Sunday, January 8, 2023

Snappy Nappy Campaign 2022:The French Perspective

 Well,. it has taken a while, but here are the French players perspectives on the 1812, Russia: The Northern Flank, Campaign-in-a-Day, with Snappy Nappy. Had to believe we played this almost 2.5 months ago!

Legrand's Division, After Action Report:
by Nick M.

On his way from Borovka, Legrand reaches Golovitchitsa before arriving at Kliastitzy ...

So I was Legrand, and started out moving north rapidly on a table somewhere south of Saint Petersburg.  Once there, I met up with Verdier (Mark H.), and it was immediately apparent that with both of our forces we would barely be able to maintain our control of the main road leading north.  I set up on our north flank behind the river, and began defending while the General Oudinot's light cavalry scouted north.

The enemy's forces on my side were cavalry and horse artillery, so I maintained square formation to keep the cavalry at bay, and with some luck passed Morale Checks for the artillery firing at my positions.  I sent a message asking if the north was safe because I was fully committed on my table, and knew that any enemy arriving from the north would be disastrous.  I received no reply except the General Doumerc (Steve T.) eventually requested infantry support to the north, so I sent 2 units that I could ill-afford to spare.  As soon as my infantry arrived, they were sent back and the General Doumerc told us that there was a Russian army approaching from the north.

It was decided to retreat off the table, against my protestation. We had control of a town in the southeast corner that would have neutralized the enemy's huge numerical advantage, and we had no reinforcements to the south. But we marched right through it. So we retreated to the next table which was wide open and, given more time, could have led to our complete elimination.

Overall it seems like the game is won or lost via the c and c, so I recommend staffing the c and cs as a first priority, and if you are short players just take equal armies from both sides off the board.  Also learned that while I have a lot to learn tactically from other players, maybe I shouldn't just default to their strategic suggestions ... lol.

Great experience though, with amazing detail. Looking forward to more games with you and this campaign again next year.

Early Activity Near Disna:
by Mark T.

Merle advances along the road north of Disna with the Swiss, while Corbineau's cavalry heads west to see what's at Drissa, and the first Russians arrive.

The Swiss prepare their lines as their attached Dutch unit arrives, as do Doumerc's Cuirassiers all the way from Polotsk. Note the French spy bringing up the rear.

Meanwhile the remains of Doumerc's cavalry occupy the Gamezlov area.

Corbineau's cavalry scout at Drissa observing a unit of Opolchenie at Drissa, and no bridge, while Sazanov's troops prepare are moving east.

More Russians move towards Disna as Gen Wittgenstein writes more communications to his troops in the north.

The battle at north of Disna begins as the Cuirassier's make their move, and Corbineau's cavalry return to cross the bridge and hold the Swiss left flank.

A French Cuirassier unit garrisons Gamezlov.

Back at Disna, some Russian cavalry get a jump towards the bridge, while the Croatian unit can be seen garrisoning Disna to the left.

The Russian cavalry attempt to get behind the Swiss.

But Von Deroy arrives with his Bavarian infantry and artillery south of Disna, and just in time to provide a new threat for the Russians.

The Bavarian Corp Arrives:
by Mark T. and Robert P.

The Bavarian Corp under St. Cyr with Von Deroy as vanguard arriving at Bononia, before marching to Disna.

After Von Deroy shows up at Disna, Wrede arrives behind St. Cyr's troops.

And with Von DeRoy's troops reinforcing the Swiss, Corbineau's cavalry cross the bridge forcing some Russian cavalry to retreat towards .

After St. Cyr moves west behind Von Deroy, Wrede waits for the log jam to clear.

However, while waiting, Wrede exchanges communications with St. Cyr, and in his AAR states, "As for Wrede's Bavarians-we marched ..." heading for Polotsk.

And after making the crossing proceeds in the opposite direction with some French light cavalry that give up their garrisoning duty as they all march west.

Wrede's force travels south of the Cuirassier garrison at Gamezlov, and marches along the river in their effort to reinforce the Swiss.

"We arrived at the battle ..." with artillery and the French light cavalry first.

"... and deployed, perhaps in time to salvage a grim situation", as the Swiss are being pressed, although Von Deroy nears the crossing at the bridge.

"... but the battle waned, and the men would not become engaged that day". 

Delaying Action At Golovitchitsa ...
by Mark T. and Mark H.

After the fierce fighting in the vicinity of Jakubowo and Kliastitzy, and as the remains Legrand's Division continued to extract itself as a rearguard from the combat there, the remains of Verdier's Division seek to find an appropriate spot to create an initial line of delay at Golovitchitsa.

The initial position of Verdier's Division.

As Verdier sees that plenty of Legrand's forces are bringing up the rear safely, he reassesses the terrain, and seeks a more defensive spot further way from the eventually descending Russians, and in a spot to further retreat to slowly delay the enemy.

And Legrand join's Verdier's forces for their new line of defense.

Steinheil's reserves begin to arrive.

Followed by Prince Repnin's Cavalry.

And as Kazatchkowsky arrives as well, Castex's light cavalry brigade seek to slow down the Russian forces by seeking their early deployment.

Prince Repnin responds, the French cavalry retreat.

And the Russians begin their assault.

Verdier's comments in his after action report were, "I figured if we played ALOT longer, I could have stalled them from getting to Polotsk for a long time." He was guessing there were at least 2 or 3 more boards above Polotsk.  We could hold and then retreat from the table we were on.. back to another stalling action and so on.  We were 2 divisions verse 3, and the majority of their 12 pounds were against us.  So we were tying up more than we consisted of.  Retreat was our only option in the face of those big guns... slow and methodical.  Hopefully they could win or draw at Disna ... and maybe send some reinforcements to Polotsk,"  although alas, the sun was setting on the fields of battle for the North Flank of the 1812 Russian Campaign.

