“Á l’eau c’est l’heure!” – The Sailors of the Imperial Guard

The Marins de la Garde Impériale were originally created by Napoleon in 1803 as part of the Consular Guard.  The Marins (i.e. ‘Sailors’ or ‘Seamen’, often mis-translated in English as ‘Marines’, which they were not) were raised from naval personnel and were organised into a battalion of five ‘crews’ (companies), each of around 145 men.  They were tasked with supervising the boats that were to carry the men of the Grande Armée during the invasion of Britain.  In 1804 the Consular Guard became the Imperial Guard and the battalion was increased to six crews/companies, for a total of 818 men. 

In 1805 the invasion of Britain was cancelled and the Marins were re-trained as infantry.  However, they soon found themselves back on the water; building bridges and manning boats on various rivers and lagoons during the campaigns against the Austrians, Prussians and Russians during the period 1805 to 1807.

In 1808 the battalion was sent to Spain and at the battle of Baylen fought hard as infantry, suffering heavy losses against the Spanish, before the survivors passed into captivity along with the rest of Dupont’s unfortunate army.

In 1809 the Marins were reformed as a single company/crew and accompanied the Emperor on his Danube campaign against the Austrians, were they once again took to the water, manning boats and assisting the engineers in building bridges.

In 1810 they were once again restored to a full battalion, with a theoretical strength of 1,136 men, organised into eight companies.  However, it seems that this was never attained.  They soon found themselves in Spain once again and in 1811 were fighting as infantry in the rearguard of Marshal Massena’s army as it retreated from the Lines of Torres Vedras.  Thankfully they this time managed to avoid being wiped out and in 1812 were marching with the Emperor to Moscow, where they for a time proved their versatility by operating as artillerymen.

Reconstituted once again following heavy losses in Russia, they operated again as boatmen during the 1813 Campaign in Germany and fought hard as infantry alongside their comrades of the Young Guard at Leipzig.  They fought on as infantry throughout the defence of France in 1814 and when Napoleon capitulated they still had 350 men under the Eagle.  94 Marins accompanied Napoleon into exile on Elba and returned to France with him in 1815.  The Marins were expanded to 150 men during the 100 Days Campaign of 1815, where they served as part of the Engineers.  Nevertheless, at Waterloo, they formed part of the last rearguard covering the retreat from the battlefield, making their stand alongside the 1st Grenadiers of the Guard.

As Napoleon said, “What would we have done without them? …They were good sailors, then they were the best soldiers. And they did everything – they were soldiers, gunners, sappers, everything!”

When I saw these figures appear in a ‘coming soon’ article from AB Figures last year, I just couldn’t wait to get my hands on them and spent the next six months checking the Fighting 15s website on a daily basis to see if they’d arrived!  At long last, they finally arrived and I was absolutely not disappointed – these are exquisite figures and quite definitely among Tony Barton’s finest work.

Most AB figures Napoleonics are depicted in ‘field dress’: I.e. not full dress and not full-on campaign rags, but ‘somewhere in the middle’.  However, an exception is made for the Imperial Guard infantry, which are all depicted in full dress splendour (and quite right too!).  These Matelots are depicted in their full dress dolman jacket, which had red pointed cuffs, blue collar and brass contre-epaulettes (shoulder-scales) on a red cloth backing, all heavily festooned in aurore (a pinkish yellow-orange) lace.  The trousers were dark blue, with aurore-laced side-seams and Hungarian knots.

The Marins also had a field uniform consisting of a plain dark blue, double-breasted jacket, with collar and pointed cuffs in the same colour, piped aurore.  The brass contre-epaulettes were worn with this uniform.

The shakos were initially quite plain, with detachable peaks and aurore lace on the upper and lower bands, aurore cords, a carrot-shaped aurore pompom and the national cockade on the upper-front edge.  This changed at some point (probably with the reformation of the unit in 1809) to the one shown on these models, with a brass Young Guard eagle-plate on the front, brass edging to the (fixed) peak, a tall red plume and the national cockade moved to the left side.

Drummers and trumpeters wore a sky-blue version of the uniform, with mixed red/yellow lace.  Their shakos had gold lace and cords.

Officers had a dark-blue uniform cut in the style of the Guard Chasseurs, with dark blue facings heavily laced in gold (these officers were described as ‘gilded’), a gold aiguilette on the right shoulder and epaulette on the left shoulder.  The cutaway coat revealed a red waistcoat with gold ‘hussar’ braid.  Breeches were dark blue with gold side-seams and rank shown in the light cavalry style, by gold lace ‘spearpoints’ on the thigh.  Boots were of light cavalry style with gold tassels.  Headgear was an unlaced cocked hat with gold ‘pulls’ and red plume.

In game terms, these are actually fairly redundant for me, as I play Napoleon’s Battles 4th Edition, which is a ‘grand-tactical’ game, with units representing brigades rather than battalions.  If I were to reflect actual strength, the unit would be no more than eight figures strong at full strength!

However, these figures are just too good not to have on the table…  I do need a lot of Young Guard for the 1813 Campaign and my unit of Marins will therefore replace one of the five Voltigeur brigades of the Young Guard.  They’ll help break up the monotony of painting all those Young Guardsmen!

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic French Army, Napoleonic Wars, Painted Units | Tagged | Leave a comment

Hold Back The Tide For a While… Germany, 1984

In my previous ‘Cold War 1984’ game report, regular readers will recall that I forgot to bring my box of British armour to the game.  So by popular demand, I finally got the Chieftains on the table…

In our last game, the Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars (QRIH) Battlegroup from the BAOR’s 33 Armoured Brigade had been rushed south to shore up the crumbling 1 Belgian Corps.  Together with West German Home Guard forces, the QRIH advance guard had successfully blunted the reconnaissance efforts of the Soviet 40th Motor Rifles Regiment.  However, the Soviets have broken through in other sectors and the QRIH Battlegroup is now tasked with blunting a Soviet armoured breakthrough east of the River Weser, in an encounter battle at the town of Durchwetten.

Chieftain Main Battle Tank

Orbat for Queen’s Royal Irish Hussars Battlegroup – Lt Col O’Rasmussen:

(All elements ‘Veteran’)

HQ QRIH:
1x Command Chieftain Main Battle Tank
1x Ferret Scout Car

Close Recce Troop:
1x Command CVR(T) Scorpion Reconnaissance Vehicle
3x CVR(T) Scorpion Reconnaissance Vehicle

‘A’ Squadron Group:
1x Command Chieftain Main Battle Tank
3x Chieftain Main Battle Tank
3x Infantry (1 with Carl Gustav, remainder with LAW)*
1x FV-432 Armoured Personnel Carrier*

‘D’ Squadron:
1x Command Chieftain Main Battle Tank
4x Chieftain Main Battle Tank

No.1 Company Group, 1 Irish Guards – Major Pring:
1x Commander
1x L9A1 51mm Mortar Team
1x L7A2 GPMG Team (Sustained Fire Mount)
6x Infantry (2 with Carl-Gustav, remainder with LAW)
2x MILAN ATGM Team
5x FV-432 Armoured Personnel Carrier
1x Chieftain Main Battle Tank*

Elements, 111 Air Defence Battery RA:
2x Javelin SAM Team
2x CVR(T) Spartan Armoured Personnel Carrier

5 Field Battery, 19 Field Regiment RA:
3x Forward Observer
3x FV-432 Armoured Personnel Carrier
4x Abbot 105mm Self-Propelled Guns (off-table Direct Support)
[13, 25 & 28 Field Batteries also available in General Support]

‘B’ Flight, 653 Squadron, 3 Regiment Army Air Corps:
1x Command Gazelle AH Mk 1 Light Observation Helicopter
2x Lynx AH Mk 1 HELARM Anti-Tank Helicopter (TOW ATGM)

Royal Air Force:
1x Forward Air Controller (with Harrier GR Mk3 on call, armed with rockets)
1x Ferret Scout Car

*These elements are cross-attached between the QRIH and 1 IG to form mixed Squadron/Company Groups.

T-64A Main Battle Tank

Orbat for 40th Motor Rifle Regiment (Elements) – Colonel Thomasski:

(All elements ‘Trained’ except for aircrew, who are ‘Experienced’)

Tank Battalion, 40th Motor Rifle Regiment – Lt Col Sibleyski:
1x Command T-64AK Main Battle Tank
9x T-64A Main Battle Tank
3x T-64B Main Battle Tank

9th Company, 40th Motor Rifle Regiment – Major Thomsonov:
1x Commander
1x SA-14 ‘Gremlin’ SAM Team
2x PKM Light Machine Gun Team
9x Motor Rifle Infantry (3 with RPG-7L, remainder with RPG-16)
5x BMP-1 Infantry Fighting Vehicle

Elements, Regimental Air Defence Company:
1x ZSU-23-4 ‘Shilka’ AAA Vehicle
1x SA-9 ‘Gaskin’ SAM Vehicle

Elements, Regimental Anti-Tank Company:
2x 9P148 (BRDM-2 with AT-5 ‘Spandrel’)

Elements, Regimental Recce Company:
1x BRDM-2 Scout Car
1x T-64B Main Battle Tank

1st Battery, Regimental Artillery Group:
1x Forward Observer
1x PRP-3 ‘Val’ Artillery Command & Reconnaissance Vehicle
3x 2S1 ‘Gvozdika’ Self-Propelled 122mm Howitzers (off-table Direct Support)

2nd Battery, Regimental Artillery Group:
1x Forward Observer
1x 1V13 Artillery Command & Reconnaissance Vehicle
3x 2S1 ‘Gvozdika’ Self-Propelled 122mm Howitzers (off-table Direct Support)

Elements, Divisional Aviation Squadron:
1x Command Mi-24 ‘Hind E’
1x Mi-24 ‘Hind E’

Elements, Frontal Aviation:
1x Forward Air Controller (with MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ on call, armed with mixed bombs and rockets)
1x BTR-60 R975 Tactical Air Control Vehicle

Above:  Having crossed a minor water obstacle, the QRIH Battlegroup races to take up positions on the high ground overlooking the town of Durchwaten.  The Close Recce Troop, with an attached RAF FAC, motors to take up position in the southern factory complex, while ‘D’ Squadron move to take up hull-down positions on the ridge west of the town.  The Irish Guards No.1 Company Group moves to occupy the town with ‘A’ Squadron Group in support.  Somewhat rashly, Lt Col O’Rasmussen decides to make a personal reconnaissance of the high ground north of the town, along with the Royal Artillery AD Javelin teams.  The FOOs from 5 Field Battery are allocated to each Squadron/Company Group.

Above:  Having broken through the Belgians and associated West German Home Guard units, the Tank Battalion of the 40th Motor Rifles Regiment is in full flood!  The regiment’s 9th Motor Rifle Company follows closely behind, while anti-aircraft, anti-tank and artillery elements provide close support.

Above:  At the point of the advance, the Soviet reconnaissance element, having detected a new NATO unit ahead, falls back while the tanks race to seize high ground to the sotheast and northeast of Durchwaten.

Above:  The QRIH Chieftain crews, confident of their thick armour and the long-range hitting power of their 120mm guns, quickly move to take up hull-down positions… However, they are spotted and a handful of the Soviet tanks are new T-64B models, which soon take the Chieftains to task at long-range with tube-launched AT-8 ‘Songster’ missiles, backed up by the AT-5 ‘Spandrel’ missiles of the Anti-Tank Company.  Two ‘D’ Squadron Chieftain troops are knocked out in quick succession, closely followed by the Royal Artillery FV-432, which falls victim to Soviet artillery.  Thankfully, the RA FOO manages to bail out of his vehicle and scuttles into the nearby woods.  The remaining Chieftains return fire, but the Soviets are already closing fast…

Above:  The bloody nose received by ‘D’ Squadron is soon repeated elsewhere… The Close Recce Troop bites off far more than it can chew in the factory complex and suffers catastrophic casualties as they discover that a Scorpion is no match for a T-64!  The shattered remnants quickly retire back toward the river valley and give up all hope of establishing an OP in the factory chimney.

Above:  Return fire by ‘D’ Squadron is remarkably ineffective as the Soviets close the range.  The Squadron Commander (on the left) pushes forward to observe from the treeline, but is immediately spotted and disordered by fire from a whole company of T-64s, backed up by ATGMs.  The FOO calls down fire on the Soviet tanks, but the 105mm Abbot Guns make little impression.

Above:  On ‘D’ Squadron’s left, the Irish Guards’ No.1 Company pushes on into Durchwaten unmolested.  However, they can hear the ominous sound of tank engines echoing through the streets as the Soviets push into the eastern edge of town.  Major Pring’s attached Chieftan Troop and MILAN section are placed on the right, to support the flank of the beleaguered ‘D’ Squadron.  On the far left flank, 111 Air Defence Battery has also suffered losses.  Their Spartan APCs came under fire and were quickly dispatched by long-range missile fire from prowling ‘Hind’ helicopters.  Nevertheless, the Javelin SAM teams managed with some considerable good fortune, to dismount unscathed and quickly set up their missiles to engage the helicopters.

