Today I ran my first Russo-Japanese War game. This was really a practice for the main event - a game at our annual wargames weekend away.
The scenario was set in mid-summer 1904. Desperate to be seen as doing something after a series of setbacks, the Russian commander ordered an advance south with the object of trying to find some way to raise the siege of Port Arthur.
Major General Gerschelmann's 10th Infantry Division marched south from Liaoyang as far as Haicheng, but there they struck a major problem. Unable to make use of the railway the infantry quickly out distanced their supply services and Gerschelmann was compelled to halt the advance to allow his supply column to catch up. He occupied Haicheng, while pressing troops forward to secure a crossing of the Huzhuang River.
Fearing that the Russians might force their way still further south, the 2nd Division, from First Army, was dispatched to intercept and turn back the Russian advance.
The table measured 4.8 meters x 2 meters. The Huzhuang River divided the table in half and was able to be crossed either at the bridge or forded at a shallow point within 400mm of the eastern table edge. All hills are gentle, except for the double contour hill which is rough going. Around the two farms are a number of fields, some bordered with stone walls, and near the rivers are some areas of scrub the rest of the terrain is open.
Order of Battle
10th Infantry Division: Maj. General Gerschelmann
1st Brigade: Major General Rjabinkin
33rd Infantry Regiment (12 stands)
34th Infantry Regiment (12 stands)
2nd Brigade: Major General Martson
35th Infantry Regiment (12 stands)
36th Infantry Regiment (12 stands)
9th Artillery Brigade: Colonel Schuchinski
4 Field Artillery Batteries (1 stand each)
2 Machine gun sections
Attached to Division:
7th Rifle Regiment (6 stands)
2 Field Batteries (1 stand each)
The Russians may deploy:
One regiment and any number of machine guns or artillery batteries south of the river, but no further than 150mm south of the farm.
One regiment and any number of machine guns or artillery north of the river, may be deployed between the river and Haicheng.
Two regiments and any number of machine guns or artillery may be deployed within 500mm of Haicheng.
Any or all Russian artillery may be off table, to the north of Haicheng.
1,500mm of trenches anywhere on the table in sections of no more than 600mm in a single section and no one section may be within 500mm on another section.
600mm of wire entanglements anywhere on the table in strips of no more than 300mm with a least 300mm between strips.
All or any batteries may be deployed dug in.
Order of Battle
2nd Infantry Division Lieutenant General Nishi
3rd Infantry Brigade Major General Matsunaga
4th Infantry Regiment (9 stands)
29th Infantry Regiment (9 Stands)
15th Brigade: Major General Okazaki
16th Infantry Regiment (9 stands)
30th Infantry Regiment (9 stands)
2nd Kobi Brigade
14th Kobi Infantry Regiment (6 Stands)
17th Kobi Infantry Regiment (6 Stands)
Attached to Division:
2nd Artillery Regiment (two battalions each of three batteries = total 6 stands)
2nd Machine gun Company (4 stands)
The Japanese may advance on the table at any point on the southern edge and in any formation they wish on turn 1.
Any or all Japanese artillery may be off table, to the south of the table edge.
If one side's army morale collapses, the opposing side wins the game.
The Japanese player wins if two regiments are established on the notthern bank of the river and are not engaged in a close attack at the end of the game.
Any other result is a Russian victory.
HOW THE GAME PLAYED OUT
The Russians deploy one regiment in trenches south of the farm south of the river. The machine guns company was deployed in a small redoubt on the double contour hill. Another regiment was deployed entrenched north of the river at the ford. The artillery was deployed on the hieghts south east of the town with the two remaining line regiments and the rifles regiment near the town.
The Japanese moved first, with tow full brigades against the Russian position infron of the farm, with the Kobi brigade on the left and the artillery south of the briad ridge, firing indirectly. They advanced swifly across the open ground, but were suddenly struck by Russian gunfire and cut to pieces.
Here the game was suspended. Clearly the rules needed some tweaking so we paused for lunch andstarted again.
The Japanese changed their tactics, masking the Russian trenches with te Kobi brigade and advancing directly on the steep hill with the remainder ofhe division. To suppress the Russian machine guns they saturated the steep hill with fire from six batteries.
The Russians brought the Rifles regiment and one of the line regiments acrss the river, but as the latter crossed the bridge they were caught by Japanese gunfire and suffered severely. Meanwhile the Kobi brigade were repelled on the Japanese left, but soon rallied and managed to work thier way around the right of the Russians in the trenches. With the support of the two machine gun sections asingle Kobi Regiment stormed the trench, drivng the Russians back to the river bank.
Simultaneously the Japanese destroyed the Russian machine guns and occupied the steep hill, pouring fire into the Russian regiment that had crossed the river, completely dispersing it. The Russians then pulled bach what remained of the rifles regiment,while the line regiment that had held the forward trenches attempted to extract themselves.
Here the game ended. Although the Japanese had not fullfilled the victory conditions, the Russians were in a bad way, having lost one full line regiment, another one badly cut up, the rifles regimen down below half strength, two field batteres and two machne guns destroyed. Conversly the Japanese had lost one Kobi regiment, and the other damaged, but all their artillery, machine guns and all four line infantry regiments in tact. It was only a matter of time before they brought pressue on the remaining Russians.
The result, a winning draw to the Japanese.
Lots of things were learned and a few adjustments for the rules.