Heretical Gaming is my blog about my gaming life, featuring small skirmishes and big battles from many historical periods (and some in the mythic past or the far future too). The focus is on battle reports using a wide variety of rules, with the occasional rules review, book review and odd musing about the gaming and history. Most of the battles use 6mm-sized figures and vehicles, but occasionally 15mm and 28mm figures appear too.

Tuesday 22 October 2013

Campaign Battle 05: Battle for Burgos

The Battle for Burgos - Late August 1808

General Situation: After his victory over Blake's advancing Spanish at Miranda, Bessieres has moved quickly onto the offensive to relieve the 1000 Imperial Guardsmen guarding the city - and more crucially, the large supply depot - at Burgos. Confident after his recent success and reinforced by Merle's Division, Bessieres is confident that his advance will be easy, perhaps even unopposed.  His opposite number, Gen Blake, endured a  a restless evening wondering whether he was risking his army for an insufficient object...but patriotic fervour is running high in the Spanish Army at this time, seeking to emulate the successes of the Armies of Valencia and Andalusia, so he decides on trying to defend the river line against the Imperial Forces, hoping to give them a bloody nose if they attempt anything rash...

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (C-in-C Bessieres - Decisive)
Imperial Guard Division: 1500 Guardsmen, 1000 Guard Light Cavalry
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Light Cavalry
Merle's Division: 7500 Infantry
Mouton's Division: 12000 Infantry, 1000 Dragoons

Totals: 21000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (C-in-C Gen Blake - Competent)
Macedo's Division: 1500 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Cagigal's Division: 4500 Infantry
Martinengo's Division: 3000 Infantry
Riquelme's Division: 4500 Infantry
Portago's Division: 6000 Infantry
Guns: 54

Totals: 19500 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 54 Guns


The French Left (Eastern) Flank - the Imperial Guard ready to assault the bridge, led by Bessieres in person; with the bulk of Merle's Division in support.  Note the grand battery set up by Bessieres offset to the flank to provide artillery support. Spanish troops from Portago's Division oppose the French advance.

The French Centre and Right Flank.  Mouton's Division have crossed the river, with Lasalle's cavalry and a weak brigade of Merle's Division observing the central bridge.  Martinengo's Division opposes Lasalle, while Cagigal's troops face Mouton's units moving up the road.

View looking East - Riquelme's and Cagigal's Divisions protect the Spanish Left with their infantry in a strong position, protected by a stream and situated on hills and in enclosures.

View from the South, behind the Spanish lines - note only a single brigade in reserve on this part of the field (raw troops from Cagigal's Division)

The First Assault:

French Guardsmen, supported by massed French artillery and led in person by Bessieres assault the bridge.  After a long see-saw fight, the French destroyed the brigade defending the bridge...and were then thrown back over the river in disorder by the Spanish supports! (n.b. the Blue markers are tempo point markers - I will get round to replacing these with ADC figures soon!)

Mouton's Division advances to pin the Spanish troops in position - Spanish artillery causes severe disruption to Mouton's troops trying to cross at the ford for the entire battle however.  Lasalle has rather rashly attempted to charge the central bridge and pierce into the heart of the Spanish defence...but the Spanish defenders have sent him scurrying back over it.*
 The Second Assault:

The Imperial Guard victorious! After re-organising themselves, the French guardsmen manage to get across the bridge and resist the inevitable counter-attack.  As Merle's Division cross to exploit, Blake orders a retreat, which the Spanish carry out in good order.

Spanish troops begin to pull back - on this flank too, very limited damage is done to the Spanish as they break contact quite easily.
 The Result:
 A battle with some resemblance to  Zornoza ,Blake wasn't particularly serious about fighting, just tempting the French to do something really rash without being very intent on holding the ground or defeating the French.  Casulaties were relatively light on both sides - something over 1,000 from the Spanish (mostly from Portago's infantry), something closer to 800 for the French (about evenly spread between the Fusiliers-Chasseurs, Mouton's infantry and Lasalle's cavalry)

Game Notes:
Played out with the Polemos Marechal d'Empire Napoleonic  I was in two minds whether to actually fight this one out, knowing that Bessieres main objective was to relieve Burgos and Blake was inclined to withdraw.  It did prove quite enjoyable however, with the pressure on Bessieres to organize a succesful assault to break the Spanish position, then Blake to withdraw in good order (I played it out until I judged the Spanish had successfully broken contact).  Bessieres position with the Guard was probably wise to help ensure success at the crucial point, but the distances made controlling Mouton's attack very difficult.  Lasalle's attack was a gamble by which Blake profitted - not so much for the damage done to Lasalle's Division (transient), but the commitment of the French cavalry meant that there was no reserve for any pursuit. 

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