Waterloo in 54mm

On Saturday I had the honour and pleasure to be able to take part in a re-fight of the Battle of Waterloo using 54mm-scale figures! Nearly 2,000(!) figures were used, and the whole thing was very well organised by leading members of the Funny Little Wars Yahoo Group (Tim Gow and Paul). We were lucky enough to be able to have access to a large lawned area in Central London, and this enabled not just the main battle to be re-fought, but also the battle between the Prussians and French at Wavre.


I was one of the Allied players, and was in command of Hougmont and the right-wing. In the centre Brian Carrick commanded the main Allied artillery and the infantry just behind the main ridge, whilst on the left Conrad Kinch busied himself fortifying La Haye Sainte, the sandpit, and several farms.

I fully expected that the French would begin their assault on my side of the battlefield with an attack on Hougoumont … so I garrisoned it with Light Companies from the Guards and Brunswick Avante Garde … and some special troops from Canada, courtesy of Ross Macfarlane.

I needn’t have bothered, as the only French troops that came close were French light cavalry (with some horse artillery), which gave the strong-point a reasonably wide berth.

In response I moved forward my light cavalry, which included (on the right) some of ‘Kinch‘s Own’ Hussars (in truth, the 18th (King’s Irish) Regiment of (Light) Dragoons (Hussars)) …

… one of whom could be seen to be swigging from a bottle that looked remarkably like a Guinness one!

Both side’s cavalry then spent some time glaring at each other across the battlefield.

In the meantime, a large column of French infantry and artillery began to advance towards La Haye Sainte …

… which was heavily garrisoned.

The French advance was slow … possibly due to the rain that had occurred earlier that day.

Elsewhere French heavy cavalry was deployed …

… and a large force of French infantry began to move forward in line, supported by columns.

In response, some British infantry formed up in line. (They were later to move into square and see off a French cavalry attack.)

The farms that Conrad Kinch had garrisoned with infantry and artillery were able to pour infantry and artillery fire at the advancing French.

Whilst the situation was developing in the centre and on the left, a large body of French cavalry appeared in front of my section of the Allied line.

They moved forward slowly but surely … and I deployed my heavy cavalry in response.

The French shock themselves into line and both side’s cavalry advanced, resulting in a massive melee.

By the end of the fighting, the Allied cavalry was thoroughly beaten and those that had survived the battle were withdrawn to safety. Their sacrifice was not in vain, and the remnants of the French cavalry were too blown to be of further use on the battlefield.

Whilst this was going on, the situation around La Haye Sainte was coming to a climax …

… and in the sandpit a French cavalry charge overwhelmed the Riflemen stationed there.

At this point the fighting ended, and the umpires adjudicated that at that point in the battle, the French were winning by a narrow margin … but that the arrival of the Prussians (they had held the French at Wavre and had been moving a large number of troops towards Waterloo for quite some time) was likely to sway the result against the French in the long term.

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20 Comments on “Waterloo in 54mm”

  1. A cracking game. The French columns look particularly intimidating.

  2. Stryker says:

    Superb stuff – looks like fun!

  3. Springinsfeld,

    It was a very enjoyable experience to be able to take part in this battle … and the amount of space available seemed to swallow even large groups of figures.

    All the best,

    Bob

  4. Stryker,

    It was great fun … and fighting it on a lawn really did give a tremendous feeling of space.

    All the best,

    Bob

  5. Gonsalvo says:

    A special kind of event; great that you had a chance to participate!

  6. Gonsalvo,

    We hope to repeat this sort of event in the future, and with luck even more people will be able to be involved.

    All the best,

    Bob

  7. This sort of thing looks a whole deal of fun! That the large area seems to 'swallow' the troops reminds me of something that I think Lev Tolstoy wrote in WAR AND PEACE, in which even the huge Allied columns seems lost and lonely in the vast landscape.

  8. Have at various times had wild visions of trying out 54mm in the garden on the lawn in a grand manner…I never seemed to have reached this height of great entertainment so much enjoyed as you have done Bob. A most enjoyable read about the day of battling Waterloo- well done. Regards. KEV.

  9. Archduke Piccolo,

    The space one has on a lawn is vast, even when compared with the largest wargames table … and it is very easy to lose touch with where your own side's troops are, let alone where the enemy are. The distance from the Prussian troops in Wavre to the closest Allied troops was just over 20m, and it was going to take at least 12 moves for troops to cover that distance.

    All the best,

    Bob

  10. K.C.Robertson (Kev),

    If you ever get the chance to try fighting a wargame with 54mm-scale figures on a lawn, then you really MUST give it a go. Once tried, you will view wargames with smaller-scale figures in a different way. I certainly do … and have realised how silly games with wall-to-wall figures are.

    I suspect that now that the ball is rolling, there will be other large lawn battles fought in the future … and if I'm there, I will write about them.

    All the best,

    Bob

  11. What a Grand Affair! I'm glad Brian brought a few of my old lads along. I don't feel like I completely missed out now!

  12. Ross Mac,

    It was an outstanding event to take part in … and I was very pleased to have some of your figures as part of the Hougoumont garrison.

    All the best,

    Bob

  13. MrFarrow2U says:

    Looks great! Did anyone have a 'sore back' the next day though?

    All the Best
    MrF

  14. MrFarrow2U (MrF),

    It was a great experience, and if you ever get the chance to take place in a lawn game, I strongly recommend that you do.

    As to sore backs … well speaking for myself I can tell you that my back was a bit stiff on Sunday, and my knees are still a bit sore … but as I am now retired they usually are anyway!

    All the best,

    Bob

  15. Absolutely fantastic – I have been stockpiling 54mm Naps with garden games in mind. If you fancied openingthe invitations next year I would be up for joining in, and bringing along a unit or two to join in teh fun.

    Lovely to see

    Marc

  16. Marc the plastics fan (Marc),

    It was a memorable wargame. As I didn't organise the event, I am not sure how invitations were made … but I understand that it was first mooted on the pages of the FUNNY LITTLE WARS Yahoo Group, and that membership of that group would enable you to get involved. I am sure that your additional units would be much appreciated by the organisers; perhaps it will help to ensure that the next battle will feature 3,000 figures!

    All the best,

    Bob

  17. arthur1815 says:

    Bob,

    It has been a great pleasure to read your account of this splendid toy soldier game of Waterloo and see the photographs. I wish I could have been there, though I suspect that – like you – I would have paid a price later as my knee tends to protest after frequent bending &c.

    It occurs to me that it might be possible, albeit on a much smaller scale, to do somthing similar on my lawn, with 25/28mm plastic figures. The battles of the American War of 1812, which only involved a division at most on either side – and very little cavalry – seem quite practicable, and not too expensive.

    What do you think?

    Regards,
    Arthur

  18. Arthur1815 (Arthur),

    I can tell you in all honesty that the pain afterwards was well worth it!

    I'm not sure how big – or flat – your lawn is, but as long as the grass was cut relatively short, I can see no reason why your suggestion would not be feasible. It is certainly worth thinking about for 2016 … when the weather will hopefully be a bit warmer.

    All the best,

    Bob

  19. Marvellous stuff. Youve got me contemplating an ACW action on the back lawn. Already have a fair number of figures…just need to get stuck into painting.

  20. Reginald Ogilvie,

    It was marvellous … and if you are thinking of fighting an ACW battle on your back lawn, why not? You have the winter to prepare your armies, and you don't need huge numbers on each side for a decent battle.

    I hope that you do give it a go.

    All the best,

    Bob


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