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, 28 May 2016

Peninsular Campaign: French Dilemma

In my refight of the Peninsular War, the French Army of Spain is in a particularly tricky situation.  Wellington is on the Spanish-Portuguese border with around 50,000 veteran troops.  The French Army of Spain is in the barren territory to the east of Wellington on the Spanish side of the border.  They number about 60,000 troops of variable quality, but mainly veterans.  A Spanish army of 20,ooo troops - wildly varying quality - has re-taken Madrid and is marching northwards against the French lines of communication to Bayonne.  There are no large forces belonging to the French in the North of Spain except Soult's Corps of around 20,000 which is around Astorga, which is holding down an equally-sized although slightly less skilled Spanish force opposing it from Galicia.

So what should Joseph do?

If he presses home the attack on Wellington and fails, he will probably be destroyed.
If he retreats then Wellington will probably pursue and together with Elio will outnumber Joseph.
If he detaches a force to defeat Elio, Wellington will probably have sufficient troops to almost guarantee defeating him.
If he retires on Soult in Astorga, Wellington will mask them while Elio cuts off the army from France.

Game Map:

 
Hopefully this screen shot makes things clear.  The river is the Tagus, Madrid is to the East.

10 comments:

  1. Use Suchets troops in Catalonia and Valencia and take the Spanish from the rear

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    1. Good idea but, although not shown on this map above, the French troops on the Spanish East Coast are fully occupied with the Spanish armies of Catalonia and Valencia.

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    2. Abandon the cost use the French speed of manoeuvre and fall on the Spanish read near to Madrid. Chances are they will flee in all directions of get destroyed trying to resist Suchets command whilst panicking about Soult etc to their West

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    3. This strategy was too bold for me! I opted for scaring off Elio's IV Army with a Corps detached from Joseph's army, once he had retreated to within supporting distance of Soult. I thought about having Elio stand and fight, but eventually deemed it more prudent to withdraw slightly until Wellington could close up with Joseph.

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  2. since you vet comments I have a quite detailed Spanish Highways map for this period suitable for campaigns if you want me to email it to you? Drew

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    1. Thanks Drew that would be very kind. Since this campaign uses the Tomb for an Empire boardgame I won't change anything for this one, but I may use it the next.

      My email is: j_w_h_07_14@_yah_oo.co_.uk (underscores removed)

      All the best

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  3. Napoleon would have seen this as a classic example of 'central position' and used it accordingly.

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  4. I am certain you are right. And yet, in the detail, it is hard to see how to exploit that fact: where to try and concentrate a superior force when any one of the three opposing Allied armies may simply fall back whilst the other two advance: shades of the 1813 campaign??

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  5. Wouldn't Wellington face the same problems of moving across a barren area if he pursues?
    Should Joseph fallback and strike the smaller spanish forces threatening his rear and buy time, should the french fortunes improve in the future? If this is likely a high tide mark then perhaps it's time to roll the dice a la waterloo. If there is respite or an improvement of futures likely in the future, then it would be best to buy time.

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  6. He would, but moving quickly across a barren area isn't too bad: staying in one is. Currently Wellington is being supplied from depots from nearby unpillaged areas but Joseph needs to advance or withdraw.
    The French will get some significant reinforcements in late 1809 / the beginning of 1810; historically these were the additions to Massena's army that allowed the final invasion of Portugal (the current campaign is at roughly the "Talavera" point, in both timeline and situation).

    Thanks very much for your advice. I think that the outlines are clear to me now: Joseph must withdraw slightly to come within range of Soult, whilst dispatching a force to scare away the Spanish flanking army.

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