Wednesday, 27 May 2015

Battle of Waterloo at Enfilade 2015 - historical deployment

With our small but dedicated band of our homegrown GdC rules devotees in place we started out Friday gaming with the historical deployments for both the Allies and French.

French Commanders
Dave – D’Erlon and Milhaud          
James – Guard (Druout) and Lobau      
Bob – Reille and Kellerman

Allied Commanders
Stephen – Clinton and Prince of Orange
Ron – Uxbridge and Perponcher
Rod – Picton and Brunswick

Seth and I were the "umpires" and helpers.

 Of course we did have the occasional person wander by to ask which battle it was.  Ah! was the reaction when they could view the deployments from the south; that is from the view as the French facing the upper part of the field in the same orientation which most maps portray the battle!

As I was still quite flustered from the drive down, the set up and various missed items and having to get all the guys up to speed on the new variations of the rules, along with all the early adjudication of play, I must admit I did not actually follow the narrative flow of the battle itself very well.

Here, Doug, I think you need something stronger than a soda....
On the French right wing the grand battery opened events up by shelling the two elements of Picton's command stuck on the wrong side of the ridge. Both of these elements took noticeable losses before withdrawing behind the relative safety of the crestline. The grand battery then continued their bombardment of the obscured allied infantry and cavalry, as D'Erlon and Lobau's infantry advanced in the center and Milhaud's cavalry moved to the east around D'Erlon. As the French under Lobau neared the ridgeline and La Haye Sainte, they passed west of the farm house. As they did so, the Highland regiments lost their discipline and charged over the crestline into the head of Lobau's column and the left wing of D'Erlon's infantry.  The highlanders assault turned into a general advance of Perponcher and Picton's commands, which did manage to force D'Erlon's corps to Fall Back after fierce fighting along the ridge line. However, the space vacated by D'Erlon was quickly filled with the raging gunfire of the Grand Battery. Weakened after their assault, both Perponcher and Picton voluntarily withdrew behind the ridge line in the face of the withering fire. Under cover of the renewed barrage, D'Erlon re-organized and along with Lobau pressed home the French assault along the ridgeline between La Haye Sainte and Papelotte. D'Erlon's easternmost forces screened Papelotte while Milhaud's cavalry charged home into the Allied cavalry just west of the village. In a vain effort to save the day, Uxbridge charged his heavy cavalry into Lobau's infantry in square. After being repulsed, the heavies too fell victim to the unrelenting fire of the Grand Battery. Between the artillery on their right and Milhaud's Cuirassier on their left, Uxbridge could no longer stand and quit the field. Shortly thereafter Picton also crumbled under the pressure from D'Erlon's infantry. As Picton and Uxbridge withdrew, the Prussians under Zeithen and Bulow arrived from the East, but they were too little too late and did little more than push in D'Erlon's screen around Papelotte.

The road represents the crest line and the defending Allies on the left have crossed one to assault the advancing French.  

The Allied heavy horse following up on the charging Highlanders.  [ the green dowel is our measuring stick as I prefer these to the eye sore and dangerous tape measures ]
The western part of the battlefield from the French perspective with Hougomont in the centre and Braine L'Alleud upper left.
Events on the West side of the field that at about the same time Picton and Uxbridge were withdrawing, Reille and Kellerman's heavies were making inroads agains the Allied right flank and the Imperial Guard were pressing their attack against Clinton and the Prince of Orange west of La Haye Sainte.    Reille was given the task of neutralizing Hougomont while his forces moved around the Allied right flank.  While the armchair generals proposed this move by Napoleon as the 'correct' strategy, the player quickly realizes that it takes much time and is restricted by Braine L'Alleud and indeed the ridge.  In the many plays of the battle the French players have found the restriction of area limits the opportunity for combined arms attacks - as the French commanders found during the actual affair!

The French Imperial Guard Infantry with the Young Guard in the fore.
D'Erlon's infantry supported by the Guard Horse Grenadier a Cheval and Red Lancers both in campaign dress representing the heavy and light horse contingents of the guard in the 100 Days Campaign.
 Together with the ill fortune of the Allied right flank, Wellington was losing his command quickly and near the end, it was thought the French would swing right to meet the Prussian onslaught in due time.

This was indeed my fifth play of Waterloo and I think the best part of the experience is the discovering the difficulties the French historically faced based on their deployment.  The small battlefield area and restrictions - the 'corridors' created by the farmhouses and the long ridge line - and the need for rapid attacks so no slow build up or wide maneuver well knowing the Prussians will eventually arrive making any hope of victory unattainable.  These tabletop reenactments make these points understandable now for us armchair generals.
So, with that in mind, and time left in the convention session, that while the French won this affair as the Allies did not, as Wellington had, glued themselves to the ridge, we reset the deployments for the "how-Napoleon-could-have-done-it" game as we shall see in the next blog post.


  1. Splendid minis, poses, paint job and details are amazing!

    1. Most of the minis are Perrys so must thank them for their splendidness. I like a "clean" look so I will take credit for that --smile--
      Thank you for the kind comment.

  2. Lovely looking figures. Funnily enough we are using those same 15mm card buildings with 28mm figures for our refight of the whole battle in a week's time. Well done.

    1. The resins shown on the "old school" blog are nice but we need a much smaller 'footprint' for the scale of our games. This, together with my overwhelming need to keep everything as light weight as possible for transportation, meant I would use the card buildings cut down to size. While 15mm, it looks OK on the tabletop.
      Thanks for the kind comments