Monday 16 November 2020

Crimean War revisited

This week's game was going to be a bit of a nostalgic trip back to perhaps three years ago when I last fielded the Crimean War collection in a fictional encounter to the North East of Sebastopol. I also thought I'd put together some amendments so we could use the mechanics found within Honours of War. The Crimean collection is another  one of those that was exciting to put plan and together, and which visually, though I say so myself, looks stunning and evokes a few memories of Tony Richardson's iconic and very anti-war 1967 Charge of the Light Brigade movie (oh whatever happened to all those cut scenes, like the charge of the Heavy Brigade? Criminal).


Anyway, it is August 1854 and the Russians have sent the VIth Corps to capture a large British supply shipment which had been 'abandoned' due to incompetence and/or corruption in the village of Storye Cheri. Lord Raglan has ordered Lord Lucan to take the Light Brigade of cavalry and the 1st and 4th Divisions to ensure the damned French, er Russians don't sneak off with their loot and leave the army in even more dire straits than they would normally find themselves on campaign.



Brigade of Guards:
3 btn Guards (S)

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


Infantry Bde:
Rifle Brigade (S)
3 btn line infantry (S/Smoothbore) 

Infantry Bde:
3 btn line infantry (S/Smothbore)
1 battery 9pdrs (1 model)

Light Cavalry Bde:
5 small regiments S/small)
1 troop horse artillery 6pdr (1 model)

POSSIBLE REINFORCEMENTS: (1D6 to select brigade, arrives on T?)

Ottoman Brigade: (Score 1-3)
1 regiment of cavalry (I)
1 ‘regiment’ of Bashi-Bazouks (I)
6 btns line infantry (I)
1 battery 9pdrs (1 model)

French Brigade: (Score 4,5)
1 regiment Chasseurs d’Afrique (S)
1 btn Turcos (S)
1 btn Zouave (S)
2 btn Line infantry
1 battery 8pdrs (1 model)

British Brigade: (Score 6)
3 btn line infantry (S)
1 troop horse artillery 6pdrs (1 gun)

Orders to Lord Lucan
Due to a staff cock up, i.e. corruption, our supplies were mysteriously taken to the abandoned village of Storye Cheri to the North East of Sevastopol. These supplies include new siege guns, powder and shot, officers’ personal consignments of food and clothing from the finest London establishments, oh, and a few blankets and greatcoats for the men. There might even be some food suitable for the rank and file as well.

You must cross the Gryazukha River, retake the village and drive off the Russian forces before they are able to remove the stores, which they MUST NOT be permitted to do. The 1st Division is the finest in the army, armed with Minee rifles. The 4th Division are still armed with smooth bore Brown Bess muskets (except the Rifle Brigade who have Minée rifles). Half of the entire mounted complement of the army was roused to go on this expedition and you have a cavalry brigades of five weak regiments under your brother in law Lord Cardigan. The only artillery available to join this force is a battery of 9pdrs with each division and a battery of 6pdr horse artillery attached to your cavalry.

Further troops have been ordered to support your attack. Nobody is quite sure which if any will be available to march to your assistance, just hope its not Johnny Turk or those damnable Frenchies!)



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

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

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

Cavalry Division:

Uhlan Bde:
2 regt Uhlans

Hussar Bde:
2 regt. Hussars

Cossack Bde: 
2 regt. Cossacks

Independent Unit:
1 battery light horse artillery (3 models)

Russian Orders: Having by prior arrangement with corrupt enemy commissary officers ‘overrun’ and captured the English supplies abandoned at Storye Cheri during the night, your task is to hold the ground 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.

Dawn breaks and passes, as does noon, and it only in the late afternoon that Lucan arrives in sight of the Russians who have adopted a strong defensive position along the loop of the River Gryazukha and in the village. One of the difficulties of the Crimean War is trying to balance the superiority of British musketry (mostly armed with Minée-type rifles muskets) against the stoicism of the Russian infantry and their rather impressive number of large batteries attached to the corps. (There are two twelve gun batteries of 12pdrs as Corps reserve, two twelve gun batteries of 8pdrs, one per division, and an eighteen gun battery of Don Cossack horse artillery.) I think I got it right and this seems to be evidenced by the way the game turned out.

Mark, John and Conrad played the Russians while Neil, Paul and Shaun played the British, managed to get the Ottoman brigade as their random reinforcements, but at least they arrived in turn 2. What follows are some photos of the game which hopefully will help explain how the game played out.

The 1st Division, led by the Brigade of Guards 
As the 1st Division advances the Light Brigade covers their flank. The Russian 17th Division advances across the stream.

More of the Russian 17th Division advancing on the Guards.

The Russians charge the Guards but are driven back with heavy losses, but the Guards' brigadier is killed.
The Russians prepare for the British counter attack attack on the right.

The 17th Division are pushed back, one battalion routing across the bridge.

The Highland brigade step up, the 92nd Foot taking heavy losses from the enemy artillery.
The Russian right wing/British left settled down to the scene above.
The Russian centre.
In the centre the British 4th Division advance cautiously towards the village, under heavy fire from two batteries of Russian heavy artillery. 
The 4th Division crossing the river under heavy fire. The Russian Uhlans are strangely immobile and come under long range fire.
The British extreme right. 

