Wednesday, 9 July 2014

Russian/Prussian v French 1813

We had a visit from James of the Avon Napoleonic Fellowship and so set up a fictional Napoleonic battle set in 1813 between two French corps and a combined Prussian and Russian force. James has already written a report of the action up to the point where he left us, but the game itself carried on for sometime afterwards on our regular Tuesday night meetings.

View from behind the allied position or "east" as James has dubbed it. I will adhere to this geographical orientation to avoid confusion for those of you reading this after his report. Russians advancing to the right of the road, Prussians on the left. Advance guard batteries have commenced their bombardment of the French held village as more guns clatter up to add their weight.

Above and below; Allied cannon continues to pound away whilst the infantry moves into position for the assault.

Aerial shot 1; At the top of the photo you can see the French artillery open up as Prussian infantry crests the ridge and deploys into line. Along the stream to the right Russian jager skirmish with the French lights.

Pressure building on the French brigade holding the village.

Here is a Prussian cavalry brigade fording the stream south of the village. Beyond them the near most French regiment forms square to cover those beyond, which have moved forward to support the garrison.

View from north east. In the foreground the Russian grenadier division moves off the road to the right heading for the northern end of the French position.

Which would be these fellows here. Very nice alignment James, I always appreciate the opponent who can keep his troops in order.

Once the allied guns had set the village ablaze (reducing the cover modifier for the defenders), the infantry went in and had little trouble removing the garrison from it's lodgements. So far, so good.

At the same time the Russian grenadiers were approaching their objective. Below you can see Russian cuirassiers crossing the stream in support, covered by the Guard Cossacks.

Aerial shot 2; In the centre the allies have the village, in the top right corner Russian grenadiers are across the stream and through the woods, the supporting cavalry link the two, looking for opportunities to throw the French defensive lines into disarray.

As far as I can recall here my Cossacks were driven off by a hastily formed square, but they would return.

Above and below; One regiment of heavies charge French cannon, who flee their pieces, the cavalry carrying on through and into a line of infantry beyond. Many a Frenchman perished under their heavy steel blades.

The other regiment had no trouble at all driving back the hussars opposing it.

Behind the French centre. The remnants of the village garrison rally on their supports. Russian infantry emerges from the smoke filled valley. The Russian heavies which had covered themselves glory, were shot up and routed by the very infantry they had broken, thus you can see in the bottom left the French batteries have been re-manned. My cuirassiers' valour had exposed an anomaly in our rules (we are still play testing), which was rectified, sparing others the same fate. A noble sacrifice.

Below;Russian columns advance screened by the jager
Way over to the south Prussian cavalry had attracted the attention of one French light cavalry brigade and one French infantry brigade. Textbook example of economy of force. 

Aerial 3; Russian and Prussian forces in and around the village prepare to push on up the highway. The Russian right hook begins to crowd in the French left. The last Prussian brigade (yellow field in the foreground) begins to manoeuvre to their left.

Above and below; photos of the same moment viewed from the northern end of the battle lines.

"The Russian prefers the bayonet"

Close up of Prussian reserves marching to the left. Just because it's the only place there is any room them?

Just one more aerial of all that.

Looking over the barrels of the French artillery in the centre.
Emperor's cuirassiers reforming as Russian artillery crosses at the northern ford to provide close support for the grenadiers. It was at this point the Russian commander suffered a wound which forced him from the field (To recover in Broome for two weeks). It would be up to his subordinates to press the attack from here on.

In their fearless leaders' absence the Cossacks charged and were destroyed by a tremendous volley, and the cuirassiers swept forward sending the French infantry and artillery before them scurrying off. The French meanwhile had reinforced their faltering left with still more cavalry, this time dragoons.

Looking from the south, Prussians cross all along the stream. The crisis point of the battle is fast approaching.

Here we see the high water mark of the Russian advance on the right. The tsars' cavalry is now a spent force leaving the infantry pinned in square by the timely arrival of the despised French dragoons.

Although much depleted under fire of French musketry and cannon, the Russian division of the centre steels itself for one final push as the daylight fades.

Close-up of the French heavies headed to the south of the field.

The arm wrestle between the Prussians and French in the centre continues. Here a Prussian regiment seizes an opportunity to break stalemate. It failed.

Aerial shot of the affair at this point.

Nice shots along the lines from the south.


Having held off the Russian assault on their centre the French sense their moment and charge forth. The first assault stalls under heavy fire.
The second does not.
At the same time over on the southern side of the village the French have their blood up and yet another allied regiment is sent back across the stream.
From above you will notice those allied forces still beyond the stream have found themselves in an untenable position.

And just because it's probably going to be the last turn and those French cuirassiers still haven't done anything - they charge. The target fails to square up. Need I go on?
Final overviews

And so, as night falls the Allies withdraw. The Corsican Ogre is delighted at the news of the victory and wastes no time writing it up for the Parisian papers. His stepson has covered his eagles with glory. Surely now the Prussians and Russians will be busy blaming each other for this defeat and General Schwarzenburg will be advising his Emperor to seek terms with France. Surely now perfidious Albions' coffers will run dry. Vive Le France! 
I don't know if any of you picked up on it but I was the Russian commander until my untimely wounding. If this report seemed biased until that point it is because it was. History is written by the blogger.
Big thank you to James for giving us cause to get this one started.
A most enjoyable play test game in which many situations were stumbled upon and resolved.
Even those of us whose favourite periods are "those other ones" enjoyed it - hence its protracted continuance. Everybody is loving the big battalion look. Somehow I feel the only 12 figure infantry units we'll be seeing in the future will be those fleeing the field.
By the way, that was the first battle for my Russians so they probably never really stood a chance did they?


  1. Vive l'Empereur!
    Amazing finale to a great game. It ebbed and flowed up until those final, successful French counter-attacks!
    Great report John and many a marvellous photo.
    Thanks again to all of you for allowing me to be a part of it. Looking forward to the next time!

  2. Nice job on the write up, and very attractive table and game. Shame about the anomalous fate of the Russian Cuirassiers, but some times you have to "take one for the Gipper" (rules author), eh?


    1. That's right! The infantry that had been "broken" rallied on the spot and was lined up beautifully to fire into their flank. And although we had discussed the option of cavalry rallying back after a successful charge I didn't think of it at the time. My memory was probably a bit clouded by finding my cuirassiers perched on the flank of the French cuirassiers, and didn't expect the vanquished infantry to be an immediate threat. C'est la guerre.

    2. Don't fall for it Peter. It was the first bit of good luck that the French had had and he wants to change the rules!! (haha)
      As John said, the blogger writes the history...!

  3. Looking intense and really fun!
    Many thanks, JJ

    1. Yes, yes. Much sledging and laughter and gnashing of teeth had by all.

  4. You were just being kind to your visitor, I can tell. Don't tell him, though! ;-)

    Lovely figures (and they're all 1/72nd!) and terrain, and brilliant batrep. Well done!

    1. I spotted a 25mm minifig in the photos, Murat, amongst the leaders up the other end of the table from where I was. And we had plenty more fine 1/72 leaders available. Somebody over on the French side was just being lazy.

    2. He's in front of the woods by the walled chateau.

  5. Most impressive. James is a lucky fellow.