Thursday 25 August 2016

Balkans interlude: A Crimean War game

If I start this piece by saying that the scenario was set up as a race against time for both sides. Would the Russians manage to defeat the numerically and qualitatively inferior Turks before they were reinforced? Or would the Turks hold the Russians up until their reinforcements (either more Turks, British or French) turned up? As it played out it was slightly (as in very) different as the Russians managed to bodge up their attack before either the Turks were beaten or were reinforced. The Russian attack was blunted and the attack collapsed quite rapidly as two brigades were broken and a third was largely off table due to a blunder, a truly sad day for the Russian bear! Robbie came up for the game. John had planned to have been there as well but he was not well.

Robbie's instructions as the Turkish commander (Rodd Pasha) were:

"You are besieging Russian forces in the Bulgarian town of Silislava. Due to storms and supply issues the Allied army has remained in and around Varna rather than continue with the planned investment and capture of Sevastopol in the Crimea. They are presently supporting the Turkish effort to drive the Russians back across the border. To the north of the ridge and entrenchment is the town of Silislava. To the south is the estuary of the River Vulasychytolova. West are your Allies and to the East is a Russian Corps attempting to relieve Silislava. You must not allow your troops to be driven off or to loose the entrenchment and the vitally important siege train."

Once the Russian attack commended Robbie threw a D6 each score each turn, an odd number resulting in a randomly decided reinforcement arriving either on the west road or on the ridge.

 The field of battle. The blue wall is north. We were fighting more-or-less down the length of the table for a change. Bad idea Colin. The Russians would enter either through the ravine, on a road to the right or the road on the eastern table edge.
 The main Turkish entrenchment. The garrison was a battalion of regular infantry and two siege guns manned by British Royal Artillery.
 One Russian brigade entered through the ravine and quickly got slowed down by the squeeze and poor command rolls and hovering Bashi-Bazouks who even dared a charge into the flank of one of the Russian columns as they moved into the wooded hills! They bounced of course but it was annoying and slowed me down.
 My Cossacks had driven off more Bashi-Bazouks, freeing up the road for the entry of my hussar brigade and a further brigade of infantry.
 My artillery slowly made an appearance and eventually the heavy batteries deployed on the slight rise (near the sheep). Unfortunately they were masked by my cavalry and infantry and unable to engage immediately. When they did it was largely ineffective. I had been banking on the Russian superiority in artillery (4 large batteries of two models each as Russian batteries had 12 cannon) and 16 battalions of Russian infantry being able to punch a hole through the Turkish line.
 Robbie's reinforcements were slow to appear (thankfully) and the first unit was a weak brigade of Turkish Reserve infantry. not very good. In the meantime Robbie had managed to bring both of his infantry brigades and two cavalry brigades up into line.
 The Turkish cavalry chanced their arms and attacked the Russian hussars and Cossacks but were driven back, although not without shaking one of my hussar regiments which was forced to withdraw. My Cossacks then advanced against the retreating Turks but were charged by a fresh unit and hit in the flank by another. Not surprisingly they were broken. I now had half of my cavalry out of action (I forgot almost to the end of the game that I had a brigade of two Ulan regiments to bring on, by which that time was not going to make any difference other than to say that at least my retreat would be covered.
 The main Russian gun line. This represents only half of my artillery as the other half of the brigade was stuck on the road on the other side of the village.
 The Russian corps commander (me) couldn't get anything right, even with the religious support. 
 In desperation I launched eight battalions of infantry against the Turkish line to attempt a breakthrough before the reinforcements arrived. By now there was also a regiment of French Chasseurs d'Afrique and a brigade of English infantry approaching so I needed to move fast. Sadly, the assault had some temporary success but overall failed as some good shooting by the Turks took the edge of the Russian columns and all of them were either broken or shaken within two turns.

So there you have it. The Russian defeat had taken barely 3 hours for me to engineer. To be fair the Turks put up a spirited and active defence, even the Bashi-Bazouks got into the action. Stars of the show were the Turkish cavalry who did excellent work slowing down my advance. Of course, IF half of my third brigade hadn't blundered off the table and IF I'd been able to get my massive artillery superiority into action sooner, and IF I'd not been so impetuous to launch my assault columns in frontal attacks on some pretty tough Turkish infantry supported by artillery then maybe the result would have been different. We shall never know. It was an enjoyable way to get my arse kicked by Johnny Turk and it was nice to see them do so well on the table again. I just need to do a little rebasing and organising and they will be up to scratch with the rest of my Crimean collection. I must also finish off my remaining Russians (a brigade of dragoons and some Naval infantry) to even the odds.

In terms of the rules Black Powder as always worked well. I make the regular Turkish infantry 'tough fighters' and the Russian infantry all have a stamina of 4 which I think reflects their ability to take a great deal of punishment.


  1. Robbie had told me that he had won a spectacular victory in the face of great odds. Looks like a great game Colin.

  2. A nice period to play, beautiful terrain and minis...great looking game!

  3. Very inspiring. One day I'll finish painting mine. Love the use of Turks.

  4. Super report and photos Colin. Finished all those French yet?

  5. Always enjoy your Crimean reports. Outstanding miniatures and beautiful terrain. Always a interesting scenario. They are a joy.

  6. Hello That is by far best looking Crimean Battle I have seen! Great looking miniatures. May I ask sir what scale are they? If they are 15mm may I ask where you got the fort and the Real nice British 10in Howizer and that Super 32 ld Fortress Gun? I have been trying to find both in 15mm. Any help I would be most Greatful:-) Thank you God Bless From Dave in USA oh also could I ask who made the super nice miniatures Thanks