011 Salamanca (Attack on the French Right) (22 July 1812)
Salamanca (Attack on the French Right) - 22 July 1812
Marmont’s army had marched into a deadly British ambush. In the first hour of fighting, three of the eight French divisions were completely smashed and the French left wing ceased to exist. Despite a successful counterattack in the center by General Clausel, the French were beaten, and it became a question of how badly they would lose. Wellington was determined to destroy the entire French army. To that end, he launched the 1st and Light Divisions against the French divisions of Ferey and Foy on the French right. A decisive British victory here would block the French route of retreat. The British divisions emerged from hiding behind a ridge, crossed the Pela Gracia River with little opposition and engaged the surprised French. Ferey’s 3rd Division, while still in march column, was attacked by the British guards and was forced back, while Foy’s 1st Division attempted to make a stand near Calvarisa de Ariba, but were also driven back. Bloody but not beaten, these two French formations still managed to hold the British at bay, covering the French retreat toward Alba de Tormes and saving Marmont’s army to fight another day.
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
• Move First
• Commander: Marmont and Clausel
• 5 Command Cards
• Optional 4 Tactician Cards
The Pela Gracia River is fordable in all hexes. In addition, a unit or leader’s movement is not stopped when moving onto a river hex.
The British looked to get to the French quickly, advancing rapidly across the Pela Gracia river in the centre. [A "Force March" card meant a 2-hex surge forward for me, without any risk.]
The French advanced slowly as more British troops moved up, but the two armies were still out of musket range.
Then a French Line infantry unit pushed forward on the hills in the centre and the British attacked. One Line moved onto the hills to engage the French at close quarters, while two others opened fire. When the smoke cleared, the French Line had disappeared. [The score is 1:0 to the British with a lucky die roll - 5 dice, 4 hits.]
A second French Line charged up the hills, seeking revenge, only to be blown away by the British infantry in its turn. [2:0]
The focus shifted across the battlefield as the French right flank surged forward. French Line under General Foy attacked the British Rifles in the Chapel and destroyed them. (Evert's turn for a "Force March" and some lucky dice to make the score 2:1.]
The British centre advanced wholesale again , but caused only a few casualties - though the French Line now in the Chapel with Gen Foy took a beating. As part of this attack one Guards unit moved to their right to take on an under-strength French Light infantry on that flank. However, they did no damage and were blown away by a French Line unit that moved up. [More lucky dice even the score at 2:2]
Good shooting by the French battered British units across the battlefield, but a fresh British Line infantry opened fire on the remaining French in the Chapel and took out them and Foy. [4:2]
More shooting from the French forces eliminated two damaged British units. ["Fire and Hold" takes the score to 4:4]
The British cavalry finally came into action, advancing on both flanks, along with the second Guards infantry. The Guards finished off the Light infantry on the right while the left wing cavalry put infantry into square. [5:4] While the cavalry on the left kept the French infantry pinned - though they kept shooting the cavalrymen - the Guards advanced on the right, driving the French infantry back.
Whittled away by the French squares, the British cavalry had to retire as fresh French infantry arrived. However, on the other side of the battlefield, the Guards' musketry finally prevailed. [That's a win 6:4]
Well, that was another win for the British, but they had to work a lot harder this time. Which means the scenario goes to Evert 8:10 on aggregate.
Given the distance between the two armies, it was no surprise that it took some time for them to engage. The British moved into the Pela Gracia River with a solid line of troops across their centre and left. The French were racing to take the high ground - the hills in front of the British forces.
Two British Line infantry under General Campbell moved on the central hills while the Rifles under General Allen occupied the chapel under the hills on their left. The French responded by marching a Foot artillery and Line infantry onto the central hill. First blood to the French as their infantry pushed back one of the British Line, inflicting casualties.
These two advanced French units needed support, but were immediately attacked by British Line units backed by Foot artillery. The French artillery survived, but the infantry took a thumping [down to one block] and were pushed off the hill - though they dealt some damage on the way.
As the battered French infantry retired into Calvarisa de Ariba, another Line unit advanced and wiped out the damaged British Line. [Opening the scoring 1:0 to the French] The Light infantry alongside (on the right-flank hills) opened up on the Rifles in the Chapel, all but eliminating them [one block left]. The survivors, including Gen Allen, retired rapidly. [That was an "Elan" card from me.]
The French artillery was now very exposed on the central hill and was quickly taken out by British Line units, one of which moved onto the hill. [And the score's now 1:1.]
More French infantry marched up onto the central hills, pushing the now-damaged British back. But my troops weren't expecting the British Guards units! Both materialised right in front of them while, on the British left flank, their Horse artillery sprang onto the hills and Heavy cavalry got up close and personal with the French Light cavalry. [Evert used a "Grande Manoeuvre" card to good effect.]
French Line infantry volleyed to soften up the enemy Heavy cavalry for the Lights to tackle, but the Brits ran away from the musketry before the cavalry fight could start. Similarly, the British Horse artillery pulled back under heavy fire from the French Light infantry. In the centre, the Guards annihilated the hapless French Line unit in front of them. [1:2]
Time for the British cavalry led by General Brock (on their left flank) to attack, sweeping around the chapel to hit two French infantry units. Both cavalry took a hit from the resulting infantry squares.
The French cavalry inflicted a bit more damage on their British counterparts. But the British infantry swept into the centre in force, wiping out one of the squares and battering a French Line that had retired into the town. [A "Forced March" from Evert takes the score to 1:3.]
Then one of the Guards ran out of ammo and went looking for some more. ["Short Supply" got them out of the fight.] Only one Guards unit was needed to finish off what was left of the French Line in Calvarisa de Ariba, while the remaining French square took damage from the British Horse artillery but finished off the British Heavy cavalry, Gen Brock escaping. [2:4]
Artillery fire finished off the remaining French square. [2:5]
French musketry caused a few more casualties, but the Guards wrapped things up by eliminating the original damaged French Line unit in the town. [2:6]
A resounding victory for Evert's British, crushing the French centre and beginning to roll up their right wing. The French left wing did nothing all game. When I finally got some (two) left section cards, they were promptly taken away by my infantry forming square. I definitely felt I had worse cards than Evert, but the British superiority in numbers allowed him to get damaged units out of the way and attack with fresh ones. But what can I do with my turn as British?