Sunday, October 17, 2010

Barrosa refight: the result

Ok, so I felt it best to get the photo's of the big game out there as quickly as possible. I can say I was pretty much completely happy as to how it went.

(More items will follow as I get them sorted.)

So Within an hour and a half we'd got the terrain and all the troops in position. Well over a thousand models, which for the club is probably a record. A twelve by six foot battlefield was prepared as a reasonable representation of the Barrosa battlefield; with Barrosa hill to the the top of the photo, The open woodland and Torre Bermejas in the centre and the creeks leading to Cadiz in the lower left.

The initial deployment:
Two large French brigades and a cavalry brigade attacked from Barrosa Hill, whilst another French brigade looked to block the Spanish around Torre Bermejas.

The British were mainly in mid-deployment in the woodland, except for Brown's division which had been deserted by the Spanish under Pena, now outside Torre Bermejas.

And so the initial dispositions were broadly those of the actual battle at about 12:30 when Brown reported his predicament to Graham. Graham made no bones of the matter and told Brown to Get back up the hill and wrest it from the French.

Each side had four commanders for the day, and after some time to discuss their tactics they set to work. The French diversionary commander, Vilatte, immediately went off script and decided attack was the best way to contain the Spanish. The British meanwhile hoped that a tactical withdrawal would give them time to prepare for the French assault.

The French meanwhile moved part of their force into the woodland to engage the British. The British were forming an orderly defense along the outskirts of the woods, but were to find themselves under heavy fire.

A cavalry battle was developing on the beach, with the French initially seeing off the Kings German Legion, but then finding the Spanish Hussars surprisingly resistant. In the woods the French were able to pick off one Battalion of British infantry, but progression off the hill was slower.

Against the Spanish around Torre Bermejas, Vilatte was coming off worse, after initial success.

The French tore away at the British ranks with shot, shell and bayonet turning the British flank and managing to kill General Graham in a brisk firefight. The British rallied and formed a defensive line across the road through the wood, whilst Spanish troops, satisfied the French in their area were dispatched, came to the British aid.

As the game came to an end the French were pushing the British out of their defensive line, but The Spanish were rallying after a slow start and the French under Vilatte were effectively wiped out. Still as the French priority was the Destruction of the British to avoid an effective relief of Cadiz, it was considered that they had achieved their objectives more completely.

The British had lost 4 units of foot and one of horse, as well as getting General Graham shot out of his horse; the Spanish one foot and one horse. By contrast the French had lost 6 units of foot, though this included the entire Vilatte Brigade. On reflection losses were pretty even, but the French certainly held the key ground at the end of the day.

The Spanish put in an unexpectedly good performance, whilst the British, to paraphrase the French commander of Albuera (a later battle) were beaten everywhere, broken through at every turn, but did not know how to run.

The result was completely different from the actual battle, and what is the point of these refights, if you don't get the chance, at least, to rewrite history. Where the British defeated the French in detail on the day, the French dealt with them on this occasion.

My thanks to the players, Neil, Laurie, Mark and Stuart for the Emperor; Martin, Mike, Gav and Ross for the Allies.


  1. Very nice report and good eye candy.

  2. How did they manage to Kill the General ;)

    Looks like a good day, meant to pop in and watch, ah well..


  3. Under the rules for generals and leader in the BP rulebook there is provision for the loss of commanders when attached to destroyed units.

    As it happened there were a couple of occasions where a (British) general was with a unit when it was broken. A roll of six on a d6 would simply indicate their loss, either carried with the regiment into rout, captured or killed as appropriate.

    General Graham's number proved to be up; and I as umpire determined he had caught a French bullet in the confused engagement in the woods.

  4. Thanks for organising that Dean it was a fantastic game. It was good to see BP in action on a large table and was also visually amazing! It was good to to see what the reaction of the allied commanders would be faced with the two fronts, whether they would be distracted by the second French army or go for the main objective. I'd definately play that scenario again. Perhaps next time we could use hidden markers for the allied troops in the forest at the bottom of the Barrosa hill. The French might think twice about venturing in there.