Above:  Lt Col O’Rasmussen is leading a charmed life on the left flank, as two of the Hinds’ AT-6 ‘Spiral’ missiles malfunction and a third fails to penetrate the armour of his Chieftain!  Fire from a T-64, BMPs and an ATGM vehicle is also shrugged off, as the Colonel returns fire and destroys T-64 and BMP platoons in quick succession!  Buoyed up by their Colonel’s supporting fire, ‘A’ Squadron Group, ignoring the threat posed by the lurking helicopters, attempts a move around the northern flank of the town.

Above:  Two squads of Motor Rifles manage to escape from their burning BMPs into the woods, but a third squad is not so lucky as it is immolated.  The other BMPs quickly move to better cover, along with the support AA and observer vehicles.

Above:  As one company of T-64s works its way through the factory and the wreckage of the QRIH Close Recce Troop, another company of tanks runs the gauntlet between the factory and the town, under fire from British artillery and the surviving Chieftains all the while.  The weight of British fire temporarily forces back some of the Soviet units, but they rally and are soon moving forward again.  Behind the leading Soviet tanks, the Battalion HQ and an attached ATGM vehicle provide supporting fire, while a FOO calls down more 122mm fire onto ‘D’ Squadron’s position.  Unseen by the British, a Soviet FAC dismounts from his BTR and moves up onto the high ground, to get a better view of the battlefield.

Above:  Answering the call, a MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ streaks in from the east and dodging Javelin SAMs and hastily-sprayed machine guns, unleashes a volley of rockets at the ‘D’ Squadron Commander’s Chieftain.  The Squadron Commander survives by the skin of his teeth, becoming Disordered in game terms.  The MiG soon returns for a second pass, but the Javelins this time are more effective, disordering the Flogger and throwing off his aim.

Above:  The ‘Hind’ flight commander tries once again to engage Lt Col O’Rasmussen’s Chieftain, but again with little effect!  Frustrated and out of missiles, his wingman moves forward to engage with rockets…

Above:  However, the Javelins of 111 AD Battery are waiting and the Hind is quickly reduced to a rapidly-descending fireball…

Above:  ‘A’ Squadron’s flanking move has been detected and a platoon of T-64s moves through Durchwaten to engage them in the flank.  The Chieftains manage to get their shots off first, but incredibly fail to destroy the Soviets, despite firing at point-blank range!  The Soviets are suppressed, but still manage to hit the leading Chieftain troop in the flank, destroying it and blunting ‘A’ Squadron’s attack.

Above:  In the centre, Major Pring’s No.1 Company Irish Guards dismount to fight through Durchwaten.  However, they are distracted by the sight of a Soviet tank company bursting through the gap between the town and the factory!  Their supporting Chieftain troop quickly takes out one platoon of T-64s, while the MILANs take care of another, before being subjected to Soviet artillery.  The right-hand troop of ‘A’ Squadron moves along the edge of town to destroy two more T-64 platoons, but is itself then destroyed by a point-blank RPG from hidden Motor Riflemen.  ‘A’ Squadron’s attached Irish Guards platoon is swift to take revenge however, as they move into the houses and eliminate two lurking Soviet Motor Rifle squads.

Above:  The remnants of ‘D’ Squadron sell their lives dearly, destroying another T-64 platoon, as well as ATGM and AA elements that were unwise enough to stick their paper-thin armour above the parapet.  However, a Soviet tank company is about to outflank them…

Above:  The rest of the Motor Rifle Company moves into Durchwaten, though not before an unwary section of BMPs falls victim to the wily Lt Col O’Rasmussen!  An ATGM vehicle fires yet another missile at the Colonel’s Chieftain, but the armour shrugs it off and the Colonel soon chalks up yet another kill as he dispatches the uppity ATGM vehicle.

Above:  However, the writing is on the wall as ‘D’ Squadron looks set to be overrun…

Above:  The disordered and bewildered ‘D’ Squadron Commander finally loses his bottle and takes off in a frantic dash to the rear!  Another Chieftain troop follows suit and falls back from the crest, though the remaining troop carries on fighting on the ridge until it is overwhelmed.

Above:  Observing the disaster unfolding on the right flank, the Chieftain Troop attached to No.1 Company Irish Guards continues to stand its ground as it reports back to Lt Col O’Rasmussen.  Despite successes in the town, the right flank has now collapsed and Soviet tanks are heading for the Weser!

Above:  Lieutenant Colonel O’Rasmussen calls up the helicopters of 653 Squadron, but they can do little to stem the flood.  All they can do is buy time for the remnants of the QRIH Battlegroup to fall back to the Weser, where they can hopefully find an intact bridge to the west bank…

So a victory for the Soviet Union and Orders of Lenin all round for the senior officers, with Major Thomsonov appointed as a Hero of the Soviet Union!

On the British side, Lt Col O’Rasmussen receives the DSO for his sterling leadership and gunnery skills during this difficult engagement, while Major Pring is Mentioned in Dispatches for a skilful infantry engagement in Durchwaten.  2Lt O’Lunacy, commanding the right-hand flank troop of ‘D’ Squadron and now listed as MIA, is recommended for a VC.  The Squadron Commander of ‘D’ Squadron QRIH was later arrested by the RMP and awaits Courts Martial.

The game was played with Battlefront: First Echelon, our under-development Cold War variant of Battlefront: WWII rules by Fire & Fury Games.  In BF:FE and BF:WWII, each vehicle or heavy weapon represents 2-3 actual items, while a stand of infantry represents a Section/Squad.

The models used are all from my own collection.  The British infantry and vehicles are all by QRF.  The Soviet BRDM, BMP and BTR-60 variants are all by Skytrex, while the other Soviet vehicles are by QRF.  The Soviet infantry are by Khurasan.  The Lynx and Hind helicopters are by Team Yankee, while the Gazelle is a 1/100th kit by Heller and the MiG-27 ‘Flogger D’ is a VERY rare 1/100th kit by Takara (that is actually here converted into an Angolan MiG-23ML Flogger – I would REALLY like to find another one of these to do as a proper Soviet Flogger D!).

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Scenarios | Leave a comment

Somewhere in Germany, 1984…

A little while ago, the Minions and I decided to get the tanks out for another clash in West German, circa 1984.  This would be a first run out for my newly-painted British armour…

However, I brought the wrong box, so we had to use West German armour as substitutes (bah!). So where you see a Leopard 2, it’s meant to be a Chieftain, an M113 represents an FV-432, etc…

The year is 1984 and the Soviets have broken through 1 (Belgian) Corps on the right flank of 1 (British) Corps. A small Soviet reconnaissance force from the 40th Motor Rifles Regiment races to the town of Hafeneinfahrt, to establish a bridgehead on one of the four crossings of the River Teiwi. A scratch British force from 4th Armoured Brigade races south to head them off…

Above: The infantry of 1 Irish Guards approach Hafeneinfahrt and dismount from their APCs.

Above:  The force commander, Major O’Rasmussen from the Royal Irish Hussars, parks his Chieftain next to the factory, covering the westernmost bridge.

Above: A Soviet BRDM-2 scout car noses round a corner and immediately comes under fire from a West German Home Guard Jagdpanzer, though by some miracle, survives.

Above: “They should have called Fred Dibnah for this bloody job…” Pilot Officer Prune, the attached RAF Forward Air Controller climbs the factory chimney for a better view of the countryside…

Above: …and not a moment too soon! Pilot Officer Prune spots a troop of T-64s and calls in a strike from a 54 Squadron Jaguar. The Jaguar manages to suppress one T-64 and disorder the other, which soon falls victim to a lurking Chieftain.

Above:  A lurking Shilka fires at the Jaguar, but to no effect.

Above:  Two can play at that game, Comrade… The Soviet FAC calls up a Mi-24 ‘Hind D’ gunship, which immediately moves to engage the Chieftain troop. The Hind is suppressed by Royal Artillery Blowpipe SAM teams, but still succeeds in slamming an ATGM into one of the Chieftans. British infantry frantically dig in nearby… However, the victorious Soviet crew don’t survive to celebrate their victory, as the Royal Artillery Blowpipes swiftly end the Hind’s rampage.

Above:  The Chieftain burns…

Above:  The surviving Chieftain duels with the surviving T-64.

Above:  The T-64 also now comes under fire from MILAN ATGM teams, though Soviet artillery soon deals with one of the MILANs.

Above:  Meanwhile, back at the town, Motor Rifles dismount and move through the town supported by BMP-1 infantry fighting vehicles and another T-64.

Above:  The Motor Rifles are wary of lurking German Home Guardsmen and they know that a Jagdpanzer is prowling the streets.

On the northern edge of town, a Soviet BRM-1 recce vehicle locates some German Home Guard, but comes under panzerfaust fire.

Above: In the town centre, a T-64 moves to secure the central bridge, but bumps straight into an ambush:

Above:  At point-blank range, the Jagdpanzer can’t possibly miss and astonishingly, hits something vital, destroying the T-64!

Above:  At the church, things also go badly for the Soviets, as the BRM succumbs to panzerfaust fire. The Motor Rifles manage to knock out one of the German Home Guard sections, but are soon repulsed and running from the town, preceded by the BRDM scout cars.

Above:  Elsewhere on the battlefield, the duelling T-64 and Chieftain are both soon burning and prowling BMPs emerge from the town, only to be engaged by British infantry armed with Carl-Gustav 84mm recoilless rifles.

Above:  Two BMPs are soon burning in the town.

Above:  The British infantry advance to finish the job. The RAF Jaguar returns and finishes off the Soviet artillery OP vehicle with a volley of rockets. The Soviet FOO survives, but is soon running for the hills as fast as his jack-booted little Socialist legs can carry him.

Above: The rest of the British infantry stop digging in and join the advance.

Above: Soviet vehicles burn as the Irish Guards move into Hafeneinfahrt.

Above:  An overview of the battlefield.

Above:  Major O’Rasmussen of the Royal Irish Hussars (on the left) accepts the surrender of Podpolkovnik Ashcroftski of the 40th Motor Rifles Regiment (on the right).

Thanks to all, especially Connor Jones for the photos.

The models are all 15mm models from my own collection: The British and West German infantry, along with the T-64s, Shilka, Jagdpanzer and Fuchs are by QRF.  The BMP and BRDM variants are by Skytrex.  The M113s and Leopard 2s are plastic kits by Flames of War.  The Soviet infantry are by Hurasan.  The Mi-24 Hind D is a plastic kit by Revell (actually painted as an Angolan Mi-25 – I’ve since got some Soviet Hind Ds and Es).  The Jaguar is a 1/100th die-cast model by Italeri.

Rules used were Battlefront: First Echelon, which is a Cold War variant of Battlefront: WWII currently under development.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Battlefront: First Echelon, Battlefront: WW2, Cold War, Scenarios | Leave a comment

“In Dixie Land I’ll Make My Stand”: Building a 10mm Confederate Army (Part 1)

Heth’s Division at Gettysburg

Major General Harry Heth

Following on from my recently-painted Union I Corps and 1st Cavalry Division, I’ve finally completed my first major Confederate formation: Major General Harry Heth’s 2nd Division of A.P. Hill’s III Corps of the Army of Northern Virginia.

Heth (pronounced ‘Heath’) was an aggressive, if somewhat rash commander, who was promoted to command the division in late May 1863, just over a month before Gettysburg.  His role in the Battle of Gettysburg was to be a controversial one, as it was his actions that precipitated the great battle, against the orders of his friend Robert E Lee.

Heth recorded in his memoirs that he sent two brigades into the town of Gettysburg to search for shoes for his men, but historians cast doubt on that story, as General Ewell’s II Corps had recently passed through the town and would have picked any Union depots clean; a fact that Heth was aware of.

Whatever the reason for his actions, the fact remains that on the morning of 1st July 1863, Heth sent two of his four brigades (Davis’ and Archer’s) on a reconnaissance-in-force down the Chambersburg Pike toward Gettysburg.  This force encountered Buford’s Union 1st Cavalry Division west of the Lutheran Seminary and deployed into battle-formation.  As the battle intensified, Heth’s two leading brigades were repulsed by freshly-arrived elements of Reynolds’ Union I Corps, forcing Heth to throw in his remaining two brigades and call upon A.P. Hill for support…

General Lee’s orders to ‘not engage until the rest of the army was in position’ were soon forgotten, as A.P. Hill committed first his corps artillery reserve, then Pender’s 3rd Division and then Anderson’s 1st Division to the escalating engagement, while calling upon Ewell to bring his II Corps down from the north, to strike the Union force’s northern flank.  The Union I Corps meanwhile, was being reinforced by XI Corps and XII Corps and the rest of Meade’s Army of the Potomac was hurrying to the scene… The situation was now completely out of Lee’s control and the greatest battle of the war was underway, thanks to Harry Heth…

General Heth

Having precipitated the battle, Heth’s actions during the day continued to be questionable.  Nobody could doubt his bravery, but he continued to mount piecemeal attacks with his division and failed to coordinate with neighbouring divisions.  He was eventually knocked senseless by a spent bullet that struck his head and command of his division passed to General Pettigrew for the remainder of the four-day battle.  On 3rd July the division formed a large part of ‘Pickett’s Charge’ and by the end of the battle had suffered truly horrific casualties, the worst of any Confederate division engaged at Gettysburg at 3,373 men dead, wounded and missing.  As a consequence, the division was ordered to lead the retreat back to Virginia.

