|Wavre battlefield as translated into my table.|
Having played out Bob Cordery's Brigade, Division and Corps level actions in a species of 'mini-campaign' (see previous three postings ), it was no great leap to see how the Portable Wargames concept would go with an 'Army Level' action. This brought me to another, actual, Hundred Days engagement, that between Marshal Grouchy's 'Right Wing' of the Armee du Nord on one side, and the Prussian III Corps plus Cavalry Reserve on the other.
The map, taken from the Hofschroer volume (Vol 2, The Waterloo Campaign), very conveniently fitted onto the grid map as shown here. Now, I keep in my files a copy of a blank grid array of the dimensions of my grid table. Printing a transparency of this, I laid it over the double page map spread. From there I drew onto a grid array on paper the locations of roads, forests, towns and rivers. Possibly photocopying would have been quicker, but the join between the pages might have presented a problem. As will become apparent, I would probably have been better also to have left off the small settlements represented by a single 'block', and maybe the woods north of Carmelues as well.
|The Map - see text for method of generation.|
The forces were organised as follows:
|Prussian Forces at Wavre 18-19 June 1815|
|III Army Corps, Generalleutnant von Thielmann||6SP|
|9th Brigade: Generalmajor von Borcke||2SP|
|8th (Leib) Infantry||3 Bns||3SP|
|30th Infantry||3 Bns||3SP|
|1st Kurmark Landwehr||3 Bns||3SP|
|1,2/ 3rd Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry||2 Sqns||2SP|
|18th/35th Foot Batteries||16 cannon||2SP|
|10th Brigade: Oberst von Kemphen||2SP|
|27th Infantry||3 Bns||3SP|
|2nd Kurmark Landwehr||3 bns||3SP|
|3,4/ 3rd Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry||2 Sqns||2SP|
|11th Brigade: Oberst von Luck||2SP|
|3rd Kurmark Landwehr||3 Bns||3SP|
|4th Kurmark Landwehr||3 Bns||3SP|
|1,2/ 6th Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry||2 Sqns||2SP|
|12th Brigade: Oberst von Stulpnagel||2SP|
|31st Infantry||3 Bns||3SP|
|5th Kurmark Landwehr||3 Bns||3SP|
|6th Kurmark Landwehr||3 Bns||3SP|
|3,4/ 6th Kurmark Landwehr Cavalry||2 Sqns||2SP|
|Reserve Cavalry: General von Hobe||4SP|
|1st Cavalry Brigade: Oberst von der Marwitz||2SP|
|7th Uhlan (Light horse lancers)||4 Sqns||4SP|
|8th Uhlan (")||4 Sqns||4SP|
|12th Hussar (Light horse)||4 Sqns||4SP|
|2nd Cavalry Brigade: Oberst Graf von Lottum||2SP|
|5th Uhlan (Light horse lancers)||4 Sqns||4SP|
|7th Dragoon (Medium horse)||4 Sqns||4SP|
|9th Hussar (Light horse)||4 Sqns||4SP|
|20th Horse Battery||8 cannon||1SP|
|Detachment from I Corps: Major von Stengel||2SP|
|19th Infantry||3 Bns||3SP|
|6th Uhlan||3 Sqns||3SP|
|Reserve Foot and Horse Artillery||27 cannon||3SP|
|Total units (incl command)||34|
|Total Strength Points||98|
|Prussian III Corps, Cavalry Reserve and Stengel's detachment.|
French Right Wing: Wavre 18-19 June 1815
|Command: Marshal Count Grouchy||6SP|
|III Corps: General of Division Count Vandamme||4SP|
|8th Division: General Lefol||2SP|
|15th Light||3 Bns||3SP|
|23rd Line||3 Bns||3SP|
|37th Line||3 Bns||3SP|
|64th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|10th Division: General Habert||2SP|
|11th Line||3 Bns||3SP|
|34th Line||3 Bns||3SP|
|70th Line||3 Bns||3SP|
|22nd Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|2nd Swiss||1 Bn||1SP|
|11th Division: General Berthezene||2SP|
|12th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|56th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|33rd Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|86th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|III Corps Artillery||16 cannon||2SP|
|IV Corps: General of Division Gerard||4SP|
|12th Division: General Pecheux||2SP|
|30th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|63rd Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|96th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|13th Division: General Vichery||2SP|
