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.

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.

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