Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The Battle of Arlington

The Battle of Arlington

The Ground

The ground west of Arlington is flat, broken only by South Portage Creek (dry on the day of battle). There was high ground on both sides of the flood plain forming the battlefield. To the north was the Stillaguamish, to the south there was just open ground. There was a knoll behind each line, both sides put artillery on their respective knolls. The infantry engagement took place north of Portage Creek (for the most part), while some infantry, and all of the cavalry, was to the south of the creek.

The Plans

The French Plan envisioned a hook with the left wing turning the Allied flank and advancing into the town of Arlington.

The Allied Plan was to press the French all along the front and use the superior numbers and quality of the Allied infantry to beat the French.

Referee's note - though the Allies thought they outnumbered the French, and they did in terms of troops in theater, the French brought more men to the battle. This was a rude surprise to the Allied commander. Both commander's plans were...not well thought out, as will appear in the narrative below.

French Deployment

French Foot

The French Foot was divided into four columns. With the exception of one Spanish regiment, the various national contingents were kept as separate columns. By dividing his force this way, the French commander said he wanted a certain amount of flexibility. He had some idea of the consequences of the Exhaustion rule, and thought this was a nice division between exhaustion and rallying.

1st Column - French (right to left):
1st Blesois, 2nd Blesois, 1st Chef de Fer, 2nd Chef de Fer, Procurer General, 2nd Intendant General, 1st Intendant General

2nd Column - French (right to left):
Provincial Grenadiers, 1st Croissant, 2nd Croissant, Provisionaire General, Royal Boullibaise, 1st Navarre, 2nd Navarre

3rd Column - Spanish (right to left):
La Mancha, Don Juan, Borracho, Dulcinea de Tolosa, de Vaca, Torta

4th Column - German (right to left):
3rd Germans, 1/1st Germans, 2/1st Germans, 2/2nd Germans, 1/2nd Germans, Governor General's

French Cavalry

The French Cavalry was divided in terms of quality rather than nationality. Thus Governor General's Horse served with the Maison du Roi.

1st Column (right to left):

1st line: Grenadiers a Cheval, Maison du Roi, 1st Governor General's

2nd line: Santiago, Atrasos, 2nd Governor General's

2nd Column (right to left)

1st line: 1st Bartillart, 2nd Bartillart, Crapaud

2nd line: Absinte, 1st Courvoissier, 2nd Courvoissier

French Artillery

The French heavy guns were deployed on the knoll behind Royal Boullibaise (behind the second line). The French medium guns were kept limbered between the Germans and the French 2nd Column.

The French Army was deployed with the 1st Column in the front line with the Spanish to their left. The French 2nd Column formed behind the 1st Column, with the Germans behind the Spanish. All cavalry was massed on the French right flank. The 1st Cavalry Column was deployed to the right of the cavalry, with the 2nd Cavalry Column to their left, both columns in two lines.

Allied Deployment

The Allied commands were divided up by Nationality. After rereading the Exhaustion rules, the Allied commander decided to go for large forces that would be harder to exhaust. The other side of this is that rallying disordered units becomes very difficult when the action becomes general. This contributed to the Allied problems in the battle.

English Foot (right to left) in one line
Lovaduck, d'Escoigne-d'Escoigne, Bartleshire Yeomanry, Buffs, Rakehell, 5th Fusiliers, Lestrade, 100-Acre Woods Foresters, McAlpin's Fusiliers

Dutch Foot (right to left) in two lines

1st line (left of the English): Hoegaarden, Amstel

2nd line (behind Hoegaarden and Amstel): de Koninck, Huegenots

2nd line (behind the English): Dalrymple, Colyear, Murray, Grosch, van Kofferdam, Grootdefeatfontein, Limbeek

Dutch Horse (right to left)

1st line (next to the foot): Frambozen, van Emmenthaler, Dopplebock

2nd line (behind 1st line): Trippel, Bluntschli, de la Gruyere

Anglo-Dutch Horse (right to left)

1st line: te Paard, d'Escoigne

2nd line: 1st Cavalry, Buffs/Irish

The Allied Cavalry was deployed to the left of the Dutch Foot, with the Anglo-Dutch Horse on the far left flank. The English Foot was one command. The Dutch Foot were one command except for the regiments of Hoegaarden, Amstel, de Koninck and Huegenots, who formed a separate command. The cavalry were divided into two commands: Dutch, and Anglo-Dutch. The English Artillery was with the Scots (Colyear). The Dutch artillery was between the Dutch commands in the second line.

Action Commences

10 AM Turn

French - Everyone advanced on the enemy (10"). Bands played a spirited selection of airs.

Allies - The Allied line advanced 11". The Hoegaarden command was pivoted to the left to present a refused flank.

11 AM Turn

French - The French commander noted he overlapped the English line on his own left. He advanced the Spanish to melee, with La Mancha getting on the flank of Lovaduck's and firing into their flank. d'Escoigne-d'Escoigne broke, opening up a gap in the Allied line and isolating Lovaduck. The rest of the French infantry held, going stationary. The French cavalry advanced to melee the Allies, only the Grenadiers a Cheval holding out to one flank. The English line recoiled with heavy losses. In the cavalry scrum, 1st and 2nd Bartillart and Crapaud were destroyed, rendering the entire French line cavalry exhausted. The French 1st Cavalry column was thrown back on morale throws.

