The Rout That Wasn't
In Charles Oman's, "Peninsular War Vol I", he describes this action as, "The Rout of Gamonal". And that's exactly what I expected after looking at the scenario details, reading the thread on the forum, and such. Of course, with two relative novices getting together anything can happen, but I still expected a 2-6 defeat as the Spanish ... at best.
First off, the cavalry on the Spanish left looks in a hopeless position. In hindsight, I should have had them disappear across the Pico and hide behind that line, thus denying the French heavies the chance of breakthrough. But after that, what to do? I also hoped to get one or two more guerilla counters through playing scout cards and then try and generate a triple whammy against the French and at least score two or three banners by catching him off guard. I never even saw a scout card in the game, except a late one played by my French adversary.
Early on, I failed to extricate my right flank LC's, he played a cavalry charge, and I hesitated to counter with the guerilla token. I'm sure "Bayernkini" who was observing was perplexed at all this. Fortunately, although his HC had five dice again my LC, he rolled nothing - no kills, no flags! - and I lived to fight another day. Immediately, I attacked him, whilst moving my HC unit across to that flank as well. My LC survived MY attacks, and I then played the guerilla counter and went at him again. After a minor "Ahem" moment when Bayernkini reminded us of the French die roll against the guerrilla action, which failed
, we attacked again, killing a couple of his units and snagging two banners. Of course, in the turns immediately afterwards my French opponent took his revenge, but to come out of that cavalry exchange at two banners apiece was like a mini victory.
After that, whilst the French began to slowly move his cavalry across from that flank, and move his HA up, I had to take things into my own hands before the inevitable slaughter could happen. Having two bayonet charge cards in my hand, I endeavoured to play them one turn after the other and assault his centre before he was prepared. More lucky dice (three artillery symbols from three dice) killed his centre artillery, and we also managed to knock out a LT and LN. At that point the Spanish were 5-4 to the good, the French had two 1-block infantry units streaming to the rear, and one knockout attack was all that was needed.
But back came the French. Quality and weight of numbers in the centre finally told..... plus the fact that at a crucial time I forgot to play a first strike card which might have saved the day (now that is a newbie error!) His HC had my Grenadiers pinned in square whilst his infantry attacked the other supporting units. When the Grenadiers finally succumbed after several rounds of defence in square formation, my French opponent walked away with a 6-5 victory.
Far from the rout at Gamonal, Soult was red-faced after this encounter with Belvedere. But a win's a win. We will turn things round and replay the scenario next week. I'm sure both of us will play it much better, but we both agreed we enjoyed the experience despite our tactical mistakes.