Tuesday 23 January 2024

The Battle of Oravais 14 September 1808 - Russian Invasion of Finland 1808-1809.

This is my adaptation of one of the scenarios from the excellent Scenarios for Wargaming the Swedish-Russian War 1808-1809, volume 2, entitled ‘1808 Turning the Tide’. The main limitations I faced were not enough terrain and not quite the right Swedish units from my 28mm RSW 1808 collection. The terrain issue was fudged easily enough by liberally dotting the landscape with trees, and the clearings marked with the things I normally place my trees on to define the boundary of any woodland. As for the discrepancies in the order of battle (no Swedish Horseguards and technically not enough Swedish cannon) I just used what I have, which was more than enough. Anyone wishing to read more on the battle can read a good account at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Oravais

Paul, Jim and John took the Swedes and Conrad, Shaun and Dave were the Russians. The Swedes were required to hold the Russians up and prevent them from reaching the far end of the table. (See the map). The Russians had to drive the Swedes off and get half their army within striking distance of the road leaving the table on the Swedish baseline. We used Valour and Fortitude again.

The yellow marks show the Swedish positions at the start. The green arrows show the Russian starting positions and axes of attack.

The photos have undergone the usual Google Blogger Randomiser nonsense but I think they’re now in more or less the correct order.

The Russians advanced blindly (they had to ‘spring’ the tripwire that was the Swedish vanguard). A bold (?) attempt by the Russian hussars to take the bridge failed miserably. They overran a gun defending the bridge but were then cut down and routed by musketry from both flanks.

The Russian hussars on the road before their fateful charge

Dave deployed his guns and infantry intent on driving the Swedish off before launching an assault. The Russians were actually loosing out in the firefight against Finnish jäger and infantry across the river from them. It all seemed a little pointless as this stretch of the river was impassable except by the bridge. 

The Russians edged to their right, giving a perfect target for the Swedish infantry who poured volley after volley into the flanks of passing Russian infantry columns.

Meanwhile far to the rear Swedish reinforcements were arriving.

Paul deployed his best infantry (of the Savolax Brigade) along the stream where they remained for the entire battle.

A casualty of war….

The Russians then pushed their Cossacks over the river to attempt a flank attack on the Swedes. 

Meanwhile, John’s Swedish brigade had raced up the table to support Jim’s exposed brigade, and they were just in time. 

Shaun’s Russians had made very slow progress through the woods, failing to even activate on several occasions, which meant that they were not in a position to support Dave’s frontal attack by the ridge. Worse still, the rear battalion of grenadiers was charged in the flank by a couple of squadrons of Swedish dragoons and destroyed. The Swedish dragoons then turned and dispersed the Cossacks.

A lone piece of pizza the only survivor of a very nice and unhealthy lunch.  Jim’s daughter had made us a Victoria sponge which hadn’t survived until lunchtime!

Gradually the Russian numbers were growing, as Conrad’s reserve was now in position to support an all out assault.

The firefight across the river continued while the Russians sorted themselves out ready to attack.

With their blood up the Swedish dragoons caught the Russians in the river and smashed another battalion before falling back to regroup.

Finally, the main Russian assault began, with four battalions launched across the river towards Jim’s thin line.

More Russians crossing the river upstream from the fight around the bridge.

The Russians are now across the river in some strength.

Meanwhile, Dave’s assault ground to a halt in the face of determined Swedish musketry. The Russians failed to break the Swedish line and the melee continued.

The Swedes in melee then withdrew from combat, meaning that the Russians would be forced to make another assault on their now reformed line.

The second Russian assault fared no better than the first.

By now we had played 14 turns (I lost count after 12) out of a possible 15. The Russians were nowhere near achieving their objectives so, with night falling and only one turn remaining,  a Swedish victory was announced.

It will come over all critical if I were to unpick this game but I need to a little. For example, Dave’s brigade should have been tasked with pinning Jim while Shaun and Conrad outflanked him. Instead, Dave was pinning and outflanking all by himself. That might have been the plan but some unfortunate activation dice put paid to that idea somewhat. The Russian artillery was also badly deployed as it blocked the road and access to the bridge, and several battalions of jäger were wasted as despite being perfectly capable of doing so, none were deployed to skirmish with the Swedes and protect their infantry columns.

Anyway, everyone agreed it was a very challenging scenario and an enjoyable game so what more could be asked? The Russians were victorious in the real battle so with a Swedish victory on the tabletop, honours are even.

The rules worked really well. They’re quite brutal but make for a good game. Dave and Shaun had not played V&F before but they picked them up easily enough, and the rest of us are warming to them nicely. Mind you, when GdA2 come out we might have to try them out. I could also do with finishing off a couple of Swedish units still in the box of doom,  not necessarily to give more for the table but to give some variety. 


  1. I really like your AARs; great photos and captions.

  2. That's a splendid collection you have amassed Colin. As ever the AAR draws the reader in to the salient points without being drearily detailed.