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Scenario for Komarów / Cześniki

 
This scenario links to the article on the historical battle.
 

Refighting the Battle

Even if there were larger and more important cavalry battles fought in the Russian Civil War, the battle of Komarów is an interesting action and could form the basis for quite a good game.

There is a risk with such a famous battle that participants will know too much about the opposition, and that anachronistic knowledge will affect their battle plan, but the very vagueness (at least in English) of the histories works against that for Cześniki. The sides did at least know the basic outline of the other’s positions and strengths, so players can be given that at the start.

The morning attack of the Polish 7th Brigade, reinforced by the 6th Brigade some hours later, first against the Soviet 4th CD around Wolica-Śniatycka, reinforced later by the 11th CD and Special Brigade, offers plenty of scope but requires an awful lot of cavalry and tachanka figures and a very large table if more than a small section is to be fought. That said, Steve Turn has satisfactorily played the opening stages at a convention.

If an even larger game was desired – say adding in part of the 13th ID and allowing the Soviet to command the reinforcements as well as the 4th CD – then it would be quite reasonable to allow the Polish infantry to advance vigorously on Cześniki, particularly if the Soviet does not even demonstrate against them. If the Soviet player knows that the 13th ID will not advance, the risk is that he is free to concentrate against the Polish cavalry far too early. Likewise, the Soviet 6th Division might have appeared much earlier in the day if Budënniy had realised quite how much trouble his army was in. There may or may not have been Soviet infantry (or rather cavalry without horses) in Niewirków and Cześniki, but it would not have attacked the Poles in the open and should act merely defensively. Such a large battle would appear to require a kriegsspiel approach.

The attack of the Soviet 6th Division in the evening against the Polish 6th Brigade, with the 7th coming to its rescue, would appear to offer the best table-top opportunities, provided one can muster that many figures. The aim of the Soviets is to break through to the east (preferably without having to fight) while the Poles wish to make them retire to the west. The Soviet has to keep his units together though – the situation was not yet desperate enough that it was worth fracturing the division in order to let some escape at the expense of the others. The first portions of the Polish 13th ID should be scheduled to arrive fairly quickly, to ensure that the Soviet player has to attack vigorously rather than jockey for position.

However the game is played, tachankas and artillery played very important roles, especially in the earlier combats. The “boys’ own” versions of the battle might relegate them to subsidiary roles, but I feel gamers should be a bit harder headed.

Note also that if you disagree on low-ish morale and fighting factors for the Konnaya Armiya, then perhaps you should not game this battle – because otherwise one is left with having to face the fact that less than 2,000 Poles were able to defeat many times their number of the supposed élite of the Soviet army. Even halving the Red forces leaves the Poles badly outnumbered in the initial stages. Perhaps the Ulans had artillery and MG advantages, but the evidence of the fighting also points to the Poles having a decided edge in combat.
 

Morning Battle Scenario (for Red Actions!)

Polish Player Briefing

You are Colonel Juliusz Rómmel, in command of the Polish 1st Cavalry Division. It is southern Poland, 31 August 1920, shortly after the Battle of Warsaw.

Budënniy’s Konnaya Armiya have failed in their attack on Zamość and are becoming caught in a “U” of Polish forces, of which you form the eastern-most portion of the southern arm. Cornered and exhausted, the enemy’s only hope of escape is to retire eastwards. The continual rain in the previous days has limited the number of available routes and the main one is the road east from Zamość that runs just north of Cześniki.

This part of Poland is gently rolling, with boggy areas in many of the valleys. The fields are not surrounded by hedges, fences or ditches except for a few around the towns and so is excellent for cavalry operations. There are several wooded areas, mostly along the top of the ridge, more or less passable to your troops in column. The day dawns very wet, which makes the boggy parts even more treacherous and tires the men and horses.

