Monday, March 9, 2015

Waterloo - Part III

"Vorwärts, mein kinder!"

Prepare for the last exciting installment of the NWA Waterloo extravaganza!

Last episode saw the French desperately trying to break the Anglo-Allied line along the sunken road before the Prussians' weight could be brought to bear. Can Old Nosey stabilise the line and keep the French on the southern side of the ridge, or will the French be able to bring their weight to bear on an increasingly stretched defensive line? Will the Prussians' presence be enough to weaken the French attack on the British defenses? For the answers to these and other questions, read on!

We left off with d'Erlon mounting a spirited attack on the sunken road to the east of La Haie Sainte, stoutly resisted by Picton and the Duke. The French attack may well have been stopped, but the Andrews were putting a lot of pressure on the Anglo-Allied line. If Tim didn't play it right, things could get sticky! With judicious amount of counter-attack and withdrawal to the rear of the next fold in the ground, Tim managed to hold back the French onslaught while sheltering the forces still in good condition and rally those units which had retreated or routed.

Ney (Darren, not Andrew S., as I mistakenly identified him in the last post) also began to apply pressure to the west of La Haie Sainte on the forces commanded by the Prince of Orange (Paul) and Hill (Garry). Mainly cavalry, Ney's approach looked daunting, especially as I had transferred my command to this flank after my disastrous handling of the other flank (see previous post for gory details!). Even though he commanded Guard Lancers and Horse Grenadiers, he didn't have a lot of infantry available to exploit any breakthroughs his cavalry made. So despite the high quality of his cavalry, they could easily be counter-attacked if they launched a charge over the sunken road and hedges.

The Prussians under Quinny and Jim ground remorselessly onward, forcing the French to put their reserves to countering their advance. Just as the historical battle showed, Napoleon's options were severely limited once the Prussians brought their pressure to bear. Reserves which could have really done some damage to the Anglo-Allies by exploiting a breakthrough, were instead forced to deal with the Prussians out between Frischermont and Plancenoit. While the Prussian Landwehr were not much chop compared to the quality of the troops and artillery confronting them, their numbers were too much for the French to be able to safely focus all their attention on breaking the Anglo-Dutch line.
So how did things turn out? Did the French rout off the field as they did historically? Did they break through against all odds? Read on to find out more!

Another view of the Guards' counter-charge, showing how the artillery battery provided supporting fire

Disaster for the French! A divisional general was taken prisoner in the aftermath of the attack's repulse.

The Guards carried on through the hedge and sunken lane, and into one of the dangerous 12lber batteries! Huzzah for King George and Old England!

The Scots Greys get in the action as well, repulsing a foray by some adventurous cuirassiers

Further along the line, another Foot Guards battalion in line faces off against Chasseurs of  the Imperial Guard. You can see the successful charge of the other Guards battalion in the upper left corner.

Unfortunately, they were seen off by the infantry battalion in the centre, allowing the gunners to re-man their battery.

Looking further east towards Frischermont and Papelotte, the Anglo- Allied line was secured by horse batteries and artillery, while the Brunswicker cavalry faced east towards the scene of my recent humiliation.
In our timeline, the Black Duke survived Quatre Bras to lead his men at Waterloo.

Looking down the line to the east from the Brussels road,

Guard on Guard action!
Imperial Guard Chasseurs in column charge the Foot Guards in line. Sorry about the picture quality; it was just too exciting!

La Garde recule!
After traversing the sunken road and hedges, and suffering the withering fire of the British Guards, the Chasseurs are forced to retire with losses and disorders.

Meanwhile, the Prussians' main force skirts the Bois de Paris while cavalry moves through it.

Prussian hussars make things difficult for the cuirassiers who tormented me in the previous post. Bitter? Moi? :-)

The Prussians prepare a combined arms attack on the villages.

A nice enfilading field of fire!

Things looking grim for the French as the Prussians advance on and around the hamlets.

Back on the western flank, between La Haie Sainte and Hougoumont, the French strike!
Guard Lancers charge over the ridge and into the guns. My light dragoons attempted to counter-charge, but were forced to retire in the face of  the lancers' quality and the routing gunners.

The Lancers found themselves right in front of two large squares of infantry, and with British heavy dragoons in their flank. Not a nice place to end up! Garry's infantry did the job, blasting the cavalry back to where they came from, causing a failed morale check. I was slightly disappointed I didn't get the opportunity to charge their flank! 

Darren then charged a brigade of infantry in closed column through the gap made by his cavalry. The poor old 69th Foot copped a hiding from the guns followed by charging infantry.

Their remains fled the onslaught

I did my best to stem the rot by charging one of the infantry battalions in closed column, stopping it in its tracks....

...but paying the price, having to retire with minor losses and disorders.

