Legio Wargames

The Legio Blog

By smacdowall, Jul 21 2019 12:27PM

Having just moved house I have not had the time to post much of late. However the games room is sorted and the painting table set up so I have been doing a bit of painting in between unpacking boxes and sorting furniture.


I will endeavour to post some pics of the latest troops to march off the painting table. First up are Dutch Horse Guards from 1709 — ready to join the Prince d’Auvergne’s squadrons on the Malplaquet battlefield.



I have painted the unit to represent the 1 squadron of the Life Guards of Nassau-Ouwerkerk (red coats) and the 2 squadrons of the Blue Guards who fought brigaded together at Malplaquet.


All flag references I found dated to the reign of King William III and carried his cypher on a blue ground. I decided on a similar design but substituting the coat of arms of Holland which seemed plausible for the post William era.


The Life Guards in front are a converted command group from Minifigs French Musketeers. The officer is wearing a cuirass which the Dutch attempted to have all cavalry wear from 1708 although without much success.


In William's day the Life Guards rode grey horses. I decided also mount the Blue Guards on greys as it makes them stand out and look more impressively 'guards-like'.



In the 1690s each of the three troops of the Blue Guards was distinguished by its men wearing red, yellow or green feathers in their hats. Not having many models with feathered hats I decided on using Minfig French troopers with shoulder knots and painting them in two of the distinguishing colours (red and yellow). The life guards do have tricorns adorned with feathers (taken from French Musketeer miniatures) and I decided to paint them green which was also the allied army’s identification colour.

By smacdowall, Feb 8 2019 11:42PM

The Malplaquet project proceeds with most of the troops now painted.


Having play-tested the Allied attack into the Bois des Sars last year, the next step was to try out the suicidal Dutch assault on the French right. Here 30 battalions of Dutch, Swiss and Scots attacked more than twice their number of French, Swiss, Italians and Germans.



The French entrenchments
The French entrenchments

The French front lines were entrenched. Their right flank was protected by woods. They had a massed battery of 20 guns sighted to enfilade an attack, and they had more than adequate reinforcements.



The 6x4 game table based on a battlefield map
The 6x4 game table based on a battlefield map

Our game was played on a 6 by 4 foot table with 15mm figures (mostly Minifigs) with each miniature battalion representing a brigade of 3 historical battalions.



The Gardes Suisse and Française
The Gardes Suisse and Française

The French left was held by the Gardes Suisse and Française facing off Rantzau’s Hanoverians and Orkney’s English. This was the centre of the whole Malplaquet battlefield but for this game we ignored that action on the western wing.



The Prince of Orange's command
The Prince of Orange's command

The Dutch attacked the French entrenchments in two divisions, The Prince of Orange commanding the right with Dutch and Swiss...


The Dutch Guards and Scots
The Dutch Guards and Scots

...Baron Faegel commanding the Dutch Gardes te voet and Scots on the far left.



Converged grenadiers held the far French right
Converged grenadiers held the far French right

The French far right was held by converged grenadiers backed up by Germans and regular French in the woods.


The Alsace Brigade is driven back
The Alsace Brigade is driven back

The initial Dutch attack went very well. Their long range artillery fire managed to wear down the Brigade d’Alsace holding the corner of the closest entrenchments. Led by the Prince of Orange in person the lead Dutch brigade stormed across the French entrenchments, driving the Alsatians back.


Excellent dice rolls helped the Dutch attack
Excellent dice rolls helped the Dutch attack

The success of the Dutch attack was significantly enhanced by some pretty good dice rolling. With a 5 or 6 needed for a result every die counted.


Close range artillery fire decimated the Dutch
Close range artillery fire decimated the Dutch

The French fed in the Navarre Brigade to hold the Dutch break-through while their enfilade battery decimated the middle column of the Prince of Orange’s command. By they time centre Dutch brigades reached the French entrenchments a volley from the Royal Italien sent them reeling back.


The Dutch Guards breach the French entrenchments
The Dutch Guards breach the French entrenchments

D’Artagnan (of Three Musketeers fame) commanding the French far right, turned his grenadiers to threaten the flank of the Scots, forcing them to halt their advance to meet the threat. The Dutch Blue Guards, however, were able to successfully storm the entrenchments, driving off the French defenders.



The Dutch did better in our game than historically
The Dutch did better in our game than historically

After 3 hours of play we called a halt as the pub was beckoning. The Dutch did far better than they had historically. Against superior numbers hey had breached the French entrenchments in two places. Even if they could not hope to sweep away the French right wing there would have been able to do much more than simply pin it which was their objective. Although they suffered more casualties than the French the numbers were far less than they suffered historically.


By smacdowall, Sep 17 2018 09:24PM

With a view to re-fighting Malplaquet next Spring, Dave Allen and I visited the actual battlefield a few weeks back — as close to the actual day of the battle (11 September) as we could manage. We wanted to understand what the ground was like, how the troops deployed and what they could see, in order to represent it accurately for the wargame.


The battlefield monument
The battlefield monument

Straddling the French-Belgian border just south of Mons the battlefield is easily accessible. The starting point is a monument standing just in front of the centre of the French lines a few metres south of the Belgian border.



Orientation map of the initial deployment
Orientation map of the initial deployment

There are some excellent orientation maps around the monument which give good detail of the units involved along with their deployment and movements. The French side of the battlefield benefits from a signed walking tour which can be followed with the aid of a most helpful app. This gives information and maps in English as well as French.



Bois de la Laniere on the French right
Bois de la Laniere on the French right

One thing that struck us was the very limited visibility. Although there are no significant hills, the gently rolling terrain generally limits visibility to less than 200 yards. The main French infantry lines were on a slight reverse slope with the result that troops on the opposing sides would have been unlikely to see each other until within less than 100 yards of each other.


