Sunday 7 June 2020

Nap Campaign: Battle of the Tourane Peninsular (Holland)

The situation at nightfall on 28th March 1808:

The Dutch commander, Chasse, decided to make a stand holding a narrow peninsular. In so doing he hoped to draw off some of the French from their main army to relieve some of the pressure on the allied forces defending Holland. It was a high risk gamble that could lead to his annihilation but he hoped that channelling the French into a narrow strip of land would enable him to destroy their columns in the manner of the British lines.

D'Erlon with 2 infantry and 1 cavalry division seeks to eliminate this long standing flanking threat once and for all including that infernal Col Best!

Continued - 

The Battle of the Tourane Peninsular

French v Holland/Belgium & Hanover 

Total French 417
CinC D'Erlon

Total Allies 348
CinC Chasse

Scale = 6mm (Baccus)
Rules - General de Brigade

29th March 1808
0900 hours (max 32 moves)


3'9" x 3' table
Allies defending 22A3 between coastal sections
French attacking from bottom of map.
Terrain Description
(note: I have angled map for ease of play)

From top left clockwise (figures in brackets are the are the capacity of that building)
22A4 – Firm grazing land, fences
22A3 – Peninsular with pebble beach (difficult) either side. Firm grazing land, fences, farm (24)
22A8 – Firm grazing land, hedgerows.
22A2 – Soft cultivated land
6B23 – Cliffs, open grazing land, smooth grassy hill
All Woods – Difficult Terrain visibility 6cm

Transferred to my tabletop:

Overview of initial deployment looking south.

Chasse positions his best troops to the front with the Militia forming a reserve.

Durutte's 4th Division is tasked with attempting to turn Chasse's flank.

Brue's Brigade in the foreground will attempt to clear the beach and adjacent road.

Marcognet's 3rd Division forms the French right flank. 

The view from behind Noquez' Brigade who has been ordered to advance throught the wood and the coastal area.

Noquez' Brigade looking towards their target.

Col Best positions his brigade out of sight of the French behind woods.

Grenier's Brigade will support the 4th Division's attack on Chasse.

Another overview before the battle commences.

For the first hour of the battle (4 turns) both sides opened with artillery barrages. Despite having twice as many cannon, the French failed to capitalise on this advantage with both sides suffering similar casualties among the infantry formations.

D'Erlon sent out messengers to his divisional commanders ordering the general advance. D'Erlon waited patiently for movement to commence but both divisions were strangely static. Another turn elapsed with further artillery fire. D'Erlon galloped over to Durutte and ordered him to attack! A startled Durutte duly passed out the order to his 2 brigades But only Brue responded. 

At the head of his 4 battalion attack columns they move out towards the beach (above). In so doing they came to the attention of the Dutch battery who poured highly effective fire into them scything down several of the 2/95th Line. 

It seemed that only by D'Erlon personally ordering his divisional commanders to attack could he get them to move forward! Marcognet's division were still in their start positions. Here D'Erlon makes his way towards Marcognet who must have seen the approaching irate commander and promptly ordered his division to advance! 

Turn 9

The Dutch battery prove to be surprisingly accurate with their salvos once again ripping into the French columns.

As Marcognet's division begins to advance, Best issues his brigade orders to take up their positions ready to meet them.

Turn 10

As Pegot's division clears the wood and advances towards the Dutch position, the latter's artillery battery loads canister. The nearest French column, the 1/29th Line (middle right) feels the full force losing almost 20% of their number in one salvo. This proved to be too much for the veteran French who will retreat next turn.

Brue's brigade continues its advance along the beach and road as the Dutch/Belgians prepare to open fire.

Noquez is slow to clear the woods leaving Grenier's brigade exposed as it advances on the Dutch position. The Hanoverians have deployed along the wood's edge and the Verden battalion delivers a highly effective volley into the flank of the 2/45th Line felling several them. This causes the French battalion to falter. 

