Welcome to Marauder Moments - a chronicle of the Mortimer Street Marauders; the games we play, the rules we use, the figures we play with and the scenery they fight over. Hope you enjoy these pages and maybe call back to catch up with our escapades.

Friday, 30 June 2017

The Battle of Sofonovo 1812 - Part 1.

This is a fictional, hopefully plausible battle designed to ebb & flow over a plateau while building as off table reinforcements arrive. The town of Sofonovo lies west of Borodino on the road east to Moscow, the target of Napoleon Bonaparte's invasion of Tsarist Russia. In our game the town sits on the edge of the plateau commanding the Moscow Road. The two opposing armies would jockey for position to control this vital position.

Looking north eats over the large central plateau from the south west.
Sofonovo juts up abruptly from the corner of the ridgeline . 
The rules we use for this game are the newish General d'Armee set by Dave Brown. We love them for big battalion big table Napoleonics, you may have other preferences. The table is 14'6 x 14' spread over three tables. This will take a few weeks and about 24 turns to thrash out.

I created the battlefield & scenario, it would pit all of Russian Tony's Russians plus my Russian Life Guard corps versus a comparable French army from my collection. I came up with a "pre-game protocol" to decide who deployed where. Each side could commit any number of light cavalry regiments and ADC's to the manoeuver phase. Each added 1d6 to the pool, these are rolled and the total wins. The Russians put in 4 Cossack pulks & an ADC, the French 3 regiments of hussars & one ADC as I recall. The French won by just won point chosing to attack. Then we rolled 1d6 for each scouting regiment, a 1 meant the regiment was lost and wouldn't return in time for the battle; 2-5 = 2-5 casualties; 6 = no losses. For ADC's 1 = lost, 2-5 just fine. The Russians were forced to defend the plateau & therefore deployed first leaving the French free to deploy second but with comparable forces to attack with, they'll need that advantage. The French losses were scant but the Cossacks took a thrashing!          

Russian heavy cavalry deployed ready for action, up front, close & personal. 
The disadvantage of deploying first was that you show your hand early allowing the enemy to react to your dispositions making up for not having the traditional superiority in numbers needed to attack a fixed position. As defender one way to mitigate against this would be to keep significant forces concealed off table in order to react if out-deployed. This was lost on the Russians!  

Countless massed Russians strung out along the ridge line with supporting batteries & half batteries.
Sofonovo looms above proceedings.
The position of off table reserves for the attackers were to be noted at deployment as they were attacking on two separated fronts. Those of the defenders had only one central entry point about four to five feet wide. Typically each side would keep divisions of heavy cavalry, reserve artillery parks and Guard formations in reserve. This was also mostly lost on the Russians.  

Russian foot awaits the onslaught in the shade of a wood on the Sofonovo ridge.  
I have lost the pictures from week one showing the initial moves so these depict moves 3 to 7 played on week 2. Week 1 was the pre-game scouting, planning, deployment & first two turns only.

A great way to spend an evening frankly; a beer, a map, an orbat & a fiendishly cunning plan. 
   
You might spot the odd Prussian battalion or skirmisher. Tony is frantically basing a few more battalions to replace these proxies. Maybe they are Russo Prussian Legion?
   
The question of too much cavalry & a wide open space. 


The pictures above depict large numbers of Russian cavalry massed on the extreme Russian right flank. Basically three formations! Opposite was a wide open valley rising to another ridge line on the French lines. To the left of this was a wooded hill. By deploying all of that horseflesh so brazenly the French could either counter it with there own cavalry reserves thus nullifying both sides mounted arm OR
they could shove some infantry in square with more in the woods plus a battery and simply seal off the flank. In effect this neutralized the Russian threat by emasculating it simply through lack of opportunity. Possibly there is French cavalry off board here who knows? Time will tell.

The Russians sensing they had been out deployed rushed forward with a light cavalry brigade plus a half horse battery to shoot up the Saxon squares. In addition they rushed up a Guard Horse Battery from resreve to batter a way through.
Here the Guard Horse battery arrives before deploying.      

Covered by the Saxons, (off stage right), the Bavarians move cautiously down into the valley screened by skirmishers and supported by their own divisional foot battery. One assumes these are off to attack Sofonovo which is under feeling the heat!       

Sofonovo and its defenders and considerable support in depth.

Russian 12lb foot battery outside Sofonovo. Fire from this battery caused some initial "wobbles" amongst the Bavarians.  

Great close-up of one of Tony's lovely Russian battalions. Lovely paint job by Tony, hand made flags, finials by Bicorne.
Wargames Foundry models - real characters all of them.   

The arrival of the French Imperial Guard.

An atmospheric shot of the French in the eastern sector.
This is turn 7 and the Imperial Guard infantry are arriving. Proceeding them are the Poles who are approaching Sofonovo off screen left; the Polish battery is just beyond the wood. The Guard artillery Grand Battery is up on the hill. Dupont's attack is scaling the ridgeline. On the far table to the north we see Lecchi & Delzons assaulting the Abbey of St Melania, Pajol's light cavalry are beyond them and top right the Westphalians arrive. The French are increasing the pressure in the east.   

Middle Guard. These are the 1st Tirailleurs Chasseurs with the 2nd Tirailleurs Chasseurs behind them.
Elite minis with Front Rank mounted officer GMB flag.
Painted by tony Laughton for me.

Middle Guard. These are the 1st Tirailleurs Grenadiers with the 2nd Tirailleurs Grenadiers behind them.
Elite minis with Front Rank mounted officer GMB flag.
Painted by tony Laughton for me.

