Sunday, October 19, 2014

Relieve Cadiz!

Date: 18 October 1810/2014
Location: Behind French Siege Lines At Cadiz

Situation: Allied Landing Force Appears From The Sea Behind The French.

Rules: Private Napoleonic variation to Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 (BAR)

This was not part of our campaign. It was a what-if and one of game inspired by the historical stalemate at Cadiz. French besiegers are indolent because of the heat and impossibility of taking Cadiz. The British somehow land and march inland. The French react only when the latter appear.

* * * * * * * * * *

The French were so indolent that the left most British Brigade was able to easily cross the river opposed only by a detached company of French in the buildings in the upper left. British Hussars are scouting in the distance. We are on the Main Table looking east.

The reality is I have a bias about river crossings. It has to be easily accomplished for the good of some scenarios. Had the British been opposed even weakly, it would have disrupted the timetable of playing the game. This can cause player frustration and ruin a game. Anyhow, the game needed to take place beyond the river - not at it. Plus, it is fun to march around a bit and deploy into a battle line.

Another British Brigade easily advanced on the right of it's neighbor on the Back Table looking east.

Still looking east, aroused by the British appearance, the French begin to form up in the siege lines not facing Cadiz but in the incomplete works protecting their rear. Heavy works can barely be seen in the upper left of this photo on the edge of the Main Table. Cadiz is even farther to the left. The British are far away approaching the bottom of this photo.

French forces begin to appear a little more numerously but they are not enough because....

Turning around and looking west, the distant British are only 1/3 of their force now forming up. They have bypassed that building the detached French company had been defending. The latter were shot to pieces by overwhelming firepower. They fled into the stream and vegetation in the upper right to hide. One battalion of the 51st French Line has been able to form to oppose the oncoming foe.

That battalion of the 51st is surely nervous, but they press on hoping....

That French column of companies on the left will arrive in time. Note the lone stand of three British Hussars opposing the column. Previously the full squadron (12) penetrated deeply into the French position cutting down a company of volitgeurs. The Hussars would soon depart. To the far right siege lines facing Cadiz have been abandoned.

Closer view of the British left flank on the Main Table and ....

Other friendly units adjacent to them.

The local French commander had been bringing forward enough units to oppose the advancing foe.

Would even more British arrive to make the situation impossible? There was only one thing to do....

All was in readiness. A 6 pounder, the somewhat reduced battalion of the 51st., Polentz Chasseurs a Cheval and the column of companies belonging to one of the battalions of the 61st. Moments later....

They all CHARGED! The hope was to overwhelm the thin red line, throw it back and cause disorder in the British second line. All combats were won by the French!

British foot on the two flanks of the melee were forced back. French infantry surged after them. In the center, they held. Still - the entire melee round went to the French. When morale dice were thrown, the stubborn redcoats held everywhere! Instead of a pursuit into the British rear, a second costly round of melee next turn had to be played out. And....

When it was played out, the redcoats routed back whence they had come.

To the buildings they had cleared earlier in the day. However....

The victory cost the French too much. You see them in the upper right withdrawing as new British units forced them to retreat. Meanwhile to the left of the great melee, another gambit was under way. French forces abandoned the outer works to support the attack just described. To their left....

Another French battalion is charged by British Heavy cavalry which was shot down.

Even farther to the left on the Back Table, other French infantry pressed forward too. However, when news of the defeat of the French right flank arrived, it was time to order a general retreat.

Amazing! French grenadiers hovering in mid-air on the right of this photo are standing on a clipboard inserted into the Back Table. The gap between the Main and Back Table is solely for the convenience of players so they have someplace to sit and walk around. Otherwise the interval between the Main and Back tables does not really exist for our miniatures. Sometimes it is disorienting to ascertain where units are when they straddle both tables. The clipboard helps reduce our confusion!

Victorious British forces advanced vigorously past where the grand melee had been fought.

