Author Topic: 200 years ago in Spain...  (Read 2302 times)

Paul Goldstone

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200 years ago in Spain...
« on: October 22, 2012, 09:28:41 PM »
I'm going to organise a game against my usual opponent next week, doing a small combat in the Peninsula. You might find it useful...

In October 1812 the British army was retreating, pursued by the French. General Oswald's British 5th Division occupied a rearguard position behind the River Carrion. The French advance guard under General Maucune drove in the British and Portugese skirmishers, and were able to cross the stone bridge at the village of Villa Muriel. Wellington ordered Oswald to launch a counter-attack and restore the situation. After some stiff fighting, the French were driven back from the bridge, but they had been able to cross the river elsewhere, and the British position became untenable.

Terrain should be a meandering river running down the length of the table, about 12BW (i.e. about a third of the way in) from the French side of the table. There are olive groves and scrub along the bank. The river is spanned by a stone bridge. On the British side of the river near the bridge is the town of Villa Muriel. On the British side of the table is a plateau.
The British begin 12BW from their side of the table, but an irregular Cacadore battalion can be placed anywhere outside of 8BW of the French side of the table. The French begin up to 8BW in, and have the first turn.
The river is impassable. French troops can cross over the narrow bridge. As soon as they contact the bridge, the British blow up the mine. On a die score of '1' or '2' the mine fails to go off, and the French can cross in march column. On a '3' or '4', the bridge is damaged but can be crossed by infantry in march column counting as Difficult terrain. On a '5' or '6' the bridge is blown up and the French can cannot cross.
The French can also try to cross by unmapped ford. A unit must spend an entire turn trying to cross. On a die roll of '6' the French find a ford and manage to cross - otherwise, the river is too deep at that point.
The French win if they are able to get units onto the plateau by the end of the game or destroy 3 British units. The British win if there are no French units on the British side of the river by the end of the game or destroy 4 French units.

British (Oswald/Wellington)
3 British infantry
1 SK base
1 Cacadore
3 British infantry
1 SK base

Pringle's and Barne's brigades of British infantry are all veteran regiments with high morale after a succession of victories over the French. They are rated as Valiant/Experienced/SK2. They use linear tactics.

French (Maucune/Souham)
4 French Infantry
4 French Infantry
1 Light BTY
2 Chasseurs a Cheval

French BTYs only have light 4-pdrs. The French cavalry was very badly mounted, and is rated as Regular/Amateur/Pursuit.


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Re: 200 years ago in Spain...
« Reply #1 on: December 16, 2012, 03:52:57 AM »
We've played this scenario, which was quite fun at our club, but a bit differently. We assume the French Dragoon to be Reliable/Exp./ Pursuit for the reasons mentioned in the above Venta del Pozo heading.

We also employed British infantry with Reliable instead of Valiant status of the following reasons :

- After the French defeat of Salamanca in July of that year, Wellington made the mistake, according to several military historians, of not pushing his army in pursuit of the retreating French. He instead chose to direct his army towards Madrid, for political reasons, and not the French border. A drive towards France would have however achieved the same goal of making King Joseph flee, and maybe in a more precipitated manner, but more importantly, would have shortened the British lines of communication : British ships supplying his army would no longer have to unload in Lisbon but in the norther Spanish ports of La Coruna, Gijon or Santander, several hundred kilometers of distance less to travel.

After several months of idleness, Weliington finally decided to attack the fortress in Burgos, but bad organization from his part and long lines of communication, made his siege a failure. He lacked the proper siege guns to create a sufficient breach and after 5 murderous assaults, gave up the attack of the 1800 besieged French with his army of 50,000.

He then began, for the umpteenth time, his retreat towards the Portuguese border. This was accompanied by a rear guard defeat (Venta del Pozo) and drunkenness and insubordination when the troops found well-stored wine-vaults in the town of Torquemada.

The "Valiant" status measures the troops motivation and desire to fight the enemy, according to Lasalle. I doubt that the standard British infantry unit, after a couple months of idleness, a major defeat as Burgos and the "yearly" retreat towards Portugal had that type of "Esprit".

The day after the Villamuriel battle, French troops at Tordesillas built a raft to put their muskets and ammunition on and crossed the cold Carrion river (27th Oct.) nude before attacking a Brunswicker Oels regiment and driving it away.

According to Napier, Col. of the 43rd Regt., at Villamuriel itself, a French horseman before the start of the battle, came racing down to the river, under a flight of bullets, calling out that he was a deserter and asked if there were fords nearby. Some British soldiers showed him were one was, a little way off. The horseman wheeled his horse round, blew a kiss to the British and rode back to his companions under a shout of laughter from both sides.

Should the French have Valiant status after such deeds or is it just the doings of reliable and experienced troops ? We feel that it is and that the Valiant status should only be given to exceptional units.

Despite the lowering of their status, the game we played was a draw : the French managed to cross the river after a long search of fords, but only managed to place one unit on the plateau (the scenario doesn't mention how many units have to be there for a French victory, so we said a minimum of two units). The British managed to destroy 3 French units by game end; so both armies were close to winning ! A good scenario indeed.