Friday, 4 November 2011

Lines of Brabant

This scenario is based on Marlborough's passage of the Lines of Brabant in 1705. In a change from history the allied main force has been delayed and so the vanguard has to hold a position and await reinforcements. The French have gathered together what troops they can and are attempting to push back the allied troops. The figures are actually for the Grand Alliance period, just before the War of Spanish Succession, so they have pikes; a weapon which had almost vanished by the time of Marlborough's wars.

The vanguard has seven battalions of infantry (including two of grenadiers), three regiments of cavalry and a light gun. One flank, (the left) rested on the grounds of the Chateau Plonc, garrisoned by the combined Palatinate grenadiers. In the centre were the remaining six battalions in two lines of three and the light battery. On the right were the cavalry with the Jung Hannover Cuirassier in the first line, supported by the Veningen Gendarmes and regiment Erbach. In overall command was Graf Von Grommitt

The French, under the Comte de Salle Forde, have nine battalions of infantry (including one of dismounted dragoons), two light guns and three regiments of cavalry. Viewing the enemy dispoditions the Comte decided on a general advance, then use his cavalry to pin the opposing horse and his artillery to weaken the enemy infantry prior to a general assault.

Needing no encouragement the French cavalry (actually led by a regiment of Spanish horse), moved forward accompanied on their right by the infantry. As the infantry advanced they came into range of the allied gun and regiment Rouergue was the 'target of choice' and began to suffer casualties. Undaunted, the French advance continued and once the Comte was satisfied that the guns were in effective range they began to fire at the allied line.

On the French left the first hand to hand combat was taking place as the Spanish horse met the Austrian Cuirassiers.


At first the sides were evenly matched, but as the second squadrons joined the fray the greater numbers of the Spanish began to tell and suddenly the Austrians broke and routed to the rear. With their blood up, the Spanish pursued, punching a hole in the allied line and forcing the allied horse to change face to avoid being flanked.
Unfortunately, the Spanish colonel was unable to recover command of his men once the pursuit began and they followed the remnants of the cuirassier off the table.

In the centre the Hessian regiment Lowenstein was the target for the French artillery. It had suffered some loss and the Comte decided that the time was ripe for a charge by the Vaillac regiment of horse. Undeterred by the onrushing horsemen, the Hessians stood their ground and fired a volley, this, backed up by the steady pikes forced the French cavalry to retreat.

Von Grommitt was reasonably satisfied with affairs so far, but knew that main test would come once the two infantry lines closed to musketry range. For his part the Comte was keen to use his advantage in artillery to 'soften up' the allied infantry; encouraging the gunners to keep up with the advancing infantry line. The allied regiments Von Blixencron and Lowenstein were suffering casualties from the artillery, but their first volleys stopped Rourgue and Bavaria in their tracks. As the fire fight developed, the allied artillery commander saw that French guns were in canister range and ordered a change of target. The blast of lead tore through the French battery cutting down gunners and nearby infantry.

This relieved the pressure on Lowenstein, which just as well because their losses had mounted to such a level that Von Grommitt decided that they should be replaced in the front line by the Hessian grenadiers. Fortunately for the allies, regiment Rourgue was unable to advance to exploit the manouevres. It too had suffered and was replaced in the front line by regiment Zurlaben. Meanwhile regiment Bavaria and Von Blixencron were still blazing away, though losses were surprisingly light. On the French right, regiment Languedoc approached the chateau grounds to be met by a punishing volley from the Palatinate grenadiers which stopped them in their tracks.
The cavalry duel on the French left had reached a stand off with neither side wanting to risk an attack. In the centre the balance shifted dramatically when the remaining French gunners were felled by a volley from the Hessian grenadiers. With no artillery support the French infantry would struggle to gain the upper hand. Seeing that the battle was slipping away, the Comte summoned the colonel of the Aubusson cavalry regiment forward and ordered him to attack the grenadiers. If they could be defeated then the allied line would be broken and the French could still prevail.

Calling on the trumpeter to sound the advance, the colonel took up position at the head of his regiment. Making use of the wreaths of smoke from the musketry duel the French cavalry managed to approach near totheir target without suffering heavy casualties. However, the grenadiers were too experienced to be shaken by the cavalry. Even without the moral support of pikes the grenadiers held their composure to deliver a volley. This did not stop the charge and the grenadiers had to make full use of their bayonets. The melee was a close run thing but in the end the cavalry had to withdraw.

The comte had no alternative now but to withdraw. Half his infantry battalions had been driven from the line; his cavalry were dispersed and the artillery silenced.

Von Grommitt had prevailed, but his losses had also been heavy, so there was no pursuit of the retreating French.

In the post battle discussion we decided that giving the allies two elite battalions made the French task too difficult, so next time the French will have more battalions or the allies fewer.


  1. Excellent report and very nice photos!! Can I ask where you got the flags from in this post?? I just been looking at your other Williamite posts they're all great.

  2. Thanks very much for your comments Ray. The flags are from various sources. Most are 'home made' either painted, or constructed by computer. The flag in photo 3 was painted by the very talented Barry Hilton, who very generously provided me with 4 flags for my Hessian infantry regiments. In photo 2 the flag on the left was painted by me, the one on the right came with the unit I purchased at a local show.