Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Battle of Vimiero - Part Three

Move 4 - French left

French infantry approach Vimiero Hill on engage orders and skirmish with British skirmish line. Both the skirmish fire and the artillery fire prove ineffective.

Move 4 - French centre

Marshal Junot is returning to his left to issue new orders to the cavalry reserve.

The British garrison have rallied but are still shaken.

French continue to skirmish the village, but with no effect.

Move 4 - French Right

Marshal Junot has ordered Delaborde to engage the hill, and his infantry columns are on the move to do so. Artillery on both sides exchange fire, but no casualties.

Move 4 - British Reserve

Wellesley has taken command of the cavalry reserve and is moving it forward on the left to threaten the French infantry attack on Vimiero.

Move 5 - French Left

Loison’s infantry are losing the skirmish fight for Vimiero Hill, and his leading brigade is shaken. The remainder of his infantry are too far away to skirmish or attack. The British artillery are now firing on the infantry columns, but still without effect.

Move 5 - French Centre

The British hussars declare an opportunity charge on the nearest French infantry column, but fail to make their morale to charge. The infantry immediately form square, which relieves the pressure on Vimiero.

Two French brigades are engaging the left hand section of the village, but again are losing the contest, and one brigade has suffered casualties. Despite being outnumbered the garrison have the benefit of hard cover and are gaining the upper hand.

The French cavalry reserve have been ordered to engage the enemy hussars and are moving into position to do so.

Move 5 - French Right

Deleborde is having more success. His guns have shaken the enemy artillery and one of his infantry brigades moves within skirmish range and inflicts further casualties which cause the gunners to rout.

The British infantry all make their morale despite the gunners running away, and hold their position to await the anticipated French attack.

Move 5 - British reserve

British Hussars now in position to threaten French attacks on Vimiero and left hand ridge. Reverve infantry battalion moving to left hand village section which is under attack.

Move 6 - French left

Crisis on Vimiero Hill. French infantry columns win skirmish fight and now await orders to storm the hill.

Even at canister range the British artillery have failed to inflict casualties. They have suffered skirmish casualties and are now Shaken. One infantry battalion is in rout and another also Shaken

Move 6 - French centre

Thomieres brigade have lost the fight for Vimiero. On the left two infantry battalions are in rout, a third is Shaken and the fourth in square to hold off British hussars.

It has been a very near run thing for the British. The garrison of the left hand section has also routed. A second battalion is moving through the rout to hold the village, and have made their morale despite the rout. Fortunately the French are in no condition to follow up the rout.

Move 6 - French right

On the left the arrival of the French cavalry reserve has forced the weaker enemy hussars to withdraw behind the village. This timely arrival has saved Thomieres badly shaken brigade .

Delaborde’s brigade is bogged down. Despite routing the enemy gunners, he is unable to take the ridge. On Engage orders he can only skirmish with the enemy, and they are winning the fight. The routed gunners have been rallied, but have suffered too many casualties to man the guns again.

The arrival of the French cavalry on the left could turn the tide in this part of the field

Move 6 - British reserve

The Portuguese reserve brigade is Shaken by the highlanders rout from the left hand section of the village. Wellington is moving to rally them.
Ackland’s reserve battalion is moving into the village and should be able to secure it as the French have no formed infantry who can oppose them.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Battle of Vimiero - Part Two

Move 1 - French left

General Loison moves towards Vimiero Hill with his brigade.

General Fane is holding the hill with his 1st brigade, and Wellesley is in the village watching the French deployment.

Move 1 - French centre

General Thomieres moves forward with his brigade. Marshal Junot is watching the advance at the head of the cavalry reserve under the command of general Margaron.

General Ferguson has his brigade in Vimiero and in reserve behind the village. The reserve includes his artillery which is not yet deployed. The small Portuguese brigade is further behind the village together with the cavalry reserve.

Move 1 - French right

General Delaborde and his brigade move forward.

General Ferguson holds the ridge with his brigade, one battalion in reserve.

Move 2 - French left

Marshal Junot orders Loison to move forward and engage Vimiero Hill. He unlimbered his artillery to provide support, but all of the British infantry are out of sight behind the ridge.

British artillery opens fire on the advancing French columns, but fails to hit anything

Move 2 - French centre

French infantry advance towards Vimiero. The artillery have unlimbered to bombard the village as the columns approach.

The French reserve cavalry are on halt orders as they are not required yet.

Ackland is moving his artillery and reserve battalion to the left of the village to engage any attack on the village or the nearby Vimiero Hill.

Move 2 - French right

Delaborde is nearing the ridge and has deployed his artillery. The only target that they can see is the British artillery.

British artillery open fire on the approaching columns but fails to hit.

Move 3 - French left

Loison is nearing Vimiero Hill and is firing on the enemy guns, but without success.

Fane waits for the pending French attack. His guns open fire but miss. His infantry are in line with one battalion in reserve. All are behind the crest of the hill and out of danger from the French gunners.

The artillery from Ackland’s brigade has unlimbered between the hill and the village and is preparing to open fire.

Move 3 - French centre

Junot orders Thomieres to Engage the village. Artillery fire on the right hand section of the village scores a hit. The garrison fail their morale test and are Shaken. Thomieres orders forward his leading infantry brigade to skirmish with the village to take advantage of this, but they fail to do any more damage.

