Tuesday, May 30, 2017

1809 Campaign in Spain: Battle of Navalmoral

After Wellesley's defeat at Toledo he has begun a retreat back to Portugal.  But the campaign is far from over.  While the chances of the Allies taking Madrid look gone, they can still save a par result by Wellesley getting his army back to Portugal.  Soult has moved south from Old Castile in an attempt to cut his line of retreat at the town of Navalmoral, but after Cuesta's defeat at Miajadras a few weeks ago he rallied his forces, received reinforcements & moved north.  Cuesta was too late to join Wellesley in the push for Madrid, but he fortuitously arrived at Navalmoral a day before Soult. With reinforcements from Andulusia Cuesta's army has been restored almost back to the strength it had when it was defeated by Victor at Miajadras, except that it lost most of its artillery at the battle & it has not been replaced.  However, Soult's corps is significantly smaller than Victor's was at Miajadras because he detached 2 brigades of infantry & sent them to join Joseph.  This may well have saved Madrid, but it has left Soult's corps undermanned.

Soult camped the night before only 1 hex from Navalmoral so the battle commenced early on Day 38 of the campaign.  Soult's light cavalry brigade (4 hussars) is forced marching to the battle having been off doing a scouting mission & is expected about 9pm real time.  There is also a British light division (6 inf battalions & a battery) on the road from Lisbon as reinforcements for Wellesley which is expected to arrive at the battlefield about 10pm real time.  So total forces in the area are 33 French & 54 Allied - if ever the Spanish are going to win one this should be it.
The Spanish are on the right.   The wooded hill is very lightly wooded and not a major defensive advantage.  They have more troops (infantry & cavalry)  out of sight in the trees & thus not on the table on the hill.  They have 6 infantry brigades, 3 of 6 units & 3 of 4 units), 2 heavy cavalry brigades, 2 light cavalry brigades, but only 1 battery.
The French have dragoons on their right, a grand battery & 1 infantry brigade in the centre & 3 infantry brigades on their left.  Thier infantry brigades have 5 units.
The French advanced cautiously.  On the near flank they deployed their grand battery & waited for it to do its work.  But on the far flank the Spanish advanced to meet the French infantry - doing so remarkably quickly considering their poor command rating.    
Initially the Spanish infantry attack on their right went well pushing some of the French back & even breaking some French units.
The French dragoons attacked twice their number Spanish heavy cavalry of at 2:1 odds.  The fight was indecisive & both sides fell back with heavy casualties.

In the desperate infantry fight on the far flank the Spanish broke one French brigade, but then lost 2 of their own.  The Spanish light horse eventually got out of the trees to support the remaining infantry.
The Spanish light cavalry arrived too late to save their infantry on the right & without artillery or infantry support the light horse could not hurt the French squares & fell back.
When the French hussars arrived they were quickly brought forward to support the dragoons, the French infantry in the centre advanced & the grand battery redeployed to fire at the Spanish centre.
On the far flank the Spanish are falling back, but Soult's infantry on that flank is too badly mauled to follow up.
Already weakened by the fire of the battery & the attack of the dragoons, the Spanish left collapsed quickly under the French attack.  The British light division has formed up just off table in the foreground & is able to come onto the table next turn, but it is too late.  The Spanish have lost 5 of 10 brigades, their army is broken & has to retreat.

For a while it looked like the Spanish might finally be going to win one when their attack on their right broke 1 French brigade & got 2 more on the brink of breaking.  But they did not break, & the Spanish suddenly fell apart losing 2 brigades on that flank & after he patiently softened up the Spanish left with dragoons & artillery, Steve's second attack on the Spanish left quickly took out 3 more brigades to break the Spanish before the British light division arrived.  So even a 60% advantage wasn't enough to overcome a command rating of 7 compared with 8, 1 less dice in most combats & the Break If Spanish rule.  But it wasn't only the Spanish rules that caused their defeat, Mitch & Steve's strategy was very good - in particular, they exploited their artillery superiority to the max, & Steve's combination of infantry, cavalry & artillery on the French right was very well done.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

1908 Campaign in Spain: Battle of Toledo 2nd day

Overnight the two armies remained on the field & reorganised.
At dawn the British renewed their attack though the village & on both sides of it. 
The renewed British attack did not go well - there were just too many Frogs. 
When the renewed attack began to falter, Wellesley, suspecting that Victor was going to arrive sometime during the day began an orderly withdrawal.

