Saturday, September 24, 2011

Vyazma 1812 - 2nd attempt

This weeks big game was held on Saturday. It was a variant of my previous Black Powder Vyazma 1812 game this time played down a bigger table with more time available.

Organising the game
The game was fought at my house on a 12ft by 6ft table using my terrain. I provided the scenario and all of the figures. There were 4 players and I umpired. John Glass played Marshal Davout supported by Hugh Wilson. John Perkin played General Miloradovich supported by Brian Phillips. I have added a special Vyazma 1812 page which gives more complete information on the game setup, rules used, the player briefings, arrival schedules and order of battle.

Franco-Bavarian light cavalry toast their upcoming success - prematurely!

The French army deployed with 2 infantry brigades (Friant and Gerard) on the table with their further 2 cavalry brigades and 3 brigades of infantry in reserve of table. The Russians deployed with an infantry brigade and their light cavalry and dragoon brigades on the table with the bulk of their troops flank marching of table. The initial Russian force formed their line centred on the hamlet of Maximovka held by the infantry with the Dragoons on the left flank near the forests and the light cavalry supporting the artillery massed on the heights to the south.
View from Vyazma - Russians move to Maximovka - French in distance

The photos are on my flickr site at

How the game played
The Russian plan was defensive - to disrupt and slow the French advance with their artillery and then musketry whilst waiting for their reserves.
The French decided on a policy of a steady advance waiting for their reserves to arrive on table before seriously contesting the Russian line. To the left of the highway John commanded 3 infantry brigades and the heavy cavalry while to the right of the highway Hugh commanded 2 infantry brigades and the light cavalry. The light cavalry took many turns to arrive on table and then refused to move. Hugh’s Irish Legion once they were on table also were very tardy in advancing. Given the delays on their right the main French assault went in on the left.

French heavy cavalry move to strike the first blow

The French heavy cavalry brigade moved quickly to the left threatening the Russian artillery on the heights. The Russians countered by throwing forward their hussars. They charged the dragoons who forced them to retire. The dragoons made a sweeping advance and hit the supporting regiment of hussars but this action ended as a draw and both sides retired to recover.

Morand's Swiss advance with expected precision on Maximovka

The advance on Maximovka was led by Friant and Desaix’s brigades. They found it slow going and became bogged down with disorders and shaken units as the Russian artillery and infantry proved effective shooters. Eventually to reach Maximovka both brigadiers used Follow Me orders to lead single battalions into combat with the Russian battalion holding the fenced track linking Maximovka to the highway. Despite this heroic leadership the Russian defenders from the Perm Regiment held them back. The Joseph Napoleon battalion was ordered to support this attack but blundered and retired a move. Eventually John had to commit Morand’s Swiss brigade against Maximovka and the fence line. At a heavy cost they forced their way over the obstacles and drove one Russian battalion out of Maximovka.
Grim struggle for Maximovka - Swiss enter the fray

After a long period of inactivity due to planning or was it simply bad command rolls the French heavy cavalry once again ascended the heights to engage the hussars. This time led by the carabiniers they broke the Grodno hussars and seeing this the supporting Elisavetgrad hussars broke and followed their comrades from the field. Whilst this action had been going on 3 brigades of Russian infantry had arrived from the south. The first moved to reinforce Maximovka the second moved to reinforce the centre and the third remained on the heights. The French heavy cavalry now faced a mass of Russians on the heights.
The French carabiniers - colourful and victorious
The advance on the French right was very slow given the appalling command rolls on that side. By lunchtime Marshal Davout (John) was seriously considering relieving his subordinate on that flank. Their advance was also disrupted by Russian troops appearing from the north. First a sotna of cossacks arrived but they were quickly broken by a combination of horse artillery fire and charging hussars.

Hussars charge home on standing disordered cossacks

Then an infantry brigade arrived and driving them back absorbed most of the troops from Compan‘s and Gerard‘s brigades supported by the hussars. Only the Neuchatel battalion and the Bavarian chevalueger regiment engaged the main Russian line. The chevaluegers forced a Russian battalion into square and it was then charged by the Neuchatelers. This became an epic fight as the square stood against the attack column for at least 6 rounds of melee losing every round but passing its morale tests until they eventually broke. After this the Russians finally committed their dragoons on their left flank. The Moscow dragoons drove back the chevaluegers and swept forward striking the end battalion of Morand’s Swiss in the flank. The Swiss stood and turned to face their attackers but then broke - this was the last action.

Engaged at Maximovka french infantry face flank threat from dragoons
At this point our time was up and the French commanders were despondent. The French right was scattered and in disarray, the French left was embattled on the Maximovka line having lost heavily and was now threatened with being rolled up from the right by the rampant Russian dragoons. In addition they could see 10 fresh unengaged Russian battalions between the heights and the highway with more artillery. The Russians still had a regiment of Cossacks that could appear to the northeast of the French. In addition Uvarov’s Cuirassier brigade was approaching from the south but I did not allow them to appear due to the congestion on the heights and the fact that things were going so well for the Russians.

Overall a fun big game with some truly appalling command rolls from the French side and some equally amazing morale rolls from the Russians.