Miniature Addiction Wargaming with miniatures

Baptism of fire


Hello and welcome to a battle report based on a large 28mm Napoleonic game where we put David Brown’s General d’ Armee rule set through its paces for the first time. This 3000 point game was played on a twelve by six foot table and involved a large mix of troop types and nationalities. The written report views the battle from the French lines and was penned by my opponent Keef. Pictures, captions and maps were added by me at a later date. The maps show basic troop dispositions (but not formations) throughout various stages of the action. I hope you enjoy this article we certainly enjoyed the game.

∇ The Italian Brigade advances ∇

Word had made it to the British high command that the dastardly French were on the move again. It seemed that their latest attempt to unseat the rightful King of Spain involved a attack toward the loyalist capital. To facilitate that attack, a reinforced French Division was also making a move to turn the flank of the Allied forces. Seasoned British campaigner General Sir Herbert “The Round” Wilberforce was tasked with thwarting the French flanking force.

Available troops were limited and “The Round” was given command of an enlarged Division comprising 2 British infantry Brigades, 1 Portuguese infantry Brigade and a Spanish infantry Brigade.  They would be accompanied by a British cavalry Brigade and 2 batteries of Royal Artillery.

Arriving on the Plains of Arun, Sir Wilberforce arranged his force resting his left flank against the raging river. “The Round” had a cunning plan based around luring the enemy to attack the weaker Spanish in his centre after which his two flanking British infantry Brigades would close on the attackers while he unleashed his reserve cavalry against the then reeling French. His right flank would be held by the sturdy Portuguese.

Δ Spanish troops take their place in the Allied battle line Δ

Unfortunately for “The Round”, the cunning French under the wily Marechal Keef were simply not playing ball. As the mists cleared, Sir Wilberforce could see that Keef was aiming to hurl a major attack against the Portuguese; to make matters worse, local villagers had advised that a French cavalry force was likely to turn up to the right of the Portuguese at some time during the morning.

Δ British C-in-C Δ
∇ Initial Deployment ∇
Δ French C-in-C Δ

Accordingly, with his plans in tatters, “The Round” immediately tasked the British infantry to the left of the Portuguese to move themselves Forwards as quickly as possible to forestall the looming French attack. Alas, Sir Wilberforce’s messengers went awry and instead of leaping Forwards, the Brigadier began dithering about this new change of orders and thus his Brigade hesitated. Worse still, the Portuguese Brigadier also hesitated at seeing a mass of on-rushing French … none of this was in the plan.

Δ  Despite repeated appeals from every available ADC the British 2nd brigade remains stationary Δ

The other British infantry (on the far left) seeing an opportunity to crush the weak Allied Italian Brigade facing them set themselves into motion supported half-heartedly by the Spanish.

For their part, the French seemed to be running like a well-oiled machine. As the morning progressed, the French infantry leapt forward towards the Portuguese knowing that their cavalry would shortly arrive to support their attack. Keef directed two French batteries to unlimber to support this attack. The flanking Brigade of dragoons also duly hove into view and commenced lining up the outnumbered Portuguese.

Δ French Dragoons surge towards the Portuguese battalions Δ

Sir Wilberforce sent out more messengers, again with mixed results. Once more, the French were showing more Initiative and getting the drop on his forces. Luckily the Portuguese Brigadier saw his peril in time and got all his battalions but one into squares ahead of the impact. This early move combined with some stunningly good close quarter fighting saw the Portuguese infantry more or less repel the first onslaught of French infantry and dragoons with the loss of but a single battalion.

However, the second rush saw the Portuguese give ground and very nearly quit the field. At this point, “The Round” committed his cavalry on orders to get themselves Forwards to intervene and save the Portuguese; and off galloped the light dragoons and hussars.

 Δ British light cavalry regiments rush to aid  their beleaguered Portuguese Allies. Δ

“The “Round” was not enjoying the unfolding mess on his other flank either. Somehow the miserable Recruits of the Italian Brigade were dealing repulse after repulse onto the supposedly far better quality British battalions. Ultimately, one Italian battalion managed to launch a charge into the leftmost British battalion routing it and faltering the British brigade.

Marechal Keef was most pleased with the state of events … this was going to be a cakewalk.

About now, while Sir Wilberforce was lamenting his less than able AdCs and Brigadier, he was rather admiring the fantastic resolve of his troops in close fighting. Sure, the French AdCs and Brigadiers seemed to be everywhere and the French shooting was wreaking havoc, but his troops had repulsed Keef’s Frenchies at every attack.

Just then a stray howitzer shell blew apart one French infantry Brigadier, and a good clean rifle shot plugged the Italian Brigadier from afar. Going from being torn apart on both flanks, “The Round” was enjoying the prospect of two faltering French Brigades. And, sure enough, he smugly observed the Italian recruits retire in disarray.

A shout from the other flank turned his attention that way … just in time to see glorious charges from the British cavalry and a sole Portuguese battalion go home against some of the attacking French battalions. The Portuguese infantry forced their opponents away but sadly the light dragoons were thrown off in a complete mess by a sole unformed French battalion in a show of great élan.

∇ Steady lads, Steady ∇
∇ French casualty marker ∇
∇ The depleted British 1st Brigade stands ready to receive a renewed Italian attack ∇

In the centre, the British infantry were coming under considerable pressure and just survived a French attack leaving a French battalion in a very exposed position. The Spanish Brigadier, seeing his moment for glory for Spain, urged forward his men to attack the sole frenchie only to find themselves coming under an immediate French assault. “The Round” was dismayed, though not overly surprised, to see his leading Spanish battalion smashed and the Spanish Brigade cast into an instant faltering state.

Not for the first time that day, Sir Wilberforce found himself thinking that all was lost, especially as the Italians had now returned to pressure his left flank once more. The Portuguese were at the point of disintegration again and being pressed closely by the French; and his centre British infantry were also being pressed backwards.

All looked bleak. “The Round” took the only options open to him and directed his battered light dragoons and hussars to set themselves to protect his now tattered forces and hope for an early nightfall.

Time to bring on a third outrageously lucky rifle shot and the downing of yet another French Brigadier resulting in a halt to their inexorable advances. And, for the first time all day, French AdCs were few and far between – their absence leading to a couple of hesitant French Brigades among whom were the French dragoons who had been about chase the Portuguese from the field once and for all.

The day was saved. Just!!

The French plan was simple; to concentrate guns and troops to overwhelm the British right flank then drive in their centre. That involved holding the cavalry off table to bring on once the flank brigade had sped forward and grabbed table space. To help out, the French enjoyed a reasonably good supply of AdCs throughout the game and held the initiative for the first 3 game moves whereas early hesitant British brigade rolls saw them unable to prevent the French plan unfolding like clockwork.

Against that, the British had 3 stunning pieces of luck, each at just the right time; 3 destiny rolls arising from 3 double-sixes led to faltering French Brigades each time and probably saved the game for the British. Even so, by the end of the game both sides had taken plenty of casualty’s right across the table but both sides were still serviceable.

Overall a marginal win for the French.

A fantastic set of rules; easy to play; lots of to-and-fro; a luck spread more or less evenly through heaps of dice rolling … very, very enjoyable !