Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Belgian Crossroads, 1815 (Part One, The Scenario)

We set up a "what-if" scenario based on Napoleon's advance through Charleroi in June of 1815, on the eve of the battles of Quatre Bras and Waterloo. David Brown's outstanding General d'Armee rules were used for this tabletop battle.

The scenario assumed several ahistorical deviations from the actual turn of events:

1. The I Corps under d'Erlon is assumed to lead the way strategically instead of Reilles II Corps.
2. The allies are assumed to deploy closer to France, which would provide more resistance to Napoleon's advance to Quatre Bras.
3. The allies were not caught off guard with the French advance through Charleroi and were thus more able to deploy more efficiently.

Frederick William, the Duke of Brunswick

Count d'Erlon, commander of I Corps

The Scenario

It is 1130 am on June 15th, 1815. Our scenario takes place (after the French crossing of the Sambre river at Charleroi) at the small village of Gosselies. The Brunswick contingent under the Duke of Brunswick himself, Frederick William, was tasked with the defense of this important town. The 3rd Netherlands infantry division under General Chasse was to the rear in support and is assumed to march to the sound of the guns. The Brunswick troops have entered the tabletop and are in the process of deploying in a defensive position when French cavalry have appeared with Donzelet's 2nd infantry division of d'Erlon's I Corps on their heels. Only the lead elements of d'Erlon's I Corps have made it to the battlefield in this fight.

Strategic map of the initial disposition of forces. Gosselies lies between Charleroi and Quatre Bras

The village of Gosselies is considered a built-up area in the center of the table. The large farm at the rear of Gosselies is also considered a built-up area. Several wooded areas, especially on the left and right flanks of the Brunswick position, offer excellent defensive anchor points (if they can be occupied before the enemy can). All wooded areas are considered to be rough terrain. All hills are considered to be gentle slopes, which may block line-of-sight.

Looking at the photo above, the terrain is generally rolling terrain, with conspicuous heights labeled appropriately. It is important to note that the 3rd Netherlands division may enter at either entry point, or both (if the player wishes to split his force). The French player may also switch the entry points for each division as well.  All entry points must be decided in secret prior to Turn 1.

Reinforcements enter the table based on die rolls. The French 1st infantry division will arrive to the right of the 2nd division and will be diced for beginning on turn 1. The 3rd Netherlands division will arrive to the left rear of the Brunswick position and will also be diced for beginning on turn 1. A 1d6 will be rolled; a result equaling or less than the current turn enables the reinforcements to arrive.

The terrain demonstrating the Brunswick central position and the Dutch-Belgian troops arriving

Total allied troops are approximately 12,500 while the elements of d'Erlon's I Corps equal approximately 10,000. The French outnumber the allies in cavalry and heavy guns though, while generally holding an advantage in overall troop quality as well. Another advantage that the French have is that d'Erlon, as the Corps commander, supplies extra ADC's to a division of his choice. The two allied commands operate independently of each other, therefore command and control is more of a challenge for the Brunswick and Dutch-Belgian commanders.

Command and control is such a huge part of General d'Armee's charm, and proved to be very important in this fight.

The allies' goal is to last 20 turns in good order (between 4-5 hours) so that Wellington's British troops can march to their aid and force a full-scale battle with d'Erlon's force. If the French can shatter the allied troops and send them reeling by the 20th turn, then the French advance to Quatre Bras can continue unopposed, with d'Erlon's rear elements catching up on the march.

Optional and House Rules. I used the optional Reservist, Grenadier, and First Volley rules. As a house rule, I added a +1 fire modifier to 8 gun batteries to differentiate these larger batteries from 6 gun batteries.