Following his recovery, Heth returned to command his division and briefly commanded III Corps following A.P. Hill’s death in 1865.

As can be seen, this division, in common with other Confederate divisions, was considerably stronger than the Union equivalent.  Confederate divisions were typically four or even five brigades strong and also included an organic artillery battalion.  Union divisions by contrast, typically had two or three brigades and all artillery was massed in the Corps artillery reserves, to be distributed to divisions as required.

The division’s 1st Brigade, commanded by Brigadier General J. Johnston Pettigrew, consisted of the 11th, 26th, 47th and 53rd North Carolina Regiments and was the strongest in the division at 2,581 men, equating to 13 bases in Fire & Fury.  The brigade, along with the rest of the division, would also play a part in ‘Pickett’s Charge’ on the 3rd.  56% of these men (1,450) would be dead, wounded or missing by the end of the battle.

Pettigrew himself took command of the division following Heth’s wound on 1s July, with command of the brigade passing to Colonel J. K. Marshall of the 53rd North Carolina Infantry.

Depending on which source you believe, Colonel J. M. Brockenbrough’s 2nd Brigade, consisting of the 22nd, 40th, 47th and 56th Virginia Regiments, was the weakest in the division, weighing in at only 971 men or 5 bases in Fire & Fury.  However, some other sources show the brigade as being almost exactly twice as strong, at 1,840 men.  This does tend to suggest that someone along the line has made a mathematical error.  However, the casualty figures for Brockenbrough’s Brigade (175 men killed, wounded and missing) are very low when compared to the other brigades in the division, even though they were in the same engagements.  This does tend to suggest that the lower strength figure is the more likely.

Along with Brockenbrough’s brigade, Archer’s 3rd Brigade was very weak as a consequence of earlier engagements.  The brigade, consisting of the 5th & 11th Alabama Regiments, 1st Tennessee Provisional Regiment and 7th & 14th Tennessee Regiments, had only 1,197 men, equating to 6 bases in Fire & Fury.

Davis’ 4th Brigade, consisting of the 2nd, 11th & 42nd Mississippi and 55th North Carolina Regiments, was very strong with 2,241 men present, equating to 11 Fire & Fury bases.  I’ve arbitrarily given them a Mississippi state flag to break up the monotony.

The 2nd Division’s organic artillery support was provided by Lieutenant Colonel John J. Garnett’s Artillery Battalion.  In reality this consisted of four batteries, each of four guns, equating to two model guns in Fire & Fury.  Half of these guns were obsolete, bronze smoothbore M1838 or M1841 12pdr Howitzers (not to be confused with the more modern 12pdr ‘Napoleon’), which was still an excellent weapon for close-in canister fire and could throw an explosive shell a reasonable distance, but severely lacked long-range hitting power.  For long-range work, the other half of the battalion was equipped with iron 10pdr Parrot Rifles, which complemented the smoothbore weapons, in that it made up for its lack of short-range canister power with excellent long-range accuracy firing solid shot.

All three of A.P. Hill’s divisional artillery battalions were similarly equipped with 12pdr howitzers and 10pdr Parrot Rifles, while the Corps Artillery Reserve had another 36 guns of varying types and calibres.  In the event on 1st July, Garrett’s battalion was a very long way behind the head of the column and the Corps Artillery Reserve actually deployed first to support Heth’s attack on Seminary Ridge.

Models & Painting

All figures are from the superlative 10mm ACW range by Pendraken Miniatures, painted by Yours Truly.  As I’m very much a ‘uniform man’ when it comes to painting, I HATE painting ‘random dress variations’ with a passion, so wasn’t looking forward to doing these.  I was also unsure as to what proportion should be grey and what proportion should be ‘butternut’ and other shades of brown/civvies.  My limited book collection didn’t provide much information and internet discussions seemed contradictory, with many people saying ‘mostly butternut/brown’ and others saying that recent research shows that ‘butternut’ is largely a myth, caused by grey uniform exhibits in museums turning brown through age (I’ve seen this happen to green Napoleonic uniforms turning blue and blue items turning pale buff…).

In the end I decided to hedge my bets and go for a roughly 50/50 split of grey and brown.  There were about 100 infantry to paint, so I split them into three batches and painted the first batch of jackets in darker greys, the second batch in light greys and stone shades and the third batch in brown, russet and sandy shades.  Trousers, hats and blanket rolls were then painted in a hotchpotch of colours.  Once that was done, I mixed them all up and based them (hence why they’re all in firing poses).

I was surprised to discover that I actually enjoyed painting them, though they do take around twice as long as the Union figures to paint! 🙁

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, American Civil War Confederate Army, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Painted Units | 1 Comment

Refighting the Battle of Raab, 14th June 1809

The Battle of Raab in Hungary, then part of the Austrian Empire, was the culmination of a three-month campaign fought in 1809 between Napoleon’s adpoted son, Prince Eugène de Beauharnais, Viceroy of Italy, and Archduke John, younger brother of Emperor Francis of Austria.

Archduke John of Austria

In concert with the thrust into Bavaria by his older brother Archduke Charles, Archduke John’s smaller army had invaded French-occupied Italy, defeating Prince Eugène’s scattered Franco-Italian forces in a series of battles.  However, the Austrians were never able to inflict a knockout blow and as he fell back into Italy, Eugène was able to concentrate increasing numbers of men against the Austrian attackers.  Napoleon in the meantime, had counter-attacked in Bavaria, inflicting a series of reverses on Archduke Charles.  Bavarian forces also managed to defeat Chasteler’s Austrian division in Tyrol, thus releasing more forces for Eugène and exposing John’s right flank to attack from the Tyrolean Alps.

Archduke Charles ordered John to retreat back into Hungary, to combine his forces with the Hungarian Insurrection under Archduke Joseph and then reinforce the main army near Vienna. However, John was harried all the way by Eugène and was eventually forced to fight a defensive battle at Raab.

Prince Eugène, Viceroy of Italy

While the numbers were fairly equal, Archduke John’s army was largely made up of German and Italian ‘Landwehr‘ militia and Hungarian ‘Insurrection‘ troops, so lacked the quality and training of the French and Italian veterans facing them. However, they were in a strong position behind a stream, with the strongly-fortified farm of Kis-Megyer at the centre of the position, backed up by high ground and strong reserves.

Above:  The Battlefield of Raab, as it appeared on our wargames table.  The city of Raab is just off the left-hand (northern) edge of the map and is on the far bank of a wide and unfordable river, which roughly follows the northern edge of the map.  Each map square represents approximately 1km or 12 inches on the table.

The Pancza Stream, flowing south to north across the Austrian front line, is fordable only by infantry for most of its length, though is also fordable by cavalry south of the point where a minor tributary joins it south of Kis-Megyer farm.  The tributary itself is insignificant and may be ignored for game purposes.  The Pancza is crossed by three bridges.

All built-up areas have a defensive modifier of +1 in Napoleon’s Battles, except for the Kis-Megyer Farm, which is a considerable fortified structure, with a +4 defensive modifier.

Above:  On the southern edge of the battle, the Pancza stream was shallow enough for cavalry to ford with ease. Consequently, Mescery’s Austrian cavalry (two regular hussar regiments and three Hungarian Insurrection brigades) formed up near the bridge, ready to receive the inevitable charge by Grouchy’s massed French and Italian cavalry – the divisions of Montbrun, Pully and Colbert.

Above:  A closer look at Mescery’s Austrian hussars. A cavalry battery has deployed near the bridge, ready to engage anyone who attempts to use that easy crossing.

Above:  On Mescery’s right, Colloredo’s Centre Division deploys in and around the Kis-Megyer. The stream here is too deep for cavalry or artillery to cross. The walls of Kis-Megyer are thick and loopholed for musketry – defence against centuries of raids by bandits and marauding Turks, but also ideal for keeping out Frenchmen!  To the rear of the farm is a large hill, upon which sits Frimont’s Reserve Division, comprising regular Line Infantry Regiments, a brigade of elite Grenadiers, a regiment of Grenzer light infantry and two batteries of 12pdr heavy artillery.

Above:  On the northern (right) flank of the Austrian line is Jellacic’s Division; a very mixed bag of German Landwehr, Hungarian Insurrection infantry, Insurrection cavalry, regular infantry, regular cavalry and Grenzer light infantry.  They have the vital task of holding the two bridges on the northern half of the battlefield – the stream here is unfordable by cavalry and artillery.

Above:  On the French southern (right) flank is Grouchy’s Cavalry Corps, which comprises Montbrun’s Franco-Italian cavalry division, Pully’s French dragoon division and Colbert’s French light cavalry brigade, as well as a couple of batteries of horse artillery.  This impressive force has a slight advantage in quality over Mescery’s Austrian cavalry, as well as a considerable command & control advantage, but will that be enough to win the day?

Above:  On Grouchy’s left is Grenier’s VI Corps, which comprises the divisions of Seras (nearest the camera) and Durutte – a total of five infantry brigades and two small cavalry detachments.  To Grenier’s rear is stationed Eugène’s reserve – the Italian Royal Guard Infantry, Cavalry and Artillery, under General Lecchi.

Above:  On the left of Eugène’s army is Baraguéy d’Hilliers’ XII Corps, consisting of Pacthod’s French division and Severoli’s Italian Division – a total of three French and two Italian brigades.

Above:  On the extreme left of Eugène’s army are two formations that have just arrived from Germany, having been sent by Napoleon – General Sahuc’s French light cavalry division and General Lauriston’s contingent, comprising two infantry regiments and a horse artillery battery from the German state of Baden.

Above:  Eugène’s plan is relatively simple: to mount a strong, but ultimately diversionary attack on the right with Grouchy’s and Grenier’s corps, destroying Mescery’s cavalry and force Archduke John to commit his reserves to holding that flank. Then, with the Austrian reserves committed, launch the main assault against the Austrian right wing with Baraguéy d’Hilliers’ corps, supported by Lauriston’s Badeners, Sahuc’s cavalry and Lecchi’s Italian Guards.

Above:  As the two cavalry formations glower at each other, Seras’ infantry division moves forward to take the bridge.  However, he quickly runs into extremely stiff fire from the Austrian cavalry battery and the two reserve heavy batteries stationed on the hill.  French infantry casualties are unexpectedly heavy and the French horse artillery gallop forward to even the odds.

Above:  Some of Mescery’s hussars fall back from the threat of the French guns, but maintain a close watch on the riverbank.

Above:  As the battle begins on the southern flank, in the centre the Italian Guards deploy their artillery and commence a bombardment of the Kis-Megyer fortress.

Above:  At the southern bridge, Seras’ division receive a pasting from the Austrian guns. The Austrian gunners really did earn their pay on this day!

Above:  On the northern flank, Lauriston’s Baden infantry and Sahuc’s light cavalry have arrived.  The Baden horse artillery deploys and proceeds to make life miserable for a brigade of Hungarian Insurrection infantry on the eastern bank.

Above:  On the southern flank, the French cavalry have finally charged across the stream with mixed results; one regular Austrian hussar regiment and an Insurrection brigade have been routed, with the other regular hussar regiment being thrown back in some disorder.  The second line of Insurrection cavalry holds firm however, and the French cavalry fall back behind the stream to rally for the next assault.

Seras’ infantry meanwhile, are being cut to pieces by the Austrian guns.  Grenier moves his small cavalry detachment forward against the Austrian cavalry battery, but that too becomes a target.

Above:  Another view of the action on the southern flank of the battle.  The French cavalry ready themselves for the next assault.  The Austrian battery at the bridge meanwhile, starts to feel very isolated!

Above:  In the centre, the Italian Guards occupy a small knoll overlooking Kis-Megyer and start to reduce the defences of the farm.  With the Austrian artillery committed elsewhere, there is nothing the defenders can do to respond.

Above:  The Hungarian Insurrection infantry are definitely not used to this sort of thing, but hold their ground!

Above:  With things looking increasingly bad on the left, Archduke John moves Frimont’s reserves to face Mescery’s crumbling flank… Thus doing exactly what Eugène hoped he would do…

Above:  With their horse battery providing supporting fire, the Baden infantry advance to control the northernmost bridge.  Sahuc’s cavalry stand by, ready to take advantage of any opportunity.

Above:  Very quickly, the combined Baden artillery and infantry fire finds its mark and a brigade of Hungarian Insurrection infantry is routed!

Above:  With the Insurrection infantry out of the way, Sahuc’s cavalry quickly cross the bridge and deploy into line.  Sadly missed by our camera, the Austrian regular cavalry brigade launches a charge, but comes off worst and recoils.  However, Sahuc’s men become disordered and fall back across the bridge to rally and try again…

Above:  Back on the southern flank, Grouchy again masses his cavalry and lauches an even more powerful assault against the massed Insurrection Hussars.  The brave cavalry battery is overrun and it surely looks as though the French horsemen are going to sweep away the remnants of Mescery’s hussars…

Above:  A close-up of Grouchy’s charge: The forward line is largely made up of French dragoon brigades belonging to Montbrun’s and Pully’s divisions, with a brigade of French Chasseurs a Cheval and Hussars on their left.

