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This blog presents my different wargames armies, after action reports, campaigns which I have run, some scenarios and a presentation of some of the different rules I play. The pages at the top of the blog contain historical information on the periods that interest me. They are an aid to my poor memory, and not in any way exhaustive nor necessarily correct. As I am an Englishman living in France, some pages are in English and others in French...sorry, I am too lazy to translate...

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vendredi 31 août 2012

The Liaoyang Campaign

The battle of Liaoyang (August 26th to early September 1904) was my first attempt at an operational level campaign with my house rule "Corps Commander".

Reversing the course of history, it ended after only three day's fighting, with a Russian victory.

We used Cyberboard to run the actual campaign. When battles occurred, they were played out with the "Principles of War" tabletop battle rules.

You can follow the campaign turn by turn here. After having briefly presented and commented the campaign moves for each Turn, the battles generated by the turn are written up.

No Campaign VPs are gained by either side on August 26th (turns 1 and 2).


THE HISTORICAL BATTLE OF LIAOYANG

By late August, the Russian C-in-C, Kuropatkin, was once again under pressure to relieve Port Arthur. Despite the substantial reinforcements that he had received, bringing his field army up to 158,000 men and 609 guns, he believed himself outnumbered by the Japanese. In reality, Odama had only 128,000 men and 170 guns available. Kuropatkin's belief that he was outnumbered led him to take up a defensive posture, whereas Odama's certainty that he was outnumbered - he had very accurate information on Russian strength - pushed him to attack. The Japanese must crush the Russian army before further reinforcements arrived.
Kuropatkin prepared a series of fortified positions and settled in to wait. The Japanese moved on August 26th. The battle which would engage a quarter of a million men over 30 miles of front line had begun.




ORDERS OF BATTLE

The starting OOBs can be found here for Russians and Japanese.

These OOBs are semi-historical. The Japanese OOB is more or less correct, but all General's names are ficticious. The Russian OOB has been amended to weaken the III Siberian Corps and exclude the V Siberian Corps. Without these changes I felt the game unbalanced : if Kuropatkin believed he was heavily outnumbered, it is harder to hide real Japanese strength from the Russian C-in-C in a non-umpired campaign such as this one.
I have also added some Cossack divisions to the Russian OOB. They do not seem to have present at Liaoyang, but I wished to represent this archetypal troop type in the campaign.

As for Russian unit designations and leader names, some are historical and others are fictive. For those want to get things spot on right down to the detail, there are some interesting sources available, including copious reports from British observers attached to the Japanese army.

DEPLOYMENT

Initial deployment is shown below. The Russians could set up anywhere except in the two southernmost hexrows. As you can see, they chose to abandon their outer defensive line but defend the Tang Valley.


CAMPAIGN TURN 1
August 26th 05:00 - 13:00

The Japanese C-in-C, Marshal Frantz Oyama, was faced with a dilemma from the start. Neither side gains VPs on August 26th, but the Japanese will be at a serious disadvantage if they do not quickly take some towns or vantage points. On the other hand, they are facing up to an entirely camouflaged Russian army.
Frantz Oyama seems to have chosen a compromise by advancing cautiously in the western zone, whilst vigorously attacking the Russian positions in the Tang valley.
The Japanese automatically had the initiative on Turn 1 (SSR), and chose to retain it. In a bold move, two brigades of what were revealed to be cavalry thundered up the Tang valley towards M11, to block the Russian forces there. Other forces concentrated in the arc L13-O13.

Alexander Lee Kuropatkin reacted with determination to Japanese movements. A unit of troops, of unknown size, was dispatched to M13 to break up the arc of Japanese troops, and the position in N12 was reinforced. Both sides had recognized the importance of the Tang valley, in view of the otherwise difficult terrain through which the Japanese centre must march.



Both sides now sent in their reinforcement orders. The Japanese can always count, at this stage, on the generally high initiative of their Generals. Certain among them proved, however, to be slow to awaken. Other reinforcements were diverted by the Russian ruse in M13, converging on what would turn out to be a simple brigade of Cossacks. Thanks to this, when the troops in N12 were revealed, the Russians found themselves with an unexpected numerical advantage.


The Russians chose not to reinforce any of the contested hexes. Turn 1 thus generated the following battles :

- M13 : the Cossack Brigade is outnumbered 8:1 (in points), and pinned down by the Japanese cavalry brigade that has been pulled back from L11, no doubt for that very reason. We decide that the Cossacks are automatically demoralised, and that the Japanese take no losses.

- M11 : the Russians having no cavalry here, the Japanese 4th Cavalry Brigade can choose to avoid battle, which naturally it does.

- N12 : the entire Japanese 10th Division (IV Army) is facing the 5th East Siberian Rifles (III Corps), reinforced by Liouputine's infantry brigade and Arbaev's artillery from the 1st Infantry Division (XVII Corps). This battle is fought out on the tabletop.


TURN 1 BATTLES
Hex : N12

The OOB for the battle can be found here.

