A discursive look at Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, plus a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Monday, 28 May 2012

Solo Campaign - Week 16 - CRUNCH!

Well, Sod's Law raises its ugly head yet again. Just when I'm a bit short of time, this week in the campaign throws up two battles, one divisional-sized one at Malpartida, near Almeida, and one of rather more than twice that size at Allariz, south of Orense. Not sure just when I'll get these games played, but it should be within a week or two - I'll publish the updated army returns and a new map when the battles are done.

In the meantime, the Mathematical Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo has undergone its second week, and the French are making a real mess of the fortress. It proves, once again, that all the science in the world is not as useful as lucky dice. 

I haven't written up a narrative summary of Week 16, since it just means writing everything twice (not to mention reading it twice). Here's the nuts-&-bolts report, in exactly the form that I promised not to publish them. 

Old Bridge at Allariz

Week 16

Random Events

The 3D3 activation throws give Allies 5, French 4 – Allies elect to move first.
As a result of Br.Gen Silveira being sent with the Brunswick hussars to Almeida, temporary command of the fortress garrison at Elvas devolves to Col. De Souza of the Abrantes militia (rating 0).  


Allies (5 allowed)
1 – Sp D (Maceta, at Talavera) marches to Toledo.
2 – A (Wellington, at Braga) rests his force after the march from Orense.
3 – F (Framlingham, at Elvas) detaches a new force, H, consisting of the Brunswick Hussars under the command of Br.Gen Silveira (rating 1) of the Portuguese service ...
4 – ...and sends them to join Von Alten at Almeida. The first leg of this journey is over a difficult road to Abrantes, the march therefore requires a test:
2D3 = 4 +1 (Silveira’s rating) -1 (brown road) = 4   - the march is completed, but the force arrives tired in Almeida (which means they will suffer a deduction of 1 die in any combat).

Church Parade - the militia at Almeida - not a good turnout

5 – The Tomar battalion of Portuguese militia, plus a regular Portuguese Artillery howitzer battery are detached from the garrison of Almeida (Group F), and join Von Alten’s Group C, in the countryside near Almeida.
You mean go out there and face the French?
(Gunner - 4th Portuguese Artillery)

[Intelligence step –
  • no scouting orders]
French (4 allowed)
1 – O (Clauzel) advances into Portugal, from Ciudad Rodrigo (which he may pass through, since the fort is under siege) to Almeida, where he attacks the Anglo-Portuguese Groups C and H (Karl Von Alten)
2 – N (Marmont) marches 1 step from Lugo to Orense. Since this is a difficult road (they are all difficult around here), a test is required:
2D3 = 4 +3 (Marmont’s rating) -1 (brown road) = 6   - the march is completed without problems.
Marmont then attacks Graham’s force (B, and possibly Sp B).
3 – C (D’Orsay’s bde of Bonet’s Divn, Armee du Nord), march from Valladolid to Salamanca.
[Intelligence step -
  • no scouting orders]

Supplies and Demoralisation
All units are in supply. No-one is Demoralised.

(1) The siege of Ciudad Rodrigo enters its second week.

The medieval chapel on the Malpartida battlefield

(2) Karl Von Alten, with the Anglo-Portuguese Light Division and the 1st Hussars of the KGL, and now augmented by the Brunswick-Oels Hussars (under Col. Ernst von Schrader – this unit is classed as Tired), the Tomar battalion of Portuguese militia and a Portuguese howitzer battery (these last two units seconded from the Almeida garrison), defends a position on the Almeida road, south of the settlement of Malpartida, within a mile or two of the Portuguese border, but inside Portugal. This position is chosen primarily for political reasons (since he can call on Portuguese militia support, though in the event the dice decree that he receives only a single battalion). The region is high, virtually treeless, and he has a position on a ridge overlooking a small river – so small that it will not appear on the battlefield. A large quarry, dating back to Roman times, is a feature of the field. Von Alten has a total of about 5000 infantry (including 3 battalions of riflemen), 600 cavalry and 12 guns available.
The quarry where they got the stone for the old chapel - might
just get to use CCN's rules for a quarry - always wondered why they were there

He is opposed by Bertrand Clauzel’s Division of the Armee de Portugal, supported by Picquet’s dragoon brigade and two batteries from the reserve artillery of the Armee de Portugal. Altogether 10 battalions of infantry and some 5 squadrons of dragoons (including the formidable 6eme, who recently wrecked Le Marchant’s British heavy brigade), but some of these are understrength, and his force is estimated at 6200 infantry, 400 cavalry and 24 guns, all of heavier calibre than the Allied artillery.

