Tuesday, 11 September 2012

The Polish at Borodino- 200th Anniversary Refight

The weekend marked the anniversary of the battle of Borodino, a brutal affair to capture some fleches and a redoubt, as well as massive infantry and cavalry engagements on either flank.

All told, our refight had 30 odd players, some 4500 miniatures of infantry, cavalry and artillery. Where was I in all this? Well, commanding Polish of course!

Commanded by Prince Józef Antoni Poniatowski himself!

I had dreamed of doing a whole lot of painting for it, but it was not meant to be. New job, sickness and the real issue of me not being able to sit down and paint the same thing for more than 2 days (you might have noticed I have been VERY random of late) meant that all I got finished was 6 guns with their crew. But more on those soon.

The polish were tasked with taking the right flank, there was a village and a couple of strategically important hills which I needed to cover. The Russians were defending with a lot of infantry (Russians always do) and a fair few guns!

Due to me not getting painting done, my army was a mix of Swiss and Bavarian models.

The fighting began with a massive artillery bombardment from the French Grand Battery, the roar of the cannon could be clearly heard on the right flank!

The Polish moved with all haste to secure the village ahead of them, but were slowed somewhat by the orchards and other obstacles ahead of them.

The village was defended by Cossacks and line infantry.

Soon, battle was joined over the village.

The Polish were quick to cause casualties among the Russians, to push them back in disorder, but were unable to push the advantage and destroy them! The Russians are stubborn!

It was at this point where the French Commander Junot arrived with a whole corps of French Infantry and some light cavalry to reinforce the flank. The poles had not asked for reinforcement, nor expected it (historically this didn't happen), but once the French arrived, they were quickly thrown into the fray against more enemy. A cavalry charge went in against the Russian infantry, only to be pushed back because of them forming square.

But it was the French attacking from the other side of the village that pushed the Russians back on multiple flanks, causing them to break and run, taking the division with them!

But there was always more, just over the next hill...

The Polish swarmed into the village, ensuring that there were no russians lurking there, and prepared to surge over the hill to meet the enemy...

Cavalry roared over the hill to force the enemy into square formation, which were then charged by Infantry or shot down by artillery. The once mighty Russian Grenadiers were worn down and destroyed...

After repeating the trick twice, and winning a skirmish engagement in the woods, the Grenadiers too broke and ran. The entire Russian corps on the left flank was broken!

But there were more reserves that Kutzov could send, and the first was Curiassers and heavy artillery...

Polish discipline allowed them to move forward in line to fire at the cavalry, while skirmishing units were flanking them through the woods. A massive melee had started to develop in the woods to the immediate Polish left, with Junot pushing his infantry through to try to flank the Redoubt. The Polish would continue their march up the Right Flank.

And that ended day one! a full day's gaming, great successes to the Polish!

Day two began more auspiciously, messengers were running in and out telling of casualties on the French left flank.

The Polish sent one of their light units through the woods to support the French, succeeding in pushing back one of the enemy Russian Grenadier units (more damn grenadiers)

The reserve Curiassiers were gunned down by Polish musketry and artillery, breaking them from the field of battle too. In a rush of blood, on infantry unit sought to crash through the Russian artillery battery...

And got slaughtered in closing fire for their stupidity!

The guns were dispatched with some very close range cannister fire from the Polish guns, as well as musketry from the Polish infantry.

It was at this time that Kutzov dispatched the finest of the Russian army, the Guard Cavalry to the Polish flank in an attempt to stem the successful advance. The guard initially had successes, pushing back the lighter Chasseurs, but were unable to stand against the musketry and gunnery which had been deployed on the strategically important Utitsa rise (where historically the Polish finished the day, after a costly frontal assault). More Grenadiers had appeared to prevent the turning of the fleches and the melee in the forest continued.

And here was more or less where the Polish game finished. Polish infantry had managed to cross the entire board, getting to the Russian board edge and were preparing to cut the road to Moscow to ensure the total defeat of the Russian army. The battle in the woods had been won, but at great cost. The Russian defenders had fallen back from the woods, in good order and were preparing to recieve the next Polish advance.

But it was not to be, the French Centre had smashed through the fleches and the redoubt, destroying the corps in the centre. The left flank held just long enough to ensure that the victory was had. So a glorious Victory to the French!

You know it is a big game when you need a score board to track the divisions destroyed...

It was a fantastic weekend, and in all honesty, I have no clue what went on anywhere further than about 2 feet to my left flank! Big thanks to all those involved, who brought armies, who put up with my dumb rules questions, to my allies and opponents.

We are already starting the next plan. It is the 150th anniversary of Gettysburg next year, as well as the 200th anniversary of the battle of Leipzig. We agreed that Gettysburg should be in Christchurch, with Leipzig in Wellington. But more on those in the future....

If anything, Leipzig is an excuse for more Polish!

Poles! Huzzah!

To find out more about the battle, head to...

Craig's Blog
Kent's Blog
Roger's Blog
Adam's Blog (with a suspiciously large amount of photos of Cossacks...)
And there is even a movie!


I have a 6mm game and some white washing tips coming up soon...



  1. Looks great. I would be keen to get involved with Gettysburg look forward to more news on that.

  2. Excellent report Pooch!
    Great showing on the day as well.

    Yeah, I had a hard time with my new camera. It's sorted now though. That and I get along with cossacks.

  3. Great pics Chris and report i know what you mean with so much happening around you the rest of the table seemed a world away but great fun

  4. I had a great position, I had a feeling that great things were happening on our far left flank- usually thanks to Phil's dire warnings of an imminent collapse, but he managed to slow your advance down a bit.

    Also, to my right where we could sense the cavalry battle unfolding but yes, you soon got sucked into focusing on your own sector- a truly inspiring event to be part of!


  5. Great photos and report from your end of the table Chris. An awesome game to be part of, for sure.Thanks for the link back to my blog too.

  6. Lovely! Really liked the the report focussing on just one aspect of the battle… it gives a good contrast to the other reports from the events!