GeekGold Bonus for All Supporters at year's end: 1000!
7,912 Supporters
$15 min for supporter badge & GeekGold bonus
21 Days Left

Support:

Recommend
5 
 Thumb up
 Hide
39 Posts
1 , 2  Next »   | 

Wargames» Forums » General

Subject: another waterloo what if... rss

Your Tags: Add tags
Popular Tags: [View All]
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
I suggest these scenarios once in a while so here's one I was thinking of:

What if after Quatre Bras battle on the 16th Nap. elects to go with Grouchy's corps to follow up on the heels of the Prussians. We can assume Grouchy has the same numbers of troops (I think 20k inf and some 13k heavy cav.) or something else. This I dont think is so unnatural because some of the more basic books on the campaign said that Nap. knew Blucher was more agressive than WEllington so he thought he would deal with that force first and then Wellington.

In reality it didnt quite work out that way, and am not sure Nap.'s plan really ever did call for him to beat Blucher first. It seemed more ad libbed than that. Anyhow, Nap. goes with Grouchy in order to follow Blucher. Of course it is debateable how many troops Nap. would have since he usually traveled with the main body.

ANyhow that leaves Soult, chief of staff with the main body. ANd Nap. leaves general orders with him something like:

"do not bring on a general engagement. But do not allow Wellington to unite with Blucher in the direction of Wavre. "

Something like that.

So everything else on the 17th happens normally more or less. So what happens on the 18th? Nap. and Grouchy overwhelm Bluchers rear guard, cuttin his line to the Aix la Chappelle. And Soult and Wellington stand each other off.

Now Blucher is cut off by Napoleon's force. WOUld this be a French victory?
2 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Lance McMillan
United States
Lakebay
Washington
flag msg tools
designer
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
sundaysilence wrote:
WOUld this be a French victory?


Define "victory" in this situation. So he beats Blucher's Prussians, now what? Wellington's army is still intact and there are massive Russian and Austrian about to descend on France, plus there's a huge guerilla campaign going on in the Vendee... Even another brilliant defensive campaign like 1814 wouldn't have pulled Nappy's ass out of the fire that was rushing to consume him -- might delay the inevitable for a bit, but there was no way the crowned heads of Europe were going to allow him to return to power.
12 
 Thumb up
0.30
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Historically the Prussians had been soundly defeated at Ligny, where Napoleon was with Grouchy's wing. Meanwhile, Ney (not Soult) who was in command of the other wing had been held off by Wellington's forces. Wellington withdrew that evening once he learned of the Prussian defeat. So historically Grouchy was left to pursue the defeated Prussians while Napoleon shifted to Ney's wing to face Wellington. It seemed like a reasonable course of action at that point, although Grouchy's pursuit of the Prussians, and subsequent 'pinning' action at Wavre was rather ineffective.

There was unlikely to have been any decisive action on the 17th regardless, due to rain etc. To have concentrated on the Prussians, again, on the 18th, while leaving an undefeated Wellington on the other flank, doesn't seem as though it is much more likely to resulted in a 'victory' for the French. In that scenario, the Prussians would have concentrated their forces (having been reinforced by the 4th corps) while Wellington could have 'screened' Ney with part of his forces while reinforcing the Prussians. Basically a 'mirror' of the historical situation, and one not obviously to the advantage of the French.

Perhaps another 'what if', more to the advantage of the French, would be 'What if Grouch had more effectively pursued the Prussians / prevented them reinforcing Wellington on the 18th and / or actually reinforcing Napoleon themselves on the 18th?'
9 
 Thumb up
0.25
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mellow Muzzle
Netherlands
flag msg tools
Colonel des Grenadiers à Cheval de la Garde Impériale de Sa Majesté l’Empereur Gonzo le Grand
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Lancer4321 wrote:
sundaysilence wrote:
WOUld this be a French victory?


Define "victory" in this situation.


Indeed, victory at what level or to what degree?

Considering the slight “brittleness” of the troops under Wellington’s command, a tactical (or operational, if you will) victory for Napoleon could have very well been a reality, but to what avail, considering the grim strategic outlook for (Napoleon’s) France?

