Tuesday 18 June 2024

The Battle of Waterloo: ( Fr: Mont Sainte Jean.) ( Pr: La Belle Alliance.) Belgium June 18th 1815.

 This is my personal interpretation of this battle. Any mistakes are my own.

For nearly twenty years Napoleon, his Generals and his armies had dominated European warfare. Coalitions had been formed by various Nations in order to fight this Corsican upstart. Each time they had failed.

Finally, in 1812, Napoleon over reached himself. Russia would not play the part of supplicant in a proposed trade deal.  Partly in a state of hubris, Napoleon led 600,000 troops in an invasion of the Russian homeland. As winter set in, the French Army could not win any outright victory. When they reached Moscow. there was nothing left. Anything of value had been removed and the rest burnt.

As the weather worsened, Napoleon decided to retreat back to France. Huge numbers of the French army were lost due to frostbite, starvation and disease along with constant harassment from the Russian Cossacks. Allied troops started to desert. At the battle of Leipzig “ The Battle of Nations”, the final blow was delivered. After this Napoleon fought on with a small army in France but despite his brilliance could not stop the Allies from invading the mother country.

At Fontainebleau, Napoleons Generals led by Marshal Michel Ney talked the Emperor into abdicating, something he didn’t  want to do. But he had no choice. In a subsequent Council the Europeans heads of State decided to banish Napoleon with a personal Guard of 1000 men to the island of Elba off the coast of Italy.

One year later, Napoleon escaped from the Island and landed in mainland France. His arrival wasn’t  universally celebrated. Many villages had been devastated by Napoleon’s conscription methods which left many places with no young men.

With much of France being rural it had caused great hardship amongst the farming communities. Despite this, within a few weeks Louis the 18th had been deposed and armies had been raised. There were still men in in France who would fight, older veterans who had been in captivity, officers who had lost their commissions and young men eager to prove themselves for the Emperor.

 As soon as news of Napoleons escape had traveled around Europe armies were on the move toward the French border..

Napoleons strategy was to try and defeat each allied army before they could unite. The two that were closest to his troops were the Prussians alongside the British Army which had gathered in the Netherlands( modern day Belgium).



On the 16th of June 1815 Napoleon attacked the Prussian army at Ligny. Winning the battle, Napoleon entrusted General Grouchy to pursue the Prussians North and East while he turned on Wellington,s army at Quatre Bras. ( This action was not as straightforward as it sounds, The battles at Ligny and Quatre Bras were hard fought actions for both sides with heavy casualties.)

Wellington was very lucky. Intelligence gathering had convinced him that the French were not likely to attack at this time. Even then he had given little credence to the messages received from the Prussians and other Cavalry patrols that French troops were massing for an attack

It was down to the Dutch Army led by General Constant-Rebecque, making a stand at the Quatre Bras crossroads that gave the British, Hanoverian, Brunswick and Nassau troops time to get organized. Wellington also sent Picton’s 5th Division to bolster the defense.



In the previous year whilst out hunting, Wellington noted the ground east and west of the Brussels road. As the Allied army retreated in order to maintain communications with the Prussians, Wellington knew where he would make a stand while he waited (and hoped) for the Prussians to join him.



Wellington’s dispositions at Waterloo are a bit of a headache. Instead of grouping the troops into national formations he interspersed the brigades across the line.The Corps system does not seemed to have been adhered to as Wellington preferred Brigades and Divisions, with the Brigade formation being the tactical unit for manoeuvre. 

Therefore, I’ve detailed each stand to give some idea of the “ patchwork quilt” of Wellingtons position. I’ve split the army into two halves using the Brussels road as a dividing line:



THE ALLIED ARMY;  49,608 Infantry = 49.608 points or 50pts r/u.

12,408 Cavalry = 12,408 points = 12 pts r/d

156 cannon = 156 x 50 gunners = 7,800 gunners = 7.8 pts r/u = 8pts.

C-in-C ;  Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington @ 1point.

General of Cavalry;  Henry Paget, 1st Earl of Uxbridge @ 1 point.

“ 1st DIVISION” The Prince of Orange @ 1 point.

( the right wing of the army )

1) Grants British Hussars: 1 stand @ 1 point.  2) Halkett’s Hanoverian Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.

