Monday, 30 July 2012

North Twiston 1642

A fictional early ECW scenario this week, set in the county of Kelhamshire.  The two rival parties, (led by Sir Victor Meldrew for Parliament and Lord Melchett for the Royalists) are keen to seize the county's military stores for their own use. Sir Victor has raised the Trained Bands and had been joined by like minded gentlemen with their units and has taken up a defensive position at the village of North Twiston, blocking the Royalist advance.  The Parliamentary force comprises two Trained Bands (the Green and Yellow regiments), Carpenter's Foot, Miller's Firelocks, Livesey's and Hartley's Horse and Hodder's dragoons.  The dragoons are on foot as their mounts have been passed to the cavalry units.  Sir Victor also has a cannon, although his Master of Ordnance has a low opinion of it; "that mouldy,worm-eaten carriage will never last".
Meldrew deploys his gun and firelocks in the centre, with Carpenter's in reserve.  The Green regiment holds the forge to the right of the gun and the Yellow regiment the walled enclosure beyond the church. Livesey's Horse are on the right with the dragoons holding a field on the flank and Hartley's horse are on the left.

Lord Melchett is fairly confident.  He has the foot reiments of Gerard, Taylor, Broughton and Assheton, plus the horse regiments of Tyldsley, Molyneux and Shepherd.  He posts Tyldsley and Molyneux on his right with Broughton, Taylor and Gerard in the centre and Assheton in reserve.  Shepherd is on the left.  He has one light gun, which is an old piece dating from the reign of Elizabeth.

The Royalists decide on a general advance, intent on exerting pressure all along the Parliamentary front. As this scenario was set in the early months of the war all the units had to roll for their quality standing when fired upon for the first time.  The options being Trained (4-6), or Raw (1-3).  Things went badly for Melchett as the first three rolls came up '1' so Gerard, Broughton and Tyldsley were all raw.

On the Royalist right, Tyldsley moved forward and then charged Hartley's regiment.  Although he had the  advantage of numbers, the Parliamentary horse were trained  and this counted, because although the Royalists pushed them back, Hartley's retained their order, whilst their opponents became disorganised.  As the melee progressed the Royalists gained the ascendancy and then drove off their opponents, but in the process became so disorganised that they had to fall back to try and recover.

To the left of Tyldsley's, Broughton's were nearing the walled enclosure.  They had taken some casualties, but fired a volley and continued the advance.  The Yellow regiment stood to await the charge but their volley was ineffective and the impetus of Broughton's carried them over the wall.  The melee continued with little being gained by either side.  However, the Yellow regiment's pikes now intervened.  The Royalist horse, Molyneux's, were involved in melee with Hartley's reserve and so the pikes could advance onto the flank of Broughton's and then join the melee.  Assailed to front and flank Broughton's did their best, but were pushed back and routed.

Taylor's and Assheton were attacking the Parliamentary centre and were involved in a prolonged melee with Carpenter's and the firelocks.  The Parliamentary gun had inflicted heavy casualties on Gerard's as they advanced and as Shepherd's horse were unable to overcome Livesey's, the Green regiment's pikes  were free to intervene.  Gerard's men withstood the initial onslaught but as the pressure mounted, began to give ground.  Their order collapsed and soon they were streaming to the rear.    The gun, as the Master of Ordnance had predicted, had by now collapsed, but with both wings broken, the cavalry either disordered or involved in melee and his centre in danger of being surrounded, Lord Melchett decided the day was lost and pulled back.

After lunch we refought the action, changing sides.  The result was a victory for Lord Melchett.  The decisive action took place at the enclosure with Broughton's again being routed, but this time the Yellow regiment pursued and were then cut down by Molyneux's Horse.  Gerard's had by this time captured the forge and the gun.

The unknown troop quality made for an interesting game.  The buildings posed some problems and perhaps future actions may use more open terrain. 

