Back from the HMGS-PSW “Hit the Beach” convention, WR has written his dispatches on the close action at Ligny 1815. A grand game with nine players, three of which were completely new gamers to the rules, and the usual seasoned crew. WR’s son Daniel among the group. Please refer to Ligny 1815 Part I for initial deployments, table map, event cards, OOB rosters, and game scenario notes. Ligny 1815 Part I link. All photos below can be clicked upon to enlarge (sizing) at upper left of photo.
After the normal convention set up and miniature parading process, the group was ready to start the action about 11:00 AM local time. With initial deployments well-marked by the placed wooden blocks and wooden block extension markers, both sides placed their front line divisions and brigades with ease. French Vandamme’s III corps (commanded by Paul and Alan) elected to attack St. Amand with 2 infantry divisions (8th and 11th) while sending the other two infantry divisions (7th and 10th) and the corp’s cavalry on a left flank march (to seize Wagnelee and Hameau de St. Amand). French IV corps under Gerard (Ty) directly went for Ligny with two infantry divisions (12th and 13th) while the IV corps light cavalry looked on. French Imperial guard and various cavalry reserves (Bob) slowly approached the central gap, held down the open right flank against Prussian III korps, or were sent towards the left French flank (13th cuirassier division).
Prussian historical deployments had 1st brigade in St. Amand la-Haye and 3rd brigade in St. Amand (Rob and Jim) backed by 2nd brigade and I korps cavalry. The remaining 4th brigade of I korps occupied Ligny (Fred). The entire II korps starting off the tabletop zone was maneuvered by WR’s son Daniel pending their arrival on the tabletop. WR played the role of Blucher and III korps commander plus ran the WR news service. Basic Prussian thought was hold the five village zones as long as possible, building by building, hoping to inflict losses on both French infantry corps while holding the villages…. thus forcing deployment and use of the French Imperial guard. How to handle the French Imperial guard was another matter, as a Prussian, WR was hoping for rain, nightfall and some luck with the Prussian cavalry to keep those veterans in check.
To the Ligny game and miniature action…..
The French surge forwards with their four infantry divisions, marching through the grain fields. Vandamme’s other two infantry divisions led by the light cavalry division marched left towards Wagnelee per plan. Prussian skirmishing infantry line the forward edge of St. Amand as the rest of Prussian 3rd Brigade rushes into the village.
Terrain note: The “textured green felt zone” represents a built up (BUA) defensive area for this game. Grain fields are tan carpet zones with haystacks (WR plans to tone them down a little, they are too “bright” in photos). The “wider” blue stream is a hard terrain feature to cross. Green textured wooden blocks are un-deployed miniature divisions or brigades.
At Ligny, the Prussian skirmishers from 4th brigade see the massed ranks of Gerard’s IV corps divisions marching towards them. Musket shots sing out as the bodies of men close the distance.
French regimental bands play as their fellow soldiers tramp through the tall grain fields. Musket shots and some artillery start the process of war.
Vandamme’s infantry push into St. Amand. Prussian 3rd brigade defenders are fighting the massed French ranks and voltigeurs amidst the wall, hedges and narrow lanes. French assault columns storm the frontal buildings in the BUA. Prussian I korps cavalry and korps artillery deploy to cover the gap between Ligny and St. Amand. Prussian 5th brigade (II korps) arrives followed by II korps cavalry near Brye (wood block). French light cavalry have ridden around Wagnelee to confront the arriving Prussian 5th brigade.
Same effort at Ligny… French storming infantry columns and skirmishers battle among the terrain. All fighting in the BUA has special rules for increased miniature losses due to the bitter French-Prussian hatred at this battle.
A general view of the tabletop action and Youtube video report at the completed 1st hour mark (4:00 pm historical game time). Part I Video Link
Starting into the 2nd game hour (4:00 PM), the French infantry renew their assaults on Ligny, especially at the Le Haut farm. Divisional commander Vichery and corp sappers lead the assault columns. Prussian 8th brigade rushes down from the rear slope to join the defense with 4th brigade.
French Guard is slowly coming into play. Young guard (YG) infantry battalions leading, the other Imperial guard divisions following up. Prussian I korps cavalry and artillery bombard the approaching French.
Out towards Wagnelee the action is warming up as Prussian and French infantry battalions march towards the village. The action at Wagnelee and Ligny will determine the Prussian army’s fate at Ligny battlefield.
French disaster during second hour of play!. Vandamme is killed by random cannon-shot while leading French in the St. Amand sector. RS in the chest…. French morale slumps for a while till a French divisional commander is promoted.
Video for summary of 2nd historical game hour 5:00 PM positions. Part II Video link.
The third battle of Ligny hour opening up with a hotter game. Prussian howitzers alight a building as the Prussian defenders of 1st and 3rd brigades are driven finally from St. Amand by Vandamme’s infantry. Both French infantry divisions at 20% losses and climbing. Fleeing Prussians seen by Blucher… time to rally his “children”.
French advance their 14th division (under Grouchy’s control) and 10th Dragoon cavalry division (II cavalry corps) towards the Ligny stream bend. Finding the deployed 9th Prussian brigade and III korps artillery on other side stops any forward moves. This battle will be won and lost in the southern villages.
