Tuesday, 19 March 2013

Summary of Burgos Campaign

Map at end of Burgos Campaign

The campaign ended on a high note with the second battle of Pancorbo.  This was similar to the historical battle of Baylen and resulted in the destruction of Wellington’s 1st corps and the loss of the campaign.

This was the second campaign in western Spain.   Wellington had won the first when he defeated Soult and forced him to abandon Valladolid.   

The six corps commanders had much more freedom of choice and movement in the Burgos campaign than in any of the previous ones.   I played the role of both Wellington and Soult, but I only issued orders when I felt either side needed a new objective to keep the campaign on track.

I feel that it worked well.   Apart from setting the objectives I had very little influence on the progress, or outcome, of the campaign.   All critical decisions were made by the corps commanders, including the French decision to abandon Aranda and move north to support Burgos.

The French suffered badly in the first three battles, and had to abandon their forward position and retreat to the Bayonne to Madrid road.   I may be wrong, but I got the impression that this early success made the allied commanders a little over confident.   Certainly it was a lack of caution which led to the loss of 1st allied corps at Pancorbo.

The fourth battle of the campaign forced the northern French corps to abandon Pancorbo and retire north.   This left the two southern corps cut off from Bayonne, and in danger of being attacked at odds of three to two.

1st allied corps sent their Spanish division, which had suffered least casualties, to occupy Pancorbo.   Their British division, which had suffered heavy casualties, were held to the west to recover.

This allowed Soult (me) to take one division from the centre corps and march north to retake Pancorbo.   The battered 6th French corps (which had lost Pancorbo) joined them in the attack which resulted in the destruction of 1st allied corps.

The progress of the campaign illustrates the advantage of PBEM rather than a solo campaign.   In a solo campaign I would have had too much information to take the decisions taken during this campaign.   The six corps commanders were all working in isolation and had to take difficult decisions based on inadequate information.   It s easy for me to sum up where things went wrong, but it was much more difficult for them to make decisions with little direction from their Commander in Chief (me).

So thanks to all the players who took part.   I hope that you enjoyed it as much as Jan and I did.   Without your efforts it would have been a much less entertaining campaign.

There are still a few campaign diary entries to conclude the campaign.   But I have already done most of the work on the next campaign.   I hope to post details of the new blog later today  on the campaign forum and will be asking for volunteers to take on the role of corps commanders.

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