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, 3 February 2014

Campaign Battle 08: Battle of Villenias de Campo

Battle of Villenias de Campo, Early October 1808

General Situation: Bessieres has regrouped in the month following the debacle at Ucieza and resumed his offensive against Mahy's Army of Galicia.  Mahy wasn't unduly worried and felt able to detach Acevedo's Division for a successful lightning raid against Santander.  Unfortunately, just after the news of Acevedo's victory came intelligence that Zaragoza had fallen and Joseph was using Desolles', Verdier's and Lefebvre-Desnouettes's divisions to reinforce Bessieres' force.  Mahy determined to withdraw West, taking the path to the south west of Palencia, but Bessieres has pounced and brought Mahy's forces to battle.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (CinC Bessieres - Decisive)
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Light Cavalry
Merle's Division: 7500 Infantry
Mouton's Division: 6000 Infantry, 1000 Dragoons
Desolles' Division: 13500 Infantry
Verdier's Division: 4500 Infantry
Lefebvre-Desnouettes' Division: 4500 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Artillery: 60 Guns
Totals: 36000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Mahy - Plodding)
Maceda's Division: 3000 Infantry, 36 Guns
Cagigal's Division: 4500 Infantry, 12 Guns
Martinengo's Division: 4500 Infantry, 12 Guns
Portago's Division: 6000 Infantry, 12 Guns
Riquelme's Division: 4500 Infantry
Trias' Division: 3000 Infantry
March's Division: 2000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

Totals: 25500 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 72 Guns

Initial Deployment & Moves:


Aerial view from Northwest: Elements of Verdier's Infantry and Lefebvre-Desnouttes Legion of the Vistula troops, bottom left; Spanish infantry from Portago's Division guard the centre, with massed artillery and Maceda's troops guarding the hill.

View from North, behind the French positions.  The French have deployed L-R: Merle, Mouton, the artillery, Desolles, Verdier, Lasalle, Lefebvre-Desnouettes.  The Spanish are at the top (South) of the table, from L-R: Trias, Riquelme, Maceda, Portago, Martinengo in reserve, Cagigal supported by March's cavalry.

Same position, just from a slightly flatter angle to the table.
  The Battle:

The French got an early advantage and never really lost it:  Lefebvre-Desnouettes' left-hand brigade conducted a flank attack into the enclosures in the Spanish front centre, routed one Spanish brigade and forced the others to retreat, which then induced panic in the whole division, thus uncovering the Spanish centre-left.

Verdier's infantry from the Legion of the Vistula advance into the enclosures in support (left), while L-D's other brigades cross the stream.  Mahy is rushing Martinengo's division from reserve to plug the gap.

Meanwhile Bessieres stirs his left into action and Mouton's Division advances towards the central hill.  The French artillery has taken a while to get going, getting rather the worse of the counter-battery exchanged, but it is now in a position to support the French advance.
Martinengo's troops reach the stream ahead of Verdier's Poles, but he is hardly in the best formation to defend.  The French infantry to the West (top of shot) have been flung back over the river by a successful Spanish cavalry charge...who then lost the outcome phase and retreated!!  The charge has successfully stopped the French advance here and the battle on this flank settled down to petty bickering from this point.

The sun glints on the bayonets of Merle's infantry on the French left as they watch their brothers in Mouton's formation reach the bottom of the hill.

Victory!

Bessieres in person leads the successful assault up onto the summit of the hill and the Spanish are in headlong rout.  Bessieres succeeds in keeping his troops in hand, and thus there is little hope in an immediate Spanish counter-attack.  The Spanish artillery is looking a little vulnerable too...

Verdier triumphant!  Attacking across a stream into enclosures is not the easiest task in "Marechal de Empire", but here Verdier's Legion of the Vistula pull it off with aplomb.  The units to the left are the broken Spanish brigades of Martinengo. 

The French advance into the centre continues and 36 Spanish guns are taken, Mahy's position is hopeless.

Not to be outdone, Merle's troops on the French left defeat Trias' division and cross the stream at this point too...
 Result: 
A crushing French victory, in a battle where their Veteran brigades led by dense skirmisher screens were just unstoppable.  The debacle of the Ucieza was well and truly avenged, with Spanish losses estimated at 6000 or so during the battle, with another 6000 (mainly prisoners) lost in the pursuit led by Lasalle's rampaging light cavalry.  French losses were ligtt, not quite reaching 1200 all told.  It felt that the Spanish were particularly luckless in this battle and the rub of the green definitely did go against them.  The correlation of forces probably guaranteed a French victory, but almost everything they did went to plan and the battle was soon won by them.

Game Notes:
A pretty standard game of MdE, but a question did arise about the combat phases, which I may bring up on the forum.

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