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Peninsular Campaign 1808-1814 Being Refought

8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #1 by Saddletank

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  • About 20 of us over on the Kriegspiel community ( forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/f40-napoleonic-peninsular-campaign ) are fighting a campaign based closely on the Peninsular War. Starting in June 1808, a month or so after the May uprisings in Madrid spread to the rest of the country, the war so far involves several provincial Spanish armies based generally around the coastal areas of the country attempting to march on and drive the French out of Madrid and their garrison towns in the north-east. The French are strong around the capital city with 2 Corps and a reserve of Guards and they have 2 more Corps in the north east between Burgos and Barcelona, plus a number of second-line brigades dotted about in garrisons, with more troops arriving over the border from Bayonne and Perpignan.

    This video is our first battle which took place at the end of June after a month's campaigning, fought at Atalayuclas, on the road between Valencia and Madrid and saw the Spanish Army of Valencia under the command of General Pedro Gonzales Llamas attacking across the Rio Jucar against Vedel's Division of General of Division Dupont's Corps, sent towards Llamas to block the Madrid highway.

    We are of course using Gettysburg maps and in this case its the 5-mile Gettysburg main map and we converted Rock Creek to being uncrossable except at marked fords and bridges to represent the Rio Jucar. The battle takes place a little way south of Spanglers Spring (below Miller's Farm) on Rock Creek.

    More videos to follow.

    The battle as seen from the perspective of General de Brigade Cassagne of Vedel's Division:


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    Last edit: 8 years 2 months ago by Saddletank.

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    8 years 2 months ago #2 by Flanyboy

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  • Says the video is not view-able.

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    8 years 2 months ago - 8 years 2 months ago #3 by Saddletank

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  • Sorry about that, for some daft reason videos default to "private" when you upload them. I've now set it to "public".

    EDIT: What I saw of the second battle we fought, which wasn't much except lots of distant views of Spanish cavalry routing French battalions everywhere!


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    Last edit: 8 years 2 months ago by Saddletank.

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    7 years 2 months ago #4 by Saddletank

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  • For anyone who is interested this campaign is resuming after a long break (my life got in the way!).

    Accepting new players now over on the Kriegspiel forum. We are delighted to see both SoW MP players and those who just want a map command (corps level).

    forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/

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    7 years 2 months ago #5 by WakelessREX

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  • I Will make an account as anything Napoleonic hits interests me greatly XD

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    7 years 2 months ago #6 by Saddletank

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  • The campaign is running and we are playing the early July 1808 turn now. We have a battle at Valladolid in Old Castilla this Saturday at 20:00 UK time (BST), all players of SoW are welcome, the link to the KS forums is in my sig below.

    If you are interested, I can fit people up with the correct settings and mods during an evening before Saturday so your game install is ready to go without any delay, just drop me a PM here or sign up at the forum below.

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    7 years 2 months ago #7 by Saddletank

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  • A gaggle of Spanish noblemen taking a well-earned (to them!) glass of Rioja outside the finest taverna in town while the army marches past. Later on the officers will sample even finer delights.


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    7 years 2 months ago - 7 years 2 months ago #8 by Grog

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  • General Cuesta wishes to complement the chef for the fine wild boar main course.

    Nice pic, 'tank' and, again, great flags RebBugler.
    Last edit: 7 years 2 months ago by Grog.

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    7 years 2 months ago #9 by Saddletank

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  • This is the high command of the Army of Cataluna on the march towards our next battle. The town these gentlemen are in is Ordal. Check your maps.

    Scenario written and tested today. It's going to be an interesting fight. Think Omaha Beach but without any water and lots of horses.

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    7 years 1 month ago - 7 years 1 month ago #10 by Saddletank

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  • The early July 1808 turn has been completed with three battles being fought at Valladolid (the French captured the city and drove the Spanish army of Castille away along the road to Leon), at Ordal in Catalonia south-west of Barcelona where a polyglot Spanish force of regulars, volunteers and miquelets drove a French brigade out of a strong hilltop position and at the village of San Milan, 45 miles north-west of Miranda del Ebro (south of Vitoria) where a French division was outflanked and obliged to retreat towards Burgos by a mismanaged but nonetheless successful Spanish flanking attack.

