007 Bussaco (Reyner's Assault) (27 September 1810)
Bussaco (Reyner's Assault) - 27 September 1810
Retreating towards Torres Vedras, the Duke of Wellington’s army of 25,000 British and the same number of Portuguese halted at Bussaco to make a stand along the crest of Bussaco Ridge and check the advance of Marshal Massena and the French army of Portugal. As Massena’s army of 65,000 approached the British position, he was uncertain of the exact disposition and strength of the enemy, for Wellington had adopted his favorite tactic of hiding his true strength from the enemy by deploying his forces on the reverse slope of the ridge. Massana’s army was deployed on the 26th with Ney’s Corps on the right, Junot’s Corps in the centre and Reynier’s Corps on the left. Massena, rather than avoid battle, ordered Major-General Jean Reynier’s II Corps to attack the centre of the ridge, which he mistakenly believed was the British right flank. Once the II Corps attack showed some signs of success, Massena planned to launch Ney’s corps at the British left while Junot’s Corps stood in reserve, ready to exploit. Reynier’s troops moved forward in the early morning mist of the 27th. Heudelet’s Division was the first to come into contact. Before long, they were brought to a standstill from Anglo-Portuguese infantry fire, supported by artillery. Merle’s Division, veering away from Heudelet in the mist, had early success and occupied part of the ridge, but the French came under flanking fire, and were then thrown back by the shock of a British infantry charge. The fighting in this sector of the battlefield was effectively at an end. Hearing gunfire, Ney assumed Reynier’s men were enjoying success and ordered his attack.
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: Massena
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 5 Tactician Cards
• Move First
The stream is a fordable.
Playing French to begin with, I spent some time moving the troops forward slowly, especially putting the artillery where I could pepper the British positions. Demonstrations with the cavalry on left (I had some left flank cards to work through) kept the Portuguese in place on the British right, though I took some casualties from their artillery. Once my guns were in position, they opened up and battered the advanced British infantry unit on my right. With this out of the way, a rapid advance (aka the Grand Manoeuvre card) put several French infantry units on the hills in its place. A sustained attack (two Forced Marches and a Bayonet Charge, plus a pause for a Stand and Fire) demolished the British left and half the centre for a 6:1 victory.
Swapping sides saw John launch an initial French attack on his left with the cavalry. This took out the Portuguese artillery in exchange for the heavy cavalry. The French then advanced in the centre where allied troops had moved to the front of the hills. A bayonet charge pressed the attack home and removed the British artillery. The French took casualties, but were able to retreat several battered units in the face of the British counter attack. Back on the British right, the French cavalry took out the Portuguese militia, but eventually fell to the guns of the remaining Portuguese unit. French forces moved up in the centre and the artillery started shelling the British and Portuguese, forcing then to fall back. The French infantry could then move up unmolested. A redeployment of the Portuguese across the river on the right allowed them to take on the few French units holding the French left. This was too late, though, as a fierce French attack on the centre punched through the remaining British to take the win 6:5.
Two out of two for the French and an overall win for yours truly 11:7.