Monday, 21 November 2016

Battle of Lomitten, 5th June 1807; a Shako scenario

This week's scenario was set up to test out our proposed 'tweaks' to the Shako rules to cover actions around redoubts. (set out in the previous post ).  The action is one of several attacks by the Russians under Bennigsen aimed at eliminating French bridgeheads over the Passarge river, in the days prior to the decisive battle of Friedland.

Here is a sketch map of the table with the Russians attacking from the left.  They have two divisions,  (Rachmanov and Bikov), each of 6 battalions.  Another division (Baggowut) of 6 battalions will arrive in d average moves.  Dochtorov also has a cavalry division (Lvov) and two heavy batteries in a redoubt.  The Russian orders are to eliminate the bridgehead and take control of the bridge over the Passarge.

Ferey's position
The French forces are commanded by Carra St Cyr who has two small divisions (Ferey and Chassel) each of four battalions.  In reserve he has one regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval and his position is supported by a field gun in a redoubt across the river.  On a hill to the east of the village of Lomitten are two redoubts connected by a line of earthworks.  Carra St Cyr's orders are flexible, he is to hold his position unless attacked by overwhelming enemy forces; in which case he is to fall back across the river.

The Passarge can only be crossed by the bridge and as the French have held the position for some time.  This has enabled them to construct an abatis in front of the entrenchments and  also construct obstacles in the woods on the French left.

The Russian infantry advance
Seeing that his cavalry will be of little use in the initial phase of the battle, Dochtorov planned a straightforward attack against the entrenchments.  The heavy guns were to soften up the defences prior to the infantry's final charge. Ferey's field gun caused some disruption as the Russians moved forward, but not enough to slow the attack.  Chassel had held his troops within the woods until the Russians came abreast of his position, he then advanced and threatened their flank.  Bikov turned half his division to meet this new threat whilst the remainder plodded forward.  Rachmanov's men had by now reached the abatis and were suffering from musketry volleys and canister shot.  Undeterred, they gathered themselves and charged the emplacements.  The 1st battalion of the 54th Line had taken casualties from the Russian heavy guns and were unable to stop the avalanche of Russian infantry.  Fortunately, Ferey had placed his infantry reserve (2nd battalion 54th line ) in support and they were able to re-establish the French line.

The Russians cross the entrenchments
Dochtorov had directed Baggowut's division to help Bikov and their combined strength overwhelmed Chassel.  The attack was joined by Lvov's cavalry and they destroyed a French battalion before it could form square.

The Russian Hussars strike

Only two much depleted battalions made it back into the woods and they would be unable to stop any Russian flanking manoeuvre.  On the opposite flank  two attacks by the Alexopol regiment against the redoubt had been repulsed.  A flanking move by the 1st battalion 8th legere  was countered by the New Ingermanland regiment, but that unit now found itself the target for the French artillery on the west side of the Passarge.

With Baggowut moving through the woods, Bikov now prepared to join the general assault on the French entrenchments.  Ferey now had only two full strength battalions, the remaining three had taken significant casualties.  He felt he had done all he could and so ordered a withdrawal across the river, covered by the Chasseurs.

The scenario only took a couple of hours to play, so we re-ran it after lunch which resulted in a similar result, but with heavier losses to the Russians.  The high spot of the Russian attack was when the 1st battalion Lithuania regiment carried the left hand French redoubt.

Lithuania take the redoubt
Overall the redoubt rules worked well.  The skirmisher type fire had some effect and the all round fire meant that they could fire into the flank of any enemy unit which crossed the earthworks.  In addition they were hard to take, but could be reduced by gun fire and the garrison reduced by close range musket volleys.  Redoubts do not feature on many battlefields and so our rules for them are always going to be in the 'optional' category.  Two of the sources I used for the battle Peuchet and Petre both comment on the battered state of the defences due to the Russian bombardment.  We gave them a nominal 5 strength points which was reduced by 'hits'.  Perhaps an extra point could be deducted for each melee fought over the works?  Something to ponder at a later date perhaps.

1 comment:

  1. Nice write up and an interesting layout for the battlefield.