Sunday, 30 August 2015

Wargaming Waterloo 1815 : 2015 (14) The Bicentennial Game, 18:00–20:30

The day (15th August 2015) featured recognition of four important birthdays.

Ninety since my father, Ralph, had turned 90 on 16th July and he along with Maureen were our special guests for the day. Five as our own little wargaming group celebrated five years in existence on 8th August.

Sixty for Stephen, one of the members of the ANF's 'metro annexe', who reached that landmark on 1st August. Stephen provided the marvellous figures and two of the cakes.

Finally, and most appropriately, we were completing our bicentennial wargame of the Battle of Waterloo on the Emperor's birthday, his two hundred and forty-sixth, to be precise!

A wonderful spread. The back of the ute providing a convenient table.

Formalities concluded, it was back to complete the fourth and final part of our bicentennial game of Waterloo.
We actually had the cakes as morning tea, at the conclusion of the first turn of the day, but I wanted to feature them appropriately in this post.

In case you have not seen them previously, you may catch up on developments to date with reports of part 1part 2part 3.


Duhesme's Young Guard and von Hiller's Prussians occupied half of Plancenoit each, in preparation for the contest that was to come.

The former were supported by Lefebvre Desnoüettes' guard light cav.; the lanciers Polonais in this case.

The 8th (1st Westphalian) hussars continued on their winning ways, this time against the 'blown' chasseurs à cheval who were unsupported, capturing the latter's staff officer in the process.

Wathier sent his only available regiment of cuirassiers (12e) against von Monhaupt's reserve artillery, recently deployed.

While Durutte's infantry continued their attack against von Losthin's Prussians in the vicinty of Frichermont,
with much success. 

In the area around Frichermont and La Haye, it was a different story.

The Prince of Orange's counter attack began in ernest.

It was Jacquinot's horse artillery's turn to be the filling in the sandwich; in this case between 3/18th Infantry Regiment (6th Reserve) and 1st KGL hussar.

The British horsemen were also successful against Jacquinot's lancers and hussars, were no more successful,
leaving Durutte's 9/6e foot battery exposed to be over-run.

So, it was honours about even in this part of the battlefield

French cavalry largely triumphant over their Prussian foes and now deployed in a more battle-ready formation,

Durutte's infantry holding firm and making successful, limited attacks, but the Prussian were arriving in force,

well supported by Hussey's cavalry and Saxe-Weimar's infantry, lead by the Prince of Orange.

In the centre, Subervie's light cavalry manoeuvred around the burning La Haie Sainte, recently left vacant by Baring's KGL, in support of the grand battery of horse guns. Would Picton move his *rse from the ridge?

The 1/1st Nassau, were the sole defenders of Hougoumont, following the withdrawal and then breaking of Byng's guards (see part 3).

Chassé's 3rd Netherlands Division was making steady progress on the far Anglo-Allied right, threatening the flank of Ney's attack (seen on white horse in centre-right of photo),

but Jérôme's recently rallied division were on their way to meet them.

Leaving Kellermann's horsemen free to support Foy, Simmer and Jeanin's infantry divisions' attack in the centre-right.


The intense action which continued at either end of the battlefield and now in the Anglo-Allied centre-left, is capture in the following two photos.

Zooming in on the 'western' end,

north of Hougoumont,

further along the ridge,

to the ridge behind La Haie Sainte (as Picton counter-attacks aided by the Household cavalry and Vandeleur's light dragoons),

continued advance of Hussey's and Saxe-Weimar's troops around Frichermont/La Haye,

finally to the struggle for Plancenoit.

The Prince of Orange urged on the troops 

Durutte's 1/29e ligne were on the receiving end.

The (2/8e) held firm in square,

as their brother battalion (1/8e) occupied La Haye.

The 85e and 2/95e defeated more of von Losthin's landwehr.

Wathier's 1e cuirassiers took their turn to charge against von Monhaupt's poorly deployed artillery.

The second chasseurs à cheval de la garde 'bounced' from the square of Hiller's 2/15th Infantry Regiment.

