General de Brigade scenario details are here.

Setup for the game.

The Russian are advancing having driven the Finnish vanguard of some jaegers of Pori battalions from the crown’s distillery just off the map to south. Russian 26th jaegers are in pursuit of the retreating vanguard while their guns have taken a position near the small field. The Russian commander Major-General Kozatškovski is nearby as well as the Azov musketeer regiment which unfortunately is located behind the big spruce and not visible.

On the opposite side of the field, to lead his troops Colonel von Döbeln has just arrived from his sick bed in Uusikaarlepyy some 3,5 kilometers to the north. The road is guarded by artillery flanked by the two half battalions of Pori regiment.

Further to the forest guarding their flank in soggier ground is the Captain Gyllenbögell’s free corps. It consists of volunteer as well as troops formerly stationed in Suomenlinna (Viapori/Vyborg) island fortress just outside Helsinki. After the capitulation of the fortress Russians allowed the Finnish troops to return to their homes having extracted from them a solemn promise not to take up arms against Russian forces any more. After the dishonorable capitulation some men still wanted to regain their honor by joining the Finnish forces. The sharpshooter battalion consists of such men. The free battalion contains volunteers from Ahvenanmaa islands (Åland), who without any help from proper soldiers had captured and driven away the invading Russian forces from their islands. Later on they received some proper uniforms and arms from Sweden as well as training. Maalahti and Närpiö volunteer battalions were raised in the Pohjanmaa area. All units of free corps with the exception of the sharpshooter battalion should be classed as militia. Captain Gyllenbögell served originally in Pori regiment.

The aim of the Russian is to break through the defending Finns since just behind the Finnish positions leads a road to west. This road leads to Oravainen (some 18,5 kilometers away) and if Russians capture this crossroads the main Finnish army at Oravainen will have no retreat route.

Turn 1. Azov musketeers advance and get shot by Finnish artillery. The jaegers of Pori regiment give ground to the advancing Russian 26th jaegers. The free corps, with the exception of sharpshooters, deploys in skirmish formation and advances. Russian artillerymen push their gun forward.

Turn 2. Replay of the previous turn. Azov musketeers start to enter woods but still get hammered by Finnish artillery. Russian jaegers hope to charge the jaegers of Pori regiment but these manage to slip away. Russian artillery fire is ineffective.

Turn 3. Some sporadic skirmish fire in the woods between jaegers.

Turn 4. Russian 26th jaegers charge free battalion but rolling snake eyes they halt and falter. The counterattack from the free battalion fares only slightly better and they halt in place. The massive amount of skirmish fire from free battalion is ineffective. In order to keep on pounding the Azov musketeers Finnish artillery push their guns even if it means leaving the cover of the forest.

Turn 5. Free battalion charges the 26th jaegers and in the subsequent melee they force the Russians to retreat. Azov musketeers decide to deploy into more flexible skirmish formation which also makes them a more difficult target for the Finnish artillery. Russian artillery is again pushed somewhat forward.

Turn 6. Both sides organize their skirmishers a bit as Azov musketeers now face the Finnish horde. The skirmish shooting is ineffective though. Finnish artillery retreats back into cover of the forest. The Russian 26th jaegers try to rally but unfortunately they roll 3 and after modifiers their retreat turns into a rout causing the Russian brigade to test morale.

This results in the Russian brigade breaking leaving the Finns victorious in the battlefield. The retreat route of the main army in Oravainen is now secure and the battle of Oravainen can commence in relative security the next day.

Once again, we got a more or less historical result. In reality Azov musketeers tried to advance across the field and were stopped by artillery fire and counter charge from the Pori battalions. This battle is probably the best demo game for General de Brigade, it has clear objectives (even if they are nigh impossible for the poor Russians), not that many troops, no cavalry to complicate the matters and playable in a very short time! Besides even if they don’t know almost anything else from the war, most Finns still recognize the phrase “Döbeln at Juutas” and that the gave Russians a trashing despite of him being bedridden at the time.

Historical tidbits

Von Döbeln In 1780 the 22 year old von Döbeln yearned to gain battlefield experience and asked for two years of leave of absence from the Swedish army which he did receive. He travelled to Paris in order to be recruited to a regiment leaving to America. After 13 months he finally got a letter of commission as an Ensign to La Mark’s German regiment and was shipped to India. There he took part of the defence of the Goudelour (Cuddalore) fortress and was promoted to Captain as a reward for his valor and ingenuity. The fighting at Goudelour ceased when news of the peace between France and England reached India. Le Mark broke the news to von Döbeln: “Peace has arrived and you have been saved”. To the flabbergasted von Döbeln Le Mark explained that the French had been planning on withdrawing their forces to Ceylon and von Döbeln had been ordered to stay behind with a grenadier company and some natives in order to defend the fortress whichever way they could.

