Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Sir Arthur's Campaign in the Peninsula, 1809, Player Reports

The Report of General Sebastiani:

    The initial plan called for the I Corps at Merida and IV corps at Ciudad Real to combine forces at Casa de Don Pedro. From their our march through Guadalupe, Madronera and Caceres. Milhaud’s cavalry division to meet us then continue from Caceres. The march options would depend on enemy contacted. If we ran into Wellesley our march would go south west toward La Roca de la Sierra through the mountains to Badajoz. If no British, then to push through to Membrio, Ponte de Sol, Coruche to force a crossing of the Rio Tagus at Santarem.

I Corps commander Marshal Victor-Perrin and over-all commander in our theatre of operations, was very concerned of the Spanish forces in his vicinity. He decided to have the IV corps lead the way while his forces would screen our movements from Merida and then follow. As luck would have it, he never left Merida as the Spanish pounced in force. From that point on he had all he could do to keep communications open and hold the river crossings. At this point I’ll leave Marshal Victor-Perrin to provide his own account of those operations.

As Planned, I marched the IV corps as ordered. The IV Corps I considered a cosmopolitan army made up of Bavarians, French and Poles. We ate well from the German and Polish sausage we had stock piles as well as some fine French wine. The troops marched with elan as everyone enjoyed the variety of music from our accompanying bands.

Meeting no resistance at Caceres, I continued to Membrio. There we met the Portuguese under Silviera (Marty). [Peter - Oops, it appears I mixed up Silviera (Marty) and Beresford (Karl) in my narrative!] I arrived on the entry point on Marty’s board just as he was about to enter it. We made a gentlemen’s agreement to fight the battle on the planes west of Membrio on the road to Portalegre. I allowed his cavalry to retreat and reform while my forces exited the entry point and deployed on both sides of the forests that bordered the north of Membrio. The IV corps was initially split in two wings by the forest that greatly hampered movement. Marty deployed his forces in a line anchored by mountains on his right while moving all of his cavalry to the open fields on his left anchored by the river.



Once Marty had his light cavalry brigade of three regiments formed up in order he charged my Polish Lancers and French Chasseurs. Initially the Portuguese cavalry did well. The lancer’s morale fell to nervous while the Chasseurs nearly panicked! Not giving up the field the cavalry melee continued for a second turn whereby the Lancers counter-charged. One Portuguese regiment collapsed and the other two wavered then retreated through the supporting line of infantry to their rear.





The Lancers pursued the cavalry and ran into the infantry in Line. However, the Portuguese had plenty of time to form square and fire a devasting volley. The Lancers had enough and left the field for the remainder of the day. Sebastiani rallied the Chasseurs while the French infantry, now free of any threat from cavalry, advanced upon the Portuguese line and cleared the forest.






During the cavalry battle the artillery from both sides fought at long range. IV corps got the upper hand in this sanguinary duel. Both Portuguese batteries limbered and retired leaving their infantry to hold the line. Taking advantage, the French artillery limbered and deployed in cannister range of the Portuguese infantry. Meanwhile the French supporting forces stays outside of musket range to let the artillery complete the task with devastating effect.






Suffering from relentless salvos of canister the defenseless Portuguese line wavered and then collapsed. However, there was no place to run. Mortier’s V corps arrived on the battlefield after debouching through Portaglegre. They got behind Salviera because their road from Ciudad Rodrigo was free from enemy obstruction. Mortier’s orders where to join with Soult and Ney toward Lisbon. But seeing the road to Abrantes clogged with Ney’s forces Mortier changed direction south to Ponte del Sol then on through Portalegre.




The cavalry of Latour-Mauborg now came up through Membrio and behind the IV corps. He charged his light cavalry unto the wavering infantry of Silviera’s right while the dragoons moved in support to the center and right of the French line.







Unfortunately for Marty, his force caught in a vice against overwhelming odds was crushed. He fought a brave battle to the last and captured the colors of the Polish Lancers early on. However, the colors where regained by days end. Sebastiani captured six colors, Mortier three and Latour-Mauborg one.







Here is my account of the campaign as General Gazan of Mortier's corps. I have also attached Mortier's path of advance on the map.

