005 Talavera (28 July 1809)
Talavera - 28 July 1809
Sir Arthur Wellesley crossed into Spain and on July 20th joined with General Cuesta’s beaten Spanish Army to oppose two French armies under Soult and Victor. Hearing of the allied advance, Soult proposed that Victor attack to hold the British and Spanish armies while he marched south and placed his army between Wellesley and his base in Portugal.
On the evening of 27th July, the British and Spanish were deployed around Talavera with the Spanish holding the strongest defensive terrain.
A line of high ground, the Cerro de Medellin, formed the main position for the British troops.
Victor’s approaching army had been reinforced by a corps under Sebastiani and a large body of cavalry under King Jerome Bonaparte. Victor decided to assault the Cerro de Medellin without delay and ordered Ruffin’s Division to make a night attack. The French broke through the surprised British troops and one gallant regiment actually reached the crest before being driven off by reserves. Next morning, Ruffin’s division attacked again. As the infantry reached the crest of the hill, volleys from the waiting British caused fearful execution in Ruffin’s columns. The British then charged and drove the French back across Portina brook.
There was a pause as the French leadership decided its next move. Joseph ordered Sebastiani to attack along with Ruffin’s depleted division.
Meanwhile, Victor’s remaining infantry attempted to outflank the British line. Sebastiani and Ruffin were driven back while Wellesley countered the flanking move with cavalry. The French infantry formed square and drove the cavalry off with heavy loss. Joseph did not commit his last reserves. During the night he ordered the French army to retreat.
The stage is set. The battle lines are drawn and you are in command. Can you change history?
• Commander: Wellesley
• 6 Command Cards
• Optional 5 Tactician Cards
• Commander: King Joseph Bonaparte
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 2 Tactician Cards
• Move First
• The River Portina Brook will stop movement, but does not cause any battle restrictions.
Initial manoeuvring saw the French army bring up its cannons and supporting infantry in the centre, while advancing the light cavalry on the right. The British replied by moving up its central artillery, plus the Rifles and Grenadiers on their right.
The Rifles splashed into the brook, whence they could engage the French infantry while remaining out of range of their muskets. Fixing bayonets, the French charged and annihiliated the Rifles. However, the advanced infantry units now came under sustained fire from the British infantry, including the Grenadier Guards, that caused casualties and forced them back.
The French deployed to attack on their right, the heavy cavalry joining the lights, only for the British right wing to fix their bayonets and charge the battered infantry on the French left. Led by the Grenadier Guards, the British infantry destroyed the French left flank, killing General Sebastiani into the bargain.
The French cavalry finally attacked on the right, killing one British light cavalry unit and damaging the Guards Heavy cavalry. But it was too little, too late as the Grenadier Guards and supporting units started rolling up the French line.
2:7 to Tom as the Brits, making the aggregate score 8:14. Oh dear.
Tom's initial moves as the French were to bring his artillery forward, supported by light infantry. I got my generals assigned to units and moved the British cavalry (on my left) forward to the end of the British line.
I brought the rifles into the line to shoot at the French artillery on my right flank, but the artillery shot back! Damage on both sides. Then the French infantry started advancing on their left-centre. The light infantry leading this took a hammering, but pulled back to allow line infantry forward (some "Take Command" cards used here).
The battered rifles retired, but I brought in the Guards Grenadiers and light infantry to remove the French artllery for first blood. And then, thanks to a "Rally", a line unit to take the score to 2:0.
A Cavalry Charge on my left saw the French light cavalry demolish a British light cavalry. Then some French infantry charged again left-centre to finish off the Guards Grenadiers and take the score to 2:2. A "Bayonet charge in response removed the attacking units (a lucky die roll eliminated a full-strength line infantry) to restore my lead.
The French cavaly pressed their attack on my left and, Tom's lucky die-roll, took out the British Guards Heavy cavalry. The French heavy cavalry appeared centre left, forcing British line into square for the light infantry and artillery to shoot at. They got two units to put the French into the lead 4:5.
A "Grande Manoeuvre" let me re-establish the British line on the hills with the two light cavalry guarding my left flank. Well, they were the left flank. A couple of "Coordinated Advance" cards had the French infantry again hitting the British left-centre, taking out a light infantry, while the French light cavalry pushed the British light cavalry back. 4:6 with the French needing one more banner for the win.
A "Forward" saw me finish off the French Heavy cavalry and take out a light infantry, but fail to make an impression on the opposing light cavalry. However, it's tied again on 6:6.
The last action was the continuing cavalry fight on my left where the French finished off another British light cavalry to win the battle 7:6. Both sides still looked in pretty good order, though. Apart from the non-existent British left flank...