Sunday 27 August 2023

Battlereport: Jakubowo 1812 Refight

Another refight today at the local club, Jakubowo/Klyastitsy, from the northern front in 1812 campaign. Paul and I took the defending French, while Ion and Matt attacked with the Russians.


Below is the map and overview of the scenario, decided upon after consulting a range of sources and interpretations of this action. The battlefield seems to have been on a narrow front between heavily wooded terrain, which would make it a very attritional battle with high troop density. The exact size of the settlement of Jakubowo is hard to decide upon and there seem to be various interpretations, some have it up to half a km wide, but I went with the below.

I also found one other nice looking refight of this in 6mm here at David Grech's blog for comparison.

French CinC: Oudinot (2 Support rolls)

Legrand(2 Rerolls) (line of squares South of Jakubowo plus Jakubowo and ridge)
Albert 5: 4 Light Infantry (In and around buildings of Jakubowo)
Maison 5: 4 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers
Moleau 4: 4 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers
Castex 4: 2 Light cavalry (line of squares just South of Jakubowo)

Vedier(1 Reroll) (line of squares just north of Gvodsky) 

Vives 4: 4 Light Infantry, 5 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers

Pouget 5: 4 Line, 4 Recruit Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers

Arrive turn 3 from south edge

Doumerc 4: 3 Veteran Cuirassiers, 2 Veteran Horse Artillery

Russian CinC: Wittgenstein (2 Support rolls)

24” deployment from north edge
Koulnieff 4: (Advance guard) 1 Veteran Light cavalry, 1 Raw Light cavalry (Cossacks), 1 Veteran Horse Artillery
Dennisiev 4: 4 Light Infantry  

12” deployment from north edge

Berg (1 Reroll)

Prince of Siberia 4: 4 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers

Loukoff 4: 4 Line, 4 Light Infantry, 1 Foot Artillery, 2 Heavy Artillery

Kakhofski 3: 7 Veteran Line (Grenadiers), 1 Veteran Horse Artillery

Balk 4: 2 Dragoons

Arriving turn 1 from north edge

Sasanov (0 rerolls)

Harpe 4: 4 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers

Helfrick 4: 4 Line, 1 Foot Artillery, 1 Skirmishers

Prince Repnin 3: 1 Veteran Cuirassiers, 1 Dragoon, 1 Heavy Artillery, 1 Skirmishers

French: 29 Inf, 5 Cavalry, 6 Artillery, 4SK

Russian: 34 Inf, 6 Cavalry, 9 Artillery, 4SK

French deploy, then Russians. Russian artillery deploys limbered.
French have one round of shooting, then Russians have first turn.

The Battle

Here's the deployment, with the entire Russian Corp preparing to advance. Dennisiev's Jagers in skirmish order in the vanguard, followed by everything else. For the French, Legrand holds a line at Jakubowo, with Castex's Chasseurs behind, and then Vedier further back in a second line ready to move up and support Legrand. Doumerac's Cuirassiers are offtable even further behind.

View from the right flank of the French.

And looking from Verdier's position miles north towards Jakubowo.

And now the battle, which doesn't actually need much commentary... 
The Russians repeatedly prepare attacks with artillery and skirmish fire and then send in the attack columns (and sometimes cavalry), while the French do their best to resist.

The French artillery eliminates a deploying Russian battery which is a good start, though the Russian batteries available still outnumber the available French four to one, and two to one once Verdier arrives in support.

Russian Hussars rout a shaken line unit and retire.

A Russian Jager unit routs a French line on the hill, but the two French batteries here stubbornly resist despite coming under intense skirmisher pressure.

With masses of artillery support, including heavies, the Russian Grenadiers storm into the first two sections of Jakobowo, and hold them for the rest of the battle, excepting a short lived counterattack from the French.

Even the Russian Cossacks get into action, managing to break a very disordered French Line on the French right.

With such a narrow front, it is difficult for the late arriving French Cuirassiers to be usefully employed. 

The French are holding onto the southern most sections of Jakobowo but suffering heavy casualties in order to secure the flanks of these sections.

Russians take attrition but damaged units fall back to rally.

The Russians fail to take all of Jakubowo but the French are at breaking point and so must withdraw (13 units lost to 4 for the Russians), so a Russian victory.


Good to have the Napoleonics back on the table again! A battle where it is challenging for the French to resist all the Russian artillery, which historically caused the French to decide to withdraw and give up  Jakubowo more quickly than Paul and I did!

Also see this worthy account of the action from the Russian perspective by Ion.

