Saturday, 12 December 2015

Vintage Waterloo (Conclusion)

5.00pm (turn 7) and the Young Guard begin to advance passing to the left of  Hougoumont. Three guard horse artillery batteries are about to unlimber to their front whilst the Old Guard advances on their right. The emperor himself has come up to urge them forward.
The Old Guard pass through the French artillery line causing them to cease fire for one turn. There are no less than 7 gun batteries on this ridge and they had been pounding the allied line for hours, surely not even a rabbit could still be alive on the other side of that hedge! I think Roy's chasseurs in bicornes are another of his clever conversions.
The RHA rocket battery had also been firing for several turns. I knocked up the rule mechanism for rockets in just a few minutes (without much thought) and they proved to be ludicrously but hilariously effective. The rule allows for rockets to go astray and hit the allies own lines (the French player got to choose the targets) and they managed to take out 2 of Mercer's guns as well as some British infantry. However, the real damage was caused to the French horse artillery and heavy cavalry who were falling in complete ranks as they advanced. It gave everyone (on both sides of the table) a good laugh so the rule will probably stand.
My combined guard cavalry unit and what was left of the guard horse artillery, engulfed in the smoke of exploding rockets. Wellington claimed 2 artillery batteries, 2 cavalry units and 1 infantry unit destroyed but this may be propaganda.
Revenge is sweet! The remaining troopers ride over the RHA rocketeers, I fear there was little mercy offered to the crew members of the battery.
It was now 6.00pm and Hougoumont had fallen for a second (and last) time. The Nassauers are heading for the rear, their colonel dead and the French have occupied the farm.
The guard are now halfway across the valley between the opposing ridges. I think there were 5 battalions of OG, 3 battalions of YG plus several line battalions on either flank. They completely filled the space between La Haye Sainte and Hougoumont.
Not just rabbits but rank upon rank of redcoats were waiting behind the hedge still virtually untouched by the French artillery. I can't work out why the casualties were so light but it may be that the French gunners had been concentrating on counter-battery fire and also because a number of guns had been tasked with firing on Hougoumont.
What was left of the French cavalry was heading for the gap between the commands of Wellington and The Prince of Orange. The defending infantry here chose sensibly to form into square.
Behind the squares the remnants of the combined blues&greys were waiting. The yellow marker denotes that they are disordered and therefore unable to charge.
On the allied far right Roy's splendid Scots Greys saw off their third successive enemy cavalry unit - and all without losing a single casualty!
By now the Prince of Orange had quit the field (something about getting a new dress uniform for the victory parade in Paris) and I found myself demoted from the command of the French army to take his place. The good thing about this for me was that whatever happened next I could rightly say that I had fought on the winning side. Wellington immediately insisted that I advance my hotchpotch of Dutch-Belgians in line to re-take Hougoumont even though the French cavalry were on my flank - and to think they call ME Silly Billy!
This is a view along the main table at 7.00pm (turn 9). My Dutch-Belgians are making their tentative advance in the foreground. The Old Guard can be seen advancing in the centre of the table but I can't see much in the way of French forces remaining on the other flank.
Now this is the biggest mystery of the game as far as I'm concerned. For some reason Hill ordered Baring's KGL to withdraw from La Haye Sainte allowing the French to occupy it uncontested. There will be mutterings at Horse Guards. However, as you can see the rest of D'Erlon's command has ceased to exist, I don't know what happened to it - the second biggest mystery of the game.
Back over at Hougoumont I managed to get the rest of my men into square. I should point out that this was due to my sound tactical sense and not due to some oiyky Rifles colonel shouting "Oi, Silly Billy, you don't advance in line with cavalry on your flank ee-by-gum!"
The first line of French cavalry rode straight past the squares and were eventually destroyed by my cavalry. This is the second rather thin looking line of cavalry shortly before they were blasted away by musketry. The French cavalry was now a spent force.
8.00pm and the French drummers of the guard are getting ready to beat out the pas-de-charge. Everything now depends on the guard breaking through the centre of the allied line to win the day.
It's getting tense and its getting dark. The French come on in the same old style.
Picton rides forward, "Now Maitland, now's your time!". He orders a nifty passage of lines that puts the British foot guards into the front line just as the enemy grenadiers reached the bottom of the ridge.
The huge mass of the French guard approach the allied line. You can see through the window that it really is dark now!
10.00pm (turn 12) - the British see off the French in the same old style! We even fought an extra round of melee taking us to turn 13 but it was obvious that with the British front line almost at full strength, and with a melee bonus for defending the ridge and hedge, there was no way the French were going to break through without reserves and the guard WAS the last reserve.
Wellington raised his hat "The army will advance!" Hill's highlanders move forward in the distance while the rest of his command prepares to advance towards La Haye Sainte.
A somewhat dejected D'Erlon surveys the scene at the end of the game. What happened to his fine command? We may never know...

Credits:

Roy - for providing the venue, 80% of the figures and a fantasic lunch and refreshments.

Stuart (and the chaps from Cirencester Wargame Club) - for playtesting and refining the rules.

A small army of painters - for helping to get the troops ready in an incredibly short period of time.

To the many generous gamers who have kindly donated figures to my project over the years (you know who you are)

The Cast:

Napoleon Bonaparte - Myself (of course)
Marshal Ney - Mark F
Lt Gen Count D'Erlon - Neil
Lt Gen Count Reille - Nigel
Lt Gen Count Lobau - John

The Duke of Wellington - Stuart
The Prince of Orange - Richard
Lt Gen Lord Hill - Matt
Blucher - Steve S

Final thanks goes to eBay and Napoleon Bonaparte without whom none of this would have been possible!

