General Situation: Joseph Napoleon, in at least nominal command of the French Army of Spain, noted that Acevedo's division of Mahy's Army of Galicia, after its successful taking of Santander earlier in the month, was exposed and unsupported. Resolving to strike a quick blow against this formation, Joseph and the divisions of Imperial and Royal guards, showing surprising speed, approached Santander. Acevedo, not wanting to be trapped in the town, fought a delaying action to the South, without much hope that his recruits would stand for long before the Imperial veterans.
Army of Spain (CinC Joseph, advised by Jourdan - Competent)
Dorsenne's Division: 3000 Imperial Guardsmen, 1000 Imperial Guard Light Cavalry, 6 Guns
Saligny's Division: 3000 Royal Guardsmen, 1000 Royal Guard, Light Cavalry, 6 Guns
Totals: 6000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 12 Guns
Acevedo's Division of the Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Acevedo - Competent)
Acevedo's Division: 9000 Infantry, 6 Guns
|Deployment, viewed from the South. French are nearest,with the Imperial Guards to the left and Royal Guards to the right. The Spaniards are ranged across the heights, with their right flank anchored by the two battalions in the village.|
The First Blow:
Result: The Spanish lost just over 2,000 men as a result of this action, divided roughly evenly between dead and wounded, prisoners and conscripts deserting in the immediate aftermath. French losses were around 300, split between the Imperial Guard infantry (Fusiliers-Chasseurs) and the cavalry of the Royal Guard. Acevedo withdrew to the West and once again the Imperials were left in control of Santander.
Game Notes: Another small battle, with the result never in too much doubt, as veteran-elite infantry take some stopping by raw conscripts in the Polemos rules. I do wonder if in fact the Polemos rules - and many others - exaggerate the importance of morale and training compared to the dynamics of individual situations. It is difficult to be sure, however. Regardless, the main Spanish hope was that Joseph would do something stupid. Athough the cavalry attack was bold the odds still favoured them, and the Imperial Guard infantry attack on the village was a textbook example of infantry and artillery co-operation to prise defenders out of a strongpoint.