Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Waterloo Battle #1


It is 2015 and you know what that means to any Napoleonic wargamer….yes, its Waterloo Season!

Seth made the long drive up here and we had a day of pushing around lead/plastic French and the Allies based on the original historical deployments.
My newly painted Netherlander commander to finally (whew!) complete my 100 Days Campaign collection. Perponcher will hold the very left of the Allied line.  Based on his decision in the historical campaign to hold Quatre Bras, I have him pointing and seemingly exclaim to the rider, "Go like the devil himself is chasing you and tell the Duke that I am holding the crossroads!"

The stalemate on the right of the Allied line - the western portion of the battlefield. Hougomont is the building in the upper corners, the French on the top with Kellerman's Heavies moving through a wheat field. The blocks in front of D'Aubreme's and Detmer's brigades are indicating that they are in square formation - good defence against cavalry who are loath to attack them.
With that, however, Seth taking the French, did not want to get into the Hougomont commitment as Reille did in 1815, so just took the woods and left the troops to mask those buildings, bringing the majority of that corps around the west flank, with Kellerman’s Heavy cavalry in support.  As it was, the Netherlanders of Chasse’ division placed themselves in square thereby thwarting any further moves in that quarter. Clinton’s British helped secure the flank.

Seth then had d’Erlon attack the Allied left flank in a pinning action supported by the Guard Horse and the “Grand Battery” while Lobau moved to mask LaHayeSainte ( LHS) and move to soften up the Allied centre.
Maitland's Foot Guards and C. Halkett's 69th Foot holding off Lobau's advances.  In our rules the artillery CAN fire through your own troops.  Very stylized our rules, but they are now working well.

Game Note: we did not have the Prussians arrive. Only the two of us and I wanted to see if the Wellington could have withstood the French without help so I did not bring out the Prussians. Yes, yes, not historical but an important what-if scenario for this extremely well-documented battle.
Seth's arms of Napoleon

As we were moving things along, discussing the rules finer points and such, I did not really concentrate upon the individual moves of the formations on the table.  A few of the photos will show the general action until Seth needed to depart.
Our Waterloo deployments on a 8 x 5 foot table...
Looking south east from over the Allied right flank with Hougomont on the right, La Haye Sainte in the middle and Papalotte at the left.

I then proceeded to document a bit better if only to give Seth an understanding of what occurred later and to see if his battle plans would have made ol’ Napoleon proud.

The turn after his departure Reille pushed forward to break the stalemate against Picton. Lobau is staled on the crest line against the Hanoverians and British lining it between LHS and Hougomont with half his attached light horse destroyed by concentrated canister fire that depleted much of the ammuntion of the KGL batteries. [ we have a sort-of claw back rule so that effective guns could wear themselves down which has been nick-named “breaking the gun” ]
Milhaud on the far French right successfully beat off Vandeleur’s counterattack while Uxbridge still waited with the Allied heavy horse in the centre.
The Allies Heavy Horse grouped in the centre of the battlefield
The Allies are ready to meet d'Erlon's advance

Side note about the Allied command structure:  In my readings, while it would seem straight forward , Wellington’s corps structure was not employed and the divisional and indeed brigade commanders took much of the incentive of command within their small area with Wellington wandering around plugging gaps.  For the large scope of these rules, I was troubled as how to legitimately group the brigades into our “corps” that allow a good number of elements to be played yet stay true to the Wellingtonian organization.  In the end I had Perponcher command the Nassauers of Pr. Bernard and Bylandt’s Belgians with their artillery on the Allied left.  Picton in his position east of LHS, Prince of Orange with a reduced command but important elements in the centre and of Chasse’s Netherlanders on the extreme right.  “Clinton” in the area of Hougomont is a conglomeration of Cooke, Colville and Clinton’s Divisions from various corps but nicely grouped together.  In the rules command radius is very important.  With that however, Uxbridge historically commanding the entire Allied cavalry has the hardest task of getting much movement from any widely placed brigades.

Uxbridge’s cavalry once in action usually did good work.  Vivian’s light brigade ( represented by the 18th Hussars ) eliminated Milhauds’ 8th Cuirassier but their fellow cuirassiers ran over poor Bylandt’s Belgians.
It was nice to have my Dutch heavy horse flank and eliminate an element of French cuirassier as, for once, a fresh-to-the-tabletop units performs wonderfully especially as it took some time to model it!
The French cuirassiers are flanked by the Belgian Carabiniers Heavy Horse. (see: for their construction: link )

Part of Seth’s plan was not to follow the historical plan but to merely mask both LHS and Hougomont and so placed elements, in cases, very weak ones, in front of each. My elite defenders could not attack out of those complexes and retiring to be employed elsewhere would only give them up. So “Wellington” was forced to continue to man these with strong troops. On the left, Perponcher had the weak 28th Orange-Nassau defend “Papalotte”  representing that and “Fischermont” etc in that area.  Because of the nature of the ground, historically the French did little, but in the game, d’Erlon felt it was finally necessary to force the issue if only to free up the troops caught immobile behind this area. The hedges and sunken roads and rough terrain of the area is represented on the table by hedges which disorder those elements crossing affecting their combat effectiveness.  While the Orange-Nassau bravely defended against double their number, “attrition” very much weaken them and Perponcher was forced to abandon Papelotte or have them destroyed needlessly in the next French attack and thereby negatively affecting his corps’ morale.

