You may have noticed there has been changes to the Orbats. I had been playing around with the Command and Control system and eventually settled on a version of that contained within Sam Mustafa's Grande Armee rules. More details here Command & Control. The Orbats no longer contain 'Orders' and have been replace with CD's (Command Dice or Pips). On to the battle -
The night before the battle:
To the west, Marcognet continues to follow Col Best as he retreats along the coast road. Ahead of Grouchy, the Prince of Orange has made a stand at he village of Appleace. The Dutch/Belgians and Hanoverians are in position with the Duke of Brunswick advancing onto the battlefield at the rear. Although the allies have the numerical advantage the French have the edge in quality.
THE BATTLE OF APPLEACE
French v Dutch/Belgians, Hanoverians & Brunswickers
Total French 845
Total Allies 1077
CinC The Prince of Orange
Scale = 6mm (Baccus)
11th March 1808
Start time 0900 (max 32 moves)
ORDER OF BATTLE
Each square = 2'3"
4'6" x 3'9" table
Allies defending 9B9 - 14 - 19
French attacking from south
From top left:
9B10 - Firm heathland
9B15 - Rough broken terrain, high peaked hills, farm with a few stone wall enclosures, rough roads.
9B20 - Broken terrain
9B9 - Broken terrain, high peaked mountain, rivers rapid deep cuttings
9B14 - Flat grassland, grassy hill, village of Appleace with fruit market and stores
9B19 - Firm grazing land, broken and rocky high peaked hill
9B8 - Firm grazing land
9B13 - Firm grazing land, hedgerows, fences, Inn
9B18 - Broken terrain
Bylandt deployed his enlarged brigade in the village of Appleace with 2 battalions thrown out to the right. The entire Hanoverian contingent was responsible for defending the open ground between Appleace and the rocky hill on the left flank. The cavalry was held in reserve and at this time the Brunswickers were approaching the rear of the allied position.
For Grouchy the path north into central Holland lay ahead of him through a rocky valley. He planned to use the whole of the 1st and 2nd Divisions supported by the 4th Cavalry Corps as a battering ram against the Hanoverians. They were to drive straight for the north road and all being well trapping the Dutch/Belgians in Appleace. Brue's Brigade, all the artillery and the 1st Cavalry Division were to pin the allied right in and around Appleace.
Kielmansegge was in command of the Hanoverians. He was deeply concerned over the Prince of Orange's decision to engage Grouchy before the arrival of the Prussians. Almost 2/3 of his command were conscripts and he would have preferred them to gain more experience before playing a central role in a battle. The Prince of Orange dismissed his concerns believing him to be overly cautious following the loss of Hanover.
Kielmansegge became even more concerned when on the dawn of the 11th March he saw the French force arrayed before him. He placed his own regular brigade across almost his entire front with the 2 conscript brigades in column formation to their rear. The one Landwehr battalion that was showing promise, the Quackenbrook, also deployed on front line to the left of the Field battalions. Estorff's Hussars provided further support to the rear, and the Dutch/Belgian heavy cavalry brigade were nearby to their right. He hoped to disrupt the French columns with a combination of firepower from his 2 artillery batteries and volleys from his field and light battalions.
The Duke of Brunswick arrives in the nick of time leading his combined Division.
Bylandt's Brigade makes ready in Appleace.
The French 'Battering Ram'.
The French left flank prepares to engage Bylandt's troops.
The menacing spectacle of the Cuirassiers.
The main French attack moves off as the artillery begin bombarding Appleace.
The Hanoverian artillery inflicted minimum casualties on the advancing columns now moves out of harms way.
The opening volleys on the French columns prove highly effective resulting in almost all battalions faltering or retreating. The Dutch/Belgians join in firing from behind walls and in buildings. Not all was good news for the allies though as a Dutch artillery battery runs low on ammo as it engages in counter battery fire.
Cracks start to show in the Hanoverian line as the 2 battalions of the 51st Line in Aurlard's Brigade along with a battery of horse artillery destroy a Hanoverian artillery battery. This exposes the Hanvoerian left flank.
As the 51st Line continue to work away at the Hanoverians, the rest of the 2 divisions reform and prepare for another charge.
The view from Grouchy's position.
While the Hanoverian Field Battalions were doing a commendable job in holding off the French, the Quackenbrook Landwehr were crushed under the might of the entire French 2nd Division whose columns then surged through the gap. The routing Quackenbrook unnerved their conscript colleagues to the rear who either retreated or routed.
View from the rear of the main French assault.
On the opposite flank Brue's Brigade waits patiently while the artillery continues to wear down the defenders of Appleace and the Dutch/Belgian artillery. They are under strict instructions not to enter the inn!
The Dutch/Belgians endure the pounding while the units on the east side of the village exchange fire with French battalions.
The Brunswickers to the left have deployed to provide a reserve.
View of the rear of the allied lines as the French 2nd Division break through the Hanoverians.
Appleace almost looks peaceful from this angle!
