Campaign Phases fought in Spain
Albacete is the twelfth campaign fought in Spain, and the sixth in southern Spain.
Of the six campaign phases fought south of Madrid, the French won three and the Spanish also three.
Albacete is pretty typical of the southern campaigns. The French tend to do well in the early stages of the campaign, then the guerrilla bands come into play and the French lines of supply come under pressure. This slows down the French advance, and allows the defeated Spanish field army to recover.
In wargames the French are only slightly superior to the Spanish. But they usually have more cavalry, and this can be a game winner. However as always the table top winner is usually the one who throws the best dice.
In this campaign the French were weaker than usual. They had three full strength corps and a reserve corps of four infantry brigades. The Spanish had two corps similar to the French, and two with less infantry and no cavalry. However the Spanish also had a larger reserve of nine infantry brigades, one in each town or city. These became guerrilla bands when their town was captured by the French.
The French were favourites to win the early battles. However they could not afford to lose too many casualties in doing so, and particularly not cavalry or gunners. This resulted in cautious battles, and the Spanish were allowed to retreat without pursuit.
As the French advanced their lines of supply came under attack from the guerrilla. This would not immediately endanger the field army, but it would weaken it. If a corps was allowed to run out of supplies it would suffer attrition casualties until it resupplied.
After three victories the French had to halt to regroup and resupply, and to reorganise their lines of supply. The Spanish launched a surprise attack hoping to catch the French unprepared. This was only partly successful.
Only one corps is allowed in each map square, which is also four game moves. Four Spanish corps attacked Hellin, which was held by three French corps. It took four game moves for the fourth Spanish corps to enter the table, and another four for them to enter the battle. This left them only four moves to turn the battle.
Campaign casualties also played a large part in this campaign. One “hit” on the wargames table becomes 400 infantry or 100 cavalry or gunners in the campaign. Battle casualties are replaced at the rate of one “hit” per corps per day providing they do not move or fight. However the last “hit” on each brigade is never replaced. So by the start of the final battle most brigades in both armies had at least one “hit”. This reduced their combat ability and reduced their morale, making them fragile on the table. A rout by one brigade would cause all friendly brigades with 4” to test their morale. And if they already had a “hit” they would deduct one from their dice throw. It was quite likely that a single rout would result in many more brigades joining them
Despite all of these problems both armies fought hard at the final battle of Hellin. At nightfall (end of move 12) they each held half of the table. Both had suffered heavy casualties. Both had lost brigades in rout. The Spanish lost more than the French. But both could carry on for a second day.
However the Spanish were about to run out of supplies, and were too far north to use their depots. They were forced to retreat in order to resupply.
This campaign was a joy to game. The campaign is fictional, and only designed to produce good wargames. However the problems were very historical. Supply and attrition decided the outcome. The French always defeated the Spanish field army, but fought it difficult to deal with the guerrilla.
Each campaign suggests areas for improvement, and this one was no different. The two major problems on the table were command and control and insufficient space to wargame. I will be looking to amend the campaign and wargame rules to overcome both of these problems in the next campaign phase.