Sunday 28 February 2021

Valladolid Campaign – Day 5

27 March 1813 – Northern Spain – Day 5

The French still have serious supply problems, and their defeat at Medina is not helping.   Most of their corps are running short of supplies and desperately need time to reorganise their supply depots and redistribute the supplies from their main depot at Laguna.

The British are close to their depots and do not have any problems with supply. However they are in need of rest and reorganisation, and also to receive reinforcements to replace battle casualties.

Wellington is encouraged by his victory at Medina.   He also wants to take full advantage of the French supply difficulties.   He orders 1st and 2nd corps to attack Palencia.  The two French corps defending the town are almost out of supply.   If he wins, and they are forced to retreat, they will also suffer attrition casualties. 

Battle of Palencia

Both sides started the battle with considerable battle casualties

Both commanders formed a grand battery by taking guns from the corps

Unfortunately both deployed those guns in the centre and opposite each other

This resulted in a considerable amount of counter battery fire

The French lost this exchange and retreated without their guns

This allowed the British to use their guns to great effect, particularly against the garrison.


The French suffer a crushing defeat with 9 of their 11 brigades in rout

The British take the town, but are too tired to mount a pursuit


The British have lost 6 infantry and 3 cavalry casualties (2700 men)

The French have lost 16 infantry, 7 cavalry and 5 artillery casualties (7600 men)


This was another battle where casualties from earlier battles played a large part in the outcome.   Casualties affect both combat and morale.  

 Brigades count minus one on the morale chart for each casualty.   They also count plus one for support.   To count as support a brigade must have a formed brigade within 4”.   As a result most corps are deployed with their brigades within supporting distance.

The problem is that when a brigade fails its morale and routs, all friendly brigades within 2” must also test their morale.   If those supports have existing casualties they are more likely to lose their own morale test.  If they also rout all brigades within 4” of them must test their morale.   So it is not unusual for a rout to spread throughout the whole corps.   This is what happened at the end of this game.

Each casualty is also minus one on fire and melee tests.  This makes the artillery less effective, and in particular long range fire to soften up the enemy before the infantry attack.  

However in this game the attacking British artillery were more effective, and the defending French paid the price.

This is why casualties can seem very one sided, particularly in those battles fought later in the campaign when most brigades have existing casualties.

Sunday 21 February 2021

Valladolid Campaign – Day 4

26 March 1813 – Northern Spain – Day 4

Soult is short of supplies.

He establishes a new depot at Palencia and transfers 4 days supplies from Coca

The French now have six depots and must detach infantry to garrison them

Four of the six French corps have only 1 or 2 days supplies

It will take another two days to reorganise and resupply

To distract Wellington he orders 7th and 13th corps to attack Medina


Wellington has problems of his own

He concentrates his army in front of Benavente, Zamora and Medina

1st, 3rd and 4th corps are in urgent need of reorganisation and resupply

Fortunately 5th and 6th corps in front of Medina are battle ready

Battle of Medina

The British start the battle with more infantry than the Spanish, seven brigades to six French.   In addition there is a Spanish brigade in Medina.

They also occupy a strong defensive position, particularly their right flank which is deployed on the hill.

The French commander is well aware that he must pin the hill and attack against the infantry deployed in front of the town.   He must also cause some casualties before he orders the attack.   He take command of the artillery of both corps to create a grand battery.

The gunners fail to inflict any casualties on the British, and the attack is defeated with heavy casualties.


I have written our wargame rules to discourage counter battery fire.   We roll 2D6 to determine whether artillery have scored a hit.   Against infantry the gunners require 8 at long range, against gunners they require 11.

As the attacker in this game I felt confident moving my artillery into range of the enemy infantry, even though this meant that Jan could fire on my gunners first.   I was less than pleased when she rolled 11 with her first attempt.   I was even less pleased when my gunners failed their morale test and were shaken.   This meant they would have to rally before they could fire.   They failed to do so for the next two rounds.   

My cavalry then lost their melee and routed through the shaken gunners.  They not only failed their morale test, but they also routed and joined the cavalry.   Worse still the second battery failed their morale test and were shaken.

Out of eight moves my gunners only fired twice, and they missed both times.

Not surprising that I lost the game!

Sunday 14 February 2021

Valladolid Campaign – Day 3

25 March 1813 – Northern Spain – Day 3

Following his defeat at Valladolid Wellington orders a general retreat


The French occupy Palencia, Valladolid and Arevalo.  