Best's Hanoverians deploy in the nick of time to meet the advancing French.

Turn 11 - Turn 12

The French attack on the Dutch centre is not going well. The 1/29th Line failed to rally and fled the field. Pegot lines up the 2/29th to take their revenge on the Dutch artillery battery. Here the Dutch artillery rakes the 2/29th with canister fire but the battalion proves steady. 

The 2/29th launches its charge to be met with a storm of canister cutting down 6 of their number. This proves too much for the French battalion and joins it's 1st battalion fleeing the field. Pegot has now lost half of his brigade but succeeds in steadying the remaining 2 battalions.

Grenier joins the 1/45th ordering both that and the 2/45th Line to charge the 35th Belgian Chasseurs. The 2/45th though falter as they are again on the receiving end of musketry from Hanoverians in the adjacent wood. Urging on the 2/45th they are met with a steady volley from the Belgians cutting many of them down. Another failed attack as the 2/45th retreat.

Best's Hanoverians pour steady volleys into the advancing French, but unlike their comrades in the centre, they charge through the storm and make contact.

Over in the corn field the Hanoverians succeed in stopping one battalion but the 1/46th Line strikes home into the Luneberg Landwehr.

All three Hanoverian battalions lose their melees and are either forced to retreat or pushed back. Here Col Best rallies 2 of his 3 battalions with the 4th about to enter into combat with the French in the wood.

On the opposite flank slow progress is made along the beach.

An overview at the end of turn 12. Pegot forms his last 2 battalions into line (upper middle). So far the Dutch line is holding out well.

To add to French woes, there is a command blunder when D'Erlon orders Jacquinot's cavalry division forward to support the infantry (double '1' thrown!). D' Erlon finds himself once again having to physically go to another divisional commander!

Turn 13

D'Erlon's plans start to bear fruit as Brue leads another successful charge into the 4th Dutch Militia forcing them to retreat. In doing so, Brue is close to completing his task of turning the Dutch right flank.

The French centre continues to suffer disproportionately not helped with Pegot refusing to obey his orders to hold his position clearly intent on avenging his two lost battalions. He moves his two remaining battalions forward and in doing so prevents the French artillery from firing canister at their opposite numbers. 

The Dutch left flank is looking shaky with the 35th Belgian Chasseurs (lower left) retreating in the face of a French charge and in doing so disorders their militia support battalion. The Chasseurs failed to rally and subsequently fled the field. 

D'Erlon gives Jacquinot a dressing down and makes clear what his orders are. At last the French cavalry will move forward to support the infantry. 

Turning now to Best's brigade and once again they appear to be exceeding expectations despite having a doubtful start. The Verden Landwehr meets the charge of the 2/21st Line in the woods. The French battalion were not expecting such fierce opposition (the Landwehr rolled a double '6'!) capturing their eagle and ejecting them from the woods with severe loss.  

The Hanoverians, having initially fallen back in disarray, had now formed a new defensive line. Best now joined the retreating Lunebergers but failed to rally them who would continue to retreat.

Turn 14

The Dutch were now forming what suspiciously looked like a large square as both flanks gave way. A glimmer of hope with one militia battalion rallying (bottom middle) but with the loss of another militia battalion on the opposite flank who had fled in the face of a charge, the situation was looking bleak for the Dutch. 

With the line steadied and buoyed up by the capture of an Eagle, the Hanoverians were proving a tougher nut to crack. The Luneberg battalion also rallied (bottom middle).

Turn 15

The Dutch position rapidly deteriorated with 2 battalions routing when charged (upper middle).  

Another view which shows the Dutch left flank collapsing. 

A closer view of the routing 6th Dutch Militia and 36th Belgian Chasseurs.  

In attempt to regain the right flank, the 17th Dutch Militia charged the 1/95th Line who counter-charged lead by Brue (middle left). The Dutch conscripts could not overcome their veteran opponents who pushed them back.  

