Saturday, June 27, 2015

Waterloo in Christchurch, 19-21 June 2015.



For this event quite a lot of figures had to be gathered from several collections, especially as we were to be using the General de brigade rule set, modified for this action.  To the forces involved, contributions came from Basil Moscovis, Mark Ottley, Mike Thorby, Paul Jackson, and myself. Richard Shields came up from Dunedin with several more figures from his collection. He was also resplendent as Prince of Orange in dress uniform for the occasion. I know that there were contributions from at least two others, but didn't discover who they were.

I was supposed to Napoleon for the weekend, but, still flattened by a virus that I'd already had for several days, didn't make it for the event as a whole.
Looking east, mid-afternoon 18 June 1815.  The serried ranks
of Bulow's IV Prussian Korps look menacing and powerful. 
On the Friday before the weekend I had laid out what troops were to be transported.  Entrusting the lads (some 520-odd with 11 guns) to the tender care of others for a couple of days doesn't come easy to me.  But in the event there were no losses, not too much damage, and I indeed acquired 6 extra figures somehow.  I'm not sure to whom they belong, but I think I can hazard a guess...  I stayed home, feeling like two ton of old fish heads, all day Saturday.  Finally, on Sunday afternoon I felt sufficiently recovered to crawl down to the club and observe the last hour or so. Whilst there I took some indifferent photos of the troops.
Action around the Hougoumont Chateau.  Paul was commanding in this sector,
and faced by large columns also off to the left of the picture, was treating this
as something of a holding action.

General view of the field looking eastward from west of the Hougoumont. 

Of course I had to include pix of my own troops.  Count Lobau's VI Corps
advancing towards La Haye Sainte (My guys, based in ones and twos,
 are those on sabots specially made for this event). 
 I was told that Lobau's Corps had been ordered forward from the 'Reserve Table' to exploit a success earlier won at La Haye Sainte, where Anglo-Allied defenders had been brought to the verge of collapse.  Unfortunately it took more time for the orders to take effect than had been hoped - their receipt, and action upon them, subject to a die roll.  So by the time Lobau was well on the way, the Allies had somewhat restored the situation, by the look.  At that I might have been inclined myself (who was also intended to play the role of Count Lobau in addition to Napoleon) to bring forward all thirteen battalions (312 figures) and 22 cannon (11 models) into the assault. But there was the small matter of the Prussians to influence the decision of the French command.
Prussians advancing past Frischermont into the French
right flank.

Bulow's IV Korps


More general view of the Prussian menace.  The available French resources
are not over-abundant to offer resistance.

The view from Anglo-Allied positions as Count Lobau advances.

Nassauers? At Papelotte.

British under pressure, east of La Haye Sainte.

A not well constructed photo, this.
  French cavalry at the left of the picture making a determined effort to carry the ridge...

If earlier the Anglo-Allied hold upon La Haye Sainte was
beginning to slip, they have recovered their grip by now...


aaa
Even in mid-winter the sunlight in Christchurch can be very strong.
The Anglo-Allied lines northeast of Hougoumont.  It was only when processing
the picture afterwards I noticed the rocket battery.  I want one.

The garrison at La Haye Sainte.

VI Corps.

Reille's II Corps masking the Hougoumont from the east.  Not a lot
of action on this front, but the French seem to be containing more
than their own numbers of Allies.

Allied troops in reserve behind the Hougoumont.
I think I can see at least one Guards battalion...

Action near Papelotte.  French columns closing in.


Immediately in rear of the Hougoumont, Mitchell's Brigade.
These figures were my contribution to the Allied war effort:
Minifigs, except for the light infantry of the 2nd West Riding:
Hinchliffe.

Northeast of the Hougoumont.

British Footguards, eyeing the approach of the Divisions of Foy and Bachlu,
and the cavalry of Kellerman and Guyot.

The stretch of Allied ridge carried and cleared by elements of General
 d'Erlon's I Corps commanded by Tony and (I think) Nigel.  This
seemed to be a considerable success that might yet have been exploited, given time.

