The anniversary of the Battle of Waterloo 18th June 1815, that’s a Saturday this year, well it seemed silly not to take the opportunity to re-play this monumental battle on the anniversary.
So I undertook the task of revising the lists, repositioning some of the features and work on the time-scales of the battle.
D’Erlon’s Corps advances.
How did it work out, well let’s have a look, we had a few new regiments added to the collection for the anniversary, a brand new battalion of 48 British Guards, a new regiment of Dutch Carabinier, a rocket troop and a new regiment of Belgian Light Dagoons. So all this was adding to the excitement for me.
Early Saturday morning.
The usual Friday evening saw the tactics for both sides decided. The French were looking to smash their way through and over the Allied ridge. Lobau was tasked with capturing the Chateau of Hougomont, Reille’s corps was assaulting the ridge between the Chateau and the Farm house of La Haye Sainte, while D’Erlon’s Corps was going to attack the ridge between the Farmhouse and the farm of Papelotte. Milhaud and Kellermann pushed out on to the far right of the French line to support these attacks.
A rear view of the new Dutch Carabinier.
A front view of the new Dutch Carabinier.
The British had their light infantry in the Orchard of Hougomont while two battalions of the Kings German Legion occupied the Chateau. On the ridge between the chateau and La Haye the Allied II Corps took up position supported by the I Corps which deployed between La Haye and Papelotte, the Reserve was in support of I Corps and occupied Papelotte.
Cumberland (Russian, colours are right and they look very similar, I mean who would want a regiment of something you can only use once?) Hussars charging into the French Light Cavalry outside the Orchard (Figures from the Collection of Aidy Sinclair).
Cumberland Hussars melee the French Light Cavalry outside the Orchard (Figures from the Collection of Aidy Sinclair).
British Light Dragoons move in to support their allies outside the Orchard (Figures from the Collection of Aidy Sinclair).
Hanoverian Landwehr in the Orchard.
As soon as the game started the French poured forward, massed columns from Reille advanced down the slope and into the valley between the two armies. Lobau’s Corps deployed into line and started inching it’s way through the dense woodland south of Hougomont. Over on the Far right the Heavy Cavalry corps began tactical marching in column of route, looking to flank the static Allied defence line. Meanwhile D’Erlon began the advance toward the sunken road between La Haye and Papelotte.
A close up of D’Erlon’s Corps advancing against Picton.
The bombardment from the ridge was focused on demolishing the farmhouse of La Haye Sainte, three batteries punished the defences of Allies with round after round smashing into the walls of the farmhouse. The light cavalry supporting the Allied right flank galloped forward to engage the light cavalry of Lobau and Reille in the valley just east of the Orchard, over six regiments of cavalry became embroiled in some ferocious melee’s with no quarter given nor asked! The Allied cavalry won one of the melee’s and pursued the vanquished Chasseurs deep into the French lines before realising where they were and then wound their weary way back desperately avoiding the remainder of the French cavalry looking to take advantage of their blown horses.
French Dragoons move to engage the Belgian lights, but are unformed by the impact of a nearby rocket, spooking their horses. (figures from the collection of Lee Sharpe).
Lobau’s lead division reached the edge of the Orchard and began exchanging volleys with the British Light veterans occupying the Orchard, while his second division began to deploy from the woods in front of the Chateau.
Lobau’s Corps advances toward the Orchard.
In the French Centre D’Erlon dispatched Quiot’s division to probe the defences of the ridge and farmhouse ahead of the general advance. The result was a murderous volley from the occupants, the KGL Light infantry, this combined with the bombardment from the allied ridge was enough for one of their veteran battalions, who began retiring.
Quiot’s division advances into the Foot Guards.
In game time at 13.30 – 14.00 the Prussians were spotted far to the east of Plancenoit, this was the first Brigade of Bulow’s Corps. One division of the Young Guard along with their artillery support were immediately mobilised and ordered to stop them, they moved off at a tremendous rate, keen to get to grips with the hated foe.
The Prussians first brigade arrives.
The Prussians second brigade arrives right behind the first.
The Young Guard begin to arrive in Plancenoit.