    More news, battle reports and videos at the end of the first half of July here:

    forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/t1214-turn-3-early-july-1808#10681

    News of the Battle of Valladolid:

    forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/t1195-04-battle-of-valladolid-aars

    Battle of Valladolid from General de Division Gobert's point of view:



    News of the Battle of Ordal Cross:

    forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/t1197-05-battle-of-ordal-cross-5th-july-1808

    Battle of Ordal Cross from General de Division Chabran's point of view:



    News of the Battle of San Milan:

    forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/t1209-06-battle-of-san-milan-13-july-1808

    Battle of San Milan from the perspective of French General de Brigade Reynaud:



    New players are always welcome to join. Linky below.

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    Last edit: 7 years 1 month ago by Saddletank.

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    7 years 1 month ago - 7 years 1 month ago #11 by Saddletank

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  • I have had several people drop out of the map command side of the game in recent weeks due to work and family commitments. I'm therefore looking for new players. You can also play in the online MP battles if you want, but its map commanders I need (who do not necessarily have to play in the MP games).

    Each map command is usually a French corps of around 20,000-25,000 men (most commonly 2 to 3 infantry divisions, a cavalry division and around 30 guns) or a Spanish army which is more variable (15,000-25,000, nil to 3,000 cavalry and 10-20 guns). There's also a political role on the Spanish side that represents the Provincial Juntas (this is a C-in-C post). This role will also be an enabling role which will have control of assets like new-raised units and supply centres as well as be a communications channel to the British allied forces. This role will probably involve a bit more work.

    Most players include a moderate level of role-playing in the game but that's not a requirement.

    If you are interested (a map command role will cost you about 30 to 60 minutes a week and sending a few e-mails, that is all), please drop me a PM here on the forums or e-mail me.


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    7 years 3 weeks ago #12 by Saddletank

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  • We have completed the early August 1808 turn and are pressing on with late August. All the events reported below except the surrender of the French squadron at Cadiz (consider this a series of newspaper articles) are player-driven. All but the smallest battles and some sieges are played as SoW MP games using Gunships Napoleonic Mod and the KSNapoleon Mod. As game umpire I'm mainly a postman, despatching news and letters between players, plus updating OOBs and creating scenarios.

    There's always openings for commanders, whether drop-in casual players who'd like to join the MP battles, or long-term commands of a corps or division on the strategic map.

    * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *


    A Month of Momentous Events! Barcelona Falls! In a Shocking Event Pampluna Surrenders! Burgos Saved! Gerona Continues in her Suffering. The High-Stakes Poker Game at Madrid Plays On. Toledo Garrison Holds Out!

    August has proven to be a month of great and terrible events, made the more tense by reason of no field battles. On both sides armies manoeuvre with caution and some skill. The Juntas continue to issue orders to their armies that defy logic, however among the Spanish generals skill and risk taking begins to be shown which has paid high dividends.

    Pampluna Garrison Capitulates!

    The most shocking news to reach these offices since the conflict erupted in late May has left commentators speechless. Last month Marshal Bessieres raised the siege of Zaragosa. It was not known why this strategic decision was taken, though now it transpires that this corps is being employed westwards to bring to battle the army of Gen. Acevedo, whose troops threaten the key road junction of Miranda. In the absence of any French troops watching Zaragosa, Genl. Palafox led his men out of the city and quickly driving a small garrison out of Tudela, pushed up the Pampluna highway into the Pyrenean foothills. The city was invested in the second week of the month and a few days later called on to surrender as formalities dictated. In a startling turn of events the garrison commander agreed! His force was thought to be very weak and already having suffered losses in the general attrition that accompanies any siege, declared that his force was too few in number to hold the walls.

    General de Brigade Luc Simon Auguste Dagout surrended 1,900 muskets, 6 cannon and 4 colours in return for safe passage across the Pyrenees via Bayonne to Toulouse. His brigade may not be operational again at Toulouse until the winter. His troops are already on the march.