Losses over the two days were significant, but not heavy for either side. There have been units broken, but no brigades.  The Brits managed to withdraw in good order before Victor arrived, but while Joseph's army recovers from the battle on the battlefield, Victor's fresh corps has set off in pursuit.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Flames of War: Kingston Kup 2017

The Kingston Bunker Rats held their annual Flames of War tournament this weekend at Good Games.  Attendance was rather down this year with only 12 entrants.   I was the only Camp Cromwell rep this time.  FOW v4 came out a month or so ago so this will presumably has been the last hurrah for v3.  It will be interesting to see if V4 gives FOW a resurgence or it's on a down hill slide.  The theme for this event was Barbarossa - Russian Front Early War.
Mitzi helped me pack my Schurtzen Coy.
The Good Games Cafe/Bar venue excellent for a small tournament.  They could cope with a larger one by overflowing into the games space behind their shop next door. 
As always the Bunker rats provided good looking tables.
I won one, lost two close fights I could have won with better luck, lost one to the eventual winner who was just too bloody good & lost one in a combination of mission, table & enemy that gave me no chance.  But two quick losses made it less tiring than usual & I enjoyed collecting my first wooden spoon. 

Andrew Oates from the Monday Knights came 1st, Smithy from the DAK came 2nd & the Monday Knights from Melbourne won the club prize (all pretty much the usual result).

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Campaign in Spain 1809: Battle of Toledo

By day 34 of the campaign Wellesley had passed Talvera & was approaching Toledo only 50km from Madrid when he was informed that the French were waiting for him at the village of Yunco on the other side of Toledo.    Wellesley took his army cross country to attack the French on the afternoon of Day 35.  So w ehave out own "Talavera" a bit closer to Madrid & a smaller battle as Wellesley doesn't have Cuesta (who is still way to the west) & Joseph doesn't have Victor (who is down south having been delayed by Venagas).
Joseph Bonapart's army was deployed at a position he'd chosen.  He has a village on a hill in the centre of his line. Most of his cavalry was deployed on the plain on his left.  His right was protected by a narrow ravine and a low ridge allowed some troops to be hidden (not on the table for this pic).
The Brits deployed on a shorter front with 2 lines of brigades in their centre (2nd line not yet on the table).
The British advanced their centre, but held back their right.  The French began an advance on their left.
Some of Mike's British figs. 
On the French left the British infantry formed a line of squares.  The French cavalry suffered from long range rifle fire & artillery while their infantry on their far left blundered about & advanced at glacial pace.
In the centre the British attacked the village frontally, but so far Sebastiani's mix of Dutch, Germans & Poles is holding their own.  .
On the far flank the British are applying little pressure & the French are marching their right flank brigade behind their line to the centre.  
The Brits manage to take the front left corner of the village but the French allied troops are still holding onto the rest of it.
The stalemate continues on the French left as the cavalry continue to die waiting for the infantry to come up to attack the squares.  The half hearted British attacks on far side of the village have been beaten off. The attack on the village has finally got more success as the remainder of the front half of the village has fallen to the Brits.
Night fell at 10pm real time before any decision was reached.  No brigades were broken on either side.
On the French left, the infantry had only just got engaged.  
In the centre the Brits have taken half the village. On the right the French still hold the line of the ravine.

Casualties are about even.  The British have had 5 infantry battalions units & 2 rifle coys broken, including 1 guard battalion.  The French have had 6 infantry battalions & 2 batteries broken & 1 battery captured.  Most of the French casualties are in their allied units.  Sebastitani's two allied brigades & the Madrid Garrision brigade took the brunt of the British attack & all ended the day 1 unit break off the brigade being broken, so nightfall came at good time for the French centre.

