The Battle of Fontenoy Refought


Refought on the 11th April 1999. Leicester, England using Volley & Bayonet. Full scenario details and instructions on how to build the redoubts are also on line.

The battle was fought from basically historical starting positions. I allowed both sides to make small adjustments to units in each command but not to significantly alter the positions of commands. The Dutch chose to begin with their artillery limbered and the French embedded their 3 batteries of 6pdrs back into their centre first line - with the result that they took two regiments out of this line to form reinforcements for it's right flank, and their second line was moved about 600 yards to the rear. All the photographs of the 8am turn show the table as first set up with units in their historical places, prior to these adjustments (I deployed the troops, took the pictures, then the two teams each had ten minutes or so to discuss plans and make changes to their deployments while their opponents got some beers).

 

An 8am view looking north with Antoing and the Scheldt river in the left foreground, Fontenoy is centre right. The three redoubts of the French right wing are across the middle foreground with the red coated Swiss regiments of Bethens and Diesbach supporting them. Regiment Crillon extends Diesbach's right with the dismounted blue-coated dragoons of Royaux, Mestre de Camp and de Beaufremont formed into one linear infantry regiment stand behind them. While I have found no historical names for these redoubts, for convenience I'll take the example of the Redoubt d'Eu and call them Redoubt Bethens (nearest Fontenoy), Redoubt Diesbach (in the middle) and Redoubt Crillon (near Antoing). Antoing is occupied by regiments Piemont and la Marine with Biron behind in support. Some barricades have been thrown up in front of Antoing and Fontenoy (these were purely decorative in the game - a rule to make Antoing harder to assault was in effect but the Dutch never tested the defences of Antoing).

Beyond Antoing is Hameau de Guerone with lovely masses of French horse drawn up before it. This block of heavy metal gave the Allies some concern when they first saw the table.

At the top of the picture are the French first and second lines facing Cumberland and part of the British infantry can just be seen far top right.

At the very bottom of the picture is the Dutch first line and in the extreme lower left are the French 12pdrs placed across the Scheldt to enfilade any Dutch move on Antoing.

 

Still the 8am pre-action deployments, looking south west. Fontenoy is lower left, Antoing upper left. Fontenoy has been prepared for defence and is held by the four battalions of Dauphin (2 stands). The French centre is dominated by 18 6pdr guns and consists of (from right to left) la Garde Suisse, la Garde Francais (represented by a paired left and right wing), the Swiss regiment Courten and lastly regiment Audettere next to Fontenoy. Behind the first line is the second with 6 4pdrs on their left and then the regiments Royal de Vaisseaux, Hainault, Royale, Soissonais and Couronne, these five regiments being represented by four stands. Couronne was to have a busy day, and would acquit itself very gallantly.

The village of Hameau de Notre Dame is just visible upper right with some officers of the French high command astride the road leading south east from there (between Notre Dame and camera). Note the marshy ground behind the French cavalry reserve, a feature which would later cause them some problems.

 

The French left and reserve. This is the weak French wing. De Saxe had trusted to the Bois du Bary and his abbatis (just visible at the bottom of the picture - I used some commercial gabion models) to strength this flank - and he was right. In the foreground is Lutteaux's command consisting of Normandie and Royal Corsican (represented by two wings) plus the Irish brigade: Bulkeley, Dillon, Berwick, Lally, Rooth and Clare. These single battalion regiments are shown by a pair of stands. The Grassins were attached to this command and they are out of shot below the camera in the woods. Lutteaux himself is with these gentlemen and so his regular regiments started the game out of command.

At the top of the picture is the French left wing reserve of Comte de Lowenthal with three brigades of Garde cavalry in front, the Egmont dragoons at far right and the infantry regiments of Touraine, Nivernois and Auvergne with yet another 4pdr battery.

The buildings just visible right foreground are part of Gaurain which, along with it's sister village Ramecroix, actually ran all along this side of the battlefield, just off-table. A brown bit of wood (one of the tables supporting the game boards) is in view beside the cross roads where Egmont is posted. This brown area would all be built up.

Left centre is The Man Himself, Monsieur le Comte de Saxe with his cronies Clermont-Gallernade (general of infantry) and Clermont-Tonnerre (general of cavalry).

