Horka 1708 – Notes on Russians and the Field of Battle
I presented the Swedish army I would need for the Horka 1708 battle two weeks ago and gave a little background to this what-if battle (it may help if you have not read the previous entry if you start here). For the Swedes we basically assume it is the same army that set out from Grodno in the beginning of 1708 that will fight at Horka – yes in all fairness the body of men should perhaps be reduced to allow for the attrition effect of an army on the march (illness, skirmish casualties, desertions, etc.). For the Russians at Horka, Nick provides information in his book (The Dawn of the Tsarist Empire, by Nick Dorrell, link here) on the likely composition for the infantry based on available sources (a few assumptions have been made based on this detail to produce the army list, also note that this may change as we move forward, but I want to have a list to work from in completing the miniatures – I will also need all of them for the upcoming Poltava battle so doing them will not be a waste). For the Russian cavalry we assume a similar composition to that of the Battle of Holowczyn.
The full list of units for the Russians I will be working on are presented at the end of this post.
Below is the illustration from Nick’s book, showing the Russian position at Horka, this will be used as a basis for making the table.
The next sequence of pictures show at high level how I derived the map (Call it Horka 1.0).
Still finalising batches of painting so not much to see here, hurry along… and moving swiftly over to something else.
GNW Books and Scenarios
Over the years I have met many people in the UK who are interested in the Great Northern War but struggle to find decent books on the subject in English (apart from the usual suspects like Peter Englunds fantastic book on Poltava, the Massie book on Peter the Great, or the Osprey Poltava book) – this is a shame and I wish more books were available. At the SELWG show last week I had a few discussions along these lines with a few old and new friends. For example, I think Oskar Sjöström’s book on the Battle of Fraustadt 1706 (link to it here) is an amazing book and ought to be available in English. It won the best Swedish history book of 2008 and is an absolute gem – it inspired me enough to paint thousands of 6mm soldiers with winter bases for my first Joy of Six outing many years ago whilst listening to Sabaton’s Carolus Rex album.
“At Fraustadt the Swedish forces faced
An army almost twice its size.
And on that day we showed the world not only
Our superiority in battle but also
How cruel man can be. Frozen ground,
Ride with the wind
Emerge from the gunsmoke like demons
Charging their flanks
The enemy trembles with fear”From the Song Killing Ground by Sabaton, from the Carolus Rex Album (2012)
The recent two-part Great Northern War Compendium was a very welcome addition, not just for the English reader but for anyone interested in this period, and is a fantastic set. I think you can still get copies of it from Caliver books – it is expensive and I doubt it will go down in price once the print-run has sold out.
I found a review on Amazon that I think encapsulate my own feeling about the set.
“This set is hands down one of the most lusciously detailed, illustrated, written, translated, and produced works of military history I have had the pleasure of reading in a long, long time. And that is not hyperbole. From the quality of the original research and translations, to the breadth of coverage, to the details of the individual battles and topics, to the huge number of gorgeous maps that accompany almost every article, this set is simply stupendous. Let me mention that last part again. So many works of modern military history neglect the critical aspect of cartography. With a topic as obscure as the Great Northern War maps are critical. Not only are the maps a huge part of this work, they are literally works of art. They are easy to understand, numerous, clear, and beautiful. I can not say enough good things about this fantastic resource. Even if the GNW is not your period of main interest, I guarantee that you will not be disappointed in your purchase. I would have bought this set at twice the price, and I mean that nor do I have any connection whatsoever with the publishers.”
From Jason C. Pipes review of the Great Norhtern War Compendium taken from Amazon.com 15/10/17
“So why the excitement”, I hear you thinking, “…we know about your Fraustadt Battle already and the Compendium was released more than a Year ago!”. Ok, sorry, here we go.
I noted recently that there is a book coming, preliminary in May 2018, that sounds really interesting and I pre-ordered a copy. The book is called The Swedish Army of the Great Northern War, 1700-1721 and written by Lars Ericson Wolke. Lars is Professor at the Swedish Military Academy in Stockholm and have written widely on Swedish and international military history and I have read many of his previous books with great pleasure.
Here is the blur about the book (taken from Amazon):
The book describes the development of the Swedish Army during the Great Northern War, 1700-1721, when Sweden fought against a coalition of Russia, Denmark-Norway and Poland-Saxony. For parts of the War also Prussia and Hannover joined the enemy coalition. The book describes how the Army was reorganised in the year before the outbreak of the war, with its unique allotment system of recruitment. The book also includes a list of all Army units during the 21 years of war.
The strategic situation in the Baltic Sea region in the last 1690´s is given, and is then followed up by an analysis of the strategic situation in the early 1720´s.
