The Battle of Maida
has always seemed to be a popular scenario amongst wargamers since it features a British division against a French division in an independent action, without any great complexities of terrain. I noticed a workable scenario whilst perusing a copy of Wargames Illustrated 186 and decided it was time I gave it my first go (assuming my memory isn't playing me false and it turns out I have
played it before - I wouldn't rule this out!)
Using the typical Polemos practice, the individual units aren't focused upon but rather the army as a whole. This gives forces of:
C-in-C: Stuart (Capable)*
1st Brigade (Kempt): 2 bases of Trained/Elite Infantry SK2, 1 base of Trained 6lb Foot Arty
2nd Brigade (Cole): 1 base of Trained/Elite Infantry SK1, 2 bases of Trained Infantry SK1, 1 base of Trained 6lb Ft Arty
3rd Brigade (Acland): 3 bases of Trained Infantry SK1, 1 base of Trained 6lb Ft Arty
4th Brigade (Oswald): 2 bases of Trained Infantry SK1
20th Foot: 1 base of Trained Infantry SK1 (under Stuart's direct command)
I set up the 20th Foot on the extreme bottom-left of the table and ruled it could only move after the first combat (other than artillery bombardment) had taken place.
* Some books I have read suggested that Stuart was ineffectual and the battle won despite him, rather than because of him. The magazine scenario is more sympathetic, hence his rating as Capable.
One could designate any or all of the elite units as veterans too, although I tend to think the evidence doesn't really support it.
C-in-C: Reynier (Capable)
1st Brigade (Compere): 2 bases Trained Infantry SK2, 2 bases Trained Infantry SK1
2nd Brigade (Peyri): 1 base Trained Infantry SK1, 2 bases Raw Infantry SK1
9th Chasseurs a Cheval: 2 bases Trained Light Cavalry, 1 base Trained 4lb Horse Arty
3rd Brigade (Digonnet): 3 bases Trained Infantry SK2
The 23rd Light had fought at Caldiero. I am not sure of its performance that day, but if the player(s) prefer, one could designate 1-3 bases in the 3rd Brigade as Veteran. Some of the 1st Swiss had been assigned to naval duties and fought at Trafalgar, but I find it hard to believe that theur experiecnes that day would contribute very much to "veteran" status.
The scrub on each flank is counted as defence value 1; the watercourse is a stream.
|The set-up: French top, from right-to-left: Compere, Peyri, 9th Chasseurs, Digonnet; British from right-to-left: Kempt, Cole, Acland, with Oswald in reserve|
|Another view, French left, British right|
|A closer view of the French: Compere on the right, with the 1st Light leading; Peyri on the left, with the Swiss in front of Reynier and the Polish-Italians in column|
|And the remaining French: the 9th Chasseurs (right) with the horse artillery attached and Digonnet's Brigade (left), consisting of the 23rd Light|
|And some of the Brits: Cole's Brigade is central, with the Grenadiers and 4 guns in front of Gen Stuart; Acland's Bde is right, Oswald's Bde, led by the Swiss Regt de Watteville is in reserve (top).|
|Both sides advance in more-or-less echelon; the French 1st Light Infantry is about to meet the British light infantry (top-right)...|
|A closer view of the advancing French light infantry|
|And another one (I was experimenting with close-ups)|
|And the same thing, but from behind the opposing British light infantrymen|
|The sides close; Reynier decides to bring up his second brigade in support before initiating his attack|
|The remaining French are still in echelon|
|More shots of the British light infantry facing their French counterparts, with Gen Stuart and some artillerymen looking on|
|Same again (more photo experimentation, apologies)|
|Last one! (I was working out the balance between focusing on the British in the foreground and the French in the background)|
|The eagle-eyed may be able to spot the red of the 1e Swiss (centre) and the white-and-green of the Italians (left)|
|Reynier decides on a more cunning plan than just a straight attack; he sends the 1st Light Infantry into the scrub on the flank to extend the British line...|
|...as can be seen by the wider shot; also note that Reynier has transferred himself to join the 9e Chasseurs on the other flank (left)|
|Acland's Bde faces the French cavalry|
|The French light infantry attack through the scrub: the British light infantry become slightly shaken at the approach of the French, but hold their fire until the last moment...|
|The French push on to mere metres from the British light infantry...|
|The French cannot push forward their attack through the hail of fire and retire in disorder|
|Reynier in person has led the 9th Chasseurs in a glorious charge and has captured 4 British guns! The British reserves face him...|
|The other squadrons of the 9th Chasseurs have been routed by the supporting British infantry, but Reynier determines to lead his horseman and supporting gunners onwards...|
|Another successful charge routs one of the British battalions and leaves the other shaken!|
|A wider shot of the same|
|However Stuart launches an attack all across his right...|
|The French 1st Light Infantry return their compliments to the British lights and send them scurrying back in disorder; however elsewhere things did not go as well...|
|A very neat bayonet charge routs a French line regiment and the Swiss battalion!|
|The Polish-Italian troops hold on but are in some disorder (top-left), otherwise the French left wing is in rout|
|The French Cavalry charge the shaken British infantry reserve (which subsequently routed)|
|Unfortunately the loss of two French brigades and a poor morale roll (high is bad in Polemos for morale) sees French army morale collapse|
|The other French units collapse as the rout widens|
|And the victorious 1st Light must retreat as the rest of the French run|
A very enjoyable game - Polemos as DBA, almost. This is the lowest level where Polemos will work as designed, it can be (and I have) played with even fewer units, but that requires some morale re-jigging or living with the fact that three shaken battalions can, under the right circumstances, lead to the collapse of the army. But 12-13 bases a side is perfect for a small game, and this is a scenario that can easily be played with a starter army on each side, with a few bits of terrain on a small table.
Maida is rightly a favourite scenario amongst Napoleonic wargamers, since there is a pleasing variety of troops and lots of tactical options. Polemos handled it nicely. The French were slightly unlucky to lose the first clash in the woods, but this was rather balanced out by having a little luck in the cavalry charge. What really made the difference here was artillery: the use of horse artillery was instrumental in the French achieving their breakthrough but the British use of artillery on the centre-right helped their infantry achieve the decisive victory in the bayonet charge. The other problem with the French battle was that the last French brigade didn't manage to get into action at all - it may be worth re-fighting the action in a more deliberate manner.
And for the superstitious gamers' amongst us, three battalions (two French, one British) fell to "first battle syndrome"...
Figures by Baccus 6mm