Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire English Civil War, but with numerous discursions into battles from many different periods. The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Battle of Golymin, 26th December 1806

I had a go at refighting the Battle of Golymin, which took place during Napoleon's campaign in Poland against the Russians and the Prussian remnants of the disasters of October that year.  There is a good accoutn of the battle here.  The scenario I used was the one published in Baccus' Napoleonic Companion.

The scenario is designed for the Polemos General de Division rules.  The contending forces were as follows:


C-in-C: Murat (Decisive)

Reserve Cavalry Corps (Murat)
Lasalle's Division: 4 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)
Milhaud's Brigade: 3 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)
Klein's Brigade: 6 Dragoon bases (Trained)

III Corps (Davout - Decisive)
Morand's Division: 12 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Friant's Division: 8 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Marulaz' Cavalry Division: 3 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)

VII Corps (Augureau - Capable)
Desjardin's Division: 8 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Heudelet's Division: 12 Infantry SK1 bases (Trained)
Durosnel's Division: 2 Light Cavalry bases (Trained)


C-in-C: Prince Golitsyn (Plodding)

4th Division (Golitsyn): 3 bases Infantry SK1 (Veteran), 3 bases Infantry SK0 (Veteran), 9 bases Infantry SK0 (Trained), 2 bases Cuirassiers (Trained), 4 bases Light Cavalry (Trained), 1 base 12lb Foot Arty, 1 base 8lb Foot Arty

7th Division (Docturov - Decisive): 3 bases Infantry SK0 (Veteran), 2 bases Dragoons (Trained)

3rd Division (Sacken - Capable): 3 bases Infantry SKo (Veteran)

n.b. A base represents a battalion of 500 - 600 or so infantry, or 200 - 350 cavalry, or 6-8 guns

The Set-Up

Davout's Corps advances through the woods at the bottom right towards Golymin, held by Prince Golitsyn's forces.  Docturov's Division is approaching from the top-right

Same position, different angle

Meanwhile Murat's Reserve Cavalry Corps advances from bottom-left.  Augerau's Corps is advancing down the road from the top-left.

The view from behind Murat on the hill overlooking Golymin

And the view from behind Augerau

 The Battle:

Murat's Cavalry advances; Augerau's light cavalry pushed down the road towards Golymin

Davout's infantry advances gingerly through and around the woods below Golymin: the Russian defence line here is strong! Docturov has moved very smartly to reinforce the flank of the Russian line

Morand's infantry from Davout's Corps pushes out of the woods

Augerau's Corps masses and begins to re-deploy into its attack formation, with infantry and cavalry working in close concert

Aling the line of battle, the first clashes begin

One can see at the top that a smart charge by Docturov's veterans has pushed Morand's troops back into the woods

Augerau's infantry advances with great boldness, pushing back some of Sacken's veteran infantry into its cavalry supports.  The knocked over single figures indicate the progressive demoralisation of the Russian infantry and cavalry.

Friant's infantry attacks to the left of the woods but a sharp counter-attack, led by Prince Golitsyn in person, throws the Frenchmen back

French reinforcements quickly move to secure Friant's position

Not a very clear shot unfortunately but a very clear result! Golitsyn's charge has worked and has broken the French division!  Note that he moved to advance his second brigade nearest the woodline after the first brigade was halted by vicious French fire.  This attack in echelon proved successful

The wider position: the Russians have nearly broken the link between Murat and Davout and have confined the latter to the wood; Augerau on the left however has made good progress

Golitsyn unstoppable! He leads his men in the rout of some French Dragoons who tried to delay him

Augerau's attack develops: increasing pressure is put on the Russian infantry, but Sacken just manages to keep hold of his men.  To the left however, the French infantry is calmly and methodically pushing back the Russian cuirassiers who oppose them and the Russian flank is starting to be turned...