|48th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|69th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|59th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|76th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|14th Division: General Hulot||2SP|
|9th Light||2 Bns||2SP|
|11th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|44th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|50th Line||2 Bns||2SP|
|IV Corps Artillery||19 cannon||2SP|
|7th Cavalry Division: General Vallin||2SP|
|6th Hussar||Light horse||3 Sqns||3SP|
|8th Chasseurs||Light horse||3 Sqns||3SP|
|Attached from VI Corps:|
|21st Division: General Teste||2SP|
|8th Light||2 Bns (?)||2SP|
|40th Line||1 Bn||1SP|
|65th Line||1 Bn||1SP|
|75th Line||1 Bn||1SP|
|Division Artillery||8 cannon||1SP|
|Attached from I Cavalry Corps|
|1st Hussar||Light horse||3 Sqns||3SP|
|4th Hussar||Light horse||3 sqns||3SP|
|5th Hussar||Light horse||3 sqns||3SP|
|Division Artillery||6 cannon||n/a|
|II Cavalry Corps: General of Division Exelmans||4SP|
|9th Cavalry Division: General Strolz||2SP|
|5th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|13th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|15th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|20th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|10th Cavalry Division: General Chastel||2SP|
|4th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|12th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|14th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|17th Dragoon||Medium horse||4 Sqns||4SP|
|II Cavalry Corps Artillery||12 cannon||2SP|
|Total Units (incl command)||62|
|Total Strength Points||154|
|Armee du Nord Right Wing, commanded by Marshal Grouchy|
If you have read The Portable Napoleonic Wargame, you will quickly have noticed a departure from the author's scheme of Strength Point (SP) allocation. In these list, I made no SP adjustment for troop quality, and assigned 1 SP per battalion of infantry, 1 SP per squadron of cavalry, and 1 SP (very roughly) per 8-10 cannon. I have to admit to a certain unease with these allocations, particularly in respect to the cavalry. For the sake of 'play balance' - not that this action was so very 'balanced' anyhow - every unit was classed as 'average'. I could have made the landwehr units 'poor' (according to the Bob Cordery nomenclature), but felt that as things were their prospects were problematical at best.
|Mid afternoon, 18 June 1815. III Corps about to assault|
Wavre, II Cavalry Corps close by; IV Corps marching up the
road. Pajol and Teste Divisions moving west towards Limal.
There were a few other issues that cropped up that I would like to address here.
1. Map and Time Scale.
This ground scale for this battle indicates that 10cm - the width of the hex-area across the flats - represents about 250m - 1:2500. According to my own scheme of determining time scale, that suggests 1:50 - near enough to fudge it to 1 turn (each player) representing 1 hour. The game rules indicate infantry movement rate at 1 grid area per turn, cavalry at 2. During this battle, I stayed with this, but I believe that adding 1 grid area to both would be reasonably in keeping with the time scale - an infantry pace of about 2.4km/h.
|Positioning of respective troops at the outset of the action.|
2. Orders System:
This became something of a problem with the army level game, especially when, in one early turn, not one French formation obeyed orders. Not one. Even before then, the distant Divisions of Teste and Soult had been proving 'sticky'. In the end I decided to determine how orders went by proximity to Corps, rather than Army, command. That didn't much solve the Teste/Soult problem, but at least the other formations began to move with a bit more freedom. If a whole Corps was under the same orders (III Corps attacking Wavre; IV Corps marching up the road towards that town; Exelmans's Cavalry Corps down the river road to La Motte and Limal), then if the Corps commander were accompanying any part of the formation, it would automatically obey orders.
