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.

Monday, July 4, 2022

Battle of Idistaviso / Weser River (16 AD)

This is the second of two scenarios to refight the campaign of Germanicus against the Germanic tribes. This scenario was AC27, an unofficial scenario written by Alessandro Crespi and available on

The scenario was played using the Commands & Colors Ancients rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using paper figures from Peter Dennis instead of blocks. 

The Battle of Idistaviso is also known as the Battle of the Weser River and sometimes as the first Battle of Minden. It was fought in 16 AD between the Roman legions commanded by Germanicus (the adopted son and heir if the Emperor Tiberius) and an alliance of Germanic tribes commanded by Arminius. Additionally the Chauci, a Germanic tribe, fought for Romans as auxiliaries.

Ancient sources identify the location as Idistaviso, but the precise location is unknown, save that it was on the right side of the Weser River, somewhere up between the cities of Minden and Hameln of present-day Germany. The battle marked the end of a three-year campaign by Germanicus to restore the Roman frontier at the Elbe that had been lost in 9 AD. The Germanic tribes generally avoided open large-scale combat, but at this battle Germanicus was finally able to force them into a major engagement. 

Both sides suffered severe losses, but the Romans were victorious. Arminius and his uncle Inguiomer were wounded in the battle, but both evaded capture. The retreating Germanic army was cut down in every quarter. Many, attempting to swim across the Weser, died from a storm of projectiles or by the force of the current. Many others climbed to the tops of trees, and while they were hiding in the branches, the Romans called upon archers to shoot them down.

Germanicus had to withdraw behind the Rhine for the winter once again. Tiberius saw no point in continuing the costly military campaigns in northern Germania and ordered Germanicus to end his campaign and return to Rome. Germanicus was granted a triumph in 17 AD. After this, Rome never again made a serious effort to conquer Germania beyond the River Rhine.

The Battle started with the light troops of both sides skirmishing in the centre. The Romans advanced in the hope of taking the hilly terrain but the barbarians got there first. There were few losses, but the Romans were outnumbered.

In the centre, the Romans took losses from the enemies' javelins and their auxilia retired. But they were rallied and advanced into the fray again.

A great contest of javelin skirmishing ensued. The sky turned dark with the javelins, initiated by the barbarians but counterattacked by the Romans. The Romans came off the best from the exchange.

After more skirmishing from both sides, the Roman centre took the initiative and advanced towards the barbarians on the hills.

The Germanic leader, seeing the perilous situation, took direct command of the four units around him and charged straight into the Romans.

One unit of Roman heavy infantry was pushed back with casualties, while the second unit under the command of Germanicus himself was wiped out, Germanicus being carried of the field seriously wounded and unable to continue in command. The light infantry evaded the charging barbarians.

In the centre, the Romans were suffering from the javelins thrown by the barbarians.

So they sent forward a unit of legionaries and one of Chauci warrior auxiliaries to attack the barbarians.

But the fight was indecisive, both sides taking fairly heavy losses.

Arminius ordered forward a fresh unit of his warriors, they demolished the Chauci auxiliaries, and charged right through them into the legionaries behind.

The legionaries retreated without loss. However the Roman immediately brought forward more reinforcements to build a battle line against the barbarians.

As the Roman centre looked impenetrable, Arminius ordered his three units of cavalry to charge the enemy's left flank.

One unit of Germanic cavalry, fled from the fight, while the other two wiped out one unit of Roman cavalry, severely damaged another as well as almost destroying a unit of Chauci warrior auxiliaries.

The Romans tried to shore up their left flank. The Chauci warrior auxiliaries attacked the unit on the hill, wiping them out and causing their commander to flee into the forest to his rear. The Roman cavalry then attacked the remaining enemy cavalry unit, causing 50% losses but were then themselves pushed back.

The barbarians then continued the cavalry charge again. They brought up both the cavalry and the leader that had previously fled.

The cavalry slaughtered the Chauci warrior auxiliaries, they charged straight through and over the hill where they fell on the remaining understrength Roman medium cavalry and its leader.  

The Roman medium cavalry and its leader were destroyed. Seeing their flank destroyed, the Roman army lost heart and retired from the field of battle. 

Arminius celebrated his victory, by drinking Roman Falernum wine, part of the spoils discovered in a tent previously belonging to a Roman general.

