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.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

Peninsular Campaign Summary - August 1808

Peninsular Campaign Summary - August 1808

Andalusia:

Castanos re-organized units and then attempted to push north into La Mancha, but unfortunately for him, Barbou's Division was able to hold the mountain passes against the Spanish!  Castanos was able to bring forward further units from the Seville area, but was unable to force the passes by the time the month ended, by which time Barbou had fled northwards towards Moncey, leaving only a small detachment of Swiss to block the path.

Leon and Castile:

Cuesta continued his southwards march and has now past Caceres on his way to Badajoz.  The main action for the month however occurred in the area around Burgos.  Initially Bessieres, outnumbered, fell back before Blake's Army of Galicia.  However, although Blake was able to blockade Burgos, a reinforced II Corps through back Blake after he crossed the river to the west of Miranda.  Suitably reinforced, Bessieres then threw back Blake again and relieved Burgos and finally in the series of three hard-fought French victories, defeated Blake in battle to the west of Burgos, in which battle Blake fell, shot resisting the advance of the Fusiliers-Chasseurs of the Imperial Guard.  Blake's replacement, Gen Mahy, led the majority of the Army of Galicia in retreat to Palencia.

Aragon:

Joseph has made further slow progress at the siege of Zaragoza, but there is no practicable breach yet.

Catalonia:

The cat-and-mouse moves have continued.  Duhesme has blockaded Gerona and some sickness has set in amongst the garrison, while Lechi remains around Hostalrich.  Palacio is approaching Barcelona with his two small divisions, but does Duhesme dare to trust the Neapolitan garrison to hold out...

Valencia:

Cervellon brought Moncey's III Corps to battle South of Cuenca before the majority of the French reinforcements from Madrid could arrive, and after the very hard fought battle of Sisiante ,has defeated the French and forced them to retreat.  Moncey has retreated to Madridejos via Ocana, as he looks to amass his entire Corps, reinforced by the surviving division (Barbou's) from Dupont's disaster in the South.

Portugal:

Wellington arrived in the area north of Lisbon and Junot, fearing to wait in case of the arrival of further British forces resolved to attack whilst the numbers were roughly equal and hoping to destroy the British early.  Victory went to Wellington however and Junot's forces retreated in disorder into Lisbon.  Rather than precipitately follow, Wellington then destroyed Loison's small isolated division before pursuing.  It is likely that Junot  will sue for terms rather than be blockaded in Lisbon.

Game Notes: Junot seems to be better off attacking, as the Tomb for an Empire rules allow the French player to decide whether the Convention of Cintra is signed or not.  As being beseiged in Lisbon is a death sentence for Junot's Corps, it seems better to risk battle in the hope of victory then go for the convention if defeated. Barbou's victory over Castanos was played using the rules for minor combat - very lucky dice rolling resulted in a very unlikely victory for Barbou's conscripts.  This has rather put back Spanish plans to unite Cervellon and Castanos early to re-take Madrid and drive the French as far northwards as possible.  It also risks Joseph being able to actually capture Zaragoza at the first time of asking, which would be a severe blow to Spanish hopes.

Summary of Forces - end of August 1808/beginning September 1808

Summary of Forces - end of August 1808

I thought it might be easier if I summarized the strengths and locations of the various armies this way rather than importing it from the campaign spreadsheet I use to keep track of everything.

IMPERIAL FORCES

VIII Corps (Lisbon) - Junot (being returned to France after upcoming Convention of Cintra):
13000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 42 Guns


Almeida Garrison: 1000

Elvas Garrison: 2000

II Corps (west of Burgos) - Bessieres
21000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

Santander Garrison: 1000

Burgos Garrison: 1000

Army of Spain (Tudela) - Joseph Napoleon
3000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Verdier & Lefebevre-Desnouettes (Zaragoza)
12000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 12 Guns + Siege Forces