The advanced guards are in contact at dawn on Saturday 9th May – the Battle of Malpartida, as it will become known, is critically important – if Von Alten loses, Almeida is immediately vulnerable and the road to Lisbon is threatened. Clauzel has the chance to place his army between the besieged town of Ciudad Rodrigo and any relieving force sent by Wellington from Braga.

(3) Marmont’s northern force, advancing from Lugo, is in contact with Graham near Orense. The original agreement between Wellington and the Spanish army was that the town of Orense was to be defended, but Graham has abandoned Orense to the French and adopted a defensive position closer to the Portuguese border, near the village of Allariz.

In this campaign, whenever a Spanish force is required to support an Anglo-Portuguese one, a dice is rolled to check the level of co-ordination. The rule is:

4+           No problems – full co-ordination
3              Spanish force arrives late – 1D6 each turn – 5 or 6 they arrive
2              Spanish force arrives late – 1D6 each turn – 6 they arrive
1              Spanish force does not arrive

In this case the dice came up 2, so the Conde de Espana’s little army, which was quartered around Arabaldo on the River Minho, expecting to be ordered to defend Orense, will take a little while to reach the field. One imagines a little tension between Graham and the Conde, since Graham has retreated almost to the border – I had considered making the Spanish force demoralised, with some deduction from their combat effectiveness, but decided against it on the grounds that an outnumbered Graham has little enough going for him already – I may change my mind again, of course.

Marmont’s army consists of Foy’s Divn and about ¾ of the cavalry of the Armee de Portugal, Guye’s Divn of the Armee du Centre (King Joseph’s Guard and a brigade of Joseph’s Spanish line troops), plus the entire cavalry of the Armee du Nord – about 5 regiments including the 13e Cuirassiers. His total force is estimated at about 17850 men with 24 guns. He has a considerable superiority in cavalry.

Graham, without De Espana, has the Allied First and Seventh Divns, plus the cavalry brigades of Von Bock (KGL dragoons) and Otway (Portuguese). Total is about 11500 men with 12 guns.

De Espana has about 6000 men, of whom a proportion are voluntarios (classed as militia), and 2 batteries, which between them have 10 guns.

The battle of Allariz takes place on Friday 8th May.

Siege of Ciudad Rodrigo (Week 2)
Bombardment phase: Spanish now have a Garrison Value (GV) of 4, thus roll 4D6 - they come up 6 3 2 1 – the 6 reduces the attackers' Battering Value (BV) by 1, but there are no 5s, so no losses from the besiegers’ Assault Value (AV).
Simultaneously, the French battering guns (BV = 5) roll 5D6 – 6 6 5 3 3 (once again, the French siege batteries are good/lucky) – each 6 deducts one from the defenders’ Fortress Value (FV, the strength of the place itself), and the 5 deducts one from their Garrison Value (GV).

Removing the losses, next week’s figures will be FV = 2, GV = 3 (total = 5) for the Spanish, while AV = 7, BV = 4 for the French. The walls are not looking good – a storm is becoming a distinct possibility, but the French – confident that they have another week before the Allies can interrupt them with any kind of relieving effort – decide to continue bombardment for a further week. They do, however, summon the fortress to surrender. One of Marshal Jourdan’s aides, Col. Alfonse-Maurice-Louis Merveilleux, is sent on 10th May under a flag of truce with a letter from Jourdan for the governor, General Hermogenes Reixas, requesting that he lower the Spanish flag within one hour. Merveilleux is returned, unharmed, but trussed up with rope, with a dead chicken hanging around his neck. Despite this additional provocation, no storm is attempted.

Casualties for the week: Spanish defenders have lost 1/4 of their GV, so have lost 1/10 x 1/4 of the remaining 2320 men engaged, which is 58 men killed and wounded. Again, loss in combat effectiveness is proportionately far higher, and the walls of the town are in a sorry state. French besiegers suffered no deduction from their AV, so their strength is unchanged at 16330. This does not mean, of course, that no-one was hurt – it simply means that returns from hospital and so forth cancel out any new losses.

1 comment:

  1. I actually like the nuts and bolts reports. Nit that I dislike the others but I like seeing how things come about. hmmm must remember that next time I write a battle report