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Subject: The Grand Campaign - June 16th rss

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Andrew Hobley
United Kingdom
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After the marching on 15 June night saw most French Corps inch towards their destinations under the march orders. The exceptions were the Guard, 14 Division of IV Corps and II Corps, all of whom had seen combat.

At dawn Napoleon was reasonably happy. I and I Corps were marching to block the English and IV Corps and the Guard were near Fleurus. But III Corps was badly out of sequence. Should he advance with the Guard and IV Corps and risk encountering a larger Prussian army before III and VI Corps had joined him? Or had enough time been lost already?
6am – Heat. A warm day already as the sun rose and the French continue their marches. I and II Corps met at the crossroads of the two highways – I Corps just getting there before II Corps and forcing them off the road for a spell. At Quatre Bras the II Dutch came into line to the west of the crossroads, covering the forest flank. Prussian II Corps began filing towards Ligny as Ziethen reorganised the last of his units. I Corps had lost 6th Infantry Division and the 2 Division battery; the 28th Infantry and the 1 and 2 Westfalen Landwehr were reduced.

7am – The French Commanders busied themselves writing despatches or waiting to hear from Napoleon while their forces marched on. IV Corps gathered around Lambusart with the Guard. Blücher, hearing from scouts of French troops marching to the north-west ordered Ziethen to pull back as fast as possible. I Corp’s 7 and 8 Brigades and the cavalry arrived from the direction of Liege, so not trailing along behind the rest of the Corps.

8am – Albert’s Brigade of the Young Guard had arrived, followed by the Young Guard artillery and the Guard Hussars; Napoleon reasoned the Vendee rebels could be crushed after the Allies had been defeated. Napoleon finished his despatch to D’Erlon, ordering him once concentrated, and the army with Napoleon had attacked, to manoeuvre towards Sombref and the rear of the Prussians. Blücher sends a courier to Wellington to say the French are threatening his right flank, he plans to fall back from the Ligny position to hold a line Sombref - Tilly; if Wellington can attack down the Namur Road he should be able to catch the French in the flank.

9am – Fair. Grouchy finishes breakfast and moves towards Frasne. I and II Corps begin to assemble at Frasne and Marbais respectively. IV Corps advances into Fleurus, removing roadblocks while the Guard assembles behind. Blücher is scrambling to get some sort of a defensive line; I Corps continues to fall back through St Amand, II Corps starts to assemble around Sombref as III Corps begins to arrive via Gemblou. The I Corps cavalry shadow the French at Marbais, the Horse Artillery opens fire ineffectively in the first shots fired today.

NLG Grand Campaign 16 June 9am - Marching and assembling

10am – Blücher begins to form his line – I Corps in the centre, II to the north and III to take the left flank. His courier reaches Wellington.

11am – Wellington replied to Blücher. His assembly has been delayed, there is a French force in front of him and at present he is too weak to be able to attack until late afternoon. Blücher now has almost all of II Corps assembled opposite D’Erlon’s men at Marbais. D’Erlon has stuck to his 15 June orders – assemble and wait. But Napoleon’s courier arrives - D’Erlon now knows he has to wait for the main attack before moving.

12noon – The lull before the storm – French and Prussian troops move up and prepare for attack or defence.

1pm – The French attack. At Quatre Bras de Villier’s Brigade pushes over the Gemincourt brook, but the farmhouse holds out and the French brigade is routed. 5 and 6 Division attack on the French left into the woods. Detemer’s Dutch Brigade is initially forced back, but with help from the rest of the Division holds Campi’s Brigade. To the surprise of the French Picton’s 5th Division pushes out of the wood, driving back 5 Division.

NLG Grand Campaign 16 June 1pm – The fight begins

At Ligny most of the initial French attacks are pushed back. Ligny itself is taken and then retaken by a counter-attack by I and III Corps. To D’Erlon’s shock the Prussians in front of him attack just as General de brigade Bourgeois of 2 Division defects to the Prussians, so impacting the division’s moral and D’Erlon’s command ability. The initial impact pushes the French back from Marbais.

2pm – The Prussian 9th Infantry advance too far into the woods south of Marbis and are routed. French attacks make little progress, as III Corps comes into line in the French Centre. At Quatre Bras Grouchy switches the attack to the woods on the left, extracting Campi’s division from a tough combat with the Dutch.

3pm –At Marbais Soult’s cavalry pushes back the Prussians, but becomes spent. The Prussian II Corps cavalry try to take the Subervie’s cavalry in flank and rear, but are repulsed. But the whole of 3 Division of I Corps is crushed in the woods south of Marbais. The 7th Prussian Infantry Regiment dies hard defending the Chateau de Lecaille, leaving the French 12/II Division battered. French II Corps pushes into the Prussian centre, while the 8th Infantry Regiment pushes back the whole of IV Corps from Ligny.

