Monday, 21 December 2015

peninsular war project part 2 combat in the hills

We finished part one with the French 70th infantry about to start their assault on the gully's and the village of Castra. Lisbon is only a few miles away and if they can brake thought the enemy the Portuguese capital is theirs. General Gomes Sepulvedain, has sent general Dbalous from Lisbon in an attempt to delay the French, Dbalous has chosen the high ground near the village of Castra were the French will have to make there way up the narrow gully's towards the village. He has placed his irregulars skirmishers above the gully's so they can shoot down on the French. His plan is to trap one of the company's in the hills if he can get men behind them, even if most of his irregulars are armed only with hand weapons he will have the advantage of numbers on his side. The Lisbon militia are formed up in the farm land just outside the village they are ordered to shoot down the hopefully weakened French infantry as they make it out of the tracks

TURN 1 to 3

The Lisbon militia move out of Castra to meet the French, being militia they will be better armed and trained than the irregulars but they can only fire one volley per turn. Trained/veteran regulars such as the French can fire in each of their phases.

The 1st company of the 70th deploys on the left. The outskirts of Castra can be seen in the distance.

The 2nd company of the 70th deploys on the right irregular partisans can be seen on the high ground.

with all of their skirmishers deployed, together with their NCO, the skirmishers can know act independently, and can move any distance from their parent company base.
TURN 4 to 6

On the right flank the skirmishers of the 2nd company start to move up the gully.

 Strait into a fire fight with the partisans on the high ground.

The floor of the gully is soon covered with gun smoke as the skirmishers and the irregulars trade shots. taking fire from both sides the French are easy targets for the irregulars, lucky for the French the irregulars are not very good shots.

Sporadic musket fire in the left gully, but the 1st companies skirmishers make good progress.
TURN 7 and 8

one of the groups of partisans waiting on the high ground 

More irregulars on the high ground on the left flank of the French make there move, and start to move around the unsuspecting French.

Having managed to get a party of irregulars around 1st company the trap is set.

TURN 9 and 10 

1st company is attacked from all sides as the irregulars move in for the kill. Their skirmisher run for the relative safety of their company.

1st company is forced to fight for its life, casualties are high on both sides

On the right flank 2nd companies skirmishers have almost made it to the top of their gully, all the skirmishers are still standing but only just, most have between 1 and 2 wounds.

TURN 11 to 13

Having finally reached the top of their gully 2nd companies skirmishers hold their breath, Their quick thinking NCO can see the fate of their comrades in the other gully, and orders his men to attack the irregulars from behind. 

Its the irregulars turn to be trapped, with casualties mounting and the 2nd companies skirmishers know in combat with them, the irregulars morale is broken and they start to run, just as 1st company also has to take a morale test , but they pass even though they have taken many casualties including all their skirmishers. 

Both companies of the 70th make it out of the gully's. The 3 remaining skirmishers of the 2nd company move out once more.

As the French companies make it onto the open ground the militia opens up with a volley at the already weakened 1st company men fall and they have to take another morale test, they pass yet again although they are shaken.

TURN 14 and 16

Being only allowed to fire one volley per turn the militia withdraw a little in there next phase. The two companies move forwards 2nd company fires a volley at the militia which bring down several men 1st company are shaken so they don't fire. (shaken units can only fire once per turn) The skirmishers push the irregular skirmishers through the vineyard.

Another volley from the militia and more French men fall this time in the 2nd company but they shrug this off and move to take over the final assault on the village from the shaken 1st company.
militia and shaken units have to target the nearest enemy so they could not fire at the shaken 1st company. 

With the 2nd company troops know moving on them and the last of the irregulars skirmishers being chased from the vineyard the militia have no choice but to withdraw towards the villages outskirts.

The militia have know withdraw into the village but with the 70th line are right behind them, moments later the militia brake and run.

A hard fight, harder than the French anticipated. Dbalous plane almost worked, if the 2nd companies skirmishers had not come to their aid then 1st company would have been destroyed for shore, and the 2nd company may have had to withdraw, if only Dbalous had some regulars with him. The iron discipline of the French veterans is what made the difference, 1st company had to take 2 morale tests and passed both all be it the second leaving them shaken, but still standing. despite being veterans the French skirmishers found it very difficult to hit the irregulars in the cover of the hills, just how it should have been. A good game and a great start to the campaign.

The campaign continues 

The road to Lisbon is know clear and General Junot made it only to find he had missed his prise the royal family having left a few days earlier.   
French troops march through Portugal heading for Lisbon

With the Portuguese capital know under French control and Spanish troops heading into Portugal things could not have looked worse for the Portuguese, but for events elsewhere were about to change the war not only in Portugal but the rest of Europe.

Napoleon had moved fast on his plan to dominate the Iberian peninsular. By early 1808 he had moved large numbers of troops into both Portugal and Spain. and know he made his move. Forcing King and his son to renounce their throne and placing his brother Joseph Bonaparte on the Spanish throne, Napoleon had taken control of both Portugal and Spain or so he thought. on the 8th of May Madrid and shortly After Spain exploded in revolt, and civil unrest. Many French troops found themselves fighting large numbers of partisans.
By June news of the Spanish revolt had reached Portugal. The Spanish corps in Porto mutinied and joined the local patriots, and the Portuguese flay once again flown over Porto.
All over Portugal Spanish troops were leaving for home, and to make things worse thousands of Portuguese were joining the militia and the ordenanza.

Junot's army had shrunk to just the original 25'000 mainly French troops in a mater of weeks, as long as he kept the communication lines with Spain open and held the main cites and fortresses under French control he could hold the country.
To do this he had to strengthen the fortresses and take back Porto.

In part three of the project I'm going to take a closer look at the battles between the Porto partisans and General Loison.

This is going to be my last post for this year, thanks for all your comments till next time and next year.