Tuesday, December 10, 2013

I Had Him on Toast...Until I Burnt it!

How I felt at the end of the game!
I played Pete E. at the club last Saturday in an expanded version of the scenario we played the previous Friday meeting (which, incidentally, didn't make the blog because I forgot the camera and the smartphone photos didn't cut the mustard). It was based on his position on the extreme left flank of the Russian position at Borodino, where he'll be defending a hill between two wooded areas just behind the village of Utitsa against the Poles of Poniatowski's V Corps.

In our version, I took the role of the Poles and Pete lined up the whole Russian III Corps, minus a couple of militia and cossack units, so we were basically evenly poised at around 1825 points or thereabouts. My aim was to clear the village, and then to dislodge the rest of the Russian corps from the hill so that I'd be in the flank of the main Russian Army and in a position to roll up the line from the south.

First things first, I protected my flanks by bottling up one of Pete's Cossack units on the right flank, while one of my divisions took the task of evicting the Russian infantry from the village. I briefly considered just screening the village and bypassing it, but felt that I'd need to leave too many troops behind. I'd need every available unit to assault the main Russian line.

The fight for the village was fairly brutal, as any fight with Russians on the defensive is, but I finally managed to winkle him out after getting in the flank of one of his units.They broke and after my all in charge, the rest gave way, or followed in good order after having done their job in slowing my attack. They certainly knocked me about in the attempt! The regiment which succeeded in evict the Russians was battered significantly and as they were my veterans, I was going to have my work cut out for me with the mainly regulars which made up the rest of my forces.

I kept the rest of the infantry about halfway up the board, focused on the Russian left flank. I felt it was far enough away to be safe from artillery, but even at long range I still suffered casualties from his 12 pounders.

After keeping one of his cossack units bottled up I got cocky with the other on that flank, and maneuvered my Queen's Dragoons too close, within his opportunity charge range! They took the charge and crashed into the dragoons mid-maneuver, making them an unformed target and a much easier prospect to handle. The dragoons were forced into an ignominious retreat, taking the horse gunners with them! Cossaacks 1, dragoons 0.

The infantry took over the role of cossack deterrent by marching up in closed column to block their progress. Pete judged the odds and decided 50-50 was good enough, but the cossacks refused to take the opportunity after deciding their "death-or-glory" charge against the dragoons constituted the "glory" part and that this charge would most likely reflect the "death" part of the phrase. Sure enough, I knocked off a couple of figures with gunfire over the next couple of rounds, especially after re-manning the guns and moving them up!

My right wing was moving up and massing on Pete's left wing, while the Italian chasseurs distracted the 12 pounder battery on the hill, suffering casualties for the honour. My battered brigade on the left stayed in a defensive posture to screen the main attack on the right, while the foot battery targeted a column of jaegers to their front.

Just as I was bringing up all my battalions to form up before the charge, Pete tried another death or glory charge against my left hand battalion with two of his grenadier battalions which had been providing anti-cavalry support to his artillery. After the artillery got rid of my Italian chasseurs, these two grenadier battalions charged out and forced this battalion of mine to retreat with losses and disorders. With this retreat and the fact that he was in the flank of any movement I was going to make, he had effectively delayed my charge until I was able to evict him from his threatening position. Curses!

In the mean time, Pete's rallied forces from the village made threatening moves against my left. He moved a column around the village to angle in on my flank. I had spotted his move and planned to occupy one of the BUAs so as to be in his flank if he tried anything, but when it came to my turn I completely forgot about the threat and didn't move into the village. D'oh!

I managed to neutralise the threat with my reserves placed strategically to preserve my flank, but that didn't stop the threat form the front. I felt that I had an even chance with my line against his, but after his Cossack brigade charged and scared the gun crew into one of my hastily formed squares, his line charged mine. In a tragic die roll, I managed to completely flub my melee with the result that my left wing imploded with a whole regiment breaking in an utter rout. My planned attack on the right flank was now in tatters as the whole French position was about to be rolled up like a venetian blind!

My French division of 3 infantry brigades and 1 light cavalry brigade, with attached dragoons and artillery 

Dragoons on debut!

Also, the latest 2 infantry battalions get their christening.

The first objective: the village at the half-way point. Pete opted for forward defence, opting not to occupy the BUAs, which I felt was brave of him.

"There is your enemy!"
Pete's main position and my primary target.

The Russians' view of the battlefield.

As I was the one attacking, I got the first move. Pete adjusts his skirmish line in response.

over on the right flank, I make a bee-line for his Cossacks, determined to keep them at arm's length.

The Italian Chasseurs join the attack on the village.

The Queen's Dragoons go boldly forth!

How can they be stopped?

"We'll give it a go!" say Pete's jaegers and grenadiers.

The right hand brigade eagerly push forward while I briefly consider by-passing the village

Attacking the main Russian line with only one brigade probably not a good idea! The sight of so many Opolchenie units at the rear was mighty tempting, though.

My attack on the village develops. i tried to out-skirmish him on the left, but any combat resulted in inconclusive firefights. I relied on the cavalry keeping him pinned while the artillery whittled his numbers. Once I thought the time right, the infantry will take care of the rest.

Lots of powder expended for little result!

Gearing up for the inevitable charge.