 

The Dutch arrayed for battle at 8am. Looking south-east from west of the Scheldt which runs in the immediate foreground (if you look closely you can just see the bonce of the French 12pdr battery commander). Antoing is on the left with part of Fontenoy just visible left background. Top left of the picture is Hameau de Fontenoy (with the church) and Hameau de Bourgeon (the rather grotty looking hut). Moving across the backround to the right you can see Mauberge to the left of the pond, with the larger village of Pierone (which was behind the Dutch left) in the immediate right foreground.

The Dutch first line runs right down the centre of the picture with their 24 3pdr guns drawn up before it. The much weaker second line is in rear and finally masses of cavalry at the back. We had to use a selection of Seven Years War Kreis, Brunswick and Hessian infantry for the Dutch as our club does not own a 1740s Dutch army (something I hope to rectify in the next year or so). Most of the cavalry is Austrian and Hanoverian, hence the red coats. Nearly all the command figures came from the SYW Austrian collection of Greg Robertson, which is why they are wearing white, not blue.

It is clear from this angle what a nasty place Antoing was to attack (both historically and in the VB&G rules). With a marshy river preventing it being outflanked, barricades to the front, redoubts covering it's far side and 12pdr guns firing point blank into the flank and rear of the only route to it, it's no wonder the Dutch never made it in the real battle. Our modern Cronstrom (yours truely) didn't contemplate it either but pulled back from this wing and reinforced the centre.

You can tell the Dutch infantry are not good troops by their wobbly line. That bloke on the extreme left of the nearest infantry regiment must be nervous - he can chat to the French 12pdr gunners without raising his voice.

Note also that we ran out of French infantry and the detached battalions of Bethens, Diesbach and Crillon holding the redoubts are in fact Austrians (someone with good eyesight is bound to email me saying why have they got yellow flags so I may as well come clean and tell you all now). The bribe must have worked as most of them ran away early in the battle.

I'm not sure what the strange aurora-borealis effect is in the sky above the woods - it might have been sunlight falling on some curtains but the French troops took it as a bad omen - and justifiably so.

 

Here are the British and Hanoverians, looking simply splendid in their serried ranks. This view looks south-east from behind the French lines. Fontenoy is in the lower right corner and the redoubt d'Eu with more Austrian stand-ins in residence is lower left. You can just see those naughty Grassins fellows skulking about among the trees. Le Comte de Glasco (Lutteaux) handled them very well.

At the left rear, by the pond, are Ingoldsby's men who turned out to be a mixed bunch under pressure, despite the bountiful artillery support you can see.

The first and second infantry lines are the British, also well supplied with artillery and the small Hanoverian brigade of two regiment stands (representing regiments Alt Zastrow, von Sporken, von Oberg and Campen's) is at the back with Vezon hard behind them. To their left is the British cavalry. Right at the back in the beer garden of Vezon's finest (and only) hostelry can be seen His Grace the Duke of Cumberland, Lt Gen Ligonier and the octogenarian Austrian Marshal Koenigsegg enjoying a hearty liquid breakfast. Konigsegg ostensibly was in command of the Hanoverian contingent but rumour has it that he never left the pub all day.

The only part of Cumberland's wing not visible here is the Hanoverian cavalry which is deployed beyond Hameau le Fontenoy out of camera to the right.

 

And so to battle. The Pragmatic Army high command had a cunning plan. They intended to put pressure through the Bois du Barry with Ingoldsby and try to hold the interest of as much of the French left in that direction as possible. The Dutch would make the main effort and take Fontenoy while refusing their left and not wasting effort against Antoing. The British would stand their ground and by their mere presence pin the French centre, preventing troops being moved to shore up their right where the Dutch would apply pressure. All the time the British artillery would play on the French centre and weaken it (I decided afterwards that this was historically incorrect and would do something to remedy this next time we fight the battle - see my 'What I Would Change Next Time' notes at the end). Once Fontenoy was cleared the Dutch cavalry would be unleashed into the French rear and the opportunity would be taken to support it with the British cavalry, the general aim being to make the enemy face two directions and hit him in any flank he left open. I'm not certain that the Pragmatic army's plan was as mature as the version I have given above but that was our general intent. They say that no plan survives first contact with the enemy. Well I'm here to tell you that that ain't so: the Allied plan pretty much went like clockwork.

