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I have created a series of videos on my channel, relating to Wellington at Bay, in particular the wargame scenarios included in the book. The videos feature my wargame of the battle, which I had intended to take to Salute and Partizan in 2020.

Episode Two: Scenario 3 Wellington’s Counterattack

This video explains how I create historical scenarios with Black Powder;

Publication of Wellington at Bay, 18th April 2020

My new book Wellington at Bay, the battle of Villamuriel, 25 October 1812, will be launched at the Salute Wargames show at London ExCel.

The current cover design to be replaced by a bespoke Christa Hook design

This book describes the Battle of Villamuriel on the 25th October 1812. This battle, while small, was the largest engagement of Wellington’s retreat from Burgos. This battle involved twice as many men as the better-known Battle of Villadrigo/Venta del Pozo two days before.

This is the first full length account of the action and improves significantly on previous accounts in the campaign histories by Oman, Napier and Divall. The aim has been to pull together archival sources from all four nations involved, British, French, Spanish and Portuguese, to build a coherent and balanced account of interest equally to historians and wargamers.

It can be pre-ordered on Amazon or at Helion

Linselles 18th August 1793 – The French troops

Since my previous post I have undertaken some more detailed research into the French troops that held Linselles and Le Blaton when Lake’s Guards brigade attacked.

From the French perspective, the action at Linselles on the 18th August 1793, was led by three French Generals, Macdonald, Jourdan and Béru. Dupuis gives the order of battle for the French Army on the 30th July 1793. The infantry is largely organised into provisional demi-brigades comprising an old regular battalion combined with two Volunteer battalions.

The Camp of Madelaine to the north of Lille contained 8 such demi-brigades. In addition a new Division was created under the command of General de Brigade Béru. This division comprised the following units;

5th de Vosges Volunteers; 1st Bn/45th Infantry Regiment; 10th Paris Volunteers

10th Seine-et-Oise Volunteers; 1st Bn/47th Infantry Regiment; 2nd Vienne Volunteers

2nd Paris Volunteers

1st St. Denis Volunteers; 1st Bn/19th Infantry Regiment; 6th Paris Volunteers

Company of Light artillery with two 12pdrs, two  8pdrs and two howitzers

12th Chasseurs à Cheval

6th Cavalry

of these, on the 18th, the demi-brigade comprising the 1st St. Denis Volunteers; 1st Bn/19th Infantry Regiment; 6th Paris Volunteers together with the 3rd Franc battalion and the 15th Light Infantry battalion, from Jourdan’s command were dispatched to attack Roubaix under the command of General Desroques.

Chef de Brigade Etienne Jacques Macdonald advanced from Le Quesnoi to take Le Blaton from the Dutch, presumably with his own demi-brigade comprising the 5th l’Aisne Volunteers, 2nd Bn/2nd Infantry Regiment & 40th National Volunteers. Also present were the 2nd Finistere Volunteers.

It is known that Jourdan himself led the demi-brigade of the 1st/45th Regiment to Linselles, including the 5th Vosges and 10th Paris Volunteers.

This left Béru with the demi-brigade comprising the 10th de Seine-et-Oise Volunteers,  the  1st/47th Regiment  &  the 2nd Vienne Volunteers, together with the 2nd Paris Volunteers.

The 2nd Bn/12th Infantry Regiment and the 1st d’Allier Volunteers were sent by Adjutant General Dupont from the Camp de Madelaine, while the third battalion of the demi-brigade, the 8th Paris (Sainte Marguerite) Volunteers were at Mouvaux on this day.

The French sources thus suggests that they had 4 battalions at Le Blaton and that Jourdan and Béru had 9 battalions at Linselles itself.

The strengths of the 9 battalions at Linselles can be estimated from the Situations reproduced by Depuis;

Strength Strength
30/07/1793 15/10/1793
5th Vosges Volunteers 443 373
1st Bn/45th Regiment 450 385
10th Paris Volunteers. 470 444
2nd Bn/12th Regiment 392
1st d’Allier Volunteers 888
10th de Seine-et-Oise Volunteers 457 367
1st Bn/47th Regiment 471 379
2nd la Vienne Volunteers 437 381
2nd Paris Volunteers 813

To close here are some photographs of another game at a recent Sons of Simon de Montfort club night. In this game the French forsook the shelter of the defensive works in an attempt to overwhelm the Guards Brigade;