Desolles (Pamplona)
14000 Infantry, 6 Guns

San Sebastian Garrison: 2000

Pamplona Garrison: 2000

Bayonne Garrison: 2000

III Corps (Madridejos) - Moncey
12000 Infantry, 5000 Cavalry, 54 Guns

Gobert (Madrid)
8000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Barbou (Valdepenas)
6000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Garrison in Mountain Pass North of Baylen: 1000 Infantry

VII Corps (Gerona) - Duhesme
6000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Lechi (Hostalrich)
3000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Reille (Perpignan)
7000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Figueras Garrison: 1000

Barcelona Garrison: 2000

SPANISH FORCES

Army of Andalusia (Baylen) - Castanos
20000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 36 Guns

Jones (Andujar)
4000 Infantry, 6 Guns

La Pena (west of Jaen)
6000 Infantry, 6 Guns

O'Donoju (Seville)
1000 Cavalry

Seville Garrison: 13000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry

Cadiz Garrison: 6000

Malaga Garrison: 2000

Huelva Garrison: 3000

waiting west of Granada: 5000 Infantry

Granada Garrison: 3000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry

Army of the Centre (west of Caceres) - Cuesta
6000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Moretti (Badajoz)
4000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Ciudad Rodrigo Garrison: 1000

Army of Galicia (Palencia) - Mahy
18000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

Acevedo & Virues (Astorga)
15000 Infantry, 12 Guns

Villafranca Garrison: 4000

La Coruna Garrison: 2000

Vigo Garrison: 3000

Gijon Garrison: 2000

Army of Valencia (south of Cuenca) - Cervellon
17000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

Villalva (far west of Requena)
2000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Cartagena Garrison: 4000

Murcia Garrison: 2000

Army of Aragon (Zaragoza) - Palafox
6000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Army of Catalonia (southwest of Barcelona) - Palacio
10000 Infantry, 12 Guns

ANGLO-PORTUGUESE FORCES

Gibraltar Garrison: 6000 Infantry

British Army (Santarem) - Wellington, but about to be replaced by Dalrymple then Moore)
21000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Campaign Battle 06: Battle of Melgar

Battle of Melgar, Late August 1808

General Situation: Bessieres has wasted no time after relieving Burgos and is again in pursuit of Blake's Army of Galicia.  Again, the Imperials' cavalry superiority has helped force the Spanish into an engagement, this time in a pass heading west towards Leon from the direction of Burgos.  Blake can no longer run, so he has prepared himself to fight in a reasonbly strong position, reinforced as he is by Trias' Division.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (CinC Bessieres - Decisive)
Imperial Guard Division: 3000 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Light Cavalry
Merle's Division: 9000 Infantry
Mouton's Division: 12000 Infantry, 1000 Dragoons
Artillery: 48 Guns
Totals: 24000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Blake - Competent)
Maceda's Division: 1500 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Cagigal's Division: 4500 Infantry
Martinengo's Division: 3000 Infantry
Portago's Division: 4500 Infantry
Riquelme's Division: 6000 Infantry
Trias' Division: 4500 Infantry
Artillery:  60 Guns
Totals: 24000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

Set-Up:

Deployment: View from the South.  Merle's Division is bottom right, facing the Spanish from Martinengo's Division on the hill at the bottom left, with Portago's Division in the gap.

View from behind the French: Imperial Guard, a grand battery and Lasalle's Cavalry in the centre facing Spanish from Cagigal's Division.  Spanish C-in-C Blake is on top of the central hill.

View from behind the Spanish:Trias' Division on the hill to the left and Riquelme's units face the mass of Mouton's troops.
 The First Attacks:

Merle's division on the French extreme left advances to come to grips with Martinengo's infantry defending the hill; meanwhile the Spanish achieve first blood by breaking a brigade of Mouton's Division after blake in person leads a brigade from Cagigal's Division in a charge down the hill.
Mouton's masses advance towards Riquelme's infantry, whilst fire from the French grand battery disrupts Cagigal.
 French Successes and Bold Spanish Strokes:

Merle's Division destroyed Martinengo and took the hill; Blake reinforces Portago's Division with the Spanish reserve (Maceda's Division) to try and re-establish a defensible line on the Spanish right flank.