Now every one loves the French Guard Grenadiers a Cheval , “The Gods”  <  grin  >  .   Well, Uxbridge finally found the opportunity to launch Somerset’s British Household Guards against them.  Guard against Guard.  While the French were up 1 (experienced) vs the Household (well mounted but inexperienced ) the British rolled a 2….but in true élan style, the GaC rolls the 3 to be victorious!
Guard Horse against Guard Horse!


( our combat dice are unique in that three of the sides are zeros so meaning no pluses, one side is a 1, one side a 2 and the final side a 3.  The effect of the dice is thus usually none but you could get some dramatic changes in fortunes as can happen in battle and history.  )
Over the French left flank.  Hougomont on the right
French centre action with Lobau advancing between Hougomont (left) and LHS (right)
The mass of the French Imperial Guard dominating the battlefield (centre)
over the French right flank with Milhaud's cuirassiers on the right and d'Erlon's corps moving slowly forward

representing Marshal Ney 



With a formation’s morale affected by both it’s own casualties and any of the army’s corps collapses, events late in the battle tend to have dynamic results and a snowball effect.  Our “Corps Morale” chart dictates what the player must do with his elements. For my view, this is a good thing as it takes the “ Oh, well, I lost almost 3/4 of my division but I can afford one more loss before I have to test again” silliness away from the player and so in our Corps Morale Chart with even good die rolls, he cannot advance and with poor, he is in rout.  It gives the battle more of a wind-down feel than the often heard “Boys, it’s 11pm and I have to get up in the morning, let’s call it a game…” ending to most war-game battles I have known.
I just LOVE the cuirassier uniform!
and black is nice too... Brunswick Hussars and Horse Artillery destined to be ultimately destroyed.
It is thus, that Picton’s and Clinton’s formations on the Allied side and with Lobau’s and Reille’s corps with the French now collapsing just as Napoleon and his important command points are roused (by the dice) from his sickbed and heard to exclaim “ Do I have to do everything myself?!!”  I promptly roll sixes for his command!
But as the solo player I was left with a dilemma.  Should Napoleon stay, with only the Guard in the centre and Kellerman’s cavalry stuck on the far left,  to continue this desperate combat or have him withdraw to continue the campaign with the Guard intact?
While I rolled for the result - the retreat.   I later decided, for game development, to continue to the VERY end.

The Prince of Orange  - "he" did better I believe than his historical counterpart in this game

Napoleon again arose from his sick bed - he really was having medical issues this day apparently-  to roll double sixes for command and pushed the Guard up the ridge!  While Kellerman’s Cavalry Corps broke while still generally intact - but far away from the rest of the army which was in full retreat who could blame them - the Guard artillery generally did the trick and Uxbridge’s, Clinton’s British and eventually the Brunswickers after a rearguard holding action, all broke.  Only Perponcher’s Nassauers remained (ironically the first Allied unit I painted as they are a favourite of mine!).  The road to Brussels was open and Wellington in full rout. Vive le Empereur!!
Seth’s plan worked.
Yes, yes, no Prussians but the French could have won except for their intervention…..
The 2nd Foot Guards representing Byng's Brigade which retired with the rest of Clinton's command near the end of the affair without being seriously engaged.  Such are the fates of battle.

13 comments:

  1. Superb painting and overall finish! Great report! Terrific stuff. :)

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    1. Thank you for all the " ! "
      More to come I would think as it is "Waterloo Season"
      cheers

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  2. Replies
    1. Thanks. About two years work in the painting.
      - not including the absent Prussians of whom I have the whole army for this campaign.
      Craziness knows no bounds.

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  3. Great pictures and splendid figures, details are amazing!

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    1. Well thank you Phil, and which is why I don't play with just wooden blocks. ( Even though it would be way less trouble and expense! .....sigh)
      cheers,
      ....DougH

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  4. Great looking Waterloo, Doug. On an 8X5' table at that using beautiful 28mm figs. Why not? - I like it.

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    1. Why not indeed! 8x5 is, not coincidentally, the same size as the Enfilade convention tables.

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  5. Great game and report Doug (and Seth). Lovely figures and some top photos.
    Nice what-if take on the battle. Looking forward to your other, coming versions!

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    1. The campaign and the battle do lends itself to a bunch of what-ifs. I have one game for the upcoming local convention with the Allies in situ but the French are allowed any deployment wanted. A "what-if-Napoleon-did-it-right" scenario.

      With the road merely marking the ridge line, we can have LOS but no movement penalties. Worked well in fact in the game. I have myself seen the "ridge" and even if you might want to include extra height from the building of the Lion Mound, still a grandmother walking backwards would not notice the ascent! The effect of it was merely to mask the Allied deployment.
      Anyway, I babbled enough
      More versions to come
      cheers

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  6. Magnificent collection and great to see them in action.

    The Cuirassiers would have to be my favourite too

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    1. My wife jokes that I take all that time and effort to complete armies only to put them into boxes for years! So, yes, good to have them quickly into action.
      thanks for the kind comments as ever,
      ...DougH

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