These two sister regiments were a fun design project for Tony & I. We used Elite Miniatures because they look so aggressive surging forward. We decided to differentiate between the 1st & 2nd battalions of each regiment visually. Tony discovered that each first Regiment was led by officers from the corresponding Old Guard Regiment, so we used Front Rank mounted OG officers in each & Front Rank MG officers in the 2nd Regiments. Another visual aid to distinguishing the 1st from 2nd is the addition of a finial & cords to the banner pole in each 1st battalion. This isn't apparently what they had but it looks good and that's what counts in my book!

Since discovering the Elite Minis Classic range I will in time replace these four battalions with Elite Classics and convert these to 1809 Young Guard proxies by a simple repaint.  

The Guard infantry from my collection under Friant. The two forty strong Old Guard battalions bring up the rear.
See my last post for details on these.

The French deployed the Old Guard Grand Battery on this long low hill from the outset. Along with Dupont's foot battery the French opening bombardments dominated the centre. Concentrated fire with "Assault fire" orders forced the withdrawal of a Russian 6 gun 12lb foot battery and then caused such havoc amongst the dense Russian columns that they also retired to the rear to lick their wounds and reorganise. This allowed Dupont's attack to cross the valley floor unmolested to attack the exposed Russian centre beyond the Sofonovo ridge line.     

More French & allied batteries.

This Polish foot battery arrived on about turn 5 or 6 as part of the Polish Division. It immediately began to fire on the Russians in front of Sofonovo in preparation for an apparent infantry assault by the Poles.  

Dupont's foot battery deployed near the farm complex. Seen here bombarding the Russian centre to the north of Sofonovo.  

This is an Italian 12lb foot battery from either Delzon or Lecchi's Division. Despite being very nearly overrun by Cossacks in the very early turns it survived and shot up the Russians around the Abbey.  

Things are happening.


Pressure builds in the east as Poles attack with the Imperial Guard foot in support.  

The Westphalians arrive behind the two Italian Divisions but seem to be heading south, possibly to support Dupont?
Here we see four battalions of Elite Minis Westphalians with one battalion of  Portuguese Legion attached, all painted by Alan Tuckey of Blue.Turkey. Perry officers & skirmishers painted by Barry Hill. 

The Italian attacks on the Russian left - the forthcoming struggle for Sofonovo Abbey.


Italians virtually queuing up to attack Sofonovo as Lecchi & Delzons "go in"!

Sofonovo Abbey is defended by the Opelchenie - gentle kind hearted souls who utterly respect the sanctity of nuns.  
Sofonovo Abbey, depicted by this church & graveyard, is home to the order of St. Melania. She is of course patron "Saint of long suffering wives of men with small minds & smaller hands". As the firestorm threatens to engulf the small wooden Abbey will the venerable abbess stoically remain in situ or lead her nuns to safety? The eyes of the world are upon you Abbess...

On reflection I shall introduce a rule for the Abbess & photograph her for you. I think that while she stays in her burning Abbey her inspiring presence will provide a morale bonus to the militia, possibly making them "enthusiastic". Once she leaves with her flock this is lost. something like that anyway.

Russian infantry in line along the escarpment fending of French skirmishers. They have already seen off an attack by French light horse. The storm is about to break. 

Pajol's light cavalry were shaken by the loss of the 3rd Hussars in a spectacular but costly charge.
For now they are content to sit behind their guns and take pot shots at the Russians.      

The attack by Lecchi & Delzons on the Abbey of Sofonovo.
Russian militia clench their buttocks & nuns grit their teeth as the storm approaches.   

Russian infantry in support of the left situated behind the Abbey.
The big battery was displaced from the centre as it fled so disgracefully from Dupont.

Meanwhile back in the centre...

The Russian centre has run away leaving two battalions of Militia to fend off Dupont.
Supporting formations rush to plug the gap before a disaster becomes catastrophic. 

General Seivers heavy cavalry. 2 x 32 dragoons, 1 x 32 uhlans and a horse battery.
112 cavalry models plus 3 guns.  

General Duka's cuirassiers. The Novgorod & Starodub, each 32 strong. 

Dupont's French struggle to make headway against Russian militia & get mauled by Russian hussars having carelessly  exposed a flank. They were lucky not to be cut down, suffering only a retreat & blushes!
The Russians got lucky, this action saved the whole centre from unraveling.
The Russian C-in-C very nearly levitated with unashamed joy!

The skirmish screen for Tony's Grenadier division is made up of drummers, a superb idea which I wish I had thought of.

The disgraced Russians who retired from the centre exposing the whole position to Dupont's attack.
Here they compose themselves after a bollocking from their general - time to get back in there & help out those militia.     

There we leave The Battle of Sofonovo for this week. Hopefully I'll get an update out next week after we play again on Tuesday. This is building up to be a classic Marauder Slug fest with lots of unknowns to be revelaed.

Feel free to comment, we Marauders appreciate every word.  

Marauder HQ as never seen before. 

A rare peek behind the scenes at Marauder HQ. This is our scenery store room. As you can see it's bursting at the seams! Infact we plan to sell some off on ebay, possibly as boxed sets for both 28mm & 15mm. I'll keep you posted re these sales and the pending sale of various models including many Napoleonics from my collection which is being restructured.       

This is a bit ridiculous really!


The Grand Redoubt bottom left!
See ya!

Jeremy