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On February 17, Jackson Gamers' refought the battle of:
Fontenoy 1745

The Jackson Gamers played a game to test their 18th century variant of Larry Brom's "Standard Rules" which we called Reasonable Brom. The rules worked relatively well, but our game, using 60+ infantry battalions, cavalry regiments, and artillery batteries per side, was perhaps too large for a first effort. We began to set the game up at 10am and began play by 11:15am. After 5 or 6 turns (I cannot remember exactly - the "fog of war overcame me") we ceased play and began to pick up the game about 3:15pm. The game was adjudge a marginal French victory, although several British players were heard to mutter, "we'll rally the troops make one last assault...". By 3:25pm, the players were comfortably ensconced in the local Chinese restaurant, refighting the battle over the buffet.

Set-up and Victory conditions

The French players set up first with 36 battalions, 9 batteries and 20 regiments. Two battalions of Chasseurs occupied the woods on our left, one battalion and a battery occupied the village of Fontenoy on our Right. Two small redoubts absorbed one battalion and a light battery apiece.

The remaining troops were anchored by the 6 batteries massed in our center, supported by our guards and grenadiers. Two brigades of line infantry filled the front lines on either side of the artilery. Six brigades of cavalry were spread across our rear, in handy supporting range of our front lines, along with another brigade of infantry behind Fontenoy. (Can you tell that this account was written by one of the French players?

The British massed half their infantry in an attempt to take Fontenoy, and the other half was split again into a part to watch the French light troops in the Gavrain woods, and a reserve, leaving too little infantry to assault the French main line. Thus, the British were forced to rely on their 20 regiments of horse to break the French center. Unlike the French command, which regarded Fontenoy as merely a small "forlorn hope" which strengthened their right, the British saw the village as the key to the battle.

The British effort on their left succeeded, after 3 assaults, in taking Fontenoy, but the villiage in British hands proved to be almost as much of a block to maneuver as it had in French hands. The British artillery spent most of the game marching forward, limbered, attempting to reach a firing position. Only on the last turn did it reach a position, abreast of the newly captured Fontenoy where it could unlimber with a good view of the enemy. Only a battery of howitzers supported the British attacks before this.

There were four large cavalry battles between armies, the largest of the two as the British attempted to crush the French cavalry and the French infatnry between the grande batterie and Fontenoy. With the support of every regiment and battalion the French could bring forward, the British cavalry was crushed, losing 75% of it's strength and retiring through thier supporting troops. At this point, with the French jubilant and the British checked, we ended the game.

French troops arrayed to the left of the village of Fontenoy. Note reinforcing battalions in column behind the town. British attackers can be seen being moved forward in the distance.

The British high command at work!

The British army advancing Handily in lines and columns.

Jean Whitfield, commanding the British right flank units peers closely at the Gavrain wood, trying to see any French light troops that might be infesting the forest. British General Larry Reeves looks on.

The British High command, easy and contemptous at the start of the action.

Bastion of the French center. Six batteries supported by three battalions of Grenadiers de France, two battalions of Gardes Francaises and one of Gardes Suisses. This rock was never broken!

The two redoubts which anchored the French Left. Each containing a battalion and a battery, supported by 5 regiments of dragoons and 5 more battalions of infantry.

Among the smoke and carnage in the French center, Grenadiers a' Cheval ride past a square formed by Grenadiers du Roi. These reserves and precautions were not needed as the massed French heavy cavalry defeated it's British mounted opponents.

Bill Estes, gamemaster chortles as he removes a handfull of casuaties from the battle around Fontenoy village.

The village after it's capture by the French, on the third assault.

The cavalry battle in the center, three regiments of British horse vs. three of French. The cannister fire from the left-most battery shown made a difference, crippling one British regiment. The light troops which the British Commander had assigned to amuse the French artillerists had vanished in a storm of cannister before the British horsemen could reach the position for their attack.

The British mounted attack, just to the left of Fontenoy. Six regiments of the pride of the British mounted arm (but NOT the horse guards) crash into the French line, attempting to sunder it into two parts.

Overhead view of the British attack on Fontenoy itself. Six battalions assault the town with it's defending battery and infantry battalion, while 4 more British battalions move against the single French battalion on the extreme right of the town.

In the center after the massed cavalry attack, three French heavy cavalry units hold the ground. The blue rings on the flagstaffs of the cavalry look clumsy in these pictures but it is an elegant system of showing the morale quality of each unit.

The center of the French Position, seven batteries (anticipating the massing of French artillery by Napoleon 50 years later) which never ceased to belch shot and cannister at the enemy. Except for an abortive mounted attack (shown here developing at the right of the image) the enemy flinched from advancing on the guns.

On the French left, five regiments of dragoons issue forth from their shelter behind the works. The were advancing to take advantage of the seeming disorder in the British right center following the failure of their massed cavalry attack in the center.

In the Real Battle of Fontenoy

In the fifth year of the War of the Austrian Succession, Louis XV of France concentrated his forces for a campaign in the southern Netherlands (modern Belgium), which had passed from Spain to Austria after the War of the Spanish Succession in I714. He as-signed Marshal Comte Maurice de Saxe to com-mand the French army. Opposing Saxe were the English and Dutch, allies of Austria, whose chief army of the Holy Roman Empire (Maria Theresa) was engaged in the Second Silesian War with Frederick II (Frederick the Great) of Prussia. The Duke of Cumberland (William Augustus), son of Great Britain's King George II, commanded the allied force.

Saxe opened the campaign by besieging Tournai, on the Schelde River, with an army of 50,000 men. Cumberland, at the head of an equal number of English, Hannoverians, Dutch, and Austrians, marched to the relief of the city. Five miles to the southeast at Fontenoy, Saxe prepared to receive the attack from a strong defensive posi-tion between the Schelde river and the Gavrain Wood. Along his linear front he constructed four defensive redoubts (a tactic he had learned from a study of the Rus-sian deployment at the 1709 battle of Poltava).

On May 11 the allies attacked. For two hours enfilade fire from the redoubts stopped Cumberland’s assault in its tracks. The duke then formed 14,000 infantrymen into a compact wedge. Despite the continued deadly fire, the allies marched between two redoubts straight into the center of the French line, which began to give way. However, Saxe directed a furious counterattack against the flanks of the wedge. In this action the French army’s Irish Brigade distinguished itself by its hard fight-ing. The allied column slowly crumbled and then fell back, losing more than 7,000 in dead and wounded. Under cover of night Cumberland re-treated toward Brussels. Tournai surrendered shortly thereafter.

Fontenoy was the last battle for Great Britain in the war. The English army had to be recalled to put down the '45 Rebellion. Saxe pressed on in Flanders to take Brussels, while on the eastern front France's enemy Austria was suffering severe defeats at the hands of Prussia.

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