Saturday, April 1, 2017

Valencian Cazedores and Spanish Limbers

My latest edition to my Spanish army are these  unusually garbed soldiers, Valencian Cazedores.


They were another gift in the HaT Spanish Guerrillas sets that I had purchased in order to incorporate the top-hatted figures into three units of Spanish militia circa 1808.

My earlier top-hatted militia.

Also in this set were four figures that with a bit of research proved not to be guerillas at all but Valencian cazedores. The Valencian cazedores were raised in 1808 as part of the massive recruitment undertaken under the auspicies of the Spanish Junta in response to Napoleon's seizure of Spain.
The Cazedores were one of two regiments raised (the 1st and 2nd) of light infantry, the first serving from 1808-15, and the second 1808-12.

I was originally somewhat confused by reference for these Valencian Light Infantry but this image is almost certainly based on the Voluntarios de Valencia, one of the earlier Spanish Light Infantry regiments, part of the pre-war establishment, in this case established in 1794.

Reference was sparse for these guys - a few larger scale figures I found on line but the only illustrated reference I could find was the image below.



These soldiers seem to be wearing a hodgepodge of clothing including the "peasant pants" or skirt seen worn by the HaT figures. With only four figures in the HaT set there wasn't a lot of pose variety, and no command stand figures, so I converted two of the marching figures into a drummer and standard bearer and used a French light infantry figure with some embellishments to create an officer similar to the one in the reference above.

Command stand with converted drummer, standard bearer and officer.


These are the four figures included in the HaT set. The faces were a bit featureless and there was some flash but the detail was nicely elevated making for easy painting.

Spanish Limbers

Another gift from the Guerrilla set were drovers for my Spanish limbers. The Spanish were unique (I believe) in that their drovers and limbers weren't army establishment but contracted from the civilian population. One of the guerrilla figures from the HaT set, armed with a sword, neatly converted into drovers, with a head swap and arm relocation giving some variety. The limbers I had built previously using Pegasus cattle and some converted old Airfix French limbers with scratch built yokes. I would be curious to know how well the Spanish managed to move and relocate their artillery under fire using civilian drovers!



For more information on the development of the Spanish Light Infantry regiments:
http://www.littlewars.se/spanish/lightinf.html

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Oviedo Provincial Militia

Tackling the Napoleonic Spanish Army in miniature is always a bit of a trip down the rabbit hole, but the overwhelming variety and craziness of it all makes the trip that much more rewarding.
Having painted up quite a few bog standard line regiments in white, a couple of regiments of light infantry in blue, a smattering of foreign regiments and quite a few representing the militia raised in 1808 and later, I wanted to add to this some provincial militia. The provincial militia can really be divided between those raised before 1808 and those raised under the Junta in 1808 and afterwards in response to the French invasion. According to Oman and other sources, those pre-1808 militia were, in terms of training, equipment etc. not that different from the line regiments.
These are the troops I'm thinking this batch of militia could reresent, in the ubiquitous brown coat (which was prevalent in militia and line alike as the war wore on and supplies became difficult to obtain), even though their original unifrom would have been white with red facings, the same as almost all of the pre-June 1808 provincial militia regiments and many of the line regiments, and as shown in the image of the standard bearer below.

The figures are HaT Spanish Line Infantry, with the buttons on the sleeves carved off as well as those from the knee high leggings, because I wanted them to look more like the beige stockings in the images below.
Provincial militia second from left. It's interesting to see that the figure is still being represented with the bicorne, even as late as 1812.


I opted to drop the piping as well, to make them look a little less polished. The flag is that of the Oviedo Provincial Militia. I photoshopped the flag from this image and have included that here if anyone cares to use it.
Oviedo Provincial Militia 
It was one of a few unusual Asturian flags posted at Prometheus in Aspic and I liked it as it gave some variety to the normal corona or coronela. The Oviedo militia seemed like a good choice as they were one of the pre-1808 militias. These figures will doubtfully get use both as regular line and as the post June-1808 militia in future games.

The full regiment, (one battalion strong in the provincial militias) although these will doubtlessly serve in various brigades.

























Monday, February 27, 2017

54th and 94th Line

Two newly minted veteran regiments for my Peninsular French army, the 54th and 94th
 I've been waiting for a long time for the HaT French in Greatcoats 1808 to be released and finally gave up. For quite a while I've been wanting to introduce a few greatcoated figures into my French Peninsular army, so I resorted to buying the 1805 set with bicornes. 
The troops making up these two regiments (based on the 54th and 94th) are from the HaT 1808 line infantry set and the HaT 1805 greatcoat set, with one standard bearer figure and sapper stolen from the light infantry command set and altered. I head swapped shakos onto the greatcoated figures, some heads from the line set, and then, after getting tired of destroying perfectly good plastics, from an old set of Airfix French artillery I had bought on a visit to England in 1975! So much for sentimentality…
But the Airfix heads were the right size, although the shakos a bit diminutive. As I planned to make them covered these were heightened slightly before covering them in modelling paste.