Sunday, 22 July 2012

Kagul - the final act

Following the painfully slow progress up to now, Rumyantsev decided to stake everything on an all out attack.  With the bulk of the cavalry covering their flank, the two divisional squares separated into their constituent battalions and marched forward towards the Ottoman camp.  As they did so the Ottoman artillery at last came into action and quickly created a beaten zone in front of the cannon.  Two battalions caught in the cannons fire were reduced to tatters and played no further part in the action.  The two former squares therefore moved right and left respectively to move out of the limited arc of fire of the Ottoman battery.

It soon became apparent that the left hand battalions would not reach the camp.  Masses of Tartar cavalry were moving towards them and the Russian cavalry covering their flank were being pinned in position by yet more Tartars.  Hurriedly the commanding general ordered the divisional square to be reformed.  This was done with only seconds to spare as the light horsemen galloped up and began to pepper the infantry with arrows.  

On the right Rumyantsev's force was nearing the camp.  The Russian heavy cavalry support had pursued Ottoman cavalry off into the distance so it was left to a unit of hussars to try and  hold the Turkish Spahis and light cavalry at bay.  They were supported by some Pandours who had worked their way into the rough ground close to the Ottoman horse, but their sniping was having little effect.

The Russian attack had split into two columns, each led by a battalion of grenadiers.  The right hand column had some success, pushing back one of the Janissary units, but before it could exploit the gap a reserve unit stepped into the breach.  On the left, the grenadiers were met by withering fire from the Janissaries and although they bravely charged home they were too few in number to overcome the defenders.  Having lost over half their strength the grenadiers fell back to reform, to be joined by their fellow grenadiers from the right hand column, who also suffered heavy casualties as the Ottoman counter attack came forward.

Rumyantsev ordered one final attack by two battalions from the observation corps.  These moved forward into the hail of bullets from the Ottoman defenders and reached the camp walls.  A fierce melee then took place, but again the Ottomans prevailed.  Slowly the Russians fell back the day being ceded to their opponents.

One last humiliation occurred when the Russian reserve dragoon regiment refused to charge home on the Tartar horse which threatened to attack Rumyantsev's flank.  The Ottomans had fought bravely but they owed a great deal of their victory to their Tartar allies who had destroyed the Russian left flank and harried their centre, preventing it from attacking the camp.

Friday, 13 July 2012

Kagul continued

After two nights of gaming and the defeat of the Ottoman cavalry and infantry attacks, I thought that the difficult part of the battle was over.  However, there was still a force facing the Russian squares and the Janissaries manned the ramparts of the Ottoman camp.  On my left the Tartars were still flowing around the squares.  The Cossacks there had reformed and I was tempted into a counter attack.  I managed to conjure up a flank attack on one Tartar unit and beyond that was another which was vulnerable to a flank attack.

As often happens these 'castles in the air' disappeared when the dice return you to reality.  Against the odds my Cossacks were defeated and driven from the field.  This left the squares with no support and they were harried by archery.  Two more squares succumbed to the fire, breaking and running for the sanctuary of the Russian camp.

Meanwhile I had more pressing matters to concern me.  The Ottoman infantry attacked again.  Ignoring their casualties, they closed to melee the front face of the reformed square.  It was a tough fight, the Ottomans, supposedly lower grade fighting men, more than held their own, even against my grenadiers.  Eventually, the Ottoman losses forced them to fall back and then they were charged in the flank by the Russian heavy cavalry.  This proved too much and the remnants ran for the camp.

This seemed like the opportunity to advance with the whole force and attack the Ottoman camp, but those d*mned Tartars intervened again.  Seeing that the Russian attack on the Tartar camp had been defeated before it started, the remaining Tartar units swung to their left to harry the main Russian squares.  These were vulnerable because the bulk of the cavalry had moved to the right to see off the remaining Ottoman cavalry.  Quickly the reserve cavalry, a unit of dragoons, moved to the Russian left to link up with the remaining horse grenadiers.  The Cuirassiers, who had driven off the Ottoman infantry, had to turn about to cover the flank of the Russian centre.  Matters were not helped by one of my cavalry units going into an uncontrolled pursuit and disappearing towards the Ottoman baseline.

So, after three hours action, the main Russian force had manged to advance about 6 inches, had suffered casualties from the Ottoman infantry and artillery and now had it's flank threatened by the Tartars.  Hopefully, the fourth evenings action will see the Russians take on the Janissaries, though there is a lot of work to do before that happens.     

