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

Sunday, 10 June 2012

Solo Campaign - Excremento Profundo

Spencer Perceval - recently assassinated Prime Minister
no longer available to defend Wellington

Weeks 17 and 18 of my solo Peninsular campaign are in the process of being written up. Without wishing to give away the exciting bits of the plot, let it be said only that the continued run of bad results for the Allied Army has eventually resulted in a motion being tabled to remove Wellington from command. Despite the extraordinary alarm and distraction provided by the assassination of the Prime Minister, Spencer Perceval, just a week earlier, a vote in the British Parliament on 20th May 1812 gave a substantial majority in favour of Wellington's removal. A further motion that the British Army be withdrawn from Portugal was defeated, however.

With immediate effect, Sir Thomas Graham, as senior British officer with the army will assume temporary command of the British and Hanoverian forces, until a permanent commander is selected and appointed. Here is a list, in seniority order, of the prominent candidates – some are unavailable through duties in remote parts of the Empire, many are in dubious physical health, some are plainly unsuitable for a major field command.

The successful candidate may be any of these, or may be someone else – the army works in mysterious ways. I have discounted the Duke of York himself from being seriously considered for the job. With all due appreciation of previous comments on this subject (most of which are reflected in the list) I would be very interested in any further nominations, applications(!) or comments.

Age @ May 1812
Rank / date
Current job
John Pitt, Lord Chatham
General, 1801
Governor of Jersey
Well connected politically, commanded army in Walcheren
Sir Banestre Tarleton
General, 1812
Governor of Berwick
Hero(?) of AWI, was strongly fancied to command in the Peninsula in 1809, but Wellington was preferred. Prominent Whig
Sir Eyre Coote
Lt.Genl, 1801
Governor of Jamaica
Another AWI veteran, unpopular
Sir David Baird
Lt.Genl, 1805

Highly rated, aggressive commander – was badly wounded at Corunna – health uncertain
Sir John Hope, Earl of Hopetoun
Lt.Genl, 1808
Military Governor of Ireland
Poor health – recently served in Peninsula
Sir Henry Paget, Earl of Uxbridge
Lt.Genl, 1808

Commanded cavalry under Moore with distinction – was unable to serve with Wellington because of family difficulties (having eloped with Wellington’s sister-in-law)
Sir John Stuart, Count of Maida
Lt.Genl, 1808
Governor of Grenada
Victor of Maida, but overall lack of experience and not rated highly – health not good.
Sir Thomas Graham, Lord Lynedoch
Lt.Genl, 1810
in Portugal
Competent commander, but (again) has repeating health problems
Sir John Murray
Lt.Genl, 1812

Very poor reputation – unable to follow orders
Sir Rowland Hill
Lt.Genl, 1812

Should be in Portugal, but he’s not in my campaign army(!). Wellington regarded him as the best of his subordinates
William Carr Beresford
Lt.Genl, 1812
Commander,  Portuguese Army
Wellington’s official deputy in the PW, because of his local rank. Good administrator but hesitant, ineffective battlefield commander.

1 comment:

  1. How about the fool, General Erskine? Or was he already recalled by this time? He was so bad that without his political connections he never would have been given a field command. He's like General Burnside, just without the charm.

    But in dealing with this list, Hill would be my pick, but not likely the pick of the lords. Graham or Baird would be more likely. Graham has the experience and I think perhaps seniority? I do remember reading about this in one of Oman's volumes about who was considered next due to who got the generalship commission first, though can't recall which commander it was. Beresford is good but his duties in dealing with the Portuguese would appear to tie him down I think.

    Uxbridge and Paget are good considerations but Paget isn't on the field and I look forward to his capture later in the year (assuming you continue the campaign). We don't have much field experience to judge these two off of but in British commands, politics is more than who is the best.