Plancenoit was in Prussian hands! The 1/1st Silesian Landwehr defeated the 2/1e Tirailleurs while the 2/15th Infantry Regiment defended the church against the 1/1e Tirailleurs

The 2/1st Silesian Landwehr were not so successful against the 2/1e Voltigeurs.

To Picton's couter-attack was achieving mixed success.

The 11th Light Dragoons regretted attacking the guard horse guns,

but the infantry had more success against the artillerie de la marine (of course, since they were unpainted!) and another garde horse battery.

The Life Guards forced back Subervie's 1e chevau-légers lanciers.


Working across the table from 'west' to 'east'.

The 1/1st Nassau continued to hold Hougoumont, but they had company!

The 3rd Dutch Carabiniers unsuccessfully charged a square of Jeanin's 5e légère. 

The 2nd Belgian Carabiniers caught Simmer's 2/84e ligne out of square, but were 'bounced' by the square of the 2/11e ligne (part painting denotes another of my 'failures', I'm afraid!).

Despite being under Wellington's Elm, the 1st Foot could not prevail against a guard horse battery.

The 1st Dragoon Guards saw off Subervie's 2e chevau-légers lanciers, then, remaining under control, rallied back to their lines.

The 1/8e ligne's occupation of La Haye was to be short-lived!

Prussians, Prussians everywhere, but Durutte's 85e and 2/95e ligne stand tall.

To their left the guard light cavalry have more success against the few remaining Prussian light horsemen.

Importantly, Plancenoit remains in Prussian hands as the brave 1/1st Silesian Landwehr deny the 1/2e Tirailleurs and the 1/1 Voltigeurs,

faring better than their countrymen of the 3/1st Silesian Landwehr did against the 2/1e Voltigeurs.


The 2/1e Voltigeurs continued to drive off attacking landwehr,

while the 1/1e Tirailleurs defeated the 2/15th Infantry Regiment. Despite these individual victories, Plancenoit remained in Prussian hands.

For the first time in many combats, the cavalry supporting the French right were not successful:
The 3/15th Infantry Regiment drove back the "cherished children",

as were the 12e cuirassiers when they charged the remaining Prussian heavy battery.

Near La Haye, the 'dining' continued, this time courtesy of a filling provided by the 1/8e and 2/8e ligne.

Picton's infantry advanced across the 'killing zone' between the ridges, the horse artillery grand battery easily limbering and retiring in front of them.

The Union Brigade advanced.

Bachelu's division having broken and Simmer and Jeanin's much reduced, the combat on the 'western' end of the Mont St Jean ridge was dying down.

Further to the 'west', Jérôme's and Chassé's infantry came to blows.

Moving around the table.

Plancenoit in dispute.

La Haye and Frichermont firmly in Allied hands as Orange's and Losthin's troops unite. Durutte's division still defends stoutly, but is now demoralised (at a divisional test for 1/3 losses).

View from the 'west'.

The Middle Guard and guard heavy cavalry advance towards the Anglo-Allied centre-right,

while the Old Guard advances towards La Belle Alliance.

Back to Plancenoit, this time from the French perspective.


Drama! At the end of the previous turn, von Hiller's brigade failed it's morale test! Had the brave defence of the 1/1st Silesian Landwehr been in vain?

The divisional initiative roll is therefore crucial. The Prussians rolled a one,... but so did the French. Prussians win the initiative around Plancenoit!

von Ryssel's 1/1st Pommeranian Landwehr occupied Plancenoit church, and held it against the 1/2e Tirailleurs.

2/1e Tirailleurs occupied Plancenoit village sector and held it against von Ryssel's 2/1st Pommeranian Landwehr, while the 2/1e Voltigeurs defeated the 1/11th Infantry Regiment (2nd Silesian).

To the 'north' of Plancenoit, the 4e cuirassiers over-ran the remaining Prussian heavy battery,

the guard lancers rode down the horse artillery,

and the 1e cuirassiers completed a trifecta against the lanwehr cavalry and 11th Fußbatterie.

The 2/29e ligne were broken by the combined attack of the KGL hussars and 3/18th Infantry Regiment (6th Reserve). This would force a morale test for Durutte's demoralised division, which they passed and so recovered normal condition!

