Wednesday, 22 January 2014

The Battle of Bon Chance revisited - General De Brigade



This battle was fought some time ago and I have shared a number of these photographs previously but never in its entirety and never with a full battle report. 
During the summer holidays a few of the boys at the club were keen for a larger battle that could be fought leisurely over the course of a day.  Certainly one which would be bigger than those we usually play during the year on a Wednesday evening at the NWS.

Having the wonderful offer of a day at Steve Yardley’s on his custom built 16 foot by 6 foot, we thought that a large “General De Brigade” was in order and gathered up keen players, troops and refreshments for what was to be first rate encounter in The Grand Manner!

Over the past eighteen months a number of us have been building up our forces for the Waterloo 1815 campaign inspired by the wonderful figures from Perry Miniatures as well as the superb flags from the talented Graeme Black at GMB.  Phil Cook and Martin Street were to be the French commanders and myself, Andy Morant and our genial host Steve Yardley were to play the Allies.  Andrew Purves was feigning work however we knew he would turn up eventually!

The encounter was to depict a fictional encounter between the French I Corps under D’Erlon with some additional army assets, who were being charged with securing a route for the main army through either one of two critical crossroads located at the Villages of Bon Chance and La Regrette.

Standing in their way in order to buy time for the rest of the Anglo-Dutch army was the Prince of Orange and his collection of British, Brunswickers, Nassau and Dutch-Belgians.  They were to hold both road junctions and if possible, inflict a crippling blow on the French to try and reduce their effectiveness for the rest of the campaign.


French Order of Battle – General D’Erlon

D’ERLONS CORPS


QUIOT’S DIVISION 
BRIGADE
UNIT
STRENGTH
GRADE
QUIOTS
54TH
2 X 24
LINE

55TH
2 X 24
LINE

SKIRMISHERS
12
LINE




BOURGEOIS
28TH
2 X 24
LINE

105TH
2 X 24
LINE

SKIRMISHERS
12
LINE




ARTILLERY
8PDR FOOT
4 GUNS
LINE




ARTILLERY
12PDR FOOT
4 GUNS
LINE



DONZELOTS DIVISION   ]
BRIGADE
UNIT
STRENGTH
GRADE
SCHMITZ
13TH LIGHT
2 X 30
VETERAN

17TH LINE
2 X 24
VETERAN




AULARD
19TH
2 X 24
LINE

31ST
2 X 24
LINE

SKIRMISHERS
12
LINE




ARTILLERY
8PDR FOOT
4 GUNS
LINE

               
MARCOGNET DIVISION
BRIGADE
UNIT
STRENGTH
GRADE
NOGUES
21ST
2 X 24
LINE

45TH
2 X 24
LINE




GRENIER
25TH
2 X 24
LINE

45TH
2 X 24
LINE

SKIRMISHERS
12
LINE




ARTILLERY
8PDR FOOT
4 GUNS
LINE


DURUTTES DIVISION – (OFF BOARD AND NOT USED)                       

JACQUINOTS CAVALRY               
BRIGADE
UNIT
STRENGTH
GRADE
BRUNO
7TH HUSSARS
18
LINE

3RD CHASSEURS
18
LINE




GOBRECHT
3RD LANCERS
18
LINE – INFERIOR MTS

4TH LANCERS
18
LINE – INFERIOR MTS.




ARTILLERY
6DPR HORSE
3 GUNS
VETERAN










French Legere

Allied Order of Battle

Prince of Orange

2ND NETHERLANDS DIVISION - PERPONCHER – ORANGE  
BRIGADE
UNIT
STRENGTH
GRADE
BYLANDT
27TH JAGERS
30
LINE

7TH LINE
30
2ND LINE

5TH MILITIA
30
CONSCRIPT

7TH MILITIA
30
CONSCRIPT

DUTCH 9PDRS
3 GUNS
LINE/2ND CLASS




SAXE-WEIMAR
1ST/2ND NASSAU
3 X 36
2ND LINE

1ST ORANGE
2 X 36
2ND LINE

SKIRMISHERS
18
2ND LINE




5TH BRITISH DIVISION            
PICTON (personally not present)


