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

Friday, 29 June 2012

Solo Campaign - Week 19

If You Can't Fight, Wear a Big Hat

Well, much to my surprise, the poll returned General Banastre Tarleton as the replacement for the unfortunate Earl Wellington. My personal vote was for Sir David Baird, but it became obvious very early that he was not in the running, and I became so convinced that Rowland Hill (the conservative historian's choice) would get the nod that I have prepared and undercoated a 20mm Minifigs OPC mounted Hill ready for the job.

I then took my eye off the ball for a few days and - crikey - Tarleton it is. Righto - I'm happy to go with that. If we are to invent our own history, then it might as well be fun. As part of my preparation for the handover, I also blew the dust off my unread copy of Wellington's Right Hand, the bio of Hill, and remembered why I had shelved it last time. A good general, Hill, a worthy, God-fearing man and concerned for the well-being of his men, but boring. Really not the sort of cartoon character I need to excite the campaign a bit.

Which leaves me with a slight problem supplying a figure for Tarleton. I could just use the Rowland Hill figure, but I would always know who it was really. Of course, it is more than likely that General Tarleton would make a high-profile return to active command in a smart regulation uniform, but that would also be boring, and fans of his eponymous helmet (I always wanted to use that word in a blog post) would be (literally) crestfallen. I had some wild ideas about getting hold of an AWI British Legion figure, but can't find anything the right size. So I am now thinking that Bloody Ban will wear some appropriate variant on his official uniform as colonel-in-chief of the 21st Light Dragoons - watch for developments...

Very many thanks to everyone who voted - I've never tried a poll before, and it introduced another dimension of variable into the game, for which I am very grateful.

Wellington, of course, doesn't know he's a goner yet, and is likely to go out with a bang, since there are two battles lined up for this campaign week. Just when I am going to get to fight these is uncertain, with holidays looming and a couple of other Real Life issues bubbling away, so the campaign will probably slip a bit further. Hopefully next week - I'll make a note to get them fought next week.

Unless there is a change in fortunes, Tarleton may have no army to command!

The Tarleton helmet, of course, has a great appeal, not least because it was just about impossible to obtain 20mm light dragoons wearing such a thing for a great many years. Elegant, it was (sadly) unpopular with the troops, it was expensive to manufacture, deteriorated in the field, and weighed about half a ton when wet. Smart, though, eh? Here's the nuts-&-bolts report - returns and maps will follow once the battles are done and written up.

Week 19

Random Events
After the British parliament’s decision to remove Wellington from the command of the Anglo-Portuguese forces in the Peninsula, it has been decided to appoint Sir Banastre Tarleton to succeed him.

A veteran of the American War of Independence, now 58, Tarleton is a controversial figure, and a surprise choice. With the rank of full General, he outranks all officers in the Peninsula and is expected to arrive to take up his appointment sometime in June. The powers-that-be [i.e. me] were so confident that Rowland Hill would get the vote that something of a scramble has started to get everything ready. To celebrate his new role – his first field command for over 20 years – Tarleton has also been created Earl of Aigburth by special order of the Prince Regent, a title which comes with an estimated income from the Aigburth and Grassendale estates totalling some 85 pounds per annum.

Wellington is not yet aware of the decision to remove him, so continues to command in the field.

The 3D3 activation throws give Allies 7, French 6 – Allies elect to move first.


