Waterloo game demo at Horsham Museum

23rd May 2015.  As part of their “100 days” exhibition and tied in with the French Market in Horsham, England, the museum invited the 45eme Regiment de Ligne reenactment group to put on displays.

My own contribution was acparticipation game of the Battle of Waterloo.  While I had many interested visitors during the day, including some gamers, nobody took up the offer to take the rôle of Wellington for a turn.   


As you can see the battle is reduced to the size of a card table.  6mm figures are used on a gridded table.  A full strength unit occupying one grid square is 4 x 18 infantry, 4 x 8 cavalry or 2 guns with 3 crew each.

For Waterloo the squares were 1/4 mile (400m) across and each figure represented 100 men (1gun:25 pieces).

I, as Napoleon, tried to copy the original battle action, but it soon went awry.  Wellington lost half his artillery in the first hour.  Hougoumont fell at around 1:00 pm.  An entire division was wasted trying to get into la Haie Sainte.  The Allied heavy cavalry charged d’Erlon before he had moved and then d’Erlon attacked and we had the spectacle of the Union Brigade attacking French squares on the Allied ridge on their way back.

Napoleon failed to make any progress on the right or centre, but did get a brigade of cavalry to the north edge of the board on his left.  Mont St Jean was still strongly held, and the other strong points held by the allies, but the centre of the ridge was bare when dusk fell.

Blücher never arrived, and the Imperial Guard never budged.

Casualties were 32,000 allies and 33.400 French.

The Eagle in the picture is that of the 45eme – a copy of the one the Scots Greys stole at Waterloo.  This one is scripted to be taken again four weeks from now.

Not much gaming as Waterloo looms

It seems a long time since I had anything to post.  On the wargaming front the Peninsular War e-mail campaign progresses slowly as more forces begin to find and engage the enemy.  It will be two more wargame days before I can post a “one month in arrears” update.

I have been making some tweeks to my Napoleonic “in period” display game, requiring some new models to be painted.  The problem was the infantry squares.  I am using Irregular Miniatures 6mm models and there is very little definition on the infantry square castings, and from what I can see it appears that many of the men are carrying a blanket roll or greatcoat above a non-existent backpack, as the crossed belts are visible  on their backs. I compromised and painted some with crossed belts and others with packs.

There is plenty of action on the reenactment front, particularly in preparation for the Waterloo 200th anniversary.  I have switched armies for this one and am eagerly awaiting some very expensive uniform items.

For my camping I designed an extended tent built from two ordinary soldiers’ tents side by side, with one of them rigged as an awning to be used as a day tent. (I am a Major, so I claim I can have two tents).  It worked fine in the garden with no rain and little wind.  First time out in a gale I added guy ropes to brace it.  Overnight the wind reversed direction and we had a downpour. The resulting weight of the rooftop swimming pool threatened to pull the whole structure down!

I have reverted to the original plan of using my bell tent and have loaned my soldiers’ tents to my French friends.  This will no doubt incur the displeasure of the camp organisers because camping in the garden at Hougoumont will be somewhat “cosy”, given the numbers and the available space.  Single occupancy bell tents are apparently frowned upon by the General Staff in their well-appointed marquees.

It appears that we will be displaying a white canvas tent city at Waterloo for the benefit of the expected 20,000 visitors per day, despite the fact that it never existed.  On the other hand, if at my age I will be living in a muddy field for a week under public scrutiny I intend to be as comfortable as possible whilst staying “in period”.  What we should be showing is officers cramming into peasant houses and the soggy soldiery making do in the field, but historical accuracy in reenactment will always come second to modern comforts.

I am told that I am a Supernumery Officer, so can I have a special cape and wear my underpants outside my overalls?