Sunday, May 1, 2011

Big Napoleonic Game....1st Battle of Polotsk 1812

This weeks big game was held on Friday as a special Escape the Royal Wedding event. It was a 28mm refight of the 1st Battle of Polotsk 16-18 August, 1812 played using Black Powder Rules.

Organising the game
The game was fought at Hugh Wilson’s house on a 14ft by 5ft table that Hugh had built for the game. I provided the scenario and most of the figures. Donald Adamson provided a French Brigade, Ian Carter the Franco-Portuguese skirmisher detachments and Dave O’Brien loaned me his Jaegers to use as the Russian skirmisher detachments.  My thanks to Susanne for providing the Russian and French style lunch.

Their were 8 players and I umpired. Hugh Wilson, Ian Carter, Colin Jack and Kevan Gunn were the Russian players. Dave Cooper, Martin Gibson, Donald Adamson and Jimmy Conquer were the French players.
I have added a special Polotsk page which gives more complete information on the game setup, rules used, the player briefings and order of battles.

The forces were not deployed historically at the start of game. The French army deployed with 3 infantry brigades and a light cavalry brigade on the table with the heavy cavalry brigade and the 3 brigades of Bavarians in reserve of table. The Russians deployed with 5 infantry brigades and their light cavalry brigade on the table with the dragoon brigade and the grenadier brigade in reserve.
With the table effectively split into 2 sections by a stream running across it before the game started the 2 sides had to decide on which flank of their armies their reserves would be committed. The French command decided to commit all their reserves on their right flank whilst holding on their left-centre. The Russian command decided to commit the reserve dragoon brigade on their left and the grenadier brigade in the centre-right making that their main point of attack.
These decisions left the Russian left with 2 infantry brigades and the dragoon brigade facing a French force of 4 infantry brigades and the heavy cavalry brigade. The Russian centre-right with 4 infantry Brigades and a light cavalry brigade facing 2 infantry brigades supported by a light cavalry brigade. Both side committed their reserve heavy guns to their attack sectors.

Link to Flickr photoset of the game

How the game played
So both sides had decided to effectively attack on their right flanks.
On the French right the Bavarian reserves came onto the table fairly quickly and steadily advanced thru the woods on their right flank. The Russians facing them committed one infantry brigade to facing the Bavarians and their other to facing the French infantry and heavy cavalry. Though heavily outnumbered the Russian infantry seemed to be holding their own partly as the French took a long time to get their artillery into action.
The Russian dragoon brigade eventually arrived on the table and started making a bold advance - however this did not last long. The carabineer regiment of the French heavy cavalry brigade charged a Russian infantry unit which was already engaged with a French column. The Russian infantry broke and the carabineers made a sweeping advance into the dragoon brigades cossack sotna who could not counter charge and broke and in turn the 2 dragoon regiments which were supporting the Cossacks retired! The carabineers then rallied back virtually unscathed.

Carabiniers strike home...
As the Russian infantry were being worn down by the masses of the Franco-Bavarian infantry the cuirassier regiment of the French heavy cavalry brigade decided to emulate the carabineers. The cuirassiers charged one of the Russian dragoon regiments who counter charged but they were forced to retreat. the cuirassiers then made a sweeping advance into a Russian infantry unit who had to stand in line and were ridden down. At the end of the action the Russian left was down to 2 infantry battalions and 2 dragoon regiments, Remarkably they still had all their artillery.

Cuirassiers sweep on - no time to to react...

The Russian command made their effort on their centre-right. In their centre they were held up by some poor command rolls so that their advance was slow to get going. Eventually the 2 brigades they committed wore down the French brigade facing them and by the end of the game their attack columns were threatening the suburbs of Polotsk.
On their right the Russians with 2 infantry brigades and a light cavalry brigade faced a Swiss infantry brigade and a light cavalry brigade. The Swiss held their own for a long time but at the end they were being pressed back into Polotsk. The Russian cavalry on this flank proved as ineffective as their fellows on the left. In turn the hussar regiment and then the cossacks failed to break the skirmishing detachment from the Portuguese Legion. The Russian cavalry commander on 5 successive turns failed to rally any hits from the Hussar regiment. Truly appalling. I blame the Cossack vodka! The Russian heroes on this flank were an infantry regiment who facing a charge by chasseurs a cheval deployed into a disorganised square and for 6 turns always disorganised withstood the chasseurs and then a Swiss column before breaking.
It was agreed at the end of the game that the Franco-Bavarian success on their right flank more than negated the Russian success in the centre-right and the result was determined to be at least a French winning draw.

Hussars engaged with the plucky skirmishers

1 comment:

  1. Bill, as usual, a nice write up and report and a set of photos to match. Interesting to note a certain Spanish gentleman and his flagging burro making a cameo appearance so far from his native Iberian home...

    John G.