General de Brigade
Game 4, British v French
17th October 2012
This scenario was a suggestion by Ian which Brett set up and designed, representing a British rearguard action to block a French advance at a river crossing during one of the British frequent retreats from
when they had outrun their supply lines. The year is 1811. The river has one bridge and two shallow fords and the table is played lengthways. Spain
French – take river – victory
French – drive British from table – glorious victory
British – Hold majority of river – victory
British – break two French brigades – glorious victory
The French, as the aggressor, automatically are the phasing player for the first three game turns.
No terrain features affect French movement in their half of the table. Bridge is no movement modifier. Fords are half pace but do not cause formation check. Crossing the river itself is one entire move but DOES NOT involve formation check. Charges may occur across bridge and ford subject to half-movement at fords.
Neither the French nor the British C-in-C may be classed as POOR. (We always dice for quality, it’s too much fun not too!!!)
The French significantly outnumber the British, as they should in this scenario. The French field three (bigger) brigades plus a cavalry brigade to the British two with one cavalry unit. The British are stronger in artillery.
Brett and Ian took control of the British rearguard, while Vincent and I took control of the French
C-in-C Picton – 60 points (Average) + 1 ADC (Average)
1st Brigade (Graham) 50 points (Excellent)
36 - 49th Foot (Northants) (line) (90 points)
36 – 5th Foot (Kent) (veteran) (108 points)
40 – 93rd Foot (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders (elite) 140 points)
16 – 95th Rifles skirmishers (elite) (64 points)
Artillery 4 X 9 pounder Foot (veteran) (132 points) Total 644 pts
2nd Brigade (Kempt) – 50 points (Average)
36 – 30th Foot (
) (line) (90 points) Cambridge
36 – 69th (
South Lincoln) (line) (90 points)
36 – 33rd Foot (1st West Riding) (elite) (126 points)
16 - Cassadores (Portuguese) (veteran rifles) (48 points) Total 354 pts
Cavalry regiment (Ponsonby) – 50 points (Poor)
18 – 18th Hussars (Elite – superior mounts) – 99 points Total 149 pts
Grand total – 1147 points
Having read the scenario, sorted sides, and seen the terrain, Brett and Ian deployed their two visible Brigades, keeping Ponsonby’s cavalry and the newly formed reserve brigade (the units in red) under Picton’s ADC somewhere behind the crest of the hill…(Where you can see them is where the French assumed they’d be!!!)
The visible British Brigades started on “Hold Orders”, Graham’s 1st Brigade working from the left of the picture, the 5th
guarding the bridge with the 49th (Northants) on the ridge above the 95th Rifles, the 9 pounders centrally dominating the river valley. Kent
Below the woods in the centre of the ridge is the 30th (
Cambridge) Foot, with the 69th ( South Lincoln on their left, the Portugese Cassadores arrayed in skirmish to their front.
Ponsonby’s Cavalry orders were to “Assault” any French crossing the river on the British left, the elite Infantry Brigade of the 93rd Foot (Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders) and the 33rd Foot (West Rising) reserve force would support the other brigades and assault French units that cross the river!
British set-up above, French set-up below
C-in-C – General Foy – 60 points (Average)
1st Italian Brigade (Reille) – 50 points (Average)
36 X 2 (3rd Italian Régiment de ligne – Bataillons 1 & 2) (line) – (150 points)
28 X detatched Grenadiers (elite) – (84 points)
24 X Saxon infantry (veteran) – (70 points)
16 X Voltigeurs (veteran) – (40 points) Total = 454 points
2nd French Brigade (Quiot) – 50 points (Poor)
36 X 2 (86th Régiment de ligne – Bataillons 1 & 2) (line) (150 points)
36 X 1 (1st legere) (veteran) (108 points)
24 X Young Guard (guard) (132 points)
12 X Chasseurs (line) (14 points)
Artillery 3 X 6 pounder Horse Artillery (Elite) (129 points) Total = 583 points
3rd Württemberg brigade (von Hugel) – 50 points (Average)
36 X 2 (1st line Regiment “Prinz Paul”) (line) (150 points)
36 X 1 (4th line regiment “von Frenquemont) (elite) (110 points)
14 X Jagers (elite) (42 points) Total = 352 points
Cavalry Brigade (Nansouty) – 50 points (Average)
12 X Württemberg “Herzog Heinrich” Chevauxleger (line – inferior mounts) (42 points)
12 X Cleve-Berg lancers (Elite) (72 points)
Turn 4 - 12 X 3rd Dragoons (elite) (72 points) Total = 236 points
Grand Total = 1625 points
Having seen the initial visible “thin red line” deployed, the French decided against subtlety. Reasoning that two of the three crossing were required to “control” the river, the bridge and centre left ford crossing would be hotly contested being so close to one another, and undoubtedly where the British reserve would be positioned to defend. Therefore an all out attack across the river, with a bold right hook to sweep away the British left before converging on the centre was devised!
