Small Fleurus – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

This scenario represents the Battle of Fleurus (29 Aug 1622) using Tilly’s Very Bad Day. Historically the Spanish defeated the Protestant Paladins Mansfeld and Brunswick, and destroyed the Protestant infantry, but did not prevent the Protestant horse from reaching the Dutch. Given the number of troops involved in the real battle, this is a small game on a small table with small armies (in numbers of units).


Historical Situation

Setting: Near Fleurus, Brabant, Spanish Netherlands, 29 Aug 1622 (Gregorian Calendar)

On 13 July 1622 two of the Protestant Paladins, Ernst von Mansfeld and Duke Christian of Brunswick, were discharged from the service of Frederick V of Bohemia found themselves unemployed. The relocated to Sedan and offered their services to France however the French said “no” and sent troops to defend Champagne against them. The Paladins then decided to head for the Netherlands and offer their services to the Dutch. Meanwhile the Spanish Army of the Palatinate, under Gonzales de Cordoba, had advanced to intercept them before they entered the Duchy of Luxembourg. To avoid Luxembourg and the Spanish the Paladins moved west into Brabant. However, Cordoba left his heavy baggage in Dinant and moved to block the Protestants on a plain some kilometres north-west of Fleurus. At dawn on 29 Aug 1622 the Protestant army moved onto the field. After 47 days of march their forces had shrunk by half but the Paladins still outnumbered the Spanish by a considerable margin, particularly in cavalry.


Map/Terrain

The map is based on that given by Pierre Picouet (2019, p. 214). The square map area is 2.8 km by 2.8 km; this shrinks to 2.8 km by 1.9 km for the shallow option.

Small Table - Fleurus - Tillys Very Bad Day

Small Table – Fleurus – Tillys Very Bad Day

Key features are:

  • A small table of 30 TUM x 30 TUM (this is 4′ x 4′ with my 80 wide bases)
  • Shallow small table lines for those who want a more smaller battlefield – these are the thin green dotted lines – use as the base edges
  • Flank lines – these are the grey dotted lines – used for deployment
  • Small Village (4 x 3 TUM) representing Chaussard Farm
  • Medium Wood (6 TUM)
  • Medium Rough Ground (6 x 4 TUM) representing the Spanish wagon park which interfered with the advance of the Protestant cavalry
  • Two dirt tracks: these have no game effect

Pre-game preparation

Normal rules for deployment. At time of writing both Scouting and Bombardment are draft rules in play test. There is no scouting in this scenario.

Both sides can use Bombardment. Bombardment is one shot by each Cannon Unit. Normal shooting rules apply. No movement/pivoting allowed.


Spanish Player (Defending)

Objective

The Spanish are attempting to block the Paladin’s advance into the rebel Dutch provinces.

Forces Available

Picouet (2019) gives the Spanish 6,000 infantry and 2,000-2,200 cavalry.

Spanish Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (4 Units; 16 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Baron de Gauchier)
    • 2 x Horse1
    • 1 x Shot2
  • Centre (7 Units; 28 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Gonzales de Cordoba)
    • 2 x Superior Pike+Shot2,3
    • 3 x Ordinary Pike+Shot2
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon [Resolve 1]3
  • Left Wing (3 Units; 12 Coins )
    • 1 x Commander (Felipe da Silva)
    • 2 x Horse
  • 14 Units; 56 Coins; 5 break point

Notes:
(1) With 2,000-2,200 cavalry the Spanish should have four Units of Horse. The right was marginally stronger than the left but I think it better to spit the Horse evenly rather than go for the more extreme configuration with three Units on the right flank and one on the left. Roughly half of the Spanish cavalry were Cuirassiers and half Arquebusiers (29 cuirassier companies and 24 arquebusier companies) (Wikipedia: Battle of Fleurus (1622)); this makes no difference in the basic rules but might affect what figures you use to depict them.
(2) The Spanish has 6,000 infantry, so six units at the nominal Unit scale. The Shot in Chaussard Farm were a significant factor in the battle so I have made them a full strength Unit and reduced the number of men allocated to the foot in the centre. Historically there were four squadrons of foot in the centre, but at the nominal scale this rises to five Units.
(3) Wikipedia: Battle of Fleurus (1622) says some of the Spanish infantry were veterans: Tercio of Naples i.e. Ibarra (first squadron), Verdugo Tercio (first squadron) and the Fugger Regiment (fourth squadron). So you have the option to make two Pike+Shot Superior.
(4) The Spanish only has four light guns so I have reduced the Resolve to 1.