1st Cavalry Division:
Captain Praglowski, operations staff officer:
6th Cavalry Brigade, Colonel Dunnoski
1st “Krechowiecki” Ulans, 10 cavalry bases, 2 tachanka bases, Colonel Dziewicki
12th “Podolian” Ulans, 3 cavalry bases, 1 tachanka base, Captain Komorowski
14th “Jazłowiec” Ulans, 10 cavalry bases, 2 tachanka bases, Major Plisowski
2 batteries of 2 gun models each
7th Cavalry Brigade, Colonel Brezezowski
2nd “Rokitna” Light Horse, 5 cavalry bases, 1 tachanka base, Colonel Brezowska
8th “Prince Jozef Poniatowski” Ulans, 6 cavalry bases, 1 tachanka base, Captain Krzeczunowicz
9th “Malopolski” Ulans, 9 cavalry bases, 2 tachanka bases, Major Dembinski
2 batteries of 2 gun models each
Supernumerary Cossack Battery, 1 Gun model

The artillery has enough rounds for 40 minutes only (you have left your resupply column behind in order to move fast, intending to capture ammunition from the enemy). You have sufficient MG and small arms ammunition for a day’s battle.

The 7th Brigade has spent the night in Komarów and the 6th Brigade slightly further east in Wolica Brzozowa and Zubowice. It is now 0730 and your men have risen and are saddling their horses. They are rested and confident.

Your orders have just arrived from Army. They are:

Attack in the direction of Wolica-Śniatycka, Cześniki, final objective Sitno. Start time 0600.

The enemy attacks on Zamość have failed and you should close the ring forming around them and destroy them utterly. You are to prevent enemy units inside the ring from moving out [i.e. prevent any units from moving east]. Your attack should link with that of the 2nd Legionary Infantry Division, who are to your north and who are moving southwards with little opposition.

The 13th Infantry Division is in the region of Dąbrowa and Janówka [5 kms to your south-west]. They will attack up the main road towards Zamość and will cover your left flank. There is no cover to your right.

The location and strength of the enemy, as best known is:
        4th Cavalry Division, approx 1,500 sabres [i.e. 36 cavalry bases]  – north of Cześniki ?
        6th Cavalry Division, approx 2,000 sabres [i.e. 48 cavalry bases]– outside Zamość
        11th Cavalry Division, approx 1,000 sabres [i.e. 24 cavalry bases] – Łabunki
        14th Cavalry Division, approx 1,000 sabres [i.e. 24 cavalry bases] – north of Miączyn
        Separate Cavalry Brigade, approx 500 sabres [i.e. 12 cavalry bases] – Antoniowka

Their supply situation seems poor and most of their train appears to be on the Zamość to Miączyn road.

HQ is obviously not quite up to date though, since quite apart from your orders arriving 90 minutes after the allocated start time, you are aware that the enemy in Antoniowka was forced to evacuate to the north overnight, thanks to an artillery bombardment from you.  

Game Notes:
1) A base represents about 40 men, a couple of guns or a handful of tachankas.
2) Your regiments have five sabre squadrons and a tachanka squadron. For game purposes the effectives are spread as evenly as possible (as  whole bases), with the lowest numbered the largest. (The 12th Regt. only has 3 squadrons.)
3) A Russian cavalry division has three cavalry brigades, each of two regiments, each of three (sometimes four) sabre squadrons and a tachanka squadron. There is also a horse-artillery divizion (3 batteries) and an unknown but smallish amount of integral cart-borne infantry support (actually unmounted cavalrymen) in each division.
 

Russian Player Briefing

You are KomDiv S.K. Timoshenko of the 4th Cavalry Division. It is southern Poland, 31 August 1920, shortly after the Battle of Warsaw.

The 1st Horse Army (Konnaya Armiya) have failed in their attack on Zamość and risk becoming caught in a “U” of Polish forces. Cornered and exhausted, the only hope of escape is to retire eastwards. The continual rain in the previous days has limited the number of available routes and the main one is the road east from Zamość that runs just north of Cześniki, unfortunately clogged with supply carts at present.

