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Thursday, 22 September 2022

The Battle of Plancenoit 18th June 1815

 Plancenoit has been on my to do list for several years. I also wanted to get my Ros Prussians and French along with some Warrior figures on to the table.  A visit by Bob Black provided the opportunity to get the figures out of their boxes.  With limited time available we opted for the  Command & Colors scenario, using our adapted rules that dispense with the three zones and the cards.

This is the map:

This was interpreted on the table as:

The battle sees a massive Prussian force approaching from the top of the table, with the French, consisting of numbers of Imperial Guard battalions, holding some of the buildings in Plancenoit village, or dashing forward to occupy them. The famous church is represented at centre left, just about to be taken by a Young Guard battalion.

The battle unfolded with the Prussians bombarding the buildings to weaken the defenders, with two batteries in close range of the French occupiers.  This caused some casualties, but it was clear that at some point the Prussians would have to assault over the open fields.

Meanwhile the French steadily brought up reinforcements:

Looking along the Prussian lines
The Prussian right.

After several turns of bombardment, while taking casualties from French artillery and musket fire the Prussians launched an attack against the nearest forward farm complex:

This attack was brutally beaten back with two battalions quickly being carved up, and General Hiller being unhorsed.  To make matters worse a Landwehr battalion that had not even moved was hit by artillery fire and routed off the table. The French were weakened, but the score at this early point in the battle was 4 - 1 to the French.

Eventually the French were forced out of the nearest farm complex, but by now French French Young Guard units were at hand to re-occupy the buildings as they are vacated.

The battle continued on the Prussian left as they are slaughtered by concentrated musket fire. However, fresh battalions are brought up to assault once more, supported by close range artillery fire.  The Prussian gunners also began to suffer, with one battery being forced off the hill.

The tide was very much against the Prussians as Blucher himself is taken down and the score was 6 - 2 to the French.  Another Prussian infantry assault goes in. The score crept up to 7-2 to the French.

However, the Prussians pushed two battalions of Jaegers into the woods and with some artillery (and some good dice rolls) started to wear down the French defenders:

At this point in the battle the sheer attrition began to affect the French as they began to run out of reinforcements, being attacked by six Prussian units. The score was now even 7-7.

Meanwhile the Old guard were well entrenched in the churchyard with the open ground beyond being swept by French guns.  All Prussian attempts to take the church are thwarted.  At one point it stood empty as French troops were forced out, but the Prussians were unable to occupy it. The Old Gurd clings on:

The battle on the Prussian left now swings in their favour as the French battalions can no longer hold on to the buildings.  Further more the French artillery supporting them is worn down and forced back:

The Prussian Jaegers take the left hand buildings and bring up more battalions.  The French counter attack with some Lancers, but the Prussians form square and supported by the jaegers, the Lancers are wiped out.  The second farm complex fall s to the Prussians and the French batteries are overrun.

It is the end.  The French run out of troops and the score reaches 10 - 7 to the Prussians.  It was a very tough battle and both Bob and I were convinced that the Prussians would fail, but as occurred in history the French were bulldozed out of the village.  The Prussians won but paid a very high price.


  1. Your narrative tells us that this was a great action to fight, a determined defence overcome by implacable attack. That the Prussians overcame a 2-7 deficit to win 10-7 is probably a realistic outcome of a successful attack against a tough defence. I like the pics, but my favourite is that Prussian cavalry with the dappled grey horses...

    1. Thank you for your comment. Both Bob and I initially thought that the Prussians would lose but in the end the French just had too few resources to keep up with the increasing losses. The dapple greys - I bought those secondhand several years ago and I am not sure who painted them. They are nice though.

  2. An enjoyable read of a hard fought and close game.

    1. Thanks Peter. It was indeed hard fought and tense as fortunes shifted from one side to the other.