Having taken rather a beating the last two days, Picton’s division had spent the day retiring North towards Brussels and collecting stragglers, looking to join up with the balance of the Anglo-Dutch-Belgian-Brunswick-Nassau forces heading South and East towards them. Picton had received instructions from Wellington to ensure he delayed the French sufficiently to allow such a concentration of forces – and to that end Picton deployed on the fourth day to again offer battle to the pursuing 6th French Division of General de Division Prince Jérôme Bonaparte.
Picton chose a position slightly to the West of but near the Chaussée de Charleroi, facing East to prevent the French out-flanking him (as he had confirmation the bulk of the French Army of the North was to the East under Napoleon himself – pursuing the Prussians). Picton’s tired units deployed once again, to face the French onslaught…
Sir Thomas had picked a spot that although not classically defensible, did benefit from much rough ground in front to break up the enemy advance, and as Picton’s troops moved forward to deploy so the French soon quickly arrived… General Kempt was not his usual self, sleep deprivation and 3 days in the saddle had depleted his energy reserves (he rolled -1 for Vigour), while the opposing French Generals were all brimming with confidence (all threw +1 for Vigour, and only Baron Blanchard did not throw +1 for Tactics), looking forward to finally finishing the ‘Red Coats’ off…
Jérôme uncharacteristically was again very energetic and the French deployed for the attack, their columns moving off with almost indecent haste, Picton’s troops hurrying to get to their positions before the French crossed the Chaussée de Charleroi. Soye advanced with a large force on the British left, opposite the 28th, 32nd, and 79th Foot who were supported by Rogers’ Foot Company of 9pdrs. Barbaux’s Foot Battery of 6pdrs was in the French centre; and Baudouin’s part-Brigade of 3 battalions faced the British right of the 1st, 44th, and 95th Foot. As before Picton knew the battle had commenced when Rogers’ nearby guns boomed out, engaging the mass of approaching Frenchmen as soon as they were in range. The British battalions fanned out into their battle positions, with the 79th Cameron Highlanders and the 1st Royal Scots holding back as a reserve – while the French came on in two large masses, as was their want, with much hullabaloo. Baudouin detached one battalion of the 2e Regiment de Ligne to filter through the rough ground and fields, while the balance of the regiment moved to turn the British right, Soye rapidly shaking his columns out into a classic chequerboard style arrangement for the assault on the British left.
Picton’s troops rapidly deployed into line, and the reserve battalions moved up close in support, as Roger’s Company fired off its last rounds before being screened by the 1/28th North Gloucestershire’s, the guns limbering up to redeploy to the flank. The French continued their rapid march and an error on the part of the Colonel of the 1/95th Rifles, deploying into line with the wrong facing, left a large gap in the British centre opposite the detached III/2e Ligne battalion! The latter rapidly storming through the opening (albeit somewhat riskily), as the balance of the 2e Regiment continued its flanking moves. On the British left Soye’s attack columns rapidly bore down on the 1/28th North Gloucestershire’s, spearheaded by a battalion each of the 1er and 3e Regiments de Ligne. The 1/32nd Cornwall, despite a steady bombardment from Barbaux’s 6pdrs, endeavoured to move its line left, closer to the North Gloucestershire’s to support them, and along the British lines musketry rippled out as the ‘bickering’ began. The 3/1st Royal Scots had meanwhile advanced to try and plug the hole containing the III/2e Ligne, when to Picton’s relief, General Pack arrived shortly herewith bringing the supporting 5th Light Cavalry Brigade! This promptly turned to despair however as the Light Cavalry’s old foes (Blanchard’s Heavy Cavalry Brigade) soon appeared on the horizon.
On the British right the two battalions of the 2e Regiment bore down on the 2/44th East Essex lads, who gently gave ground before them as they despaired of their musketry. “There’s something wrong with Brown Bess today“, the Colonel loudly exclaimed! Meanwhile the 1/95th Rifles weren’t yet able to support them, they were very ponderously wheeling their line forward to cover the East Essex’s flank… In the centre the III/2e Ligne had marched right past the Royal Scots, right into the face of the arriving British Hussars, outrageous Frenchmen! On the British left more French came into the assault, the 1/32nd Cornwall being hit by the I/1er Ligne, and the 1/28th North Gloucestershire’s by the II/1er and I/3e Ligne battalions! On the far left the II/3e Ligne continued to advance round the open flank.