I was surprised Pete kept to the forward side of the wall and didn't occupy either of the BUAs until too late.

The guns pushed forward to reduce the range and constantly knocked off a figure here, a figure there...

...before I launched the charge!

But I hadn't taken enough casualties from him to count for much in the melee, which resulted in a draw, forcing us both back with casualties and disorders!

While the attack bogs down on the left, the right wing champs at the bit!

The converged grenadiers are left in an exposed position after the retire of their neighbouring unit.

On my next turn, one of my battalions fires on the converged grenadiers' flank, forcing a morale test with the result that they break! (the first of many, many 9s rolled for morale that day! A portent of DOOM!)

After that success, the rest of the regiment charges over the wall at the remaining grenadiers. The theory being that the sight of their comrades bolting for the rear would instil panic in the units receiving the charge. Obviously they hadn't read that email because they stood, fired and met me in combat...

...causing one of my battalions to retreat after copping 30% total casualties and forcing the morale check, which was duly failed! 

The rest of the brigade was repulsed with more losses and more disorders. I briefly toyed with bringing the chasseurs up the road to form up for an attack on the Russians' exposed right flank
...but then decided the infantry could do just as good a job, more quickly! One of my light battalions sped up the road and plonked itself right on the flank of the Russian line. Not enough functions to fire or charge, but if Pete tried to move, he'd cop it!

The chasseurs were going to try a charge if and when the light infantry had any success.

Pete attempted to put the line into one of the BUAs, but the resulting fire on his flank forced the morale check.

After rolling a 9 (his second for the day) that unit ran off to join the first which broke earlier.

Pete's remaining units withdraw from the village after successfully delaying may advance and giving my left hand brigade a black eye. The right hand brigade moves forward at long last.

The right advances in serried ranks, while the left is taking a little longer to sort themselves out after their rough handling. Note the dragoons in echelon at the top right of the picture.

The dragoons casually attempt to form column to allow the horse guns a field of fire. while in mid-formation change, the Cossacks seize their chance and charge the cocky dragoons who are caught unformed and unable to respond!

Disaster! The dragoons are forced to retreat with casualties and the Cossacks continue into the horse artillery, whose gunners mount up and flee!

How embarrassing!

The infantry advance in closed column to do the job right and the Cossacks decline to take any more opportunities to charge. I'm glad the unit closest to the camera didn't get any ideas above their station and stayed where they were, safely bottled up behind the barrier of the thick woods

The infantry keeping the Cossacks honest

Another shot at the Cossacks to keep them on their rearward path, while the infantry assemble to prepare for the big attack. the Chasseurs in the centre are acting as artillery bait, trying to distract the guns from the infantry threat.

The whole front as viewed from the French perspective. The left flank is refused to protect the developing attack on the right.

The successful, but weakened brigade holding the left flank.

The attack on the right develops. Can I fit a couple more battalions in the line?

Italian Chasseurs taunt the gunners.

The general directs traffic 

The Chasseurs take one too many casualties and decide it's the infantry's turn!

The two light infantry battalions are squeezed into the line ready for the big charge next turn! I'm ready to serve up Russians on freshly toasted bread;

Meanwhile on the left flank, Pete sends 2 columns around the flank of my line. This is where I decided that I'd move the light infantry in the foreground into the nearest BUA to stop any thought of a flank attack, but in all the excitement, I forgot to send them in! Fog of War!

Pete finally cleared the way for his massive Cossack brigade to threaten the left of my line.

In a truly desperate roll of the dice, Pete charges 2 columns of grenadiers at the left hand column of my attacking force. Despite taking a figure off his front row (=25% of his front line destroyed) he still passed his pre-melee morale check and proceeded to thump my battalion...

Causing losses, disorders and a retreat!

Any thoughts of launching the attack now were forgotten while he remained on my now exposed flank.

Meanwhile on the left I had successfully contracted the threatened line into a column, weathering the resulting flank shot and mandatory morale check. The light infantry finally moved themselves to threaten the Russian flank in turn.

Two battalions form square behind the guns in response to the Cossack threat in the distance.

One of my weakened battalions in reserve moves up to protect the exposed flank

Pete's Cossacks charge the guns; my gunners fall back into the squares; the Cossacks halt their charge

With the guns out of the picture, Pete charge the line! In a horrible example of dice rolling, Pete gets exactly what he needs, while I roll crap, plus all of the negatives of squares being charged by infantry etc. etc....

What's that you say? You can smell smoke?...MY TOAST'S ON FIRE!!!!!!
The whole brigade turns and runs!

Now with my left flank wide open, I have no chance of dislodging Pete from his position.
A well deserved Russian victory!


  1. Hard luck Rosbif - I've had plenty of those myself and it can be a bitter pill.

  2. Very nice report with some beautiful figures, love your Dragoons, and the picture 'The infantry keeping the Cossacks honest', so good!

  3. Just not going your way again! That said another cracking game and a jolly splendid report.

  4. Damn good looking game, RB, really like those Dragoons.


  5. Wonderful game there Rosbif and damn poor show though with your troops not holding the flanks. Great looking game btw

  6. Marvellous report Ben, both the prose and pictorial versions were really engrossing. Why is it always Cossacks...!!!


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