Sunday, February 12, 2023

Roliça - French Second Position (17 August 1808)

This scenario is a refight of the second stage of the Battle of Roliça (17 August 1808) during the Peninsular War. It was played using the Commands & Colors Napolionic rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra, trees mostly from Timecast Miniatures and using 6mm figures from Baccus instead of blocks. This is the third battle using our Peninsular War campaign rules.

The History

Général Henri François Delaborde expertly withdrew his force near Roliça to a second defensive position before the British flanking columns could encircle him. The new position was extremely strong and could only be reached frontally by four rugged gullies. General Sir Arthur Wellesley quickly repositioned his forces to repeat his double envelopment for his afternoon attack.

The view from the Anglo-Portuguese lines.

However, Wellesley's plan was pre-empted when the Lieutenant-Colonel Lake of the 29th Worcestershire Regiment prematurely forced his way up one of the central gullies. Wellesley chose to support Lake’s effort and the entire British army surged forward. The French battalions advanced to meet the British before they could emerge from the gullies, but were repulsed. Delaborde once again drew off his troops in good order. Ultimately Roliça was an indecisive action. Although Delaborde did slow the British advance, Wellesley forced him to retreat before he was reinforced.

The Refight

Looking at the French defensive line, the Allied commander decided that the French right was his opponent's weakest point.

So the British cavalry and RHA were ordered to move from the centre to the Allied left flank and then advance together with Ferguson's infantry.

While this was happening, the French waited patiently on their ridge line, opening up with an ineffective artillery fire.

The French artillery cause slight losses to one of Ferguson's infantry units as four unit fixed bayonets and charged towards the ridgeline. Ferguson hoped that he could cause the French infantry to retreat from the hill as it was only supported by artillery and no other unit.

The British infantry's bayonet charge up the hill caused only slight casualties to the defending French infantry who stood firm, but caused huge losses to the attackers.

The attack was stalled on the slope, and when the French counterattacked they mopped up the few remaining troops without loss to themselves.

The battle then moved to the centre, where the British infantry opened a ranged fire believing they would have the advantage. The caused minor casualties to the defending French light infantry but the return fire caused severe British losses and the British infantry took cover in the woods.

Seeing is heavy losses in the centre, the British general ordered forward an artillery unit and an infantry unit from his reserve. At the same time his infantry withdrew so as to be out of musket range of the French infantry.

Deciding that the time was ripe to strike before the British reinforcements to come into action, the French commander ordered his troops to advance down off the ridge.

The British had hoped to hold of the French with their superior musketry. While they did cause one French infantry unit to retreat, the British took heavy casualties, one unit being entirely wiped out.

The Allied commander was confident that the firepower of his British light infantry would destroy the advancing French infantry. But they failed to do so, and the French infantry column hit the light infantry and destroyed them.

In the hope of distracting the French advance, the British commander ordered a cavalry charge into the French right flank. The cavalry charged up the hill supported by close range fire from the RHA guns.

The French line infantry, decided not to form square because of the presence of the guns. The charging cavalry overran the infantry.

The British cavalry, impetuous as always, continued their charge into the French artillery. 

Even without the support of the RHA guns, the cavalry overran the French artillery. 

The French commanded order La Grande Manoeuvre, and brought forward 3 line infantry and one cavalry unit to halt the victorious British cavalry.

The British cavalry attacked down the slope with the support of the RHA guns, and attacked the French light infantry. This time the French infantry formed square.

Both the cavalry and the light infantry took losses, but the square held firm.

The French general shouted "Follow Me!" and the line infantry advanced to attack the British troops defending the woods.

Encouraged by the General's heroic leadership, the French stormed into the woods, wiping out the British infantry.

Having lost so many troops, Sir Arthur Wellesley called for a general withdrawal leaving the French victorious on the battlefield.

The Outcome 

French Victory:   Anglo-Portuguese 2 - French 5

For the next scenario, the French gain 3 Glory Counters and the Allies gain 1 Glory Counter.

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  French       2     16
  Allies       1     12

Saturday, January 21, 2023

Roliça - French First Position (17 August 1808)

This scenario is a refight of the first stage of the Battle of Roliça (17 August 1808) during the Peninsular War. It was played using the Commands & Colors Napolionic rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra, buildings from Total Battle Miniatures, trees mostly from Timecast Miniatures and using 6mm figures from Baccus instead of blocks. This is the second battle using our Peninsular War campaign rules.

The History

After landing unopposed at Mondego Bay, Sir Arthur Wellesley led a Portuguese/British army of some 15,000 men south towards Lisbon. Opposing him was General Henri Delaborde, with a force consisting only of some 5000 infantry, 500 cavalry and 5 field pieces. Delaborde resolved to fight a delaying action against Wellesley’s advance while awaiting reinforcements from Generals Junot and Loison.