Friday 5 May 2023

Battlereport: Wartenberg 1813 Refight

On Tuesday 25th April (ANZAC or Memorial Day here in New Zealand), we had a historical wargaming day, with several wargames being played at the local club. One of my buddies Paul had several months prior suggested The Battle of Wartenberg, then read more and suggested we avoid it "because it's Prussians stuck in a Marsh".  He had a good point, but I suggested what the hell, let's do it anyway, and so we did. :)


Below is the abstracted map we developed for the wargame. There are several accounts of the battle (e.g. in Nafziger "Napoleon at Leipzig") and previous wargamer attempts at it (most notably Wartenberg by Wargamer Rabbit). See also this German link about the battle which you can use google translate function for, courtesy of Rob Thompson. There is a lot of marsh and water, though exactly what the impact of this should be in various sectors of the battlefield is challenging to definitively conclude based on the sources, except in very general terms. Here's what we went with.

In terms of rules, the marsh and stream is rough ground and slows movement (dramatically for artillery) unless on roads. Units in the marsh have cover from effective and long range artillery fire due to the cannonballs bogging rather than bouncing, though no cover from cannister. The Dyke provides cover to those defending it (reduction in effectiveness to 66%, 50% and 33% for heavy artillery, other artillery, and musketry respectively).  The Elbe is impassable, though the Prussians have artillery in the bottom right firing unimpeded upon the French position, and were able to send more batteries that way during the game if they chose (taking 3 turns for foot artillery and 2 turns for horse artillery to arrive). Rules used were 321 Fastplay Napoleonic Rules.

The Prussian Objective is to take Bleddin or Wartenberg, and the French objective is to prevent them doing so.  Either side will also break if they lose 1/3 of their force, which is 13 units for the French, and 18 units for the Prussians.


Another good reason for a refight like this is to get a lot of progress happening with painting, and this worked! Paul painted up many Italians, myself all the Wurttembergers, and Matt and Alan many Prussians. Nothing like having a deadline for a game to provide motivation (and panic!). In particular Alan did stirling work with only 3 hours sleep the night before the game doing some final painting and basing (didn't get flocking done but did get the brown ground cover).

I was umpire for this game. It's always beneficial to have one person as umpire/organiser in big games like this.

Total units were:

29 French Inf vs 36 Prussian Infantry

2 French Cav vs 10 Prussian Cav

5 French Art vs 10 Prussian Art

Prussians 2 Rerolls Yorck, French 1 Rerolls Bertrand


French PLAYER 1 -  Andrew (Mark supplies figs)

29th Light Cavalry Brigade (3) Germans (Westphalien and Hesse) (Defending Bleddin)

Com 4: 2 Light Cavalry, 1 Horse Artillery

38th Division (5) Wurttembergers (Defending Schuberg)

Com 5: 3 Recruit Line, 1 Light, 1 Foot Artillery

French PLAYER 2 - Paul   (In reserve, 2 units a turn reinforce from Wartenberg each turn)

15th Division (15) Italian -  Fontanelli

Com: 4: 6 Line, 5 Recruit Line, 3 Light, 1 Foot Artillery

French PLAYER 3 - Jonathan  (Defending East Dike between Wartenberg and Elbe

12th Division (15) French - Morand

Com 5: 7 Line, 4 Recruit Line, 2 Foot Artillery


Prussian PLAYER 1 (15 units) - Andy (Paul supplies figs)

Advance Guard Brigade - Andreas Georg

Cavalry Brigade (5)     (In Reserve, enter from turn 2)
Com 5: 1 Veteran Hussar, 1 Uhlan, 2 Raw Light Cavalry (Landwehr), 1 Horse Artillery
Infantry Brigade (8)     (In Reserve, enter from turn 1)

Com 5: 2 Veteran Line, 1 Line, 1 Light, 1 Jager, 4 Recruit Line

Reserve Artillery  (2)   (Across Elbe in support in SE corner) 

Com 4: 2 Veteran Heavy Artillery

Prussian PLAYER 2 (20 units) - Alan (Paul supplies 5 Landwehr)

Steinmetz Brigade (10)      (12-30” from Dike up to 12” south of road to Wartenberg)

Com 5: 1 Veteran Line, 1 Line, 7 Recruit Line (Landwehr), 1 Foot Art

von Mecklenburg Brigade (10)    (Up to 12” from Schuber, within 24” of Elbe)

Com 5: 2 Veteran Hussar, 1 Veteran Line, 4 Line, 1 Recruit Line (Landwehr), 2 Foot Art

