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Subject: The Grand Campaign June 15th rss

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Andrew Hobley
United Kingdom
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With my wife away for a week, and me on leave for dog sitting duty it was an opportunity to take over the dining room with plenty of space to lay out all four maps for the Grand Campaign.

NGL Grand Campaign map – Charleroi and the Sambre at the bottom, Brussels top left.

The photo nicely shows the road network. From the Charleroi road the main roads are the one to Brussels, and the road to Liege via Fleures. On the left is the road crossing the Sambre at Marchienne au Pont and joining the old Roman Road. This runs towards Liege, via the crossroads near Marbais. Nivelles is halfway up the map on the left hand border, the road runs from there to Namur via crossroads with the Brussels Road at Quatre Bras and the Liege roads at Marbais and Sombref. A second road leads from Nivelles to Mont St Jean. Note the lack of roads to Warve from the south, or from Warve to Mont St Jean.

Could I do better than Napoleon?

Imperial Headquarters, Beaumont, June 14th 1815.
The Emperor’s intention is to strike the Prussian army and defeat it, before turning to drive the English and their allies from Brussels. The Prussians being closer, will concentrate quicker and so allow the Emperor to defeat them in detail.
On the 15th the army will advance in three main groups. I Infantry and I Cavalry Corps will be in the west; II Infantry and II Cavalry Corps will be in the centre; the remainder of the army will be to the east. By nightfall the left should be at Frasne, the centre at Marbais and the right at Fleures.
On the 16th the left will attempt to seize and hold the crossroads with the Nivelles-Namur highway at Quatre Bras. If the English attack the troops may fall back to Frasne and protect the left flank of the main army. The centre will either fall on the rear of the Prussians or form a flank guard if the English attack, as the Emperor determines. The right will engage and destroy the Prussians around Sombrefe.
Orders for each Corps are as follows –
The Guard coming from Beaumont in battle order will cross the Sambre by the bridge at Charleroi and push up the road to Fleures.
I Corps, coming from Beaumont, will cross the Sambre by pontoon to the west of Charleroi. They will march rapidly along the Charleroi-Brussels highway until they reach the crossroads with the old Roman Road. They will then march to Marbais where they will assemble.
II Corps, coming from Montigney will drive the Prussians from Marchienne au Pont. They will then march rapidly via the Courcelle road and the Old Roman Road to the junction with the Charleroi-Brussels highway, when they will turn north. The Corps will assemble at Frasne.
III Corps, coming from Beaumont in battle order will cross the Sambre by the bridge at Charleroi and push up the road to Fleures.
IV Corps, coming from Philippeville in battle order will cross the Sambre at Chatelet. It will then move east, parallel with the main road and on the flank of III Corps to Fleures.
VI Corps, coming from coming from Philippeville in march order will cross the Sambre by the bridge at Chatelet and move up the road to Fleures.
I Cavalry Corps will cross the Sambre at Charleroi (either by the bridge or pontoon as circumstances direct) and push up the highway towards Frasne, scouting ahead to establish what the English are doing. It will then position itself between I and II Corps to act as circumstances direct.
II Cavalry Corps coming from Beaumont will cross the Sambre at to the west of Charleroi by pontoon, in battle order. They will move along the Charleroi-Brussels highway until they reach the crossroads with the old Roman Road. They will then march to Marbais.
III Cavalry Corps, coming from Beaumont in battle order via Couillet wil cross the Sambre by pontoon at the ford at Monitignes sur Sambre and move up the road to Fleures.
IV Cavalry Corps, coming from Philippeville in battle order battle order will cross the Sambre at Chatelet. It will then move east, parallel with the main road to Fleures.

Prussian Army Headquarters, Namur, June 14th 1815

Intelligence says the French army is approaching the frontier around Charleroi, with the intention of crossing. Once the French attack I Corps will impede the enemies advance, falling back to concentrate around Frasne. The rest of the army will march rapidly to concentrate at Ligny.

Wellington’s Headquarters, Brussels, June 14, 1815

His Grace is delighted to accept the Duchess of Richmond’s invitation to her ball on the evening of June 15.

A key decision is whether to have each Corps in march order – moving swiftly but having to concentrate for battle, or closed up in its divisions, but moving slower, especially across bridges and streams. I decided pushing the Prussians towards Fleures would result in fighting, but swift movement to Quatre Bras and Marbais were more important for I and II Corps.

As this was played solo I decided I needed a mechanism to prevent one part of an army automatically knowing what was happening to the other. Hence my courier rules, partly borrowed from the Thursday Night Gamers, but amended.

Courier rules

The officers of formations (Divisions/Corps) may be given an order at the start of the game, or when arriving on map. If this becomes impossible and the officer passes a separate initiative die roll each turn they may act as they see fit. Officers within command range of a Commander may act as that Commander sees fit.

Army Commanders are Napoleon, Blücher and Wellington. Subordinate Commanders are Ney, Grouchy, William, and Hill. Subordinate Commanders will be given orders by the Army Commander and should seek to follow these orders to the best of their ability.

