Monday, 8 September 2014

Borodino 202nd - The Grand Redoubt and Fleches

Yesterday was the 202nd anniversary of the climactic Battle of Borodino, fought on the 7th September 1812. Whilst in no way attempting to replicate the scale and intensity of our 200th refight in 2012, I had been hoping to lay on a fairly large game to mark the anniversary, and the planning was started to take shape – until it gradually dawned on everyone that I had blundered!

My fellow Napoleonic stalwarts - L-R Terry, Shannon and Vic.

Whilst ‘Father’s Day’ is viewed in the UK as little more than a cynical marketing ploy, nowhere near on a par with the genuinely non-commercial origins of Mothering Sunday, or ‘Mother’s Day’, I now know that here in Australia it is still regarded as a huge deal! Accordingly the roll of participants steadily declined as the date approached, and I had to cut my cloth accordingly, left with just 4 Napoleonic diehards!

The Fleches in the right foreground, Grand Redoubt top right.

We thus decided to halve the size of the playing area, and quarter the battle order, concentrating the action around the Grand (Raevsky) Redoubt and Fleches.

The Grand Redoubt on the left, the Fleches over on the right.

Terry and Shannon were defending as the doughty Russians, taking charge of the Redoubt and Fleches respectively, each with a Brigade of Infantry, a Brigade of Horse, and 3-5 batteries of guns.

Today, not such a 'Grande' Armee - 4 Bdes of Inf, 3 of Cav...

Vic and myself had to wrest said defences from them, each with two brigades of Infantry, and the roughly the same number of Horse and Guns as the Russians.

The French Command Values were 9 for our 3 Divisional commanders, and 8 for our Brigadiers, whilst the Russians were lower at 8 and 7.

The Grand, or Raevsky, Redoubt.

We stipulated that the hastily constructed Fleches would have a defence value of 1, and the slightly more impressive Grand Redoubt a defence value of 2. We also agreed that any assaults of the defences would count as disordered in the subsequent combat, until such time as they won a round of combat and so had ‘broken in’.
The terrain was cut up - in the foreground the Kolocha river, and beyond the Semenovskaya stream
Each of the streams that criss-crossed the terrain would count as one complete move to cross, and would disorder any charge that involved crossing during that turn. 
The Russians opened the game, to represent the long range artillery fire they would have had as we closed up to our table edges. Whilst the effectiveness of their massed artillery gave me pause for thought, given his later actions, my comrade in arms Vic wasn’t in the least phased by the Russian guns…

He moved his infantry and cavalry up boldly. A bit too bloody boldly for my liking, at this rate he'd either be grabbing all the glory for himself, or leaving me with an open flank! 

Vic the master of all-arms coordination...

However, I needn't have worried, he was careful to  seal off against the Russian reserves and coordinated his orders masterfully, managing to have his infantry to assault the front of the Fleches just as the cavalry struck the flanks.

Vic's leftmost infantry Bde and a Regt of Dragoons cover the Russian centre, whilst his other Dragoons and inf Bde arrive on the objective at the same time! Good - but not good enough to evict the sons of Holy Russia!
Assaulting Russians in defences is not an easy task! As well as the attackers fighting ‘disordered’ as mentioned above, we classified Russian Infantry as ‘stubborn’ troops, something of an understatement for these dogged and tough peasant soldiers.

In Black Powder terms it means they get to reroll a failed save. And as mentioned, the defences of the fleches gave them a +1 to their save. Since Shannon wisely kept them in column that meant that they were saving on ‘2’s even before any reroll!  

Perhaps inevitably therefore, Vic’s aggressive and well planned assault failed to make any headway….so how was I doing against the Redoubt….

Saxon Zastrow Cuirassiers supported by the Lifeguards - a major asset!

My ability to get my infantry to grips with the Redoubt was hampered by the crossing over the stream being covered by 2 Russian horse batteries and an entire Dragoon division.