As to the French plan, I'm not sure they had one. They clung onto their front line like it was the last lifeboat off the Titanic. This resulted in a pretty bloody first few moves as the Dutch were determined to shift them, and they were equally determined not to be shifted, but once Fontenoy fell the whole French position unravelled like a laddered stocking. The French team moved their reserves too little and too late to form a new front and in any case part of their second line had already been sucked into shoring up the first. They appear to have intended to support their left strongly and Lowenthal's reserve infantry went into the Bois du Barry and made a pretty good job of kicking Ingoldsby until he was black and blue but while this was a great success it didn't make an iota of difference to the carnage that overtook their right and centre.

This picture shows the action on the Allied 10am turn. In order to clear a way for the first assault on Fontenoy, Redoubt Bethens had to be cleared. Immediately at the opening of the battle, on their 8am turn, the Dutch stormed it with the Marinen Grenadiers van Dorrh supported by 12 3pdrs. These threw the Bethens battalion out in great style. The rest of Bethens did not counter but plyed the marines with volleys, which they survived. At 9am van Dorrh was withdrawn and Bethens took some punishment from the 3pdrs. The French mounted up the dragoons behind Crillon and launched an opportunist charge around Redoubt Crillon and cruched into the Dutch Gardes te Voet (in the Dutch left wing first line) which crumpled and went back in rout. The dragoons then withdrew, rather than make a pursuit move.

I had decided to make the three redoubts quite a tough little position. They were just far enough apart for a French unit to pass between them but close enough to prevent a Dutch unit going through without having to clear them first. This seemed all well and fair. They are a bit overscale as they had to be big enough to hold a VB&G skirmish stand, but this does not seem to have been a problem ground-scale or game-balance wise.

This 10am picture shows the French dragoons, mounted, have now moved east and are in position behind and between Bethens and Diesbach, ready to make another charge against the Dutch guns which they will do at 11.30. The Dutch regiments of Salis (Swiss) and Bentinck (Germans) are supporting the 3pdrs.

To the left the Dutch left flank second line infantry can be seen having inclined to their right and forwards. These are the regiments van Smissaert (Walloon), Branckhorst, Oranje-Groningen and Broekhuysen, all single battalion regiments which have been paired up into a command of two stands (the unit with the black eagle flag on white and the black and yellow striped flag - two of my Kreis regiments doing service as Dutch subsidy troops on the day). If you look carefully you can just see the right rear of the Dutch Zwitsersche Garde of the left wing first line, angled back to protect it's flank from 12pdr fire from across the Scheldt, keeping it's second eye covering the flank of the Dutch reserve 6pdrs which have just moved up and unlimbered, while keeping their third eye on those sneaky Piemont fellows in case they sally out of Antoing. The Gardes te Voet are off the picture just about vertically below the camera with an embarrassing red and yellow pair of rout markers on them... This part of my line (I was Cronstrom, commanding the Dutch infantry left) caused me a few headaches, especially when the French decided they were going to keep bouncing cavalry out from behind Redoubt Crillon into me (they did this three times if my memory serves me). I eventually placed a brigade of Dutch horse in the gap between the 6pdr battery (the yellow gun - very Austrian looking) and the Zwitsersche Garde only to have these fellows immediately take two hits from 12pdr fire. They made their saves but had to go back 12" (cavalry manouvre under fire rule). Throughout all this coming and going the Zwitsersche Garde held their ground without a care in the world - my kind of troops.

However, I digress. The main point of this picture is the first assault on Fontenoy by the Dutch right wing. In go the Converged Grenadiers (two stands), and Constant-Rebecque (Swiss). Regiment Sturler (Swiss) is well back in reserve (a bit of it is just visible far right foreground). In order for his attack to swing wide and hit Fontenoy from the south and east, Waldeck (Andy Green) had to undertake quite a bit of manouvreing, hence the two hour preparation for this assault. Beyond the Dutch the buff flag of a British regiment supports the attack with a charge of their own. My order of battle says this should be the Green Howards but the flag is the wrong colour - His Grace Duke Garton (of Albemarle) must have made a few changes to his order of deployment which from my position on the other side of the Allied line I didn't notice.

