Thursday, June 2, 2022

Retreat from Smolensk - Action at Malenkovo

On the same day that Prince Eugene was being driven by a jubilant Austrian army from the area around Zonkovo, some miles to the east a detached force commanded by Marshal Davout was battling against a superior force of Russians. A Division of I Corps was stationed at a town called Ovritch close by the west bank of the river Slinsky. About a mile to the east of  the river, and on a parallel course, flowed a small stream Malinski, itself a quarter mile east of the village of Malenkovo. The French had installed in this place a small garrison of an infantry regiment, with a light cavalry regiment keeping watch and ward over the road east across the stream. In and around Ovritch, lay 2nd Division of I Corps, and further west still the main body of I Corps.

As stated in the previous posting, this action was an upscaled version of the #20 scenario, 'Taking the Initiative', from S. Asquith & C.S. Grant Scenarios for All Ages. This scenario I upscaled.  It still features a build-up from a clash of outposts to a regular battle.

(Note: The observant reader referring back through the above link will observe certain narrative inconsistencies.  As it would take too long to correct them, put it down to the usual histriographical inconsistencies and errors that crop up from time to time...)

The Forces engaged were:


I Corps
Commander: Marshal Davout
3 Infantry Divisions, each with 24 figures
1 Light Cavalry Brigade, with 12 figures
1 Dragoon Brigade (from VI Cavalry Corps), with 12 figures
I Corps Artillery Park: 4 figures, 1 cannon

Totals 100 figures and 1 gun representing a corps of 20,000 plus 32 cannon.


Commander: Admiral Tchitchigov
4 Infantry Divisions, each with 24 figures
1 Heavy Cavalry Brigade (cuirassiers), with 12 figures
1 Dragoon Brigade, 12 figures
1 Park: 4 figures, 1 cannon

Totals 124 figures and 1 gun, representing a corps of 24,800 plus 32 cannon

The action begins with a dragoon and two infantry regiments leading the Russian advance across the Malinski stream to attack the village.  The narrative will be taken up with the pictures.  I recommend using the slide show to follow the story. 

The result of this battle was an undoubted victory for the Russians, and something of a disaster for the French, driven pell-mell from the field with heavy losses.  Retreating to the northwest, Davout managed to link up with Eugene's army as they continued their withdrawal into Poland.  

Meanwhile, several tens of miles to the north, The emperor had interrupted his retreat not far west of Mogilev on the Dniepro River, turning to offer defiance to the pursuing Russian Army under General Prince Kutusov himself...

To be concluded...


  1. Archduke Piccolo,

    A very impressive battle report that I found absolutely enthralling and entertaining! I even set up your photos so that I could watch them as a slide show that told the story of the battle.

    All the best,


    1. Cheers, Bob
      Too lazy to write up a traditional narrative, I hoped readers would enjoy this slideshow/ graphic novel style of presentation.

  2. For what it’s worth I have Napoleonic French vs Russians in 6mm, 10mm and 15mm but, irrespective of scale, I am always hoping Boney’s lot get a drubbing. Congratulations on the victory for the Russians, inflicting a significant defeat for the dastardly Frenchies. Well done sir.

    Ion - did you fight this solo, or against an opponent? In any event, I find it’s always good to fight battles in the context of a campaign. That way you need to carefully manage your resources and avoid any Pyrrhic victories.

    Good luck with your next battle - I trust Kutusov can roll plenty of 6’s. Perhaps it would also be additionally helpful if he could “let loose the Cossacks”…



    1. Geoff -
      My only Napoleonics are the 25mm figures (actually, my Prussians are 23mm plastics, but they were a kind of wind fall). Actually I'm something of an admirer of Napoleon, mainly for his capacity and ability.

      This battle was played solo - those occasional chits with numbers you see in the pictures were the move order of the units and commanders. It was the combat dice that decided the battle, though the Russians more often than not had the odds in their favour anyway.

      A case in point was the late cavalry fight. Being heavier, the Russians had the advantage of weight, but the dragoons equalised this by getting their charge in first. The first contact indecisive, the fight carried on, the extra weight giving the Russians 8 dice to 6. No result! Unfortunately, I forgot to take a pic of the third round result, which went decisively in favour of the cuirassiers, who were then seen 'escorting' the fleeing dragoons towards the river...

      The next battle did have a live opponent (Paul 'Jacko' Jackson) for most of it, and I finished it off the following day. The battle narrative I hope to sort out in the next few days...

      By the way, this 'Retreat from Smolensk' campaign was intended as a prequel to my intended 'real' campaign, which I'll call 'The War of the Nations.' Set in 1813, Napoleon begins with a more solid cadre of veterans than he had historically, having got out of Russia maybe half the Grande Armee that he sent in.


  3. Looking good Ion, a great report too, it gives me the urge to play Napoleonics.

    1. Hi Paul -
      That I might inspire others is gratifying to hear!

  4. A wonderful battle report. The captions in the photos were very helpful, but I suspect were time consuming to do.

    1. Hi, Peter -
      Thanks for the compliment! I'm not actually sure whether the captions took more time to add than a traditional narrative text would have done. It was probably easier, though.

      My habit is to run through the pictures I've taken with the view to culling the poor ones (unless they happen to be significant in some way) and those that add nothing to the overall story. I note down the pic id (number) and a quick description. These help with uploading the pics I want, but also offers a cue to what each pic means. So it is fairly easy to keep track, and, with the story board method I've used here, the captions are half done.

      One other reason for my trying this out, is that it saves readers from switching back and forth between a text narrative and the slideshow.

      I don't reckon I'll use it every time, but I'll try it more often in future.


  5. Great report. Love the captioned pics…and was unsure which way this battle was going until near the end (which is the sign of a good wargame, IMHO 😎). Many thanks….looking forward to more.

    1. Martin -
      I have the final instalment of 'The Retreat from Smolensk' in the pipeline, and a rather sanguinary engagement at Blenderheim, between the armies of the Kingdom (Altmark-Uberheim) and the Markgravate (Hessen-Rohr).