Far far to the French rear, 1/4th Swiss Infantry, the last reserve, formed up sending part of itself....

To a tall hillock offering a rallying point for establishment of a new....

Last line of defense for the retreating French Army. Siege lines have been abandoned except for one end where two Swiss companies protect the flank facing Cadiz.

The Swiss stand firm as more...

French forces retreat toward it. Congratulations....

For a game well-played by British commanders John B. (left) and John M. (right). Yours truly, Bill P. commanded the French.


51st Line (2x battalions): 144
1/4th Swiss: 72 (Required to stay there by the scenario)
Independent Companies: 36
3x 6 Pounders (Saxon)

61st Line (3x battalions) 216
Saxon Polentz Chasseurs a Cheval (24)
Saxon Prinz Clemens Lancers (24)

1 sqd hussars 12
2 sqd hvy cav (24)
1 bn Portuguese cacadores (60)
1 bn Portuguese ln (70)
half bn rifles (40)
1 ln bn (80)
3 howitzers standing in as 6 pounders
hf bn highlanders (50)
1 ln bn (90)

(4) This was a so-called BIG Battalion game. Ratio of miniatures to real men is 1:10. All British/Portuguese belong to John M. All French/Saxon forces are from my collection. Saxons in Spain, Bill? No. The French needed artillery and cavalry which I do not have. So my Saxons got to get out of their storage boxes for the day. I was happy about that.

(5) The game started near 11:00 a.m. and concluded at 4:20 p.m.with a decision.

(6) It's been too long since our last post on this blog! I hope you enjoyed it. It was great fun and very satisfying to get out our Napoleonics after a year of idleness.

The best thing though is to be with companionable pards instead of sitting silent and alone in hobby isolation painting in a basement for too long. The latter is enjoyable but give me a game and I'll stop painting anytime. I say the latter to all who want and find it hard to find games to play merged comfortably adjacent to vital family and work activities. You can do it.

(7) Thank you very much for looking in! Your comments are sought and are absolutely welcome below.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Chapter 5: Battle for the Coast Road

Date: March 10-23, 1809
Location: Northwest Iberia, Portugal South of The Duero River
Situation: Opposing Forces Contest The Coast Road
Purpose: Fictional campaign novel adapted from actual historical events.

Recommendation: See previous Chapter 4: Battle of Aveiro
Memoirs of ADC Captain Siggins

"I have the honour to provide general dispositions of opposing French and British armies along the Rio Duero after the 3 March 1809 Battle of Aveiro, Portugal.  Marshall Soult's advance down the coast road to Aveiro had resulted in a repluse. Afterwards General Pettygree slowly followed the French withdrawal almost to the river. Appended maps show relative positions as forward units ebbed and flowed along a somewhat quiet front."

"Though not shown, the French had small bridgeheads south of Oporto and Vila Real. The divisions most bloodied at Aveiro, Merle and Kinch, were removed to the rear to recover from severe losses on the 3rd instant. Neither army was favorably disposed to stir or fight until...." 

"The 21st when Soult moved his bridgeheads forward. Below Oporto Delaborde's fresh division with combined arms pressed forward to take up better defensive positions. At Vila Real vigorous mounted elements scouted forward. General Pettygree, himself positioned to the westward, ordered the army to retire to original Aveiro positions picking up needed reinforcements marching north on the coast road. It appeared Soult was playing his next card." 

Two days later General Pettygree planned to attack Delaborde whilst the 1/KGL protected the far right flank. However, the clever Delaborde attacked instead as the General marched forward.


General Delaborde (Michael M.) anchored his left flank in the clerical enclosure of San Sebastian de Duero. 

The enclosure was never contested by the British though some howitzer shells landed near the wagon.

Very late in the afternoon Roxton's (Andrew) Brigade of Portuguese swung left to face the enclosure. Here we see Roxton hours before and...

Sometime later as it swung forward. The enclosure is off image to the upper left.