The bombardment of the Allied ridge continued, the majority of the Allied regiments retiring behind the ridge and to safety, the French columns continued their advance. The troops on the Allied left pushed their Dutch and Belgian cavalry forward to engage the Cuirassier of Kellermann and Milhaud, the fighting was deadly with whole regiments of French Cuirassier, Carabinier and Dragoons matching the Belgian’s and brave Dutchmen. Many saddles were emptied on both sides, the French managed to get the upper hand, but not before a squadron of the new Belgian Light Dragoons rode down a battery of French Horse Artillery, even after they lost over 30 per cent casualties.
The Belgian Light Dragoons reign in on one of the French Horse batteries.
The cavalry of both sides retired and re-organised for the fresh offensive. News of the Prussian arrival saw the French heavy cavalry corps move back south and east looking to support the Young Guard.
The melee was fierce.
A close up of the melee, not one step back by either side, this was to the finish.
The British troops in and around Hougomont became locked in duels, battalion engaging battalion, neither giving ground. The woodland was extremely dense and Lobau’s second division under Simmer found it near impossible to get reformed under the fire from the Chateau. To the east of this Reille’s men began to climb the slopes to the ridge.
Simmer’s Division from Lobau’s Corps deploys at the edge of the wood south of Hougomont.
The Germans in La Haye Sainte poured fire into the troops of Quiot’s division and the troops of Reille’s right flank, moving from one side to another, delaing death at effective range.
More Prussians were arriving, it was now around 16.30 on the 18th June and pretty much the same at the Wargames Holiday Centre, their were now four Prussian Brigades in sight, albeit a fair distance away, the French released the second Young Guard Division and the Guard Cavalry. The latter supporting Reille’s advance by pinning the allied cavalry to the east of the Orchard.
Belgian Light Cavalry embroiled with Cuirassier.
Belgian Light Cavalry carry the fight to the French Cuirassier, albeit a little one sided though.
The centre was becoming interesting, the columns of Quiot’s division had halted, reeling from the casualties inflicted from the Farmhouse and the ridge. The rest of his Corps pressed on, then on the ridge there was the blare of trumpets, over the crest appeared the Household cavalry, the lancers and Chasseurs from D’Erlon’s corps were not in a position to support their infantry and could only watch as the noblest cavalry in Europe thundered down upon them. In the vanguard were two regiments of the Household cavalry, to their right also emeregd the Union brigade. The Scots Greys and Inniskilling dragoons racing their brothers to get to the French infantry.
Life Guard emerge from behind the ridge.
The French columns braced themselves, some of the volleys were let loose too early or went harmlessly over the heads of the leading squadrons. Six Squadrons attempted the charge and five pressed their charge home, with two smashing their way into the stunned infantry. One squadron of Horse Guards managed to ride down eight battalions over two turns after rallying and charging again.
Black Watch in square awaiting the removal of the French Cuirassier threat.
This stunned the Corps of D’Erlon to it’s core, but the plucky veteran rallied his remaining troops and went forward yet again.
The scene outside Plancenoit was different, there was lots of infantry against infantry action and I have asked Dave Docherty to provide his rendition of the events on this wing, as he was commanding the Prussian forces.
Young Guard 3rd Tirrailleurs taking up position in the churchyard in Plancenoit.
“Prussian Uhlans arrived outside of Plancenoit as a division of Young Guard started to deploy, the uhlans deployed to fight a regiment of French Dragoons and to force the lead Young Guard elements into square, 2 squadrons of Prussian Uhlans were cut down to a man by the dragoons but the French could not take advantage of this and retired away to regroup. The other Uhlan squadron charged home into the Young Guard Battalion but failed to break them.
This allowed the Prussian Infantry time to form up for an assault on the Churchyard in Plancenoit, led by Blucher and Bulow and the diviion commander von Losthin. They rolled on down toward the Churchyard taking aimed volleyfire from the 3rd Tirraileur’s , the Prussians took two rounds of fire and raising high the black standard charged to the churchyard , no quarter was given on either side, 2 further Young guard Battallions were sucked into the melee to fend the Prussians off, however on the 3rd round after the annihilation of the 3rd Tirraillers the Young Guard broke from the melee, the Church bell tolled!
The Prussian mob then attempting to reform were assailed by volley fire from the northern side of Plancenoit and having seen one of their other battalions routing to their right decided it was just too hot a place to stay and retired, leaving the village unoccupied.
The British Foot Guard prepare to meet the fist of D’Erlons divisions.
Dave also witnessed the attack involving Picton’s division on part of D’Erlon’s Corps, here is his rendition of the fight there.
The Brunswick troops move in support of Picton’s advance.
