Umpires - PW and Tim Gow
Combat photographer - Bob Cordery
Schwarzenberg - Brian Carrick
Blucher - Russell King
Bernadotte - Conrad Kinch
Barclay de Tolly - Mike Snape
Wittgenstein - Jack Wright
There will be other blog posts about this epic encounter together with some rather better quality photographs of the fun but I wanted to write about the game from a rather more personal perspective.
I was supposed to attend a similar event at the same location and dramatis personae back in 2015 when a refight of Waterloo to coincide with the bicentenary was undertaken but sadly had to pull out at a late stage. I was taking no chances on missing out this time though and so it was I took part in a game that has made me look long and hard at pretty much everything I thought I knew about wargaming and how to fight battles with model soldiers.
The battle itself took place over some 5 hours of game time and started on the second day of the actual battle. This meant that the allies were in contact with the far flung French outlying forces almost from the outset. The French plan was simple - wait until they were rolled over and then retreat with what was left. It succeeded rather too well and at the conclusion the baggage train and the imperial staff were last seen heading towards Dresden and a single unit of cavalry and perhaps some of the guard possibly following.
In truth the French lost faster than the Allies won and at times one was almost reminded of the old arcade game Space Invaders.
The game had everything - high drama, massed cavalry battles, furious melees and some very random shooting. Normal artillery was handled using the time honoured matchstick firing model - in this case a 25pdr - whilst for canister rounds good use was made of party poppers - which was enormous fun for all concerned!
My own role as the Emperor during the early stages of the battle was merely to sit on my hands in Leipzig brooding magnificently, ideally with a Rod Steiger like vacant scowl. I also make a point of quoting every line I could remember from the film Waterloo or attributed to Boney himself - sometimes the comments were even appropriate. For example, in response to a written message from Ney asking whether or not he could engage the approaching Austrians was responded to with the following missive "Engage. The salvation of France is at stake". I like to think of it as method wargaming....
Special mention should be made of the tussle between the Guard and the Swedes. Despite being outnumbered the Guard fully lived up to their reputation and significantly out shot their doughty opponents. Perhaps mindful of his political position Bernadotte (Conrad Kinch) tried not to cause too much damage to the French although the Guard had no such qualms when firing back....
The sole British unit - the Rocket Troop, assembled by Tim Gow - fell victim to an overshot French artillery barrage - the round in question completely missed the intended targets but such is the way of Little Wars errant artillery....
Camaraderie, good natured banter, lots of figures, good weather, great umpiring, beers, sandwiches, tea and scones and the chance to recreate in some small way a piece of history - what is not to like? Indeed, plans are afoot to conduct another game at some point next year and I only hope that I will be able to participate.
For my own part one of things that came out of the affair was they 54mm figures - even with a simple, flat paint job (old school style) - look quite splendid when deployed for action. Now I am not saying that I will be going full on Little Wars but using a modest number of figures on a 6ft by 4ft table, probably gridded a la Cordery/Morschauser, would certainly look the part.
Much to think about I assure but in the meantime a big thank you to Tim and PW for making it possible and all of the cast and crew - especially my two long suffering subordinates - for making the whole day a memorable adventure.