Friday 30 November 2012

Battle of Berezina 200 aniversary

The french pontonniers give their lives working in the icy water to ensure the safe return of the army to the Empire.

 The battlefield: in the foreground Cichagov's army ready to cut the path to the incoming french, in the middle the river Berezina and the pontoon bridges, behind them the imperial army prepares to cross. In the background Wittgenstein/Kutuzov army has just appeared into view, with their cannon limbered an the men eager to fight.
The remnants:
The garde division (5)
First polish-international division
Voltigeur division
Chasseurs de la garde a pied
Polish chasseurs division
converged grenadiers
first  group
second group
polish-international group
To play with huge masses of stragglers that formed half of the french army that day i decided to make them go automatically straight on to Chichagov's edge of the field, unable to turn or manoeuvrings, but being capable of formation changes, charging and shooting at the troops between them and their point of scape.

 Cichagov's army: first division of cuirassiers, medium field battery, 4th division of infantry, 6th brigade of infantry and the jaegers brigade.
 Wittgenstein-Kutuzov army: 1st infantry division, 2nd infantry division, heavy artillery battery.

Turn 1

The crossing: to reflect the weakness of the bridges and the dangers of the freezing water each unit that stepped the bridges had throw a dice with a 4+ the bridge collapses and all bases fall into water, being killed at 4+. The next turn they would have to swim to the shore, but will loose also bases at 4+ throw.
 Turn 1 -French: the divisions start to cross garde first, the bridges hold for the moment. The voltigeurs and chasseurs deploy in the back facing Kutuzov to cover the retreat.
 Turn 1 -Russians: the artillery pieces start to fire onto the bridges with the hope of destroying them (a six was a wound and the bridge had two)
 Kutuzovs orders the advance
 And unlimbers his heavy 12 puonders.
 Turn 2: catastrophe! one bridge falls under the weight of the grenadier stragglers and half of the unit freezes to death.
 Overview: the french had deployed their only gun and begin to fire, the garde has already crossed and closes upon Chichagov, also the first group of stragglers and the polish division, on their way across the river polish voltigeurs and the unfortunate grenadiers.
 The shells of the battery fell upon the bridge and blow it up (double 6!) Fortunately, no pole is hurt.
 the chasseurs à pied start firing upon the russian first division.
 Turn two overview: Chicahagov has deployed into line and sent his jaegers forward to deal with the poles, the cuirassiers get into position to charge.
 Turn three. The french remaining grenadiers pass the river as do the polish voltigeurs, the second straggler group steps into the closest bridge. The pontonniers meanwhile repair the bridge in the foreground; the chasseurs retreat from russian musket range and the garde advance forward with the poles.
Disaster in the ice!, the bridge collapses under the stragglers and the river swallows the whole unit.

 En avant toujours!
Their fellow chasseurs keep with the tactic of shooting and falling back.

 The cuirassiers charge the stragglers, but are driven back in a vicious hand to hand combat.
 Withdrawing with one wound.
 The first canister shot is fired upon the garde, but the sights were too high and it passes harmlessly.
 Overview: the russians have advanced Kutuzov infantry which is suffering from grapeshot and sharp shots, Chigachov's jaegers retreat after firing a volley that causes one wound.

 Fourth turn. The Garde and first stragglers passes by the cuirassiers and penetrate in the huge gape in the thin russian line.
 Meanwhile the polish stragglers make their way safely across the reconstructed bridge.
 Overview: the poles division and their volitgeurs have formed the lie and prepare to advance into the russian right flank, the artillery has limbered and tries to arrive to the bridge.
 the voltigeurs wait their turn keeping an eye into the russian battery.
 Russian moves overview: the first division has halt to recover from their wounds now that the chasseurs have nowhere to go with the bridge gone, the cuirassiers turn to charge in the next turn, and finally the second division charges and takes the battery before it can cross the bridge and scape.
 Fifth turn: the garde and the stragglers keep their way into the edge followed by the remaining grenadiers, the poles advance against a wall o fire in the background suffering another wound, the polish stragglers have landed in the shore and now the voltigeurs cross a bridge that still stands firm, good work for the pontonniers! In the other shore the cahsseurs advance defiantly.
 La sortie e prochaine mes chers!

 The cuirassiers charge the stragglers who are not in time to form a square and are cuted to pieces, but they stop in front of the wall of discipline of the garde.
 Overview: the russian cavalry has routed the stragglers, the 4th infantry division advance in an attempt to stop the garde but they are late, in the other shore the 2d infantry division closes into the chasseurs,

Sixth turn
 La garde se rètire, me ne meurt pas. After being hitted by three salvoes of canister in three consecutive turns the guardsmen scape without a scratch.
 In the right the melee starts when the polish voltigeurs charge their russian counterparts.
 After firing a salvo the polish division closes in with the russian brigade, in their rear advance the stragglers and voltigeurs. The bridge near to the chasseurs has been reconstructed and they prepare to cross, the grenadiers come close to the cannons.

 In the russian turn the cuirassiers try to charge the grenadiers but are too far, the canister is shot upon them, but with no effects,finally the infantry moves to the front of them in a desperate attempt to block their scape, if they want to pass it would be at bayonet point. The Chasseurs step on the bridge that holds solidly.
 In the rive the second division sticks tit's breath in the chasseurs's necks.
 Turn seven: the world explodes in the faces of the russian brigade as a concentrated volley blasts them apart.
 Les heròs du jour: the grenadier stragglers charge into the division that outnumbers them two to one and shatters the apart in spite they have had enough discipline to turn and face them by the front.
 Overview: the russian general manages to regroup the fleeing remnants of  the brigade and orders them to hold against the wave of polish men.
The duel between sharpshooters end finally with the russian defeat, fleeing the survivors from the field.
 The cavalry charges into the back of the grenadiers, unable to form a square they seem to be doomed but in spite, the veterans impose themselves in the hand to hand, inflicting a new wound into the cuirassiers.
 Combat in the bridge, the second division finally catches the chasseurs in the bridge, unable to scape in the congestion of the bridge, they fight a desperate battle that causes a wound behaving like true grognards.
 Turn eight: The pole tide close into the island of green, the voltigeurs and the stragglers are already in their course to escape.
 the chasseurs can't take more and scape.
 Turn nine: The poles and the voltigeurs make their scape.
 After tho rounds of combat under appalling conditions the grenadiers are smashed under the heavy horsemen hoofs.
 Turn ten: the voltigeurs reach safety
 An alone chasseur base is being hunted down by the whole russian army, even the cannons turn and shot on them.
 Turn eleven: after having fight with prowess and discipline the polish division retreats in perfect order and marching at the sound of drums, the chasseurs too manage to scape ending thus the battle.

The outcome:
the russians have lost  eight bases (counting each two wounds as one death)
the french much more, sixteen
According to the men present at the battle the men per base would be near 3.000

so the losses would be:
french:47.407 from which 17.777 due to frozing
russians: 23.703
So a clear russian victory.

See in the next report! battle fought with Lasalle ruleset.