Suppose our petite Corsican would have achieved a successful “march into Brussels”. Even if this had (politically) shaken the newly Unified Kingdom of the Netherlands (and as such, a possible loss of a strategic foothold for Britain on the continent), ultimately he would have been crushed under the “boots from the east”, without any chances of “parole” this time.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mellow Muzzle
Netherlands
flag msg tools
Colonel des Grenadiers à Cheval de la Garde Impériale de Sa Majesté l’Empereur Gonzo le Grand
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
deadkenny wrote:
Historically the Prussians had been soundly defeated at Ligny,...


…and yet they managed to play a pivotal role at Waterloo! Historically sound! whistle

Talking about victory levels…
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Seth Owen
United States
Norwich
Connecticut
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Mellow Muzzle wrote:
deadkenny wrote:
Historically the Prussians had been soundly defeated at Ligny,...


…and yet they managed to play a pivotal role at Waterloo! Historically sound! whistle

Talking about victory levels…


That's a tribute to the Prussian leadership, which refused to accept that their defeat meant they were out of the campaign. Napoleon considered them defeated and certainly sent what should have been an adequate force to keep them that way. Wellington still needed to be dealt with, after all. Most armies would have been out of the campaign after having two of their four corps wrecked and a third roughly handled.

It reminds me of Grant's decision to fight on after the first day at Shiloh or in the Wilderness. Many, if not most, other federal generals would have retreated after such defeats, Grant didn't and this changed the nature of the campaign. Likewise I think the vast majority of Napoleonic armies would have retreated out of the campaign after a defeat like Ligny.

As they say, the enemy has a vote, and I don't think it would have reasonable for Napoleon to foresee the Prussian reaction or Grouchy's failure. As it was, things were a "near run thing," in Wellington's words.

5 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools

Quote:


It reminds me of Grant's decision to fight on after the first day at Shiloh or in the Wilderness. Many, if not most, other federal generals would have retreated after such defeats, Grant didn't and this changed the nature of the campaign. Likewise I think the vast majority of Napoleonic armies would have retreated out of the campaign after a defeat like Ligny.




Except that, at this pt. in the Nap. wars, continuing the fight seemed to be par for the course, at least for Blucher. I dont recall the details but wasnt he doing this pretty much in 1814? His actions in 1815 seem more like a continuation of 1814.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
Mellow Muzzle wrote:


Indeed, victory at what level or to what degree?

Considering the slight “brittleness” of the troops under Wellington’s command, a tactical (or operational, if you will) victory for Napoleon could have very well been a reality, but to what avail, considering the grim strategic outlook for (Napoleon’s) France?




Well in the big picture, yes, Nap. was at very long odds. I have little doubt about that. The forces arrayed against him were now winning the numbers war, and they appear to have much greater resolve than the French people. A miracle was not impossible, but pretty much it would take a miracle.

So, no not strategically, but I just meant operationally. What would this mean for the Prussians. Having overwhelmed their III corps, and the rest of them are cut off from base, would Nap. be in a good position to at least rout one of these armies?
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
deadkenny wrote:
In that scenario, the Prussians would have concentrated their forces (having been reinforced by the 4th corps) while Wellington could have 'screened' Ney with part of his forces while reinforcing the Prussians. Basically a 'mirror' of the historical situation, and one not obviously to the advantage of the French.



Why do you think Prussians would have done anything differently? The only things I am changing is the location of Nap. and his operating orders. If the main french body is at La Bell Alliance, why are they concentrating vs the French at Wavre?

I just dont get how you're making these assumptions, if you could elaborate perhaps.

ALso, I agree that for Nap. to concentrate vs Wellington was not unreasonable. And as you mention, the weather on the 17th did undo this abit. I would suggest the weather undid these plans quite a bit, perhaps more than most writers realize.

One thing I am not quite sure of, and I mentioned it originally: Was the original plan for Nap. to attempt to finish off Blucher first? or was it simply according to circumstances?

Q. 2. Do you think Nap. sent too many infantry off with Grouchy for the purpose of pursuit? Or was this simply to be expected given the corps system where each corps was expected to be able to defend itself and the infantry was needed for that?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Mellow Muzzle wrote:
deadkenny wrote:
Historically the Prussians had been soundly defeated at Ligny,...


