Marshall Bernadotte pictured in happier days
(thieved from here)
I'm not particularly well up on the fourth Coalition - I know it in a general sense, Jena and all that. But I must confess, I'd never even heard of the battle of Mohrungen until Lord Siskington picked it out of the book. Though it appears I'm not alone as a google image search for pictures of the battle drew a blank and I had to settle for the picture (above) of Marshall Bernadotte as an introduction. We're staying with Mrs Kinch's parents at the moment, but I needed to visit home to collect some things and feed Sir Harry Flashman VC, so I took the opportunity to arrange a game while I was at. Lord Siskington kindly volunteered to join me and we had dinner and a game, which was a very pleasant way to spend the evening.
The field of Mars arrayed for battle, Lord Siskington considering his options.
I have lent my snowfield mat to someone and I can't for the life of me remember who, so we were obliged to play this on the green fields mat. Pardon gentles all.
The introduction from the scenario booklet.
"In early January Bennigsen ordered the Russian Army to go on the offensive. On the 19th Ney, who had extended his line in search of provisions, was attacked and brushed aside. General Markov then advanced toward Mohrungen where Bernadotte was concentrating his forces.
Both sides had opportunity to deploy the morning of the 25th before Bernadotte’s cavalry launched a charge against the Russian center. The Russian cavalry, with support from their artillery, drove back the attack but were in turn driven back by French artillery fire and fresh cavalry. The ensuing artillery exchange inflicted little damage. The battle began in earnest when French light infantry advanced in the center to threaten the Russian artillery and Dupont’s arriving division pushed the Russians on the left back from their forest defensive positions. As dusk fell the French were making progress all along the line. Suddenly, Bernadotte heard firing in his rear in Mohrungen. Fearing the worst, he called off the battle to retrace his steps. It was a false alarm—only a few squadrons of Russian horsemen had entered the town and were pillaging the French supply wagons. They were quickly driven off."
Lord Siskington, naturally being the guest, had choice of sides and choose to play the Russians. I was left with the dastardly French.
Bonaparte's Legions falling into line
On the face of it, this is a very tough row to hoe for the Russian player. The French player has cavalry superiority, the advantage of numbers and the edge in troop quality. The only thing in his favour was the terrain and time. There was a mechanic which allow him to move a marker at the rear of the field which would eventually bring him 50% of the victory points required to win the game. This meant that we Frenchers could not afford to hang around.
My opponent rolled rather well on the Mother Russia roll. This is a special rule the Russians use, which takes account of the add hoc nature of their mobilisation. The Russian player is allowed add infantry figures to some of his units, raise extra cossacks or dig entrenchments amongst other things. Lord Siskington created an overstrength, entrenched battery in the centre of his line as a result.
Lord Siskington's lovely daughter
(aka Tolstoy's Death Star)
This was a perilous looking piece of ironmongery to tangle with and I spent most of the game trying to avoid it, while the Prince Mishkin Hussars (seen the left) pinned my infantry in the centre under its guns. I spent most of my time working around on the right and keeping an eye on the clock.
Victorious French dragoons
Fortunately, my success on the right caused Lord Siskington to thin his centre so much that I was able to mount an attack and isolate the battery. The French guns mounted a Talavera style "artillery charge" combined with some dragoons who managed to get around the back of the redoubt and take it in the rear. This spelled the end of the Russian gunners.
French infantry advancing through some curiously un-snowbound fir trees.
Once the Russian artillery was dealt with I was able to roll up on the right and take the defence apart. This is a tough scenario for the Russian, as the statistics on the CCN website indicate as they win less than a quarter of the time, but regardless it was a good game. Lord Siskington was good company as always. We put the world to rights over a brandy afterwards.
An evening well spent.