Other posts about our bicentennial game of Borodino include:
• the initial report done soon afterwards,
• a list of links to the files that we used in the game, and
• a pictorial report of the game posted one year on.
|Bird's-eye view from a tree in the Utitsa woods. The bird must have been wondering what all these humans were up to...|
|Initial positions Stroganov's grenadiers|
|Starting positions viewed from the south-west: Poles of V Corps partially in right foreground, Davout's I Corps in centre, with Bruyere's and Valence's divisions of Nansouty's I Reserve Cavalry Corps behind them|
|Initial positions viewed from the north-east: Russian reserve artillery on the left, combined grenadier battalions of V Corps in the centre with Korf's II Cav in front of them|
|Initial view of Borodino village from the Russian lines, Bakhmetyev III's 23rd Division in the foreground|
|Initial positions in the centre of the battlefield. Flêches at the top right, Grand Redoubt in the left distance|
|Initial positions of the Russian army (troops are behind the flêches)|
|Ornano's cavalry division occupying the extreme left of the French-Allied line|
|Three close-up photos of Mark's Hat Bavarians, for Ben :-)|
Amazingly, with all the planning and preparation, I had arrived on that Friday evening with only a hazy battle plan. This formed into what I thought was a clearer plan of action as I surveyed the table while we set-up the off-board troops of the French-Allied army. My eventual plan was pretty close to history (as our set-up, victory conditions and restrictions encouraged). Poniatowski was to clear Utitsa and become the right flank of the attack, Compans' and Dessaix's divisions of Davout's corps were to attack the flêches from around the south side, Broussier ("the bruiser's") division of Eugène's corps was to assault and take Borodino while Delzons’ division (IV Corps), supported by Morand's, was to assault the Grand Redoubt from the north supported by Ney's corps from the south. I conferred with Julian (aka Prince Eugène) and explained my plan. "I'm not sure, but if it comes off mon Empereur it will be a great plan". Fabulous moral support there from my reluctant sub-commander!
“Kutusov's” plan was, obviously, to defend the key points of the Grand Redoubt and flêches, using tactical reserves as necessary. He also intended to move troops to support the guard jägers in Borodino, or to retake the town if it had been captured by the Franco-Allied forces. Further north, Platov and Uvarov's flank attack was to create as much mayhem as possible on the left flank of Napoleon's army. In the south, Stroganov's grenadier division would move to support Konovnitsyn’s defense of the town and mound of Utitsa.
After completing the final set-up, admiring our work and issuing orders we began this much anticipated game.
|Inspiration: Roubaud's panorama|
|View from the north early in the battle; no sign of Platov and Uvarov... as yet|
|Early stages of the battle, from the SW|
|IV Corps attacks Borodino and advances towards Grand Redoubt|
|Polish hussars and chasseurs confront Karpov II's Cossacks (lancers in retreat after having lost first mêlée)|
|Kaminski's Polish hussars in their successful attack|
|Mark's beautifully painted Strelets hussars, Saxons doubling as Poles (note stagger and blown markers)|
|Ney's III Corps (centre and left) and Dessaix's division mount their initial attacks|
|View of same from Russian lines|
Next day, Peter and Rod joined us as planned. After explaining the situation of the battle, determining which troops they would command—Rod the Russian centre and left (i.e. Bagration's Second Western Army) and Peter the attack on Utitsa (i.e. Poniatowski's Poles)—and giving them a brief introduction to the rules, we began again.
The relative luck of the French-Allied side from the night before now seemed to have evaporated. Razout's division of Ney's corps was mauled by Russian artillery fire from the vicinity of Semenoskoye. These losses were too much for Razout's men, who failed morale and retreated on Turn 4 (0900).