Everywhere the British gave ground, voluntarily falling back as needed to prevent the French closing their assaults, and hoping for the bickering to be replaced by some conclusive musketry volleys – but such was not to be the case. Meanwhile the Cavalry deployed for action, as did Rogers’, and Cavalié Mercer’s newly arrived, guns. The 7th (Queen’s Own) and the freshly arrived 15th (King’s) Hussars both were confuscated in their deployment by the impertinent III/2e Ligne battalion. Meanwhile the 1/95th Rifles continued their wheel… A repeat of the French assaults came in again, two battalions on the East Essex on the British right, 1 on the Cornwall lads in the centre, and 2 on the North Gloucestershire’s on the left. Elsewhere the French continued their impertinence, Infantry continuing to advance on the positions of cavalry! Again the British Infantry fell back, declining the bayonet and giving another ineffectual volley of musketry when able. The 7th Hussars (centre) and 13th Light Dragoons (left) soon charged their respective ‘foot’ tormenters; while the 2nd Brunswick Hussars headed off for a ride round the French Army on the far left! Back in the centre the 3/1st Royal Scots caught Maréchal de Camp Baudouin alone, and he was wounded trying to escape and taken prisoner (his replacement, Colonel Trippe of the 2e Regiment de Ligne, subsequently proving far less dynamic)! And as Blanchard’s heavy cavalry rapidly approached the 1/95th Rifles continued to slowly wheel into position to support the East Essex.
As the British Cavalry rallied back from their charges the French resumed their assaults on the British infantry lines, although in the centre the I/1er Ligne battalion was getting the worst of the British Musketry, “‘bout the only place Brown Bess was firing straight“, and the badly disrupted battalion halted to reform. Then disaster, the North Gloucestershire’s were overwhelmed by the 1er and 2e Ligne battalions and disintegrated when they failed to retire in an orderly manner and were hit by both columns, while on the right the Essex did again fall back, but here their musketry was finally slowly accumulating some effect on the French battalions. Now was the time to counter attack and the 2/44th East Essex cheered and counter charged the two 2e Ligne battalions that had been molesting them. In the centre the 15th Hussars rapidly advanced to intercede in the advance of the 2nd Cuirassiers heading for the centre of the British position, and on the left the 13th Light Dragoons charged again, pressuring the II/3e Ligne battalion. Meanwhile the Brunswick Hussars disappeared off behind the French line and out of command – where were they?
On the right the East Essex were tossed back disdainfully by the French 2e Ligne battalions, while in the centre more bickering pursued followed by French charges, and on the left the steady II/3e Ligne square inconceivably collapsed before the 13th Light Dragoons, seemingly a common occurrence in this campaign, and the battalion was scattered to the four winds… Beyond them the III/1er Ligne rapidly formed square, being now surround by the Light Dragoons and the Brunswick Hussars. Meanwhile the III/2e Ligne continued to make a major nuisance of itself in the depths of the British position – and leaving Picton incredibly frustrated, and tying up an Infantry Battalion, a Royal Horse Artillery Troop, and a Cavalry Regiment, who were all unable to dispatch them! The French again charge, on the right the East Essex hit by the two 2e Ligne battalions, and the 1/95th Rifles targeted by the 1st Carabiniers, on the left the 1/79th Cameron Highlanders hit by the II/1er and I/3e Ligne. Meanwhile Rogers’ 9pdrs had banged away sporadically and ineffectually on the occasions they had a suitable field of fire.
The East Essex and the Cameron Highlanders both retired steadily before the French, again avoiding la baïonnette, as the 1/95th Rifles formed square and saw off the initial charge of the Carabiniers. The 3/1st Royal Scots then charged the dastardly III/2e Ligne, and the 1/32nd Cornwall launched a counter-charge (albeit poorly) against the I/1er Ligne who had started to reform from their earlier disorganisation. Meanwhile the 15th Hussars deployed into line of squadrons to face the similarly deployed and menacing 2nd Cuirassiers. And then the Brunswick Hussars re-emerged, in the rear of the French attacking the Cameron Highlanders! Once more the French charged relentlessly everywhere, on the right the East Essex hit again by the two 2e Ligne battalions, the 1/95th Rifles by the Carabiniers, and now the 15th Hussars by the 2nd Cuirassiers. In the centre the 1/32nd Cornwall had seen off the I/1er Ligne, who were again severely disordered, but the Cameron Highlanders were again hit by the I/3e Ligne (the II/1e Ligne deploying into square to cover the former’s attack from the Brunswick Hussars menacing both units from their rear). Great glory for the 15th Hussars, they threw back the much vaunted 2nd Cuirassiers, and won themselves great accolades for their first action in the campaign! However while the 1//95th Rifles successfully repelled the 1st Carabiniers (again), things did not go so well for the East Essex, like the North Gloucestershire’s previously they failed to retire in an orderly fashion and once the French hit them they disintegrated and the battalion was dispersed…