    A surprised and delighted General Palafox finds he has France at his mercy! Pampluna can become a supply base from which to attack Irun and Bayonne.

    Zaragosa held a fete day in celebration with music and dancing in the streets and a free bullfight tournament, paid for it is said, out of General Palafox's own purse.

    Bravery and Bloodshed! Barcelona Falls. Duhesme Mortally Wounded.

    General Palacio, upon seeing how weak the garrison of the city was after he invested it last month, ordered it to be stormed in the dawn hours of 4th August. A horrific and bloody attack ensued with the Catalan miquelets being in the forefront of the violence and atrocities that followed. Numerous French soldiers begged for quarter but were shot and bayonetted without mercy, the Spanish irregular troops going quite out of control, even killing numerous 'collaborators' they found in the city. The battle lasted for much of the day and ended at the gates of the Arsenal del Ciutadella where General Duhesme, brandishing his sword and a torn French cuirassier standard fell, struck in the abdomen by a blast of grapeshot.

    His men capitulated and with Palacio on the scene, no more killing took place. The brave Duhesme was carried on a litter to a room in the Arsenal where he lingered in agony for two days. His last words were "Mon Empereur, je vous ai laissés tomber."

    Losses among the attackers were heavy, among the fallen were Coronel Carlos Espinosa who commanded de la Serna's first brigade, Mayor Luiz Tordillas, la Serna's artillery commander, and the much-loved Coronel Cayetano Bonafoix who led the first brigade of irregulars under Milans del Bosch. It is said that when Bonafoix fell as his men scaled the city walls, shot by a voltigeur, his miquelets swore to avenge his blood a hundred-fold.

    Palacio's entire corps has withered away in the recent desperate fighting and after supplying troops to garrison the city and guard the prisoners, no more than a division remains for field operations.

    Captured in the city were 3,000 muskets, 400 good cavalry horses, 2 cannon and 6 colours. A general of division, Chabran, two generals of brigade, Goulas and Bessieres and several colonels including Viala the artillery commander were taken prisoner, Viala being badly wounded and losing his left arm below the elbow from a cannon-shot. At the height of the battle two squadrons of Neapolitan chasseurs à cheval under the command of General Schwartz managed to charge out of the north gate and make their escape up the coast road to Mataro.

    Gerona - the Agony Continues.

    General Lechi retreated from the city last month, lifting the siege and allowing the local miquelets bands to take in cart-loads of food and other supplies. The Italians, now lacking supplies due to the fall of Barcelona, fell back to a position at Hostalrich. General Laguna, whose garrison broke out, has spent the early weeks of August in a position some miles south-west of the city, gathering in wounded and stragglers from the recent battle. He was joined after several days by the Spanish 'Flying Column' under Caldagues and this body of troops numbers 10,000 it is thought.

    Another Italian general, Domenico Pino arrived at the city and pushing troops across the Rio Ter, re-established the investment of the place. He made sure to avoid the disease-ridden entrenchments that Lechi's men had occupied and also pushed Italian dragoons to the south-west to observe Caldagues and Laguna and light cavalry south east to make contact with the demoralised division of Lechi at Hostalrich. Pino's division is a fresh arrival in Spain and he reports to General de Division Reille who is supervising the siege of Rosas.

    There is talk in Cataluña of these French forces being a whole new corps, the VII, which is a designation of a formation of the Grande Armée.

    Rosas. How Long Can The Defenders Last?

    Reille's 3rd Division holds a noose-like grip around the town. The only thing keeping the resistance alive are the supplies brought in by English warships, but for how much longer?

    General Vives has few forces left to succour Gerona, let alone push north to Rosas. Is the fate of this port a matter of time?

    News From Valencia.

    General Llamas has been appointed as the Capitan-General of Valencia and given the command of a new formation – the Army of the Right. It is thought he now has authority for military forces from Granada, Murcia, Valencia and Cataluña although to date there is little sign of him stirring from his desk where he is busy with administration and reshaping the armies under his command.

    Cadiz. Bloodless Surrender of the Rosily Squadron. Peace Between England and Spain!