Punch and counter-punch: Docturov leads an attack on the woods which succeeds in part and some of his grenadiers break-in: however a ferocious French counter-attack breaks a Russian battalion and sends the other rearwards

Same position, different shot

Sacken has stabilized the situation on the road leading to the town: however the flanking French infantry is pushing back the Russian cuirassiers on the flank in considerable disorder...

Morand's counter-attack from the wood has enjoyed great success and a second Russian battalion has been routed here.  Russian dragoons form a new line to try and delay the victorious French infantry.  Meanwhile one can see that the French infantry have reached the stream (top-left) and routed the Russian cuirassiers who were opposing them.  Will Golymin be encircled entirely?!

A Russian reserve brigade forms up to the left of the town to attempt to stabilize the situation

Despite the severe casualties in his division, Docturov is able to retain the control of the units at hand and advances in to the forest, breaking the French infantry opposing him.  Davout quickly supervises the forming of a second line

Russian artillery and jaegers re-deploy to face the threat of Morand's advancing infantry

The Russian infantry push the flanking French forces back at the point of their bayonets! Augerau deploys his brigades prior to restarting his attack

Russian infantry, again led by Golitsyn in person crash into the woods and put Morand's infantr under severe pressure.

Attack and counter-attack above Golymin.  Both sides are in severe disarray!  Notice that a French column is threatening the right of Sacken's main defensive line.  That general has hastily put a battalion in its path to protect the disordered and shaken Russian cavalry

Sacken and the Russian reserves get the upper hand against Augerau's infantry!  Note the French infantry running away through the stream (top-left)

The position at the end of the battle on the left:  despite severe pressure, the Russians have stabilized the line

Meanwhile, in the woods, the Russian infantry led by Prince Golitsyn and General Docturov have defeated the Frenchmen: Davout's Corps is defeated!

It is sauve qui peut for Morand's units.
 The Result:

I halted the battle at this point, deciding that Murat and Augerau would decline to renew their attack after the defeat of Davout's Corps and the heavy losses of infantry which had been suffered.  The Russians too had suffered heavy casualties but their formations had held on and there was now little prospect of a French victory, but every prospect of a crushing defeat.

Game Notes:

A very interesting and tense battle.  It took longer than usual, perhaps just over 3 hours of game time.  I think the reason for this was that both sides proved quite resilient in their morale rolls, as well as the battle being very even.  It really could have gone either way until very late on!  For those familiar with my methods of playing solitaire, the base tempo points were as follows:

Galitsyn 4 (Plodding) + 6 formations = 10 points (roll D8)
Murat 6 (Decisive) + 3 formations = 9 points (roll D8)
Davout 6 (Decisive) + 3 formations = 9 points (roll D8)
Augerau 5 (Capable) + 3 formations = 8 points (rollD6)

The French forces were treated as separate armies due to the disjointed nature of the French force.  If playing again, I may treat them as a single force commanded by Murat.  I don't think this was telling in the French defeat here: if anything, the Russian splitting of the French line early on would have been crippling for Davout's Corps.  What did make a difference was having many of the commanders stuck in the woods for large periods of the battle: this (realistically) reduced the command and control ability of the armies as the generals were out-of-sight of many of their subordinates.
I felt that both orders of battle were a little "flat", in particular the French.  Their lack of veteran troops and expert skirmishers was a critical weakness - and to be frank, not weaknesses normally associated with the French in 1806! Additionally, the commanders' ratings are arguable, to say the least.
As ever, the Polemos General de Division rules gave a good game, full of command difficulties and abstracting in the right places.

Game played on a 5'x3' table.  Figures by Baccus, and buildings by Timecast I think.  Incidentally, there were about 1500 figures on the table: that is why I love 6mm for big battles! You can get lots of figures on a very average sized dining table and play a game that gets a result in a short time. 


  1. Thanks for the extra info about tempo for solitaire play. Sounds like a pretty balanced situation.

    1. You are welcome. It did turn out to be finely balanced. I think this scenario would play out very differently if other rulesets were used: in many, the French cavalry preponderance would give them the game. But cavalry is quite fragile in Polemos, which makes the battle maybe a little more even.