At this stage neither side seems inclined to concede, so it seems the battle will continue in the morning (next week real time).  Overnight both sides must withdraw so they are 24" apart except that troops in cover can stay where they are (so both sides retain their half of the village).  All units will recover up to half their casualties & broken units will be rallied back 1 off being shaken.

Tuesday, May 09, 2017

Campaign in Spain 1809: Battle of Peuto Lapice Day 2

Despite being pushed back to within a hair's breadth of defeat on the first day, Vanagas surprised everybody by rallying his men overnight & standing his ground.
Overnight both sides rallied their men with broken units being returned in the rear 1 off being shaken & others recovering up to half their casualties.   The Spanish army is now deployed in an L with Peuto Lapice at the angle.  The infantry & cavalry on their right (left of pic) are the rallied broken divisions & are in poor shape.  The broken French division is off shot to the right.
Victor commended proceedings with an immediate attack on the Spanish left while his left maneouvred further left to attack the Spanish right.  His cavalry & artillery covered the gap between his infantry divisions.
There is desperate fight going on on the hill on the far flank, with the Spanish holding on suprisingly well (Mark having one of his good dice nights).
So far Victor has so far made no impression on the Spanish right & their left is also holding on nicely in the woods. The French battery is causing  casulaties in the village, but nothing decisive.
After the Spanish artillery was almost silenced by the French guns, Victor sent his cavalry forward to finish them off.  On the left the first French attacks have been beaten off & Victor is getting ready for another attack.  The other flank is still indecisive.  The French are becoming despondent in the face of unusually tough Spanish resistance.
Victor's cavalry has pulled back from the Spanish squares beside the village.  On the far flank the French have pulled back with both divisions having high casualties.  But on the left Victor finally launches a better coordinated attack with better dice & suddenly the Spanish right has crumbed.
With the collapse of the Spanish right, their position is totally compromised.  Victor resumed his pressure on the Spanish left.  The Spanish cavalry is no fit state to resist the wall of French infantry columns advancing on them.  The Spanish call a retreat.  One of the Spanish divisions on their left is broken covering the retreat, but the Spanish get away without failing their Army Break Test.

Sunday, May 07, 2017

Sunday Bolt Action at Good Games

I lent Mark my Brits & took them on with my Panzergrenadiers in a Double Envelopment Scenario. In this scenario you get 1 VP per enemy unit destroyed, 2 VPs for getting a unit within 12" of the enemy's baseline & 3 for getting a unit off the table on the enemy's side.
It's a good scenario & we had a good game though in the end it was a very decisive German victory.

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

Campaign in Spain 1809: Battle of Peuto Lapice

After the battle of Miajadas on Day 15, Cuesta retreated south to lick his wounds while the victorious Victor re-established line of communication with Madrid & marched east up the valley of the Guadiana to Cuidad Real where he turned north for Madrid.  But he then found Vanagas blocking his route, deployed in a strong positon at the village of Peuto Lapice with a lightly wooded ridge on each side.
The Spanish are on the right.  Troops out of sight of the French are not on the table.  The French have 6 infantry brigades & a cavalry brigade.  The Spanish 5 infantry brigades & 2 cavalry brigades.  The round trees represent olive groves.  The hills are covered in open woods.
Th elast French to arrive is their cavalry on their right flank.
Victor has launched his attack on the Spanish right with 3 infantry brigades.  The Spanish cavalry has appeared hiding in the woods on that flank.  It has advanced to meet the French as an infantry brigade is marched from the central reserve to the the right. is
On the far flank the French infantry made short work of the 2 Spanish cavalry brigades & then broke an infantry brigade as well.  But they didn't get all their own way, the Spanish defence managed to break a French brigade.
The 5th Spanish infantry brigade has been revealed on the near flank where the Spanish started a counterattack but then thought better of it and fell back again.
The French have broken through on the Spanish right and are wrapping around the flank of the remaining Spanish army which will Break if it loses another brigade.  But the Spanish hold on until nightfall.

For the third time the French have defeated a larger Spanish army, but not decisively.  Having held on until nightfall, Vanagas should be able to make a retreat overnight with his army still capable of fighting.