Myself and Martin agreed to a game of Napoleonics, and I proposed to come up with something scaled to suit our combined forces. Between the two of us, we could raise ten British Line Battalions and four of allies, not to mention cavalry and artillery. For the French we could combine to eleven Infantry battalions, plus numerous light infantry, and cavalry, but rather less artillery.
As I'm not keen on grossly scaling down formations, portraying a Corps as three or four units is not my style, the available troops meant we needed to stick to a smaller engagement. Thankfully dipping in to my resources led me to a small and little known (to me anyway) engagement of the Peninsular. Sabugal.
On the Banks of the River Coa, Marshal Massena's Left flank was being held by the 2nd Corps of Reynier. Protecting the gradually withdrawing French. Wellington determined to attack the extreme, with the Light division, and plans to outflank the strong French defensive position with an attack from the rear.
Even for this relatively minor action, and more on the details of the day will be in the battle report, there were a lot of French forces to be represented. Looking at the rosters it would be impractical to represent the whole action as anything other than an impossible task, requiring many French and few British, without some limitations. To serve the end of making it playable I considered the dimensions of the battle and drew a map, based on others, to initiate the battlefield layout:
The Battle would be fought across an 8' x 6' table and the timings and positions of the attacks would be critical to reflecting the historical engagement; but I did limit the extent of the French and Allies as a result. The Forces would thus (and corrected slightly from the image above!) be:
Regional (Corps) commander Reynier
Brigadier Heudelet: 2 bn's 17eme Leger, 2bn's 70eme Ligne
Brigadier Sarrut: 2 bn's 4eme Leger, 2 bn's 2 eme Leger, 2 bn's 36 eme Ligne, demi battery artillery
Brigadier Merle: 1 eme Hussars, 22eme Chasseurs
Regional (Divisional) Commander Picton
Brigadier Beckwith: 43rd Foot, 2 companies 95th Rifles
Commander Drummond: 52nd Foot, Portuguese Line (in some accounts a Cacadores bn), one company Cacadores, sqdrn 16th Light Draggons, sqdrn Kings German Legion Hussars
Commander Erskine: 6 bn's British foot
As stated the timing and set up of the attack would be key, as it was poorly handled on the day to say the least for the British, and I wanted the game to reflect that. Also the weather on the day was absolutely critical, and so I ran up some rules (for Black Powder; of course!) to reflect the relative situations.
- Turn one: Beckwith arrives as per map deployment. The battlefield is wreathed in fog and so firing is limited to half range, also orders to engage (charge) may only be given if a target is unobscured in the open, or within firing range in cover of any kind. The fog also means that all forces blunder on a roll of 11 or 12, rather than the usual double six alone.
- Turn three: Drummond arrives. The fog becomes heavy rain and although vision improves firing for all except artillery suffers a -2 to hit, losing one dice of firepower for each point above '6' needed to hit (e.g. a unit needing 8's to hit would actually need 6's but lose two firepower)
- Turn four: Erskine arrives. The crossing of the river may be conducted anywhere, but requires each unit to test individually to cross - though a divisional order may be issued to do so. Two successes are required to cross, but may be accumulated over turns.
- Turn five: Light rain, -1 to shooting.
- Turn 6: dry. The rain ends
- Turn 8: End of game. If before the end of the French turn eight they are unable to contest the Ridgeline, the French lose, if at the end of turn 8 the French are contesting the ridge, but defeated on table, the game is a draw. If at the end of turn 8 or before, the British attacks have been forced back or routed. The French win.