Thursday, December 31, 2020

Doc's final for 2020: Finishing the French in Egypt Project and the first game scenario

For the last few weeks I've been finishing off my Armee l'Orient with the last artillery battery (4pdr & howitzer) & crews in Kleber - Paul Hicks/US Brigade figures of course. Another officer or two as well but I have enough now to play the game scenario I've devised. One thing or another in this crappy year prevented me posting earlier but I thought I'd sneak in the last post for 2020 literally at the death-knell as it were. The following are the last French (in Egypt) units/figures I'll be doing for awhile.

I've given the mounted officer some impressive plumage and a sash to make him another General de Brigade. The supply dump is part of the wargame scenario which is loosely based on an incident during Desaix' campaign up the Nile in pursuit of the remaining Mamelukes under Ibrahim Bey.  Desaix was under huge pressure chasing Bey's highly mobile force for several months and suffered severe supply problems in a logistical nightmare over 1000 kms from Cairo. He was highly dependent on the French Nile Flotilla to resupply and evacuate wounded including hundreds afflicted with blinding tropical diseases like ophthalmia. The flotilla was centered around the flagship l'Italie which acted as a floating hospital but was eventually caught and destroyed by one of the Mameluke Beys leading a force of a few hundred Mamelukes but included at least 3,000 Meccan fanatics (jihadis shipped across the Red Sea from Mecca by the Ottoman Caliphate). In the scenario I've devised Desaix main force is to rendezvous with the flotilla at a village on the Nile for much needed resupply BUT both Ibrahim Bey's Mameluke-led force is aware of the French landing and is trying to get there first - dispatching the Meccans to take the village and destroy the Flotilla landing force protecting the landed supplies. Desaix has dispatched his Dromadaires and Dragoons ahead to scout out the Mamelukes and contact the landing force first so the race is on!
The Mamelukes have forced the French into square while the Meccans assault the reinforced Legion Nautique landing force in the village. 

The Meccans burst into the village and eventually overwhelm the French forcing them out and seizing the supplies - temporarily at least. 

The main Mameluke force under Ibrahim Bey has gotten between Desaix and his advance guard/naval landing force. 

The French cavalry/camel advance force wisely forms square rather than mix it with Mamelukes!

The armoured Mamelukes form a wedge formation to penetrate the French square - and only bounced by the narrowest of margins!

The main group of Mamelukes in disarray after bouncing off the nearest French square. 

Confusion on the Mameluke side after repeatedly bouncing off the French squares - the jezzail armed Sekkans weren't able to get a bead on the massed ranks of French - luckily for the latter!

Having taken the village the much-depleted Meccans are about to get ridden down by French cavalry.

It was a great game with three commands per side so well-balanced. The game was called (Covid-restricted time limit at the club) with the French about to retake the village - albeit at some cost. The Mamelukes had failed to stop the French in square but their famous impetuosity meant that their artillery and jezzail armed Balkan mercenaries (Sekkans) were never able to take aim at the massed ranks of French advancing across the desert.  The naval landing force survived albeit severely mauled, losing the village and valuable supplies, eventually had to be saved by the French cavalry/Camel Corps advance guard. A third force of Turkish regulars (Nizam e-cedit and Janissaries) never got involved and so may not be needed for the future scenario.  Great fun using adapted General de Armee rules and a game I'll definitely be running in 2021.

My next project I'll post on soon is finishing my WWI 1914 armies with a beautiful force of BEF sculpted by Paul Hicks for Empress.  Meanwhile I'm glad to see the back of 2020 and look forward to much more wargaming goodness in 2021, wishing all my blog followers and fellow wargaming enthusiasts a safe and prosperous New Year!