However, on the Spanish left a bold counter-attack by Trias' division (bottom centre) has pushed Mouton's flanking units back (bottom left) and has outflanked Mouton's main body (massed in the centre), causing it to abandon its attack on Riquelme.  Imperial Guardsmen have been repulsed in their first assault on the cerro in the Spanish centre - they reform and prepare for a second go...
 Spanish Counter-Attack:
Fearing for his right (top left in picture), Blake orders a bold counter-stroke and advances his line against Mouton!  Cagigal's Division routs the French brigade facing it and threatens the grand battery, while Riquelme advances.  Mouton's dragoons charge Trias' Division (far right)...but the Spanish hold!  Things look a bit grim for Mouton...
 French Triumphant!

The same moment from the opposite side: Merle is pushing back Portago and Maceda, whilst the Imperial Guard are almost ready to resume their assault (note the stockpile of blue Tempo points)

This time the Imperial Guardsmen carry the cerro in the centre, rout the Spanish and at this moment the Spanish C-in-C, General Blake, is killed by a shot from one of the Fusilier-Chasseurs! Gen Mahy from Blake's staff assumes command and depite the success of the Spanish left, reckons that the Spanish Right must collapse and orders a general withdrawal.  After the Imperial Guard troops reform, they break Maceda's infantry and his Cavalry turn tail, but the rest of the Spanish troops successfully break contact (position as seen in the photo).

Conclusion:
A hard-fought French victory, in which the successes of Merle and Dorsenne's Guardsmen just outweighed the Spanish successes of Trias' and Cagigal's men against Mouton.  Although the Spanish lost only slightly more during the battle than the French (four brigades routed against three), Lasalle's cavalry, carefully husbanded, took 3,000 prisoners in a difficult Spanish escape post-battle.Overall, the French took about 1900 casualties, the Spanish about 4950 (the vast majority amongst the infantry of both sides). Bessieres now faces a difficult decision: it is likely that Mahy will withdraw further, should he pursue and risk being pulled away from the vital Bayonne-Burgos-Madrid line when the Spanish Armies of Andalusia and Valencia are likely to be soon chasing Moncey back towards Madrid?  Or should he keep up the pressure on Mahy hoping for that truly decisive victory which has so far proved elusive?

Game Notes:
A realy good Polemos Marechal d'Empire game this.  Although sharing many mechanics, the 'Marechal...' experience is quite different from General de Division.  MdE seems to favour bold attacks, whereas in GdD your troops are asking for it unless you carefully prepare attacks.  The 'phased' combat system of MdE also provides some interesting decisions: in Blake's successful charge, initially the French had the upper hand but they chose to continue the fight, the pendulum swung and Blake was ultimately victorious.  The French chould perhaps have been content with holding him off and breaking off the combat (that French brigade has only been intended to observe the cerro rather than attack it).  A rush of blood perhaps!

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Campaign Battle 05: Battle for Burgos

The Battle for Burgos - Late August 1808

General Situation: After his victory over Blake's advancing Spanish at Miranda, Bessieres has moved quickly onto the offensive to relieve the 1000 Imperial Guardsmen guarding the city - and more crucially, the large supply depot - at Burgos. Confident after his recent success and reinforced by Merle's Division, Bessieres is confident that his advance will be easy, perhaps even unopposed.  His opposite number, Gen Blake, endured a  a restless evening wondering whether he was risking his army for an insufficient object...but patriotic fervour is running high in the Spanish Army at this time, seeking to emulate the successes of the Armies of Valencia and Andalusia, so he decides on trying to defend the river line against the Imperial Forces, hoping to give them a bloody nose if they attempt anything rash...