Tuesday, 10 July 2012


This last weekend a sub-committee of the Gentlemen Pensioners put on a Borodino game at the Gauntlet Games Weekend organised by the Deeside Defenders .  We used the 'Large Battles' version of the Shako rules (the original edition, not Shako II) with a few alterations.  The troops were deployed in roughly their historical locations, although some adjustments had to be made to fit the terrain onto the 12 x 6 table.

Originally the orbats were drawn up on the basis of having three 'wing' commanders per side plus the 'army' general (ie Napoleon and Kutusov).  On the day, we were looking at only two per side, but were rescued by three passing volunteers who, although new to the rules joined in 'to see how it works' and enjoyed it enough to come back on the Sunday.  Many thanks to Gary, John and Martin for stepping into the breach.
Because of the scale of the game (manouevre elements are divisions), the attack by Eugene on Borodino village was decided by die rolls.  The result was that the French achieved complete surprise in their attack and thus captured the bridge over the Kolocha river intact.  This proved to be somewhat of a mixed blessing because Eugene sent Broussier's divison over the bridge and up towards the Raevsky redoubt. Unsupported, Broussier became the target for several Russian batteries and although he charged Olsufiev's division he was driven back down the hill, so heavily damaged that the division took no further part in the battle.

Davout had started his advance on the Bagration Fleches which were held by Vorontsov's division.  Morand and Friant moved forward quickly and although the Russians fought bravely, numbers told and the Fleches were soon in French hands.  Bagration had sent forward Neverovsky's division in support, but their counter-attack failed and they too had to fall back and regroup.  With Ney's corps also moving forward on Davout's left, Bagration sent an aide post haste to Kutusov requesting reinforcements.

Poniatowski's corps had begun to advance on Utitsa, but Tuchkov's corps was waiting for them and had the greater weight of artillery.  A stalemate developed with neither general able to gain an advantage.

Just as the French seemed to be strolling to victory the Russian flanking attack by Uvarov and Platov appeared on Eugene's flank.  Dornano's light cavalry tried to hold back the Russian dragoons but they were overwhelmed and a flanking attack by Triari's Italian dragoons on Uvarov failed.  With his cavalry falling back to recover, Eugene requested support from Napoleon.  The III Reserve Cavalry Corps was sent to Eugene, but with specific orders that it was not to be committed to anything other than countering enemy attacks.  With the Italian infantry in squares to hold off the Russian cavalry, the Italian artillery did its best to subdue the Russian guns, particularly those of Barclay's Corps which were inflicting heavy casualties.  To try and relieve the pressure Eugene sent the division of Compans forward against the Raevsky redoubt.  Again unsupported, the attack was driven back by heavy losses.

On the Russian left Bagration's last reserve, Mecklenburg's Grenadier division provided a rock around which Neverovsky and Voronstov's infantry could rally. Siever's dragoons moved to the left flank threatening to drive off Davout's corps cavalry.  More in hope than certainty Davout's hussars charged the Russians and against the odds, prevailed.  To counterbalance this setback Vorontsov's division pushed back Friant and Mecklennburg's grenadiers pushed back Morand, in addition Osterman-Tolstoy's Corps arrived giving Bagration two fresh infantry divisions.

That is where the action drew to a close on the Saturday afternoon.  On the restart on Sunday morning Kutusov and Napoleon issued orders to their 'wing' commanders. Bagration was 'requested' to retake the fleches as he pondered how he was to achieve this, Davout's infantry advanced again to support Ney.  Davout had been reinforced by St Germaine's cuirassier division and given orders to clear the enemy in front of him and then move north towards Gorki.  In the ensuing melee, Mecklenburg's grenadiers pushed back Friant, but Vorontsov was overwhelmed by St Germaine's cuirassiers before they could form square.

Ney's orders were that he should cross the Semeyonovskii stream and secure the ridge beyond.  To assist him he had been allocated the IV Reserve Cavalry Corps and the Reserve Artillery (3 12lb Batteries).  With his usual elan Ney advanced confident he would seize the ridge.