SnapCon V: Spain 1809
Residues of the Emperor’s successes in Spain remained on his Grande Armée in Spain, which accomplished great deeds while the Emperor attended to "more important matters".
I had another great time in this latest “Campaign-in-a-day” in Spain 1809. I was assigned the role of General Gazan in Mortier’s Corps (Calab). Mortier’s Corps had 2 Legere, 4 Ligne, 1 Chasseurs a Cheval, and two 8 Pdr batteries. One of the Emperor’s ADCs accompanied this command, plus two engineer units.
Our staging area was in the Vallidolid area, but not necessarily at Vallidolid (?), meaning we started “off-board”. Mortier received specific orders from King Joseph to proceed to Oporto to back up offensive operations by Marshals Ney and Soult.
We started the campaign by entering Table C, which had the imposing fortress of Cuidad Rodrigo. The fortress was occupied by two stands of Spanish guerillas, but no other enemies were present. The advance south along the westernmost road led near, but not to, the fortress and was done in columns, entering the towns and woods along the way to ferret out any guerillas, but none were encountered.
As the French column passed by the Fortress, a battery deployed and sent off a shot, with little effect. The rear elements adopted march column and passed by to exit off the table at C1 to Lumbrales. As the guerillas realized that we would not engage the fortress, more of them crept out of the woods along a parallel road that led to the fortress, apparently expecting the French to advance directly at the fortress from Vallidolid. Mortier’s corps exited without interference, entering Table A at A6.
Table A had no forces of either side present, allowing Mortier’s corp to travel through Macado to Guarda. Two roads led off Table A from Guarda. The Chasseurs exited A2 to O5, where Marshal Ney’s corps was present as a long column, seeking to exit Table O at the opposite side at Oporto. As the rest of the column entered the Deployment Zone, the Chasseurs returned to Table A to exit off A3 to scout out Table H at H5, and found a battle between a Portuguese force and a French force later identified as Sebastiani’s. The Chasseurs returned with the news of a battle in progress on Table H, which prompted Mortier to return to Table A from Table O to “march to the sound of the guns”.
As Mortier’s corps returned to Guarda and off A3 to Table H, the guerillas from Table C had entered the Deployment Zone of Table A, apparently shadowing the French. This was the last time the guerillas were seen.
Exit A3 led to H5 on Table H. The Table H map indicated a road leading from H5 across the mountains to Abrantes, although no road was visible on the table itself. Since the road shown on the Table H map was the same color as all the other roads, it was assumed it was accidently overlooked [Peter - correct; when in doubt, the table maps are the Bible!], so we played as per the Table H map, which clearly showed it led to Abrantes directly with mountains on either side (meaning you had to enter Abrantes before entering any other terrain on Table H). Marty, who was playing the Portuguese force, was clearly surprised by the appearance of French. He had a rearguard at Abrantes, but pulled it to rejoin his force as he deployed for battle against Sebastiani - but now his position was compromised and that he was doomed. He was already deployed and engaged with Sebastiani, and what few units he could scrape together to face Mortier would not be enough without any help.
Still, it took 4 more turns for Mortier to march across the rear of the Portuguese force to effectively isolate it from all exits before turning to face the beleaguered enemy. Both towns at either end of the table were garrisoned to avoid any “surprises” (such as the shadowing guerillas). Sebastiani had a cavalry clash with mixed results. Recognizing the enemy was now compromised, Sebastiani slowly escorted his artillery with his infantry to allow Mortier to deploy before resorting to the bayonet, punishing the Portuguese infantry, which successfully retired to form a new line without anyone breaking ranks, despite the hits taken. Gazan remarked more than once how resolute the Portuguese were.
But the “noose” was tightening: A French cavalry force arrived behind Sebastiani. Mortier’s Chasseurs defeated the Portuguese cavalry that had been recalled to face the new French foes, and Mortier’s artillery started to wear down the Portuguese infantry that turned to face them. Sebastiani attacked with his infantry and cavalry as his artillery continued to pound away. Bit by bit, elements panicked and ran, but there was no safe place to run. It seemed fitting that the last Portuguese unit formed square and collapsed from an attack from Mortier’s Legere and Sebastiani’s Polish lancers, capturing the commander.
After congratulations all-around for a mission accomplished, the three French commands discussed what to do next. Each decided to try a different exit. Mortier chose to exit at H10 to enter Table L. Entering at L5, we witnessed the capitulation of the British at the hands of Marshals Ney and Soult. While celebrating to excess may have been in order, Mortier returned to Table H and exited H1 to enter Table E. Passing through Estramoz, Mortier exited at E2 to enter Table G, finding a Spanish force at Merida present, but as we trekked halfway across the table, Peter starts explaining the campaign to most of the other players and we realized the game is now officially over.



Post-Game Comments
This was the fastest “campaign-in-a-day” to be concluded to a clear decision. I suspect that several factors led to this swift decision:
1.    The guerillas has minimal effect and may have been ineffectively utilized. The rules seemed fine, but the initial deployment was not optimal. There were a large number of them on Table C at the start, but had deployed along a road the French did not use. The French did expect to encounter along the road they did use (so it did slow their progress somewhat, by not using march column, but not by much). If there was an option to use them on other tables besides Table C, I would have tried to use them on as many different tables as possible, even if 1 stand a table. It would have slowed down French movement to some degree, rather than allowing the French to move across unoccupied tables (as was done with Table A).
2.    The entry of Mortier’s corps from Table A (Guarda) to Table H (Abrantes) was a key maneuver that totally compromised the Portuguese and ensured their elimination as a force – but the absence of the road on the table makes me wonder if that was a legal move. The Table H map clearly indicates the road across the mountains to Abrantes, but was the road overlooked (ie: simply a mistake that it was not placed on the table), or was it meant to not be present (or only as a “secret” path)? [See above - an omission when setting up the terrain on that table. ]
3.    While I heard stories about how the British capitulated, I’ll wait to hear from the participants. That was obviously a key battle that determined the game.

Another successful "campaign-in-a-day", in my humble opinion.


Daniel


Report of General Milhaud

I am the Commander of [half - Peter] the Cavalry Reserve, six stands of Dragons, two stands of Hussars, one stand of 6# Horse Artillery. My forces were stationed North of Toledo and South of Madrid, Spain.

My orders from General LaTour Mauborg were to proceed South of Toledo and
engage any Spanish or Portuguese troops that I may encounter. My Dragons and
Hussars operated through-out the Southern region of Spain in search of enemy
forces.

I located a large Spanish force at the city of Consuegra.  The enemy formed-up
their units in preparation for battle.  I also formed-up my Dragons, Hussars and
Horse Artillary to engage the enemy.  The Spanish Commander reconsidered
their position on the battlefield and decided to retreat from the field of battle.

I did not pursue the Spanish forces, but continued to search Southern Spain
around the city of Vcaza de San Juan for other enemy forces.  I finally decided to return to the cities of Toledo and Madrid to secure the area.

I found the city of Madrid and King Joseph Bonaparte under attack by a large
Guerrilla force.  I formed-up my Calvalry and engaged the Guerrilla force in
battle and to assist King Joseph who was under siege. Our combined forces
resulted in the defeat and surrender of the Guerrilla force.

My troops left the Madrid area again and moved further into Southern
Spain in search of enemy forces and also to secure the city of Madrid's
Southern boarder.

I learned later that the battle for Spain/Portugal was over.  The Spanish and
their Allies were defeated by our superior forces. 


