In a Spanish Village somewhere between Quatre Bras and Waterloo, in Belgium, Napoleon’s advanced guard clashed with rearguard elements of Wellington’s retiring British & German allied force. My detachment of dragoons were in the vanguard of the returning Emperor’s advance, and had stopped for the evening in a strangely Spanish village not far from Quatre Bras, having pursued the English since the battle and the last mentioned place. We selected the village to billet in and establish pickets for the evening in anticipation of the arrival of the leading infantry elements of the following Corps. Unknown to us the English and their their new Allies had sent forth aggressive rear-guard patrols to the village with similar intent, and presumably hoping to deny us the village for the evening, setting the scene for a brisk late afternoon action!
The British Infantry rapidly crossed the bridge and forded the stream into the North end of the village, the troops crossing the bridge then formed line straddling the main road. I rapidly led my half of my Dragoons forward at double time to get into carbine range of the British before they could utilise their superior range against us. On my right, my Sergeant led the remaining 3 men towards the centre of the village to cover my flank.
On the other side of the village the 2nd Nassau-Unsingen detachment moved forward rapidly in two groups, while the French Infantry Advance Guard ambled forward in a rather leisurely manner!
Stealing a march on the British my men rapidly got off a volley against the line of British on the road, immediately cutting one of them down, as my Sergeant moved his group up in support of our position. However retribution was swift and a return volley from the British and some sharp fire from the supporting ‘Veterans’ soon had my men falling – and we were forced to give up our position on the road and disperse to cover.
On the far side of the Village the French Infantry and Nassau-Unsingen Fusiliers began trading shots down the road, the French Infantry making much use of any perceived blind spots they could move in. This soon developed into a close quarters stoush in the road on that side of the village.
Meanwhile in the centre a close quarter action was developing between a couple of my Dragoons (with support arriving in the form of the French Infantry), and the Nassau-Unsingen Carabiniers. After initial ineffectual shots we were soon having at it hand to hand!
With the help of a Fusilier and other French Infantry we soon closely engaged with 2 of the Nassau Carabiniers and their Officer, while the remaining French Infantry were dealing with the Nassau Fusiliers in the road. Back in my direct area on the left flank, I led two of my Dragoons round the outskirts of the village to attempt to enfilade the British Infantry on the road from their flank & rear.
In the centre the first critical moment occurred when the ongoing mêlée saw one of my Dragoons cut down the Nassau-Unsingen Carabinier Officer commanding the Nassau force, this immediately impacting them and the Fusiliers & NCO retiring in disorder, leaving a lone Carabinier actively in action. However the boot was soon on the other foot when further casualties to my Dragoons reduced us to just half our original complement, causing some of my men to become unsteady (in fact my Sergeant, who had infiltrated behind the Nassauers, ended up disorientated and waded across the stream into the rear of the enemy positions – where he promptly came under fire from two Veteran British Infantrymen).
The French Infantry on the far side of the village now scored a success too, wounding the Nassauer NCO, and seeing him fall was the end of them – all the surviving Nassau-Unsingen troops dispersing to their rear. However immediately after another of my men, on the left with me, fell and then I too fell, wounded by a piece of sharp British marksmanship, and my surviving Dragoons despite the presence of my Sergeant were too distraught so they too retired from the action.
It was left to the French & British Infantry to duke it out – but we had done enough damage to the British that they ended up doing a desperate charge and close combat in the centre, personally led by their Officer & NCO, and with the demise of both in the ensuing combats it was all too much and they too rapidly retired back over the stream leaving the French Infantry in possession of the village. Curiously, the latter only sustained one casualty in the entire action as well, and one must wonder about the reasons behind their tardiness in getting engaged and supporting my Dragoons…
The Game was played using Song of Drums and Shakos, and for those interested here’s the order of battle of the forces involved:
My (Dismounted) Dragoon Detachment
1 Dragoon Officer (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Pistol)
1 Dragoon NCO (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Carbine)
8 Dragoon Troopers (Q3, C2, Sword, Carbine)
French Infantry Advance Guard
1 Officer (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Pistol)
1 NCO (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Musket)
2 Elite Infantrymen (Q3, C3, Steadfast, Musket)
2 Grenadiers (Q4, C2, Strong, Musket)
2 Voltigeurs (Q4, C2, Light, Musket)
2 Fusiliers (Q4, C2, Musket)
1 Officer (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Pistol)
1 NCO (Q3, C2, Leader, Polearm)
4 ‘Veteran’ Infantrymen (Q3, C2, Steadfast, Musket)
5 Centre Co. Infantrymen (Q4, C2, Musket)
2nd Nassau-Unsingen Regiment Detachment
1 Carabinier Officer (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Pistol)
1 Fusilier NCO (Q3, C2, Leader, Sword, Musket)
4 Carabiniers (Q4, C2, Strong, Musket)
5 Fusiliers (Q4, C2, Musket)
The Terrain and the majority of the troops are Roundie’s (Wayne Stewart’s), and some of the French Infantry are from Philby’s (Phil Mason’s) collection.
The Game In Photos