Sunday, 12 April 2015

Wargaming Waterloo 1815 : 2015 (4) Battle of Quatre Bras Bicentennial Game (part 2)

I began the second part* of our bicentennial game of Quatre Bras thinking that I, as the French player, had little chance, but, considering that my worst enemy was my own apprehension, I had to go for it…
(*click on this link to see report of part 1)

Photos 1–2: Foy’s lead battalion (1/4e légère) attacked the square of the 1st Brunswick line, while their sister battalion (2/4e légère) were charged by the 5th Belgian light dragoons.

Photo 3: First blood slightly in the French favour: the Belgian horsemen were ‘broken’ tackling the 2/4e légère’s square, but the 1/4e légère were sent packing by the indomitable Brunswickers (they would later rally).

Photos 4–6: The Brunswickers advanced in force, lead by their Duke, cutting a fine figure beside Prince Jérôme, also a fine figure!

Photo 8: Overview of the battlefield from our vantage point at the eastern end.

Photo 9: A stroke of luck for the Anglo-Allied cause: Perponcher’s division rallied. Once they received new orders, they’d be back in the fray!

Photo 10: The 1/72e ligne became the first battalion of Bachelu’s division to ‘break’ as a result of losses from artillery fire from Picton’s guns. “The plan is working”, said Wellington. Brunswick and Ney both gave a wry smile…

Photos 11–12: Time to increase the French pressure! Kellermann sent the 8e cuirassiers (represented by a stand-in unit) to attack the Brunswick horsemen. They ‘broke’ the already reduced uhlans and followed on to break the hussars.

Photo 13: The 3/1e ligne of Jérôme’s division assaulted the Brunswick horse guns, but were driven back, losing the staff officer who had lead the attack.

Photo 14: Better luck (from a French perspective) as the Hamlen landwehr battalion broke in a failed attack on the 2/4e légère’s square. You don’t win throwing ones Julian—particularly when your opponent rolls a six!

Photo 15–16: The overview of the battlefield at this stage.

Photo 17: In the Bossu Wood, the Brunswick lights broke the 2/3e ligne…

Photo 18: …but their horse battery could not withstand a second assault; this time from the 2/1e ligne. 

Photo 19: A second Hanoverian battalion, the Hindesheim landwehr, fell foul of Foy’s advancing battalions.

My secret weapon, Julian’s daughter Tabitha with her special pink dice, was working very nicely.

Photos 20–24: The press is on. I was now feeling quite buoyed, thinking that we’d hold our own or perhaps even better.

At this point, Mark had to leave, so we called it a draw…

…unfortunately, that was not the case. “I’ll be able to stay for the next three turns”, he said.

Photos 25–26: Another of Bachelu’s light infantry battalions, 2/2e légère, broke in the face of the British artillery to the east of Quatre Bras.

Photo 27: As too did the previously successful 2/1e ligne, as the Brunswick foot gunners avenged their mounted compatriots.

Photo 28: Tabitha’s good dice again: in Bossu Wood, Jérome’s 1/1e légère and 1/3e ligne drive off the latest Brunswick counter-attack.

Photo 29: Even she can be a bit off: the Brunswick Leib battalion’s square fought off the 11e cuirassiers and 2/4e légère. Although yet another Hanoverian landwehr battalion was broken (Peine)—centre of photo.

Photo 30–32: It was a mixed bag of results with the attack over on the French right (east): Foy’s 2/92e ligne was broken attempting to assault Picton’s artillery, the 2/92nd were broken 3/2e légère and the 1/2e légère were broken by an attack by the 1/28th foot (represented by some mates with green facings), in column no less!

Photo 33: Our overview photo looking from the east. The French attacking divisions were somewhat thinned, but it was still possible to breakthrough, if only we could cause sufficient casualties to Picton’s and Brunswick’s divisions

Photo 34: On the other side of the table, Wellington and Brunswick identify the location of the enemy!

Photos 35–36: Bad news for French interests. Bachelu’s and Jérome’s divisions failed their divisional morale tests at 1/3 losses, both becoming demoralised. It was gonna be more difficult from here.

Photos 37–38: Tabitha did her best, throwing to halt the attack of the 1st Brunswick light and breaking the 2nd light…

Photo 39: … but the 2/93 ligne failed in a lone attack against the Leib battalion.

Photos 40–42: Meanwhile, on the French right, 2/100e ligne broke trying to capture Picton’s guns, while the attack of the 3/2e and 4/2e légère were stopped by a powerful British volley, only to be broken by the counter-charge of the 1/42nd and 1/28th respectively.

Photo 43: A positive for the French as the last of Picton’s Hanoverian landwehr battalions (Gisshom) was broken by the 1/92e ligne.

Photo 44: A divisional morale test for Bachelu at 1/2 losses: broken!

Photo 45: Picton’s division also needed to test and was demoralised.
Brunswick’s passed the same test, so fought on unhindered.

As the veil of darkness began to fall, French hopes of victory depended on breaking the “men in black”.

Photos 46–47: Tabitha delivered again! The Brunswick 1st Light and 3rd light were both defeated in mêlées (although the 3rd were only pushed back and rallied beyond the woods)...

Photo 48: ... the 8e cuirassiers came close to defeating the Leib battalion’s square, losing by one (and hence losing one casualty),…

Photo 49: … and the 2nd line was broken by the 1/92e ligne.

Photos 50: This left Brunswick with only three remaining battalions and needing to test divisional morale at 1/2 losses. He passed!

To add further insult to French injury, Picton’s division successfully rallied, so was no longer demoralised, while Jérome had no such luck.

Photos 51: Aerial view: the crossroads securely in Anglo-Allied hands.

Photos 52: Our view from the east show how the press had been relieved by the removal of Bachelu’s command.

Photos 53: The 1/4e légère were wise to stay in Gemioncourt Farm!

The French had lost two divisions ‘broken’, Piré and Bachelu, with Jérôme’s demoralised. This gave a total of 66 victory points to the Anglo-Allied. They had lost only van Merlen’s cavarly ‘broken’, giving 8 victory points to the French. A difference of 58 points, so a crushing victory to Wellington’s men!

For the third time in three games we had significantly changed history.; and I was left wondering what happened!

Of course, had Brunswick had a worse result for divisional morale, Bachelu a better result and perhaps been around to try to make Picton test at 1/2, it may have been different. Although, had Bachelu’s division not broken when it did, it most likely would have lost more units and so broken at 3/4 losses anyway.

All this conjecture of what-ifs and couldabeens comes when one is beaten so completely. A near run thing became a pretty devastating defeat!