After that little bit of excitement, Garry and Paul ordered their infantry and artillery in a very effective manner, allowing cavalry lanes behind the artillery batteries and with his infantry either in square or closed column behind the ridge. Uxbridge, Hill and the Duke himself are all present to lend their support at the point of danger. By this stage, the Duke had suffered wounds to his arms (not sure if  it was the same arm!) which had knocked him out for a couple of turns.

The Prussians' advance approaches the French left flank, but the momentum is slowed somewhat by the hedges and sunken roads that are a feature of that flank.

Chaos ensues where the two armies contact! The French are rushing artillery up, while the cavalry and infantry are getting themselves in order after being roughly handled by the Prussians. 

Looking east down the French line towards Papelotte, Frischermont etc. and the approaching Prussians. the French have to turn their reserves towards the approaching threat or risk having their line rolled up.

The view down the line from Merbe Braine

An aerial view of the same. Hougoumont is in the middle foreground.

The French view of the approaching Prussians and the end of their eastern flank.

The French defences establish before Plancenoit

A further artillery and infantry line established further back provides a strong backstop, which the Prussians never got past.

Boney himself making an appearance near La Haie Sainte!

Back by Hougoumont, a Mexican standoff ensued; British hussars would ride down any French advance, while any British advance would be crushed by massed 12 lb artillery batteries!

Further along the ridgeline, Darren's (Ney's) highwater mark was about to be tested.

Garry launched the light infantry brigade of the 52nd and 71st up the ridge and into the infantry...

...then the artillery...

...and ended just short of the Great Man himself! The head of the columns have advanced to the blue marker indicating the columns' farthest advance. What a coup if Boney had been snaffled up.

In for a penny, in for a pound...
I launched my light dragoons in support at the French artillery. The French Dragoons of the Guard counter charged....

....but with the morale negatives facing them from all the infantry running away, they broke too....

....leaving the artillery to its fate! Huzzah!

A big hole has just been punched in the French line! Pity we're on a defence order, though....
With my heavy dragoons advanced and artillery at close range, those French infantry battalions aren't feeling too chipper!

The Duke finally waves his hat and orders the general advance. Garry wastes no time charging after Darren's broken troops before they can rally.

Boney changes the plan and orders the French to break off and withdraw in a fighting retreat, rather than be crushed between two armies.
Here, the Prussians advance across a broad front.

On teh other flank, the Dutch-Belgians leave Merbe-Braine and advance on the withdrawing French

As the Dutch-Belgians advanced level with Hougoumont, Mal, the French Commander, disobeyed orders and turned to face his pursuers. If the game had lasted any longer, the Allied right would have been pretty handily mauled!

In the centre, everything to the west of La Haie Sainte has already withdrawn, but the ridge to the east is still occupied.

The Cumberland Hussars fleeing for Brussels, rather than join in the general advance!

On the eastern flank, the Prussians are still toe-to-toe with the French,,,

...while there's open space between the two sides around Hougoumont.

The French desperately hold back the Prussians, allowing the rest of their army to disengage.

But the Prussians are doing their best to break through.

Fresh troops in greater numbers are the order of the day!

Now that they are safe, Tim deploys the Union Brigade in line! 

For Britain and King George! Huzzah!

Looking down the table form the west, while the Prussians (Quinny and Jim) admire their handiwork!

Our hardest taskmater, Mr. Chicken, the official timekeeper!

And so ends another big January game: Jenko and the French did a damned fine job of a fighting withdrawal after it became clear that they'd missed their chance at smashing through to Brussels, though it was a 'near run thing'. Andrew B. and Andrew S. did a fine job of putting pressure on the Allied left, while Garry and Paul did a sterling job supporting Tim on the right. I was very pleased to be able to support Garry's sledgehammer charge which tore out the heart of Darren's attack. John W. played a wily game slowing down the Prussian advance around Plancenoit, while Quinny seemed to be having a ball playing Blucher!

Thanks again to Tim and Jill for hosting another great weekend, and to Andrew B. for being taking umpire duties as well as playing on the French side (not many others would have been trusted to remain fair and unbiased!). And thanks to all who participated for being jolly good sports and making the weekend such a great three days of wargaming and fellowship. Hip, hip...Huzzah!


  1. Well done Sir. What a layout. It just looks extraordinary.

  2. I say this was an epic game! History repeats itself on your battlefield.

  3. An awesome sight! Truly fantastic!

  4. Brilliant - commentary, figures, photos, terrain and scale of undertaking. Well done!

  5. Awesome looking game - great setup with terrific looking figures and table - and an interesting result too! Proves yet again that the French really have to get things done BEFORE the Prussians arrive in numbers. 'A near run thing' indeed! Hats off to your French opponents for pulling off that most difficult of maneuvers - disengaging from an advancing enemy and conducting a fighting retreat. A withdrawal such as that is a pretty rare event on any wargaming table. Great way to celebrate the 200th!

  6. Epic is the word! Thanks for taking the time to post this account. Inspiring stuff!

  7. Outstanding battle report Rosbif!


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