Above:  Colbert’s French hussars provide close backup for Montbrun’s dragoons… Perhaps a little too close…

Above:  Near the southern bridge, the Italian dragoon brigade follows Montbrun’s charge, forcing the French gunners to cease fire as they mask their targets.  Beyond the bridge, one of Seras’ infantry brigades has been broken up by Austrian artillery fire and the other is seriously damaged.  As the battered infantry division pulls back, Durutte’s division moves forward, ready to cross the bridge and exploit Grouchy’s successes.

Above:  Things look desperate from Mescery’s point of view.  In the foreground, two hussar brigades (one regular and one Insurrection) remain routed and are in need of rallying, while the remaining three hussar brigades (one regular and two Insurrection) look about to be swept away.

Above:  Archduke John looks on apprehensively from his hill top and turns Frimont’s reserves, ready to face the coming onslaught from the south.

Above:  Prince Eugène meanwhile, positions himself near his Italian Royal Guards, as they push their artillery closer to Kis-Megyer.

Above:  Somewhat astonishingly, the French cavalry completely failed to break through the heroic Hungarian Insurrection hussars!  With friendly cavalry following on so closely behind, the disordered French cavalry are milling about in confusion when the Hungarians launch their counter-attack!

Above:  The view a few moments later…  Most of the French and Italian cavalry was thrown back across the Pancza, save for a single brigade of dragoons!  However, it was to be a pyrrhic victory for the Austrians – Mescery was killed at the head of his men and the two heroic brigades of Insurrection Hussars charged on to destruction, leaving a single regiment of regular hussars still in the fight and soon to be overwhelmed by vengeful Frenchmen.

Above:  An overall view of the southern flank, following the great cavalry battle.

Above:  With the Austrian reserves now committed to holding the Austrian left, Eugène launches his master-stroke and hurls XII Corps against the Austrian right wing.

Above:  Lauriston’s Badeners and Severoli’s white-coated Italians quickly engage the Austrians in a firefight across the Pancza and soon gain the uper hand.  Sahuc’s cavalry once again cross the northernmost bridge and threaten the Austrian right flank.

Above:  Once again, the Austrian regular cavalry brigade charges Sahuc’s French cavalry as they cross the northern bridge, but this time come off much worse and are routed, thus beginning the collapse of the Austrian right wing.

Above:  With the French, Badeners and Italians winning the firefight, they soon launch an assault across the Pancza stream and roll up the Austrian right wing.

Above:  In the centre, the Italian Guard Horse Artillery continues to whittle down the defences of Kis-Megyer and the elite Royal Guard Grenadiers prepare to launch an assault on the farm.

Above:  With the last of Mescery’s hussars swept away by Grouchy’s cavalry, Durutte’s French infantry cross the southern bridge and mount a demonstration in front of Frimont’s reserve division.  Their purpose here is not to attack – just to keep the Austrian reserves pinned in place and unable to intervene against the real attack on the opposite flank.

Above:  Frimont has little choice but to deploy his reserves in response to Durutte’s threat.

Above:  Sadly the last photo, but here we see Lecchi’s Guards as they continue to pound Kis-Megyer.  Soon afterwards, with his left wing destroyed and his right wing crumbling, Archduke John wisely decided to disengage from the battle, thus keeping his centre and reserves intact for another day.  Following this victory, Prince Eugène’s army would go on to reinforce Napoleon’s army at Vienna and would play a decisive role in the Emperor’s great victory against Archduke Charles at Wagram.

Models and Rules Used


Most of the models are AB Figures 15mm from my own collection, with some Austrians from the collection of Martin Small and the Italian infantry from the collection of Jase Evans.

Rules used are Napoleon’s Battles 4th Edition which is a grand-tactical ruleset, where the smallest tactical unit represents a brigade or large regiment and each base of figures represents approximately 400 men.

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | Leave a comment

Saga: The Great British Boar-Off

It’s summertime in Britannia…  The crops are planted, this year’s recruits are trained and a Romano-British warlord’s thoughts turn to the good things in life: Raiding, Pillaging and Barbecue…

Things haven’t been easy in Camulodunum just lately; Sagramor and Gwenhwyfawr have been banging on about the lack of diversity in the court, Myrddin is furious that funding has been cut for his crystal healing centre at Ynys Wydryn, the Franks are threatening a trade war and on top of all that, the migrant crisis on the east coast is only getting worse.  To be honest, it’ll be good to get out in the fresh air and away from the palace for a few days…

Aside from the Saxon migrant crisis, there is a similar, though smaller-scale problem with Irish tribes in the western civitate of Demetia.  Governor Gerontius of Siluria has called for help, as the Irish settlers in Demetia have started raiding into Siluria.  One warband even reached as far as Gerontius’ garrison at Nidum.  The garrison commander managed to reach an accommodation with the Irish, agreeing to pay them in return for some work in resurfacing the Via Julia… Needless to say, the savages got payment up front, did half a job, used shoddy materials, stole the bronze statue of Jupiter (Best and Greatest) from the forum and ran off with all the half-tidy womenfolk!

I was shocked…

“Is this true, Centurion?  Siluria had some tidy womenfolk?!”

“Oh they’re not that bad sir, once you scrape off the coal-dust… The trouble is that they only eat some local muck called ‘Alf-n-alf’ and they just can’t get it in Dumnonia, so they soon bugger off back to their Mam’s.”

Anyway, the insult to Jupiter (Best and Greatest) can’t go unpunished, so I’m leading a punitive raid into Demetia, to give those bare-arsed savages (excuse my Brythonic) a damned good taste of Romano-British spunk!

As we drive deeper into Demetia, the unmistakeable sound of diddlydiddlydiddlydiddly, barking guard-dogs and the hammering of scrap-metal breakers warns us that we are approaching an enemy encampment…

However, a wall of discarded rubbish, chariot-wheels and discarded carts creates a considerable military obstacle, making the camp impossible to storm without considerably stronger forces, so we will have to content ourselves with stealing a few pigs from the surrounding fields (they should be ample recompense for the loss of the Silurian women).

We are soon spotted and are met with the traditional Irish curse of “We know where youse lives!”

[In game terms, we were playing the ‘Cattle Raid’ scenario from the ‘Aetius & Arthur’ sourcebook: I was playing the British, while Ashley had Irish.  As the attacker, we had to grab as many pigs as possible (there were six total) from the central strip of the table and get them back into our deployment zone by the end of turn 6.  At the end of turn 6, each British unit with a pig gained 1 point – 5 or 6 points for the win, 3 or 4 for a draw and 0-2 for a loss.]

[My 6-point army consisted of my Warlord, one unit of 12 Levy Archers, two units of 8 Warriors, one unit of 4 Hearthguards and two units of 4 Mounted Hearthguards – two Mounted Hearthguards were split off to become Companions to the Warlord and the remaining Mounted Hearthguards were then combined into a single unit of six.]

[Ashley’s Irish were only allowed to deploy four units on table at the start.  The remaining two units and the Warlord had to remain off-table until the first pig was grabbed.  He deployed one unit of Mutts, a unit of 4 Hearthguards and two units of 8 Warriors.]

My Comitatenses have been in a foul mood since the last Mess Meeting.  Sagramor had been winding them up with his ‘Diversity’ talk and they suggested that we should replace the Mess furniture with a single, large dining table!  The nerve!  Top table Mess dinners are traditional: I sit at the top table with my honoured guests and the Lower Orders all sit on the tables below me!  It’s tradition!  It’s good to be the Dux…  This isn’t bloody Athenian Democracy we’re practicing here… For starters, we don’t have enough pederasts (which is a shame, as my feet are killing me).

The Comitatenses go to sulk on the right flank, which is fine by me, as I don’t want to talk to them…

Anyway, who ever heard of a ROUND table?!  Do they even realise how big that’s going to have to be?!  It’ll cost a bloody fortune and we’ll have to double the Mess subs!

Unfortunately, Gwenhwyfawr is on their side and she threatens to refuse me ‘marital rights’ unless I agree their suggestion… God knows I like being able to leave the privy seat up, so I’ll give in.

I’ll order the bloody Mess table… But they needn’t come crying to me if they want me to pass the salt and only then realise that they can’t reach the middle of it…

Anyway, the battle… As our battle-line advances, our porcine prey comes into view… She also has some pigs with her.

The Irish seem keen for a ruck and come on enthusiastically, with nary a scrap of armour between them.  This should be a quick scrap for my lads!

“Levies!  Hairy, bare-arsed ginger savages to your front: with a quiver of five rounds, in your own time go on!”

It’s first blood to the Levies, as an Irish Hearthguard drops to a well-aimed arrow.

“Derfel!  Didn’t you read the bloody op order?!  ‘Don’t grab a piggy until we’ve driven off the Irish, because the Irish Warlord and his remaining troops will come steaming out of the camp!”

“Not you as well, Centurion?!  Does nobody bloody read orders in this army?!”

“Look Derfel, I warned you this would happen!  You only have yourself to blame if you’re on the receiving end of the Irish Warlord, his hearthguards and his menagerie…”

“JUPITER (BEST AND GREATEST) ON A BIKE! Do I have to do everything myself?!  Derfel, stop bloody crying at the unfairness of the Irish having javelins and just keep the Warlord busy while Bedwyr, Bors and I chop down a few of his hearthguards…”

“Aha!  Chief Ashley O’Loonesy, we meet at last!”

“He was a nice chap, I thought… Shame really… Anyway, well done Bors, just pull those javelins back out of yourself and get back to the surgeon, there’s a good chap…  That reminds me… We’re going to need some cocktail sticks for these sausages later, so see what you can find in the baggage…  Derfel!  When you’ve quite finished playing with the doggies, we have some pigs to catch!

“Well done Centurion!  But that one’s a dog, not a pig… I’m sure it all tastes the same on the barbecue.”

“Watch out chaps!  More of the buggers and these ones have axes!”

“Won’t you just die?!!  Comitatenses… Some help here, please?!  I’ll buy you your table without increasing Mess subs!”

“So that’s how it’s going to be, eh…?  Still sulking on the right flank…”

“Right Centurion, that’s enough pigs!  Get the hell out of there and watch out for those bloody Irish javel… Oh, too late…”

“Save the pigs!” At last the Comitatenses get stuck in, and not a moment too soon!

“Right lads, we’ve got enough pigs, now let’s get the Hades out of here!”

The Comitatenses have managed to damage the Irish, but have themselves lost a couple of men… We can probably get away with a smaller table now…

As Lord Derfel and the Warriors withdraw with their pigs, the Irish make a last, desperate attempt to stop us…

“SAVE THE BACON!!!” Dodging British arrows, the last unit of Irish Warriors sprints through the gap and hurls yet more javelins at the Centurion’s band of pig-thieves.

Sadly for the Irish warband, their javelins all dropped short or thudded harmlessly into shields as the Centurion’s boys closed ranks and saved our bacon!

Returning in triumph to Nidum, we were most disappointed to find that Governor Gerontius was not pleased…

“What’s this?! If you’d read your briefing, you would have realised that you gained one Loot Point PER UNIT WITH A PIG!  As the Centurion’s unit has three pigs, that still only counts as one Loot Point and you’ve therefore seized a draw from the jaws of victory!  You idiot!  I’ve a good mind to-“

Governor Gerontius’ rant was ended with the sound of his head rolling across the forum floor…

Posted in 28mm Figures, Ancients, Romano-British Wars, Saga, Scenarios | 3 Comments

“Glory, Glory Hallelujah!” (Part 2): Buford’s 1st Cavalry Division in 10mm

As discussed in the previous article in this series, I’m presently building 10mm armies for the American Civil War, starting with the orders of battle for the 1st day at Gettysburg (1st July 1863).

General Buford

The latest formation to be painted is Brigadier General John Buford’s 1st Division of the Cavalry Corps of the Army of the Potomac.  When the war started, John Buford was serving as a regular U.S. Army cavalry captain.  Being originally from secessionist Kentucky, the Governor of that state appealed personally to Buford for him to join the Confederacy.  However, Buford refused and remained true to his U.S. Army commission.  Buford quickly proved himself to be a talented cavalry commander and rose almost immediately to the rank of Brigadier-General.  He was firmly an advocate the use of ‘dragoon tactics’ and dismounted skirmish lines and had little time for the beau sabreurs such as Custer, though nevertheless was absolutely not averse to mounted shock-action when necessary.

On 1st July 1863, General Buford’s cavalry were operating as the flank guard and reconnaissance force for General Reynolds’ Army Wing (I, XI & XII Corps) when they detected a very strong Rebel force (the corps of A.P. Hill and Ewell) advancing on the town of Gettysburg.

Buford immediately realised the significance of that town’s strategic location, being the hub for a large number of good roads and also appreciated the highly defensive nature of the ground.  Although heavily outgunned, he ordered his two brigades and horse battery to make a stand west of the town, while requesting urgent assistance from General Reynolds’ I Corps, thus setting in motion the events that would lead to the most significant battle of the American Civil War.