…and yet they managed to play a pivotal role at Waterloo! Historically sound! whistle

Talking about victory levels…


There is no inconsistency between the Prussians having suffered a 'sound' defeat at Ligny, and their ability to intervene in the Battle of Waterloo two days later. After Ligny, Grouchy failed to push the pursuit as aggressively as he might have, and that plus being reinforced by the 4th Corps (a force more than a third as strong as what the Prussians had at Ligny, and an even greater percentage of what was left afterwards). Also the Prussians came in on the French flank at Waterloo well into the fight, with Wellington's force having borne the brunt of the fighting up to that point.

There are many instances in history of a force being 'defeated' in battle, and recovering after a brief respite. The fact that the Prussians managed to turn things around in only two days is a tribute to their determination. The additional facts that Grouchy's pursuit was lackadaisical and they received large reinforcements facilitated that, but does not detract from the accomplishment.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
deadkenny wrote:


There is no inconsistency between the Prussians having suffered a 'sound' defeat at Ligny, and their ability to intervene in the Battle of Waterloo two days later....

There are many instances in history of a force being 'defeated' in battle, and recovering after a brief respite. ...


One would think a major defeat such as LIgney would require more time to recover from. I can certainly see the inconsistency mentioned. How can you not? THere would cetainly be many examples to support this.


You talk about many instances of this happening. What examples do we have from this time period?
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
sundaysilence wrote:
deadkenny wrote:
In that scenario, the Prussians would have concentrated their forces (having been reinforced by the 4th corps) while Wellington could have 'screened' Ney with part of his forces while reinforcing the Prussians. Basically a 'mirror' of the historical situation, and one not obviously to the advantage of the French.


Why do you think Prussians would have done anything differently? The only things I am changing is the location of Nap. and his operating orders. If the main french body is at La Bell Alliance, why are they concentrating vs the French at Wavre?

I just dont get how you're making these assumptions, if you could elaborate perhaps.


It's your hypothetical, so really it needs to start with you clarifying your assumptions. Are you suggesting that the French distribution between the Waterloo (vs. Wellington) and Wavre (vs. Blucher) battles would remain as per historical, and only Napoleon himself would choose to move to Wavre? First that would be a strange decision for Napoleon himself to make, as he would want to be at the 'decisive' battlefield. That would leave the main body of the French forces under Ney alone - which would not be an improvement from the French perspective, IMHO anyway. Then, if you assume that the Prussians made their historical move to Waterloo, you would have the something over 30,000 French of Grouchy's wing vs. the approx. 17,000 (Chandler's figures) Prussian rear guard at Wavre. Thus the French likely suffer as great, if not greater a defeat at Waterloo, while perhaps Napoleon might 'light a fire under' Grouchy, and manage to inflict a 'sound' defeat of the 17k Prussian rear-guard at Wavre. How does that lead to anything resembling an overall French 'victory'?

sundaysilence wrote:
ALso, I agree that for Nap. to concentrate vs Wellington was not unreasonable. And as you mention, the weather on the 17th did undo this abit. I would suggest the weather undid these plans quite a bit, perhaps more than most writers realize.

One thing I am not quite sure of, and I mentioned it originally: Was the original plan for Nap. to attempt to finish off Blucher first? or was it simply according to circumstances?


The situation was a bit 'fluid' leading up to the 16th. The initial plan was to concentrate first on Wellington at Quatre Bras. However, Wellington's forces were only slowly concentrating, and it was feared that a premature attack would only drive off his lead elements, not inflict a decisive defeat. Then the Prussians appeared to commit to a forward position at Ligny, so Napoleon changed the plan to concentrate on Blucher first. He wanted the 1st corps to move to Ligny immediately, and wanted Ney to drive off Anglo-Allied forces at Quatre Bras, then move French forces down the road from QB to Ligny in order to take the Prussians in the flank (sort of like what the Prussians did to the French at Waterloo). However, Soult did not communicate the change to Ney clearly, and Ney's strength wasn't exactly picking up on subtleties, so opportunities were lost.

sundaysilence wrote:
Q. 2. Do you think Nap. sent too many infantry off with Grouchy for the purpose of pursuit? Or was this simply to be expected given the corps system where each corps was expected to be able to defend itself and the infantry was needed for that?


No, IMHO the force allocation was reasonable. The main problem was, IMHO, the lack of determination on the part of Grouchy. In fact, in terms of choosing his Chief of Staff and two wing commanders, I think Napoleon was 0/3.
5 
 Thumb up
1.00
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
sundaysilence wrote:
deadkenny wrote:


There is no inconsistency between the Prussians having suffered a 'sound' defeat at Ligny, and their ability to intervene in the Battle of Waterloo two days later....