PACK
1ST
32
VETERAN

42ND HIGHLANDERS
40
VETERAN

44TH
40
VETERAN

92ND HIGHLANDERS
32
ELITE

SKIRMISHERS
12
VETERAN




DUTCH -BELGIAN
CAVALRY


MERLEN
5TH LD
18
CONSCRIPT

6TH HUSSARS
18
CONSCRIPT
ARTILLERY
9PDR HORSE
3 GUNS
LINE

BRUNSWICK                        RESERVE          
BRIGADE
UNIT
STRENGTH
GRADE
BUTTLER
AVANT GARDE
32
VETERAN

1ST LINE
32
2ND LINE

2ND LINE
32
2ND LINE

3RD LINE
32
2ND LINE




OLFERMANS
GUARD
32
LINE

1ST LIGHT
32
2ND LINE

2ND LIGHT
32
2ND LINE

3RD LIGHT
32
2ND LINE




RANSCHENPPLATT
HUSSARS
36
LINE

UHLANS
12
LINE
ARTILLERY
9PDR HORSE
4 GUNS
LINE
ARTILLERY
9PDR FOOT
4 GUNS
LINE

We took these orders of battle from the General De Brigade website and with a few minor adjustments they would suit us perfectly.

The French plan was reasonably straight-forward.  Push hard on their left with Marcognets and Aulds Divisions in an echeloned attack to take the crossroads defended by Brunswick and his support formation of Nassau under Saxe – Weimar.  At the same time to screen the Dutch-Belgians of Byljandt and Packs British Brigade with a division of light cavalry troops to prevent them providing support and in turn putting pressure on the flanks of the French advance.
The Allied plan was to defend the crossroads in depth and to attempt to turn the French right flank if the opportunity presented itself.



Brunswickers deploy to defend the crossroads on the allied right flank.






View looking down the field showing the screening French cavalry
of Jacquinots Brigade as well as Hussars and Chasseurs attached.




Marcognets Division in position to advance at all speed.
So the battle was joined.

Immediately it became clear to the Prince of Orange that the push was against Brunswick.  Packs British brigade started to advance on the allied left flank however it became caught up in difficult terrain and was slowed down dramatically.  This was not unnoticed by the local French Commander who sent forth his battery of horse artillery and his Hussars and Chasseurs to harry the British troops.




Lovely French Perry figures - no plastic with any of Cookies collection under
fear of a court martial!





Packs Brigade with the 42nd Highlanders




Byljandt and Saxe-Weimar advance cautiously in the centre.
It was at this point that the allies were to experience what was to be a perennial problem during the battle.  Despite excellent initiative dice rolling from our glorious Prince of Orange (Andy Morant) we could not roll an order change to save our life.  Having deliberately been somewhat defensive in our initial set-up and order allocation, we struggled to roll what would even remotely allow us the opportunity to send reserves where they looked like they may be required.



View of the Dutch -Belgian Centre with Orange 28th Regiment to
the fore

The Prince of Orange wins another Initiative roll...however his order changing die were another thing completely!!

On the Allied right, around the outskirts of Bon Chance the Brunswickers were faced with a dilemma.  As Marcognets Division advanced it became increasingly obvious that reinforcements were going to be hard-pushed to arrive in time to fully support the position.  Thus Butler made the decision to advance the 1st and 2nd Brunswick line battalions in order to help hold up the lead French battalions.  This was a risky strategy considering the morale class of these troops however the Brigadier felt that there was no other choice.  From the distance the Duke of Brunswick nodded his approval as the troops made their way to the cornfields.

The brave 1st and 2nd Line Battalions of the Black Brunswickers advance.
In order to further support the right flank, Buttler also sent aides scampering to the cavalry Brigade situated on the hill to the left of his brigade. This formation commanded by General Ranschenplatt consisted of four squadrons of the Black Hussars and one large squadron of Brunswick Uhlans.  Despite rumors of a falling out the night before between the two commanders, Buttler was confident that Ranschenplatt would see that his original orders (To support Saxe-Weimar and Oflermann in the centre against French attack) would be irrelevant and futile if the extreme right was broken through and the crossroad around Bon Chance taken.


Back on the allied left flank the French screening was working well.  Pack was caught up in the cornfields and perceived pressure on General Perponchers division and Byljandt brigades in particular in the centre was preventing a fast advance from the Dutch-Belgians on the French formations to their front.



Perponcher and Staff take in the situation
Noticing this the Dutch cavalry commander General Merlen took the opportunity to change his orders and attempt to advance around the perimeter of the village so as to bring pressure on the motley screening force holding up one third of the army.


General Merlen advances with the 5th Belgian Light Dragoons
and the 6th Dutch Hussars with Horse artillery in support.