Anyway, this charge went in in fine style...and was hurled straight back with light losses, despite supporting fire from Albermarle's howitzer battery. Jeers of "Go home Eeeenglish types", etc rang in Howards ears as his men fell back in good order.

The mass of Dutch guns - the 6 6pdrs of the reserve and 12 3pdrs - are playing upon Redoubt Diesbach and the French guns in the centre of their right wing. Pre-Professional Artillery in the rules makes you have to develop your attacks slowly and carefully but eventually I was able to clear the Diesbach battalion out of their earthworks and eliminate the guns but it did take me about 2 hours.

The final event worth mentioning here is in the far background where Lowenthal has moved his infantry reserve forwards and the Irish brigade has closed up to the abbatis. Ingoldsby's men can just be made out behind the rather sparse tree making their first try on Reboubt Chambon, Ingoldsby himself being well back in the trees no doubt snorting vast quantities of snuff - or some other dubious substance. He's the command stand with the light coloured un-flocked base (really Andy - playing with an army with unflocked bases - tsk, tsk...). The Austrian Frei Kompanies seem to have gone off in search of rabbits.

 

11am. An hour after being so rudely told to clear off on their first try, the Dutch are back and this time they break into Fontenoy. You can see them in residence wearing yellow disorder markers as they break formation entering the streets. To the right the French main first line guns slog it out with their British counterparts.

Regiment Bethens made a countercharge at 10:30 and smacked into the Dutch right wing guns, eliminating one and disordering the second (you can see it left centre foreground, having pivoted and wearing a yellow disorder marker). Salis and Bentinck have gone stationary. Bethens was then attacked in turn by my regiment Oranje-Groningen/Broekhuysen and thrown back over Redoubt Bethens. The ding-dong fight here was very entertaining: having the break in the Dutch infantry between right (Andy Green) and left (me) led to some interesting command confusion while Phil 'Fatwallet' Hamer wearing his Motagne hat commanding the French right, gave us a good run for our money despite his having only played a handful of VB&G games.

Bethens has fallen back in disorder facing Fontenoy, having been pushed ahead of the mangled remains of Dauphin in front of them (lesson: plan your attack sequences well). Behind them the French begin to tweak their right wing reserves: regiment Couronne has wheeled to face right and de Saxe is exercising his cavalry - brigade Berry/Noailles has come forward behind Crillon, infantry regiment Biron has appeared out from behind Antoing and soon Noailles horse will charge my Swiss Guards again. Things must be getting interesting for the French high command as le Duc de Clermont-Tonnerre has finished drinking his breakfast and wandered over to personally supervise the deployment of Herouville's third cavalry line (he's the double figure command stand in front of Hameau le Guerone - the white walled, red roofed farmhouse). See that marsh behind him? - watch that carefully, Herouville will crash test his cavalry in it later.

Two other things to note - the French guns beside Redoubt Diesbach have finally called it a day and gone off for an early bath and on the other flank you can just make out - extreme right rear of the picture - the Irish brigade have climbed over their abbatis and waded into the Bois du Bary in search of some Black Watch to do bayonet practice on.

The British infantry have nothing to do except practice headers with French cannon balls.

 

The Bois du Bary at 11 o'clock. Ingoldsby's chaps wade through the undergrowth with the Indestructible Grassins giving ground before them. One Grassins battalion has drawn back behind the Irish and volleys rattle out from Redoubt Chambon. In the immediate foreground are the Austrian Frei Kompanies - not sure who they are fighting, I think they are off to do their shopping in Gaurain.

Shortly Ingoldsby's men (42nd Foot (Semphill's [Black Watch])/von Borschlangers Hanoverians and 12th/13th Foot (Duroure's/Pulteney's) will reach the edge of the trees, see the seried ranks of Irishmen and Normandie behind their abbatis and suddenly remember they have an urgent appointment back in Vezon. I think I have this picture out of sequence with the preceding one - the Irish are back behind their works which does not seem right.

