109 Talavera - Spanish Flank (28 July 1809)
Talavera (Spanish Flank) - 28 July 1809
Victor’s reinforced French army faces off against a larger British/ Spanish army in superb defensive positions. The French solution—attack! Ruffin’s French division is wrecked in two unsupported assaults on the British positions atop the Cerro de Medellín. It is now mid-morning of July 28th, and the French commanders meet. They decide to launch concentric attacks. Victor shifts Ruffin’s survivors to the right and supports them with one of Villatte’s brigades. Sebastiani’s fresh division fills the gap. The plan is for Sebastiani’s division to attack first [see Talavera (French attack on British)]. Leval’s division is to attack second following Sebastiani’s frontal attack against the Allied lines, but Leval’s troops lose sight of the French lines, and attack first. The French columns lose cohesion as they advance through the trees and emerge disorganized onto the open ground directly in front of the Spanish batteries on Pajar de Vergara. The French regiments still make some progress, but the central regiment finally breaks under the impact of the artillery fire. Seeing this, the Allies counter attack and Leval’s depleted regiments retreat to avoid being isolated. On the French far left, Milhaud, the cavalry commander, recognizes the strength of the Spanish position in and around Talavera and is content to skirmish with the Spaniards in this part of the battlefield.
The British maintain their positions for twenty-four hours, and then retreat hurriedly when they learn that Soult and a second French army are marching to cut their lines of communication with Portugal. The French claim a victory, even though they were soundly beaten in all of their attacks.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Cuesta (Wellesley)
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 3 Tactician Cards
• Commander: Joseph / Victor
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 3 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• The Spanish Guerrilla Action rule is in effect. The Spanish player starts with one Guerrilla counter.
• The Portina Brook will stop movement, but does not cause any battle restrictions.
To start the battle, French infantry advanced in the centre to establish a solid line ("Grande Manoeuvre"), just out of range of their Spanish counterparts. The Spanish Grenadiers moved forward, General Cuesta joining them, and engaged the left flank of that row of French (actually light infantry) with some accurate musketry, aided by accurate fire from the artillery.
A wholesale French attack was thwarted by guerilla action, but their left wing heavy cavalry moved up to threaten the Spanish Grenadiers. Spanish light infantry moved up to support the Grenadiers. More good shooting finished off the light infantry in the French centre and forced the cavalry to retire. 1:0
The French line infantry then attacked in the centre, moving forward en masse and doing some damage with their fire. However, the Spanish line stood firm. They replied with interest and artillery support, removing one French line infantry and making a second retreat at speed (two flags!). 2:0
The French threw some more troops forward while the British on the Spanish left moved up, General Campbell joining the Grenadier Guards.
A probe from the forward French infantry saw them finish off a damaged Spanish line unit. 2:1
However, the Allies responded with a Bayonet Charge, bringing the Grenadier Guards and British line infantry right into the action alongside Spanish units that eliminated another French line infantry. 3:1
A French line infantry took on the Guards. When the smoke cleared, the Guards were still there and the French unit wasn't (4 hits in a battle back!). 4:1
British and Spanish musketry finished off more French line in the centre, some Spanish light cavalry moving up to join in the fun. 5:1
A French move on their left wing did nothing to stop the Grenadier Guards removing a battered French light infantry unit trying to hide in the woods. 6:1
And a very satisfying return to form for me with an aggregate victory 11:7.
However, my initial move was to send the French cavalry on the left wing after their Spanish counterparts. The light cavalry demolished the Spanish light and the Heavy all but demolished their Spanish counterparts. Then the Spanish infantry started shooting, killing General Milhaud, and the French cavalry retired. 1:1
Time to start on the grand plan, while the Spanish moved up their infantry reserves. I was ready to go when Tom played a "Forced March" and suddenly there was a line of Spanish infantry across the middle of the battlefield. I knew what to do: I played my "Forced March". Cue Guerilla Action chip!
A "Fire and Hold" from the Spanish eliminated a French light unit in the woods. French musketry was responded to by the same from the Spanish, removing a line infantry from the woods. 1:3
Despite "Elan", the French were not making much impact, but did put one unit in square with the light cavalry on the left wing. The cavalry unit was promtly gunned down by the Spanish Grenadiers. 1:4
My "Forced March" in the centre finally punched a hole in the Spanish line, eliminating one line infantry. 2:4
Fighting continued in the centre, both sides losing another line infantry before the Spanish light cavalry attacked. They were beaten off, leaving a damaged French light infantry in square but two battered Spanish line infantry finished off. 5:5
Another attack by the Spanish cavalry put another French unit into square (depriving me of the card that would - probably - have won me the battle). The Spanish artillery finally finished off the lights that were in square and that was that. 5:6
A tough fight in a scenario where the Spanish actually stand a chance. Amusingly, Tom had advanced the British Grenadier Guards (his left wing) early and they spent the battle standing in Portina Brook occasionally being shelled by the French artillery. They were down to one block by the end... If only I'd been able to play my second Bombard!