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.

Sunday 26 January 2014

Summary of Forces - beginning October 1808

Summary of Forces - beginning of October 1808


VIII Corps (Lisbon) - Junot (being returned to France after upcoming Convention of Cintra):
16000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 42 Guns

II Corps (west of Burgos) - Bessieres
14000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry, 42 Guns

Desolles (Miranda): 14000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Verdier & Lefebvre-Desnouettes: 8000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 12 Guns

Burgos Garrison: 2000

Army of Spain (Burgos) - Joseph Napoleon
3000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Imperial Guard (west of Burgos) - Dorsenne
3000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

I Corps (Bayonne) - Victor
21000 Infantry, 4000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

IV Corps (Bayonne) - Lefebvre
14000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 36 Guns

San Sebastian Garrison: 2000

Pamplona Garrison: 2000

Tudela Garrison: 1000

Zaragoza Garrison: 4000

Bayonne Garrison: 2000

III Corps (south of Madrid) - Moncey
20000 Infantry, 5000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

Gobert (Madrid)
8000 Infantry, 6 Guns

VII Corps (Gerona) - Duhesme
6000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Lechi (Rosas)
3000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Reille (Perpignan)
7000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Figueras Garrison: 1000

Barcelona Garrison: 2000


Army of Andalusia (Baylen) - Castanos
21000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 36 Guns

Jones (Valdepenas)
5000 Infantry, 6 Guns

La Pena (Valdepenas)
6000 Infantry, 6 Guns

O'Donoju (south of Andujar)
1000 Cavalry

 IV Army (Seville) - Elio
9000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Seville Garrison: 13000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry

Cadiz Garrison: 6000

Malaga Garrison: 2000

Huelva Garrison: 3000

waiting west of Granada: 5000 Infantry

Granada Garrison: 3000 Infantry, 2000 Cavalry

Army of the Centre (Badajoz) - Cuesta
13000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 6 Guns

Ciudad Rodrigo Garrison: 1000

Army of Galicia (Palencia) - Mahy
24000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 66 Guns

Acevedo (Santander)
8000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Astorga Garrison: 3000

Villafranca Garrison: 4000

La Coruna Garrison: 2000

Vigo Garrison: 3000

Gijon Garrison: 2000

Army of Valencia (Ocana) - Cervellon
19000 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 54 Guns

Valencia Garrison: 1000

Cartagena Garrison: 4000

Murcia Garrison: 2000

Army of Catalonia (Hostalrich) - Palacio
7000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Caldagues (Barcelona)
3000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Hostalrich Garrison: 2000

Tarragona Garrison: 1000

Tortosa Garrison: 2000

Rosas Garrison: 3000

Gerona Garrison: 1000


Gibraltar Garrison: 6000 Infantry

British Army (Abrantes) - Moore
25000 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 66 Guns

Baird (Lisbon) - 11000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Ferguson (Lisbon) - 3000 Infantry, 6 Guns

Campaign Summary - September 1808

Peninsular Campaign Summary - September 1808

Andalusia and New Castile:

Castanos destroyed the couple of battalions left in his path in the mountain passes North of Baylen, then proceeded northwards, pursuing Moncey's troops at a safe distance and stopping to organize a supply depot in Valdepenas.  His Army of Andalusia, after his reaching an agreement to co-operate with Cervellon's Army of Valencia, joined that latter general's forces in the vicinity of Ocana, facing Moncey's Corps across the Tagus.

Leon and Castile:

Bessieres attempted to destroy his opponent Gen Mahy's army in short order after his string of victories over the Army of Galicia in August.  However, at the Crossing of the Ucieza, his attempt to destroy the Spanish miscarried badly and he lost half of Mouton's division before retreating back to Burgos.  Bessieres spent the rest of the month recuperating in the area of Burgos, before marching west again to threaten Mahy, having been reinforced in the meantime with large elements of Joseph's Army of Spain. Mahy in his turn has used the respite to bring up further reinforcements from Astorga, while detaching Acevedo's division to make a lightning attack north at the end of the month and destroying the French garrison of Santander.


Joseph's single-minded pursuit of victory in Zaragoza paid off, as Palafox surrendered* once a significant enough breach in the defences had been made.  Delighted with the early capture of the city and the surrender of its remaining 5000 strong garrison, Jospesh headed west towards Burgos with his three divisions in order to reinforce Bessieres before that general resumes his offensive against the Army of Galicia.


More cat-and-mouse stuff..  Duhesme has continued to blockade Gerona hoping sickness will do its work and Lechi has now surrounded Rosas.  This gamble has led to Palacio being able to blockade Barcelona and occupy Hostalrich, but Duhesme is hoping that now he has established a secure(-ish!) line of communication with Perpignan and his subordinate Gen Reille, he will be able to either drive the Spaniards back or bring them to battle before the Neapolitan infantry garrison in Barcelona capitulate to the Spaniards.


