Monday 25 December 2023

Poland, 7 Febru1807: Bagration’s Rearguard Action on the Eve of Eylau

Due the imminent closeness of Christmas our (almost) weekly get together was on Friday. I decided to run a game I’d seen in one of the numerous scenario books I seem to have picked up over the years then forgot I owned. This one was in Battles for Empire by James Arnold, an excellent on line publication. The scenario covered the rearguard action fought by the Russians on the eve of Eylau to give time for the main Russian army and its artillery to get safely into position. 

The table from the north. The Russian rearguard deployed along the eastern baseline. The first of the French are deployed on the table at the start, right under the Russian guns at Blue Star 1 on the map. The rest of the French would arrive at Blue Star 2 and (maybe) Blue Star 3. Gonna be a tough one mes braves

I joined Jim and Nigel on the Russian side, and John, Paul and Conrad were the French. I don’t have any 1807 French finished yet (still in the sticking together and painting pile), so most of the French were my French Revolutionary War miniatures, (button counters look away now) with the addition of several battalions of French infantry and some cavalry brought by Conrad and John. Conrad’s figures were 1970s Ross or Rose (?) 25mm, and while smaller than the rest of the army they still looked good 50 years on.

We used Valour and Fortitude again as I’m determined to try and get everyone’s head round them before I launch into  Napoleonic campaign later this year 🤫🤐. Anyway, on with the game. The photos are in more or less the right order and my recollection of what was going on at the southern end of the table is rather vague as I was busy trying to get my Dragoons, Lithuanian Horse and Cossacks to activate, and when they did they were convincingly whipped by the French cavalry! The French had the option, which they chose to take, of sending Murat their CinC off to find reinforcements, which would hopefully arrive at Blue Star 3 around turn 3 or 4.

The Russian centre with a wonderful target for their massed artillery.
The Russians seen from the north, with the French vanguard in sight to the right in 5he distance.

French cavalry were advancing unchallenged as my cavalry brigade refused to activate!
 For three turns!
John commanded the French in the centre and quickly tried to move north to avoid being blasted to kingdom come by the Russians massed artillery.

It took an age for me to activate my cavalry, and they finally advanced to counter the attack by Paul’s French cavalry, coming off a definite second best as my uhlans and dragoons were bounced back. We were not broken so could re-engage later….I hoped.
My Cossack brigade on the extreme right was also very difficult to get moving, but eventually and against their better judgment, they moved forward.
The Russian cavalry are recovering, giving the French the time and space to continue their attack.

French dragoons getting the better of my uhlans. The French also charged and rode down a battery of combined regimental artillery as can be seen in the background.

Conrad’s division and the reserve artillery deploy ready to assault. They could have saved time by crossing the stream rather than all using the bridge.

Johns division still under fire from the Russian artillery. Two units were broken but by now Murat had returned with reinforcements that arrived on the northern table edge, tipping the balance in their favour in the northern sector.

In the distance on the Russian left, Conrad’s division prepares to assault Jim’s position.

Conrad’s assault on Jim’s troops goes in with some success.

Massed Russian artillery under fire from the French reserve artillery seen in the distance.

Nigel’s grenadiers come off the hill and attack John’s extended division, although the latter did well and blunted the Russian attack. 

The Russian left is overrun. One battalion has already broken and the guns are about to be ridden over, as can be seen in the next photo. A wall of infantry squares blocked the French from exploiting their breakthrough. On the other flank the Cossacks had been routed and the Russian reserve cavalry was slow in entering the table, and then in reduced numbers, although enough to stop the French getting too close to the road to Eylau.

The battle ended with a couple of turns of dusk before night fell, at around 4:00pm game time and 3:30 real time.The victory conditions required the Russians to hold on till nightfall without allowing too many French units from teaching the eastern table edge. The end result was a minor tactical victory for the Russians (as in the real battle) but at great cost. It was a cracking game and challenging for both sides. I still think V and F are a good set of rules, and while I can’t expect to please everyone all the time I do believe they’re worth playing with some more so everyone can get up to speed with them. 



  1. Great to see another blood bath in the snow. I've just started on Eylau the main event although due to snow storms nothing has happened as yet. Merry xmas and thanks again for your inspiring bloggs

  2. Wonderful looking table and figures Colin.

  3. A splendid looking table and a fine battle report too! Looking forward to seeing the Napoleonic campaign unfold in the new year.

  4. A bloody and beautiful battle on a gorgeous and immersive table...Superb!

  5. What a magnificent looking battle from the Burrowers as usual Colin Thank you. Modesty forbids me pointing out how good your picture gallery looks at the end of the room, and the naked Natasha at the other end :-) Whoops, Oh I did mention it!! Happy New Year to you all

  6. Cracker of a game! Fantastic stuff.

  7. A beautiful game. I've been wanting to refight Eylau with V and F and this was just the eye candy needed to get the brushes moving again :)

  8. Great winter game. Which book did you find this scenario in?