Down to business – Batch Painting the 28th – Assembly

PENINSULAR-WAR-BRITISH-LINE-INFANTRY-Black-Powder-28mm-Napoleonic-Wars-400680035203With the last two blogs explaining the rules choice and the research that I had done, it was time to start work on the unit itself. The figures that I had ready to paint were Warlord Games British Peninsular Infantry. As you can see, they have the stove pipe shakos that the 28th continued to wear at Waterloo. The only slight problem being that the shako plate on the front is incorrect for the 28th. I had two choices, either sand the incorrect plate off and replace it with the correct style plate or ignore the minor difference. I chose the latter. Even as I type this, my OCD reflex is twitching, but to replace all the shako plates was too much work for this project. I would either have to paint on the correct style three piece plate, model it with, say,  green stuff, or track down a decal set of some sort. There may even be replacement heads available out there. On this occasion, the simple, albeit incorrect solution won the argument.

When it came to the additional rear shako plate, it was a fairly straight forward job to make these diamond shaped plates by cutting an evergreen  strip of 10/000 plasticard into diamonds by simply cutting the strip into small pieces at an angle. With hindsight, I have made these too large and should have used a thinner strip. Once again, my OCD reflex is twitching and I am considering cutting these off and replacing them, even though I have nearly finished painting them! At the moment, I have decided to leave them as they are but it wasn’t until I checked the photos that I realised how big they were. Now, I wanted to be able to see the badges when the figures were on the table and making them oversize would help to show the difference in regiments but maybe I have gone too far….

I could have simply painted the plates on but modelling them gave a crisper edge to the plates than I could have achieved by painting.

28th Assembled and primed

28th Assembled and primed

The picture above shows the unit assembled and primed ready for painting. At this stage, I had also modelled the ensigns with Peninsular style Bicorn. However, after some thought, I did revisit the figures and I have now changed these to Stovepipe heads to match the Mont St Jean reference picture. The officer kept his Bicorn – a bit more artistic licence but officers did tend to make their own choices when it came to uniforms. As far as numbers go, I have made the unit 24 figures strong, the standard number for a Black Powder unit. The unit that I am making is a representation of the 28th, not an accurate ‘scaled down’ man to man depiction. As far as the research goes, there were 557 men in the 28th at Waterloo, a somewhat reduced battalion due to the casualties lost fighting at Quatre Bras on the 16th June. Compare this to the 862 men present in the 1/40th and you can see why it becomes impractical in wargaming to start fussing about the numbers. The battalions fought as units, regardless of numbers.

I will use two figures only for the light company on one flank and another two for the Grenadiers in the other flank company. I occasionally use 28 figures for a battalion. 24 for the main body of troops, upgrading the Grenadier company to 3 or 4 figures and a further 4 ‘detached’ figures from the light company are then used as skirmishers out in front of the battalion. So, although 24 figures are currently on the workbench, don’t be surprised if a further 4 appear in the course of these blog articles!

The figures were all assembled using polystyrene glue for the plastics. Polystyrene glue gives a much better bond when gluing plastic to plastic. I only use super glue on the metal officers and command figures – usually the thick expo super glue which has a bit of ‘fill’ to it and again, will give a better bond. I left the back packs off to make painting easier. It also means that I can prime the figures in grey and the back packs in black to save a bit of time when painting. With a grey primer, I wont bother to paint the trousers, just retouch any overruns. I also find it easier to paint over grey than, say, black.

First batch primed and first colours applied

First batch primed and first colours applied

After a quick clean up to remove any obvious flash missed during assembly, I fix the figures to temporary MDF painting bases using blutack and start applying the paint. I use Vallejo paint almost exclusively to paint my models. Vallejo have a huge range of colours, the quality is generally excellent and value for money is about the best you can get. When it comes to the sequence of painting I tend to work from the ‘inside’ of the figure to the ‘outside’. This means that you can save a bit of time – as you paint the figure, you can tidy up any overruns as you go.