Cervellon has merely followed up Moncey as the latter general has retreated to a position on the North bank of the Tagus.  The French garrison of Madrid, in attempting to maintain the flow of supplies to the region has pretty much devastated the local area.  It will be interesting to see if this hurts the Allied or Imperial cause more during the winter months...


Junot has successfully sued for peace and the Convention of Cintra has been signed, meaning his beaten corps will return to the fray afresh in December.  However, Gen Murray**, briefly replacing Gen Wellesley in the period before Gen Moore assumes command, although moving terribly slowly, has occupied the city, has been reinforced with horse, foot and guns and has started marching eastwards towards the Spanish border.

Game Notes:

A quieter month in the campaign with the French defeat around Plasencia quieting their last major offensive movement.  On balance though, I suspect that the successful conclusion to the siege of Zaragoza, as well as re-gaining the initiative for the Imperials, has left them more reason to be happy than the spanish, in spite of Mahy's fine victory.

 *The rules give a chance for besieged commanders to surrender after a practicable breach has been made by the besieging forces.

**There are no counters in the game for Gen Dalrymple, so I used Gen Murray as the interim commander instead.

Plans and Projects

I've read a couple of excellent things about planning gaming projects recently, one in Tim Beresford's article in Miniature Wargames 362 and another on Trebian's Blog wargaming4grownups.  This inspired me to review my current projects and see where I am going with them.

1.  My main project is my ongoing Peninsular War campaign.  I have all the troops I need for this, although I currently have to proxy Neapolitan and Dutch infantry, for example.  But I have the vast majority of what I need for it, so the main problem has been to find time between extensive work and family commitments, and some unfortunate bouts of sickness, to resume it.  Hope springs eternal however and I've managed to get it started again this weekend.

2.  The next campaign I am lining up is a re-fight of Caesar's Conquest of Gaul and his Invasion of Britain.  I still have a few more chariots to construct and paint, but in the main the armies for this are done.  I shall use Polemos SPQR probably, although DBA and DBM are also possibilities.  The key thing to research and decide here is the boardgame to use as a basis for it.  I'm still looking, so any recommendations would be very useful here!

3. I'm strongly considering getting rid of all my 20mm and 15mm figures and concentrate only on 28mm (for hybrid games, mainly) and 6mm.  It will make storage and sharing terrain easier and will mean I'm only ever painting for massed effect or individual figures.

4.  I feel a strong to desire to thin out the rules and books I have.  I don't think I have a very large collection by wargaming standards, but I don't want to keep rules I'm pretty sure I'm never going to play (again).  Look out for some advertisements on TMP!

5.  More generally, the other things on my 'stuff to do' list are:

Play some more WW2 games with the intention of finding the rule set or sets I really like.

Finish painting my two 6mm Wars of the Roses armies.

Decide whether to expand my token 6mm ECW forces.  And if so, decide whether to wait for Baccus to re-sculpt them.

Decide whether to collect a 6mm Napoleonic Prussian army (the last of the major combatants I don't have).  On the plus side, it would be great to do a large Waterloo wargame in 2015 with all the 'correct' troops (and not use my Russians or Spanish as proxies for example).  On the negative side, isn't it that the kind of completist thinking which leads people to collect far more than they could ever game with regularly?  And also, the Prussians were the main Napoleonic range which Baccus hasn't re-sculpted yet.  I might kick myself if Baccus get round to doing re-sculpts for them in 2016-7, say.

Decide whether to do moderns or not.  I'm really interested in them, but feel perhaps I should wait until I'm happy with a WW2 set or two, so I know the kind of modern game that I'd like before starting to collect the figures.

I'm aiming to be in  state of 'finished' by Christmas 2014.  I had aimed to be like that last year, but in the end 2013 ended up being so busy and disrupted it was never going to happen, so I've extended it by a year.  I have more or less decided that I want to stop collecting big armies by the time I'm 40 however - everything after that will be additions or for small games only.

We shall see how I get on...

Campaign Battle 07: The Crossing of the Ucieza

The Crossing of the Ucieza, Early September 1808

General Situation: Bessieres is continuing his pursuit of the Army of Galicia, now under the command of Gen Mahy.  Mahy's troops were trying to gain some respite at Plasencia, but on the approach of the the Imperial II Corps, has moved North to oppose its crossing of the Ucieza river to the North.  Bessieres has reconnoitred the Spanish position and improvised a pontoon crossing during the night, ready for a crossing at dawn...

