Saturday, 4 March 2017

1813 Campaign – Battle of Castanar

We have fought the first battle of the Cuidad Real campaign.

It was a very small affair with a weak Spanish corps attempting to stop a stronger Italian corps.   Not surprisingly the Spanish lost!

The Spanish had three infantry brigades and corps artillery deployed just north of the town, which was occupied by a militia brigade.   The Italians had four infantry brigades, a cavalry brigade and corps artillery.

The background to the battle is that the French advance south of Madrid had just begun, and the widely dispersed Spanish army were caught unprepared.   The Spanish CinC had issued orders for all four corps to retreat, but the orders for this corps arrived too late.

As a game the Spanish objective was to cause as many casualties as possible before being forced to retreat and abandon Castanar.  

They held out for eight hours/moves, which is two thirds of a day.  They lost 2600 casualties against 1300 Italian casualties.   But this is better than it appears at first sight.

My objective with this campaign is to test attrition rules for a French army operating in Spain.   They are expected to defeat the Spanish regular army when they meet them in a regular battle.   But their supply problems as they advance.

In this particular battle the Spanish lost 6 infantry casualties (400 men each) in one brigade and 2 gunner casualties (100 men each) in their corps artillery.   The Italians lost one infantry casualty (400 men each) in three brigades and one cavalry casualty (100 men) in their cavalry brigade.   The Spanish militia garrison did not suffer any casualties, but they have to abandon Castanar and will become a guerrilla band.

In wargame terms this means that the Spanish have lost one infantry brigade and their corps artillery.   They have gained a guerrilla band.    The Italians have three infantry and one cavalry brigade with casualties.   They will also have to detach one infantry brigade to garrison Castanar.

Under our wargame rules each casualty reduced morale and fighting capacity by one point.   Battle casualties are replaced by 400 infantry or 100 gunners or cavalryman for each day that the corps is stationary and in supply.  However each brigade retains at least one casualty throughout the campaign.  

This means that the all Italian casualties in this battle will affect their effectiveness throughout this campaign.    The Spanish infantry will be replaced, less one casualty/400 men.   Their artillery will be replaced, less one casualty/100 men.  

So although this battle has resulted in a clear Italian victory, they will suffer more in due course because the casualties are spread over more brigades.

The Spanish have lost the battle, but their static militia garrison is now a roving guerrilla band capable to causing attrition problems to the French.

That is what I am trying to achieve.  It will be interesting to see how it works out over the next couple of months.


Robert (Bob) Cordery said...

I like the idea that winning a battle and forcing you enemy to retreat doesn't automatically bring you an advantage. I can forsee the presence of guerillas on the French supply lines requiring considerable effort (and resources) being expended just to keep the supply lines open. Very historical!

All the best,


thistlebarrow said...

Hi Bob

Thanks for your comment.

The problem will be making the guerrilla strong enough to weaked the French, but not too strong that they dominate the campaign. The rules govern their effect using a chart 1 to 6, and they need 5 or 6 to have any effect at all. But as you know dice rolls have a tendency to roll high when you want low and vice versa. However any other way to achieve the same result would involve more trouble than it would be worth.