 

An eerie quiet falls over the French right. There is a lull in the fighting while the Dutch gather their wits for the next push and the French look around and count who's still standing. Everyone seems in awe after the mayhem of the preceding hour: the French dragoons charged around Redoubt Bethens and struck Oranje-Groningen/Broekhuysen. My boys rolled a 5 and went disordered and a serious set back in the Dutch timetable loomed. Then Phil Hamer rolled a 6 for the dragoon's morale, they failed to hit, my men failed to hit but my supporting 3 pdrs got in a good shot - and the French dragoons routed back, dispersing and taking some Swiss with them. All of a sudden the French right was torn wide open. The odds were seriously in favour of Royaux and Mestre de Camp in this charge but the Cruel Dice of Chaos went against the French - and not for the last time in this battle.

Now it's 12.30 and the French Gardes Francais have just made a superb counterattack and retaken Fontenoy. You can just see them back manning their barricades behind the tower. Part of Dauphin went into the attack with them but as they were down to their last strength point they did not survive the assault. The disjointed French defence is revealed here - they really should have decided if they meant to hold Fontenoy or not - and if they did they should have had fresh regiments ready to retake it rather than using up already weakened ones. Now the poor Garde Francais are on their own with no-one around to help them.

The good news for the Garde is that their counterattack sent the Dutch right wing second line into exhaustion, and what's left of them has gone off out of view to Hameau de Bourgeon to the right.

In the foreground the Dutch grand battery has done it's work, limbered and drawn to the rear preparatory to going forward again when they are next needed. Their place has been taken by the first of many cavalry brigades (I think that's the left wing of brigade Coenders). The Dutch cavalry commander, the Prince of Hessen-Philipsthal keeps a sharp eye on their deployment (the white coated officer paired up with the blue and red clad adc). If your eyesight is really good you can see him hastily scribbling a despatch to Coenders pointing out that his brigade can charge between the redoubts and slam into the French guns which have their flank completely in the air...in fact if you put your ear to your monitor you can probably hear him slavering in anticipation of the slaughter soon to be visited upon the hapless gunners.

A really bizarre move has developed in the distance. The Colonel-General brigade has charged out from the first French cavalry line and struck the British Guards beside the wood. Colonel-General has gone off completely unsupported so I'm unclear why this happened. Pretty soon de Saxe will need every horseman he can spare to face the Dutch mounted onslaught.

Although it's far distant you might be able to make out Lowenthal's infantry which have gone into the Bois du Bary and far right the Hanoverian brigade has wheeled to it's right and moved off to shore up the collapsing troops of Ingoldsby. The British foot continues to look almost nonchalant: "'Ere Bert, wasn't there supposed to be some battle today?" "Dunno Bill. Mind you I never knew we 'ad cavalry wot smelled of garlic."

Right at the extreme top of the picture the Irish brigade is in rout (the scattering of red and yellow markers). I have no idea what happened here - the Bois du Bary combat was a battle within a battle and I had little time to pay attention to it.

Looking at those naked redoubts, it's times like this that I wish I had some casualty figures to scatter around.

Left centre sees Diesbach pulled back to form a new line, with Herouville's cavalry hovering behind them.

 

A view from behind the British taken at about the same time. The British cavalry are restless, the horses stamp the ground and couriers gallop hither and thither delivering preparatory orders. The men just have time for a quick clay pipe for lunch - they have a busy afternoon's jolly topping good fun ahead of them.

 

If you go down to the woods today...Ingoldsby under pressure. About half past one. Led by the +2 Grassins of Invincibility (Jeff Glasco really did a wonderful job with these guys), Normandie pushes on through the trees. The roof tops of Vezon beckon...Ingoldsby is back to his start line and the Hanoverians have been committed to shore up his crumbling line. Even the Arquebusiers du Grassins Hussars have their moment of immortality captured on film.

Extreme foreground, just disappearing in the direction of Mons are the Irish. I don't believe these gents ever rallied since the French infantry general, Clermont-Gallernade, was a bit busy by now in the middle of the battlefield.

 

About 2 o'clock. This is it! The beginning of the end. The Dutch hurl in their first cavalry line. Brigade Coenders has hit the flank of Audettere and these poor fellows have been charged in front by the British Guards horse brigade (3/Horse Gds, 4/(Scots)Horse Gds, 2/Horse Grenadier Gds, Royal Horse Gds[Blues]). The Austrian Karoyli hussars lend a hand by screening the French guns.