Rather than increase troop scale to fit the battle to available figures and time, we preferred to cut it in half. For each battle, infantry were deployed in respect of the general points ratio (1.45 : 1). The Japanese could choose to split up their artillery brigade and deploy the number of batteries of their choice on each half of the battlefield. The Japanese C-in-C and Staff Officer could also intervene where they wished.

The Right Flank

On the right flank, the smaller of the two halves pitched a Siberian Rifle Brigade and a Siberian Artillery Brigade up against a Japanese Infantry Brigade and three batteries. The Japanese also had their Staff Officer present.
With the Russians only having Brigadier Generals present, it was the most influent among them, the artillery general Tokmatov, who took command.

Initially, this seemed like good news for the Russians, as they had no intention of sitting in their fortified positions, and Tokmatov's high initiative (8) would make them the attackers and give them the first move. Sadly, Tokmatov's Poor tactical skill would render order changes very difficult during the coming engagement. The Japanese could count on a "Good" C-in-C, General Shimomura.
There was a lot of terrain on the battlefield, and both sides made good use of it. Even by the 8th turn, there was a lot of uncertainty as to enemy positions. As it turned out, both sides had deployed the bulk of their army to the west.



Tokmatov brought the two batteries under his command up on to the hill, and had them fire onto the Japanese movement base on the opposite crest. The progress of the Siberian infantry was, however, painfully slow.

The Japanese infantry reached the broken hill; the die roll allowed only speed 3 movement for infantry. Unperturbed by this, they pushed forward. The artillery took up position in the valley.
General Tokmatov made the fatal mistake of taking the Japanese artillery base to be a dummy, whilst wasting considerable energy trying to spot the Japanese on the hill crest. This error, and the continuing slow progress on the right flank, saw the Siberian Rifles in real trouble by turn 3.







The Japanese infantry had by now managed to cross the speed 3 terrain, thanks to their higher quality leader.

During the first two turns, the two batteries of Siberian artillery on the left flank moved up and pounded the movement base to their front.

The artillery was in position and, to cap it all, the Siberian Rifles were spotted at the beginning of their 3rd turn. The Japanese commander did not hesitate, and the crack of rifle fire mingled with the screaming impact of artillery shells. Fired at with a factor of 130, the Siberian infantry lost 9 strength in the first volley.
It is reasonable to say that the battle was already lost. The Siberians' return fire was not without effect, but greatly diminished by the fact that the Japanese infantry were in Cover 1 terrain, and the artillery counting as skirmish targets. To make matters worse, a careless move blocked the line of fire of the Siberian MG company.



Fortunately for Tokmatov, the four Siberian batteries were not too badly positioned. The two on the far left flank were able to pivot and shoot along the valley floor, but the range was of course considerable (around 4000 yards).

One turn was also needed in order to pivot the guns, and another 8 strength points of Siberians went down in the time this took !
A flanking movement by a Japanese battalion was warded off, thanks to a resounding volley from one of the conscript battalions in the Siberian second line, followed by the heroic charge of the other. The hand-to-hand fighting see-sawed back and forth, the Japanese even managing to push their adversaries back to the farm, but the flank was secured.
On the Japanese right flank, the movement base opposite the Russian guns profited from their change of arc to move into the plain. It was quickly spotted - the Staff Officer and one battalion - and Tokmatov sent the reserve battalion under his direct command to counter them.

The exchange of volleys continued on the Russian right flank, but the result was inevitable. After 8 turns of fighting, Russian casualties, with 57 strength points lost, exceeded 33% of their starting value and the Siberians broke. The Japanese lost 35 strength points during the battle, but it should be noted that nearly a third of them represented intensive ammo use by the Japanese artillery (ie. rolls of "6" with artillery firing).
As this was only one half of the N12 battle, no pursuit was yet carried out. It was decided that if the Japanese also win on the left flank, the whole Russian army will be demoralised. In all other cases, hex N12 will continue to be contested.


N12 : The Left Flank
On the left flank, General Saraev (Average skill), commanding officer of the 5th Siberian Division, directed the Russian attack. The Japanese tactics were coordinated by General Furoshi, one of the rare "Poor" Japanese officers.

The Russians aligned one Line and one Siberian infantry brigade, and a Line artillery brigade, complete with its pair of quick-firing batteries. To stem this tide, the Japanese could count on no more than an infantry brigade, a three-battalion Kobi (Reserve) brigade, and half an artillery brigade. In points terms, they were outnumbered nearly 2:1.

The Russians had abandoned their fortifications and advanced to contact their enemy. The focal point of the encounter was the large village of Fushen, with its compact houses and hastily barricaded streets (type 1 village : cover 2, speed 3 movement).


Lower Japanese initiative saw them deploying first. The 1st Infantry Brigade was ordered to take the village. The Kobi were given the awesome task of marching on the Russian right flank, to give the 1st Brigade the time it needed. The artillery were to be sacrificed to slow down the overwhelmingly superior Russian artillery. A dummy base was thrown out on the Japanese left flank.