    The ships of Vice-Admiral Rosily, 6 sail of the line and a frigate, the remnants of de Villeneuve's fleet that was defeated at Trafalgar, lay at anchor in Cadiz roadstead and have been a thorny problem for the Spanish Junta since May. Admiral Collingwood's English fleet patrolled off the coast and the talks to disarm the French warships have been progressing with more steps back than forwards in recent weeks. Rosily had proposed various solutions such as landing his cannon and powder ashore and having his ships escorted by the English to a neutral port, even to Portsmouth, but the Spanish governor of the city, Tomás Morla, refused any closure to the situation short of surrender of the ships and crews.

    A few days ago, on the 9th, a division of Spanish gun and mortar boats and the batteries erected on the Isle of Leon and at Fort Louis commenced hostilities against the French ships with steady fire, which was kept up until nightfall. The Spaniards had even requested that two ships of the line, the Principe de Asturias (112) and the Terrible (74), help them.

    On the following morning the cannonade recommenced and continued until 2.00pm, when the French flagship, the Héros, hoisted a flag of truce. Shortly afterwards Vice-Admiral Rosily addressed a letter to Governor Morla, offering to disembark his guns and ammunition, but to retain his men and not hoist any colours. These terms were considered unacceptable, the Spaniards prepared to renew the attack upon the French squadron with an increase of force. On the 14th, at 7.00am, an additional battery of 30 long 24-pounders were ready to act and numerous gun and mortar vessels took up their stations. The French ships struck their colours, which in the course of the forenoon, were replaced by those of Spain.

    The British were impatient spectators of this action. Admiral Collingwood, who commanded the blockade of Cadiz, made an offer of co-operation, but his offer was refused by the Spanish. It was enough for them that the British should prevent the fleet from escaping; they were not disposed to give them any claim to a prey which would be captured without their aid.

    The French suffered little human loss, the Spaniards had only four men killed. It being impossible for the French to offer much resistance, and certain of the success of his attack, the Spanish governor did not wish to employ more violent means of destruction, such as heated shot. The French ships seem certain to be taken into the Spanish navy, their crews held prisoners of war at Cadiz dockyard.

    Immediately after the surrender of the French fleet, the Spanish Supreme Junta requested the British Admiral give passage in one of his vessels to the commissioners whom it wished to send for the purpose of negotiating with the Government of his Britannic Majesty for an alliance against Napoleon.

    Mr George Canning, His Majesty's Foreign Secretary, stated:

    "No longer remember that war has existed between Spain and Great Britain. Every nation which resists the exorbitant power of France becomes immediately, and whatever may have been its previous relations with us, the natural ally of Great Britain."

    During early August the British government emitted an order, declaring that all hostilities between Great Britain and Spain would cease with immediate effect.

    King Joseph Rules Only His Own Parlour!

    So goes the shout among most Spaniards in New Castile. Spanish armies said to be led by Villava, Castaños and Belvedere are drawing a "ring of steel" around the capital with all bridges across the Tagus now held by the Spanish, King Joseph holds power over little more than the city itself. The Junta urges the Spanish troops to attack but with effective government gradually being established at Seville and the French effectively already inside a giant prisoner-cage, is there a need for the Spanish troops to attack? Will Marshal Murat make an attack himself to break this 'siege'?

    Toledo Retaken! Frere Defends the Alcazar.

    The historic jewel of New Castile has been re-occupied by Spanish troops. Forces said to be parts of the armies of Andalucía and Extremadura entered the city from the west, having made a crossing of the Tagus east of its confluence with the Guadarrama. The French garrison of that place led by General de Division Frere did not attempt to hold the perimeter walls which in many places are not continuous, instead falling back into the Alcazar citadel. The Spanish hold the city but are under constant threat of sallies and musketry from the fortress that dominates the city, a brigade at least, even a division, will be needed to encircle Frere's soldiers who, it is said, have grain, livestock, animal feed and gunpowder to hold out a year if need be.

    Generals Castaños and el Conde de Belvedere attended a mass held at the cathedral of Santa Maria, a service held in memory of the innocent citizens hanged by the French in the recent fighting in the city.

