Monday, December 5, 2016

The Battle of Bailén, July 19, 1808

Bailén AAR

We playtested a scenario based on the battle of Bailén over the past couple of weeks, running through it three times. The first was between our regulars, Ted and Phong, with me refereeing, and the Spanish won handily. The second time I played it through solo with an even more devastating result for the French.
Third time was lucky, and a more protracted and interesting battle, with the French winning decisively. (My brother Jim played the Spanish in his first outing with these rules so some of that inexperience may have influenced the outcome!) Regardless, a bit more tweaking and the scenario should be ready to share, if anyone is interested.
Our group is really quite new to Napoleonics, but there was a dearth of scenarios for Spain that I had seen so far, especially those that were just between the Spanish and the French, so Bailén, arguably the first major battle in the Peninsular conflict and certainly one of the few where the Spanish triumphed, seemed like a good place to start. With about a corps per side it made for a good starter battle where we could come to grips with some new rules and move toy soldiers around. And I finally had painted the pieces I needed for a battle of this scale.
The scenario ignores the disastrous piece meal attacks that Dupont threw against the Spanish, and is a bit of a what-if that assumes that the French waited until all their forces that were historically engaged on that day had arrived. It also ignores the severe heat and lack of water that especially wore down a French army that had just marched throughout the night. In the end, the odds are still on the Spanish side, but it makes for a more even conflict which, and with a bit of luck, we've shown the French can carry the day. The game was played on a 4.5' X 5/ table in 1/72 scale using the Age of Eagles rule set. Figures are mainly Hat with some Italeri, Emhar and Zevda in the mix.
The French objective is to break through the Spanish lines and join with Vedel, who is marcing towards Bailén from the west, before game end which corresponds with the arrival of General Castaños' forces on the French rear, marching from Andujar.

The scenario map. The French start deployed in the olive groves to the west (left) while the Spanish are arrayed north and south of the road to Andujar on the high ground, forward of the crest line (red line).

1. The battle commences

The Spanish are arrayed on the heights west of Bailén on two hills divided by the road to Andujar as the French enter out from the cover of the orchard groves bordering the Rumblar (bottom).

2. Spanish line west of Bailén, Coupigny's division

On the lower hill south of the road is the Belgian general Coupigny's division, two brigades composed mostly of conscripts, but stiffened by a battery of 6 pdrs. and the Cataluña light infantry, split between brigades and giving skirmish capabilities to the two formations. A small brigade of cavalry are held in reserve and out of sight outside of Bailén.

3. View from Spanish right

On the hills to the north of the road is Reding's division arrayed in line of battle. He is also functioning as the corps commander, with three brigades under his direct command. These are better troops, two of the brigades including Walloon Guards, Swiss and Irish mercenaries while the third is the grenadiers of the Spanish line regiments, brigaded separately. They have two batteries of cannon in support as well as a small brigade of dragoons, held back in reserve.

4. Cavalry in reserve

5. French infantry advance on Spanish left

The French intention to throw all of their infantry against the Spanish left is made immediately obvious as they move forward, Pannetier's brigade in the lead with Chabert's and Schramm's Swiss following. The French are a bit wary of their Swiss mercenaries' loyalties, their having been recently in Spanish employ and now integrated into Dupont's corps. They know full well that their counterparts and compatriots are likely in the army that faces them.

6. French artillery brought up road

Dupont sends his artillery up the road, a single battery emplaced between his infantry and cavalry divisions. The remaining French artillery is still trapped on the road from Andujar, mired amongst the endless wagons of loot stolen from Cordova.

7. Chausseurs and dragoons on the French left

On the French left Frescia's two cavalry brigades (Prive's dragoons and Dupre's chausseurs a cheval) move cautiously from the olive groves but remain a healthy distance form the Spanish cannon. It is the French commander's hope that their presence may be enough to dissuade the Spanish from shifting some of their stronger right wing to the left.

8. Spanish charge…

Taking advantage of a disordered French brigade as a result of cannon fire, in the first surprise move of the battle one of the Spanish brigades abandons its high ground advantage and charges down to engage. It successfully drives the lead French brigade back and briefly stalls their advance.