General  Milhaud, Commander
Cavalry Reserve



Report of General Venegas



There was also the inconclusive skirmish of my rear guard on Table R with Victor at the end of the game. They were in fact my best troops and I left them to delay any pursuit Victor might have chosen to make of me. They actually acquitted themselves quite well, considering!


Report of General La Romana
Peter OP, aka "El Toro". I don't have much to report. I headed south, garrisoned Cuidad Rodrigo, crossed the Tagus and I was about to shift over to the table with Talavera when it all ended. I was hoping to get to Madrid. I saw no sign of the most foul and foreign French, nor their Afrancesado traitors. (GM note - I think this is a record, playing and entire game without seeing the enemy on the table with you even once!)




SnapCon V: Snappy Nappy 1809 Peninsula 'Campaign in a Day'
by Russ Lockwood  (Rules author, and Spanish General Zayas for this event)

Once again, and for the fifth time, Peter, James, Greg, and Mark hosted a massive 28mm Snappy Nappy 'Campaign in a Day' event at The Portal gaming store in Manchester, CT on Sunday April 27, 2018. Special thanks to Jonathan, who manages the store, for allowing us use of the back room for the day and for the extra setup time.
This year, SnapCon V covered the return of Wellesley, the future Duke of Wellington, to the Peninsula in the Spring of 1809.

Part way through table set up at The Portal.


We had a full field of 16 players across 16 6x4-foot tables, each table covered with enough terrain to make life interesting for the players. Among the commands: Wellesley commanded his British troops, Blake with the remnants of the Portuguese army, and Cuesta, Venegas, and La Romana commanding their respective troops in diverse locations in Spain on the Allied side, with Soult, Victor, Sebastiani, Ney, and Mortier on the French side. Did I mention guerrillas as well as the King of Spain?


Historicon 2018

If you missed the Portal event, don't fret -- Peter is running this 1809 Peninsula campaign at Historicon (Lancaster, PA), scheduled for Thursday, July 12 at 10am. I'm not sure of the translation, because we learned a few things at the Portal campaign, but I expect fewer, but larger, tables and the same number of player slots. If you're going to be at the show, sign up or just stop by -- you'll love the multi-table approach that reduces the '200-foot-tall general' view and enhances the fog of war.


This Zayas…

As for this AAR, I recorded what happened to me, Zayas, and my command, and to a certain extent, the command of my immediate superior, Cuesta.   
No, no, no, no! Not Dr. Zaius, but General Jose Pascual de Zayas y Chacon. It sounds the same, but spelled differently. Sheesh, give me a break -- last year I had the 'lucky star' with all my die rolls. This year? Hmmm. You'll have to read on...


Not that Zaius!

According to Wikipedia, Jose Pascual de Zayas y Chacon was a Spanish divisional commander of great skill and daring. Why, yes, that does indeed describe my tabletop command skill, thank you very much.  What's that? Of course that's exactly what it says. Of course it's highly accurate. If you can't trust the internet, what can you trust?


Spanish Background

After Napoleon tricked both the King and his son into abdicating in May of 1808, the resistance to French rule has been led by regional Juntas in each of the historic provinces of Spain, coordinated (more in theory than in fact) by the Central Junta.
To date, that body has declined to name any one Spanish officer as commander in Chief, or Generalissimo. While united to rid Spain of the French, none of us are under obligation to obey orders from anyone (except Zayas must obey Cuesta).
While we are happy to have the assistance of the British (and to a lesser degree, the Portuguese), it must be recognized that they are more interested in freeing Portugal and tying down French troops than in liberating Spain.


While all players had the map of Spain, only Umpire Peter knew how the tables laid out. FYI: To be changed for Historicon.


Thus, we must keep our own interests in mind as we cooperate with them. While we have been able to defeat the French when they are cut off or isolated (was not our victory at Bailen glorious?), bitter experience has taught us that we cannot successfully battle the French without a significant advantage in numbers. Certainly, if we could recover Madrid, that would be an achievement that would send shock waves as far as Paris, London, Moscow, and Vienna!
Still, each of our regional Juntas have instructed us that it is important to preserve at least a core of experienced troops to keep the flames of rebellion against the French burning in our respective provinces. It is often better to melt into the mountains with the remnants of our forces, than to fight to the death and be eliminated completely!

Zayas' Journey: The Troops

General Cuesta and I started in Zafra, a pleasant village in the province of Extremadura on the southern flank of the French army. To be kind, our two commands represented the typical remnants of our once proud national army.


Greg’s stackable hills in production. Photo by Greg.


Enthusiasm abounded in the heart of every soldier, but alas, training left much to be desired. Cuesta, a dashing commander, possessed three brigades of line infantry, but they were all conscripts, and one brigade of passable light infantry, rated seasoned. He even had a brigade of militia -- little good they could do against the French veterans and elites. His three brigades of cavalry were one of militia Garochistas, one of conscript line cavalry, and one of passable seasoned Dragoons. At least he controlled 'the guns' -- one battery of massive 12-pounders. That Corsican ogre may have the 'Emperor's Daughters,' but Cuesta has the 'Generalissimo's Sons!'

As for my command, well, enthusiasm would be much needed. Like Cuesta, I commanded three brigades of conscript line infantry and one brigade of seasoned light infantry, but two brigades of militia infantry. I only had two brigades of conscript Hussar cavalry and my artillery battery contained 6-pounder guns. Alas, in Snappy Nappy terms, I was only considered a Reliable, not Dashing, commander.

Snappy Nappy in a Nutshell

Snappy Nappy uses a d10 system, with unit prowess slugged to its training or quality. In the Snappy Nappy system, troop types run: Guard (need base 4+ to hit or pass morale), Elite (5+), Veteran (6+, or 50-50), Seasoned (7+), Conscript (8+), and Militia (9+).
As you can understand, fighting with mostly 8+ and 9+ units against mostly 5+ and 6+ French units is a sure way to wreck a command and exit, stage left.