As Ziethen’s despatch of yesterday to Wellington had made it clear the Imperial Guard – and so Napoleon – were involved he was aware this was the main French thrust. So he summonsed Coleville with the 4th British Division [Mitchell’s Brigade, which arrives separately, was part of Colville’s 4th British Division and so I played it as such], and Stedman with the 1st Netherland Division from Hal. At Quatre Bras the French attack into the Bois de Nivelles to push back the British. Kempt’s Brigade is driven back, isolating Pack’s Brigade which is routed. The Dutch strike the French, sending Campi’s reduced Brigade reeling.

4pm – At Quatre Bras Grouchy gets cold feet about moving his attack to the left, into the mysteries of the woods and risking losing touch with the main army to his right. He pulls II Corps back. At Ligny 8th Infantry Regiment again repels IV Corps from Ligny. The French take the west of Bry, but Gengoult’s Brigade becomes isolated there, clinging in and inflicting a high price on Prussian attempts to retake the village. At Marbais two regiments of French artillery are isolated and over run by two Prussian Brigades. Wellington sends another despatch to Blücher – he is holding the French, by tomorrow morning with the forces from Hal arrived he will be able to attack.

NLG Grand Campaign 16 June 4pm – The Prussians hold

5pm – VI Corps finally take Ligny at the point of the bayonet. On the left flank I and II Cavalry and I Corps cavalry push back the Prussian cavalry, overrunning Schulenburg’s cavalry. At Quatre Bras Grouchy shifts II Corps closer to the main battle in a defensive posture, to cover the French flank. Wellington’s despatch reaches Blücher; he replies to say he is holding on, his IV Corps should arrive tomorrow and he too will be able to attack. Concerned about the cavalry threat to his right he sends I Corps cavalry to support II Corps. Billiard’s Brigade of III Corps is cut off south of Bray and destroyed; the French hold Ligny, but an enthusiastic attack by 1 Kurmark Landwehr drive the Young Guard from Ligny Chateau.

6pm – Determined to breakthrough before nightfall Napoleon sends the Guard and Kellerman III Heavy Cavalry to charge the Prussian centre, generals to lead the attacks and the Old and Young Guard to crush the Prussians to the west of Ligny. Soult encircles and eliminates the Prussian II Corps cavalry.

The attack led by III Cavalry is repulsed, the Guard cavalry are also repulsed, but the follow up attack pushes back the Prussians. Rome’s Brigade advances, to find itself dangerously exposed when the columns led by Gerard are pushed back. Around Ligny the French have better luck, the Guard crushing the already weakened 2 Division of I Corps and routing 12 Division of I Corps. The Kurmark Landwehr drive off a Young Guard attack on the chateau and VI Corps attack over the Ligny stream was so unsuccessful they recoiled out of Ligny itself to reorganise.
The Prussian counter-attacks leave a ragged line as Rome’s and Gengoult’s brigades are routed, but 29 Infantry is destroyed incautiously following up the column led by Kellerman. Michel’s Old Guard Division takes heavy casualties. The Prussian centre looks dangerously thin and I Corps is demoralised.

7pm – Summonsed earlier Rapp [I used the Rapp replacement counter from LPed as he only needs to be an Commander-Officer for La Souffel], and the lead units of V Corps arrive from the east and head for the Namur Road. A second all-out assault by all French forces is ordered; Napoleon himself leads one column following up more heavy cavalry charges. The cavalry themselves are repulsed, Guyot’s Guard cavalry division being routed; but the follow up attacks smash eight Prussian Regiments. At the Chateau de Ligny the Landwehr, outnumbered five to one are overwhelmed.

NLG Grand Campaign 16 June 7pm – The second French assault

With his centre broken and I and III Corps demoralised Blücher orders a general retreat and sends a message to Wellington to that effect. All units, bar 11 Brigade of III Corps, disengage successfully. At Quatre Bras Wellington is preparing an assault from his right for the morning.

8pm – The French follow up slowly. 11 Prussian Brigade goes down fighting, extracting a toll from VI Corps. The Prussians continue to fall back, the Anglo-Allied army to build up.

NLG Grand Campaign 16 June 8pm – nightfall

VP – French Allies
Losses Guard 8 SP I Prussian 25 SP (18 permanent)
I Corps 12 SP II Prussian 20 SP
II Corps 4 SP III Prussian 31 SP
III Corps 12 SP
IV Corps 6 SP
VI Corps 5 SP
5 VP 0 VP
Demoralisation 8 VP 0VP
Control 25 VP 15 VP
Cards -19 VP -16 VP
Leaders 13 VP 13 VP
Total 31 VP 12 VP - Strategic French Victory for June 16
Running total 36 VP 43 VP - Tactical Allied Victory to date.

My narrative missed out detail of the appearance of the French Young Guard alternative reinforcements and all of the Allied alternative reinforcements. So that’s three out of four Alternate Reinforcements in play for both sides. This will have more of an effect on Wellington as his forces will be stronger than historically. The Prussians have been badly mauled, especially I Corps with many of its unit permanently eliminated. But Blücher has made a clean and organised break from the French. The French are bruised, but still have plenty of fight in them. So all to play for on 17 June.

[Edited to correct spelling of Ziethen]
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Jerry Woodfield
United States
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Just reading this now (great report!). It appears you are using some sort of hybrid rules that mix the game's standard ones along with Markus Stumptner's, is that correct?
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