Sunday 14 August 2016

Crimean War Game

Today marked a significant day in my Great Crimean War project. It was the first time that the armies appeared on the table “in anger”.

The game was really a shakedown for a slightly larger game to be held later in the year, the goal being to ensure that the rules capture the spirit of the period.

The scenario was set quite soon after the battle of the Alma, while the Allied forces were setting up their bases on the southern shores of the peninsula and establishing siege lines in front of Sevastopol. In an attempt to drive the Allies back on their bases, or at least to delay the establishment of siege lines until more Russian forces could arrive, the Russian commander attacked across the Chernya River.
The Russians easily secured their primary objective, the village of Vitebisk that covered the Chernya bridge, but success of the operation could only really be assured by the occupation of the hill south of the village that dominates the road between the British and French bases. So victory conditions for the Russians were set as:
• Major victory – hold the hill at the end of the game.
• Minor victory – hold Vitebisk at the end of the game
• Defeat –Vitebisk is taken by the allies, regardless of any other objectives taken
The allied forces desperately needed to contain the Russians. The French and British commanders understand of the importance road and their primary objective is to secure it. Acting without communication of the each of them have scrambled together a force and despatched them to area. Their victory conditions are:
• Major Victory – compel the Russian force off the table to the north
• Victory – secure the road – Russians control the road if at the end of the game they have six or more unshaken units that occupy the road or can bring it under fire.
• Defeat – any result not shown above.
Neither side was aware of the finer details of the other's victory conditions.
The Allied Reserve
The Allies, who are outnumbered by the Russians, can call on a Sardinian brigade as a reserve, but calling the reserve comes at a cost in that the victory conditions change -  they must occupy all or part of Vitebisk with two or more battalions of good order infantry at the end of the game. Any other result is a defeat.

The Terrain
The terrain is shown on the map, north up. All slopes are east going, the main hill in the centre was double the height of the other two ridges. Not shown on the map is a small stream that running southwest from Vitebisk, The southwestern edge of the eastern ridge is lightly wooded. The immediate area around Vitebisk contains a number of fields and vineyards.

Initial deployments were:
• Russians – within the yellow box
• French  - within the rrd box
• British – within the blue box
• Allied Reserve - within the red box
Orders of Battle
Russian Army
1st Division
  1st Brigade
     Azov Regiment
     Dniper Regiment
   2nd Brigade
      Ukraine Jager Regiment
      Odessa Jager Regiment
      16th Position battery
       30th Light battery
2nd Division
   1st Brigade
       Odessa Regiment
       Vladimir Regiment
       9th Position Battery
       17th light battery
Cavalry Division
    Dragoon Brigade
       Moscow Dragoon Regiment
       Finland Dragoon Regiment
    Hussar Brigade
       Archduke Ferdinand Hussar Regiment
       New Ingermanland Hussar Regiment
       35th Don Cossack Regiment
       28th Don Cossack Regiment
       3rd Ural Cossack Regiment
       3rd Don Cossack Battery
• 24 Infantry Battalions
• 7 cavalry Regiments
• 10 guns
British Army
1st Division
    Guards Brigade
       1/Coldstream Guards
       1/Scots Guards
       3/Grenadier Guards
    Highland Brigade
       42nd Regiment
       79th Regiment
       93rd Regiment
       A Battery RA
       H Battery RA
 4th Division
    1st Bde
       20th Foot
       21st Foot
       63rd Foot
    2nd Brigade
       46th Foot
       1/Rifle Brigade
       E Battery RA
       F Battery RA
    Light Brigade
       17th Lancer Regiment
       4th Light Dragoon Regiment
       13th Light Dragoon Regiment
       8th Hussar Regiment
       11th Hussar Regiment
       A Battery RHA
French Army
1st Division
    1st Brigade
       1st Chaseur a Pied
       1st Zouave Regiment
       7th line Infantry Regiment
       3/8th Battery Montée
       1/9th Battery Montée
    Cavalry Brigade
       1st Regiment Chasseurs d'Afrique
       2nd Regiment Chasseurs d'Afrique
       1/6th Battery a Cheval
• 18 Infantry Battalions
• 7 Cavalry Regiments
• 8 guns

In all morecthan 1,000 figures and 18 guns were on the table.
The Game

The Russians had the first move and advanced rapidly out of the town, pushing the dragoons and hussars across the the main hill, intent of taking post between the allied troops. The Cossacks, with the Cossack artillery, took the ground to right of the town where they faced the advancing British. The 2nd Division also moved in this direction, while the 1st Division moved to the left to face the French.

The British player deployed the Light Brigade on their left, facing the Cossacks. The Highland Brigade led the advance , supported by the 4th Division, while the Brigade of Guards formed the reserve. 

The French player threw the Chasseurs forward up the road, the zouaves to the left of the road and the line regiment on the right. The cavalry brigade swung right, along the ridge, looking to gain the Russian left flank.

