Napoleon has arrived and stamped his authority on the battlefield. The Old Guard under his gaze is deployed and ready to attack. Some Guard light cavalry have already charged and thrown back Russian heavies - good work from the Dutch "Red" Lancers, Bravo! Old Guard foot and horse batteries are deployed, a heavy cavalry division hastens to prop up the Ney's wobbly centre. Marmot & Bertrand bare down too.
Rich wears the black bicorne and grey coat atop a white charger - no pressure old chap.
|Old Guard foot, cavalry and cannon stand ready to rescue Ney from the rampant allied centre in the distance.|
Realizing the urgency of the situation Rich went straight over to the attack. Leading with the Guard Heavy cavalry. These moved off to assault the Russian Guard cavalry and Guard artillery. A curiously comical Napoleonic lesbo action scene occurred as the Empress Dragoons fought the Empress Cuirassiers; after handbags had been swung and nails bloodied the bigger Russian ladies prevailed over the daintier French maids who broke on the spot! In fairness the Empress Dragoons had been languishing under artillery fire for some time so possibly had it coming. Not so the Grenadiers a Cheval of the Guard! These fine fellows braved the cannister of a 12lb battery and ran it down before meeting the now rallied Emperor's Cuirassiers! These gentleman needed to make amends for their poor show earlier and French Guard heavies were just the test they needed. As the dust settled the Russians had triumphed and a brigade test was required for the remaining regiment of French Guard heavies. It could have been worse - but they had now played their part, utterly spent they pulled out.
The headlong pursuit of the "Red" Guard Lancers had brought them into the front of a Russian Guard Grenadier battalion, after a bloody melee the lancers retreated to breath their horses, swig some looted vodka and gnaw on some dried rations.
(See how I painted a picture in your mind with my words just then? Did you like that?)
So, not the crushing assault we had envisioned from the Old Guard.
The French frowned & muttered - we sighed in sheer sagging relief.
The 12lb batteries went back to work, dealing long range death, as the Old Guard foot stepped forward.
|Bertrand's light cavalry have dealt with the screening Russian Dragoons & prepare to fall on the flank of the Russians.|
Beside Bertrand, Marmont's boys also made ground. To their front were only two regiments of allied light cavalry, namely the Russian Guard Hussars and Russian Guard Uhlans. No problems anticipated there...
Shall we leave this sector at take a look at the far end? Yes, let's!
|My private battle with Tony. It has simmered for ages. The trickle of dead mounts.|
Behind my Russian infantry division I have three regiments of Austrian light cavalry with orders to support the infantryman who went over the hold orders having captured the line of the road to the bridge including the tiny village. I have been trying to make room for them to charge the French cavalry the second I can change their orders to assault! Finally their general gets the message and in they go - anything they can do to relieve the pressure on the squares will help as they are shielding my only battery; how does this shit happen?
They tangle with French lancers who are somehow unformed so retreat! This unexpected success carries then into formed infantry where their success runs out and they head back behind their lines to rally on the other two regiments of hussars. Their job is done though; some French cavalry retreat, a column is halted & another forced into square, - "I thank you kind Sirs!"
|The French attack is disrupted for a while. But can it last? Can I hold?|
With a steady drain on both my Russians and Tony's French down at the bridge something had to give finally. And so it did.
One of my brave 2nd class squares finally took a 50% casualty morale test. Having past every other test for canister casualties and melee they passed this too! Bravo again! However, in the venerable General de brigade rules this means they are allowed to march from the field with flying colours and shouldered arms.
A Magical Moment which the Guards of either army might like to take note of...
Magical Moments soon turn to Marauder Moments as their bravery opened up the flank for Tony's cavalry to run down the guns and cause mayhem - aaaaaaaaaaarrgh.......
Meanwhile, back in the centre...
...Ney's four battered Divisions broke and fell back. With that the centre fell away for the French, some badly mauled units dispersed entirely further thinning the ranks whilst their batteries went low on ammo.
Now was not the time to end the game though. The allied centre was now some way off and Ney could still regroup and hold the rear two villages, Kaja & Rahna, issue new orders and maybe mount limited counter attacks. After all the battles at either end of the table were still far from resolved.
|Russian infantry surge forward again as the French fall away before them. Batteries limber up and move up for the next stage. This was such a game of movement and maneuver - really excellent.|
There was still lots of action to resolve so we carried on, the butchers bill climbing all the while. Finally our cossack sotnias arrived exactly where they should have been on about turn 3. Sadly it is now about turn 14. However cossacks are clever buggers, cleverer than Chris or I in fact. Their orders had been to harass Bertrand's advance from his front - delaying him as long as possible. However Bertrand had made good headway and was now baring down on the extreme Russian left as planned. So when the three formations of cossacks showed up they did so behind Bertrand - exactly where any good cossack would go for. Funny old thing these wargames!
Marmont ordered his lead battalions into line ready to shoot down the menacing Russian Guard lights. The Russians promptly charged, the lines fired, men fell, crashing beneath sprawling horses in an ugly scene. The Guard Hussars faltered failing to charge home - the Guard Uhlans rode on! They kept riding without stopping until two lines were run down and much of the Marmont's force was in disarray. In the following turns a limbered battery was caught and a colume flank charged. Retreating battalions, squadrons and batteries were faced with leering cossacks to the rear. Slaughtering stragglers is the perfect task for these cruel horsemen armed with lances and bows.
Tactical geniuses that we are we slapped each others backs and announced that we planned this all along!
|The Russian Guard Foot, Cavalry and artillery stand firm against the French Imperial Guard. |
In the background Bertand and Marmont begin to disintegrate.
We played out the rest of the turn, naturally finishing with the morale phase, which only served to underline the severity of the defeat. Tony's cavalry Brigade facing off my flank way over the bridge fell back promptly taking the infantry with them - just in time as they were very well placed to wrap my battery!
Apologies for the delay in finishing this report, our Borodino game finished us off for a few weeks, then I went on hols for about three weeks - Murat's kingdom of Naples no less! Lutzen provided us with a totally engrossing game played over three long nights. New threats keep turning up at varying spots to swing the action for one side then the other - gripping stiff indeed. No doubt we'll discuss this game between us over the years maybe even tackle it in 28mm sometime!
The scenario was adapted from an excellent article in Wargames Illustrated number 40, January 1991! Steve Shann's article provided an excellent map with reinforcement schedules, a detailed orbat for "In The Grand Manner" which is basically interchangeable with our favoured General de brigade rules. I enlarged the table a bit and added a few extra units to each side. The outcome was a fun filled game which lasted three nights over three weeks.
Thanks to Rich & Tony our gallant opponents and to Chris who played Blucher the Allied C in C, my boss.
"Bravo! Vive les Marauders!"
|Approaching the high water mark of the Old Guard's advance.|
|The French right beginning to wobble as the first few units break and run - the end is nigh!|
Thanks for sticking with this somewhat lengthy tale - hope you enjoyed it and pop back to hear about our next adventure:-
Borodino in two games; northern & southern sectors - the mother of all meat grinders in 28mm.