Saturday, 28 June 2014

Quatre Bras-Tying up loose ends

As promised (though not as soon as I promised) Quatre Bras. The Battle of Quatre Bras was one of the two engagements that took place before the famous Battle of Waterloo (which was actually at Mont St Jean and Plancenoit, but no one really seems to care about such small details). The battle was fought between British and Allied forces under the command of the Duke of Wellington and French forces under the command of Marshal Ney and of General (not sure about that rank) Reille. The Combat was of course centred around the settlement of Quatre Bras, where Wellington had begun to recentralise his forces, after initially preparing to gather at Nivelles to the west. The French attack foolishly did not begin until 2pm in the afternoon, as Ney had the entire morning wasted away doing practically nothing at all. By this point the British were ready to defend against the attack.

The scenario I played through with me myself and I (other players for me are an extremely rare commodity) is not totally accurate to the actual numbers and forces at the battle, but I like to think it gave the right idea. The rules were simple: you role dice to shoot at people and move models around. I wasn't really using an official rules set, but was more just going with the principles I knew from the many other rules sets I've read in the past. Thankfully I can get away with this easily because there is no one else participating in the game. Of course when I play with someone else I make sure I stick to the rules, otherwise my friends tend to get a little annoyed (probably with good reason).

So, thus the layout is given, and the battle begins.

The 9th division moves forwards hurriedly to secure Gemioncourt Farm as well as moving to pin British forces in the nearby patch of woodland.

Pire advances his Chasseurs towards Bossu Wood to support the advancing French infantry.
With much playing of bagpipes Picton's highlanders advance forwards to the road, where they crouch in the ditch supported by the artillery that train their guns on the farm buildings.

Finally the guns make themselves heard as the dirt is sent whizzing away into the sky in large chunks all along the battle line as the artillery blasts apart the foe.
Foy continues his advance, linking some of his troops up with Bachelu's, as cannon fire forces the battalions towards the forested roadside.

As the French infantry advance through the woodland confidently, they are surprised by a heavy volley from the British lines ahead of them. Many of the shots ping off of the trees, but enough of them hit the French columns to stagger their advance.
The Highlanders have rushed to the roadside, and squat in the ditch as a mass of cannon fire flies overhead. Miraculously they suffer practically no damage.
The Hussars, angered by the cannon fire charge ahead, only to have front part of one of their wedges broken, the Chasseurs upon them after a vicious carbine volley. However, the French have blue guts, and are cut to pieces by the Hussars who manage to break apart the attack, despite their own casualties.
The French lancers, hither too unnoticed, charge forwards to assault the British guns and infantry, pressing for the hamlet itself.
The French smash through on the opposite flank as well; the highlanders after having survived several other bombardments, are finally dislodged by a bayonet charge while the other French troops are blasted at by cannons at close range, as they push the surviving British far back away from the road.
The (blurry) Chasseurs reform to try and finish the battle in Bossu Wood, but at its current state, it looks as if French casualties are too high for victory to be achieved on the Western flank.
Some French infantry form square to protect themselves from the threat of British dragoons, not knowing that the remnants of the hussars are forming up behind them also. Further down the line the lancers are in trouble, despite the presence of friendly infantry, the centre is turning into a hell hole for the combatants.
A very blurry picture of the final layout. As you probably cannot tell what's going on, I will tell you. The French troops have routed the British on the far east flank, but are held down on the west flank. The centre has simply devolved into a blood bath, with the French still having a limited number of troops that they can commit garrisoning Gemioncourt farm, but the British are just managing to hold the advantage, thanks to a grape shot volley against the overly excited lancers.

As the sun began to dip behind the dark shadow of Bossu Wood, Marshal Ney gazed out at the battle lines. Cannon smoke still drifted over the vallied area, and the cries of dying men hung in the air, so thick that the French commander thought that if he was to sweep his hand through the air in front of him, he would be able to pick them up in his hand. "Not quite the results we were hoping for eh?" he asked of Reille, who was seated on his own horse just behind him to his right.

"No sir. Not quite."

"The Emperor will not be overly pleased about this you know. Still, last I heard Ligny was turning out to be a rousing success, those Prussian barbarians were running like rabbits; hopefully his mood will be lightened."

"If you don't mind me saying so sir, I can't help but get the feeling as if things were supposed to go a little differently today."

Ney gazed out at the battlefield and pondered Reille's words. When he spoke, he was only partially sure of his own words until they came out. "No, I think not. It do not believe this could have gone any other way really."

There you have it ladies and gentlemen. I have finally finished up those loose ends I said I would. Now I can put up something for my next project! Though knowing me it will at best not be for another month or something like that. But anyway, I will do my best, I'm just glad I got this done. Hope you enjoyed this battle report, until next time good luck and Godspeed.