Campaign Map on 22 October 1813
The French attack on Lugo is to prevent Wellington counter attacking Corunna. The attack cannot be delayed, so 8th corps will attack at daybreak, and be supported by the reserve cavalry and artillery at midday.
The battle of Lugo
This photo shows the situation at 1400.
The British have reinforced the Spanish garrison of Lugo with an additional British brigade. The Portuguese brigade is in reserve behind the town.
The remainder of 3rd corps are deployed to cover the bridge (out of sight at the bottom of the photo.
8th French corps are moving down towards the bridge. Two infantry brigades have been detached to screen the town.
French reserve are advancing towards the bridge from the right.
The battle is about to be decided by a cavalry melee. British dragoons are moving forward to slow down the French reserve. They will soon come under artillery fire from the reserve, lose 10% casualties and be shaken. They will then be charged by the lancer brigade of 8th corps. When they rout they will take the highland square with them.
Picton will hold the town until night and then retreat towards Santiago.
It has always been difficult to balance the two allied armies in Spain with their French opponents. The British and French are pretty well equal in ability. The Spanish regular and irregular troops are the problem.
In the south there is a Spanish army supported by nine militia brigades. In the north it is a British/Portuguese army also supported by nine Spanish militia brigades.
In the north there are five French corps against the four British. One of the French corps is a reserve entirely composed of conscript troops, even the cavalry and artillery.
The infantry are used to garrison the French depots, the cavalry and artillery as an army reserve. They can be used to protect the lines of supply, or as a battle reserve. In this game it was the latter.
If the French were allowed to attack with both 3rd corps and the reserve it would be a very uneven wargame. So 3rd corps had to attack at the start of the game, the reserve would not arrive until move 5. It would therefore be at least move 7 or 8 before they would be able to join the attack. There are only 12 moves in the game, so their arrival would have to be carefully planned.
The reserve would arrive on the table directly behind 3rd corps. However if they simply advanced behind them, it would be impossible to bring them into action before the end of the game. 3rd corps would block their advance, and might even rout back into them.
Lugo is a fortified town, and providing it is adequately garrisoned would prove difficult to take. Picton put a British infantry brigade in to support the Spanish militia, and even left his Portuguese brigade in reserve behind the town. So a direct attack was not an attractive option.
The French plan was to screen the town with two brigades, and take the bridge over the river Mineo with the rest of the corps. The reserve would support the attack on the bridge. 3rd corps would advance directly towards the town, and then swing left towards the bridge. This would leave an open area along the river for the reserve to advance.
The British artillery opened the battle by hitting the leading French infantry brigade. They made their morale, but the attack would now be led by a weak brigade.
8th corps gunners evened the odds by hitting the highland square near the bridge. They also made their morale, but would be a less reliable support for the cavalry and artillery.
But the decisive action was when the reserve artillery hit the British dragoons. They also made their morale, but were disordered. The lancers from 8th corps charged, and the dragoons were unable to counter charge because they were disordered. It looked like an easy French win. The Lancers rolled 2D6, with plus 3 combat factors. Anything more than a total of 8 would be sufficient to put the British cavalry out of the game. The French (me) rolled a total of 3 with 2D6. This resulted in both brigades being shaken and each losing 10% casualties. Jan was well pleased
However her joy turned to despair during the next move. Both brigades had to test their morale for being shaken. The lancers rolled 5 and rallied to disordered. The dragoons rolled 1 and routed. The nearby highland brigade had to dice because of the rout, they rolled 2 and also routed.
All of this happened during move 9, and whilst the French were still out of range of the town. The British withdrew but held the town. However it had to be abandoned during the night, or risk the garrison being forced to surrender.
An interesting and enjoyable game, for both players. Neither made any mistakes. Both had good, and bad, luck with the dice. The reserve made the difference. Although they played little part in the battle, they made it impossible for the British to continue a second day after the loss of two brigades, including their only cavalry.
Also an interesting problem for Wellington. With the loss of both Corunna and Lugo, holding Santiago is now critical. Another defeat will almost certainly mean he will have to retreat into Portugal.