3) Mitchell’s British Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  4) Adam’s British Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 2 points.  5) 95th Rifles Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  6) Du Platt’s Kings German Legion Line Infantry; 1 stand @ 2 points.  7) The Prince of Orange @ 1 Point.

  8) Dornburg Kings German Legion Dragoon Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  9) Union Brigade Scots Greys Cavalry: 1 stand @ 2 points.  10)  Somerset Household Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  11)  Byng’s 2nd Guards Infantry: 1 stand @ 3 points.  12)  Maitland 1st Guards Infantry: 1 stand @ 3 points.  13)  Halkett’s British Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.

14) Kilmansegge’s Hanoverian Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  15)  Kilmansegge’s Hanoverian Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point. 16)  Ompteda’s Kings German Legion Line Infantry: 1 Stand @ 2 points.  17) Kings German Legion Horse Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.  British Light Foot Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.

19) Guards Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  20)  2nd Guards Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  21) Nassau Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1point.  22) Luneburg Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.



A“ 2nd DIVISION” Thomas Picton/ James Kempt @ 1 point. ( Picton perished in this battle and Kempt took over.)

( the left wing of the army).

23) Ponsonby’s Dragoon Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  24) British Horse Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.  25) Vandaleur’s Light Dragoon Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  26) Vivian’s Kings German Legion Hussars: 1 stand @ 1 point.  27)  Kempt’s British Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 2 points.  28) Pack’s Scottish Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 2 points.  29)  Best’s Hanoverian Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  30)  Best’s Hanoverian Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.

31)  Vinke’s Hanoverian Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  32)  British Horse Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point. 33) Bijlants Dutch Line Infantry: 1 stand  @ 1 point.  34)  Bijlants Belgium Militia: 1 stand @ 1 point.  35) Bijlants Belgium Militia: 1 stand @ 1 point.  36)  Kings German Legion Foot Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.  37)  Baring’s Kings German Legion Rifles Light Infantry; 1 stand @ 1 point.  38) 95th Rifles Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  39)  Nassau Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.   40)  Nassau Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.


MONTE SAINT JEAN RESERVE:  Major Von Rausenplatt @ 1 point. ( The Duke of Brunswick had perished the day before at the battle of Quatre Bras ).

41)  Brunswick Jäger Light Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  42)  Brunswick Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point. 43)  Brunswick Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1point.  44) Brunswick Light Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.  45)  Brunswick Hussar Light Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.   46) Merlen’s Dutch Light Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  47)  Ghigny’s Dutch Light Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  48)  Tripp’s Dutch Heavy Cavalry: 1 stand @ 1 point.

“3rd DIVISION” BRAINE LALEUD: General David Hendrik Chasse  @ 1 point.

49)  Dutch Light Foot Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.  50) Dutch Light Foot Artillery: 1 stand @ 1 point.  51)  Dutch Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  52)  Belgium Militia Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  53) Belgium Militia Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  54)  Dutch Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.  55)  Dutch Line Infantry: 1 stand @ 1 point.

NOTE:

Bijlandts Brigade had suffered many casualties the day before at Quatre Bras where they had fought well. Once again, on the front line,  they had been positioned forward of the Ridge where they were exposed to the fire of the French Artillery. Suffering even more casualties they finally broke.

The Kings German Legion and the Hanoverians were one and the same. The King of Britain was also the Duke of Hanover. When the French army overran the Duchy in 1803 many Hanoverians were conscripted into the French army. About 4000  managed to make it to Britain. Equipped with British weapons and uniforms, they became The Kings German Legion.

The Hanoverians and Dutch had only recently regained their independence and there was a mixture of the old French uniform and equipment. and new issue. The Hanoverians wanted to fight united but Wellington was a bit dubious of their staying power facing their former allies.  Apart from one unit of Cavalry ( The Duke of Cumberlands Hussars ) the Hanoverians fought with distinctions.

The Prince of Orange was the overall commander of the Netherlands ( Dutch) formations. However he stood back allowing Wellington to take control.  As with the Hanoverians, Wellington had his doubts but the Dutch stood their ground. It’s why Wellington dispersed the German and Dutch troops amongst the British. As it turned out some of the British Units were a bit shaky being newly raised!.

 


THE FRENCH ARMY: 50,700 Infantry = 51 points r/u.

14,390 Cavalry = 14 pts r/d.

