Four bodies swung from gibbets as if the hot Spanish wind had rocked them to sleep, whistling its sweet lullaby through the branches of the nearby trees. A dust cloud wafted in the breeze, raised by the thousands of French boots, lose leather soles flapping with each lift, creating a chattering counter-rhythm to the cadence of the march.
"Merde, les guerillas", and a gaunt French Grenadier hawked and spat at the feet of the swinging corpses as he marched past. Empty eye sockets, surrounded by parched brown skin, leered at the passing soldiers, taunting them at every step. Marching and fighting on empty stomachs was not the work of the Emperor's finest, nor was fighting without ball and powder. But fight the would, even in this hell hole called the Iberian peninsular, this hades called Spain.
Keith, Andy, Richard, and I, had gathered for a Volley and Bayonet game using my 25mm armies., with an Anglo--Spanish force pitched against a French force. The armies were each of 3000 points, compiled using the Road to Glory scenario system, then tactical postures of each side determined using the scenario cards.
|Initial deployment, the Anglo Spanish on the left, the French on the right|
|The British right woing|
|French line infantry brigade|
|The British right was supported by the Spanish cavalry. The commanders shed these cavalry out to threaten the French left|
|The French left deployed in a defensive posture, the extreme left refused|
|The French centre with two devisions deployed one behind the other. The centre was to see the hottest action, the French disadvantaged by the river that divided the centre, limiting the French ability to deploy and manoeuvre|
|The Spanish, with the plan to hold up the obvious French attack against this flank, while the British cut through the centre|
|The British Guards have attacked in the centre, bouncing a French brigade|
|A second British division in reserve|
|Spanish reserves join the fray|
|French recruits (poorly trained troops) advance to threaten the flank of the British attack|
|The French attack on their right makes contact, starting the process of pushing the Spanish left backwards|
|A wider view of the French right attacking|
|The British reserve division advances to counter the French threat to the flank|
|The Guards attack again in the centre|
|The French right attack continues to roll on forward|
|The French centre has been driven back by the British Guards|
|Some of the French centre troops having fallen back under the pressure of the Guards' attack, the division exhausted|
|More French pressure on their right, French cavalry starting to push pas to threaten the Spanish flank and rear|
|The Spanish left is being forced back|
|Spanish troops supporting the British in their attack on the centre|
|Table top view of the French left|
|The French counterattack on their left centre, ably supported by the remnants of the plate of savouries|
|The British reserve counter attacks|
|The French centre also counter attacks against the Guards|
|The French right hits the flank of those Spanish supporting the British attach. The French brigade however fails moral, and is drive back|
|The French continue to dispute the high ground seized by the British Guards|
|The poorly trained French division counterattacks the British reserve - and drives the British back|
|The French right is continuing its relentless push, but the Spanish use the terrain to good effect to delay the French|
|The French counter attack against the Guards is driven off.... the battle has reached crisis point|
The French cavalry then strikes at the flank of the Spanish centre, and routs and drives back the infantry and the artillery supporting the British. However the French centre is in such a parlous state it will be difficult for them to hold against the Guards whose advance seems relentless. There were more photos of this stage of the action, but photographic incompetence meant I blurred them.. they were not of good enough quality to add here. The sight of French dragoons charging two supported Spanish artillery batteries, routing one and forcing the other back, was a sight for wearied French eyes.
The almost routine failure of the French in their attacks (plenty of 6s on morale, and plenty of dice that were NOT 6s in the attacks) might well have reflected the impact of constant guerilla raids, depriving the army of much needed supplies. However there can be no taking away from the skill of Keith and Andy as they fought a great battle.
And wow what a game... lots of theatre, lots of cinematic moments...and a minor victory to the Anglo-Spanish under the scenario system.