Jean-Baptiste Drouet, Comte d’Erlon

The French 1st Corps at Waterloo were under the overall command of Comte d’Erlon and consisted of over 19300 men and over 40 guns. The use of d’Erlon’s Corps at Waterloo is the source of much conjecture, as they may well have proven decisive for the French had confusion over their conflicting orders from Ney and Napoleon himself not occurred, and they may well have been in a position to crush the Prussians on their arrival if this confusion had not arisen.

Quatre Bras or Ligny?

At the Battle of Quatre Bras, on 16th June 1815, the situation for Marshall Ney was critical. Napoleon had instructed that the crossroads be taken quickly so that assistance could be rendered at Ligny, but Ney required fresh troops to bolster his outnumbered and beleaguered efforts. To this effect, he would call upon D’Erlon.

D’Erlon, for his part, had already halted his march upon Quatre Bras in favour of Ligny, by direct order from the Emperor, dispatching his Chief of Staff to inform Ney of his new orders. He was almost upon Ligny, when Ney’s countermanding order gave him pause – and he turned his forces around. Nearly 20,000 Frenchmen had marched between Quatre Bras & Ligny, but had contributed to neither.

D’Erlons I Corps’ main contribution would come at the main event, on the field of Waterloo, 18 June 1815.

At Waterloo

D’Erlon’s actions during the Battle of Waterloo itself are explored in the Epic Battles: Waterloo rulebook in scenario 4, “D’Erlon’s Attack” (Pages 248 – 251). This scenario recreates the French main assault to smash through the British centre to right lines from La Haye Sainte to Papelotte, in an attempt to force Wellington’s army off the ridge; only to be held by Picton’s Peninsular veterans and face a sudden and dramatic countercharge in their flank by British heavy cavalry.

As with all the scenarios in the book, you’ll find a precise historical combatant list for each army. These are not a hard and fast list, and should instead be used as a template for your own games to suit your own collections of miniatures. To make things a little easier, however, we have worked out and put together everything you need to field D’Erlon’s I Corps on the tabletop.

To best complement your own take on this scenario you’ll also need a suitably ‘epic’ representation of La Haye Sainte – luckily we have that covered!

Composition of D’Erlon’s 1st Corps

The breakdown of the four infantry divisions and sole cavalry division of the 1st Corps are given below:

  • 1st Infantry Division (Quiot with Charlet & Bourgeois; 4,000 infantry in 8 battalions, 8 cannon in 1 battery)
    • 28th Line (2 battalions/ total of 900 men)
    • 54th Line (2/975)
    • 55th Line (2/1,150)
    • 105th Line (2/975)
    • 20/6th Foot Artillery (8x 6-pdr)
  • 2nd Infantry Division (Donzelot with Schmitz & Aulard; 5,125 infantry in 9 battalions, 8 cannon in 1 battery)
    • 13th Light (3/1,875)
    • 17th Line (2/1,050)
    • 19th Line (2/1,025)
    • 51st Line (2/1,175)
    • 10/6th Foot Artillery (8x 6-pdr)
  • 3rd Infantry Division: (Marcognet with Noguez & Grenier; 4,025 infantry in 8 battalions, 8 cannon in 1 battery)
    • 21st Line (2/1,150)
    • 25th Line (2/975)
    • 45th Line (2/1,000)
    • 46th Line (2/900)
    • 19/6th Foot Artillery (8x 6-pdr)
  • 4th Infantry Division (Durutte, with Pegot & Brue; 3,850 infantry in 8 battalions, 8 cannon in 1 battery)
    • 8th Line (2/975)
    • 29th Line (2/1,150)
    • 85th Line (2/625)
    • 95th Line (2/1,100)
    • 9/6th Foot Artillery (8x 6-pdr)
  • 1st Cavalry Division (Jacquinot; 1,500 cavalry in 11 squadrons, 6 cannon in 1 battery)
    • Brigade Bruno
    • (1st) 3rd Chasseurs (3/375)
    • 7th Hussars (3/425)
    • Brigade Gobrechet
    • (2nd) 3rd Lancers (3/400)
    • 4th Lancers (2/300) Artillery 2/1st Horse Artillery (6x 6-pdr) Reserve Artillery (Desales) 11/6th Foot Artillery (8x 12-pdr) 2/1st Engineers (350)

For those of you who feel they would like to fight Waterloo on a truly epic scale, then we offer you the chance to get all of the 1st Corps in one bundle package. 11 Infantry brigade box sets and 2 light cavalry box sets will give you everything you need to recreate this iconic formation.

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