Through a Herculean effort, Vincke held his brigade steady as Halkett's streamed past. He wheeled his columns and launched them into the French. Halkett was now making progress in rallying some of his units with the Bremervorde being the first to confront the French.
Desperate fights break out as the Hanoverians try and hold the line.
A gap opens in the French line as the 1st Division repeatedly fails to get to grips with the Hanoverian Field Battalions. Milhaud sees his chance. Just what they were waiting for. He sends the 13th Cavalry Division forward but due to restrictions in space there was only sufficient to get one regiment of cavalry through at a time to avoid trampling their own infantry. Travers, at the head of the 12th Cuirassiers notices that the Hanoverians have not seen the threat. They are fixated on holding steady in the face of French columns. Waving his sword in the air he signals for the charge to be sounded. As the trumpeter signals the charge the 12th Cuirassier followed by the 7th Cuirassiers thunder through the gap. It is too late for the York Field battalion to change formation. They fire off a volley and unhorse several riders but it has no effect on the French heavy cavalry. They slam into the Hanoverians and in seconds turn their well-ordered line into a charnel house. Kielmansegge orders the Grubenhagen Light Battalion into square fearing the worst. Although the York battalion has been destroyed, he breathes a sigh of relief as the Cuirassiers are incapable of continuing. Their horses are blown and they retire to reform.
For Kielmansegge's own brigade, the situation was becoming ever more desperate. A combination of attacks by the French 1st Division and Cuirassiers were gradually destroying his force. Caught between the need to form square against the cavalry and line against the infantry, he knew it would only be a matter of time before the French broke through.
Aulard's Brigade once again broke through the Hanoverian Landwehr. Seeing the gap open up, the idiot Estorff for once acted on his own initiative and ordered his Hussars (bottom right) to charge the French columns. They were not in square although they were in column being a better defensive formation than a line against cavalry, but surely those prettified Hanoverian cavalry would carve them up. It was a glorious sight as the Hussars flamboyantly waving their sabres struck the French infantry. They then ran away. Gone. Never to be seen again, or at least that day they would not. Estorff was last seen riding off into the distance shouting at his men to please come back!
Over on the French left, it has started to hot up. Quite literally as the French artillery had set fire to a house on the outskirts of the village. With the Dutch/Belgian artillery largely neutralised, and 2 French batteries running low on ammo, Jacquinot decided to start applying pressure using his cavalry. Supported by horse artillery, Bruno's brigade moved towards the Dutch/Belgian battalions holding their right flank. As they formed square the horse artillery opened up on them. To counter this threat, both Dutch/Belgian light cavalry brigades moved up to the front of their right flank.
Estorff's cavalry charge was not entirely fruitless. It bought Halkett valuable time in reforming his shaky brigade (bottom right in last photo). Unlike the Hussars, the two conscript brigades of Vincke and Halkett were still on the field and formed. Kielmansegge's brigade was looking increasingly battered (in fields in photo). It had borne most of the fighting and resisted commendably well. How much longer they were likely to last was unknown. Vincke's columns continued to do their best to counter the French (middle of photo).
Then the unthinkable happened. A combination of charges by Vincke's and Halkett's brigades (top middle and top right) routed the 2/51st Line and caused others to retreat. They had thrown the French 2nd Division into disarray. The green micro dice indicate those units that have to make a morale test in the morale phase and the blue micro dice indicates a Brigade morale test.
A note regarding the counters. These relate to command and control pips each Divisional and Corps commander possesses which they allocate to their brigade commanders. I have since used off-table trays to house these to reduce clutter on the tabletop.
To the left of Vincke's columns, the 7th Cuirassiers charge Grubenhagen Light infantry's square.
All in the same move the artillery battery (bottom middle) opens fire on the nearest Landwehr column in Vincke's brigade. They are unable to use canister due to the close proximity of friendly troops but nevertheless they inflict severe casualties (red micro dice indicates morale test required as a result of casualties inflicted in fire phase). Far more serious for Kielmansegge is the 7th Cuirassiers melee with the Grubenhagen square. They succeed in breaking the square virtually destroying the battalion. In the subsequent pursuit test the result was an uncontrolled pursuit of the remnants of the defeated battalion. This occurs in the compulsory move phase in the next turn.
On the opposite flank the cavalry v cavalry combat intensifies.
Back to the main action and the Hanoverian elation at their success proved to be very short lived. The destruction of the square was the final straw for Kielmansegge's few remaining troops and they fell back in disorder. For Vincke's brigade it was even worse as one battalion after another took fright and routed. With the Grubenhagen Light infantry having been scattered to the four winds, the pursuing 7th Cuirassiers crashed into the routing Gifhorn Landwehr battalion of Vincke's brigade. The inevitable slaughter took place after which the 7th Cuirassiers horses were blown. They were fully in front of the Dutch 3rd Carabiniers and at their mercy. Did the Dutch take advantage of this gift?
NEXT - PART 2