20 comments:

The Hobbyist said...

Absolutely marvelous! Its been a joy to follow this game.

Stryker said...

Thank you Mr Hobbyist - it was a joy to play as well!

lewisgunner said...

Yes, a great pleasure to be involved. I'd like to put in a word here for the French Young Guard Horse Artillery who have a uniform that would really get the girls.

The Cumberland Hussars are just a paint job on the standard Austrian Hussar by HH....a nice piece of work by Peter Walker.
Yes the French Old Guard chasseurs are a conversion of some Old Guard Grenadiers with their bearskin and head removed and a bicorne substituted. I think the OG fought in greatcoats at Waterloo, long blue ones, which would be nice to have if there is a suitable figure. The HH greatcoated grenadier has a coat that I find rather too short, but I suppose that it could do at a pinch....I would need to find 24 of course.

Wellington Man said...

Splendid! And an interesting case of war game following early 1970s epic movie. DÉrlon's Corps just seemed to vanish during that one too.

Congratulations all round. A vintage triumph.

WM

Heinz-Ulrich von Boffke said...

Yes, a truly amazing spectacle. And some really nice photography too.

Best Regards,

Stokes

KEV. said...

Superb write up and photos - Thankyou IAN for bringing it all to us- Waterloo - an epic recreation of grand proportions. Well done to all. Regards. KEV.

Stuart C said...

A very enjoyable game for all concerned. I was surprised how far we got as most Waterloo games seem to stall before any of the main attacks are launched. I think a combination of fast-play rules and lots of players meant we managed to make excellent progress.

Big thanks to Roy and Ian for staging it.

Inevitably we need to think about what's next ;-)

Stryker said...

Thanks for all the comments!

Stuart - what next indeed? I thought something based on Leipzig would be fun but I haven't had the heart to break it to Roy yet as we will need about 300 Austrians.
Also, I believe there was a British rocket battery present...

MSFoy said...

A remarkable achievement, really. I've enjoyed this series (and the build-up, of course) so much that I've archived the posts for my future delectation - I hope that is OK - I promise not to make use of them elsewhere.

There are many aspects of this which are wonderfully impressive - not least the Gonzo scale of the whole project! Things which I appreciated most are many and varied - I loved the authentic Old School appearance and vibe especially (I think this stands up against all the classic Waterloo commemorative games which I've read about over the years); I am also delighted that the game stayed tidy and attractive thoughout (Mr Bondarchuk would have been very pleased), that the multiplayer battle played out so well, and that your rules enabled detailed tactical activity yet still allowed the game to play to completion - my sincere compliments.

As a piece of entertainment for the blog-readers this has been first rate, but as an advert for the hobby and its traditions this will surely stand the test of some time, I would think. My humble (voyeur's) thanks and best wishes to you, Roy and all the other gallant souls involved!

To quote Mr Punch (one of my lifestyle icons), that is definitely the way to do it.

lewisgunner said...

Oooh Leipzig. that would go well n two tables. Have about 100 Austrians done and I know Ian has 48 or more so we are half way there.
We have Russia and Prussia and Ian has a Swedish Swedish contingent...........so its off to get some white spray...at least the Kaiserlichs are quick to recruit. I love their grenadiers.

Its a possible for say May June of 2016

Roy

Allan Tidmarsh said...

Super game and report - well done !

'Lee. said...

What a truly magnificent spectacle, great to see the 30th in action :)

the Archduke said...

hasn't everybody got 300 Austrians?

Serious congratulations to everyone involved. This Waterloo has been an inspiration, and seems almost more realistic than the real thing, except, of course, for the rockets........

Stryker said...

Once again, thanks to all for the kind comments - it was a great game!

Tony - I'm really pleased that you have enjoyed the posts so much. Let's hope that at some point in the future you'll be able to have a game with the Hinton Hunts yourself.

Roy - May/June sounds good as it would coincide with a landmark birthday for moi.

Archduke - A ready source of Austrians, I should've thought of that!

Anonymous said...

Super game and report, very, very inspirational and enjoyable, thanks for sharing

Paul

Anonymous said...

Apparently the events at the eastern end of the battlefield are a mystery to Stryker. Well, I am informed that d'Erlon's Corps came on in the old manner and was beaten off in the old manner - with about 90% casualties! As to the strange goings on at La Haye Sainte, the defending Riflemen had to be removed when their unit fell too low in numbers and the Dutch Belgian units in support were not able to re-take the farm. It mattered naught in the end as the French had been fought to a standstill. Particular credit should go to a regiment of British Husssars who drove an A-class unit of French infantry away and then returned to pin the Empress Dragoons who had broken through to attack a British square late in the day. I remain your most obedient servant, Observer

Stryker said...

Hello Mr Observer - I can count at least 16 riflemen having exited La Haye Sainte which is hardly too low in numbers to continue the defence! I have a suspicion that you may not be an observer at all but perhaps a member of Lord Hill's staff trying to save his reputation? Credit to the British Hussars though - this was an action that I missed!

James Fisher, FINS said...

There were some wonderful games of Waterloo in this recently-passed bicentennial year, but this was, for mine, the 'best of show'.
Well done to all the organisers, painters and players and a special thanks to you Ian for bringing it to us all.

Stryker said...

Thanks James!

Martin said...

Took me back to the late 1960's and visiting Camden Passage to buy figures to enlarge my small French Army - happy days!!!