The Russian intention was to storm the village with the line infantry brigade. The threat to the left flank of this Brigade was partially ignored, and would cause difficulties during the battle. The artillery was to advance and simultaneously cover the front of the village and fire in enfilade onto Japanese attempts to reinforce there. Meanwhile, the Siberians were to march around the Japanese left flank, and fall on what the Russians had not yet realised to be a dummy.

With the Japanese seeking a strong defensive position, 15,000 men were about to converge on Fushen.
Having advanced the guns into position, Saraev ordered Liouputine's brigade forward. On the right, the Siberians advanced with temerity. When the Kobi threatened Lioupoutine's flank, he overconfidently placed his two MG companies, and an infantry battalion, to defend it, without taking time to correctly estimate the range between them and the Japanese reservists. Saraev uncovered the Japanese dummy base and reported this to his subordinates. Linevitch's Siberian brigade looked to be out of the action, but swung round quickly thanks to energy of its commander, in spite of his Poor reputation. The Japanese artillery was also uncovered in the centre, and devastated by its Russian counterpart.


This was not, however, contrary to the Japanese battle plan. Their intention was to tie up the Russian left flank. Indeed, Saraev was so involved on this flank that he was unable to give new orders to the Russian artillery, making it effectively useless for the rest of the battle as the Japanese infantry took refuge in and behind the village.

What had drawn Saraev's attention ? The Kobi had decided to go in with fixed bayonets. The Russian machine guns carved swathes of death in their dense ranks, but, amazingly, only one of the three Kobi battalions faltered. With close order troops overrunning machine guns, the Russian flank looked suddenly vulnerable. To make matters worse, Lioupoutine suffered a nervous breakdown and effective command of his brigade came directly to Saraev.



A long and desperate hand to hand combat developed on the Russian right, with both sides throwing in reinforcements, or manoeuvring for a shot, failing to get one, and deciding to charge instead.



The Japanese battle plan was audacious, and would have carried the day at lesser odds. It did, however, include two flaws. First of all, the dense and winding streets of the village (no group movement), made its capture by Yamada's infantry a slow task. Despite being tied up by the Kobi, the Russians were able to infiltrate almost as many battalions into the village as the Japanese, which tended to leave the latter as the 'attackers'. Secondly, Furoshu - who proved to be an excellent and steadfast general during this battle - got himself bogged down in assisting the Kobi, whereas he may have done better to concentrate his efforts on the village.

Yamada's brigade was still only half in the village by turn 6, and hopes of destroying Lioupoutine's men thinned as the Japanese infantry were held up in southern Fushen by fierce Russian resistance. Half the Japanese infantry were still among the fields when the Kobi finally caved in, and as the Siberian infantry arrived in north-eastern Fushen.



Naturally, the Siberians got the worse of the ensuing firefight, but the casualties they inflicted were enough to demoralise, on turn 8, a numerically inferior Japanese force.

Lioupoutine's brigade lost 30 of 132 strength, of which 10 MG. The Siberians lost 7 strength.
On the Japanese side, the Kobi had been mauled, with 22 losses out of 36. The artillery was virtually non-existent (20 losses from 30). Yamada suffered "only" 20 casualties.

Overall result in N12 : a draw.


CAMPAIGN TURN 2
August 26th 13:00 - 21:00

After the scouting phase, the Russian C-in-C, Lee Kuropatkin, had a better idea of the Japanese offensive.
It seemed that the push up the Tang Valley had been confided to the 10th and 3rd infantry divisions, with moderate cavalry support. The Japanese left was anchored by elements of the redoutable Guards Division, and brigades from the 2nd Division - but was the rest of Japanese I Army there, or was it holding the centre ?

Japanese scouting was less successful, and cannot have taught them much they did not already know. The Tang Valley was obviously strongly defended, but nothing was discovered about the Russian centre or, more worryingly, its right flank.

Although the Russians had sought to gain the initiative this turn by careful placement of their second line, they lost it 33 : 28. The Japanese chose to move first.

On the left, the Guards and 2nd Divisions advanced cautiously. The centre chose to remain static. To the east, the thunder clouds gathered over the Tang Valley, with strong forces committed to crushing the Russian positions there.

Lee Kuropatkin responded, across most of the battlefield, by cautious manoeuvring in the hope of gaining the initiative on the next day, in order to better respond to the results of the Tang Valley fighting. On his right flank, however, he launched a surprise attack. A division engaged the far right of the Japanese line - hoping the camouflaged unit was a Brigade and not a Division - whilst the Ussuri cossacks risked their very lives to prevent the 2nd Division from intervening.  Unfortunately for the 1st Siberian Rifles, out on the right flank, the enemy proved to be the missing division of I Army, the 12th. They would have a hard task of crushing this enemy before the arrival of General Soga's Guards Division.



Japanese reinforcements poured into M11. Near N12, however, the Japanese generals proved once again lethargic, and the battered 10th Division could count only on two brigades of Kobi to reinforce it.



