Saturday 22 January 2022

The Battle of Siwokino - August 1812 - A What-if battle set on the Road to Moscow

Last weekend the Rejects gathered in the Shed-o-War for our first in-person game of 2022. Stuart ran a what-if game set during Napoleon's invasion of Russia in 1812. He used historically available forces for a fictional battle in a geographically possible location (whatever that means!). The result was a really fun and interesting game that forced both sides to think hard about their tactics and produced surprises for both sides. All-in-all a thoroughly enjoyable game and a great start to the year. 

Orders of Battle
As usual, I'm having trouble reading Stuart's handwritten Orders of Battle. The 20th and 21st centuries have passed him by and the concept of typewritten OOB's is an anathema to the poor fellow (as are digital communications and computers). So the following orders are shortened summaries of the forces available. 

French C/O 2nd Corps -Marshal Oudinot (Duke of Reggis)
Infantry Division c/o Verdier
  1st Battalion - 37th Line, 124th Line, Light Gun Battery
  2nd Battalion - 4th Swiss Line, 3rd Provisional Croatian Line, Light Gun Battery
Combined Cavalry Division c/o Doumere
  3rd Battalion - 7th & 20th Chasseurs a cheval, 8th Chevau-lager Lancers
  4th Battalion - 23rd & 24th Chasseurs a cheval, Horse Artillery
  5th Battalion - 7th Curassiers (Elite)

Russians C/O 1st Corps LG Wittgenstein
5th Infantry Division c/o Berg
  1st Battalion - Sievski, Kalugski Line
  2nd Battalion - Perski, Mogilevski Line, Light Gun Battery
  3rd Battalion - 23rd, 24th Jagers Line, Light Gun Battery
  Heavy Gun Battery in Redoubt
1st Cavalry Division c/o Kazoffskoi
  4th Battalion - Riaski Dragoons, Yamburg Dragoons
  5th Battalion - Grodmo Hussars
  6th Battalion - Plantoff Cossacks, Rodianoff Cossacks
  7th Battalion - Grekoff Cossacks, Selivan Cossacks

The Action
The following pictures are not a blow by blow account of the action, rather they give a feel for the overall direction of the battle. It's always hard to play the game, take pictures and accurate notes at the same time and this game took a lot of concentration as a player (it always does for me!).

The Initial setup. French columns are marching towards a ridgeline and two Russian redoubts. They have to take the redoubts to win and the Russians, unsurprisingly, have to hold them. This picture is after the Russians have moved some units into hidden positions behind the hills. Their position has been noted by the umpire and then removed from view. 

The two redoubts that the Russians need to hold have infantry in them, but the quality of troops is poor and the Cossacks held in reserve are not the greatest cavalry on the table! 

View down the table as the French prepare to start their march.

The French march past a Russian village burned by the Russians themselves in a scorched earth policy to deny the French any resources on Russian soil. 

The players from L to R: Richard, Surjit, Stuart, Ray, Mark...and me behind the camera of course.

Surjit begins moving his columns forward... I wonder if he'll remember to change their formation from March Column to Attack Column... hmm

Ray seems to be aiming his Division at the left-hand Russian redoubt while the bulk of the French forces seems to be aiming right of centre. Surjit is trying to temp the Russian cavalry off the hill on the left of the line. 

What the Russians lack in quality they ake up for in patience. 

Looking out across the lines at the advancing French.

I'm in charge of the centre while our Commander in Chief controls the left including all the hidden troops. 

Surjits cavalry charges towards the hill, forcing Richard to countercharge. However, Richard has attached his commanders (extra dice in melee) and has the advantage of charging downhill (defending favourable ground bonus). 

Meanwhile, I moved my artillery slightly forward of the infantry line. Rays Cavalry is just about in range for a charge and he smashes through the first one battery and then in a follow-through charge into the Horse Artillery.  

Both Artillery batteries are swept away but now Rays cavalry are disorganised and facing two Cossack regiments. 

Meanwhile, the French charge against the Russian left flank has not gone to plan. Richards dice rolling, combined with the advantages he ensured he had, gained a win and send the remnants of the French fleeing backwards. 

Then my Cossacks smash into the winded French and send them packing (they failed a subsequent morale roll and they are removed from the table. 

Now the French infantry gets close to the Russian lines. Surjit is shocked to realise that the green marker behind his units means he is still in march column (despite playing these rules before). 

While the French spend a turn changing into Attack Column the two sides exchange ineffective fire.

Finally, the French columns reach the Russian line... strangely ignoring their target, the redoubt. The French know they will sweep the Russians off the hill and seems to assume they will then be able to take the redoubt at their leisure. At no point do they seem to have wondered if anything might be behind the hills!

True to the expectation they sweep my Russian line troops off the hill. But Richard had anticipated this and moved the hidden cavalry into position, ready to launch a counterattack. 

Lets just say the look on Surjit's face when he saw the hidden units being put on the table was priceless. 

A Russian line unit charges the disordered french, Richards Hussars chargees into their flank, and one of my hidden Cossack units hits them from the right. Get off our hill your Frenchies!!

Meanwhile, on the right of the line, it is clear that Ray is aiming at Marks redoubt. This is a weak position, but hopefully, the overall French attack will run out of steam before this blow lands.

Its our ground and we want it back!! The combined Russian attack flings the french back off the hill. The French infantry is still in the fight but so seriously mauled they are now a sent force. 

There followed a bit of 'debate' about what to do next but the French commander Ray wisely threw in the towel at that point. Victory to the Russians. 

Well, as a player on the Russian side you would expect me to say how our plan worked perfectly and the French, full of overconfidence, walked right into our trap. Not once did I hear them speculate if anything was behind the hills and they seemed to completely ignore the redoubts that were their objectives. The Russian forces looked numerous but were weak, and most of our cavalry were Cossacks so pretty much only good for counterstriking and ambush attacks. Richard was an excellent commander, and Mark an I were glad to follow his lead, especially as it game as a win to start the year off with. 


  1. Thanks for posting this Lee. Lovely looking game - Postie's figures always look great on the table.By coincidence there is an almost identical scenario in a series of Youtube videos by Creaky Gamers Historical demonstrating the Lasalle II rules. You might enjoy them. I certainly did!

    1. Thanks for the info, I'll check them out.


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