Tuesday, October 06, 2015

Soguillo Del Paramo 1811

Myself and my old French opponent James, were able to take advantage of a local gaming open day to put a decent number of models on table and play a good sized battle of Black Powder.

I set up a simple scenario of a British Brigade defending an isolated farm, with two other brigades dashing to their aid in the face of larger numbers of French in assault formation already closing on their position.

James was to bring some of his own models for the first time, but whilst waiting for him I got the bulk of things set up:

From the British rear
 We had about a 7x5 foot play area, which would be played lengthwise.  Not much room for flanking manoeuvres perhaps but it would allow for delays in the arrival of the rearguard.  The British would always be holding on for time.

Meanwhile the dense French lines looked daunting, even before their full numbers arrived:

Grenadiers lead the march
But the British were confident that they could hold out in farm, making use of its' orange grove for concealment and drystone walls for protection.

La Granga, a fortress in the making
 One brigade of British reserves was formed of Portuguese troops, stiffened by a battalion of Highlanders.

The 79th lead the way
 Whilst the other was of solid British troops led by the Guards.  Between the two were Allied and British cavalry, advancing along the road.

Rocky ground barred the British way
As the final French arrived, dense columns of new recruits appeared in the centre.  James models were painted and based but not yet quite finished; they still looked the part though, and helped increase the numbers of figures to around 700 on the day.  In effect we had a divisional sized battle ahead of us, typical of many of the encounters in the peninsular, with around 10,000 French facing about 6,000 Allied.

A scary sight, such thick masses
 Battle opened with the French taking first turn, and James swiftly advanced on the farm.  His centre brigade, screened by skirmishers of the Legion Irlandaise, moved swiftly upon the British.

Clouds of dust rise...
 In response I tried to rush forwards my brigades, and reinforce the farm.  As it was the left made good progress through the rough ground, but the Portuguese were less mobile and so the cavalry found themselves plugging the gaps.

A hurried advance for the British
 On his next turn James aimed to attack the farm before I was ready, but poor communication led to a blunder (one of many the French would endure) and the central brigade turned to it's left and marched clumsily toward the farm house itself rather than the British line before them.

The French Hussars leading their cavalry attack apparently received a similar 'Left Face order, and were in danger of leaving the field of battle!  This allowed the British to address their lines and contain the other brigades with cannon and rifle fire.

Closest the camera the International Brigade approaches the British line
 For the next turn, James was joined by Paul, and I gained the aid of another of our James' (at least four in the club, not even counting my mate whose 'new' to gaming).  With two commanders per side the game would be more entertaining, and we could both at least lay some blame on dice rolling elsewhere!

The French centre got its act together and the great mass tried to fight into the corn field, defended by two lines of redcoats.
Here they come!
 The British waited until the first battalion began to reach the wall before unleashing a devastating fusilade.  The French wavered then ran leaving many dead and wounded, but their flanking battalion, a little slower in the advance and unharmed so far made it to the wall and were able to force the stout defenders back through their friendly lines.  In the event both sides were forced to retire, and latterly the British reserve took up the place of their comrades at the wall.  The first attack of the French was repulsed with heavy loss on both sides.

Elsewhere British cavalry did what it always does, saw the enemy and charged it rashly.

Not the plan
 The 16th Dragoons suddenly found themselves out numbered three to one and, after giving the French Hussars a bloody nose, were routed.  This left the allied cavalry holding the baby, and none too keen on it really.

On the left of the farm, The international Brigade, formed of the Regents' Spanish, French and German troops suffered the loss of its' unwilling Westphalian regiment to sustained British fire.

Schnell, schnell!!
 The French centre went in again, and made a little progress, forcing the British back from the wall.  To the other side of the farm the Grenadier led brigade was pinned by artillery fire from the Orange grove, and found - as happened for most of the battle - that its' own artillery was out of position and unable to effectively reply.  With some strange rush of blood to their head the voltigeurs of the two brigades tried to assault the farm with only their own mutual support; rash, and futile.

The biggest threat at this stage was French cavalry breaking through, so the Highlanders and Lusitanian Legion dutifully formed square and hoped for the best.

What transpired to be the French high-watermark
 At this stage the British left was grinding down the international brigade, forcing it to retire, although one Spanish regiment found itself seriously unstuck.

Almost unfair
 At this stage the French attacks were disintegrating, and efforts to fight in to the farm were coming to naught.  Especially as Portuguese troops came up up to provide reinforcement.

Welcome gentlemen!
 Seen from the French lines the problem was apparent.

Sacre Bleu!
 The international brigade was attempting to rally and in doing so was forced to retire in the face of the enemy.  The centre was holding by a thread, whilst the Grenadiers had been raked by fire to the point of destruction, bringing its' brigade to a crisis point.  In a desperate move the French shifted their cavalry to the opposite flank in an effort to shore up their lines.

It was not a success.

Rashly thrown into the hornets nest
 As the French centre collapsed the British advanced out of the farm and flanked the Hussars.  Supported by a company of rifles they made short work of the horsemen and put them to flight.

And by that point it was all over for the French attack.  Ultimately they had not been able to coordinate enough force to throw the British back.  They had got a toe hold at times in the farm, but in the end British firepower was enough to drive them back.

All over bar the shouting
James and Paul were defeated, t'other James and I revelled in a hard won victory.  As it turned out the lay of the land could have been held by less allied troops than I actually had - trying this again I might cut the allied infantry numbers by a quarter or so to give the French more chance.  But luck played a hand in it too, James laboured with five or six blunders ruining his attacks, and unwilling troops stalling in musketry range, which is never a good thing against the British!

Once more a grand game, and great to get all those troops on the table, with James' extra men I actually was able to leave some of my collection in their boxes for once.  Visually it looked great, especially at the start, and given it was an open day for gaming it attracted a fair bit of interest and approving comments.

However after set up, five hours of play and pack up I was burned out.  I sacked off the following four hours of gaming to go hope for food and TV instead.

A battle hard won is a tiring thing indeed.

1 comment:

  1. Great looking battle! You mention about 10,000 v 6,000. Do you have an OOB for this engagement? I might enjoy giving it a go too.