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By smacdowall, Dec 5 2018 01:00PM

Next year I intend to re-fight the Battle of Malplaquet (1709) in 15mm scale with each game battalion/squadron/battery representing three actual ones. In preparation for this, Dave Allen and I recently conducted a test run featuring the allied right wing attack on the Bois de Sars.


Schulenburg's 3 lines of Imperialists advance on the Bois de Sars
Schulenburg's 3 lines of Imperialists advance on the Bois de Sars

Here 20 battalions of French infantry, under d’Albergotti, defended dense woods behind abattis. They were attacked from the north by 40 Imperial battalions commanded by Schulenburg, and Lottum’s 22 battalions of Germans and English from the east. Lottum’s attack was supported by a bombardment from a massed battery of 40 guns.



The open centre defended by French fortifications
The open centre defended by French fortifications

The open ground in the centre was strongly held by the French in fortified positions supported by cavalry and artillery. Orkney’s English formed a single line to protect Lottum’s attack.


The game orders of battle were as follows: —


Allies


Schulenburg

40 Imperial battalions (Austrians, Germans, Danes & Walloons) represented by 13 in three lines

12 guns represented by 1 model attached to the rear line

Lottum

22 Prussian, Hessian and English battalions represented by 8 in three columns

40 guns represented by 3 models

Orkney

11 English battalions represented by 4 in a single line

20 guns and howitzers, represented by 2 models

Wood

24 English squadrons of horse and dragoons represented by 8. Reserve in the centre.


French


D’Albergotti

20 battalions French represented by 7, on the edge of the woods .

10 guns represented by 1 model

Puysegur

12 battalions French represented by 4, entrenched to the south of the woods

Chemerault

18 battalions French, Irish and Germans represented by 6, in the redans

20 guns represented by 2 models

Vivans

36 squadrons horse and dragoons represented by12, behind the fortifications in reserve.



Lottum's colums advance on the French
Lottum's colums advance on the French

Our game unfolded much like the historical battle. The allied massed battery wore down the French on the angle of the woods.



Schulenburg's Imperialists close but the first line is repulsed
Schulenburg's Imperialists close but the first line is repulsed

When the allies closed they wavered as they crossed the stream and abattis but although some battalions were thrown back the attack continued to be pressed home.


Lottum's Prussians and English storm the French position
Lottum's Prussians and English storm the French position

Fierce hand to hand fighting ensued but eventually weight of numbers began to tell.



Schulenburg's Danes break-through
Schulenburg's Danes break-through

Finally the Danish foot guard broke through the abattis driving off the French defenders as Lottum’s English closed in on the other flank.



The French entrenchments
The French entrenchments

We called a halt to our test game at this point. The allies had broken into the woods and it would take them quite some time before they sorted themselves out to emerge on the other side only to find entrenched French infantry waiting for them. Historically this took 2 hours, by which time events elsewhere on the battlefield shifted the emphasis from the allied right to the centre.



Massed melée as Lottum's columns close
Massed melée as Lottum's columns close

I was very pleased how the mini-game played out. The rules (Close Fire and European Order) worked very well as did the amendments we made to reflect the reduced ground scale of 1 game unit representing three and the difficulty of movement in the dense woods. I look forward to similar test games for the centre and allied left.











By smacdowall, Nov 8 2018 12:55PM

Following hard on the heals of the foot come a fine body of Spanish horse.


Whilst I could not find any evidence of Spanish foot at Malplaquet, there were several cavalry regiments serving with the French army in 1709. Most of them supplying only one or two squadrons each. This means that painting my new Spanish squadrons has not diverted my from the Malplaquet project


According to French Archives the following Regiments of horse were part of the Maréchal de Villars army: Ermont, Cano, Fresin, Acosta, Druhot, Gaetano, Lacatoire, Coralles and Flandre. Rios, Cecille, Flavacourt were serving with the Comte d'Artagnan. There were also seven squadrons of Dragoons from the regiments Acquaviva, Pignatelli, Melun and Pasteur.



I could find very little reliable information about uniforms. A fair number of Spanish horse wore grey-white coats with blue cuffs. I decided this would contrast nicely with the predominantly grey-white coats and red cuffs of the French Chevau-légers.


There is even less information available about flags. I made one up based on a fairly typical design from a few decades earlier. This has the Burgundian cross on one side and the virgin Mary surrounded by a sun burst on the other.


Once again the miniatures are all Minifigs 15mm from their Marlburian range.






By smacdowall, Oct 27 2018 11:06AM

I’m still in a bit of a War of Spanish Succession mood and thoroughly enjoying painting up more Minifig 15mm for my French army. The Minifig range is much more extensive than any o†her 15mm ranges and they have a wide variety of miniatutes modelled with †he uniform distinctions of the various nationalities


Minifig 15mm WSS Spanish with shoulder knot and waistbelt cartridge box
Minifig 15mm WSS Spanish with shoulder knot and waistbelt cartridge box

For a bit of variety I decided to paint some Spanish troops. The Spanish army of Flanders fought under French command until 1709. After this most of them were transferred to Spain. I cannot find any record of Spanish fighting at Malplaquet but they certainly did at both Ramillies and Oudenarde.



Sicilia and Bruselas regiments
Sicilia and Bruselas regiments

I have represented two battalions here. On the right with crimson cuffs is the Sicilia regiment and on the left with sky blue cuffs is the Bruselas regiment — Sicilian and Walloon respectively.



Bruselas had sky blue cuffs.
Bruselas had sky blue cuffs.

Reliable information on Spanish uniforms and flags from this period is hard to come by. I chose these two regiments for no better reason than I was able to find some uniform detail. Most Spanish foot wore grey-white coats. The red and white coccade identifies them as supporters of Philip — the French Bourbon candidate for the Spanish throne. I have presumed the officers wore the red sash of previous decades but I do not know this for certain. It does give a bit of colour variation from my similarly dressed French units.



Close-up of Sicilia showing the flag and the distinctive Spanish grenadier
Close-up of Sicilia showing the flag and the distinctive Spanish grenadier

It is pretty doubtful that the Sicilia regiment was ever in Flanders although the Brussels (Brussels) regiment most probably was.


Perhaps one day I will try out some Spanish theatre battles in which case a few Spanish units would be most useful.





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









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