There are many instances in history of a force being 'defeated' in battle, and recovering after a brief respite. ...


One would think a major defeat such as LIgney would require more time to recover from. I can certainly see the inconsistency mentioned. How can you not? THere would cetainly be many examples to support this.


You talk about many instances of this happening. What examples do we have from this time period?


There simply is no inconsistency between having suffered a 'sound' defeat at Ligny, and reinforcing Wellington at Waterloo two days later. For one thing, the 4th corps had not even been at Ligny - it constituted over 30,000 of the approx. 45,000 Prussians who engaged the French at Waterloo. As I said, the rest of the Prussian force recovering in only two days was an impressive, but hardly unbelievable, feat. Why would you assume it was impossible? Again, note they were not bearing the brunt of the battle at Waterloo, but coming in on the French flank well into the battle with Wellington's forces bearing the brunt of French efforts.

There are several examples of Napoleon inflicting series defeats on Allied armies in 1813, but being unable to pursue effectively. Especially later in the campaign, these forces would turn and resume their advance once Napoleon had shifted forces in another direction and they were no longer under direct pressure. I suggest you research the post-armistice phase of that campaign.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Chester Sleezer
United States
Dupont
Washington
flag msg tools
mb
deadkenny wrote:
Mellow Muzzle wrote:
deadkenny wrote:
Historically the Prussians had been soundly defeated at Ligny,...


…and yet they managed to play a pivotal role at Waterloo! Historically sound! whistle

Talking about victory levels…


There is no inconsistency between the Prussians having suffered a 'sound' defeat at Ligny, and their ability to intervene in the Battle of Waterloo two days later. After Ligny, Grouchy failed to push the pursuit as aggressively as he might have, and that plus being reinforced by the 4th Corps (a force more than a third as strong as what the Prussians had at Ligny, and an even greater percentage of what was left afterwards). Also the Prussians came in on the French flank at Waterloo well into the fight, with Wellington's force having borne the brunt of the fighting up to that point.

There are many instances in history of a force being 'defeated' in battle, and recovering after a brief respite. The fact that the Prussians managed to turn things around in only two days is a tribute to their determination. The additional facts that Grouchy's pursuit was lackadaisical and they received large reinforcements facilitated that, but does not detract from the accomplishment.


Actually, the Prussians did get their asses handed to them at Ligny and the Prussian Force that showed out at Waterloo was the VI Corps which really did not see much combat at Ligny.

I am not sure that even if Napoleon did win both Ligny & Waterloo that he would have been able to fight against the Austrian, Russian and others.

He would not have the Bavarians, Saxons, or any other allies and his forces at home were not the Grand Army of 1806.

Then there would have been the remaining British & Prussian armies to contend with.

Yes Napoleon would have won at Waterloo if he had gone for a battle of Manuever instead of trying to do it if a frontal attack.

The two farms and the terrain provided to good of a position for Wellington.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Angelus Seniores
Belgium
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
The Prussian were defeated at waterloo, but not "soundly".
they were able to retreat in good order (as opposed to being routed), so there wasnt much reorganizing needed for these troops to be battle-worthy again.

I agree that Napoleon would never leave the main army, his experience in spain clearly indicated that his marshalls need his presence/guidance to be successful.

on the other hand, as Wellington was more inclined to defend Brussels/hold position while waiting for the reinforcements, Napoleon could have screened Wellington's army with a small corps, while the main army pursues and defeats the prussians. Blücher is much more likely to help the British because of his love for action, than Wellington who prefers defence all the time.
so in this "what if" i think that then Napoleon would have ample time to defeat the Prussians fully which enables him to then turn his whole army vs wellington, probably defeating him as well.

Although, historically, the french lost all trace of the prussians, after they let them leave before pursuit was organised, so possibly, blucher might still have rejoined the british army before napoleon would have found them, then victory isnt so sure anymore (unless blucher would commit some error due to his agressiveness and lets open a gap in the battle line at some point)

Strategically, if these victories would have compelled the prussians to a cease-fire and forced the british back to UK, Napoleon could have more time to organise more troops to face the austrians and russians which were still some weeks away.
But overall, the french resources were being overstreched so eventually french would fall unless the allies agree to a permanent peace after such a victory. napoleon was agreeing/planning to let go the occupied countries, just wishing for peace at this time.
3 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
I never said Ney would be in charge at Waterloo I said Soult. You seem to assume I made a mistake in the leadership corps (when you purported to correct this), but that is not the case I am stipulating Soult.

