Sunday, 14 January 2007

What it's all about...

I have long had an interest in the Russian Army of the Napoleonic wars- some of the first ever metal miniatures I got for wargaming were 25mm Russian grenadiers back in 1972-, and when I decided to build up a Russian army in 28mm using the excellent Front Rank figures, I had already decided that I would do one based around a historical order of battle.

No guards for me. I wanted a typical infantry and cavalry force that reflected the average Russian military force of the 1813-14 period.

I decided on a force from Langeron’s Army Corps in General Blucher’s Army of Silesia. The Russian IXth Corps, consisting of the 9th and 15th Infantry divisions- with supporting artillery- under the command of Generallieutenant Z.D. Olsuviev.

The IXth saw much action from the Katzbach, through Lowenberg, Leipzig, the siege of Mainz and on to the crossing of the Rhine. In France it was at Brienne and then went on finally to its virtual annihilation at the Battle of Champaubert on February 10th, 1814. I wanted to celebrate a formation, which reflected the up-and-down fortunes of the Allies as a whole, and if its commanders were no military geniuses, they were by no means incompetents. The soldiery frequently lived up to their reputation for steadfastness and bravery, all the while being a very, very long way from home!

It is also a good choice from a wargamers standpoint. Although nominally a “corps”, by the time of Champaubert it was, after the attrition of almost a year of combat, little more than the size of a division- and a weak one at that.

For cavalry, I chose the Advance Guard from Langeron’s Army Corps, under Generalleutenant Rudzevitch, to which the 15th Division of the IXth Corps was attached (and from the command of which he had been promoted). Through this direct link with the IXth Corps, this gave me the chance to field dragoons, mounted jaegers, and of course cossacks. What is a Russian army without cossacks?

This is proving a very interesting- if at times frustrating- project to research and to work on, and entailed a surprising amount of detective work for an army that is generally considered to be a fairly straightforward one to paint and collect.