Over the weekend of 7-8 November 2020, 19 gamers and a barman gathered at the Seatoun Bowling & RSA Club in Seatoun, Wellington, New Zealand to refight the battle of Borodino.
The Battle would be fought over 24 foot of bespoke terrain boards specially designed and built by the crazy Mr Paul Weakley(6 interlocked boards, each 6′ x 4′). This was supported by another table the same size for the French reserves and a smaller 24′ x 4′ wide table for the Russians.
The players were drawn from around NZ with our core Wellington Group, our clone group from Auckland along with players from Tauranga, Whanganui, Levin and Christchurch. The French side included the The Woolshed Gamer and Valleyboy who will be posting reports as well.
The troops were basically the official orbat for the battle, halved, so on show were:
- 94 battalions(2,256 miniatures)
- 34 Cavalry regts(10 Cossacks) (around 400 miniatures)
- 27 batteries (each 3 guns – 81 guns)
- 108 battalions(12 Guard) (2,592 miniatures)
- 39 cavalry regts(4 Guard) (around 470 miniatures)
- 36 batteries(7 Guard) (each 2 guns – so 72 guns)
I have asked Napoleon(John Hutton) and Kutusov/Barclay de Tolly(Paul Weakley) to write a short version of the battle each and will post when they do.
Otherwise this report is naturally biased from my viewpoint as Bagration/Tuchkov/Duka.
Paul had been planning this battle for a some time. We have been planning and undertaking the painting of the Russians, since we started with virtually none. So it has been an exciting project. Who put hands up to paint Russians? What units would each paint? Then the purchase of books, figures, more painting and sending shipments of figures to Fernando Enterprises in Sri Lanka for some of us. Then basing them on their return, sourcing movement trays, sourcing and painting the fleches, and many nights practicing with the rule amendments we made to Black Powder 2 rules specifically for the game and then having the local guys here in Wellington practice storming fleches, fighting in heavy woods, then light woods, then cavalry battles to get ready for the Big Game!
I still don’t know what the French plan was but the Russian one was straight forward and is below.
- In the North Paul W with Stephen and Steve would launch an attack on the French left flank. This force included a brigade of Guard infantry, Guard cavalry, 1st Cuirassier Division, Platov’s Cossacks, the 8 Jager battalions from 2nd Corps and the 2 battalions of Guard Jager. They had 7 batteries, 3 being horse artillery.
- In the Centre we would hold! Baggovouts(Graeme) 16 Musketeer Battalions and their 2 batteries would move south to form a 2nd line behind Paul N, Nick and Mark.
- In the South Tuchkov(Me) and the 2nd Grenadier Division start with the Militia/Cossacks in support. Duka and 2nd Cuirassiers move in support. The Jagers of the 27th Division(Brent) are in the heavy Utitsa Woods. The Moscow Militia to move in support(during test games appeared to me best place for them, the limited move in woods, skirmish formation and extra morale save made them perfect) and a Musketeer brigade as well. Paul and I felt the French would press hard through the woods and prepared for it. Off table were 2 support batteries which could be used once 2 batteries had been destroyed.
So away we went!
French turn 1 and Davout moved brigades(plural!) into Utitsa woods. Jeromes Westphalians raced from reserve to flank them in the woods. The Poles were not expected until turn 3. Elsewhere a French Grand Battery appeared opposite fleches while the woods in front of the Redoubt were being contested. On the French left flank the French under Eugene advanced on Borodino village.
Now the Polish Prince Poniatowski was played by the delightful Kerry Thomas from Tauranga and his outstandingly well painted Murawski Poles. I first met Kerry when we played the Leipzig refight a few years back(2013) and I was Marshal Victor and we single handedly won the battle for Napoleon(well…that’s my recollection anyway!). The Westphalians coming through the woods were commanded by Johnathon from Christchurch, who also had Montbrun’s Cavalry and 3 heavy batteries trailing the Poles. Looked like we were going to have some fun.
To my right Brent from the Auckland Group was commanding the 27th Division(John had moved to Auckanld and joined them, whereas Nick then moved from Auckland and joined us in Wellington!) Once the Milita decided to move , they passed to Brent – we had decided for the game when troops moved into your sector, you took over command. Much tidier! I commanded my 12 battalions of the 2nd Grenadiers and their 2 light batteries plus 4 units cossacks and I later stole the 2nd Cuirassiers off Brent(they were my figures after all!). To the right of Brent was Mark commanding the 2 Fleches with 6 battalions of combined Grenadiers and the batteries in the fleches. The batteries of the 27th were supporting him.
I shall report the battle in series pictures taken on my phone. When Napoleon and Kutusov file their reports, will make a separate post with pictures from the better camera’s when they are sent.
The first picture below is the briefing from Paul Weakley on the terrain and what the features meant as far as movement effects.
This is my command on southern flank at Utitsa. 2nd Grenadier Division supported by Karpovs cossacks. Militia are on support table behind where photo taken from. Poles can be seen in woods with Davouts first units in woods to right. French table in background where rest of Poles plus Montbrun’s Cavalry and Westphalians heading my way!
A look back down table from the North where can see Dohtorov’s troops guarding the Kolocha with the Gorki fleches. Eugenes troops on the right…..and briefly….open terrain in the North!
The centre peice of the Russian line, the famous Raievski Redoubt with a heavy battery in possession with the 12th Divison and 4th Cavalry Corps to its rear.
Bagration fleches with a brigade of 2nd Combined Grenadiers in support.
In the North Eugene sends his 2 light cavalry brigades rushing out wide.
Back down in the Utitsa Woods, the Westphalians and Davouts have started mixing it with the 4 Jager bttns in there. In back of woods a brigade of the 27th is preparing to join in and the elite Militia bttns are sllooowwwlllyyy making their way to join in. I have stolen Duka’s Cuirassiers off Brent.
In the centre French infantry clear Jager out of light woods.
As per plan, Russian Jagers make a fighting withdrawl from Borodino Village leaving Eugene’s troops in the open. View from Gorki fleches.
Eugene’s flanking light cavalry brigades run into Russian Guard Cuirassiers….and friends…its not pretty.
Now I started losing track quickly as to what was going on elsewhere…..but I gather 2 brigades of French infantry, including one of 5 legere made a charge towards the Redoubt….only for Nappy to throw a paddy and demand they retire. I think this is the photo of some trying to disengage. Another French grand battery being formed in rear.
This is the Utitsa woods…..what a mess…..troops everywhere. I think this may have been the French plan…..swamp the woods….or play in the swampy woods…..but it seemed a magnet.
French have retired from field around Redoubt…and a long distance artillery duel commences. A favourite Russian ploy…we get more shots at long range…French at medium…so … we stay at long range where possible.
And in the north….the Russian flank attack is in full swing. The brave French advancing on them are Delzons 13th Division. Goldie finished them on the Friday before game…I provided flags and even painted the Eagles for them…..they were in a perfectly sound defensive position..and..Nappy…yep…he rode past again…demanded they advance in a manly manner and stop skulking…..it doesn’t go well…..the whisper is the ‘Ghost of Delzons’ can be heard at night on the battlefield….crying for his lost men.
The Russian moving gunline of jager/horse batteries with cavalry support worked a treat. With the brigade of Guard infantry providing the close quarter muscle.
Am sure Russians aren’t meant to be on French reserve table…Nappy…yoohoo….
End of day 1 we had a BBQ, just beating the Southerly Storm that was coming in(for those outside New Zealand, picture south of us is water…lots of cold water…so a southerly storm is not overly welcome)
And that was the end of Day 1….
Day 2 got interesting……