Snappy Nappy fire and melee hits translate into Morale Checks (MCs). Unlike other rule sets, when a unit gets hit in Snappy Nappy, it rolls until it either passes the MC or is eliminated from the table. This is intentional and what makes the game snappy. It also teaches you to keep reserves.
Each failed hit drops a unit's Morale Status Level (start as Bold, but drop to Firm, Nervous, Disrupted, Panic, and finally, Rout). When the unit reaches Rout, it is taken off the table. The interim steps include retreats of various distances and negative modifiers to firing.
If you join Alan's Snappy Nappy Yahoo group, you can download the Quick Reference Sheet, errata, and variations members have posted for other periods, not to mention a cornucopia of discussions.
You should also visit Peter's BlundersontheDanube blog for all the SnapCon write-ups, OOBs, maps, and so on. He has a link off his home blog page to send you direct to Snappy Nappy bliss.
I would be remiss if I didn't mention that Snappy Nappy is carried by hobby stores such as The Portal, as well as direct in the US from On Military Matters (www.onmilitarymatters.com) and in the UK from Caliver Books (www.caliverbooks.com).

Note that by separating players across many tables, you get rid of the 200-foot-tall general syndrome and increase fog of war. You never know what's coming from off table! I like to increase fog of war more by using a roster system and leaving the figures without markers, but for ease of play, we used casualty rings.  These SnapCons are true multi-player, multi-table spectacles in the best sense of the word. Thanks to Peter, James, Greg, and the rest of the gamers for creating the annual event!
Now back to our regularly scheduled SnapCon V AAR...

On to Madrid: The Maneuvers

Cuesta (Vic) sought to advance northeastward and sent Zayas (me) swinging to the north and then east with the idea of meeting at Merida. He dutifully headed off one way and I the other.


Mark (left, as Victor) and Vic (right, as Cuesta) start the Battle of Merida (middle right) on Turn 2. My (Zayas) troops are just entering the table at the edge of the right side of photo.

I ended up at the fortress of Badajoz and occupied it. Coming down the road towards Badajoz was Beresford (Karl), out for a scouting stroll with a Portuguese command. No French in sight, but a second Allied command was a welcome sight. Had it been a French command, I'd have stayed in the fortress -- gives a big -4 to hit for firing and a welcome +2 to MCs for those inside, plus, you don't have to retreat out of a fortress. My Spanish command needs all the help it can get!
Beresford and I conferred upon the battlements. I headed east towards Merida and he headed north towards Boca de la Sierra and Caceres.

By the time I reached Merida, Cuesta was pressing the French out of the town! What's this? The French in full retreat eastward towards Miajadas? Only a single infantry brigade rearguard? And Spanish cavalry threatening them? Go Cuesta!

Battle of Merida

French I Corp under Victor (Mark) saw two commands entering the table: Cuesta's and mine. Now, one-on-one the Spanish are no match, but two on one? Hmmmmm. Possibilities!
Yet Victor kept his veteran brigade in line, opting for firepower (two dice) versus a square (one die per face, two dice maximum, and hefty benefit against charging cavalry). Victor didn't even try to form Hasty Square when Cuesta's cavalry brigade charged the line.


While the Spanish confronted the French, sounds of a British battle echoed across the hills and mountains.


Alas, it was a militia cavalry brigade. The French scored a hit, and the cavalry failed morale check after morale check, needing 9+ on a d10 and not getting any. Worse, the retreat path from those interim Morale Status Levels caused a MC or two among the troops pressing forward.
I managed to work my cannons forward and plopped a few balls through the French ranks, but their morale faltered not a bit.
Undaunted, the French brigade backpedaled, giving ground grudgingly as the rest of the corps marched eastward.
Equally undaunted, Cuesta used his dragoons (8+) to charge the French infantry. Again, the infantry didn't try to form Hasty Square and used firepower to hit the cavalry. Away the Dragoons fled, last seen somewhere outside Gibraltar...
With the cavalry cleared away, on came the vaunted 12-pounder battery. A mighty roar, a billowing smoke, and a hearty "Hi Ho, Fuego!" resulted in more hits, but the French shrugged them off.
Ah, but Cuesta marched infantry around Merida and eastward, using speed to work around the French flank. Conscripts the Spanish line infantry may be, but they charged down a hill and into the enemy's flank for a Sweeping Victory -- the French lost two Morale Status Levels automatically and had two MCs. Victor failed enough for the unit to disintegrate, rout, and be taken off the board.
Cuesta had won the Battle of Merida, albeit at a cost of two cavalry brigades versus one French infantry brigade.

Pursuit and Outflanking

I had managed to build a pontoon bridge over the Rio Guadiana outside Merida, giving me access to the green fields beyond to the north and a possible outflanking maneuver to reach Miajadas. Cuesta had the same idea and slipped the militia Garochistas cavalry brigade across a bridge and headed towards Miajadas.
The French got there first via a head start and road march and were heading east when all of a sudden, Spanish cavalry appeared on the road out of the east, heading west. Somehow, we Spanish -- Cuesta, Zayas, and the newly arrived Venegas -- had trapped Victor's Corp in Miajadas!
So, one Spanish command on one French and the French could clean a Spanish clock. Two on one and it gets interesting. Three on one and the Spanish gain a distinct advantage. Now, all we had to do was pop our commands in march mode and head towards Miajadas, which was the other side of the table. Sure, it would take six or seven turns as it did Victor, but I was across the river and could cut off an attempt to reach the road heading north towards Montanchez.

Zayas’ troops cross the pontoon bridge on right while Cuesta pushes the French rearguard away from Merida. The French reach Miajadas (left side of table) when all of a sudden Venegas’ cavalry shows up out of the east (left). The ‘mountain road’ of Beresford is at bottom right. This is the start of Turn 6.