Ackland’s artillery is not well positioned to support the village and can not fire on the approaching French columns. His brigade in the right hand section of the village again fail their morale test and remain Shaken.

Move 3 - French right

The infantry columns continue their advance towards the hill. The artillery fire on the enemy guns again fail to inflict any casualties

British artillery turn their fire onto the approaching French columns but also miss

Move 3 - British reserve

Wellesley orders the cavalry to advance, but due to a badly timed Poor card they fail to move.

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Battle of Vimiero - Part One

Historical background

The battle of Vimiero was fought on 21 August 1808, just four days after his victory at Rolica, and was Wellesley’s second battle of the Peninsular War. He deployed his army at Vimerio in order to cover the disembarkation of reinforcements at the nearby Maceira Bay.

When news of the battle of Rolica reached Junot at Lisbon, he gathered all available troops and marched north to join forces with the retreating Delaborde and confront Wellesley.

Historical Orbat

Wellesley – 18000 infantry, 500 cavalry, 18 guns

Junot – 14000 infantry, 2000 cavalry, 23 guns

Wargame Orbat

Wellesley has three British and one Portuguese infantry and one cavalry brigade

Junot has three French infantry and one cavalry divisions.

Wellesley – 96 infantry, 8 cavalry, 3 guns

Delaborde – 96 infantry, 16 cavalry, 3 guns

Wargames table at start of game

Vimiero is the middle of the photographs, with hills either side. The road on the right leads from Rolica (top) to Lisbon (bottom). The road on the left leads to Maceira bay where the British reinforcements will land.

French deployment

The three French infantry and one cavalry brigades are deployed along the right side of the table.

British deployment

The British have three slightly smaller brigades deployed on the left of the table. One brigade in the town and one either side. The even smaller Portuguese brigade is in reserve along with the hussar regiment.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

The Battle of Rolica

Battle of Rolicia 17 August 1808

The battle of Rolica was fought on 17 August 1808 and was Wellesley’s first battle of the Peninsular War. A few days earlier he had landed in Portugal, and was marching towards Lisbon when he met a much smaller French army under general Delaborde. The French retreated from their first position when outflanked by the British and took up a much stronger one just south of the village of Rolica.

Wellesley – 16000, 470 cavalry, 18 guns

Deleborde – 5000, 300 cavalry, 5 guns

Wargame Orbat

Wellesley has four British and one Portuguese infantry brigades

Delaborde has three French brigades

Neither side have any cavalry

Wellesley – 104 infantry and 4 guns

Delaborde – 96 infantry and 3 guns

Wargames table at start of battle

The French occupy their second position on the three hills south of Rolica. One brigade is deployed to cover each hill.

The British have reorganized having taken the first French position.

Battle Report

British left

1st and 2nd brigades form the left wing and are advancing to the left of Rolica along the main Obidos to Lisbon road.

British right

3rd and 4th brigades form the right wing and are advancing to the right of Rolica.

French left

1st brigade holds the ridge on the left of the French position. It is too small to hold the whole brigade and two battalions are held in reserve.

French centre

2nd brigade holds the main ridge which overlooks Rolica. Delaborde has placed himself behind this ridge to commit his reserves as the battle gathers pace.

French right

3rd brigade holds the right of the French position and the Lisbon road. This is the widest gap in the hills, and likely to be the focus of the British attack.

French left

The British 4th brigade and two guns pin the French left, whilst the 3rd brigade advances towards the centre hill.

French centre

Another view of the 4th brigade on the left and the Portuguese brigade on the right both moving towards the centre hill.

French right

Wellesley’s main attack, 1st and 2nd brigades, start their advance along the Lisbon road. The Portuguese brigade advance to pin the French infantry on the centre hill and prevent them moving against the main attack.

French left

4th brigade continue to pin French left, 3rd brigade approach the centre hill

French centre

The fight for the centre hill is going against the French. On their left they have lost a firefight, and on their right the Portuguese have driven back a second battalion.

French right

The French have lost their right flank. Two battalions are in rout and the artillery is shaken and have abandoned their guns. Delaborde has just ordered this wing to retreat, and with the remaining battalion is trying to cover the withdrawal.

French left

The French continue to hold the left hill, but the 4th British brigade are advancing towards them to stop them sending support to the centre and right

French centre

The Portuguese brigade is in rout, but elements of both 2nd and 3rd British brigades have won their fire fight with the French defenders. The battalion on the left is shaken, and the one on the right in rout. The artillery crew are also shaken. Delaborde is approaching the brigade commander to order him to withdraw.

French right

The whole of 1st French brigade is in rout, including the gunners. Wellesley’s artillery are screened by the advancing infantry, but they are no longer needed. The leading battalions of 1st British brigade are in line and are advancing to prevent the French from rallying. 2nd brigade have been ordered to advance on the centre hill, and can be seen on the left advancing in line.

British Victory

The wargame has repeated the historical victory for Wellesley. Both sides have suffered medium casualties, but it is a clear British victory.

1st French brigade is still capable of fighting, but 2nd and 3rd are both broken and in retreat. Between them they have lost 21 casualties and six of the 8 battalions are in rout.

The British have lost 7 casualties, but all of their 11 battalions are battle worthy. Only the two Portuguese battalions are in rout, with 9 casualties between them.