Whilst I had hoped to reserve my excellent Saxon heavy cavalry for its historical role of taking the Redoubt in a glorious charge around its flanks, clearly, as my only cavalry asset, it would have to first clear the road for my infantry.

Fortunately, my Cuirassiers heavily outclassed the Dragoons, getting 9 combat dice to their 8, and, crucially, saving hits on 3+ instead of 4+.

The Saxon Lifeguard have broken through, leaving the 6eme and Zastrows to finish off the remnants....
Whilst Terry manoeuvred his division very craftily, inevitably my beloved Zastrow Cuirassiers and Saxon Garde de Corps saw off the entire Dragoon division, albeit with the invaluable help of the 6eme Cuirassiers, recently painted for me by my mate Fons of the wonderful Mabuhay Miniature Painting Service.

The initial cavalry breakthrough did not last long, due to some dastardly and thoroughly unsporting Russian close range canister fire - scoundrels and no respecters of fine horseflesh!

All the while my heavy Grand Battery had been engaged in long range counter battery work against the guns in the Redoubt, requiring 6d6 to hit, a laborious process…

However, it did mean that when, eventually, with a clear road to the redoubt open for the infantry, they were able to assault, they did so against a Russian battery disordered by artillery fire!

No disrespect to the stalwart Russian gunners, but we had not extended the ‘Stubborn’ attribute to them, so, even though my troops were also disordered by attacking over the defences, and the gunners were getting a +2 to their saves from the defences, my Infantry managed to break in. Once in of course, the defender’s advantages disappear.

That said, Terry had kept plenty of infantry columns in Reserve, so we decided, with one objective held by the Russians, and one still in the balance, to call it a draw. Honours even, and when fighting Russians in fixed defences, I call that a result!

Next year I will pick a date more wisely, and hope to have a bigger game! As always, thanks to Michelle, Matt and Kym of the Hall of Heroes for their support and hospitality!



  1. Impressive pictures, terrain and troops

  2. Excellent AAR with some stinning pictures. Looks like a worthy event for father's day.

  3. I'm so jealous of you guys there. I can only dream of games like that being the only wargamer in the entire province of Cebu and beyond too probably. :-) Thanks for the plug Ralph!

  4. Fantastic collection and finely painted armies. This sort of gaming is what I played in the 1970's with Jeff Perren. This is before Dad became so busy writing RPGs.

  5. Wow! Thank you all very much for your kind comments - most encouraging!

    Fons - you and Chelle will have to come on a tour of Oz and get some games in!

    1. Don't let her hear you say that mate, she might take away my credit card so I can't buy tickets. :-)

  6. Lovely, lovely game sparkler!!! The Saxon heavies look superb!!!

  7. Gorgeous photos! What an epic game with so few players! Can't wait till the next Waterloo bash.


  8. Another feast for the eyes my dear Mr Sparkles. I'm particularly taken with the terrain with the gullys, streams etc and most of all with the Grand Redoubt and Fleches which both nicely overlook the battlefield.

    Good to see your Saxon heavy cavalry brigade ... though I will admit that my favoured regiment of the three Saxon heavies is the Leib-Kurassier-Garde. Being focussed on 1813 will do that to you I guess.

    All power to your gaming.

    von Peter himself

  9. Nice going guys there is an impressive amount of troops on the board and the terrain looks great....champion stuff

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  11. Sparker, this is the finest Redoubt refight I have seen. Great terrain and lovely minis. But most of all I liked the report. The part where you had to commit the cavalry to clear the road for the infantry... gorgeous and it just goes to prove that inspire what people say (= historical refights are boring since everyone knows what to do and what not to do) it never plays out as planned!

  12. That's right mate - no plan survives contact with the enemy! To be fair to the poor Russians though, it helps to have a Saxon Heavy Cavalry bde in your back pocket - its as close to a sure bet as you'll ever get that it can clear a division of Dragoons out the way!