Day 2 of the re-fight saw everybody turn up early on the Sunday morning. Those who had tasted triumph and glory on the first day were keen to further enhance their status as great generals whilst for others it was a matter of rallying shattered forces, pushing them back into the fray and so saving those tarnished reputations. Here are the French commanders
On the French left, the hook had bypassed Hougoumont and put the Allies under severe pressure. The allied advance between Hougoumont and La Haie Saint was faltering but had produced significant results.
On the French right I had given up all hope of pushing through the woods between Papelotte and La Haye despite the fact that the Nassauers had been reduced to 50% and beginning to withdraw. With only 4 Hanoverian Landwehr battalions holding the woods and Papelotte, a vigorous attack pressed home would have seen Pegot’s brigade emerge on the other side cutting the road to Wavre.
What yesterday had seemed to be an attainable objective was now clearly an impossible task, Pegot’s Brigade had suffered enormously with 10 figure casualties between the 4 battalions. The brigade was in danger of breaking, there was no alternative but to withdraw lest in the haste for glory nothing but ignominy and the Emperor’s censure would be found. Oh for the want of another brigade!
At La Haye, the Nassauers were been replaced by the advancing Prussians, the 1/85th Ligne, so hastily thrown forward to hold back the tide was the only intact regiment but now isolated and singlehandedly holding back 4 times its number of Losthin’s Prussians. The remaining regiments of Brue’s brigade, the 2/85th and both battalions of the 95th Ligne were carrying enormous numbers of casualties from their repeated attempts to take La Haye. They too had on the very point of breaking had been forced to retire and reform.
In the ensuing melee the 1/85th got the better of the Prussians in hand to hand combat but without support were forced to check their morale. The dice were thrown, the result rounded down to 7, they had survived.
On the Prussians came again and again, Brue himself entered the fray. The Prussian general was aghast, who were these Frenchmen, what magic suffused those blue dice? – 8 casualties caused in 2 turns but 7 of them saved! They still defied the enemy and held their ground. They had done their work. Lobau had arrived at last
(I am told this feat of arms is unusual in BP in which results of fighting are usually decisive- this single battalion held its own whilst unsupported in melee for at least 4 turns!)
On the Plancenoit table the French had sent out a large force to hold back the Prussian advance. This included the remainder of Lobau’s Corps and the Young Guard. There were some lovely looking figures on this table and judging from the noise quite a bit of frenetic activity. Chris packer the YG commander told me he’d had better days, whilst Ryssel (Von Peter Himself – https://vonpeterhimself.wordpress.com/was seen gallantly leading the Prussian 14th Brigade on his crutches. I managed a few snapshots of the action including this turn where there seemed to be the sound of the gnashing of teeth (or was it wincing I heard) at the casualty toll.
Around La Haye Sainte the Guard was finally committed with the Old Guard advancing toward on the right and the middle Guard on the left. Russel Briant commanding the Guard seemed always to be in the thick of things and I am told was responsible for breaking at least 5 Allied Brigades.
An errant British rocket apparently set fire to Hougoumont but this did not seem to be a focus for major action in the re-fight as it was in the real battle. With such a large table and so many players on each side it was impossible to keep track of what is going on, I trust the reader will forgive me and be satisfied with drooling over the random pictures of the action that I took.
Back to the French right flank…..
Look sir… Zulus.. err.. I mean Prussians… ‘Farsands of ’em sir!
Surely the end was nigh, how could Durutte survive now, the Prussians under Steinmetz (Rhys Jones) were marching down the road leading from Wavre. (Look at the pictures a fine sight they were too!)
Yet undaunted Pegot pressed on and with assistance from nearby artillery finally forced the Hanoverians from Papelotte and led a battalion, the 1/8th Ligne into the town. Not content to rest on their laurels they engaged the nearby British horse batteries but with an ineffective fire.
The fire returned by these batteries was devastating, yet even worse, an attempt to rally the casualties resulted in a blunder and the battalion marched through the village and emerged on the other side even closer to the guns. Expecting the worst the battalion braced itself but miraculously the canister flew both wide and overhead. Thanking the dice gods, the battalion commander needed no further reason to scurry through Papelotte once more and reform on the other side.
The Prussians pressed on through the woods, the jaeger and light battalions doing this with some ease and engaged Lobau whom had advanced to allow both Pegot and Brue to rally and remove their casualties. By now the French had formed a defensive cordon and it seemed that the crisis had passed….
But fate is fickle in a wargame…. somehow, just somehow by the grace of the dice gods (and even more good fortune and a long stick), one of Vivian’s cavalry regiment galloped down the slope between a one of Durutte’s squares and Papelotte and rode down the shaken square of the recovering 1/8th Ligne. Vivian himself did not return from the fray, but the damage was done and when by now educed to a strength of 50% Pegot’s Brigade was finally forced to retire….
…(Pun Warning: – Pegot’s wheeels had finally fallen off!)
What of the cavalry?
Jacquinot and his 3rd and 4th Lancers had by this time taken up a defensive position and were in such a posture as to discourage the Prussians from emerging from the woods when once again fate struck a cruel blow…
The Prussian 4th Hussars charged and in overwhelming one of Durutte’s shaken squares, somehow recovered their equilibrium and shattered the 3rd lancer regiment who were only able to turn to meet the charge. It must be said that the hussars themselves were wiped out at the next opportunity by the 4th Lancers.
By this time Jacquinot’s remaining cavalry, the chasseurs, attempting to assist Marcognet’s retreating brigades were themselves finally overcome and like Pegot, Jacquinot was forced to retire.
It seemed to be getting dark, Brue had rallied sufficiently to re enter the fray and returned to assist Lobau in stemming the advance of the Prussians whom by now had moved through the Hanoverians. By this time the valiant lone defence of the 1/85th had been overcome and the unit ceased to exist as an effective unit. The brigade was reduced to 3 battalions and with the overall battle in the balance, further brigade losses would undoubtedly give victory to the Allies so much care was needed.
One battalion was shaken but safely out of reach of the Prussians, one more loss would see the Brigade break and add to the tally of the broken French brigades. The Prussians desperately engaged the remaining 2 battalions of Brue’s brigade.
The 1/95th Ligne had been thrown forward to meet the threat and had successfully pushed back a Prussian battalion when it had the initiative. Surrendering the initiative for the last Prussian effort the unit was charged and fired upon by just about every Prussian within the vicinity but held its ground.
Phew it was over. The dice were placed back in its box, Brue had survived it seemed… but no….
….wait …the 2nd/95th had not yet been engaged and the Prussians announced a further attack…. once more the dice were called upon… and once more the challenge was met and Brue though bruised (yeah I know another terrible pun) and battered had really survived this time
I’m told that a similar last ditch effort to break brigades had taken place on the other flank but we had survived. 13 Allied brigades had been broken in the course of the 2 day re-fight but it had been a close run thing with 15 being the target needed to herald a French Victory. Napoleon was being ushered away from the field, it had been a close run thing and as somebody else has commented a very well run thing. My thanks to all involved.
I shall look forward to the next one and I hope that when I go to the next gunfight I hope I won’t be taking a sword or even a gun for that matter but a better knowledge and understanding of the rules!