V. Dupuis, La campagne de 1793 à l’armée du Nord et des Ardennes,…. De Valenciennes à Hondtschoote, 1906, p. 10, 14-15, 199-214
V. Dupuis, La campagne de 1793 à l’armée du Nord et des Ardennes,…. D’Hondtschoote à Wattignes, 1909, p. 100
G. Dumont, Bataillons de volontaires nationaux (Cadres et historiques), 1914, p. 15, 104, 251, 363
C.L. Chassin & L. Hennet, Les Volontaires Nationaux pendant la Revolution, 1899 & 1902, vol. 1, p. 226-7 & vol.2, p. 114
L. Brayard, SEHRI, Les Bataillons de Volontaires et de Rde Réquisitions de l’Allier (1791-1803), Jan. 2017, p. 8, available at LINK

Lincelles 18th August 1793 – A small Black Powder Scenario

This week I took this small scenario to a club meeting of the Sons of Simon de Montfort, Loughborough. Here are some photos of the game in action, together with some of the background research;

The Background

Rather than proceed with an invasion of France directly, the Duke of York chose to divert his army towards the objective of Dunkerque. Earlier in the day on the 18th, some Dutch forces had occupied the villages of Linselles* and Blaton, to the north west of Lille. In response, the French sent a large and overwhelming force, which recaptured both villages. In response to a Dutch request for help, the Duke of York dispatched the Guards brigade under Major General Gerard Lake to assist them. On his arrival Lake found that the Dutch were not able to assist in retaking the villages, but undaunted, he decided to launch an assault himself.

While future Marshal of France, Étienne Jacques Macdonald, then a chef de brigade (lt. colonel), held Blaton, General de Brigade Antoine Anne Lecourt de Béru, held Linselles. Another future Marshal, General de Division Jean Baptiste Jourdan arrived in Linselles to support Béru.

General Jean Baptiste Jourdanmajor-general-gerard-lake

It is clear that Lake’s force comprised the 1100 men of the 1st Foot Guards, the Coldstream Guards and the Scots Guards, without their Flank battalion, but with their light 6 pdr battalion guns, commanded by Major Jesse Wright. However the size of the French force is not so clear; various sources suggest that the position was held by 12 battalions with a total strength of 5000, but this probably includes Macdonald’s command at Blaton.  Wright wrote that the French were three times the size of the British, which suggests the French strength at Linselles was in the range 3,300 – 3,900. The French position was reinforced by a two redoubts and other earthworks, containing approximately 12 guns. These guns are variously described as 16 pounders (France Militaire) or a mixture of 6 pounders (in the redoubt attacked by the  1st Foot Guards) and 9 pounders (in the redoubt attacked by the Coldstream Guards) as reported captured by the Guards (History & Origins of the First Regiment of Foot Guards, p. 286).

Major Jesse Wright (1st Battalion, Royal Artillery, KIA May 1794) provided the following account of the action;

The troops sent on this service were the 3 regiments of the Guards under General Lake, and the 6 guns belonging to them, which I command.  The officers with me are De Ginkle [1st Guards], De Peyster [3rd Guards] & Watson [Coldstream Guards], the whole number of us altogether did not amount to more than 1300 men, and the enemy were more than 3 times the number, strongly intrenched in and about the village of Lincelles.  The action began about 6 o’clock in the afternoon and lasted until it was quite dark.  The Guards gallantly stormed the intrenchments under a dreadful fire and retook the village, together with 12 pieces of cannon, with their horses, and many prisoners.  They lost about 12 officers and near 200 men killed and wounded, among the former is Colonel Bosville [Coldstream Guards].  De Peyster is killed; he behaved with a great deal of bravery and spirit.  He was wounded by a grapeshot that hit him in the temple and died very soon afterwards.  There are about 6 artillerymen killed and wounded, and 6 horses; most of these losses took place with the two guns of the first regiment that I was with; we were situated part of the time in an orchard.  De Ginkle, who was the officer with me, behaved to admiration,” ……”it was a miracle that De Ginkle and myself escaped being killed or wounded; the quantities of grapeshot that fell about us would surprise one; we had both several men killed and wounded so close to us that I cannot conceive how we escaped”….”I have got Lt Hughes to my guns in place of de Peyster”.


For the scenario I have assumed that Jourdan and Béru led 8 battalions of infantry, supported by a battery of 8 pounders and one of 4 pounders. The French generals had difficulty in getting their men to stop pillaging the village and to face the British assault. For this reason all eight battalions were given the Wavering and Unreliable special rules and suffered -1 to their Melee, Shooting and Stamina factors. By contrast the 3 British Guards battalions were given the special rules First Fire, Reliable & Elite as well as +1 to their Melee & Stamina factors, reflecting their performance on the day.

The game starts at 6 pm and ends when darkness came at 10 pm, 16 moves in all. To win the British had to either take the redoubts or break 5 of the French battalions. The French win if they broke two of the Guards Battalions. Given that the Guards suffered almost 20% casualties on the day, we allowed Lake to rally his “Shaken” battalions, even after losing one battalion.  Given that Jourdan described the defeat of the French as a “rout”, any French battalions that left the table could not be brought back on.

