Friday 14 December 2018

Encounter at McGonnigal's Farm, the Crimea, December 1854

Paul came over for our monthly game yestday and I thought we should dust off my Crimean War collection (well most of it) as they've not been on the table since before we moved to The Burrow.

The scenario involved a misdirected British supply column which had somehow found itself at McGonnigal's Farm (the owner was the son of a Scottish immigrant. There really was a MacKenzie's Farm close to Sebastopol by the way). Some sort of foul play or double dealing was suspected but Raglan was adamant that an English gentleman would never sell supplies for personal gain to the Russians, let alone the French or Johnny Turk. The priority was to recapture the farm and supplies, which had been taken by a strong Russian force the night before, especially as the winter snows were upon them.

"Due to a staff cock up or a conspiracy, your supplies were mysteriously taken to the abandoned McGonigal’s Farm to the North East of Sevastopol. The supplies include several new siege guns, powder and shot, officers’ personal consignments of food and clothing from the finest London establishments, horse shoes and fodder for the horses and blankets and greatcoats for the men. There might even be some food suitable for the rank and file as well. You must retake the Farm and drive off the Russian forces before they are able to remove the stores, which they MUST NOT be permitted to do!"


1st DIVISION: (8)

Brigade of Guards: (8)
3 btn Guards

Highland Bde: (9)
3 btn Highlanders
1 battery 9pdrs (3 models)

4th DIVISION (8)

Infantry Bde: (8)
Rifle Brigade ( 2 small battalions)
3 btn line infantry (SB)

Infantry Bde: (8)
3 btn line infantry (SB)

Light Cavalry Bde: (7)

5 small regiments

Heavy Cavalry Bde: (7)5 small regiments
1 troop horse artillery 6pdr (3 models)

The 1st Division is the finest in the army, and is armed with Minee rifles. The 4th Division are still armed with smooth bore muskets (except the Rifle Brigade of course who have Minee rifles). The entire mounted complement of the army was roused to go on this expedition and you have two excellent but poorly led cavalry brigades each of five weak regiments(little more than squadrons in reality). The only artillery available to join this force at such short notice is a battery of 9pdrs and a troop of 6pdr horse artillery attached to your cavalry.

The Russian orders were,  "Having overrun and captured the English supplies conveniently abandoned (as we had been led to expect) at McGonigal’s Farm during the night, your task is to hold the Farm for 6 turns to allow sufficient wagons to come up and remove the stores. They will take 1 D3+1 turns to load up. You may then withdraw if necessary after holding for another 2 moves to allow the wagons to get away."



16th DIVISION: (8)

8 btns infantry
1 small btn riflemen
1 Battery 8pdr guns (2 models)

17th DIVISION (7)
35th Bde: 4 btns infantry

Reserve Bde:(7)
4 btns Reserve infantry
1 small btn riflemen

Reserve Artillery Bde: (8)
2 batteries 12pdr guns (4 models)

Uhlan Bde: (8)
2 regt Uhlans

Hussar Bde: (7)
2 regt. Hussars
Cossack Bde: (8)
2 regt. Cossacks
1 battery light horse artillery (3 models)

We used Black Powder 2 and again switched the turn sequence so firing came before moving. Paul took the British leaving me with the Russian hoards. As usual I shall let the photos tell the story of how the battle unfolded.

The battlefield from the SE. 
Turn 1 saw the over-eager Heavy Brigade take three moves forward!
The Highland and Guards brigades advance, rather slowly. Paul was unsure whether to shot with superior firepower or get stuck in.
The Russian reserve artillery. Pretty ineffective as it turned out.
The Russian centre.
On the right the Russian cavalry charged the Light Brigade. It didn't go too well as one regiment was broken and another forced to withdraw shaken. However the Light Brigade also took heavy losses and became spent.
The Russian right. The remains of my cavalry in the foreground.
The Light Brigade, unable to advance as they were a spent force. Thankfully, as the Russian Uhlan brigade was also spent.
The British left was now held by two small battalions of riflemen, who caused a fair few casualties among the Russians facing them.
The Farm, stuffed with supplies and other goodies, held by a Russian Rifle battalion.
The British 4th Division advances, slowly, but not as slow as the Guards as they needed to get closer if they were to  get into range.
The  Heavy Brigade attack the guns! The Scots Greys were decimated and rout, but this allowed the Royals to charge my Cossacks and drive them back without being exposed to traversing fire from the canno. They followed up their victory and broke the second Cossack regiment. All of a sudden both Cossack cavalry regiments were gone, and  both cavalry units being broken or shaken this meant the artillery had to retire as well. Bum! My left flank was now up in the air!

