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

Thursday, 31 October 2013

Solo Campaign - Weeks 35 & 36

Dragging a gun to France - and you'd better not scratch it
Week 35

Random Events and Strategic Notes
King Joseph, at Burgos, has received a long letter with radical new orders from Minister of War Clarke, which confirm that the Emperor wishes to withdraw many of the troops from Spain to bolster his depleted forces in Russia and provide a veteran cadre for a new army on the Rhine to defend against an expected offensive from Prussia and (probably) Austria. Joseph himself is to prepare to end his time as King of Spain, and is to return to Paris immediately, to take up new and important duties which will better serve the interests of the Empire.

More details will follow about how power is to be handed over (there is a rumour that Marshal Soult may be appointed Viceroy on an interim basis). The original instruction was that Marshal Jourdan should assume overall military command in Northern Spain, but Joseph has been granted his request that Jourdan should go with him to Paris as his Chief of Staff. Thus Marmont will take over as head of a consolidated Army of the Pyrenees, with its headquarters initially at Vitoria. This new army will be reduced by the immediate return to Bayonne of the following formations:
  • General Bonet’s French division, from Galicia and the coastal forts
  • All remaining troops of the Confederation of the Rhine and the former Vistula Legion
  • All troops of the Kingdom of Italy
  • All Garde Nationale units in garrison in Spain

Spanish line units in the French service and the King’s Guard will remain with Marmont, but these detachments will reduce Marmont’s total force by some 40,000 men.

All civil governors in the area are to pack up their operations, destroying anything that they do not wish to leave behind. Until Marshal Soult publishes details of new arrangements for the government of Spain, the army has complete authority in the northern theatre. It is important that units returning to France should be over the Pyrenees by November, so all such units should be on the march by the end of September. All artillery and other military materiel is to be preserved and returned to Bayonne in good order – anything else (especially officers’ baggage) will not be allowed to utilise draught animals or wagons, and must not slow down the march. Officers may take with them only what they can carry themselves. Any lack of discipline or inappropriate looting to be treated with considerable severity.

News of this development has reached Tarleton, at Salamanca, very speedily but in a rather confused form, thus the Allies are trying to clarify what is happening. All orders are directed to scouting this week, and spies and information sources are working hard to gain more details.

The 3D3 activation throws give the Allies 5 and the French 8. The French choose to move first.


French (8 allowed)
1 – K (Jourdan/Joseph, at Aranda) detaches all German and Italian troops, and they are to march for Bayonne within the week – all troops marching to France are removed from the army returns
2 – K – Jourdan & King Joseph also set out for Paris – command of Force K is assumed by General Maupoint, who is left with only a single brigade of French cavalry
3 – A (Gautier, with a brigade of Bonet’s Divn at Santander) to set off for Bayonne – removed from returns
4 – B (Col Bouthmy, at Oviedo) similarly
5 – E (Abbe, at Zaragoza) to detach 4e Vistule, who will march for Bayonne
6 – Clauzel (at Valladolid) to return his Confederation, Italian and Vistula units to Bayonne
7 – L, P, Q, R & S (Garde Nationale garrisons at San Sebastian, Burgos, Jaca, Tudela and Pamplona) to march for Bayonne
8 – K (Maupoint, with the cavalry which was attached to the Army of the Centre) to march from Aranda to Burgos
 [Intelligence step –
  • No new information.]
 Allies (5 allowed)
1 – A (Aigburth, at Salamanca) to scout into Valladolid
2 – B (Graham, at Zamora) to scout into Leon
3 – Sp E (Mira, with irregulars at Madrid) to scout northwards into Aranda
4 – Sp B (Giron, at Madrid) to rest to allow the remains of the Third Army to recover
 [Intelligence step -
  • Many communications intercepted – much of information is conflicting, but obvious that big changes taking place
  • Mira, at Madrid, reports that Jourdan’s Army of the Centre has abandoned Aranda, and the roads are littered with rubbish and documents.]
Supplies and Demoralisation
Strictly, the French no longer occupy Pamplona, which – since it is a “brown” area – means that it can fall into Spanish hands and thus break the French supply route. Since the road is solid with French troops marching to Bayonne, the fortress at Pamplona will be assumed to be French held for a period of 3 weeks without the tedium of plotting the progress of each force headed for Bayonne.

Proper army returns will be resumed next week, once the French have worked out what they have left.


Blow this for a game of soldiers
Week 36

Random Events and Strategic Notes
Nothing new since the bombshell of last week. Marmont is forced to protect his supply roads, and is planning to withdraw further towards the French border. There is chaos at Burgos, as gendarmes attempt to keep the soldiers away from Joseph’s abandoned baggage train – a great deal of Joseph’s treasure trove has disappeared into the knapsacks of the army. Thiebault, military governor of the fortress at Burgos, has made brave efforts with the authority and men available to him, but there are major problems in maintaining any kind of discipline in this area.

Joseph and his immediate entourage are gone – moved on to another chapter of history. Soult has not communicated with his northern colleagues…

The 3D3 activation throws give the Allies 5 and the French 5. Since they had the initiative last week, the French again opt to move first.

French (5 allowed) 
1 – F (Barbot, with garrison of Bilbao) march to San Sebastian
2 – E (Abbé, with garrison of Zaragoza) march to Tudela
3 – I (Clauzel) marches from Valladolid to Burgos…
4 – … where he absorbs K (Maupoint’s cavalry)
5 – N (Marmont) marches from Leon to Sahagun
[Intelligence step –
  • No scouting orders, no new information.]
 Allies (5 allowed)
1 – Sp E (Mira, with irregulars from Junta de Castilla) marches from Madrid to Aranda
2 – A (Aigburth) advances from Salamanca to Valladolid
3 – B (Graham) advances from Zamora to Leon
4 – Work commences on setting up a new British supply depot at the port of Oviedo
5 – B (Graham, now at Leon) to scout towards Sahagun
[Intelligence step -
  • Mira and Graham both find plentiful evidence of the French retreat
  • Surprisingly small number of stragglers taken – French soldiers keen to avoid falling into the hands of Spanish irregulars or civilian population]
Supplies and Demoralisation
The French now have a secure supply route from Bayonne, through San Sebastian to Vitoria, and thence to Sahagun and Burgos. All units in all armies are in supply.



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