Allies (7 allowed)
1 – Sp C (Morillo) march from Alcaniz into Zaragoza
2 – Sp E (newly defined group of approx 5000 irregular troops under local leader Saturnino Mira) move from Cuenca to Alarcon
3 – E (Clinton) march from Porto to Coimbra
4 – A (Wellington) splits off Graham with the 1st Division (as new Anglo-Portuguese Group B), and leaves this group at Braga with Sp B (De Espana).
5 – The reduced A then marches to Almeida – since this is a difficult road, the customary test is required:
2D3 = 4 +3 (Wellington’s rating) -1 (brown road) = 6   - march is completed with no problems
...and he moves to attack Clauzel’s force (French O), which is blockading Almeida.
6 – C (Von Alten, at Abrantes) is also ordered to Almeida to support this attack
 [Intelligence step –
  • no scouting orders]

French (6 allowed)
1 – E (Abbé, at Lodosa) marches to Tudela
2 – G (Lacharrue, with the rest of Abbé’s Divn at Roncal) marches to Sadaba – both these moves being to meet the threat of Morillo at Zaragoza
3 – N (Marmont, at Orense) marches over the mountain roads into Portugal, to attack Graham and De Espana at Braga. This march requires a test:
2D3 = 6 +3 (Marmont’s rating) -1 (brown road) = 8   - no problems at all
4 – K (Jourdan, at Ciudad Rodrigo), splits off two new Groups...
5 – H (Chassé’s brigade of Darmagnac’s Divn) is installed as garrison of Ciudad Rodrigo, where they commence work on the repair of the defences, and
6 – I (Maucune, with his own division plus Treillard’s cavalry) marches to Almeida to support Clauzel.
 [Intelligence step -
  • no scouting orders]
Supplies and Demoralisation
All units are in supply. No-one is Demoralised.

(1) On Thursday 28th May, Clauzel, whose force is blockading the border fortress of Almeida, is surprised to be attacked from the north by Wellington himself. Clauzel, who has 7500 men, is driven into a position which is within range of some of the guns on the walls of Almeida itself. He has Wellington (12300 men) to the North, Almeida itself to the East, and Karl von Alten (with 4900 men of the Allied Light Division) marching towards him from the South West. Maucune, with a further 7500 men, has been sent to reinforce Clauzel, but will not arrive until a dice roll of 6 on or after turn 5,  at which point the reinforcements will be called onto the field as the Command Cards permit, with Leaders attached to units. This action is to be known to history as the Battle of Almeida.

 (2) Marmont, with a force of approx 17000 men, attacks the combined forces of Graham (with 7500 men) and De Espana (with what is believed to be 5900 regular Spanish troops) on the Northern border of Portugal, south of Orense. The Allies have a strong position in rugged country surrounding the hamlet of Balsa, near Vilaverde. The French advanced guard are in contact with Allied pickets early in the morning of Saturday 30th May. [The required dice roll for co-operation level allows the Spanish troops to integrate fully with Graham’s men]

Engineering at Ciudad Rodrigo
Each battalion present with the garrison roll 1D6 each week, giving 4D6 – every 6 rolled adds 1 to the Fortress Value, which has been reduced from an initial 6 to 1 by the siege.  This week, the dice come up 6 5 4 2, so the Fortress Value becomes 2. Keep digging, messieurs!


  1. Congrats to the soon to Sir Banastre, this should be interesting??? I wonder if Welly will rebel and join the Emperor in disgust???? And what are the army going to think, I can envisage a few men wandering off from the regts.

    1. Hi Ray - in this particular campaign the Allied army is a bit fed up with the way things have been going - Wellington not as universally popular as history tells us! Tarleton likely to be less worried about details like punishing the men for pillaging, but also maybe less concerned about feeding them regularly. Some of the budget may have to go towards covering his gambling debts, though there'll be a saving since he won't be maintaining a pack of hunting hounds.

  2. That is an awesome helmet.
    Sir Banastre and parliament may find it awkward if Wellington achieves a famous victory at Almeida.
    Looking forward to further news.

    1. Hi Mike - this next couple of battles are going to be a bit critical for a number of reasons, and you're absolutely correct. I've had a couple of suggestions about what Wellington could do next - including the interesting idea that the Junta get him to stay on as C-in-C of the Spanish army. Napier would have been horrified!



  3. A victory for democracy and stylish hats! I have every confidence that Tarleton is the man to turn the tide against the French.