Friday 30 May 2014

The Great Redoubt (part 3)

Suitably refreshed the commanders returned to their respective headquarters to resume the fight. The French columns were now getting very close to the Russian line and started to come under canister fire from their guns. This fire was directed chiefly at the 4th Swiss regiment who were soon down to half strength and eventually forced to retreat exposing the guard behind them.

The 4th Swiss take a pasting from the Russian guns and are forced to retreat.

The first shot on the guard and Cambronne is down - merde!

 Hey, come on now Roy this really isn't cricket is it?

In the centre the 105th and 45th regiments now began their advance on the redoubt. Braving shot and shell the 105th paused at the base of the hill to loose off a volley at the defenders while the 45th inclined to the left to extend the French line. Inside the redoubt casualties were steadily mounting amongst the Russian defenders and Kutusov took the precaution of ordering his guard regiment forward in support.

A baptism of fire for the 105th ligne as they lead the 45th forward.

The Great Redoubt errupts in flame and smoke as the Russian defenders open fire. The Nassau grenadiers are now down to nine figures and will have to quit the field.

The view from behind the Russian right flank as the guard move up in support.

Here they come - in the nick of time!

The French line foot artillery spent most of the battle firing on the redoubt. The battery nearest the camera is the most recent addition to my forces and was completed just in time to take part in the game.

On both flanks the cavalry were now in action with the French winning the first round of light cavalry melee and the Russians the heavy cavalry one. Murat eventually managed to see off Roy’s lancers but we were both surprised to see my heavy cavalry recover and go on to win a second round and rout his heavies. We were both pleased to see that such a change of fortunes was possible under the rules, although Roy was possibly less pleased than I was.

My light cavalry take on the Russian lancers and send them packing.

Somehow the French heavy cavalry manage to bounce back from a lost round of melee and rout their Russian counterparts.

With the Russians pressed hard on both flanks it just remained for the French to storm the Great Redoubt and secure a stunning victory for the emperor. The 105th now charged forwards but at the same moment that cunning fox Kutusov ordered a ‘passage of lines’ to put his untouched guard infantry into the front line of the redoubt. The 105th were repulsed, the Great Redoubt remained firmly in Russian hands!

The 105th ligne make a spirited attack on the redoubt but are repulsed by the Russian guard.

The combined grenadier battalion come under canister fire from the Russian guns - ouch!

And with that we ran out of playing time agreeing that the battle had ended in an honourable draw, although Roy conceded that given the situation with his flanks he would probably have been forced into a strategic withdrawal. So a victory of sorts for the French but one with serious losses compared to those of the Russians who live to fight another day.

The Russian militia were untouched - these are not Hinton Hunt but are lovely figures all the same.

 The Pavlov's also escaped without a single casualty.

The position of the forces at the end of the battle (click on the map to zoom in).

My thanks to Roy for another splendid day of playing soldiers (although I did feel it was jolly bad form of him to fire upon the guard) and to Dave for the maps and photo special effects. I was also happy that the rules seem to be working well as for the first time we didn’t feel the need to tweak them. The two armies now return to their quarters to refit and recuperate – perhaps another unit or two of imperial guard would do the trick…

Monday 26 May 2014

The Great Redoubt (part 2)

The battle began with an artillery exchange - the French were trying to soften up the defenders in the redoubt whilst the Russians concentrated on the enemy infantry columns opposite their guns. The casualties soon started to mount, although of course the redoubt afforded the Russian defenders more protection than the open ground the French were occupying. On turn two Napoleon ordered his right flank to advance and the glittering French columns set off towards the waiting Russians.

The attacking French columns go forward on the right. The Swiss are taking heavy fire from artillery as they advance and early casualties included marshal Grouchy who was acting as their colonel.
Voltigeurs push right up to the foot of the redoubt where they slowy start to cause casualties amongst the defenders.

As Napoleon's left flank was refused the Nassau grenadiers were forced to stand and take fire from the Russian guns. The very first shots killed their colonel and disordered the battalion eventually forcing it to retreat.

Murat was ordered to lead the light cavalry out past the Russian right flank.
A general view of the table after the first couple of turns (click on the image to zoom in). The French main attack can be seen in full swing on the right whilst the 105th and 45th ligne prepare to assault the redoubt in the centre The French left flank is refused but Murat's light cavalry (out of shot on the left) have been ordered to cause a diversion by threatening the Russian right.