Simmer and Jeanin re-aligned their divisions to hold on to the Mont St Jean ridge.

The 1/1st Nassau, not satisfied with being the brave defenders of Hougoumont, drove the French from the stables and out-houses of the two-sector complex.

They would face another attack.

Chasse's and Jérôme's men fought to stalemate. 


The final turn!

The 2/1e Voltigeurs were finally defeated by the 1/11th Infantry Regiment (2nd Silesian).

Nothing changed in Plancenoit though as both the 1/1st Pommeranian Landwehr, defenders of the church sector and the 2/1e Tirailleurs, defending the village sector, withstood attacks.

The 2/1e Tirailleurs combined with the recently rallied chasseurs à cheval de la garde to defeat the remaining uhlans of Prinz Wilhelm's cavalry.

The 2/95e ligne drove back von Hake's frontline troops.

The 16th Light Dragoons joined their fellow cavalrymen from Vandeleur's brigade in being broken attempting to charge a guard horse battery from the French grand battery.

Their flank anchored by the re-occupied La Haie Sainte, Picton's infantry easily saw off Subervie's 11e chasseur à cheval,

while their comrades faced the deadly fire from the French grand battery on La Belle Alliance ridge.

Charged by the Life Guards, Jeanine's 47e ligne formed square and saw off the élite horsemen.

The Guard heavy cavalry and Middle Guard moved to support their position on the ridge.

On the Anglo-Allied right the stalemate continued, but Chassé's men were now joined by the Brunswickers and H. Halkett's 3rd Hanoverian Brigade.

The final turn completed, let's look around the battlefield, now far more sparsely occupied.

The Anglo-Allied right, strongly held, Hougoumont is jointly occupied by both sides, the French maintain their toe-hold on Mont St Jean ridge as the Guard heavy cavalry and Middle Guard approach in support. Note the casualties on the table behind!

Moving to the east, we see the Old Guard and French grand battery around La Belle Alliance, Picton's infantry in the area between the ridges and La Haie Sainte, now back in Anglo-Allied hands, still in flames. Note the table of Prussian casualties (plus a few figures that had not been placed on the table) in the rear.

Swinging around to look towards the complex of Papelotte, Smohain, La Haye and Frichermont, all firmly in Allied hands.

Towards Plancenoit, with von Ryssel's Prussians facing the Young Guard and the Guard light cavalry and Wathier's cuirassiers to the left. There should have been additional Prussians behind von Ryssel's, von Tippelskirch's 5th Brigade of II Corps, but they were not placed on the table as the game was ending.

From the Allied left, Papelotte in the foreground.

Finally a view across the entire battlefield, looking roughly east to west (Frichermont in the foreground).

The Wash-up

The French had lost 201 points for 'broken', and demoralised divisions and the Allies 228—we allocate these as victory points to the opposite side. The Allied army held La Haie Sainte and Papelotte (worth 50 victory points each), while Hougoumont and Plancenoit were still contested. This gave a difference of 72 victory points in the Allied favour, resulting in a draw.

For an instant, we considered a second day of Waterloo, 19th June, with two and a half more corps of Prussians and Grouchy’s two infantry corps, plus Pajol’s and Excelmans’ cavalry thrown into the 'mincer’!! We decided, however, that four sessions for Waterloo was enough,... for this time!

So, after 19 turns, played over four sessions, it ended as a hard-fought draw.

An anti-climax? I don't think so. To me it was a fitting result for a marvellous game that was played in our usual friendly manner, with each side trying to bring off a win. It was an added bonus to have Ralph and Maureen there for the morning of this last session.

Concluding the Napoleonic Bicentennial

This epic wargame (for us) brought to a conclusion our bicentennial re-fights of battles of the Napoleonic Wars. We will move now to filling in some of the many 'gaps' . These will be games from some of the battles that we did not get done at the time of the bicentennial and earlier ones that pre-dated the formation of our group and hence our observance of the bicentennial.

First cab off the rank (all going well) will be our long-planned game of Leipzig at 1:50, which we hope to do over a couple of weekends in spring (Sep–Nov) of 2016.