Quatre Bras (16 June 1815)

This is a modified scenario based on 014 Quatre Bras from Commands & Colors Napoleonics. This scenario is an alternative to the original Quatre Bras scenario, inspired by William Barnes Wollen's painting of the battle: Black Watch at Bay. It shows the Black Watch highlanders surrounded by French lancers. However the original scenario had neither the Black Watch nor any lancers. This scenario adds a unit of French lancers and upgrades one of Picton's British Line Infantry units to "Grenadier" to represent the highlanders. Kellermann's Cuirassiers and Cooke's Foot Guards are no longer available at the start of the battle, as they arrived later.

Black Watch at Bay by William Barnes Wollen

The Historical Background

Napoleon Bonaparte’s surprise march placed his army squarely between Blucher’s Prussians at Ligny and Wellington’s Anglo-Allied army assembling around Brussels. Napoleon concentrated most of his strength against Blucher, but ordered Ney and the II Corps to capture the vital crossroads of Quatre Bras to deny Wellington the chance to reinforce Blucher. Ney procrastinated and his attack did not get underway until two in the afternoon. The delay allowed Wellington to bring fresh allied troops to support the Dutch-Belgians and the Nassau Brigade that were thinly deployed south of the crossroads.

The initial French advance was greeted with musket volleys, but the outnumbered Allied troops were forced back. The Allied units in the wood, however, managed to hold. Facing three infantry divisions and a cavalry brigade, the Allied situation was fast becoming desperate, but additional troops kept arriving and Wellington, now in command, directed them to key positions on the battlefield.

Ney realized that the numerical balance was shifting in favour of the Anglo-Allies and that he could only capture and hold Quatre Bras by a desperate move. He ordered General Kellermann to lead his cuirassier brigades forward and break through Wellington’s line. The cuirassiers managed to reach the crossroads, but were driven back by close range artillery and musket fire. The arrival of the British Guards Division late in the day gave Wellington sufficient strength to launch a counter-attack that forced the French to give up all of their hard fought territorial gains.

Battle Notes

British Army

Use brown Portuguese blocks for the Nassau, Hanover and Dutch units. Also use the Portuguese National Unit Reference card for the Allied troops with one exception: line infantry units will retreat 2 hexes for each flag.

  • Commander: Wellington
  • Optional 6 Tactician Cards
  • 6 Command Cards

French Army

  • Commander: Ney
  • 5 Command Cards
  • Optional 4 Tactician Cards
  • Move First


9 Banners

Special Rules 

  • Quatre Bras is a Victory Banner objective hex for the French player. If a French unit occupies the objective hex at the start of the French player’s turn, the French player gains a Victory Banner. As long as the unit remains on the objective hex it will count as a French Victory Banner. If it moves off or is eliminated, it no longer counts (Temporary Victory Banner Turn Start) 
    Note: that in my first version of this scenario there was a requirement for the French to take Quatre Bras, this has now been removed. This requirement made it almost impossible for the French to win, all the Anglo-Allies needed to do was move a Grenadier Guard unit onto the Quatre Bras hex and then the scenario was almost unwinnable for the French.
  • The entire stream is fordable. In addition, a unit or leader’s movement is not stopped when moving onto a stream hex.
  • All reinforcements arrive immediately for both sides when a French unit comes within 5 hexes of the British edge or a British unit (including allies) comes within 3 hexes of the French edge.
    The British place 2 x GG and 1 x FA anywhere in the orange hexes.
    The French place 2 x CU and General Kellermann anywhere in the green hexes.

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