The Russian centre and right consolidate their position, ie retreat

The Ottomans arrive to face the Russian left. They look very splendid.

Mark launched the Russian hussar brigade towards the Turks, who counter charged with their regular cavalry. Both sides took heavy losses and were forced to pull back. 

Retreating back over the river the Russian horse artillery battery is left isolated.
The Ottomans deploy and begin their attack.

The Cossack horse battery is under fire from Ottomans and British and the survivors are soon forced to pull back, but not before killing the commander of the British brigade facing them.

One Ottoman battalion is shattered by the Russian battery. 
The Russian left is under pressure from the combined British and Ottoman advance. 
The Ottomans have driven the Russian back over the river and destroyed the horse battery that had been causing so much trouble. Bashi-Bazooks in the foreground up to no good about to do some bashing and bazooking no doubt..

Lord Cardigan and the Light Brigade. Once they'd made it over the stream they failed four activation rolls in a row so just stood watching the battle from the wings. 

As darkness began to fall the battle still raged. The Russian wagons had arrived and were loaded up by the end of turn 6, but the road to Sebastopol was blocked by the British 1st Division. The Russians would therefore have to take the captured supplies into the interior of the Crimea and Simferopol. Not ideal but still a victory of sorts.

So, we managed eight turns I think. The Russians could claim a minor victory for retaining the stores but they hadn't got them into to Sebastopol so a major win was denied them. Tactically they had come off second best which was down to a degree of timidness and the preponderance of 'Dithering' generals on both sides. The British 1st Division did well to beat off an attack by the Russian 17th Division but were unable to exploit it due to the presence of superior (in numbers) Russian artillery. In a straight firefight a battalion armed with Minée rifles would in theory have been able to overcome a Russian battery, in much the same way that they outshot the stoic Russian columns. To try and reflect this stoicism I allowed Russian infantry in close order to be classed as a superior target when being fired upon. This worked quite well and offset the otherwise very deadly Minée fire. The large Russian batteries were not as dominant as they might have been expected to be. The divisional battery on the right never really got a chance for any sustained fire, but the three batteries in the centre caused considerable damage to the advancing British but were unable to stop the advance, loosing to rifle fire from the Rifle Brigade skirmishers. My heroic Ottomans did great. Only one unit ran away, expected as it took the brunt of fire from the 18-gun horse battery pouring canister into it. The Russian cavalry didn't get a chance to show how average they were except when they came of slightly better in their combat with the Ottoman cavalry, but then again the Light Brigade proved to be a waste of space as Lord Cardigan sat on his horse (Ronald) and dithered away the game.

It was I think an interesting and challenging game, laced with a fair bit of the fog of war, especially where the camera angles made some of the troops invisible due to the terrain. Also, with no close up cameras (deliberately so) commanders didn't always have an especially good 'God's Eye View' of the table, which added to the experience (so I'm told). There were a few issues with the rules. Not the mechanics really, except for moving and firing by alternate brigades, which necessitated a great deal of walking around the table for me; several thousand steps according to my 'tech thingy' which is far more than I can do without serious consequences, ie intense pain, stiffening up and general grumpiness. When we unpicked the game it was agreed that Honours of War are actually quite a slow set when played under these circumstances and not umpire friendly (when it me at least) so we shall be going back to Black Powder and its derivatives and/or General d'Armée in the future.

Saturday must also have been a busy day up in the ether as we experienced a few issues with the speed the images were being uploaded, (which we shouldn't given my kit) but again I was told by players that this only added to the fog of war (for them). It just made me cross.

I shall hopefully be facilitating another game on this coming Saturday. Now, what can I do.....?


  1. Quite a realistic portrait of the period and certainly the fog of war. The burning village shot at the end is most impressive.

    It is a bit of a challenge to take on a higher quality and better armed foe but many battles are unbalanced so why not. I think the only casualty my 17th inflicted with their musketry was the Guards Brigadier! Still despite being outclassed the division was still on the field at the end.

    My cunning plan of simply eating all the captured supplies before the British could arrive was I feel unfairly overlooked by our commanding officer.

    We all enjoy Honours of War but it's asking a lot of the Umpire

    Well done Colin for keeping wargaming going under lockdown

  2. Excellent looking game and write-up. I envy your Crimea army games - I'm still such a long way off getting mine together.

  3. Excellent looking game Colin and nice to see the period which sadly doesn’t get much attention.👍

  4. A splendid looking boost to flagging morale, so thank you. Almost makes me wish I had kept my Crimean War collection...

  5. Yes, a fantastic looking tabletop! I'm always excited to see Crimean-era battles.

    Best Regards,


  6. Nice Crimean collection. Very impressive.

  7. A most excellent game and very nice to see your wonderful collection again.

  8. Excellent. Long wanted to collect the Crimea and your pictures have only fuelled that desire.

  9. A wonderful game and a first-rate account to go with it. I must admit, I have always been drawn towards the Crimean War - I guess Tony Richardson’s film ‘The Charge of the Light Brigade’ (1969) gave me that interest.
    Now I’m seeing this fine collection that spark is returning fast !