|Napoleon Leaving Elba by Joseph Beaume (Wikipedia)|
Napoleon had an army of some 200,000 men, mostly veterans of his old campaigns, plus another 150,000 forming new units in depots and nearly 200,000 more militia, national guards, marines, and coast guards serving in static positions and freeing up regulars to fight in the field. Would it be enough to defeat his two most implacable foes--the Duke of Wellington, the calm, quick-witted Englishman whom none of his marshals had been able to best, and Prince Bluecher, the mad, wild, fierce old Prussian hussar who had come out of retirement in his Krieblowitz estates to deal a death blow to the hated Corsican.
|The positions of major French and Allied Armies on 1 June 1815 (Wikipedia)|
While the Prussian advanced troops continued fighting through the day, the first contact between French troops and the forces of the Low Countries did not come until late in the afternoon. At 6 p.m., French light cavalry of General Reille's II Corps attacked and drove in the picquets of a battalion of Nassau infantry some 12 miles from the Sambre on the Brussels road. The remainder of the battalion stood to and, with the help of a battery of artillery, chased off the cavalry scouts. Although Dutch Belgian troops had at first thought that the cannon fore they heard in the distance was Prussian artillery at drill, the gradual nearing of the fire had alerted them that war was almost certainly begun, and to the French cavalry found outposts ready for them, not soldiers slumbering in their billets. The Count de Perponcher Sedlnitsky and Prince Bernhard of Saxe Weimer had already begun moving their troops into position to hold strategic road junctions against the French advance until they should receive more specific orders.
|The Duke of Wellington by Sir Thomas Lawrence: Confident or over-confident? (Wikipedia)|
There are, of course, hundreds, possibly thousands of games about the Napoleonic Wars. Boardgamegeek.com lists over fifty on the Waterloo campaign and its climactic battle alone. These range from serious historical studies to simplistic, fast-play treatments to the speculative (Alexander at Waterloo, which pits Wellington's army not against the Old Guard by against the Macedonian Companions), from the sublime (Wellington's Victory: 2,000 counters on a map measured in square feet) to the ridiculous (One Minute Waterloo, with eight pieces on a nine-hex map).
Since I'm going to quickly review the campaign, I'll use an old favourite, Kevin Zucker's The Emperor Returns. I will also be trying to run a semi-double-blind game of this at a local game store next weekend.
|The Emperor Returns: Campaign Start Setup (OSG)|