The battles for turn 2 are as follows :

C12 : the Ussuri cossacks pay a high price for their bravoure. They are pinned by enemy cavalry and routed by far superior odds. No tabletop battle is fought.

D12 : the 1st Siberian are up against Inouye's 12th Infantry. The entire Guards division is flank marching and will arrive on turn 7 (of 12).

M11 : the 8th Siberian, under the relatively skilled Sviatopolk-Mirskii, must repulse, with a little help from Cossacks, the Japanese 5th Division and strong elements of the 3rd. Japanese cavalry are also lurking (flank arrival on turn 7).

N12 : the 5th Siberian and elements of the 1st Line Division must, once again, defend their positions against Furoshu's 10th Division. To replace his previous losses, Furoshu can count on a brigade from 3rd Division, a brigade of cavalry and (as of turn 3) two more brigades of Kobi. Will he employ them as well as during the morning ? The Russians have not been reinforced, and are fragile...


TURN 2 BATTLES
Hex : M11
Sviatopolk-Mirskii had instructions from Corps HQ to hold up the Japanese in the valley, so that Saraev, marching up from the south, could place the 3rd and 5th divisions between hammer and anvil the following morning.
The terrain seemed favourable for such a delaying action, with extensive wooded areas and doubtlessly impassable marshes. Nonetheless, the Russians were heavily outnumbered, in both infantry and artillery. OOBs are here.
Sierikov, flanked by Mitchenko's Cossacks, were ordered to take and hold the woods, and minimise their own casualties. Ijevekii was placed so as to counter any flanking movement. The ,artillery was deployed on the right flank, to counter the expected Japanese batteries and avoid them bombarding Ijevekii.



The Japanese 5th Division was deployed on both flanks, leaving the centre empty, awaiting the arrival of the two brigades of the 3rd Division.

The battle began slowly. On their left, the Japanese were quickly bogged down in the dense woods, despite the proximity of their C-in-C. The marshes at the base of the western hill proved impassable which, combined with Pitschev's artillery, guaranteed the security of Ijevekii's Brigade. Japanese brigadiers began to grumble over General Yui's hesitant attitude, as more than an hour went by with little progress.
The arrival of the 3rd Division seemed to stir Yui into action. He chose to send them into a frontal assault against Hill 82, dominating the centre of the battlefield and held, at that moment, by a regiment of dismounted Cossacks, since Sierikov was advancing laboriously.  Fortunately for the Russians, Sierikov was able to relieve Mitchenko before the Japanese arrival.



It was at this moment, however, that Sviatopolk made two fatal errors. Firstly, he issued orders to Mitchenko to move to the right flank, forgetting that Cossacks were suitable for nothing more than harassment. Second, receiving the report that the woods of the western hill were impassable, he did not think to send the Cossack regiment under his direct command - light infantry immune to movement penalties in woods - to occupy it. As a result, 3rd Division's artillery was able to deploy on the flank of their infantry comrades and pour fire into Hill 82.

It was obvious that Hill 82 would be the focal point of the battlefield. Ugaki's Brigade was still held up in the woods; Masaki was advancing under heavy fire but the supporting artillery was beginning to have an effect.

Following Yui's instructions, Masaki chose to take Hill 82 with fixed bayonets. It was a risky option : if the Japanese infantry managed to come in through the the withering fire that they would receive, in close order, they would without a doubt shatter the Siberian ranks. Yui was counting on the high Japanese morale to carry the day and make him a reputation as a decisive and bold leader.



Three battalions of Siberian rifles were in position to receive the Japanese charge, and their repeating rifles spat a hail of lead as the Japanese hopped from cover to cover over the last 200 yards. And Masaki's men nearly made it : until the two battalions on the left hand of their line faltered. The remainder made contact, but having to break into cover without numerical superiority, they were held or pushed back. The 6th turn went by, and Sviatopolk-Mirskii looked like he might fulfil his mission.


It was at this very moment that his ignorance of early 20th century cavalry tactics was revealed. Mitchenko's Cossacks came out from under the treeline of Hill 82 and ran straight into flanking fire from Ugaki's men, who had finally broken through the dense woods that had hindered them all afternoon. As for the regiment under Sviatopolk's direct command, it had been sent, belatedly, to occupy the western hill. Having realised his error, the Russian C-in-C would have done better to simply mull over the lost opportunity. Japanese infantry were by now in position, and the Cossacks were cut down.

The loss of three Cossack regiments in little more than an hour had a demoralising effect on the Russian army. Japanese casualties were relatively high, but their army so much bigger that they were of little consequence.

Yui therefore continued to throw his troops against Hill 82, and Sviatopolk realised that abandoning the hill was, paradoxically, his only hope of holding out until dusk (ie, 12 turns).



Sierikov's Siberians retired in order but had the choice of wading through one of two fields of fire - that of Ugaki, or that of 3rd Division's artillery. To make matters worse, part of 3rd Division's artillery could now turn its attention to Ijevekii's Brigade. Sviatopolk cursed again his failure to post Cossacks early on the western hill ! Neither prayers nor threats helped him : by the end of turn 10, the Russian army had reached break point and fled.