Victor went from confident to worried when Venegas' cavalry arrived from the east. Well he should. The battle would cost us Spaniards, but to eliminate a French corp? Worth the risk!
Better yet, remember Beresford at Badajoz? Well, he showed up on the western table edge on a 'mountain road' that skimmed the northwest corner of the table. He could not exit the road and enter our table. This road was a narrow one through the mountains and Peter laid out the road so that if any French were on the table, even if nowhere near the mountain road, it would, as it did, slow down Allied movement.
However, the sight of FOUR commands must have further unnerved Victor. It certainly would me!

The Road Clears

And just like that, the dream of bagging a French corp disappeared with a snort, a yawn, and a scratching of one's bottom. Venegas' cavalry exited back to the east! The road cleared and Victor detailed an infantry brigade and cavalry brigade to cover Miajadas and marched the rest eastward.
I suspect Victor felt come trepidation about what he would find on the next table. A little bait and crush action is not unheard of in multi-table Snappy Nappy battles.

Rearguard Action at Miajadas

Cuesta's militia Garochistas cavalry brigade charged the French elite infantry at Miajadas. Once again, Victor disdained the attempt at forming a Hasty Square in favor of firepower. This time, his die rolls failed and the Garochistas closed. For once, the cavalry had a slight edge in the melee. Alas, the d10 die rolls proved to favor the French and the Garochistas fell back...but stayed nearby.
I had moved a Hussar brigade in support, but was too far away to influence the melee.
Victor used his cavalry to charge the Garochistas, which melted away in all directions, last seen swimming for the Canary Islands...


Zayas (me, at right) writes a message to Wellesley as Victor ponders a pincer. Photo by Dan.


Worse, the French grabbed the initiative and Victor sent his cavalry against my Hussars. My hussars apparently dismounted for the melee, for they rolled onto their backs and put their hands and feeties in the air looking for belly rubs. I flubbed every MC and the hussars followed the Garochistas to the Canary Islands...


With the Garochistas gone, my Hussars (top middle) were next. Victor withdrew his rearguard eastwards (top) while I headed north (left) to Caceres.


Victor exited east with the bulk of his command, followed by the withdrawal of the rearguard. Cuesta pursued, but he was quite a bit behind. I headed to the nearest road -- the one north to Montanchez.

Messages

Venegas the scout sent a written message (delivered via umpire) that Madrid was virtually empty, with but three infantry brigades and one cavalry brigade holding the throne of the pretender. He suggested we get there and liberate it. Cuesta suggested I go.
I aimed to march to Madrid via Talavera, so I marched through Caceres to Madronera, finding no French but meeting another Spanish command aiming for the same place. Realizing that two commands would clog the road, I tried a parallel road.
Imagine my surprise when I ended up at Guadalupe and found Victor battering the last unit of Venegas' command -- his artillery at Disrupted level -- out of the town!


Battle of Porto Legra (Membrio). French Dan (left, asgeneral Gazan of Mortier's Corps) and French Phil (right, as Sebastiani) squeeze Portuguese Marty (middle, as Silviera) until there was no Marty left.

What the heck was Venegas doing taking on Victor by himself? Sure, he had a slightly larger force at start, but it had all the morale hallmarks of every other Spanish command.
A blast from French artillery tossed his broken body over the barrel of the last cannon. With his last dying breath, he handed me a blood-stained scrap of paper ordering him to hold Guadalupe at all cost. He died with honor.
From distant Merida, where my pontoon makers did not understand how to reverse assembly instructions and dismantle the pontoon bridge (failed MCs turn after turn after turn!), shots rang out. Mortier's French corps had wandered around until it reached Badajoz and then pushed on to Merida. My pontoonierists were being punctured!

End of the Game

About now, Umpire Peter called the game and collected everyone for a debrief and discussion. I looked at my watch -- only three hours of game time had elapsed. I had an almost intact command and Cuesta a mostly intact command. I don't know where Beresford was, but until Mortier arrived, I had only seen Victor.


Pre-game Lisbon (see all the ships) and its distinctive clock tower. From left to right: Mike (Wellesley), Mark (Ney, with plastic box), Phil (Sebastiani),Umpire Peter (black cap), Bruce (Hill), and Marty (Silviera). The French would arrive where Mike stands.

Witness the power of multiple tables. Unbeknownst to me, the French had crushed Wellesley, taken Lisbon, and driven the British into the sea -- at least they could take ships to get to the Canary Islands.
WHAT?
The French grabbed a tactically advantageous position when the British defended in a somewhat exposed position, then pounded the British into red-coated pulp. From the commentary, although it came from French sources, and so is as reliable as Napoleon's dispatches, the British couldn't pass a morale check to save their troops' lives. Even Wellesley, who gives a +3 die modifier, failed MCs!
I asked, "Did Wellesley die?"
"No, why should he?"
"If a commander rolls a natural 1 on a MC, he has to roll on the Leader Loss table, with a 20% chance of being wounded and 10% chance of death and thus removal from the game."
"Ooops. Forgot that rule."
That was probably for the better, even if British fortunes waned and waned and collapsed.
A full account, including maps, OOBs, and initial dispositions, will go up on Peter's BlundersontheDanube blog at some point in time.