Prussian PLAYER 3 (19 units)  - Matt

Von Horne Brigade (9)    (On roads behind Steinmitz and Von Mecklenburg)

Com 5: 3  Veteran Line (Life Regiment), 1 Line, 4 Recruit Line (Landwehr),1 Foot Art

Von Hunerbein Brigade (4)    (On roads behind Steinmitz and Von Mecklenburg)

Com 5: 2 Light, 1 Recruit Line, 1 Foot Art

Reserve Cavalry -von Wahlen-Jürgass (6)     (In Reserve, enter from turn 2)

Com 4: 2 Dragoon, 2 Raw Lancer (Landwehr), 2 Horse Art

The players below left to right - Alan, Matt and Andy  for the Prussians, and Paul (Italians), Jonathan (French), and Andrew (Wurttemberg).

The Battle

The Prussians set up at the stream boundary. The French allied side then have a single round of unimpeded artillery fire at effective range to represent the effect of the Prussians advancing through both Long and Effective ranges of cannon fire, with the effect of the boggy marsh slowing them down, but also providing cover from the cannon fire. Some minor disorder occurs though the French  have only had three batteries in position to fire on the oncoming masses at this stage.  Then the Prussians are crossing the stream.

Prussians advance towards the dyke across it's length.

The Wurttembergers are heavily outnumbered defending Schuberg, with Italians slowly making their way through the woods to try and assist.

The Prussians attacking Schuberg launch infantry assaults as soon as they can but these are bloodily repulsed. Massed Prussian artillery does start to inflict casualties on the Wurttemberg defenders though.

Meanwhile in front of Wartenberg itself, the Prussians initally send forward their skirmishers and some Landwehr in line to try and disrupt and probe the defenders at the dyke, followed by better quality infantry in attack columns to mass assault.

Prussian Guns show up across the Elbe to support the attack, being ineffectively countered by some French skirmishers (who had some of the worst shooting I've ever seen...)

The initial Prussian attacks here are disastrous with multiple Prussian units breaking and being removed (five weakened battalions in a single turn) even as they try and fall back to regroup. Jonathan's shooting is deadly, including the first ever quadruple 6 on four dice I've seen (sadly wasted on skirmishers but still impressive).

In the central woods, Italians face off against more Prussians. Given the preponderance of otherwise useless Prussian Cavalry given the terrain, Alan's veteran Prussian Life Hussars start making some desperate charges in the woods aiming at the gap in the dyke, to try and break through to the open ground beyond, or even just to occupy and pressure the Italians. The Life Hussars are thrown back in disorder but valiantly rally and reform to attack again and again. 

The situation at around lunchtime is that the Prussians have suffered multiple heavy losses without gaining any ground. Given the grim situation on both flanks some Prussian grumblings about the scenario and low morale is evident, except from Alan, who sleep deprived, is still confidently charging his hussars into a wood... 

Note the granary used for the castle in pic above, on the basis that this was the closest building I had to the actual "Wartenberg Castle",  - pic below. More a manor house with the title I think! (Edit: A reader has made the following comment - The castle/manor confusion is probably due to translation, in German it is "Schloss" which describes a noble residence, but since a lot of them were fortfied it's usually rendered as "castle".)

Fortified by lunch and some more caution given the heavy losses of the morning, the Prussians renew their attack with greater focus. After discussion they decide against throwing away yet more of their precious infantry in such fruitless assaults, and instead concentrate on the section of the dyke near the Elbe where their supporting artillery is having deadly effect on the French defenders, in addition to Schuberg on the other flank.

The Prussians gain a foothold on the dyke here at last, which means they now have the defensive advantage, and can also start to feed their cavalry across.

Meanwhile on the other flank, the heavily outnumbered Wurttembergers begin to crack at last under the huge pressure.  Prussian Life Grenadiers crest the dyke and break the defenders, but two Life Grenadier battalions in succession are met with crashing volleys from the reserve 4th Wurttemberg Regiment in their bright pink facings. The Prussian Grenadiers withdraw to reorder. Landwehr cavalry desperately charges the disordered Wurttemberg artillery defending the dyke, and manages to overrun them, but are in turn broken by another volley from the heroic 4th Wurttemberg regiment.

The Prussians send forward skirmishers. The 4th Wurttemberg breaks them too, but Prussians are now swarming over the dyke. The Wurttemberg garrision of Schuberg has stubbornly resisted attack, and the Prussians now wisely screen and ignore this position given they have their breakthrough elsewhere.

The German Confederation cavalry bravely fights off several Prussian cavalry attacks, but is eventually worn down and breaks. (Note Bavarian Chevauleger filling in for Hesse and Westphalien ones which we do not yet own, though this will be rectified!)