    Castaños is thought to be the mastermind of strategy behind this coup, leading his army across the mountains from Mora while other elements of it have retaken Ocana and Aranjuez from the French. At Aranjuez, inside the Royal Summer Palace were found medal sashes and a mink fur-lined cloak said to have been left behind by Murat himself.

    After this success surely command of the new and powerful Army of the Centre will be offered to this general?

    French Imperial Forces at Bay! Where Will Murat Strike?

    There are now known to be two French corps d'armée in Madrid, plus the Royal Guard of the King. The latest rumour to excite the nobility at their dinner tables and theatre boxes is news that the finest cavalry commander in Spain, general Grouchy, has been called to Murat's headquarters to take up a new command of a corps of cavalry. Said to consist of fine cuirassiers and heavy dragoons, this powerful body of horse is rumoured to be newly arrived in Spain and must have entered Madrid over the Somosierra pass. It is said to be complete with its own horsed artillery batteries.

    "Soon one may journey from Sesena to Montenebro by treading on nothing but blue," goes the joke in Madrid's coffee houses, a reference to how many French soldiers the city is now host to.

    Talavera Greets Troops.

    Part of the host led by el Conde de Belvedere has entered Talavera and secured the town for Spain and the Borbons. Several divisions are said to be encamped in the lush valley around the place, enjoying the harvest of grain and wine offered by the happy townsfolk.

    "Liberating Spanish cities is thirsty work!" said one colonel, raising a goblet and slipping his arm around the waist of his 'wife'. "It is tempting to stay and ensure the freedom of this place than go and annoy King Joseph. Let him have his pick of Madrid whores, we have the countryside and the harvest!"

    There's concerns that some Spanish troops may be difficult to get back into their march columns if each freed town puts on celebrations such as Talavera.

    Valladolid.

    This troubled city at last has found peace. Cavalry of General Blake passed through earlier headed for Burgos and in August more cavalry and infantry belonging to a division of Gen Cuesta's battered army entered the city and established a garrison. Horsemen rode off east up the Duero valley.

    Burgos Saved. Verdier Triumphant.

    French general Verdier has pulled off a successful defence of the city by amassing his corps just west of the walls in time to bring to a halt the march of General Blake's Army of Galicia. His strong cavalry division was placed skilfully to both protect the important Aranda road and slow Blake's advance.

    Clever deployment of different divisions of his own formation and that of Genl. Mouton last month saved both Burgos and Miranda from Spanish attack and in the north-west theatre at least, the Bonaparte star continues to shine brightly, though this area is now the only region of Spain where French forces control the same amount of land they did in May, elsewhere it is a story of retreat and retrenchment.

    Miranda del Ebro, A Game Of Nerves?

    General Acevedo's army is holding its ground west of Miranda, threatening to attack, but with Mouton's division now recovered from its recent rough handling and reinforced with a garrison of foreign troops and a brigade of cavalry attached from Marshal Bessieres' corps, the town appears secure.

    The large numbers of French formations that passed through last month would appear to have been the component brigades and batteries of Verdier's corps that is at last assembled at Burgos.

    Meanwhile, what of Marshal Bessieres? He withdrew his corps from Zaragosa in the middle of July and his whereabouts are unknown… until…

    Bilbao! French Troops Occupy the Port! Spanish Pushed Out!

    Cavalry from Bessieres' corps has at last shown itself on the coast, having used a mountain road to cross the Pyrenean foothills from Tolosa. The speed of the French troops is astounding, even in such poor country and even accompanied by heavy artillery. The efforts of their soldiers and skill of the engineers in making such a route passable for a whole corps is what has shocked Europe's military leaders for over a decade.

    Bilbao was held by a small Spanish garrison of two volunteer battalions and two hussar squadrons. These have been tumbled unceremoniously out and retreated in some disorder to the fishing village of Portugalette where attempts to rally them were finally successful. Couriers sped south to inform Acevedo but already the wily Bessieres is advancing west. If he reaches Castro Urdilaes before Acevedo, the Spaniards will be trapped.

    However, east of the French the Spanish under Palafox can advance from Pampluna. What will Marshal Bessieres do?