Best joined the conscript Munden Landwehr to stiffen their resolve who rewarded their commander with a shattering volley scything down numerous French troops. The latter failed to respond effectively and Noquez, who had received a light wound for his troubles, was beginning to doubt that his brigade would overcome these damn Landwehr. A foot artillery battery had been brought forward (middle left) but Noquez was not so sure they were going to make a great deal of difference.

Turn 16

The collapse of the Dutch Brigade! A domino effect ensued as one after another of the Dutch/Belgian battalions either dispersed, routed or retreated. Miraculously though they passed a brigade morale test and as a result the 13th Dutch Line along with the artillery battery held firm and would provide a rearguard (middle right).

The 2/25th Line charged the flank of the Dutch battery only to be met by withering fire from 2 companies of the 13th Dutch Line. The heavy casualties sustained sapped their morale and they faltered before making contact. The Dutch artillery were prepared to cause as much damage as possible and poured more canister fire into the shrinking French battalions to their front.

Col Best had a rapid calculation to make with an opportunity for escape opening up in front of him. The French had thrown 3 battalions forward into a charge but only one, the 1/46th Line in the foreground, made contact. The other 2 retreated having sustained yet more casualties.

Best learnt of the collapsing Dutch brigade and he knew if he got trapped in the Peninsular it would be the end of his brigade. With Hanover captured by the French there was no prospect of reinforcements so he must protect as much as possible what is left of the Hanoverian forces.

With the bulk of the French concentrating on the Dutch, the brigade of Noquez that had been sent to deal with him was looking remarkably threadbare. His immediate problem though was the melee between his Munden conscripts and the 1/46th Line. Although heavily outnumbered, the experience of the French troops told with the Hanoverians being forced to retreat. 

The 2/21st Line attempted to recapture their Eagle and charged through the woods once again (top of photo). And once again they were met by steady volleys from the Hanoverians causing them to lose their nerve and retreat back to the open ground.

There were now 3 of the 4 battalions in Noquez' brigade retreating and would require morale checks to rally. Noquez was having is 2nd light wound of the day treated and thus unable to stiffen their resolve. All 3 had suffered heavy casualties and this proved to be the final straw. Morale collapsed with all 3 dispersing from the field. The brigade morale check failed and with the 1/46th Line having suffered more than 35% casualties, they joined their comrades fleeing the field.

Turn 17

The Dutch artillery broke in the face of a charge with just Detmer leading the 13th Dutch Line in a heroic rearguard action. 

Best succeeded rallying the Munden Landwehr and ordered his brigade to form column ready for a quick exit! 

 Just one French battery to deal with!

Turn 18

The 13th Dutch Line were now forced to retreat in the face of overwhelming odds. 

The French artillery battery commander took the view that without any support it would be suicidal to try and outshoot the Hanoverians. Much to the relief of Best he ordered his battery to limber up and retire. 

Turn 19

The 13th Dutch Line successfully rallied and an added bonus for Detmer was the unexpected rallying of a militia battalion (lower middle). The Dutch Line poured a volley into the advancing French columns while the rest of the brigade streamed from the field.

Best could not believe his luck as he hurried his brigade onto the road leading north east away from the French.

Turn 20

Confounding expectations, Detmer succeeding in holding what was left of his brigade in a final rearguard action. These consisted of the conscripts of the 17th Dutch Militia which he personally lead (middle of photo) and the 13th Dutch Line (bottom left). He would not have known it but the French were very close to having to take a break test such were their casualties. Just one more battalion or even one cannon destroyed would be enough.

3 French battalion columns charged the Dutch Militia who fired a steady volley into them as they approached. This stopped 2 of the 3 with the third having to take a formation test. It passed and charged home with the militia resolutely standing to meet them. Alas the Dutch chance for glory passed as the conscripts were overturned and they were forced to retreat.

