Friday, 16 April 2010

Smolensk Day Two

After giving each side the opportunity to reposition their forces we continued with day two of our Smolensk game.  The French were allowed to shift the Westphalians onto the North bank of the Dneiper via a ford further upstream and were also able to throw a division of Young guard over the river on the other side of Smolensk.

The Russian right flank, facing off the Poles but aware of the imminent arrival of reinforcements.

The initial position on the Russian right flank looked relatively secure.  Russian infantry still held the tactically vital village covering the ford and the presence of a 12lb'er battery supported by a strong infantry corps made any attempt at an assault in that area a daunting prospect.  However due to large detachments of infantry having to be made to secure Smolensk and provide support for the left flank, the area to the north was covered by only five battalions.  Consequently most of the Russian cavalry was placed in this area to counter the expected arrival of more Fench.

Young Guard attempt to break out from their bridgehead supported by cuirassier.

The Russian left also looked secure despite having to surrender ground to the advancing French.  They formed a line roughly parrallel with the right flank and awaited the arrival of the Russian guard infantry and cavalry.

The arrival of the Russian guard came as a nasty surprise to the French.

The stage was set for some epic cavalry clashes and with numbers and quality on the side of the Russians things were beginning to look a little bleak for the French.

French cuirassier in the process of riding roughshod over the pride of the the Russian cavalry arm.

If you've ever played using "In The Grand Manner" rules then you'll be aware that cavalry combats are anything other than predictable and wednesday night was to be no exception.  In short the Russians received a severe drubbing in every single combat which took place.  Regardless of class and numbers they were cut down with alarming regularity. 

Russian heavy cavalry unable to fight their way out of a wet paper bag.

The trend continued on the right wing where a regiment of elite Russian dragoons fled from the first casualties they received and managed to inflict only one casualty on their attackers.  These troops were being relied upon to hold the line against the newly arrived Westphalians.

French lancers and the offending dice that capped a grim night for the Russian cavalry.

Whilst the battle isn't over yet it's fair to say that the Russians had a pretty disastrous night, losing a large portion of their cavalry and inflicting little damage on the French.  This should give the French the abilty to manouvre more easily and will almost certainly ensure that more troops will be able to cross behind the Young Guard.

Saturday, 10 April 2010

Smolensk IV

I 've got a feeling that this title sequence could run and run.  You may remember from the last post that I had concerns regarding the Russian left wing.  Fighting against superior numbers with its back to the river Dneiper it was in grave peril of being heavily defeated and cut off.

The Russian left wing as seen from inside Smolensk.  Masses of French infantry advance to cut off their escape.

As it transpired my fears were well founded.  The outnumbered Russians were gradually forced back into an ever decreasing area by co-ordinated French assaults and were only saved from anihilation or surrender by the onset of nightfall.  That and the kindness of umpire Dom who allowed more of them to escape than I would have.

French reserve cavalry overcome the remaining Russian heavies allowing the Young Guard to advance unchecked and capture one of the two crossing points.

In retrospect it might have been better for the Russians to have maintained their defensive position instead of coming out to cross bayonets with the advancing French.  However in Grand Manner the Russians firefight poorly but melee extremely well so it's difficult to say.  The French were able to make their superior numbers count, and though the Russians fought doggedly they eventually broke.

The view from the French side.  Despite taking casualties from within Smolensk they were able to maintain enough pressure and defeat the smaller Russian corps.

Fortunately the French didn't have everything their way.  On the Northern bank of the Dneiper Dom's Polish corps had the thankless task of attempting to capture a village whilst being bombarded by a six gun 12lb'er battery and threatened by cuirassier.  Dom valiantly stuck to the task and even managed to get an assault in against the village but this was quickly defeated.

Russian 12lb'er artillery making life difficult for the Poles.

By turn twenty there was little left for either side to achieve other than a couple of isolated skirmishes which would have no signifant effect on the battle.  However we were all of the opinion that there was life left in the game so we decided to take the game in to a second day.  The Russians still hold Smolensk but the left flank has been forced to redeploy on the northern bank of the Dneiper with the French having a sizeable bridgehead to expand from.  On the right the Russians have redeployed slightly further back and the Poles will be given the opportunity to widen their deployment area thereby bringing their heavy cavalry in to play. 
    The game continues once again on Wednesday so watch this space.

Friday, 2 April 2010

Smolensk III

As you can see if you're a regular visitor to the blog I've made a few changes to the layout.  Mainly with the intention of being able to post larger pictures without having to crop them.  It's a work in progress and there'll be a few cosmetic changes to come but hopefully this will be the format I'll be sticking with for the foreseeable future. 

We were graced with the presence of Chris Cornwell on wednesday night living up to his nom de'plume of the itinerant wargamer.  Chris commanded the Russian 1st army of the west in Nick's absence.

There was a sight more action to witness in wednesday nights continuation of our Smolensk game.  This was particularly the case on the French right and the centre.  Raevsky's infantry made good progress towards Smolensk screened from the young guard infantry by heavy cavalry.

On the French left troops pile up at the Dneiper crossing unable to move until the the village at the far side is cleared of Russians.

Things were a little quieter on the French left flank where having taken their objectives the French were left with no one to fight.  The attempt to follow the routing Russians into Smolensk failed and this flank is now seeing a lull in the action. 

The South bank of the Dneiper from taken from the west.  Eric and Chris clearly both have each other worried.

Within Smolensk itself the routing troops which made the safety of the walls have now regained their compusure and are making room for reinforcements in the form of a grenadier division who are crossing from the north bank.  This should effectively destroy any remaining hope of taking Smolensk frontally.  The dangerous situation for the Russians has developed on their left flank.  If the French with their superior numbers can cut Raevsky off from the fords then his entire force would be in danger.  There is no chance of them escaping into Smolensk and they would be stuck with their backs to a river, perhaps we should have called this game Freidland.

French cuirassier getting to grips with their Russian counterparts plus a few dragoons thrown in for good measure.

On the north bank there has been little change in the situation.  Dom is still unable to deploy his cavalry due to the infantry to their front and he has been forced into advancing in square in attempt to negate the threat of Russian cuirassier.  This has been painfully slow and the presence of a Russian six gun 12lb'er bty has made it very costly.

Russian and French columns advance on each other in the centre, a potentially tricky situation for the Russians.

We've reached turn 16 of what is likely to be a 24 turn game so we're two thirds of the way through.  I think the French at the moment hold the upper hand and have a better opportunity to win the game but it won't be easy.  We reconvene next wednesday when I imagine it might well be decided.