Sunday, May 17, 2015

Battle at Holowczyn 1708




Yesterday I, Jesper and Sören was to Lincon 2015 a gaming convention in Linköping, Sweden, running av participation game of the Battle at Holowczyn 1708, a part of the Swedish war agains Russa during the Greate Norther War. We also sold Warfare Miniatures, especially the ones from their new GNW range, lovely minis:)


Historical Recap

The Battle of Holowczyn or Holofzin or Golovchin was fought between the Russian army, led by Field Marshal Boris Sheremetyev, and the Swedish army, led by Charles XII of Sweden, only 26 years of age at the time. Despite difficult natural obstacles and superior enemy artillery, the Swedes were able to achieve surprise and defeat the numerically superior Russian forces. Reportedly it was Charles' favorite victory

After dealing with Saxony-Poland, Charles was ready to take on his remaining enemy in the Great Northern War: Russia. The best route into the Russian heartland was along the continental divide from Grodno to Minsk and Smolensk. From there, Moscow could be reached without having to cross any major rivers. Charles chose instead a straighter – but more difficult – route, over the Berezina and Drut rivers. The army was moved from its winter camp near Radoszkowice in June 1708; the movement was plagued by poor road conditions and weather.

The unexpected choice of route made the Russians unsure of the Swedish intentions. In addition, with Peter I of Russia away the Field Marshal Boris Sheremetyev had to contend with the rivalry of Aleksander Menshikov. After a council of war, it was decided to draw the Russian defence line by the Dnieper River. In June and July the army was moved piecemeal towards Vabich, a marshy tributary of the Drut river.

The main force of the Russian army was deployed around the village of Vasilki, east and across the Vabich from Holowczyn. The bridges across Vabich were fortified and defended with artillery. To the south, General Anikita Repnin deployed his force and fortified his position three kilometers to the southeast. Between the two fortified camps lay marshy territory that could not be fortified.

The Swedes had observed the Russian deployment along the Vabich. Starting on 30 June, Swedish regiments started bivouacking on the heights west of Holowczyn. Charles and his followers noticed the gap in the fortifications, and decided on a plan of attack. Crossing the marshy area between the two Russian camps would not only be an unsuspected move, but would also serve to divide the enemy force in two. To ensure success, the attack was to be carried out in the darkness of night.


At midnight on 4 July the Swedes started moving quietly towards the river. Infantry carried fascines to help them traverse the waterlogged ground before crossing the Vabich on leather pontoon bridges. However, heavy rainfall made the pontoons too heavy to carry; they were left behind. At 02:30 the Russian alarm was raised as Swedish artillery started bombarding the opposite river bank. Swedish success would depend on how many troops could cross the river without the aid of pontoons before the enemy forces could arrive. Charles as so often led the charge personally, by wading across the water in front of his men. After forming with difficulty on the boggy far bank, the Swedes began to advance through the marsh. Meanwhile, fascines were laid on the river banks to assist the cavalry's crossing. Both the engineers and the Swedish vanguard began to be targeted by Repnin's artillery.

General Repnin soon saw the danger of a Swedish wedge forming between the two Russian positions, and ordered his men to decamp and head north toward Sheremetyev. Five Swedish battalions fought hard to prevent the Russian regiments from merging. Sheremetyev, hearing the sound of battle, dispatched reinforcements towards Repnin's position, but by that time enough Swedish forces had arrived to prevent these reinforcements from joining Repnin. The latter was forced to retire his forces eastwards and southwards. Swedish cavalry by now had followed the infantry across the river, and scattered their Russian counterparts towards the south.

At this point, Sheremetyev's forces were still waiting across the river from Holowczyn. They had been on full alert for hours, in the belief that the attack on Repnin was a feint and expecting the main Swedish attack to come from Holowczyn. Finally, Sheremetev took the initiative to attack the almost undefended Swedish camp to the west. However, when news of the Repnin's setback reached Sheremetev, he decided not to wait for a Swedish attack on his rear, but instead began retreating towards Shklov by the Dnieper.

