The Napoleonic Wars, Black Powder, 28mm
This game took place half a lifetime ago. Actually, it was only two and a half weeks, but since then the world has turned upside down. It’s also our last game at the wargame club, at least for the foreseeable future. I’ve got one more game to post after this, and then – we’ll see. I suspect it’ll be more of a blog about solo games and painting projects for the next few months. Anyway, without more ado, here we go. This Napoleonic game was another derived my chum Charles S. Grant ‘s Scenarios for Wargames (1982).The scenario was called “The Advance Column”, and pits a defensive force guarding a river crossing from an advanced column of the enemy, approaching through a wood, with orders to seize the crossings. We tinkered with the forces available and the terrain so it suited our toys, but the general principles remained the same. In our case the defenders were French and Allies,. A small Saxon brigade acted as a blocking force, deployed on both sides of the main bridge over the River Bug. A French light cavalry brigade was deployed to the south of the village, covering a second ford. We got rid of one fork of the river too, as we didn’t have enough of it.These four battalions, two light cavalry regiments and two gun batteries had to hold until the end of the game. To the west, approaching through the woods, was a Russian column of infantry and cavalry – three battalions of one, and three regiments of the other, supported by a gun battery. On either side of the main road there were tracks, each with a regiment of Cossacks riding up it. The northern one had a small Cossack gun battery attached. The Russians were mine, as were the French cavalry, artillery and a battalion of Hessians, while Gyles supplied the rest. The game was fought out on a 6 x 6 foot table. The first problem for the Russians – commanded by Sean – was that he didn’t know the enemy were there. So, his force wasn’t necessarily in the best order to take on a waiting line of troops. The lancers were in the lead, with the infantry in the middle, and the guns and a dragoon regiment wedged in the middle. When the cavalry emerged from a clearing they found themselves directly in front of the French guns. A quick blast and they were forced to retire again, before they’d even had a chance to charge. Obviously this threw the Russian column into disarray. Fortunately for them, there was nothing in the way of the cossacks, who emerged from the trees opposite the western bank of the river. They found themselves on the sides of the Allied brigade, and so turned to harry them from the flanks and rear. Gyles and Lindsay, commanding the French, tried to launch their own cavalry across the river, but kept failing their activation roll. So, the Cossacks had it all their own way – for a bit.The Cossack sotnia to the north managed to form up and charge, despite harassing fire from French guns on the far bank of the river. The Hessians failed to form square in time, and in the melee which followed they were swept from the field. The Saxon battalion on the other side of the main road fared a little better though, and not only formed square, but drove the Cossacks off. The French horse guns escaped across the river, and unlimbered between the two Saxon battalions guarding the eastern bank. That remaining Saxon battalion on the enemy side of the river fell back in square, but things were looking pretty dicey now, with Cossacks on two sides, and the Russian infantry emerging out of the woods to their front. The Russian ulhans were back in the game too, having regrouped and rallied off most of their “hits”. At this stage it looked like the Russians would sweep everything before them. At that point though, the French cavalry brigade crossed the river on the southern ford, and reformed facing north. This gave the Russians pause for thought. However, when a unit of chasseurs-a-cheval charged a sotnia of Cossacks, against all expectations the Cossacks held them off. That bought the Russians a little more time to redress their ranks, ready for a cavalry onslaught. Meanwhile, the Russians had got most of their force through the wood and into the clearing. When the charge came the Cossack sotnia was finally swept aside, but the other half of the French cavalry was stopped by the ulhans. Effectively that broke the impetus of the French charge, and Russian jaegers moved up to keep the French horsemen from the ford.
This though, had all taken time. It was now 9pm, and Sean had to get rolling if he wanted to beat the French Allies before packing-up time. In the end he simply ran out of time. The French cavalry were repulsed, but their disordered ranks still stood between the Russians and the southern ford. The game degenerated into a stand-off, with neither side strong enough to take the offensive. So, we called it a day. The game was therefore declared a French Allied win. They’d held the river crossings, but Sean had chopped up half the Allied force, at the cost of a single sotnia of Cossacks. It was a tense and balanced scenario too, as you’d expect from one penned by Charles. As we packed away our toys though, we all wondered when we’d get the chance to play with them again.