Sunday, February 22, 2015

Waterloo 2015 - Part II

"Voila Grouchy!...not."
Here we go for the next exciting installment!

This episode will show my ability to cope (or not) in extremis, as well as the arrival of the Prussians on the board. Also the pressure builds up in the centre and the crisis point is reached with the French crossing the sunken road near La Haie Sainte. Will they be able to capitalise, though?

We left the last post with La Haie Sainte in dispute, pressure mounting on the far left flank, where I was establishing a defensive cordon along with the Dutch brigade commanded by Jim and the French backing off from an attempt to sweep around Hougoumont south of Braine le Comte, to redistribute their strength elsewhere.

My attempts to stop the French flanking the Allied line from the east was successful if you measure success in using your troops as a speed hump to slow the enemy's advance. I had some of the best cavalry on the table, but that didn't matter when I rolled absolute rubbish. Then I let myself get bamboozled by Johnny W., like a cobra confronted by a mongoose,  and paid the price. After that my confidence was shot and every decision I made seemed to be the wrong one and nothing I did could stem the tide of his relentlessly aggressive push into the flank. Coupled with incurring Old Nosey's displeasure at not keeping him informed of what was going on, I had a miserable time on the left flank!

Thankfully, though, John didn't have enough of a reserve to exploit his gains, as the Prussians entered the board close to my disintegrating flank. He had to divert most of his attention to shoring up his own flank as Quinny's forces entered the table. While my command on that front melted like snow in spring, Tim shored up his defense of the line, while John had nothing in the tank to exploit his gains.

In the centre, Andrew S., as Ney, was doing his best to crack open the centre of the Anglo-Allied line, even to the extent of charging over the hedges and sunken road and cracking the first line of defence. What he wasn't able to do was getting support over the obstacle in time to exploit his gains. Tim had Guard infantry in reserve for just this situation and counter-attacked ruthlessly. However, Andrew had managed to put some of his 12 lb artillery on top of the crest and had a clear field of fire in front of him,  If he could managed to keep his artillery there, he could wreak all kinds of havoc on the reverse slope, negating the Anglo-Allied defensive position

The view form the Elm Tree and La Haie Sainte westwards to Hougoumont.

La Haie Sainte falls! Andrew S. puts and regimental charge into the farm, securing it for the French for the rest of the game.

La Garde! Infantry and cavalry assemble behind Hougoumont.

My defensive line on the eastern flank. Jim's Dutch infantry and a couple of British horse batteries line the hedegrows, while my cavalry and 3 British infantry battalions are held in reserve.

John W. advances on our position with his cavalry.

His infantry approach, covered by his heavy cavalry!

My moment of disaster! I hadn't read the angles correctly and John charged my guns from outside their arc of fire. I couldn't respond, so the gunners fled to the square behind them. The cavalry also couldn't charge until it was too late and were caught flat-footed. I thought their morale quality might be able to retrieve something from a bad situation.

But then I rolled this...

...and he rolled this!
All the King's horses and all the King's men couldn't put Humpty together again!

Meanwhile, the Prince of Orange (Paul), otherwise known as P.o.O., was getting himself ready to meet the onslaught, assembling just to the east of Hougoumont:

The Imperial Guard cavalry!

With La Haie Sainte in their hands, the two Andrews advance their forces towards the sunken road on the ridgetop, covered by a skirmish screen which bickers with it's Allied counterpart. Note the weak battalions of British infantry in the foreground showing their losses from Quatre Bras.

P.oO. and Daddy Hill have a huge battery of artillery backed with Guard cavalry confronting them over on the western flank.

Reille's pressure on the extreme western flank was taken off as orders came in for him to redeploy.

Garry had set up a lovely flanking trap behind Hougoumont, so that anything charging the main Allied line would get a blast of artillery in the flank, then be charged by KGL Hussars! Guard and KGL infantry provided security for the gunners and cavalry.

Back on the eastern flank, after John W. put the cat among the pigeons, he tried again, with a cheeky cuirassier charge on a square of Jim's Dutch infantry 

Charging a square is normally a suicidal move, but his high morale quality vs the Dutch infantry's poor morale made it a success! The retiring infantry then blocked my hussars from counter-attacking.

On the right of my position, some more cuirassiers charged my hussars. If the dice roll went my way I could have succeeded as I had the numbers on him, even though his quality was better than mine.

But, who am I kidding? Of course, my dice rolling ended in abject failure!

My artillery sent the victorious cuirassiers packing, but the damage was done.

A French infantry charge on the Dutch infantry line punched through to the yellow marker, despite the Iron Duke's presence!

Time for a counter attack before the hussars get taken in the flank! I charged them at the guns and their supporting light cavalry.

That's what I'm talking about!
At last, my dice came up trumps when needed!

I steam-rollered the guns and put the Frecnch chasseurs to flight. Huzzah!

Just to the north-west of Frishermont, Andrew B. charges the guns, hoping to get into the Hanoverian infantry to the rear.

While his charge was successful in cleaning up the gunners, it left him in the worst of positions; right in front of the cavalry! Tim didn't waste the opportunity and counter-attacked, bundling the French backwards with disorders and casualties.

The crisis point approaches! The thin red line...

...and the massed French columns!

While the Guard infantry awaits an opportunity for glory!

