Sunday, 25 January 2015

Talavera North

On Thursday we met up at the Hall of Heroes for a monster session of Black Powder Napoleonic gaming - all afternoon and evening - enough for two games!

I had quickly worked up a quick scenario around the action at Talavera 28th July 1809, based solely around the Northern third of the battlefield, the slopes of the Cerro de Medellin leading West up from the Portina brook. Some excerpts from the scenario may help set the scene:

Ground. The Northern section of the battlefield, the valley of the Portina brook. Dominated on the West by the Cerro de Medellin ridge, which provides Wellington with a classic defensive ridge, and was recognized by both sides as the ground of key significance.
The table terrain will be set out to represent the area within the Red rectangle as far as is possible, but concentrating from the North down to encompass all of the Eastern slopes of the Cerro de Medellin.

Situation. Through Allied disunity, the French forces under Marshal Victor (46, 000) have arrived at a situation where they can eliminate Wellington (20,000) and Cuesta’s Spanish forces (32,000). Victor knows he can simply ignore the passive Spanish and concentrate with 2:1 superiority over the Anglo-Portuguese. But in order to achieve a crushing victory and dominate the area he must seize the well defended Cerro heights. This game will focus on the Northern half of the action whereby Victor’s own I Corps attempt to seize the ridge.

Mission. French – Clear the Cerro of British Forces (Destroy/shake half the line units).
Allies – Defend the ridge.

Allied Orbat: (Wellesley CV10) (15 Line Battalions, 3 Skirmish Battalions, 2 Batteries)

British Cav – Fane CV7 Heavy Bde - 2 x Heavy Dragoon. Cotton CV8 Light Brigade 3 x Lt Dragoons/Hussars.
2nd Div Hill (CV8) 5 Line, 1 Skirmish, 1 Battery (from 3rd, 29th, 2 Bns 48th, 66th, 1st Detachments, Det. 5/60th Rifles)
3rd Div Mackenzie (CV7) 5 Line, 1 Skirmish (from 24th, 31st, 45th, 87th, 88th, Det. 5/60th Rifles)
1st Div Sherbrooke (CV7) 5 Line, 1 Skirmish (from 1st Coldstream Guards, 1/3rd Regt. Foot Guards, 1st, 2nd, 5th, 7th KGL, 61st, 83rd, KGL Lights)
1 x 9 Pdr Foot Battery, 1 x 9 Pdr RHA Battery.

French Orbat: I Corps (Victor CV9) (18 Line Battalions, 3 Skirmish Battalions, 4 Batteries)

French Cav – Milhaud CV8 (Heavy Bde) Beamont CV9 (Light Bde). 2 x Dragoons, 5 x Lancers/Hussars/Chasseurs.
1st Division Ruffin (CV8) 6 Battalions Line/Legere, 1 x Skirmish unit.
2nd Division Lapisse (CV8) 6 Battalions Line/Legere, 1 x Skirmish unit.
3rd Division Villatte (CV8) 6 Battalions Line/Legere, 1 x Skirmish unit.
Artillery – 3 x 6 Pdr Foot battery, 1 x 12 Pdr Battery

In the first game the Brits deployed well forward, to make best use of the slight delaying factor of the Portina brook - it didn't disorder crossing, but it did slow things down by 6 inches.

The French went forward a lóutrance, in a combination of column and line, closely supported by skirmishers and guns. Since the British had moved forward off the reverse slope, the guns were useful for once! Indeed they facilitated an initial breakthrough...

Which was duly plugged by some smart British manoeuvring...

However for the French team it made a pleasant change to actually have the enemy's table edge in sight - things seemed to be going well...

When the British cavalry made an unwelcome appearance:

However the pressure was kept up all around the Cerro - something had to give somewhere...

And eventually enough of a gap appeared that the French were able to pour through an entire Light cavalry brigade around the flank of the hill...

And in the centre a small gap enabled a couple of Battalions of infantry to break through the British line.

Hardly meeting the victory conditions, but we felt that two small breakthroughs would allow us to call it a draw.

For the second game, the Brits, suitably fortified by plenty of tea, decided to concentrate their defence around the key height itself:

Giving them the traditional benefits of the reverse slope:

After a lacklustre performance as French CinC I relinquished the role to Terry, who briefed us that we would exploit the space we had to manoeuver to attempt a left-flanking 'hammer and anvil' strategy to come at the hill from both front and flank. Additionally, we would lead the attack on the British Infantry with our cavalry, to force them into square...

Whilst it seemed odd to me, my way hadn't worked, so I did as I was told...

Duly hurling my fine Polish lancers against the British squares...

And then following up with the gravel bellies...

Whilst it worked in some cases, one of the British Regiments concerned was the 18th Foot (The Royal Irish Regiment). Those Micks weren't going anywhere...

But, apart further along the line, the rest of the team were making good progress around the flanks of the hill...

But in the centre, thanks to the stubborn resistance of the Royal Irish, by the time they finally broke, the Brits had ample time to set up a viable second line of defence further up on the hill...

So a clear British win. Two outstanding games, and lots of new tactics tried to provide food for thought for our Waterloo 200 project, about which more anon...


  1. Great game. I should have been there!!

  2. Each of these pictures is really impressive, a great looking game with a beautiful mass effect...wonderful terain as well!

  3. Some nice pictures my dearest Sparkles ... even if there is a distinct dearth of Prussians!! 8O)

    von Peter himself

  4. Great photos. Ridiculous quantity of beautiful miniatures. Nobody does wargaming in the grand manner better, certainly not this side of the equator!

  5. Excellent scenario and report Sparker!

    Maybe suggest a few "local tabletop color units or token diorama" scattered about your open table spaces. Place the dice mound in old abandoned "hut" or building holder.

    Michael aka WR

  6. Thank you all very much for your kind comments, as always much appreciated!

    Yes we could definitely improve in the 'table clutter'stakes, but this group has been on a steep learning curve over the last couple of years, and with introducing new players to the hobby and rules, and given the Aussie attitude to control freaks, I have to let some things slide!

  7. Top report of two excellent looking games Ralph. Lovely photos of some intense action!

  8. Nice looking games like the variations in them, what stats did you allocate to the units if you don't mind me asking?

  9. Also with the British did you just pick 5 battalions from those listed for each division?

  10. Hi Anthony - thanks. Stats from Albion Triumphant Vol1 I think. And yes the Division had the first 5 battalions listed.