Sunday, 22 January 2023

Merida Campaign – Battle of Santa Amalia

Start of game

French launch a surprise attack on Santa Amalia

The battle was fought by 1st Spanish and 37th French corp

Both armies are full strength at the start of the game


1st Spanish corps is in and around the town

2nd Spanish corps will arrive at the start of move 1

3rd Spanish corps will arrive at the start of move 5


37th French corps enters table at start of move 1

38th and 39th corps both arrive at the start of move 5


13th French Army – 10 infantry brigades, 3 cavalry brigade, 3 corps artillery

1st Spanish Army – 11 infantry brigades, 2 cavalry brigade, 3 corps artillery

Battle of Santa Amalia – Move 12

The battle was fought by 1st Spanish and 37th French corps

The remainder of both armies arrived too late to play much part in the fighting

The French waited until all of their army had arrived before they attacked the town

However the loss of the town caused the Spanish to lose heart and they retreated

The French lost 3 infantry and 1 cavalry casualties (1300 men)

The Spanish lost 5 infantry, 2 artillery and 1 cavalry casualties (2300 men) and six brigades in rout



The first battle of the campaign was fought by the best corps of each army

1st Spanish corps has four infantry, one cavalry and one artillery brigade

37th French corps is the only Young Guard corps in southern Spain


This was an experiment to see if an encounter battle would work on the wargames table. 

The Spanish had one corps on the table at the start of the game

One Spanish corps would arrive, in column of march, at the start of move one

One Spanish corps would arrive, along the same road, at the start of move five

One French corps would arrive, fully deployed, at the start of move one

Two French corps would arrive, deployed in column of attack, at the start of move five


It looked good at the planning stage, but did not work on the table.

The Spanish were able to deploy, but at the rear of the town rather than in front

The French reinforcements arrived too late to take any real part in the battle.


It soon became obvious to the French that they could not wait for their whole army

If they did so they would run out of time, and would not be able to take the town

The Young Guard artillery were able to deploy within short range of the town

They inflicted 20% casualties on the garrison, and their infantry took the town with ease

The guard cavalry routed the Spanish artillery, but were in turn driven off by Spanish dragoons


The loss of the town had an immediate effect on the Spanish army

The town was held by two brigades from 1st Spanish corps

The forward brigade took the artillery casualties

They were then routed by an infantry attack

The second brigade in the garrison joined the rout


The French cavalry now routed the nearby Spanish artillery

The gunners routed into their supporting infantry square

The rest of 1st Spanish corps now joined the rout


2nd and 3rd Spanish corps played little part in the battle

Just as they reached their deployment areas the town fell

They came under threat from the two French corps cavalry and artillery

As they received their first casualties both Spanish corps retreated.


A pretty convincing, though not unexpected, victory for the French

If they could not win with the best of their three armies they would be in trouble.


Not so good for the Spanish.  

They lost the first battle with the best of their three armies

And indeed they lost the battle with the best corps in their entire army


  1. Thistlebarrow,

    Although you might not be very happy with the way it played out on the tabletop, it was interesting to see your rules being used for an encounter battle. It’s not too surprising that the Young Guard prevailed, but I would have hoped that the Spanish might have performed somewhat better.

    Now they are rather on the back foot, will the Spanish go onto the defensive or will they risk attacking the French whilst the latter are celebrating their victory?

    All the best,


    1. Hi Bob

      The Spanish are strong in infantry (including guerrilla brigades) but weak in cavalry. Five of the nine corps have no cavalry at all. So it is very difficult for them to go on the offensive. In this opening game they did have cavalry, so this was their best opportunity to fight a set battle.

      When there are three corps per side the French will always have an advantage in cavalry, so the Spanish will have to fight a defensive battle.

      The guerrilla brigades give them the opportunity to attack. It is not easy for them to capture a French held town, but if they do they disrupt the supply chain. To reopen it as quickly as possible the French will have to send a cavalry brigade. This will take at least three days, a long time in these short campaign phases.

      The objective is to force both armies to adopt historical strategy, and if they fail to do so the result can be decisive.




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