Allies may deploy anywhere behind this line up to 2 feet in from the western table edge
Road to Sombreffe
Road to Soignes
The French may deploy anywhere up to 1 foot in from the eastern table edge
In the May 1707 the French General Vendome advanced on Brussels, taking up a position near Sombreffe with nearly 80,000 men.
Marlborough collected a force of 65,000 and marched to Soignes to the west of the French position intending to attack. However, at the last moment the States General refused to allow the Dutch troops to take part in an attack and the Allies were forced to adopt a defensive strategy. Historically, Vendome did not risk battle but instead strengthened his position and the two armies remained stationary watching each other.
This battle that 'could have been' imagines that Vendome decides to take advantage of his greater numbers and allied indecision to attack. The allies have taken up a position to the east of Soignes, their left flank resting on the Bois d'Houssiere to the north. The French decide to concentrate their attack on this flank between the woods and Ecaussinnes to the south.
The Allies initially deploy 15 battalions, 15 squadrons and 5 guns anywhere on their half of the table behind the white line on the map. They are under the command of the Dutch general Overkirk. Marlborough is assumed to be initially deployed to the south. Once he realises that the French main effort is to the North he comes with 3 battalions, 6 squadrons and 2 gunsof English troops to reinforce the north flank. The Allied player rolls a die at the start of his 3rd turn, the reinforcements arriving on a result of 4-6 (+1 for each turn after the 3rd). They may enter in column on either or both of the roads from the western table edge.
The French may initially deploy all their forces of 23 battalions, 24 squadrons and 5 guns up to 1 foot in from the eastern table edge. They may choose to keep some off-table to arrive later in column or line from the eastern edge at any time they choose without needing to roll dice.
Bavarians advancing on Dutch positions. Minifigs 15mm figures.
It is possible to use any combinations of troops for this scenario. The French should have an advantage in numbers to reflect their actual numerical superiority and to give them a chance to take a fairly strong defensive position. The troops I used for the game were as follows:
Battalions average 800 men
Squadrons average 200 men
4 Battalions Danish Foot
1 Battalion Danish Guards
2 Battalions Prussian Foot
4 Battalions Dutch Foot
2 Battalions Dutch Guards
2 Battalions Scots Foot
8 Squadrons Dutch Horse
4 Squadrons Dutch Dragoons
3 Squadrons German Horse
3 Field Guns
2 Battalion Guns
3 Battalions English Foot
3 Squadrons English Horse
3 Squadrons English Dragoons
2 Field Guns
Regular Battalions average 600 men
Garde Francaise 1000 men
Squadrons average 200 men
12 Battalions French Foot
4 Battalions Bavarian Foot
3 Battalions Irish Foot
2 Battalions German Foot
1 Battalion Garde Francaise
1 Battalion Converged Grenadiers
10 Squadrons French Horse
5 Squadrons Bavarian Horse
6 Squadrons Dragoons
4 Squadrons Maison du Roi
6 Field Guns
An overview of the French advance in the centre and on the right
Three lines of the best French Foot advance on the Danes and Prussians while the first lines of Horse clash in the centre
Dismounted French Dragoons backed up by mounted attempt to tie up the Danes in the woods but are driven back by a withering fire
The Scots and Dutch Guards stand ready to recieve the advancing French and Bavarians
A fierce assault by the French converged grenadiers backed up by Irish and German battalions succeeds in driving the Dutch from the town of Ecaussinnes
Above: The French close in on the Danes holding the Allied left flank. Right: Close-up of the Garde Francaise exchanging close fire with the Danes in the woods. Below: Successive lines of cavalry engage each other. Prussian Foot in the foreground hold the end of the Allied left from behind cheveux-de-frise.
This was a large battle with probably the largest number of figures a 6 x 4 table could handle. It was very hard fought and at first the French could make very little headway. The Dragoons on the French left were all but wiped out by the Danes holding the woods. The advance in the centre made little progress as they were facing massed Allied horse backed up by the English reinforcements. The breakthrough came on the French left where the converged grenadiers and foreign battalions rolled some lucky dice and succeeded in driving the Dutch back in disorder. Then the Garde Francaise and French battalions on the right began to have some success against the Danes while the English reinforcements in the centre were too crowded to make a real impact. After 9 turns and 5 hours playing time the Allied position had become untenable and we called it a game.