I should also declare at this stage that I will be using Army Painter quick shade to finish the figures. So all that I need to do, is to carefully block paint the correct colours. I know that this is not to everyone’s taste and I will cover the use of ‘Quick shade’ and it’s merits in next weeks entry. So the figures above were first painted with Vallejo 70815 flat flesh for the face and hands. Next up, 70950 flat Black, for the shakos, boots and bayonet scabbards and finally,  70872 Chocolate brown for the muskets and Hair. If you are feeling so inclined, you can of course vary the hair colour! However, I tend to paint the lower ranks all the same and just vary the hair colour when it comes to the Officers, Ensigns & drummers for a bit of a change. Until I get a sponsorship deal from L’Oréal, I don’t think that I will worry too much about it….

On with the next colour

On with the next colours…those rear plates do look big…

The final picture shows the next step in the batch paint process but I’ll pause there and come back next week to explain what colours I have used and the sequence. I’ll also give my thoughts on why the batch painting process works for me – it might help newcomers to Napoleonics start to climb that painting mountain!

If you would like to purchase any of the products used in this article, they are available from my shop and the links are as follows:

Warlord Games Peninsular Infantry

Vallejo Paint

Glues and Adhesives

MDF BASES

Sable Paint Brushes

Evergreen Plastic Strip

STOP PRESS!

We are running a special offer until the end of April2017. Buy a copy of Black powder and get a free box of Peninsular British Line Infantry just click here:

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Researching the Research – Batch painting the 28th Regt.

I mentioned in last weeks blog that as well as deciding on a rules set to work to, it helps to have a theme running through your figure collection. In my case the theme is the British Army at Waterloo. I do not intend to paint every Battalion that was present but I am working towards a decent representation of the units that took part. This means that I have some discipline when it comes to buying and painting units and ensures that I do not go off at a tangent. Well not much…

One of the interesting body of troops that were present at the Battle is the 8th British Brigade of Infantry led by Sir James Kempt. It was part of Pictons 5th Infantry Division and was not only in the thick of the fighting at Waterloo but was heavily engaged at Quatre Bras, two days earlier.

Lady Butlers painting of the 28th at Quatre Bras.

Lady Butlers painting of the 28th at Quatre Bras.

The Brigade is interesting to me because of the mix and variety of troops. It consisted of:

The 28th North Gloucestershire’s; a standard infantry battalion but equipped with stovepipe shakos and with yellow facings.

The 32nd Cornwall Regiment; a standard infantry battalion, Belgic shakos and white facings.

The 79th Cameron Highlanders; a Scottish regiment, green facings and of course, tartan kilts.

Six company’s of the 95th Rifles, the famous Light infantry regiment.

They were supported by the Divisional artillery, including Major Roberts Foot artillery battery of six guns.

I don’t think that you could do much better when choosing a ‘starter’ force for a Black powder army. I have already painted the 32nd Cornwalls – you can read how in these blog entries:

The 32nd ( Cornwall) Regiment of Foot

Soap Opera Painting

The 32nd Foot ready for action

So the next task was to batch paint the 28th North Gloucestershires. As usual, I consulted my favourite research sources, The Waterloo Companion by Mark Adkin, British Napoleonic Uniforms by C.E. Franklin, Ospreys Wellingtons Infantry by Brian Fosten and the most useful Mont St Jeans Website.

The Pictures on the Mont St Jean site are simply excellent to use as a painting guide:

28th North Gloucestershire Regiment Centre Companys

28th North Gloucestershire Regiment Centre Companys

Now the sharp eyed amongst you will have already spotted a discrepancy. Lady Butler has the 28th in Belgiac Shakos, whereas Mont St Jean shows them in Stovepipes – they both couldn’t be correct, could they? My first thought was that perhaps they were light infantry but I was further puzzled by the red and white standard plumes ( I thought that ‘lights’ had all had green plumes) and Shako plates – no bugle to indicate that they were light infantry. That said, the Shako plates were different to most regiments standard one piece large plate. The plot thickened….

It was time to consult the internet once again and to risk diving into the murky world of forums and social media. Those dangerous habitats of armchair painters and armchair generals, button counters and lace pendants, crusty old buggers of immoveable opinions – you get the picture. In fact even as I typed this blog, I thought that I could hear the sound of caps locks on keyboards clicking on like a chorus of safety catches on AK47s….

They were wearing STOVEPIPES!!!!!

They were wearing STOVEPIPES!!!!!

