Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Battle of Casa de Graci

We had another Black Powder game last Saturday, Bob and Mark commanded the French, while Mike, Troy and Erik commanded the British/Portuguese forces. We tried out a new victory/objective idea (which worked out rather well). We also use several house rules that increases the cavalry/infantry interaction during the turn, ie cavalry can charge squares. Below is the AAR, sorry no pics of the 28mm figures.

British Command
To: Major General Erskine,
Commanding 5th Division
From: Lieutenant General Wellington,
Commanding British Army
It appears the French have thrown out a rearguard to cover their retreat from Fuentes de Onaro. As quick as possible you must to drive them off both hilltops to allow our pursuit to continue. You have two able British brigades to drive them off, plus a brigade of Portuguese to overwhelm the French defense. Fortune favors the bold, so do not hesitate and attack at all opportunities.
General Wellington, Commanding
French Command
To: General of Division Merle
From: General Reynier,
Commanding II Corps
We have been tasked with covering the army’s retreat from Fuentes de Onoro. Hold up the British advance as long as possible, then retire along the road. 2nd Division will take over the rearguard, once you retreat past Casa de Graci.
General Reynier, II Corps

General Merle 1st division of General Reynier II Corps was tasked with covering the army’s retreat from Fuentes de OƱoro. He had two brigades of infantry commanded by Brigadier Sarrut (Bob) and Brigadier Graindorge (Mark), each brigade had several battalions of infantry supported by a light cavalry regiment. Finally there was a reserve of two battalions and two artillery batteries under the command of General Merle. The road leading off the table was flanked by two large hills, so General Merle had General Graindorge defend the right hill defended with his 1st Brigade with four battalions of infantry and a hussar regiment. Brigadier General Sarrut and 2nd brigade would defend the left hill with three battalions of infantry, a Hussar regiment and both batteries of 6lb guns. The two reserve battalions were held back on the road as a final block to any British pursuit.
To drive the French from the hill tops, Major General Erskine 5th Division of eleven battalions of infantry and three batteries of artillery would have to deploy from march, cross a dry streambed and assault uphill, all before nightfall! General Hay’s brigade (Troy) with two British battalions of infantry, a rifle battalion, a regiment of hussars and a battery led the way. Following closely behind, Major General Dunlap brigade (Erik) of four battalions of infantry, hussar regiment and battery would deploy to Hays left. Brigadier General Spry Portuguese brigade (Mike) would arrive several turns later as his brigade was deploying to the right of Hay’s and the five battalions of infantry and single artillery battery had to negotiate the streambed, as well as some woods in the area.
The British had eight turns to contest and/or control both hilltops for a major victory, and this was achieved if at the start of the British turn they had more non-shaken units on a hilltop than the French. Troy started the battle by marching Hay' brigade down the road, across the bridge and right up to initiative range of the of the French main line of battle …unfortunately he failed to get out of march column in time and his lead battalion suffered heavily for it. His brigade spent the rest of the battle reorganizing and sniping at the French on both hilltops.
Dunlap’s British Brigade was not aware of any time issue, so for half the battle his brigade leisurely formed up along the streambed. However, once Erskine informed his of his desire that he immediately attack the French, his battalions did an able job of it, pressing into the Graindorge brigade defending the hilltop. His troops came oh so close to breaking Graindorge’s brigade, but the Frenchmen held. Without any support from the center, the French reorganized and counterattacked the British infantry, driving them off the hill.

With the two French 6lb batteries pounding away for hours at the British center, General Sarrut three battalions were able to form up and stop the Portuguese infantry from ascending the high ground to his left; with several well placed volleys he threw the Portuguese back down the hill. The light fading fast, any thoughts of the Portuguese infantry making a second attempt for the crest of the hill were dashed, when some French hussars surprised a battalion of infantry and broke their hasty (and disordered) square.

Even though there was some daylight left to fight, General Erskine realized the day was lost and ordered his brigades to retire back across the streambed and await Wellington and the rest of the army. Victory in hand General Merle was able to retire his forces from the battlefield in good order, as no pursuit was going to be coming from the British till at least the morning.

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