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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, Aug 28 2018 04:34PM

Having previously refought the battles of Blenheim, Ramilles and Oudenarde I am now turning my attention to the last and bloodiest of Marlborough’s great battles — Malplaquet (1709).


The Battle of Malplaquet
The Battle of Malplaquet

I have most of the troops I need but a few reinforcements are still required. First off the painting table if the French régiment de Champagne. This regiment of the vieux corps was fourth in seniority after Picardie, Piedmont and Navarre. It played a key role at Malplaquet, where it lost 50% casualties.


Earlier in the War of Spanish Succession the Champagne regiment was engaged on the Upper Rhine, taking part in the battles of Friedlingen (1702) and Blenheim (1704). It was transferred to Flanders after Oudenarde and therefore did not take part in that battle, nor Ramilles. This is why such a senior regiment has been left out of my wargames order of battle until now.



Drummers wore the King's livery
Drummers wore the King's livery

Like all the senior French line infantry regiments, the régiment de Champagne wore grey-white coats with cuffs of the same colour, brass buttons and yellow lace on their tricorns. Their waistcoats were red. The drummers wore the king’s livery of blue coats with red/white lace.



Two battalions of the regiment
Two battalions of the regiment

I have painted two battalions of 15mm Minifigs. The first battalion carries the colonel’s colour — the prestigious drapeau blanc (white cross on a white field). The second battalion has the drapeau d'ordonnance of a white cross on a green field.

The first battalion carries the drapeau blanc
The first battalion carries the drapeau blanc



The second battalion carries the drapeau d'ordonnance
The second battalion carries the drapeau d'ordonnance


The rear view
The rear view


The two battalions together
The two battalions together




By smacdowall, Mar 9 2018 06:53PM

For an upcoming refight of the Battle of Oudenarde I intend to field half of the 175 battalions and 320 squadrons in 15mm. Each battalion will be 3-4 bases with 4 foot miniatures per base. A squadron will be represented by single base of two mounted figures.

I have most of the French but need a few more to bring up the numbers. I decided to take this opportunity to paint up a few more foreign battalions to reinforce King Louis XIV's armies of the early 1700s.


Regiment Royal Italien
Regiment Royal Italien

First up is the Royal Italien. Brown coats had been relatively common in the French army of the 1600s but by 1708 they had been replaced by the more familiar white-grey. This regiment, recruited from Italy, kept their brown coats with red facings throughout the war or Spanish Succession. At Oudenarde they fought in the first line brigaded with 4 French battalions.


Regiment de la Marck
Regiment de la Marck

The German Regiment de la Marck is next. The Comte de la March (Graf von der Mark) commanded a French brigade at Oudenarde including two battalions of his regiment. Like all German regiments serving in the French army, de la Marck wore blue coats, most probably a relatively light shade. In their case with yellow cuffs.

Regiment Dorrington
Regiment Dorrington

Finally we have the Irish Regiment Dorrington. As far as I can tell, Regiment Dorrington did not fight at Oudenarde although some Irish did. I already had a brigade of 3 battalions of Irish and wanted to bring it up to 4 battalions. As Dorrington (later Roth) fought in many engagements of the war I decided to include them. All Irish regiments wore red coats. Dorrington had blue cuffs and waistcoats and their flag was a very English-looking St George's cross.


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