As seen from the British right. The Russians have turned one of their batteries on the hill to face the threat to their flank while two battalions of Russian infantry hurry up in support.
The British 1st and 4th Divisions in the centre. Still preferring to take advantage of the Minee's superior range rather than advance. My artillery was causing a few casualties and disorder each turn while they  stood still.
The Russians holding the enclosure to the right of the farm.
Paul decided to throw caution to the wind. The Grenadier Guards charged the Russians in the enclosure but were unable to break in for two turns as even though the Russians lost each round of melee they passed every break test. Finally their luck ran out and the Guards made it over the wall and the Russians withdrew. The Russian battery was hit in the flank by the Scots Fusilier Guards and destroyed. The enclosure was captured!
The 4th Division in the centre deploys and begins trading fire with the Russians in the centre.
Paul (rather rashly I thought) charged the Russian guns. My closing fire was abysmal and I failed to stop him overrunning the battery.
After several failed attempts I managed to get my hussars and a battalion of infantry on my right to charge the British riflemen. I don't give skirmishers an automatic evade (they must pass a command test) and both failed. The unit facing the hussars stopped the charge in its tracks as the regiment became shaken AND disordered. With the other regiment in the brigade already shaken that meant the brigade was spent and out of the game. My infantry column made it through the closing fire, becoming disordered in the process. Some abysmal dice rolling by me and some excellent save throws by Paul  saw my battalion defeated. I rolled my break test and failed. Russian infantry are 'stoic' and get to preroll their first break test so I did, and threw even lower. In the box they went!
The Grenadiers followed up their victory and hit the retreating Russians again, this time breaking them.
At this point it was looking very bad for the Russians. Turn 6 had been and gone  but the wagons were still at the farm, and would be until turn 8. The Scots Fusilier Guards charged over the wall into the flank of a battalion of Russian reserve infantry, forcing them to retreat and leaving a nice hole in my centre. An attempt to carry out an all or nothing counter attack by the remaining battalions in my centre failed as they refused to move.
Very pretty.

The Russian centre was in a right pickle.
My left finally collapsed and with it my army reached its break point having lost  over half  of its brigades.
The annoying but relatively useless RHA troop.
The annoying and deadly RA battery that contributed to the collapse of my left.

HM 42nd Foot, the Black Watch.

HM 2nd Regiment of Footguards, the Coldstream Guards.

A rather empty and bleak looking battlefield.
A convincing British victory! The Russian army collapsed as over half of its brigades had been destroyed or were shaken. They were unable to prevent the recapture of McGonnigal's Farm and the wayward supplies so the officers of the British headquarters would dine well tonight! 

The game was fun and closer than the end result would suggest. The rules worked well and change in the move sequence worked nicely so I shall use it again. Paul isn't keen on the potential for doing three moves but it is simply part of the 'game' and helps speed things along, especially if one is not as specific as one ought to be when giving out orders! I also remembered how much I like the 'look' of my Crimean British in particular, and that I don't have enough Russians! Hurry up Warlord and get those plastic Crimean Russians done!

John the Red is coming over next week and we shall be doing something different.


  1. Well, that is simply just wonderful in every respect! I wish I'd not got rid of my Crimean War collection when I see something like this! Splendid!

  2. Another great looking game Colin!

  3. Lovely looking game, why do heavy cavalry always charge the guns ? A nice period to collect 🙂

  4. Another wonderful looking game:)

  5. Nice to see the Crimea, a rarity on the web. Makes me reminisce about my Douglas Miniatures figures.

  6. Splendid stuff Colin...
    It’s nice to see a big Crimean War game... I really should do more with my collection.

    All the best. Aly

  7. Wonderful report and a delight to see your beautiful crimean armies.

    Could you say how you did the game mat? I am planning a couple of winter battles in the coming year an need to make or buy one. Thank you!

    1. Thanks Mark. Glad you liked it. The mat was bought off a firm called Tiny wargamers here in the UK. Before I had this one I made my own. Go back a few years to my first battle of Leuthen post to see it. I took some roofing felt, (don't know what you'd call it in the US. The stuff that goes over the wooden lathes and under the shingles) and painted it white using a big old sponge to dab it on. The only thing to be wary off is wearing chunky woollen pullovers as they'll catch on the felt.