010 Salamanca (Attack on the French Left) (22 July 1812)
SALAMANCA (Attack on the French Left) - 22 July 1812
Following the capture of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington advanced into Spain where Marshal Marmont’s Army of Portugal awaited him. The two armies sparred for position, each looking to catch the other at a disadvantage. When Marmont threatened the British supply lines, Wellington began a retreat, but still looked for an opportunity. On July 22nd, Marmont found a British force in plain view on a ridge and great clouds beyond the hills to the south. Thinking this was just a rearguard, Marmont made a fatal mistake. He extended his army to try and flank the defenders and catch up to what he thought was Wellington’s fleeing main body. It turned out the “rear guard” was the left flank of Wellington’s army (the clouds were from the baggage train) and Marmont’s army became badly strung out and vulnerable before the hidden allied main body. Wellington gave a “whoop” of delight and set several combined arms counterattacks in motion, starting with an attack by his brother-in-law, Edward Packenham’s 3rd Division against Thomiere’s lead division. Still in march order, Thomiere’s troops were quickly routed. Two additional British divisions joined the attack and the two remaining left flank French divisions also retired in disorder. With Marmont wounded, command fell to General Clausel, who organized a truly effective combined arms attack that shattered Cole’s British Division. British reserves, however, were close at hand and soon Clausel’s forces were also in retreat. The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Wellington
• 6 Command Cards
• Optional 6 Tactician Cards
• Commander: Marmont and Clausel
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 4 Tactician Cards
• Move First
6 Victory Banners
• The Azan River is impassable except at the bridge.
Following Evert's example, my first move was to try to get a pathway onto the battlefield for the Light cavalry from the righthand corner. Evert responded on his right wing, moving the Allied cavalry into the centre with the Portuguese Heavies in the front. The French Light cavalry scooted across into the centre to counter this.
However, the first action was on the (French) right. British Light infantry had popped up onto the hills and were attacked by French Line coming out of the woods - an attack the Brits bloodily repulsed back into the woods.
The Allied infantry fixed bayonets and charged, forcing the French artillery in the centre and a French Line on the right to retreat quickly. [Yup, that was a "Bayonet Charge".] The Allied forces were now occupying a good two-thirds of the battlefield with the French hardly advanced at all.
In the best tradition of the British army, the French infantry stood their ground and fired, eliminating a Portuguese Line unit. ["Fire and Hold" for the first banner 1:0.]
The British Rifles and Lights advanced again on the (Allied) left, the Rifles finishing off what was left of the French Line unit in the woods. [1:1]
The British Light infantry was promptly driven back by a French Line unit - with a little help from the artillery. The exposed Rifles retired just as the anticipated cavalry battle began.
British Light and Portuguese Heavy cavalry engaged the leftmost French Light cavalry unit. Damaged by the Lights, the cavalry was finished off by the Heavies who then menaced a French Line infantry that quickly went into square. [1:2]
The remaining two French Light cavalry promptly swung round to block any retreat by the Portuguese Heavies. Fire from French Light infantry did damage and the Portuguese fell to the sabres of the French cavalry. The British Light cavalry (what was left of it) was chased off by the other French Light cavalry. [2:2 and that British Light cavalry is down to one block.]
The second Portuguese Heavy engaged one of the French Light cavalry as Allied infantry advanced in the centre. The French fixed bayonets. Two units on the right dealt with the Rifles while two in the centre-right occupied the hills and chased off a British Line. [My "Bayonet Charge" takes the score to 3:2]
The Allies came back stronger in the centre, eliminating one French Line on the hills, but at the cost of General Wallace's life. [4:3] However, pushing further turned into a disaster as a Portuguese Line perished. [Battle back can be a bitch and that lucky die roll takes it to 5:3]
Allied forces advanced on their centre-right, the Portuguese Heavies moving up on to the hill. Meanwhile, the remnants of the British Lights moved into the centre to take out the battered [one block] French artillery. [5:4]
The French Light cavalry swung round the hill to cut off any retreat for the Portuguese Heavies who were then engaged by the muskets of three French infantry units... [6:4]
This was another tough fight that left the Allies still holding the centre of the battlefield in force while the French had both flanks. But the casualties gave the battle to the French, leaving our aggregate score at 12:7.
Initial moves on the French right were intended to clear a route for the cavalry to get onto the battlefield. The British Rifles and Light infantry promptly popped up onto the hills opposite and sent the French infantry back again.
Seeing the British Light on the hills, a French Line infantry unit headed towards them from the centre. British Line infantry under General Wallace joined the Lights and sharp volleys sent the bold Frenchmen packing with substantial casualties. However, the French now had two artillery units on the hills, facing the British infantry.
The French Line infantry between the guns, led by General Maucune, now marched forward, allowing a Light cavalry unit to thunder through the gap and attack the British Light infantry with the artillery opening up in support. Bolstered by support on both sides and seeing the cavalry struggling to attack uphill, the British Lights declined to form square. And were ridden down. [Just one block left.]
However, the British counter-attack destroyed the cavalry (go Rifles!) and damaged the advanced French Line. [First blood to the Allies 1:0]
General Maucune led his men forward in the wake of the cavalry, but only succeeded in pushing what was left of the British Lights off the hills and leaving himself sandwiched between the Rifles and General Wallace Line infantry. They didn't last long, but Maucune was able to get away. [2:0]
French forces then advanced in the centre, while the Allied cavalry moved forward on (their) right. The French Light cavalry swung across from the centre behind General Wallace while French Line attacked him from the front and further French line fired at the Portuguese Light infantry in the centre, causing casualties. The result was the demolition of Wallace's men, the General falling with them. However, what was left of the British Light infantry saved themselves by forming (a very small) square as the French cavalry tried to exploit their advantage. [2:2]
A fresh British Line engaged the French Light cavalry, which retired, as did the battered Portuguese Lights. The French Line infantry that had backed the cavalry advanced onto the hills to remove the plucky British Lights, still in square. [2:3]
However, the advanced French Line didn't last long. First riddled by Rifle fire, then finished off by the Line infantry. And on the (Allied) right, the Portuguese Heavy cavalry advanced to force a French Light unit into square on the hills here. [3:3]
Volleys from advancing French Line units forced the Portuguese cavalry back. The French Lights chased them as the Line units continued forward behind them and just managed to survive [down to one block] concerted musketry from Allied infantry and artillery.
The rest of the Allied cavalry then got into the action, riding down the remnants of the Light infantry and forcing both Line units back. [4:3] The Allied cavalry pressed the attack, both French units finally forming square in defence.
As Allied infantry advanced on the French units kept in square by the cavalry, French Light cavalry again attacked the hills on their right. Volleys removed one French Line in square while the French Light faltered against the British square. [5:3]
It seemed the antics of the French Light cavalry were a distraction as the whole of the French right wing suddenly bore down on the British Rifles. (Evert had a "Grande Manoeuvre"]
However, the final action of the battle took place on the (French) left as Allied infantry and cavalry annihilated the second square. [6:3]
Phew! Had I not managed the finish the game, that "Grande Manoeuvre" had put a very different complexion on things - Evert could have taken out three units in his next turn (cards allowing). A good fight all the way, though.