DISPATCH FROM THE FIELD OF QUATRE BRAS!Perponcher's small force has been waiting all morning for the French attack. The Dutchmen are standing in the wheatfields north of Gemioncourt, while the Nassauers were deployed north and south of Bossu wood.
At 1330, Marechal Ney started his advance. Kellerman's cavalry charged the Nassauers who managed to form square, while Pire's Lancers advanced against the Dutch brigade in the centre. The Guard Cavalry was ordered to march over the bridge at Thyle, and the Corps artillery advanced in the center. The infantry advanced slowly because Ney had a feeling that he could not afford any unnecessary losses in Bachelu's and Foy's divisions.
Orange withdrew his Nassauers into Bossu wood, but the stronger French artillery was taking its toll on the Dutch square in the middle of the field. The Guard Cavalry was now arriving at the north bank, and took a strong position together with its artillery on the east side of the battlefield.
Now Ney started to ford with Bachelu's and Foy's divisions over the stream, while Jerome advanced slowly with his light infantry through the woods. The Dutch-Belgian Cavalry arrived but was brushed away by the Guard's Chasseurs. The Dutch-Belgian infantry still in square found that the odds were not in their favor, and fled back to Quatre Bras where the Prince tried to rally them. The small artillery unit continued to fire against the French infantry but was soon destroyed by Pire's Lancers.
PICTON ARRIVESNow Picton and Wellington arrive on the field at last. Picton placed his infantry inside and outside Quatre Bras, making the northern part of the battlefield an inpenetrable fort for the French cavalry.
Bossu-wood was held by the Nassauers, and Picton's squares formed a bow from the forest down to the village.
Ney now had to bring his infantry forward but it was not too easy to maneuver on the narrow fields south of Quatre Bras. Ney led one of Bachelu's brigades in person and advanced against the British squares. Picton maneuvered his well-trained highlanders with great skill, and managed to reform into line and made a charge against the French. A fierce combat started with heavy losses on both sides, but at last the French broke and ran to the bank of the stream.
However, the British brigade was disordered. Suddenly, Lefebvre-Desnouettes appeared with his chasseurs in the left flank of the Scots -- who failed to form square, and were ridden down by the galant troopers.
QUATRE BRAS FALLSAt the same time, Foy advanced on the east part of the field, while the Guard artillery continuously bombarded the Brittish brigade inside Quatre Bras. In a gallant charge in attack column, Foy brushed aside a square of Brunswickers and went on to the village itself. The British force was soon so decimated by the combined French fire that they lost their value as a fighting force. At about 1730, Foy entered Quatre Bras with one of his brave brigades.
On the left, the British Light infantry was advancing through Bossu wood together with the Nassauers. Jerome was ordered by Ney to slowly withdraw out of the wood.
FOY'S LAST STANDWhen the sun slowly set behind Bossu Wood, Wellington formed his forces for the last charge against Quatre Bras. The Guard had just arrived, and together with two Brunswickers brigades, they made a combined attack the village. The French Guard battery caused heavy losses in the Brunswick Landwehr Brigade, and soon they threw away their muskets and ran from the field. But it had fulfilled its purpose as kanonen-futter! and protected the British Guard against the flanking fire.
The British Guard now made an all-out attack against Quatre Bras. The fighting was hard, Foy led his forces galantly, but in the end the Guard's better training and morale took its toll and the French were forced out of the village.
As Ney and Foy had been occupied in the front-line, the French command chain did not work all too well. For once, Reille hesitated and the French now had the problem of how to get their remaining infantry brigades to the front. Before Ney could make any more charges, darkness fell over the Brabantian countryside. All fighting ended with the Allies in control of the strategic road-crossing.
Wellington claimed the victory, but Ney was convinced that with such heavy losses the allies would be a piece of cake the next day.
COMMENTS ABOUT THE GAMEWe used the basic rules of Napoleon's Battles, and the scenario (ordinary) described in the Napoleon's Battles issue of The General (Vol 26, No 6).
Our opinion is that the proposed playing area is far too small (3x3 in the scenario). It should be extended to at least 4x4 with an extra foot to the north and one to the east (best would be 5x5).
As we fought it, the battle was pretty much a stand-still because the French are so superior in cavalry at the start. The only tactic for the allies is to withdraw into the woods and Quatre Bras itself. It was really hard for the French to deploy in the beginning. There is not really room for all the troops in the proposed playing area.
It is a fairly balanced scenario. Our game ended 176-173 to the allies. They got a lot of points for controlling Quatre Bras but they had heavy losses as well.
We were three on each side:
This worked quite well.
- Wellington, Orange and Brunswick
- Ney, Kellerman and Jerome (a beginner to the game)
Advice to Ney: Strike hard from the beginning. Even if you cannot afford too many losses for your infantry, you must bring it up to support the cavalry. The Dutch and Brunswick cavalry is no match for your cuirassiers and the Guard cavalry. Don't go into line too early. You have to advance fast in column. Try to dig in in the west while you advance over the open fields in the east.
Advice to Wellington: Hide in the forest and towns until Picton arrives. Then prepare for the big assault when the Guard arrives. After the Guard has made its attack, the enemy has no time left for any counter attacks.
|19 June 1996||reformatted|
|9 April 1996||reorganized|
|Comments or corrections?|