The Russians lost 88 strength from combat, of which 24 Cossacks and 32 from Sierikov's Brigade, plus 54 during rout. The Japanese lost 80 : 28 from Masaki's Brigade, 12 from Ugaki's and 25 from amongst Ono's battalions.


TURN 2 BATTLES
Hex : N12

Reinforced around midday by Miyaji's brigade (3rd Division), and expecting the swift arrival of two Kobi brigades, Furoshu launched a fresh assault against the troops under Saraev's command.
18 Russian battalions faced 27 Japanese, but Saraev knew that the Japanese 10th Division had been mauled that morning, especially its artillery (click here for OOBs : the battle was played at a scale of 1 : 2, given the number of troops present). He therefore planned a swift and relentless attack, plan which he did not change even after observing Furoshu's deployment.



Putilov was ordered to hold Fushen with his four surviving batallions. The artillery was to deploy in the centre, to benefit from the largest possible field of fire, and be protected on its left by Linevitch's infantry.



Saraev himself was to accompany Lioupoutine's line infantry on a flanking manoeuvre, intended to capture the hill in the south-west corner of the battlefield and put pressure on the Japanese reinforcements as soon as they arrived. The weak point in the Russian plan was the forest on their centre-right. A half-company was dispatched there and instructed to make sufficient noise that the Japanese would believe the treeline to be occupied (dummy base).

Furoshu made the mistake that Saraev was waiting for : he sent the entire 10th Division against Fushen. The narrow winding streets of this sprawling settlement (move rate 3 for inf, no group movement) would ensure that half the Japanese army was bogged down there. The centre was held by Miyaki's fresh brigade, by 10th Division's Kobi, and by the Tominaga's artillery. The south-western hill was garrisoned by the 3rd Cavalry Brigade.

The engagement itself was simple. Russian brigade leaders, obviously inspired by Saraev, carried out his plan to perfection. Despite uncertainty as to Japanese strength on its objective (base hidden behind the crest line), Liouputine boldly advanced. Saraev's anxiety was dissipated when he realised the hill was held by nothing more than a cavalry regiment, which was swept away.



In the centre, 10th Division's Kobi, crossing the front of the Russian batteries to reinforce the hill, were decimated. The inexperienced Miyaji allowed his battalions to become separated. As they came under artillery fire, they were unable to deploy out of their dense formation. To make matters worse, Miyaji and Furoshu's HQs were hit by overshoot, killing several staff officers and interrupting the flow of orders in the Japanese centre.



On their left, Furoshi's reinforcements (two brigades of Kobi) were already under pressure from Lioupoutine and unable to intervene in the centre. Tominaga's artillery, although deadly accurate throughout the battle, was insufficient to hold back the Russians. On the centre-right of the Japanese line, Linevitch now plowed into the struggling Miyaji, finishing him off at close range and routing the Japanese army before the fighting in Fushen had even begun.



Russian losses were only 52 strength, of which around half were inflicted by Tominaga's artillery. The Japanese lost 140 strength during the engagement, and many more during the ensuing rout. With this dramatic victory, Saraev confirmed his status as a skilled and inspirational commander.


TURN 2 BATTLES
Hex : D12
Little information is available on this engagement. The Japanese war correspondant and photographer was killed in action, whilst the battle has been censured by official Russian history.

The Japanese had the advantage both in terrain and numbers. In order to defend against the Guard, Gerngross was obliged to attack Inouye's 12th Division. Heavy fighting focused on a village on the Japanese centre-left and a woods on their centre-right. The initial Russian attack was carried out with brio, but ran into a bottleneck. With the Japanese holding the village, the Russians were unable to advance due to flanking fire, and unable to redeploy due to the solid position of Japanese batteries on a hill overlooking their line of withdrawal. Gerngross troops cracked, with 85 combat losses to 45 Japanese, on the 7th turn.


CAMPAIGN TURN 3
August 27th 05:00 - 13:00

During the night, Japanese units managed to overrun III Corps' HQ, leaving the Russians "isolated" in the south. This was to have a major impact on Russian command decisions in the Tang river valley.

Both sides profited from the lull in the fighting to count their losses. The Japanese, in one day of combat, had 21% of their troops put out of action (352 infantry strength points, 15 cavalry, 53 artillery, for a total of 420 out of 2048). Russian losses were even heavier, with 311 infantry, 51 cavalry, 75 artillery, for a total of 437. Proportionally, however, out of 2652 strength points this was less severe (16%). Only a couple of routed cavalry units were sufficiently distant from the front line to rally a few stragglers. OOBs at the beginning of turn 3 are here and here.

As dawn approached, the Russians surprisingly showed greater initiative, and chose to break camp first. In the west, the forces defending Sha Ho were reorganised, with the 53rd Reserve Division replacing the battered Siberians of the 1st Division, withdrawn towards Liaoyang. The Ussuri cossacks anchor the right flank of these defensive positions, to stop Japanese outflanking attempts. In response, the Japanese 1st Army pushed home its attack on the villages just west of Sha Ho.
In the Tang Valley, the isolation of III Corps forced Russian High Command to make a tough decision : either pull back Saraev’s other units (from XVII Corps), leaving a whole division to its fate, or all stay put. It was the latter option that was chosen during a hurried and tense conference.

