|Waterloo from the south west|
This was months in the planning and involved Adrian building from scratch 72 tiles to an exact ground scale plan. Bob and Gerry spent copious amounts of both time and money swelling the ranks of their collections so that in the end, together with my own collection and contributions from Alan Cuggy, Bill Paterson, Colin Napier, Ross McNeil and Peter McCarroll we were able to raise in 1:20 model to man ratio about 190 battalions and 70+ cavalry regiments. This produced a total number of figures running close to 8,000. We had every single formation at the battle represented.
|La Haie Sainte has already been pounded to dust and over run by Quiot|
Republic to Empire was the rules vehicle and a flexible approach to time allowed us to vary the turn length to represent between 20 minutes and one hour. We aimed to achieve what most other reconstructions of the battle seem to have failed to do this year, that is - finish the wargame and get a result.
|1st Division advance past the captured farm about 1330 hours|
We followed the various blogs by groups in the UK, US and Australia who were also refighting the battle this year. We tried to learn from their reports and comments. We knew very well how effective Republic to Empire is at moving a massive battle with thousands of figures towards a result but this was Waterloo and tampering with the jewel in many gamers' crowns was really going to be a test.
|the massive regiments of the Imperial Guard light cavalry|
We had many little house mechanisms to handle the choke points and had decided well in advance that the Prussians would be managed as a concept and not actual physical figures. The very practical reason for this was that Prussian players would have had to wait for the late afternoon of day 1 in order to do anything. That did not fit with the total emersion experience we wanted to offer.
|The Emperor near some corps artillery|
In the end we fought to a clear conclusion at about 8.30pm battle time. We had 13 players and 3 umpires.
|Elements of Milhaud's and Reille's corps|
The French plan used historical deployments but allowed Paul Patrick aka Napoleon to follow his own battle plan. Les Rumble stepped into the boots of the Duke at very short notice and was allowed the same conditions in terms of how he approached the battle.
|a flurry of flash bulbs|
On the morning of day one each French player commanded a division as follows: Bonaparte, Foy, Bachelu, Quiot, Donzelot, Marcognet and Durette. Napoleon commanded the light cavalry divisions on both flanks and directed the artillery.
|near Papelotte Vivian's brigade strike back about 1600 hours|
The Allied team was smaller and focused on Hougoumont, La Haye Sainte and the centre right, the centre left and the left around Papelotte.
|the view from the east mid afternoon|
The battle was intense and action packed. During it many dramatic things happened but the basic French plan was; feint to the left but not attack Hougoumont, reduce La Haye Sainte and force the right between the Brussels road and Papelotte. This plan worked very well.
|massive pressure around the crossroads|
The Prussians were kept at bay not by Lobau but by Napoleon himself leading a light cavalry division and the Imperial Guard Light cavalry division.
|a view from west to east on the southern table|
Ney was wounded twice leading the 10th Cuirassiers in a glorious mêlée with Vivian's Hussars. Foy was last man standing when the Eagle of the 1/4e Leger was captured and the regiment wiped out attacking Halkett's brigade. Picton took a ball to the head and survived, Colbert fell leading the Red Lancers against the Prussians.
|intense action on the Allied left|
The Black Watch broke under pressure. The Gordon's and the Cameron's covered themselves in glory.
|pressure on the ridge in the mid afternoon|
I could go on and on but suffice it to say the French achieved a convincing but not total victory. They saw off the Prussians but lost Plancenoit in the early evening when the Young Guard were ejected by vastly superior forces. Bulow's corps was spectacularly pushed back by the Emperor and Lefebvre Desnouttes leading the Guard light cavalry and Pire's lancers. D'Erlon's corps was the sledgehammer which banged down the front door from the crossroads to Papelotte.
|KGL around the crossroads in the early afternoon|
In doing so they suffered about 60% losses and contributed to the final push along the axis of the Brussels road. Lobau's corps contributed a brigade to this final push whilst its bulk faced east to block any breakthrough from Plancenoit and the Bois de Paris. Reille's corps performed a skilful feint against the British right and sealed off Hougoumont without being sucked into the vortex.
|The French are breaking through on the ridge|
No huge cavalry attack took place but surgical strikes were performed very effectively all along the right and centre. By nightfall about 9,000 fresh cavalry ready for the pursuit were sitting just below the allied ridge.
This tactical victory would in our opinion have forced Wellington to withdraw during the night covered by the 4-5,000 uncommitted cavalry he had available. His line was paper thin in several places and the Guard infantry positioned east of La Hayes Sainte would have, within 30 minutes been able to smash through the thin remnants of Kempt's Brigade.
The allies fought a hard and intelligent defence but probably failed to move reserves from their strong right to their weak left early enough. In the words of a famous American general, it is all about who gets there fastest with the mostest.