British red coats and French blue coats march toward each other.

The French (Dan W.) pressed heavily forward. Brigadier Kinch (John M.) eventually deployed clouds of skirmishers to slow them. 

On the other side of the ridge at the top left of the image more French surged forward commanded in....


By General de Brigade Scruby. This is a 30mm Jack Scruby casting from Jack's personal collection now cared for by Mike T. of Historifigs. Mike sells Scrubys and was present with son Liam at the game after a long hiatus.

Brig. Scruby (Mike + Liam T.) urge their men forward from starting positions 1' on the Main Table. 

Scruby's men advanced upon a farm and other buildings at the top right of the image where Brigadier Sinclair (Der Alte Fritz - Jim P. of Minden-Fife and Drum Miniatures) commanded.

Liam would be successful in storming the buildings. Brig. Sinclair withdrew his red coats to the Back Table to the lower left of the image.

Continuing deeper into Brigadier Sinclair's position came more French commanded by Michael M.

General Pettygree, I and a courier from Brigadier Sinclair were conferring when French voltigeurs suddenly came forward. (We weren't paying attention!) I wonder if Michael M. quietly noticed this.

The near building was the right extremity of Brig. Sinclair's line. In the distance you see the French high water mark from the previous four images.

Roxton's Brigade from the early portion of my narration is several feet away from the lower right of the image. The clerical enclosure fronts the near farm about three feet away to the right.

Off the left of the image are Brigadier Young's (Bill P.) three uncommitted battalions. One, the 4th Foot deployed late in the day to the left of the farm to support Brigadier Sinclair.


1) Rules were a private adaptation of Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 for Napoleonic Iberia. We continue to work out nuances for Iberia such as introducing intervals between Columns of Divisions, squadrons, regiments in line and so forth. Read your Chandler pp. 342-353, if you please. Eleven turns were played from 11 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. with a break for lunch.

2) French: CinC Michael M., Mike T., Liam T. and Dan W. British:  CinC Bill P. (yours truly), Jim P., Chuck L., John M and his young nephew Andrew. Liam and Andrew were bright and brand new youthful participants. We hope they will return. Dan brought oodles of new French from his collection for the first time - many from his late father. Thank you everyone!

3) Who won? I have no idea. Neither side captured the other's road exits on respective Back Tables. The British stopped their attack when they saw the French onslaught. The French onslaught reached a high water mark and then withdrew. Stalemate perhaps. It happens.

4) The game was filled with self-inflicted fog of war situations, misunderstandings and intentional delays using couriers.

5) The table covering is from The Terrain Guy who has stopped business operations.

6) Your remarks are sought and welcome below. I have the honour to respectfully be Your Obt. Servant, Bill P. writing as Captain Siggins.

Saturday, August 10, 2013

French Column of Division Intervals

Should French battalions deployed in Columns of Divisions use intervals? They were used historically. Therefore, so should we. Pictures are worth a thousand words so....

Each of my five French battalions is screened by their voltigeurs. Behind them each battalion has a two company wide front. Every two companies deployed this way is a division - a small d.  Jim pointed out the checkerboard arrangement that could be used as shown.

When intervals are violated, confusion and disorders happen. There is insufficient room to change formation into line or square. It would be a traffic jam at quitting time!

As we move in closer, two battalions are separated by a bit more than a six inch ruler. Within that interval lights can move forward and back, cannons might be deployed and the gap might be useful to bring up rearward battalions not to form a massive unbroken wall, but to move them farther forward. It could be used to provide an open space for messengers and routers too.

Forming a line is also the idea. The right-hand battalion could form line to the right. The other one would form to the left and right of itself because a third battalion is to the left off image. See the first photo. The battalion off image would form to its left.