9. And retreat to the crest of the hill

Realizing it is in a perilous situation the Spanish retreat in line of battle to join up again with its sister brigade on the hill.

10. Spanish driven off crest

In what develops into a seesaw battle the French rally and drive Coupigny's division off the crest, but are unable to take advantage of the situation. The Spanish quickly regain the high ground.

11. Dupre's chausseurs threaten Spanish right

Meanwhile on the Spanish right Dupre's chausseurs advance on the Spanish flank (bottom), moving forward out of the enemy cannon field of fire and threatening to charge the Spanish unsupported line. The dragoons, intended to accompany them, fail to receive Frescia's orders and stay put – something which in the end works to the French advantage.

12. French artillery in trouble

In the second surprise move of the battle Reding's cavalry burst out from their position west of Bailén and overrun the French artillery. In a breakthrough charge they wheel on the French dragoons, who spur to meet them, driving them back. But the French have now lost a major asset – their lone battery – and their dragoons find themselves embroiled with the Spanish cavalry.

13. Chabert's brigade pounded, Spanish regain crest

In a disastrous mélee Chabert's brigade is driven off the crest with heavy casualties and forced into square by an attack by Coupigny's cavalry. The Spanish infantry, now in supported line of battle, regain the crest to confront Schramm's Swiss and Pannetier.

14. Schramm's Swiss in action on the crest

15. Reding on the crest

From the crest of the more northern hills Reding observes the battle. Coupigny's right holds firm, while in the distance Reding's cavalry, outnumbered, are driven back after overrunning the French cannon. He shifts his grenadier brigade to the right to support his right flank, worried about the French chausseurs' advance.

16. Spanish right pulls back

For the second time Reding wheels back his right flank and their attached cannon, keeping the chausseurs in the cannons' field of fire. While staying a safe distance from the enemy horse, he tries to shape his grenadiers into a supporting line behind his lead brigade in expectation of the French charge, but the grenadiers respond sluggishly.

17. Chausseurs seize the moment

Meanwhile the chausseurs have other plans…

18. And turn the Spanish right

Waiting for the gap on the Spanish right to become large enough to allow them to charge past and behind the Spanish lines.

19. Meanwhile on the left

Coupigny's brigades have once more become separated, with one holding off the Swiss while the second stays put to where it has retreated outside Bailén.

20. Overview

At the bottom right Coupigny holds off the Swiss at the crest but is unable to bring his second brigade forward. But the French are having troubles of their own, with Chabert's battered brigade (lower left) unable to move out of square and Pannetier stalled out (bottom middle) on the west side of the crest, unable to support the embattled Swiss.
Meanwhile in the centre the French dragoons form up after counter charging the Spanish cavalry while Reding finally begins to respond to the threat on his far left, moving a brigade down to pour fire into the dragoons flank. But the rest of his force, intact and the strongest Spanish elements available, are slow to get turned around and confront the French horse now ranging behind their lines (upper right).

21. Chausseurs run amok

The chausseurs charge in, destroying a Spanish battery that had limbered up and was moving to bring its guns to bear to the rear.

22. And carry a second Spanish battery!

Their breakthrough charge carries them to a second Spanish battery, and suddenly the Spanish are reduced to one.

23. Dragoons move to support French right

With their flank enfiladed, rather than become embroiled with the Spanish cavalry the dragoons move to support the infantry on the French right. Frescia, with his second brigade over the hill and far away, takes direct command of his dragoons.

24. Schramm's brigade maintains pressure

Still on its own, Schramm's Swiss mercenaries force the Spanish back towards Bailén.

25. Pushing the Spanish back

In the lower right the Swiss force Coupigny's division back, keeping them disordered and off balance. Meanwhile Barbou desperately tries to get his infantry over the crest, but accurate Spanish cannon fire keeps them from resuming their advance.