The French cavalry of Jacquinot holding up the Anglo-Dutch advance on the
left and centre.  They were to soon easily drive off the exposed skirmish screen.


The French advance on the crossroads.  Major Rue waves on
encouragement to his crew on the hill.


The French cavalry of Jacquinot holding up the Anglo-Dutch advance on the
 left and centre.  They were to soon easily drive off the exposed skirmish screen.

To the immediate right of Marcognets Brigade, D’Erlon had ordered a force to attempt to directly put pressure on the crossroads defended by the Brunswick Foot artillery and a battalion of the Avante Garde.  He had also allocated the corps asset of a battery of twelve pounders commanded by Major Martine Rue.  He was always known as a commander of quality with an eye for opportunity (both on and off the battlefield!).  Today was to be no different.



Brunswick Artillery and Avante Garde defend the crossroad.
Around the cornfields on the Allied right the clash between the two advance Brunswick Battalions and the advance elements of Marcognets Division clashed.  Despite being outnumbered and without their volley inflicting significant casualties on the French, the brave boys in black managed to halt the French strike and then retreat in good order a few hundred yards behind and set up a second line of defence.

The allied right as French columns hit


Slightly different view of the action on the right.



...and fall back to a second line of defence.

In the centre, Byljandt continued his slow advance forward, fresh orders for him to push forth against the feeble French screen to his front not being forthcoming from the upper echelon of command.

In the centre the Dutch-Belgians await more aggressive orders


Whilst the 1st Chasseurs cause a bit of concern on the allied left
  

Brunswick Light Brigade outside the woods and on a good
defencive ridge line - will it make the difference?

To the right of Saxe-Weimar, the Brunswick Light Brigade under Olfermann could see the advancing elements of Aulds Brigade.  The French were determined to take this position and therefore have freedom to swing down on Butlers left flank via the woods.


...against these lads look more formidable and than Marseilles fans on tour!

As the battle raged on the allied right flank, the news that Buttler had been sweating on arrived.  The Brunswick light cavalry with Horse Artillery support was finally on the move and heading towards the extreme right of the army.  This would then force the French to either take the risk of pressing forth their attack across open ground and exposing their lead elements to the enemy cavalry or forming squares and presenting wonderful targets for the horse artillery.


Brunswick light cavalry on the move. On the hill to the rear of this shot, Major Rue commanding the 12pdr battery sees a nice fat flank!  Don't quite know the story with the Tiger on the wall - Steve????

Close up of the lovely Uhlans from Perry Miniatures

Disaster!


The French see the opportunity to cause some damage to the Brunswick Hussars and fire a speculative barrage of ball.  However Major Martine Rue is a lucky fellow.  A double six is rolled, Ranschenplatt is killed instantly and the formation falters in disarray! 

The unfortunate General Ranschenplatt receives his final order!
The unfortunate General Buttler is now on his own.

Back in the centre, elements of Quiots Division start to build pressure along the Dutch-Belgian front.  Commanding a Brigade himself, he and Bourgeois push their columns forward at full speed.  Unfortunately for the allies, their fire upon them is sporadic and ineffective. 


Overview of the table at midway


28th Orange Nassau Regiment

On the allied left, Pack is still being obstructed in his advance by screening French cavalry who have forced the lead battalion of the 42nd to go into square.  Merlen, despite the delays of traversing the town heads off to alleviate the pressure on Pack and free up the formation to move aggressively onto the French right flank.


Half the Anglo-Dutch Corps held up by one regiment of French!!

Whilst Quiots Division advances.


French General Staff look suitably relaxed.

Aulds attack on the woods defended by the Brunswick Light Brigade now starts to see some increased and dynamic activity.  Despite the fire of the Avante Garde and the 1st Light battalion, the advancing French columns are unfazed and determined to press forward the advantage that their formation will give them in a hand to hand fight. 


The battle for the woods becomes fiercely contested. 


Brunswick veteran Advante Garde

The moment of truth for the possession of the crossroads.

The point of impact one could say!

The Light infantry are pushed back as the reserve
 battalions advance to offer some support

In the centre the French also start to press forward against the Nassau brigade of Saxe-Weimar.  Largely left in reserve, this formation was made up of variable quality troops in terms of morale but their strategic deployment was sound.  Saxe-Weimar remained confident of seeing off the French Imperial threat.


"Here they come sir!".


With all speed the French, having put their hopes in an all out attack across all fronts with very little in reserve launch charges across a wide front.