This part of Poland is gently rolling, with boggy areas in many of the valleys. The fields are not surrounded by hedges, fences or ditches except for a few around the towns and so is excellent for cavalry operations. There are several wooded areas, mostly along the top of the ridge, more or less passable to your troops in column. The day dawns very wet, which makes the boggy parts even more treacherous and tires the men and horses.

4th Cavalry Division:
Military Commissar V.I. Berlov
10th Cavalry Brigade – 19th and 20th Cavalry Regiments [6 and 6 cavalry bases, 2 tachanka bases]
11th Cavalry Brigade – 21st and 22nd Cavalry Regiments [6 and 5 cavalry bases, 2 tachanka bases]
12th Cavalry Brigade –  23rd and 24th Cavalry Regiments [6 and 5 cavalry bases, 1 tachanka base]
Separate tachanka detachment [2 tachanka bases]
Horse artillery divizion, 3 batteries [each 2 gun models]

Your artillery has enough ammunition for 30 minutes each and your cavalry are rather short in small arms ammunition.

It is 0730 and you are in Cześniki with your 10th and 11th Brigades, while the 12th Brigade is between you and Stabrów where it is guarding the baggage and acting as general rear guard. The position of the rest of the Konnaya Armiya is:

Separate Cavalry Brigade (500 effectives [12 sabre bases]) is in Niewirków.
The 11th Cavalry Division (1,000 effectives [24 sabre bases]) is in the Łabunki area.
The 6th Cavalry Division (2,000 effectives [48 sabre bases])  is west of you, near Zamość.
The 14th Cavalry Division  (1,000 effectives [24 sabre bases]) is to the north of Miączyn.

Your orders from Budënniy are:

Move south with your 10th and 11th Brigades to prevent the Poles in the Komarów and Łabunie area from advancing north and closing the ring around the Soviet army. Ideally you will prevent him from advancing past Wolica-Śniatycka [since this will allow the army to retire along the line Zamość–Cześniki–Niewirków]. The 12th Brigade is to remain with the baggage for the moment.

Your area of operation is limited to the west by a line Cześniki–Brudek (exclusive); and to the east by a line Niewirków–Śniatycka (inclusive). The 11th CD is to operate from Brudek westwards. The swamps to the east of Śniatycka prevent the enemy outflanking you on that side.

The Separate Brigade, currently in Niewirków, is the Army reserve and may be available in an emergency but is currently in need of a rest after retiring from Antionowka during the night due to enemy shelling.

The enemy belong to General S. Haller’s group, and consist of the 13th Infantry Division (some 6,000 men [i.e. 150 rifle bases plus support]), currently somewhere south of Łabunie and Komarów, and the Polish 1st Cavalry Division (some 2,000 men [i.e. 50 sabre bases plus support]), currently in the Komarów area.

It appears that the enemy has no substantial formations between Łabunie and Zamość, so General Haller cannot afford to send all his men towards Cześniki, but will have to cover the Łabunie–Łabunki–Zamość line as well.

Game Notes:
1) A base represents about 40 men, a couple of guns or a handful of tachankas.
2) Your regiments have three sabre squadrons, with effectives spread as evenly as possible (as whole bases) with the lowest numbered the largest. The tachankas are technically integral with the regiments, but are used to being grouped at higher levels.
3) A Polish cavalry division has two brigades, each of three regiments, each of five sabre squadrons, but their effectives are not as evenly spread as yours, so some regiments can be as much as 500 men [12 bases], while others are only a few hundred strong. They have large tachanka support and a horse artillery battery per brigade. They never have integral infantry support.
4) A Polish infantry division has two rifle brigades, each of two regiments, each of three battalions and an MG company. The attached cavalry is between a squadron and a regiment. The artillery support varies greatly but you might expect a battery per regiment
 

Maps

Map for the players, until they inspect an area in person.
Accurate map of the area as it was at the time.
Older map

 
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