|swiss brigade defends the convent|
Their were 6 players and I umpired. Hugh Wilson, Dave Paterson and Olivier Lepreux were the Russian players. Ian Carter, Colin Jack and Jimmy Conquer were the French players. I have added a special 2nd Polotsk page which gives more complete information on the game set-up, terrain map, rules used, the player briefings and order of battle.
Link to Flickr photoset of the game with further descriptions
SetupI based the OB on the troops I had available taking into account the proportions at the actual battle with the Russians having an infantry superiority, an extra cavalry brigade and more artillery. The French army deployed with 4 infantry Brigades on the table with the heavy and light cavalry brigades and a Bavarian Brigade in reserve of table. The Russians deployed with 5 infantry brigades and their Cossack cavalry brigade on the table with the two combined Dragoon/Hussar brigades in reserve of table.
|View of the Russian centre with left wing beyond the stream|
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 their reserve light cavalry brigade on their right flank whilst the heavy cavalry brigade would support their centre. The Russian command decided to commit their 2 reserve combined cavalry brigades on their left and in the centre.
|Terrain map with initial deployments - underlined units of table|
These decisions left the Russian left with the militia/depot infantry brigade, combined cavalry brigade and the Cossack brigade facing a French force of their best Swiss infantry brigade and the light cavalry brigade. The Russian centre-right with 4 infantry Brigades and a combined cavalry brigade facing 3 infantry brigades supported by a heavy cavalry brigade. The Russian plan was to attack in the centre towards Polotsk with 3 brigades plus cavalry whilst the brigade on the right covered this attack. On the left their plan was to hold back with their militia brigade and harry the French with their Cossacks. The French plan was to hold defensively based on the line covering the convent, the 2 redoubts and the town of Polotsk. At least that is what the French CinC Ian thought was the plan.
How the game played
On the Russian left beyond the stream the Russian militia brigade occupied a village whilst the Cossacks harried the Swiss based near the convent. These tactics and the appearance on table of the combined cavalry brigade held the Swiss at bay. They and the militia never exchanged a musket shot all day. The French light cavalry eventually put in an appearance and engaged the Cossacks. One Chasseur Regt retired from the field almost immediately - shaken so it could not return. The other regiment broke a sotna of Cossacks and sweepingly advanced into the second sotna. Amazingly the stationary Cossacks won the melee and forced the Chasseurs to retire from the field shaken so they could also not return. The Cossacks did not have much time to celebrate their victory as they were broken on the next French turn by canister fire from the French horse artillery. The Russian combined cavalry brigade had appalling command rolls and only achieved one positive action in forcing a Swiss battalion into square.
|Cossacks drive back the Chasseurs a Cheval|
|Bavarian redoubt opens fire|
|Foreign brigade moves forward briefly.....|
|Russian masses move forward....|
|Twilight success - Bavarians storm Dvina village....|
It was agreed at the end of the game that the Russian successes in taking the town and in only losing 5 infantry/cavalry units to the French 10 gave them a clear victory. However the late Bavarian success on the left at the river would enable the Franco-Bavarian army to successfully retire west across the pontoon bridges over the Dvina. Excluding the lunch period it took us just over 5 hours to play out the game.