Tuesday 30 October 2012

Visit to Madrid

We have just returned from a five day visit to Madrid and surrounding area.   It was a coach trip, so we did not have the opportunity to visit particular areas of Napoleonic interest.  But we did keep our eyes open for anything of interest.

On our first day we were exploring Madrid on foot, and entered the Plaza Mayor on foot.  As we passed through this attractive arch we noted an inscription stone dedicated to the Rising in Madrid on 2 May 1808

Next day we visited Segovia.   As far as I know nothing of particular interest happened here during the Napoleonic period.   We spent the day walking around the town, which is famous for its Roman Aqueduct and its Arab Fortress or Alcazar.   As we entered the grounds of the latter we found this impressive monument to the Spanish troops who fought against Napoleon.
Our best find was the Spanish Army Museum in Toledo.   We only had one day in Toledo, and we had to choose between a visit to the Cathedral or the Army Museum – the museum won.   It is a relatively new museum and is housed in the impressive Alcazar in the middle of the city.

We were delighted to find a special display of military models, many of them Napoleonic.  The figures were well displayed and we spent so much time on this display that we had to rush the rest of the visit.

Although it is a new museum, the permanent displays are not up to the standard of the special display.  We were very disappointed in the Napoleonic section.   It consisted mostly of paintings, plus a few exhibits which were poorly lit and the captions almost impossible to read.

The same was true to a large permanent display of model soldiers.   They were set in the wall at about waist height (perhaps for young children to see) and were poorly lit.  So it was impossible to see the detail or enjoy the painting.   The only similar large collection I have seen was at Kulmbach in Germany about twenty years ago.  That, by comparison, was well displayed.   The figures were all in dioramas, all well lit and all at head height.  A sort of platform was provided by each display for children to reach the required height.   What a shame that the Toledo was not the same.

In addition we were not allowed to take any photographs, and there were no postcards of the model soldiers available.  

The museum is well worth a visit, but what a shame that the model soldiers are not displayed to their best advantage.

Friday 19 October 2012

Commanders Wanted for New PBEM Campaign in Spain

Burgos Campaign Area

I need six corps commanders for my new PBEM campaign which is set in north west Spain.

This will be the ninth phase of my long running fictional 1813 campaign

There are three French and three Anglo Spanish commands.  

The objective is to achieve one campaign day per week.   Players will receive an updated map showing their current locations, any enemy located, their current supply status and a current order of battle each Sunday.  They will be required to submit their orders by Wednesday evening.   There will be three campaign moves per campaign day and the umpire will notify them of any contact by email.  They will have 24 hours to reply, and if none received their corps will carry on with their current orders.

There will be a campaign diary and an entry will be published for each campaign move.   This will not affect the “fog of war”, but it will provide a summary of what is happening in the campaign.  It is intended that there will be three diary entries each week.   The objective of the campaign diary is to provide a permanent record of the campaign and also to maintain player interest.

Minor contacts will be handled by the umpire, and the result notified to the players concerned.   When there is a major battle it will be fought as a wargame by my wife and I.  Wargames can take up to two weeks, but a full battle report will be published in the campaign diary.

The new campaign diary has a short summary of the main campaign and also the previous eight phases.  It also has all of the maps used in the campaign and photographs of the six corps.   You can find the diary here:

If you would like to apply for one of the commands you will need to join the Campaign Forum.  This is a sort of notice board for the campaign.   I notify members of any changes to the campaign here, and they can raise any questions or queries regarding the campaign.   You will find the forum here:

Monday 15 October 2012

French lose Gera Campaign

Nightfall at Jena

Napoleon has lost the Gera campaign!

After two days fighting at Jena the French have suffered a crushing defeat.  

The French have now suffered four major defeats, including the surrender of 2nd corps, and Napoleon has ordered a general retreat.

Of the seven battles fought the French have lost five and drawn two.   Not one of Napoleon’s best campaigns!

By  the end of the second day’s fighting at Jena the French had lost four of their twelve divisions.  The Russians had lost two of their twelve.

Both armies started the campaign with 52,000 men.  
The French lost 18,600
The Russians lost 9,500

Despite the above the French had fought a clever campaign, and had kept the Russians guessing right to the end.  

The biggest mistake was to fight three battles on day one when the whole army attempted to cross the river Saale at the same time.   They lost all three battles, and one of the three corps was forced to surrender in attempting to cross back to the west bank.

The French never really recovered from this setback.  

The river Saale was a very strong defensive position, and by reorganising his three division corps into two divisions each Napoleon managed to hold the whole length.   However each of his two divisions was opposed by three Russian divisions.

Finally the arrival, and deployment, of the Russian reserve corps provided Wittgenstein, the Russian CinC,  with unbeatable odds.

Despite the run of French defeats each battle provided Jan and I with an interesting wargame, and often a very close fought one.

At five months the campaign was slightly longer than I would have wished.   There were long periods of inactivity between battles, caused by reorganising and resupply,  which some players may have found boring?   But I would rate it as the most enjoyable PBEM so far.

The full battle report for Jena Day Two will appear on the campaign diary blog in the next day or two. 

A summary of the whole campaign, with maps showing daily locations,  will follow shortly

You can find the campaign diary blog here

The next phase of the 1813 campaign will be set in North West Spain and will be the Anglo-Spanish attempt to take that city.