The Orders of Battle

French Order of Battle

Elements of I Corps

I Corps Commander Count d'Erlon    Veteran     +2 ADC's  (will arrive with the first French division to enter the tabletop)

1st Division

Quiot    Campaigner

1st Brigade     Charlet
1/54th Ligne     Standard      Line
2/54th Ligne     Standard      Line
1/55th Ligne     Standard      Line
2/55th Ligne     Standard      Line
Battery:  Artillerie 'a Pied    8  x 6 pdr (with howitzers)   Line    +1 to fire

2nd Brigade      Burgeois
1/28th  Ligne      Small         Line
2/28th  Ligne      Small         Line
1/105th Ligne     Standard    Line
2/105th Ligne     Standard    Line

2nd Division

Donzelet  Campaigner

1st Brigade   Schmitz
1/13th Legere    Standard     Veteran
2/13th  Legere   Standard      Line-Grenadier
3/13th Legere    Standard      Line-Grenadier
1/17th Ligne      Standard      Line-Grenadier
2/17th Ligne      Small           Line-Grenadier

2nd Brigade   Aulard
1/19th Ligne     Standard     Line
2/19th  Ligne    Standard     Line
1/51st  Ligne     Standard     Line
2/51st  Ligne     Standard     Line

Artillery Command   Desales
Artillerie 'a Pied   8 x 12 pdr  (with Howitzers)   Line   +1 to fire
Artillerie 'a Pied   8 x 6 pdr  (with Howitzers)     Line   +1 to fire

1st Cavalry Division

Jacquinot  Campaigner

1st Light Cavalry Brigade   Bruno
1/7th  Hussars    Small    Line    Campaign
2/7th  Hussars    Small    Line    Campaign
1/3rd  Chasseurs  Small   Line    Campaign
2/3rd  Chasseurs  Small   Line    Campaign

2nd Cavalry Brigade    Gobrecht
1/3rd  Lancers     Small    Line    Campaign
2/3rd  Lancers     Small    Line    Campaign
1/4th  Lancers     Small    Line    Campaign
2/4th  Lancers     Small    Line    Campaign
Battery:  Artillerie 'a Chasseur   6 x 6 pdr (with Howitzers)  Veteran

Allied Order of Battle

Elements of the Brunswick contingent and the 3rd Netherlands Division. There is no corps commander. Each division commander will command their force independently of the other. 

Brunswick contingent

Duke of Brunswick   Campaigner

Light Brigade    Buttlar
Lieb Regt    Standard    Line
1st Light      Standard    Line
2nd Light     Standard    Line
3rd  Light     Standard    Line
Jagers           Standard    Line   (Rifles)
Battery:   8 x 6 pdrs  (Foot)    Line    +1 to fire

2nd Brigade    Von Specht
1st Line    Standard     Line-Reservist
2nd Line   Standard     Line-Reservist
3rd  Line   Standard     Line-Reservist
Battery:   8 x 6 pdrs    Line  (Foot)    +1 to fire

Cavalry Brigade    Von Cramm
1/2nd Hussars     Standard    Line    Campaign
2/2nd Hussars     Standard    Line    Campaign
Uhlans                 Small         Line    Campaign

3rd Netherlands Division

Chasse     Campaigner

1st Brigade   Detmers
35th Belgian Jagers      Standard   Line
2nd Dutch  Line           Small    Line-Reservist
4th Dutch Militia         Standard    Recruit
6th  Dutch Militia        Standard    Recruit
17th  Dutch Militia      Standard    Recruit
19th  Dutch Militia      Small         Recruit
Battery:   8 x 6 pdrs  (Foot)  (with Howitzers)   Line   +1 to fire

2nd Brigade     d'Audreme
36th  Belgian  Jagers     Standard     Line
3rd  Belgian Line          Standard     Line-Reservist
12th  Dutch Line           Small          Line-Reservist
13th  Dutch Line           Standard     Line-Reservist
3rd  Dutch Militia         Standard      Recruit
10th  Dutch Militia       Standard      Recruit
Battery:  8 x 6 pdrs (Foot) (with Howitzers)    Line    +1 to fire

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