Delaborde chose his first defensive position in the hills just northwest of the village of Roliça. Wellesley advanced in three columns against the French, ordering the Portuguese troops under Colonel Trant on the right and Fergusson’s column on the left to turn the enemy’s flanks, while the artillery and infantry in his centre were to engage the enemy in the front and hold them in position.

The view from the Anglo-Portuguese lines.

The British attack was underway by seven o’clock in the morning on the 17th. Although the French were hotly engaged all morning, Delaborde’s outnumbered force still held onto the hill position. However, by early afternoon, the wary Delaborde could see that his position was being outflanked and quickly moved his forces back to a second defensive position to the south.

The Refight

The battle commenced when both British artillery opened fire on the French light infantry on the hill.

The French light infantry took heavy losses but held their ground.

The French moved forward an infantry column and some light cavalry to bolster their right flank.

The British held their position and opened fire. The combined firepower of the British light infantry in the woods and the two Royal Artillery batteries devastated the French column on the hill.

The French and British then exchanged fire. The British firepower was more effective, destroying the advancing column and causing the light infantry to retreat into cover behind the hill.

Protected by the fire of their light infantry in the woods, a column of British infantry on the left flank started to cross the river.

Seeing that his right flank was not successful, the French general now tried to change the focus of the engagement. He ordered his right flank cavalry to retire behind the village of Roliça. On his left flank he ordered his light infantry and light cavalry to advance in order to threaten the Portuguese on the British right.

Ignoring the advance towards the Portuguese, the British general ordered the troops on his left flank to manoeuvre with great speed. The three units still on the far side of the river advanced forward and started to cross. The column of infantry that was already crossing the river, rushed forward and into the village of Roliça right under to nose of the French light cavalry.

In an attempt to regain the initiative, the French general ordered both his cavalry units to charge.

On his right flank, the hussars charged into the British regiment of foot that was crossing the river, but it formed square and held off the hussars with no serious losses to either side.

On his left flank, the French general ordered the chasseurs à cheval to charge the Portuguese line infantry stationed on the hill. The infantry formed square but took casualties in the process.

The British advanced their cavalry to threaten the French hussars. From the safety of the village, the British infantry opened fire on the rear of the hussars causing them to retreat but without causing any serious casualties.

The French general ordered his hussars to retire further. However on the French left, the chasseurs à cheval  attacked the Portuguese square causing more casualties. French light infantry advanced slowly to support the chasseurs à cheval.

Seeing the exposed French artillery on the hill, the British cavalry charged with the Royal Horse Artillery battery in support.

The charging British cavalry slaughtered the artillery, then impetuously charged into the French hussars causing then to loose half their strength. 

But the impetuous British cavalry had charged too far, they were surrounded behind the French lines, cut off and destroyed.

Rather rashly, and instead of waiting for his centre to advance, the British general ordered his left flank to leave the security of Roliça village and to push ahead towards the recently victorious and full strength French line.

The French line infantry, formed attack columns and attacked.

The British line infantry retreated through the village and out the other side. The light infantry held the French but took losses.

The British light infantry advanced alone the ridge and attacked the French infantry. Both sides took heavy losses and the British retreated back along the ridge.

On the French left, the French light infantry had arrived to support their chasseurs à cheval. The light infantry opened fire on the Portuguese square while the chasseurs à cheval attacked the supporting Portuguese cavalry. Both Portuguese units were destroyed.

The RHA opened up at close range with canister, firing a hail of small balls into the French infantry.

The RHA destroyed the French infantry, while at the same time a regiment of British foot occupied the hill that outflanked and overlooked the French army's line of retreat.

Seeing that they had been outflanked and were in risk of being cut-off from their supply lines, the French general ordered his army to retire from the field of battle.

The Outcome 

Anglo-Portuguese Victory:   Anglo-Portuguese 5 - French 4

For the next scenario, the Allies gain 2 Glory Counters and the French gain 1 Glory Counter.

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  French       1     11
  Allies       1     10

Saturday, December 31, 2022

Bailén (19 July 1808) - Peninsular War

This scenario is a refight of the Battle of Bailén (19 July 1808) during the Peninsular War. It was played using the Commands & Colors Napolionic rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using 6mm figures from Baccus instead of blocks. This is the first battle in our Peninsular War campaign.