Nansouty’s Cavalry Brigade were ordered to cross the river on the extreme French right under the British line, “Assaulting” the British units there. Reille’s 1st Italian Brigade were under similar orders but were to cross the river at, and to the right of, the right hand ford. Under such force, the visible British left would surely crumble…or their reserves would be drawn out quickly!!!
Quiot’s strong 2nd French Brigade, with the Young Guard,Veteran 1st Legere and 6 pounders would “Engage” the British centre, crossing the river at the centre and centre left ford and keeping the British centre from reinforcing their embattled left, and being able to assist either flank if needed. Von Hugel’s smaller Wurttemburg, with the Prinz Paul Battalions and the elite Von Frequemont were to “Assault”cross at the bridge and to the left of it, to occupy the units the French assumed would be assigned to it from reserve. The “Prinz Paul” battalions would cross directly at the bridge to take the heat off the Von Frequemont as they crossed the river at the extreme left unmolested…
After the French 1st turn, and all is going to plan…for both sides!!!
The first few turns were largely limited to the French columns advancing at pace and British limited to moving skirmishers to the fords. Although the British did politely inform us of a dust cloud behind the ridge, as they re-deployed their reserves having seen that the French General Foy had taken position at the right side of his army, where his cavalry was advancing at speed and his biggest and best brigades seemed to be…
First blood to the British, as the 9 pounders open up, targeting and un-forming the French limbered Horse artillery…
The 95th Rifles defend the central crossing…while the French Cavalry race ahead!!!
Turn four saw the first dice for initiative, the French winning and continuing their all point attack…
The British skirmishers with their longer ranged rifles have fallen back from the ford, their harassing fire largely ineffectual against so many French…Nansouty’s cavalry, consisting of the Wurttemburg “Herzog Heinrich” Chevauxleger and the Cleve-Burg Lancers are unsurprisingly the first French to cross, and draw out not only the expected 18th Hussars led by Ponsonby, but the elite reserve infantry… Picton seems to have outmaneuvered Foy with that, and the British and Portugese pour it on…
Turn five and initiative would be important for the first time…French maintain it, and Nansouty orders charges on the 18th Hussars and the 69th
South Lincoln. However, the 69th firepower dissuades the Cleve-Burg Lancers from charging home, and poor dice leave the Wurrtemburgers to face Ponsonby unformed, resulting real trouble for the French cavalry brigade…
Reille’s Brigade advances across the river regardless of the calamity unfolding on their right, while the central and left brigades continue to advance on the British. Ponsonby’s cavalry are blown and will retreat to behind their lines to regroup but have massacred the French trapped at the river
The French centre right infantry under Reille cross at the ford, while Quiot’s brigade prepare to cross, with the Young Guard advancing into the ford, their skirmishers and artillery support peppering the stalwart British line on the ridges.
The British respond in kind, as the Wurttemburgers advance onto the bridge
Turn 6 sees the French hold the initiative once more, and Von Hugels Prinz Paul 1st Battalion on the bridge charge the British line…
Or would have had the sheer ferocity of the British line not driven them into retreat… Von Hugel galloped after them, desperately trying to restore morale, while the 2nd Battalion and Von Frequemont units cross unopposed and prepare to assault next turn
Meanwhile, flushed with Ponsonby’s successful charge and elimination of the French cavalry threat, the Highlanders surged down from the hill to oppose the right ford crossing, as the 95th on the right form up under the ridge to support the line…
As we entered turn 7, the game was nicely poised. The British had eliminated the French cavalry and had achieved numerical parity with the French on their left, foiling the French plan of a bold right hook. However, the French had unwittingly gained numerical superiority on their left and centre left, so planned to switch to a left hook. Initiative would be key, and the dice fell favorably for the French yet again…
The French attempted to change Quiot’s Brigade from engaging to assault, seeing the full British disposition of forces. However, perhaps it was due to the 9 pounders on the ridge, but the French general lost his nerve…
The Grenadiers win out just, as the Highlanders are pushed back, but the Voltiguers have to cover the retreat of the Saxons as they flee from short range musketry from the ridge as the West Riding have advanced to lend their support…
As the British held their left, with the only the Grenadiers looking threatening (as the 3rd Italian battalions still hadn’t fully crossed the river), and the French centre surprisingly going to Hold on the ford, the 30th Foot snaked down to cover the Highlanders pull back knowing that they would be taking canister from the French Horse artillery set up on the bend of the river
