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

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Solo Campaign - Battle of Vinuesa, Saturday 22nd August 1812

General view at the start, from behind the French right

Battle of Vinuesa, 22nd Aug 1812

Spanish Third Army (General Pedro Agostin Giron) - 13200 inf, 1800 cavalry, 18 guns

First Division (España)
            Zaldibar’s Brigade
                        1/2o Princesa + Tiradores de Castilla
            Parker Carroll’s Brigade
                        1/Sevilla + 1/2o Jaen + Cazadores de Castilla
            Pardo’s Brigade*
Vols de Valencia + Ligero del Reino de Valencia + 2o Loyales de Zamora + Defensores de Fernando VII
            Cavalry Brigade* (Sanchez)
                        1er & 2o Lanceros de Castilla
Foot battery (Capt Herrera)
Avila volunteer battery* (Capt Arguellas)

Second Division (Morillo) – Morillo was absent, ill, and Espeleta commanded the Division
            Bausa y Ortiz’s Brigade
                        1/Leon + 1/Bailen + Vols de la Victoria  
            Cordoba’s Brigade
                        1/La Union + 1/2o Mallorca + Legion Extremena
            Espeleta’s Brigade*
                        Vols de Guadalajara + Aragon + Cuenca + Regto del Ribeiro
            Cavalry Brigade (Penne)
Coraceros Espanoles + Hus de Extemadura + Vols de España
Foot battery (Capt Hidalgo)
Foot battery (Capt Estrabismo)

* - formations marked with an asterisk are classified as militia for C&CN rules

Since the Spanish artillery batteries have only 4 guns each, they are classed as “Reduced” in the CCN rules

French Army (Marshal Jourdan) - 9950 inf, 1750 cavalry, 14 guns

Division D’Armagnac [from Army of Centre]
            Brigade Neuenstein
                        2e Nassau (2 Bns) + Regt de Francfort (1) + 4e Bade (2)
            Brigade Chassé
                        4e Hesse-Darmstadt (2) + 3e Berg (1)
            Brigade St Paul (Italian)
                        2e Léger (1) + 3e (2) & 5e Ligne (2)
Italian Foot battery (Capt Ferrarese)

Cavalry (Maupoint) [combined from Armies of Centre & North]
            Brigade Maupoint
                        13e Cuirassiers + 15e Chass a Chev + 5e Chev-Leg
Brigade Kleinwinkel
1er & 2e Chev-Leg Rugeois
11/3e Art a Cheval (Capt Demilune)

The positions and the development of the action should be clear from the pictures. Giron placed his right on a loop of low but quite rugged hills. His overriding concern throughout was that a large proportion of his troops were volunteers (who rank as militia in the game rules). Spanish line troops are subject to double retreats, and militia to treble retreats, and this did prove to be a major problem throughout the day. He placed Morillo’s line division on these hills, with the majority of the voluntarios in reserve, behind them. Morillo himself was absent, suffering from malaria, and his division was commanded on the day by General Espeleta.

The Spanish left was in more open terrain, and Giron stood Espana’s veterans in this area, making best use of wooded areas. He placed his cavalry on both flanks, expecting them to play little part in the action.

Jourdan had St Paul’s Italian brigade on his left, entering the field through more woods. The German brigades which formed the remainder of D’Armagnac’s Division occupied the middle and right of the French position.

The Italians made little progress against Espeleta on the French left, but a regular pattern began to emerge. As Spanish units were driven back, the multiple retreats had a big effect – apart from the loss of ground, there were numerous occasions when retiring units did not have room to make a full retreat, and the rules force a loss of blocks when this happens. For the first hour of the action the impression was that the movement and the weight of fire appeared to be about even, but the Spanish problem with retreats meant that the eliminated units were all Spanish. The “Victory Banners” score very quickly rose to 6-0, 10 being the target required for an overall win.

The French had every advantage they could have hoped for – apart from the assymetrical rules, they also had marvellous cards and dice throws throughout. Jourdan would do well to retire from the army at this moment, for he will never have such a lucky day again.

One such card – La Grande Manoeuvre – resulted in a sudden advance, as the French centre moved to their right and a heavy attack developed against Espana’s troops, who crumbled disappointingly, and a fairly humble brigade of Confederation light cavalry, with no particular reputation but with Maupoint leading them in person, swept away the Spanish cavalry and clinched a convincing and surprisingly one-sided win (10-2 in banners) to the French. Giron’s right remained doggedly where it started, but his left was destroyed.

This result is a major setback to the Allies’ progress, and the appointments of a number of the Spanish generals are under close examination. Espana in particular has been heavily criticised, but there is a great deal of mutual accusation as to who is to take the blame for the disaster.

The Spanish lost 4200 infantry, 1125 cavalry and 4 guns, the French lost 1600 infantry and 125 cavalry. The fact that Giron had the advantage of defence, greater numbers and more artillery is not lost on his political opponents.

Legio Extremena in the woods

The Spanish left - where it all went wrong

Spanish position, from their left flank

General Giron's big day out - he may not get another...

Spanish Line troops, 1812 style - 2nd Mallorca

Italians - the woods were full of them

Genl Von Neuenstein with the 2nd Nassau - the spyglass was a useful precaution,
since he managed to stay a long way from the action

Stoical Germans - the Confederation troops did a great job - just got on with it

Gunner's view - that Spanish battery opposite didn't stay there long

The Spanish left wing again - hmmm...   Espana with the white base border

In comparison, the right wing did well, but with heavy losses

The Spanish right, from another viewpoint

Here is the crux of the matter - the Regimiento del Ribeiro, being voluntarios, have
to take triple retreats - one hit, plus a retreat they didn't have space for, did for them.
There was a lot of this.

The combined light companies from St Paul's Italian brigade performed real
heroics, but were battered in the end

Spanish volunteer artillery. On the day, they couldn't hit the proverbial
 whatsit in the thingummy with a how's-your-father

Great card - started the French swing to the right

Here they go...

The briefest of appearances by my posh new Spanish hussars ended with their
being soundly beaten by the brigade of Rugeois light horse, led by Maupoint

That would do it - the sort of dice which the French turned up all day

Espeleta brings forward the Bailen regiment, possibly wishing he'd gone
for a less conspicuous uniform

The French attack, from behind their right

Maupoint, with the unstoppable Rugeois, finishes the game

Position at the finish - the Spanish left, at this end, has gone

Whichever way you look at it...

Some friends of Lee's! - some of the voluntarios - they look great, but they didn't do
so well today!
I'll include the revised maps and army returns with Week 32's report, in a few days.

1 comment:

  1. A lovely looking table of figures there and satisfying to have such a convincing win for the French!