252 guns x 50 gunners = 12,600 gunners = 12.6 or 13 points r/u.



( I’ve concentrated on each Corp rather than individual Divisions as the French army was a homogeneous force. I’m not sure of the numbers of actual troops types and so the following is my best “guesstimation”.)

REILLE’S 2nd CORPS ( left wing).

16,000 Infantry = 16 points.   1,700 Cavalry = 2 points r/u.  46 guns = 2 points.

1 General, Honore Charles Reille @ 1 point.

1 General, Jerome Bonaparte @ 1 point.

1 stand of Grenadier Infantry @  3 points.

8 stands of Line Infantry @ 1 point = 8 points.

3 stands of Light Infantry @ 1 point = 3 points.

2 stands of Light Cavalry @ 1 point. = 2 points.

2 stands of Light Foot Artillery @ 1 point = 2 points.


D’ERLON’S 1st CORPS: ( right wing).

16,200 infantry = 16 points.  1,400 Cavalry = 1 point.   46 guns = 2 points.

1 General:  Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Compte d’Erlon  @ 1 point.

1 stand of Infantry Grenadiers  @  3 points.

5 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points. = 10 points.

2 stands of Light Infantry @ 1 point = 2 points.

1 stand of Light Cavalry  @ 1 point.

2 stands of Light Foot Artillery  @ 1 point = 2 points.


LOBAU’S 6th CORP. ( central reserve)

Note; this was another problem. As far as I understand, LOBAU’S Corps initial position was on the left and then got moved to the right so that’s where I positioned the figures.

6000 Infantry = 6 points  30 guns = 2 points.

1 General, Georges  Mouton, Count of Lobau  @ 1 point.

2 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points = 4 points.

1 stand of Light Infantry  @ 1 point.

2 stands of Light Foot Artillery  @ 1 point = 2 points.

KELLERMANN’S 3rd CAVALRY CORPS: ( Kellerman is not represented) 3,200 troopers = 3 points.

1 stand of Cuirassiers @ 1 point.

2 stands of Dragoons @ 1 point = 2 points.

1 stand of Horse Artillery @ 1 point.


DOMON’S  3rd  Cavalry Division  ( 900 ):represented by 1 stand of Cavalry @ 1 point.

SUBERVERIE’S 5th Cavalry Division (1,090 ): represented by 1 stand of Cavalry @ 1 point.

Note these Generals are not represented. The stands are positioned with Lobau.

MILHAUD’S 4th CAVALRY CORPS: 2,600 troopers + 12 Guns. ( Milhaud is not represented ).In reserve behind D’ERLON’S Corps.

3 stands of Cuirassier Cavalry @ 1 point = 3 points.

1 stand of Light Horse Artillery @ 1 point.



THE GUARD: 

12,500 Infantry = 12.5 or 13 points r/u.   3,500 Cavalry = 3.5 or 4 points r/u. 

94 guns x 50 gunners = 4,700 = 4.7 or 5 points r/u =

2 stands of Heavy Guard Artillery @ 2 pts = 4 points.

1 stand of  Guard Horse Artillery @ 1 point.

C-in-C Napoleon Bonaparte @ 1 point.

1 General Michel Ney  @ 1 point.

1 stand of Old Guard Infantry  @ 3 points.

2 stands of Middle Guard Infantry  @ 2 points = 4 points.

1 stand of Young Guard Infantry @ 2 points.

1 stand of  Guard Infantry Chasseurs @ 2 points.

1 stand of Chasseurs Cavalry  @ 2 points.

1 stand of  Polish Guard Lancers  @ 2 points.



THE PRUSSIANS: ( elements of 1st and 4th Armikorps). 14,000 = 14 points.

1 General, Friedrich Wilhelm Freiherr Von Bulow   @ 1 point.

3 stands of Line Infantry @ 2 points = 6 points.

1 stand of Light Infantry ( Schutzen )  @ 1 point.

2 stands of Cavalry @ 2 points = 4 points.

1 stand of Horse Artillery @ 1 point.

1 stand of Foot Artillery @ 1 point.

( The Prussians are not shown in the initial set-up).


FIGHTING THE  BATTLE:

* The French retain the Initiative Point for the entire battle.

*  The French win any tied results.