Of course I jest… just a bit.  I am actually in awe of the expertise found on the forums and generally this expertise is passed on with good grace and even better, with links back to the primary references. My usual port of call is the TMP, The Miniatures page, and the search facility can reveal some fascinating information from some very knowledgeable people. So what did I find out? Well, it seems as though the 28th had a number of differences from the ‘standard’ infantry battalion. The Shako plate was indeed as shown above and not a one piece item. In addition, there was a small plate on the rear of the Shako, awarded after the battle of Alexandria in Egypt 1801, when the front and rear ranks of the 28th were simultaneously engaged, whereby the soldiers received the order “Front rank stay as you are, rear rank about turn”. The conduct of the regiment won for it the distinction of wearing badges both at the front and at the back of their head-dress.

Bottom picture shows rear cap badge and French style Knapsack

Bottom picture shows rear cap badge and French style Knapsack

And so to the head dress. It seems that the 28th were still in possession of their Stovepipe shakos at Waterloo, although this is by no means a sure thing. Lady Butler seems to think that they wore belgiac shakos and there is at least one contemporary account that confirms this. However, there are other accounts and sketches that indicate that they definitely had stovepipes and that these were also worn by the Officers. Who knows what is really correct? I tend to go with the idea that the shakos were stovepipes based on what I have read but I am acutely aware that what I am reading is someone else’s edited research. After all said and done though, I am painting a unit to be used on the wargames table not an exhibit in a museum, so I am happy to go with the more interesting option.

28th with Trotter Knapsack....

28th with Trotter Knapsack….

The other piece of information that I turned up was that the 28th used French Knapsacks rather than the standard British Trotter knapsack. Once again, I have read conflicting evidence. One account claimed that all men in the Battalion had the French version. Another, claimed that it was just the Grenadier company. Both stories seem to come from an account stemming yet again from the Egyptian Campaign.  It is said that the 28th ‘liberated’ a French supply depot containing the superior French Knapsacks which they then adopted as their own. It strikes me that the chances of these knapsacks lasting for nearly 15 years in service, with men coming and going, are remote but I have no knowledge of how long a knapsack would last… Finally, just to add to the controversy, I have read that the whole ‘knapsack story’ was made up by a Victorian writer.

What is for sure is that the Battalion is an interesting subject with some good opportunities for some artistic licence in both modelling and painting.  I’m happy to incorporate some of these idiosyncrasies into my battalion and I’ll show you my interpretation in my next blog.

 

 

Why are you still playing Black Powder?

Redcoats!

Redcoats!

I had intended to write an updated guide to batch painting British Napoleonic figures based around my latest project, the 28th North Gloucestershire Regiment. I’ve even gone so far as to make some step by step videos that I hope to post. However, rather than jump right in to the painting, I thought that I would first give some context and background to my project. I’ve been prompted by the number of questions that constantly appear on the social media feeds and forums that I subscribe to, as much as anything else and I hope that the series of posts will be useful to newcomers to the hobby.

I think that veterans in the hobby forget just how difficult and daunting it is for newcomers to get into this strange hobby of collecting and painting Napoleonic figures, or for that matter, any period of history. There is so much material out there and whilst the internet makes it easier to access this material, there is a lot of conflicting advice and some very forthright views that can be counter productive. I hope that the following helps although I am conscious that I am just adding my own forthright views to the mix!

To be clear, I have decided that I am painting and collecting 28mm war games figures to be used primarily to ‘play’ wargames with my friends using Black Powder rules. So before you even buy a pack of figures you need to decide what scale figures you are going to use and what rules set you will use. A good place to start would be to talk to the people that you intend to wargame with and see what rules sets they are using.

BLACK-POWDER-rules-for-Wargames-from-WARLORD-games-400569960224

Why Black Powder?

When I first came back to the historical side of the hobby, following a long period spent playing Sci Fi games, I was looking for a rules set that I could easily learn and play. I actually started with Sharp Practice version one. This had two attractions. First of all you don’t need that many figures to start gaming. Indeed, I started with just 24 Victrix figures. Most importantly, there were a couple of guys at the local club who were playing Sharp practice and they helped to explain the rules and provide some extra figures when I needed them. Additionally, the rules had a certain charm, humour and playability about them that resulted in a great game, time after time.

