was a fun little game – this scenario always is – and everyone thoroughly enjoyed themselves.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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6 Responses “The Wagon Train, 1760”

  1. Roy bumpsteed
    5th February 2020 at 7:18 am

    After we resolve our Napoleonic sea fight ,I think we might give the scenario a go with British v Zulu.!Thanks for the Inspiration

    • 5th February 2020 at 7:45 am

      It’s always fun. Charles and Charles S. have both tinkered with the scenario so there are variants. This though, is pretty much the original version in terms of troop numbers.

      • 5th February 2020 at 7:53 am

        talking of numbers,this is perhaps the one occasion were the hordes of Zulus stand a chance.A difficult choice for the British Push on to safety or perhaps cower behind their waggons?

        • 5th February 2020 at 10:39 am

          That might work very well, except you’ll have to make the Zulu units proportionately larger, and replace the cavalry with more spearmen…
          In fact, this scenario should work for just about any period, with a few tweaks. Cowering isn’t an option – this is all about pressing forward!

  2. Mike Leese
    10th March 2020 at 1:33 pm

    Outstanding photography, I presume 28mm figures.
    The descriptive captions with each photograph allows the reader to follow the game.
    It reminded me of a story from Riders of the Range Annual 1952 app.
    About a waggon train to Fort Phil Kearny.
    A troop of 32 US Cavalry lead by Lt. Waldron being attacked by
    Red Cloud and 2,000 Sioux.
    The soldiers were armed with the new repeating rifles.
    I re ember the story so vividly because of the full page colour plate headed “Fire! Yelled Waldron”.

    • 10th March 2020 at 3:12 pm

      The best of the photos were taken by Lindsay Bailey. She’s darned good – even though she takes too many from behind the figures, rather than from their front…! The figures are almost all 28mm Front Rank ones, although some of the French cavalry are Foundry.

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