26. Spanish dragoons hit French from flank

Chabert's bedevilled brigade finally gets out of square only to be hit by Spanish cavalry from the flank, driving them back with more losses. The Spanish breakthrough charge carries on to clash with Pannetier's brigade, having the not unwelcome effect for the French of driving them over the crest they have been unable to move over on their own volition.

27. Overview

Another overview helps makes sense of the vast brawl the battle has become. At the top the Spanish under Reding finally start to get turned around and moving towards the focus of the battle, threatening the chausseurs who are regrouping, winded, after their battery death-dealing charge.
Below one of Redings' battalions along with his cavalry start to form some sort of line in support of Coupigny's lone battery on its hill.
Bottom center Coupigny's cavalry find themselves in a bad situation, winded and outflanked by the French dragoons. Bottom right Chabert's spent brigade stands disordered while Pannetier's, also disordered, is at least finally over the crest and within marching distance of supporting Schramm's battle with Coupigny's division outside of Bailén.
As the French objective is to break through the Spanish lines and exit towards Vedel's advancing division east of Bailén, the way forward is now looking quite open.

28. French dragoons rout Spanish cavalry

With the enemy caught flat-footed and outflanked, Frescia's dragoons easily rout Coupigny's dragoons and then wheel and obliterate Reding's horse as well.

29. Spanish left in deadly danger…

Coupigny's infantry are assaulted by Pannetier's and Schramm's brigades as well as Dupre's chausseurs, charging down from the north. Worn and attacked from three directions, their demise is writ clear.

30. And collapses!

Both Spanish brigades are completely destroyed in the disastrous mélee.

31. Dupont moves majority of forces beyond Bailén

With the Spanish right, still intact and slowly moving in, Dupont sees the way clear and moves off three of his brigades, the chausseurs and Barbou's infantry division. Chabert still stays, wavering and spent, on the far side of the hill (lower left) unable to get his troops moving, while in the upper right, the French dragoons move to exit as well.

32. Too late

Reding's infantry marches down towards Bailén and manages to loose off a few volleys into the retreating dragoons.

33. Dragoons withdraw

34. Chabert's brigade destroyed

Abandoned and alone, Chabert's diminished brigade is unable to get going and Reding's third brigade advances. With the aid of cannon fire the French brigade is annihilated, a small Spanish victory within their larger defeat, as Dupont's forces batter their way through the enemy line and move on to join up with Vedel to the west. As the last French exit the very first of General Castaños' force arrive from Andujar, too late to influence the outcome of the battle.
The results of the battle left the French with an overwhelming victory, destroying two cavalry and two infantry brigades as well as two of the three Spanish batteries, while exiting their forces from the board as per the scenario objective. The Spanish in turn overran the lone French battery and destroyed the largest of the French infantry brigades but in the end failed in keeping the French from breaking through and escaping to the east.

Spanish Order of Battle

lst Division: Lt. General T. Reding (Right Wing)
3/Wallon Guard Infantry Regiment 852
Voluntarios de Barbastro Infantry Regiment 331
Tercio de Tejas 436
Olivencia Dragoon Regiment 160
Numancia Dragoon Regiment 140
la Reina Dragoon Regiment 100
Montesa Cavalry Regiment 120* (1 sqdn.)
Farnesio Cavalry Regiment 213
lst Voluntarios de Granada Infantry Regiment 525*(3rd and 6th Btn.)
Irlanda Infantry Regiment 1824*(1st Bt.)
Reina Infantry Regiment 795
6th Voluntarios de Granada Infantry Regiment 343
Corona Infantry Regiment 854*
Jaen Infantry Regiment 922* (2 cos.)
Reding #3 (Swiss) Infantry Regiment 1100
Milicia Provincial de Jaen 500*
Garrochistas de Utrera (Lancer Regiment) 70
Garrochistas de Jerez (Lancer Regiment) 34
Sappers (2 cos) 166

2nd Division: Mariscal de Campo Marques de Coupigny (Left Wing)
Voluntarios de Cataluña Infantry Regiment 1178
Fijo de Ceuta Infantry Regiment 1208
Provincial de Granada Infantry Regiment 400*
Provincial de Trujillo Infantry Regiment 290
Provincial de Bujalance Infantry Regiment 403
Provincial de Cuenca Infantry Regiment 501
Provincial de Ciudad Real Infantry Regiment 420
Voluntarios de Granada Infantry Regiment 912
Borbon Cavalry Regiment 333
España Cavalry Regiment 120
Sapper Company (1 co) 100
(Note: Asterix mark Spanish units that, partially or wholey, were part of the rearguard west of Bailén and therefore not part of 
this battle.)