Monday, October 12, 2020

Doc's French in Egypt Project: Part VII The Ottomans & Mamelukes

Having nearly completed the French part of my FiE Project I decided to review what I have, particularly the Mamelukes and Ottomans that I have also pretty much completed in order to see if there are any glaring gaps in the collection. The Ottoman/Turk/Arab force that fought the French so determinedly was quite different from any European army of the period and importantly, for wargaming purposes I had to have both the right mix of troops and well, considerable numbers if only to reflect the fact that in many encounters they outnumbered the French, sometimes by a considerable margin. What I found was the I had a shortage of artillery which, as I have discovered, the Ottomans were in plentiful supply with a wide range of both ancient and modern pieces and importantly, trained crews. The French found this out on several occasions - Desaix's squares came under intense and accurate fire from Murad Bey's artillery at Sediman while around the same time outside Acre Napoleon's besieging army also suffered at the hands of the plentiful and well-served Ottoman guns. With that in mind I've expanded the Turk's artillery park to include a modern 12 pdr and now a 4 pdr to go with the massive 24 pdrs (hauled by oxen!)

Followers of this blog may have seen the last few of the Ottoman big guns 'in action' before but I thought them worth including. At Embahbeh (Battle of the Pyramids) the Mamelukes had a large battery of these monsters entrenched, which the French were careful to avoid (before storming the position) - the noise alone must have been terrifying! The artillery crew are the delightful Brigade figures, the two big guns are old modified Warhammer guns! The 12 pdr is a slightly modified Gribeauvil and the crew are Empress Indian Mutiny which I think match in well. I reckon they're hajis (maybe British-trained former Sepoys?) recruited for jihad against the infidel French and sent over with the other Meccan fanatics! Not as outlandish as it seems - note also that it was the Meccans led by Mameluke Osman Bey who in March 1799 attacked and destroyed Desaix's Nile Flotilla at Benut including the brig l'Italie. The Meccans slaughtered the Flotilla including several hundred Legion Nautique Marines, Legion Greque (Greek) and the band of the 61st Demi-Brigade - in addition to the loss of Desaix' much-needed supplies! The French conquest of Egypt was most definitely not the one-sided affair (until they met the British of course) as suggested by many historians.

To give some idea of the full collection I've assembled all the Mameluke and Ottomans facing the French as follows: on the left the Ottomans then Mamelukes (from the right) below them.

Closest are the Ottoman Askinjis heavy cavalry next to the big guns then the bow-armed Sipahi light cavalry led by a Mameluke (suspiciously dressed like an Arab knight with his Bedouin retinue/escort!) Behind them are the jezzail-armed Sekkans - a light infantry of Balkan mercenaries (and crack shots apparently) who are in front of the red-coated Nizam e-Cedit (Ottoman European-style Regulars - their 'new army') and two regiments of real Ottoman Janissary (none of your 'Cairo' rubbish!) 

Behind the Mamelukes are the dead-eyed Meccan jihadi fanatics (in appropriate ISIS-like black) and behind them Egyptian regulars (or armed Fedahyeen peasantry - take your pick!) next to the slightly more regular Cairo Janissaries. Leading them all is the man himself Murad-Bey (another wonderful Brigade figure sculpted by Paul Hicks).

There are quite a mix of figures reflecting how long I've been collecting them! Some of my favourites are the old Old Glory Mamelukes which were made close to 50 years ago! (antique collectibles maybe?) including this terrific mounted emir.

In no particular order the rest of the Mameluke horde in detail.

And now the Ottomans and various Turk types.

Below are Old Glory Ottoman Janissary, Sekkans which are Perry's Bashi Bazooks from their Sudan range and the last are Brigade (US) Ottoman Nizam e-Cedit from from their Napoleonic range. 

I think that'll do it for the Ottomans and their Mameluke madmen mates for now. I've got a few more French to finish and have to start planning the wargame scenarios and lists for play-testing. I'll be taking a break from the project for a bit while I fill various paint orders including some rather lovely Indian Mutiny figures. Conscious too that I have to set aside a block of time to kick-off my WWII Vichy French in Syria project - that I need more paint orders to pay for! (Shhh - don't tell the Memsahib!)

Au revoir for now.


