Friday, 6 March 2015

Talavera - A Series of Linked Battles

Tonight will see the second play test of the Casa de Salinas scenario, with an AAR to follow this weekend. I like to try out different ideas with each test game, and tonight we will be using an order of battle generated from a list of all the units present at Talavera on the eve of the battle, with the idea of using this game to set up a series of linked scenarios.

On the lead into the Talavera project I discussed the plans back in May 2014 with a general outline of the models I would work on and the games I would do to capture the events of the battle.

This outline plan took a step further when I reviewed the campaign as a whole, by which time I was well into the orders of battle for both the Allies and French.

It is quite clear that the battle is composed of a series of actions occurring in the space of two days with the climax reached on the afternoon of the 28th July with the almost all out assault on the British centre/right of the line and sputtering out with the debacle of the charge of the 23rd Light Dragoons in the northern valley on the British left. The map below helps to illustrate where the principle clashes occurred.

As you will know, I like to use my wargaming to try and model the events of the historical action whilst having the fun of the game, not knowing what might occur in our refights. One of the great benefits of using C&GII is that it offers gamers, the opportunity of creating the forces involved as a master list order of battle that can provide units for individual scenarios that form part of a whole linked series. The casualties and morale effects can be carried from one scenario to the next and thus help create the whole two days of combat, fatigue and casualties.

I haven't been able to use this facility with the battles recreated so far, but Talavera presents a whole new challenge, and so I have built a series of four games scenarios that can be played separately as stand alone games or as part of a series of linked battles.

The 60th Rifles held their ground as the rear guard is surprised at Casa de Salinas

Scenario 1 - Casa de Salinas, 1300, 27th July 1809
It seems clear from the series of actions that Marshal Victor, in particular, was unimpressed with the British army that confronted his veteran forces on the 27th and with the two actions on that day he looked to take a moral ascendancy over his enemy by inflicting loss of casualties and confidence by attacking them when they least expected such an attack and when a more experienced force would have been better prepared. In addition, in the night attack he attempted to turn the whole allied line out of a strong position and leave it exposed the next day to being broken into its two parts and harried across more open terrain, better suited to his cavalry reserve.

The 9eme Legere led the night attack onto the Cerro de Medellin 27th July

Scenario 2 - The Night Attack, 22.00, 27th July 1809
The dawn attack that heralded the beginning of the battle on the 28th July was a formula that had been used with incredible success against all other major European armies to that date, and there seemed no reason for it to fail this time. When it did fail, Victor put the repulse down to lack of support and failing to stretch the defences enough to ensure success. It seems that Joseph and Jourdan were less sure of this diagnosis, but with news that Soult would not be appearing behind the allies for at least a week and that Madrid was threatened by the advance of Venegas' Spanish army to their rear. they somewhat reluctantly agreed with Victor's plan of attack in the afternoon to break the Allied army before dealing with the other issues.

Scenario 3 - The Dawn Attack, 0500 28th July
Thus with these parameters outlined I have put together the four actions with the principle forces involved operating under the plans constructed by Victor and his staff. The objectives will mirror those plans, and will encourage the players to pursue a policy of striving to win each game and build a pot of victory points that will have a bearing on the outcome in the final scenario. In addition the attrition caused in each will be in effect in the following games.

The French artillery barrage, kept busy all day, reached a crescendo in the afternoon attack

Scenario 4 - The Afternoon Attack, 14.00 28th July
As it stands at the moment, I have constructed about half the units needed for Scenario 4. All are done for Scenarios 1 and 2, with just a few needed for 3, so I aim to post on the play test games as we work towards the big game. Once all the scenarios have been thoroughly play tested I will release the work.

I should add that in addition to working these games up for C&G in particular, the nature of scenario design today is to make them user friendly for other rule sets and I plan to consider ways of carrying forward the attrition aspects of each game with other rules in mind. However with the units based on real numbers of men and a broadly generic morale rating, they should be easily translatable anyway.

