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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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The Battle of Borodino, 1812

The Napoleonic Wars, Shadow of the Eagles, 28mm

Unusually, I’m going to start with two apologies. First, my tardiness in posting blogs. the thing is, I’ve been wrapped up putting the finishing touches to a book, The Pirate Menace, and that’s taken up all of my time. Secondly, thanks to Sean 2 for some of these pictures, which were decidedly better than mine. Right, with that out of the way – the game. We had the chance of an all-day session, and so we opted for a “bathtub” Borodino. That’s where we take the salient features of a battle, scale everything down, and stage it on a sensible-sized table, with a manageable number of figures. In our cade we staged in on an 8×6 foot table, but we still had about 1,400 figures on it. Like I said – manageable! The scenario was taken straight out of one at the back of the rules (thanks Keith), For the layout the table was divided into 16″ square boxes, each of which, running down the Russian side of the centreline, was a series of six objectives.From north to south these were Borodino village, the Grand Redoubt, Semenovskaya village, The Bagration Fleches, Utitsa Woods and Utitsa Village. Each box had a Russian force allotted to its defence, while behind it was a reserve. In all the Russian had 36 units – infantry, cavalry or guns. The French had a pool of 40 units, which they could divide however they liked along their front. They won the game by winning a majority of points, with each objective counting as a point, with the redoubt two points.In all they had 20 infantry battalions, 11 cavalry regiments and 9 gun batteries. Their plan was a main assaults on the two ends of the line, and then close the pincer. Sean 1 and Sean 2 commanded the French, while Ally and I took charge of the Russians. For the first few turns the French and their Allies bombarded the Russian lines, and of course the Russians did the same back. This was fairly ineffective, and so on turn 4 Napoleon (Sean 1) waved his hand and everything swung into action.

A large force under Eugene de Beauharnais on the north side of the Kolotcha River attacked Borodino, while about a third of the French army marched on Utitsa. The defenders, Generals Doktrorov and Tuchkov held their ground, and for the most part this worked fine. In the centre there wasn’t much happening, apart from the Russian guns in the redoubt hitting the flank of Eugene’s columns. Down in Utitsa the Russians held the village until well after noon, when they were driven out by a determined French attack. The same thing happened on Utitsa mound just to the south, but the French were then driven back out of Utitsa, and reinforcements from the Russian reserves established a strong defensive line running from Utitsa back to the east along the Old Smolensk Road. Up in Borodino the defenders fought well, breaking several Saxon units before finally being driven back across the bridge to the eastern bank of the river. Capturing Borodino gave the French a point, but it didn’t do them a lot of good, as Ally had thrown up a strong defensive line along the eastern bank of the river, penning them in. Meanwhile those guns kept firing at the poor Saxons. While the northern pincer stalled, the French denuded their centre even more, to reinforce the southern one. By early afternoon a third of the French army were facing Utitsa, with all the heavy cavalry in reserve, ready to punch through any gap in the Russian line Unfortunately for Sean though, the Russians held their ground. That’s when Ally and I decided to throw caution to the wind. With the French centre almost denuded of troops, we sent forward all our reserve cavalry, between the Kolotcha River and Napoleon’s headquarters near Shevarino, in the centre of the French table edge.The Russians mauled the French light cavalry, holding the gap, and by capturing the ford at the French table edge they cut off the French troops north of the river from the rest of the army.It was a bold stroke, and inevitably the French would redeploy. That though, let the Utitsa defenders off the hook until nightfall. So, that’s where we ended the game, with dusk falling, and the French army split in two. They still had a lot of troops though, but the Russian defence was now unassailable. So, a Russian defensive victory. All in all it was a real joy to take part in this classic game.


2 Responses “The Battle of Borodino, 1812”

  1. sean m page
    17th September 2023 at 2:58 pm

    Our cunning plan didn’t work this time. In hindsight we should have just advanced on the redoubt with my infantry. But hey ho, it looked glorious and was very enjoyable. Thanks for organising, Angus.

    • 17th September 2023 at 11:30 pm

      Your plan was about as cunning as an uncunning plan could be!

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