Centre foreground sees the other half of Coenders scrunch through Diesbach, then conduct a breakthrough move against Couronne (the Dutch cavalry have taken a red disorder for the pursuit charge), Diesbach are no longer available for comment.

Behind Coenders the Austrian de Ligne dragoons charge between Redoubts Diesbach and Crillon and strike Crillon's main line. Crillon have just rolled another 6. Audettere look none too happy either. Montagne is the division command stand behind Crillon - his wing has gone exhausted. I think that's the remnant of Dauphin far left foreground.

The Dutch infantry begin their follow up across the redoubts. Centre right background the Hanoverian cavalry is on the move, coming around Fontenoy to exploit any Dutch success. The Garde Francais surrounded in the village, bravely face another attack, this time by the 25th/33rd Foot (Earl of Rothes'/Johnson's) and the 19th Foot (the Green Howards) who have a score to settle.

Left middle ground the Colonel-General have withdrawn behind their infantry again.

The Bois du Bary fight goes on...and on. But a key element in the Allied success is that Lowenthal's infantry have all been sucked into this fight - the French have no reserves of infantry left. Even their second line, which should by now be in some sort of back up position, is still facing the British with it's flank exposed to the Dutch.

 

The Empire Strikes Back. Two-thirty p.m. and the first French cavalry counter-charge is launched. Colonel-General has charged the Guard cavalry in the flank and Coenders has pivoted to face north and been charged by elements of the second French cavalry line (possibly Royal Cravattes and de Fiennes, or maybe it's Fitzjames and Clermont-Prince - by this time I was too busy to make detailed notes of exactly who was doing what to whom). To the right Herouville's boys (Penthievre and Pons; Brionne, Chabrillont and Royal Etranger) cross swords with de Ligne. The French went bonkers at this point and somebody (God knows who) has gone right through and hit the Dutch infantry near Redoubt Diesbach.

Looking like rabbits in a car's headlights, Couronne of the right wing of the second line stand meekly in the middle of it all, thundering cavalry wheeling all about them and swords flashing to right and left. But these chaps did a fine job of seeing off the right wing of Coender's brigade which didn't survive it's breakthrough charge against them. Heaven knows what the civilian drivers of the battery next to them are thinking.

Right middle ground you can see two of the French first line 6 pdr batteries limbered up and trying to make it to their new second line which hardly seems to exist.

As you can see the French infantry centre is all but gone - the British Guard cavalry and Coenders' make a pretty mean Audettere puree. The Swiss regiment Courten runs away toward the bottom right of the picture. Fontenoy has changed hands for the third and last time, the gallant Garde Francais dying where they stood.

At the top of the picture more Dutch cavalry awaits it's turn to go in. If you look carefully no less than three fresh brigades are waiting to be committed, plus the two Hanoverian brigades.

Right at the very top of the picture you can just make out the refused flank of the Dutch infantry left wing - I think this is the only time I caught it on film. They never moved all day. Across the Scheldt the French 12 pdrs continue to lob shots across. Next to them is a pile of sad French dice throws.

Bottom right the French reserve cavalry line including the Carabiniers, Gendarmes and Mousquetiers stands poised for action. They won't have long to wait.

 

Around three o'clock. This is looking due north with Fontenoy in the middle, Hameau de Fontenoy centre foreground and the red roof of Hameau de Guerone left background. The first French cavalry counter-attack has been driven off. They really had dreadful luck with their dice, failing to win a single melee, even the one against non-stationary infantry at the redoubts. On the British flank the second line of British cavalry (3rd (King's Own) Dgns, 6th (Enniskilling) Dgns, 7th (Queen's) Dgns) and 1st (King's) Dgn Gds, 7th (Ligonier's) Dgn Gds, have charged poor retreating Courten up the backside and struck la Garde Suisse in the flank. The victors in Fontenoy have wheeled right and deployed just outside the village, preparatory to rolling up the remnants of the French centre. The Guards cavalry and Karolyi have gone through and hit the flank of the battery that was beside Couronne. On the right middle ground of the picture the British infantry are at last on the move, wheeling right to attack Redoubt d'Eu or clear the Bois du Bary, as required. Lots of guns have limbered up to move forward in support. The final British cavalry reserve can be seen extreme right - the Royal North British Dragoons and 1st Dragoons (Royals).