Nassau troops forced into square by the advancing Cuirassier.
“Pictons division taking advantage of the disarray from the charges of the Household division along with the success of the Dutch Belgian light dragoons in destroying the French horse batteries supporting the French advance, lined out and came down into the valley to press the remaining French columns. The 42nd and 92nd Highlanders both Elite infantry, lined out and marched forward supported by Ramseys horse battery . High quality volley fire poured into the stationary French infantry, they attempted to line out to make the trade a little fairer and meanwhile a lone squadron of French Cuirassier worked itself into a position and charged the thin red line.
The 92nd held their nerve , a short range volley was delivered emptying too many saddles for the brave cuirassier to continue to press home. The French infantry taking advantage of the brief respite had reformed into columns and went forward once more into the double ranked Highlanders, it was death or glory time!
Taking fierce volley fire 3 of the 4 attacking battalions hit home, but the Scots were not to be moved they stood their ground and were reinforced for the second round of melee, which saw off the French infantry!”
Brunswick Uhlans moving up to support the Dutch and Belgian cavalry against Kellermans Cuirassier.
In the French Centre, with the Prussians pressing their numerical superiority the time to release the Old Guard had come. Lobau pressed his attack on the Chateau, Reille crested the first ridge at the sunken road and took effective volleys from the British infantry lined out in front of them. The volleys crashed into the leading columns but this couldn’t stop them. The British battalions braced themselves for the onslaught, the French charged, six battalions against two British. The volleys into the charging mass dropped a few regulars but not enough to stop them, diving into the sunken road and scrambling up the other side caused the French to become unformed, they managed it though, fighting on in an unformed mass. The second round loomed and the French threw in another six battalions, the British three. One of the British Battalions held on, but the other routed back, enough was enough. The following morale tests saw the troops of both sides step back from the bloodbath. Reform and prepare to go again.
Close up of the melee in the sunken road.
While this played out the Old Guard had reached the Garden of La Haye Sainte, the 3rd battalion of the Chasseurs moving in and delivering a volley in to the plucky German garrison, whether it was the sight of the bearskins or the death of one of the favourite Captains it was enough for the brave German’s and they retreated from the farmhouse.
KGL leaving La Haye as the Chasseurs move in through the garden.
This allowed the Guardsmen to move into the farm and bring their muskets to bear on the British Guardsmen who were adding their fire to the troops trying to stop Reille. Two turns of short range volleys weakened the British Guards but they stood, they could not retire as this would have exposed the British lining the ridge. While in this predicament the Guard Heavies appeared and the first squadron charged them, on they came, up the slope and into the waiting Guards, short range and a very high roll saw five of the ten figures removed….wow! The French Cavalry turned and fled, the subsequent turn the Chasseurs in the Farmhouse opened up again finally reducing the Foot Guard to thirty figures and still they stood! The routing cavalry pinned the advancing Grenadiers and Chasseurs of the Guard for another turn.
Both sides step back and reform for another assault.
Over at the Chateau Lobau’s troops charged up to the walls of Hougomont, it was carnage, the French officer corps took a real death blow, with three officers dying in one round of firing and melee. The French infantry fell back to the wood. The Orchard was a different matter, All the British Light infantry had quit the Orchard and had fallen back to the reserve positions. The supporting Hanoverian troops likewaise had thought better of engaging the French men and in one mad round of melee, where a Hanoverian Landwehr battalion formed in square had gone two rounds in melee..had enough and fled.
British Rifles occupy the garden of the Chateau of Hougomont and await Simmer’s division (Figures from the collection of Aidy Sinclair.
This success galvanised Reille’s troops, having reformed they went over the sunken road again, smashing into two fresh battalions of British infantry, the subsequent rounds saw the reserves pile in from both sides, one of the British battalions held and the other broke, the same for the French, so stale mate.
The time of the day was now gone 21.30 and the light was fading, the French had the Farmhouse of La Haye and the Orchard of Hougomont but the rest was undecided. The British had lost a lot of their cavalry but their infantry still held the field.
3rd Battalion of the Chasseurs a Pied de la Garde occupy the farmhouse and deliver death to the nearby British Footguard.
An allied victory, some part of the praise must be given to the Prussians, as their arrival forced the French Heavies to abandon their crush on the Dutch cavalry and imminently the Brunswick Corps and Nassauers. So there you have it!
A great game, enjoyed by all.
Please feel free to comment, especially those present.