Monday, 25 October 2010

Cossack Raid

Our latest game utilised a scenario which could be applied to any period; a raiding party trying to get their booty back to camp and at the same time hold off pursuing forces. We set the game in 17th Century on the Turkish borderlands, with a force of Cossacks returning from a raid with local Turkish forces in pursuit. The Cossacks had three units of registered Cossacks, one 'clan' of marauders and several units of light cavalry. One of the registered units was holding their camp whilst the others were escorting the wagons with the booty. The 'clan' under Oleg Grabetsky had undertaken some 'private enterprise' activity and were enjoying the contents of a local inn. The Turkish pursuers had several local light cavalry units, some sipahis and the local levy foot. Unfortunately for the raiders, a unit of Janissaries were also in the area on their way to a new posting and escorting Ibrahim Bey the new governor of the area. The Turkish horse had the expected orders to defeat the enemy horse and then surround the wagons and prevent their loss to the Cossacks. The infantry would then capture the Cossack camp and enslave the inhabitants. The preliminary skirmishes between the two bodies of light horse were fairly even, though when the Sipahis entered the fray their superior training, weaponry and armour made a significant difference.

The Cossack commander Taras Bolotnikov was worried that the wagons would be captured and ordered the two units of registered Cossacks, Przemsyl and Golicz to stand against the oncoming cavalry. This was just what Ibrahim wanted, the Cossack infantry would be held by the cavalry and then attacked by his own infantry out in the open, rather than in the fortified camp. owever, the Turkish foot were having their own problems, some of the Cossack horse were sparring with the light infantry and slowing the advance. hedelay also ave time for the Grabetsky clan to form up and despatch their own light cavalry to harass the Turks. Oleg had had real difficulty in getting his men to gather together, but the sight of the mass of Turks advancing on them quickly sobered them and by common consent the proposal to return to camp was accepted.

The cavalry melees continued and the Cossacks held the Sipahis at bay just long enough to get the wagons safely within the camp, but the Przemsyl and Golicz cossacks were still outside and the former were ordered to guard the flank of the latter as they withdrew into camp. This they did with aplomb, repulsing three charges by Sipahi cavalry and then managed to retreat themselves. Kuzma Minin, Oleg's second in command had stabilised the forces on the right and rallied the Przemsyl unit, holding them in reserve. The Turkish infantry advance had continued to be harassed by cossack light cavalry, but a reckless charge bythe cavalry saw them suffer so many casulaties that they withdrew in disorder. The Turkish cavalry now withdrew to eliminate the last of the Cossack horse and left the assault on the camp to the infantry. The Sandomerz Cossacks who had acted as the garrsion of the camp began to fire at the oncoming Turks, initially this was unsuccessful (the early volleys coincided with a the Cossack commander rolling a sequence of seven ones). Ibrahim thought that Allah was with him and joined the Janissaries in their final approach, soon they would be in the camp and making the infidels pay for their raid. In his brightly coloured coat he was an obvious target and although surrounded by his bodyguard, one shot found the mark and he fell. The Janissaries swept on, their Aga in the front rank. On their flanks the levy also charged forward towards the wagons and fences of the camp defences. The impetus of the Turkish charge overwelmed the first line of defenders, some routed towards the barges, the only route of escape. Oleg committed the spearmen he had held in reserve and they successfully pushed back the Janissaries and killed the Aga in the process. Przemsyl were also committed to the counter attack, but ared less well against the levy. The Grabetsky clan were struggling to old the levy and found their flank threatened by light infantry who had crept around the end of the wagons.

The booty was safe aboard a raft, another raft held the priest and the remaining cavalry, Oleg ordered them to leave and allocated a third raft to the Golicz Cossacks who had fought so bravely to get the wagons back to camp. To give these few survivors chance to escape, he summoned Minin and the few remaining cavalry to him and they charged into the melee. The cause was hopeless, the Turkish foot, were keen to avenge the despoiling of the region by the Cossacks, especially the Grabetsky clan and with no senior commanders to order restraint a bloodbath ensued.

Further photographs can be found by following the link to the photo archive.

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