Monday, 25 April 2011

The Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro

Hooray, finally some time off work, so we can get down to some serious wargaming. Jose from my local club contacted me, to ask if I was interested in playing a large Lasalle battle with a few other players. I said I would have a go at arranging it, so I had a look to find out which Napoleonic battle was coming up for its 200th Aniversary. The nearest was the Battle of Fuentes de Oñoro 3rd - 5th May 1811, and looking at the size of the forces it seemed possible.
The problem was most of the other people were busy with holidays and family commitments so Jose and myself had to pool our figures together. I worked out we had 22 French Infantry Battalions altogether, so dividing the total number of French Infantry in the actual battle I worked out the following Orders of Battle


C-in-C Massena

2nd Corp Reynier
2 Veteran Infantry
3 Conscript Infantry
1 Hussars
1 Foot Artillery

6th Corps Loison

4 Veteran Infantry
5 Conscript Infantry
1 Foot Artillery

8th Corps Junot

1 Veteran Infantry
2 Conscript Infantry

9th Corps Drouet

2 Veteran Infantry
3 Conscript Infantry
1 Chasseurs 1 Portugese Infantry

Reserve Cavalry Montbrun

2 Dragoons
1 Horse Artillery

Army of the North
1 Guard Cavalry Light Division Crauford
1 Chasseurs

C-In-C Wellington

1st Division Spencer

1 Guard Infantry (+)
1 Elite Infantry
2 Brit Infantry
1 RA Battery

3rd Division Picton

2 Brit Infantry
1 Portugese Infantry
1 RA Battery

5th Division Erskine

2 Brit Infantry
1 Portugese Infantry
1 RA Battery

6th Division Campbell

2 Brit Infantry
1 Portugese Infantry
1 RA Battery
7th Division Houston

1 Brit Infantry
1 Portugese Infantry

Light Division Crauford

1 Rifle (+)
1 Elite Infantry
1 Cacadore
1 RHA Battery

Cavalry Division Cotton

2 Light Dragoons
1 RHA Battery

We played the battle at my house, so I could have plenty of time to set up the table. We used my 5ft by 9ft table tennis table which was just the right size for the number of figures. We played the normal rules of Lasalle with a few modifications. Firstly Artillery units could only cross the stream by the two bridges or on the flat area on the British right. British Infantry units in line can add half the number of dice again when firing. e.g a 4 base unit would throw 6 dice, and a 6 base large unit would throw 9 dice. The number of moves was extended from 16+ to 20+
and for throwing for breakpoint 6 dice instead of 5, unless the objective was taken then 5 dice instead of 4. The objective for the French was to capture and control at least one of the two roads heading to their garrison at Almeida. The breakpoint for the French Army was 20 and for the British Army 16. The position of the troops were more or less the same as in the battle. We diced for which side we would command. I won and commanded the British.

Initial positions of the British troops looking from their right flank, in front you can see Cotton´s cavalry Division. Then Spencer´s 1st Division just above the village of Fuentes de Oñoro. The French Army is massing on the ridge opposite.

Looking from the British Left flank, Campbell´s 6th Division in the foreground.

Facing them the French right flank Reynier´s 2nd Corp.

Loison's 6th Corps begin their advance down the road towards the bridge before the village of Fuentes de Oñoro.

The French advance guard advances over the bridge and is fired on by the British Infantry deployed in the village.

The long French Columns advance down the ridge, a French horse artillery unit deploys on the other side of the stream and begins firing at the village.

The British Artillery on the ridge reply by hitting the french Infantry attacking the village.

Another British Infantry unit marches down the ridge to occupy the upper part of the village to support their comrades who are being attacked at the lower end of the village. Meanwhile the French cavalry have crossed the stream lower down in the woods on the right.

Further along the British line, Campbell waits in front of his troops while the French advance down the road and through the woods.

Wellington sees that Erskine on his far left flank has large body of French troops advancing in his direction. Not wanting to lose control of the road to Almieda, he sends Crauford's light Division to reinforce Erskine.

The French conscripts are no match for the British Infantry in the village and retreat all the way back through their lines until they reach the top of the hill. Spencer's Elite Infantry have to form square because enemy cavalry are on their flanks in the wood. Wellington sends Cotton's cavalry Division to support them.

On the British far left the French burst out of the woods. One unit forms square as the French hussars charge. The Royal Horse Artillery in front of the rest of the Light Division deploy quickly on the Far left to support Erskine's defence.

The British centre holds firm as the French Infantry enter the wheat fields in front of them.

The far British left holds out and repulses the French attack, but now Campbell's Division comes under heavy fire.

A birds eye view of the Battle. Bessieres is at the bottom of the picture commanding a single unit of Horse artillery in a futile flank manoeuvre, generously leaving his cavalry under the command of Massena.