|Approach of Platov and Uvarov|
|Initial attack on Grand Redoubt|
|Dessaix's initial attack on flêches|
|Russian defense of Utitsa|
|Attack of V Corps|
|Zayonchek's skirmishers go into action|
|Platov and Uvarov's attack|
|Platov leads his men to the attack|
|Platov's Cossacks with Uvarov's I Cavalry Corps in support|
|Cossack's on the attack|
|Uvarov's Life Guard Hussars|
La Houssaye's dragoons advance to meet Russian threat
|Russian counter-attack on Borodino|
|Compans' troops attack Konovnitsyn and Stroganov's defenders|
|View of same from south of Utitsa|
|Girardin's chasseurs retreat having failed to break one of Stroganov's grenadier units on the Utitsa mound|
|Zayonchek's attack on Utitsa builds|
|Kharkovskii dragoons attack Württembergers in square. Note 6 on die...|
|... and the result|
All was not disastrous though thanks to some promising developments for the French-Allies in the south, where Kniaziewicz and Compans combined to push back Stroganov’s grenadier’s before Utitsa; although the Russians still held the town. Crucially though, Compans was allowing his division to become more and more engrossed in the “side-show” of Utitsa, at the expense of his attack on the flêches.
|Lithuanian (Litovskii) uhlans attack flank of Dessaix|
|Poniatowski and staff|
Ah, but how quickly things can change...
The Russian successes from Turn 7 continued into Turn 8 (1300). Following up on their previous success, units of Kniaziewicz’s and Compans’ divisions once again attacked Stronganov’s grenadiers, this time only to be broken by the stout defence of the St Petersburg grenadiers. The only glimmer of light for the French-Allied forces came from Pajol's hussars that broke a unit of Russian hussars and followed up to break the Lithuanian uhlans (the victors of mêlées in Turn 6).
The biggest blow to the French-Allied cause came in the Command Phase when a ‘1’ was rolled for Compans’ division, leading it to fail morale and to retreat. A comparable test for the Russians saw Mecklemburg’s division, which was defending the flêches, pass morale at 1/3 losses.
|Russian defensive lines late in the battle|
|Nansouty's reserve cavalry corps|
|French reserve cavalry on the move|
|From the Russian side. The attack was too late to have the desired effect|
|Frian't final, successful attack on the Grand Redoubt|
|The last straw, three 6s when a 4 or below required|
|The result was not good for the Vistula legion!|
The flêches were taken by Friant’s troops and Ponitowski’s men finally captured the Utitsa mount. The run of inopportune die rolls continued for the French-Allies when Eugène, attempting to form square with three battalions of the Vistula Legion rolled three 6s (requiring 4 or below to succeed)! In the north, IV Corps was looking terribly fragile with only the Italian Guard and Gerard’s division remaining as effective fighting forces. At the end of the turn (Command Phase) Mecklemburg's division rallied as did Konovnitsyn’s. Stroganov’s grenadiers were demoralised and Kaminiski's cavalry (Polish V Corps) retreated.
|Battle's end: view from NE|
|Battle's end: view from north|
|Battle's end: view from south|
|Battle's end: view from SW|
|Battle's end: Grand Redoubt|
As regular readers of this blog will know, we had been planning and preparing this game for months. All of the time that went into it, including the three days of playing the game, were well worth it.
I’d like to make special mention of Mark’s efforts to make this game possible. For him this game was over 30 years in the planning. It would not have been possible without his superhuman effort in painting the extra Russians that we needed for the battle. He painted about 900 figures in six months, peaking at nearly 100 in a week! Unfortunately, I did not work as steadily on the French-Allied units and failed in my 11th-hour attempts to catch up (the undercoated and partially painted figures in the photos are all down to me). Julian’s Borodino church deserves another mention. It was a real feature of the battlefield and of the photos. A final thanks to Rod, Peter and Stephen for being part of the game and to Stephen for his photos, many of which feature in this post.
Having completed this little effort in 2012 our thoughts and attentions are now turning to the big one; Leipzig in 2013, hopefully also at 1:50 and 2mm to 1m!
This is my last post about our game to commemorate the Borodino bicentennial. I will close it with some photos of various units and other 'points of interest' from the game.
|Duka II's Russian 1st Cuirassier Division|
|Lorge's heavy cavalry division (Saxon heavies leading)|
|Miffy enjoying spring sunshine, oblivious to the events occurring inside|
|Some Russian gunners had time for a lie down!|
|While others worked hard to bring guns into action|
|Russian artillery reserve; idol all day|
|Sievers hussars (represented by the Pavlograd Hussars)|
|Sievers Akhtyrskskii Hussars|
|Junot's VIII (Westphalian) Corps in reserve all day|
|The skies above Borodino!|
|A Vulcan does a fly-over|
|Our version of Buçaco ridge|