The History

Large areas of Spain had rebelled against the French invasion. Dupont’s French Corps advanced to occupy Cordoba and Sevilla. Most of Dupont’s troops were newly formed conscript units. Soon Dupont found himself facing General Francisco de Castaños’ force of 30,000 men to his front, and harassing guerilla forces that cut his line of communications until a reinforcing French division re-opened it. Fearing that his communications would be cut again, Dupont retreated, but did so too slowly, encumbered by a long baggage train. Half of Castaños’ army under Reding executed a decisive flank march that placed them on high ground at Bailén, squarely across Dupont’s line of retreat. Dupont remained unaware of their presence until too late.

The view from the Spanish lines.

On July 19th Dupont’s advance guard (Chabert’s brigade) made contact with Reding’s defensive line. Without reconnaisance, Chabert sent his 3,000 infantry and cuirassiers forward against three times their numbers. The attack was driven back. Most of Dupont’s corps marched behind the baggage train, making reinforcement difficult. Arriving units were thrown into a second French attack piecemeal, and were again repulsed. Dupont arrived on the field and assumed command. Led by the Marines of the Guard, the third understrength French attack also failed. Adding insult to injury, most of Dupont’s Swiss infantry, originally in Spanish service, deserted back to their former employers. With no additional reserves and the rest of Castaños’ Spanish army moving in behind the French, Dupont surrendered.

The Refight

The battle commenced with the French withdrawing their cuirassiers from the centre to make room for them to deploy two batteries of foot artillery.

On the Spanish left flank, the French advanced their cavalry and the Spanish moved forward their light infantry to the edge of the woods, supported by a column of line infantry on the hills behind.

The fighting continued on the Spanish left flank, with the Spanish light infantry in the woods opening fire on both the French infantry in the woods and the French cavalry, causing serious casualties to both.

The French general decided that staying stationary was not an option, so he ordered his cavalry to charge the Spanish guns on the hill. He also moved his cuirassiers from the centre to support the attack.

With only slight losses to themselves, the stubborn Spanish artillerymen halted the charging French cavalry causing serious casualties.

The Spanish artillery on the hill, and light infantry in the woods kept up a steady fire on the French destroying a cavalry regiment and the infantry lurking in the woods opposite.

The French General then ordered a second attack on the Spanish guns by the surviving cavalry from the first attack and the fresh cuirassiers. But this time, General Chabert brought up a column of infantry in support. 

The cuirassiers overran the Spanish artillery and then continued up the hill, forcing the infantry under the command of General Coupigney to form square.

The Spanish brought up infantry reinforcements which caused casualties on the cuirassiers.

The French general ordered his infantry columns to fix bayonets and charge in support of the cuirassiers on the hill.

One of the French columns destroyed the Spanish square on the hill and capturing General Coupigney in the process, while the second attacked the Spanish light infantry in the woods causing them to flee to the rear.

A ferocious battle ensued on the hill, with both sides taking heavy losses.

Hoping to tip the balance, the Spanish advanced a regiment of hussars, which wiped out the remaining cuirassiers and forced the lone French infantry into square.

But the French square held, causing the Spanish hussars to retire back off the hill.

The battle now moved to the Spanish right flank. The French opened with a bombardment that slaughtered the Spanish infantry column located on the hill next to the artillery. 

The Spanish brought up their cavalry reserve to support their infantry.

The French started pushing forward this Swiss infantry regiments.

Back on the Spanish left flank, the Spanish light infantry advanced and destroyed the understrength French square, retaking the hill with the support of the hussars.

The French charged their Chasseurs à Cheval up the hill into the Spanish hussars. Both sides took losses in an undecisive engagement.

At the same time, General Chabert led his infantry out of the woods up onto the hill whereupon they opened fire on the Spanish dragoons causing them to retire with casualties.

The French line infantry opened fire slaughtering the Spanish light infantry. 

The French Chasseurs à Cheval caused the Spanish hussars to flee before they themselves being charged and destroyed by the Spanish dragoons.

On the Spanish right, a lone French light cavalry support by artillery attacked the Spanish infantry on the hill. The Spanish infantry formed square, but took casualties from the artillery fire.

The Spanish counterattacked, wiping out the French cavalry regiment.

On the left, the French infantry took the hill, destroying the understrength defending Spanish infantry and forcing back the Spanish dragoons with losses.

The French advance continued, causing the Spanish dragoons to flee the field. The second French column pushed the Spanish infantry out of the woods and caused serious losses.

The Spanish infantry attempted to retire towards their own centre.

The French infantry column charged into the understrength Spanish infantry and totally destroyed them.

Disheartened by all their losses, the Spanish army turned and fled the field.

The Outcome 

French Victory: French 7 - Spanish 5

For the next scenario, the French gain 2 Glory Counters and the Allies gain 1 Glory Counter.