A description of the Army as it was at the time of the outbreak of the war in 1700, as well as the system of fortresses around the Baltic Sea is provided. The equipment and tactics of the Army are presented, not the least how they developed during the long period of the war.
The development of the 21 years of war are described and discussed to give the reader a good overview of the military (and partly the political) development. The battlefield Performance of the Swedish Army is in depth studied through descriptions and analysis of six battles and one campaign.
The book includes a list of suggestions for further reading, and is supported by a large number of illustrations including specially-commissioned colour uniform plates.
In addition, and from the same publisher, there is another Great Northern War book being completed. This one is called “The Battle of Poltava 1709” by Valerii Alekseevich Moltusov. I am happy this work will be available in English, as I suspect this may be a translation of a book he wrote in 2010 about the Battle (but I may be wrong), that was translated into Swedish. The book was brilliant.
And the blur from the publishers page:
Based on Swedish, Russian and Ukrainian source, this book presents a modern look at the pivotal battle of the Great Northern War. The uniqueness of the book is that it reveals the consistency and logic of the Russian army’s actions. The book also provides a detailed historiography of the Battle of Poltava. The author reveals the secrets of military engineering art Russian and Swedish armies. For the first time, new evidence for the location and configuration of the fortification system on the battlefield is given, as well as new information on the actions of Russian artillery in battle is given. In addition, there is much information on the strength and composition of Russian troops аt different stages of the battle, as well as an examination of the participation in the battle of irregular military formations on both sides. The author’s conclusions complement our understanding of the battle. Highly illustrated including specially-commissioned colour artwork and maps, this is a major new account of one of the 18th century’s most important battles.
Here are three other books relevant to the Great Northern War in English for you to check out, all of them are covering a longer period of history. They all give insight into the rise and decline of Sweden as a major power in the region and puts the build up to the war and its aftermath into context. I recommend all of them (the first one is normally available second hand from Amazon at a very low cost).
- The Struggle for Supremacy in the Baltic 1600-1725, by Jill Lisk (link here)
- A Warrior Dynasty: The Rise and Decline of Sweden as a Military Superpower, by Henrik O. Lunde (link here)
- The Northern Wars 1558-1721, by Robert I. Frost (link here)
In addition Nick (Dorrell) gave me a copy of his Second Scenario Book for the Twilight of the Sun King (TotSK) rules at Joy of Six in July. It took me until recently to have a read through. It is called the Ottoman & Great Northern Wars and contains the following scenarios:
- The Wars against the Ottoman Empire (1683 to 1718) – with links to Wikipedia added:
- The Great Northern War (1700-1721) – with links to Wikipedia added:
I only went through the Great Northern War scenarios. None of the tables required to play these (with a base width of 60mm, two of these bases makes a normal unit in the rules) are bigger than the normal 6′ by 4′. For each Battle there are options and in some cases what-if proposals, e.g. a field action at Narva where the Russians march out on the fields in front of Narva, instead of staying in their fortified positions, and take on the Swedes. Overall I think the mix of scenarios works well and the only one I felt was missing is the Fraustadt 1706 battle – but then I remembered it is the example battle in the main TotSK rules.
Narva and Holowczyn are attacks by the Swedes on a strong position. Klissow, Gadebush and Storkyro are more traditional battles of the era. Both the Lesnaya and the Crossing of the Düna scenario are interesting in that the objectives, from a Swedish perspective, are not necessary to win the battle outright but to establish and defend a bridgehead in the case of Düna and to limit the destruction of the marching army in the Lesnaya scenario.
We have presented both the Lesnaya and the Gadebusch battle using the rules and the scenarios at Joy of Six in the past. My favourite one is the Crossing of the Düna where a Swedish assault force supported by artillery tries to secure a bridge head whilst a pontoon bridge is being completed at the same time as a full army of Saxons are advancing. I have played versions of this battle using the Polemos as well as Maurice rules in the past and may give it a go with the TotSK rules in a not to distant future. I have promised myself this time to do it with a proper gun boat, artillery float and a pontoon bridge. I find that the additional rules in some of the scenarios for weather effect (snow storm for the Narva scenario) and rolling for enforcements in the Crossing scenario adds a nice uncertainty to the game. The Holowczyn what-if scenario is very similar to the Horka idea.
The 10mm Gunboat I bought last week at SELWG (see more here) is slowly going to take the role of a gun sloop at Düna – supporting the Swedish crossing.