Having returned to Finland von Döbeln took part in the Russo-Swedish war of 1788-1790. On June 13th during the battle of Porrassalmi while bravely leading his men a musket bullet hit Captain von Döbeln’s forehead. He told his adjutant: “I’ll leave now to die further down in the back, but for god’s sake do not let that trash cross the strait!”. He started walking towards Mikkeli some 7 kilometres to north, met an army sugeon on the way that bandaged him and later on got a horse from another Captain who had been wounded to his arm. In Mikkeli while believing he was about to die he still wanted to write to his superior a report of the battle along with recommendations of those who had distinguished themselves during the battle. Luckily the bullet had bounced away but the bone splinters had to be removed. The intrigued von Döbeln asked for a mirror so he could follow the operation which involved drilling. Because of this operation he had a gaping hole in his forehead and wore a distinguishing black silken band over his brow to cover it.

War of 1808 On midsummer when Finns were pushing southwards they were fighting against Russians almost at the very same spot as Juutas. During the battle for Uusikaarepyy von Döbeln was leading his brigade in a long and tedious flanking march through forest. He arrived to the battlefield too late and the bridge he was supposed to cross had already been lit by the Russians. The anxious Colonel immediately decided to cross the river by wading and was followed by his troops without hesitation. However, the current was too strong and von Döbeln would have drowned if someone hadn’t caught a sleeve of his coat before he was drawn under. From this episode he got fever (pneumonia?) spells of which lasted throughout the war and caused him to be bedridden at the time of the battl of Juutas.

Battle of Juutas The night before the battle the high command of the army was gathered at Munsala located more or less halfway between Juutas and Oravainen. Von Döbeln had arrived there on a peasant cart since he wasn’t fit to ride and didn’t want to be left behind when the army retreated from Vaasa. He still hoped to regain his strength and the command of 2nd brigade. At Munsala he learned how difficult the army’s position as and that the enemy might also attack Oravainen from rear. It is told that from the sofa that he exhaustedly lied in, he shouted: “Bring me a horse, I’ll take care of it.”

Be how it may, he now hurried to meet his brigade. At Oravainen he met the troops but in a sorry state: worn out, dressed in rags and almost barefoot they dragged onwards with both minds and bodies paralyzed. But immediately as they saw the man with the black band over his brow saluting them their eyes were relit with hope.

March towards Juutas continued immediately even if the troops were already exhausted. There simply wasn’t any time for rest as on the way a letter was received from commander of the 1st brigade, Lieutenant-Colonel Reutersköld, who told that at 9 PM Russians were advancing towards Uusikaarlepyy on both sides of the river and with his few hundred men he didn’t feel like it was possible to defend the town, where he had now retreated. His vanguard was already engaged so, if it was any way possible, could the 2nd brigade hasten its approach. Von Döbeln urged his men forward until and before reaching Juutas at 10 AM quite a few had dropped from exhaustion, but these trickled back to the ranks before the battle commenced. Being also totally spent, von Döbeln rode to Uusikaarlepyy in order to catch some sleep, but only after organizing the defence.

Luckily the Russian attack didn’t start before 3 PM and apparently they only pushed forward on the western back of the river. The Russians drove the 2nd brigades vanguard from the crown distillery in front of the and advanced towards Finnish lines. The troops had become somewhat dispirited but as soon as they saw von Döbeln riding back from his sickbed at Uusikaarlepyy it was as if a new spirit had taken ahold of them.

In the marshy forest the 3rd Pori battalion engaged the advaning enemy and the Russian advance in the field was met with a canister at 100 metres after which the 1st Pori battalion counterattacked. Finnish artillery fire caused the Russian artillery to withdraw. Gyllenbögell’s free corps joined the attack and the Russian infantry was forced to withdraw which continued after nightfall some 23 kilometres to Ekola. They then (in the morning?) continued their retreat to Alahärmä some 10 kilometres further. The threat to main army’s rear had clearly been vanquished.

The casualties on Finnish side were 38 men (34 men and 1 officer wounded and 3men taken captive) while on the Russian side they were 129 men (32 men and 1 officer dead, 83 men and 3 officers wounded plus 9 men and 1 officer captured). Von Döbeln was promoted to Major-General because of the victory but this was to be his last battle in Finland. Soon the fever rose again and he had to leave to Sweden to get better medical care.

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