Allies - The Dutch line cavalry advanced to engage the French 2nd line, only to be thrown back. te Paard and the rest of that part of the Anglo-Dutch column advanced on the French Guard 2nd line cavalry sending the French horse reeling. At the end of the turn the Spanish Horse and French Line Horse were exhausted. In the infantry fight, the English fell back to straighten out their line and try to get fresh units in the front line. Desultory fire continued on this flank.

Referee's comment - This incident in the battle did not sit well with the referee, not because of the tactics, but because of what happened. See the Referee's Notes from this battle for further comment.

12 PM Turn

French - The Spanish surged forward again, and once more got around the English line, smashing Lovaduck from front and flank, and flanking the entire English line. In the center the French advanced, engaging the rest of the English. The fighting was heavy without a clear winner on either side. The cavalry fight died down, with both sides busy rallying.

Allies - The English counterattacked, shoving the Spanish back with heavy losses (to the English). The Scots advanced to form a new flank (refused). While Dutch cavalry rallied, the Anglo-Dutch cavalry advanced, chasing off the French opposite them.

Referee's comment - This was the one valid Allied attack with their foot. The Allied player seemed upset that the English didn't sweep all before them by virtue of their being English, and seemed really annoyed that it was the Spanish who were doing him the most harm. He clearly did not like rules that did not give a "special advantage" based upon Nationality.

1 PM Turn

French - the Spanish and Guard Horse fell back precipitately, forming column and marching away to the west. The Germans advanced behind the Spanish while the Spanish reorganized their lines. Firing continued to rage in the center as the English counterattack spent itself. The English Foot went exhausted.

Allies - the Dutch cavalry attacked the French 2nd line horse, only to be thrown back with severe losses (they went exhausted). The Anglo-Dutch cavalry reorganized (i.e. they got back under command/control).

Referee's comment - the Allied commander has now received an education about flanks. The French commander managed to parlay a small advantage (an overlap) into a tactical success due to aggressiveness, and the Allied commander's ignoring his flanks.

2 PM Turn

French - the French Guard Horse re-entered the battle, deploying on the west edge of the battlefield. Anyone trying to turn the flank of the French foot would have this cavalry on their flank. The Provincial Grenadiers and 1st and 2nd Croissant refused a flank, forming behind the dry slough that crossed the battlefield right here. Elsewhere, the Spanish and Germans advanced together, turning the Scots flank and shoving them back hard. Other German units renewed the advance in the center, putting more pressure on the Allies.

Allies - the Scots were pulled back yet again to form a new flank. The Hoegaarden command came under pressure from the Germans and was pulled back. Generally the Allies now had one line of foot.

Referee's comment - Initiative now resides strictly with the French. Their mounted arm is in a sorry way, but their foot, especially the Spanish, are well on the way towards winning this battle.

3 PM Turn

French - 2nd Governor General's advanced unhindered into Arlington (winning the battle). Meanwhile the Germans and Spanish meleed the Scots and the remnants of the English, routing them all. They had now clearly flanked the entire Scots/English/Dutch line. The Germans continued their pressure in the center, preventing any detachments to that flank.

Allies - the cavalry was pulled back to form a new front facing the foot. The foot was pulled back as much as possible (6") and the right flank was refused yet again. Grosch and Kofferdam counterattacked (with Hesse-Lickenboot at their head) throwing back the 1st Germans in a rout en echelon, and unhinging the Spanish and Germans long enough that the rest of the foot could begin to march away.

4 PM Turn

French - things were in a real mess with troops all intermingled, and command and control all messed up. The troops stopped while they were sorted out and command and control were re-established.

Allies - the Allied foot broke contact and marched away.

Referee's comment - A debatable pause by the French. He is in a position to totally smash the Allied army, but the French player was getting confused about who was in which command, and so paused to straighten it all out and get everyone back in line. Keeping the pressure up might have yielded much bigger results than had occurred so far.

5 PM Turn

French - the French lines advanced, with troops joining 2nd Governor General's in Arlington. North of the town fresh troops were seen in earthworks, so the pursuit was called off.

Allies - there was no clear retreat route away from the battlefield, and the army headed east in small groups, passing south of Arlington and seeking the safety of the hills.


The French had cut the Allied retreat route, so the referee ruled that there were "substantial" Allied losses from straggling. The Allied army retreated through the night, trying to reach one of the fords over the Stillaguamish River. French pursuit over the river was stopped by the Danes holding the bridge over the river, while the Danish horse covered the main road west of Arlington. Some French troops pursued along Route 530, intercepting Allied troops near Trafton, which led to a brief action.

The Danes held until the next morning, when they withdrew, blowing the bridge behind them. The main route was forced in the morning, and French troops were sent north towards Conway. The cavalry were ordered to try to reach MacMurray.

Battlefield Casualties

Allies - 8,500 men out of 37,500 (22.67%)

French - 4,500 men out of 42,500 (10.58%)


To quote a French general of another war, "Well, sire, you have had your battle, and it is a lost one." The Allies were going to get only fragments back from this battle. To a large extent, this battle decided the campaign. There were still things to decide (siege of Anacortes), but that would settle itself out as minor notes to the crescendo of this battle.

From set-up to take-down, this battle took 3.5 hours, including 2.5 hours of actual playing.

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