Overall the French were outnumbered by the combined Allied columns, but I decided/hypothesised that they could in all likelihood have had a local superiority against York's column given the nature of their dispositions. Of course, quality was another matter, as the French were a mixture of former Royalist regulars (pretty good), National Guard (not bad) and volunteers (pants!). The cavalry were still pretty poor at this stage of the war but the artillery were good. The Allied column was made up of two brigades of Austrians (mmm?) and one each of English and Hanoverians. The English brigade included four battalions of the Foot Guards, while the Hanoverian one was made up of two of Guards and two of combined grenadiers. The cavalry were attached piecemeal to each of the brigades.
So on Saturday Jean le Rouge took command of the French (Lamarche) while Neil (HRH) and I (Hohenlohe) were the Allies.
|The French are deployed and their commander (right) looks on grimly as the Allies start to enter the table top.|
|French cavalry in reserve in the centre.|
|The French artillery were mostly dug in behind earthworks.|
|One of my Austrian brigades on our right flank. They made heavy going trying to deploy the artillery and infantry along the hedge before I could attack.|
|The French centre was held by two battalions of regulars supported by two more of volunteers. They were quite exposed but we had nothing to counter them initially.|
|Jean le Rouge rushed his reserve horse battery forward to fill a gap in his line, presenting a formidable gun line against which my other Austrian brigade had to advance.|
|After a slow start the English Guards' Brigade under Major General Lake deployed along the stream ready to assault the French defences.|
|My misplaced Austrian brigade in the centre took its time sharing out into line, taking hits from the French artillery as they did so. Several disordering hits slowed the advance down even more.|
|English and Hanoverian guns supporting the Guards. They managed to cause some disruption and casualties on one of the French regular battalions to the front of the Guards.|
|The Guards' 'flank company' battalion took the lead and crossed the stream.|
|This French heavy cavalry regiment blundered and careered off straight towards my artillery, thankfully only for one move otherwise my guns would have been overrun.|
|My fleeing Austrians!|
|The Guards' flankers battalion drove off the French skirmishers and came face to face with a battalion of French regulars. Not surprisingly the Guardsmen bested them in the exchange of musketry and the French were broken.|
|The British light dragoons had got left behind during the advance but finally began to advance.|
|This regiment of Hanoverian cavalry (being played by an English regiment) was also left behind but eventually made it up to the main scene of the action.|
|HRH The Duke of York, and his hill.|
|More routing Austrians in the centre. This meant that the brigade had lost over half its units shaken or routed and was broken, forcing it to withdraw of the table.|
|The French heavy cavalry were stuck in the middle of nowhere out of command after their headlong blunder forwards.|
|John's chasseurs tried to charge my disordered and shaken infantry but were beaten back thanks to some timely dice rolls from me. The chasseurs had to pull back.|
|My broken brigade of Austrians in the centre begins to pull back.|
|Things were hotting up on our left as the Hanoverians and English stormed the earthworks. The Hanoverian commander ordered a follow me but was killed leading his men forward (house rule) hence the Grim Reaper figure beside him.|
|Neil's Hanoverian attack was facing into disarray although the Hanoverian Guards were still fighting and drove the French from the breastworks.|
|The French left was never really in any danger as between them the chasseurs a cheval and infantry skirmishers had done a superb job holding my Austrians back.|
|The Austrians struggling to cross the fields in the face of intense artillery and skirmisher fire.|
|With the departure of the Austrians in the centre the French were able to swing the brigade in their centre wound to face the English.|
|John managed another blunder, causing his cavalry to charge the Guards. Unperterbed they formed square and the cavalry had to pull back.|
|By now the Hanoverians and English were gaining the upper hand, and their cavalry had finally caught up and were in a position to have an impact on the game.|
|The French left was relatively secure and their centre was unscathed. However, they were loosing ground on the right against the slow but relentless Anglo-Hanoverian attack.|
Valenciennes was soon under siege. When the city surrendered the population hoisted Royalist banners and pelted the garrison with all sorts of unpleasant things when they marched out with the promise of their liberty if they swore not to fight again for a year. I'm not sure I would have trusted them on that point of detail but this isn't 1793. General Lamarche was shortly afterwards removed from command but escaped the guillotine, retiring into obscurity. His replacement General Custine had a different fate in store but thats for another game.
As usual BP2 plus house rules for the revolutionary wars worked well, as did the random events cards that we used for the first time in a while. An enjoyable game I thought, even though my contribution as the Austrians was far from shining in glory.
For further reading on the events surrounding the battle click here . For an enjoyable novel covering the fictionalised events of the campaign and the sieges of Valenciennes and Dunkirk I can highly recommend this book available from Amazon.