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, 5 February 2014

Campaign Battle 09: Battle of Villadamat

Battle of Villadamat, mid-October 1808

General Situation: Commander of the Spanish Army of Catalonia, Gen Palacio, has embarked on an unusually daring operation.  Anxious to postpone the fall of the besieged fortresses at Rosas and Gerona for as long as possible, he has conducted a daring coastal march with Jacome's Division to threaten the French fortress at Figueras and cut off the newly-established line of communication between Gen Duhesme and his division's around Rosas (those of Gen Reille and Gen Lecchi).  Gen Duhesme was left with the dilemma of whether to take the bait and attack Jacome's exposed division or to persist with his seige actions and let his communications and the safety of Figueras look after themselves for the meantime.  Duhesme eventually decided to accept battle and breaking the blockades, marched against Palacio, and called upon Generals Reille and Lecchi to similarly march from Rosas; however, only Reille received the call in time.

The bait having been accepted, Palacio was forced to fight a delaying action to give him time to evacuate his stores and sick before evading the French pincers*.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
VII Corps (CinC Duhesme - Plodding)
Chabran's Division: 6000 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry, 6 Guns
Reille's Division: 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Totals: 13000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Catalonia (CinC Gen Palacio - Plodding)
Jacome's Division: 5000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Independent Brigades: 2000 Infantry (originally from Jacome's Division*)
Totals: 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns


Initial Deployment:


The Battlefield: Top is East, Reille is marching from the North (left), Gen Duhesme with Chabran's Division is marching from the South.  Normally a 'hilly' battlefield should have a lot more terrain than this, but the Spanish terrain dicing rolls were awful**
The view into the wood over the shoulder of Reille's left hand brigade - note the Spanish units in defence.
Reille's Attack:


The Imperials attacked first from the North with Reille's division; the Italian light infantry are leading the way (top); Palacio boldly pushed some of his infantry forward to force Reille to deploy more units...thus gaining more time for the withdrawal

Success for the Italians!  The Spanish right-hand battalion is in deep trouble (notice the two shaken markers).  The Italians continued their advance and broke it in on the next turn, thus turning the Spanish flank.  The Spanish reserve has been committed: notice the line noe formed just beyond the wood.
Chabran's Sweep:


On  the other flank, Chabran elected to sweep around the Spanish positions rather than risk an unlikely defeat by charging straight up the slopes towards the Spanish positions.


The Crisis of the Battle:


On the southern (right) flank, the Spanish are withdrawing in front of Chabran's units, hoping to escape before they are caught.  On the left, the Spanish have evaded most of Reille's units, but at the top, the Italians are perilously close to the road, they have routed another Spanish infantry unity...and one of the Spanish battalions facing them is made up of raw levies...

The position in more detail.  Spanish light infantry are making any attack along the edge of the wood perilous, but on the left hand side, the Italian infantry are facing a newly-raised Spanish battalion. Will they hold or will the Italians cut off the Spanish main escape route?
The Spanish...are saved!


Despite wavering for a second, the Spanish battalion holds its nerve to deliver a crushing volley at point-blank range and the Italians, although not routed, retreat in serious disorder.  The Spaniards were able to use this respite to escape, with Chabran only securing the capture of the Spanish guns.
Result:
Tactically a clear French victory, but the Spanish have every reason to feel that the operation was on balance a success.  The French siege operations have been disrupted and the chances are that at least one of Rosas and Gerona will now hold out until the new year and the Spanish battle losses have been relatively light***, something around 450 casualties and 6 guns.  The French losses were about 200, about evenly split between Reille's Italian infantry and casualties inflicted on Chabran's infantry by the Spanish artillery.  However, the Imperial light cavalry were able to take around 1000 prisoners during the pursuit.


Game Notes:
A much smaller affair than other recent battles, so I played this one out as a General de Division battle on a small (5'x2.5') board.
* In battles where one side wishes to withdraw, I have ruled that units cannot voluntarily leave the battlefield until 6+D6 turns have passed.  This makes delaying/withdrawal scenarios workable and enjoyable.
** In the Polemos Campaign rules, terrain is randomly generated and placed by the defender, then the attacker gets a roll allowing this terrain to be moved and/or removed.  The Spanish rolls were abysmal, the French rolls great.  I'm thinking of modifying this for Generalship skill, to account for better generals being more likely to fight on battles more suited to them.
*** In the campaign rules, units which are broken but not captured get to roll to see if they recover after the battle.  The Spanish successfully saved every unit!

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