    News From Portugal. English Troops Land From Their Fleet. First Action With The French.

    An English convoy protected by a squadron of warships came to anchor in Mondego Bay and over the course of several days a large contingent of red-coated English and Scottish soldiers was put ashore in boats. An Irish noble who has dabbled in Dublin politics by the name of Wellesley is in command. Not much is known about this rather dour fellow except that he served in India and had some success beating native armies, though that counts for little against one such as Napoleon. The only other information that seems to attend upon the Irish Lieutenant-General is his obsession with ensuring his army is always well-supplied, a trait that may cause him concern in the dusty hinterland of desolated Portugal.

    At Coimbra a few leagues inland, Wellesley made contact with a representative of the local Portuguese commander, a general by the name of Bernardim Friere who leads a ragtag militia at Oporto. Friere's right-hand man is a Colonel named Nicholas Trant, a British officer in Portuguese pay. This gentleman led a brigade of infantry and some weak cavalry squadrons south from Oporto to rendezvous with the English.

    After landing supplies ashore the British made their way south until they struck up against a division of French troops commanded by General Delaborde at the village of Rolica. Although heavily outnumbered, the Frenchman's position atop a line of stony bluffs obliged Wellesley to deploy his army into fighting formation and commence a distant bombardment and movements around both of Delaborde's flanks. The French general, displaying much skill, held his ground long enough to waste at least a day of English time before nimbly pulling his few battalions back and scuttling away down a side-road to the town of Vimeiro where he is waiting and more French are assembling.

    About 200 casualties were suffered on each side. Wellesley has now closed up to the French position at Vimerio with the fleet of Admiral Cotton offshore covering his right flank.

    In Lisbon general Junot is hastily getting his troops out of the coastal forts around the Tagus estuary and from their barracks into marching order to go north and join Delaborde. There's news Junot has summoned the firey general Loison from Elvas where he has been besieging that town.

    Delaborde has reported that Wellesley has fewer than 19,000 men and almost no cavalry. Junot's corps in Portugal numbers over 25,000 but many of these are still employed elsewhere keeping their boot-heels on the neck of the stubborn Portuguese rebellion.

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    7 years 2 weeks ago - 7 years 2 weeks ago #13 by Saddletank

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  • The Empire Strikes Back.

    Sir Arthur Wellesley landed about 14,000 British troops at Mondego Bay in northern Portugal at the beginning of August. He had only enough horses to mount 3 artillery battereies and 2 squadrons of the 20th light dragoons. He met with Lt-Col Nicholas Trant at Coimbra, Trant being a British officer in Portuguese service and bringing a brigade of Portuguese infantry with him as well as parts of 3 Portuguese cavalry regiments. Further British Brigades under Acland and Anstruther joined later in the month.

    There was a brief skirmish vs 6,000 French under General Delaborde at Rolica where the French forced Wellesley to deploy and waste a whole day before skilfully withdrawing.

    Delaborde withdrew along the coastal road south and was met by major elements of Junot's Corps at the village of Vimerio. Wellesley followed up cautiously and on 21st August 1808 was attacked by the majority of Junot's corps.

    The British had 19,000 infantry, 500 cavalry of mixed quality and 18 guns. Junot had 14,000 infantry, 1,750 good cavalry (mostly dragoons) and 19 guns.

    Junot attacked.

    Here is a video taken from the POV of Gen de Division Pierre Margaron who commanded the French cavalry division - one brigade under Suhac of 6 dgn sqns and one brigade under Maurin of 3 dgn sqns and 2 chasseur a cheval sqns.

    It was a bloody and brutal fight, Junot electing to go in with the bayonet and not attempt to exchange musketry vollies with the better drilled English troops.

    General Margaron's Awesome Adventures -or- How a Two Deep Line Doesn't Really Work Versus 150 Fat Dragoons on Fat Horses.



    The battle was fought with the new 1.705 KS Mod including new sounds by MTG.

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    Last edit: 7 years 2 weeks ago by Saddletank.
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    7 years 3 days ago #14 by Saddletank

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  • Events in the second half of August 1808...

