Battle Report – 23-May-08


080523ironduke01The battle chosen to test out the Iron Duke system was based around the battle of Brienne in early 1814. To keep numbers manageable, a subset of troops from the real order of battle (OOB) was used.


Iron Duke is a computer moderated wargame. Bit of a mouthful, but what this means is that a computer program keeps track of formations, casualties, fatigue and morale while the player concentrates on command decisions and moving their figures on the tabletop. The figures are used to determine which units can fire or charge enemy units.

Units in 1814 were usually quite small due to attrition from the tough campaigning of previous years. To maintain a good look to the battle, the figure ration was dropped from our usual to 1 figure representing around 20 to 25 men. For simplicity, ground scale was set at 1 inch (25.4mm) representing 100 paces (about 1:3,000).

The game was moderated by John Shaw, with Murray Shaw commanding the French army of Marshal Victor and John McCartney controlling the Russian army of Olsuviev. The game was played at a regular club meeting of NWA on a Friday night at the Mitcham venue.

Note that some of the troops, particularly the cavalry, do not have the correct regimental and facing colours.

Above. The printed out manual for Iron Duke. This is provided as a file on the program CD.

Armed with a laptop and rulebook, the intrepid commander of the French surveys the battlefield.

Four battalions of the Paris Reserve were rushed south from the capital to supplement Victor’s corps; despite their lack of training.

The Russian 10th and 38th Jagers from Melnik’s brigade deployed in line with artillery support from the IX Corps heavy battery #15.

The Apsheron and Rashburg infantry regiments of Poltoroski’s brigade stood as a second line of defence in attack column whilst the Alexandria Hussars covered the left flank of the Russian position.

Du Coetlosquet’s brigade of cavalry protected the right wing of the French army. The brigade consisted of the 16th Chasseurs à Cheval and the 6th Hussars.

The Russian centre was based around the village of #############. Light foot battery #13 was deployed on the edge of the village and guarded the northern approach.

Materre deployed the whole of the 24th Legere regiment into skirmish order to protect the rest of his infantry brigade on the left of the French battle line.

Victor ordered his corps to attack the Russian position, before the rest of the Russo-Prussian army arrived the next day. The orders were passed down the French chain of command and they advanced through the crops toward the stream.

The 24th Legere crossed the stream first to provide a screen as the rest of the French army advanced toward the northern bank.

The Russian heavy artillery prepared to bombard the Paris Reserve at it approached the stream.

The right wing French cavalry found the stream was easily fordable along its length and this only slowed them a little.

The battle opened with the bombardment of Paris Reserve A battalion. Despite receiving few casualties, the inexperienced troops routed back behind Paris Reserve C after only 10 minutes of hostile fire. Here they stopped and refused to move further while they attempted to reform.

The Russian 12-pounder guns then turned their attention to Paris Reserve C as that battalion now approached the stream. Already shaken by the rout of their brothers, the bombardment soon had them running. None of the inexperienced officers could stop them dispersing off to the north.

On the western part of the battlefield, the Alexandria Hussars and the 16th Chasseurs à Cheval both charged.

The 24th Legere approached the Russian defensive position to distract the Rjask and Yakoutsk infantry regiments with skirmish fire whilst the French infantry and cavalry behind had a chance to reform after crossing the stream.

Subervie ordered the 9th Chasseurs à Cheval to wheel left so they could cover the flank of the advance whilst the 3rd Hussars moved forward to threaten the Rjask infantry regiment.

After a brief melee, the experienced Alexandria Hussars forced the 16th Chasseurs to flee. Du Coetlosquet quickly ordered the 6th Hussars into the fray to protect the flank of the advancing Paris Reserve B and D battalions. Worried about a possible breakthrough of the French cavalry against the tiring Hussars, the Rashburg infantry successfully formed square (foreground), whilst the experienced 10th Jager calmly stood in line to receive the approaching French columns.

Over on the right flank, after initial harassing fire on both Russian regiments, the 24th Legere then moved across to concentrate on the Yakoutsk infantry. The Rjask infantry had been distracted by the skirmish fire and were surprised to see the approaching cavalry when unmasked by the movement to the right of the French light infantry. Not trusting the Cossacks to stand their ground, the White Russia Hussar regiment moved across to guard against the French cavalry skirting the village and breaking into the rear of the Russian position.


Tiring rapidly from their second battle, the Alexandria Hussars recoiled from their clash of sabres with the French light cavalry. The 10th Jager cooled the ardour of the Paris Reserve A battalion with some carefully controlled volleys, causing the brave but inexperienced Frenchmen to seek shelter behind the only remaining formed body of Parisians.

In the centre, the 37th Ligne bravely closed against the village under continuous cannon ball then canister fire from the Russian Light Foot Battery #13. They were supported by the 46th Ligne closely following behind as they braced themselves for point blank canister fire. To their right, the 56th Ligne veered to avoid the village and attack the 38th Jagers.

The Yakutsk infantry attempted to form square as the 3rd Hussars charged. The earlier skirmish fire had disabled some of their officers, which slowed their response. As the Hussars thundered forward, the disorganised infantry broke and ran. The Hussars maintained excellent control, halting to reform while the infantry fled the field.


As the Paris Reserve B battalion retired, the French horse artillery battery unlimbered and commenced firing on the Rashburg infantry in square (out of picture). Although at long range, the French commander found the target too tempting to wait until the battery got closer. Inspired by their victory against the Russian cavalry, the Hussars surveyed the battlefield for their next target.

The 46th Ligne flinched as the Russian battery prepared to rake them with canister. But the guns remained strangely silent as they ran out of ammunition at this critical point. Realising their luck, the French cheered and rushed forward. Some of the brave gunners stayed and fought while the others routed away. Even though successful, the extra casualties were too much for the French infantry which retired.

Over to the east, the Karpov II Cossacks tempted the 9th Chasseurs to charge. Unfortunately for he Russian commander, the clash was even shorter than expected. He had been hoping to smash the 9th Chasseurs with the White Russia Hussars whilst the French were disordered, but the Cossacks had fled before inflicting any casualties.

The Alexandria Hussars continued their rout off the field of battle.

Some steady volleys from the 38th Jagers easily saw off the small 56th Ligne. The Russian commander now regretted the earlier continued bombardment as the gunners of the heavy battery were too fatigued to fire.

As the 56th Ligne ran, the 93rd Ligne came up from reserve to maintain the pressure on the Russian defensive position. To their left, the 46th Ligne were poised to enter the village just vacated by the light battery.

With his centre and right now broken, the Russian commander had to quickly organise a fighting retreat before the tired French cavalry had a chance to reform and surround the rest of the army. He would retire south to join Blucher’s Prussians and hope to gain revenge on the cursed French in tomorrow’s battle.

With the French skirmishers still taking their toll and their right flank now exposed, the Rjask infantry soon followed their comrades as Olsuviev watched in despair.

The White Russia Hussars were now in a precarious position between two regiments of French cavalry.

The first battle with Iron Duke went well. Although it took most of the evening, this included stopping to look up items in the rule book and discussions with many interested onlookers. A couple more games and it appears that quite large battles should be possible in an evening.

The system gave some really interesting results, such one Russian artillery battery being too exhausted to fire and the other simultaneously running out of ammunition at a critical stage of the battle. This added great interest to the battle. Ideal for the computer, this is much harder to simulate with standard wargames rules without tying the players up with extensive record keeping. The players were able to concentrate on their tactics rather than worry about charts, tables and combat factors.

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