Sunday, 30 June 2019

The Hundred Hours

Rob G, figure painter extraordinaire and a frequent commentator on this blog, was the first to invite me to put the CEF through it's paces. The scenario he proposed was based on Napoleon's march from Cannes to Paris following his escape from Elba in 1815. What would have happened, he said, if General Marchand and the 5e de Ligne had put up a fight instead of joining the Corsican fugitive? We set up the table to find out.

Rob's wargaming surface is a large sheet of coloured lino which is altogether smoother, greener, lighter and in every sense more practical than the half a ton of former ping pong table I have at my house. Rob also supplied the exquisitely painted Hinton Hunt Napoleon and ADC needed to lead the Emperor's army.

Into the Gap

It is March 1815, and the Emperor is advancing into a narrow defile near the small town of Gap. All Europe trembled, although only a battalion of the guard (disguised as line infantry, for some reason) and his trusty Guard Chasseurs were accompanying him.

Napoleon: Stop worrying, Marbot. The French Army will never fight
for that ridiculous Bourbon beach ball in the Tuileries!
At a bend in the road, however, a Bourbon force was found to be blocking the pass. It was General Marchand (who had a remarkable resemblance to Marshal Soult, or so everyone said) at the head of the 5th Line Infantry. The 3rd Swiss and the 7th Lancers were deployed in support.

Marchand: Vive l'Emp...I mean, Le Roi!
The Emperor signalled the Guard to halt. "There is nothing to fear, mes enfants!", he declared, "They've come to join our forces!". Spurring his horse, the Emperor trotted forward towards the 5th Line. Marbot scrambled to keep up. "Sire, I beseech you, let me go before you", he cried.

Napoleon: Nonsense, Marbot, they'll never lift a finger against me! Here, watch this...
Waving Marbot to be silent, the Emperor continued his advance until he was but a few paces from Marchand's impassive infantry.

Napoleon: Soldiers of the 5th, if there is one amongst you who would kill his emperor. let him do it. Here I am!
 The 5th prepared to fire.

Marbot:  They're raising their muskets, Sire....
Napoleon: You're right, Marbot. Let's send in the Chasseurs instead!
In a trice, the Chasseurs of the Guard were charging straight towards Marchand's line. The 5th held their fire until the very last moment.....

Marchand: Wait for it, wait for!!!!
 …..and delivered an annihilating volley.

Men and horses crashed to the ground, sending the Chasseurs reeling back in confusion. As the smoke cleared, the lifeless body of Eugene de Beauharnais was seen lying on the stricken field.

Napoleon: Oh dear, Josephine isn't going to like that!
As the Emperor dashed back to try to rally has shaken Chasseurs, Davout led forward the Grenadiers of the Guard in an all-out assault.

Davout: The Emperor's eyes are upon you, Grenadiers!
I wish he had something else to give you, but there it is....
In the desperate fight which followed, the 5th were gradually overwhelmed by the Emperor's elite veterans. Marchand fell during the melee (or at least that's the story he told afterwards).

Davout: One down, two to go!

The 5th may have been overthrown, but there were still the 7th Lancers and the Swiss to contend with. As the Emperor tried in vain to rally his shattered Chasseurs, Davout was compelled to form square against the coming onslaught.

The fate of Europe hung in the balance as Murat's Lancers charged pell mell into the defiant Guardsmen.....

Davout: Merde!

...while the Swiss charged in column from the rear.
Davout: Double Merde!

It was too much for the Guard, who fell back and broke, but not before Murat was also toppled. Nevertheless, the Emperor's desperate gamble had failed.

As Davout lifted his hat to signal surrender, the Emperor turned away. Exile beckoned once again.
Napoleon: Oooooookay.....Follow mw, Chasseurs. If we head back to Cannes now
 we might just catch the last boat.....

My sincere thanks to Rob for an extremely entertaining game, particularly as he allowed me to play Marchand.

Since this game, Rob has painted a few more Hinton Hunts, which are illustrated below. I sincerely hope he does a few more. They're absolutely spectacular.

Rob's French Voltigeurs:

Rob's Marshal Junot:

I cannot thank Rob enough for the wonderful welcome and hospitality he showed me when I arrived travel worn and somewhat disorientated in the UK. We also fought another battle, of which more in future posts.

To finish up, and to prove that I haven't been entirely idle in the meantime, here are a couple of shots of the command element for my Lützower Lancers.

They're all finished now and should be appearing on the blog next week.