In an attempt to buy time for Saraev, a brigade of Khroutschev’s Caucasian Cossacks harassed and pinned down the Japanese forces in the northern Tang. This left free only the southern Japanese forces, under the hitherto hapless Furoshu. A difficult decision was set before him, too : attack Saraev once again, bypass him (manoeuvre which would take the entire day), or bide time and wait for the northern forces to be feed up and able to crush Saraev in a pincer movement.
After a long hesitation, including the issuing and recall of a series of orders, Furoshu decided not to engage, given the state of the units under his command, most of which were under 50% strength. In preparation for the encirclement of Saraev's forces, further Japanese units were sent to hook round to the north-east and tighten the net.


The battles for turn 3 are as follows :

M11 : Russian cossacks once again pay a high price for their delaying actions, pinned by enemy cavalry and routed by far superior odds. No tabletop battle is fought.

D10 : To protect the right flank of the main assault, the I Brigade of the Japanese Guards Division attacks elements of the 53rd Division (I Infantry Brigade and Arty Brigade).

C10 : Under the orders of Stenbok-Fermor, elements of the 1st and 9th Siberians and of the 53rd Reserve Division defend the villages west of Sha-Ho against the weight of the almost entire 1st Army under Shigeno. The Russians can count on reinforcements from X Corps Dragoon Division (turn 4). OOBs are here.


TURN 3 BATTLES
Hex C10

On this morning of August 27th 1904, 14,000 Russians are set to defend the small market town of Shenyang, 10km west of Sha-Ho, against the imposing enemy force confered upon the Japanese general Shigeno, numbering 20,000 infantry and over 100 artillery pieces.



Stenbok-Fermor appointed Radziville’s Siberians the task of defending the town (less two batallions detached directly under the C-in-C). The light woods to the east of Radziville’s position were occupied by Dollinghausen’s reservists. Velepoloskii’s Siberians formed a strategic reserve, ordered into positions behind the town and ready to move as required. With the crushing artillery superiority of the Japanese, Stenbok decided to keep his men out of sight, and use his own artillery to channel the Japanese infantry assault into killing areas.

Shigeno, having read numerous reconnaissance reports on the probable Russian positions, and conscious of the huge numbers of troops under his command and the difficulty he would have ordering staged attacks, decided he would simultaneously take the town and the woods from Russian hands. The task of storming Shenyang fell upon Ando and Nakamura (12th Division); the woods were to be attacked by Terauchi, with Okubo (2nd Division) and Ozawa (Guards) as potential support. Both attacks were to be covered by a grand battery, and Shigeno amassed 14 batteries for this role. The woods on the Japanese right flank were to be occupied only by scouting and foraging parties.

The amassed Japanese artillery convinced Radziville and Dollinghausen to stay out of sight in their respective zones, preferring to sacrifice long range opportunities to fire at the incoming Japanese infantry in order to save strength for close-in fighting.

The excellent placement of the Russian artillery and machine-guns, turned a prudent strategy into a most opportune one.  The 4,000 men of Terauchi’s fresh brigade were soon under fire from Shatilov’s batteries, and from a very well-placed machine-gun nest on the eastern edge of the town, out of LOS from the Japanese artillery.



Losses quickly mounted, convincing Shigeno that, unsupported, Terauchi would lose the inevitable slogging match once in the woods. In consequence, he ordered the immediate advance of Ozawa’s Guards Brigade. Terauchi’s troops were swallowed up into the woods, where to their dismay they discovered Dollinghausen, rather than a hoped for Siberian brigade. The Japanese infantrymen weathered the first Russian volleys, before returning fire. After 20-30 minutes of fierce firefights – and the routing of two Japanese battalions - the Japanese infantry formed up in assault columns and charged (turn 4).



Terauchi’s losses were running high, but the Guards were now close behind, and perfectly organised despite having also lost many men to Maxim fire from Shenyang.

In the town, Radziville, showing a startling degree of initiative (persistent rolls of ‘4’ on his D4), had redeployed half his infantry to meet the threat of Ando’s flank march. In this he had been greatly helped by Velepoloskii, who, with foresight, deployed two battalions of Siberians by the NW corner of the town, out of sight of the Japanese artillery and able to protect the entire west flank of the built-up area. Prozdovskii’s albeit weak Siberian artillery was able to assist the defense of this sector, as were the dragoons of Zaroubaeff’s cavalry division who began to arrive on the battlefield (Bezobrazov on turn 3).