The 4th Infantry Regiment by some miracle escapes taking any disorder in the hell at the dyke, and calmly marches back to be the last line of defence in front of the bridge at Bleddin.

The Italians in the woods are slowed in their advance to relieve the Wurttembergers, and occupied by Prussians.

On the other flank the Prussians are across the dyke, including the first units of cavalry which start forcing the French into square, where they can be more effectively assaulted by cannon fire and infantry.

The French fall back toward Wartenberg itself, but taking heavy casualties as they do so...

The French are flanked and under combined arms attacks from cavalry, artillery and infantry, and with no cavalry of their own to help defend. It is an awful situation for them!

Late afternoon, turn 9/10 and the French reach their break point of 13 units lost, while the Prussians have lost 12/18 units of their break point. The French order a general retreat and the result is a Prussian victory, matching history at least in outcome.


Despite the less than promising initial premise and beginning this turned out to be an interesting and close battle, with the Prussians edging it out in the second to last turn. Comments suggest people enjoyed it also. Here's some further thoughts.


A historical scenario like this risks the "if you know about it in advance you can solve the problem" problem. I.e. that the extreme flanks of the French Allied Army are weak (Schuberg and near the Elbe). Of course, if the Prussians JUST attack there, then the French can also concentrate on defending these areas, so the Prussians must at least launch substantive pinning attacks most other places, that risk gaining a breakthrough if not also well defended against. One could also vary the deployment of the defending  French Allied Army, though that definitely risks making it too hard for the Prussians I think, so there would need to be some limitations to this.

In the historical battle, the Prussians had an initial failed attack towards Wartenberg, but then broke through the weak Wurttemberg defence and took Bleddin, and then their cavalry was free to roam and the French were forced to retreat lacking cavalry forces of their own (hence the victory conditions).
In this battle, the Wurttembergers held out somewhat better, with some Italian assistance, though both they, and the French on the other flank were eventually overwhelmed despite some heroic resistance, in a much more costly victory for both sides here.

My impression was that to successfully defend the French allied army should do pretty much exactly what it did in this game, perhaps also sending some Italians to help counter the attack and artillery on their left flank, though of course that risks exposing the Wurttembergers further. And if the Elbe river position looks like it can't hold, after delaying the Prussians an optimum amount for the casulaties received, retire to a new defensive line between the castle and Wartenberg, before too many units are lost. All much easier said than done of course!

Gradings for troops are another variation one could toy with. I initially had the Wurttembergers as recruit (dropping a morale grade once they have taken couple of disorder hits), same as the Landwehr and some of the French and Italians. This on the basis that their "Division" here was just Brigade sized due to previous losses which meant their regiments having two battalions combined into a single battalion to compensate. However, they could also be regarded as battle hardened for the same reason, plus I thought it would make a better game if they were regular, so that is what I went with.

The Prussian 12 pounder heavies across the Elbe I graded as veteran, mainly as a scenario balancing factor in that I didn't want them picked off by skirmishers too easily and removing the one advantage the Prussians had in a rather grim attack on this flank. As it turned out the French Skirmishers couldn't hit the side of a barn, and the Prussians also had a preponderance of artillery so this was likely unnecessary.


This scenario is also certainly a good test for any ruleset you use in terms of handling the all the different terrain types that had such a significant impact on the battle.  I will be making some minor tweaks to rules after this battle, though nothing major.   I've played historical scenarios with different rulesets in the past (e.g. General D'Armee, Lasalle, Blackpowder), and generally had similar results with each of them, the main difference being length of time and amount of processes to resolve a battle.  

Blog Update

Lastly a quick blog update, regular readers will notice the drop off in posts over the Covid period, which also coincided with me gaining a new national management role in healthcare here in New Zealand.

While I still have plenty of time for hobbying, I have been chooosing to spend more time organising, researching, playing and painting rather than blogging. Especially since there has been less opportunity for the actual playing during Covid. Consquently I also have a backlog of painted Napoleonic units I have not yet posted to this blog (dozens and more on the way). With more large games being being planned, I shall endeavour to resume postings even if perhaps not at the same frequency as in the past. Not only because it only seems fair and enjoyable to contribute back to the Napoleonic online community from which I draw much inspiration -  but it also helps me keep track of and organise my own Napoleonic collection!

