Sunday, 2 December 2012

First battle of the Burgos Campaign

Table at the start of the battle

It took ten campaign moves to produce the first battle/wargame, but it was worth the wait.

The French general Leval held the town of Aguillar with one of his two divisions.    On the fourth campaign move General Hill arrived at the town with his 1st British division.   The two divisions carried out a recce, which resulted in an indecisive skirmish.   Both waited for reinforcements.

Leval’s Italian division arrived on move nine, which was nightfall on 22nd August 1813.   H e immediately ordered his corps to prepare to attack the British at first light next day.

Meanwhile Hill had received a rebuke from Wellington that he was taking too long to attack, and allowing the French to concentrate.   He was not aware that Leval’s second division had arrived, but he was aware that his Spanish division was due early next day.  He ordered his British division to attack at first light.

So the battle of Aguillar was to be an encounter battle.

The game opened with the British moving through the high ground towards Aguillar.   Hill immediately realised that he was facing two French divisions, and ordered his division to halt and deploy in an attempt to hold the pass until his Spanish division arrived.

The first four moves went well for the French.   The British cavalry charged but were beaten by the French.   The French gunners caused more casualties than the British.   The French division pinned the British and the Italian division moved to outflank them.

At move five the Spanish started to arrive.    They were a regular division, and almost as good as the Italians they faced.   They caused the Italian division to abandon their flank attack and turn to face them instead.

By now the French infantry columns were closing on the British.   The Portuguese brigade had already broken due to artillery casualties and the nearest British infantry has suffered light casualties.   The odds were now firmly in favour of the French, and an allied defeat seemed on the cards.

At the start of move six the British line moved forward and engaged the leading French column in a firefight.   The French were an elite brigade, and given the British casualties the odds were about even.   Now it was down to luck.

The British just won the firefight; the French rolled a low dice for their morale.  The French lost their morale and routed.   Under our rules any friendly brigades within 4” (supporting distance) have to test morale for a rout.   The nearest one rolled two D6 for a total of 3.  They also failed and joined the rout. 

Next was an Italian brigade in square.   They were poor quality infantry (C class).   They rolled a total of 4.   Again a fail, again a rout.

Next was a brigade of French dragoons with 10% casualties.   They managed a total of 5.   Not a rout, but also a fail resulting in them being shaken.

 Collapse of the French centre

Within one move Leval’s centre had broken and run.  One third of his infantry were in rout and half of his cavalry shaken.   The apparent easy victory had turned into a defeat.   Not a major one, but one that would force him to retreat and abandon Aguillar.

It was a long wait for the first battle, but it was well worth it.  One of our better wargames in a long time.

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