Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Waterloo 2015

© Lindsay Hall 2015. Waterloo 2015 PWG 28mm
French 2nd Infantry Division begin their assault on the Allied Line. Image courtesy of Lindsay Hall.

The Peninsula Wargames Group took the opportunity of the 200th anniversary of the battle of Waterloo to present a refight of the battle over the weekend of 20-21 June.

Using over 6000 28mm figures, representing years of painting and planning, club chairman Mike Karsten described the game as "possibly the biggest game we have planned, and will ever play".

Using Warlord Games' Black Powder rules, with six players on the Anglo Allied side and four on the French, the game represented the events from 10 in the morning of the 18th June 1815 until the arrival of the Prussians - in this game at about 3pm (notably earlier than on the day). In an effort to ensure no revisionist tactics were employed, the game umpire played both Wellington and Napoleon - and issued Corp level orders to each player. It meant that each player was obliged to attempt to fulfil their specific historical orders. It worked very well, with each player making tactical changes that meant the outcome was not a certainty, but it still allowed the game to fall within the realms of the historical. In addition, the terrain in front of the weak English flank was made "rough going" by the umpire, to discourage an obvious revision of tactics. Each 15 minutes of battle time was allocated 30 minutes of game time.

© Anthony van Dijk 2015. Waterloo 2015 PWG 28mm
Initial Allied deployment, as viewed from the west. Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk.

The French launched their attack just after 10.30am, with the 1st Corps attacking the Anglo Allied on the central to eastern flank, the 6th Corps attacking La Haye Sainte and the 2nd Corps attacking Hougoumont. Despite a quick victory by the French 4th Division at Pappelotte, the initial attack at Hougoumont was repulsed, and at La Haye Sainte the defenders grimly held on against multiple divisions.

© Anthony van Dijk 2015. PWG Waterloo 2015
French 4th Division assault Pappelotte. Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk. 
© Anthony van Dijk. 2015 PWG Waterloo
The usual suspects (and the view from the East). Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk.
This set the tone for multiple game turns, with the French making gains on the east flank, while being checked in the centre and west. Despite the 1st French Corp infantry reaching the Allied lines piecemeal, a series of brutal cavalry clashes ensured they managed to gain a toehold on the eastern end of the Allied line. Allied cavalry commanders rushed to reinforce the central and eastern ridgeline, and just as the Kings German Legion were finally evicted from La Haye Sainte, Wellington launched a strong counterattack from the west ridge towards La Haye Sainte - effectively splitting the French army in two and cutting off the 2nd Corps at Hougoumont.

© Anthony van Dijk 2015. PWG Waterloo 2015
Hougoumont stands. Image courtesy of Anthony van Dijk.

Clash of cavalry. Image courtesy of Lindsay Hall.
© David Davidson. PWG Waterloo 2015
2nd Division columns of attack falter as they reach the British line. Pic courtesy of David Davidson.
At about the same time, word reached the French command of the imminent arrival of the Prussians at Plancenoit and Pappelotte, and the Imperial Guard was dispatched to head off that threat.

We ran out of time to complete the game, and the umpire took some time to consider the result. The French had occupied a section of the ridge, and were in a position to threaten the road to Mont St Jean, but had taken significant casualties in doing so. Whether they would be able to hold off a Prussian counterattack was open to debate. And the Allied line of retreat to the west was secure. While it was agreed the French had done better than the historical outcome, they had not done enough to claim victory, and the umpire declared it honours even.

More images, and a more detailed AAR will be published shortly.