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Grouchy's Waterloo The Battles of Ligny and Wavre By Andrew W. Field   Marshal Ney, ('The bravest of t...

Grouchy's Waterloo By Andrew W. Field Grouchy's Waterloo By Andrew W. Field

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



 Marshal Ney, ('The bravest of the brave', Prince of Moscow, Le Rougeaud) was a singularly unlucky man. In 1813, he had the chance to fall upon the Allied rear at Bautzen. If he had, history might have been changed. In 1815 he was again responsible for letting an Allied army, the Prussians, off the hook at Ligny. He was also the only Marshal to be shot for treason for joining Napoleon in 1815. Ney ordered d'Erlon's corps back to Quatre Bras just as it was about to fall on the wavering Prussian right flank at Ligny. If d'Erlon was able to attack the Prussians, it may have sent their army fleeing. Instead, the Prussians were able to retreat in a more orderly fashion.

 Napoleon blamed Ney and the newly created Marshal Grouchy for his loss at Waterloo, and so have many historians. This book follows Marshal Grouchy through the battle of Ligny under Napoleon's watchful eye, and the battle of Wavre where he was left to his own devices. The reason I mention Ney is that his blunder had a tremendous effect on Grouchy's subsequent orders and mission. Napoleon's 1815 campaign was full of what ifs. He was able to drive a wedge between the the Anglo-Allied army and the Prussian one. Then he defeated the Prussians at Ligny on June 16th 1815, only to lose at Waterloo on June 18th. Napoleon's defeat at Waterloo was mainly caused by the Prussians being beaten at Ligny, but not routed. This is where the part of Grouchy in this history becomes so important. Grouchy was ordered to follow the Prussians and keep his sword in their back.

 The author, Mr. Field, has published three books (with a fourth on the way) on the 1815 campaign from the French perspective. They are:

Prelude to Waterloo: Quatre Bras
Waterloo: The French Perspective
Grouchy's Waterloo (this book)
 This is the third in the series. The author gives us an excellent account of the two battles of Ligny and Wavre. If that was all a book on the subject had to do, it would probably would have been a much easier task for the author. Unfortunately for him, this campaign has been written about probably more than any other campaign in history. The arguments over this campaign and its battles and personalities have raged over the last two hundred years. The list of should, could, and would haves are almost endless.

 As mentioned, Ney and Grouchy are the favorite punching bags of historians and armchair generals. As the author shows, the questions about Grouchy start even before the campaign in Belgium began. Many, even at the time, questioned Grouchy's elevation to the Marshalate. We have, or at least we believe we have, all of Napoleon's orders to Grouchy. The book clearly shows them and what it entailed because of them. 

 The author shows that Grouchy did exactly as he was told per his orders, nothing more or less. The point of conjecture here is what Napoleon ordered compared to what Soult, his then chief of staff,  sent. Soult, although a fine general, was no Berthier. Why do accounts show Napoleon expecting Grouchy to show up on his right? Why did so many French officers on the right believe they were there to make contact with Grouchy? Was it all just wishful thinking? To me, the most telling part of what was expected of Grouchy is in the absence of a negative response from Napoleon, chastising Grouchy when troops showed up on his right at Waterloo. In the beginning, no one could tell if they were Prussians or French soldiers.

 As the author shows, the 'Grande Armee' of 1815 had nowhere near the mettle of the armies during the year1805 and others. Its  morale was actually brittle.

 Mr. Field contends that you cannot judge the orders and actions of officers of the 19th century with 21st century thinking. He asserts that in 1815 there was no leeway in orders. I am not wholly convinced by his arguments that this was unilaterally true. Napoleon's and Jomini's writings suggest otherwise to me. However, this might me be their own Monday morning quarterbacking. It is quite possible that Napoleon's undoing was his inability to clone himself when armies and battles grew larger. 

 This book, when taken by itself, is a great addition to the history of the campaign. When looked at in conjunction as the third volume of four on the campaign, these books are a treasure trove of information from the French perspective.

 I for one believe the 1815 campaign was decided, along with Napoleon's fate, when Marshal Berthier refused to rejoin Napoleon. If Marshal Berthier was chief of staff most, if not all, of the errors on the French side would never have been committed.


Book: Grouchy's Waterloo: The Battles of Ligny and Wavre
Author: Andrew W. Field
Publisher: Pen And Sword
Distributor: Casemate Publishers



 The Eagle's Last Triumph by Andrew Uffindel  Many times, the Battle of Waterloo has been written about as tho...

The Eagles Last Triumph by Andrew Uffindel The Eagles Last Triumph by Andrew Uffindel

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



 Many times, the Battle of Waterloo has been written about as though it had occurred in a vacuum. The battles that took place two days before, Quatre Bras and Ligny, are maybe slightly mentioned. In actuality, the battle of Waterloo can only be understood if one looks at Napoleon's and the Allies' strategy and plans, and the battles that took place earlier. The twin battles of Quatre Bras and Ligny , fought on June 16, 1815, are the catalysts for the end of the first empire at Waterloo. Of these two battles, Ligny is by far the one that held greater promise for Napoleon. If Napoleon had won a great victory and crushed the Prussians, they would not have been able to help Wellington on June 18th. It is possible that with a rout of the Prussians, Wellington would have had to retreat further without the promise of Prussian help. On the field of Ligny and the Prussian defeat were sown the seeds of the Allies' victory at Waterloo.

