Fate, Fortune or Faithlessness? Camaret Bay 18th June, 1694: Part 4

A map drawn up to wargame the action
Wargaming Camaret Bay
It does sound unmistakably like D-Day. It took place around 200 miles from and almost exactly 250 years to the day before Operation Overlord as, although the date is now noted at June 18th the old style calendar marks it as June 6th or 7th in most sources. The action can be fought in various ways; as a large scale battle, as a skirmish or even as a naval action with the troops playing no real part.

All England wall of firepower

Larger scale game

Although Tollemache had as many as 10,000 men in fifteen battalions, his spearhead was apparently a battalion of converged grenadiers supported by 900 pike and shot armed infantry behind. This landing force can be contained in four to six large boat models each representing a cluster of well-boats. In each, half a battalion of infantry could be transported. Reinforcements can be fed in using the same principle from the fleet sitting at the table edge or off table. The Allied attack will continue as long as some units remain unbroken on the beach or casualties are below a certain level such as 25% of the total force (roughly four full battalions).

French dragoons wait behind the beach for the order to attack

 Players may wish to apply slightly different criteria to the continued prosecution of the invasion such as whether Tollemache survives or whether certain objectives are captured such as redoubts or trench lines.  By avoiding too prescriptive a set-up, players will be able to incorporate the vital elements necessary to make this kind of game work. It is important that the Allied fleet gets a chance to bombard the shore defences. It is also vital to recognize that at any given time the ships will be coming under direct fire from up to six directions plus indirect fire from mortars they can’t even see. 

It could be that the limitation on whether the attack continues or not depends on how much damage the fleet sustains rather than casualties to the troops. In the game damage to an off table fleet could be managed on paper.
Some of Vauban's 300 cannon

The French entrenchments, redoubts and gun positions will be of the very best quality having been supervised by Vauban himself. French batteries will have interlocking fields of fire and clear lines of sight to land and sea targets. Bearing in mind the preparations it would be unrealistic to burden the French with any ammunition shortages but random events such as exploding batteries or magazines are an option.

As the game may become somewhat demoralizing for the Allied players I recommend some stepped objectives such as:

1.       Assemble two battalions on the beach at half strength or greater. Move to next objective:-

2.       Advance towards the enemy and engage in a fire fight or combat win or lose, Move to next objective:-

3.       Break or push back an enemy unit. Move to next objective etc.

Reinforcements automatically landed on the beach could be a reward for achieving some of these meaning, the game will continue and get harder for the French player with every incremental piece of English progress.

Du Plessis counter attacked with cavalry

French Troops

The total number of French forces in the Brest area probably amounted to around the same as Tollemache’s command. The challenge could be the same as that facing the Germans during D-Day – they are not all at the point of decision and therefore available only in drips or not at all. Tollemache was under the strong impression that all that opposed him was poorly armed militia whilst the truth was far different. Vauban in a letter to the King assures him not to be concerned as in addition to the previously mentioned artillery pieces he had 300 bombardiers, 300 Gentlemen, 4,000 Regular infantry and a regiment of Dragoons in place. 

Fourteen squadrons of Horse under du Plessis are mentioned in some accounts which could amount to between 700 and 1,400 men. A regiment of Marines is stated to have manned the trenches at Camaret and been commanded by the Marquis du Langeron. A brigade of infantry under Comte de Servon and Sieurs de Vaise is also described as charging down on Tollemache’s beach head.

An offcier of the Garde Francaises - a conversion I did about 10 years ago.

English Troops

I have attempted to identify as many as possible of the English regiments included in the Camaret invasion force. I am fairly confident that Richard Brewer’s, one of Thomas Erle’s two battalions and William Stueart’s all participated. Tollemache was colonel of the Coldstream Guards and apparently Colonel John Hope of that regiment marched from London to Plymouth at the head of thirteen companies of English Guards on May 15th. Whether these were from his own regiment is not clear. Two battalions of Marines are mentioned and only two are listed for the period those of The Earl of Derby and John, Lord Berkeley.

Forward Lads! Hit the beach and push from Brest!

It is probable that both these units were with Tollemache. I have found at least one reference to the Huguenot battalions which fought in Ireland being included in the invasion force although other accounts have them in Savoy at the time. If this is true we may have accounted for eight to nine from a possible twelve to fifteen units.

The grenadier battalion is likely to have been between 300 and 600 strong. This number of men could easily come from the consolidation of grenadier companies of twelve to fifteen regiments even if some were marines who would have been equipped with flintlocks and worn grenadier caps similar to army grenadiers.

English Guards were almost certainly part of the assault force.

All of the regiments mentioned are likely to have been of good quality with extensive combat experience with perhaps the exception of the marines. Morale classification should therefore be Drilled or better dependant on which rules you use. Players may wish to make the first wave Elite due to the nature of their task.