The Forces:

Imperial Forces:
II Corps (CinC Bessieres - Decisive)
Imperial Guard Division: 3000 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry
Lasalle's Division: 1000 Light Cavalry
Merle's Division: 7500 Infantry
Mouton's Division: 9000 Infantry, 1000 Dragoons
Artillery: 48 Guns
Totals: 19500 Infantry, 3000 Cavalry, 48 Guns

Spanish Forces:
Army of Galicia (CinC Gen Mahy - Plodding)
Maceda's Division: 1500 Infantry, 1000 Light Cavalry, 12 Guns
Cagigal's Division: 3000 Infantry, 12 Guns
Martinengo's Division: 1500 Infantry
Portago's Division: 7500 Infantry, 12 Guns
Riquelme's Division: 6000 Infantry, 24 Guns
Trias' Division: 3000 Infantry

Totals: 22500 Infantry, 1000 Cavalry, 60 Guns

The Set-Up:

The battlefield with the Spanish deployed.  The Spanish units are deployed as follows: Trias on the hills to the left (as viewed in the picture), Cagigal's division on the left-hand side bridge, Portago's Division in reserve to the left rear, Martinengo's small division in the centre, Macedo's Advance Guard in reserve on the centre hill and Riquelme's division guarding the right.  Bessieres was free to set up a pontoon crossing at any point he chose.
Bessieres decided to attack on the left (South), aiming to simultaneously outlank the main Spanish position and cut off Trias' division on the hill.  Mouton's large division was first to cross, with the Imperial Guard and Lasalle's cavalry in reserve to the rear.  Merle's division was tasked with guarding the bridges and pinning the Spanish left (to the right of the picture).

 The Initial Attack:
Mouton's Division advances across the pontoon* and splits Trias' from the rest of the Army of Galicia.  The Spanish reserves are moving towards the spot, both Portago's and Macedo's units (n.b. The black counter at the bottom of the picture indicates that the French artillery there is silenced for a turn.  The initial performances of both the French and Spanish artillery in the early stages of this affair was incredibly dismal, doing more damage to themselves through fatigue and pointless ammunition expenditure than to the enemy!)

Mouton's division continues, but the Spanish are massing ready for a two-sided assault...
 The Spanish Assault:
The French mostly held their own, but crucially Macedo's column destroyed the French unit immediately to the West of the pontoon, thus cutting off the remainder Mouton's division from the East bank and the support of the French reserves.  The French artillery near the bridge has found its range (finally!) and is starting to inflict casualties on Portago's division.  Martinengo's small division may be seen moving on the road, Mahy intends to use it to shore up the Spanish right from Mouton's turning movement.

Same position as seen from the rear of Trias' division located on the hill.  The Spanish flags clearly show the Spanish in position of the Western side of the pontoons.  Mouton's units have started to face to both flanks to face the impending Spanish attacks.

The Crisis of the Battle:

The Imperial Guard units re-take the western end of the pontoon bridge and destroy Macedo's division into the bargain, re-establishing a route to Mouton's leading brigades.  Note the staggered effect of Portago's units; this is caused by the effective fire of the French artillery.  This involuntary widening of Portago's formation progressively slows its advance.

Attrition is telling on the heart of Mouton's division - two more brigades have been lost by this point.  Mouton's leading regiments are now in  position to turn the Spanish left (they are the units in the fields by the house), now opposed by Martinengo's small division.

French defeat!

Mouton's light infantry attacking out of the fields destroyed Martinengo's division and Portago's units began to show signs of disorder...the Spanish right was wavering.  But a final Spanish assault on Mouton's units broke them and in turn the whole division, most of which now no longer had an escape route and were forced to capitulate.  The Imperial Guard, after an initial repulse, were across but too late...

Mahy reformed his defence and Mouton had to consider whether to launch a full-scale attack with his Imperial Guard.  the odds were against it however and realizing that a reckless assault now might lead to the destruction of his entire Corps, elected to end the battle.  The Spanish, with no unbroken cavalry, were in no position to pursue.
A clear and outright Spanish victory to resume the campaign.  French casualties were in excess of 5,000, including many prisoners from the shattered brigades of Mouton's division, which was a galling fate for his lead units which had performed so well in turning the Spanish right.  Bessieres was clearly right to call off the action, as the chances for the decisive success which had inspired him to seek another battle against the Army if Galicia in the first place had gone.  Bessieres plan was simply too bold and he was punished accordingly, although he wasn't blessed with much luck, continually losing the initiative to Mahy for a succession of key turns.  On balance, a more central crossing point might have served him better, or a more defensive outlook after crossing.  Either way, this probably marks the end of Bessieres' pursuit of the Army of Galicia - both sides will have to take stock and decide if either can risk resuming the offensive unless they are reinforced.

Game Notes:
A suitably intense game of MdE to re-start my campaign.  Some of the mechanics were quite tricky to implement in this battle, because of the unusual dynamics of the attacks of the Spanish on both sides of the French 'corridor'.  I'm not sure I got every call correctly, but hopefully it was 'about right'.  And as a soloist, I only have to please myself...
I do think that it can be more difficult to sort this kind of thing out with element-based games compared to individual or sub-unit basing systems however, as the larger bases seem to interact with each other in more complicated ways.  I may ask the author Chris Grice a couple of clarifying questions on the yahoo group so that I will know for next time!