In terms of further refights we hope to get at least another couple done this year and more in the future, likely 1812-1813 again. Thanks for reading :)

Friday 20 January 2023

Battlereport - Raupenhelm Rhein vs Prussian

A game this week between my Confederation of the Rhine forces (Bavaria, Baden, Wurttemberg), and Matt's Prussians (with a few Russian allies).  For this I used only my Raupenhelm (Caterpillar helm) Confederation of the Rhine units.

Confederation of the Rhine Forces

  • CinC with 2 command rerolls
  • Bavarian: Competent General, 4 Line, 1 Veteran Light, 1 Skirmsher, 1 Foot Artillery
  • Wurttemberg: Competent General, 4 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery
  • Baden: Competent General, 4 Line, 1 Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery
  • Bavaria/Baden: Strategist General, 2 Veteran Dragoons, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery
  • Bavaria: Competent General, 2 Light Cavalry, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery

Prussian & Russian

  • CinC with 1 command reroll
  • Prussian: Strategist General, 3 Line, 2 Light Infantry, 1 Rifle Skirmishers, 1 Lancer, 1 Foot Artillery
  • Prussian: Strategist General,  3 Veteran Line, 1 Rifle Skirmishers, 1 Foot Artillery
  • Prussian: Strategist General, 3 Veteran Dragoon, 1 Veteran Horse Artillery
  • Prussian: Cautious General, 4 Raw Line (Prussian Landwehr/Reserves), 1 Foot Artillery
  • Russian: Competent General, 3 Recruit Russian Line, 1 Light Infantry, 1 Recruit Skirmisher, 1 Foot Artillery

The Game

This game was an escalating engagement, which meant at least two thirds of each army had to start in reserve. I had just my Bavarian Infantry defending on the left, while the Prussian Guard and Dragoons were on the opposing side. Being the attacker my reserves would probably arrive slightly earlier.

My reserve cavalry rapidly arrives on my right flank, Dragoons, Chevauleger, plus Horse Artillery batteries which deploy and commence firing.

My entire cavalry wing is launched towards the enemy Dragoons and Artillery in a risky charge.

Baden Dragoons batter the Russian Dragoons but are unable to break them and retire. 

But Bavarian Cheavauleger run down the Russian Horse Artillery...

...and charge on into a Prussian attack column, which fends off the attack despite being caught out of square.  Behind them the other Chevauleger also get very lucky, and break the Prussian Cuirassiers who had been hit by artillery fire.

Prussian Dragoons counterattack and charge the Bavarian Dragoons, but are broken by them! The Prussians are having no luck.

The Victorious Bavarian Cavalry falls back to regroup having sucessfully broken two enemy regiments and a horse battery. Wurttemberger reinforcements arrive to push the attack on the right flank, while Badeners are directed to the left flank. 

On the left flank a Prussian Guard attack column attempts to break through the Bavarian line, but they are repulsed.

Wurrtembergers advance on my right flank with three batteries of artillery and cavalry in support.

On the left flank Bavarians and Badeners engage in a deadly musketry dual with the Prussian lines.

On the right flank the Wurttemberger attack columns shatter some Russian recruits but their attack grinds to a halt under pressure. The Bavarian Chevaulegers perform magnificently again and rout the Prussian Uhlans and another artillery battery.

On the left flank, several lines have broken in the musketry dual and others are close to breaking, but daylight is fading as we end the 9th turn.

Both sides are exhausted and the battle ends. The result is a narrow victory to the Rhine who have inflicted heavier losses upon their opponents.

Rhine losses are:
  • 1 Baden Veteran Dragoon
  • 1 Bavarian Chevauleger
  • 3 Baden Line
  • 1 Wurttemberg Line

Prussian & Russian Losses are:
  • 1 Veteran Prussian Infantry
  • 1 Russian Recruit Infantry
  • 1 Prussian Uhlan
  • 2 Veteran Prussian Dragoons
  • 1 Veteran Horse Artillery
  • 1 Foot Artillery


A fun game, with much movement on the right flank, and a grinding attritional firefight on the left flank, as more and more units were fed into the battle. The game was chiefly notable for the performance of the two Bavarian Chevauleger regiments, who in their first game, managed to break four enemy units against the odds! Likely the only time they will perform so amazingly.

For this game we used a variant of the 321 rules we've been testing and playing for over a year now. These have a shoot-move-melee rather than move-shoot-melee turn sequence, plus a number of other changes to speed up play even further, reducing numbers of dice rolls required and only requiring the player whose turn it is to be doing anything (enabling use of timers or chess clocks). A copy of the rules can be found here, and a quickref here. The purpose of these rules is to allow completion of large club games in a resonable timeframe, with several in the planning stages now we are out of the pandemic.