Sunday, 19 May 2019

Albacete Campaign – Day 13

Campaign Map on 20 September 1813 

Giron ordered his army to retreat to Molina
All four corps have used their last supplies to do so
They will suffer attrition casualties until they have been able to resupply

Suchet ordered his army to halt, resupply and regroup
All four corps receive supplies and now have four days per corps
His routed brigades are rallied
Replacements for his battle casualties start to arrive

The French have won the campaign, but are too battered to pursue the Spanish

Campaign Notes      
Suchet arranged for his battered army to be resupplied, and wrote a report to Napoleon claiming a total victory against the Spanish field army.   However he is well aware that the final battle was a close run thing, which could easily have resulted in a Spanish victory.

At the end of the battle of Hellin both armies were fought to a draw.   Both had considerable battle casualties.   Both had used all of their reserves.

However the French were within range of four depots, including their main depot at Albacete.   They ended the day with two days supplies per corps, and could easily restock the following day providing they did not have to fight again.  Even if they did, they would still be in supply.

The Spanish were a long way from their three supply bases.   They were also down to one days supply per corps when the battle ended.  If required to fight the next day they would end that day out of supply.   Even if they won the battle they would start to lose attrition casualties (10% of one brigade per corps) for each day until they resupplied.   To do so they would have to retreat south towards their bases.

The Spanish had lost considerably more casualties than the French, and had almost twice as many brigades in rout.   In addition almost all of their remaining brigades had at least 10% casualties.   They would start a second day of battle outnumbered by the French, and would have to renew the attack to take at least the other half of the town.

The French also had considerable casualties.   They had lost half of their cavalry and  all of their remaining brigades also had battle casualties.  But they were on the defensive, and well positioned to hold for another day. 

It was the Spanish who blinked first.   Faced with the destruction of his entire Army, General Giron ordered the retreat.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Albacete Campaign – Day 12

Campaign Map on 19 September 1813
Giron launches a surprise attack by his whole army on Hellin
Suchet has dispersed his army to support his supply bases
He has concentrated his supplies at Hellin, and is not prepared to abandon them
He orders his army to concentrate and hold the town
Battle of Hellin -  last move
Three French and four Spanish corps took part in the battle of Hellin
Both sides started the battle with previous battle casualties
This was a very hard fought battle, and both sides lost heavy casualties
The Spanish took the left flank and half of the town
The French held the right flank and half of the town
By nightfall the French had seven brigades in rout, and the Spanish ten
All of the remaining brigades on both sides had heavy casualties
The deciding factor was one of command and control, plus supply
The Spanish were not capable to regrouping their army to fight a second day
All four corps were reduced to one days supply each and could not resupply

The result was a draw, but as the Spanish retreated the French could claim a victory.

Campaign Notes      
This was a fitting final battle to decide the campaign.

The Spanish army was considerably stronger with 53600 infantry, 1900 cavalry and 114 guns.  The French had 38400 infantry, 2800 cavalry and 87 guns.

The French superiority in cavalry would allow them to delay the Spanish deployment.   But the Spanish superiority in artillery would give them a huge advantage.   The stronger Spanish infantry would allow them to absorb more casualties than the French.

Both armies had battle casualties.   Most brigades started the battle with at least  10% casualties.  This reduced their combat ability and made them very vulnerable when testing morale.   One rout could easily affect nearby brigades who had such casualties.

The Spanish had the disadvantage that one of their corps would not arrive on the table until the start of move 5.  It would take them four moves to advance and deploy, leaving them only four moves of fighting.

The battle opened well for the Spanish.   The French artillery were ineffective against the approaching Spanish infantry.   Only three Spanish corps were involved in the initial attack, but they still managed to take the woods on the left and half of the town.

The fourth Spanish corps was tasked to take the remaining half of the town.   Both the artillery and all four infantry brigades started with 10% casualties.   They fought hard to take the town and routed the initial garrison.  But the French counter attacked with a fresh brigade and managed to hold until nightfall.

At nightfall the Spanish held the left half of the table, and the French the right half.  The French had lost seven of their brigades in rout
The Spanish lost ten brigades, including half of their artillery

Darkness would allow the French to redeploy to hold their half of Hellin, and prepare a counter attack against the Spanish held half.   Their remaining brigades had less casualties than the Spanish brigades.  

The deciding factor was supplies.    The French had managed to resupply before the battle and had three days each.   The Spanish had only one day, and were too far from their depots to resupply.   

The Spanish must retreat or start to suffer attrition casualties.   They retreat.

Sunday, 12 May 2019

Albacete Campaign – Day 11

Campaign Map on 18 September 1813

Suchet is surprised to find that the guerrilla threat has disappeared
He orders his three corps to hold their position and resupply
He also orders transfer of supplies from Riopar and Elda to Hellin
Giron orders his army to move north and deploy in front of Molina
All four corps remain within supply range of their three supply depots
All four are also now concentrated ready to attack Hellin

He also orders 4 and 6 militia brigades to move into contact with Riopar and Elda

This forward movement has caught Suchet by surprise
The Spanish have gained a day’s march on the French

Campaign Notes      

Suchet is pleasantly surprised to find that the guerrilla threat in the north has disappeared.   However he orders his three corps to remain in position, and resupply, whilst he reorganises his supply system.

The French can move up to 4 days supplies, and the Spanish three days,  between depots each day, providing that both depots are within three squares and have a road between them.

Both Elda and Riopar have spare supplies, whilst Hellin is low.   So he orders both to transfer two days supplies to Hellin.  This will enable him to concentrate his army at Hellin and still supply all three corps.

Giron orders his army to move forward and deploy just north of Molina.   All four corps are concentrated, with the weakest corps in reserve.   From this position they can attack Hellin.   They are also within supply range of their three depots.

He also orders guerrilla brigades to move into contact with Riopar and Elda.   This will pin their garrisons and prevent them rejoining the main French army.

This aggressive move has caught the French commander by surprise.   He is not used to the Spanish taking the offensive.   He expected them to remain on the defensive at Molina and allow him to reorganise his supply system.

This over confidence has placed the French in a dangerous position should the Spanish attack tomorrow.