Wednesday 20 October 2021

In the wilds of Wallachia. The Battle of Rymnik, 22 September 1789

Last Saturday’s game was another first for us at the Burrow. I wanted to do something a little (?) different again, and as I had recently completed the basing of some late seventeenth/eighteenth century Ottomans I came up with this battle fought between the Ottomans and a combined Russian and Austrian army led by the soon to be legendary General Alexander Suvorov. 

Dave had command of the Austrian contingent deployed in the centre on the far side of the table. If he was taking advice off Esme then that will perhaps explain how things went later in the game!

Details of the battle are hard to come by so the terrain and armies were pretty conjectural (i.e. guesswork). My French Revolutionary Wars Russians and Austrians were used to oppose my mid-to-late seventeenth century Ottomans who stood in as their great great grandchildren for this battle.  So, button counters look away now, 'cos the figures were not really right, the terrain was based on a couple of old images of the battle, google maps and a brief description, but as a game it would (and did) work very well. A brief account of the real battle can be found here.

The battlefield, Ottomans on the right.

Mike commanded the Russian right flank, with six battalions of infantry, two regiments of cavalry and a battery of 6-pdrs. Te hussar regiment seen in the front (in black) didn't last beyond turn 2 (maybe it was turn 1) when they were hit by cannon and musket fire and failed a break test.

There was a full house as there were eight players this week, so to avoid my head exploding due to using a more complex and unfamiliar for some set we used the ever popular with the right mindset Black Powder 2 with my own house rules, which essentially just switch the turn sequence so shooting comes before commanded moves, which as I've said before actually improves the dynamics of the game. Paul, Dave and Mike were the Russo-Austrians, with John joining later in the morning with their as it turned out much-needed reinforcements, and Neil, Conrad, Shaun and Nigel were the Ottomans. The Russians and Austrians were hampered by some below average commanders (apart from Suvorov of course) which was seriously hamper their movement.

The Russians won the initiative and in turn one Paul, in command of the Russian left,  threw very low and managed three moves. Six battalions and three cavalry regiments supported from afar by a battery of twelve 12-pdrs surged forward to within inches of the Ottoman right, all eight regiments of spahi of it, supported by hoards of Deli and Tatar light cavalry. Oooops I thought!

The Ottoman left.
The Ottoman left flank again, anchored on a nice little redoubt. These were  the best troops the Ottomans had available (well, not including the attached Balkan irregulars seen just beyond the spahi, who could never be counted as among their best troops!)


On the Russian left flank, Paul's division surged forward getting three moves, drove off the Tatar light cavalry and halted in the face of all those spahi! Both sides had effectively pinned each other. The Turks had the advantage as they were able to shoot with more effect at the battalions that made it into square hoping to disorder them, after which the spahi would charge in and finish the job. The Russians still took some dislodging! All day in fact although to be fair it was defended by janissaries who were eventually kicked out, by which time there were precious few Russian left standing.

Another shot of the Russian surge on their left wing.

This wood on the right acted as a magnet and drew battalion after battalion of Russians towards it. Only the third assault succeeded in driving off the janissary defenders.

The Russians are stuck fast.

Neil’s Ottomans on their left made a bee line towards the village.

In the centre Shaun ordered his infantry to advance and attack Dave's Austrians in the centre, secure in the knowledge that their flank was secure.

Turkish infantry closing on the Austrians in the centre.

The Ottoman centre was held by several quite ineffective artillery pieces. At least the camp was safe.
Neil continued to push his command forward and occupied the village. Mike's Russians attacked the village from across the stream to no effect as their assaults were twice repulsed.
Meanwhile John and the Russian reserve had appeared on the Turkish left. There were only four battalions of combined grenadiers and a regiment of cuirassier but they made their mark.
Back over on the other flank again, the outnumbered Russian cavalry was vainly trying to hold back overwhelming numbers of Ottoman cavalry. Fair to say, they did well but they were doomed.
The players pause to reflect on progress so far.

The allied centre is about to take the brunt of the Ottoman attack.
The Ottoman left continued its advance straight towards the Austrians who were struggling to hold the janissaries back.
Meanwhile the pinned Russian infantry squares were being worn down slowly. It might have been around now that I reminded the Russian players about my not so subtle hints in favour of divisional squares rather than lots of piddling battalion ones. 
The Russian attack against the village was not going at all well.

In the centre Neil’s and Shaun’s attack was building up  the pressure on the beleaguered Austrians.
Back over on the other flank once more Paul’s cavalry was still doing a stirring job holding back the spahi but they were being swamped. “Ottoman Spahi v Russian Dragoon” would make for an  interesting Osprey title.

Paul’s Russian infantry being slowly eroded away by the Ottomans.
Once disordered the Russian squares were an easy target for the spahi.
The Russians finally broke into the village after their artillery pounded the defenders so hard they were forced to pull out.
Outside the village the attack wasn’t all going the Turk’s way, as  one of Mike’s battalions broke a unit of Janissaries.
John’s division quickly overran the Ottoman redoubt and drove off their supporting regiment of Spahi. They then took the Ottoman left in the rear but stalled as the Janissaries fought back stubbornly.

Paul’s cavalry were still fighting, but this last dragoon regiment has had it, and was surrounded and overwhelmed by Spahi and Tatars.
Another shaken Russian square about to be broken. 
A general view of the situation in the centre towards the end of the game.
The Russians poured into the village on the heels of the retiring Janissaries while the centre still struggles to hold back Shaun and Neil's attack.
Neil’s troops are holding back the advancing Russian grenadiers on their flank…..just!
The Russian left is in complete disarray but their artillery fought off  an attack by Ottoman cavalry (how I don't know but it was a rare event!). I guess being classed as a large 12-gun battery helped.
My favourite regiment of Russian hussars fending off a unit of Tatars before they were attacked in the rear! Damned unsporting!
I think this is slightly out of sequence but shows the battle for the allied centre.
The Ottoman CinC encouraging his really very poorly motivated irregulars forward.

Well. That was immense fun and an incredibly colourful game, certainly from where I was sitting/standing. The Ottomans managed a slim victory over the allies on the basis that their right wing had shattered but not yet broken Paul's Russians but with the loss of pretty much all their cavalry the allies were in a difficult spot. The crumbling centre held by the Austrians was certain a cause for concern as I doubt they'd have held for another turn.  The Ottoman left had been pushed back but it was still in reasonable shape. The Russians were tough, as seen on the other flank, but I doubt they'd have succeeded. So the Ottomans did much better than in the original battle, which wasn't that difficult if you've read the account.

Eight players guided, fed and watered by yours truly played the game to a conclusion in less than five hours (less at least half an hour for lunch) and there must have been almost 70 units on the table, so no mean feat. I don't plan to expand my Ottoman army to make it more appropriate for the later end of the eighteenth century; the seventeenth century figures will haver to do and whoever not?

No game next week but there will be 30 October I hope. 


  1. A very analysis of the battle, Colin. The Jannisary opposition were too tough for my Austrian regulars to live with. One more move and Austro/Russian centre would have collapsed. The Ottomans richly deserved their laurels!
    Great day and thank-you for the hospitality.

  2. What a spiffing set to there, so colourful and full of interest.

  3. Another (very large) wonderfully mesmerising game Colin.

  4. Go the Ottomans- it doesn't matter what period they're from- they can always double up- mine do! Great game- thanks for sharing.