Sunday 6 May 2012


It may come as something of a surprise to you considering the content of this blog until now, but I am a 15mm Napoleonics player.  I have a very large 1812 Russian army, which badly needs rebasing.  I've been meaning to do this job for a very long time, but the commitment to a yearly large ancients game has overriden other considerations.  However, I recently did enough of a patch-up job on them to get them onto Willie's sandtable for a refight of Friedland.  Warning to Napoleonics players: none of the following figures are correct for the period.  But it's all we have and it was a great game: 16 players in total.  I took quite a few photos until my batteries gave out; Simon's blog has many more. The game began as the French counteroffensive started.  First impressions:
Here you can see the Russian left wing (Bagration) in the foreground, with the jagers off to the far left.  The table looked appropriately grand, although with hindsight the Russians were perhaps a bit too close to the river.  The cavalry were held in reserve, but since they should have been in close proximity to the infantry, we said they could cross the river in support if necessary.
The second photo moves along into the Russian centre, with the town of Friedland held by Markov's troops.  The guys just to the left of Friedland and held in reserve behind the defensive infantry lines are the Guard Jagers and Guard Militia.  The French can be seen massing in the distance; many more will be arriving later.
Above can be seen Russian lines to the right of Friedland, waiting patiently.  Right in the centre of the photo is the Guard Infantry, held in reserve in columns, with a Dragoon brigade to their right.
Photo number four is taken from the same position as the previous one, but this time looking towards the Russian extreme right.  In the immediate foreground is the Guard Cavalry in reserve.  At the far end of the Russian army is Uvarov's cavalry wing, complete with Cossacks skulking at the rear.  Now for some action:
Effectively, I was Benningsen, the only reason being that I am local and have the Russians, so I was able to set up in advance.  I would also have to leave relatively early, so I could just let my subordinates get on with it at that point.  Very historically accurate.  However, with players arriving throughout the day, I started off by running Uvarov's command, which you can see immediately above.

And here are the French, from my perspective.  Uvarov is a bit weaker, since although the first line of French horse is light cavalry, they have a second wave of Dragoons.  I am up against it here, so it is possible that Docturov as overall commander of the Russian right will have to send the Guard Cavalry in this direction to make sure that the superior French cavalry don't turn the right of the Russian army.
Above is a gratuitous shot of the relative forces on the left of the Russian army.
And the game begins, with the French cavalry racing to contact Uvarov's command.
Above is the final photograph I managed to take, showing the Russian infantry divisions to Uvarov's immediate left with Grenadier columns in reserve.

I performed abominably, almost immediately losing two regiments with another two being badly mauled.  Even the Cossacks ended up in action, being scattered by the French Dragoons.  The one bright spot in the carnage was my horse battery, which did huge amounts of damage before finally being destroyed by the French second wave.  Docturov despatched the Guard Cavalry to stop the rot, and unfortunately it was at this point that I had to leave.

Afterwards, though, the French on this wing had a dreadful time.  The arrival of the Guard Cavalry threw the enemy into disarray, and many bad morale rolls resulted in a French defeat here.  The grinding match continued elsewhere, but the game was called before the historical result was attained on that flank and in the centre.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing; if I were to replay this as the French I would simply hold against the Russian right instead of attacking right across the front.  The main French weight is the assault on Bagration and the town of Friedland, so there is no need to tempt fate elsewhere.  But there's no way I would have known this except by playing it!  Do have a look at Simon's report, which shows some of the events after my departure.  The rules were Shako II, and the scale was one unit = one infantry battalion or cavalry regiment (roughly).


  1. Impressive looking table! Looks to have been a great game

  2. Spectacular! What huge and wonderful armies! And great table.

  3. Excellent brief of set up and starting moves. It was a good game, well played and just a real pity you had to miss your ultimate victory...ok, I'm biased, but it was a great Russian run for the French money. Thanks for the day.