As turn 8 began, the French left was exposed, and in desperate need of support from Quiot’s Briagde. The British centre units had hinged left and right to support their flanks and a concerted effort there could ensure victory. The French right also was exposed, with the heavy British infantry presence there but the Grenadiers had an opportunity to flank the 30th Foot, unformed from French canister and with the Highlanders reforming and unable to support. The dice roll for initiative finally turned, the British winning for the first time
Following the frenetic command phase, and the melee the previous turn, there were no charges, primarily due to Reille. The British advanced Ponsonby’s cavalry up behind the ridge towards the bridge, while on the British left, the West Riding, Highlanders and 69th all advance on the French right at the right ford, under Pictons gaze
With the right now dropping to Hold orders, the Grenadiers were unable to charge, but the Italian Battalions secured the ford. The Prinz Paul 2nd advanced towards the retreating 5th Foot, finishing under the hill to avoid the worst of British musketry, and give the Von Frequemont cover as they reformed from their successful charge
In the centre, the relatively fresh brigade of Quiot’s crossed en masse, the 1st Legere to the right facing the depleted 30th Foot, the Young Guard central and one of the 86th Ligne on the left threatening the 49th Foot
The shooting phase was relatively uneventful, with the Young Guard taking some canister, as did the 30th Foot (again) but neither side was overly fazed. In the morale phase, the proximity of the Prinz Paul 2nd battalion stopped the 5th
from rallying, but the 30th Foot took new heart from their reinforced left flank. The Saxon battalion with Reille in attendance rallied too. Kent
Turn 9 saw the British win initiative again. Ponsonby’s delay in re-ordering his horse meant that the 18th Hussars were just short of charging the Prinz Paul, so Graham led the 49th Foot as they prepared to charge in line, and the 30th Foot prepared to assault the 1st Legere.
The French in turn ordered the Young Guard to charge the artillery position on the hill, and the 86th Ligne attempted to charge the 49th, should they fail to press home.
The Prinz Paul 2nd Battalion try to repulse the 49th, which they do as the dice roll to charge home was double one, resulting in a shock retreat. The casualties the 30th Foot had accumulated meant they too were stopped by defensive volleys, holding in front of the 1st Legere and in canister enfilade of the French Horse artillery… The British artillery canister shot at the charge of the Young Guard was also low, the French charging home to disperse the guns from the ridge…
As the Young Guard and 86th Ligne storm the ridge, the 49th Foot retreat and the artillery disperse, the ever resolute 95th Rifles face the enemy unaware they are now surrounded
Reille’s Brigade hold the right ford, with the Voltiguers and Grenadiers across it, the 3rd Italian on it and Reille and the Saxons regrouped behind.
Ponsonby arrives too late to save the British right from a devastating turn of bad dice, as the Prinz Paul 2nd Battalion recross the bridge again, whilst the 3rd Dragoons arrive to find the left and centre crossings firmly in French hands
With the French controlling two crossings, and strongly holding the third, General Picton surveyed the battlefield from the British left, and began ordering the retreat…
The final positions, Von Hugels Wurttemburgers near the village and the bridge, Quiot’s brigade on the hill and centre left ford, and Reille on the right ford. The British had a strong left, with two small brigades that could probably have retaken the ford to their front, but Graham’s brigade on the British right would have failed its Brigade morale check (Ian did roll) had Ian and Brett not agreed the game was lost beforehand.
Another excellent game that swung to and fro, with three double ones at crucial times, and it was a classic example of how “no plan survives contact with the enemy”.
The British (Brett & Ian) anticipated the French would attack strongly at one point and surmised that would be down their left. However, Vincent and I decided to try and attack on both flanks, and use the centre to reinforce success. Admittedly our right was the strongest, and the left intended as diversionary but it turned out to be the most successful as the British didn’t have the numbers to contain it. The valiant and futile French cavalry crossing was very costly but it did draw the British reserves into view and the French pressed home on the left, despite the centre’s loss of nerve…
With hindsight, we all agree that the rules for crossing the river were probably not right, as stopping at, then crossing fully next turn made it one turn to cross. Next time we will try stopping at it, move half unit across and be unformed (and more vulnerable), then cross fully on the next turn, so two full turns to cross fully. But that shouldn’t detract from an excellent game of General de Brigade, that really could have went either way!!!