    The French Campaign in the Balance! The Abyss of Defeat is Revealed but Murat Wins Significant Battles to Recover his Position! Madrid saved! Miranda Protected by Manouvers in the Mountains! Bessieres Triumphant! French fall back at Hostalrich. Palafox Consolidates gains in Ebro valley! Junot Defeated by the British in Portugal! Surrender Terms Signed!

    The bloody and intense chess game of war marches on, pawns on both sides are lost, and for the Spanish some more significant pieces are taken. Operations in the last fortnight have again fallen into three distinct regions - around Madrid; around Burgos and Miranda del Ebro; and in Cataluna, north of Barcelona and at Gerona. Armed clashes at Navalcamero on the Talavera road west of the capital and at Sesena south of the city saw French triumphs and the Spanish armies approaching Madrid driven back but in Portugal a terrible and bloody battle has been fought north of Lisbon.

    Portugal - Disaster Befalls French Arms! Most Curious Surrender Terms Signed!

    General Junot, after some delays in getting his troops out of garrison and policing operations, massed the majority of his corps to face the British General Wellesley at a small and hitherto unknown coastal village named Vimerio, on 21st August. A most sanguine and brutal encounter followed, with the French assailing the British position in dense columns and with dragoons in support. The battle lasted four hours and at the end of the afternoon the French had pushed their enemy off his first two defended heights but had failed to take the main ridge. A line of unbroken red-coated defenders and cannon obstinately would not be pushed back further, despite their weaker cavalry being all but driven from the field. Junot had failed to force back his enemy, or cut his supply road and that night ordered a retirement to Lisbon.

    The British infantry however took very heavy losses on their defensive hills and the 20th Light Dragoons have been sent home to England due to their grievous losses, turning over their mounts to a remount depot established in the capital.

    More shocking news occurred several days later. Shortly after the battle two senior British officers came ashore from the fleet of Adm Cotton and assumed command. Lt-Genls. Sir Hew Dalrymple and Sir Harry Burrard opened negotiations for a ceasefire with General Junot and by the end of the month it was agreed that the French would surrender Portugal to the British. All their troops, including colours, arms and accoutrements would be taken by British transports out of Lisbon and conveyed to Rochefort. General Junot signed this agreement in conference with the two British commanders at the village of Cintra, agreeing to the clause not to bring his troops back into Portugal. It was noted that Monsieur Junot seemed very amicably disposed towards these terms.

    The French have begun withdrawing towards Lisbon but the English Government is said to be furious at the news, with Parliament in uproar over the Royal Navy being used to carry armed French soldiers home, all at the cost of the taxpayers! Generals Dalrymple and Burrard have been recalled to London to answer questions.

    In Lisbon, Gen Wellesley remains in command and a second British corps, led by Sir John Moore, the famed light infantry tactician, is waiting in transports in the roadstead to disembark.

    The British have taken charge of Junot's supply depot in Lisbon and now have a secure base and port from which to sustain further operations. A call has been sent out by Mr. J. Hookham Frere, British plenipotentiary to Portugal for the armed forces of that nation to assemble at Lisbon.

    Pyrenees Operations. French Ascendant. What of Palafox?

    Responding cooly to the recent surprise news of the fall of Pampluna, Marshal Bessieres led his corps out of the mountains into Bilbao and then set a furious pace marching the men west along the coastal road. At the important road junction of Castro Urdilaes his columns swung south and by the end of the month Espinosa was occupied and French light cavalry moving north-west from Miranda met the Marshal's corps.

    The Spanish army of Genl. Acevedo was nowhere to be seen! What had become of this phantom force? Cavalry patrols into the hills around the town revealed a hill road running west towards Reynosa some 80 miles into the rocky and treacherous Cantabrian Mountains. It seems Acevedo managed to get reports from his hussars at Bilbao in time to hurriedly draw his army out of the trap. His men are reported to be near Reynosa, starving and exhausted, with much baggage and many ammunition carts tipped off the narrow road in their need to get away, but his troops have escaped. A period of recovery and resupply must surely be needed and Bessieres has saved Miranda but his enemy is still out there, watching.

