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2019 - Number 48


View of the Table from the East
Black Powder Series: Smolensk, 1812

Following our huge Borodino game, we had so much interest that we decided to run a series of Black Powder Napoleonic events, leading up to a giant Leipzig game next year.

To start, I set up a scenario using many of the forces that fought at Borodino. It was based on a what if - if the French had closed more rapidly on the Russian forces near Smolensk, they could have brought on a large engagement eariler in the campaign.

The Cossacks Deploy

We set up the table with the walls of Smolensk at one end, and the Russian line of communication toward Moscow running lengthwise along the north side.

The French forces started on the south side, and pushed rapidly to cut the Russian line of retreat. The Russian forces also pushed forward, and soon there was heavy fighting along the length of the table.

Arb Surveys the Table

The French left focused on securing the gates of Smolensk, and the Russian forces in this sector were soon besiged by waves of French cavalry. They fought valiantly, but were gradually pushed back from the Gates.

In the center, the fighting was also heavy, but more even. The French and Poles found it quite a slog to push across the table to get units onto the Russian line of communications.

On the French right flank, the French also pushed across the table aggressively, and fought heavily to remain in the Russian zone. Overall, the game wound up with a narrow French victory, but it in the words of British contemporary, it was "a very close run thing."

The French Right Advances

As Does the French Center

French Cavalry in Support

Good View of the Russian Line

Poles Seize a Farm

More Columns Push Forward

Cossacks Skirmish in the Wood

The Russian Center is Pushed Back

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