Stand fast the 27th

Stand fast the 27th

However, as my army grew, I was looking for something that would allow me to field a brigade or division. Black powder happened to be published at that time. It was and still is, one of the best looking rules sets out there. It was also easily readable and obviously designed for the joy of playing rather than simply trying to recreate every drill tactic and nuance of the Napoleonic era. In fact, it’s not even a rule set specifically set in the Napoleonic era, more of a general guide to playing war games in the whole of the ‘Black powder’ era. Brilliant! I would only need to learn one basic set of rules and I could be gaming the AWI or fighting Zulus a hundred or so years later. Even better, it was co written by Rick Priestly and Jervis Johnson and those two know more than a thing or two about not only how to write a rules set but also how to set the right tone.

We are playing a game!

In a recent blog I mentioned that I was part of a demonstration game at a Napoleonic Day in, of all places, Bingham. Most of the people that visited were ‘non wargamers’ and were fascinated by the spectacle of so many model soldiers on the table. The game was very loosely based on the Battle of Quatre Bras and most of the figures were representative of the combatants present during the battle. That is about as close as I have come to refighting a historical battle. Most of the games that I play are at the White Hart pub on a reasonably sized table, covered in a battlemat with a few bits of scenery placed around. Occasionally, we set up a scenario, a river crossing or delayed deployment of troops being the two easiest but rarely is the game based on a real battle.

The Quatre Bras Demo game

The Quatre Bras Demo game

Back to the Demo game. The visitors were intrigued to know just what we were doing. We replied ‘we’re playing a game with Napoleonic soldiers representing the playing pieces’. I don’t think that they believed us. They wanted it to be more serious than that. Some of them eventually got it. This was a group of friends enjoying each others company whilst playing with toy soldiers set in an historical context. That’s all it needs to be. If you want a competitive tournament game, there are much better rules sets out there. If you are looking to recreate the minutiae of detail of what may have actually happened in a battle, you may be better off joining a re enactment group. That way you get to trudge around the fields & mud for real. The good news is that you wont get shot…

However, the Black Powder rules provide you with a great introduction to Historical wargaming with simple rules to learn and an emphasis on enjoying the game.

 Table top General directs his troops!

Table top General directs his troops!

Next Question…

Once you have decided on a rules set, some of the decisions are then made for you.  What scale of figures do I use? Black powder is designed for 28mm but will work with most scales including 1/72nd scale or 15mm. I like 28mm scale. There’s a fantastic range and choice of figures out there in 28mm, both in plastic and metal. If you prefer something else, go for it. Again, I suspect that you will need to consult with your existing or prospective gaming buddies. If they are already using 20mm figures it makes sense to join them. But, I don’t think that you will go far wrong with 28mm.

Basing is a thorny subject – but guidance appears in the rules and I’ll pass on my advice in this series of articles later.

So, how many  figures do you need in a unit? Again, the answer is in the rules set. A normal unit is 24 figures but this isn’t as rigid as you may think. We often use half sized units to play big games on smaller tables. The only important issue is that there should be some parity with your opponent. I’ll pass on my thoughts on this in a later blog when I cover basing.

Load Canister!

Load Canister!

The really BIG question!

What army are you going to build? To a certain extent this is the most difficult decision that you may have to make. Are you going to be collecting British, French, Austrian, Russian, Prussian, or one of the myriad of other Napoleonic states that were involved in the conflict. This decision is further complicated by having then to choose a campaign period. In my opinion, as far as the wargaming goes, it doesn’t matter. We happily play games where Pennisular British fight Waterloo Prussians. We have even had a Mexican unit on the table!

It’s a difficult decision, because once you have committed, you will be painting an army and that will be a long term project. To be fair, there’s no reason why you cant have a pick & mix army with a unit from every nation. However, when it comes to research and collecting an army, I think that it will help if you have a common thread running through it. You don’t have to pick the ‘best’ army either. For many years of the Napoleonic period, the French were in the ascendancy and could beat all comers. At the other end of the scale, the Spanish Army, although potent on their day, don’t enjoy the same reputation in battle – they do have some lovely uniforms though! The beauty of Black powder is that the rules aren’t precious about this. There are some optional rules that you can give certain qualities one to army over another but there is nothing to stop you playing a ‘vanilla’ rules game where Spanish troops happily face, say, Russians on equal terms. Not realistic? It doesn’t bother me. As I keep repeating, the wargame is the social side of the hobby. It’s the chance to get those lovingly painted troops onto the table and see if the dice are kind enough to let you win a battle.

