Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Battle of Talavera - Day Two

Today, we continue our large-scale Napoleonic battle report for the Battle of Talavera.  If you missed the first day, click here to read it.  We played this game in 2mm, using Irregular Miniatures and my own 2mm rules system.

So, let's remind ourselves how things stood at the end of the first day.  The British had taken a pounding, but their clever deployment along the line of the hills thwarted the French attempt to make a bold flanking manoeuvre.  The butcher's bill favoured the French, but they had been unable to make significant headway and had a touch prospect on the second day when they assaulted the town itself.

And so, let the battle resume...


This was the situation on the French right for most of the second day.  D'Hubert's conservative deployment deterred a British attack, but prevented a French one either.  By staying just out of range of the main British artillery on the ridge, they could concentrate firepower on the British cavalry maneuvering in front of them and inflict heavy casualties.  Early afternoon, the French made an abortive feint which was abandoned quickly.
Meanwhile, the main French attack crashes on through the woods.  The British realise what is going on, and hurriedly bring down two more fresh divisions.  The French cavalry in the centre, along with a few sacrificial brigades, guard the French flank while the main column marches right to left along the bottom of this picture, towards Talavera which is just out of shot.
The first attack crashes into the town!  The two batteries of artillery, guarding the main road, are quickly captured by the French.  It is the successive lines of British infantry which prove too tough to shift, and only a series of determined charges in mixed order starts to shift them.  In the rules, the Army Commander can boost the morale of his troops when they are less than 10cm away - but any casualties suffered within 10cm of the general carry a risk that the general will be hit too.  I threw my personal safety to the wind and boosted the morale of my troops, meaning I could start to make headway and even survive a devastating flank cavalry charge.
But it could only last so long.  Both sides throw fresh troops into the melee as shattered brigades fall to the rear, but the British have more to offer.  The grenadiers are just about to break the third line of infantry when I fall at the head of my troops, pushing my luck once too often!  Once my personal morale boost is gone, the attack quickly unravels.  However, the flanking troops in the woods mean the British are unable to hinder the withdrawal.

The battle is over!  A hard-fought British victory.  Ollie remained on the table and took over as army commander, overseeing an orderly and comparatively bloodless withdrawal.  What a game!

The sheer scale of it was imposing, well over our usual 4x4 games and with three times the number of troops.  It was exhausting and fun to play, so perhaps we won't be doing it every week, but still a very memorable game.

What do you guys think of the tactics employed?  As the French commander, I certainly felt like taking Talavera was all-but impossible (until I died at the hands of a mustachioed Light Dragoon...).  How would you have tackled this battle, from either the attack or defence?

Ed

2 comments:

  1. Very enjoyable read, both part's 1 & 2. Big and long battles like these ARE draining, I find them very tough these days on my neck and back alone. (I must be getting old)
    I think the French tactic of flanking through the woods was a really good one, though that British holding action really was masterful.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your encouraging comments as always :)

      I must confess that, even at the tender age of 27, my back is severely tested in that attic. Normally we play on a 4x4 board which allows for full gesticulation while standing up, but we were very squeezed in for this one.

      It was a fantastic defence on the part of the Brits, we tested them everywhere and couldn't break their defences in a single spot! I suspect that if half the Allied force had been made up of Spanish troops, as they were in the real battle, their lower training and morale might have given us a fighting chance.

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