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (C-in-C Bessieres - Decisive)
Imperial Guard Division: 1500 Guardsmen, 1000 Guard Light Cavalry
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Light Cavalry
Merle's Division: 7500 Infantry
Mouton's Division: 12000 Infantry, 1000 Dragoons
Guns:48

Totals: 21000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (C-in-C Gen Blake - Competent)
Macedo's Division: 1500 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Cagigal's Division: 4500 Infantry
Martinengo's Division: 3000 Infantry
Riquelme's Division: 4500 Infantry
Portago's Division: 6000 Infantry
Guns: 54

Totals: 19500 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 54 Guns

Set-Up:

The French Left (Eastern) Flank - the Imperial Guard ready to assault the bridge, led by Bessieres in person; with the bulk of Merle's Division in support.  Note the grand battery set up by Bessieres offset to the flank to provide artillery support. Spanish troops from Portago's Division oppose the French advance.

The French Centre and Right Flank.  Mouton's Division have crossed the river, with Lasalle's cavalry and a weak brigade of Merle's Division observing the central bridge.  Martinengo's Division opposes Lasalle, while Cagigal's troops face Mouton's units moving up the road.


View looking East - Riquelme's and Cagigal's Divisions protect the Spanish Left with their infantry in a strong position, protected by a stream and situated on hills and in enclosures.

View from the South, behind the Spanish lines - note only a single brigade in reserve on this part of the field (raw troops from Cagigal's Division)

The First Assault:

French Guardsmen, supported by massed French artillery and led in person by Bessieres assault the bridge.  After a long see-saw fight, the French destroyed the brigade defending the bridge...and were then thrown back over the river in disorder by the Spanish supports! (n.b. the Blue markers are tempo point markers - I will get round to replacing these with ADC figures soon!)

Mouton's Division advances to pin the Spanish troops in position - Spanish artillery causes severe disruption to Mouton's troops trying to cross at the ford for the entire battle however.  Lasalle has rather rashly attempted to charge the central bridge and pierce into the heart of the Spanish defence...but the Spanish defenders have sent him scurrying back over it.*
 The Second Assault:

The Imperial Guard victorious! After re-organising themselves, the French guardsmen manage to get across the bridge and resist the inevitable counter-attack.  As Merle's Division cross to exploit, Blake orders a retreat, which the Spanish carry out in good order.

Spanish troops begin to pull back - on this flank too, very limited damage is done to the Spanish as they break contact quite easily.
 The Result:
 A battle with some resemblance to  Zornoza ,Blake wasn't particularly serious about fighting, just tempting the French to do something really rash without being very intent on holding the ground or defeating the French.  Casulaties were relatively light on both sides - something over 1,000 from the Spanish (mostly from Portago's infantry), something closer to 800 for the French (about evenly spread between the Fusiliers-Chasseurs, Mouton's infantry and Lasalle's cavalry)

Game Notes:
Played out with the Polemos Marechal d'Empire Napoleonic  I was in two minds whether to actually fight this one out, knowing that Bessieres main objective was to relieve Burgos and Blake was inclined to withdraw.  It did prove quite enjoyable however, with the pressure on Bessieres to organize a succesful assault to break the Spanish position, then Blake to withdraw in good order (I played it out until I judged the Spanish had successfully broken contact).  Bessieres position with the Guard was probably wise to help ensure success at the crucial point, but the distances made controlling Mouton's attack very difficult.  Lasalle's attack was a gamble by which Blake profitted - not so much for the damage done to Lasalle's Division (transient), but the commitment of the French cavalry meant that there was no reserve for any pursuit. 

Friday, 11 October 2013

Campaign Battle 04: Battle of Bombarral

Battle of Bombarral, August 1808

General Situation:  The landing of a large British force under General Wellesley north of Lisbon has isolated Gen Junot's Corps in that city.  Junot has decided that he must act swiftly to have any chance of restoring his situation as the British will only get stronger and he, weaker.  Junot has left only a skeleton force in Lisbon, concentrating his forces to give the best opportunity for success, however Loison has not been able to reach the battlefield in time from Northern Portugal.