Soon the voltigeurs and Jagers were popping away at each other between the lines and the Russian guns were starting to make some serious holes in the French columns. Meanwhile Roy kept his nerve making only a few minor adjustments to his line in preparation to receive the advancing enemy and despatching one each of his cavalry units to his flanks. At this stage I have to say that I was fairly confident that my advancing columns could break the Russian left but the centre dominated by the redoubt looked a tougher nut to crack.

The French right closes on the Russians. The heavy cavalry and guard horse artillery cover the flank of the attack whilst the 2nd guard grenadiers move up in support.
The skirmishers of both sides were hotly engaged.
The redoubt afforded the Russians good protection from the fire of the French but even so the sheer weight of lead caused a steady build up of casualties. 
The view from behind the Russian right showing the position of the guns that were bombarding the Nassauers. The battalion in the foreground are the Russian guard infantry.
Roy moves his lancers off to the right to counter the move made by Murat's cavalry. The pennants on the lances were a recent addition to this splendid looking unit.
 The Russian heavy cavalry meanwhile move to the left.

The battle was reaching a dramatic stage so it was time to break off for cheese on toast and freshly made lemon drizzle cake…

Thursday 22 May 2014

The Great Redoubt (part 1)

It’s 1812 and the emperor has ordered the Grand Armee east into the heart of Russia to teach the Czar once and for all who is top dog in Europe. The Russian army under Kutuzov have retreated to within a few miles of Moscow where they have built a ‘great redoubt’ to block any further advance by the French. The French must take the redoubt and open the road to the city, the Russians must prevent them!

 Massed French columns deploying under the watchful eye of the emperor.

One of the things I hoped to achieve in this game was to give the infantry melee rules a good test as we never managed this in our last game The Russians are Coming! With this in mind I allowed Roy to deploy his forces up to halfway across the table whilst my French troops were restricted to a line two foot forward from the table edge. I was also keen to try the full spread of troop types so the Russians had one ‘A’ and one ‘C’ grade battalion with the rest ‘B’, while my French army had two ‘A’ and one ‘A+’ (the Guard) with the remainder ‘B’. I also had one more battalion than Roy because I was the attacker.

 Another splendid map by Dave showing the initial dispositions of the two armies (click on the image to zoom in).

With the figures laid out on the table it was fairly easy to see the intentions of both commanders. I had massed half of my infantry including the Guard on my right flank with the idea of out-flanking the redoubt on the Russian left. In the centre I deployed the 105th and 45th ligne directly in front of the redoubt in line formation as I had been expecting them to come under fire from Russian artillery within. On my extreme left flank were a further two infantry battalions and my light cavalry. The heavy cavalry supported by the Guard horse artillery were placed on my right flank to protect the advancing infantry.

The 45th ligne (in the foreground) were deployed safely behind the new boys of the 105th ligne.

 As it was 1812 the Nassau grenadiers are allowed to bat for the French in this game along side the combined grenadier battalion.

 The 105th ligne prepare to advance behind a screen of voltigeurs.

Roy had split his defending infantry evenly on both flanks but showed that he had been reading the rules because he filled the redoubt with infantry rather than his guns, which he split between his two flanks. He kept his cavalry in reserve in the centre in a position where they could be sent quickly to either flank as circumstances demanded. His single ‘A’ rated guard unit was placed in reserve directly behind the redoubt.

The Great Redoubt - bristling with bayonets!

 The Pavlov's are deployed behind Roy's left flank battery - nice hats chaps!

The view along the Russian line (from right to left) - the guards are centre rear.

 Kutusov with an aide in the Great Reboubt.

With the deployments completed both commanders now took stock of the situation and prepared to issue their first orders.

Friday 16 May 2014

A call to arms

There has been a lot of activity in the French camp this week as the high command try to bring the artillery arm up to strength.

A new line foot artillery battery is almost ready with the figures just requiring a coat of varnish - and a gun of course.

The figures are all vintage castings painted by yours truly – from left to right:

FN/34 Gunner (positioned for manning gun)
FN/30 Officer (pointing)
FN/32 Gunner (holding cannon ball)
FN/31 Gunner (firing the gun)

There’s a good chance that these lads will be seeing action in the not too distant future so stay tuned!