Above: The 1st Cavalry Division saddled up.  Colonel William Gamble’s 1st Brigade (pictured on the right) was the stronger of the two brigades, comprising the 8th New York, 8th & 12th Illinois and 3rd Indiana Cavalry Regiments. totalling a little over 1,600 men (8 bases in Fire & Fury).  Colonel Thomas C. Devin’s 2nd Brigade, comprising the 6th & 9th New York, 3rd West Virginia and 17th Pennsylvania Cavalry Regiments, was slightly weaker at a little over 1,100 men (6 bases).

Lt John Calef’s Battery ‘A’ of the 2nd U.S Artillery Regiment provided heavy fire support with its 3-inch Ordnance Rifles.  At Gettysburg, Lt Calef’s battery provided superb support to the cavalrymen, deploying well forward and at considerable personal risk to the gunners.

Missing from the picture is Brigadier General Wesley Merrett’s Reserve Brigade, which comprised mainly regular U.S. Cavalry Regiments.  The brigade was not present on 1st July, though played a direct part in the battle a few days later.

The figures are by Pendraken.  Note that I unwisely depicted Buford, in line with Mort Kuenstler’s paintings (see above), on a black horse.  However, I’ve just discovered that his horse at Gettysburg was called ‘Grey Owl’ and was white/grey!  Aargh!

Above: The division deploys for dismounted action.  Note that in Fire & Fury, every fourth cavalry base becomes a horse-holder stand when the unit dismounts.  Consequently, Gamble here has six deployed dismounted cavalry bases and two horse-holder stands, while Devin has five dismounted cavalry bases and one horse-holder stand.

Buford’s HQ flag is the source of some debate.  I’ve gone with the version shown in ‘Civil War Battle Flags’ by General C. McKeever, which conforms to the usual pattern of the corps symbol (in this case crossed sabres) being depicted in red, white and blue for the 1st, 2nd and 3rd divisions respectively. Other depictions show a red-over-white pennant with ‘1’ in reversed colours, as shown in the painting above.

I should also add some minor criticisms of Pendraken’s otherwise excellent figures here… Firstly, there are only two cavalry poses, which is rather boring.  Second, there is no dismounted command; I’ve therefore used infantry officers and a horse-holder converted to a guidon-bearer.  Third, the dismounted cavalrymen are for some reason modelled with thigh-length sack-coats when the mounted versions have the short jacket issued to Union mounted troops.  Thankfully at this scale, this sort of thing is easily hidden by a paint-job.

Above: I may as well add a quick photo of some markers that I’ve also recently painted up, which are used to indicate unit status in Fire & Fury.  The casualty figures indicate that a unit is disordered, while the loading figures indicate that the unit is low on ammo.  The wrecked guns somewhat obviously indicate that a battery is damaged/depleted.

The best thing about these markers is that they’ve finally provided me with a use for all the useless loose-change I always end up with after European holidays!  The Loading markers are based on 1 Euro-Cent pieces, while the Disorder markers are on 2 Cent pieces and the guns are on 5 Cent pieces. 🙂

The first Confederate division is just nearing completion, so more soon!

Posted in 10mm Figures, American Civil War, American Civil War Union Army, Fire & Fury (Brigade), Painted Units | 4 Comments

Waterloo Bicentennial Refight II: The History Book On The Shelf Is Always Repeating Itself

As discussed in my last article, in 2015 we put on a public demonstration game of Waterloo at our local museum for the 200th anniversary of the battle.  However, as this was a single day in the middle of the week, we couldn’t really do the game justice, and so we packed it all up and took it 15 miles down the road for a ‘proper’ 2-day refight at W.A.S.P.

Above: The starting positions at 1100hrs, 18th June 1815.  Red = British, Pink = British Guards, Orange = Netherlanders, Green = Nassauers, Yellow = Hanoverians, Black = Brunswickers, Blue = French & Light Blue = French Guards.

The rules used were Napoleon’s Battles 1st Edition by Avalon Hill, with some minor house rules regarding interpenetration of units and combat in built-up areas (our house-modified version of 1st Edition is strangely similar to the new 4th Edition).  Napoleon’s Battles is a ‘grand-tactical’ ruleset, where the smallest tactical unit is a brigade or large regiment and each base of models represents 580 infantry, 360 cavalry or a single battery of guns.  Since this game we’ve graduated to the 4th Edition, which resolves all of the minor issues we had with the 1st Edition and is a damn fine set of rules.

The terrain for the game was built by myself, Martin Small, Carwyn Savins, Oli Crees and Will Poole.  The troops are all from my own collection and are mainly AB Figures 15mm, with a few Old Glory 15s (mainly Hanoverians, KGL, British Light Dragoons, Brunswick artillery and Dutch-Belgian light cavalry) that I got before AB Figures produced appropriate models for the 1815 campaign.  Gareth Beamish of Aide De Camp Painting painted some of the units (mainly the Hanoverian Hussars, KGL Line Infantry and some of the French infantry).  The fortified farms and La Belle Alliance are by Tiger Terrain.  Other buildings are a mixture of buildings by The Drum, Hovels and scratch-built buildings by Gareth Beamish.  Trees are Woodland Scenics kits, built and supplied by Martin Small.

Thanks to all who took part: Gareth Beamish, Will Poole, Martin Small, Chris Simmonds and Jase Evans.

  1. Having conducted a review of his troops, the Emperor returns to his field headquarters at the inn of La Belle Alliance.

  1. As the mud dries, the Army waits for orders from the Emperor.

  1. La Belle Alliance is licensed to sell beer, wine, spirits and a variety of bar snacks.

  1. To the Emperor’s left stands Reille’s 1st Corps. Bachelu’s division stands on the right of the corps, nearest La Belle Alliance, with Foy’s division on their left, nearest the camera.

  1. Prince Jérôme Bonaparte’s Division stands on the left of Foy, opposite the fortified farm of Hougoumont, while Piré’s cavalry division takes outpost position on the extreme left flank of the army. In rear of Reille’s corps is Kellermann’s 3rd Cavalry Corps and in the 3rd line is Guyot’s Guard Heavy Cavalry Division.

  1. On the Emperor’s right stands D’Erlon’s 2nd Corps, with four infantry divisions (from left to right): Quiot’s, Donzelot’s, Marcognet’s and Durutte’s. Jacquinot’s light cavalry division is on the extreme right flank, near the farm of Frichermont. To the rear of D’Erlon’s corps stands Milhaud’s 4th Cavalry Corps, with Lefebvre-Desnouëttes’ Guard Light Cavalry Division in reserve to their rear.

  1. As the mud starts to dry, 6-pounder horse artillery batteries begin to move forward, taking position on an low intermediate ridge between the French and Allied lines, from where they can closely engage the Allied troops. The heavy reserve 12-pounder batteries are also moving forward.

  1. Donzelot and Quiot prepare to move their infantry forward in concert with the guns.

  1. To the Emperor’s rear, Lobau’s 6th Corps and Drouot’s Imperial Guard infantry wait in reserve as the 12-pounder reserve batteries move forward.

  1. Across the valley, the Duke of Wellington and his staff observe the French deployment.

  1. Wellington in close-up.

  1. In front of Wellington, the farm of La Haie-Sainte is fortified by elements of Ompteda’s KGL Brigade. Ompteda’s Brigade forms part of Von Alten’s division, which lines the eastern half of the Allied ridge. The western half (i.e. to the right of the road in this photo) is occupied by Picton’s division.  To their rear stands the bulk of Uxbridge’s cavalry reserve, as well as Colläert’s Netherlands cavalry division.

  1. To Alten’s rear, a great mass of reserves await orders – Clinton’s division, Dörnberg’s and Arendschildt’s light cavalry brigades, the Brunswick Corps and Von Kruse’s Nassauers all wait in the dead-ground behind the ridge.

  1. On Alten’s right stands Cooke’s 1st Division, consisting of Byng’s and Maitland’s Foot Guards Brigades. Elements of Byng’s Brigade are deployed forward, occupying the fortified farm of Hougoumont. On Cooke’s right, Grant’s Cavalry Brigade, Mitchell’s Brigade (part of Cole’s absent division) and Chasse’s 1st Netherlands Division hold the extreme right-flank.

  1. A little after 11am, the French make their move. As the first guns open fire, Foy’s division moves forward to attack the eastern side of Hougoumont. Bachelu’s division meanwhile makes a demonstration against La Haie-Sainte.  Behind them, the heavy artillery deploys and begins to fire on the Allied lines.

  1. On the French left, Jérôme’s infantry begin to skirmish with Byng’s Guards in Hougoumont. Concerned by the Allied strength behind Hougoumont, the Emperor moves Guyot’s Guard Heavy Cavalry to reinforce Piré’s light cavalry.

  1. On the eastern side of the battlefield, Marcognet’s and Durutte’s divisions move forward to engage Saxe-Weimar’s Nassauers near Papelotte. Donzelot’s division meanwhile moves forward to protect the forward gun battery near La Haie-Sainte.

  1. The French artillery quickly dislodges Bijlandt’s exposed Netherlands brigade (with the white flag), which flees to the safety of the orchard behind Mont St Jean farm. The French 12-pounders then make short work of an RHA battery and generally make life miserable for Picton’s 5th Division on the Allied left wing. Concerned by the weakness of the left, Wellington sends the Prince of Orange, with the Netherlands cavalry, Kruse’s Nassauers and the Brunswick Corps, to reinforce that sector of the battlefield.

  1. Among the hedgerows near Papelotte, the 2nd Nassau Regiment’s position looks increasingly precarious as the mass of French infantry approaches.  However, despite heavy fire, the Nassauers successfully beat off Marcognet’s first attack.  The French attack is then thrown into chaos as Marcognet is captured in the melee!

  1. However, a mass of French horse artillery is building up on the right flank, which soon takes the 2nd Nassau Regiment under fire. The Orange-Nassau Regiment meanwhile, is holding its own in Papelotte-La Haye, despite determined attacks by Durutte’s Division.

  1. Seeking to cut the Nassauers off from reinforcement, D’Erlon moves Jacquinot’s cavalry around the flank. The Emperor orders Lefebvre-Desnouëttes’ Guard Light Cavalry to reinforce Jacquinot’s flanking action.

  1. Now fully deployed, a grand battery of four 12-pounder batteries proceeds to crush Picton’s division under lethally-accurate fire. A further two 12-pounder batteries take Cooke’s division to task, while 6-pounders hammer La Haie-Sainte at close range.

  1. Bachelu’s division waits to take advantage of any sign of weakness among the garrison of La Haie-Sainte..

  1. Batteries (including Whinyates’ Rocket Troop) are deployed from the reserve to replace knocked-out batteries, though they can do little to respond to the French 12-pounders.

  1. The batteries supporting Alten’s and Cooke’s divisions do somewhat better, doing some damage to Bachelu and Foy’s divisions, though they can do nothing to stop the storm of shot from the French Grand Battery.

  1. Despite the fire from the ridge, Foy’s division breaks into the Hougoumont estate and launches its assault on the chateau.

  1. Marshal Ney personally leads Jérôme’s two Légère Regiments in an assault on the South Gate.

  1. Undeterred, the Guards pour a withering fire into the attackers.

  1. On the extreme eastern flank of the battle, Vivian’s and Vandeleur’s light cavalry brigades launch a charge on Jacquinot’s approaching cavalry.

  1. The view a few minutes later: Jacquinot’s cavalry were thrown back across the stream in disorder, though the British cavalry got a rush of blood to the sabre and charged on into the Guard Chasseurs à Cheval… The Chasseurs defeated the ragged charge with ease, though unlike the British cavalry, managed to maintain their order, launching a coordinated charge into Van Merlen’s Netherlands cavalry brigade, who were also then routed, along with a Dutch horse battery. The Guard Chasseurs were finally stopped by Tripp’s Netherlands Carabinier brigade. Both sides withdrew to either side of the ridge to lick their wounds and prepare for the next charge.  Nearby, the 2nd Nassau Regiment had finally been routed from their isolated position among the hedgerows, while the Orange-Nassau Regiment still held fast in Papelotte-La Haye.

  1. Jacquinot’s cavalry and the Guard Chasseurs rally on the southern bank of the stream, covered by the Guard Lancers.

  1. The Prince of Orange and Uxbridge frantically rally the routed British and Netherlands cavalry brigades.

  1. At the other end of the battlefield, the Guards hold Hougoumont by the skin of their teeth (and a couple of re-roll markers)! Marshal Ney rallies the repulsed infantry of Jérôme’s division.

  1. On the eastern side of Hougoumont, Foy rallies his greatly-depleted brigades. The Guards cheer themselves hoarse, though they too have been grievously reduced and it was by no means certain if they could repulse a second assault of that magnitude. To add insult to injury, the French artillery now renews its bombardment of the chateau.

  1. Picton’s and Lambert’s divisions are really starting to suffer from the incessant long-range bombardment. Wellington orders them to withdraw behind the ridge.

