Thursday, August 6, 2015

Battle of Smolensk

We played the Battle of Smolensk, from the Napoleonic 20 series by Victory Point Games.

My French defeated Joshua's Russians, but it was a close run thing.

At game start, the city is protected only by one regular infantry corps and one militia unit, with the rest of Russian forces trickling in from the north as Napoleon's troops march from the south. My French veterans quickly took the southern suburbs and assaulted the bastion; I confidently expected to break the defenders and pour across the bridges to meet Barclay de Tolly's main body north of the city. Little did I realize that the paltry militia unit was actually--judging by its performance--the First Guards Shock Militia Hero Division! Despite repeated heavy French assaults, they simply would... not... budge. (Our theory is that they thought the Dneiper was vodka and they wouldn't retreat until they'd drunk all of it--Josh said that sounded enough like a Russian fairy tale to be likely).
By the time I finally destroyed them, Barclay de Tolly's troops were lining the northern bank. He forced a bridgehead, I pushed him back; I crossed the river, he pushed me back. The city burned and we were stalemated.

Meanwhile, I sent Joachim Murat east across the pontoon bridge to take Lubino by coup de main. However, Cossacks swept in just in time, delaying the French long enough for Bagration to block the attack. There was a sharp cavalry battle, but it proved indecisive.

For three days, the armies ground each other down. As dusk fell on the third day, Napoleon ordered a last attack, throwing the Imperial Guard against a Russian corps that had fought its way to the south bank. The Russians fled across the bridges, precipitating a collapse of the army's morale; Barclay withdrew during the night.

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