More French success (this might have been Nigel).  However,
this penetrations looks too localised and lacking in follow-up
to permit a lasting penetration of the Allied line.
Having taken this many pictures, the day was already far advanced and pack-up had to begin at 4pm. Although not fought to a finish, the occasion was, I am told, enjoyed by everyone, and, considering the size of the project and the absence of formal game directors to keep people focused, the thing went off very well.  I was impressed by what I saw, anyhow, in the 90 minutes or so I was there.

Slugfest

June 7 2015:  Practice game using General de Brigade rules.  Since this action I contracted about as vicious a virus I have ever encountered, rivalling the glandular fever I got thirty years back.  Even after two weeks, I'm still not 100%...  Hence (in part) the delays getting these postings done.
British right flank (me) facing Mike's French forces.  All the figures
I think were Basil's

British left centre.  Dave had the French, and I never did catch the British commander's name.
The sides were fairly evenly matched. French had 4 guns to the British 3;
 and better quality cavalry; British has a few more
infantry, which included an elite highlander unit.

British extreme left.  The French concentrated their cuirassiers
and lancers on this wing.  The British dragoons, heavy and light,
were on the other wing.

British form line to face the French columns.  Menaced by the heavy dragoons, the
left-most French battalion forms square. 

French square apprehensively awaits the British horse...

...which doesn't come in.  The French infantry are reduced to three battalions to attack
the highlanders.

British heavy dragoons, resisting the urge to trample down
the French infantry square...

French battery standing in the left rear.  They very soon saw off an abortive attack
by the British light horse,  There was to be no heroics by the light cavalry on this occasion...

View westwards from the extreme French right flank.

British light infantry holding the woods at the eastern end of the line.

Seemingly the Brits have reason to apprehend the approach
of French cuirassiers and lancers...

Battle is joined!  The highlander see off with extreme prejudice
the centre column, but the other two close in.

Despite their numbers and quality, the highlanders are very brusquely
thrown back in their turn.  Fortunately, they neither carry off with them
any friendly units, and are themselves rallied and brought in hand
before exiting the field.

One French column follows up the attack, whilst the British dragoons
tear into the broken centre column, enduring flanking fire from the French square.

Whilst a battle royal is taking place west of the village.
to the east, the opposing forces have yet to get to grips.

Meanwhile, a rather desultory firefight is developing in the village itself...

In this village sector both sides build up for a stern contest for the place.

British Royal Horse Artillery in action.

The French assault, having come within an ace of breaking through,
has been thrown back, but only to their original battle line.  Accompanied
by General Sir Arthur Whitbread himself, the highlanders return to the fray...


Seeing the fields north of the village swarming with enemy' the highlanders
wheel to the left to engage them.

The Rifles have been all but evicted from the village cornfield.

On the left, the British decided no longer to await the tardy Frenchmen,
and launch their own attacks,  they proved pretty successful:
 the centre of the French line crumpled at once.
Two British battalions facing on on the extreme right flank - and do you think they could
make headway against them.   Though the latter were supported by artillery,
the British were getting slightly better of the fire-fight, but not enough to
force back the enemy.  Nor were the orders switch in from ENGAGE to ASSAULT getting through...

Situation at the close of the day.  Neither side could achieve ascendancy,
 despite early successes on both sides.  The action remained deadlocked -
a tactical draw.


This was the last practice battle before the big Waterloo game on the weekend of the 20-21 June.  I was supposed to be Napoleon for that event...


Saturday, May 9, 2015

Napoleonic warm up...

At about the Winter Solstice, a whole bunch of Christchurch gamers (plus one from Dunedin) will be pooling their armies for a weekend commemorative refight of Waterloo.  The rule in use for this occasion - not my favorite by any means - will be the General de Brigade set, modified somewhat for Waterloo.

In order to become accustomed to the play, not having played G-de-B since about 2007, it was deemed meet that some of us get together for a small pick-up action.  Although I will be Napoleon for the actual event, on this occasion I took my British along.  Mark (Chasseur) and Paul (Painting Little Soldiers) took the French and French Allies respectively.

