Imperial French Forces:
C-in-C Montbrun (Capable)
1st Dragoon Bde: 2 x Veteran Dragoon bases
2nd Dragoon Bde: 2 x Veteran Dragoon bases
Lamotte's Light Cavalry Bde: 3 x Trained Light Cavalry bases
Fournier's Light Cavalry Bde: 3 x Trained Light Cavalry bases
Artillery: 1 x 4lb Horse Artillery base
C-in-C Wellington (Decisive)
3rd Division: Picton (Decisive)
Wallace's Bde: 2 x Veteran SK1 Infantry bases
Colville's Bde: 2 x Veteran SK1 Infantry bases
Div Artillery: 2 x Trained Portuguese 6lb Foot Artillery bases
Alten's Cavalry Brigade: 1 x Veteran Light Cavalry base, 1 x Trained Light Cavalry base
The troop ratings are very speculative. There is a good argument for making all the troops Veteran (or all Trained). As the Polemos rules work on opposed rolls, there is literally no difference.
Objectives: The objective for the Allies is to withdraw via the road on the left-hand side of the table or break the Imperial force. The objective for the French is to prevent this or break the Allied force.
This is Terry Wise's suggested terrain:
|Used with permission|
And here is the Google Earth view (for comparison with the terrain on the table)
|The Allied force is on the near side of thestream, the French on the far bank. The Allies have veteran KGL Hussars on the left, the Portuguese artillery in the front supported by British infantry, British Light Dragoons on the right.|
|The French have the light cavalry on their right (left as seen), the dragoons on their left (right of shot)|
|View from behind Wellington's command post|
|A closer view|
|Picton arrives with elements from Wallace's brigade|
|The French 2nd Light Cavalry brigade fails its morale check and is spent, out of the battle|
|The ebb-and-flow of the cavalry melée on the Allied left now moves in favour of the KGL Hussars - the French become shaken in their turn and are pushed back|
|The combat is over: the French retire over the stream to reform|
|The direct assault having failed, Montbrun leads one of his brigades of Dragoons round the Allied right flank; the Light Dragoons advance to counter this move|
|On the right, one can see more clearly the progress of the French Dragoons and the routing British cavalry (bottom right); note bottom centre-left that the British infantry reinforcements are about to reach the junction|
|The position on the left flank - the KGL Hussars have forced their opponents across the stream, whilst one French Hussar regiment has broken|
|Fearing the double-envelopment, Wellington orders his forward infantry and artillery to retire; the KGL Hussars on the left retire slightly and the French Hussars gingerly follow|
|The Allied column has retreated a fair distance (just over 1km) but now the French Dragoons are ready to charge; French Hussars are trying to outflank and stretch the Allies (top-right)|
|The 1/5th Foot sees off the French attack with another pointblank volley! Both sides are somewhat shaken and need to reform. Wellington was lucky to survive an encounter with a French Dragoon!|
|The British foot changed positions so the 77th faced the French Dragoons (to take advantage of first volley); however, Montbrun lead his Dragoons into success and the 77th have broken (top-left)! The Dragoons are about to hit the Portuguese guns...|
|The French Dragoons overrun a Portuguese battery, but the 1/5th again succeed in blunting the French Dragoon attack - this time the French sustain enough casualties that their courage fails them and they fail their morale check|
|The Allied position: the 77th rout, but the remaining British troops hold on|
|Position from the second French Dragoon brigade: at this point, the Imperials failed their army morale and the battle was over!|
|Same position at the end of the battle|
A very exciting game! More exciting than I expected perhaps, but a tribute to the scenario that it provided such a tense conflict. The Polemos General de Division rules performed admirably - I know a lot of rules would struggle with this action, because they wouldn't allow the British to move in square but would make them very vulnerable to cavalry otherwise. This would make the long retreat almost impossible. Because Polemos makes troop morale and support the key tactical factors and doesn't fuss at all about formations, it doesn't suffer from the same problems. More of an issue is that cavalry combat is quite deadly in Polemos GdD, whereas the real action apparently witnessed "forty French charges". One assumes (following Rory Muir) that many of these charges were feints, and thus are represented in the rules by some of the movements of the French Hussars in the game, which forced Allied reactions without actually being attacks.
Overall, the game reflected history quite closely, although with slightly higher casualties on each side. This was partly as a result of my (bad) initial tactics as the French, although I was considering that a quick success would really help the French cause, before the British infantry reinforcements could take effect.
The game used the Polemos General de Division rules and was played on a 5'x3' table with a home-made mat. In retrospect I think I used the wrong mat: I have a greener felt cloth which I think looks a little less good but being softer, would probably have contoured better along the steep hills. My homemade cloth with the caulk base was maybe a little too stiff! Figures from Baccus 6mm's Napoleonic range.
This scenario would be a good one for starting players, as sufficient forces to play are very cheap. It could be played from the forces contained in a Baccus starter army, for example.