Monday, September 17, 2012

Garden Wars AAR I

September 3, 2012 saw a pair of Garden Wars games.  The first was a meeting engagement with supporting forces, between my newly finished Italian forces and my Russian veterans.  As before we used SHAKO (version I) rules at double scale.

Situation:  Russia before Borodino.  Russian Divisions with Cossacks must hold the extreme right flank of the army positions against the Army of Italy, with a supporting division of allied and French troops.

Russian command in the center of the crossroads
Russian divisions were posted in the town, to block the one bridge, known crossing, and open ground to the left of the town - linking communications to the next sector of the Army.  On the right flank - extreme distance - were a force of Cossacks.  All troops in contact with the river may search for unmarked ford spaces, on a roll of 1-2-3 river is non-fordable, 4-5 fordable with a halt and disorder, 6 fordable with a halt.
Deployment of the troops (map from Battle Chronicler)

After seeing the Russian deployment, the French (ok mostly Italian) forces are arrayed in their marching order with commands given to them for the assault.  The objective is to gain the far back of the river and dominate the bridge and crossroad, thus breaking the right flank of the Russian Army at this river.

Right from the start there were 'detections' (we use cardboard 'blanks' to show where divisions are until they are within 3 yards - 108" of enemy formations). The Russians out in the open and French Light and Heavy Cavalry formations became visible.
The wide view of the field, Russians are on the near side of river, French on the far side
French to the left, Russians to the Right and in the town.

By turn two most formations were visible and the artillery had begun to fire.  Russians scoring hits on the Chasseurs and the French Heavy Cavalry artillery getting setup.
Cossacks explore the river line

The Cossacks determined that the river area in their front was not cross-able (rolled a '2').
The whole French and Italian and allied column
Army of Italy, Eugene at the head of the columns

Meanwhile the French and allied division was closing in on the bridge, followed by the Italian Legion.  We permit commanders to 'move' HQ during the game by their not being able to use the ADC's and issue order changes for two moves.  Here Eugene is marching just behind the leading French and allied division leading the Italian forces into battle (for the first time - no this is not the Eugene model that I sculpted ... that one is not finished yet).

Army of Italy in columns of march
Over on the French right, the Light Cavalry, consisting of Lancers, Chasseurs and a 'provisional' horse battery were racing towards the river line to seek a crossing point.  This 'provisional' battery was the one that the French had captured from the Russians in a Garden Wars game last year ... my eldest son wanted very much to capture it back!

French Light Cavalry and a 'captured' Russian Horse battery
This Light Cavalry force wasted no time in finding a ford and crossing it!

Finding a ford immediately and crossing it the French Light Cavalry were lighting fast!
The Russian division facing them also wasted no shots as they managed to deliver shot into the Chasseurs on both turns scoring kills at long range.

Russian Lines and Jagers prepare to face the Light Cavalry
While in the center of town the artillery was prepared and the troops distributed to what the Division commander thought were the best choices, as French and allied infantry columns closed in.

Center of town with Russian batteries and infantry
For the early part of the battle, the critical factor would be control over the bridge, and both forces were bent on keeping it for themselves.

The Bridge from the Russian side
The Bridge from the French & allied side
The vital bridge turned out to have a weakness, unseen at the start of the battle, for a force of French voltigeurs discovered a fording point that was masked by the watermill from the Russian guns, now the fight for the town would have a whole new dimension!
The army of Italy could now choose where to make the crossing ...
Meanwhile on the French left the heavy cavalry horse battery had begun to punish the Cossacks on the far side of the river.

French Dragoons and Hussars, with a horse battery to the left.  In the distance are the Cossacks
French Hussars of the Heavy Cavalry force, watching Cossacks in the distance take artillery fire
The Light Cavalry did not waste a single moment and struck directly at the Russians facing them.
French Light Cavalry Brigade strike first

Though a square was formed, it was facing nearly twice as many horsemen, the end square failed - the horsemen pressed on and took out the attached battery, then struck into the next line which also formed square!