Back on the left the Cameron Highlanders threw back the I/3e Ligne (again), as the 13th Light Dragoons retired directly to support the former’s open flank. Finally a devastating volley from Brown Bess, and the Cornwall boys broke up the I/1er Ligne in the centre, the battalion straggling to the rear hors d’ combat. On the right the 7th Hussars finally got involved, charging the successful II/2e Ligne battalion. They were repelled, and as dusk progressed the final French charges went in on the British right from the 1st Carabiniers and 2nd Cuirassiers, but these turned out to be feints and the battle gradually lost its intensity and energy, the two forces coming to a halt in close proximity and partially intermingled as if by some (unseen) co-ordinated agreement…
The 6th French Division
- Prince Jérôme (Cam)
- 1st Infantry Brigade
- Maréchal de Camp Baudouin (+1/+1)
- 3 Bataillons 2nd Regiment d’infanterie de ligne (all small)
- Capitaine Barbaux’s 3rd (6pdr) Battery, 6th Foot Artillery Regiment (4/Medium)
- 2nd Infantry Brigade
- Général de Brigade Baron Soye (+1/+1)
- 3 Bataillons 1st Regiment d’infanterie de ligne (all small)
- 2 Bataillons 3rd Regiment d’infanterie de ligne (all small)
- 1st Heavy Cavalry Brigade (Reserve from 12th Division/III Cavalry Corps)
- Général de Brigade Baron Blanchard (+1/0)
- 1st Carabinier Regiment (large)
- 2nd Cuirassier Regiment (large)
- Capitaine Lebau’s 6pdr Horse Battery (3/Medium)
All French Infantry were standard Reliable/Experienced/SK2 and the Heavy Cavalry Valiant/Experienced/Shock.
The 5th British Division
- Lieutenant-General Sir Thomas Picton (John)
- 8th British Infantry Brigade
- Major-General Sir James Kempt (-1/0)
- 3/1st (The Royal Scots) Regiment of Foot (Small)*
- 1/28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment of Foot (Small)*
- 1/32nd (Cornwall) Regiment of Foot (Small)*
- 2/44th (East Essex) Regiment of Foot (Small)*
- 1/79th (Cameron Highlanders) Regiment of Foot (Small)*
- 1/95th (Rifles) Regiment of Foot (Small)*
- Rogers’ (9pdr) Foot Battery, RA (3/Medium)
- 5th British Light Cavalry Brigade (Reserve)
- Major General Sir Denis Pack (+1/0)
- 2nd (Brunswick) Hussars Regiment (small)*
- 7th (Queen’s Own) Hussars (small)*
- 13th Light Dragoons (small)*
- 15th (King’s) Hussars (small)*
- Cavalié Mercer’s “G” Troop (9pdr), RHA (3/Medium)
* The game was played with suggested alternate British stats from another New Zealand Lasalle player. The British Infantry Battalions were treated as alternative Valiant/Experienced/Linear/SK1, except the 1/95th Rifles battalion who were Valiant/Experienced/Linear/Rifles/SK3; All Light Cavalry were the standard Reliable/Experienced/Pursuit rating.
For the OOB enthusiast the 3/1st & 2/44th Foot were attached to the 8th from 9th Brigade for the battle, as were the 2nd Brunswick Hussars to the 5th Cavalry Brigade (normally the 7th & 15th Hussars with the 13th Light Dragoons attached in place of the detached 2nd Hussars, KGL). The 3rd Hussars, KGL, who appeared in the prior two battles were off having a rest, being separate and nominally actually the sole part of 7th Cavalry Brigade (the 13th Light Dragoons were subsequently assigned to this Brigade historically, but only after the conclusion of the Battle of Waterloo).
The Figures & Terrain
The British & Brunswick force is from my collection (primarily Perry Miniatures) and the French are all from the collection of Campbell Millar (principally old-style 25mm metal Hinchliffe and Minifigs figures, except the Medium Foot Battery which was 1/72nd plastic Zvezda figures). Terrain was all from my collection although we were a bit minimalist with the scenery.
About The Game
Played using Lasalle, this was a standard Attack-Defence game with the British defending but with the modified British factors above. The objective was near the right of the British line. The game ended after the 17th turn with an indecisive draw. At the end of play British casualty points were 4/22 and French casualties 4/24 – i.e. both sides had lost 2 (small) Infantry Battalions. Of note at this point both sides had vulnerable right flanks where the enemy had the advantage and may have been able to press that home with a couple more turns.
More Lasalle AARs
Game Images Gallery