The Battle of the Alma

On Saturday June 30, 2015, the Jackson Gamers refought the battle of the Alma. This was the first action in the Crimean War, on September 20, 1854. The allies (Britain and France) had landed north of their objective, the Russian city of Sebastopol on the Crimean peninsula in the Black sea. They then marched around the city to attack it from the south.

The high ground beyond the river Alma was where the Russian army made it’s stand. We took as the basis for this game an older SPI “Quad” game published 30 years ago. This board game contains four battles, including The Alma, Balaclava, Inkerman and Tchernaya River.

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John Murdaugh, commanding the French 3rd Division and the British 3rd Division, considers the battlefield. The troops that we used were part of Jay Stribling’s 15mm Crimean War army, placed on enlarged versions of the board game counters.
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Some of the Russian defenders, under the command of Prince Menshikov (Jay Stribling) await the allied onslaught. Because of the difficulties that the allies had with the crossing of the Alma river, the French army was unable to cross for the first two turns of the game. This is a carry-over from the board game rules.

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The French army, lead by Zouave regiments has finally gotten itself in gear and has crossed the river. The French 1st, 2nd and 4th divisions were commanded by Phil Young.

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The Russian defenders await the French onslaught. Jay Stribling commanded the Russians on the left and Ed Sansing commanded the Czar’s troops on the right side of the battlefield.

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Telegraph hill (named for an incomplete semaphore telegraph tower that was on it) has been occupied by British and French in this image, take about half-way through the game. The British battalions consist of two infantry bases on a “stand” with a pinkish label containing movement, morale, and combat information, taken from the boardgame. The French battalions have blue labels. Note the red rings on two of the British units, showing that they are disrupted, halving their fire and melee factors.

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On the Russian right, the first of two defensive works the great redoubt has been overrun by the British after a prolonged defense. General Sansing attempted to recapture the work, alas to no avail. The British and French units had a much greater fire effect than the Russian battalions, but the Russians had a higher hand-to-hand combat value.

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The village of Bourliuk which was stuffed with straw and set ablaze by the Russians in an attempt to deny the allies shelter and to slow their passage of the river Alma.

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Another view of the French battalions on their extreme right, attempting to turn the Russian left. By this time, the Russians were withdrawing slowly with occasional bayonet counter-attacks. The Russian army’s morale that grown shaky with units being lost, and every turn, to avoid a loss of victory points, they had to withdraw to battalions off the table edge to the rear.

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On the Russian right, the lesser redoubt has also fallen to the British, under the command of Sean Pitts. The surviving Russian defenders have retreated out of the image of the camera.

So, who won this battle? It was closer than it seemed at the time. The Allies destroyed 8 Russian units, while losing 7 of their own. The Russians still had their road-exit to the rear, but had lost one Victory point on turn 7 for not being in a position to withdraw two battalions as their army morale broke. So, the Allies had 8 victory points, and the Russians had 7. An allied victory! The war would continue, with thousands upon thousands of soldiers dying, mainly of disease.

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Here is a photo of the boardgame that Jay Stribling stole (was inspired by) the game mechandisms, map and order of battle.
Actually the allies should have had 10 more units, but we did not have enough infantry stands to create them – not that they needed them.

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