On the far right of the French army Poniatowski had received a rather curt order from Napoleon enquiring why he had not captured Utitsa.  Fulfilling his orders Poniatowski advanced but in doing so triggered a flank attack by Tuchkov's cossacks who had been put in the woods for such an eventuality.  Krasinski's men found themselves attacked frontally by Konovnitsyn and threatened by the cossacks to their left rear.  Pulling back his artillery, Poniatowski launched Kaminski's and Bruyere's light cavalry at the cossacks.  Outfoxed by their more agile opponents the French cavalry fared badly, but in the end both sides had to pause to recover.  Konovnitsyn had by now charged Krasinski's troops and had driven them back.  The advantage now lay with the Russians.

On the opposite flank Eugene was pulling back his Italian infantry to protect Borodino and the guns which were firing at Barclay's Corps which protected the right flank of the Raevsky redoubt.  He sent Compans and Dessaix's divisions forward in a frontal attack against the Redoubt, supported by Grouchy's dragoons.  Although artillery had been bombarding the redoubt throughout the battle its fire was not slackening and the attackers suffered heavy losses in their advance.  Compans was repulsed by Vasilchikov's division and Dessiax never even reached the Russian line, heavy losses forced him to retreat and take no further part in the battle.  However, Dessaix's unsuccessful attack had allowed Grouchy to approach unmolested and he led his men forward against the Russians.  In a fierce melee the cavalry prevailed and forced Olusiev's division to fall back.  A foothold had been gained on the hill, but there was no infantry available to hold the ground, so Grouchy fell back to reform.

In the centre the struggle between Bagration and Davout continued with one and then the other moving forward.  Bagration's hand was strengthened by the arrival of the last Russian reserves, the Guard infantry and cavalry divisions.  Their presence helped to sustain the wavering ranks of Mecklenburg's grenadiers.  Ney was by now locked in battle with Osterman-Tolstoy and found himself outnumbered.  His cavalry had been driven back and now his infantry were having to form square right under the muzzles of the Russian guns.  The cavalry divisions of Mourier, Lorge and Rozniecki seemed unable to reorganise after their defeat and while they dithered, the infantry suffered.

At Utitsa the Russian advance began.  Poniatowski had tried to buy time by ordering Bruyeres light cavalry to charge Marov's Militia, but the horsemen had been driven back by the Russian artillery.  Kniaziewicz's infantry division found itself attacked by both Konovnitsyn's infantry and Strogonov's grenadiers.  A fierce melee developed with little quarter but the Polish spirit won through and both Russian divisions fell back.  After this the fighting died down as both sides fell back to their initial positions and maintained an artillery duel.

Behind the Raevsky redoubt Dokhturov had been ordered to take his corps forward to reinforce the troops supporting the redoubt.  It was as well he did because the troops of Barclay and Raevsky were nearing the end of their strength.  They had endured artillery bombardment, infantry attacks and cavalry attacks throughout the battle and another attack was being launched.  Defrance's heavy cavalry division, supported by Pajol's light cavalry surged up the slope towards Vasilchikov's infantry.  Now hit by fire from the reserve artillery brought forward by Ney the Russians were swept from the ridge.  At the same time Grouchy charged Dokhturov's divisions.  One held, but the other was driven back.  Again, the ridge was in French hands, but Junot's infantry were too far back and the French  cavalry had to fall back again.

It was at this point the battle ended.  the corps of Davout and Ney had been stopped by Bagration and Davout's troops in particular were close to exhaustion.  At Utitsa no progress had been made, the position around the redoubt was uncertain.  A draw was declared, which was for the French a strategic defeat.  The Russian army had not been heavily defeated and losses had been high amongst the French infantry divisions.  Napoleon had kept his Guard fresh whilst the Russians had been forced to commit all their reserves.

The French committed troops with a total breakpoint of 143 and lost 82 points, 55 of those in the troops of Eugene and Davout. The Russians committed 162 points and lost 66.  Of these 27 (out of 40) fell on Bagration's original command.

