For the 11th scenario in Neil Thomas' One Hour Wargames book, the author adapted that hardy perennial of the wargames table and a battle I never tire of reading about or gaming: Quatre Bras. Obviously, this being Neil Thomas, he strips it down to the barest fundamentals...
As previously, I am using Neil Thomas' Simplicity in Practice rules for the Horse & Musket period, published in Battlegames 023 and modified a little by myself.
Structurally this game is quite similar to the previous two games, in that the defender's have a third of their force present, which is then reinforced in two further stages during the course of the game. I slightly messed this up, but more of this in the game notes!
The Hanoverian Army:
6 Infantry units
1 Dragoon unit
2 Cavalry units
The Franco-Jacobite Army:
5 Infantry units
2 Artillery units
2 Cavalry units
|The Hanoverian position is anchored on a large pool and a large wood, which I am trying very hard not to call 'Bossu'...|
|The Franco-Jacobites advance down the road towards the defenders; all of their troops can arrive on Turn 1...except they all have to come down the road, so they can't if you see what I mean!|
|The Franco-Jacobites don't commit early, preferring to deploy into a full line of battle before engaging, so the first British reinforcements arrive before the action has really got under way.|
|A wider shot: French artillery is already causing some casualties in the centre of the Hanoverian line|
|The intensity of the fire increases and both sides are suffering...but the British Foot is suffering rather more...|
|The Franco-Jacobites are developing attacks to the centre and the right, whilst still merely demonstrating on the left.|
|The regiment in the Hanoverian centre (Fergusson's) is pulled out of the line, unable to stand further losses|
|Similarly, Dillon's Regiment is pulled back by the Franco-Jacobite commander (centre-bottom); meanwhile, the right-flanking attack is proceeding nicely, starting to pull off the British reserves|
|Seeing an opportunity as the 4th Foot have been disordered by French artillery, Royal Allemands charges home!|
|The 4th is worsted, and disperses into the woods. |
|The general takes refuge with the retreating Fergusson's Regiment|
|A wider shot: the Hanoverian position is looking decidedly thin and shaky...|
|And becomes a lot thinner and shakier, as Leven's Regiment is also charged and routed! The Hanoverian general is captured too...things are looking grim!|
|A wider shot: note that du Roi regiment is now beginning its sweep through the woods on the left flank too|
|The British Foot is retiring, hoping to reform the line on where Fergusson's Regiment is rallying as one of the Brigadiers steps up and assumes command (top-left)|
|The Franco-Jacobite flank attack has been contained on the Right, although the musketry battle is favouring them slightly.|
|More British reinforcements arrive in the nick of time, to help stabilize the situation|
|But losses have been high amongst the British Foot|
|Lumley's Regiment sees its moment and charges the Franco-Jacobites!|
|Feeling that the boldest measures are actually the safest, the British Brigadier orders a charge in the centre too! Royal Ecossais and Clare's Regiment are charged|
|Meanwhile, Lumley's Horse has been beaten off on the right.|
|The situation is parlous on the Hanoverian left - all the units are considerably understrength now.|
|However, the Carabiniers in the centre have fared rather better, the Irish infantry thrown back in disorder!|
|They are quickly followed by Royal Ecossais! The French artillery is now looking very exposed...|
|A wider shot|
|Having had the initiative snatched away, the Franco-Jacobites immediately try and snatch it back: Fitz James' Horse charges the very battered 5th Foot! |
|In a 'one for the Battle Honours' moments though, the 5th hold firm, bayonet and ball beating speed and sword on this occasion!|
|Meanwhile, the British relentlessly press their advantage in the centre, ignoring the French artillery and charging right into the press of disordered Jacobite infantry!!!|
|Royal Ecossais breaks at bayonet point as the 17th step forward... |
|Whilst Clare's Regiment is defeated and dispersed by the rampaging Carabiniers - the French general is captured too!|
|The battle has now taken on a rather different aspect!!!|
|Lumley's Horse is still losing heavily but the Hanoverians now have superior numbers on this flank|
|A wider view|
|French musketry and artillery by the woods on the left is causing some annoyance to the British Dragoons and the long-suffering Fergusson's Regiment!|
|However, the British in the centre are taking full advantage of the confusion in the Franco-Jacobite chain of command, launching further charges!|
|The 5th's musketry fire has seen off the remnants of the cavalry facing the British Left: Berwick's Irish regiment (top-right) is now horrible isolated and outnumbered|
|Nothing is going to stop the 17th Foot on this day - Dillon's regiment routs...|
|As does Royal Allemands, their retreat impeded by the woods, the uncaptured survivors must flee by foot or leading by bridle to avoid the unstoppable Carabiners|
|After a few devastating minutes, quiet descends on the battlefield - the Franco-Jacobite army is largely destroyed, only Berwick's Regiment (right) and du Roi (in the woods, left) are in a position to escape.|
I will admit - six turns in, I did not see that coming! Everything seemed to be going so well for the Franco-Jacobites. In fairness, I did make one error which may have favoured the Hanoverians: one set of the reinforcements was supposed to arrive from the West (left) rather than both coming from the North (top). I don't suppose it made too much difference though. On the other hand, the Franco-Jacobites had what is usually the strongest force selection (with 2 artillery units) whilst the Hanoverians had none. What the game really showed I think is the advantage of fresh troops in these rules - fresh troops don't particularly have an advantage in musketry or artillery duels in these rules, but they do get an advantage in melee. The advancing Franco-Jacobites had suffered just enough in the advance that when a small number of fresh British troops arrived who could be thrown into battle without suffering from fire whilst advancing, mix in a little luck, and there you have it - a decisive victory!
Incidentally, in these rules, cavalry charging formed infantry in the front, even if the infantry have suffered some losses, is risky: not that it shouldn't be done, but that it is no sure thing. So the French tried it twice in the battle: once it paid off (early, in the centre), once it didn't (later, on the right). Neil Thomas avoids some of the pitfalls possible in Horse & Musket rules in which there are too many sure things: cavalry will never voluntarily charge a square, because it is suicidal; or infantry in line will never voluntarily stay in line versus cavalry, because it is suicidal. Neil Thomas found a quite decent balance point in these rules.
As ever, figures are from Baccus 6mm War of the Spanish Succession range.
Incidentally, Quatre Bras is a battle I have refought quite a few times, some of which are on the blog:
This is it re-fought with Polemos Ruse de Guerre.
This is it re-fought with Polemos Marechal d'Empire.
And this is it re-fought with Horse, Foot and Guns
Not sure what you would all think, but I think Neil Thomas did a pretty good job in distilling something of the essence of the battle into a very simple but playable and recognizable recreation: very impressive. I have enjoyed all of the battles so far in this series, but this was a particularly good one.
Of course, it isn't a new thing setting Quatre Bras in the C18 - there was a very pretty game put on at Partizan a few years back.