Finally Lake had a Staff Rating of 8 with one bonus attack, while both French generals had a Staff Rating of 7.  Overall in terms of points the British had 335 and the French 348, so it was more balanced than originally expected.

The Game

The British started off by advancing in March Column for three moves;


The view of the French end of the 3ft x 2ft table;


By move 4 the Guards Brigade had closed up on the French position and a charge by the Scots Guards in the centre dispersed the French skirmishers. The Scots Guards then advanced to outflank the redoubt on the French left;


A French reserve battalion however managed to counter this move and a close combat ensued, after which both battalions where shaken and then broken. A great hole thus appeared in the British line (Move 6);


The British Guards had also suffered significant casualties and consequently retired out of medium artillery range in order to rally for a couple of turns.  In game turns 10 & 11 the British Guards advanced again to assault the redoubts. At which point things started to go wrong for the French. First one of the central reserve battalions was forced off the table by the accurate fire of the Coldstream’s battalion guns, due to the break test caused by the Wavering special rule. In response, Jourdan led forward the other central reserve battalion to take on the Coldstreams but this too was quickly broken by the British fire power.


As the Coldstream Guards turned to support the attack of the 1st Guards, they presented an open flank to the remaining French battalions on the right flank. Jourdan saw his chance to end the game with a Follow Me charge from the flank, only to Blunder. The battalion involved, having seen the Coldstream Guards advance, immediately left the table to their right!

This move ended with the French having 5 battalions lost or broken and the British being declared the victors, despite not capturing either redoubt.

The scenario worked well and fitted into a club night with ease.

Related links;

The Dutch at Linselles
Battalion Guns in the Netherlands and Flanders


(*Linselles is the correct spelling; the spelling Lincelles, which features in the Guards battle honour, is blamed on the Duke of York’s campaign map on which the “s” was obscured and the Duke read it as a “c” when writing his dispatch of the 19th August 1793 – Source; A.H. Burne, The Noble Duke of York, 1949, p. 67.)

More on British Battalion Guns

Taken from the Journal of the Society for Army Historical Research, vol. 28, 1950, p.137

Field Pieces for the Infantry, 1803 – 8th June 1803

To General Sir David Dundas,

The Commander-in-Chief directs me to inform you that it is generally his intention that each regiment of the Line shall have two small field pieces attached to it.” (W.O. 3/36)

Lieutenant Arthur Brooke, 44th Regiment, in Flanders 1794-5

Continuing my interest in the Duke of York’s campaign in 1793-5 in Flanders and the Netherlands, I visited the Pubic Record Office of Northern Ireland in Belfast. Included in their archives is Arthur Brooke’s diary of his war experiences between 1794 and 1814. His diary is more famous for his account of his participation in the 1812-14 war with the USA, but also includes his experiences in the Mediterranean theatre during the Napoleonic Wars. Unfortunately his diary for 1794 & 1795 deals more with the dreadful retreat than the fighting, but is still of great interest;

“On the 31st of October 1793 got my first commission in the 44th Regiment as Ensign, & joined it in Dublin Barracks, where I was quartered till the 25th April 1794, when I embarked at the Pigeon House for England. Landed at Liverpool and marched from thence to Dartford & Gravesend, marched through London. The year 1794 embarked at Gravesend for Ostend to join the Duke of York’s army. Went from Ostend to Antwerp. Antwerp a beautiful town, the church an elegant structure. I there saw a fine picture of Christ ascending to Heavan. Marched from Antwerp to Breda from thence to Bois-le-Duc & from there to Nuimegon[sic] on the banks of the Waal, where we took up our position till late November, when the British army retired[?] across the Rhine , I never saw a more dreadful retreat. Men women & children were froze to death & the greater part of the Army lost; this dreadful weather lasted till March, when we arrived at Hamburgh and in April embarked for England, when I arrived on the 25th of May 1795 at Sunderland, in the north of England.”

(Source: PRONI D3004D/1, p. 1)

Although he doesn’t mention it in his diary Brooke was promoted to Lieutenant on the 26th November 1793 (Source: Army List 1795, p.142). Lt Brooke left the UK with Lord Moira’s force which was sent to reinforce the Duke of York’s army. Thus, Sir Arthur Brooke would have fought at Boxtel with the 44th Foot in Wellington’s First Battle.


Lt Brooke with the 44th Regiment at Boxtel - in reserve at right rear.

Public Record Office of Northern Ireland in the Titanic Quarter, Belfast