Soult must now reorganise his depots and lines of supply

He now occupies six of the nine Spanish towns

Their Spanish garrisons are now guerrilla bands

They are moving into position to attack the French garrisons and convoys


The first guerrilla attack is on the garrison of Quintana

The attackers are driven off with a loss of 20% casualties

However the attack halts resupply to the French north wing


In most campaigns it takes five or six days to reach a crisis

Wellington’s two defeats have brought one on in just three days


The British are in real trouble, having been forced to retreat to the left of the map

Another defeat could easily mean that they lose the campaign


However the French success is also causing problems

They have taken the three centre towns

But their depots are in the three on the right.

To resupply a corps must be within three squares of a depot with supplies

Half of the French corps are out of supply range.


The French now occupy six towns.

This requires six infantry brigades to defend them

In addition the six Spanish militia garrisons are now guerrilla bands.


A guerrilla band can attack a garrison or a convoy

But they cannot do so if a French corps is in an adjacent square

The three right hand towns are now vulnerable to attack


It is easier to take a convoy than to attack a garrison

To do so the guerrilla band must be in position when a convoy moves

They can only do so for one move, then must return to a farm or village to resupply


7th guerrilla (top right) risks an attack on Quintana

They roll 1D6 to decide the outcome

1 or 2 is bad for the guerrilla, 3 or 4 is inconclusive, 5 or 6 is bad for the garrison

The guerrilla roll a one, lose 20% casualties and rout


This outcome is bad news.  

The guerrilla can replace one casualty, but will always have the remaining one

This will be minus one on all future dice throws

However the garrison of Quintana is unable to forage during the attack

So they lose one days supplies.

21st French corps have used one days supplies moving to Palencia

It will take them another day to establish a depot there, and another days supplies

They will then have to resupply before they can advance to attack the British

So even in defeat the guerrilla bands can cause problems for the French commander


Sunday 7 February 2021

Valladolid Campaign – Day 2


24 March 1813 – Northern Spain – Day 2

In the north 2nd British and 21st French observe Palencia

In the centre 8th, 16th and 22nd French attack Valladolid

In the south 7th French occupy Arevalo and establish depot

5th and 6th British retreat to Medina

Battle of Valladolid – End of Battle

The battle of Valladolid was a close run and very costly affair

The main French attack broke the British centre

On the French right the British held until the centre broke

On the French left the British took Valladolid, but had to retreat

Both sides suffered heavy casualties

The British lost 20 infantry and 5 cavalry casualties

The French lost 14 infantry, 4 cavalry and 1 artillery casualties


This was a very complicated wargame

There is a full battle report on the campaign diary blog        

Battlefield on Campaign Map

I wanted to avoid another game being decided by who captured Valladolid.

Rather than have the city in the centre of the table I extended to the north

This area is fairly open, and would allow some manoeuvre.

It would also include 3rd British and 22nd Italian corps


Both commanders created a reserve and both did so in the centre squares

Wellington commanded two corps artillery and one cavalry brigade

Soult commanded two cavalry brigades

It was clear from the start that the game would be decided in the centre


4th corps included the light division, and was ideal to take Valladolid

3rd corps was deployed on the hill on the British left, and difficult to attack

1st corps was deployed around a village


The French reserve and 8th corps would attack in the centre

22nd corps would support, but would only attack the hill if the centre was taken

16th corps would enter Valladolid, but would only hold the eastern edge


1st British corps was broken and the centre taken

But both cavalry brigades in the French reserve were broken and routed


22nd corps attacked the hill, but did not make much progress until the centre broke

Only when 3rd corps started to withdraw did they finally take the hill


The light division led the attack on Valladolid

In doing so they came under artillery fire, and suffered casualties

It took four moves for the two leading brigades to reach the Italian infantry

By then 1st corps was in trouble, and 4th corps did not press home their attack

As the centre broke, 4th corps started to withdraw from Valladolid


This was an interesting and complicated wargame.

Either side could easily have won, and the British almost did

The French attack on the centre suffered heavy casualties, particularly the cavalry

All three corps on each side fought independent battles

Both the British and French reserves, though small, played an important part


But perhaps the most interesting part was the French battle for Valladolid

Had they advanced and fought in the centre of the city they would have lost

The British 4th corps was much better suited to town fighting

By holding the near edge of the city they forced the British to come to them

This meant that the French artillery could fire on the British

But the British artillery were masked by the 4th corps infantry in the city

It also meant that the battle for the centre was lost before the battle for Valladolid began


Another very interesting wargame, and one won by tactics as much as dice