The Battle of Jakobovo 1812

A report by Neil Worthington

A brief account of a Napoleonic Carnage and Glory II game played at my house on Saturday 29 April 2017. The scenario was a recreation of the first day of the Battle of Jakobovo, when Wittgenstein's advance guard met leading elements of Oudinot's corps on the road to St Petersburg on July 28, 1812. The battle commenced around 5:00pm and initial weather conditions were good. The French were slightly superior in terms of the number of infantry and cavalry present but the Russians had more and heavier artillery. Doug took the role of Count Wittgenstein and Bryan was wearing Oudinot's breeches.

Situation after Move 1 - French on the left

The opening moves saw a general advance by both sides, many of the French units deploying into combat column formation in the centre and their light cavalry moving forward swiftly on the extreme left. The Russians unlimbered their artillery pieces as soon as practically possible and started to move the infantry and Jaeger battalions into line (combat column formation not being available to Russian infantry at this time).

As the French line continued to move forward, the leading infantry battalions taking a steady stream of casualties from the Russian guns, the leading regiment of Chasseurs a Cheval launched a charge against the Don Cossacks facing them on the French left. A fierce hand to hand struggle ensued, the Russian cavalry emerged victorious and the Chasseurs fled the field. At the same time, Oudinot ordered his infantry brigade on the right to attack the village of Jakobovo with support from infantry battalions in the right centre of the field. The French guns were now being deployed and with the infantry skirmish screens also opening fire, the Russians began to suffer their first significant losses.

Russians deploy into line, cavalry engage on the left

Light rain began falling around 6:15, making musketry less effective. Cavalry combat was recommenced on the French left as the second Chasseur regiment clashed with the previously victorious Cossacks. This time, however, the exhausted Russian cavalry were no match for their opponents and they broke and dispersed. Over on the French right, Oudinot now ordered a series of infantry attacks around the village and the Russians suffered greatly, with several battalions falling back in disorder and Colonel Denissiev of the Jaegers thrown from his horse and captured by the enemy.

French infantry assault the village, the Russians recoil

The French were on the verge of a decisive breakthrough so Wittgenstein threw his remaining fresh infantry formations in a desperate attempt to stem the tide. This effort was not without success as a number of tired French battalions were routed as a result but, unfortunately for the gallant General, the casualties and exhaustion that resulted from this attack drove army morale below the critical threshold and the Russian forces were obliged to retire from the field. Overall the Russians suffered losses of 24% (including units that dispersed after being routed) compared to the French 20%.

This was a closely fought and enjoyable game, thanks to Doug and Bryan for taking part.