The Bois de Sars at the point where Lottum attacked
The Bois de Sars at the point where Lottum attacked

The woods which formed the flanks of the gap which the French defended are still there. The Bois de Sars to the west still has the same outline as it did back in 1709. It is hard to imagine just how the tens of thousands of allied troops managed to attack through them to emerge on the other side.



Information board on the site of the French redans
Information board on the site of the French redans

There are no traces of the French redans or entrenchments but their locations are reasonable well marked and by walking along their lines it is possible to get a sense of what it must have been like.



The allied forward battery circled in red
The allied forward battery circled in red

Many accounts of the battle say that Marlborough’s grand battery of 40 guns first fired into the Bois de Sars to support Lottum’s attack. Then they switched their fire to engage the French cavalry that could be seen on a slope behind the French foot, hidden by their reverse slope position. Although we tramped over all the possible locations for this battery there are no good fields of fire to substantiate this. The maps by the monument suggest another battery of 10 guns and 3 howitzers well forward of the allied centre and indicate that is was probably indirect fire from this battery which inflicted casualties on the French horse to the rear.


Memorial to the French senior officers killed in action
Memorial to the French senior officers killed in action

The small church in Malplaquet has a memorial to the French officers killed (Lieutenant Colonels and above).


Malplaquet church
Malplaquet church

The church was there in 1709 and although it has since been re-built it was done so in a way to closely resemble the original.



Blairon farm cicled in red viewed from the French centre
Blairon farm cicled in red viewed from the French centre

Blairon farm forward of the French lines forms an obstacle we had not appreciated. It is not so much the farm itself as the deep north-south running stream that runs through it. This, and the now much depleted Bois Thierry to the north, break up the allied line of advance. Once committed beyond this point it would have been pretty well impossible to move troops from the allied left (east) to the centre or visa versa.


Scattered around the battlefield are several monuments as can be seen in the following photos:



Monument to the Swiss regiments on both sides
Monument to the Swiss regiments on both sides


Monument to the British regiments that fought at Malplaquet
Monument to the British regiments that fought at Malplaquet

Plaque at the position of the French artillery which decimated the Dutch
Plaque at the position of the French artillery which decimated the Dutch


Monument to the French carabiniers who held the left flank
Monument to the French carabiniers who held the left flank


19th century mural on the side of a barn
19th century mural on the side of a barn









By smacdowall, Mar 16 2018 05:21PM

It has always puzzled me how the Danes managed to provide so many troops for the Dutch, English and Austrian armies during the War of Spanish Succession, while fighting a bitter war with Sweden at the same time. Perhaps the cash from hiring their troops out was worth more to the war effort than the troops themselves.


When looking around at the miniatures we had to refight Oudenarde I realised that although we had a good contingent of Danish foot we had no Danish horse. This needed fixing as the Danes provided a significant body of horse to the Maritime Powers — something in the region of 4000 men.


Danish Cavalry Brigade
Danish Cavalry Brigade

I have therefore painted up a small brigade of Minifig 15mm Danish cavalry in Dutch pay, drawn from three regiments. This is nothing like the full contingent of Danish mounted troops serving with the Maritime Powers but at least they will have some representation in our upcomming battle.


Livregiment til Hest
Livregiment til Hest

First up is the Livregiment til Hest (Life Regiment of Horse). Their uniform is recorded as red coats with yellow lining but like most Danish Horse, they went into battle wearing thick elk skin coats. I decided that my Danes would wear the protective elk skins with cuirass to differentiate them from other troops rather than thier uniform coats. Blackened cuirasses were worn by all Danish horse from 1707 and some regiments are recorded as wearing them earlier. Saddle blankets were usually red, trimmed with the lining colour, although officers might have their's trimmed with gold or silver.


Livregiment close-up
Livregiment close-up

Minifigs do not make cuirassiers without pot helmets. The troopers came from the cavalry command set — presumably intended to be officers of horse. They do not have sashes so they can pass as troopers. The trumpeter and standard bearer come from the Austrian cuirassier command set -- the standard bearer having his lobster pot helmeted head decapitated to be replaced by a tricorn head from my spares.


Speculative cavalry standard
Speculative cavalry standard

I could find no reliable information about Danish cavalry flags from the early 1700’s so I made this one up, based on a later Napoleonic flag.


Danish Brigadier
Danish Brigadier

Officers occasionally wore reversed colours but I decided to paint the brigade commander in the uniform red coat while giving the trumpeter a yellow one. The brigadier is a Minifig Austrian cuirassier officer with his pot helmet replaced by a feather-trimmed tricorn from a French King’s Musketeer in my spares box.


2nd Sjaellandske
2nd Sjaellandske

Next up are two squadrons from the 2nd Sjællandske. I particularly like the unusual violet facing colour of this regiment. I think it is a particularly pleasing visual combination together with the dark buff elk skin coats.


Württemberg-Oels Dragoons
Württemberg-Oels Dragoons

The final squadrons are from the Prince of Württemberg-Oels’ Dragoons. The Danes seem to have increasingly treated their dragoons as cavalry rather than mounted infantry. By the end of the war most dragoon regiments had been reassigned and equipped as cuirassiers. An eyewitness account has Würtemberg-Oels Dragoons in white-grey coats with yellow lining while another source has them in blue. I gave the officer an orange sash as the unit was serving in the Dutch army.


I got much of the uniform information from the excellent tacitus website. This is a great resource for the Great Northern War (and other conflicts). It includes the details of those Danes in the pay of the English, Dutch and Austrians.






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