Saturday, June 21, 2014

Preparing for Waterloo 200 - Battle of Quatre Bras

Anglo-Dutch commanders: (l to r) Prince of Orange (Paul), Duke of Brunswick (your humble correspondent!), Duke of Wellington (Pete E.), and Picton (Jim).
Have you ever seen a more glum-looking bunch of wargamers? :-D

In preparation for our big 200th anniversary re-fight of the Battle of Waterloo next year, we decided to play the Battle of Quatre-Bras to see what flow-on effects it would have on our game. As it was the smaller of the two 100-Days Campaign battles, we decided that this would be the one to experiment with first.

As we have previously fought both Quatre Bras and Ligny previously, we had the troops and terrain all ready to go. All that was needed was to get everyone organised to be at Tim's place and away we would go! Unfortunately I could only attend for the Saturday, and after getting there later than I had hoped, took charge of the Brunswickers.

With the French under Tim and Darren pushing the Dutch-Belgians back through the Bossu Wood and straight up the road to Quatre Bras, Paul (Prince of Orange) and myself as the Duke of Brunswick were under heavy pressure. Jim, as Picton, had the left flank but was under a lot of pressure himself with a lot of cavalry moving around to turn his flank. With Robin facing him, he withstood the French assaults, as Robin's dice rolling assumed its usual abysmal qualities!

I managed to get the Duke captured when I attached him to a disordered Hussar regiment that got charged by French cavalry. As they were particularly disordered, I refrained from counter-charging and attempted to empty a few saddles with carbine fire. As the french were charging out of rough terrain, I gambled that the resulting disorders and a potential casualty, coupled with a hopeful good die roll, would not result in disaster. I should have left them to their fate as I didn't hit anything, then rolled poorly while Darren rolled well. The Hussars were smashed and as the Duke was attached, he then had to pay the price. Rolling the d10 resulted in him being captured, which is an improvement on history, I suppose!

By the time I left on Saturday night, Alten's Anglo-Hanoverian division had entered the board in the nick of time as the Dutch-Belgians had failed their divisional morale test after the majority of their units were in bad morale. The French had seized one of three built up areas in the village of Quatre Bras, and had a lot of fresh infantry and cavalry entering the board. The remaining Brunswicker regiments also appeared, but it looked too little, too late!

All the images were kindly supplied by Darren B. and Robin, as I forgot the SD card for my camera!

The French push forward down the road

After disposing of the Brunswickers, and capturing the Duke, the French push on up the road to the village.

On Picton's flank Robin's infantry haven't had much luck, so the cavalry push around.

Tim's French infantry push the Dutch-Belgian infantry out of the Bossu Woods.

After failing the divisional morale test, Paul's Dutch-Belgians regrouped and re-entered the fray!

Masses of French Imperial Guard cavalry appear in Jim's flank. His infantry aren't moving out of Cherry Wood!

Jim's Bitish infantry firmly ensconsed in the sunken road. The French are trying to winkle him out with close range artillery backed by heavy cavalry.

This action happened on the following day; by the looks of it the British have been pushed out of the sunken road, protected by Brunswick infantry 

The following is a summation of the day by Darren B., who is the driving force in the organising committee for Waterloo 200:

"Funnily enough, the allies suffered approximately the same casualties in the game as for the actual battle. 4560 men lost in the refight vs 4800 men in the actual battle.
The French suffered less, 3300 men in the refight vs 4140 in the actual battle.
The main difference being that 9 Allied units routed off the field and the army withdrew by about 7.30pm instead of withdrawing during the night. The French had a couple of units rout but were rallied quickly before they left the field.

An interesting comparison in the attached files is the number of figures present at Waterloo vs Quatre Bras. With the casualties about the same, different units suffered more casualties in our refight to those that actually did but whether we apply those results to Waterloo is debatable. For instance, at Quatre Bras, the 2nd and 3rd btns of the 1st Guards had a strength of 17 & 18 figures respectively but at Waterloo, they had 13 & 14 figs as a result of being run over by the French Chasseurs, but in our refight, they didn’t see any action at all. The 2nd btn of the 44th however suffered over 60% casualties in the refight but in actuality they had the same strength at Waterloo as at the start of Quatre Bras. A bit of tit for tat. The 9th British Brigade suffered a lot and that is reflected in the starting number of figures for Waterloo.
The casualties in the artillery would not affect Waterloo at all as most of the batteries present at Quatre Bras were not even used at Waterloo.

What can one say about the result of this refight. There would not have been enough time for Ney to send part of D’Erlons Corps to Ligny and complete the Prussian rout. There would only been about an hour’s daylight left to chase the Allied force but because of the traffic chaos in the allied rear with the baggage train on the road to Waterloo, the French cavalry would have swooped down on it and caused havoc. Were the Allied supply trains on the road. This would surely have some effect on ammunition supplies for the allies and the creature comforts of the Officers and men of the army causing a bit of demoralisation and fatigue perhaps."


  1. Great looking pictures, and very colored armies...the French Imperial Guard cavalry is my favourite, but, you know, I'm French!
    Very nice work!

  2. Looks absolutely awesome !! Very hard to beat a big Napoleonic game for me!

  3. Great! Compliments.
    Really nice game.
    It will be an inspiration for my project on Quatre Bras.
    Thank you for the beautiful pics.
    See you soon

  4. Geez Ben, not your finest hour as our humble correspondent; late to arrive, early to leave and without one of the key tools of the trade! :)
    A great ‘little’ game though and a fine precursor to the big one in January!


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