Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Blucher Waterloo: The Lasne Defile

On Sunday the Wollongong Wargamers played our annual Waterloo game using Blucher rules - nothing unusual in that...

But this time there was a twist - an alternative history type twist...

Overnight Napoleon has fallen prey to nagging doubts about the Prussians. Supposing they weren’t completely beaten at Ligny. What if Grouchy mucks up their pursuit? At breakfast, listening to Count Drouot’s account of his battlefield recce, and the remarkably defensive ground to be found east at the Lasne defile, Napoleon decides to insure his right flank: Lobau will defend much further to the east to block any Prussians coming west like a cork in a bottle…Who knows, if Grouchy understands his intention and falls on the Prussian rear, the Prussians could be surrounded and crushed once and for all. If that happens Wellington would scuttle away to Brussels and beyond without even having to be seriously engaged…
This scenario assumes that Grouchy obeyed his orders rather than understanding Napoleon’s intent and is thus far away at Wavre.

As the Prussians do turn up in force, and pressure Lobau, D’Erlons I Corps inevitably gets drawn east in support. However Wellington spots this and is relieved to see a chance to link up with the Prussians early, despatching increasing number of his forces to either intercept D’Erlon or support the Prussians directly…

Ground and Daylight. 
The LASNE river is a Minor obstacle. The BOIS DE PARIS is Impassable. 
All heights have a Crest line 2 inches from their edge, and thereafter are flat plateaus. The area around from the edge to the ridge is Difficult Terrain.

Allies start the Game on Move 8. Game ends at move 30 with nightfall.

Victory Conditions and Army Morale.
There are 2 objectives, the LASNE road crossing and the crossroads outside PLANCENOIT. Winner will hold both at game end; or win through attrition:

French Army Morale Break Point is 8; Anglo Allied is 6; Prussian is 8
Prussians IV Corps: Gary and Alan
Anglo-Allied Western Flank: Peter and David
French VI Corps, Young Guard: Caesar
French Cav Corps I and IV;  Guard Cavalry, I Corps: Sparker

Alan, Caesar, Gary, Sparker, David, Peter
What happened:

The French deployed first – Lobau’s VI Corps within the Lasne Defile to the east, the French Cavalry over on the left within 4 BWs of the French table edge.

The Allies then deployed, the Prussians with their complete orbat within 3 BWs of their table edge, the Anglo-Allies just their initial wave of cavalry and horse artillery.

The French then got to make a free Reserve move to react to the advancing allies, which allowed me to move a Heavy Cavalry Corps halfway across the table to confound a Prussian attempt to blitz across south of the Lasne Defile, and thus circumvent Caesar’s strong defences.

The Anglo Allies then got their first move – No. 8.

Both the Prussians and Anglos can on fast and aggressively, and over on my flank opposite Frasnes there were a good deal of cavalry jockeying and charges, with honours just about even.

The Prussians were finding the heights commanding the Lasne river daunting – the initial slope was difficult terrain so they were unable to charge straight across it, but instead would have to face one move of volleying before coming to grips with the defending French infantry brigades on the Plateau.

The horse battery I had sent across with the Heavy Cavalry also found the range very quickly and steadily attrited the Prussian infantry on the left of their line.

On the Western end of the table, the arrival of the Guard Cavalry with 3 very powerful units soon forced the Allied lighter cavalry to fall back with prejudice. 

I probably should have been happy with that but instead took the decision to follow these units up...

 in the hope they would be force to retire off their table edge.

With hindsight, this confined these fine units to a minor role and steady combat degradation in a succession of cavalry engagements with reinforcing units – some of them equally heavy…

Indeed the battle on this side of the table was characterised by successive waves of reinforcements affecting the ebb and flow of the battle. 

When the Young Guard corps arrived, Caesar’s position was looking distinctly shaky, 

with a Prussian Landwehr unit having forced, wait for it...

 a French line unit off the objective – how embarrassment! And this was to become something of a...

Recurring theme...

The Young Guard were duly despatched eastwards, but they would have a lot of ground to cover before they made an impact! 

At this stage we realised the scenario would have been improved by some sort of scenario specific March Order – units outside of 4 BW of the enemy may activate to once again become unrevealed and so can make a Reserve move in the following turn.

At this point D’Erlon’s I Corps had arrived as reinforcements, but their deployment was fouled by a lingering Guard Horse artillery battery which had not been able to be activated off the edge of the table. Nevertheless a heavy battery and horse battery were able to be deployed with clear lines of fire to the Allied cavalry and squares, and the gunners set to their grim task in this target rich environment - no ridge to hide behind over on this flank!

 Over to the east the Prussians had fixed Lobau's Corps...

 and were well set up to push forward...

and their deliberate approach, whilst incurring artillery and musketry casualties...

seemed to be paying off as they steadily pushed back or broke brigade after brigade...

Over on the western flank Wellington was sending Brigade after Brigade down of his ridge...

to match D'Erlon unit for unit...

So that the engagement had become general, and bloody...

Right across the table...

With the inevitable impact upon each Army's morale factor... Finally, the brittle morale of the Armee du Nord fell from 1 to 0 - Caesar and I had one remaining move to crack the Allies morale by breaking just 2 Prussian or 4 Allied units....
But the Black Flags and the Thin Red Line held out! 

Napoleon loses Waterloo! Who'd ha' thunk it!


  1. Landwehr for the win!
    Interesting take on Waterloo (a rather stale encounter in my opinion), looks like you all had fun with pretty toys on an attrative table - what more could you ask for?
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks Jeremy - yes it can be tough wargaming Waterloo without it turning it into a slugfest..

  2. A fresh approach to the Waterloo campaign with nice toys and great rules. Excellent!

  3. Epic, bloody and superb, one blame, the French defeat, but otherwise the battle report is perfect!😊

    1. Merci Bien Phil - Caesar and I tried our best for the Emperor, but - c'est la Guerre!

  4. Well done! An interesting play out of alternative history. Of course, you could also play out a scenario where Marshall Grouchy does back track, march to the sound of the guns and saves His Imperial Majesty at Waterloo!

    1. Thanks mate - yes once we have more models!

  5. Damn those Landwehr! Spectacular and riveting battle to the end.

    Many thanks, Caesar

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