On the left the Dutch infantry have shaken themselves out after their encounter with that maverick French horse brigade and resume their cautious advance over Redoubt Bethens.

Left background, the second line of Dutch cavalry has entered the fray. Brigade Schagen (Horse Regts Garde-Dragoner, Carabiniers, Nassau-Overkirk, Hop, Sandonville, Buys) charged Couronne which failed to stand this time and routed on contact - Schagen then broke through and collided with the 12 limbered 6 pdrs giving them short shrift. Brigade Oyen (Horse Regts Rechteren-Overijssel, Ginken, Schaek, Lynden) has launched themselves at poor old Dauphin again in front of Hameau de Guerone. The last active part of brigade Coenders has advanced from north of Fontenoy and struck Biron in the back as they tried to fall back from behind Antoing. Beyond Coenders you can see Herouville's horse struggling in the marsh where they went after they bounced off the de Ligne dragoons. It was at this point that Andy Green uttered the immortal line "They'll be sucked to death", at which point some wag replied "I can think of a lot worse ways to go."

The French still have a good supply of fresh cavalry, but little room to employ it.

A few minutes after this photograph was taken the British and Dutch cavalry won all their melees. Lady Luck shone on the Pragmatic army this day and no mistake.

 

The French 3.30p.m. turn. The Dutch cavalry have cleaned up in the centre, Biron also finding out what its like being sucked to death in the marsh. The French Gendarmes and Carabiniers now make one final desparate charge against the British horse and dragoons. At last, these charges will finally stop the Allies. De Saxe keeps one last cavalry line as reserve near Hameau de Notre Dame, although it was committed just after this photo was taken.

In the distance the broken Irish still mill around near Gaurain.

 

Four o'clock. On the left the Dutch infantry deploy and begin to move toward the river road that leads to Tournai. 18 guns have deployed at short range and begun a bombardment of Antoing.

The Dutch cavalry keeps up the pressure in the centre where in the middle rear ground the last unbroken part of the French second infantry line has formed a square. These poor fellows don't have a very enviable position.

At the top of the picture the British heavies have gone through and hit the Gendarmes again while Karolyi skirmishes in front of the du Roi cavalry brigade.

And *still* in the Bois du Bary, Lutteaux and Lowenthal continue to push forward, having now brought a battery to the edge of the woods. For some reason a French cavalry brigade has again gone down into this area and is being meleed by the British dragoons.

The Allies still have the Hanoverian cavalry uncommitted and these are moving up past the west side of Fontenoy to exploit.

In this fifth major round of cavalry exchanges the Allies at last came off worst and their forward momentum was finally stalled.

 

Half past four or thereabouts. Actually I think this picture is taken at the conclusion of the Allied 4 o'clock turn before the French responded. In the foreground a Dutch horse brigade - probably Oyen - has recoiled and a French brigade covers their second line infantry square. A yellow marker on the British cavalry in the centre at last indicates the Allies are running out of steam, although the French horse that were mixing it with the British infantry has been seen off. It was last seen racing the Irish to Gaurain.

At this point de Saxe conceded the battle.

It was clear that there was nothing in the centre to stop the Dutch infantry. Antoing would have to be abandoned now or it's garrison be surrounded and captured, the British infantry were advancing in earnest and the Hanoverian cavalry were still fresh to face off the remaining French cavalry, only one command of which wasn't exhausted. part of the Dutch cavalry still had some fight in them. Lutteaux and Lowenthal had done splendidly but all their fine efforts had been in vain as they had to fall back or be trapped in the Bois du Bary.

During the late afternoon the French retired on Tournai and that night the siege was lifted and de Saxe retired to the left bank of the Scheldt. Early in the morning of the 12th May, Cumberland entered the fortress and saved the city.

All the players agreed it had been a hard fought and very enjoyable game. I see no reason to think the scenario is not properly balanced, since the cavalry fights could have gone either way. Had the French come off best in the first two rounds then the Dutch and British infantry would probably have been completely unable to break into the French position.