Snappiest Ever

Usually, we start at 11am and roll into 5pm with some pretty battered commands and perhaps some tough fighting remaining for some of the more intact ones. Not this campaign. Wow! Three hours.
On the one hand, lots of British-French fighting as the French strategy of ignoring and avoiding the Spanish paid off. I still had at least a brief fight left in me, but not for one-on-one against Victor.
On the other hand, Dan and I drove home the four hours in daylight. And that was after spending an hour packing up the terrain. Still, thanks, Peter and company, for another great spectacle with some nerve-wracking moments in the cross-table maneuvering.
In the weeks after the game, we've exchanged e-mails and came up with some changes for the Historicon game. The Spanish will get some troop upgrades that might stretch actual history but offer more balanced commands. Some tables will be dropped. Some starting positions will be altered. Victory Points granted for holding major towns and thus provinces (tables) instead of all-or-nothing capture of Lisbon and Madrid. A few more tweaks and twerks.
On the way home, I realized that I initially released Snappy Nappy in 1994 as a basic folding half-sized booklet and worked on the rules over the next decade and some, with OMM releasing it in its current full-size booklet format in 2009. That makes 2019 the 25th anniversary and 10th anniversary respectively.
Sounds like I need to do a Silver Anniversary edition!
Thanks, all, for a great campaign in a day.




Report of Marechal Victor


From the multi-volume “Unauthorized History of the Snappy Nappy Wars: Spain 1808 to 1809” …

“After some communciations between Marshal Victor-Perrin and General Sebastiani, and receiving additional orders from King Joseph to move west towards Lisbon, it was decided that having to face the Spanish forces of Cuesta and Zayas to the south and west, and with Venegas somewhere off to the southeast, it would be better to take a more combined central position, and move north to provide a better overall “interior lines” spot for the defense of Spain while the forces of Soult, Lapisse, Ney, Mortier, and Milhaud provided the soldiers for the main assault towards Lisbon.


Another day dawned on Marshall Victor-Perrin’s 1st Corp camped outside and to the east of Merida. Victor-Perrin positioned one of his four French line units facing to the south west, and one artillery battery with his Hussars to the west to serve as a rear guard. Meanwhile, the other three line units, his Legere unit, and his second artillery battery prepared to trundle along the road to Miajadas, and in the hopes of eventually meeting up with General Sebastiani’s, perhaps at Casa de Don Pedro, for the march to Gaudeloupe and beyond. The connection of the 1st and 4th Corp didn’t happen.


It didn’t take long for Cuesta’s force to arrive outside of Merida, and at first he was west of the town, yet managed to counter march his force to the south west where it was originally planned. As Cuesta positioned his army to attack Victor-Perrin’s rear guard, Zayas’ troops also appeared west of the town, and had a pontoon bridge engineered over the Guadiana River. Then Zaya’s proceeded along both river banks. It didn’t take long for Victor’s rear guard units to see they’d be outnumbered soon, and after an initial exchange of cannon fire, the artillery limbered up and moved east, while the Hussars crossed the bridge heading north, and the infantry began what would turnout to be it’s long slow retreat away from the flood of Spanish troops coming towards Merida.


As the rest of the first Corps began to reach Miajadas, what would appear to the wondering eyes of Marshall Victor next was a cavalry force from Venegas’s army in between the 1st Corp and where they were headed next. As it turns out, Sebastiani and his 4th Corp had already been through Casa de Don Pedro, and would eventually make it all the way to Caceres to face the Portuguese force that arrived there as well. Marshall Victor was now seemingly confronted with the dire situation of potentially having three Spanish armies surrounding him.


However, the line unit that had been left behind at Merida continued it’s gradual retreat continually slowing the progress of both Cuesta and Zayas. Cuesta’s infantry began it’s sweep around the left flank of the French infantry, while Zayas’ cavalry lead his force around the other flank, with both armies pummeling the French with their artillery and some cavalry charges from Cuesta up the middle. As more of Victor’s main body of troops and artillery proceeded through Miajadas, Victor’s Hussars moved towards Venegas’ cavalry to the east, and the Spanish cavalry then disappeared back toward Casa de Don Pedro. The timing of that retreat couldn’t have been more fortuitous, because the French Hussars could then turn to protect the flank of the marching infantry column, chasing off the Spanish lancers under Cuesta’s command, and then facing a unit of cavalry under Zaya’s command.


Eventually the rear guard French infantry unit gave way, and the rest of Cuesta’s Spanish began moving faster towards Miajadas, and the rear of Victor’s 1st Corp, although enough time had been bought so that more infantry didn’t need to be committed to delay the Spanish advance, and the rest of the 1st Corp eventually made it to Casa de Don Pedro where only a small garrison had been left by Venegas. The Spanish garrison put up a good fight, but it was only a matter of time before the town eventually fell.


And back at Merida, the French under Mortier suddenly appeared behind the Spanish advance. Little did Victor know of victory being had by the 2nd, 4th, and 5th French Corp over the British and Portuguese near Lisbon, but Mortier’s arrival certainly told of the trek he must have had to reach his new position, and in essence bringing a sense of relief to the 1st Corp being pressed as they were.


Marshall Victor then had just gotten all but his Hussars and Legere to the now occupied town of Don Pedro When all of a sudden lead elements of Zayas’ Spanish appeared from the north after having succeeded in very rapidly marching all the way around to Gaudeloupe. Although word reached the 1st Corp that the British and Portuguese had capitulated near Lisbon, Victor-Perrin’s engineer’s finally succeeded in creating a temporary bridge over the Guadiana near Caso de Don Pedro, and the Marshal began to contemplate how he’d need to block Zaya’s flank march in order to get his troops to the east, and hopefully have a supply line back to Madrid from there.”


GM Notes:

    One of my objectives for this event was to have it reach a fairly clear conclusion within the allotted time. To that end I kept the forces per player on the lower side, and set the "drop dead" conditions of losing Lisbon or Madrid to force both sides to protect their base of operations. That probably made it too easy for the French to drive on Lisbon and defeat the Anglo-Portuguese whilst largely ignoring the Spanish. Although fairly historical, the poor ratings of the Spanish troops contributed to an understandable reluctance on the part of most of the Spanish commanders to risk their forces in battle with the French unless the situation was very favorable. That allowed the French to gang up on the remaining allied troops. Coupled with some unlucky die rolling by the British at Lisbon, this lead to the campaign ending at l;east 2 hours before I had hoped, albeit with a clear French victory.

