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Ura! Russians vs. Poles at Mińsk Mazowiecki (26 April 1831)

Updated: May 1



Sunday's big November Uprising battle at the War Room pitted Alex and Brian's Poles against a numerically superior Russian army led by Rob, Neil and Phil. We were using my Unruly Eagles rules and my 42mm figures. The Poles needed to retain the town of Mińsk, situated 23 miles from Warsaw, or inflict more casualties to win. The Russians had to take the town or inflict more casualties.



Minsk was a good defensive position, protected by a bridge over an impassable lake to its front, with a gorge and a stream across the table, and a large wood to the Polish right.



The game began with the Poles (13 battalions, six cavalry units, and five batteries) holding Minsk. Alex (centre and right) held the town and had eight battalions and two batteries. Brian (centre and left) had five battalions and two batteries, as well as the cavalry and one battery on the open ground to the Polish left.



The Russians initially had 20 battalions, 10 cavalry units, and eight batteries. Both Rob (centre) and Neil (left) had one division (10 battalions and three batteries) each; Phil controlled the Russian cavalry (10 units and two batteries) on the Russian right.


Turns 1-4


As the Russians deployed, the Poles caused minor damage with their artillery to Phil's cavalry on the Russian right. The Russian infantry began to move up to the stream, and Neil's three heavy batteries caused two hits on Alex's artillery in the wood.



Rob tried a quick initial assault on the town, but lost one unit to Alex's Polish fire, as well as a number of other casualties.


Turn 5



Rob, assaulting a second time, crossed the bridge with three infantry battalions, and gained a foothold in the town, after winning two melees against Alex's infantry. But Alex counterattacked with two battalions and pushed one of Rob's out of the town, as well as the Russian skirmishers.


Turn 6



Rob continued his assault with two battalions against the town, forming into line and advancing. Neil formed most of his infantry on the Russian left into line and moved up to the wood there to start an assault on the Polish right.



Phil's cavalry won a melee against Brian's cavalry on the Russian right. This began a furious sequence of combats on that flank which lasted most of the game.


Turn 7


Alex was unable to activate two out of three brigades. Brian destroyed some of Rob's skirmishers in the gorge, and also one of Phil's cavalry units.



Alex lost a 1st class infantry battalion to Neil's infantry firing over their own Russian skirmishers as the latter advanced across the gorge. He soon lost another two Polish battalions to Neil's fire.



On the Polish left, Brian faced Phil's cavalry and Rob's infantry and artillery in the open. One unit of Brian's Polish cavalry managed to win two successive melees against Phil's cavalry, but was eventually forced back to the wood on the Polish left by Phil's heavy cavalry. Phil made more progress by destroying two of Brian's cavalry units. Brian also lost one battalion in the centre to Rob's infantry fire.



Four of Rob's battalions fired and forced one Polish battalion back to the town. Rob's Jaegers in the centre were down to one stand. Phil now moved two cavalry units across the river.


Turn 8



After lunch, Polish reinforcements arrived. Alex deployed Mlokosiewicz's brigade from Rybinski's division behind the town, to Russian consternation.



However, the Russians had the initiative and Neil began to attack with his infantry by moving his battalions up to the stream. Neil also destroyed a Polish battalion on the Polish right.



Brian was being hemmed in by Phil's cavalry, but managed to force a Russian cavalry unit back by enfilading infantry fire. By now Phil had seven cavalry units of ten remaining, while Brian had four of six left.


Turn 9


Brian's reinforcements arrived: two infantry brigades under General Muchowski. Alex rolled in the final Polish reinforcements.


Neil played a Joker which made the Poles miss their turn and gave the Russians two more action cards.



A Polish infantry brigade came on at the far left, forming square in the woods amidst the cavalry melee. Phil continued to advance against Brian's cavalry.



Russian reinforcements were reaching the centre, and Rob swung one infantry brigade towards Brian's exposed position on the Polish centre-left.


As the Russians kept the initiative, they attacked again. Phil was hemming Brian back to near the Polish table edge with his cavalry, as Rob's artillery continued to erode Brian's Polish infantry in the exposed position next to the town.



Rob activated and deployed two more Russian infantry brigades, which came on. Meanwhile, he also assaulted the town again with two battalions across the bridge. One of Rob's attacking battalions lost a melee with the Poles in the town and was forced back to the river. However, one battalion still remained inside the town. When Alex counterattacked this one, the Poles were thrown back. However, Alex eventually destroyed the remaining Russian battalion.



In the Polish centre-left, Brian's three Polish battalions were looking shaky, having taken repeated shots from Rob's heavy artillery.



Brian and Phil continued the protracted cavalry fights on the Polish left. Brian deployed the final Polish reinforcements - Lubienski's cavalry corps.


Turn 10



Brian and Phil continued the cavalry fight. Owing to the pressure put on Brian's command, the arriving cavalry corps had no space to deploy.


Turn 11



Neil was crossing the river.



Rob made yet another assault on the town with two battalions, and rallied the battalion that had been forced back to the river.



Brian's initial five battalions were now looking very shaky, as a Russian attack across the river beckoned. Rob's artillery and Phil's cavalry had confined him to the rear of the Polish table edge.


Turn 12



As Alex failed to activate most of his brigades, two of Neil's columns attacked into the woods on the Polish right. Neil was now crossing the stream. One of Neil's battalions entered the town - firing on Alex's infantry, and another launched a fearsome charge against a Polish battalion in the woods - forcing it to retreat.


Turn 13



But Rob had now assembled five batteries facing the Polish centre-left. Neil's three batteries joined Rob's five batteries to form a grand battery in the centre. Neil's artillery duly destroyed one of Brian's original battalions. The Polish centre-left was now wide open.



Neil's patient advance was now starting to roll up the Polish right. All his battalions had crossed the river and were approaching the wood. Rob doggedly moved another two battalions up to the town.



Turn 14



Rob destroyed one Polish battalion with musketry, as well as a light battery (Brian) on the centre-left, before charging two battalions into the town. Russian roars of 'Ura!' filled the air as plumes of blackpowder smoke swirled between the combatants.



Rob's infantry in the centre now crossed the river.



Neil played a card and his Jaegers arrived on the Polish right flank, destroying one Polish 3rd class unit. Although Alex threw out one Russian battalion from the wood, he lost a light battery to Neil, and the Polish right was now disintegrating. Brian's initial five battalions had now been wiped out. We stopped play around 5pm.



Conclusion


The game ended with the Poles still in possession of two-thirds of the town. However, the Russians had inflicted heavy losses - 11 battalions, four cavalry units and four batteries on the Poles, for the loss of seven battalions and three cavalry units. The Polish battle-line was threadbare and the Polish right was collapsing. The Polish left had been hemmed in by Phil's cavalry and Rob's artillery and infantry, with the reinforcements there unable to make progress. The Polish position was thus untenable.


Overall a super day's play, with the players seeming to really enjoy themselves. The game swung to and fro and the Russians (assaulting Mińsk five times) eventually coordinated their units to narrowly edge the encounter and win by a whisker...



Thanks to Rob for helping me set up, hospitality and to all the players, and to Phil for the lift with my burdensome boxes. For once everyone seemed to like the figures and the rules too!

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