|The Positions at the outset of the Battle|
Tuesday, June 25, 2013
Chevalier Busset and his second in Command Marquis de Brahaut dismounted outside Hanley house, a large Chateau type house on the outskirts of Bathurst village that he and his staff had taken over as headquarters. It was a beautiful still summer morning, the sun had barely dawned and already they had ridden the length of the Allied front line checking on dispositions but in particular he had ridden over to Paddington village where the English Confederation commander was headquartered. There he had a early breakfast with General Saunders and his staff, ensuring they were familiar with their role in the coming battle.
Busset was very impressed with General Saunders, he was a consummate professional officer, so unlike the usual prickly aristocratic English officers he had seen since his arrival in England. It had come as a unpleasant surprise to the French to discover that most of the professional officers in the English Army were either in the North American Colonies or had gone over to the Royalists on the advent of King James. The English Confederation certainly had a sprinkling of professional commanders but the large majority were inexperienced nobles or sons of the nobility, who usual swaggered in their colourful attire before the ladies rather than attend to the units under their command.
Another unpleasant surprise was that finding out that some of the units in the Confederation Army that had come across from Lyndhurst were not at full strength. General Saunders and his small army had fought the first battle of this war on the borders of Lyndhurst county and as a consequence most of the units had not replaced all their losses, some were barely 60% of their original strength prior to the battle that had been fought just 8 weeks ago. It was as Chevalier Busset pondered to himself just as well that he had relegated the English contingent a secondary role of pinning and supporting rather than actually leading the attack. It was yet another disappointment the Chevalier had discovered about his Ally.
Once back at Hanley house both Busset and de Brahaut handed the reins of their horses to orderlies outside and then walked into the large lounge area of the house, the room had been converted into a operations room with small groups of officers studying maps and writing battle orders or duplicate orders for units in his army. Waiting in the dining room in between nibbling on sandwiches were the orderly’s and couriers that would take the orders to the various commands.
Chevalier Busset walked over to the main map, it should the area where the battle would be fought, he studied it to ensure no changes had been made, as he looked through the sheaf of finalised orders already completed a few of the officers not involved in the writing of orders gathered around him.
He looked at the map and was pleased to see that all the units were already in position or were not far from being in position.
The French Army had the left flank, and it was from here that the main attack would be launched, following an initial artillery barrage on the enemy units.
The Provence Regiment commanded by the veteran Comte de Saarsfeld was positioned north-east of Barrington forest across the left hand road, the two Battalions of the Provence Regiment were to capture the village of Benbow. Behind the Provence Regiment and supporting their attack on the village was the two Battalions of the Royal Roussilion under command of Chevalier's Busset 2nd in command Marquis du Hautoy. On his right were the two Battalions of the Boccard Regiment commanded by Marquis Boccard himself, the Boccard Regiment was to advance on the right flank of the Provence Regiment aligning itself on the Clydesdale – Bathurst road, their orders were to pin the Royalists forces defending the brewery River line in this sector, and if necessary to force the river line.
They had in support they had 2 battalions of the veteran Picardie Regiment.
On the right of the Boccard regiment were the first of the English battalions, the 1st Confederation Light Battalion would advance on and pin any Royalist units in the Brook forest, they would be supported by the 3rd Buffs Battalion. The 1st Foote, 2nd Foote, 29th Foote and 90th Foot would threaten and if the unlikely opportunity presented itself take the village of Smallbrook, they would be supported on their right by the 90th Foote.
The cavalry on the right flank will protect the infantry from interference from Royalist cavalry that is positioned out on the right flank.
It is expected the Cavalry on the left (Dauphin and Harcourt Dragoons) will not be required until the Royalist left flank becomes shaken, and then it can be used to administer the blow that will break the Royalist flank.
The 2 battalions of the Conty Regiment will be used as reserves.
General Leopold Anders
General Anders knew his task was relatively easy in theory, stop the Allies advance on London; however in practice it was a little more complicated than that.
Royalist controlled London was being threatened by two Allied armies, from the north one under Lord Ashley and from the south one under the command of Chevalier Busset. This meant he could simply not just sit and hold the Allied southern army off, he had to punish it so it did not represent a later threat to London, he had to do this without destroying his own army which may be needed later in the north.
The General was aware of the dangers, he had fought the French in the Low Countries enough to learn to respect their armies and their commanders.
The defensive position he had chosen near Clydesdale was not ideal but it was the best he could reach in the time available.
The large and dense Brook Forest was practically in the centre of his line, and as long as he held this feature the Allied advance could be channeled into two areas, the right flank and the left. It was certain that the Allies would make a greater effort on one flank than the other, so General Anders reasoned it was simply a matter of deploying evenly and then redeploying reserves once the main threat had been identified.
He held the Brook forest with 1400 light infantry with artillery supports on each side of the woods. Believing his right flank in the area of Benbow village and Meyer stream was where the main Allied effort would fall he had placed 5 Battalions and 2 artillery batteries to cover that area.. On the other flank he had 3 battalions, 2 artillery batteries and the Guard cavalry.
In reserve were two very strong (1000men each) Guard Battalions, he hoped that he would be able to pull other units from one side or the other depending on how the battle developed.
The General realised when he saw the Allied armies deploying that the main effort was indeed to be on his right, especially since the strong French brigades were deploying on that flank. He had seen the English Confederation Battalions were still understrength following their last battle at Lyndhurst.
There was little more for him to do, until the Allied attack began, and the beginning was not long in coming.
At 7:30am the Allied Guns opened up the initial Barrage and the First Battle for London had begun.