Impressive mass of Nassau awaiting the enemy

Saxe-Weimars moment of truth

Good old fashioned blood and guts as French and allied columns clash

Same action with the Dutch - Belgians looking on.

Lots of lead in this particular engagement

Despite a withering volley of defensive fire across the front, most of the French Columns hit home, pushing back the Nassau and the 28th Chasse-Orange Regiment.  The consolidation of the French advance is now very much taking shape.

However Merlen and his intrepid brigade of Dutch-Belgian cavalry are still intent on causing a good deal of discomfort to the French cavalry.  With great √©lan the 5th Light Dragoons engage and force the French Chasseurs to retreat in disarray.


The 5th Light Dragoons prepare to engage the enemy Chasseurs
 whilst the 8th Hussars look to expose a flank.


8th Dutch Hussars charge the French 6th whilst the Light Dragoons
prepare to see off the dismayed Chasseurs.

The cavalry battle goes well for the Allied cavalry until the French roll a Double Six and turn a certain rout into victory and Dutch disarray.


Double six translates into Dutch disaster!!

Back on the Allied right the French attack on the crossroads reaches climax point.  The Avante Garde fires a withering volume however the French still hit home and defeat the veterans easily, opening up the position.

The Advante Garde rout.

However all is not lost.  The Brunswick cavalry of the now deceased Ranschenplatt has hardly played a part in the battle so far.  Yet the chance for glory remains as the Uhlans see the now unformed and disorganised French battalion hurriedly rushing to regain composure.  The French commander sees the threat, realises that he will not have time to form square and yells for an emergency volley to be fired as he grits his teeth and prepares for the worse.


He needn’t have worried.  Martin rolls another double six, the Uhlans falter and the French are saved.  Bloody hell!!!



Uhlans cop an unlucky, but by now predictable, bad break!

DB Jaegers look slightly non-plussed by the goings on. 

Belgian Light Dragoons




Crucial times on the extreme right as well.


Brunswickers putting up fierce resistance but the French
have their gander up!


Grim times methinks.

On the extreme right flank the brave Brunswickers are now completely overwhelmed by the elements of Marcognets Division and the reinforcing brigades.  Units finally rout and the entire position is lost.

French follow up in the centre as the Nassau battalions are pushed
 back and the Jaegers attempt to take a few victims before they leave.

View at the rear of the Brunswick Light Brigade - beat those drums Hans!!

The DB Infantry decide that forming square may be a good idea.

Considering the situation I must admit to looking decidedly calm.


Resistance is now broken as Marcognet takes the town and sweeps down
upon the Brunswick rear.


At this stage, the allied high command decides that it needs to get what remains of the force off whilst it can so as to at least be able to contribute to the campaign further in the week.  Our French opponents, ecstatic with the success of their plan happily take the positions and look at their cavalry which remains relatively in tact.


Scottish firepower takes on French Horse artillery

Packs brigade also has managed to finally clear itself of the difficult terrain and is able to bring some fire to bear on the French Horse artillery that has been mercilessly striking at its ranks throughout the battle.


The Duyke of Brunswick looks to the east to make his divisions
escape.  The rest of the corps will soon follow.

Pursuit may well be on the agenda.

All in all this was a great game, played in great spirit on what was an unbelievably hot Perth day (40 degrees Celsius plus!!!).  The aesthetic look of the game was fantastic and it was great to see so many wonderful figures on the field.  We look forward to playing some more large scale games in the New Year especially around our Club Open Day

12 comments:

  1. Great stuff Carlo. More more more!

    8O)

    Salute
    von Peter himself

    ReplyDelete
  2. Thanks Peter - the game was great fun and despite my poor photographic skills there were some lovely troops on show!

    ReplyDelete
  3. That's a cracking game!
    Great toys on a massive board - right up my street.
    More of the same please,
    best wishes,
    Jeremy

    ReplyDelete
  4. Thanks a lot Jeremy - really appreciate the visit and comments mate.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Fantastic table Carlo, I always love a big game of Napoleonic's...sensational

    ReplyDelete
  6. Sweet game and report. I doubt Grant and I will get that much of a force together.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks Greg. Great to catch up on the weekend at Cancon mate. Grant and yourself don't age at all!

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  7. Replies
    1. Thanks Mark - it was great gun and most of these boys will be getting a few outings this year.

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  8. Great report and superb looking table. The troops - magnificent. Bravo, Carlo!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much Peter - it was a fun game mate.

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