PM02 Foz do Arouce (15 March 1811)
Foz do Arouce – 15 March 1811
The Combat at Foz do Arouce on March 15th, 1811, was the forth rearguard action fought during Massena’s retreat from Portugal. Once again, Marshal Ney commanded the rear guard. Disobeying Massena’s orders to cross the Ceira River and destroy the bridge near Foz do Arouce, Ney deployed around the town with Marchand’s Division, half of Mermet’s Division, and Lamotte’s light cavalry. It was a good yet dangerous position with the Ceira River at flood stage and the narrow bridge across it already somewhat damaged.
As at Redinha three days earlier, the 3rd Division attacked the French left while the Light Division attacked the French right. The Light Division caught the French unprepared and was making good progress towards the town as was the 3rd late in the day. Only an infantry charge ordered by Ney allowed the French to cross over to the far side of the river. By nightfall the withdrawal was complete.
Foz de Arouce was similar to the Combat of the River Coa fought on July 24th 1810. On that occasion, it was Ney who pursued the Light Division over the Coa. Now the Light Division played a key role in forcing Ney over the Ceira River.
Ney’s acrimonious relationship with Massena would continue to deteriorate. Within a month, he would be dismissed for insubordination.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
5 Command Cards
6 Tactics Cards (Optional)
5 Command Cards
5 Tactics Cards (Optional)
Any ordered French infantry or artillery unit (regardless of strength and with the exception noted below) that exits the battlefield from the French exit hex will count as a Victory Banner for the French army. Exited leaders and cavalry units do not count for French Victory Banners.
The French foot artillery unit on the far side of the Ceira River must remain on that side. If ordered off the battlefield, it does not earn a Victory Banner for the French.
French units cannot exit from the French exit hex when forced to retreat due to ranged or melee combat. Units must halt or remain on the exit hex and lose one block for each retreat hex that cannot be taken. If the unit is eliminated, the British player receives one Victory Banner.
The bridge over the Ceira River is a Victory Banner objective hex for the British player. If a British unit occupies the bridge at the start of the British player’s turn, the British army gains a Victory Banner. As long as the unit remains on the bridge hex it will count as a British Victory Banner (the French line of retreat has been blocked). If it moves off or is eliminated, it no longer counts (Temporary Victory Banners Turn Start)
The Ceira River is impassable except at the bridge.
A random draw saw me playing the French. My opponent, John, stated moving up the British while I adjusted the French positions. Skirmishing on the French right saw the British rifle unit damaged, so I hit it with cavalry and finished it off. Unfortunately, this left the cavalry under the muzzles of the British artillery and they didn't last long. Drawing the right cards (Grande Manoeuvre, Short Supply and Bayonet Charge) let me move away from the British forces and start taking units off the board. Cover was provided by my other cavalry and some light infantry, both of whom paid the price. It was a win for the French by 6 banners to 3.
Swapping sides, we tried again. As the French, John started pulling back immediately, but his retreat stalled as he ran out of the right cards. I was able to push up my light infantry on the British left flank and inflict some casualties - though I nearly lost the rifles. As I brought some of my right flank troops into the centre, John attacked my left with his cavalry, but some lucky shooting by the Portuguese light infantry killed one unit and chased off the other. The French won again (despite the British not losing a single unit), but the score was 6:4, giving me the aggregate win 10:9.