Monday, 25 April 2016

Guest blogger (9): Battle of Ligny, 16th June 1815

A real treat for you all, with a report from our guest blogger Phil from York, UK of the second of his bicentennial games for 2015. Over to you Phil...

First of all, a bit of an apology; I staged this game nearly a year ago on the anniversary of the battle and have only just got around to writing it up.

As usual the game was played using my version of Volley and Bayonet and 1/72nd figures from a host of manufacturers. The scenario roughly followed that laid out in the Volley & Bayonet supplement ‘Napoleon Returns’, though I had to fiddle with the map to make it fit my table (as usual I had limited room).

As usual all the maps showed something slightly different so a compromise was reached:

Ligny at the centre of the battlefield – all is quiet

From the rear of the Prussian position (Brye) – please ignore the rather messy storage in the background- it’s a loft!

Birdseye view with the French in place on the southern edge of the battlefield.

Turn 1 – 09:00

Vandamme’s Corps approach St Amand.

 The Prussians rush reinforcements to St Armand through Brye. (Rim127)

 Vichery (IV.13) & Pecheux (IV.12) advance against Ligny.

Turn 2 – 10:00

As temperatures in the loft start to reach authentic levels, the French turn up the pressure just failing to break into St Armand.

St Armand La Haye is also attacked as Vandamme tries to turn the Prussian flank and cut them off from their reinforcements.

 Vichery’s Men (IV.13) cross Ligny Brook and a stiff fight ensues in the centre of the village.

 A foothold is gained.

 The Prussians rush reinforcements to all threatened areas.

The fighting intensifies at St Armand & SA La Haye on the Prussian right. SA La Haye is lost but the attack of the Landwehr at St Armand restores the balance, devastating Lefol’s division and driving back III Corps' assault (yellow flags all round!).

Turn 3 – 11:00

Girard’s command (II.6) fails its fresh offensive action test and refuses to move. Across the St A front battered units rally. But the Landwehr; carried away by their success are caught outside St A and attacked in the front and Flank and routed.
There is disaster at Ligny as Capitane’s brigade fails its morale test and, having been attacked while rallying, flees the village ...

and despite overwhelming numbers the French make no headway.

 They do secure the bridge at Boignee however.

Prussian guns on the heights above St Armand bombard SA La Haye causing heavy casualties but the attack of Von Lutzow’s 25th is thrown back in disorder.

Turn 4 – 12:00

Assaulting the village positions is bleeding the French white. Gains have been made in the St Armand area but Ligny still holds so a recall order is sent to Hulot on the right.

 Prussian reserve infantry rush to shore up the crumblung Prussian right.

 But Wagnalee falls.

The Prussians move to coutner-attack as the French in Ligny come under increasing pressure.

Turn 5 – 13:00

Dumon’s 3rd Cav Bde charging down the sunken lane to Brye catches the Westpahlian Landwehr on the march and destroys them, breaking through to the 25th behind who they also send reeling.

De Villars Light Infantry (7th Div) annoyed at being shelled, storm out of Wagnalee to attack their tormentors but are sent packing with a whiff of grapeshot. Piat’s brigade meanwhile are finally induced to attack and rout the 1st Pomeranians.

The shortage of troops has led to the deployment of the Imperial Guard – testing times indeed.

 The Prussians attack strongly but are largely unsuccessful.

 Landwehr Cavalry are sent to Brye to end the Dumon’s rampage.

Turn 6 – 14:00

The Young Guard begins to make its presence felt.

The Prussian 24th Regiment retreating from St Armand is caught by enfilade fire and destroyed.

The Prussians continue to move up and cross Ligny Brook, pushing Hulot’s division back towards Boignee.
 The situation in Ligny itself remains undecided.

The French have another go at silencing the battery above Wagnalee (really must finish those bases).

Cavalry clash in the sunken lane.

Having lost St Armand the Prussians desperately try to consolidate on the right.

Turn 7 – 15:00

An element of caution is noted as both sides pause like punch drunk prize fighters to consolidate and catch their breath. The artillery engage in some counter battery fire and the reserves are moved up.

Turn 8 – 16:00

 French cavalry are deployed to stem the tide crossing Ligny Brook.

 Prussian cavalry attacks on the right.

 And crosses the bridge at Boignee.

The Emperor’s beautiful daughters silence the Prussian guns above St Armand.

Turn 9 – 17:00

The French continue to repulse all Prussian efforts to cross the brook and begin to feed units through St Armand to the heights beyond.

The Prussians have no answer, their cavalry charge between Brye and Wagnalee is defeated, as are their attempts to exit the sunken lane.

Turn 10 – 18:00

 The French now ascend the heights in numbers.

The first units of the Young Guard reach the outskirts of Ligny. In return the West Prussian Landwehr finally breaks through to the other side of Ligny but the tide seems to be turning against Blucher. The terrain is too restrictive to let him make his numbers count. Feeding his troops in piece meal is losing him the battle.

Turn 11 – 19:00

The French consolidate their hold on the hill but the guards are repulsed at Ligny (which should historically be on fire by now).

 Meanwhile French reinforcements arrive in the shape of Jacquinot’s I Cav Div.

The Prussians throw in everything they’ve got but still can’t get across the Brook.

Turn 12 – 20:00

The scenario allows for the arrival of VI Corps at this point but as they never made it onto the battlefield historically I discounted this. (Oops – at this point I also discovered some casualty markers that had been left behind by a Prussian cavalry brigade – allowing them to make a miraculous recovery ... fog of war?).

Prussian cavalry attempt to drive the French from the hill in the centre of the battlefield.

The French tighten their grip.

Turn 13 – 21:00

Desperate cavalry charges in the fields before Brye, Though disordered the French are triumphant.

The Old Guard bursts into burning Ligny.

The French move artillery onto the high ground in the centre (the guns are facing the wrong way to indicate that they are limbered as I haven’t got around to painting limbers).

With a final surge, the Prussians cross the brook in force and send Hulot’s men running for Boignee but as darkness falls it is too late for both sides.


Whilst the French enjoyed much success in the latter stages of the battle they lacked the numbers to exploit it in time. The Prussians still held most of Ligny at the end of the game and just about retained control of the Namur-Quatre Bras road. They had even launched a counter attack towards Boignee; too late but they must be granted a marginal victory or at least a draw on these counts.