Back on the eastern flank, John's infantry advance in a combined arms attack for which I had no answer.

My hussars, however, fought their way out of a jam, rather than get caught in the flank by John's lancers. It only delayed the inevitable, though.

I charged the chasseurs again, this time routing them for good....

...however, even having friends on their flank couldn't prevent John's lancers from routing my hussars!

In the foreground, a British regiment has routed...

...but the line was stabilised with the Gordons filling the gap!

The view down Tim's line from the east. His cavalry on the French flank were countered by infantry.

Guard infantry, cavalry and artillery massing around Hougoumont.

Hougoumont from the French perspective.

The Prussians arrive on the east flank!

Prussian cavalry push through the woods while the infantry and artillery mass to take on their French counterparts.

The French main line from the east.
La Haie Sainte is almost swamped by troops in the middle distance.

The Allied line under pressure.
A gap has opened in the infantry line, but the Scots Greys in line wait for the opportunity to countercharge.

Tim redeploys his British troops rearward to cover the routing Hanoverians and Nassauers...

...and re-establishes a defensive line at the bottom of the ridge. Andrew's French still have the obstacle of the hedges and sunken road to negotiate if he wants to charge the line.

British infantry advance in 4-deep line to the hedges.

John W. establishes a defensive line anchored on Frischermont, while Quinny's Prussians try to blast the French infantry out of the buildings.

Chasseurs of the Guard arrive to bolster John's defensive line

Back on my eastern flank, I was desperately trying to hold on while Guard artillery and cavalry approached!

Never fear! The Duke has released the Dutch heavy cavalry division. Huzzah!

Somehow, I don't think they'll be enough to match Guard Chasseurs, though....

John W.'s position between me and the Prussians. My only hope is that the Prussians will pull my chestnuts out of the fire! John W.'s plan, though, seemed to be to crush me like a bug before turning his full attention to the Prussians!

First engagement between Prussian and French cavalry.
Prussian hussars and French lancers clash!

The Guard musters

At the bottom left of the picture, Boney cheers on the Guard.

By now on the left flank, John had cleaned up the last of the Dutch infantry and my British infantry in a dazzling display of aggressive attack, while I made the worst moves in response, totally demoralised at my inept performance. I still had two strong British infantry battalions and lots of Dutch cavalry, but I was a spent force!

It was literally backs to the wall, as I had nothing but the edge of the board behind me!

I did have one thing going for me, though. A unit of John's cuirrassiers had ended their devastating charge perfectly placed for the artillery and cavalry to take them in the flank!

He still had plenty of artillery and cavalry to make me pay if I did charge his flank, though.

I had hoped that the artillery would do the job on their own, though, but both batteries missed at point blank range (**%$* dice!) and he survived the morale check, too! It was up to the Dutch who charged and saw off the cuirassiers, but were then counter-charged in their flank and were destroyed in turn.

That led to a cascade of incompetence where the rest of my command were swept up by John's rampaging cavalry and the eastern flank collapsed!
Tim was forced to send the Duke of Brunswick (who had survived Quatre Bras in our pre-game calculations) and his cavalry to cover the eastern flank in my stead.

Luckily for us, John had his hands full with Quinny's Prussians massing in front of Frischermont...

...and skirting the Bois de Paris....
...and even more going through the Bois de Paris!

John's cavalry and artillery do their best to stem the tide at Frischermont...

...but it's too little, too late!

Quiiny's blue steam-roller grinds into gear, ready to push the French out of the woods.

Back on the western flank, Paul and Garry are preparing for Darren's push with La Garde!

The Guard infantry on the left of the picture were menacing, while the cavalry on the right were risking flank fire and a flank charge if they poked their noses forward of Hougoumont. Still, Paul and Garry had prepared well with lanes in between their infantry for the cavalry to counter-attack through.

The thin red line cracks! Andrew had pushed his 12 lb battery up to the hedge line and blasted everything in front of it, forcing a gap through which only two French infantry columns could make it though!

After a blast of artillery, the Guards charge home! Crisis averted!

While that crisis was averted for the time being, the French were desperate to crack the Anglo-Allied line before the Prussian weight began to tell. Can the British line hold?

Luckily, others on the Allied side had things under control for the moment; Quinny was taking care of the eastern flank, grinding remorselessly westward, and Tim had masterfully coped with the pressure applied to the centre-left of the line on Picton's command. Paul and Garry held the west, with thoughtful preparation.

I, on the other hand, had at best had bad luck with my dice, but at worst had showed a pretty abysmal ability to cope when the blow-torch was applied. I'd done some pretty stupid things which allowed John to clean up my infantry much more easily than he should have, but thankfully he didn't have the reinforcements to back up his success. I suppose you could say that by acting as a speed bump, I was able to distract a goodly amount of his forces which otherwise would have been free to contest the Prussian entry to the game, or to divert more reserves from Tim to protect Picton's flank. As it was, the Brunswickers had to be rushed in to plug the gap I left at a crucial time.

In the next instalment, I transfer my command to the cavalry supporting the Prince of Orange and General Hill between La Haie Sainte and Hougoumont. Will I be able to stuff things up over there, or will I have a change of fortune? Will Tim continue to fend off the remorseless pressure on the centre and will the Imperial Guard be thrown in to crack the line?

P.S. for another perspective on the battle, go and visit Paul's blog
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