Under continual fire, often from the flank or rear as they turned towards the town, Ando’s infantry - already weakened in the previous day’s fighting - were shaken. Nonetheless, by turn 4 Japanese numbers in this sector – nearly 10,000 infantry, helped by covering fire from four batteries on the hill – saw them in position to infiltrate Shenyang. During a brief conference regrouping Stenbok, Radziville and Velopoloskii, it was decided that the latter’s Siberians would not intervene in the town before the Japanese penetrated into the northern half, to avoid them getting bogged down when they might be needed elsewhere. Radziville stoically listened to his orders : hold the southern end of the town as long as possible with his four battalions, and with the assistance of Zaroubaeff’s dragoons, as and when they reached the battlefield.



Indeed, with Bezobrazov’s dragoons already having seen off the Japanese cavalry, and with Ando’s wavering brigade grinding to a halt and starting to look like a tempting target, Stenbok-Fermor began to think that Zaroubaeff held the key to the battle.





On the Japanese side, however, Shigeno was planning the redeployment of his artillery. Having successfully covered the initial assault, the grand battery had become redundant.
Unfortunately for Shigeno, the following hour’s fighting plunged the Japanese into total chaos. On the right flank, Terauchi was unable to dislodge Dollinghausen’s first line during fierce hand-to-hand combat. Dollinghausen was able to switch his reserve to his right, reinforce the melee, and send Terauchi running. Ozawa threw his Guardsmen into the fray, but even these wavered under close-range infantry and machine-gun fire. To make matters worse, Okubo’s positions were discovered, offering a target to Shatilov’s guns.

On the left, Nakamura managed to infiltrate his troops into Shenyang, but these too were unable to dislodge the Siberians there, whose morale remained steady despite their losses. Japanese command seemed paralysed. Ando, Terauchi and Ozawa, all sent pleas to their C-in-C to allow them to withdraw their men, but no reply came from Shigeno, rendering them in turn uncertain and hesitant. After three hours of fighting, the Japanese, who had lost more than 7,000 dead and wounded (214 strength points), began to stream off the battlefield, entire companies dissolving in the panic (134 strength points lost in rout). Terauchi’s brigade had been reduced to 25% of its strength at the start of the battle of Liaoyang, Ando’s to 15%. Ozawa left 60% of his men on the battlefield.

Shanyang was a crucial victory for Russia. Stenbok-Fermor’s success – he lost barely 3,000 men (92 strength points) - would allow Russian forces to move away from Liaoyang to bolster the Tang Valley.

TURN 3 BATTLES
Hex D10
The Guards brigade is broken and routs (36 combat losses plus 24 rout losses), total 60 losses.
Russia : 20 losses to the N° 1 Infantry Brigade.


CAMPAIGN TURN 4
August 27th 13:00 - 21:00
Thanks to their forces in the southern Tang Valley, the Japanese carry the initiative, 83 vs 56, despite their advancing troops being spotted from the Russian held heights, and choose to retain it.

Japanese High Command feels that conditions are propitious for pulling back the worst hit units in order to regroup and refresh, whilst taking full advantage of Russian isolation in the Tang valley. Orders are transmitted for withdrawal of the battered 10th division and the other weary brigades that fought yesterday under Furoshu’s command. The 4th cavalry remain in the Tang Valley to block any easy exit by Saraev’s men. Meanwhile, the 4th Division advances on the Hung Sha pass, and part of the 5th Division is ordered to circumnavigate the isolated Russian units blocking the northern exit of the Tang Valley.

In the west, the shattered I Army flees towards the rear. The only steady unit available – I Army’s Kobi Division – is diverted westwards to discourage Russian pursuit.
Still faced with difficult choices in the Tang Valley, the Russians choose again to try to save the 5th Division, continuing to protect it with the brigades of the 1st Line Division. Despite members of his staff suggesting the abandon of the Hung Sha pass, Kuropatkin reinforces it, with a brigade of Cossacks and an infantry brigade peeled away from the 54th Reserve Division. In the west, Stenbok-Fermor’s victory allows a total redeployment of the Russian forces. The 2nd Division leaves the Motien pass, to be replaced by a single brigade of the 53rd Reserve Division.

The Dragoons Division is pulled back to the Tai-Tzu valley so as to be able to intervene in the east; the 24th Infantry Division is moved towards the head of the Tang Valley. The 1st Division and the various exhausted cossack brigades are given a breather.



No battles occur during the afternoon and evening of August 27th.

The first victory points of the campaign are now chalked up. For the Japanese, 2 location VPs, and 2 battle VPs (M11). For the Russians, 32 location VPs and 20 battle VPs (18VPs in C10 and 2VPs in D11). The VP slider is therefore at - 48.

At the end of Day 2, Japanese losses have attained a massive 803 out of 2048 (39%), with 1245 strength remaining. The Russians have lost only 565 out of 2652 (21%) and have no less than 2087 strength remaining.

 
CAMPAIGN TURN 5
August 28th 05:00 - 13:00

The Japanese have the initiative, and take the first move. Their situation is looking bleak, with Russian superiority now exceeding 50%. The Japanese must move swiftly to exploit their positions in the Tang Valley, before Kuropatkin can reinforce from the west.

