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