The forces, as I say, were quite small:

British (and Allies):
5 Battalions of British
1 Battalion of Brunswick line infantry
Half battalion of skirmishing riflemen
1 Regiment of British Dragoons
1 Regiment British Light Dragoons
1 Foot Battery Allied Artillery
French:
4 Battalions Line
Half Battalion Light
2 Regiments Chevau-legeres
1 Foot Battery


French Allies:
2 Battalions Westphalian Line
1 Battalion Neapolitan Line
Half Battalion Westphalian Garde Jager
1 regiment Cuirassiers.






None of us worried overmuch about refined tactics or deployment: it was going to be a straightforward bullheaded push against the thin red line - or perhaps the thin red smear, judging by the weight of those formidable columns.
French infantry: 4 Battalion columns and
chasseurs in skirmish order.  Light cavalry for the link
with the distant French-Allies.

The British right flank.  Sixty-ninth (South Lincolnshire) Foot
hold the line between the woods, with the Brunswickers in reserve,
and the 33rd (1st West Riding) watching the flank.


British horse, heavy and light dragoons.

Ground level view of the serried columns about to
launch their assault.

'Old School Shot' of the Western two-thirds of the
table.  Monochrome still has a certain period charm...

General view of the British right flank.

The attack begins...

...here they come...

The stoicism of the British soldier: stands, hitches his belt...
and waits...


Paul and Mark checking out the rules...
 Paul's troops are mixed manufactures, mostly metals...
Mark's troops are Perry plastics finished in Mark's distinctive style.

The gun battery and the 23rd Royal Welsh Fusiliers
defending the enclosures.  In the woods the riflemen
ply their trade...

The columns grind forward.  I did consider holding the 69th's
fire...

The French Allies lacked one battalion and artillery support...

A lacuna, here.  Although canister fire from the cannon devastated
 and stopped the centre (Westphalian) column, the Neapolitans
closed and chased off the gunners. Meanwhile the clash of the heavy
 horse takes place on the west flank.

The gallant fight of the 69th.  Stopping two of the 3 battalion
columns, they were struck on their right by the third...


The Fusiliers firm stand has cost the Westphalians dear.  Meanwhile
the French reserve of light horse switch to the west flank, coming to
the aid of the cuirassiers.  General 'Daddy' Hill begins to fear
For his left flank...

The south Lincolns have reformed, but the 33rd
 is being driven back with heavy loss.Perhaps the Brunswickers ought
to intervene...?

The old, bold 3/14th (Buckinghamshire) Foot advance to face off
 the Neapolitans and to recapture the cannon.  The 51st Light
infantry prepare to come to the aid of the Fusiliers.

That mass of French cavalry is a concern.  The British horse
are outmatched.


The British right is still holding, though the 33rd is about to be driven from the field...
A fire fight develops between the 14th Foot and
Neapolitan infantry.

The Brunswickers face the enveloping French units.  Too late...
The final cavalry battle:  British dragoons against French cuirassiers.
Bested once already, the dragoons could not turn the tables
this time, neither.
The 14th get the better of the musketry duel with the
Neapolitans
The British right flank enveloped
time to call it a day

Using dice for casualty counters instead of removing figures
will probably prevent losing figures on the big day.





At the close of the action, the British cavalry had been entirely swept from the field on the western flank, and the eastern flank the line had been enveloped.  The British called it a day, and began their retreat.

Interesting battle.  The British lost about 30 figures, plus all 4 guns, out of 192; the French something like 45 out of 236.  Considering how relatively light the casualties, the fighting had an air of ferocity I like to see in my war games.  But there are a couple of points that concern me about the use of this rule set for the big Waterloo fight.  For one, coordinating a lot of players in a game set that requires initiative rolls each turn, and then alternating through six or eight phases looks like a tall order.   The second is: if it took so much failed effort to roll over in effect two battalions, the outlook for the French is not looking so rosy...