Charge!

Charge!

In conclusion

If you are looking to start collecting and painting troops to wargame in the Napoleonic period, my advice is to start with the Black powder rules set. That is what my wargaming army is based on and whenever I start to paint a new unit, it is with these rules in mind. It means that I am clear about how many figures I need to make a unit, how to base them and what they will do in the game. Next week, I’ll explain how I research how to paint my figures. Regardless of which rules set that you do choose, I hope that you enjoy your gaming with your buddies as much as I do!

Incidentally, the pictures used in this blog were supplied by Wargames Illustrated. The figures are from my own collection and they will feature in issue 345, the theme being Wellington and the Napoleonic period. Which leads me to an after thought. I’m a great fan of Wargames Illustrated (and was long before they accepted my article) – if you are thinking of entering the hobby, go and get yourself a copy of the magazine! it’s a great way to get an overview of what is happening in the hobby and I still think that the physical magazine is better than flicking through the interweb!

You can get your copy of Black Powder Here:

BLACK POWDER

You can get the Waterloo starter set here:

Waterloo Starter Set

You can get Wargames Illustrated magazine here:

War Games Illustrated

Hammerhead 2017

Just a brief report on the latest Hammerhead show held at the Newark showground on Saturday 4th of March. Hammerhead is just one of three shows that are held in Newark, the other two being Partizan 1 and 2. So why a third show? Originally, I think that the idea was to have a show that was dedicated to the Fantasy and Sci-Fi elements of the hobby. Over the years, this  emphasis has diminished and as you will see, there is plenty to occupy war gamers what ever their taste. What distinguishes Hammerhead from other shows is the games are all participation games so if you so wish you can join in with the fun and try out some of the superb games on offer.

The event has expanded this year and now occupied both the large George Stephenson exhibition hall as well as the Cedric Ford Pavilion. The two locations are just a short walk away from each other and this was certainly no hardship on the day. The weather was kind and it was nice to grab a breath of fresh air and take a break from looking at all the goodies on offer. Both locations had catering facilities, which meant that queuing for refreshments was in my experience, non existent. Even better, the food on offer was better than many shows that I’ve attended and not too expensive.

The Bunker game

The Bunker game close up.

I wont cover the traders that were at the show – the usual suspects were in attendance, so there was plenty to tempt you to part with your money! I gamely resisted opening my wallet but eventually was tempted into buying some flags and a set of ladders – they will appear in a future blog project no doubt. The real stars of the show were the games on offer and here are just some that caught my eye. Perhaps the biggest, with the most figures on a table was the display from Shaun and Terry of the Bunker fame. Shaun is a master at creating scenery and always manages to pack the table with figures so there was plenty to look at!

Just one of the castles on the table!

Just one of the castles on the table!

Just as impressive, was the game by Reveille, the battle of Pellenor Fields. How many Oliphaunts were there?

Attack of the Oliphaunts

Attack of the Oliphaunts

Another ‘wow!’ moment for me was the Bolt Action game. I’m afraid that I would fail as a reporter. I was too busy admiring the 1/56th (?) scale U boat that formed just part of the action to write down who was running the game…

Plenty going on here! Look at that U Boat!

Plenty going on here! Look at that U Boat!

I also liked the V1 that was incidental to the game.

It's a V1!

It’s a V1!

And so, senses overloaded with the gaming goodness on display, I ventured across to the other pavilion where I joined Andy Callan, Ian Callan and Peter Dennis to play the latest ‘Paper Soldiers’ game ‘The Spanish Armada’. Ian and I were the British. Peter Dennis the dastardly Spanish.  As with all Andy Callans rules, they are straight forward and simple to pick up, so within a turn I was immersed in the Game. Although Andy was giving his brother Ian a bit of stick for losing the Admiral and his flag ship, Ian and I continued to chip away at the Armada, reducing many of the Spanish transports to drifting hulks. It was all part of a cunning plan, as with the Admiral out of the way, the British would have more prize money!

