Yesterday was a a bit different from a normal second Saturday of the month as I would usually have been at the regular monthly club meet up of the DWG.
This month however, clashed with our local show hosted by the Exmouth Wargamers, "Legionary" and so we decided in the main to relocate our meeting to the show by running two games, a 'Pickett's Charge' game in 28mm and my 18mm Napoleonic collection to run a test game of Casa de Salinas 1809 using 'Over the Hills'.
Things are still in a bit of a state of upheaval at home but here is all the stuff ready for the game, Saturday morning with bare floor-boards awaiting the new flooring on Monday.
|All set up ready to go on Saturday morning|
|Legionary in full swing with happy gamers enjoying the day|
This would be the first test of the Casa de Salinas scenario which is the first in a series of games that recreates the fighting over two days, 27th-28th July 1809, at Talavara.
The situation is that on the 27th July, at around midday, the last units of Cuesta's Spanish Army of Estremadura made their way back over the River Alberche after a difficult march whilst pursued by the now combined French I and IVth Corps under King Joseph.
|Map to illustrate the Casa de Salinas battle site in relation to Talavera|
To relieve the tired Spanish troops and allow them to fall back unmolested onto the Talavera position, Wellesley placed the British 3rd Division across a nearby road junction to act as a rearguard against the pursuing French.
With infantry defending the wooded thick undergrowth in front of the deserted Casa de Salinas farm complex and with Anson's Light cavalry brigade covering the open ground to the south, the position looked like a sound one for the British troops to delay the French by at least forcing them to deploy off the march.
The British troops at this stage of the Peninsular War were still relatively inexperienced and a combination of poor picket duty and Marshal Victor's knowledge of the terrain allowed the French infantry to pass over the Alberche further to the north, unspotted by Sir Arthur Wellesley observing other French troops crossing further south from a high tower on the wall surrounding the farm.
The surprise attack developed quickly, catching the infantry of Donkin's brigade (2/87th and 2/88th) sat around on the ground enjoying the shade of the trees in the hot Spanish sun and narrowly missed capturing Wellesley as he sprinted to his horse tethered close to his observation post but having its reins grabbed at by French voltigeurs as he spurred it away. The short fight would leave the British division with 400 fewer men and the French about 100, but would also deliver a hard earned lesson that would not be the last for the British forces in this battle.
|The view of the table looking east from the French table edge with the 16me Legere set up in the woods with the 45me Ligne ready to follow them on|
General de Division Pierre-Bellon Lapisse
2me Division Divisional
2/6me Artillerie a Cheval 156 men 4 x 6pdrs, 2 x 5.5” Howitzers
General de Brigade Jean Bartholomew Rouger Laplanne
1er Brigade Brigade
1/16me Regiment de Legere 477 men
2/16me Regiment de Legere 477 men
3/16me Regiment de Legere 477 men
16me Voltigeur Battalion 285 men
1/45me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
2/45me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
3/45me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
45me Voltigeur Battalion 285 men
General de Brigade Jean Baptiste Solignac
2me Brigade Brigade
1/8me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
2/8me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
3/8me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
8me Voltigeur Battalion 285 men
1/54me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
2/54me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
3/54me Regiment de Ligne 477 men
54me Voltigeur Battalion 285 men
|The view from the western edge with Anson's cavalry set up in the open plain guarding the retreat route of 3rd Division|
Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley
3rd Division - Sir Alexander Mackenzie
Lieutenant Colonel William Guard (45th Foot)
1st Brigade Brigade
2/24th Foot (Warwickshire) 708 men
2/31st Foot (Huntingdonshire) 660 men
1/45th Foot (Nottinghamshire) 680 men
Mackenzie's Brigade Light Battalion 228 men
Brigadier General Sir Rufane Shaw Donkin
2nd Brigade Brigade
2/87th (Prince of Wales Own Irish) 539 men
2/88th (Connaught Rangers) 539 men
5/60th (Rifles) 220 men
Donkin’s Brigade Light Battalion 175 men
Brigadier General George Anson Ready
Anson’s Brigade Brigade
23rd Light Dragoons A 230 men
23rd Light Dragoons B 230 men
1st KGL Light Dragoons A 225 men
1st KGL Light Dragoons B 225 men
What follows is a description of our game as it unfolded.
|The 2/87th and 2/88th set up in a disordered line to indicate their unprepared order for the French attack|
The likely hood of any major attack this late in the day couldn't be ruled out but seemed unlikely given the French would be just as tired from their march pursuing the Spanish as the look of the Spanish troops betrayed as they passed by.
|Sir Arthur and his Staff in the farm unaware of the approaching French troops|
|The 2/24th and 1/45th of Colonel Guard's brigade with the 'light bobs' forward|
|GdeD Lapisse oversees the French attack as the Legere move forward in open order|
Two of the columns kept on coming and the Irish troops fired as they fell back, stopping the attack but only by trading ground.
|The 16me Legere were chosen by Marshal Victor to lead this attack|
Just as French voltigeurs pushed back the British light troops, Sir Arthur Wellesley emerged through the front gates to be greeted by some well aimed shots, one of which seemed to graze the British general's right shoulder as he and his staff spurred their mounts back up the road towards Anson's cavalry.
|As Laplanne's brigade moved forward, Solignac's brigade moved up behind and across the road to attack the farm|
|Contact as Laplannes Voltigeur battalion opens fire on Donkin's Light troops|
|Wellesley rushes for down the stairs of the tower as the scale of the French attack is revealed|
The British on the other hand were now well aware of the attack and were busy rallying off the shock and forming their lines in anticipation of the French moving to occupy their former position.
|At the halfway stage with just over an hour passed the troops of Donkin's brigade have reeled back beyond the road|
The terrain though slightly more open was not much better and the French troops were forced to contend with the veteran 1/45th who were more than capable of stopping their attacks.
Solignac's brigade was however in better shape, fatigue wise, than those troops on the right and so lead the attack in the second half of our battle with two columns managing to contact the 1/45th and win the subsequent combat driving the British battalion back into the farm and behind its walls.
|On the British right Wellesley has been wounded escaping from the farm and the 45th have been pushed back in the first attack.|
|Donkin and Mackenzie join the 2/88th to rally of the fatigue caused by the shock of the French attack|
The two sides swapped musketry and the British line seemed to waver only to see their French counterparts turn and rapidly fall back into the trees.
|Both sides ready themselves for the final push|
The increased musketry in front of the farm revealed the intensity of the battle before it, as Solignac's French brigade pushed hard to break the British to their front only to reel under a crushing volley delivered by the 2/24th as the junior battalion stepped up to relieve the hard pressed 1/45th.
That and the firing from Mackenzies light troops who added to the fire of the line was enough to drive the second French brigade back.
|With fatigue levels in single figures for both French and British brigades, Donkin's men hold with just two points remaining|
|The French attack on the farm is suddenly stopped in the penultimate turn as the 2/24th and the light troops deliver telling fire|
Also thanks to all those who stopped by the table and said hello during the game. I was able to renew several old friendships during the day and look forward to welcoming new attendees to future DWG meetings.
Thanks also to the Exmouth Wargamers for another well organised Legionary Show which is a real highlight in the calendar for our neck of the woods.