French Order of Battle

lst Division: General de division Barbou
1. Brigade: General de brigade Pannetier
1 and 2/3rd Legion of Reserve 1743
2/1st and 2/2nd Garde de Paris 941
Imperial Guard Marines 550

2. Brigade: General de brigade Chabert
1,2 and 3/4th Legion of Reserve 2458
 2/4th Swiss Regiment (Red french uniform) 602
1 Battery foot artillery

Division Rouyer: General de Division Rouyer (not present)
Brigade: General de brigade Schramm
Reding & Preux Swiss Regiment (Blue Spanish uniform) 1573

Division Fresia: General de division Frescia
Brigade: General de brigade Prive
lst Provisional Dragoon Regiment 720
2nd Provisional Dragoon Regiment 640
2nd Provisional Curiassiers  (1/2 regiment) 300
Brigade: General de brigade Dupre
lst Provisional Chasseur a Cheval Regiment 510
2nd Provisional Chasseur a Cheval Regiment 580

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Somewhere in Spain

We ran through our first full scale AOE game last weekend, working out the rules and finding out what not to do! It was a lot of fun and as a WWII gamer up until now I loved the ebb and flow and unpredictability of a Napoleonic era battle.
Forces allocated three divisions to the French (two infantry, one cavalry) and three batteries of artillery. Each infantry division was made up of two line and one light brigade while the cavalry division had a brigade of chausseurs and an over-sized and very powerful brigade of cuirassiers.
The Spanish forces were divided into two divisions, with the army and one division leader embodied in the same leader, giving the larger Spanish force poorer command and control. The right flank and centre division was made up of two line infantry brigades, a light infantry/Swiss foreign infantry brigade and a smaller brigade of élite Walloon Guards, supported by a brigade of dragoons and three batteries of cannon. The second division was composed of a brigade of light infantry/Irish foreign infantry and the grenadiers of all units brigaded separately. A brigade of dragoons and two batteries supported the left flank and all brigades were on the largish size, again trying to reflect some of the unwieldy nature of the Spanish army at this time, although the high proportion of foreign troops and light infantry made this a more effective than usual force.
I built a non-historical 6'X8' table, introducing various terrain so we could get a sense of how that would impact play. Our soldiers were 1/72, having scaled up all the AOE measurements and base sizes by half. We then diced for sides and ends, and Ted won, choosing the French and the attack, which meant the Spanish could deploy anywhere below the stream which cut through the centre of the board. And then it was game on!
(Apologies in advance for the ridiculous number of photos taken. I got carried away seeing all those brightly coloured figures finally deployed on a board!)

The Battlefield

The battlefield, picture taken from the Spanish end. The Spanish deployed below the stream, anchoring their right flank at the edge of an impassable escarpment, placing their centre by the bridge on the edge of an orchard and their left utilizing a long stone wall in defence. The stream was fordable throughout its length and all hills were considered rough ground. All buildings were merely decorative but we treated the tall hedge rows as a narrow but LOS blocking dense woods.

1. Spanish Lines

The Spanish strung across the battlefield, anchoring its right (top) next to an escarpment and its left behind a long stone wall.
Right flank (top) has a brigade of line with two batteries attached, and the Walloon Guards and dragoons in reserve behind.
Centre guards the bridge with a light/foreign brigade (battery attached) in line in an orchard and a line brigade in reserve in the rough ground of the hill to the rear.
Left flank has a light/foreign brigade defending behind a stone wall with two batteries attached and the grenadier and dragoon brigades in reserve behind.

