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.

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. 

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