Sunday 16 March 2014

The Battle of Fort Reidevich, Crimean War battle report, Black Powder

Saturday saw another outing for my Crimean collection. Rob and John (Reidy) together with John (McCann) from the Durham club joined me for a game using Black Powder. John R and I ended up being the Russians while Rob and John M took the combined British, French and Turkish army.

The scenario was set shortly after Balaklava, therefore there were no British light cavalry (although I do have them and they had an impressive debut during the last Crimean game). Basically the Russians had constructed Fort Reidevich across the Tractir river and a little to the east of the scene of the Light Brigade's 15 minutes of fame several days earlier. They had to hold the earthwork and control the bridge. The Allies had to cross the river and take the earthwork. The river was deemed to be wide but shallow so movement was reduced to half when in it. Forces were as follows:

Heavy cavalry brigade of 5 small units of British heavy dragoons with attached horse artillery
Guards brigade - 3 btns plus a battery of field artillery
Highland brigade - 3 btns plus a battery of field artillery
The 'Light' Division made up of two brigades, each of 3 btns of line infantry, half a btn of rifles and a battery of artillery
French brigade of 4 btns of infantry
Turkish brigade of 4 small btns of infantry

The British CinC (Raglan) was rated at 6, the cavalry and Turkish commanders were 7s, the French and the Highland brigade were rated 9 and the rest were 8s.

2 Regts of Cossacks acting independently with attached horse battery
Hussar brigade of 2 regiments and a horse artillery battery
Uhlan brigade of 2 regiments and a horse artillery battery
Four brigades (actually regiments) each of 4 btns plus a large battery of artillery represented by two guns models each as Russian artillery batteries had 12 guns!
Two of the brigades had half a btn of riflemen attached.
The fort was garrisoned by a very large smooth bore cannon!

Russian cavalry commanders were rated 7 and everyone else was rated 8.

 (The leading Allied troops advance in the centre: l to r British, Turks, The Highlanders and French)
(Russian infantry in the centre make for the bridge, behind them the Reidevski redoubt and Hussars and Cossacks in the far distance)
(French infantry reach the bridge)
(Close up of the Russian cavalry on the right flank)
(On the Russian left, Cossacks are pinned mid-river while the 6th Uhlan Brigade finds itself with nowhere to go once across the river)
(The distinctive Russian Moscow infantry regiment advancing towards the bridge supported by their attached artillery)
(The Reidevski Redoubt)
(The heros of the day make an appearance: The Turks!)
(The Russian left with the Cossacks still stuck in the river!))
(Allied right flank, the severely battered English hanging on in the face of Russian cavalry on their flank and massed artillery to their front)
(Highlanders and Guards advance)
(Zouaves storming across the bridge)
(The Turks crossing the river just before they beat off a Russian counter attack)
(The Guards across the river about to assault the redoubt)
(Picture found on the body of a dead British staff officer)

The battle was long and bloody, punctuated by some heroic (and less than heroic) actions. On the Allied left the heavy cavalry failed, with one exception, to get across the river, as they steadfastly refused to become engaged. One Russian hussar regiment was seen off but apart from that very little happened apart from artillery exchanging fire throughout the day.

Around the bridge and redoubt, the French were quick to storm across the bridge. They defeated one Russian battalion but were broken by another. In fact three out of four French battalions were broken in and around the village and bridge area. The Highland brigade did manage to get into action despite some dreadful command scores and a blunder, but were held up and then forced back by heavy artillery fire and a counter attack by several Russian battalions. The Guards fared little better as they suffered heavily in crossing the river and their assault on the redoubt. They overwhelmed the gunners but were then ejected by two Russian battalions.

In the centre it was very different. The Russian artillery had blundered in move 1 and ended up right on the riverbank limbered up in full view of the English artillery and a battalion of infantry. Half the battery remained disordered and limbered up for the entire game! The Turkish brigade advanced steadily across the river, exchanging shots with Russian riflemen until they were able to drive them off. Two Russian battalions then charged the Turks but after two rounds of melee were destroyed or driven off. On the Russian left their Uhlans managed to ride over one English battalion which failed to form square properly but otherwise the arrival of further English reinforcements prevented any more aggressive moves by the Russian cavalry, although the infantry on this flank did make a belated and unnecessary advance into the middle of the river.

We called it a day at that point. Neither army was broken, although the Allies were perilously close having got three spent brigades. The valiant Turks were almost, but not quite, a spent force. Nevertheless, the Allies had failed in gaining their objectives and the Russians still held the redoubt.

I think everyone enjoyed the game. With hindsight I might have made the Russians a little too tough and hard to kill, but I was expecting the British and French Minee rifle-armed troops to shoot up the densely packed Russian columns. Next time perhaps.....


  1. Very impressive looking battle and the result sounds about right.

  2. Thanks Joe. The British should have done better and made use of their superior firepower but it wasn't to be!

  3. Colin's account gracefully overlooks our questionable decision to hold back our reserve brigade of British line (off table) to maintain psychological pressure on the Russians before marching on, to seal victory. They stayed off to long and then declined to get too close to the river to make any difference.

    Pleased with Jonny Turk though. They were a brigade of 4 small battalions, who saw off 4 large Russian battalions through a combination of excellent shooting and resolute use of the bayonet. This broke the Russian centre and contributed to the stalling of the Russian counter attack on the Allied Right flank. If only the rest of the allied forces had performed to the same standard!!

    Good game and excellent host

  4. Evening Colin,
    That's easy for you to say.I never realised that the Russian Crimean army were supplied with Kevlar vests. You couldnt kill the buggers with a machine gun.
    Great game though. Pity about the dodgy photograph of me though.
    Thanks Robbie.

    1. Yes, I know with hindsight that I made the Russians too tough. Next time they will be less so and will be dropped in droves by English musketry!

  5. Looks fantastic. I would be interested in the BP troop stats you used? Thanks Mark

    1. Mark

      The British were more or less straight out of the book. The French got reliable attack column and first fire with the Zouaves getting ferocious charge. The Russians were too tough. I reduced their stamina from 4 to 3 but made them Stubborn. They were too hard to kill.

  6. Nice looking game there Colin

  7. Good to see the Turks and French on the table. Good looking game and excellent report.