The Battle of Nearlyloo

We had a massive game (or a portion of a massive game, anyway) of Napoleon’s Battles here in Northwest Arkansas this weekend. This event was put on by Grady West, and his club, H.O.G.S. (Historically Oriented Gamers Society) at a nice little cottage to the southeast of Fayetteville. Seven players were in attendance (four on the French side, three on the Allied side), with Grady serving as umpire, facilitator, and rules explainer.

Tim (not this Tim) and Ralph have been playing out a double blind campaign game based around Waterloo (with Grady refereeing), using a board game, whose name I can’t remember. The tactical battle we are playing is a result of their strategic maneuvering in the board game, and thus is a little/lot different than the historical battle of Waterloo. For one thing, the British are pushed back further north than they were historically, astride the road to Belgium, and with their backs to the great forest north of the historical battlefield.

The French started with three corps on the battlefield, as well as Napoleon’s various guard contingents and the constituent parts of the le grande batterie. The allies started with only a single British corps on the field (including a division of Brunswickers), but occupied a strong defensive position, and would almost immediately begin receiving reinforcements from both flanks.

I was on the French side (vive le France! (that’s probably wrong)), commanding the French I Corps in the center of the battle line. I was D’Erlon, and had several divisions of line infantry, a large brigade of legere, and a large brigade of light cavalry. I was incompetent in employing them, but I also had two batteries, one of 6 pounders, and one of 12 pounders.

I’ll let the pictures (I apologize for the quality-light levels were inadequate for good picture taking) and captions tell the rest of the story. To my fellow players, sorry for the emphasis on I Corps part in the battle. I’ll try to get more pictures of the rest of the action next time:


French line of battle


British reserve corps deployed, with Brunswicker contingent anchoring their left. Note the Congreve rockets in their line of guns!


The gallant D’Erlon, commander of the French I Corps


I Corps arrayed for battle, Napoleon watches from the crest of a hill behind.


I Corps heads for the Brunswickers


Exchanges of fire begin. I was pretty lucky with my rolling, and took few casualties from skirmishing. The caps in place indicate ‘casualties’ from marching in the strategic game.


Prussians enter the battlefield from the east, III Corps sets up to block them. The commander of this flank of the French army had little to do for the entire seven hours of the game, other than maneuver, but he did his job very well, and should have LOTS of action in the next game.


I Corps assaults the Brunswickers at the British far left flank, and routs them by fire! The Duke of Orange brings his force on in the background.


French brigade in column is contacted by cavalry and fails to form square because they are locked into formation by the presence of British infantry. Not good. The brigade was routed toute de suite, as we French types say.


Fortunately, depth of the I corps French line allows the next row of troops to form square and prevent deeper penetration by the Dutch. In the foreground, a Young Guard brigade, and a brigade of French lights from the I Corps assaults a village occupied by a strong contingent of Brunswicker lights.


And carry the town! The Brunswickers are dispersed from the field, and the Young Guard occupies the village in strength. That ‘British’ brigade in the center of the picture caused me no end of worry and paranoia. Until it was revealed that they were actually Hanoverians, and not Wellington’s seasoned Peninsular veterans.


State of the game at end of play. The French left and center has pushed the Britishers back, though heavy allied reinforcements are arriving.


On the French right, III corps has managed to nullified several corps of Prussian cavalry, but Prussian infantry are soon to arrive…

At the end of the first day’s play, the French had managed to eliminate a division of Brunswickers, plus a brigade of light cavalry. We’ve made significant inroads into the British position, and Napoleon has formed the grand battery, which will soon start grinding Wellington’s center to dust. We’ve also routed the allies from two strongpoints/villages. We French have not had any units completely eliminated, yet, but we have taken quite a few casualties, particularly on our left, where Shelby, with the II Corps, tangled with actual British line infantry, not to mention that long line of guns.

This is a huge game, that’s growing with every turn as reinforcements arrive. It’s slow-each side’s phase takes around 45-60 minutes to resolve, but I have to say, there’s nothing to beat the spectacle of these massive armies maneuvering and fighting. We should continue (and maybe conclude) this battle in the next few weeks, and I’m really looking forward to seeing how things play out.

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  • Frank Arey  On 09/14/2014 at 2:16 pm

    Yep, looks like a great game. That Grady West knows how to put them together. French vs. Brunswickers? That’s like Auburn v. U of A, or U of A vs. Nicolls State, or something.

    • arkiegamer  On 09/14/2014 at 3:55 pm

      Well, there’s a reason we chose to hit that end of the allied line hard. :) Even so, the Brunswick lights in the village put up a good fight for several turns.

  • 40kterminatus  On 09/15/2014 at 5:20 am

    I played a Napoleonic game recently and was put in charge of some French cavalry . I charged down a hill into some Prussian artillery all full of glee and flags flying. Then the Uhlans turned up and my wing imploded :( Lots of fun but costly, you look your doing better ?

    • arkiegamer  On 09/15/2014 at 5:55 am

      I may or may not be doing better, but it sounds like you were doing it right! :) (meaning, of course, that gallant charges and sudden disasters are very much in keeping with the warfare of the period)

      At this point, my portion of the army is 90% infantry and we are about to emerge into enemy cavalry country, so I may just be sitting around in squares for the rest of the game.

      • 40kterminatus  On 09/16/2014 at 8:53 am

        Your still alive so much better than me lol

      • arkiegamer  On 09/16/2014 at 8:59 am

        Ha! Yes, I do have that going for me.

  • Russ Pennington  On 09/18/2014 at 7:53 am

    What rules were you using?

    • arkiegamer  On 09/18/2014 at 8:52 am

      I should have mentioned that right up top! We were using Napoleon’s Battles. 3rd edition, I think. Individual units are brigades.

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