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The Defence of Ciudad Espanola, 1812


The Napoleonic Wars, Black Powder, 28mm

This week I’d a game arranged with Chris Henry, but he had to cry off, due to emergency child-minding duties. Fortunately Bill invited me to take part in this Napoleonic bash, based on a scenario in the Black Powder Peninsular War guide. It involved a French attack on a well-defended British-held town. Attacks on towns aren’t easy in Black Powder – you have to pound away with guns, and then time your assaults to perfection. This time the French were under added pressure, as they had a twelve turn limit to get a foothold inside the town.So, given the choice of sides, I took the easiest course and opted for the British – a command I shared with Peter. Bart and Michael played the part of the French, while Bill umpired. The British had two brigades of foot, plus two battalions of Portuguese militia, a cavalry regiment and some skirmishers. The French had three infantry brigades, plus a full two regiment cavalry brigade, and more importantly four gun batteries. They’d certainly need them…In this game, Peter and I divided our defenders in two – using the road as the boundary. The French had another problem. the only way to cross the river was either by the road, or by rolling a “6” when a unit tried to ford it. Common sense would have dictated it was quicker by road, but the French commanders left it free, to make room for their guns and cavalry. That was when they rolled a series of poor command dice for the cavalry brigade, and it stayed resolutely off the table for a turn or two.The infantry plodded forward to the river, and rolled to cross. Many of the units were still rolling six turns later, but some rolled well, and sprang across during the first few turns. The battle began with a pounding of my riflemen holding a hillock to the north of the town. As they became “disordered” I couldn’t withdraw them, and when more French guns appeared they were pounded into oblivion. So much for my forward defence.Peter was more fortunate – his infantry contested the river crossings, and was spared the attention of the French guns. His guys blazed away – and managed to rout a French unit through musket fire as it tried to wade across the river. The French massed two brigades against him, but their attacks were piecemeal because Michael didn’t get more than a few units across the river during the next few turns of the game. our only gun battery did its best, and stopped the French advance, aided by musketry from the town walls, and from units hiding in a little wood to the south of the town.Finally Michael launched his two Swiss battalions in a coordinated attack, aimed at the gun. The front unit failed to charge, and was stuck there in canister range. Michael advanced another unit through it, to screen it long enough to rally, but this second unit was forced to take a break test. it failed, and its battered supporting unit broke too. After that it was clear that the French weren’t going to have an easy time of it on that flank, and Peter’s troops were still holding the line when the game ended on Turn 12.On my flank things were a little shakier. The veteran Polish grenadiers – three battalions of them – attacked over the little hillock, and stormed the wood behind it, where my Portuguese militia were hiding. My British shot at the advancing Poles from the woods, and halted one unit, but it wasn’t enough. The other two battalions charged into the wood and assaulted the first of my two battalions. Amazingly the Portuguese militia won the melee – at least for one turn.The following turn the Poles rolled over them, and then did the same to my second unit. That left me with one reserve – my KGL hussars. As the leading Polish unit emerged from the wood the German horsemen charge – and the Poles failed to form square in time. They were caught on the hope, and were already shaken after their melee with the Portuguese. So, the hussars rode them down, before pulling back to await developments. That pretty much secured my flank, or at least shored it up until the end of the game.The attackers’ last chance was to pound the town, and to force units to break. Unfortunately for them their gunners weren’t up to the task, and although they caused a few hits, the defenders stayed put. So the game ended – an emphatic British victory. To be fair the scenario wasn’t an easy one for the French to win – if indeed they could win it at all. It would be interesting fighting it again, without the time limit, and with more terrain around the town, so the French didn’t have to attack it head on, on a timetable.

 

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