The 9th Foot's two-deep line is screened by Rifles with a two company reserve. Rules need to be implemented so fire into the deep columns is prodigiously effective with possibilities of disorder. Plus the celebrated fire and charge concept is needed to cause morale checks to rout the French. If none of this occurs, the 9th Foot is going to be beaten. Polite comments welcome.

Jim's Der Alte Fritz blog has some very good commentary and historical illustrations reinforcing the above concepts. See the link below:

Link =  Der Alte Fritz Journal

The diagrams above are from the book Napoleon's Finest, Davout and His 3rd Corps, Combat Journal of Operations, 1805-1807, Military History Press, 2006, Page 66.  

Bill P.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Chapter 4: Battle of Aveiro

Date: March 2-3, 1809
Location: Aveiro, Portugal, Northwest Iberia
Situation: Battle of Aveiro
Purpose: Fictional campaign novel adapted from actual historical events.

Recommendation: See previous Chapter 3: Marshall Soult Presses His Advantage

9:32 p.m  March 2, 1809  Aveiro, Portugal

In the closing hours of March 2, 1809, Brigadier Kinch ascended the highest building in the village of Aveiro. He believed campfires illuminating the countryside to the north were from one of Marshall Soult's Divisions. He knew another Division could arrive behind it in a few days. When it arrived, odds stacked against him would be impossible to overcome.

Yet Major General Pettygree ordered the village held until relieved or to retire southwards if the position became untenable. Pettygree was marching hard to support him from the east.

Kinch thought village hedges, vineyards and buildings offered good defensive positions for his 2,920 British soldiers. There were also an estimated 250 guerrillas in the area who might render some service. Still the French very likely outnumbered him by 3:1. He wondered if Pettygree would arrive in time.

10:07 a.m  March 3, 1809

Left Flank:  Four French battalions deployed in double column of companies approach two British battalions. Both of the latter stretch to the right off image.

Left Flank:  The British withdraw to gain time hoping the French will be disordered passing through the hedgerow. French skirmishers to the left are busy sniping at 250 Portuguese militia of the ordenanza off image. (Ordenanza: local militia too old or too young to serve in the militia useful as guerrillas.)

Center:  The British withdrawal gained time and the French gained the hedgerow.

Center:  A Rifle Company came forward to help. However, in moments everything changed as the tide rolled in.

Left and Center:  The French surge forward disordered by the hedgerow. Their intent was to overwhelm the thin red line in a tidal wave. Indeed, things looked very bad for Kinch even with confusion caused by the hedgerow. Somehow combinations of firing advantages shooting into a deep mass and the disorder of the columns held the line and threw back several columns. (The latter is not shown.)

Left and Center:  Later the French stabilized and the British fell back again. Only a few infantrymen in the house and Rifles to their right remained left to stave off annihilation.

Right Flank:  Here you see Kinch's right flank stretching westwards into Aveiro. Off the top of the image are the buildings and combats recorded earlier. The French desire to turn the British flank but....

Right Flank:  They did not! The British cavalry beat their counterparts, pushed some back, routed others and was about to catch a green-coated French Chasseur a Cheval unit in the flank but it quickly evaded out of harm's way.  Things were looking good....

Right Flank:  Except when French reserves poured in to sway the combat in their favour and....

Right Flank:  When one considers another French infantry brigade appearing. If they turn toward the viewer, (toward Kinch's right flank) the British in Aveiro will be overwhelmed. No way to stop 'em. Yet they appear disinterested in doing so. Plus, the French Chasseur Regiment in the center has a story to tell previous to it's encounter with the foe shown above. What was it?


Our story has run ahead of events by an hour or so. Let us rewind the clock and reposition the green-coated Chasseurs a Cheval from whence they came.

Far -- far to the east of Brigadier Kinch, the road to Aveiro entered the beginning of a large open woodland. It was here the green-coated Chasseurs a Cheval with orders to scout turned a corner and discovered Lord Paget's Brigade of Light Cavalry cantering towards them. Paget's force consisted of the 7th and 15th Hussars with the 16th Light Dragoons.

