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.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Campaign Battle 13: The Second Battle of the Duero

Second Battle of the Duero, Mid-December 1808

General Situation: Upon hearing of Marchand's defeat on the previous day, Lefebvre seized the initiative and resolved to do it right this time.  Calling upon Moncey and Marchand for aid, the French are marching upon the Allied Anglo-Portuguese and Spanish armies whilst they remain on the battlefield.  Moncey has advanced with his whole Corps with the exception of Barbou, who in a manner reminiscent of D'Erlon, have contrived to miss both battles.  Marchand has left the battered divisions of Villatte and Lapisse within Valladolid to recover.  Lefebvre has arrived on the field first, but is assured of the imminent arrival of his comrades.  Moore and Venegas meanwhile occupy the same position as in the previous day's battle, but Espana's decimated units are recuperating some way in the rear and are in no fit state to take part in today's hostilities.

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
I Corps (CinC General Marchand - Plodding)
Ruffin's Division: 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Treillard's Division: 3000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
I Corps Artillery: 24 Guns

III Corps (CinC Marshal Moncey - Capable):
Gobert's Division: 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Merlot's Division: 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Wathier's Brigade: 1000 Cavalry
Grouchy's Division: 3000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Clausel's Division: 3000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Musnier's Division: 3000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
III Corps Artillery: 60 Guns

IV Corps (CinC Marshal Lefebvre - Plodding):
Sebastiani's Division: 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Leval's Division: 6000 (CoR) Infantry, 6 Guns
Maupetit's Brigade: 1000 (CoR) Cavalry
IV Corps Artillery: 24 Guns

Totals: 36000 Infantry, 8000 Cavalry, 162 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Andalusia (CinC Gen Castanos - Capable)
Venegas' Division: 5000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Coupigny's Division: 5000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Reding's Division: 4000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Jones' Division: 4000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Anglo-Portuguese Forces:
The British Army (CinC Gen Moore - Decisive)
Anstruther's Division: 9000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Spencer's Division: 7000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Hope's Division: 6000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Baird's Division: 9000 Infantry, 6 Guns
Paget's Division: 3000 Cavalry, 6 Guns
Artillery Reserve: 36 Guns
Loyal Lusitanian Legion: 3000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Allied Totals: 52000 Infantry, 4000 Cavalry, 96 Guns

The Set-Up:

The initial deployment from behind the Allied line: from the left there is Wilison's Lusitanian Legion, Spencer's Division, Hope in reserve behind, Baird's Division and the majority of the British artillery on the centrall hill, Paget's cavalry behind, Anstruther's Brigades in reserve, Venegas on the right of the hill, Coupigny's Division then Jones' Division on the extreme right, with Reding's Division in reserve for the Spanish.  Lefebvre has elected to advance against the Spanish whilst awaiting the other French Corps.

A close-up of the Spanish right.  Sebastiani's veteran French infantry is on the right opposed by Jones' Division, a brigade of Leval's German infantry is in the centre opposite Coupigny's Division.
 Lefebvre's Attack:

"Ah! This is Warfare I Understand!" - Lefebvre leads the French attack in person, as Sebastiani's Infantry push back Coupigny's and Jones' Divisions, some Spanish brigades are in rout.

Same position.

The Panic on the Right:

Reding's troops and British reserves from Anstruther's Division rush to the right to try and contain Lefebvre's breakthrough.

A wider shot of the situation.  Lefebvre has made good progress but urgently needs his rear brigades to catch up.
Marchand & Moncey Arrives - the Crisis of the Battle:

Over the net few turns, Marchand and Moncey reached the battlefield.  Initially the British looked exposed, but some well-directed artillery fire and a prompt forward movement by Baird's units - led by Sir John Moore in person - has put the Imperials on the back front.  Note the stabilization of the situation on the right - but Jones' Division has routed from the battlefield, a spent force.  However, Coupigny's units are fighting like lions and have routed one of Leval's brigades and Maupetit's cavalry.  The panicky Nassauers are attempting to form an emergency battle line...

Hope's units move up on the left to prepare to assault Moncey whilst the massed squares of the British - led by the footguards - advance on Treillard's Dragoons into a storm of ineffective French roundshot...
After one of the most intense individual combats of the campaign, Sebastiani's lead brigade has surrendered, after routing twice their number of Spaniards and throwing back two British assaults (note the red shaken markers around the British).  Eventually the fire of the Spanish and the charge of British Heavy Cavalry proved too much.  And much more heroically, Spanish infantry managed to defeat a second brigade from Sebastiani's Division in the enclosures at the right - this led to the collapse of morale in Sebastiani's division.  Simultaneously Coupigny's other units haved defeated half of Leval's units and the rest are withdrawing...

Lefebvre's Corps has more or less evaporated...

Triumph in the Centre:

Hope and Spencer's units advance to combat Moncey.  In the end, there was only some indecisive skirmishing and artillery fire in this sector of the battlefield, Moncey refusing to commit his quite motley force against his strong British opponents.

Moore's triumph!  Recalling Minden, the British infantry have driven off the French cavalry and are now in the heart of the Imperials' which point, a musketball from a French skirmisher kills Sir John Moore!!  This temporarily paralysed the British Army.  Marchand and Moncey briefly considered renweing their attack, but the odds of success seemed low with their left flank now hanging in the air and their forces split in the middle, so they were able to successfully extricate their divisions from this difficult position without further significant loss...

The Final Position:

The position just before the successful French withdrawal.  It took the British four(!) turns (about an hour) to appoint a successor, this delay probably saving the French.  Moncey's powerful uncommitted cavalry overmatched the British pursuit and the French infantry and artillery retired without further molestation.
 Result: Another bloody business, with Lefebvre's and Castanos' forces suffering extensively.  Overall casualties were in the region of 7300 infantry, 1100 cavalry and 24 guns for the Imperials, with losses of about 5500 infantry and 150 cavalry for the Allies; and of course, the death of the British commander.  Lefebvre incidentally was injured four times in the course of the battle but suffered nothing worse than scratches!  The French force was in bad shape but it could reflect that it might have been much worse.  Castanos' Army has fought heroically over two days, but three of its five divisions are now out of the fight.

Game Notes: The French came within an ace of winning this one.  Castanos held on just enough for British succour and then Sebastiani's troops fought so hard for a moment I thought that he was going to win regardless!  The French superiority in skill and in particular, their veteran SK2 units, especially when led by a general in person, are very difficult for Spanish trained SK0 infantry to stop, even in decent terrain.  On the other hand, the British performance in the centre was a textbook success: disorder the enemy with artillery, drive them off at the point of bayonet and sabre.  In retrospect, although Lefebvre's attack nearly worked, it was launched too early: it should have been delayed until one of the other French Corps had arrived, in order to divert the attention (i.e. the tempo points) of the Allied generals.  As it was, they were able to focus on threats in succession rather than facing them concurrently.

But overall, another really enjoyable game.

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