Saturday, September 14, 2019

French ambition held in check at Sant Miquel

A lone cockerel emerged from the lengthening shadows and strutted across the street. Its head bobbed up and down as it pecked at the dust that lay in the street in its search for bugs and grains. Its feet left impressions in a pool of blood and dust that had formed where the blood of Spaniards and Frenchmen had mingled and flowed like a stream from the pile of bodies. A brown and black dog, ribs sticking out along its belly, appeared from behind the bodies and began to sniff about one of the bodies. Alfredo del Marchand, went to stand in an attempt to clear the dog from the remains of his compatriots. His knees went weak, and he slumped back to the ground, the sword slipping from his hand as the muscles in his arm spasmed with the fatigue. His breath began to come in gasps, sobs emerged from his throat, and he began to tremble. A distorted face slashed from brow to chin with a savage sword cut stared at him from the top of the pile.

Four times the French columns had hurled themselves at the town of Sant Miquel. Four times they had been hurled back. And now, as the sun offered its evening salute to the world, a sense of calm and exhaustion settled across the town. Wisps of smoke curled lazily from buildings across the town, belying the human fury that had filled the air not so long ago. Moans and cries for mothers sounded the same whether in French of Spanish. Del Marchand knew that this was not over, and the French columns would be back tomorrow.

Such was the ferocity of the action in this battle set in the Peninsular in 1809, an action fought between two 3000 point armies using Frank Chadwick's Volley and Bayonet rules, and the Road To Glory scenario generation system. This was a long anticipated return to the table top for my two 25mm Napoleonic armies, with Keith commanding the French while I commanded the Spanish.

Here's a little ditty to establish the atmosphere, albeit a British song.

First moves ..

The Spanish anchored their line between the villages of Sant Miquel on their left and Cardeiro on their right.

The Spanish reserve cavalry were first deployed in the centre, but in accordance with the specific scenario card, were removed at the end of turn 1, to be sent on a trek to attack from the right flank against the French line.

French columns advance 'Vive l'emperor'

French cavalry.advancing around the Spanish left

The columns advance 'on y vas'

Spanish infantry secure the right flank awaiting the arrival of their cavalry attack

The village of Cardeiro anchors the Spanish right

Sant Miquel seen in the centre of the photograph, Keith about to launch the first attack

The first attack goes in against Sant Miquel, while the French cavalry sweep around to threaten the Spanish left

French cavalry on the advance

Sant Miquel, the first attack

Keith also put in an attack against Cardeiro

The French cavalry launch an attack against the Spanish infantry on the heights

Another attack goes in against Sant Miquel, and the infantry defending in support

The first cavalry attack against the infantry is repulsed, but a second is launched against the supporting Provincial cavalry

The Spanish shift reserves to their left which is the focal point of the French attack

Meanwhile the Spanish cavalry reserve arrives deep on the French left flank

The Spanish left flank having repulsed the French cavalry attacks

The French infantry columns advance to support their cavalry on their right flank, Sant Miquel clearly seen here. One of the two defending regiments has been dispersed at this stage

The French cavalry commander launches another attack against the Provincial cavalry, this time with two regiments of dragoons.

Waves of Spanish reinforcements (three divisions of infantry) shift towards their left

While the Spanish cavalry advance rapidly against the French, the Spanish right flank infantry divisions advance across the stream in order to be able to support their cavalry. The terrain is very restricting on movement

The fourth French attack across the Spanish left.. the fury and intensity clear to see 

The fourth and final French attack against Sant Miquel from the French perspective

Meanwhile the French commander has reorganised his centre and left to form a defensive line along the river as the Spanish right wing attack manoeuvres into position

The Spanish cavalry having repulsed the last French cavalry attack

Sant Miquel .. still in Spanish hands

French cavalry retire

Sant Miquel ... reinforced again by the Spanish

The Spanish right wing counter attack, coming too late in the day to avid darkness

The Spanish centre around Cardeiro, still sitting here it had from the beginning of the action
We enjoyed the spectacle of the 25mm armies, albeit that it felt as if the table may have needed some reinforcing struts with the weight of the figures. The outcome was something of a surprise for me, and certainly Keith was unlucky not to unlock Sant Miquel, or even to destroy the Provincial Cavalry. The die rolls just went against him at every turn, when you consider the number of attacks that he put in, all stacked as carefully as seemed possible at the time. Such is 'lady luck', and such is life in the Peninsular.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Small Franco Prussian games

A simple series of photos of a small Franco Prussian war game last week with Keith using the Volley and Bayonet rules. The armies are Heroics and Ros 6mm, Keith's French vs my Prussians. This is the second game we have played with small forces, on a 3'x2' surface. Despite the small forces, the games are interesting and challenging. Keith's AAR can be found here.

Messing around with pre game bombardments in Great War Spearhead

While the 1917/1918 WW1 western front painting project isn't finished yet (work and life tend to fill most waking hours at the moment), ...