Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life; currently concentrating on a re-fight of the entire Peninsular War, but with the odd foray into ancient, medieval and WW2 battles.

Monday, 24 December 2012

Peninsular Campaign - Battle 05: Action at San Munoz

The Situation: Marshal Marmont is still retiring on Salamanca, hopefully to regroup and organize a counter-offensive to drive Wellington back over the Portuguese border at the very least.  However, Wellington is determined to remain on the heels of the French Army, giving them no respite and hoping the disorder will spread throughout Marmont's command.

To gain time, Marmont has ordered Gen Sauret to take charge of the rear guard and delay Wellington at a defensible position near Sancti-Spiritus.  Wellington however has charged General Berwick with crushing this  defence and allow the French no rest at all...

Orders of Battle:

ALLIED ARMY


Anglo-Portuguese C-in-C: Gen Sir William Berwick (Competent)

1st Division: Maj-Gen Robson (Competent)
1st Brigade:
1/5 Northumberland *
3/27 Inniskillings
1/52 Oxfordshire (Light Infantry)
55 Westmoreland
2nd Brigade:
1/4 King's Own
1/43 Monmouthshire (Light Infantry) *
1/61 South Gloucestershire
1/92 (Gordon Highlanders) *
Divisional Artillery:
7 Coy/8 Bn RA (Lawson's) 6lb

2nd Division: Maj-Gen Charlton (Decisive) 
1st Brigade:
2 Queen's Royal **
68 Durham (Light Infantry) ***
2/92 (Gordon Highlanders) ***
2nd Brigade:
2/43 Monmouthshire (Light Infantry)
51 2nd Yorkshire (West Riding) (Light Infantry)
Divisional Artillery:
5 Coy/1 Bn RA (6lb)

1st Light Cavalry Brigade:
9th Light Dragoons
16th (Queen's) Light Dragoons

2nd Light Cavalry Brigade:
10th Prince of Wales Own Hussars (V)***
15th King's Hussars

1st Dragoon Brigade:
4th Queen's Own Dragoons *
6th Inniskilling Dragoons (R)

2nd Dragoon Brigade:
3rd Prince of Wales' Dragoon Guards
5th Princess Charlotte of Wales' Dragoon Guards (V)

IMPERIAL FRENCH ARMY

French C-in-C: Gen Sauret (Competent)

1st Division: Gen Renault (Competent) 
1st Brigade:
1/28 Light **
1/32 Light ***
2nd Brigade:
1/113 Line (R)
2/113 Line
3/113 Line *
1/119 Line ***
Divisional Artillery:
1/1 Foot Artillery 8lb

2nd Light Cavalry Brigade:
1 Hussars
6 Hussars

The Set-Up:


The unoccupied battlefield

The French are deployed in a strong position: a town defended by infantry and artillery, with  the hills on the flank guarded by further infantry.  Two regiments of French Hussars are in reserve to the left (East);  two brigades of the British 2nd Division are approaching from the right (West)

The initial clashes:

French manoeuvering on the Northern flank (bottom) causes the British troops to redeploy, whilst a British demonstration against the town entices Gen Sauret to bring forward his Hussars from reserve; to the South,  British troops prepare to attack the hill

In the South, the French troops have driven back the British with light losses, who subsequently reform upon reserves moved from the centre.  The rest of the British troops form up for a more general assault
The Crisis of the Battle:

French troops on the Northern flank (bottom) deliver a volley which shatters  1/43 (Monmouthshire) Light Infantry, then deliver a bayonet charge which completes their destruction; the French Legere now face 1/4 Foot - but 10 and 15 Hussars have positioned themselves on their flank.  The British troops in the centre have pushed back the French Hussars, but have declined to attack the town so far; however, the second assault on the Southern hill has proved most successful: 1/119 Line are in rout and 3/113 Line have retreated in some disorder.  A major decision point has been reached: should the French Light Infantry return to defending the Northern hill or should they press their advantage?
Defeat!

The fortunes of war:  the French Light Infantry have routed 1/4 Foot back Westwards; however, they have been hit hard in turn by the charge of the veteran 10 Hussars, nobly supported by their brothers of 15 Hussars.  1/32 Light have broken and 1/28 have retired in disorder - and the brigade has failed its morale check.  As 50% of the French Infantry division's brigades have broken (i.e. 1 of 2), then the whole division has become 'spent'!  Fearing disaster, the French infantry have retreated from the village without defending it...the shame...and at this point, without support, the French Hussars have withdrawn too! (the French failed their army morale check)...
Same position from a view behind the British centre
Results:
On the Allied side, 68 (Durham) Light Infantry and 2/92 (Gordon Highlanders) were promoted to Veteran status
On the French side, 3/113 Line and 1 Hussars were promoted to Veteran status.

Game Notes:
This game was based on Scenario 06 from Grant and Asquith's Scenarios for All Ages .  This was another battle over relatively quickly - in perhaps just over 60 minutes of playing time.  Perhaps the write-up doesn't do justice to just how tense this game was.  It ended up on a thread of whether or not the morale of the British 1st Division's 2nd Brigade would hold or not (it did) or if the French 1st Division's First Brigade would break (it did).  The odds at this key moment were 1 in 3 that the British would break, 2 in 3 that the French would (both sides or neither was a possibility).  The unfavourable die roll at this moment really did for the French.

It might have been better for the French if the division had been organized in three brigades of two battalions, rather than one of two and another of four.  However, this would have increased the chances of the Southern hill falling more quickly than it actually did.  Overall though, if I replay this scenario with these rules and forces, I will try this.  Three brigade divisions would seem to be less fragile than two brigade ones, in general.

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