2017-03-04 12.26.00As you can see, the game looks great and the book, which contains all you need, other than a pair of scissors, some PVA and access to a photocopier, retails at just £12.50 – amazing value and great fun. Having seen off the Spanish, it was back to the main hall for another look at the games.

Sands of the Sudan

Sands of the Sudan

Sands of the Sudan caught my eye, again, plenty of figures on the table and great scenery. Perhaps I will have a go at this period.

Beautifully painted Naval detatchment.

Beautifully painted Naval detachment.

By now, it was a case of sensory overload and constantly being distracted. Ooh look Daleks!!

Daleks and then Wow! Tripods!! With A10’s!!!

Tripods You get the idea, there was plenty to admire and my short blog post has barely scratched the surface. In fact I have missed many of the super games that were on offer. I’ll leave you with a look at another very well designed game. Who built it escapes me (bad reporter!) but what a temptation to start gaming this period.

Aces High!

Aces High!

So, plenty to see. Plenty to inspire. Plenty to motivate. All in all, a very good show , very well executed. I look forward to next years show. In the meantime, if you do fancy going to Partizan in May, I will be there with Arcane Scenery, so come along and say hello.

 

 

Belgium 1815: The Battle for the Crossroads

British napoleonic uniform

British Napoleonic uniform on display at the show.

I’ve mentioned before that I believe that some of the smaller shows for wargamers can be more enjoyable than some of the traditional war games shows that we all know. The latest example being the Napoleonic Day held in my home town of Bingham in Nottinghamshire. It was organised by the writer, Peter Youlds, and was focused on the Napoleonic period. To be fair, it wasn’t the usual wargames show, packed full of demonstration games and Traders but a small scale celebration of the Napoleonic period by like minded individuals. In fact, the only real pressure to buy anything was from the ‘Corsican Cafe’ that had been set up for the day. The home cooked bacon cobs and homemade cakes were just too tempting to avoid.

Belgic and Stovepipe shakos

Belgic and Stovepipe shakos

The other goodies on offer were a selection of books (most of them signed copies) from the attending authors, Peter Youlds, Andrew Bamford, Carole Divall, and Micheal Kirby and some very nice original prints and paintings from the Napoleonic artist Chris Draper. In addition, a contingent from the 21st Regiment de Ligne re-enactors were on duty, as well as regency dress expert Laura Short. To round things off, Myself, Andy Callan ( of Paper Soldiers fame) and Pete Harris were running a demonstration war game, using Black powder Rules, loosely based on the Battle of Quatre Bras. There was also a series of talks throughout the day, from the various experts and authors, focusing on the Napoleonic era. The cost of entrance to this event – nothing! Yes, the whole day, including attendance of any of the lectures and access to all of that expertise was free.

A fine example of Regency costume

A fine example of Regency costume

Belgium 1815: The Battle for the Crossroads

The demonstration game was based loosely on the battle of Quatre Bras. The scenario involved  a combined force of Dutch -Belgian and Brunswick troops holding a crossroads against a French advance force. The French and Allied forces would both receive reinforcements as the battle progressed. The game spanned most of the day but the slow pace was mainly due to the number of questions that we were answering from the public, many of whom had never seen a wargame before. I’ll perhaps revisit some of the comments and reflect on the nature of our hobby in another blog, as it was fascinating to hear how the ‘public’ perceived this strange past time of ours. In the meantime, here is a brief account of the battle. The report is somewhat picture heavy. As usual, as I was playing, it was difficult to make notes and take pictures at the key times. You should get a general idea of the battle though.

The deployment before the battle

The deployment before the battle

The initial turns saw a French steady advance towards the centre, held by the Brunswickers and Dutch brigades. A French Cavalry probe on the left was easily seen off by the Brunswick Lancers, although in truth, both sides were somewhat mauled. On the right, the French advanced cautiously along the main Brussels – Charleroi road between the farm house and the woods. They were harassed by the fire from a small contingent of Jager who had taken cover in the farm house.