The Russian regular cavalry, having secured the hill, swung right to face the British. The Highlanders formed square in the face of this threat, while the rifles and the 46th Foot formed on their left.

Meanwhile the Light Brigade formed up to attack the Cossacks, but two Russian batteries cut the 17th Lancers and 13th Light Dragoons to pieces and they were compelled to withdraw from the fight before they could have any effect on the battle. The 11th Hussars charged the Cossack battery and, despite taking heavy losses, routed the gunners and broke through onto a unit of cossacks beyond, but could not drive off the cossacks.

On the other flank the Russian infantry secured the hill and three infantry regiments moved against the French, who struggled to deploy. The Zouaves attempted to charge, but were easily repulsed. But before the Russians could exploit the situation the Zouaves rallied and the French line stabilised. 

On the French far right, the cavalry deployed and advanced. The 1st Regiment Chasseurs d'Afrique charged and routed a Russian battalion. Next turn the 2nd Regiment Chasseurs d'Afrique charged and routed two more Russian battalions, but took such heavy losses in the combat they were effectively out of the battle.

But the end was nigh for the French and two Russian Regiments descended on them like a sledge hammer. In a short time the French infantry and artillery were driven from the field.

Meanwhile in front of the Highland Brigade the Russian cavalry withdrew and a the Russian infantry came forward. The Scots charged, but were repelled. The Russians then pressed forward and drove off the Highlanders.

The Light Brigade continued its activities against the cossacks, but were eventually destroyed. 

Only the Brigade of Guards and a couple of battalions of 4th Division stood in the way of the Russians. A desperate attack by the Scots Guards drove off half a Russian regiment, but the writing was on the wall and British conceded the field.

The Sardinians did appear briefly on the field, but recognised the futility of their effort and withdrew.

The Russians could claim a major victory.

So did the game serve its purpose, to test that the rules captured the spirit if the period? On the whole I think the rules worked well, although the Allies did not gain enough advantage from the rifled musket. This will be corrected fir the next game.


  1. Wonderful looking game Mark.
    Glad to see the efforts of recent months have been worth it and seeing the collection on the table - wow.

    1. Thanks Stu. Yes it was good the let the troops out of their boxes, althought it was alarming to see how little space they took up on the table (although in all fairness it is a big table at 4.8 meters by 2 meters)

  2. Spectacular armies, they look superb...and courageous, charging an artillery needs to be brave! Beautiful pictures Mark...

    1. Thanks Phil. I am not surevif charing theguns was bravery or stupidity, but is worked, although the gunners did recover and return to their gune evenutally.

  3. The Russian certainly had their way with All-Comers in this game! Figures look terrific on the table and the colorful flags really add greatly to the atmosphere. Quite an enjoyable BatRep, especially so since I have been watching these forces grow as they muster out of the painting camp and into the field of battle. Fun to recognize many of the these units as they maneuver and contest the battlefield. A thousand figures on the table? My! That is a load of figures and a significant output from your brush.

    Well done!

    1. Thank you Jonathan. There are still a few more regiments to go - one Russian and two French to be precise, plus anothe Russian battery. That said, I am sure there will be additiins in the future - the Heavy Brigade and some turks springbto mind.

  4. As the British player in the game, I am pleased to read the comment about the lack of advantage we gained from rifled muskets - I thought it was just my masterly recreation of incompetent British generalship that had led to this disastrous defeat! My PSTD is a bit better today after a couple of bottles of Becks.....

  5. Some great looking figures on display

    1. Thank you Neil. The armis of this era as very spectacular.

  6. Replies
    1. Thanks. The next one will be even more specatcular - more figures will be available and some specific terrain pieces.

  7. Nice looking set up! It certainly looks spot on!

  8. Great to see them all out on the table like that. I'm glad that the rules won't take too much work to get the right feel - very important that the Russians can't win against a single battalion of Highlanders!

    1. Thanks Nathan. Indeed it was good to see them out of thier boxes at last.

  9. Hi Great Battle report! Very nice miniatures you did a super job on them! I To a m doing a Crimean war but in15mm I hope one day to have as many painted as you have done. Keep up the cool post Sir.
    From Dave in Va. USA

    1. Thanks Dave. I need to expand the British Army now that Great War Miniatures have released their Heavy Brigade figures.

  10. Mark, I was planning on putting on a Crimean game on club game night when I stumbled upon this gem. What a interesting situation and fun game. Since Imitation is the most sincere form of flatter I though I would "borrow" your game. (Theft is such a horrid word). Thank you!

    1. You are more than welcome Mark. You might find this game of interest too I have just ordered the remaining three regiments of the Heavy fact they may be waiting for me when I get home tonight. I am in the process of writing the scenario for our annual gaming event for next year - a long way off, but I will need to add some more figures before then and this gives me plenty of time.