Spanish Cavalry regiment El Rey, completed the repulse of the German Division at the close of the battle
The test for linking these games begins with the second playing of Casa de Salinas where the order of battle for both sides is taken from the master list of units involved in the battle as a whole and I will be transferring them back into it prior to moving on to the Night Attack scenario.

As always, feedback and comments welcome.


  1. Great plan. With your attention to detail I'm sure this will be amazing. We've used a similar approach with small engagements leading to a bigger engagement with C&G for ACW, specifically the 1862 Maryland Campaign. However it took 4 of us to get all the figures together to make this happen. Cant wait to see your upcoming games. Always inspiring.

    1. Hi AP, thank you. Yes, as I posted in my plans for this year, this is a "monster" project in terms of the painting required, but the work on the smaller battles played previously and contributed a large number of the troops and once the balance is done for this game, the collection will be able to handle bigger games going forward.

      How did you find C&G in managing your linked games and is there anything I should know from your own experience. Any inputs gratefully received.


  2. Jonathan, I do enjoy your meticulous approach to a game, series of games, or campaign.
    What do you use to create your very readable maps?
    Great stuff as always.

  3. Hi Jon, thanks mate, I guess my approach has come out of my professional life and I like to know what needs doing to get from position A to position B. The big difference is that this is all about having fun, so it gets even more attention to detail.

    The maps are produced with an old piece of software called "Game Mapper". I think it's still around and there is probably a more advanced version. I like it because it's simple to use and I can create JPEGs that are easily used on line and in word documents for game briefs.

    Thanks again

  4. Hi JJ with ref to your map "Scenario 4 - The Afternoon Attack, 14.00 28th July" do you have a list of which unit each numbered block represents. Cheeky I know but would be very useful given our clubs upcoming 28mm refight which is sort of using your layout maps :)

    1. Hi Anthony,
      Well I have a draft order of battle worked up for C&G and both that and the map are subject to revision when I come to run the scenario. The numbered units are based loosely on the approximate positions of individual battalions, cavalry regiments and batteries from the different divisions and corps so I would suggest grabbing a copy of the Nafziger orbats, see the link below if you haven't got them and the map from the Royal Irish Regiments site, next link down, which gives you the layout for the principle divisions in the afternoon and you won't be far off my own game plan.

      hope that helps

    2. Me again sorry.
      Trying to allocate the French units from the nafziger obat to your map, having problems with the Infantry of 1 Corps and 4 Corps 1st division. I can't seem to get the same number of Battalions listed on the obat to match your map. Also this obat differs from the one in the Osprey campaign book (compiled from Oman and de Pleineville) which has the 16em and 27em Legere as single battalions and all of Leval's division, except the Frankfurth, as three battalion regiments.
      Any pointers from your exhaustive research would be most welcome,
      appologies again for the cheek.


    3. Hi Tony, no problem, happy to help.
      Yes I have ignored the Osprey order of battle as it diverges from all my other sources and went back to dear old Sir Charles Oman as my principle source. So all the regiments in I Corps have three battalions including the 16e and 27e Legere.
      For Leval's German Division, all infantry contingents (Nassau, Baden, Hesse-Darmstadt and Kingdom of Holland) have two battalions, except the Frankfurt Regiment with one battalion and the two Polish battalions of the 4th Polish Regiment. Thus with the Poles included you should have eleven battalions.

      So my map above from left to right shows Ruffin's nine battalions in the northern valley, the twelve battalions of Lapisse's and the twelve battalions of Villattes divisions, then there should be another twelve, not the six shown (34 to 39), battalions of Sebastiani's division, then the nine German battalions from Leval's division, with the two Polish battalions at the back in reserve.

      I hope that helps. As I said this was just my plan back in March and I will produce a revised version of the map when we come to do the full afternoon attack with my assumptions of where the units would be precisely.

      Let me know when you play and if you post a report, I would love to hear how things go.

    4. Thanks for the help again that clears things up. Due to be played on the 19th.