Thursday, January 28, 2010

Battle of Talavera - Part Two

Move 1

The game starts with all of the French commands on move orders and all of the allies on hold orders. Only the two commanders in chief can change these orders.

All French commands move forward. They are out of artillery range, so the allied commands do not move or fire.

Move 2

On the French right Ruffin uses most of his command points to move his artillery forward and unlimber. Because he has to move down from the cascajal hill he falls behind the other commands. On the left the cavalry halt opposite Talavera, outside artillery range. The remainder of the French commands continue to move forwards

Sherbrooke moves his reserve infantry closer to the pajar. The Spanish have 12 pounder guns and fire on the approaching enemy, but miss. The British have 6 pounder guns and are still out of range.
Move 3

The French continue their advance, and unlimber more artillery in the centre. On the right their artillery open fire on the medellin but miss. A battery on the left is hit by Spanish artillery but make their morale.

The allied artillery continue to fire on the approaching French. All of the enemy are now within artillery range, and one of the Spanish 12 pounders scores a hit.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Battle of Talavera - Part One

Battle of Talavera

Historical background
In May 1809 Wellesley advanced into Spain and joined the Spanish army of General Cuesta at Oropesa for operations against Marshal Victor at Talavera. Victor withdrew and, against Wellesleys advice, Cuesta pursued him towards Madrid. Victor was joined by King Joseph, and together they drove him back to Talavera.

The French now outnumbered the allies, who were determined to stand and defend Talavera.

Historical Orbat
Wellesley 21,000 infantry 3,000 cavalry 30 guns
Cuesta 35,000 infantry 6,000 cavalry 30 guns
Joseph 46,000 infantry 8,000 cavalry 80 guns

Wargame Orbat
Wellesley 48 infantry 8 cavalry 2 guns
Cuesta 48 infantry 4 cavalry 2 guns
Joseph 96 infantry 24 cavalry 3 guns

Note. The balance of the armies has been changed to allow for the peculiarities of wargaming. The French artillery has been reduced to allow for the great superiority of well trained crews and better guns, against poorly trained Spanish gunners and shorter range of British guns. The French cavalry have been increased to reflect the superiority of this arm. In a wargame cavalry melee much depends on the luck of the dice, and could easily result in the French cavalry being beaten by Spanish cavalry!

Table at start

The allied army is deployed on the left. Talavera is the large town at the bottom left, Pajar is a fortified farm in the center and the Medellin is the hill top left.

The French army is deployed on the right. The cavalry reserve is nearest the camera, pinning the Spanish garrison of Talavera. Leval is opposite the Pajar and can support either the cavalry (if the Spanish attack) or the main French attack. Sebastiani and Ruffin are opposite the British.

Talavera town

Zavas commands half of the Spanish army in and around Talavera. The town consists of four sections, each of which can fight independently but still support each other. Even with a Spanish garrison this would be a tough nut to crack. However it would be very difficult to deploy the garrison to fight outside the town.

Pajar fortfied farm

General Sherbrooke commands between the Spanish army and the Medellin, including this fortified farm.
Medellin Hill

Wellesley has joined general Hill who has command of the allied left flank, which is anchored on the large Medellin hill.

French left

On the left the cavalry reserve is deployed in front of Talavera with orders to prevent the garrison from moving forward. Leval is on their right, opposite the main Spanish army of general Portago.

French right

General nSebastiani is on the left opposite the open British center. On his right general Ruffin in on the Cascajal hill, opposite the British held Medellin hill. These two corps will form the main French attack.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Battle of Vimiero - Part Four

Move 7 - French left

British break and rout from Vimerio Hill.

Supporting artillery from Ackland’s brigade limber and withdraw towards Vimerio

Move 7 - French centre

Ackland wins the fight for Vimerio. On the right his reserve battalion replaces the Shaken garrison

Thomiere’s brigade have three battalions in rout and the gun crew shaken. Only one battalion remains to cover the retreat.

Move 7 - French right

Delaborde had lost the skirmish fight for the hill. Two of his battalions are shaken, and the British line safe behind the ridge.

Ferguson was well placed to move his infantry forward and rout the two shaken French battalions, but failed to do so due to poor generalship (he drew the “poor card”)

Margaron’s cavalry brigade are on attack orders, but were just out of charge range. They are now poised to fall on the nearest British battalion – if their turn comes first next move.

Move 7 - British reserve

Wellesley is just holding his centre together. The highland battalion in rout was the previous garrison of the left hand section of Vimerio. One of the two Portuguese battalions have joined them, and the other though in square is shaken. The British hussars are sufficient to cover the reserve, but not to attempt to save the infantry on the hill.

Move 8 - French left

French infantry move onto Vimerio Hill and pursue the routed British infantry away. One battalion on the right moves towards the village to secure their flank.

Move 8 - French centre

Here Wellesley has driven off the French assault and reoccupied Vimerio. He has lost one battalion but

the remaining two are in firm control of the village.

Thomieres has changed his brigade orders to Hold, as they can no longer Engage the village. He is attempting to rally his broken infantry and has managed to halt two battalions (on the left), but they are still shaken. Meanwhile his gunners have joined the rout, leaving just one battalion to protect the brigade whilst he tries to rally it.

Move 8 - French right

The battle is also going badly for Delaborde. His two shaken battalions have routed, taking the gunners with them. One more battalion is shaken and only one remains formed.

All of this despite the fact that Fane has once again missed his turn due to the “poor card”. This means he could neither fire nor change formation. As a result his right hand battalion has remained in line despite the approach of the French dragoons.

Junot has high hopes that Margaron’s cavalry can win the day and break the British left flank. His dragoon’s charge the infantry line, who fail to form square despite rolling a six on a D6. The cavalry break the line, and then lose their own morale and pursue, causing more casualties on the unfortunate infantrymen. The hussars follow up in support.

Move 8 - British reserve

Although one of the Portuguese battalions has joined the routed highlanders, Wellesley keeps a firm grip on his scanty reserves. The artillery have unlimbered on the right to secure the flank.

The unformed French dragoons in pursuit on the hill offer one small chance to the poor quality British hussars. If Wellesley’s can move the hussars onto the hill before the dragoons reform they have a good change of inflicting heavy casualties. This could well save the hill and with it the battle.

Move 9 - French left

Loison has taken Vimerio Hill and has changed his orders to Hold. However Junot is just arriving with orders to withdraw.

Move 9 - French centre

Thomiere’s whole brigade is in retreat. He has managed to rally two battalions, but they remain Shaken. He has also changed his orders to Hold, but seems unlikely to be able to do so.

Move 9 - French right

Disaster for Margaron’s cavalry brigade. Having routed one British battalion is dragoon’s went out of control and pursued. At the end of the previous move they were Shaken as a result.

Ferguson moved first, and promptly put his two remaining infantry in square. Wellesley’s moved next, changed his hussar’s orders to Attack and charged the still Shaken dragoons. They immediately broke, routed into their hussar supports and took them away as well.

The cavalry route was the final straw for Delaborde’s brigade. The two remaining infantry battalions turned and joined the rout.

Move 9 - British reserve

Wellesley’s masterly stroke with the single hussar regiment saved the day and turned near disaster into a complete victory. The remaining Portuguese battalion is the only allied reserve not committed to the battle.

British Victory

The wargame again repeated the historical victory for Wellesley. However the British infantry have suffered many more casualties than the French.

British casualties were 14 infantry, 1 cavalry and 2 gunners

French casualties were 5 infantry, 3 cavalry and 0 gunners

Despite the heavier casualties, Wellesley’s army are clear victors.