Leaders may react to anything they within their line of sight, or the line of sight of a unit which is within command rage of either the Commander or a leader who is within command range of the Commander (this could be a chain of unit-officer- subordinate commander- commander). But they may not react to things they cannot see – such as an army on the other side of the map retreating or advancing.

Commanders send new orders to leaders out of command range by courier, or news to other Commanders. Officers may send a courier to a Commander to deliver news or ask for new orders, they may not send an order to any leader. The order should be written down.

Couriers move as Leaders – ½ MP on roads, no additional costs for bridges or trestles. In mud their movement allowance is halved. British couriers have 15 MP, all other couriers have 10 MP. If they enter enemy zone of control roll –

1-2 the courier retreats and keeps going;
3-4 the order is lost - remove the courier and note;
5-6 the order is captured and read by the enemy.

In night turns couriers still move, but movement costs are doubled. If not travelling wholly on roads roll a die each turn; on a 1 roll again and half (round fractions down) for number of turns delayed.

So to battle.

II Corps started in road march and the Guard and Napoleon had been delayed so moved back four hexes.

11am – Fair. Reille and II Corps drive 6th Infantry Regiment from Marchienne. Zeithen’s Corp heads for Fleures apart from 2 Division which holds the crossings. 6th Infantry fights in the streets of Marchienne with Campi’s Brigade.

12 noon – Heat. 6 Infantry drive 5/II Division back across the Marchienne bridge and reoccupy the northern part of the town. Chatrand’s Young Guard cross the bridge into Charelroi, 2nd Westfalen Landwehr counter-attack ferociously and push them back to the south bank.
NLG Grand Campaign 15 July noon - Prussians hold up the French

1pm – Reille brings up 6/II Division to replace 5/II and pushed across the Marchienne bridge again, destroying the 6th Infantry Regiment. Pajol’s cavalry join the Young Guard and evict the Prussians from Charleroi.

2pm - II Corps encounter a roadblock as do Pajol’s cavalry. Gerard takes Chatelet. Vandamme misunderstands his orders and holds his Corps to allow I Corps to overtake it; Soult’s orders had not given any order of precedence to Corps if they met.

3pm – A thunderstorm breaks over the battlefield, slowing the artillery and preventing the French throwing a pontoon over the Sambre west of Charleroi. The Young Guard units separate to clear the roadblocks on the Brussels road and at Montigines. Gerard and IV Corps continue to push back the 28th Infantry, who are routed in a counter-attack on a chateau. Pajol encounters the 1st Westfalen Landwehr on the Brussels road and pushes them north; they march off quickly in that direction.

4pm – Rain and mud. A traffic jam builds up on the road from Beaumont as I and II Corps, the Guard cavalry and artillery and II Cavalry all try to march on the same road. II Corps begins to shake out into march order and, with Grouchy as flank Commander, heads north. The French take Gilly. Pajol, pursuing the Landwer, is shot dead and his men driven back.

NLG Grand Campaign 15 July 4pm – The French pushing north and east.

5pm – Vandamme, spurred on by a message from Napoleon, realises he should be moving. But as the thunderstorm had prevented the pontoon bridge being deployed for I Corps this unit is now using the bridge at Charleroi, so stopping III Corps moving. The Old Guard smash 2nd Westfalen Landwehr at Sart Culpart; Soult and I Cavalry harry the 1st Westfalen Landwer.

6pm – Rain. The pontoon bridges are finaly deployed west of Charleroi and at Montigines. Ney goes back to move Vandamme to the pontoons at Montignes. Reille is stopped by another road block. At Nivelles Chasse’s 3rd Netherland Division arrives.

7pm – Soult orders to Vandamme to change crossing point finally arrive and he moves off, clearing the road for I Corps as well. 11 Division of III Corps extracts itself from the road to Charleroi and moves onto the road to Couillet. The Guard removes a roadblock at the Abbey and I Cavalry gain revenge when they finally catch the 1st Westfalen Landwehr and overrun them. Wellington receives a despatch from Zeithen telling him of the invasion and that Charleroi had fallen. Alerting all units he heads to Quatre Bras.

8pm - I Corps is held up by a roadblock at Gosselies.

NLG Grand Campaign 15 July 8pm – Situation at nightfall

VP – French Allies
Losses 0 SP I Prussian 10 SP
2 VP 0 VP
Control 0 VP 36 VP (10 from delaying French)
Cards -8 VP -7 VP
Leaders 10 VP 6 VP
Total 4 VP 35 VP - Strategic Allied Victory for June 15.

That the French would cross the Sambre was never in doubt, but they have been slowed considerably. I and II Corps are making good time, but Wellington and his forces are active far earlier than historically. Can the French take the crossroads? Will the holdup of II Corps and the Guard have a major effect on French attacks to crush the Prussians? We must wait for the 16 June to find out.
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Vincent GERARD
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Thanks for the report. Problem for the AA army is that you are indeed able to move earlier because historically, Wellington had to wait for the messenger to tell him about the French army advancing. As it would take some time to reach the Duke, then for the Duke to assess the situation, and maybe discuss the situation with Blucher, the troops would have lost several hours...or a day.
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simon thornton
United Kingdom
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Can you use Roadblocks in the main campaign it looks like it only applies to the crossing the Sambre scenario?
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