With support from some French Infantry the Dragoons manage to break the British Elite square. However in the woods Cotton's cavalry manage to check the French Cavalry's attack.

The British line fire a volley and charge at the French (and Dutch) troops advancing along the road.
Bessieres is content to deploy his Artillery and take potshots at the British Artillery.

The French have taken the lower village and now start attacking the upper part of the village. The British Guards on the hill pour volley after volley to support the plucky defenders.

The French charge at the British Artillery on the the British Left flank.

The British guard on the ridge, have caught the attention of Montbrun who sends his Dragoons to attack them.

Erskine's 5th Division have stabilised the far left flank without any of the infantry of the Light Division firing a shot. Crauford receives orders from Wellington to return quickly to the British center because it is near breaking point.

The French having lost quite a few units are only one point away from their breaking point. On the British left flank the French pull back slightly to lessen their losses.

In the centre the French Dragoons charge the British guards. Instead of going into square the Guards decide to blast the dragoons with a well aimed volley. It was good but not good enough and the Dragoons charge home. The Guards being a large unit still have a chance but bad dice rolling by yours truly means that they have been destroyed. This is the turning point and quickly the tide changes as other british units are defeated in close combat. Suddenly the British breakpoint of 16 has been reached. They manage to pass their first test on turn eighteen., and both armies jockey for the final attack, the French cavalry trying to rally to be able to once more charge the last few units on the ridge in the British centre.
Crauford and his troops exhausted but intact can only watch as their commander throws six dice on turn twenty and gets a paltry eleven. They watch as the centre breaks and prepares to act as rearguard for his beaten army.


This was a very enjoyable game and in the end it was a "close run thing" with both armies hovering around their breakpoints. My mistake was moving the Light Division to the far left and not keeping it in the centre.
The modification on British line fire worked out very well and one I think we shall be repeating at the club. Roll on summer holidays so we can have a few more big games.

Saturday, 9 April 2011

Ambush at Lone Pine Creek

Ambush at Lone Pine Creek

This was our first attempt of colonial fighting, using the rules "The sword and the Flame". However due to the fact I had begun rebasing my Indian and Cavalry figures onto single bases to play the solo rules "Pony wars". I thought I would use these figures and a variation of the rules called the "The Tomahawk and the Flame" by Hans Van Stockhausen.
The scenario was that the U.S player had an company of infantry under Lt Fetterman and a scout, that we named Chisum . Their orders were to escort Mrs Carrington, the Colonels wife back to Fort Phil Kearny after she had been to Fort Reno on a shopping trip. The Colonel had also sent out a company of Cavalry to bring them in safely. The cavalry may appear sometime during the game.
On the Indian side, Red Cloud had set up an ambush with 4 war parties of 20 Indians each.

Turn one, the convoy enters the table , Lt Fetterman asks Chisum to check the woods for any pesky indians.

Chisum discovers two war parties, one straight in front and one to his left. He shoots at the charging Indians killing one. This acts as a warning signal for the infantry who quickly form a line.

The Infantry fire a volley and kill two and wound three more. The rest of the Warparty turn around and run back into the woods.

Just as they think they have everything under control, another war party arrives in their rear. Lt Fetterman has to send back half his company to act as the rearguard.

The war party on the left comes sweeping in around the woods, killing Chisum before he could get back to his comrades.

The rear guard fire a volley and halt an Indian charge who then retreat to reorganize.

The rearguard faces another charge, this time the Indians charge home and kill or wound most of the infantry, apart from plucky soldier who kills three Indians before retreating to the rear.

With the rearguard collapsing and the front about to receive another attack. Lt Fetterman urges Mrs Carrington to escape.

Mrs Carrington escapes through the woods and into the clearing. Behind her she can hear the last desperate struggle as the indians close in on the three surviving infantrymen.

Lt Fettermen and his men make a final last stand, just as they hear the bugle call of the cavalry.

The Cavalry arrive at last on the table, but is it too late.

An Indian war party comes out of the woods to meet them.

The Indians manage to capture Mrs Carrington and lead her off the table.

The Cavalry are blocked from rescuing Mrs Carrington by a new war party arriving from their right. They decide to retreat and report to Colonel Carrington of the bad news of his wife.


We enjoyed playing these new rules, although I felt we made a few mistakes. We had kept the measurments the same as 25mm, but found on our smaller table , the units were moving far to fast. Next game we are going to halve all measurments apart from firing.
We also felt the rules for wounded were a bit boring as they could do very little, if anything. Next time we will probably having the wounded be able to move 1D6 on their own and fire or fight with a penalty modifier. The next game in a months time will probably be the sequel with Colonel Carrington sending his troops out to attack the Indian villages and rescue his wife.