The Brunswick Brigade prepare for battle

The Brunswick Brigade prepare for battle

The British encampment at the edge of the Bossu wood

The British encampment at the edge of the Bossu wood

Initially, it was the French reinforcements that arrived on the Battlefield, adding to the pressure in the Centre and again threatening the Left with their Calvary. Perhaps somewhat disheartened by the previous skirmish, the French cavalry refused to move and any threat to the Brunswick infantry was averted for the time being. More of a puzzle was the French cavalry’s’ reluctance to cross the stream and try to take the longer route around the pond… They clearly didn’t want to get their boots wet! On the right, The Belgians were more than holding their position and actually saw off a Battalion of French infantry with superior musketry. The Allies were gaining the upper hand.

Belgians Advance!

Belgians Advance!

Brunswickers hold steady, whilst the French Cavalry are waiting to pounce!

Brunswickers hold steady, whilst the French Cavalry are waiting to pounce!

French pressure in the centre continued to grow as more reinforcements made their way to the front. Despite this, the Allied line appeared to be holding well and the first British reinforcements were appearing from Brussels along the main road. Even better, the French on the right crumbled under fire and the whole brigade broke, leaving the right wing free for an Allied advance. The battle was going well for the Allies, victory was in sight!

The Belgians clash with the French!

The Belgians clash with the French!

British Reinforcements are arriving from Brussels.

British Reinforcements are arriving from Brussels.

Th French are pushed back on the Charloi road but the first hint of trouble - the farm house has fallen!

The French are pushed back on the Charloi road but the first hint of trouble – the farm house has fallen!

Now at this point, The Allied General (me) appeared to have lost the plot. Somewhat distracted by questions from the public and the thought of what cake to eat next, I failed to exploit the advantage gained on the right flank and actually helped to shore up the French position by forcing the retreating infantry into square, thereby anchoring them on the battlefield. At the same time, the French Generals’ (Pete Harris) persistence and greater tactical awareness paid off. Spotting a weakness in the Allied line, the French bravely charged a Brunswick Artillery battery, routing it from the table and breaking the Allied line.

French pressure has forced the Dutch & brunswickers back from the stream.

French pressure has forced the Dutch & brunswickers back from the stream.

Congestion on the Brussels - Charleroi road as more British reinforcements arrive.

Congestion on the Brussels – Charleroi road as more British reinforcements arrive.

Continued French pressure forces the Allies back.

Continued French pressure forces the Allies back.

As if this wasn’t enough, The French Cavalry on the left charged en mass, breaking the allied cavalry and pushing them off of the battlefield. The Allied advantage on the right was further diminished as the French had forced the Jagers  out of the farm house and had occupied it themselves with a full battalion! Suddenly the Allies were on the back foot. The saving grace was that a steady stream of British reinforcements were now arriving from Brussels. There was now a major traffic jam at the crossroads as the British tried to deploy. Fortunately, the remains of the Brunswick and Dutch contingent, bolstered by a Hanoverian Brigade were able to delay the French long enough for the British Infantry to begin to get into position along the road and form a new defensive line.

The Hanoverians halt the french advance on the crossroads buying time for the Allies.

The Hanoverians halt the French advance on the crossroads buying time for the Allies.

French Cavalry now dominate the left wing!

French Cavalry now dominate the left wing!

The British form a new defensive line along the Nivelles-Namur Road

The British form a new defensive line along the Nivelles-Namur Road

As nightfall approached, the British had managed to secure the crossroads and despite being pushed back they had inflicted sufficient casualties on the French to stem their advance. However, it was the French that had had the better day. They had severely mauled the Allied army and pushed them back to the crossroads. They now held the majority of the field and could further harass the Allies withdrawal to Waterloo!

The French hold the battlefield but are exhausted after beating back the Allies.

The French hold the battlefield but are exhausted after beating back the Allies.

All in all, thoroughly enjoyable battle where the French gained boasting rights and Pete Harris proved to be a better General than Ney. Unfortunateky, I didn’t quite manage to live up to Wellingtons standards! Of course, the unsung hero of the day was Andy Callan, who put so much into organising and running the battle whilst keeping our visitors so well informed. I hope that the guests had as much fun as we did.

Once again, our thanks to Peter Youlds who organised the day and I look forward to the next one.