*  The battle is played for 8 Game-Turns.

* Attacking HOUGOMONT:  The attacker will deduct 3 points from any firing or close combat die rolls when moving against the walls of the chateau ( excluding the open area north of the garden.).

*  When firing into the wood South of Hougomont , 2 points is deducted from the firing die. Any stand IN THE WOOD being fired on from the chateau CANNOT CLAIM COVER.




* FORMING SQUARE: I use a former made of plastic and green pipe cleaners. To claim a stand in square this must be done at the beginning of a Game-Turn. The stand must not have any enemy stands in adjacent squares.



*  A square firing must have 4 points deducted from its firing die. Cavalry attacking a square will have 4 points deducted from its combat die. Artillery firing at  a square at 2 squares range will add four points to its die roll.

*  THE OHAIN-WAVRE ROAD ( THE SUNKEN ROAD).

Stands being moved over this road, will be moved one square less than normal. cavalry and guns can be moved through the hedgerow

When firing across the hedgerow that runs along each side of the sunken lane, 1 point is deducted from all die rolls.

Note: the sunken lane was not as deep as depicted in the film but it still impeded movement and disrupted volley fire. At the point where the sunken lane crossed the Brussels to Charleroi road, the ground dropped about 20 feet as the main road was also in a cutting.


VICTORY CONDITIONS:

*  If, before or at Game-Turn 8, the French hold : Hougomont, La Haye Sainte, Papelotte and The Ridge. They have won the game.

* If, before or at Game-Turn 8, the Allies still hold Hougomont and The Ridge they have won the game.

* Before beginning the battle both sides note their Morale totals. The French is 39 points and the Allies are 35 points. As stands are removed, their points value is removed from their respective morale totals.

If neither side has achieved their victory conditions by the end of Game-Turn 8, the side with the lower morale tally looses the battle. NOTE:  ANY REMAINING PRUSSIAN STANDS ON THE TABLE ADD THEIR POINTS TO THE REMAINING ALLIED TOTAL. IF THE ALLIES STILL HOLD HOUGOMONT AT THE END OF GAME-TURN 8, THEN ADD 10 POINTS TO THE REMAINING ALLIED TOTAL.

*  ALLIED REINFORCEMENTS;

The Brunswickers can be moved from the start of Game-Turn 3.

Chasse’s Dutch at Braine Alaude also move at the start of Game-Turn 3.They cannot fire or be fired upon until  stands are moved beyond the trees.

( The Netherlands artillery in Braine Allaud and the Brunswickers  at Mont St Jean were called forward to protect the area around Hougomont.)




The Prussians are placed on the Eastern edge of the table at the start of Game-Turn 6. They can move and fire within that Game-Turn.

CREDITS:

Firstly, to my Wife Joyce for painting the majority of the British and French Line Infantry. Most of the figures are from Irregular Miniatures with the remainder from Essex Miniatures and a few from Minifigs.

All the scenery is scratchbuilt from cardboard and pan scrubbers. Most of the hill are homemade from cork tiles with some from Brian at Essex Miniatures. The road is made from thin card.

The gaming mat came from Deep Cut Studios and the hedgerow from Pendraken miniatures. The little trees are from Amazon. The bases are 40mm square cut from picture framing card. The round 40mm MDF bases are from Minibits.

The Table is 3 feet (90 cm) x 2 feet (60 cm)

If you wish to read about the battle, this is one of the best, or the best: The book not only covers Waterloo, there are also chapters covering the actions at Ligny and Quatre Bras. A first class narrative history.



.

END NOTE:

I started wargaming “proper” in 1970. The film was a major influence but, apart from a short stint in the 80s when I painted a 28mm French and Austrian army ( which got sold to pay the bills) I haven’t touched Napoleonics being an 18th century man. 54 years later, here we are. I consider myself very lucky to have got here……..














4 comments:

  1. Better late than never! I think I finally got to play Waterloo about 44 years after the film - not including the Airfix Waterloo game in the 70s and later as a SYW battle.

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  2. Thanks Nundanket. I was thinking along the same lines until my Wife nudged me in the direction of actually collecting the figures. How could I resist??👍

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  3. What a fantastic set up, well done.

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  4. Thanks very much PDL. Much appreciated 🙏 Mike Smith.

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