Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Holowczyn Project: the wargame

The first step, before starting to paint units at random, was to get a full Order of battle converted to the set of rules. By the way, the basing I choosed allows to refight the battle with a lot of ruleset like Horse, Foot & Gun, Polemos, Twilight of Sun King among the many.
When I design a scenario, I look also at the operational background. In this case Charles moved from Poland to Russia in June 1708. The best route was from Grodno to Minsk and Smolensk (sounds familiar to Napoleonic buffs): from there, Moscow could be reached without having to cross any major rivers. Charles chose instead a straighter, but more difficult, route, over the Berezina and Drut rivers, the so-called “river gate”.
Such an unconventional choice made the Russians unsure of the Swedish intentions, and with Peter I away the Russian were further plagued by the lack of unified command, the responsability being shared between Sheremetyev and Menshikov. After a council of war, it was decided to draw the Russian defence line by the Dnieper River: in June and July the army was moved piecemeal towards the Vabich, a marshy tributary of the Drut river.
The main force of the Russian army was deployed around the village of Vasilki, east and across the Vabich from Holowczyn, the bridges across Vabich fortified and defended with artillery. To the south, General Repnin deployed his force and fortified his position three kilometers to the southeast. A marshy area, which could not be fortified, was the hinge between the two fortified camps.

The Swedes had observed the Russian deployment and starting on June 30, they begun to deploy on the heights west of Holowczyn. Charles and his followers noticed the gap in the fortified line, and decided for a bold plan: to cross the marshy area between the two Russian camps, an unsuspected move which also would serve to split the enemy forces in two. To ensure success, the attack was to be carried out in the darkness of night.

The following maps, found for free on the web, were from the Peter From book “Katastrofen vid Poltava”, Historiska Media 2007, and depicts well the situation, even if one doesn’t read swedish:

To accomplish the breaktrought Charles had at his disposal a small crack force of nearly 5400 men, 4400 horses and 28 guns (8 12pdrs., 18 6pdrs. and 2 Howitzers). The Order of battle, in V&B terms is:

Charles XII, King of Sweden (AC, Monarch)

Charles Wing (commanded directly by the King)

Initial Assault force (commanded directly by the King)
Liv Battn. (Foot Guards) 3-6*, SFD
1st Battn. (Foot Guards)  3-6*, SFD
2nd Battn. (Foot Guards) 2-6*, SFD
Grenadier Battn. (Foot Guards) 3-6* g, SFD
Dalcarian regt./2nd Batt. 2-5*, SFD
Heavy Guns 2-5 heavy
Field Guns#1 2-5 field
Field Guns#2 2-5 field 

Maj. Gen. Sparre DC
Dalcarian regt./1st Batt. 2-5*, SFD
Upplands regt./1st Batt. 2-5*, SFD
Upplands regt./2nd Batt. 2-5*, SFD 
Ostgota regt./1st Batt. 2-5*, SFD
Ostgota regt./2nd Batt. 2-5*, SFD 
Vastermanlands regt./1st Batt. 2-5*, SFD
Vastermanlands regt./2nd Batt. 2-5*, SFD

Rehnskiold's Wing: CC Rehnskiold

Maj. Gen Creutz DC
Guard Dragoon 4-5, heavy
Guard Horse/I   3-6, heavy
Drabant & Guard Horse/II 3-6, heavy
Smalands Horse 4-5, heavy
Nylands & Tavastahus Horse  4-5, heavy
Ostgota Horse  4-5, heavy

In the V&B jargon, the first number are the Strenght Points each one representing200 men/horses, the second number is the morale, the star means “elite unit”, g means "grenadiers present" and SFD means “swedish fire discipline”, an house rule introduced by the Wyre Forest Wargame club to give the period “chrome” to the rules.

For today only one picture (already posted on the Benno forum):

Field-Marshal Rehnskiold: I choose to represent the “Corp Commander” CC level of command with two figures, the “Division Commander” (DC) with one officier alone and the Army Commander (AC) with three figures. Both are Strelets, the Field-Marshal from the box “From Narva to Poltava”, the Grenadier from the older box “Charles XII Infantry”.

The Grenadier is an artistic license: indeed it seems that only the grenadiers from some regiments in Pomerania and Baltic wore a mitre cap: however on the number 1, year 1992 of the Russian magazine Orel I found such a nice drawing that I couldn’t resist to place a mitre-dressed grenadier on the base:


mekelnborg said...

When you say for example three figures for the battalion, and the V and B has three SP at 200, does this mean then that the second Battn Swedish Guards with two SP has two figures, in other words 1:200 fig to men ratio?

This sounds close to what I am doing right now on a different project, with the 1/72. Looking forward to more when ready.

Fabrizio Davi' said...

I use a different approach. For me a battalion is a base, no matter how its strength is, with three 20 mm figures because this is a number of figures which fits well in the base. Also in the 6mm of Torgau project I put the same number of figures in each regimental base.

Since the battalion or regiments have more or less the same average strength, this means that there is an average scale, which for Torgau is roughly 1:20 for the infantry, 1:50 for the cavalry and 1:10 for the artillery. I have no idea which are the Holowczyn scales, but I shall check it. Anyway, in selecting the number of figures/base I choosed the look with respect to the description of the strength which is delegated to a separate rooster.

I found your post very interesting to this respect.

Looking forward to your project.