From The Over-all French Commander ...
by Steve T.

Alright, its been a little while since the event so my recounting of the battle may not entirely match the pictures; besides that my memory of names is genuinely appalling. Let it be said though that my lack of "definition" does not indicate a lack of enjoyment I had during the event, this was my second Snappy Nappy Campaign-in-a-Day, and surely not my last! 

Being my second time in a Snappy Nappy Campaign-in-a-Day, it may be unusual to hear that it is my second time playing the role of over-all commander. My first time at command was an act of bravado, this event saw me leading as an act of duty when the original player in command arrived late due to a work issue. Along with the role of Oudinot as high commander I was also playing as Doumerc; I admit that the dual command was a huge advantage, not necessarily accounted for in both the design and spirit of the game, however I took it upon myself to restrain from making decisions based on knowledge from simultaneous boards.

Liberties I did take were to send Doumerc's heavy horse with Oudinot, leaving only a couple stands of light horse with Doumerc. The two commanders combined accounted for a small pittance of the French forces, so my contribution to multiple combats was minor.

The scenario seemed simple. Unsettlingly simple: The French were to march North, hopefully find a path to St. Petersburg. From the get go half of our forces would blitz North until we met the enemy, the remaining commanders were to find meet the enemy in the center of the map (or what we though was the center)

The first 15 minutes of the event were hectic! We marched fast and reports (all written of course) came in quicker than I could have expected or respond to. What I did immediately notice was that we had crossed more than half the map towards the Northern edge, our assumed goal, without contact. I thought it could be a bad situation where the French and Russians had either passed each other or were spiraling in an attempt to out maneuver. If we were the first to be outflanked then surely we would not recover the position and our supply lines with it.

This was not the case, something possibly worse happened. Multiple French commands met multiple Russian commands in at the same table, all in the opening hour.  Disna would be a primary battleground, and having a taste of Snappy Nappy, I knew that this would not be resolved quickly!

Perhaps the GM will be disappointed to hear this, but I rushed Oudinot to join the table of Disna, eyes would be faster than messages and the combat would have to monitored, already the French were on the back foot positionally. It was later acknowledged that Oudinot's arrival, which happened to be in the flank of one Russian line, was a significant deterrent of what would have been an aggressive Russian attack! When French reinforcements arrived it was my decision to commit them to the same table. Disna became a grueling gridlock, multiple commanders on a single table and to my observation, none who wanted to be the first to attempt to break free. Disna would be fought with cannons and should have been resolved with bayonets, regardless the Russians were tied up around Disna for the event, which made the Northern push the determining factor of success. 

We came shy of our objective, it was actually my second role, Doumerc, alone who entered the final northern table whose road would lead to St. Petersburg. For the briefest moment, Doumerc, accompanied by two units of light horse needed only to ride the long road, but it would not be. Not a turn later, Russians began arriving at the far end of the final table, then more, and more. Doumerc had to turn back to warn the engaged French back down the road of the impending Russian Flank.

A retreat back South to Polotsk was initiated and not a moment too soon. It was a thrilling moment, several French commands, including Doumerc were jammed up on the single road of retreat, Russians previously held back across the river by cannons were now rushing to cut off  the retreat, emboldened by the masses of Russian reinforcements entering the table at near musket range of the French.

To my own surprise a good number of the French escaped the table and were able to set up a stand on a hill. I would learn in the campaign debrief that this was accurate to history! The game concluded with the French position outgunned and out ranged, I'm sure it would not have been a close fight. 

I will of course mention the use of spies, a fun addition but maybe under utilized. The duel was a fantastic intermission to the conflicts, in future practice I suggest that the spies be involved in the manipulation of the written orders, maybe stealing orders or planting false orders.

My concluding thoughts:

The Snappy Nappy campaign in a day events are fantastic way of conducting a large scale event and in my opinion have been 
very successful in doing so. I do think the bottleneck at Disna could have been avoided. It was the result of both the French and Russian's assuming that impassable sections of the map were actually traversable and liability to being flanked. Both forces marched to be the first to secure the location and met head on, but not in such as way as to deploy long lines, where Snappy Nappy could really shine. Had I any amount of infantry I would have led the example of breaking a stalemate by force. I as the game wound down I attempted a cavalry charge into cannons with the hopes of inspiring a more reckless approach from my allies, alas we mostly traded cannon fire. 

I'm looking forward to future events, hopefully Snappy Nappy will return to the Portal next year! Thank you again to everyone who put the time, money, and effort into a truly fantastic event, as a 27 year old hobbyist, you are an inspiration that I may sooner than later expand my efforts to run events that encourage others to participate in large scale historical wargames.


  1. Replies
    1. Catching up to the narrative, a couple more posts to go to complete the coverage!

  2. Thanks for documenting the events. I love reading about the snappy nappy campaign in a day events.

  3. From the feedback recorded in this post, it certainly seemed like a challenging but very enjoyable experience for the players - well done on being involved in such a great day Peter!

    1. It's always an unique experience! A few more posts (GM summary, and the message log) and this one is done and can be added to the Campaigns in aa Day page!

  4. Some nice recollections there Peter which I am sure the players will enjoy reminiscing over in the years to come.

    1. One of the things about these events is that, unless you are the overall commander, your idea about what happened to anyone aside from your own Corps can be pretty sketchy!