Another play-test for Soldiers of Napoleon and this time the French would be facing the Anglo-Portuguese army still along the same small stream, you can image this fight was later in the day than last times vs the Spanish-held part of the battlefield. Here, the British were counter-attacking, with four brigades. His attack, across the fordable stream which ran the length of his table edge, a minor inconvenience, would be on both flanks. On his right, aimed at the small high ground knoll, Las Lomas, would be an infantry brigades of 3 redcoat battalions, the Irish, the Nottinghamshires and his veteran Highland unit, supported by a 9 pdr battery. His left flank attack was the vaunted light brigade, again 3 battalions, light infantry and one of Cacadores, with a horse battery of 6 pdrs in support. The centre would be Portuguese infantry, a weak infantry brigade held back. Behind these, in reserve, was a light cavalry brigade of Hussars and a very small light dragoon regiment (just 2 stands, the minimum), again with a 6 pdr horse battery.
This was all unknown to me as the French, as I picked my force and deployed.
My force would be, the left flank brigade, aimed at taking Las Lomas, three regular infantry battalions led a seasoned infantry unit and a 12 pdr battery. My centre was poor provincial ‘marche’ infantry, again held back with a 12 pdr battery to aid the bombardment. My right would be a strong light cavalry brigade of Hussars, Chasseurs and Lancers and their 6 pdr horse battery. My reserve were 2 dragoon regiments. My plan was for a steady attack, to take Las Lomas on my left and then send my dragoons hurting in to break his weak Portuguese centre. The light cavalry would just hold the right and charge any targets of opportunity.
So, as we both deployed, unaware until we saw it of the others forces or plan, it was obviously going to be a battle fought on the flanks.
First, the Anglo-Portuguese (A-P from now on), advanced on both wings, in columns to get forward quick. The light brigade immediately met the French light cavalry coming the other way in lines and, sabres out, lances lowered, the Brits soon thought better of attacking and formed square. Cannon fire was traded to small effect, and it was deadlock. My light cavalry can’t break his squares and his squares can’t do much to my cavalry. They watched each other warily and a few cannons sniped away. I was happy with that though, his light infantry brigade were good troops and they were stuck.
On the other flank is where the battle heated up fast. French skirmishers led my columns through the woods and up and over Las Lomas, to meet the red line waiting with their whithering volleys. Skirmishers fought skirmishers, my columns were forced back then came-on again, Vive L’Empereur!. They charges and pushed the red-coats back, but not in a decisive win. More volleys, and my columns were a ragged mess. One overran his 9 pdr cannon battery, braving the grapeshot and looked to be breaking through until reserves Portuguese Cacadores arrived and added to the volley firing. I lost that column in a rout, then another. It had been hard pounding on Las Lomas, a bloody mess for both sides, but I pulled back to the woods again, skirmishers still harassing me - damn those riflemen. The Brits had held, just. Their own attack had got nowhere. The knoll was no-man's land again.
In the centre, well it heated up surprisingly quickly, as my Dragoons rapidly arrived in marching column and sped forwards before deploying into lines. The Portuguese wavered but out came his reserves, just in time, Hussars to meet them and they all clashed in a big cavalry melee right in the middle of the table, which the Hussars got the better of, but then were counter-charged and forced back themselves. Bloodied and disordered both sides horsemen withdrew to regroup and try again. Which they did, resuming the sabre-to-sabre melee, and again, the Hussars could claim a marginal win. Tough men. The Dragoons were fought-out.
Looking along the line, it was stalemate, and both sides were close to breaking. Where could we do some damage to win the day? The British light infantry boldly opened one square and sent forward skirmishers to shoot-up my lancers and also unleashed a fierce cannonade against them too, they almost broke under the fire, but a quick rally and, even if in battered shape, they charged at the British. The lance’s impact was messy, but the veteran light infantry’s musketry did more damage too, before they were scattered and routed. My lancers also broke in the melee, both sides losing a good unit, and thus both breaking. A draw, another draw… a damn close run thing!
Very entertaining and useful game, some changes needed after this… rallying is too common and too easy an option, making for cautious play I think, not risking losing units when you can stop and rally instead. That lengths the game too. The game was too long again, so a method of rewarding the opponent that forces you to rally (they are doing damage after all, or they wouldn’t need to) and shortens the game is required… I have one now, should work well. We’ll try it next time.
Few pictures of the afternoon’s fighting along the Rio Pequano. I think we’ll do a third game, the evening, to see if anybody can actually win this fictional day. By then, my Austrian army should be about ready to take the field, I have a campaign system to trial with them.
|French right and centre deployed. |
|British light infantry brigade in columns for a quick march advance. |
|Light cavalry move forward and force the light infantry into squares, whilst under cannon fire. Green dice are for Disruption on the unit. |
|French centre of Marche infantry, a few Chasseurs and a 12 pdr battery. Hold here! |
|Main attack columns heading for the Las Lomas knoll. Scene of the battle's heaviest fighting. |
|Voltigeurs deploy and appear through the woods, met by their British equivalents, with riflemen in support as well. |
|Behind them, an attack column moves through the trees. Disruption caused by good British skirmish fire. |
|Over Las Lomas, British forming line to meet them, of course. |
|The reserve cavalry arrive in the centre and quickly advance to meet each other. Hussars facing Dragoons.|
|Columns repulsed with the first assault. Try again! |
|The cavalry clash continues as well, my Dragoons heavily Disrupted by supporting horse battery fire. |
|Light infantry skirmishers come out to shoot-up my Chasseurs. Light cavalry are well able to see off some pesky skirmishers though and soon sent them running back to the line. |
|Retreat! I pull back the survivors over Las Lomas, Voltiguers still trading shots with riflemen, in pursuit. The red line held. |