Wednesday, June 30, 2010

San Istaban - June 1810

Another in the ongoing engagements between myself and Neil in our Peninsular War games; and another attempt to play a game of Napoleon to a conclusion in a single session. We at least gave ourselves the advantage of a Sunday afternoon to try this time, and stuck to modest forces of 200 points each. This meant Neil's usual force of 6 regiments of foot and 2 of heavy cavalry.

For me, I was able to introduce my newly painted artillery, at the cost of several regiments of foot. I had to hope that the farm ahead of my position could serve as a defensive strong point; knowing he would come on hard and fast, I intended to retire on my guns and allow his attack to wither.
And so the French came on in their usual way, what else could one expect, in fact a couple of his regiments held at the rear initially, whilst his cavalry manoeuvred on the flanks. My artillery had play with his troops, whilst my infantry addressed their lines to the defences.

The French began to unleash their attacks, a handful of Riflemen luring their cavalry into an abortive attack on the farm - believing my troops to be outside the farm, when in fact the bulk of the troops retired inside when advanced upon. The highlanders formed a square in case the French persisted. But it seemed the cavalry were more inclined to let the infantry undertake the work of the day.

British musketry and artillery sought to disorder the approaching French ranks but at this stage their resolve remained firm.

The French threw out skirmishers and tried to approach the heavy guns, on my far right their cavalry were drawn away in a delaying action by my own light Dragoons - who knew eventually they would have to face the cuirassed foe. The French centre now attempted to cross a well defended field border; but it was to be a prolonged action.

Generals Cameron and Picton took personal charge of the front lines for the British.

The British continued to retire, and the French centre pushed them hard. But finally it began to crumble. Now however the British had not unreasonable concerns for the perilous position of it's cavalry.

Two French regiments broke and fled in the face of the thin red line and associated guns firing at point blank. The French general released one of his other regiments from the attack at the farm to fill the gap, but at the same time hos cavalry chased off the British light dragoons and turned on the flank of the now terribly exposed British artillery battery.

As the British retired from the farm the French cavalry looked to secure the day, destroying the Artillery and approaching the infantry; the British were able to establish a deadly enfilade for on regiment at least but the other remained a threat on their flanks.

As evening fell neither side had the definitive upper hand, on paper the British tactics of delay and diminish the enemy had worked. But the French could have turned the battle with a little more time. Had they concentrated their cavalry on the British right they may well have took the field swiftly.

Again, a good tactical game, however Napoleon again proved itself rather too slow to play to achieve a satisfactory result in the time available. We had a total of five hours and were playing the smallest possible game we could justify, and still were some way from achieving a victory by the definitions of the rules. This more than any other aspect of the rules disappoints me; I've spoken before on how they are at times vaguely written, but it is the sheer length of time they take to run that spoils them.

By comparison our next Napoleonics game will use Black Powder; we shall see how that goes...

1 comment:

  1. In my experience Black Powder will be a lot quicker and more satisfactory

    Dave Tuck