94th command stand. The sapper and standard bearer are from the HaT light infantry command set with some alterations and the captain is from the 1805 French greatcoat set - one guy who could keep his bicorne! The drummer is from the 1808 line set.
Other alterations were shako covers on some of the line, converting a greatcoated grenadier sergeant to a 54th Line standard bearer (I know, he should be a sub lieutenant, but he isn't - maybe a deuxième porte aigle who has stepped in?)
I also added the cloth on the back of some of the shakos to keep the sun off the soldiers' necks, something I've seen in a lot of images from the Peninsular War! This was simply a small piece of paper, attached with mat medium and then reinforced with a bit of modelling paste.
The painting I based on information gleaned from JJ's Wargames excellent blog as he has covered both these units in past posts. Anything I got wrong are my own errors!
All in all a lot of fun and now at least some of my French are looking like proper veterans. I still have half a box or more of the bicorne figures but may paint them as-is to mix into some pre-1808 scenarios.

Three greatcoated figures with head swaps, one with an added cloth to the shako. The one firing has a head from an Airfix artilery figure I bought in 1975!


54th Command. The staff ended up being a bit diminutive - it carried by a converted sergeant - perhaps a deuxieme porte aigle! Can see now it need a bit of touch up where I re-attached the flag staff after some battle damage.
Liked the greatcoated drummer!

Some grenadiers…



Saturday, February 25, 2017

The Battle of Espinosa de los Monteros, November 11th, 1808

Background


The Battle of Espinosa de los Monteros was fought on 10 and 11 November 1808 at the township of Espinosa de los Monteros in the Cantabrian Mountains. It resulted in a French victory under General Victor against Lieutenant General Joaquín Blake's Army of Galicia.
On the first day of the battle, Victor, seeking an easy victory to erase his humiliation at Valmaseda, launched a series of ill-advised attacks that were thrown back with heavy losses by the disciplined regulars of General La Romana's Division of the North. By nightfall, Blake's positions still held. On the morning of 11 November, Victor regained his composure and coordinated a massive French attack that pierced Blake's left wing and drove the Spaniards from the field.
Although not a decisive defeat in itself, the hopeless confusion of the tattered and weary Spanish army, which had neither a government nor a military command structure to coordinate it, meant that Espinosa marked the deathblow to Blake's Army of Galicia. Blake, to his credit, led his remaining men through an heroic retreat west through the mountains, escaping, to Napoleon's disbelief, Soult's pursuit. However, when he arrived at León on 23 November, only 10,000 men remained under his banner. (edited Wikipedia entry)

The Scenario

In our refight the scenario focuses on the second day of the fighting. It was played out on a 4.5' X 4.5' board in 1/72 scale, using primarily HaT miniatures (with some Emhar for the Spanish line) and using the AoEII rule set. 
The Spanish outnumbered the French but a large percentage of their force, the Division Asturiana were rated irregular conscripts, while the remainder of their force was largely conscript. The French on the other hand, commanded far better forces including, in AoE terms, one brigade of élite light infantry. Victory conditions were based on losses plus additional VP's for the French if they successfully seized Espinosa and the bridge crossing. Army cohesion rate was set at 30% losses for the French and 25% for the Spanish. 

The day dawns with Blake, having driven off Victor's forces the day before, preparing for a second onslaught.



The scenario map. The Spanish deployed west of the blue line, the French entered from the east, north of the Rio Trueba.
The battlefield. Espinosa is at the top, Quintana de los Prados at the bottom. Between the two lie woods and an area of walled fields, both of which hamper an advance and aid the defence. To the right (north) lie high hills, also difficult terrain. The Rio Trueba, although fordable, is steep-sided and lined with thick brush, making it difficult to cross, while the stream coming form the hills was classed as a runoff and easily traversed by infantry. 


The battlefield as seen from the French entry area, with Quintana in the fore and Espinosa in the background.

1. Spanish deployment

Blake deploys his forces in front of Espinosa, anchoring his right on the Rio Trueba and his left high up in the hills north of the town.


2. View from the Spanish left

Acevedo deploys his Asturians in three lines of battle just back from the ridge to protect them from French skirmishers. These are newly formed militia with less than a month's training and probably the weakest part of the Spanish line but it is hoped that the steep hills in front of them will deter the French from advancing on this flank as it did in the previous day's battle.


3. Spanish centre and right

The Spanish position centre and right is very strong with the lone Spanish battery deployed dominating the road, and an area of stone-walled fields bordered by woods stretching between Espinosa and Quintana de Los Prados, providing the Spanish with plenty of defensive cover.


4. French advance

In tirailleur formation Victor quickly pushes his 1st and 3rd Divisions up into the hills against the weak Spanish left. The woods covers their advance as they approach the Asturian militia deployed out of sight beyond the ridge.