Back in the southern villages…. two hours of solid brutal fighting is slowly pushing the Prussians back. French 10th infantry division assaults the outskirts of St. Amand La-Haye as St. Amand burns.
On the northern sector the French 14th infantry division deploys to face the Prussian 9th brigade as the 10th cavalry (dragoon) division reposition themselves behind the infantry.
In the gap between Ligny and St. Amand, the French guard artillery 12 pdrs unlimbered and bombard the Prussian cavalry. Seeing some dark masses to the east, Napoleon halts the forward progress of the OG infantry and cavalry divisions to await scouting reports (event card “dark masses” played by Prussians),
Battle in Ligny rages on. Prussian 8th brigade columns formed to storm back into village as French advance across the stream.
With the outlying positions cleared, The French 10th division (Vandamme) attacks the heart of St. Amand La-Haye against the remains of 1st brigade and the reinforcement of 2nd brigade.
At Wagnelee, the first of several Prussian infantry assaults (by 5th brigade) to retake the village forms up against the weakened French 7th division. Prussian II korps cavalry in support against any French cavalry intrusion.
Video for 6:00 PM hour summary. Part III Video Link. Also… It’s official…. we won the Best of Show award at HMGS-PSW “Hit the Beach” convention.
Going into the 4th historical hour of game time, the Prussians are battered. 1st, 3rd and 4th brigades are shells of their former strength. 8th brigade is just holding on to Ligny while 2nd brigade holds St. Amand La-Haye. 5th brigade is assaulting to retake Wagnelee. On the French side, Vandamme’s initial divisions (8th and 11th) are spent, Gerard is still seeking the final positions of Ligny across the stream as his two divisions approach 20% losses each. The Prussians know that the final event is coming as YG battalions and the guard artillery push back Prussian skirmishers and bombard the central zone. Another Prussian brigade (6th) forms into columns to assault Ligny as the last rays of sunlight shine on Ligny.
St. Amand is burning, the battered French infantry divisions of Vandamme’s corp have to redeploy as Prussian skirmishers pepper shots across the Ligny stream.
Apart from some long-range artillery fire, both the French and Prussians keep the distance in the northern sector. Prussian III korps, with its small brigades, contain the French cavalry corps of Pajol (1st) and Exelmans (2nd).
Game time… almost 7:00PM. With threatening dark clouds overhead, the YG battalions have cleared the Ligny stream position of Prussian light troops. The 12 pdrs of the guard are bombarding the Prussian center. The “dark masses” in the east have been sighted as D’Erlons corps…. so the Imperial guard is released for forward advancement. Division of OG grenadiers, division of OG chasseurs, the guard heavy cavalry march or ride in step forward.
Meanwhile, the Prussian right flank is contesting both St. Amand La-Haye and Wagnelee with the forces of Vandamme (7th and 10th divisions) plus some cavalry. 13th cuirassier division arrived to support the French left flank. Soon, detached from D’Erlon’s I corps, will appear the 4th division and I corps cavalry on the open flank of the Prussians. With all these new French divisions the Prussians cannot hold Wagnelee and the right flank. Time think about retiring towards Byre behind them.
Game called by group at the 7:00 PM game turn after real playing time of about 8 hours or 12 game turns. Rated as French minor victory due to the villages in their present control (per game scenario notes). The French have been successful taking St. Amand, Ligny (at this moment), and still holding Wagnelee. If St. Amand La-Haye falls, the Prussian will suffer a major morale penalty till they can contest (reoccupy a portion) any village named above. With the Imperial guard posed to strike, the dark masses showing up as D’Erlon’s detached 4th infantry division and I corps cavalry (on Prussian flank near Wagnelee western table edge), and the pending rolls for rainfall (starting on 7PM hour), the Prussian side called the game. Plenty of fight remains in the II korps infantry brigades (except 8th) and the untouched, but weaker, III korps… but they would be hard pressed to counterattack against the Imperial guard infantry and cavalry.
Neither side used any of their heroic event cards, Blucher never needed his ADC to save him from capture and the French had the Old Guard morale card to play. The Ligny event card set can be found in-game scenario notes found under Part I link above. Miniature losses in some brigades or divisions were heavy…. 20-40% range (for killed , wounded or missing), especially in the divisions involved in St. Armand and Ligny.
Summary video at 7:00 PM and end of game positions. Part IV Video Link
Reports with additional photos of the actual convention (other games etc) can be found at HMGS-PSW.org. Link.
This filed report by the long-eared war correspondent (Gneisenau) for evening despatch to Wellington. Following the historical result, Prussian army will retire towards Warve and meet with Wellington at Waterloo.
If additional photos come from the gaming group, WR will post to this blog page. Thanks to all the players who enjoyed the game and their participation.
Information on the napoleonic game rules, systems, charts and instructive video links found on Wargamerabbit.wordpress.com blog site under Napoleonic rules, videos & files Link. Additional napoleonic scenarios and game AAR’s found on the same blog site.
Cheers again from the warren as the WR drives his big carrot towards the sunrise,