Forces Involved:

Imperial Forces: C-in-C Gen Junot (Competent)
1st Division (Delaborde - Decisive): 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
2nd Division (Travot - Competent): 9000 Infantry, 6 Guns
3rd (Cav) Division (Kellermann - Decisive): 2000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Artillery Reserve: 24 Guns

Anglo-Portuguese Forces: C-in-C Gen Wellesley (Decisive)
1st Division (Ferguson - Plodding): 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns
2nd Division (Anstruther - Plodding): 9000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Set-Up


View from the Southwest, behind the French right flank.

View from the East -French to the left (South), Anglo-Portuguese to the North

View from behind the British Lines - an open centre anchored on farms, with a hill as the reserve position

The Opening Stages:

The French have advanced on both sides of the road; concentrated French artillery fire has driven the British back to their reserve positions, but British artillery has disrupted the French advance to the right of the road.  A crucial morale check has gone against the French, and the left-hand brigade of Travot's division has pulled back early*. 
 Wellesley's Attack:

Wellesley, positioned in the Allied centre has noticed that Travot's feint attack is in genuine difficulty from the unexpected failiure of its left-hand brigade.  His staff hear him mutter "That will do...", then riding to Ferguson's Division, orders a swift attack...Fire is exchanged and casualties mount (note the red 'shaken' markers)

The right-hand brigade of Ferguson's Brigade, with Wellesley himself at their head, throws the French back...to the top-left, Delaborde, showing his customary initiative, halts his leading brigade and prepares to attack Ferguson in the flank...Junot orders the re-positioning of the French artillery to engage the British advance.

The French collapse and re-form in front of some enclosures with the support of their cavalry.  A lucky morale check at this point stops Travot's immediate collapse.
 The Crisis:

Junot orders an attack on the  extreme British left wing to try and relieve some pressure from the collapsing centre, but the British battalions hold their ground, deliver a volley to halt the French, and the subsequent bayonet charge sends another of Travot's brigades to the rear


The 43rd follow-up this success by carrying out a successful attack on the French Legere in the enclosures.  At this point, Travot's Division finally broke and fled

French Defeat:

Travot's infantry have disappeared from the table, while to the left the British infantry have forced the French artillery to withdraw slightly.  Delaborde's advance has checked the British advance here, but the deployment of the British reserves has plugged the gap.

 
His right-wing defeated, Junot ordered a retreat at this point, confident his cavalry superiority would prevent any vigorous follow-up from the French.
 Casualties:
Imperial Casualties: 3400 Infantry, 200 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Allied Casualties: 950 Infantry

The disparity in casualties was caused by the fact that although both sides artillery was effective, the French artillery was being fired at longer-range, whereas the smaller numbers of British guns were being fired very close to the Frecnh infantry.  The rest of the difference was in the prisoners taken during the British advance.

Game Notes:
This game turned on two points really.  An unlucky French brigade morale roll gave an early advantage to the British as four French infantry battalions were routed before the battle got fully underway.  The British advance was glorious but only possible because the British had more veteran units than the French.  I feel that this is a reasonable reflection of the strengths of the two forces involved, but it is hardly inarguable.  I tried to start a bit of a debate on  TMP on this, but without much success!

The French plan was actually quite strong, using two 'pinning' attacks combined with massed artillery to create a flank in the centre of the Allied position.  Unfortunately by the time this had happened, Travot's division was already in dire straits. 

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Campaign Battle 03 - Battle of Siasante

Battle of Siasante (south of Cuenca) - early August 1808

General Situation: Marshal Moncey has been demonstrating in the area West of Alicante, waiting for reinforcements before attacking Valencia.  His opponent, Commander-in-Chief of the Army of Valenica, General Cervellon spent July cautiously advancing towards Alicante.  News of the French disaster at Andujar at  the end of July led both commanders to intensify their efforts.  Moncey, handicapped by the lack of an adequate system, resolved to move to the Northwest to meet his reinforcements approaching from Madrid (the divisions of Morlot, Grouchy and Wathier) and Cervellon resolved to pursue him.  Moncey, perhaps under-estimating the drive of his opponent was caught south of Cuenca at the beginning of August after a surprising Spanish forced march through the summer heat: 2000 conscripts were left dead, dying or deserted in its wake, but Cervellon resolved to defeat Moncey before the arrival of the French reinforcements.  Luckily for Moncey, Grouchy has arrived in time, but the other units are still 30 miles distant.  

