Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Bergen 1799; Anglo-Russian Invasion of Batavia (part I)

"Go to Holland and DO something"

In an attempt to destabilize the French/Batavian (Dutch) patriotic government in the Batavian Republic,  Britain send out an expeditionary force under the command of Abercromby. Support would be given by Russian forces. They were only to arrive 20 days later. The action started on the 27 of August 1799. Unexpected for the Batavians and French, the British landed their boats with an army of 'hooligans' on the beaches of the Noord-Holland province.
In this table-top battle 1/72 figures are used. The table is made -up out of modular boards. We decided to land Russians and British alongside each other. The defenders are the French and Batavian troops.

An overview of the opposing 1/72 armies

Russian high commander Hermann, being ambushed and taken prisoner in the woods around Bergen village, only two days after his arrival at the scene.

We used the wargaming rules by Dirk Donvil: About Bonaparte. Battalions used had 10 initial figures. CIC plus an ADC on both sides formed a 3 command dice staff. Individual officers, either attached or unattached, could sum up between 9 and 12 in total per side. All figures painted by Peter (hosting the game in city of Eindhoven, home city to the football club PSV) in enamels and different oil techniques. The kilted redcoats were done by Marcel, using acrylics only. Each figure is based on a coin. All infantry is put into movement trays with suitable spaces to receive the coins. Casualties can be removed from the tray when appropriate. Third player is Stan, a miniatures brother-in-arms over 7 years now.
Kilted highlanders getting wet feet
 In early morning secrecy a first battalion of 92reg. Gordon Highlanders set foot on foreign soil, wading the final stretch to the shore through the summer warmed North Sea.They are soon to be followed by an Armada of whaling- and rowboats, set ashore influenced by wind, waves and tidal streams. In the game we used cardboard and playmobil vessels. Not enough though, to drop the whole army in one wave. Three turns sufficed to gather a badly disarrayed lot of 'sons o' bitches' (just annotating the sergeants!) on the beach. How to organize this: Ta, ta! Abercromby our CIC, arrived. The miracle-maker (drums!!!!!).

Second Anglo/Russian landing wave
Last units brought in by sea 

*Dispersed landing rule*

To mimic a shabby arrival of units on the shore, we improvised on how to do this. The beach was divided in zones 1 to 6 (see dice markers in picture). One player choose a vessel filled with troops, an other threw a D6 and indicated the landing zone for it. Following this during three subsequent turns, it took a lot of maneuvering (read: several turns) to make this a fighting force. No enemy fire!  

One way or another some local fishermen or early farmhands, must have spotted the Anglo-Russian fleet along the coastline. In real the British military intelligence leaked information through the immense burocratic organization around the government and numerous diplomatic liaisons. For the Batavian/French are not at all taken by surprise. In fact, their shared military strength was allocated along every possible threatened portion of coastline, from Zealand up to the most Northern provinces of Friesland and Groningen.          
 Batavian Republic cavalry scouts the area. Observations reported to their staff on short notice. 

It can not be concealed for long. French and Bavarian local command immediately organize a solid battle line only just out of sight for the invaders. Reserves called out from every corner of the county.
Formed up into a formidable battle line with a central cavalry block and artillery on both flanks.

Batavian Republic and French battle order, defending Bergen (14-06-2014)

The initial way to turn up the pressure on the invaders is a massive cavalry charge with no less than three battalions. Anglo-Russian forces are still building up on the seaside and only recently the light cavalry battalion is brought ashore. They immediately prepare for a possible counter action.

Left: British threatened (2 o'clock high!) by massive light cavalry. No skills for a square formation!
Right: Contact! and countercharge by Anglo/Russian cavalry in open left flank. Invasion force (Stan & Marcel) withstood the first fierce blow by Batavian CIC Daendels (Peter).

Heavy infantry guarded artillery pieces deployed on the dunes in the southern part of the landing area, obviously intimidates and keeps the parties at a fair distance of  each other. This enables the Anglo/Russians to fully materialize a bridgehead from where a slow advance is initiated. After several skirmishes the Batavian/French retreat at their stronghold:  the village of Bergen, blocking the main advance on Alcmaer (inscripted in the 'Arc de Triomphe' in Paris!). The Anglo/Russian army engages the village from two sides. A small and lighter detachment closes in from the North. The main force with artillery and cavalry must enter Bergen from the South-West. In between them and the village centre lies a shallow but boggy stream towards the sea. Different from the light detachment, this main force badly needs a bridge! The Batavian/French badly need reinforcements .

What would these innocent civilians need? Probably nobody bothers...


  1. Great Posting Marcel,

    Seems to be a realy fun game, with beautifully painted figures.

    The scenery is always an important part in setting up an atractive game.

    didn't know anything about this these actions in 1799.

    Well done!

  2. I'm highly inspired by military landings one way or another. And coincidentally several of them took place in the region now called the Netherlands. In my reenactment career one of the finest events we ever did was the reenactment of the British invasion of Zealand in 1809. This event was situated in and around the old town of Veere (Isle of Walcheren). I have a magnificent photo, shot that weekend by one of the spectators from up the city wall. I will look that one up and place it in the blog. It looks as if you're watching a tabletop gaming!