When the Russo-Turkish War of 1877 is mentioned it is usual to think about the epic siege of Plevna or the battles in the Shipka Pass - in other words, the European theatre of operations. The war was also fought in the Caucasus and with the perversity for which I am usually renowned for, this is where I have drawn my inspiration for the grand finale of the year. I say perverse intentionally because whilst the European theatre of the war is barely covered in accessible print the Caucasus is even less so - and as a result attracted me like the proverbial moth to a flame!
Quintin Barry's book - War in the East - is a truly magnificant and so my planning for the action has been taken largely from this. I have some material on Ebook which will also provide some additional background although again, most of this is European facing.
The action I have settled on forms a part of the Battle of Deve Boyun (the Camel's Neck of the title) and in mant ways this is typical of the fighting throughout the war. In a nutshell, the Russians are attempting to bounce a previously beaten and hastily scrapped together force of Turkish infantry from an entrenched position. There is a subtle twist in this which I hope will come across in the refight - it will certainly add a degree of novelty to the affair in no uncertain terms.
One of the things that has come across from my study of the Turkish art of war during the period was that they really excelled in fighting from prepared positions. The only downside was that they tended to have a very poor logistical infrastructure which meant that supplies and reinforcements were very slow in reacting to changes of circumstance so being outflanked or forced out of positions by a more mobile enemy was a common occurence. This action will prove both parts of the above statement - the Turkish strength in fighting from defences and their vulnerability when at a strategic or tactical disadvantage.
I shall be fighting the action using Bob Cordery's Big Battle Portable Wargame 19th Century rules - the hexed version. The battlefield will be 13 x 9 hexes and at the moment I am working out what the battlefield should look like based on the description in Quintin Barry's book in the absence of an actual map of the battle itself. Similarly the order of battle will be subject to conjecture - especially as the Turks included numbers of hastily rounded up civilian volunteers.
I am sure that most gamers that have ever been involved in turning a battle into a wargame will know what I am going through at the moment - and I have to say I am really enjoying the process!
The next post in this sequence will detail the forces involved and the terrain that the battle will be fought over - as well as the historical background to the action.
I am looking forward to this and I only hope that the action will live up to expectations.