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.


  1. Thistlebarrow,

    Thanks for yet another interesting battle report.

    I didn’t expect Wellington to mount even a small-scale offensive, but the gamble seems to have paid off. Would I be right in thinking that this gives the British a slight advantage in future battles, but not enough to guarantee a British campaign victory?

    All the best,


  2. Hi Bob

    Wellington has a slight advantage because he is close to his main supply depot and can easily resupply. The French can establish new depots, but that takes time, and anyway will only provide one corps per day. So they can keep ticking over, but need to forward more supplies to bring them up to 3 or 4 days supplies, which they need to go on the offensive again.

    Wellington must go on the offensive. If he is forced to retreat off the map that is the end of the campaign. If he is attacked by the French, and loses the battle, that is what will happen.

    However both sides now have considerable battle casualties, and the British more than the French. So they both really need a week or two to get replace some of those casualties. This is always done between campaign phases, as it would be boring running the campaign for weeks on end just to replace battle casualties. Only the two corps in the centre are currently capable of taking the offensive.

    So the campaign is heading for a decisive phase. If the French can hold on to Valladolid they will win the campaign. If the British can take it, they will win. At the end of the next battle it is likely that both sides will have run out of steam and will just have to rest.


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