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

Monday, 4 June 2012

Solo Campaign - the Battle of Allariz

The Battle of Allariz, Friday 8th May 1812

Nicolas Guye (waving his hat) with the King's Guard at Allariz

Sir Thomas Graham, with the First and Seventh Divisions of the Allied army, plus the cavalry brigades of Von Bock (KGL Dragoons) and Col Otway (Portuguese), defended a position near the village of Allariz, close to the Portuguese border, on the road between Orense and Braga. He had a total of some 11500 men with 12 guns, and he also had available the support of a small Spanish force of good quality troops under the command of the Conde de Espana, a further 6000 men with 10 guns. Espana's troops were quartered some distance from Allariz, at Arabaldo on the River Minho, and had to march to the field to join the Anglo-Portuguese army.

In this campaign, whenever an Anglo-Portuguese force is to collaborate with a Spanish force in battle, a dice is thrown to test the level of co-ordination between the commanders. In this instance, given the distance travelled, it was determined that from the 7th turn onward, a dice would be thrown to test for the arrival of Espana. A throw of 6 would be successful arrival, and the position of arrival (left, centre, right) would also be diced for - thereafter Spanish units may be called onto the table in the requisite sector as Command Cards allowed - generals can arrive on the table attached to units.

The opposition included contingents from the Armee de Portugal (AdP), Armee du Centre (AdC) and Armee du Nord (AdN), all under the command of Marshal Marmont - a total of approximately 17850 men with 24 guns. The French were greatly superior in both cavalry and artillery. The forces met at approximately 10 o'clock, on a fine, clear morning.

[CCN stuff: Because this battle is large by normal CCN standards, I did away with the additional "converged" light battalions which I normally field for each brigade, and adopted the normal CCN rule that all light regiments on both sides are classed as LT (I usually classify French legere units as Line). Both armies had units depleted by previous campaign action - I combined the single remaining subunit of the British 51st Foot (W Yorks LI) with one of the KGL light battalions. The nature of the field can be seen in the pictures - each side received 6 cards, the French moved first, and victory was set at 9 Victory Banners. The Allies, initially, have 5 designated Leaders - Graham, Henry Campbell, Hope, Halkett, Von Bock - and the French 5 - Marmont, Foy, Guye, Montbrun, Maupoint]

Graham placed his army on a line of hills - the First Division with the artillery on his right, the Seventh Division on his left. The Portuguese cavalry was held behind his centre, the German dragoons on the right flank. Col Halkett with the 1st Lt Bn of the KGL was placed in an advanced position in a wood on the right.

Marmont had Guye's Spanish Divn, including King Joseph's Guard, on his left, with Foy's Divn of the Armee de Portugal on the right. He placed Maupoint's light cavalry on the left end of his line, and Curto's brigade of light cavalry on the right, while Montbrun had personal command of the heavy cavalry in the centre.

Aware that De Espana's Spanish force was on the way, Marmont commenced a very vigorous attack on the Allied left (including a Bayonet Charge Command Card). Chemineau's brigade took heavy losses in this attack [and after 3 turns they were 3-1 down on Victory Banners], but eventually pushed Hope's men off the ridge [making good use of Combined Arms attacks using infantry with horse artillery]. While this was proceeding, Von Bock got involved in a bloody and unnecessary fight with the French cavalry on the opposite flank. The French 5e Chevauxlegers-Lanciers [who may not have existed in May 1812?] performed very poorly, and were resoundingly defeated in a single charge, but the two light units of the Duchy of Stralsund-Ruegen rescued the situation for the French, and after a long and fierce struggle they eliminated the KGL dragoons - Von Bock was mortally wounded during this action.

As the Allied left gave way, Montbrun attacked their centre with the bulk of the cavalry - this started badly, as the 13e Cuirassiers were shattered by fire from MacDonald's Troop of RHA, but the 25e Dragons, supported by Curto's light cavalry, routed Otway's Portuguese horse and swept round behind the end of the line of the Allied First Division. At this point, very belatedly, the Allies finally managed to roll a 6 to cue the Spanish reinforcements, and it transpired that De Espana's men would appear from behind Graham's right flank. Sadly, it was all too late - none of the Spanish troops made it onto the table before the French gained the requisite 9th Victory Banner, to give them a decisive win by 9-5. The Allied First Division, with the single exception of the 24th Foot, were never seriously engaged, neither were Guye's French Division, who opposed them - the action was decided elswhere. 

Graham, with no cavalry left, was left to withdraw as best he could - because of the disparity in cavalry strength, and the decisive result, the Allies were not allowed the customary "battlefield recovery" step, which allows a proportion of lost "blocks" to return to the ranks, so some of Graham's units were completely destroyed in the battle.


French Army - Marshal Auguste Viesse de Marmont

Division Foy (AdP)
            Bde Chemineau: 6e Leger & 69e Ligne (5 Bns)
            Bde Desgraviers: 39e & 76e Ligne (4 Bns)
            3/2e Art a Cheval (Capt Guerrier)
            6/4e Art a Pied (Capt Braty)
Division Guye (AdC)
            Bde Merlin: King Joseph's Guard (5 Bns)
            Bde Casapalacios: 1e Leger (Castille), 2e Ligne (Toledo), Royal-Etranger (4 Bns)
            Guard Horse Battery (Capt Desert)
Division Montbrun (AdP)
            Bde Boyer: 15e & 25e Dragons (4 Sqns)
            Bde Curto: 3e Hussards & 22e Chasseurs a Cheval (6 Sqns)
            Bde Vial: 13e & 26e Chasseurs a Cheval (6 Sqns)
            5/5e Art a Cheval (Capt Graillat)
Division Maupoint (AdN)
            Bde ??: 13e Cuirassiers, 5e Chevauxlegers-Lanciers (6 Sqns)
            Bde Kleinwinkel: 1e & 2e Chev-Leg (Stralsund-Ruegen)

Total casualties - approx 1000 infantry, 600 cavalry.