    We will be running a substantially altered version of this campaign at Historicon on Thursday July 12 (Event T-150:10). The Spanish will get somewhat improved ratings and command, as well as an overall commander, the British will get a few m re units, and the French will see a few slight downgrades. That coupled with some changes to the table layout, victory conditions, and starting positions should make for a much more challenging situation for the French. We'll see how it plays out this time!


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Militia Honrados de Coruna - Eagle figures


After the French evacuated Galicia in 1809, this unit was among many such troops raised for maintaining local order and self defense. 


Properly, the facings should be piped in white and the belt work black. I did my unit a bit differently. 


There is a detailed article on The Napoleon series about this unit. Flag is a generic one printed from Warflag/Napflag. 


These are Eagle figures, a new manufacturer for me. Their service was excellent. 



Dark brown coat and pants, Medium green facings piped white. Pewter buttons.


A little mood music, Maestro!
This 1947 film about the inquisition and the conquest of Mexico by Cortez is still well worth watching; it was shot on location in Mexico, and the smoking volcano in the background on many shots was completely real. The score by Alfred Newman is outstanding. The USC band uses the "Conquest March" from the end of the movie as one of their signature pieces. At UConn , we had our own fantastic arrangement of "Captain" based more upon the first part of the opening Title theme. I will have to see is I can digitize my old mid 1970's  vinyl recording of it some day, as it is an extremely stirring piece of music... especially when played by 160 musicians! 


ADD: Marco from Chile was kind enough to send me a photo of some Spanish standards from the museum in La Coruna. Now I will have to do a replacement flag for this unit to match! Marco assures me my unit will fight much better with the proper flag to inspire them!  :-)



Marco says that the flag on the left of the picture is that of the Militia of Santiago; he notes that flag has the complete Royal arms in its center. The middle, dark blue flag is an artillery flag of the 4th regiment (see the flag carried by my 12 pounder battery). The flag on the right is that of the Militia of La Coruna. Surprisingly, it appears to have a red field (although not as red, at least 200 years of ageing later, as that in the lining of the crown). Marco comments that he has seen originals of the white flags of the Spanish units, and none of them have aged to a color anything like this. 


The central device of the Coruna flag is the "reduced' (simplified) Royal arms, with the red Lion of Leon quartered with the Tower of Castile, and the fleur-de-lis of the Bourbons superimposed upon them, as seen above (image also supplied by Marco). This is surrounded by a "trophy" of flags, etc. 


In the typical style of Spanish standards of the era, the four corners of the Coruna flag bear the arms of the city - a heraldic "Pillar of Hercules". Image once again supplied by Marco. 


Sunday, May 13, 2018

Sir Arthur's Campaign in the Peninsula, 1809, Part 3


The vanguard of Venegas' Spanish troops make an appearance outside Toledo. King Joseph, ensconced in Madrid shows  rather more elation than concern!

elation
La Romana continues his maneuvers. Not a Frenchman in sight!


Victor's cavalry scout the garrison left in Casas de Don Pedro by the withdrawing Venegas (who thoughtfully disassembled the pontoon bridge behind him). 


Milhaud continues to scour Southern Spain for Spanish forces... and finds a small garrison  on table V. His cavalry are near the village of Valdapenes, and the garrison is in the village of Almuradiel


Outside Lisbon, the most welcome arrival of Silviera and his Portuguese Corps is met with cheers by Wellesley and Hill. 


The situation between Cuesta and Zayas on the Spanish side, and Marechal Victor on the French side. 


The backlog of French troops on the Oporto has cleared - they have all moved on to the Lisbon table!


Cuesta and Zayas have finally cleared the last of the French from Merida, freeing their troops to pursue Victor. 


More of Venegas' troops emerge from the mountains near Torrigos and Talavera on Table T, while the Guerrillas muster their numbers once again near Navalmoral. 


Latour-Mauborg's cavalry awaiting their turn to cross onto the Membrio table. 


Don Julian leads a small band of Guerrillas through Guarda on Table A.


La Romana 's Spanish occupy Vitigudino on table C. If they turn left, that will bring them to the village of Cabillas, which sits astride one of the few first class roads in Spain (dark grey felt); the High Road from the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo on the border with Portugal (off table to the right) West to Salamanaca, Valladoid, and the fortress of Burgos (Table B).


The hard fought battle of Membrio. Note the troops of Mortier and his subordinate, Gazan, coming up from behind the Portuguese line!


King Joseph watches the Spanish forces building outside Madrid. He appears quite confident that he can hold the capitol!


The lead elements of La Romana's army occupy Ciudad Rodrigo. Are some of his troops turning towards Cabillas as well?


"Mexican standoff" at Casas de Don Pedro - the Infantry and Artillery garrison left by Venegas facing off against cavalry of Victor!


Milhaud's cavalry, still near Valdapenes on table V. 


Heavy fighting outside Lisbon; Soult, Lapisse, and Ney for the French, opposed by Wellesy, Hill, and now Silviera for the Allies. 


Another view of the Lisbon table, as seen between the tall generals. 


Cuesta and Zayas pursue Victor's rear guard. 


La Romana has evidently decided that he will hold Ciudad Rodrigo in strength. 


King Joseph studies the Rules of War as he prepares for an anticipated Spanish attack upon Madrid
.

The British have established a line of battle on the ridge between Torres Vedras and Alverca... but the troops of Lapisse and Ney threaten their flank. Silviera's Portuguese were sorely needed!


Having seen enough of Valdapenes, Milhaud returns to Damiel, on table D.  This table is located  South of the Madrid table. 


The Spanish have taken Merida, but a lone French infantry brigade continues to delay Cuesta. Zayas is moving cross country on the opposite side of the Rio Guadiana to bypass them. 


