- Andrew Hobley(Andrew H)United Kingdom
After the retreat from Smolensk Kutuzov took charge and the Russian army stopped in a defensive position around Gorki. The main defensive line lay along the Kolocha river; to the south the village of Shevardino had a redoubt built to reinforce the southern flank. Around 4pm on 5 September, while the French army was still arriving Napoleon decided the village needed to be taken to allow the army to deploy. So I and IV Corps came off their march order into attack, the Poles of V Corps moved from the south, and Murat led the I and II Cavalry Corps between the infantry. Most of the Russian army stayed in its positions (marked with ‘Out of Command’ makers on the map; they can activate as alternative reinforcements, or if the French get too close) while Bagration’s VII and VII Corps held the redoubt.
Card play for the first round for the French had all forces in command at the start, the Russian’s drew the ‘scattered’ card; I played this as only affecting the forces the Russians can use so Bozozdin’s units around the redoubt were affected.
The French I and IV Corps cavalry attacked Korf’s II Cavalry Corps, which was part of the rear-guard and routed it, pushing the rear-guard back across the river and freeing up the French to move IV Corps south over the river. As Murat led the cavalry into the woods south-west of the redoubt 5 Division of I Corps moved across the river and attacked the village, taking it despite heavy odds. The Russian counter-attack flanked the French and retook the village, routing Duppeline’s brigade.
Davout then tried to order I Cavalry Corps north, resulting in a row with Murat; Napoleon having to intervene to command I Corps units and both leaders moving away from each other. IV Corps had managed to get enough units across the river to attack VII Corps flank, initial attacks were thrown back.
To the south the Poles moved slowly. Krapov’s Cossacks and the Moscow militia were able to reinforce the flank. A Polish attack by 16 Division at the south resulted in Rybinski’s Poles being taken in the flank and the Cossack pursuit overran the V Corp’s artillery which had been bought up in support. At the end of the day the Poles and French cavalry managed to push back the Russians, routing a brigade of militia.
Back in the centre the Davout and Eugene had managed to organise their forces for an attack just before nightfall.
Davout himself led the 5/I Division to take the redoubt, 1/I Division took the village and IV Corps drove back the Russians to the north. As night fell it was unclear if the French would be able to hold their positions next day, or if the Russians would fall back.
As far as casualties were concerned the Russians lost more, but if II Cavalry had not been pocketed the losses would have been almost even. But as well as having held Shevardino village for most of game (1 VP per turn each side holds the village) the VP hexes to the east also count. So 10:6 VPs in favour on the Russians and a Tactical victory.
This is an interesting little scenario. The French have problems getting their forces in place, with a stream to cross, and I am not sure my moves were the best there could have been. The Poles failing to move two out of five turns (which is statistically about right for Poniatowski’s initiative) did not help, and the militia and Cossacks moved at just the right moments. It is a crowded battlefield – and French problems with forming up and Russian counter-attacks does not bode well for Borodino.
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