  1. Seeing the enemy withdraw, Milhaud orders his cuirassiers forward to glory! D’Erlon also moves Donzelot’s and Marcognet’s infantry forward, though Quiot and Durutte are still busy trying to take Papelotte-La Haye. The Grand Battery now turns its attention to the eradication of La Haie-Sainte.

  1. Another view of the advance of the French right wing.

  1. At last, under intense pressure, the Orange-Nassau Regiment finally breaks and Papelotte-La Haye falls to Durutte’s infantry. Buoyed up by this success, the cavalry moves forward once again to engage the Allied left.

  1. Major Bäring’s garrison of La Haie-Sainte is similarly coming under intense pressure and surely can’t hope to hold out much longer.

  1. To the western side of La Haie-Sainte, the French mount a demonstration in an effort to dissuade the Allies from moving more reserves to the left. The French artillery meanwhile, is now starting to take a toll of the Allied artillery on the western side of the ridge.

  1. Once again, the woods, gardens and orchards surrounding Hougoumont fill with French infantry as Foy and Jérôme have another crack at the farm.

  1. The time is now 2pm and one of Jacquinot’s scouts brings a prisoner to the Emperor… The Emperor swears… “I made one mistake; I should have burned Berlin!” Yes, Blücher’s Prussians are approaching!

  1. In response to the new Prussian threat, the bulk of Lobau’s 6th Corps is moved east to hold the high ground south of Frichermont. The 3rd & 4th Regiments of the Old Guard meanwhile, are ordered to occupy Plancenoit.

  1. Things are looking bad for the Guards as a massive weight of fire whittles down their numbers. Some points of the defence start to waver and Byng pleads for reinforcements…

  1. In the nick of time and just as the Guards start to fold, Du Platt’s KGL brigade thickens the defences of Hougoumont.

  1. Having handed their positions over to the KGL, the few, shattered survivors of the Guards’ garrison withdraw through the North Gate.

  1. Things are really starting to heat up on the eastern half of the ridge. With Papelotte-La Haye taken and La Haie-Sainte contained, the bulk of D’Erlon’s infantry is now committed to the assault on Picton. The Prussian threat now gives added urgency.

  1. Napoleon decides that he needs to decisively smash the weakened Allied left in order to separate them from the approaching Prussians. To that end, he orders Kellermann to transfer D’Hurbal’s heavy cavalry division over to the right wing.

  1. Seeing an opportunity, Milhaud personally leads forward the cuirassiers in a charge which breaks the two Hanoverian brigades on Picton’s left flank. However, the cuirassiers quickly run out of steam and are unable to exploit their small victory. Luckily for them, the Allied cavalry are still largely milling about in disorder and are unable to respond.

  1. This limited attack is soon followed up by a much heavier assault, as the Guard Light Cavalry surge over the ridge, accompanied by part of Durutte’s and Marcognet’s infantry divisions.

  1. Scenting victory, the Emperor orders the Young Guard forward to exploit the breakthrough.

  1. From Wellington’s viewpoint at Mont St Jean Farm, the situation looks desperate! With the Hanoverians already routing on the left, they are soon followed by the British and Netherlands light cavalry and the Nassauers, trapped in their squares while beset by French infantry, look set to break. The French are also closely following up with horse artillery, with the intention of blasting the survivors at close range!  “Give me Blücher or give me night!”

  1. But then a miracle… Tripp’s Carabiniers, having already halted one French cavalry attack, now spotted an opportunity. The French Guard Lancers, having broken Van Merlen’s light cavalry, had themselves become disordered in the melee… Tripp’s Carabiniers now charged, scattering the Guard Lancers like chaff! Maintaining their order, the Carabiniers charged on… through the Guard Chasseurs… Through both of Jacquinot’s cavalry brigades… Through a French infantry brigade… on the the limbered Guard Horse Artillery batteries and finally crashing into the massed French infantry on the ridge, who frantically attempted to form squares in response!  Stunned at the disaster unfolding in front of him, General Delort led Farine’s cuirassiers forward in a desperate attempt to save the guns.  Sadly, he too was defeated and the guns were lost!  The Carabiniers had finally shot their bolt and withdrew, exhausted, with the cheers of the Allies ringing in their ears!

  1. Once again, the western ridge becomes no-man’s land as both French and Allied cavalry rally. Durutte’s infantry, alone and isolated, suddenly feel very lonely…

  1. Another view of the aftermath of the Carabiniers’ charge. The situation is still desperate for the Allies, with many of these units routed or disordered, though the Carabiniers have won them breathing-space and more time for the Prussians to link up with them.

  1. Another view of the aftermath: compare this with 52 above!

  1. With the Prussians approaching, Lobau is reinforced by his second division and a couple of 12-pounder batteries withdrawn from the Grand Battery. He is confident that he can hold Blücher long enough for the Emperor to win the battle.

  1. “There they are!” The Prussians emerge from the Paris Wood! Led by Prince William’s cavalry, the infantry ‘brigades’ (i.e. divisions) of Losthin (on the right) and Hiller (on the left) move forward to engage Lobau.

  1. However, Lobau is ready and meets the Prussians with artillery fire. Near Frichermont, Subervie’s cavalry moves forward to engage the Prussian dragoons.

  1. Losthin’s brigade approaches Frichermont.

  1. Brolly firmly in hand, Sir Thomas Picton leads Dennis Pack’s brigade in a daring counter-attack against D’Erlon’s infantry along the sunken road! “Forward, ye rascals!”

  1. On Picton’s right, Ponsonby’s Union Brigade launches itself at the next French brigade. However, the French manage to form square in time.

  1. Another view of the Union Brigade’s charge.

  1. “Scotland Forever!”

  1. “Come on, Scots Greys!”

  1. While Picton’s attack is successful, Ponsonby’s dragoons are repulsed by the French squares and Picton’s Highlanders soon draw unwanted attention from Marshal Ney, Vial’s cuirassiers and the Young Guard!

  1. Pack’s brigade is broken and the survivors flee to the safety of Mont St Jean Farm. Against all odds, Picton survives.

  1. Wellington takes personal control of the left wing as the situation once again looks desperate. The Brunswick Corps and the survivors of Perponcher’s Netherlands division now take over the defence of that sector from Picton’s shattered division.

  1. On the western flank, things are also becoming unstuck for the Allies, as Du Platt’s KGL suffer heavy casualties in Hougoumont. Pleas for reinforcement this time go unanswered…

  1. As Guyot’s Guard Heavy Cavalry move east to join the assault on Picton, Jérôme’s and Foy’s infantry once again assault the walls of Hougoumont.

  1. This time, the defenders’ resolve fails as the French infantry smash their way in through doors, gates and windows.

  1. Hougoumont Falls!

  1. The back of the KGL defence is broken as Foy’s men break in from the gardens. A horrified Lord Hill, expecting a fresh assault on the Allied right flank at any moment, organises a new defence line with Clinton’s division, Mitchell’s brigade and Grant’s hussar brigade. He pulls Chassé’s Netherlands division in from its remote position at Braine l’Alleud to form a reserve around Merbe-Braine.

  1. Back in the centre meanwhile, Specht’s Brunswick Line Brigade mount a limited counter-attack on D’Erlon’s infantry (now forced into square, thanks to the Scots Greys), though are beaten off.

  1. The Young Guard surge over the ridge, defeating the Brunswick Light Brigade with ease and smashing into Bijlandt’s Netherlanders.

  1. “They’re coming on in the same old way.” The French cavalry mount another attack on the Allied left, though are clearly starting to weaken. The heroic 2nd Nassau yet again form their squares and again beat off a cuirassier charge.  However, Vandeleur’s Light Dragoons are routed by the Guard Chasseurs à Cheval (again), who charge on, routing the Brunswick cavalry, destroying a Hanoverian brigade and finally coming a cropper against the Dutch light cavalry, who finally send the Guard Chasseurs packing for a third time!

  1. In the centre, Marshal Ney leads Blanchard’s Carabinier brigade to glorious destruction. The Carabiniers are shot to bits by British artillery and ROCKETS (the shame…) before finally being destroyed by the Household Cavalry Brigade. Milhaud’s cuirassiers meanwhile, dash themselves to pieces against the Nassau squares.  To add insult, Milhaud is captured by the Nassauers…  However, the Young Guard continue their glorious advance; routing Bijlandt’s brigade and the remains of the Brunswick Corps and almost capturing Wellington.

  1. “Come and see how a Marshal of France dies!”

“But Sir, I think you’ll find that since the Emperor’s return, you’re a Marshal of the Empire again, not a Marshal of France…”

“Shut up Capitaine Le Pédant!”

  1. With boundless energy and not a little desperation, Wellington organises Lambert’s brigade, the 2nd Nassau and the remnants of the Brunswick Corps into a new defence line against the Young Guard.

  1. Finding themselves fighting alone, the Young Guard appeal for reinforcements. However, the remnants of D’Erlon’s Corps, Milhaud’s Cavalry Corps and the Young Guard Cavalry are still rallying and can offer no immediate help. The Emperor orders the Guard Heavy Cavalry Division and the Old Guard forward…

  1. La Haie-Sainte falls! At last, the farm falls to an assault by Bachelu’s division! Bachelu pushes through to threaten the Allied centre.

  1. More Prussians arrive; Bülow’s artillery reserve follows Losthin’s brigade, while Hacke’s infantry brigade follows on behind. Ryssel’s infantry brigade seems to have got itself lost…

  1. Losthin’s 18th Infantry Regiment occupies Frichermont-Smohain without resistance. However, a desultory and ineffectual exchange of fire soon develops across the stream with Durutte’s infantry in Papelotte-La Haye.

 

  1. Meanwhile, back at the ranch… Foy’s division attempts to advance from Hougoumont, though runs straight into Grant’s hussars. Successfully forming square, the French infantry deliver volleys into the hussars until they go away.

 

  1. An overview of the situation on the western flank.

  1. The first clash against the Prussians results in a minor French victory! Subervie’s light cavalry charge Prince William’s dragoons, routing them along with two brigades of Landwehr Cavalry. Regaining control of his men, Subervie withdraws in good order to the safety of Lobau’s infantry lines.

  1. The French Guard Lancers, rallying near Papelotte following the cavalry battle on the ridge, are most surprised to come under fire from their rear! The accurate massed Prussian 12-pounder artillery causes carnage among the lancers and renders them hors de combat.

  1. Near Plancenoit, Domon’s horse artillery manages to cause significant damage to the approaching Prussians. The Prussian infantry therefore take to the woods, moving to outflank Domon’s cavalry and the irritating horse battery.

  1. As the artillery opens fire on the approaching Prussians, Lobau’s infantry are content to wait for Blücher to come to them.

  1. Hiller’s Silesian Landwehr take advantage of the cover provided by the woods to work their way within musket-range of Domon’s gunners.

  1. In the Allied centre, Maitland’s Guards still stand firm and wait for the French to attack from Hougoumont.

 

Sadly that’s the last photo I took (idiot), though we had reached the end of our playing time (at around 1830hrs game time).  At the end of the battle, the situation was as follows:

  • D’Erlon’s Corps had suffered heavy casualties and was no longer battle worthy.  Jacquinot’s cavalry had been eliminated.  It was no longer capable of carrying on offensive action against the Allied left.
  • Milhaud’s Cavalry Corps was hors de combat.
  • Kellermann’s Cavalry Corps had suffered heavy casualties, though still had one fresh cuirassier brigade.
  • Reille’s Corps had suffered moderate casualties, though faced the strongest part of the Allied line, which was mostly still fresh, though lacking in artillery. Piré’s cavalry division had lost one of its two brigades.
  • Lobau’s Corps had suffered only light casualties, though was facing ever-increasing numbers of Prussians.
  • The Guard Light Cavalry Division was hors de combat.
  • The Young Guard had suffered only light casualties, though was isolated and facing increasing organised opposition, with little hope of rapid support.
  • The remainder of the Guard was still fresh – the Middle Guard was holding Plancenoit, while the Old Guard and Guard Heavy Cavalry were moving to reinforce the Young Guard’s attack.
  • The Allied left wing (Picton’s Division, Lambert’s Division, Perponcher’s Division, Vivian’s Cavalry Brigade and Vandeleur’s Cavalry Brigade) had suffered very heavy casualties, though was still holding on (just).  Lambert’s brigade in particular, was still virtually unharmed and was in a position to launch an effective counter against the Young Guard.
  • Kruse’s Nassau Reserve Contingent, which had been moved to the left, had suffered only moderate casualties.
  • The Brunswick Corps, which had been moved to the left, had suffered moderate casualties, though was largely routed.
  • The Netherlands Cavalry Division had suffered heavy casualties and was virtually hors de combat.
  • Aside from the loss of the La Haie-Sainte garrison and most of its artillery, Alten’s Division had suffered only light casualties.
  • Cooke’s Division had lost Byng’s Brigade and most of its artillery, though Maitland’s Brigade remained fresh.
  • Clinton’s Division had suffered heavy casualties in Du Platt’s KGL Brigade and artillery, though otherwise remained fresh.  It had shifted its position to face the new threat from Hougoumont.
  • Mitchell’s Brigade had suffered light casualties, though had withdrawn, under the command of Lord Hill, to the safety of Clinton’s Division.
  • Chassé’s Netherlands Division remained fresh, though had been pulled in to create a reserve at Merbe-Braine.
  • Uxbridge’s Cavalry Reserve was a mixed bag: Vivian’s and Vandeleur’s Brigades had suffered heavy casualties, Ponsonby’s Brigade had suffered moderate casualties, Grant’s Brigade had light casualties and the rest were still fresh.
  • While Prince William’s cavalry had been repulsed in the initial clash, Prussian casualties were still very light.  Their numbers were rapidly increasing and they would soon have overwhelming numbers with which to push back Lobau.  Ryssel’s infantry had finally arrived (late) to reinforce Bülow’s 4th Corps, closely followed by the advance elements of Pirch’s 2nd Corps.  Additionally, the advance elements of Zeithen’s 1st Corps had arrived early on the Ohain road, relieving Colläert’s Netherlands Cavalry Division.

