008 Bussaco (Ney's Assault) (27 September 1810)
Bussaco (Ney's Assault) - 27 September 1810
Uncertain how his army of 50,000 troops, composed of equal portions British and Portuguese, would deal with another open clash with the larger French army, Wellington had deployed most of his forces on the reverse slope of Bussaco ridge and awaited attack. Marshal Andre Massena did not let his uncertainty of the Allied position deter him from attacking. He planned a two-phase attack, first with Reynier’s Corps on what Massena believed was the British right flank, followed by Ney attacking the left after Reynier met with success. Massena kept Junot’s corps in reserve, to exploit success wherever it happened. Reynier’s disjointed attacks were beaten back, but hearing the heavy gunfire, Ney assumed Reynier’s men were enjoying success and ordered his attack. Just after 8am, Ney sent Loison’s and Marchand’s divisions against the British left. Loison’s Division forced back a stubborn enemy skirmish line and then advanced to capture a troublesome British battery. Two concealed British light regiments (the 43rd and 52nd) awaited the French. As the French neared the battery, Crauford ordered these troops to stand and pour murderous volleys into Loison’s columns. Within minutes, Loison’s Division was streaming back down the hillside in full retreat. Meanwhile Marchand’s Division had advanced to the foot of the ridge, but after several unsuccessful assaults up the hillside, Ney called off Marchand’s attack. Massena accepted the futility of making any further attempts to storm the ridge and withdrew. Massena’s cavalry subsequently found a road leading past Wellington’s army and when Massena advanced along it, Wellington resumed the retreat to the fortified Lines of Torres Vedras.
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
I played French first. Pushing forward in the centre forced the Allies out of their advanced positions - and a lucky die roll gave me my first banner. The two armies manoeuvred into pretty much two lines across the battlefield. The French now advanced both flanks. On their left, the Grenadier Guards countered and were beaten back. The Heavy Cav advanced and came under musket fire that damaged them, but put a unit into square. The British counter on the French right chased off the cavalry, but took casualties. The French countered, taking out the infantry and allowing their cavalry out. They forced some British inf into square, but got mauled. A French attack on the left took out a unit and a leader, but the Brits rallied. A final flurry in the centre saw the French win 7:5, the battlefield strewn with damaged units.
Reversing the roles, the scenario again started with a French advance in the centre, removing the advanced Allied units - not least because I chose to retire. A French advance on their left got a bloody nose from the Grenadier Guards. A strong advance in the centre saw the French destroy the British artillery, but take some damage themselves. More manoeuvring followed with the final skirmishing on the French left giving them the win 7:4. This time, however, both sides had plenty of full-strength units and had retained their formations. And John won the encounter 12:11, damn his eyes!
Final result was a French win 7-6 after the Allies got an early 4-0 lead.
Early French advances in the centre were shredded by musket and rifle fire from the Allied light troops.
Slow advances on the French left got similar treatment and a timely Rally draw and play by the Allies made it harder for the French to finish off depleted units. The Allies then got a fifth banner before the French finally "got off the mark".
Timely First Strike cards by the French helped stave off defeat when the Allies had isolated units ripe for the picking.
A couple of closely played French Bayonet Charges then evened the score and then gave the French the lead 6-5.
Despite some counters by the Allies poor musketry let the French off the hook (6-6) and they finally overwhelmed the centre of the Allied line to get the win (7-6).