Albuera - 16 May 1811
The Fortress of Badajoz dominated the southern invasion route from Portugal into Spain. The British had invested the fortress, but had few engineers and no siege train to speak of. The French were not idle. Marshal Soult set out toward Badajoz with a relieving force. Beresford, the temporary army commander, marched a force larger than Soult’s to the small town of Albuera to meet the French. Beresford placed his army on the ridge behind Albuera, expecting to receive a frontal assault to split his army. Soult, however, formed most of his army behind the high ground opposite the Spanish on the right flank.
On the morning of May 16th, General Godinot’s brigade attacked Albuera as a diversion, while Soult’s main force moved unobserved across the Albuera River and delivered a flank attack upon Blake’s Spanish contingent. The first Spanish unit attacked was Zayas’s division, a veteran unit under a good commander. Though pounded by superior French forces, the Spaniards held until Stewart’s British division arrived. Stewart threw Colborne’s British brigade at the French flank and checked French progress, but none of Colborne’ regiments were in square. French cavalry charged and virtually destroyed three of the four regiments. The rest of Stewart’s division went into line behind the embattled Spaniards. The French made a fatal pause to allow a fresh division to come forward. Zayas’s survivors drew off under no pressure. Now a solid line of British muskets awaited the French columns that had been successful against Zayas. As the fresh French and British formations met, both did fearful execution to each other at close range, British line fire prevailed, causing the battered columns to retreat. French reserves (Werle’s division) advanced toward Stewart’s remnants, but help was coming. Sensing disaster, General Cole advanced his British division without orders. His action won the battle, as British line fire triumphed over the French columns, but again at a high cost in British casualties. Soult could see Harvey’s fresh Portuguese division advancing, and with no more fresh troops available, ordered a French retreat.
Although considered a British victory, when Wellington heard he had lost almost 6,000 irreplaceable British soldiers, he was reported to have said, “Another such battle will ruin us."
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Beresford
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 3 Tactician Cards
• Commander: Soult
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 5 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• Albuera town hexes are Victory Banner objective hexes for the French player. If a French unit occupies either town hex at the start of the French player’s turn, the French player gains one Victory Banner. As long as the French unit remains on the objective hex, the French player retains the Victory Banner. If it moves or retreats off or is eliminated, the banner is lost. The French player can gain or lose this Victory Banner more than once
(Temporary Victory Banner Turn Start)
• The Spanish Guerrilla Action rule is in effect. The British player does not start the battle with any Guerrilla counters.
• The entire Albuera River is fordable. In addition, at all ford hexes, a unit or leader’s movement is not stopped.
• Stewart’s Folly. If the French player plays a Cavalry Charge command card, and the card is not negated by a Spanish Guerilla counter, during the French player’s turn the British player may not form square, nor may he play a First Strike command card if he has that card in his hand.