So the Allies were battered but far from beaten – especially not on their right.  The loss of the farms meant relatively little, as the French still had to take the main position on the ridge beyond.

A further push on the Allied centre-left by the Guard and the surviving heavy cavalry could probably have won that sector of the battlefield, though they would then have Zeithen’s Prussians at their back and would still have to take on the strong Allied right wing.  While he still held Papelotte-La Haye, D’Erlon had virtually nothing left and his only possible course of action would be to attempt a delaying action against Zeithen in the Papelotte area.

An all-out attack by Reille would depend upon sheer luck to succeed, though was possibly the only option left to Napoleon.  The Emperor would also have to hope that Lobau and the Middle Guard could hold off the Prussians long enough for Reille and the Guard to do their job…

Napoleon wasn’t confident!

A shame we had to end it there.  Once again, this game proved that wargames always expand to fill more than the time allocated to play them!  With luck we might be able to play out the final act in the future.  Just for once I’d like to get the Prussians properly rolling!

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | 6 Comments

Waterloo 200th Anniversary Game 1815-2015

In early 2015 I was feeling ‘the urge’…

I had fallen out of love with Napoleonics some 12 years earlier, following my involvement in producing a series of Napoleonic mega-games, first for AB Figures’ Wargamers’ Weekends and then with the General de Brigade crowd at the National Army Museum.  I was all Napoleonicked-out and hadn’t played a Napoleonic game or painted a single Napoleonic figure since 2002 (the gap being filled chiefly by 15mm WW2 and 28mm American War of Independence).

However, with the approaching bicentennial, the sap was rising and I decided that I was going to play Waterloo on the day of the anniversary!  However, I still needed quite a few troops and a lot of terrain!  I tentatively tried painting a unit of KGL Hussars from the mound of 2,000-odd unpainted AB Figures’ Napoleonics that had composting in a corner since 2001… Could I still paint them…?

The 1st KGL Hussars – my first 15mm Napoleonic unit in 12 years

The answer was YES, but the first thing I noticed was that my eyesight was a lot worse than it was when I last painted them! Nevertheless, found that I actually enjoyed it and despite the pile of unpainted lead, a massive order was soon winging its way to Fighting 15s for all the 1815 stuff that had been released in the intervening years (which was A LOT!).  Another order went to Tiger Terrain for their incredible series of ‘scale-adjusted’ Waterloo buildings.

At this time, my local town museum in Narberth, Pembrokeshire, were looking for some way of commemorating the bicentennial of Waterloo and highlighting the local men who were known to have fought there (including Sir Thomas Picton), so my offer of doing the anniversary game at the museum was eagerly snapped up by the curator.

In the meantime, polystyrene was bought and the ultra-messy process of carving polystyrene contours was soon underway with the help of my good friend Martin Small and my Minions Carwyn Savins, Oli Crees and Will Poole.

12 weeks later, we’d built and painted a 10×6-foot terrain board, three farm complexes and a pub, 250 infantry, 180 cavalry, 30 guns and 120 gun-crew, re-based around 500 figures, re-mortgaged, sold the kids and almost got divorced…

The Field of Waterloo ready to go at Narberth Museum, 18th June 2015. Martin Small, Paddy Green, Richard de Ferrars and Carwyn Savins in attendance.

Above: The Duke of Wellington and his staff observe French movements from the centre of the Allied line.

Above: The Allies are drawn up along a low ridge straddling the Charleroi-Brussels highway. Forward of the ridge are three fortified farm complexes, which will serve to obstruct any French assault on the Allied lines. In the west (foreground) is Hougoumont, in the centre is La Haie-Sainte and in the east (distance) is Papelotte-La Haie.

Above: Another view of Hougoumont, as seen from General Picton’s position on the ridge. The regimental colours of the British Foot Guards make a brave show. In the foreground, the Light Infantry of the King’s German Legion prepare to defend La Haie-Sainte.

Above: A view of the Allied centre. Nearest to the camera stands General Picton’s 5th Division, with Bijlandt’s Netherlands Brigade (from Perponcher’s 2nd Netherlands Division), in a somewhat exposed position in front of the line. On the other side of the crossroads is Alten’s 3rd Division, with the bulk of Lord Uxbridge’s Cavalry Reserve Corps.

Above: Our local hero, Lieutenant General Sir Thomas Picton stands resplendent in a distinctly non-regulation frock coat and top hat, while brandishing a brolly. A tough, extremely capable and proven commander, Picton was Wellington’s second-in-command at Waterloo though was suffering the effects of two ribs, broken by a French musket ball at Quatre Bras two days earlier. Historically he was shot through the head while leading a counter-attack, though he would survive our battle, despite the near-destruction of his division.

Above: On the Allied right, we again see Alten’s 3rd Division, with Clinton’s 2nd Division, Kruse’s Nassau Contingent and several British and German cavalry brigades in support. Mitchell’s Brigade (detached from the absent 4th Division) is stationed west of Hougoumont and Chassé’s 3rd Netherlands Division is on the extreme right flank.

Above: The time is now 11.30am and the ground has finally dried out sufficiently, following the night’s heavy rain, for the guns to open fire without burying themselves in mud. The Emperor Napoleon (just visible on his white horse, next to the inn of La Belle Alliance) watches as his Grand Battery opens a devastating cannonade on the Allied centre.

Above: The astonishing weight of fire from the French artillery quickly silences the Allied guns stationed along the eastern half of the ridge. Picton withdraws his division to the relative safety of the rear slope. Perponcher’s Netherlanders meanwhile, are quickly driven from Papelotte-La Haie. The French surge forward to attack the weakened Allied left.

Above: As the infantry of General d’Erlon’s 1st Corps advances through the corn, the armoured Cuirassiers of Milhaud’s 4th Cavalry Corps gallop forward. Galloping with them are several horse artillery batteries, who move forward to engage the Allies more closely. In the distance, the Emperor waits with his massive reserve (Lobau’s 6th Corps, Kellermann’s 3rd Cavalry Corps and the three infantry divisions of the Imperial Guard) to see what develops.

In the west, General Reille decides that Hougoumont, defended by the British Guards, is simply too tough a nut to crack and instead decides to isolate and by-pass that particular fortress. He orders Prince Jerome Napoleon (the Emperor’s brother) to mount a diversionary attack, along with Piré’s cavalry, around the western flank of the Allies.

Above: Chassé’s 1st Netherlands Division move forward from Braine-l’Alleud to support Mitchell’s beleaguered brigade near Hougoumont. The Netherlanders feel secure on their hill, though their confidence is soon shattered by Piré’s lancers, who break them with ease! This French attack succeeds in drawing Allied reserves right, when they would have been more useful on the left!

Above: As Picton withdraws from the crest of the ridge, Milhaud’s Cuirassiers surge forward! The Grand Battery also now turns its attention to the isolated German garrison of La Haye-Sainte.

Above: One of Picton’s brigades (Kempt’s) suffers terribly from the French artillery fire and starts to waver. Seeing an opportunity, Milhaud orders Wathier’s Cuirassiers to charge! In reply, Ponsonby’s ‘Union Brigade’ of Dragoons (represented here by the ‘Scots Greys’, which was one of the three regiments present in the brigade) launches a counter-charge. Regrettably, Ponsonby’s men suffered a storm of shot and shell from the keen-eyed French artillery and are sent reeling back to their own lines. The jubilant Cuirassiers scatter Kempt’s infantry and charge on, almost capturing Wellington himself! Their rampage is finally halted by Somerset’s Household Cavalry Brigade.

Above: Unrecorded by our camera, the French Guard Light Cavalry Division also had a field-day on the extreme eastern flank; they sabred and lanced their way through two brigades of Hanoverian militia, two British light cavalry brigades, three horse batteries and the entire Netherlands Cavalry Division before retiring back to Papelotte.

Above: Unperturbed by the collapse of their allies on either flank, Lambert’s British brigade stands like a rock in the midst of the unfolding disaster on the Allied left wing.

Above: The situation on the Allied left wing, as seen from the French side; In the foreground, Kellermann’s 3rd Cavalry Corps is moved forward to exploit the success on the French right. In the distance, the survivors of Picton’s 5th Division and Perponcher’s 2nd Netherlands Division rally near Mont St Jean, while the ‘Black Brunswickers’ move up to hold the line.

Above: As if things couldn’t get any worse for Wellington; a huge cheer erupts from the French as La Haie-Sainte falls!  However, Napoleon has now received reports of Marshal Blücher’s Prussians marching to engage his right flank! However, they are still some three hours’ march distant and he is confident that he can break Wellington first!

Above: Despite the deteriorating situation on the Allied left (and still no sight of Blücher’s Prussians!), the Allied right remains 90% intact, with considerable reserves that could be moved to support the right. However, Napoleon anticipates the danger and orders Marshal Ney forward with 6th Corps to assault and pin the Allied right.

Above: In the foreground, Foy’s uncommitted French division continues to threaten the Guards in Hougoumont. the rest of Reille’s 2nd Corps meanwhile moves around either side of the farm to join Ney’s assault on the Allied right. The Imperial Guard meanwhile, polish their best uniforms in preparation for tomorrow’s victory parade in Brussels.

“On to Brussels!” “Vive l’Empereur!”

Above: The time is now 2pm. With his left in danger of collapse and with still no Prussians in sight, Wellington considers his options: With the bulk of the army still intact, he could mount an effective rearguard, allowing the army to withdraw on Brussels and then to evacuation at Antwerp, should that be necessary. The other option is to continue the defence, at ever-increasing cost, in the hope of relief by Marshal Blücher. If relief does not arrive, the army will surely be destroyed… What to do…?

‘Smug-Face’

Sadly, it was time for the museum to close and time for our re-fight of Waterloo had run out and we could only speculate what might happen next.

Would Blücher arrive to save the day? Possibly…

But for now, The Emperor Napoleon was master of the field of Waterloo!

 

I should add that during this game we were visited by BBC Radio Wales and I was forced at bayonet-point to do a radio interview… This was then picked up by BBC1 TV, who then rang the museum to invite us to come on the One Show (the BBC’s flagship daily magazine programme) that evening, to appear next to Dan Snow and describe the battle using our game!  Sadly, it would have taken about an hour to dismantle the game, five hours to get to London and two hours to set it all up again and the programme was due to broadcast within four hours, so we had to decline!

But that’s not the end of the story, as the game was shipped down to W.A.S.P HQ for a ‘proper’ two-day re-fight over the following weekend, so there are more Waterloo Witterings to follow…

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | 2 Comments

Refight of Quatre-Bras, 16th June 1815

As yesterday was the 203rd anniversary of the Battle of Quatre-Bras, I thought I might post up a report from a refight I did with the Minions back in March of this year.  Napoleonics has always been my ‘first love’ when it comes to wargaming and this game was an attempt to ‘corrupt the young’, as they players were aged roughly 13-15.  Some were less ‘corrupted’ than others, but we had a good game and most of them seemed to enjoy it, despite the constant distraction caused by their mates playing ‘Fortnite’ in the next room!

Rules used were Napoleon’s Battles (4th Edition) by Partizan Press.  At W.A.S.P. we’ve played the 1st Edition since they were published by Avalon Hill in the early ’90s, with various house modifications.  We never even knew there was a 2nd and 3rd Edition, but saw an advert for the 4th Edition last year, just as my 1st Edition was starting to disintegrate into dust.  We were pleased to find that ‘great minds think alike’, as they seemed to have independently included all of our house modifications!

Napoleon’s Battles is a ‘grand tactical’ ruleset, in that the smallest tactical unit is a brigade (or large regiment) and each base of models represents 480 infantry, 360 cavalry or one battery of horse artillery or heavy artillery (light and medium foot artillery is factored into the infantry factors).

Further information on Napoleon’s Battles 4th Edition can be found at http://napoleonsbattles.org/

Scenario Outline

To save boring you with the history, here’s the Wiki page: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_of_Quatre_Bras

The scenario starts at 1400hrs, with the Prince of Orange overseeing the defence of Quatre-Bras crossroads by Perponcher’s 2nd Netherlands Division.  Perponcher’s troops have been steadily falling back to this position in the face of Marshal Ney’s advance and are still somewhat dispersed.  Perponcher has two large brigades (Bijlandt’s and Saxe-Weimar’s) and these are each split into two units for game purposes: Bijlandt’s Brigade is split into Line Infantry and Militia portions, while Saxe-Weimar’s brigade is split by regiment (the 2nd Nassau-Usingen Regt and the Orange-Nassau Regt).  The Prince of Orange has the option of adjusting the starting deployment slightly by repositioning each unit within it’s ‘goose-egg’, as shown on the map below.  Bijleveld’s horse battery may be deployed anywhere within one of the ‘goose-eggs’, while Orange and Perponcher themselves may be placed anywhere on the table.

