Saturday, July 1, 2023

Vimeiro (21 August 1808)

This scenario is a refight of the Battle of Vimeiro (21 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 fourth battle using our Peninsular War campaign rules.

The History

Four days after Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley’s initial clash at Rolica, General Jean-Andoche Junot, with an army of 14,000, attacked the Anglo-Portuguese army of 17,000 troops. Junot wanted to defeat the invaders before reinforcements could arrive by sea. 

The battle of Vimeiro began with three brigades of French advancing to take Vimeiro hill and the town, while a fourth brigade had swung right to turn the British left flank. Unfortunately for Junot, his frontal attacks were uncoordinated, and failed to pin the British troops in the centre. Wellesley was able to redeploy his army to face the threat on his left. The French column attacks in the centre were finally forced back by sustained British volleys and soon afterwards the flank attack was also beaten back. Covered by his cavalry, Junot retreated towards Torres Vedras and the British did not pursue. 

Following the battle, the British senior commanders Generals Dalrymple and Burrard worked out a deal allowing Junot’s army to leave for France on British ships, taking all their guns and equipment. This deal, not surprisingly, caused a massive outcry in Britain.

The Refight

On the British left flank, the French forced marched their infantry, occupying the village of Vertosa before General Fergusson had time to react. 

Fergusson then ordered his infantry to push the French out of the village, but was repulsed with losses.

Now with artillery supporting fire, the British line infantry charged down from the hill into the village of Vertosa. They caused severe losses to the defending French infantry but could not take the village.

The French advanced with their entire right wing, to put pressure on the British left. The French light infantry opened fire on the British on the hill causing more casualties, but the British line stood firm.

The fight for the village continued, with both sides taking losses, but the French keeping the upperhand.

With General Jean-Baptiste Solignac at their head, the French right wing cavalry - one regiment of dragoons and one of chasseur à cheval - charged the British lines.

The dragoons rode over the British artillery, destroying it without serious losses to themselves. 

They then attacked the supporting infantry behind, causing them to form square and take casualties.

The chasseur à cheval then attacked a British infantry regiment. The British decided not to form square but to receive the charge in 4-deep line. Both sides too severe losses.

The Portuguese infantry in the woods, opened fire on the remaining chasseurs à cheval, destroying them.

The French Dragoons charged a different British line infantry regiment, forcing it to form square after taking casualties.

Musket fire from the Portuguese infantry caused the French dragoons to retire out of range.

General Jean-Baptiste Solignac ordered a new assault. The French light infantry in the village opened fire on the understrength British square destroying it and killing General Fergusson who was sheltering within.

The French dragoons then charged the second understrength British square wiping it out.

Emboldened by his success on the right flank, General Jean-Andoche Junot ordered his troops to push forward on both flanks and the centre. 

Seeing the French infantry cresting the hill, General Sir Arthur Wellesley pushed forward two infantry units to counter the French.

British artillery fire forced the French infantry on the hill to recoil.

British line infantry advanced towards the river, while their light infantry secured the woods.

Back on the British left flank, the French advanced their infantry through the wood.

General Sir Arthur Wellesley ordered his Portuguese troops forward in support of the British line infantry and even moved over the Rifles from the rear centre.

General Jean-Andoche Junot ordered La Grande Manoeuvre and moved forward a line infantry regiment, a light infantry regiment, a cavalry regiment and a battery of foot artillery ready to renew the attack.

The Portuguese infantry fired on the French line infantry causing 50% casualties.

Not wanted to be subject to any more fire, General Jean-Andoche Junot ordered a bayonet charge.

Even attacking up hill, the light infantry destroyed the defending British infantry and advanced to take the high ground.

The understrength French line infantry regiment also had to attack uphill, but it was forced to recoil with losses.

The third French infantry unit attacked the Portuguese and both sides took losses.

General Sir Arthur Wellesley decided to counterattack with a bayonet charge. The line infantry charged down the hill into the understrength French line wiping them out.  The Portuguese destroyed the second French line infantry.

The Rifles charged along the plateau into melee with the French light infantry. 

Both he Rifles and the French light infantry took losses.

The Rifles were now in trouble, when the French light infantry continued the melee they were destroyed.

General Sir Arthur Wellesley’s left flank had been wiped out, and he ordered his army to withdraw to avoid being cut off. Generals Dalrymple and Burrard will need to wait for another day, and land their reinforcements much further north at Porto.

The Outcome 

French Victory:   Anglo-Portuguese 5 - French 6

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

Campaign Result 

  Victories     Banners  
  French       3     22
  Allies       1     17

1 comment:

  1. Thank you, enjoyed, always like seeing your hexed rivers.