Napoleonic & ECW wargaming, with a load of old Hooptedoodle on this & that

Friday, 21 December 2012

Barba del Puerco - a Little More

Following yesterday's post about the skirmish at the bridge of Barba del Puerco, Gary very kindly sent me some photos he took when he visited the place a few years ago. Most illuminating - I took a view of the bridge from Google Earth, and I reproduce three of Gary's pictures here.

The French side would be on the upper right of the satellite view, and on the far side of the river in the photos. It is very obvious, and Gary confirms - having walked it! - that the valley side the French came up after crossing the Agueda is very steep and rocky indeed. They would not be coming up there with any kind of momentum.

Which leads me to wonder what on earth Ferey thought he was doing. If the objective was to grab the bridge and take the main advance guard by surprise up in the village overlooking the valley, then that might just have been successful, but it was not a position that could be held by anything apart from a herd of goats. If - as happened in the event - the Rifles turned out in time to catch the French on the hillside, it would not take much to roll them back down.


  1. Great pics! I wouldn't fancy walking up that hill, never mind fighting on it!

    1. Absolutely. Sneaking over the bridge and causing problems on the other side in this sort of terrain would be a suitable job for a small band of guerrilleros or possibly Major Sharpe's chaps, but 500 light company squaddies from the French line - boots and packs - are miscast, I think.

      Simmons says that, in the pre-dawn gloom, the French with greatcoats and white cross-belts made easy targets, while the riflemen were hard to spot behind rocks and against the sky. The pictures remind me why certain bits of the front line were pretty static - too much trouble and too difficult to do anything about it. I mean, look at that river - it seems to me to say "Er - try somewhere else...!".

  2. An early dawn assault could have worked with the cover of darkness. If you've done piquet duty, you know everything is really quiet about 4am and had the French rushed forward, killing the sentries as before and tried to gain a foothold on the opposite side of the bridge, it might have worked. Daylight would soon come and then reinforcements would be able to come with it. Why they were wearing backpacks, day or night, seems like poor leadership by who ever directly lead the assault.

    Ferrey, like so many of his colleagues, seemed to do only rudimentary reconnaissance of what really ever laid before them.