Arminius - by MW

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Angrivarii Rampart (16 AD)

This is the first of two scenarios to refight the campaign of Germanicus against the Germanic tribes.

The scenario was played using the Commands & Colors Ancients rules but on hex terrain from Kallistra and using paper figures from Peter Dennis instead of blocks.

Following the catastrophe at the Teutoburger Wald, Augustus dispatched a series of punitive expeditions into Germany. In 14 AD, Tiberius became emperor and assigned his adopted son Germanicus Julius Caesar to the German province. In AD 16, Arminius decided the time had come to destroy another Roman army. He deployed his Germanic army to ambush Germanicus at a point in a plain between a forest and a deep, broad stream. His infantry waited behind an old boundary rampart while he deployed his cavalry in the woods, waiting to charge out onto the Roman rear. 

Germanicus was a far better tactician than Varus. He scouted well and did not fall for the trap, sending auxiliary infantry into the forest to occupy the German cavalry while his legions attacked the ramparts. The first Roman attempt at the ramparts was repulsed, so Germanicus ordered forward his engines and light troops to soften up the Germanic position. The second attack broke through the rampart and the Germans behind the ramparts fled. The battle then shifted to the woods where the fighting went on until dusk. Arminius withdrew in the darkness and the Roman cavalry pursuit was indecisive. Germanicus had won a tactical victory with little strategic impact. Arminius had survived with a depleted but intact army to continue the fight. In the following year, the Emperor Tiberius decided to abandon Germany and fix the limit of the Roman Empire at the Rhine. Roman expansion was at an end, and the Germanic tribes remained free, with dramatic implications for the future of Europe.

The battle commenced when Germanicus ordered two units of auxilia into the forest, and the ballistae on his right flank to advance.

The barbarian skirmishers rushed forth, threw their javelins, and then retired back to safety before they could be attacked. The Roman light infantry on their left flank and the legionaries in the centre took casualties.

The Romans acted on both flanks, advancing their infantry to build up for an attack. The ballistae opened fire on the far right but without success.

The barbarian leader took his unit and four other and attacked the forest.

The Roman legionaries and the barbarian warriors both took losses.

The Romans didn't want to loose the forest, so the pushed back into it and attacked.

Both sides took losses, but despite having the initiative, the Romans came off worse.

The barbarians pushed forward into the forest.

The lone Roman legionaries were destroyed and their light infantry took losses.

Following their leader, the Romans advanced two units from their centre. 

The legionaries destroyed a unit of barbarian warriors and their supporting light infantry fled.

Thinking that the Romans were busy in the forest, the barbarians charged out of their ramparts at double time and attacked the Roman front line.

The Romans lost heavily but did manage to inflict some casualties in return.

Inspired by their commander, the Romans attacked.

With slight losses to themselves, the pushed back the barbarians and caused 50% casualties to their right flank unit.

The barbarians decided they had been a little too impetuous when the advanced out from the safety of their ramparts, so they double-timed back to the fortification.

The Romans attacked yet again in the forest.

And still not having learnt their lesson, took heavy losses.

While at the same time on their right flank, the ballistae went into action. 

Loaded with iron tipped bolts, they shot at the depleted unit of warriors with their leader standing in front of the tree.

The barrage of ballistae bolts destroyed the unit, and one bolt killed their commander outright.

The barbarians in the forest, wiped out the Roman light infantry to their front. Ignoring this, the Roman line advances towards the ramparts.

The barbarian commander ordered a mounted charge in the forest, wiping out all Roman resistance there and even almost eliminating the supporting unit of Roman allies.

While the Roman commander was preparing for an attacking the the centre, the barbarian commander ordered a second mounted charge from the forest.

This wiped out the Roman allied warriors and caused the supporting light infantry with their commander to evade.

The Roman commander ordered the three legionary units in his centre to attack the ramparts.

The Roman legionaries stormed over the ramparts and eliminated the barbarians defending them.

Seeing their fortifications captured, the entire barbarian army lost heart. Demoralised, it fled the field leaving the victorious Romans to pick up the spoils.

For Germanicus, this victory came in the nick of time. The Roman left flank was in trouble, the barbarian cavalry was exiting the forest and about to pounce on the lone light infantry unit. But when the ramparts fell to the legionaries, even this cavalry turned and left the battlefield.

A very exciting game, that hung in the balance until the last turn. It could have gone either way!