THe Prussian corps that arrived first was IVth corps, not VIth. There was no VIth. Yes it was entirely fresh and this does contradict the notion of defeated army recovering,as the IVth was not engaged at all at Ligney. I believe this was commanded by BUlow and was rather large approx. 30,000. the other three corps, being rather battered probably were about 12,000 or so (assuming proportional casaulties at Ligney).

So effectively, at Wateloo, probably close to 60% of this force had not been engaged yet.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
sunday silence
United States
Maryland
flag msg tools
deadkenny wrote:

There are several examples of Napoleon inflicting series defeats on Allied armies in 1813, but being unable to pursue effectively. Especially later in the campaign, these forces would turn and resume their advance once Napoleon had shifted forces in another direction and they were no longer under direct pressure. I suggest you research the post-armistice phase of that campaign.


Are you referring the battles of Dresden and Kulm, fought Aug 26 and Aug 30? It is hard to understand your examples without specifics.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Wales
Hinterland
flag msg tools
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
Interesting thread, though one could go one forever debating ‘what ifs’ here. For me, what makes the Waterloo campaign particularly fertile ground for ‘what ifs’ is the number and magnitude of the mistakes made – not least by Napoleon himself. For me the key ‘what ifs’ from the French perspective would be;

1) What if Ney had attacked with vigour as soon as he reached Quatre Bras – not allowing Wellington (himself having dithered and not gathered his army quickly enough) to settle into a defensive position? It’s a different situation if Wellington’s army is on the retreat. Perhaps not able to settle at the good ground of Waterloo.

2) What if D’Erlon’s corps had fought at either Quatre Bras or probably to more effect, at Lingy; flanking the entire Prussian army at a key stage of the battle?

3) What if Napoleon had pursued the Prussians with more vigour after Lingy? He waited half a day, tending to the wounded Prussians before sending Grouchy after them. It allowed the Prussians to retreat in relatively good order, and to keep one full corps almost unengaged (the corps that would later hit the French right at Waterloo).

4) What if Wellington and Blucher had attempted to link up earlier?

To bring the thread back to gaming, this for me is what makes Napoleon's Last Battles such a great game – especially the campaign game where one can play these theories out.


Interesting thread.
2 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Angelsenior wrote:
The Prussian were defeated at waterloo, but not "soundly".
they were able to retreat in good order (as opposed to being routed), so there wasnt much reorganizing needed for these troops to be battle-worthy again....


Of course the Prussians weren't defeat at Waterloo, so I assume you meant to say Ligny. This devolves to simply semantics about what 'soundly' defeated means. They were 'disordered' sufficiently that IMHO an aggressive pursuit would have been effective. If a force simply withdraws in good order, not having been 'defeated', then pursuit isn't going to be particularly effective - e.g. Wellington's forces on the other flank, which were not 'defeated' (soundly or otherwise) at Quatre Bras but simply withdrew because their position was untenable given the retreat of the Prussians. Again, the majority of the Prussian forces engaged at Waterloo consisted of the 4th corps, which had not fought at Ligny. So again, reinforcing Wellington at Waterloo 2 days after the defeat at Ligny was an impressive example of determination - however, I don't agree with inflating it to the status of miraculous, and therefore trying to use it to minimise the magnitude of the defeat the Prussians suffered at Ligny.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
sundaysilence wrote:
deadkenny wrote:

There are several examples of Napoleon inflicting series defeats on Allied armies in 1813, but being unable to pursue effectively. Especially later in the campaign, these forces would turn and resume their advance once Napoleon had shifted forces in another direction and they were no longer under direct pressure. I suggest you research the post-armistice phase of that campaign.


Are you referring the battles of Dresden and Kulm, fought Aug 26 and Aug 30? It is hard to understand your examples without specifics.