Salut maintenant,



  1. Interesting "what if" game ! , bad luck Napoleon !

    1. Cheers Tony. The refusal of the Chasseurs to rally was the cause of it!

  2. "Follow mw, Chasseurs" - is that code?
    A great fun write up for what was a really fun game albeit a tiny one. I do consider it a moral victory for the Emperor as 5th failed to form square when charged but still managed keep their composure and lash the Chasseurs with a withering volley. It sort of all went downhill from there - not least with the Emperor spending the rest of the game repeatedly failing to rally his pet Chasseurs... :o(
    Your Lutzow Uhlans are very nice and as usual exhibit those fine painted lines - I just can't seem to get those nice clean edges, hence my more impressionist style. Your inspirational painting is of course the only reason I have any HH's at all - it's all your fault!
    That said why are the rest being so camera shy and hiding in the background, they look pretty complete from what I can see?

    1. My misinterpretations of the rules also had something to do with it, I fear....

      I didn't have time this weekend to give the Lutzowers a proper photodhoot, Rob. I did manage to get them onto their bases, however, so they should be appearing soon.

    2. Rob, Looking at your Voltigeur that WM so kindly shared with us, I wanted to ask how you do your highlighting on the uniform and boots. Are you dry brushing or highlighting more precisely. I went a bit overboard with my brush strokes on the last unit of legere I painted and really like your more subtle use of highlights.

    3. It's more wet dry-brushing if that makes sense. The paint on the brush is wet but there's not a lot loaded on the brush which is dragged over the prominent raised areas but only once whereas I tend to scrub when I dry-brush. The effect achieved is also no doubt a artefact of the repeated repainting of edges/mistakes and suspect that also puts a bit of subtle variation into the colour. Also the shading in real life doesn't look as nice as that so I'd take some close up high resolution photos of your figures and first as you might be surprised by how different they look in a photo. The photos often show me errors - I photoshopped out a blooper on one of those photos as I couldn't be bothered to take more after I'd touched it up.

    4. Just for reference the blue is Humbrol 104 highlighted with Humbrol 25.

    5. You know what this means, don't you Rob - you're going t have to start your own Hinton Hunt blog.

    6. Thanks Rob, will give it a try and see how I can manage. There is always a struggle it seems to me between painting that reads well on the table and that which looks best as an enlarged photo. I think you may be spot on for that balance. Agree with WM about the blog!

    7. Not if it means I need a Google account!

  3. Lovely looking game. The green lino certainly has a "ping" to it.

    I do like the Garrison (?) figures.

    1. Some of them are Garrisons, Matt. I'm also rather fond of them and intend painting some more at some point, but there's quite a big HH mountain to get through first...and maybe some more Lammings!

  4. You know, if I had not looked twice, I could have sworn that was Rod Steiger at the head of an infantry column.

    Best Regards,

  5. It's almost as if Dino De Laurentiis made casting decisions based on Marcus Hinton's personality figures, isn't it. I've always thought the HH Picton was the spitting image of Jack Hawkins!

  6. Fine looking game WM with beautifully painted figures, what more could one ask for :)

    1. Cheers 'Lee. I think the answer must be to do more of them.

  7. Good to see La Garde put in its place by real soldiers. Welcome back, mon brave, I've only just stopped laughing. And Lutzow's Uhlans in the wings. All is again well with the world. Do stop being so modest about your lines. Rob speaks for me and perhaps more among us....

  8. *Cough*….awww cheers, mate.
    You're far too kind, Archduke, as is Rob.

  9. Proof positive that a game doesn't have to be a 3 day re-fight of Austerlitz using thousands of figures on 3 tables to be fun. Highly entertaining!

    1. The best games do seem to be the small ones, David. There's space to manoeuvre and one becomes very emotionally attached to one's little battalions.

  10. Glad to have you back online my friend! I have to echo the sentiments regarding the painting; both you and Rob are indeed the masters of it. I was working on my Bavarian unit last night and lamenting the presence of all of the squiggly lines. Like any bad craftsman, I blame my tools. Clearly it must be the fault of the brushes! Can't wait to see your next installment with the Lutzow's Uhlans!

    1. You must embrace your squiggly lines, Dave, as it's impossible to get straight ones on Hunton Hunts! DKs are another matter as one has to invent half the detail.

    2. Now there you speak truth! The Bavarians I'm working on are Airfix recasts with much of the remaining detail cut off in the conversion process. They might as well be a blank canvas!

  11. What a jolly fun and very pretty game old boy...

    All the best. Aly

  12. Looks like a fun little game Matthew and the troops look splendid as always!

    1. Cheers, Ian. It was great fun, even if it sort of put the kybosh on any plans I might have made to stage the Waterloo campaign. I may have to pretend that it was just small "huccup", hitherto suppressed by Bonapartist propaganda.