Sunday, August 24, 2008

Garden Wars = Quatre Bras

A while back, last month actually, I did a garden game with my son using the newly painted British Troops and some French.

I was not ready with a large lot of red coats (which my son really likes) so I chose to set up a "Quatre Bras" like scenario...

First I mowed the lawn back very short in most areas, with a 'taller' section, that you can see has a 'brighter green', it was under a trampoline that shades the area and concentrates the moisture, permitting the grass to grow tall and bright green.

So we laid out the map, I cut out the road and water pieces and my son got to lay them out on the lawn. He chose to place Gemioncourt on the opposite side of the river...

That is our dog off to one side to give an impression of how big the area is.

We than laid out our forces...

That is yours truly setting out my cavalry.
Again just so that you have a clear idea of how large the 'playing area' was.

So NEY, had two Infantry Divisions, a Dragoon Division and a Chasseur Detachment. Along with three Foot Batteries and two Horse Batteries.

NEY and his ADC planning their actions...

Wellsley had two British Infantry Divisions, a "Dutch" Infantry Division and a mixed Cavalry Force. Along with the British were two Royal Artillery Foot Batteries and the Dutchmen had a Horse Battery.

My son placing his troops in the 'trap' he had planned for the frenchies...

The view when 'up close' has a different feel than when looking at the troops on the game tabletop. We used SHAKO rules (version 1) with a 'double scale' option so that the troops could move and fire double their normal distances (allowing us to walk between them more easily).

Some French Infantry seen closer...

The first part of my son's 'trap' was to launch his Dutch Cavalry across the bridge in an effort to 'stop' the French columns moving quickly along the road...

Dutch Horse rapidly crosses a bridge to 'get at' the head of the French column.

Meanwhile, over on the French far right, the Dragoon Division was rushing towards the other river crossing near Thyle. The British and Allied force had not deployed any men to cover this crossing...

A French Dragoon Division in column of squadrons.

The French column did deploy the 'head' into a fighting line, by having the troops on the 'road' move into line, while the following forces broke out to the left in columns.

A 'wide view' of the column, the measuring stick you can see is 9" long.

The Dutch horse, Dragoons & Hussars, engaged the French on the road, directly. The Hussars were entirely routed, while the Dragoons managed to get a French Battery entangled in its own train and close with an Infantry column (forcing it into square) before smartly retiring back across the river.

Here the French line delivers fire, then managed to break the Dutch Hussars without going into square!

The Dutch Horse were apparently the 'cheeze' in the 'trap'...

The backs of the Dutch Dragoons as they recovered to their commander
(yes the one sporting a Vile Stagonia flag!).

Meanwhile the French Dragoon Division had started the river crossing near Thyle...

French Dragoons compress down to a single file as they press across the river.

In the French Center, a force of Chassuers A Cheval had arrived and taken post as NEY's new 'reserve'...

Taking post in reserve are a squadron of the Imperial Guard Chasseurs a Cheval.

British forces near Quatre Bras had yet to see action, but were now being informed of the need to prepare to defend against marauding French Cavalry...had the 'trap' not worked?

The Allied high command, sending out riders to inform brigades to ready defences against French Dragoons...

The 'trap' has failed...
French Dragoons were now pouring across the river at Thyle and massing along the roads heading towards the Allied left flank. The Dutch Infantry were starting to move to cover that flank, however it was becoming clear that they would not get 'into position' before the French would be ready to start charges.

A wide veiw of the developing battlefield. French Dragoons are on the 'road' in two columns in the center of the image. Quatre Bras is up near the 'top center'. The darker green of Bossu Wood can be seen stretching across the top from center to left.

The French pour across on the left near Gemioncourt.
Now that the 'trap' was sprung, the French did not hesitate to press across the river and along the flank of Bossu Woods. Two great columns raced in the gap between the woods and the 'river' start. Another double-quick-time marched along the road driving hard to pass the now 'turned' Dutchmen.

Artillery Barrage:
"Drive them back!" comes the order to the gunners of the Royal Artillery, whom were placed near the crossroads, now seeing the long dark lines of French Infantry columns racing towards them.

A Royal Artillery Battery in action.

Unfortunately for the Dutchmen the French batteries were also in action...directed at their backs!

The Dutch Infantry collapsed after three salvoes, they lost heart in the battle and confidence in themselves as they fled the field, leaving only the Dragoon remnant behind as the sole Dutch 'allied' force.

With nothing to hold them back the French Dragoon commander ordered an immediate charge into the nearest red coated unit...the 71st Highlanders!

Seen from oblique above the Highlanders are taking a charge in the flank while in line, since they are also engaged in a musket duel with advancing French Infantry.

Just as the French Dragoons were charging, so did the Dutch Dragoons. Straight into a French Foot Battery, scattering the gunners and cutting down the draft teams leaving the guns in a jumble.

Dutch Dragoons take one more action!

Unfortunately the situation was not good for the Highlanders, since their flank was now wide open to the French Dragoons!

French Dragoons strike the 71st Highlanders in the flank after Dutch horsemen move off to charge a gun battery.

Dire consequenses:
The situation from the British position now looked bleak.
With all the Dutch Infantry now gone and a French Dragoon Division moving in from his left, Wellsley was not in any position to even hold his ground.
French Columns were moving up the main road into Quatre Bras, with only the guns to slow them since the Infantry was not yet in position to cover the right flank.
On his left the Dragoons were slaughtering half of his remaining infantry. His own light Dragoons were too far away to engage the forward Dragoons, but were ready to take on the other two formations that were now moving into charge positions further on his left.

The wide view looking south. Again the 'long grass' of Bossu Wood is clearly visible, lying within the wood is a 'yard stick' used to measure 'command span'

The battle done:
With the flanks in collapse and the 'trap' failed, Wellsley wisely ordered a general retreat. Quatre Bras came out the same as its historical counter-part, a modest French Victory.

Seen looking from the south-east, the Bossu Wood again stands out as the lush darker green. (with the same yardstick lying in it).

The Dutch Dragoons would have to fight their way out from the closing French 'trap'.

Dutch Dragoons would have a short celebration, as their charge to take the guns had left open the flank of British the battle was over.

A final moment.
British troops were ready on the far left flank, in squares, while the brigade in the center was not.

Here then can be seen the final die rolls for the last melee. The French total was 11, the British was 6.

A casualty.
We are often warned about using our toy soldiers on the floor. The warning is usually about them getting 'trodden on'.
Sadly for the Wellsley's ADC, this was true.
I came close to damaging the Chasseurs a Cheval, but only 'close'.

An ADC, squashed flat.

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