The victory provided the Swedes with a defensive line along the Dnieper and the area around Mogilev could be used as a base of operations in their campaign against Russia. However, since so many of the Russian troops were able to escape it was not a decisive strategic victory.

And then the most important, the pictures from the 2 games we run.

Game 1











Game 2









35 comments:

  1. Excellent looking game. I must hurry up and get my GNW troops started!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you Colin !

      Nice to here that you have GNW project in the pipeline :)

      Delete
  2. Very cool. I've always enjoyed GNW games and that one looks a belter.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Lovely looking game and as always, such wonderfully painted miniatures from all concerned.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thank you for the pictures and the background to the battle. How was the turn out to see the game and or play? Which side ended up winning the two games?
    Have a great week!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Even with your swedish guard unit on the table the swedes loos both games:(

      Delete
  5. Superb eye candy! This is a battle I didn't know about and now I want to read up on it. Well done, Michael!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Glad to give you some Swedish history as always Monty;)

      Delete
  6. Beautiful! Well done all of you! I take it that your side lost the games as you don't mention the outcome? ;-)
    /Mattias

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Some questions you should not ask... We run the scenario 3 Times' and the Swedes have lost all 3... It have indeed been Close calls each time...
      Must adjust the scenario i think... ;)

      Delete
    2. It's a hard life trying to Gå på! :-)
      Luckily as we all know Charles XII and the swedes will have their revenge at Poltava....

      Delete
    3. Indeed they will .... or...

      Delete
  7. Looks very nice!
    If you want to see our take on Holowczyn, look here:
    http://snv-ttm.blogspot.be/2011/03/russians-repulse-swedes-at-holowczyn_2271.html
    and
    http://snv-ttm.blogspot.be/2011/04/holowczyn-deployment_5796.html

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Phil !

      Your game look rely nice indeed !

      Delete
  8. Lovely looking game the minis and terrain are awsome

    ReplyDelete
  9. I admire the colors, these many battle groups
    Needs lot of work and patience,
    but the end result is awesome

    ReplyDelete
  10. Great looking game. Too bad the Good Side didn't win :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They will win in the end, just have to adjust the scenario... ;)

      Delete
  11. Actually they did in the last game. We managed to stage a final one The Swedes managed to plow straight through the defences.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. HURRRAAAA !!!!

      Jolly good new matey :)

      Did you change much in the scenario or just the small deployment change of the Sparre Brigade we talked about yesterday?

      Delete
    2. Thanks for posting this super overview of the background and the actual games we played! In the last game we applied the change you suggested, and had the Sparre infantry start in the marshy area. That changed the balance in a positive way - plus the Swedish player did some innovative moves, taking some of the infantry down to the "back door" of the Russian camp via the river side road. Poor Repnin actually rolled a 6 and died while attached to a unit, as he attempted to stop the Swedish tidal wave. P.S: there is a little surprise waiting for you on your shelf at the club with thanks for all your help during the preparations and the actual gaming :0)

      Delete
  12. Wow! That's one very impressive game!

    Christopher

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a stunning set of photos - a beautiful game.

    Best wishes

    Giles

    ReplyDelete
  14. Very impressive indeed! Thanks for posting Michael.

    ReplyDelete
  15. That is one, awe-inspiring game.

    Well done!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Great looking game thanks for sharing I learnt something too !

    ReplyDelete
  17. Wonderful, Michael. What a fantastic looking game!

    ReplyDelete
  18. Looks like a fantastic game Michael! I'm sure everybody involved had a blast of a great time.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Awesome! Which ruleset did you use? See my GNW-project here: http://25yearsofminis.blogspot.fi/p/project-great-northern-war-in-28mm.html

    ReplyDelete
  20. Another beautiful page of the Sweden history...excellent post as always!

    ReplyDelete