Sunday, May 1, 2011

Eastern part of the Battle of Ligny

This was a hypothetical scenario based on the battle of Ligny 1815.
First up a confession.  I have been pronouncing this name of the battle as “Lig-knee” when, after a comment by Richard, I think it should be “Le-nee”.  A quick attempt with Google provided me with this:
It has an audio of the pronunciation of a person’s name: Jean-Marc Ligny. 
Also via Google was this from “Ligny (lēnyē') village, Namur prov., central Belgium, near Namur. At Ligny, on June 16, 1815, Napoleon I of France defeated the Prussians under Blücher early in the Waterloo campaign.”
Anyway, on with the battle.
The set up was a mix of the Napoleon’s Battles scenario for Ligny and the SPI board game (part of the Napoleon’s Last Battles set).  The SPI set up took preference, but the OB came from the scenario.
The hypothesis was that Napoleon had brought up the 1st and 6th Corps which allowed the 4th Corps to more fully engage the Prussian III Corps.
The objective of the game was to use the town fighting rules in Napoleon’s Battles to hopefully generating some interesting see-saw fighting, which, having just read The Eagles Last Triumph, seemed to be characteristic of the Battle of Ligny.
This first picture shows the initial deployment, the scattered Prussians facing a mass attack from the French.  What enabled the Prussians to concentrate was the presence of Blucher whose command radius critically supplemented that of his Corps commander and meant that within the first hour the Prussians had been able to respond to the French advance.
Blucher had been added to the Prussian forces to balance the points.  In retrospect it might have been more interesting to assume that both forces lacked a top commander (i.e. one with a response rating of 10), or to have upgraded Thielmann to a wing commander (improving his radius).
The second picture is the French assault on the bridge.  This is when things got difficult as the marshy stream proved very difficult to cross in the face of a formed and determined enemy.  The obstacle was 2 inches in width and trying to cross in column by infantry or cavalry (with depths of 2 inches and 4 inches respectively) took multiple turns to get across.  The calculation of the distance to cover was the width of the obstacle plus the depth of the unit with the rough terrain modifier applied.  I must confirm that is how the effect is meant to be determined.
So, after a French initial attack was repulsed the battle degenerated into an artillery duel.   The Prussians got the better of this.  However the French had been able to work their way around the Prussian right flank, which presented the Prussians with the same dilemma in that in order to attack the French flanking force, they had to ford a river.
And so ended the battle.
It was an interesting game because it was quiet different – a battle of patience.  It failed to generate the village fighting I had hoped for.  The French had ignored the Prussian left and the two occupied villages (Boignee and Balatre).  On the Prussian right the French had skirmished (unsuccessfully) before the occupied village (due north of Tongrinnelle) while swinging their cavalry around behind it.   Some exposed Prussians, after putting up a good fight, had run for the forest and refused to budge.  The town did come under fire, but without effect.
The Prussian forces are from my collection and are mainly Essex, but with at least one infantry brigade and some artillery from AB and the Death’s Heads hussars from Old Glory.  The French are from Richard’s collection and Old Glory.  All 15mm.
This was an important game for me as it was the first time I was able to try out some aspects of Napoleon’s Battles that I hope to use in a campaign based on the Waterloo Campaign and using the afore mentioned SPI board game.


  1. Interesting. I ran Ligny (all of it) several time a few years back using my own DRAM rules. My recollections are of a very crowded battlefield and an opening artillery duel followed by some very nasty fighting round a couple of villages.

    1. The game I umpired last Saturday is more like the one you describe.

      Grouchy's flank was quiet in comparison.