The Battles of Dresden (Aug. 26-27) and Kulm (Aug. 29-30) are one example. I note that you picked the start date for Dresden and the end date for Kulm, I presume in an effort to make them appear further apart. However, the fact is Kulm started 2 days after Dresden had ended. The Coalition forces had been defeated at Dresden and forced to retreat. A portion of the retreating forces, two days later, turned and held off the assaults of a pursuing French column at Kulm. Later, reinforcements arrived and the French were defeated. It is not an exact parallel to the situation at Waterloo, and I never claimed that it was. However, it is a solid example of how quickly forces of the period could recover and fight again after having suffered a defeat.
 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
sundaysilence wrote:
I never said Ney would be in charge at Waterloo I said Soult. You seem to assume I made a mistake in the leadership corps (when you purported to correct this), but that is not the case I am stipulating Soult....


What you said was this:

sundaysilence wrote:
... Anyhow, Nap. goes with Grouchy in order to follow Blucher. Of course it is debateable how many troops Nap. would have since he usually traveled with the main body.

ANyhow that leaves Soult, chief of staff with the main body. ANd Nap. leaves general orders with him something like:

"do not bring on a general engagement. But do not allow Wellington to unite with Blucher in the direction of Wavre. "

Something like that....


So part of the problem here is your own poorly constructed hypothetical in the OP. Napoleon 'going with' Grouchy would not have 'left' Soult in charge of the other wing merely by his presence. Ney was in charge of the other wing. The 'Chief of Staff' would not automatically assume command of the wing over the head of the appointed wing commander. To have left that situation likely would have resulted in potentially disastrous command confusion in the face of the enemy. It had already been bad enough with d'Erlon being ordered back and forth between Quatre Bras and Ligny on the 16th. The only one who's ultimate authority would not be questioned was Napoleon himself.

Now, if you want to consider explicit command personnel changes as part of the hypothetical, that's fine. However, it would need to be stated a bit more explicitly than simply a default 'left' with the main body. On that count I believe Davout could have been used much more effectively than simply leaving him back in Paris. Ney was a poor choice for independent command, although after 1814 perhaps Napoleon felt he couldn't risk leaving Ney alone in Paris. I agree Soult would have made a good 'wing' commander, especially facing Wellington (as he had fought in the Penninsular Campaign against him). I would have had Soult and Davout as my wing commanders - Soult vs. Wellington and Davout vs. Blucher. Grouchy would have been a good choice for cavalry commander. I would have made Ney a 'figure head' Chief of Staff, to keep an eye on him, hopefully with some competent staff under him to do the real work. If a particularly critical corps sized attack was launched, I might consider putting Ney in direct charge of it. He was no doubt brave and aggressive, but IMHO not effective at higher level command.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Angelus Seniores
Belgium
flag msg tools
mbmbmbmbmb
I meant ligny indeed, my mistake blush

a pursuit of the prussians would still be a good thing, even if they are still in good order, the french outnumber them and since not all prussian units retreated together and in same direction, the french could have beaten them at very good odds later on, before the prussians could regroup their units. or at least forced them to retreat further away that helping the british is no longer possible.

the subtelty is that the prussian units, individually, are not defeated/routed, but dispersed, and as their army mass was too low compared to the french anyway, retreat was the only viable option after Blucher's injury.
its blücher determination which makes the prussians move as fast as possible to reach the british at waterloo that deserves credit, not the 'recovery' of the prussian units.

Blücher's determination to fight is indeed impressive, which is why in a 'what if', if the french concentrated on beating the prussians first while screening the british, the british would not have arrived in time to help them and wellington would then face a concentrated french army and possibly not at the waterloo location. nor would the british defence efficiency come into play if they are the outflanking force ie on the move.
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Oh my God They Banned Kenny
Canada
flag msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Angelsenior wrote:
...
a pursuit of the prussians would still be a good thing, even if they are still in good order, the french outnumber them and since not all prussian units retreated together and in same direction, the french could have beaten them at very good odds later on, before the prussians could regroup their units. or at least forced them to retreat further away that helping the british is no longer possible.

the subtelty is that the prussian units, individually, are not defeated/routed, but dispersed, and as their army mass was too low compared to the french anyway, retreat was the only viable option after Blucher's injury.
its blücher determination which makes the prussians move as fast as possible to reach the british at waterloo that deserves credit, not the 'recovery' of the prussian units.

Blücher's determination to fight is indeed impressive, which is why in a 'what if', if the french concentrated on beating the prussians first while screening the british, the british would not have arrived in time to help them and wellington would then face a concentrated french army and possibly not at the waterloo location. nor would the british defence efficiency come into play if they are the outflanking force ie on the move.