5. Spanish advance their right

Blake advances his right along with his cannon to engage Lapisse's 2nd Division before they can take advantage of the walled fields west of Quintana de Los Prados.

6. Cannon open fire

Cannon and Spanish skirmishers engage Lapisse's left with telling fire.

7. Spanish shift to the left

Realizing Victor is sending the bulk of his forces against his left, Blake shifts Martinenego's 2nd Division (upper right) along with San Roman's Almansa Dragoons up into the hills in support. Martinenego's troops immediately come under fire from the thick screen of French skirmishers. Meanwhile the reserve, under Mariscal do Campo Mahy, exits Espinosa to fill the gap. But the going is slow for the Spanish in this difficult terrain.

8. French left beaten off

An initial French assault hits the Spanish right, gutting and driving off the Spanish vanguard and making deep inroads into the Spanish lines. But the Spanish counterattack, and Lapisse's troops are driven back out of the walled fields.

9. Asturians retreat from ridge

Seeing the French forming into line of battle and unable to get his reinforcing troops up into the hills quickly enough, Blake attempts to pull his Asturian Division back towards Espinosa. But the untrained militia prove hard to get moving and de Ruffin's 1st Division drives them off the ridge with casualties. Martinenego's troops, however, manage to form up to the Asturians' right, and the Spanish line holds, although pivoted now so that it is angled from the hills down to Quintana de los Prados.

10. Spanish right holds

The Spanish right continues to hold, with both of Lapisse's brigades seriously battered and worn. The Spanish now venture out from the protection of their walled fields and take the fight to the enemy, while to the west (top left) the Spanish cavalry, in their first and only action, charge the French centre, hoping to blunt their attack. They are easily driven off but force the French into square.

11. French left in trouble

As seen from above, Lapisse's 2nd Division is once again forced back over the run off north of Quintana (top) while Mahy's reserve supported by Figuero's 4th Division advance against de Pacthod's légere (left).

12. De Pacthod's légere hold the French centre

De Pacthod's brigade (upper left) becomes increasingly isolated as the French left is driven back while the right has disappeared into the hills north of Espinosa in pursuit of the retreating Asturians.

13. Spanish turn French left

With one of Lapisse's brigades spent and retreating from the field Riquelme sends his soldiers across the runoff north of Quintana where they emerge on the flank of Lapisse's second brigade.

14. Asturians driven from the field

Two of the three brigades of Division Austriana rout across the Rio Trueba as the French turn the Spanish left above Espinosa. Remnants of Martinenego's division fall back on the town.

15. French 1st Division and Brigade Puthod advance on Espinosa



16. Vilattte and de Ruffin direct their forces from the ridge

From the ridge Generals Vilatte and de Ruffin direct their troops in their assault on Espinosa.


17. Overview

At bottom left the 1st Division and Brigade Puthod advance on Espinosa as most of the Asturians rout over the Rio Trueba and the battered Spanish 2nd Division reel back into Espinosa. In the upper left Vilatte's light infantry are driven back into the hills by the Spanish centre while on the Spanish right Riquelme shatters one of Lapisse's brigades (top centre) while the second retreats back into the hills.

18. Brigade de Pacthod retreats in front of the Spanish centre 


19. Storming Espinosa

The French right storms the town, shattering one of Martinenego's brigades before they can properly deploy into the houses and driving the second deep back into Espinosa, from where they rout shortly afterwards. Including the last of the Asturian brigades (shattered by enfilade fire), all five Spanish brigades on the French right are now destroyed or routed.

20. Beginning of the end overview

At the top Vilatte's light infantry retreat further into the hills along with one of Lapisse's battered brigades (off picture). Despite their successes on the right, the Spanish losses on their left are so great that they begin to lose any army cohesion as the French (far left) turn that flank.

21. View from Quintana

The second of Lapisse's brigades briefly rallies (bottom right) to send some skirmish fire into the Spanish flank before retreating from the battlefield in disorder.

22. Victor attempts to rally his troops…

Marshal Victor Perrin (upper right) and General Lapisse (upper left) ride into the hills to try and stop the troops on this flank from exiting the battlefield.

23. In time to witness the Spanish retreat

Lapisse's remaining brigade slips away but Victor manages to rally Vilatte's légere and lead them back over the ridge in time to see the Spanish retreating from the field.

24. Spanish withdraw across the Rio Trueba 

The battle ends with the remaining Spanish soldiers retreating and routing from the field as a result of the loss of army cohesion. The French, although less badly battered, are not much better off and have no stomach for the pursuit, happy to see them go. The fight ends in a French victory, in possession of the bridge at Espinosa but at the substantial cost of a third of their army.
The ending of the fight was a bit anticlimactic. During the battle the French had such success on the Spanish left, and the Spanish the same on the French left that the entire battle pivoted from north-south to east-west. But in the end Spanish losses were such that they were forced to retreat and leave the field to the French.