Tuesday 9 January 2024

The Battle of Ostrolenka, 16 February 1807

I wanted to run another game using Valour and  Fortitude using my Russians and French collections so yesterday John, Conrad and Nigel joined me to have a go at refighting the little known battle of Ostrolenka which took place shortly after Eylau, info Here. I used the scenario in the Battles for Empire book.

The Russians have launched an attack on the French V Corps, temporarily under the command of General de Division Savary assisted by Reille along both banks of the Narew River. They were planning to attack the isolated French around Ostrolenka before they could be reinforced, while the French had to hang on until their reinforcements arrived before counter attacking. Sadly, the southern attack (due to arrive at point (A) never materialised as the division allocated to the task was diverted elsewhere, with predictable results for the outcome of the battle. In this scenario the southern part of the attack will go ahead but will be delayed, at least giving the Russians a chance of victory, subject to when and where it arrives.

The Russians under Conrad hold the high ground while Reille’s (Nigel’s) French are deployed around the village of Ostrolenka.

The Russian infantry line swung round to face the advancing French, and they began to take casualties from the French artillery..

French reinforcements under Savary (John) arrived at point A just as the first of the late, lost and redirected Russian reinforcements arrived at B on the map.

Russian reinforcements turn to face the French emerging from the woods across the river. These troops are actually the remainder of the division already engaged rather than the ‘missing’ southern pincer of the attack.

I had command of these Russians and quickly started to loose out in the firefight with the French in the woods. Attempts to close and drive the enemy out of the woods never got started and when John got his artillery into action it became very difficult, and reinforcing Conrad would mean running the gauntlet of French artillery batteries on my flank!

An initial cavalry clash ended in favour of the Russians. However, Oudinot’s division, or at least part of it, arrived at C to reinforce Nigel in the village.

The missing division then arrived, in the wrong place, and floundered across the river covered by some ineffective Russian jäger.

I was getting nowhere fast, a speed not normally attributed to anything the Russians did. John drove off my skirmish screen and was busy outflanking me with his dragoons just off to the left, forcing the Fangoria Grenadiers into squares. I had also sent two battalions and some guns to reinforce Conrad who’s troops were hanging on despite heavy losses. 

Nigel quickly launched his division and Oudinot’s grenadiers towards the Russians. The fight was in the balance for a couple of turns.

Then, with Conrad’s cavalry taking on the French Chasseurs a cheval the Russian infantry line began to crumble, among the ‘crumblers’ the artillery battery pictured.

The opposing cavalry locked in combat on the extreme flank. The French got the upper hand this time and. The Russians had to pull back shattered.

The end of the Russian right as both remaining battalions seen here were about to break.

There was now an absence of Russian infantry on our right. 

The Russian right had been crushed and their left was totally tangled up trying to avoid a combined attack from French infantry and dragoons well supported by artillery. We conceded defeat and retreated bloodied and bruised. 

I quite enjoyed the game and the scenario was quite well balanced. Everything that could do went wrong for the Russians despite some superb dice rolling from Conrad. The result went the way of history so everything seemed to have hung together to produce a challenging game. Valour and Fortitude are not a bad set of rules, but boy are they unforgiving and brutal. We’re still learning, which for a four page rule set suggests that either we are getting too old to remember stuff or there’s actually more to them than they at first suggest. Good fun despite another Russian defeat. 


  1. Battles for Empire is a much overlooked scenario book from a great author Colin. I have had it on my shelf for years and you’ve inspired me to get my finger out of my proverbial and play this as well.
    Your game, table and figures look tremendous.

  2. Tremendous looking game Colin.

  3. Too old to remember stuff? Been there, done that...I think👴🏻 As ever, lovely pictures and AAR.

  4. Quite the spectacle again. A real pleasure to see. I'm toying with the idea of trying these rules so thanks for the encouragement. Did i spot some Dixon figures among the French. I like these though mine are painted as Spanish.