Wednesday, 11 January 2017

Retreat from Grodno 1706: a Ga Pa scenario

The first game of 2017 involved an outing for the 40mm Prinz August figures.  I found a scenario on the Renaissance Discussion board on TMP, which had been devised by the Wyre Forest Group.  It is a fictional scenario in which the Russian garrison of Grodno has marched east towards its supports, just before the Swedes arrived to besiege the city. Closely pursued by a Swedish force, the Russian general, Ogilvy has taken up a strong defensive position to cover the withdrawal of his baggage train and heavy artillery.

Russian infantry on the ridge

The dragoons ready to advance
Ogilvy has taken up position on a low ridge flanked by two area of impassable terrain, forcing the Swedes into a frontal assault.  His force consists of 7 line battalions and 1 elite battalion supported by two light guns.  In reserve are three regiments of dragoons.  Advancing towards him are 4 battalions of Swedish infantry and four regiments of cavalry, supported by two light guns.  All the Swedish units are of better quality than the Russian (with the exception of the single elite Russian infantry battalion), and their commanders are more experienced.  However, the ridge does give an advantage to defenders in melee.

The Swedish infantry advance
The dice decreed that Steve would command the Swedes and as he won the initiative, he deployed and began to advance.  At first the Swedish infantry ignored the long range artillery fire from the ridge, but as the range shortened, losses rose and the leading elite battalion became disordered.  The leading Swedish cavalry unit also became disordered, but a supporting unit continued to advance and once within range charged the Smolensk regiment which was holding the left flank of the Russian line.  A totally ineffective volley failed to stop the horsemen and they crashed into the Russian ranks. After a brief resistance the infantry broke and fled towards the river, the door was open, could the Swedes exploit it?

The Swedish cavalry  take the ridge
Unfortunately for Steve, the Russians had done just enough to disorder the Swedish cavalry and their supporting units had failed to follow them forward.  The Swedish cavalry commander also failed to issue and order for them to reform, so they stayed stationary on the ridge, whilst the Russians struggled to plug the gap.

On the Russian right the front line of infantry were beginning to feel the effects of the Swedish artillery, but fortunately the Swedish infantry were too far away to drive home the advantage.

The Russian dragoons counterattack
As Russian commander, I had ordered the left hand unit of the second infantry line to refuse it's left flank to fire at any Swedish cavalry advancing from the ridge.  Unfortunately, being a 'green' unit attempting this manoeuvre had caused it to fall into disorder and it took the rest of the battle to successfully order it to recover.  However, the dragoons had managed to advance and were now in a position to attempt to drive back the Swedish cavalry.  After some hesitation they did charge and force the Swedes to fall back.  Buoyed by this success they advanced again and were successful a second time.

The high water mark of the Swedish advance
By this time the Swedish infantry had managed to force most of the Russian infantry off the ridge, but had taken heavy casualties from the Russian artillery.  With half his force hors de combat the Swedish  commander decided he had better withdraw and await reinforcements.  The Russians were content to repossess the ridge and bask in an unexpected victory.

The game had been closer than the end result suggested.  A crucial bout of poor dice for Steve robbed him of the chance of exploiting his early success.  Also he was not helped by the brittleness of the Swedish cavalry, which although powerful in attack was vulnerable as it had only one strength point. Also the restricted battlefield meant that there was little scope for the Swedes to avoid the artillery fire, which proved deadly at close range.  A few points to ponder before our next GNW game

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