Forces:

The Spanish Army of Valencia (C-in-C Cervellon - Plodding)
1st Division (Gen Adorno - Plodding): 4000 Infantry, 18 Guns
2nd Division (Gen La Serna - Plodding)6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
3rd Division (Gen Llamas - Plodding): 5000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Totals: 15000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 30 Guns

Imperial French III Corps (C-in-C Marshal Moncey - Competent)
1st Division (Gen Musnier - Plodding): 6000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
2nd Division (Gen Frere - Plodding): 5000 Infantry, 6 Guns
3rd (Cavalry) Division (Gen Grouchy - Decisive): 3000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Artillery Reserve: 24 Guns
Totals: 11000 Infantry, 4000 Cavalry,  42 Guns

Set Up:


Deployed for Battle: Looking north from behind the Spanish positions.  The Spanish deployed L-R as follows: Llamas' Div, La Serna's Div, Adorno's Div; the French have Musnier's Div to the Left, Frere's Division to the Right, Grouchy's Cavalry are at the Left rear, but the Guard Cavalry are detached to the Right rear.


The view from behind La Serna's Division towards the farmland guarded by Musnier's mixed bag of French and German infantry
 Opening Clashes: The Assault on the Hill


See-saw action for the hill - honours even at this stage as the red 'shaken' markers show Spanish casualties on the near side of the hill, retreating French on the far side.  In the end, support from massed Spanish artillery (see left) and the exceptional elan shown by 1st Barcelona Light Infantry proved decisive and the French were defeated.  Adorno himself was severely wounded in the moment of triumph and was replaced by the senior Brigadier, Gen Freire.
The Spanish attacked the massed French artillery positioned on the French right.  This was the high-water mark, the French guns, supported by both cavalry and artillery drove back the Spanish who were force to recoil hundreds of yards in the face of withering fire


The Main Fighting:

Spanish infantry of La Serna's division march slowly over the farmland to attempt to envelope Musnier's left wing, which has re-deployed a battalion to cover.
Freire's division re-deploys on the hill in preparation for an assault over the stream.  French Imperial Guard Light cavalry has moved forward to contest the crossing.
Llamas's exploratory probe on the extreme French right has been driven back by infantry from one of Musnier's provisional regiments.
Glory! French Guard Cavalry rout the leading Spanish infantry units, driving them back across the stream in utter confusion.  The red markers however show where the massed Spanish artillery on the hill has begun to play havoc.  The massed French artillery to the right is attempting to replay these compliments.
 
Triumph and Disaster:  Fremch infantry leaves its defensive positions (left) and defeats La Serna's right-hand brigades, but Gen Cervellon in person leads the succesful attack on Musnier's left and cracks open the French centre.
 Climax: 

Moncey, fearing the effects of the Spanish breakthrough in the centre, attempts attacks on both flanks to restore the situation.  The Imperial Guard cavalry try again to restore the situation but the Hibernia and Ultonia infantry regiments (just!!) hold on and the Guard are repulsed, then forced from the field by the massed Spanish artillery.  The triumphant Spanish under their new commander, General Freire, proceeded to advance and break the French reserve infantry brigade (bottom of shot).  At this point the French divisional morale collapsed and although Frere's other brigade had finished off a second brigade from La Serna's division, it was forced to retreat in sympathy (and Frere was seriously wounded in the process).