This was an excellent weekend.  Many thanks to the Deeside Defenders for providing an excellent venue and refreshments.  If you have the chance, drop in at next year's show.  I close with especial thanks to the Gentlemen Pensioners (Alasdair, John, Roy and Steve) plus the 'volunteers' Gary, John and Martin who contributed so much to making the game so enjoyable.  Many thanks chaps!

I will post more photos in the gallery over the next few days including some supplied by John which give more of an overview of the battle.


Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Battle of Kagul 1770

This was one of the major battles of the Russo-Turkish War 1768-1774.  It was also one of the largest battles of the century; with estimates of up to 180,000 combatants, c40,000 Russians, 70,000 Ottomans and a similar number of Tartar allies.  The battle is not well known but here  is a link to a report on a refight in 15mm by Black Wolf Wargames.

We divided the battle into three stages, an attack by the Ottoman cavalry, followed by an attack by Ottoman infantry and then (hopefully), an advance by the Russians on the Ottoman camp.  The Russian force was deployed in four divisional squares, each with cavalry supporting them from the rear.  Each square had integral artillery and a small reserve to fill any gaps appearing in the ranks.

I took the part of the Russian commander Rumyantsev and tried to appear unconcerned as hordes of cavalry swept down on the squares.  The square on the far right occupied by Rumyantsev himself, acquitted itself well.  The artillery causing heavy casualties amongst the horsemen and then the infantry standing to deliver volleys at close range.  Those determined Ottomans who reached the Russian infantry were unable to make any impression on the squares. 

 Gauging the moment had arrived to counter attack, I ordered the unit of Horse grenadiers to clear the remaining cavalry away.  This was an error.  The Horse Grenadiers advanced, their flank covered by Hussars.  However, the Hussars were no match for the Spahis, who quickly swept them from the field.  Quickly the Ottoman cavalry reformed and attacked the rear of the Horse Grenadiers.  These could not respond to the threat because they were busy fighting the cavalry to their front.  In no time at all my largest cavalry unit was a broken mass of fugitives seeking shelter off the field. Fortunately the Ottoman attack on the neighbouring square had also been repulsed and this allowed me to move more cavalry over to cover my flank.

Meanwhile,  the square on the far left had been ordered to advance on the Tartar camp and disperse the light cavalry.  I had not appreciated just how many Tartar cavalry there were and soon they were swirling around the square, pushing back the Cossack cavalry protecting the flanks.  Whilst the heavy cavalry had had real difficulty making any progress against the squares, luck favoured the Tartars.  Their continual archery must have unsettled the infantry because when charged one of the battalions broke.  This of course created a gap, which was exploited ruthlessly. The light horsemen poured into the square, pursuing the fleeing infantry and attacking the hastily assembled reserve.  This was cut to pieces and the general commanding the square was lost trying to assemble a new defence line.  The individual colonels took matters into their own hand and ordered their battalions to form square. Most managed it, but all divisional cohesion was lost, along with the artillery and two battalions of infantry.
On the Russian left the battle was now a stalemate with the Russians unable to advance and the Tartars contenting themselves with shooting at the immobile infantry.

The main Ottoman cavalry attack had been all but driven off, but it had allowed time for the infantry to advance.  Rumyantsev was again fortunate that the infantry attacking his square were low grade militia who could be driven off by artillery.  The smaller square to his left was not so lucky, they were facing Solaks.  Undaunted by the infantry volleys the Ottomans charged home and after a stiff struggle broke through into the square.  The rear of the square about-faced and fired a volley which cut down many of the Ottomans, but they still fought on, causing yet more casualties before they were finally wiped out.  The square to the left of the one attacked by the Solaks was attacked by the last Spahi unit and this was successful.  The Ottomans destroyed the unit they faced and then carried on to attack the one at the rear of the square, this too was dispersed, but the Ottomans were then charged by the supporting cuirassiers who wiped them out.

The remnants of the two damaged squares were amalgamated, so now two Russian squares would advance on the Ottoman camp.  The cavalry would be fully occupied in protecting the flanks  against attack by the remnants of the Ottoman cavalry.

I hope to report on the third stage of the battle next week.