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

Tuesday, 29 January 2013

Solo Campaign - Action at Martin de Yeltes

The 11th Portuguese Cavalry watch as the French enter the valley

It took me a while to recover from the family goings-on at Christmas and set up the wargames table, but I have now fought the little conflict between the two advance guards. I shall publish the revised returns taking account of this action after the next map moves.

Since the battle was small, and used the table lengthwise, I used a modified version of CCN - replacing the Command Cards system with a dice-driven activation system which I have used before and which worked pretty well.

The Allies won rather easily, and there was a cameo appearance by a Major Sharpe of the 95th, who commanded a provisional brigade composed of detached light-company men of the Third Division. I was a bit embarrassed to mention this, but why not, after all?

Action at Martin de Yeltes – 30th July 1812

The Allied advance guard, commanded by Maj.Gen Long, had been rather outmanoeuvred by a French force under Gen de Bde Pinoteau, having their right flank turned as the French crossed the little river Huebra.

Long had a brigade of King’s German Legion heavy dragoons and a brigade of Portuguese cavalry – all the cavalry being commanded by Lt.Col De Jonquières of the KGL (deputising for the wounded General Bock) – plus a provisional brigade of three “converged” battalions of light companies from the Third Division, commanded by a Major Sharpe (all right, calm down). In addition, Long had the services of Bull’s Troop, RHA. His force was near to the village of Martin de Yeltes when the French appeared on his right, around 10:30am.

Pinoteau had two battalions of the veteran 59eme Ligne, under their colonel, Nicolas Loverdo, and three regiments of cavalry – one of Chasseurs à Cheval, the Italian Dragoni Napoleone and the Lanciers de la Vistule. He also had a battery of horse artillery – that of Capt Faruse, from the artillery park of the Armeé de Portugal. His cavalry were brigaded under the command of Col. Lemoyne of the 14eme Chasseurs.

The French advanced in a businesslike column – lancers at the front, followed by the horse artillery, then the Dragoni, then Loverdo’s infantry and the Chasseurs bringing up the rear.

The 11th Portuguese cavalry fell back in front of the French advance, and Pinoteau detached his Italian dragoons and his chasseurs to his left, to pursue them behind a small wooded ridge. Meanwhile the French infantry entered some woods on the right, with the intention of taking possession of the large farm at Santa Consuela Parlanchina.

The British light infantry took good advantage of their ability to move quickly, Major Sharpe leading two battalions into the enclosures at the farm and commencing a brisk fire fight with Loverdo’s infantry.

The French cavalry attack – which was approached with great confidence – proved to be a complete disaster. The Portuguese 11th cavalry were joined by the 2nd Dragoons of the KGL, and together they routed the two French units, suffering very little loss themselves. Around this time, Col Loverdo was severely wounded on the French right, and Pinoteau decided to withdraw. The fresh lancer unit were detailed to cover the retreat, but they themselves were very badly beaten by the 11th Portuguese, and the French withdrawal became a panic. Long called off the pursuit – a move for which he was subsequently criticised – but he had won an excellent little victory.

The Rifles officer was Major Norman Sharpe, by the way.

De Jonquiere's KGL Dragoons

French advance

Dragoni Napoleone - did not impress

Lancers of the Vistula Legion

General View of the field at the start

A Thought for Today

Captain Faruse's horse battery

Pinoteau brings up his cavalry

Major Sharpe with the Light Bobs

Bull's Troop, RHA

The French take the initiative

Loverdo takes the 59eme into the woods

General view around midday

French cavalry attack the 11th Portuguese

Pinoteau watches in disbelief as his cavalry falter

Meanwhile in the woods...

Allied cavalry drive back the French

French cavalry beaten back with heavy loss

Double crossed-sabres mean that Loverdo is wounded

The Dragoni are just about still there

The Lancers cover the withdrawal...

...but not for long


French Force – Gen de Bde Pierre Pinoteau

Infantry Bde – Col. Loverdo (59e)
59e Ligne [2 bns]

Cavalry Bde – Col. Lemoyne (14e Chasseurs)
14e Chasseurs à Cheval [3 sqns]
Dragoni Napoleone [3]
Lanciers de la Vistule [3]

Horse Artillery battery – Capt Faruse

Total force engaged 2475 men with 6 guns. Loss approx 200 infantry, 620 cavalry. Col. Loverdo was severely wounded during the firefight in the woods at Santa Consuela, and was taken prisoner.

Allied Force – Maj.Gen RB Long

Provisional Brigade – Maj. Sharpe (95th)
3 bns of light infantry from Third Division

Cavalry Brigade – Lt.Col De Jonquières (KGL)
1st Dragoons, KGL
2nd ditto
1st Portuguese Cavalry (Alcantara)
11th ditto

Troop ‘A’, RHA – Maj. Bull

Total force engaged, approx 2300 men with 6 guns. Total loss 325 infantry, 90 cavalry.

Detail losses:

French – 2/59 (-1 block), 14e Chass, Drag Nap, Lanciers de la Vistule (-2 each)

Anglo-Portuguese – 1st Ptgse Cav, 1st & 2nd Prov Lt Bns (-1 each)


  1. An especial treat to see the Merit trees. Are they original or are you the mystery man who usually outbids me on ebay?

    A very nice looking game and table in either case. Thanks.

    1. Hi John - I haven't bought any Merit trees for a very long time now. A number of my trees are getting very fragile indeed with the plastic rot, so I may need to start thinking about getting some more!

      Cheers - Tony

  2. A very fine looking table. There is just enough scenery to set off the old school figures. Huzzah for Maj Gen Long, I hope he gains favourable notice in Horse Guards.

    1. Thank you Michael - I think Maj.Gen Long would have been better advised to chase the remains of the French force a bit harder today, but the dice ruled otherwise. I recently read a biography of Long, and he seems to have been a most unfortunate man - he spent much of his life nursing grudges and fighting against perceived wrongs and injustice, and he thus managed to irritate most of the people who could have helped his career, so that - though he undoubtedly had talent - he never achieved due recognition.

      I also have to say that Long remained a good distance from the fighting at all times today - mind you, I would have too!

      Cheers - Tony