Turn 21

The end came for the Dutch when the 13th Dutch Line routed when charged by a French battalion. This lead to a total collapse on morale with the 17th Dutch Militia joining in the general rout. 

This photo depicts just how depleted the French force had become. Bearing in mind much of this was the as yet to be committed cavalry.

The French were simply not in a position to intercept Best's Hanoverians as they begin a long and potentially perilous march to rejoin the main allied forces. D'Erlon would now concentrate his remaining troops towards utterly destroying the Dutch now trapped in the Tourane Peninsular.

The final tally reflected how unexpectedly close this battle had become. The French suffered 97 casualties compared to 43 for the allies. This was reduced to 53 and 33 respectively as those MIA and with light wounds returned to their ranks. Had Best not written off the Dutch so quickly and turned on the flank of the French it is quite possible that a victory for the allies could have been achieved.

Best was indeed very fortunate. I felt sure his tale would come to an end especially after a poor start with his battalions being thrown back. The main French body were too pre-occupied in dealing with the Dutch to intervene in his escape compounded by several cavalry command failures. The opportunity to save his brigade and leave the Dutch to their fate was simply too great to resist!


  1. The French sure made hard work of that! As usual, an eye candy gallery to accompany the clear narrative.

  2. Great report, wonderful reading.

  3. An exciting AAR and one full of plenty of action, with both sides seeing their fortunes ebb and flow. As always your games are a joy to behold and I love the beach tiles really adding to the feeling of playing on a peninsular.

  4. Very nice ARR! What mechanism are you using to determine the motivations and actions of the commanders. For example you mention the what if, had Best led his men through the wood and into the flank of the French it might have been a different outcome up to the battle.

    1. Thank you E Gilhead. If you click on the 'Solo Wargaming' tab at the top it will give you a full rundown of my take on this aspect of the hobby. But more specifically regarding Best, I place myself in the shoes of that particular commander. So he was aware of the collapse of the Dutch brigade as a result of some of his troops positioned in the woods witnessing that and would have reported back to him. At the time he had cleared French troops to his front he would not have been aware of the perilous state of the French and although he would have heard an exchange of musketry it would have been unlikely he would have realised the Dutch were clinging on. An opportunity to save his brigade from certain captivity would have been a too enticing a prospect not to take.

      Hopefully that gives you an idea. If I am torn on a decision I will let the dice decide although that option tends to be fairly rare. That said, in this battle I did dice to determine if one French brigade or the entire division would attack Best.

    2. Hi Jon,
      Thank you for the explination. I do find it interesting how others have approached the problem of command reactions. The campaign aspect really adds some very interesting angles to your games.
      The way some games lead players to throw their troops away on unrealistic attacks or trying to hold untentable defensive positions is something that irks me. It often makes for quite unrealistic outcomes and tactics.
      Do you use a mechanism to improve troop quality over time? (sorry if you have another post on this that I have missed!)
      Ed :)

    3. No problem with more Q's Ed. Please feel free. Yes I do gradually upgrade troop quality with some limitation. e.g. troops who started the campaign as conscripts may rise to line and in exceptional circumstances, veteran but never Elite or Guard. I have no hard and fast rule but judge how much action a particular battalion has experienced in a battle or battles and how successful.

      Best's brigade has been in action repeatedly since the start of the campaign and performed remarkably well. In this game a battalion captured an eagle and when considering its previous experience I felt it was justified to raise it from 2nd line to line. The Munden Landwehr performed well and although not as heavily engaged as its fellow battalions in previous battles, it was appropriate now to raise it from conscript to 2nd line.

      I will shortly be going through the process of adding new recruits to depleted units which will effect quality.
      All the best

  5. An excellent report with beautiful figures and terrain that you have photographed to perfection. Inspirational stuff!

  6. You now have us thouroughly accustomed to one splendid game after another Jon! You truly are spoiling us haha!

  7. An excellent game report, makes exciting and informative reading.