Allied Army - Lt.Gen Sir Thomas Graham

First Division (Maj.Gen H Campbell)
            H Campbell's Bde: 1/Coldstream & 1/3rd Ft Gds
            Blantyre's Bde: 2/24th, 1/42nd, 2/58th & 1/79th
            Von Low's Bde: 1st, 2nd & 5th Line Bns, KGL
            Gardner's Battery, RA
Seventh Division (Lt.Gen Sir John Hope)
            Halkett's Bde: 1st & 2nd Lt Bns KGL & Brunswick-Oels Jaegers
            Von Bernewitz's Bde: 51st & 68th & Chasseurs-Britanniques
            McDonald's Troop, RHA
Cavalry (Maj.Gen Von Bock)
            Von Bock's Bde: 1st & 2nd Dragoons, KGL
            Otway's Bde: 1st & 11th Portuguese Cavalry

Total casualties - approx 2800 infantry, 1300 cavalry, 5 guns lost.

The pictures, as last time, owe much to my son Nick's efforts - any good shots here are almost certainly his:

General view of the battlefield at the outset, French on the right

French left flank - the lancers were very poor

French centre and right - Foy's boys at the far end

The French position seen from their right flank

Forlorn Hope? - Sir John with the Seventh Divn

The heavy end of the Allied line - the First Divn on the right

Marmont in the farmyard

French horse artillery contributed well to the attacks

Colin Halkett in the woods with the KGL Lights

Chemineau's brigade go in with the bayonet

Brunswickers in action

KGL Line Infantry

58th (Rutlandshire) and 79th (Camerons)

King Joseph's Guard Horse Artillery

The beginning of the end - the French roll up the Allied left

3eme Hussards mean business

The Result - not a big help for Wellington?


  1. Damn Spaniards, never turn up on time, but would you want them too?????

    1. Big disappointment, but they NEARLY turned up. On their new magnetic bases and everything.

      I think Sir Thomas would have been pleased to see anyone yesterday - even the Gomez Brothers.

  2. Great write up, and superb photos. Now I have started to use CCN myself your battle reports are so much more enjoyable. Fine collection of figures too.


    1. Thanks Lee - horse artillery came into its own in this battle - being able to move & fire (if only a bit) is a big help when attacking! Once again I have some gentle grief via email, because yet again I've forgotten to identify figure makers. I'll remember one day!

      Cheers - Tony

  3. Good to see another triumphant day for the Chasseurs Britanniques.

    1. Hi Clive - on the Seventh Divn front, I regret to have to say that the 68th Foot were pretty much trashed yesterday - I expect they are all in hospital now - some sticking plaster and one touch of the magic sponge and they'll be at Boney's throat once more.

      Cheers - Tony

  4. Hi Tony, I'm still not sure if I'll ever be able to get into CCN as a rule system but your figures and terrain really do look superb!


    1. Thanks Ian - I have another campaign battle to fight in the next day or so - a smaller one, and just to be awkward I'm thinking of using my own rules for it! At the very least, it may remind me why I started using CCN.

      Cheers - Tony

  5. Do you think the British had much of a chance from the get go? ie did they blow what might have been a near run thing or get steam roller-ed by numbers?

    So where do you think the French troops will be used once they clear the redcoats off the Peninsula?


    1. In a sensible world, the Allied left would have held out a bit longer and the Spanish troops would have turned up a bit earlier. With the Spaniards, Graham should have had a decent edge. As it was, even if the Spanish had turned up a couple of turns earlier than they nearly did, Graham had already lost so many Victory Banners (= units lost + generals lost) that the game was almost over. If Von Bock had not made a stupid attack, he would not have lost 2 cavalry units plus himself, which represents 1/3 of the total loss. I must get my cavalry commanders (especially me) to learn a little restraint.

      Very faint shades of Waterloo - outnumbered army hanging on, waiting for friends.

      Situation for the Brits not good - I expect Wellington is in big trouble - maybe the Spanish army can do what they did earlier, and pull off the odd shock victory to turn things around. More Spanish line troops due back from the painter this week - that's how desperate things are!

      There's another (smaller) battle coming up the following day - if the Brits lose that one as well then we can expect fireworks.

      Cheers - Tony

  6. ps The game looked great. Wouldn't labeling all the figures in all of the games spoil part of the fun of the hunt for the viewers?

    1. I had intended to make an effort to comment on the figures used, simply because I have been asked, but I'd much prefer not to bother - if anyone has specific questions, they are welcome to ask (and reveal themselves as a trainspotter).

  7. Good work General Foy. Keep this up and you'll earn that precious baton. This why Wellington quit relying on the Spanish early on. On rare events do they earn their keep on the field. Good report. Perhaps the next can be a Corunna like retreat?

    1. Merci, Votre Majeste - I fear my record as a Jacobin and anti-imperialist will not look good on the application form.

      As I write this, the next battle is already written up - the French won that one too. If the Brits pull out it will be from Lisbon - it may be all they have left!

      Bonne chance - MSF