Last friday we replayed the first battle of Polotsk from the 1812 campaign, or the first patriotic war as it is known in Russia. In.p our case a considerable part of the Russians was “modeled” using British figures due to the lack of proper Russians. We reasoned that the red army entered the theatre of war just a few years earlier than planned.
The scenario victory conditions centered around the village of Spas. The division/brigade of Wrede occupied it and the aim for the Russians was to capture it while avoiding heavy losses. Wrede was relatively exposed and could be quickly overwhelmed before his fellow commanders Legrand and Deroy advanced in support.
The Russians deployed extended and only two infantry and one cavalry brigades were facing Wrede. More Russians deployed aimed at Legrand which in our game were Prussians. Not improper given that Prussians were allied to the French and contributed a contingent for this campaign which a year later turned out to have been a perfect training experience for the cadre that was used to rebuild the Prussian army for the war of German liberation in 1813.
Turn one and the first brigade order for the Russians intended to advance towards the left flank of Wrede. However, a double 6 and back this brigade went into the wood behind them. The next brigade advanced cautiously supported by its artillery and the cavalry. Their fire was effective and Wrede was concerned and felt isolated. He had build a good position with just one battalion up front in line supported on either side by a battery, skirmishers up front and four battalions in attack column in reserve ready to move to wherever needed. The Russian fire resulted in considerable disorder and his position felt a lot less solid.
Wrede decided to wait it out and send some skirmishers into the wood towards his right in order to be able to fire from that wood into any Russian cavalry that might venture further forwards on that flank. Next round the Russians advanced once more and steadily. Some fire ensued and basically this was a round as any round.
In his next round Wrede saw a good opportunity. Because the Russians had advanced and the blundering brigade was far away the Russian left flank was exposed. So one of the reserve battalions was order to dash forwards and then form line towards the right and enfilade the Russian infantry. A second reserve battalion was order to fill the gap between the main position and this advanced battalion. It all worked like clockwork. Inflicting hits, however, proved a bit more difficult.
Still the casualties started to mount on the Russian side. In a few turns this Russian brigade was broken and fell back. One regiment of cavalry now charged the advanced French infantry unit, forcing it into square. Because the cavalry diced for three moves they were back at their position perfectly on time for tea… with a biscuit.
By now it was clear that Spas was out of reach for the Russians and the commander decided to shift his cavalry to the Russian right in order to support the attach on Legrand. The Russians had steadily advanced in a straightforward manner and were by now confronting Legrand turned Prussian. This confrontation was a well designed line versus line firefight followed by a charge type of affair. Of course hits were scored but the decision came from a free brigade of French cavalry. The gap between the Russian left and the cavalry that was moving in support from the far left was simply to big. In charged two regiments of cavalry into the flank of Russian infantry. The results were as can be expected. That broke the Russian brigade and their army.
What was nice about this game was that it was open and relatively straightforward. This allowed for large-scale movement and small scale tactics.