Victor brings up more troops before attempting to take Cassas de Don Pedro. 


General Silviera advances his Portuguese to support his British Allies on the Lisbon table. 


Situation around Miajadas as Victor tries to move the rest of his troops onto the next table and the fight at Casas de Don Pedro. 


Milhaud scouts a road that leads South to table "J" - which doesn't exist (it is out of the active playing theater). 


More of Latour Mauborg;'s cavalry waiting to reinforce Sebastiani at Membrio. 


The battle continues apace at Mebrio between Sebastiani and Beresford, but Marshal Mortier's forces are closing on his rear areas.


Situation on the Lisbon table. 


Marechal Victor is finally ready to advance on the garrison of Casas de Don Pedro. 


Summoned by King Joseph, Milhaud's cavalry put in an appearance on Table M, entering along the road to Terancon and Madrid beyond. 


The rest of Latour Mauborg's cavalry prepare to depart for Membrio. 


Speaking of Membrio, Mortier's troops are slowly closing the jaws of the French bear trap around Beresford. 


View from the West towards Lisbon and the Atlantic; the column of troops in the foreground belong to Marechal Ney. 


Victor brings up more of his Corps, as the fight at Casas de Don Pedro develops. 


la Romana's troops are spread across Table C, and hold Ciudad Rodrigo ion strength. Still no enemy in sight...


With more of Milhaud's Cavalry advancing upon Consuega, Venegas decides it is high time to do the "Shuffle off to Burgos". With little to lose. Don Julian's Guerrillas boldly try to get around the French position at Madrid.  


The first of Latour-Mauborg's cavalry arrive on the Road to Membrio (sounds like a Bing Crosby/Bob Hope movie, eh?). Bresford can only groan, hoping perhaps some Spaniards might arrive to save the day...


The fighting before Lisbon. 


The last of Victor's troops are departing for Casas de Don Pedro, but he ,leaves behind a small rearguard of elite Legere to delay the pursuit by Cuesta and Zayas. 


Cuesta and Zayas (Russ Lockwood)  confer about their future maneuvers. 


The rest of Victor's Corps attempting to clear Casas de Don Pedro of the Spanish rearguard left by Venegas. 


The situation at Madrid and vicinity.


La Romana holds his position at Ciudad Rodrigo and its environs. 


The evolving battle of Membrio. 


Close up of the fighting; pressed by Sebastiani, Mortierm, Gazan, and now Latour Mabourg, Berseford has fought with skill and determination, but his position is crumbling. 


As the French cavalry of Milhaud advance, Venegas "floats like a butterfly" (una mariposa), seeking another field and another day. The Guerrillas stay around for some action. 


La Romana stands like a fortress on Table C. 


The charge of the Garrochistas! 

(Militia cavalry vs. elite infantry frontally - the accurate volley of the light infantry halted the charge in its tracks, but the painting looks good anyway!)


The battle of Lisbon rages on. 


Stubborn Spanish hold out at Casas de Don Pedro. 


La Romana concentrates his army at the great fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo.


View of the Battle for Lisbon from the Northwest.


General Venegas continues the Tour de España, entering table B. One part moves East to Avila (left), and the rest of his forces move North through Segovia.


Beresford's position at Membrio has become dire...


The battle of Lisbon from the Northeast. 


Beresford continues the struggle manfully, despite the overwhelming odds. 


Victor is not finding Casas de Don Pedro an easy nut to crack!


Guerrillas are harassing the garrison of Madrid (and slowing down Milhaud's pursuit of Venegas as well).  Eager for his share of La Gloire, Milhaud then breaks off and heads for the Guerrilla rabble!


Venegas shifts the axis of his advance through Avila, and on towards Salamanca. 


Tired of waiting for the French to attack him at Ciudad Rodrigo, La Romana shakes his men out and moves onto Table F. where he sets up a defensive position around the village of Plasencia. The road  (Deployment Zone) to  Membrio could be reached from this table. On the other hand, the good general may have been completely unaware of the situation there. 


La Romana has left a strong garrison of 4 infantry brigades at the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo. 


Marechal Victor's rearguard of elite hussars and light infantry continues to hold back Cuesta's pursuit. General Zayas seeks a way around the roadblock, seen here marching through the village of Montanchez, on his way to Caceres on table F.


As Cuesta closes on Miajadas, Victor withdraws the last of his infantry toward Casas de Don Pedro. The hussars will have to suffice to entertain Cuesta from here on 


Beresford is near complete collapse at Membrio under the weight of French numbers. 


Milhaud's troopers engage the hated Spanish Guerrillas outside Madrid. "We'll enjoy this!"


His infantry attacks repulsed, Victor decides to let his artillery do the work of reducing Casas de Don Pedro, while he attempts to build a pontoon bridge to bypass the choke point. 


Cuestas troops have garrisoned Miajadas, and the hussars decide that it is time they moved out as well. 


Silviera's Portuguese have stabilized the Allied lines to the West of Lisbon, but the British position on the Torres Vedras ridge is crumbling. Lisbon lies beyond (building half seen at the far right of the picture. 


Breresford's command has been annihilated! The Battle of Membrio over, the French troops reform and rally, as they prepare to move on to the next battlefield. 


Venegas is still on the move. He has constructed a pontoon bridge as a shortcut to the High Road to Ciudad Rodrigo on Table C. 



   At this point, the British players conceded that they could not hold Lisbon, and, there being little prospect of the French losing Madrid, the game was declared a French Victory. With ships waiting to evacuate the British. they should be able to escape to safety. However, almost all of Portugal is now once again in French hands. The Emperor will be most pleased! Meanwhile Marechal Soult distributed the fliers that he had thoughtfully had printed in Oporto, advocating his appointment as King Nicholas I of Portugal.