2. Spanish centre and right flank

3. Spanish left flank

4. Enemy spotted

The Spanish left spots the French army as it enters the battlefield on a distant ridge.

5. View of Spanish lines from French left

6. French forces arrayed on field

The French general commits one division to his right (bottom) supported by the chausseurs and the second (top) to the centre, while artillery is brought up between the two. The cuirassiers move towards the Spanish right (off screen, top). The first battery is quickly emplaced to start bringing long range fire on the Spanish left.

7. First contact

The French line exchange skirmish fire over the stream with the Spanish deployed in the orchard. The Spanish fire bolstered by artillery is deadly, quickly whittling down the lead French forces in the uneven exchange.

8. Batteries on Spanish left open fire

The Spanish batteries engage in some long distance and ineffective fire against the advancing French.

9. View of battlefield from Spanish left

10. Cuirassiers move to cross stream

Meanwhile on the French left the cuirassiers form up to cross the stream.

11. Cuirassiers threaten lead Spanish brigades

Now across the stream the cuirassiers threaten to outflank the lead Spanish brigade, which refuses flank in response.

12. Overview

At the top the Spanish move quickly to counter the threat to their right. Battery fire disorders the cuirassiers and the Spanish, taking advantage of this, shift infantry forces left to make room for the dragoons to charge. The cuirassiers countercharge.
In the centre the French and Spanish continue to exchange fire over the stream (to the French's deficit) while on the French right (bottom) the first French forces forge over the stream. The Spanish cavalry charge and force the light brigade on this flank into square, blunting this first move against the Spanish left.

13. Spanish right in trouble

Suddenly the Spanish right is in trouble, with the cuirassiers driving off the dragoons with great loss to the latter before executing a charge into the face of the Spanish artillery (left unprotected by the detaching and moving of the Spanish infantry to their left).

14. Into the teeth of the cannon

Somehow they survive point blank canister with only light losses, close and drive off one battery silenced. On a breakthrough charge they wheel and shatter a Spanish line brigade, routing it completely!

15. Cuirassiers get -well – carried away
The second countercharge carries them deep into the middle of the Spanish centre.

16. Enfilade!

The Walloon Guards deploy into line and deliver a devastating enfilade fire in concert with the Spanish cannon (now recovered) reducing the cuirassiers to a spent force - but not before they had successfully shattered two Spanish brigades and gutted the Spanish right flank!

17. Dragoon brigade flees the battlefield

The remnants of the Spanish dragoons on the right never recover and eventually rout from the battlefield.

18. French close with Spanish left

Meanwhile, on the Spanish left, the French close. Charging chausseurs are met by dragoons and the dragoons triumph, driving off the chausseurs with heavy losses to the latter.

19. Spanish left holds firm

With the support of cannon and their strong position behind the stone wall the Spanish left holds firm.

20. Spanish centre assaulted

The French in the centre ford the stream and assault the light/foreign brigade deployed here, now bolstered by a Spanish line brigade that has moved up in support.

21. First French brigade routed

The French are driven off with heavy casualties, with both line brigades in this division now spent and one retiring completely from the remainder of the battle.

22. French artillery in action

23. Fire!!

24. Mid battle overview

Top right has the cuirassiers charging recklessly into enfilade on a breakthrough while around the bridge the Spanish hold firm, with only a large légere brigade and a spent line brigade left to oppose them.
At the bottom the Spanish left holds firm at their wall and all seems to be going not too badly for the Spanish, despite the loss of two brigades on their right.

25. Outflanked

But in a renewed assault on his left the Spanish general suddenly learns the bitter lesson of an exposed flank. The Spanish grenadiers are driven back with losses, exposing those Spanish defending the wall to a flank attack in a breakthrough charge. The Spanish light/foreign brigade is swept away in a disastrous melee, loosing half their force and both cannon!

26. French seize wall

With the Spanish routed, the French now seize the wall.

27. Spanish centre in trouble

Hard on the heels of this loss the Spanish centre, so firm, is suddenly in trouble. Spanish redeployment exposes their supporting line infantry to attack from the légere which completely destroy this brigade in close combat.

