Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Battle of Ligny play

The Battle of Ligny was a major battle of the 100 Days/Waterloo Campaign of 1815 between Napoleon's Armee d'Nord and Blucher's Prussians.  Fought at the same time as the better known Battle of Quatre Bras (trans: "four-arms" or crossroad) no doubt due to the British participation.

Having played the game five or six times now, these photos I found were archived from much earlier in the year.  I don't remember if they were 'published' yet, but I find the battle is fascinating and learned much from the re-creation on the tabletop.
The battle looking from the northwest.  The villages form the Prussian defensive line. Pirch's Prussian corps is on the left moving through the line of trees.  In the background, Milhaud's French cuirassiers are being moved up

Blucher needed to hold the left flank of the British-Allied army and understood, well, perhaps his Chief-of Staff understood.... that the crossroads would be a key to the French advance as so needed to hold at Ligny.  His dispositions reflected the defensive stance as the small but marshy Ligny stream afforded a nice line.  But that line was also convex and thus would allow the French artillery to converge fire upon the Prussian reserves.  In our games, much of the Prussian losses came from this fire.
Ziethen's Prussian Corps in the 'cauldron' formed by the Ligny stream and the line of Belgium hamlets along its length.

However the French still needed to take the towns along the stream as these afforded the only passage across.  The village of Ligny was the largest of these hamlets.
Gerard's French Corps ready to assault the village of Ligny

The eastern half of the battle, historically, had little fighting.  It became obvious during the previous playtests, that the 'Grouchy' player, commanding the French forces of mostly cavalry could not assault the eastern most villages and the Prussian player was not willing to abandon his nice defensive positions to move out to the open ground to be attacked by the French horse.  Stalemate.  In this game, I did not portray this side of the battle as it is but boring for those commanders.
Vandamme's French forces line up in support again the hamlet of S. Armand la Haye.  The artillery in our rules can fire through friendly troops.  The multiple batteries the model represents are to be considered spread among the individual units which the bases represent.  The wheel marker has it moving during this turn and so firing is compromised.  Not all the batteries are in position yet, it is assumed.

To be honest I can not remember which side won the game, but it is hard slog for both sides and, as in history, affairs can be influenced by the smallest of events. A few more good dice than the other side and enemy units collapse and victory achieved.

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