Deployment

All units deploy behind the red dotted line.

Normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy unlimbered.

Reinforcements

None


Paladin Protestant Player (Attacking)

Begins scenario with initiative.

Objective

The Paladin Protestant force is attacking. If there is no result within 10 Turns, they lose the battle.

Forces Available

Picouet (2019) gives the Paladins 5,000 cavalry and up to 5,000 infantry. Wilson (2010, p. 339) describes them as “mutinous and barely under orders.”

Paladin Protestant Order of Battle

  • Right Wing (4 Units; 14 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Colonel Streiff)
    • 1 x Ordinary Horse
    • 2 x Inferior Horse1
  • Centre (7 Units; 21 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Ernst von Mansfeld)
    • 5 x Inferior Pike+Shot1
    • 1 x Unlimbered Cannon [Resolve 1]2
  • Left Wing (8 Units; 29 Coins)
    • 1 x Commander (Christian, Duke of Brunswick)
    • 4 x Ordinary Horse
    • 3 x Inferior Horse1
  • 19 Units; 64 Coins; army breakpoint: 7 Units

Notes:
(1) Most engravings of the battle show three Protestant infantry squadrons. Picouet (2019) assumes they were deployed in the Dutch style with three or four battalions (hopen) each. Wikipedia: Battle of Fleurus (1622) says “26 understrength Infantry regiments brigaded into 8 composite Battalions deployed in a checkerboard double line”. I have chosen to represent this with five normal Pike+Shot in two lines, so the rear units provide support. You could instead try three Large Pike+Shot to match the engravings.
(2) The Protestants only had two guns so again I have reduced their Resolve to 1.
(3) I have downgraded the Protestant Pike+Shot and half the Horse to Inferior to because they were “mutinous and barely under orders”. Plus they didn’t perform well given they heavily outnumbered the Spanish.

Deployment

Deploys behind the blue dotted line.

Normal deployment rules apply e.g. all Pike+Shot units must deploy in the centre (between the grey dotted flank lines).

Cannon deploy unlimbered.

Reinforcements

None.


Victory Conditions

Normal victory conditions apply. A side loses when, in the Army Morale step, they have reached their army break point (lost at least ⅓ of the original Units). If there is not a result within 10 Game Turns then the Paladins lose.


Scenario Special Rules

This scenario uses the Unit Quality Advanced Rule. The Protestant Horse and Pike+Shot are all Inferior. They start with one less Resolve (Horse 2; Pike+Shot 3) and cost one less Coin.

The Spanish wagon train blocked the advance of the Protestant right wing horse. Da Silva’s horse sheltered behind the wagons. So I have included the wagon park here as rough ground.


Notes

Nominal unit size: 1000 for Pike+Shot and Shot; 500 for Horse; 8 guns for Cannon. There are no Dragoons, Rabble, or Light Horse.

I have calculated the cost of each army in Coins to check the balance of the scenario. With Inferior Protestants it is close enough.

The actual battle lasted five hours and was considered a long brutal affair. So I see no reason to shorten the time limit from 10 Game Turns.

According to Picouet (2019) the four Spanish infantry squadrons were:

  1. Tercio of Ibarra (Spanish), Tercio of Verdugo (Walloon), Tercio of Bucquoy (Walloon) and Tercio of Balançon (Burgundian)
  2. Regiment of Fugger (German)
  3. Regiment of Isemburg (German) reinforced by two companies from Regiment of Emden (German), and free companies
  4. Tercio of Campolattaro (Italian) and Tercio de Spinelli (Italian)

Guthrie (2002) (and Wikipedia: Battle of Fleurus (1622) who follow him) has a different configuration.

