Sunday 26 January 2020

Santiago Campaign – Day 1

Campaign Map on  19 October 1813

The campaign opens with a bold move by Marshal Soult.  

In the south 13th corps is sent to occupy Ponferrada.  This is to make Wellington think that the French are about to attack his communications with Portugal.  And hopefully prompt him to move his reserve south to hold Ourense and the road south.

But the main attack is in the north, against Corunna.

Campaign Notes

The opening move sets the scene for the whole campaign.

An attack in the centre, against Santiago, would come up against Wellington’s strongest position.  He has placed two corps east of Lugo in anticipation of such a move.

Both Corunna and Ourense are attractive options.   The latter would cut his communications with Portugal, and force him back on the northern coast.   Should he then lose the campaign he would have to use the Royal Navy to escape.    This is the obvious choice, but it then allows the British to concentrate behind the river Minio, making it a very strong and easily defended position.

The capture of Corunna would place the French on the same side of the river Minio, making it easier to attack the same concentrated position at Ourense.  However it does give Wellington the option of containing the French in the north, and striking at their main base at Astorga.

Marshal Soult is a gifted commander and is not adverse to taking a risk.   He is determined to drive the British out of Spain, and this offers the best option.

Screened by the river he takes command of 16th corps and moves north to join 7th corps.  Together they will attack Corunna.   This leaves Astroga exposed to attack.   But he is banking on achieving victory before Wellington is aware that he has launched his main attack in the north.

Wellington is unaware of the planned offensive in the north.  It will take at least two days before he receives reports from the guerrilla bands in that area.

Sunday 19 January 2020

Santiago Campaign

Campaign map of Northern Spain

The campaign starts on 18 October 1813, which is two months after the French won the Leon campaign.   At the end of that campaign Wellington was forced to retreat west and had to decide whether to hold on to Galicia or retreat into Portugal.   He choose the more difficult option, to maintain a foothold in Spain.

He concentrated his army at Santiago, the capitol of Galicia.   From here he could resupply through the port of Corunna, and also maintain his communications with Portugal.   He could also rely on the Spanish militia brigades who were the garrisons of the nine towns in the region.  

The area of the Santiago phase is the nine squares outlined in white on the map above. Each square is one day’s march, and also one wargame table.  
Santiago campaign map

This is the map which will be used for the blog campaign diary.   It covers the same area as the first map, but is extended to show the terrain in greater detail.   Each of the nine towns on the previous map are now the centre of nine squares.   Each square on the map is also a 2x2 foot square on the wargames table.

The map shows the situation on the morning of 18 October 1813, the start of the campaign.   Each corps is shown, and also each garrison and depot.   The Spanish militia brigades are in yellow.   When the French occupy a town, its garrison become a guerrilla band.   The three on the right hand side of the map have already done so.

The campaign starts with all corps and brigades at full strength.   The French and British corps also have four days supplies each.   The Spanish militia brigades have three days supplies each.

There is at least one square between each British and French corps.   To enter one of those squares the attacker must declare a battle.   When the map is transferred to the wargames table there will be one 2x2 foot scenic square between the wargame figures.
Campaign wargames map

This map is very similar to the campaign map.   The main difference is that there is a number top right of each square.   This corresponds with one of the scenic 2x2 foot boards which are used to make up the wargames table.   Also the hills are shown as they appear on the table.   Finally each village or farm is marked the same as the wargame scenery which will represent it on the table.  

I used to use this type of map for the diary blog.   But I decided that the other one would look more like a “proper map”.   However this only works with a solo campaign.  When it was PBEM I had to use the wargames map on the blog as well.

So all is now ready.  

On with the campaign!