According to figures from Chandler, the Prussians started the Battle of Ligny with 84,000 total in their 3 corps. They lost 16,000 on the battlefield and a further 9,000 overnight from desertions etc. They also lost about 10% of their cannon. While the corps on the flanks were relatively intact, the centre was severely mauled. Chandler entitled that chapter A Pounding for Blucher in his excellent Campaigns of Napoleon and further describes Napoleon having won a 'great victory but not a complete one'. The pursuit by the French was delayed, and then not very aggressively pressed by Grouchy. Much of the lasting impact of battlefield result was achieved in the pursuit, not just the battlefield. Thus the inability of Napoleon to really capitalise on his battlefield victories during the 1813 campaign I mentioned previously.

Thus I stand by my earlier characterisation of the magnitude of the Prussian defeat at Ligny. The potential was there, IMHO, to have exploited that victory by the French to a much greater effect. So the lackadaisical pursuit combined with substantial reinforcements mitigate much of the damage done to the Prussians at Ligny.
4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Where the hell is Stuart?

Arlington
Virginia
msg tools
Avatar
mbmbmb
Time was the great limiting factor for Napoleon. The Coalition had agreed to launch a coordinated offensive beginning July 1, and that would mean 750,000 men descending on France from all directions. Napoleon had a brief period in which to concentrate against the threat in the Low Countries and had to make the most of it. Any strategy that left either Wellington or Blücher in good order was unacceptable because it would leave a threat on his flank when he turned to face his next target, the Austrians, who were massing to attack across the Rhine. He had to defeat each enemy as it came at him, and he had to do it quickly because he was heavily outnumbered.

Napoleon made the right decision in sending a screening force after the Prussians while he commanded the main body against Wellington. Yes, it was possible that the Prussians would reorganize and support Wellington's left (which they did), but Napoleon was in a desperate situation. He couldn't afford an extra day or two to make sure that the Prussians retired toward the east because the Austrians, aware that Napoleon was moving into Belgium, had begun their advance. They crossed the Rhine on June 19, the day after Waterloo.

Kenny has already pointed out where Napoleon made his mistakes: poor choices for his subordinates and delay in launching the pursuit. I wonder what Ney would have done had he been in charge of harrying the defeated Prussians, but he was already commanding the "wrong" wing.

4 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
Mellow Muzzle
Netherlands
flag msg tools
Colonel des Grenadiers à Cheval de la Garde Impériale de Sa Majesté l’Empereur Gonzo le Grand
badge
Avatar
mbmbmbmbmb
deadkenny wrote:
Mellow Muzzle wrote:
deadkenny wrote:
Historically the Prussians had been soundly defeated at Ligny,...


…and yet they managed to play a pivotal role at Waterloo! Historically sound! whistle

Talking about victory levels…


There is no inconsistency between the Prussians having suffered a 'sound' defeat at Ligny, and their ability to intervene in the Battle of Waterloo two days later. After Ligny, Grouchy failed to push the pursuit as aggressively as he might have, and that plus being reinforced by the 4th Corps (a force more than a third as strong as what the Prussians had at Ligny, and an even greater percentage of what was left afterwards). Also the Prussians came in on the French flank at Waterloo well into the fight, with Wellington's force having borne the brunt of the fighting up to that point.

There are many instances in history of a force being 'defeated' in battle, and recovering after a brief respite. The fact that the Prussians managed to turn things around in only two days is a tribute to their determination. The additional facts that Grouchy's pursuit was lackadaisical and they received large reinforcements facilitated that, but does not detract from the accomplishment.


I meant to say that, in your words “..the Prussians…” (later on you start to specify Corps), “…had been soundly defeated…”, the choice of the words “soundly defeated” lends itself perfectly to imply a “game over” type of defeat (which obviously was not the case). Some of the resulting confusion is reflected in posts of this thread.

Apart from that I also meant to imply, that what the Prussians accomplished during the campaign, was quite remarkable (to varying degrees).
1 
 Thumb up
 tip
 Hide
  • [+] Dice rolls
1 , 2  Next »   | 
Front Page | Welcome | Contact | Privacy Policy | Terms of Service | Advertise | Support BGG | Feeds RSS
Geekdo, BoardGameGeek, the Geekdo logo, and the BoardGameGeek logo are trademarks of BoardGameGeek, LLC.