004 Corunna (16 January 1809)
Corunna - 16 January 1809
Though Sir John Moore had orders to assist the Spanish army in 1808, he soon realized that the Spanish were beaten and ordered a retreat to evacuate his forces. He managed to keep ahead of the pursuing French, but was forced to turn and give battle at the port of Corunna when his transport vessels were late in arriving.
As day broke on 16 January, Moore had formed a series of defensive lines with the key position being the small village of Elvina.
The French were in position on the opposite heights. Napoleon had returned to France when it was clear that he would not trap Moore and Soult was now in command. His plan was to move against the British infantry on the left and center with most of his army, while the infantry division of Mermet attacked Elvina.
Mermet’s infantry fought tenaciously for Elvina. The village changed hands several times in fierce fighting before the French infantry were thrown back. Moore remained in the area to direct the battle and was struck by a cannonball, falling mortally wounded.
Further to the west, the French cavalry were hampered by the rough terrain and were eventually driven back. Night brought an end to the fighting and the British finished successfully evacuating their troops.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Sir John Moore
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 4 Tactician Cards
• Commander: Soult
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 5 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• All streams are fordable.
An initial French probe in the centre, is quickly beaten back by British musketry, the rifles moving forward on the British right. The French cavalry move up on the left, the British occupy the town of Elvina and pull back the rifles.
The French right wing moves forward and starts to ford the river. More British troops pop up and shoot at them until they go away.
Then a Bayonet Charge sees the French centre (three line, one light in support) storm the hills defended by two British line. First attack, four dice: four hits. Second attack, four dice, three hits. The British get one hit in their battle back then the third French line finishes them off and the French take ground onto the hills. 2:0
A counter-attack by the Grenadier Guards (who've been marching up slowly) and gunfire from the light infantry in the town see the French line units battered or retreated, but not destroyed. A Grande Manoeuvre lets the British infantry suddenly envelope the remaining French infantry unit on the hills and occupy the town on the British left. The French "Give Them the Cold Steel", destroying another British line unit (4 dice, 4 hits). 3:0
The British finish off one of the most damaged French infantry, which is trying to get away, and one in the river (French right). 3:2
More French troops arrive in the centre and suddenly the Grenadier Guards don't look so much of a threat (4 dice, 4 hits) with the British Lights retreating. The French now open up on the British unit in the town on the (French) right and suddenly it isn't there any more. 4:2
A bit of consolidation in the centre sees more French line move up to take the place of the damaged units, the last of which retires. Then the French cavalry on the left wing charge the British infantry on the hills, both of which form square. The cavalry takes a thumping from the artillery across the river so charges the guns, only to be forced to retreat.
General Moore leads a British line infantry back on to the hills in the centre in a desperate attempt to regain ground. The unit is eliminated by the combined fire of three French line units, Gen Moore falling with his men. 6:2
The French are rather scattered, but the British centre has been completely destroyed. Evert was not amused by the number of times I wiped out a full-strength unit in a single dice roll. Four hits on four dice against infantry in a melee is not that improbable, but doing so four times in a single game is a bit much, I must admit. We'll have to see which way the dice roll in the re-match.