This time the square held, bouncing out the Lancers that drove over the other square and took out the battery.

Battle Chronicler report of the situation after the 8th Lancers had been repulsed
Over in the center, the Russian batteries were dealing out fire and death on the Italians.

Russian Division holding the town sector

Now at the end of turn 4, start of turn 5 the French Light Cavalry was in disarray, the Lancers did not rally right away and the Chasseurs had been in the first charge and was now still 'blown'.

Light Cavalry in disarray
Over on the Russian right flank, the Cossacks were taking ever more casualties ...

Cossacks are taking more casualties
These casualties were coming from the mouths of the horse battery of the French Heavy Cavalry force facing them on the opposite bank of the river ...

Italian Horse Battery in action, Cossacks can be seen distant at the top left
Situation in the center ... before the Chasseurs charged

Now the French Light Cavalry is hurled one more time into action, the Chasseurs had a fantastic target!  There was one Russian battery that had no 'covering' force any more, they were facing away to the flank (firing at the Italians moving in).  Such an opportunity was not to be missed!

Chasseurs a Cheval were triumphant over the Russian battery
With this destruction of the battery, only one artillery force remained to the Russians and it was now under threat from the French columns that had crossed the river on the other side of the watermill!

The town was now invested with French, seen to the top left are the columns (between the buildings) and to the right are voltiguers starting to fire on the last Russian battery overlooking the bridge!
While it was on Turn 5 that the Russian Grenadiers started to arrive, they would take some time to come from the backfield of the Russian position.

Here on Turn 6 the situation in the town was dire ... French forces were now across the river in force and were outflanking the remains of the Russian division that had been tasked to hold the Town, on the other flank the French Light cavalry had penetrated the open ground and destroyed two thirds of all artillery that the Russians had for holding the sector.

Russians in the town were now hard pressed to hold their ground.

Russian Life Guards Cavalry (seen in lower left) are arriving ... would it be in time?
Turn 6 Situation as seen along the River Line
Far Flank of cavalry

The Army of Italy commander, Eugene, was now also calling back to him the Heavy Cavalry.  For clearly the Cossacks on the far flank were not about to cross the river and the horsemen could cross at the ford that had been found, covered by the town from the approaching Russians, and be able to strike deep into the Russian center or either flank as desired.  With these horsemen across the river, the crossing would be ensured and control of the town guaranteed.

While neither main force had met each other, the Army of Italy was winning the race into the town.

Army of Italy on the move
By the end of the turn the Army of Italy was preparing to cross the river via another ford that had been found beyond the bridge.

Italian Velites had found another ford - the river would prove no real obstacle in this battle
With the investment of the town, now French line troops were firing on the last artillery battery, and surging onward into the Russian center.

The town sector was fully invested by French troops
 Turn 7 was to be 'short' but not so 'sweet' for the Russians in the town square, for now they were being harassed by Italian artillery across the river and volleys from the troops in the town!

The square in the square was coming under fire
 The hard fighting in the town continued, the Russians stubbornly refusing to give ground, the French and Italians were still positioning to make the move on the Russians.

Over on the far flank, the French Heavy Cavalry was at last getting into motion as the ADC messenger had arrived.

The Russian Guards had also reached detection range on the French Light Cavalry and now were deployed in their marching columns.

Russian Grenadier Guards and Life Guards Cavalry
Turn 8 was to also see the arrival of the Russian Dragoon force.  This would add a horse element to the Russian left and a horse battery which would counter the marauding of the French Light Cavalry.

Russian Dragoons
The fight for the town was now at fever pitch, for the French drove a column into the rear of the battery and onward into the flank of the covering infantry line.

I am having troubles posting more to this blog post (something has happened to the pictures), so I shall end here and pick up in a new posting.


Silent said...

I love these garden shots and the fact there is no 'edge of the world'. Brilliant! What fun!

Thanks for posting.

MurdocK said...

Thank you, they have been fun to stage and engage with my sons as well.