The French II Corps, commanded by General Reille and overseen by Marshal Ney, starts in the positions shown, deploying into battle formation as they clear the town of Frasnes.

Each red/black division on the map-border indicates 1,000 yds, or 1 foot on table.  As our table was only 4.5 feet wide, we had to chop the eastern fringe off the map, including the villages of Sart-Dames-Avelines and Thyle.

The Prince of Orange is clearly on a sticky wicket at the start, but Allied formations are marching to the scene from the direction of Brussells and Nivelles.  Coming from Brussells are elements of Uxbridge’s Reserve Cavalry Corps (1 Netherlands and 1 Brunswick Light Cavalry Brigades), Picton’s 5th Division (2 British Infantry Brigades), The Brunswick ‘Black’ Corps (3 Infantry Brigades) and Kruse’s Nassau Reserve Contingent (1 Infantry Brigade).  Coming from Nivelles are Cooke’s 1st Division (2 British Guards Brigades), Alten’s 3rd Division (1 British and 2 Hanoverian Infantry Brigades) and elements of Cole’s 6th Division (1 Hanoverian Infantry Brigade).  The Duke of Wellington meanwhile, will arrive on the Somreffe road on Turn 1, having returned from his meeting with Blücher.

Ney and Reille have 3 Infantry Divisions (Foy’s, Bachelu’s and Prince Jerome’s) and 1 Light Cavalry Division (Piré’s), for a total of 6 Line Infantry Brigades, 1 Light Infantry Brigade and 2 Light Cavalry Brigades.

Reinforcements for the French include Kellermann’s III Cavalry Corps with 2 Heavy Cavalry Divisions (L’Héritier’s and Roussell D’Hurbal’s), with a total of 1 Carabinier Brigade, 2 Cuirassier Brigades and 1 Dragoon Brigade) and possibly Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes’s Guard Light Cavalry Division, with 2 Guard Light Cavalry Brigades.

The Game

Once again, this was an ‘away’ game and depended upon my extremely shabby terrain and bad photography, so my apologies for the poor quality of the photos!

Above: The Prince of Orange takes control of the situation at Quatre-Bras.

Above: The regular army half of Bijlandt’s Brigade occupies Gemioncourt Farm, closely supported by Bijleveld’s Horse Battery on the high ground to the east.

Above: Saxe-Weimar’s Brigade (the Orange-Nassau Regt in blue and 2nd Nassau-Usingen Regt in green) redeploys to a more concentrated location on the southern edge of Bossu Wood, overlooking Grand-Pierrepont Farm.  In the distance, Bijlandt’s Militia can be seen massing near Quatre-Bras and the Prince of Orange.

Above: With Marshal Ney out in front, Reille’s II Corps deploys into battle formation as it emerges from Frasnes.  Nearest the camera, Bachelu’s division forms to the right of the road, with Piré’s cavalry covering the right flank.

Above: Foy’s division takes up position on the left of the formation, while Prince Jerome’s division and the reserve artillery keep to the road.

Above: Piré’s cavalry move swiftly past Pireaumont Farm, in an attempt to seize control of the bridge at Thyle.

Above: However, Lord Uxbridge has arrived with Van Merlen’s 2nd Netherlands Light Cavalry Brigade, the Brunswick Cavalry Brigade and Van Pittius’ Horse (half-strength) Battery and also recognises the importance of seizing the river crossing.  Neither side gains the upper hand and sit glowering at each other across the Materne Pond (or in our case, the Materne Bog, because I don’t have a model pond).

Above: Bachelu’s Division, with the bulk of the French artillery in support, moves up to bombard Gemioncourt Farm, in preparation for an assault.  In the distance, Foy boldly ignores the presence of Saxe-Weimar’s troops in Bossu Wood and makes a bee-line for Quatre-Bras.

Above: Foy’s gamble may well have paid off, as Saxe-Weimar’s boys initially had a serious command & control problem.  However, with the arrival of Wellington to take command of the army, the Prince of Orange now has the freedom to gallop over and personally take control of Saxe-Weimar.  Galvanising the Naassauers into action, the Prince leads them against Foy’s exposed flank.

Above: Back at Quatre-Bras, the Duke of Wellington is now in firm control of the situation and the previously-isolated Dutch Militia find themselves massively reinforced by Picton’s 5th Division (Pack’s Highland Brigade and Kempt’s Brigade, plus the 9pdrs of Sympher’s KGL Horse Battery).

Above: Further Allied reinforcements arrive in the form of the Duke of Brunswick’s ‘Black Corps’.  The Brunswickers are ordered to reinforce Bijleveld’s Battery, on the high ground to the left.

Above: As Bachelu’s Division deploys in front of Gemioncourt, their supporting 12pdr artillery begins to whittle down Bijlandt’s defending infantry.  However, Bijleveld’s Horse Battery is similarly causing much havoc among the packed ranks of Bachelu’s right-hand brigade (Campi’s Brigade).  A French horse battery attempts to deal with Bijleveld, but does not have much luck.

Above: Recognising the danger presented by Saxe-Weimar’s Brigade to the French left flank, Ney orders Jerome to immediately attack and drive off the Nassauers.  However, Bauduin’s Brigade immediately runs into a hail of fire from the 2nd Nassau and is stopped in its tracks.  Soye’s Brigade (consisting of two units – the 1st & 2nd Regts of the Line) hurries forward to support Bauduin.

Above: The view from the Prince of Orange’s position with Saxe-Weimar’s Brigade.  The Prince has lost his opportunity to drive in the French left flank, but has succeeded in drawing off the French reserves, thus giving time for the Allied centre to strengthen its position.

Above: Back at Quatre-Bras, the Duke of Wellington, Duke of Brunswick and General Picton consolidate their grip on the crossroads.

Above: Lord Uxbridge’s cavalry take up position near Thyle Bridge.  Van Pittius’ Battery takes a few pot-shots at the French cavalry, but does no damage.

Above: An overview of the battle at approximately 1600hrs.  In the centre, the French artillery continues to batter Gemioncourt as Bachelu’s infantry wait for the order to assault.  On the French left, Jerome is attempting to strike back at the Nassauers. while Foy attempts to continue the advance in the face of stiff fire from Picton’s division, which is rapidly forming a solid line between Gemioncourt and Bossu Wood.  Nearest the camera, the opposing light cavalry have essentially cancelled each other, though the Brunswickers are moving forward and might be able to tip the balance on that flank.  In the distance, the leading elements of Kellermann’s III Cavalry Corps (Guiton’s Cuirassier Brigade and a horse battery) have arrived, while the head of an Allied column has appeared on the Nivelles Road.

Above: With the Allied left wing stiffening along stream and high ground east of Gemioncourt, Piré attempted to disrupt the Allied manoeuvres by launching a charge across the stream.  However, Specht’s Brunswick Line Infantry Brigade (with the sky blue and yellow flags) was able to form squares and beat off Wathiez’s lancers, who quickly scurried back across the stream, to the safety of Piraumont Farm.  To add further insult, Bijleveld’s Dutch Horse Battery then managed to knock out the opposing French horse battery and Heinemann’s Brunswick Horse Battery was also now inserted into the line to further discomfit Bachelu’s Division.

Above: On the Allied right, Picton’s division had now formed a solid line flanking the Dutch Militia and now had further reinforcements in reserve, as well as forming in Bossu Wood on their right flank.  However, Kempt’s Brigade was starting to suffer casualties to accurate French artillery fire coming straight up the road.

Above: Cooke’s 1st Division (Byng’s and Maitland’s Guards Brigades, Kühlmann’s KGL Horse Battery and Beane’s Horse Battery) arrives at Quatre-Bras and is placed in reserve by Wellington.  They are closely followed by Best’s Hanoverian Militia Brigade (from Cole’s 6th Division).

Above: Jerome, now recovered from the initial clash and reinforced by a brigade from Foy’s Division, starts to turn the tables on Saxe-Weimar’s Nassauers.

Above: Marshal Ney, frustrated at Jerome’s lack of progress, arrives to take control of the situation and leads the division across the stream.  However, Ney is shocked by the tenacity of the Nassauers and comes VERY close to being beaten off.  Nevertheless, after  hard-fought fight, the Orange-Nassau Regiment is completely dispersed and the 2nd Nassau, accompanied by the Prince of Orange, flee for the safety of Von Alten’s Hanoverians.

Above: With the left flank secured, Foy’s division resumes the advance, now accompanied by Guiton’s Cuirassiers.  Piquet’s Dragoon Brigade and Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes’ Guard Light Cavalry Division have also now arrived.  The massed French guns are now causing massive casualties in the Allied lines; mainly on Kempt’s Brigade and the Netherlanders defending Gemioncourt Farm.

Above: With the walls of Gemioncourt being beaten down and the defenders demoralised, Bachelu finally throws Husson’s Brigade against the thick farm walls.  Bijlandt’s men are swiftly ejected and the Allies can only look on in horror as the keystone of their line falls to the French!  Nevertheless, the Dutch and Brunswick horse artillery continue to hammer Campi’s Brigade.

Above: Battered first by French artillery and now by close-range fire from Husson’s French infantry in Gemioncourt Farm, Kempt’s Brigade is rapidly becoming combat-ineffective.

Above: Guiton’s Cuirassiers move forward with the intention of taking advantage of the effective French artillery fire, but the mass of French horsemen immediately attracts the attention of Sympher’s 9pdrs and the Cuirassiers are quickly thrown back in disorder.

Above: Alten’s 3rd Division moves past the Prince of Orange and the rallying 2nd Nassau and moves into the Bossu Wood to shore up the Allied right flank.  Behind them, Best’s Hanoverian Militia form up, ready to support Alten’s advance.

Above: It is now around 1700hrs and the remainder of the reserve cavalry have arrived.  In particular, the Guard Chasseurs à Cheval insert themselves between Foy’s Division and Gemioncourt Farm, in preparation for a charge on Kempt’s disintegrating brigade.

Above: anticipating the collapse of his centre, Wellington forms a second line with the two Guards Brigades and the Brunswick Cavalry Brigade.  This is fortuitous, as at that moment, Kempt’s Brigade collapses and Sympher’s Battery is silenced by the superb French gunners!

Above: Timing their charge perfectly and led by Lefèbvre-Desnoëttes himself, the Guard Chasseurs à Cheval smash into Bijlandt’s Dutch Militia!  The Brunswick Cavalry Brigade counter-charges, but the Guard Chasseurs contemptuously brush them aside and then rout them with ease, along with the Dutch Militia and Sympher’s KGL gunners!  Seeing a line of redcoats to their front, the Chasseurs charge on into Byng’s Foot Guards.  In the ensuing pandemonium, General Picton finds himself in the path of the rampaging French horsemen!  He and his staff succeed in cutting their way out of the maelstrom, but Picton is seriously wounded in the process and is carried from the field to have his wounds treated.  This is a serious blow for Wellington, who considered the Welsh war-horse to be indestructible.

Above:  The Guards, being made of somewhat sterner stuff, coolly form squares and send the Chasseurs packing!  Disaster narrowly averted, the Guards form the new Allied front line and prepare to receive the next assault.

Above:  The situation at around 1830hrs: The battle pauses following the French cavalry charge, as the French infantry advances to contact on the left wing.  Routed elements of Picton’s, Perponcher’s and Brunswick’s Divisions rally around the crossroads, while Kruse’s 1st Nassau Regiment arrives from Brussells.

However, once again our mums had called us in for tea at a critical point in the game!  It didn’t help that the Fortnite-fest going on next door was a massive distraction for my teenage players, but full marks to those who stuck to their guns and enjoyed somewhat more cerebral gaming!

So we had to stop short of a clear conclusion, but the general opinion of the players was that while the French had knocked holes in the Allied centre and right flank, the Allies still had plenty of infantry and artillery and were in a strong position.  The nature of the terrain also made it very difficult for the French to exploit their massive cavalry advantage.  In campaign terms, the French judged that they would find it very difficult to further push their attack without suffering unacceptably high casualties.

Personally, I think that Jerome could have pushed back Kielmansegge’s Hanoverians in the woods with relative ease, while Foy’s two brigades, in concert with some heavy cavalry, could have mobbed Pack’s Highlanders in very short order, while the massed French guns and cavalry harassed the Guards… This might be a scenario to revisit in the future, kicking off from this final situation…

Thanks to all who played!

The models are all from my own collection, being mostly AB Figures, with a few units of Old Glory 15s (namely the Dutch Light Dragoons, the Brunswick Horse Artillery and the Hanoverian infantry).

Posted in 15mm Figures, Napoleon's Battles (Rules), Napoleonic Wars, Scenarios | 4 Comments