Tag Archives: Napoleon’s Battles

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.

Gaming? With miniatures? Two Weeks in a Row?

Training sessions with Napoleon’s Battles continued this week. I’m starting to get a bit of a grip on the mechanics, though I’m still quite a ways away from synthesizing all the moving parts so that I’m able to cleanly execute tactics. I’m sure that ability will come with time.

I’ll post an after action report when we play a REAL game. If I win. I kid.

This was my command for the evening...portions of a Russian division.

This was my command for the evening…portions of a Russian division.

This is how the battlefield looked about a third of the way into the game.

This is how the battlefield looked about a third of the way into the game. I had the left flank.

These guys did some damage, causing a French division's advance to stall out.

These guys did some damage, causing a French division’s advance to stall out.

The results of an ill-advised assault. "Red means route, son, numbers add up to nothing." Bonus points, if you get the paraphrased reference.

The results of a poorly timed assault. “Red means route, son, numbers add up to nothing.” Bonus points, if you get the paraphrased reference.

So Sad to be All Alone in the World

So, just when you think you’re one of roughly three people in a 200 mile radius with any interest in historical wargaming, you discover there’s a local group with thousands of figures, for many different periods, all painted and ready to go. They’ve been around for, oh, 30 years or so, and suddenly you’re playing a corps sized demonstration/teaching game of Napoleon’s Battles in 15mm!

Looked like this:

Divisional General in front of a brigade of French line infantry.

Divisional General in front of a brigade of French line infantry.

Some heavy French cavalry with a lot of very blurry Russians in the distance

Some French light cavalry with a lot of very blurry Russians in the distance

When your disordered and struck by impetuous Russian cavalry you end up routed and cowering in a village.

When you’re disordered and struck by impetuous Russian cavalry, you end up routed and cowering in a village.

One thing that surprised me was that we played on felt terrain and once the game started, it didn’t bother me one bit.  I was too preoccupied with having deployed my 12 pounder battery such that they were out of command or at the heart of the division being ripped out by rampaging Russian hussars to even notice!

In other news, ACW and WWII skirmish proceed apace. Looks like I’ll be involved in a Waterloo campaign put on by my new-found friends. I’ve somehow managed to wander out of the wargaming desert into an oasis of brightly painted lead. Huzzah!