Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Russian Campaign at Michael's - Part 12

(Click here or click on the Campaign 09: Russia menu item to see all the parts with the latest at the top. A Campaign using Empire Campaign System and Empire V rules and Adler 6mm Napoleonic figures of the French invading Russia in 1812.)

All the while I was fighting with the Russian Grenadier corps to the south of our main army, my brother, a member of Marshal D'Erlons staff, was fighting to the north. I will let his letters describe the events ...

The campaign map showing the northern theatre. The main army travels along the main road seen in the bottom right of this picture. The contact is shown in the centre of the picture. 2 French formations in contact with 1 Russian formation.

"D'Erlons corps was little more than a couple of regiments of infantry and cavalry and 2 batteries of guns. They had split off a number of elements along the march to garrison key points as the army moved deeper into Russia. The Emperor knew the roads to the north of the line of advance need to stay open. He ordered D'Erlon to move parallel to the main army and agressively engage any enemy attempting to get around our lines and into the rear. To aid him, Napoleon attached a division of light cavalry from the Guard. This decision was to prove very important.

We contacted an enemy force of about a corps the same day you met with the Russian Grenadiers in the south. We guessed there to be around 2 divisions of infantry and some cavalry, so we decided to push the attack.

I was given command of the lead element, a division of cavalry made up of a brigade of 1 regiment of Portugese Dragoons and a brigade of 2 strong regiments of Polish Lancers and a single horse battery.

My command of 3 regiments of cavalry and a battery of horse artillery moving up the road. Nothing spotted yet.

My Polish horse.

We road up the track knowing that at any moment we would spot the enemy columns and need to deploy quickly. Especially if the enemy were light cavalry.

Behind us, the Marshal was moving what little infantry he had left (7 battalions in 2 brigades) to capture the small village to the left and rear of my position. A road led from the village to the main road in front me, the intersection of which was my destination.

D'Erlon's infantry moved behind me to capture the small village to the west of the main road.

Some of D'Erlon's infantry reaching the orchard to the east of the small village. D'Erlon and his staff are seen behind.

Before I could reach that location, I spotted enemy cavalry moving to my left towards the hills to the north of the village. I sent a courier back to D'Erlon immediately and I continued north along the road, cautiously.

Before long, I contacted columns of Russian infantry marching directly towards me. I deployed as if to charge and forced the enemy to stop and spread his formations wide. I ordered the 1st brigade, the Portugese leading, to charge aggressively. The enemy formed squares and began deploying his guns. I knew an attack on a fresh square was frivolous and so ordered the Dragoons to stand down.

Russian infantry spotted to the north on the road.

My cavalry force the enemy to disperse and slow down their advance.

It was then I received word that D'Erlon had deployed the Guard cavalry attached to our corps to deal with the enemy cavalry I had sighted earlier. They would not last long.

French Guard cavalry move to my left in between my formations and the small village to attack the enemy cavalry. I was very glad to hear of them arriving to assist.

More Guard cavalry. You just make out my division at the top of this picture.

In order delay the enemy infantry moving south, and enable our cavalry to attack unhindered, I led my 2nd brigade to the right of the road to extend my line and show more strength. This had the affect I wanted and soon many of the enemy battalions were forming square. My horse battery lept forward and began pounding the nearest square which began taking serious casualties.

Loads of enemy guns were now deploying in between the squares and I was forced to keep moving my regiments in order to deny the enemy of good targets. It was time for me to retire. My goal of forcing the enemy to deploy early had been achieved, and I knew it was just a matter of time before the enemy guns started to reap havoc in my units.

After threatening the enemy infantry, my regiments retire under the protection of skirmishers. You can see my horse battery blasting away at Russian squares in the top left.

The enemy formations spread out and in square at the end of the 1st hour of contact. They are advancing no more.

I retired all 3 regiments under a skirmish screen as my horse battery continued scoring hits on the enemy squares. Even they would need to retire soon."

The situation at the end of the 1st hour of contact. My division holds the enemy infantry to the north while our infantry have occupied the village and our Guard cavalry move off the road to hunt the enemy cavalry to the north of the village.

... to be continued ...

(Click here or click on the Campaign 09: Russia menu item to see all the parts with the latest at the top. A Campaign using Empire Campaign System and Empire V rules and Adler 6mm Napoleonic figures of the French invading Russia in 1812.)

1 comment:

Historyinminiature said...

This seems like a great campaign to take part, and it's great to read about it too. I'll be following the action.

What a nice blog you have - it's very inspiring!