Thursday, September 24, 2020

Doc's French in Egypt (Armee L'Orient) project Part VI: the army nears completion

 Although started well over six years ago it was not until near the end of last year that I finally got my act together and finished collecting for the French army in Egypt, making my last purchases earlier this year and beginning to paint and base them all. Having just finished another battalion of the 9eme de Ligne (in Kleber) I have taken stock of everything I have for the Egyptian campaign so far. There are two more Demi Brigade's of figures which I will do as the 4eme Legere (in Kleber of course!) and a generic DB in 'tenue de disembarcation', as well as an 8 pdr battery (crew in Kleber) and a small unit of Guides or Chasseurs to finish up the French. Unfortunately I have had to give up on the Nile Flotilla idea for now - although a 28mm version of the D'Italie fighting off the hordes of Arabs in armed Dhows does appeal... 

So thus far there are:

        21eme Legere (2 x bttn @ 18)

        9eme Ligne (2 x bttn @ 24)

        88eme Ligne (1 bttn @ 24)

        61eme Ligne (1 bttn @ 24)

        4eme Legere (1 bttn - in Mirliton @ 18)

        Legion Nautique (1 bttn @ 24 plus gun & officer, four crew)

        Foot Battery (2 x 6 pdrs, 8 crew)

        Total: 174 infantry, 3 guns & 13 crew

        Camel Corps (Dromadaires)  (12 mtd, 14 dismounted)

        14/15eme 18/20eme Dragoons (12 mtd, 14 dismounted)

        7eme bis Hussars (8 mtd)

        Guides (a Cheval) (9 mtd)

        Horse Battery (2 x 4 pdrs, 8 crew)

        2 Mtd Generals plus Guide escort (3 x mtd) 

        Total: 44 mounted, 28 dismtd, 2 guns & 8 crew

This leaves a total of 48 foot, 9 mounted, 3 guns and 12 crew left to do. Plus another mounted general - or two - to finish my Armee L'Orient! They are faced by an even larger Ottoman/Mameluke force which apart from another gun or two is all ready to go and smite the infidel (insh'Allah)! 

The most recent French unit completed is the 9eme de Ligne in their bright red Kleber uniform. All Perry's metals. I have already made a battalion of that Demi Brigade in 'dis-embarcation uniform' as there is some conjecture that some of Desaix' infantry may have marched up the Nile before they had all been clothed in the new Kleber cotton uniforms.

I had intended to showcase this in November at the local club for the Little Wars 2020 convention but the Wuhan Flu pandemic put paid to that plus the restricted hours currently allowed now for games (just two!) means this won't happen before mid to late 2021 at the earliest.  Hopefully this will allow me to try a few test games first using the General de Brigade rules as a base as GdB have a number of Ottoman/French-in-Egypt scenarios. 

While I still have the little armed sloop and crew there are other technical difficulties including that I will have to make some Nile river sections up for it - I have neither time nor resources for that just now so as other projects beckon (WWII Vichy French in Syria, for example) so I've decided to put them on the back-burner as it were and just field the unfortunate Naval Legion fighting as land-lubbers. While they were much better at hand-to-hand (armed with a ferocious array of weapons and the early 'trench broom' blunderbuss) they had little of the discipline required of well drilled infantry so how they'll go in square against charging Mameluke maniacs on the wargaming table remains to be seen!

In truth I've blown the pensioner's budget (don't tell the Memsahib!) on getting virtually an entire Perry's Vichy (in Syria) army for my WWII Syria project. Just waiting for the last part to arrive which should give me a platoon each of French and Senegalese infantry plus a 75, Tanake Dodge Armoured Car and Somua R35(?) light tank - pretty much the entire shootin' match. Woohoo!  I've also acquired a WWI 1914-15 German army that requires a little tidy-up paint etc. The upshot is I really don't have the time or funds to do a Nile Flotilla (or another Revolutionary French army) - short of a LOT of painting commission work (all in prospect for the moment) so [sigh] a hard decision had to be made... the Flotilla is sunk for the foreseeable! O la vache!  On the plus side the French in Egypt project finally nears its completion.

Au revoir mes amis - until next time.