The French infantry, ably supported by light cavalry and artillery, push the Spanish levies on the flank back...
But the Spanish levies hold on and the French are put to flight with Llamas leading the way! At this point the morale of III Corps collapsed and it left the field (in relatively good order, the Spanish cavalry being both outnumbered and too far back to seriously hinder the French)
 Results:
Cervellon's bold march has been rewarded with a very hard fought victory.  However, the French have large numbers of uncommitted cavalry remaining and so the overall strategic effect is minor compared to the destruction of Dupont's Corps at Andujar, although many French stragglers and wounded were captured in the retreat.  Still, the Allies have re-gained that initiative lost to the French at Miranda in the North and Moncey will now find it hard to defeat Cervellon before large Spanish forces arrive from Andujar. 

Losses:
French: c.6500 Infantry, 500 Cavalry (plus 1000 stragglers and sick)
Spanish: c.4500 Infantry (but it should be remembered that 2000 conscripts were lost in the march prior to the battle).

Game Notes:
A very intense battle this one, one of the most enjoyable I've ever fought solo, with victory uncertain until the very end.  Lots of raw troops on both sides made this quite unusual - normally the French would win contests on this scale but in this battle, the forces were quite even. The game took about two-and-a-half hours, played in two sittings.

Friday, 4 October 2013

Peninsular Campaign Summary - July 1808


Andalusia:

Castanos slow advance from Utrera towards Andujar lulled Dupont into a false sense of security that there was enough time for Dupont to collect all his detachments together whilst he collected supplies around Andujar.  A series of rapid Spanish movements led to Reding's Division seizing Baylen whilst the main body of the Army approached Andujar directly.  As the Spanish converged on Dupont's position, he tried to cut through Reding's forces but failed and was forced to surrender.  Barbou's Division of Dupont's Corps remains in the passes above Andujar, whilst Gobert's Division has remained in Madrid.

Leon and Castile:

Cuesta and his small Army of the Centre have moved Southwards towards Badajoz, , reaching the Tagus, whilst Blake has advanced Eastwards taking Palencia, blockading Burgos and bringing Bessieres to battle around Miranda before Bessieres could gather his full strength.  However, Bessieres led II Corps to victory over Blake's Army of Galicia and Blake has fallen back on Burgos.

Aragon:

Joseph has concentrated on progressing the siege of Zaragoza, and progress is being made, if slowly.

Catalonia:

The presence of Spanish garrisons in Gerona and Rosas, in addition to the feints of Palacio's forces has stopped Duhesme's Corps from achieving much other than moving Chabran's Division northwards.

Valencia:

Moncey has moved slowly, as he gathers in Frere's Division from Cuenca and awaits reinforcements from his divisions in Madrid before making a concentrated attack towards Valencia.  However, the news of Dupont's debacle in the South means that Moncey's troops will be needed for the defence of Madrid from Castanos soon and it will be a miracle if he takes Valencia before this.  Cervellon has marched his army westwards to try and bring Moncey to battle before he is reinforced.

Portugal:

Travot has gathered in the garrison of Setubal and Loison is marching south from Almeida so Junot has his full strength in hand.  However, this concentration was not quite complete at the close of the month as Loison was still just south of Coimbra.

Game Notes: The campaign has pretty much followed its historical course to this point.

Campaign Battle 04: Battle of Miranda

Battle of Miranda, Late July 1808

General Situation: Gen Blake's Army of Galicia has made a measured advance Eastwards from its starting base at Astorga towards the main French supply route to Madrid, that going from Bayonne via Vitoria and Burgos.  Bessieres' troops have withdrawn in the face of this pressure as the  Marshal tries to gain time for enough troops to concentrate to defeat the Spanish. As Bessieres could not concentrate enough troops to defend Burgos, he withdrew Northwards and his adversary, sensing weakness and a fleeting opportunity to battle the French II Corps at a numerical advantage, masked the small French garrison at Burgos and pursued him North, bringing him to battle to the Northwest of Miranda.

