Wednesday 26 December 2012

Breaking the Camels Neck, The Caucasus 1877....Game Number 31, Part 1

War in the East of the East

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.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

David Crook,

This sounds very interesting ... and I hope that it will not be too long before I have a chance to read your battle report!

All the best,


Martin said...

Haven't been here for a while so spent some enjoyable time looking back over previous posts. The Russo-Turkish War seems to have passed me by so I will be particularly interested in this game.

Ps sorry to read about your son. Best wishes to him


David Crook said...

Hi Bob,

The nearest thing I can compare this action against is probably the battle of Hastings, 1066 except with rifles and artillery!

I am looking forward to running this and am expecting to do so over the weekend so you will get to see it before the end of the year.

All the best,


David Crook said...

Hi Martin,

Thanks for dropping by and also for the good wishes for my son - much appreciated. He is much improved although still has no feeling on one side of his face. the good news though is that he police are looking to make an arrest before the end of the year!

The RTW is fast becoming a mainline interest for me and the Caucasus is one of those of the theatres that appeals to my liking for the obscure or off the wall!

The battle will be fought over the weekend and will feature as the last game of 2012.

All the best,


Archduke Piccolo said...

David -
A fine project - I wish I had thought of it! Sounds like a great campaign for my armies of the Settee Empire and the Tsardom of Izumrud-Zelenii... Obscure little wars like this, despite the horrors that characterized their fringes, can be interesting in themselves, and fruitful of war gaming potential.

David Crook said...

Hello there Archduke,

The Russo Turkish War seems to have been reported very much on a euro centric basis which is a shame as the Caucasus had a fascination all of its own. I thoroughly enjoyed setting the game up and fighting it and at the time I was keen to do more of the same but other stuff got in the way.

The Settee Empire? That sounds good at least sofa anyway….

All the best,