This might have been a problem, then, for Generalleutnant von Thielmannm, whose four Division-sized Brigades was scattered about in and behind Wavre, not to mention the 'independent' Stengel detachment in and around Bierges. But as their brief was defence, with only local counter-attacks being ordered, this was less of a problem than it might have been.
This whole idea can have some interesting effects. Early in the battle, with an Army Corps more or less in a single body, under single orders, one need scarcely roll dice to determine whether orders are carried out. As time goes by, however, that cohesion is apt to break up, whereat it becomes less certain that orders to specific units will get through.
3. Combat system:
Having already run into some problem with the combat system, methought an amendment was indicated. Let's begin by stating the problem, as I saw it. I first observed this in connection with cavalry, but it applies I think to all 'close combat' in the Army Corps game. I haven't checked with it applies to the other two game systems (though they are very similar).
In combat, the two sides roll a die each to determine their own combat unit's response. Let's call the 'initiator' of the combat 'RED' and the 'respondent' 'BLUE'. Let's take an example of a RED cavalry Division of 3 elements in column, accompanied by a General, moving into contact with a BLUE cavalry Brigade in line (two stands side by side in the same grid area, also commanded by a general). RED attacks the right hand element. Both sides roll a die.
RED rolls '1', BLUE a '2'. Dreadful rolls.
RED: Die roll = 1, +2 (1 each for supporting elements), +1 (General with), -1 (enemy's supporting element to a flank) = 3. No effect.
BLUE: Die roll = 2, +1 (supporting element), +1 (general with), -2 (for each enemy supporting element = 2. BLUE takes a hit (Die score modified to 1 or 2 results in a 'hit').
That BLUE takes a knock seems reasonable, but what this combat shows is that RED was completely invulnerable. I'm fairly sure Bob didn't mean that to happen, but I think I can see why he added for own supports and subtracted for enemy supports. What I wanted to do was to ensure that all close combats however advantageous, involved at least some risk, but with as small an amendment as possible. At this point, I've decided against the idea I put forward a few days ago. I believe the following proposal is as close to Bob's intention that doesn't leave formation invulnerable.
What I propose is this. Supporting elements impose a negative upon the enemy die score. Instead of adding to their own die score, however, supporting elements also cancel the negatives due to enemy supporting elements. Surplus supporting elements add nothing to own side's combat score, though still subtracts from the enemy. Taking the example above:
RED: Rolled '1' + 1 (General with) -1 (enemy support element) +1 (one of own support elements cancels the negative due to enemy support element): Modified score = 2. RED takes a hit. A roll of 2-6 would have had no effect.
BLUE: Rolled '2' + 1 (General with) -2 (enemy support elements) +1 (own support element cancels one negative due to enemy support elements: Modified score = 2. BLUE takes a hit. A roll of 3-6 would have had no effect.
Note that had BLUE no supporting element at all, a roll of '1' by RED would still have cost RED a hit.
Note that had BLUE no supporting element at all, a roll of '1' by RED would still have cost RED a hit.
Let us add one support element to both sides:
RED is a Division column of 4 regiments, moving into contact with an enemy (BLUE) line of 2 elements side by side, with a third element behind, all in the same grid area. Generals accompany both formations.
RED: Rolls '1': +1 (General with) -2 (enemy support elements) + 2 (2 of own support elements cancel enemy support elements): Modified score = 2. RED takes a hit.
BLUE: Rolls '2': +1 (General) - 3 (enemy support elements) + 2 (own 2 support elements cancel 2 negatives die to enemy support elements); Modified score = 2. BLUE takes a hit.
I used this system throughout the Wavre battle, and it seemed to work quite well. I must admit, though, that I would like a 1-point bonus for linear formations, such as BLUE's in the above examples - probably as a negative for opponents. A three-element deep column vs two-element wide line would be an even match. It's a thought.
Next time: the Battle narrative - and anything else that comes to mind!To be continued...