Date: 27 January to 17 February 1809
Location: Northwest Iberia:
Situation: Marshall Soult's French II Corps Moves South
Purpose: Fictional campaign novel adapted from actual historical events.
Recommendation: See previous Chapter 1: The Game Is Afoot
Following the January 17th embarkation of the late General Moore's British Contingent from Coruna, Spain, Marshall Soult's II Corps recuperated from the battle of the 16th. there. Ten days later they marched southwest to Santiago. No intact British forces existed between Coruna and the Portuguese border. Therefore, there was no hurry and no advantage exerting his tired men further. The march proceeded leisurely.
The 12th Chasseurs A Cheval led II Corps into Vigo Galiza.
[Photo and collection from Jim P.)
Major General Pettygree's Personal Journal
17 February 1809
"When I learned Soult was heading for Portugal, there were two options available to me. Remaining in Lisbon utilizing natural defences there was one. Should matters go poorly we could request evacuation by sea from the port. The other was to march north to slow or stop the French. The future will only know if my decision was correct."
"I was convinced Lisbon even with some natural defences could not be held long with my 10,000 men. Nor have I been an ardent proponent of the fortress mentality. All fortresses as Vauban taught can be breached and taken."
"Soult's men were bloodied and tired from fighting General Moore whereas my men were fresh. I therefore resolved it better to stop the French in the north rather than freely give up half of Portugal above Lisbon. A little luck and panache might breed success. At the least it would buy time. We therefore forced marched to stop Soult at the Rio Minio separating Spain from Portugal."
"Part of Lord Paget's Advance Guard began arriving there hours before the French appeared. Most of the Army was still stretched out in road column for miles to the south. Would we have sufficient strength to stop Soult at the bridge?"
"From left to right behind the ridge were posted Paget's Light Cavalry Brigade, 5th Foot, Royal Horse Artillery, a Portuguese Cacadore Rifle Company, two companies of the 95th Rifles, a converged battalion of the elite companies from the 5th and 9th Foot and finally the 9th Foot itself."
"Hours to the rear the 1st Brigade was marching hard to support Paget. Would they be in time?"
"The French marched in earnest across the river."
"Paget thought he saw a very senior officer at the bridge."
"It was Marshall Soult."
BRITISH LEFT FLANK
"Round shot ruined one French regiment."
"Routing it toward and behind the church. The other...."
"Was surprised to see the 15th Hussars breach the rise and ride toward them."
"The 15th. charged down slope to engage. The French counter charged."
"Their leading battalion crested the left side of the ridge and received fire from the 5th Foot."
"Before I could order the 5th to fall back to our newly formed second line, it broke."
"I posted myself behind the 94th. whilst the foe continued to press forward. Behind me the 5th Foot was rallying and Lord Paget had brought his Light Cavalry Brigade back into order. These would be our final reserve to stop the inexorable advance of the enemy. Things did not look promising here."
"However, a little to my right, 1st Brigade's 9 Pounder section had been joined by the Royal Horse Artillery to stabilize our situation. In the end the French did not assault this position and fell back from our left flank."
BRITISH RIGHT FLANK
"Because French numbers were far in excess of ours."
"As the French assaulted the casa de fazenda."
OUR LAST LINE OF DEFENCE
"By mid-afternoon our second line was fully formed by 1st. Brigade."
[French are off image to the right.]
1) Rules: Our private Napoleonic adaptation of Batailles de l'Ancien Règime.
2) Turn 1 started at 10:00 am. Turn 17 concluded at 4:00pm.
3) Losses: 210 British and 211 French.
4: British: Jim P. (Der Alte Fritz) John M. and Bill P. [yours truly]
5) French: Earl K., Keith L., Jon P. and Jim H.
6) Der Alte Fritz produced a very good report with more photos here:
7) Your remarks are welcome below as always.