Forces Involved:
Spanish Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Blake) with 22000 Infantry and 48 Guns in four divisions (Cagigal's, Martinengo's, Riquelme's and Portago's)

French II Corps (CinC Marshal Bessieres) with 15000 Infantry and 54 Guns (Mouton's Division, Dorsenne's Imperial Guard Division, Lasalle's Cavalry Division, Corps' Reserve Artillery).

Starting Positions:
View of the starting dispositions from the North: Blake's troops are to the right (West), whilst Mouton's Division of Bessieres' Corps is defending the line of hills in the centre.  French Imperial Guards and Lasalle's cavalry are in reserve around the hills and farms below the town of Miranda.


View from behind Blake's troops looking towards the French positions (Cagigal's Division to the left, Riquelme's Division to the right)..


View from the Southeast - some Spanish troops from Portago's Division observe Miranda from the South.
 The Battle:

Spanish troops of Cagigal's Division have attacked on the Northern flank (bottom) as have Martinengo's in the centre but have been repulsed in both cases.  They are reforming for another go.

Ferocious artillery fire from both sides creates opportunity in the centre but the Spanish attack is repulsed once again.  The artillery from both nations was particularly effective in this part of the battlefield.

The Spanish attack on the centre is developing and you can see one of the French brigades retiring shaken from the combined effects of the Spanish artillery fire and infantry attack. Closer (further North) another Spanish division (Riquelme's) has deployed ready to assault the French centre on the other side of the highway.  However, where is Cagigal's division on the Northern Flank?

Here it is: cowering at the table edge in total disorder (red markers indicate 'shaken' units - with this many units shaken, the collapse of the division is almost inevitable), with French Dragoons (left) pursuing and about to capture the hindmost Spanish brigade.  The rest of the Spanish Division is 'spent' and is retiring from the battlefield at full speed.  With the Spanish reserve already committed in the centre, the position looks perilous for Blake...
 The Rearguard Action:

Blake hurriedly re-deploys his force in the centre to try and save the majority of his central divisions, in particular Riquelme's.  However, the French on the big Southern hill have finally prevailed against their Spanish opponents and have driven them across the stream, leaving the Spanish centre exposed and outflanked.

Situation as above, but with the Imperial Guard clearly visible at the bottom of the picture, beginning to outflank the Spanish rearguard brigade.

Lasalle can be seen pursuing the Spanish rearguard brigade, which Blake is personally commanding at this point.  The majority of the Spanish are getting away, but the Imperial Guard managed to overrun the majority of Blake's guns before this.

As well as the Spanish retreating along the highway, one can see that much of the other Spanish division (Martinengo's) has been driven from the table (just to the South of the highway) and its remaining brigades are also conducting a desperate rearguard). 
 Conclusion: Bessieres has gained a noteworthy victory over his opponent but the determined Spanish rearguard has prevented total collapse and the majority of the Army of Galicia has escaped to fight another day, although Lasalle's subsequent pursuit managed to pick up thousands of stragglers.  Bessieres' has regained the inititiative for the French, both locally and strategically, and when Merle's Division arrives, he is likely to be in a position to relieve Burgos and then try to catch and destroy Blake's retreating forces.

Bessieres' casualties were quite light - approximately 450 all told.  The Spanish losses were much heavier: approximately 2000 battle casualties with another 4000 or so prisoners.

Game Notes: A really enjoyable game.  I don't play Marechal... as much as the General de Division set in Polemos Napoleonics, so it was interesting to see the differences in action again.  The 'phased' combat in Marechal is genuinely exciting, as it can be quite a fine decision as to whether to continue any given combat or to 'stick' and hope that your troops have already done enough to win it (there is an outcome of combat phase, so it is possible, but unlikely, that your troops will get the better of the combat in terms of territory or casualties, but still lose by their morale dropping first).  The combats which resulted in the defeat of Cagigal's Division were quite finely poised but French boldness was handsomely rewarded!.  It is also noticeable how quickly attacks on narrow frontages can happen - and how quickly and far beaten forces can retreat!