  1. Tercio of Naples (under Ibarra, 16 companies, Spaniards); Tercio Balanzon (2 companies, Burgundians); Tercio Verdugo (15 companies, Walloons)
  2. Isenburg Regiment (10 companies, Lower Rhine Germans); Emden Regiment (1 company, Northern Germans); 4 Free Companies (French)
  3. Tercio of Capua (14 companies, Italians)
  4. Fugger Regiment (7 companies, Germans)

As I mentioned above I have downgraded the Protestant Pike+Shot and half the Horse to Inferior to because they were “mutinous and barely under orders”. Plus they didn’t perform well given they heavily outnumbered the Spanish. This might be doing the German Horse a disservice as Wikipedia: Battle of Fleurus (1622) says “Protestant cavalry was highly motivated and of good quality, many of the recruits were members of the German lesser nobility, and most were heavily armoured cuirassiers. The infantry was of much lesser material, poorly equipped, it had suffered the most in the march”.

The Protestant order of battle is not optimal for the terrain. The cavalry heavy left wing is on the flank with the wood and the farm. I assume the Protestants deployed from the march. The left wing was probably the vanguard and deployed as soon as they saw the Spaniards, which explains their position. An option is to allow more flexibility in the order of battle, for example, stick to the given commands but allow the player to deploy them where the want (retaining the restriction that the Pike+Shot must be in the centre). So the cavalry heavy wing could deploy on the right facing the Spanish open wing.


References

Guthrie, W. P. (2002). Battles of the Thirty Years War: From White Mountain to Nordlingen, 1618-1635. Greenwood Press.

Fleurus is covered in Appendix H: Battle of Fleurus, August 29, 1622, pp. 100-101.

Picouet, P. (2019). The Armies of Philip IV of Spain 1621-1665: The fight for European supremacy [Century of the Soldier No. 42]. Helion & Company.

Wilson, P. H. (2010). Europe’s Tragedy: A New History of the Thirty Years War. Penguin.

Wikipedia: Battle of Fleurus (1622)

The Wikipedia article largely follows Guthrie for the order of battle but changes the data a bit in the process.

7 comments to Small Fleurus – A Tilly’s Very Bad Day Scenario

  • Roger Calderbank

    Thank you for this scenario. My friend Mark and I will have to try it, if we have enough cavalry. Mind you, we wait with bated breath for V2 of the rules, as there are now many changes from what you originally published.

    I haven’t (yet) got the book by Picouet. It is interesting that your map (and presumably his) shows a different arrangement of the wood and farm from most other images I’ve seen.

    The battle is also a good example of Belgium being the cockpit of Europe. It is on the northern edge of the 1794 battle, and the western edge of Ligny in 1815. 1914 armies passed this way as well.

    RogerC

    • Steven Thomas

      Roger

      I’ve got two different maps of Fleurus from Pierre Picouet. They are recognisable as the same location but differ in a minor ways:
      1. the orientation of the armies differ, which is only significant because …
      2. the web version had the Spanish defending a slope and the Paladins advancing up a shallow valley towards them. The book version doesn’t show or mention this.
      3. relative position of wood and farm. The wood behind the farm (web) or farm behind the wood (book). It makes little difference to the scenario as both are difficult terrain.

      I chose to go with the more recent version from his book.

      What other images have you see of the Battle of Fleurus? I’m always on the hunt for more data.

  • Christoph

    THX for the scenario!
    When there will be the download of Version 2 with all rulechanges included?

    cheers from Germany

    • Steven Thomas

      Fair question Christoph. The draft is near complete. I hope to get it to my proof readers by the end of the weekend (I thought I’d proof read before publishing for a change). Then a couple of weeks until it appears.

  • Christoph

    Hi there,
    somehow it seems like my comment from yesterday disappeared?

    So again, thx for the scenario!

    When will we see the Version 2 of the rules with all the amentments like big brigades and so on?

    cheers from germany

  • Christoph

    If you need one more typohunter count me in! Would be a pleasure!

  • Roger Calderbank

    Sorry, I haven’t any images except the standard Internet ones. I was particularly thinking of Picouet’s own earlier maps, which you’ve seen. I guess we’ll never know for sure, so it is entirely reasonable to go with his latest version. For the slope and valley, I wonder (as I am typing this) if ‘streetview’ might show something, or whether anyone has visited the battlefield.

    I too am happy to be a proofreader, although I think you said they were already lined up.

    Christoph, my first post to this site also took several hours to appear. It may be some anti-spam feature.

    RogerC

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