The Japanese 4th Division attacks the Hung Sha pass, assisted by the Japanese cavalry which, since the withdrawal of the Cossacks from the region, has temporary superiority. The 3rd and 5th Divisions advance slowly up the Tang Valley, but, highly uncertain as to the composition of local Russian forces, dare not attack. As for the 4th Army, it withdraws to temporary quarters. In the west, the 1st Army sends such troops in fighting condition as it has – the 2nd and Kobi Divisions – to occupy the now abandoned Shenyang, leaving the 12th and the Guards to recover their strength.

The Russians maintain their gradual redeployment, advancing the 24th Division further east and pulling Saraev’s men northwards, feeling more optimistic about their situation. The 53rd and 9th Divisions settle into their new defensive positions.




One battle is fought on the morning of Day 3, in the narrow Hung Sha pass, hex P9. The fresh Japanese 4th Division under General Sakamoto (240 strength including 60 artillery), supported by the 1st cavalry brigade (the 4th cavalry having failed its initiative test) attack the fortified positions of fresh elements of XVII Corps : the I Brigade of the 54th Reserve Division, the I Brigade of the 1st Infantry Division and the I Brigade of Caucasian Cossacks (278 strength, no artillery). Unfortunately for the Russians, it is the Cossack general Minnen, a cousin of the Tsar, that takes command of this ad-hoc force. If the Japanese lose this fight, they will surely lose the battle of Liaoyang.


TURN 5 BATTLES
Hex P9, Hung Sha Pass


Rather than wait to be bombarded out of his positions by the Japanese artillery, Sakamansky received the order to advance to the wooded hill to his left. Unfortunately his advance was so cumbersome that Japanese troops were already occupying the woods as he made way towards it.

On turn 4, Kaminsky was ordered to send four battalions from the impregnable Russian centre to aid Sakamansky, but by the time the order was transmitted by Minnen's inexperienced staff, received and acted upon, the Russian left had already succumbed to Matsukaa's artillery, Akiyama's cavalry and Segawa's infantry.
On their right, the Cossacks having opened fire on Ichiji, did not receive the order to withdraw, and were gunned down in force.


By turn 5, even the Russian centre is failing, as Kaminsky's poor command structure is overloaded. He must simultaneously help Sakamansky, garrison the hill to his left since Minnen’s troops have not yet come up, and rally his brigade in the woods and trenches. Sakamoto senses and seizes on an opportunity. He sends two of the three battalions under his direct command into the woods, where they rout a Russian battalion with flanking fire.

On turn 7, Ichiji is ordered to send three units towards the hill on Kaminsky’s right, the race is on to reach it as Minnen is also at last moving towards it with the reserves. However, the total destruction of Samansky’s command, plus the losses to Kaminsky, rout the Russians. End of the battle on turn 7. Japanese losses : 21; Russian losses : 76 (50 from Sakamansky’s command) plus 63 from rout for a total of 139.


CAMPAIGN TURN 6
August 28th 13:00 - 21:00


Their victory in the Hung Sha Pass has offered a window of opportunity to the Japanese. If they can defeat the Russian forces at the head of the Tang valley, they are within striking distance of Manju Yama and the surrounding heights, which they can hold off against Russian counterattacks whilst waiting for the shattered Japanese army to regroup and recover.

TURN 6 BATTLES
HEX N9
Concentrating the 4th and 5th Divisions, the Japanese assemble 620 strength points in N9 against 600 points of dug-in Russians (plus some 90 pts of reinforcements whose timely arrival is, however, unlikely). Artillery strengths of both armies are comparable.


The Russian position was extremely well-chosen. Taking advantage of a treacherous stream, impassable to all but cavalry on the Japanese side, the Russians had, for once, dug significant earthworks (cover 3 on their right flank). The attackers lacked cover during their approach, exposing them to artillery fire.
Sakamoto decided to throw his entire weight against the Russian left, and cross the river at that point. The Russian defense of the outlying trenches had seemed rash, but in fact pulled off. The Japanese attack lacked co-ordination : Masaki's flank attack was not yet in place that Segawa's troops were heading in frontally and taking casualties. By turn 5, the Russian position had fallen, but its defenders had given as good as they had got, and worn down Segawa's key infantry brigade. Russian command also proved reactive, and Arbaev and Matskievskii transferred forces to the threatened river bank.

Once his scouts had fully identified Russian positions on turn 6, it became obvious to Sakamoto that no attack could succeed here. To make matters worse, Russian artillery reinforcements had arrived, swinging the artillery balance in their favour. The attack was called off, the Japanese having sustained 94 losses to 60 Russian.


AFTERMATH AND CONCLUSION

That evening, the Japanese High Command ordered a withdrawal from Liaoyang. Victory against Russia would have to wait until spring.

An enjoyable campaign. The lack of numbers on the Japanese side was balanced by far superior command structures, which showed at both strategic and tactical levels. If the Japanese lost, it was mostly due to the two critical defeats at Fushen and Shenyang. Japanese troops won several battles, but none were truly decisive.

 


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