With a strenghtening cup of tea by his side, the French commander inspects the field of battle. It's almost empty, with a few small copses of trees and a lone wooden building. The road to Gleboff Monastery lies in front of him, and his aim is clear: push away any Russians, and continue the march.
In the morning he musters the troops, and the following formations are ready for battle:
Large parts of his batallion, including
- Two companies of fusiliers (2 formations: 4 groups of veterans with some casualties, 4 groups of recruits without any casualties)
- His company of voltigeurs (2 formations: 2 groups of skirmishers in each, mostly intact)
Supporting them are:
- One squadron of the 2nd lanciers (2 groups)
- One squadron of the 8th chasseurs-a-cheval (2 groups)
- One 6-pounder cannon from the horse artillery
The French recruits march forward in marching column. With the Russian deployment expected in the forest on the other side of the road, it must be a perfect idea to quickly march forward, and then outflank them. Right? It can't go wrong!
A sneaky Russian 12-pounder cannon lies in wait by the woods, and their crew is eager to punish the approaching column. The take aim, and start the battle with a thunderous blast.
The cannonball bounces perfectly along the deep column, felling men and causing confusion. The French find themselves charging into cannon fire, just like yesterday!
But this time, the French horse artillery is ready for a match. They are not disheartened by the difference in caliber, and their small 6-pounder starts a battery duel with the Russians. Some French voltigeurs are working their way forward, ready to put some pressure on any Russians protecting the cannon.
The French recruits continue forward, with more voltigeurs deploying in the forest. One of their officers is hurt by debris thrown up by cannonball. He forces himself up, grasping a savage bleeding wound in his side.
But the French artillery is ready to retaliate and a well placed shot knocks out some of the artillery crew. The furious Russian artillery commander orders his men to switch their target from the infantry to the pesky French artillery.
Мудак!! When his men load the next shot, the Russian artillery officer is alarmed by large dark spots on the powder bags. The boneheaded illiterates in his crew have left the bags sitting in the grass all night, soaking up the morning dew. Curses!
The next cannonball spewed forward with a much less impressive blast. The shot bounced towards the French cannon, and the Russian crew cheered as they saw the French artillery officer fly into the air, and then land still on the ground. Lieutenant Gustave Bourguignon is knocked out of the fight!
The Russian force reveals the battery's defenders: two units of dismounted Cossacks form a dense skirmish screen, while a company of what looks like elite carabiniers line up on the other side of the gun.
Battle Lines Drawn Up
After a long wait, Hector's veterans finally turn up the other flank to relieve some pressure from the recruits. He is also within command range of the shocked and leaderless cannon crew, which he orders to continue the artillery duel.
The voltigeurs are within musket range and starts to exchange fire with the Cossacks (don't tell Shirty, but I forgot half of my skirmishers! These units should not be single groups, but formations of two groups each).
The lanciers also turn up, cautiously standing still in the forest overlooking the battle. They are in an unusually good mood, with the hideously ugly yet charming captain Jean-Paul Martre leading his men in a jolly song. Evidently his cheer makes people overlook his physical appearance!
(The singing was a random event, which in this case would have made the unit move faster this turn if they were formed in a column)
Hector leads his men along the building, preparing for a two-pronged assault on the Russian line.
The recruits, tired of exposing themselves for cannonballs, form a line and prepare to wheel into musket range of the Russian infantry formation that protects their gun.
The Russians wheel up their line to protect the cannon. The French voltigeurs tries to sneak around on the side...
...but take a couple of pounds of canister to the face! While only one man fall to the ground, the unit is extremely shocked, and decides to see if there's any skirmish duties to tend to somewhere else. Preferably far away from Russian guns.
The French companies are lined up for attack, and the lancers are waiting patiently in the cover of the trees, ready to spring an attack whenever an opportunity shows up. Then suddenly, there's confusion in the Russian ranks. The carabinieris are ordered to present, that means, carefully aim their muskets for their first volley. But after some confusion and shouts about protecting the motherland, the line starts to waver. It begins with a few individual men, but soon the whole line is surging forward, with muskets lowered, charging towards the French! Their lust for revenge has pulled them out of the defensive position planned by the Russian commander and in the way of the cannon.
(This was due to a random event, forcing the Russian troops to advance)
Needless to say, this leaves these elite troops out of support from the nearby cannon and cossacks, and in a very dangerous position. The French infantry would be able to sandwich the line between themselves, and the lanciers would be able to swoop in after the initial musketry exchange, possibly wiping out the valuable Russian core of elite soldiers.
Panicked, the Russian commander calls for his men to immediately stop and to retreat off the battlefield. The French soldiers are happy to end the morning without having to experience a deadly exchange of volleys. The road to the monastery is ours!
This is an example of the kind of games you sometimes get when playing campaigns. While it can look a bit anticlimactic, I completely understand the Russians decision to back out immediately instead of risking a very likely loss of their best infantry troops.
The random events really messed up the Russians today, but that's mainly because they were fewer in number to begin with. With such risky odds, any bad luck would be harsher on them than on the French. If they had one or more additional formation of regulars, the sudden surge of his carabinieris would not have jeapardized the entire force. Now, it ended up forcing them to leave my marching route to the monastery open.
While I was looking forward to wiping out this army, which would have been a possible result if the assault had been carried out, it was a very inexpensive win for me. The position for next turn is good, as I now hold the monastery. I can plunder it and then strike out from there, leaving the Russians unsure which route I'll take.
I also managed to hurt the artillery crew, with two (?) losses for them. This make them more vulnerable in any future game as a lucky cannonball or some well placed skirmish fire could knock it out. The Russian artillery has been a thorn in my side this far, and I want it eradicated!
Morning, July 28th
The morning on the 28th of July sees a flurry of activity as the French are eager to exploit their victory at Rudnja the previous evening.
The main force (#1), led by Hector himself, sets off towards the Gleboff Monastery. What riches might the Ortodox monks have hidden away here? Hector is hesistant, unsure if it will be heavily defended or not, and decides to not send out his light cavalry on scouting duties. He might indeed need his lancers and chasseurs close at hand if there will be fighting.
Hector leaves the battered but victorious force of Captain Obelisque and his carabiniers (#3) to browse the buildings in Rudnja. There is not much to loot in the ashes, but his troops are weary after the hard fought crossing and appreciate the chance to rest. While the Russians had time to evacuate their engineers' wagons, they find three bag's worth of supply that must have fallen off the wagons during the hasty retreat.
The unproven force under Prince Sasha Siemenschneider of Schwarzburg-Sondershausen (#2) enters the village after their pillaging tour across the farmlands. The Prince is chomping at the bit, and wonders in frustration which path will enable him to make contact with the enemy as soon as possible. The nerve of that simpleton Hector, to wrap himself in all the glory of the battlefield while his noble dragoons were left to haul supplies and chase away peasants!
The spy Percule is sent along the Smolensk road, looking for the enemy. He spots Russians just a short distance from the village, pillaging their own fields!
Bloodletting on Hallowed Grounds!
Hector's men follow the road to the monastery that some villagers pointed out in exchange for their freedom. Just as Hector sees the tip of the church tower over the gently rolling landscape, he hear a warning cry. One of the voltigeurs, moving ahead of the force, has spotted a column of Russians marching along a nearby road. By pure coincidence both forces are making their way towards the monastery, almost neck to neck.
With neither side ready to give up their common goal, both forces halt their march and begin to line up. Let the battle for Gleboff begin!