Having learned what was a hoof, the French light cavalry turned about to report what they had found. You see them in the upper left of the image. To their left is the cavalry combat just mentioned.

Paget moved his brigade forward and then left off the main to a side table (not shown) because...

Brigadier Peter Young's Brigade was hurrying into the open area to deploy. The 9th is in closed column of companies on the left whilst the 5th has shaken out into line screened by two companies of Rifles and....

Protected inside the wood by a portion of Brigadier Sinclair's Brigade advancing through the woodland with artillery and infantry. The 83rd Foot is at the top of the image with a company of rifles near his two 9 pounders.

Young's Brigade advanced into the open ground. The 5th is in the upper right whilst the 9th formed a half battalion line; half being on a ridge top with the other half marching in open column of companies to deploy behind it also in line. Intervals are necessary so each movement tray can wheel right into line.

The French deployed into a dogleg opposed by a crescent-shaped British line.

The 5th Foot advanced toward the French and opened fire.

Casualties were heavy on both sides and the French began to give way.

A Brigade of French horsemen came forward to help but....

Paget's Horse Artillery suddenly appeared on the afore-mentioned ridge top to counter them. It had been marching behind a crest and appeared near three of the clock.

Hello! The right flank of Brigadier Kinch's infantry is in the upper left of the image preparing to meet a French infantry regiment.

Near four the 5th Foot having suffered a 2/3 loss fled. Moments later Paget's Battery (off image to the left), the fresh 9th shown plus Sinclair's Brigade (off image to the upper right) were about to execute the coup de grace when the French withdrew from this sector properly covered by a screen of light cavalry.

Meanwhile back in Aveiro though the French occupied the northwest corner of the village, casualties had been severe on both sides. Fighting died down to a trickle - both sides were exhausted and..... 

Captain Siggins arrived with a dispatch from Brigadier Kinch saying the village had been held and the French were departing to the north presumably back to Oporto.


1) Seated left to right: Chris K., Derrick N., Curt B. and John M. (Brigadier Kinch). Standing left to right: Chuck L., Rob O., Mike H., Jim P. (Der Alte Fritz and Brigadier Sinclair) George R. and in the hat me, Bill P. 

Everyone brought either food or drink to share during the course of the game and at lunch. Thank you and I wan you to know I greatly appreciate you making the day so pleasurable. You are a great group of companionable friends/pards. Jim and I look forward to our next Iberian game with you very much.

2)  Participants arrived between 9:00-9:30 a.m. Our game started at 9:55 a.m. and ended around 4:00 p.m.

3) Rules: Batailles de l'Ancien Régime 1740-1763 adapted for Napoleonics in Iberia.

4) French Forces:
Infanterie: 828 + Cavalerie 99 + Artillerie 6 tubes/30 gunners = 957 combatants.
45% Casualties: 431 miniatures. (4,130 at 1:10)

5) British Forces:
Infantry: 645* + 99 Cavalry + Artillery 11 tubes/54 gunners = 798 combatants.
31% Casualties: 245 miniatures. (2,450 at 1:10)
* Includes 37 guerrillas.

6) What's next? 
(a) Medical dice need to be thrown monthly until our next game.
(b) Replacements plus newly-painted units will be posted to our orders of battle.
(c) Map movement and contemplations about next marches. 
(d) General Pettygree is of the opinion Marshall Soult's II Corps will defend the Douro River north of Aveiro with his three divisions starting at the city of Oporto on the Atlantic Coast and stretching eastwards. There is some worry that Ney's VI Corps in northwest Spanish Galicia could render assistance though needed there as an army of occupation.

7) Any regional pards interested in raising British, Portuguese, French or French allies (Swiss, Hessians, Poles + ?), please let Jim P. and I know and --- go for it. Not much: a unit or two or three.

8) Thank you very much for looking in.Your remarks are welcome below.