Saturday, 30 January 2016

Peninsular Project part 3 The campaign continues

In part three I'm going to have a look at the campaign from mid 1808.
Things had been quiet in Portugal since the French invasion, with near to 50'000 men occupying Portugal the French had a strangle hold on the country, an outrageous levy had been placed on the country which would destroy its economy and cripple the country.
This would appear to have been Portugal's fate, had it not been for the uprising in Spain which had a knock on effect in Portugal.

Historical background 

In the north Porto had been lost to the French, when the Spanish troops mutinied and joined the local partisans. General Junot knew he had to do something, and fast if he was to hold onto Portugal, he ordered general Loision to retake Porto and crush the rebellion in the north. To do this Loision took with him between 1'800 and 2'500 men depending on the source you read.

General Loision's force:
1 battalion of the 2nd light
1 battalion of the 4th  light
50 troopers of the 5th dragoons
and 6 artillery guns and crew

A small force but all his men were veterans of many campaigns, and up till know the French had only faced local irregulars and militiamen who had ether run at the first sight of the French or had stood there ground only to be brushed aside when faced with a bayonet charge, Loision had every confidence in his ability in following his orders.
On the 17th  of June Loision left the fortress of Almeida and marched north west by the 19th he had reached the village of Lamego in the Douro valley, with only a few minor clashes with badly armed irregulars that had disappeared into the hill with the first shots from the French.
Here the French moved to the river Douro, crossing it on the 21st at the ford near the town of Regua, entering the town the same day.
At this point Loision could see the surrounding hills of the valley we full of patriots hundreds possibly thousands had joined General Fransisco de Silveira as he moved south wards to meet Loision's force coming to take Porto.
Undeterred Loision moved forward and reached the village of Teixeira where the valley stopped and the hills rose abruptly, Loision was faced with a climb up hills that, were full of partisans surrounding him on three sides. Silveira had chosen well, but Loision was still confident that he could carry the position and his men lead by the light infantry moved up the hills. As Loision had predicted the badly armed partisans ran as his veterans moved up the hill towards them, but the ground became very step, and the assault ground to a halt, as the French came under increasing pressure from the partisans many of whom were armed with muskets. Silveira had also brought two light guns with him and these may have been used at this point.  Loision was slightly wounded at this point and a number of his men were killed and wounded.

The French were forced to withdraw, and regroup at Teixeira. As more Portuguese's began to appear on the surrounding hills, Loision had to decide what to do next, should be press on against an ever growing force, or withdraw back over the river Douro. It was at this point Loision received two pieces of news the first was that his baggage train had just been ambushed at the village of Regua and worse still several regular infantry regiments had been formed in Porto, and the militia and Ordenanze were on there way possibly the very force that surrounded him in the hills. His mind was made up he would withdraw before he was cut off from Almeida.

Loision moved to Regua and then crossed the Douro on the 22nd harassed all the way by Silveira's men. He made it back to Almeida on the 1st of July losing 300 men killed or wounded plus 2 guns on the way.

 I'm going to try and recreate Loision's retreat from the village of Teixeira to the ford at Regua for my next battle.

The  French forces 


The French troops involved in this battle were all veterans. For the light infantry battalions I'm going to use one large base of 12 miniatures for each battalion and give the 2nd light infantry battalion 6 single miniatures for their skirmishers.  

some of my large bases 12 miniatures per base used as a company base in a small action battle or a centre or command base in a larger action.

 For this battle I'm going to need two battalions of French light infantry that's 24 miniatures plus another 6 single figures for the 2nds light battalions skirmishers. I have several line infantry units that i have been working on for a while, but no light infantry so its back to the painting table. For these I'm going you use Victrix miniatures. 

The 2nd light infantry and their skirmishers


The 4th light infantry 

For the artillery i used Perry's French line artillery set mounted on a large base
  
The command base Loision mounted on his trusty horse

For the dragoons I'm going to use Perry's plastic dragoons box set I'm going to mounted them as singles for this game. In a larger game they would be based on a large base with 5 miniatures and the single miniatures would be used like the small bases of infantry enabling me to change the dragoons formations, but for this game the 5 single bases will work.

The dragoons ready for action

The Portuguese forces 

General Francisco da Silveira commander of the Portuguese forces was a capable officer who new his commands weakness mainly made up of badly armed ordenanza he knew they would not stand up well against the French so he used the hills and difficult ground to his advantage some accounts state he had two light guns in his army as well as the possibility of militiamen, this dose sound about right as some of Loisions men, as well as Loision himself were wounded in the first assault on the hills around Teixeira. 
Together with the possibility of regulars marching on his position was enough to persuade Loision to retire from his position. 

I'm going to give the Portuguese the following:
General da Silveira
2 large base of militia each represents a small battalion 
1 large base of Portuguese regulars and 2 small bases (these will be diced for to see if they arrive in the battle)
20 single irregulars armed with hand weapons (divided into groups of 5)
6   single irregulars armed with muskets
1 artillery base
General Fransisco De Siliveira

Starting with the militia i have made one base of militia for the first game using a mix of plastic figure parts and painted them in white uniforms, for the other base i have found a reference to another uniform blue coat and tan trousers. I'm going to use some Victrix miniatures the new uniform will give the other militia base a unique look. Both militia units will not have any skirmishers. Militia units are not allowed to deploy skirmishers.

The first militia base
The second militia base

For the regular Portuguese i have used Warlord games Portuguese line box set I'm going to paint the unit up as the 12th line regiment. For this game im going to use a full battalion for the 12th line. This is 1 large base of 12 miniatures and two small bases of 6 miniatures this allows me to change the formation of the battalion from column to line, a full battalion could also deploy skirmisher of between 5 or 6 miniatures depending on if it is a line or light battalion. For this game the Portuguese line will not have skirmishers. The pre: reform regiments wore a dark blue jacket with white trousers in the summer and blue for winter. the shako worn in this period was the Barretina style rather like the later shako worn by the British at Waterloo. By 1810 the new stovepipe shako was issued to all Portuguese line but it took time to replace the old shako. 

The 12th Portuguese line

The irregulars both musket and pike armed and ever thing in between

I used Front Rank Portuguese artillery men and a British Victrix gun for the Portuguese artillery.

The artillery ready for action

Game 2 the retreat from Teixeira

For the game the French under Loision must withdraw from Teixeira first to the village of Regua to rescue their baggage train which is under attack from partisans and then withdraw over the ford near the village, once over the ford, the French have completed their withdraw and survived. The Portuguese for their part must do as much damage to the French force as possible or even destroy the French. 

Set up
The militia plus the artillery start the game around Teixeira once the French have vacated it. The unit of regulars will be diced for from turn 2 to see if they appear, if they do they will also appear near Teixeira. The irregulars will be positioned along the route that the French must travel to reach the village of Regua to rescue there baggage train. I'm going to place markers along the route were i think best and i will dice once a French unit or figure comes within 6" of one of these markers to see if there are any actual irregulars there, and dice to see if they are the musket armed group or the hand weapons groups. The French for their part must move in the direction of the ford or hold position, they can not move towards Teixeira. This should make for an interesting gauntlet run for the French not knowing what is around the next corner, and having to look over their shoulders for the regulars that may or may not appear from the hills behind them.
  
Battle sketch of the area the French can be seen withdrawing from Teixeira  

well that's it for part three in part four I'll post the full battle report and the next part of the campaign 
till next time.