Thursday, 1 November 2007

The Battle for Florence - 31st October 2007.

The Venetian sponsored uprising against the Pope’s occupation of Florence resulted in a pitched battle north of the city.

Army Value: 61 (+14) florins
Battle Posture: Attack
Battle Hand: 8, 5 & 2 VPs (5 lost due to lack of possible objective). Ruse de Guerre card (Secret Reinforcements)
Army value: 14 florins (of a possible 30) of Venetian troops added to the muster.

Papal States
Army Value: 50 florins
Battle Posture: Defence
Battle Hand: 8, & 4 VPs. Two Ruse de Guerre cards (18” of earthworks, one Command Stratagem roll - Spies).

The battle field was centred on a shallow stream (Type I) which bisected it. On the Papal left was a large vine and wood covered hill. On the right a large wood extended deep into their deployment area. Objective points were: A bridge crossing the stream in the centre of the battlefield (4 VPs), a low hill in the Florentine deployment area (8 VPs), a steep hill behind the wood (9 VPs) and a road exit in the Papal deployment area (10 VPs).

Florentine forces
Cavalry - Two units of Lance Spezatte, one unit of Codottiere, two units of mercenary mounted crossbows.

Infantry & Artillery - Four units of (6 stands) Florentine militia pike, two units of mercenary arquebus.

Venetian Allies - One battery of heavy guns and two units of Schiavonni.

Morale cards - 4.

Deployment - The Florentines deployed with their heavy cavalry on their right beyond the stream, their militia pike in the centre with the guns and their light troops and Venetian marines (Schiavonni) on their extreme left facing the wood.

Papal forces
Cavalry - One unit of Casa cavalry, three units of Lance Spezatte and one unit of mercenary mounted crossbows.

Imfantry & Artillery - One unit of (6 stands) Romagnol pike, four units of Papal militia crossbows and two batteries of light guns.

Morale cards - 3 plus one command stratagem.

Deployment - The Papacy deployed Ravenna fashion. Anchoring their left from the stream to the woods with earthworks they deployed their guns and militia crossbows in a contiguous line behind them and extending some way into the woods. Behind the woods, their pike and cavalry were massed out of sight of the enemy – able to reinforce their right and somewhat crescent front as required.

The Battle
Before the battle started the players on both sides were disappointed that their C-in-Cs both left something to be desired. The Pope, obviously still learning this earthly trade, rolled up as abysmal. The Florentine commander rolled up as poor. Partly due to this (and partly due to two ends of turn doubles being thrown in quick succession) both sides looked across no-man’s-land whilst a desultory artillery bombardment took place.

The Battle opened proper with a slow advance by the Florentine left and centre, the militia pike suffering heavily from accurate Papal artillery fire. To counter the advance of the Florentine left, the Pope ordered two units of Lance Spezatte to traverse the wood and try to engage before the Florentine light troops and Venetian marines reached it, and ordered his mounted crossbows to take position on the hill.

The Florentine pike advances en echelon whilst the Papal guns deliver murderous fire:

It was in, and behind, the woods on the Papal right that the first close action took place. Before the Papal heavy cavalry could deploy to intercept the oncoming light troops they were swarming through the woods. A unit of Florentine mounted crossbows slipped by their lumbering enemy to contest the hill (worth 18 VPs to the Venetians). This threat was dealt with by the timely action of the Papal mounted crossbow unit stationed there, which wheeled then charged down the slope, throwing their enemy into confusion and routing them from the field - unfortunately they pursued with no hope of recall. In the woods a bitter fight now took place between the remaining Venetian forces and the Papal cavalry which would last the rest of the day with neither side able to achieve total success.

Contest in the woods. Neither side proved victorious here:

Meanwhile the Florentine militia pike hurled themselves at the Papal guns and infantry defending the earthworks and centre. At the earthworks their struggle was short lived. Having taken severe punishment from a barrage of missiles as they came in, what spirit they had evaporated as they tried to mount the enemy fortifications. Dropping their pikes and stripping off their armour they routed from the field. At the woods, and supported by Venetian marines the militia pike had more success sending their crossbow armed adversaries running to the rear. But it was too little too late. The battle was effectively over and the Venetians had failed.

Papal infantry and guns assaulted by militia pike and Venetian marines:

In all of this what happened to the Venetian heavy cavalry? To cut a long story short, despite orders to speedily outflank the enemy earthworks their commander refused to advance! In a battle of 8 turn’s duration, where he could have done this easily, he advanced no further than half way across no-man’s-land. This was not a player mistake. Out of a possible total of 16 “Cavalry Move in the Open” cards the Venetians turned just 3!!

No objectives were contested. The Venetians claimed 12 VPs, but the Papacy could claim 19 VPs. The result was a Papal marginal victory gaining 4 campaign victory points and a +1 bonus to the C-in-C’s quality roll in his next battle. Papal losses were very light – just 4 army value points. The Florentine army and allied Venetian contingent disbanded in ignominy.

Figure credits
The figures in the photographs are 25/8 mm and are mainly a mixture of Old Glory, Foundry and Front Rank, with some Essex and Redoubt. All are from my personal collection and I painted them all! Some of you may know of my work as I run Olicana Painting Services.

Written by James Roach.

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