Thursday 22 December 2011

Russian 2nd Division - Eylau 1807

Division of the Day

Today we gather together all of the Russian units making up the 2nd Division on Ostermann Tolstoy's Left Wing Army, and see how they operate as a fighting force.

Ostermann Tolstoy himself commands the 2nd Division .. as well as the entire Left Wing.

Not sure about the details of the uniform so much. I have given Mr Tolstoy a drab greatcoat, and given his ADC a fancy uniform. Gold Sashes for general officers in the Russian army ?

Not sure - welcome to be enlightened on that one. Black plumes as well - bit of a guess there, but it appears to my eye to be suitably Russian for the period.

The whole Division arrayed. Pretty simple layout - mass of guns in the center (1 medium battery, and 1 very handy heavy 12lb battery).

Flanks are anchored by solid blocks of stoic Russian infantry, and there are 4 battalions total of Jaegers to match the French lights,

Only a short command radius on this unit, so keep it tight, and keep the commander in the center of the action.

Another view across the front - very solid line.

Dont underestimate the power of those guns in the middle of the line either - very very nasty piece of kit there.

Jaegers up front on one flank, and another couple of battalions of Jaegers held in reserve behind the HQ stand.

Fight's on !

Pull back the Jaegers and fight it out with that solid mass of guns in the center. The flanks are solid too - Grenadiers on both ends of the line should hold their ground against most possible attacks.

Must say - I am really liking how those flags turned out as well. The textured surface gives it a strange touch of realism. But thats just me :)

How to play this Division in battle ? 

Very simple really - its all about those guns. Stick the guns right in the middle, and simply anchor the flanks with the good quality troops. 

Dont bother charging forward - just hold your ground and get the French into a firefight. Pound their formations into the cold dirt. 

Let them come at you in column, and the deep target will be ripped apart by the heavy guns (double damage on deep targets). 

If they try their cowardly French trick of swarming forward in loose order .. hold the line and match them with your Jaegers. Dont be tempted out of a good position though - sit back and let the enemy do the running around, and let the guns do the work. 

I play a house rule with Russian infantry rated as 'Stoic' - which gives them a saving throw on recoils (5,6 for Grenadier, 6 for regular), and a -1 on all infantry combats. In Repulbique - musketry and bayonet fighting are combined into a single result. Whilst the Russians are handy with a bayonet, their musketry leaves much to be desired ... so a total of -1 is a fair compromise to getting the saving throw on recoils. They will lose a combat more often due to the -1, but will end up holding their ground anyway ... until morale completely breaks. On the other hand, they are not much use charging into a French line and expecting to rout them.

Ideally, they are good for holding the flanks of the guns and keeping their ground. On the offensive .. patience is the key. Wait for a big gap to open, and slowly prolong the guns forward. Takes time, but you can push the enemy off the table if your troops hold their nerve.

Once the troops become rattled or shaken, it is best to rotate them out of the line and push in a fresh Division to take up the fight.  This is the Russian army - you should have plenty of Divisions in reserve .. so deploy deep, rotate the line often, and support those guns.

A big downside to the Russian army of this period is the command structure. Even the later 1812+ Russians have adopted a Corps system ... sort of ... but its not a match for the French Corps system for efficiency. It would be perfect if you could rotate the line troops out of Divisions, and create massed batteries from the artillery left in each Division in a wing. However - you cant do that .. the command structure does not allow it :(  So unfortunately, the guns must remain attached with the Divisions that get rotated out of the line.

The only solution to this horrible cumbersome nature of the Russian system is to make sure your have plenty of fresh Divisions held in reserve.

In a Wing situation such as this one at Eylau, it is best to fight 1 Division up, and keep the other Division back. As the leading Division falters ... pull the whole line back and establish a new front on the fresh Division behind them. Dont string out and fight 2 up with no reserve.

Last of all - don't even think about advancing forward and fighting it out like the French do .. unless you want to truly re-enact Austerlitz, and the great disaster that happened to the Russian army there.

1 comment:

  1. Good looking Division.

    I'm afraid I'm not much help when it comes to uniforms of the Russian Generals... and I have a bunch to paint myself.