Douglas Miniatures Logo

Douglas Miniatures Logo

Saturday 18 February 2017

Battle of the Tchernaya River 16th August 1855 - War-game

This was to be the last major land battle during the Crimean war, fought between the allied French, Sardinian and Turkish forces against the Russian field army. The Russians launched their attack in the early hours of 16 August 1855 with around 58,000, mainly infantry, troops. Their plan was to attack the allies in the rear across the Tchernaya River in an attempt to break the siege of Sevastopol. This would be their third and final attempt to do so, having failed to succeed in doing this at Balaclava and Inkerman.

The allied force consisted of mostly French troops, supported by Sardinians and some Turks, that were positioned along the North edge of the Fedioukine Hills. The photo below gives an overview of the main part of the battlefield, with allies at the top of the map and the Russians at the bottom:

For this game I am using a gridded board, with 5 inch hexagons. The rules I will use will be an adaptation of Bob Cordrey's portable war games system. Here are some further views of the battlefield and opposing forces:

Off to the right, not shown above, are the Turks, the Sardinians can be seen in the background:

Forward of the allied line is a small hill, known as Telegraph Hill, which covers one of the river crossings. This was defended by Sardinian light infantry behind some field works:

 This is the allied centre, with French troops guarding the key Tractir Bridge.

 The French left, with the Tractir Bridge in the background
 An overview of the allied centre from the left.

 Now the Russians:

On the Russian right is Read's Corps:
While in the centre and left we have Liprandi's Corps:
From the Russian left the Telegraph Hill feature can be seen in the background:
Finally a look along the Russian line from the left:
Some notes:
The Tchernaya River was a deep wade, with difficult banks. There was also a second water obstacle; an aqueduct which ran parallel to the river. I have not included this using the river to represent the complete valley floor, as in reality there were also ditches and dykes. To reflect this the river will restrict movement, taking a complete turn to cross, except via the two bridges.

The hills are quite steep giving the defender higher up an advantage.

In the real battle the command and control of the Russian forces was poor, leading to a piecemeal attack before they were properly prepared. I will reflect this at the outset.

Monday 13 February 2017

Battle Report - Game Number Three

Short, but not so sweet...............

I started off by deciding by dice whether the opposing commanders were bold, average or cautious. The Rebel General, Brig Gen Stone Jaw Mackeson proved to be bold and aggresive, whilst his opponent, Union Brig Gen Nate Burman was deemed to be cautious.

Turn one:

The rebels kick off by ordering the cavalry to sweep around their right flank behind the wood to threaten the union line:

Also, Mackeson ordered the two infantry Regiments, Alabama (nearest the camera) and Kentucky to rush forward, take and hold the wall, supported by the gun, which also advances:

The more cautious Burman decides to sit tight, making slight adjustments by ordering the New York Regiment up to the Turnpike aligned with the Ohios on the left; although he orders his cavalry to sweep around to the right and threaten the Kentucky regiment:

 The New Yorkers advance to the Turnpike:

The Union gun fires an opening salvo, but misses its target.

Turn 2
The rebel gun unlimbers and both the Alabama and Kentucky regiments continue their advance. Now the rebel commander shows some indecision, as he sees the union cavalry sweeping around the wood on his left flank and the solid line of the Ohio Regiment; so he orders his cavalry to halt and about turn to meet the Union cavalry. The rebel infantry. spurred on by 'ol Stone Jaw reach the wall

While the rebel cavalry about turn:
The Union side have now formed a defence line consisting of the two infantry regiments and the gun, which fires a salvo into the Alabama regiment, causing some casualties. However, worse still for the Kentucky boys is a ripple of volleys from the Ohios, which drops 5 figures. The rebel infantry take a morale test and both regiments stand.

Turn 3
Turn three turns out to be pivotal. Both sides exchange fire at medium range. The rebel  infantry volleys drop 3 New Yorkers and one Ohio; however, the union fire is devastating - the Kentucky regiment loses 13 and the Alabamas take three more casualties. Worse still, General Stone Jaw falls from his horse mortally wounded. The rebel infantry are shaken and the Alabamas break and pull back, leaving the exposed Kentucky regiment.

Meanwhile on the flank union cavalry surge forward to assault the Kentucky regiment.
The rebel cavalry rush to assist the infantry, but are still some way off.

Turn 4
The situation for the rebels looks dire; their general is gone, their infantry have lost over 50% of their number and one regiment has broken. The Kentucky regiment is about to be smashed by Union cavalry. On the Union side, despite a few casualties morale remains solid.

As the Kentuckys attempt to meet the oncoming Union cavalry the charge goes home and Union general Burman orders the New Yorkers to advance:

The Kentucky Regiment is slaughtered and the union cavalry take just one casualty. In the background the retreating Alabama regiment rallies and the rebel cavalry are almost in position to attack their union counterparts. A lucky salvo from the the Union gun destroys the rebel artillery, knocking it out completely.

Turn 5
It looks like the  end for the rebels, however the Alabama Regiment fires into the rallying Union cavalry bringing down several men and horses, and as the Union horsemen try to withdraw the rebel cavalry crashes into their flank completely destroying the regiment.
The Ohios have by now moved forward to the wall and prepare to fire at the Alabama Regiment.

Turn 6
The rebel cavalry quickly reorganise and decide to charge into the New York Regiment, but before they make contact they are met with 4 volleys of rifle fire, and are destroyed.

On the other flank the Ohios fire into the already weakened Alabama Regiment and are reduced by half their strength. It is the end. The Alabama Regiment breaks and flees the field and the Union forces are victorious.

Verdict? The Union forces have swept the field, losing just their cavalry, while just about destroying the rebels. This is the fastest wargame I have ever played; just over one hour and 6 moves. The rules work - they are very simple, but give good results. I will use them again in the future - being more aware of the devastating effect of rifle fire.


Sunday 12 February 2017

Game Number 3 - Donald Featherstone

Continuing the revisit of my vintage wargame books, I stumbled across a demonstration game in "Battles with Model Soldiers" by Donald Featherstone, which pitches two small forces together on a basic wargames table.

The battle is designed to demonstrate the horse and musket rules described in the book. The rules are not set out as tables, so I had to pick through the text - although that did not take long as they are very simple:

The game is played on a balanced table with a road running diagonally across it, a single wall and two woods, one on each flank:

This is my interpretation of the map with the troops set out - a gun, two regiments of infantry and one regiment of cavalry each side:

I had planned to use my Airfix ACW troops, but they are not organised as per these rules, so I dug out the box of Britains plastics. Infantry Regiments consist of 20 men, a standard bearer and an officer. I had just enough for the two the regiments needed for each side. The guns are by Timpo, with four Imex gunners. Cavalry regiments consist of nine men, one officer and a standard bearer. Some views of the troops:



I will report on the battle and how the rules worked in my next post.