Returning to my Battle of Malplaquet project it is time to test out the table set up, deployment and rule mechanisms for the cavalry actions in the centre and on the French left.
Previous test games have played out Schulenburg and Lottum’s assault into the Bois de Sars and as the storming of the French entrenchments by the Dutch.
In this game we wanted to see what might happen if the French abandoned the redans in their centre and the allied horse to attempt a break-through (as both did historically) . We also had Miklau’s cavalry and Withers’ foot arriving on the French left flank in an attempt to turn it.
The game action was set to began at 12 noon on the day of the historical battle. By this time Schulenburg and Lottum had made it through the Bois de Sars with significant casualties only to see entrenched French infantry waiting for them.
French, Irish and German troops withdrawn from the redans
We assumed that the Dutch attack on the French right prevented any reinforcements from that wing. Villars had withdrawn his French, Irish and Germans from the redans to block the allies in the woods — possibly to counter-attack.
Overview of the table looking west to the French left.
We played the game on a 6 x 4 foot table with 15mm miniatures in brigade sized units. Ground scale was 1” representing 100 paces. We ignored the action on the French right except for the Gardes Suisses and Françaises holding the far left of the entrenchments, with the Maison du Roi in reserve.
The Allied cavalry advance
The game opened with the allied howitzer battery lobbing shells into the massed ranks of French Horse. Then Auvergne’s Dutch horse advanced on the empty redans with Bülow’s German horse.
The centre of the battlefield, the Bois de Sars on the right
The French Horse moved up as the Dutch split their formation to pass through the gaps between the redans.
Imperial Dragoons of Miklau's command
The Royal Carabiniers move up to engage Miklau.
Miklau’s German cavalry, including several squadrons of Imperial hussars, arrived on the second turn (tanks to a good die roll) at La Folie on the French left flank. The French advanced the Royal Carabiniers to counter them. Against the odds, Miklau’s men held their own against this elite enemy brigade.
The Champagne brigade leads a French counter-attack.
Villars organised a counter-attack against Lottum’s Prussians and English in the Bois des Sars. Led by the Champagne brigade this succeeded in driving back Lottum’s first line defending the edge of the woods.
A fluid cavalry action develops as the Allies pass through the redans
A fluid cavalry battle developed in the centre. The Dutch horse rode through the ranks of the lead French brigade to come up against the second line.
The English Foot Guards assault the Gardes Suisse in the entrenchments.
Meanwhile Marlborough ordered Orkney’s men to storm the French entrenchments. Led by the English Foot Guards, supported by a battery of guns, they succeeded in driving the enemy back and taking the position. This mirrored the historical battle when the Gardens Suisses and Françaises put up little resistance when they were attacked.
The French counter-attack stalls
The French counter-attack into the woods came up against the second line of Prussians and English as Gauvin’s Hanoverains, recently arrived from Mons, moved up to support them. Eugene, commanding this sector, ordered the Danish foot guards from the Prussian left flank to move in to join the fray.
A huge cavalry melee develops
More and more horse from both sides were fed into the action beyond the redans as the action swayed back and forth. The huge resulting melée ended up with the lines separating.
We called time after about 3 hours of play. The result was a bloody draw favouring the Allies. Although initially successful, the French counter-attack in the woods had bogged down. The action around La Folie on the French left was stalemated but on their right Orkney’s English had taken the entrenchments. Two brigades of Hanoverians were moving up to support Orkney but the French had no reserves left. Almost all of the French horse had been engaged but there were several lines of British and Imperialist cavalry following up behind the Dutch and Germans. At this point Villars would probably have ordered a withdrawal as was the case in the actual battle.