Saturday, 8 July 2017

The Road to Smolensk - a Napoleonic scenario using Shako

This week Steve and I returned to the Napoleonic era with a game set during the 1812 Russian campaign.  The scenario has flanking attempts by each side meeting head on.  The forces engaged are roughly equal (28 battalions of infantry and 8 regiments of cavalry supported by 6 batteries of artillery). Here is a map of the table layout.

A roll of the dice decrees that Steve will command the Russians under Wittgenstein, whilst I take the role of St Cyr, the French commander.  St Cyr commands a mixed nationality force (mainly Wurttemburg, Italian and Westphalian) and my plan was to attack on the wings and then break through in the centre.  Steve came up with the same plan, so it was likely to be a bloody affair.

Bonfanti's Italian division holding the Church Heights

Neverovsky's Division in and around the village of Monstoye on the Russian left
 Whilst the artillery exchanged shots in the centre the divisions on the wings moved forward.  On my left Bianchi's cavalry covered the left flank of Och's Westphalian division as it advanced on the village of Ploskoye. ( Lacking local knowledge St Cyr had identified the objective as 'Ivan'  ).  Bianchi was opposed by Glukov's cavalry division and had the better of the initial contact, pushing back the Siberian Uhlans and the Mounted Eger.  Although the Italian Chasseurs rallied back to reform, the Westphalian Hussars swept on and charged the Alexandrinsk Hussars.  Although they were again successful they now found themselves isolated and were first subjected to an accurate artillery fire before being overwhelmed by the Polish Uhlans.

On the opposite flank, Marchand's Wurttemburg division, supported by Stockmayer's Cavalry division advanced on Monstoye (identified in the French orders as 'Boris').  Their advance was hampered slightly by a marshy stream.  In addition Neverovsky's division supported by Siever's cavalry, had already occupied Monstoye and advanced to meet them.  Marchand's skirmishers were a little too bold and   fell victim to a band of marauding Cossacks.

They in turn were driven back by Stockmayer's cavalry, as were the under-strength Riga Dragoons.  However, the Moscow Dragoons restored matters, supported by the Vladimir Uhlans.  Both cavalry divisions now fell back to reform, leaving the field to the infantry.

The Westphalian Hussars defeat the Alexandrinsk  Hussars
In the centre, Berg's division, supported by Raevsky's Grenadier Division began to advance towards the Church Heights.  St Cyr hesitated to commit Lecchi's Italian Guard division before he was sure where the main attack would fall.  He was observing the effect of the artillery fire from the Church Heights on Neverovsky's infantry and was confident that Marchand would be able to defeat his weakened  opponent.

Bonfanti's Division move forward 
On the left Ochs was now attempting to capture 'Ivan', Kamensky's infantry having occupied the village just before the Westphalians arrived.  The first attack was driven back with heavy losses and as the battalions re-grouped for a second attack, they cam under fire from the Russian artillery reserve which Wittgenstein had deployed to support Kamensky and Berg.  The cavalry melee resumes on Och's left.  Although the Italian Chasseurs are successful against the Alexandrinsk Hussars, the Polish 10th Hussars are totally defeated by the Siberian Uhlans.  The effect of fleeing Poles on the remains of Bianchi's command are dramatic as his remaining units fall back in retreat.  Ochs needs help quickly.  St Cyr amends his plans.  Lecchi is now to support Ochs by attempting to stem Berg's advance.  Ochs is to fall back, covering the French flank.  Bonfanti is to advance, maintaining the line and supporting Marchand.  As these orders are put into operation bad news arrives from the right flank; Stockmayer's cavalry were falling back.   The Baden Hussars had led the way, attacking the under-strength Riga Dragoons.  Their confidence was misplaced as they suffered such heavy casualties in the melee that they were finished as a fighting force.  The Dragoons followed up by sending the Prinz Adam Cheveauleger tumbling back in total disorder to play no further part in the battle.   To prevent his remaining units being overwhelmed, Stockmayer decided to pull them back. Hoping that Marchand's infantry and the artillery would break up any further cavalry attacks.  This meant that Marchand's force was now divided and his push towards 'Boris' weakened.  Nevertheless, with the Fusiliers Van Neubronn leading the way, the Wurttemburg infantry were pushing back Neverovsky's men.

Sievers' cavalry push forward
In the centre  Lecchi and Bonfanti were establishing a line, ready to face the Russian attack.  The artillery on Church Heights continued to inflict casualties on the advancing Russians, but the decision would be made on the flanks.  Wittgenstein had sent an aide with urgent orders for Glukov to press home his advantage and sweep towards the Church Heights.  Pressure was mounting on Ochs' left flank, particularly when Kamensky's infantry advanced round Ploskoye.

Kamensky's infantry open fire
 Volleys from the Kexholm and Suzdal regiments swept away the 2nd battalion of the 4th Infantry and the 2nd Light Infantry, meaning losses in Ochs' division had reached 50%.  With more infantry advancing on his wavering battalions and cavalry threatening his rear Ochs faced total defeat.  He had no choice other than to withdraw.  Sending as aide to St Cyr with his plans he attended to the difficult task of trying to extract what remained of his division from the maelstrom of fire around  the village.

The infantry of Marchand and Neverovsky clash
St Cyr received Ochs' report and realised that the day was lost.  His left was in tatters and although the centre was holding the attack on the right had ground to a halt.  At least Marchand's men had driven off a reckless charge by the Vladimir Uhlans, but there still remained two units of Dragoons and Cossacks to cause problems.

The Wurttemburg infantry drive off the Russian cavalry
An enjoyable game with the result revolving around a couple of decisive melees.  I must admit that my caution in committing the reserve meant that I did not have the troops in the right place when they were needed.  Also, it may have been better putting Ochs's division on defence orders and allowing his artillery to 'soften up' Kamensky's attack, rather than advance to meet him.  All lessons for the future!

No comments:

Post a Comment