Monday, 13 August 2007

Orders of Battle

A lot of time was spent on selecting an appropriate Order of Battle. In the end I relied mainly on the orbats found in the appendices of George Nafziger’s Napoleon at Leipzig and Napoleon at Dresden. It was clear that there were a lot of changes in the composition of Langeron’s Army Corps- and in the IXth Corps itself- in the time between the beginning of the Leipzig campaign and the invasion of France- this seems particularly to have been the case with the cavalry, where divisions were split up, separated, and reunited only to be split off again according to the strategic demands of the situation.

It was also very clear that attrition took its toll over the months, and the number of men- and of battalions- decreased steadily over time. On paper, a Russian division was to consist of up to six regiments for a total of fifteen battalions of 640 men each. By Leipzig, it seems the average Russian regiment consisted of about at no more than 475 effectives.

Again, what I was looking for was an organization that would give me a good-sized wargaming force, along with a reasonable contingent of cavalry to help fend off the minions of Napoleon. In the end, I settled for the orbat provided in the Leipzig book. The number of battalions in the division at that time, and the cavalry that made up the Advanced Guard under Rudsevitch, added up to a balanced and reasonable force (read: not TOO expensive) to collect.

There were some inconsistencies in some other sources. Digby Smith’s excellent book on the Battle of Leipzig has the Kursk regiment in place of the Iakoutski regiment in the 15th Infantry Division. While certainly there were some instances of regiments and even brigades being reassigned from one division to another (for example, the 12th and 22nd Jaegers were originally from the 13th Division), the Kursk Regiment should normally have been with the 10th Division under General Osten-Sacken. As the Iakoutski regiment “reappears” in later orbats with the 15th, and the 10th Division did not appear strong enough that it could “donate” battalions to other corps, I decided to stick with Nafziger and keep the Iakoutski as an original member of the line-up for the 15th Div. Besides, I already had the flag!

Still, as the Kursk regiment does not appear in any of the orbats for the 10th Division, I would be interested to know what happened to them- burned up at Lutzen and Bautzen, perhaps?

The artillery was another area where I had conflicting information, and many batteries seem to have been attached and re-attached to units, or put into reserve, depending (understandably) on the needs of the moment. Here I settled with Nafziger and decided to field two batteries, one heavy line battery and a light battery of the Horse Artillery. Likewise, I have included the third battalion of the Riajski Regiment, which sometime between the opening of the campaign and the battle of Leipzig, seemed to have disappeared from the order of battle- most likely being disbanded to provide reinforcements for the first battalion.

Rogues' Gallery

I have added a link to a pdf showing the commanders of my Russian force (where pictures are known). The pictures are from the collection of portraits of many of the higher-ranking officers who fought in the 1812 campaign at the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, via my copy of "The Russian Officer Corps of the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars" by Alexander Mikaberidze.

This is one of the best and most enlightening books out there on the Russian army of the time. The best thing about the book is the human "face" it gives to an army still pretty much seen as one of automatons. Recommended!

I had run into a hitch when researching the officers. There is no doubt that the commander of the IXth Corps was Generallieutenant Olsuvief. However, I found to my surprise that there were two of them in the Russian army of the time, and my question was, which one commanded the corps up to and including the Battle of Champaubert? Okay, I confess I can be pretty anal, but as I wanted to identify the commanders appropriately I may as well get it right- and I do love a mystery!

The candidates were: 
 Zakhar Dmitrevitch Olsufiev I (1772- 1835), and his younger brother, Nikolai Dmitrevitch Olsuvief III (1779-1817).

Any cross-referencing or web searching was not made easier by about the half-dozen variations in the spelling of "Olsuvief" that I have mentioned earlier. A picture accompanying Tranie/ Carmigniani's description of Champaubert in "Napoleon 1814- La Campaign de France" showed a portrait of Nikolai Dmitrevitch.

The entry for Zakhar Dmitrevitch Olsufiev in "The Russian Officer Corps in the Revolutionary and Napoleonic Wars" has him as the one who was captured at Chaumpaubert following the steamrolling IXth Corps received at the hands of the Corsican General. However, his biography of Nikolai Dmitrevitch Olsuviev has the younger brother leading the IXth Corps at Brienne up to Vauchamps and Paris- clearly not the same general who would have been captured, and furthermore Nikolai is mentioned as serving at Kulm and Dresden in 1813. Yet the IXth Corps was not present at these battles, being with the Army of Silesia north of Leipzig at the time.

Although I suspected the correct entry was for Olsuvief the Older, I wasn’t yet convinced. Finally I sent off an inquiry to the Napoleonic forum on the web, and Mr. Mikaberidze was kind enough to reply that it was, in fact, big brother Zakhar who commanded the IXth Corps. He had noted the inconsistency in the text, and had earlier sent a correction to the publishers- who then failed to include it in the final version. He also provided further information on who commanded what was left of the IXth Corps after Champaubert (General Kornilov). Case closed, and a big “dostevedanya” to Alexander Mikaberidze!

Russki Painting Guide

I have added a painting guide to my blog (see sidebar). I had originally thought that the Russians would be an oh-so simple army to paint, but when I got down to the details, I realized that there was more complexity in painting the Russians than I had first imagined. The information was out there, but it was spread over a number of different sources making easy reference difficult.

I needed an easy schematic for painting the Russians, so I created this combination of an order of battle and painting chart on Word, and converted it to a pdf file. Those out there painting a Russian army may find it useful. Feel free to let me know if there is anything you disagree with.

It was a lot of fun to work on!