And so to the Grand Finale.
Set up NLG
Once again a comparison of the NLB and NLG setups. The main change is the NLG map has more terrain on the west side. It also reminds us how small a battlefield this was with a front line of about 14 hexes – look at most of the other Library games and see how much of the map is used compared to here. And a head on clash, no manoeuvring. Also the comparison of the size of the two armies – very similar. The road block marker is the Allied garrison in the Château de Frischermont.
The Allied drew ‘Reinforcements’ so all forces were at full strength. As Napoleon I decided to make a left hook via Braine l’Alleud – well why not use all that nice new terrain? II Corps pushed forward and VI Corps filled the gap in the centre. The Dutch Division was quickly driven back to Braine l’Alleud, Chassé being wounded while Wellington, seeing how things were developing began moving his reserves to his left. The village fell to the French, only to be the scene of fierce counter-attacks by the Allies. The French pushed back the British from the north of Hougoumont, but the Guards held on in the château.
Waterloo 2pm French high water
Uxbridge pushed his cavalry round the French left flank and this pressure began to tell. Led by Wellington the Hanoverians and Brunswick troops cut off Bauduin’s brigade, a French rescue attempt failed and VI Corps recoiled from the walls of Hougoumont. In the centre d’Erlon led an attack on La Haye Sainte, only to be wounded (dying the next day) when 4 Brigade was routed and 2 Brigade cut off under the walls of Hougoumont and eliminated; I Corps was now demoralised.
Wellington now ordered an advance all along the line as the weakened French were pushed back. And to make matters infinitely worse the Prussians had made good time. As Bulow’s cavalry appeared around Caillou Farm the Old Guard and Milhaud’s cavalry were forced to hold the line of retreat; the Young Guard had been pushed into the line to hold back Picton’s advancing Division. The Dutch on Wellington’s right attacked Plancenoit and a vicious battle between them and I Corps cavalry raged.
At 5pm Napoleon decided to retreat and save what he could. Uxbridge and his cavalry overwhelmed the French left flank, Prussian cavalry crossed the Brussels road and threatened to cut the Guard’s line of retreat while what was left of the three infantry Corps headed south across country via Promelles aiming for the woods and streams west of Genappe.
Waterloo 5pm French retreat
The rest is quickly told. Lefebvre-Desnouëttes Guard light cavalry went down to immortal fame, holding out against the Dutch and Prussians near Plancenoit for several hours. But the Prussian IV Corps took Genappe, British Cavalry cries of ‘View halloo’ rang out as they harried the French rear, and accusations of treachery ran round the Old Guard – it was going to be a long night for the French.
As you may guess the result was a decisive Coalition Victory, 83 French SP lost to 4 Allied SP. This is a tricky battle for the French to win. As at Wavre the French are weakened by having some units at reduced strength and so making them more brittle. The grey tide of Prussians will sweep in from the east and the Anglo-Allied army is initially (even without the reinforcements) in a strong position. Perhaps a blow on the right, as historically may achieve a better result, but I am still not sure the French have the time they need to crack Wellington’s forces before fending off the Prussians.
So with all the main scenarios of Napoleon’s Last Gamble played and none of them a dud, logically it should be onto the campaign – the short three day one or the Grand Campaign? But I fancy a change from Belgium before I go there again in 1794 for Fleurus so from summer 1815 I am going back to winter 1806 and will try to get the Habit of Victory.
Thanks for the session reports - all very interesting.
Doing a bit of reading on NLG before starting a campaign game in 2 weeks. I think I've drawn Nappy so definitely need to brush up on my traffic management skills.