This battle is one of the lesser known in Napoleonic history and also one not featuring the nearly omnipresent French. The English expedition force of 1807 basically raided the then neutral Denmark to get hold of their fleet before Napoleon could snatch it up. The scenario for this battle comes from the Wargames, Soldiers & Strategy magazine issue 99. It tips the scale in favor of game balance rather than historical accuracy.
I usually play with a heavily modified version of Black Powder and this game was no exception. Well, it was. I recently received the 2nd Edition of Hail Caesar and tried to incorporate some gameplay mechanics into this game. I gave cavalry different Clash/Sustain values to make them potent at the charge but less so in prolonged combat. I also used the rules of ranged fire morale checks, disruption and melee supports from Hail Caesar rather than the original Black Powder ones.
Lastly the unit stats from the scenario were adjusted along the lines of Hail Caesar stats with Morale saves of 5+ instead of 4+ but 6 Stamina instead of 3 in general.
With the attack on Copenhagen under way by the British, general Wellesley, future Lord Wellington, was sent to keep the Danish relief force around Koge from marching towards Copenhagen.
Wellesley has his 1st brigade deployed on a hill to the left, protecting the road to Copenhagen. His 2nd brigade will arrive later. As per scenario the British player can decide when and where it arrives among several options. I chose to randomize the arrival and location.
General Castenschiold commands two brigades of Danes to break through to Copenhagen. His army is superior in manpower, but consists of untested Landvaern (Landwehr/Militia) and only a small cavalry contingent. Castenschiold commands his large first brigade from the central hill. Oxholm brings up the rear with a smaller brigade still in march formation (to the right). The outskirts of Koge with defensive works in front of it can be seen to the top right.
The Danes enthusiastically march their lines forward during the first turn but suffer severe fire from artillery and clouds of skirmishers in the second turn. Oxholm’s second brigade is brought up and deployed on the central hill as reserve.
The second British brigade under Linsingen arrives early and in the flank of the approaching Danes. The situation already looks dire for Castenschiold. 8th Lanvaern has been broken by withering British fire (top left center) and 4th Landvaern had to form square against enemy cavalry (top). The general now has one turn to re-align his flank before the British crush into it. Meanwhile his entire line takes losses at an alarming rate.
Although the Danes are nominally on the attack, Castenschiold switches his posture to defense for the moment and sends a courier to Oxholm. The general is ordered to take the second brigade to the right flank and try to break through. Danish losses are mounting but squares can fend of the worst attacks by King’s German Legion Hussars (top left and bottom).
Wellesley witnesses the Danish concentration towards his left flank and brings up the 92nd Gordon Highlanders (far left). His Royal Horse Artillery is also relocated to the flank. The general has full confidence that Linsingen’s attack will keep the Danes occupied so that he can deal with the developing build up at his flank.
The battle is nearing its high water mark. While Castenschiold slowly retires from the center, some of his battalions pepper Wellesley’s troops with fire (top left). Oxholm’s brigade, sans cavalry and artillery prepares to take advantage. The entire gamble hinges on the 2nd Landvaern in the center, which has to fend of a supported charge by British Hussars. If the cavalry can break through, the center will collapse.
Disaster strikes for both sides. After many turns of slowly chipping away at Wellesley British defenders, the 95th Rifles break and open up the line for a devastating flank charge by the 1st Landvaern. They turn out to be very enthusiastic (Freshly Raised troops have to roll for an effect on their first turn of melee). They obliterate the British 43rd light infantry with a flank charge and breaking Wellesley’s brigade in the process. The door is now wide open for a breakthrough.
But Linsingen’s flank attack took off this turn as well. A combined attack of the 6th King’s German Legion line and 3rd King’s German Legion Hussars break two Landvaern battalions and send another reeling back. The Danish center is now wide open, as is the British main defense. What can the commanders do on the last turn?
Castenschiold’s brigade is in disarray and exhausted. It falls to Oxholm to fend of the last British attack that could end the Danish relief force. The command roll comes up just low enough to whip two fresh battalions around and face the 6th KGL battalion. The British attack is seen off with musketry and determination.
Although the Danish suffered quite some losses they are in an excellent position to march on Copenhagen. Wellesley and Linsingen have been beaten back in different directions and are hard pressed to combine their forces for any offensive action in the near future. As the Danish didn’t actually break through during the battle I judge the situation as a clear Danish victory but not a major one.
A hard fought battle with interesting choices for both sides. Wellesley could have been more aggressive from the get go but I decided to play his position close to his tactical posture and history. On the Danish side, Castenschiold’s brigade is very big and unwieldy. It takes some planning to get Oxholm’s troops into the action.
Unfortunately, some key pieces of information were missing from the scenario. Who has the first turn, how long does the scenario last and clear cut victory conditions were all absent. Such oversights or design choices in terms of victory conditions are rather common in scenarios from magazines. Giving the Danish the first turn and limiting the scenario to 8 turns seemed about right. Determining the winner is luckily straight forward for me as a solo player. Still, I would wish for more complete scenario details in magazines.
Regarding my rules experiments, I don’t think it brought anything to the table that was missing. There were less disordered units due to shooting which helped the flow. This was bought by more morale checks and outcome moves. I think this is the only mechanic that could be integrated into my already heavily modified version of Black Powder.
3 thoughts on “Battle of the Clogs 1807 – Black Powder(ish)”
Very unusual scenario. One does not often see British fighting the Danes; nor with blocks.
I wonder if the WSS scenario you site is based upon Michael Hopper’s Koge scenario in Perfidious Albion? There are certainly first player, victory conditions, and turn length details in Hopper’s published scenario.
Sadly, I don’t have any of the Hopper scenario books, which I have heard good things about. Would be interesting to compare the two.
Darn autocorrect. That should “cite” not “site.”