Saturday, April 10, 2010

The sacking of Cuidad Rodrigo

Hurrah! Thanks to the excellent organisation of Neil, we had our first game of ‘Napoleon’ in some two months. Neil had put together a quite extensive scenario, drawn from a Cornwell novel, that revolved around a British army trying to withdraw with it’s booty from a ruined city.

Neil had been industrious since our last game, and so came to the table with 3 completed units of infantry, and two heavy cavalry; all looking splendid with a revised paint job and great basing. Attached to those a small brigade of my own French rounded out a French advance guard looking to intercept a British army of 6 infantry units, 2 rifle detachments and a regiment of light cavalry.

The British army was mainly in column of march, and assumed to be somewhat the worse for wear. The column would move only 1d6 per turn, per unit, and if any unit moved slowly, those behind could not pass. The exhortations of the generals made little effect on the progress of my army! Thankfully a limited cover of riflemen was present in the fields to our North.

The French came on in a classic mixed order, with cavalry on their flank. Remarkably the cavalry in part dashed through the hedgerows to attack the rifles, dealing them some damage, but incurring great fatigue in the act. Nevertheless, they led the attack on the British lines, as the rifles recoiled in some disorder (the Westphalian column, destroyed the other detachment in short order, before becoming entangled in the network of fields).

French cavalry crashed into the British lines, none of whom had time to form square.

Not unsurprisingly they were easily beaten in battle, but the lack of momentum that the cavalry built up meant that they withdrew in partial order rather than routing.

As the infantry came on the British were again pushed back, but at least the Highlanders were able to form square and the 33rd managed to present a line to cover the rest of the army. The heroic act that saved the British though fell to the cavalry, the 16th Light Dragoons found an opening as infantry retreated, to charge the flank of the heavy cavalry, who broke without great protest. The other cavalry was also blown by it’s efforts to cross the fields, and began to withdraw.

As time ran out the French infantry columns were bearing down on the British lines, which were disorganised, but largely undamaged. Some loot was strewn across the road, but the British were seeking to retrieve it in the face of the advancing forces.

With the French cavalry defeated the Light Dragoons would be able to hold the road open for the more bloodied British units to escape.

In effect, it was a pyrrhic victory to the mauled British, who would be able to clear the road by nightfall, though had the French not sprung their trap through the network of fields, the result would’ve been a very different matter…

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