 'The Eagle's Last Triumph' by Andrew Uffindell is one of the rare books written about the battle of Ligny. It was originally published in 1994, and the hard cover copy from then is not easy to find. Casemate publishers has put out a paperback edition, and it is well supplied with maps and sixteen pages of black and white photos. The book even goes into the battle of Quatre Bras, and the end of the campaign. Part two of the book has an analysis of the battle, and a breakdown of the losses both sides suffered. It also has a guide to the battlefield today for anyone who might be interested in taking in the actual battlefield's scenery.

 The battle of Ligny, when it is mentioned, is usually written off with a paragraph or two. The traipsing of D'Erlon's corps is most often dissected down to the minute. D'Erlon's summer hike from battlefield to battlefield without influencing either is truly one of history's enigmas. If he had pitched into the Prussian right flank, as the emperor ordered him to do, the battle of Ligny would have turned into a rout for the Prussians. As a consequence, the Prussians  would have had to retreat east instead of north, and still parallel with Wellington's army.

 The large and consequential battle of Ligny was not a foregone conclusion. As the book shows, it was a titanic struggle between the French and Prussians, and every bit as horrific and glory filled as any other Napoleonic battlefield.

 This was the last time that the Imperial Guard would march forward to seal a victory. The grenadiers of the Guard were told by their second-in-command, Lieutenant-General Francois Roguet, "the first man who brings me a Prussian prisoner will be shot".  This is much like Blucher's supposed  statement at Waterloo "no pity, no prisoners; I will shoot any man I see with pity in him". It might just be a quote from a movie, but it echoes his and his soldiers thought about the battle of Ligny. This terrible hatred between German and Frenchman would only be quenched a hundred and thirty years later in 1945.


Publisher: Casemate
Review Date: 10/26/2016

                        Scourge of War Waterloo DLC Ligny    Ligny is lost in the shadow of Waterloo, which was fought two days lat...

Scourge of War Waterloo DLC Ligny Scourge of War Waterloo DLC Ligny

For your Wargamer, Toy soldier collector, MiniFig collector, military history nut. Reviews, interviews, Model Making, AARs and books!



Scourge of War Waterloo DLC Ligny


 Ligny is lost in the shadow of Waterloo, which was fought two days later. This is upsetting for two reasons: 1) It was the last battle Napoleon won. 2) If events transpired the way Napoleon wanted them, he probably would have won at Waterloo. Ligny was fought by the Prussians under Blucher and the French under Napoleon. The battle was ripe with might haves. Count D'Erlon was ordered to bring his I corps and crush the Prussian right wing and turn a won battle into a Prussian rout. Marshal Ney, fighting at Quatre Bras, ordered D'Erlon to march to help him. D'Erlon's incredible blunder in not following Napoleon's order cost the emperor his throne. The Prussians survived to fight another day and their corps led by Von Bulow interceded on the field of Waterloo. Napoleon had "humbugged" both Blucher and Wellington by striking hard and fast between them. Napoleon's plan was for Ney to keep the English away, therefore being unable to help the Prussians while he gave battle to them at Ligny. Once the Prussians were defeated and seen off to the east, Napoleon could then turn on Wellington. 

 NorbsoftDev has continued their Waterloo game to now include a DLC of the battle of Ligny. They had already released another DLC covering the battle of Quatre Bras, fought on the same day as Ligny. The DLC has five different scenarios you can play:

2:30PM -  Leading a Prussian Corps
8:00PM - Leading a French division
2:30PM - Leading the Prussian army
3:00PM  - Leading a French corps
2:30PM  - Leading the French army

  The Scourge of War games also have a few modes in which a player can choose to use:

 Waterloo Battles
 Sandbox Campaign
 User Scenarios

 Thanks to NorbSoftDev, with the addition of the Ligny battle we are almost at the point where we can play out the entire battles of the Waterloo campaign. Each release of the the game engine brings refinement and tweaks and more fine tuning of an already excellent engine. The next release is going to be that of Wavre. Wavre is much like Ligny in that had things gone the French way it might have been Grouchy appearing on Wellington's left instead of the Prussians.

 With the start of the series in the American Civil war battles to the Napoleonic, this is one of my favorite series of games. Command and control from a general's perspective is what drew me to computer wargames in the 1980s. The ability to form a plan in your head and then to be able to use competent, if not deadly, AI subordinates always draws me back to this series of games. The only possible knock on the series is the same that can be said of any Napoleonic battle game. Because of the small sales that would be seen in releasing some battles against others more well known ones, we are not likely to see an official release of Eylau or Friedland, to name just two.

 For the multiplayer crowd, these games have always been a big draw. The sandbox mode can be used to represent pretty much any sort of engagement of the battlefields of the released games. There is also a large community of modders that are on the NorbSoftDev web site. 

  Please, take a look at my review of the base game 'Scourge of War Waterloo', also my other SOWW DLC 'Quatre Bras'.


Game: Scourge of War Waterloo DLC Ligny
Developer: NorbSoftDev
Publisher: Slitherine/Matrix
Date of Review: 10/29/2016