28. Spanish light infantry driven from orchard

In a breakthrough charge the triumphant légere wheel and drive the remaining Spanish from the orchard, inflicting heavy losses. This brigade, retreating along the stream, never recovers.

29. Overview

On the left the French can be seen moving up to consolidate their gains while the Spanish retreat in disarray. Far top left the French chausseurs, a spent brigade, have finally rallied and are returning to the battle.
On the hill in the centre the cuirassiers, spent and blown from their devastating charge into enfilade, remain wavering on the top of the hill despite their leader attaching himself to this brigade in an attempt to get them re-engaged.
On the right things are heating up as the French light infantry, after a second successful charge against the Spanish light/foreign, continue in a breakthrough charge into the teeth of the Spanish cannon.

30. French light infantry charge towards Spanish guns

The breakthrough charge leaves them short of their target and facing canister shot from the cannons.

31. Walloon Guard move to enfilade

The Walloons detach from their artillery and wheel around to bring the French into enfilade. One Spanish battery is damaged by French artillery but the second and the Walloons open fire, managing no more than a disorder despite massive fire points!

32. French légere triumph…

The French charge the Spanish battery and this one, too, is driven off disordered, with the Spanish general learning for the second time that he really shouldn't leave his batteries unattached when confronted with a determined enemy.

33. And move to decimate Spanish right flank

With the Spanish cannon sent packing the victorious French wheel and charge the Walloon Guards who are also outflanked by the remnants of one of the French line brigades. The Spanish corps (and division) leader has attached himself to the Walloons in the hope of steeling their defence, but all for naught. The Walloons are destroyed and the Spanish general taken captive.

34. French command accepts surrender of Spanish general

35. Légere destroy one battery and engage second

With the Walloon Guard destroyed the French turn their attention to the now rallied but disordered Spanish batteries and finish them off in quick succession. With the only remaining Spanish force on this flank spent and wavering far off on the flank, the Spanish right and centre are now totally decimated.

36. Meanwhile, on the Spanish left

Meanwhile, on the Spanish left, unaware of the disaster that has struck the right flank and the loss of their corps commander, the Spanish have retreated to reform their line in the face of the advancing French.

37. French cannon limbered up and moved forward

38. Chasseurs charge back into the fray

The chasseurs finally return to the fray for the final round of fighting, as do the cuirassiers.

39. Overview of final assault on Spanish left

The French form up for their final assault on the Spanish left, moving their cannon forward and trying to get their cavalry into play. The Spanish, seeing this, take the initiative, charging with their grenadiers into the middle of the French line and after locked combat driving them back. The dragoons charge the light infantry, forcing them into square but get driven back while the remnants of the Spanish light/foreign brigade retreat, bleeding away more infantry in desertion.

40. Nearing the end

41. Game end, Spanish left flank

The Spanish grenadiers are destroyed to the last man in a concentrated French assault, and as the cuirassiers finally charge in, the Spanish, with only a disordered dragoon brigade and a spent light/foreign brigade on this flank, throw in the towel.

42. Game end, Spanish right flank

On the Spanish right it's as equally conclusive, with only a spent brigade left, (now losing stands to cannon fire upper left) while the infantry dispatch the Spanish cannon (right). Even the French line brigade that had routed early on returns in triumphant march formation over the bridge while the sheep are happy to have their hill back.

Lessons learned

Being one of our first Napoleonic games and certainly our first serious AOE game, we learned a few lessons the hard way:
1. Watch your flanks! Being outflanked has very serious repercussions!
2. It's not a good idea to leave unattached batteries within striking distance of enemy brigades.
3. Not much you can do about it, but over zealous breakthrough charges can lead to a world of difficulties.
4. It's also not such a bright idea to attach your division leader to a brigade if that brigade has even a chance of loosing Bayonet and Sabre.
5. Roll better. I've never seen so many uneven close combat rolls and the results were often the complete evaporation of a brigade - sometimes without having fired a shot. Your fortune can turn on a dime.