I also got a nice surprise in that a friend of mine Michael Leck is doing a Great Northern War battle at Salute this year using the Pikeman’s Lament rules (that he and Dan Mersey wrote and I and the Little One have enjoyed played on many occassions, for example see here and here). You may recall his fantastic Fort Mosquito set-up from Salute last year or known him from some of the other stuff he has done over the years.
Michael Leck is, perhaps, more famous for the fantastic stuff he presents on his Dalauppror blog (here) and his articles in the Wargames, Soldier and Strategy magazine where he has presented snippets from the rich Swedish military history and how to adapt some popular rule set to play in these, more than often, unknown theatres. You may recall that I put up a picture of his fantastic, and award winning, game at Salute in the last blog update (here). Michael, and I, used to roll dice and use our imagination in the same role-playing club many moons ago.
From some blogs ago
He will be doing the Battle of Stäket which is the last land battle of the Great Northern war. He provided a sneak preview of the table being made recently.
But we baked you some Biscuits!
If you have not yet listened to the “The Lardy Oddcast” that you can find on the Too Fat Lardies webpage then go and do so – it is very interesting! (link here). They have produced some of the exceptionally good and innovative rules over the years (like IABSM, Sharp Practice and Chain of Command to mention a few) this give a nice insight to what is going on the Lard Island as well as in the head of the islanders – well worth a listen!
It is another welcome thing to do whilst painting or whatever else you do with your hands when you listen to a podcast. I am still yet to get going with my Chain of Command 15mm Winter War stuff – but I seem to be running out of excuses. I still have to do some of the terrain but should get cracking with a game at some point (here is were I got up to last year, link here and here). I have done a few games of Chain of Command but would really like to get a few more under my tight belt!
As you are aware, I am a fan of the Wargames Veteran podcast (link to it here) and the latest episode was another good one, especially as Jay had invited Peter Berry along for a chat. Peter, if you were not aware, is the owner of Baccus 6mm (link here) – I may have featured a few of his miniatures on this blog! (also the podcast before this one is a good one with Henry Hyde and his upcoming Campaign book, and the one before that one… and the one before that one,….).
You will find out how Baccus came about, and also why it is not spelt Bacchus, but more importantly Peter and Jay discuss the current trends in the wargames publishing market – mainly focusing on 28mm and skirmish type games. I think it is a fair observation and it is worth listening to what Peter actually is trying to say. This stems from an opinion piece Peter published on the Baccus home page recently. The underlying message is that there is something we hobbyists could do in helping and that is to submit articles to the editors of the magazines, whatever scale or type of wargaming we are into.
Jay, as always managed to nutshell the moment, with the following statement, “If we want this hobby to continue, then we gonna have to be open and willing to share , and willing to help and maybe not be so negative towards the neo-fights!”
And with reference to Neo-fights!, the Brits and Americans are yet again debating the greatness of something without having done a full sample of the market. Everyone knows that the best biscuits are from Gothenburg and are call Ballerina, and you definitely dunk these, in whatever liquid you have at hand. 😉
He also interviewed Howard Whitehouse about Mad Dogs With Guns (link here). This is a new gangster game from Osprey Games that I have made myself a post-it note to check out.
A few other things I took away from the Berry Interview were the word Scanian War range and re-sculpting the Great Northern War range!
Finally the Little One has expressed some interest in some Star Wars miniature gaming – we already have a large collection of the ships from the X-wing game – so this next venture will be into some skirmish gaming. Imperial Assault has been out for some time and soon Star Wars Legions will be out. A majority of the Fab Four at the Meeples and Miniatures podcast discusses Imperial Assault in their latest show and I am very tempted to give it a go, but resisting as I do not have time for another diversion at this moment – like the Dreadball one, having painted 6 teams over a very short period of time. Legion or Assault?- it is still open for us and not an immediate issue to resolve. Listen to the Meeples podcast here. I am a long time sufferer of the show and can proudly call myself a Meep, check it out and become one you too.
/ Have a good week-end I am certainly on a high this week, that was a long rant! But at least an early posting for a change.
Russian Army List
Here is that Russian army list, I promised earlier.
Unit – Name of the Regiment/unit
Type – Infantry or Cavalry
Ref – Reference
Polemos Bases – 60 by 30mm base with 9 riders or 24 foot – 2 of these are a normal unit in Twilight of the Sun King rules. 1 is a small unit and 3 a large unit. The X indicate how many are needed.
Class – RD – Russian Dragoon, RI – Russian Infantry with Pike.
|Unit||Type||Ref||Polemos Bases Needed||Class|
|Busch’s Grenadier Regiment||Infantry||R11||2||RI|
|Repnins Grenadier Regiment||Infantry||R12||2||RI|
|du Bois’ Grenadier Regiment||Infantry||R19||2||RI|