Photos of the Players

 

The French team, looking very pleased with themselves even in defeat. From left to right: Andy Hill (Lowenthal [reserve]), Jeff Glasco (Lutteaux [left wing]), Greg Robertson (kneeling, Chabannes/Vauguyon [centre/Fontenoy]), Tony Villanova (Marechal de Saxe [main cavalry commands]), Phil Hamer (Montagne/La Marck [right/Antoing]). I'm not sure what's the matter with Greg - maybe the sunlight through the windows is making him squint or perhaps he's just sat on an abbatis.

 

The Pragmatic Army commanders, looking even more pleased with themselves. Left to right: Phil Garton (Ligonier [British First and Second Lines/Hanoverian cavalry]), Fergus Johnston (Cumberland [Ingoldsby/Hanoverian infantry/British cavalry]), Martin Soilleux-Cardwell (Cronstrom [Dutch left wing infantry/cavalry reserve]) and Andy Green (Prince Waldeck [Dutch right wing infantry/first and second cavalry lines]). Part of Jeff Glasco's supply trayne can be seen behind the trees in the foreground.

 

What I Would Change Next Time

While I don't think there is anything inherently broken with the scenario there are a few things I would change:

1.    Troops and space. I found both the British and Dutch wings a little *too* cramped. In fact the orbat given at the beginning of this article was amended on the day to take away one British infantry stand from each of the first two lines and one Dutch stand from the right wing first and second lines. The lost strength points then being evenly distributed among the remaining stands.

2.    Artillery Training. We played the game with Pre-Professional Artillery in all cases (civilian contractor drivers for the limbers and caissons), as opposed to just Poorly-Trained artillery as given in the orbats. This is more correct for the period.

3.    Numbers of guns. The French have far more battery pieces converted to battalion gun equivalents than the Allies and I think to be fair one ought to delete two batteries off the Dutch first line, one from each of the left and right wings and give all their infantry in the first line Battalion Guns. There is a historical basis for this as Waldeck's own account mentions pairs of 3 pdrs in action in the intervals between some of the regiments. We found the five batteries (30 guns) facing the French guns in the redoubts plus Fontenoy plus their single battery (24 guns) was too unequal. As the difference is only 6 pieces I think the two sides should be more balanced.

4.    The ridge. The main French centre position was in dead ground from the British lines and it was only as the Guards breasted the slope that they found themselves facing the Garde Francais at about 200 yards distance. In our game we had no such obstacle to charges or line of sight and consequently the French were at a disadvantage from the British cavalry being able to charge them which I think was incorrect. I think there should be an obstacle of some sort, not a hill contour perhaps, but just a long brown mark running from the Bois du Bary 200 yards in front of Redoubt d'Eu right across to the eastern corner of Fontenoy. The rule being that no-one can draw a Line of Sight across this false crest.

5.    French redoubt guns. These did not quite seem powerful enough. I called them battalion guns and so each skirmish stand in the works rolled 2 dice instead of 1. However each work had about 4 guns - twice as many as is usually represented by the battalion gun rule, plus they would be well sited in works with a well chosen clear line of fire. In a refight I would think seriously about giving each French redoubt 2 dice as battalion guns. Note that these may only be used while the French occupy the redoubts: if they leave them the guns are abandoned and they no longer get the extra dice. If they return and the Allies have not been in the redoubt in the interim, then the guns may be re-crewed.

And Finally... 

 

It's YooooooHooooooo! Corporal Bert Smeggs wins the lottery. Tragically three hours later he was turned into a human pizza by four Colonel-General horses. This picture is useful for showing the size of the 15mil figures on full sized VB&G bases. The French army was mine and was mainly old Minifigs with just a scattering of Freikorps and one regiment made up of very old Essex 'dwarves'. The British army was from Andy Green's collection and is about 80% Freikorps with a few Minifigs. The Dutch were a mixture of Andy Green's Hessians and Brunswickers (Freikorps and Essex) and my Kreis (Freikorps). Andy Green supplied a couple of Hanoverian cavalry brigades for the Dutch while Greg Robertson supplied the rest of the Dutch cavalry and generals from his SYW Austrian collection (again mostly Freikorps).

Martin Soilleux-Cardwell

 


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