    Santander is held by a couple of Spanish brigades, and the tired hussars of Coronel José Ortega, whose timely reports saved Acevedo's army.

    At Miranda del Ebro a battered battalion of the Legion Irelandaise in French service has retired into the town from the direction of Logrono having been turned out of that village by aggressive light cavalry sent there by Gen. Palafox. Is the Army of Aragon going to attack Miranda? Or is this a feint and it is Irun that is vulnerable? Palafox's whereabouts are unknown. He certainly has not been seen at Zaragosa, Tudela or Pampluna in recent weeks.

    Burgos.

    General Verdier appears to have secured Burgos and is now holding the line of the Rio Carrion with the bulk of his corps at that place. Other French forces have been reported at the confluence of the Carrion and Pisuerga between Duenas and Villadrigo, watching the road that runs from Valladolid. The Army of Galicia, general Blake commanding, has moved east again and is now opposite Verdier's posts at Carrion. The Spanish appear to be there in force. Neither army appears willing to take the offensive, though containing the French near to Burgos suits the Spanish long-term strategy more that that of Marshal Bessieres.

    Aranda. Communications cut!

    French messengers have stopped getting through via the Somosierra to Aranda mountain road that runs between Madrid and Burgos. It's thought that guerilla bands are active now this far south and have cut the road. Murat's forces around the capital are now cut off from France! No communications are getting through.

    Manouvering in Cataluna. Siege of Gerona Continues. Rosas Might Soon Fall?

    The French under General Reille continue to tighten the noose in the Cataluna hills. The garrison of Rosas now lacks food as French cannon have been moved forward to threaten the harbour and English warships can no longer land supplies. The fall of the citadel is surely only a matter of time and the garrison is in a desperate state.

    At Gerona the Italian troops of General Pino have spent the last two weeks adjusting their entrenchments and slowly moving saps forward in preparation of an assault though the besiegers still lack a siege train. There is news that one is being got ready at Perpignan and could be moved over the mountains by October. The defenders are now suffering greatly and the attempts by the miquelets to bring food into the city at night are patchy at best.

    South of Gerona a minor Spanish victory is being claimed as the dispirited remains of the corps of Genl. Duhesme have retreated north towards Gerona, abandoning the siege train that left Barcelona. The wagons and gun carriages were burned and the engineers and horse teams fell back with the whole force being covered by General Reille's cavalry division commanded by Gen. Hubert which has now appeared in strength in this region.

    The Army of Cataluna of General Vives followed up this retreat and occupied the village of Hostalrich but apart from some undestroyed siege equipment and the cannon barrels themselves, there was nothing left of the artillery trayne to be secured. Reille, with Hubert's cavalry, a brigade of Pino's division and the battered division of General Lechi, is now emplaced on a ridge blocking the route to Gerona.

    Reille has about 8,500 to 9,000 infantry, 2,500 cavalry and some 18 guns in his defensive position. At Hostalrich Vives has about 16,000 infantry, 800 cavalry and 20 cannon.

    Movement in Valencia? Or a New Spanish Army?

    News has been trickling out of the reorganisation of the Spanish armies under the direction of the Junta Central at Seville but most recently a large force is reported by locals to be marching up the Mediterranean coast. It is currently at Saguntum and pushing north. It's thought this could be part of the Valencian Army, or a reserve that has been mobilised and released.

    Madrid.

    All eyes are on the capital as the dangerous chess game there is played out amid much tension and with high stakes. The Spanish under General Belvedere are besieging the Alcazar in Toledo and under cover of this force have passed cavalry brigades through the town to Anover and northwards towards the capital itself. A further large force of Spanish troops waits in Toledo. Some say these are more divisions belonging to Belevdere's army while other commentators suggest they are part of Castanos' army. Castanos himself was seen in the city recently, making a proclamation to the citizens to be strong, to resist and to await the day when the hated French would be driven out for good.

    Battles have occurred in late August that have swung the game markedly in the French favour. At Navalcamero on the road to Talavera, two divisions of the Conde de Belvedere's army attacked where it was thought only a French light cavalry brigade was holding the village. It transpired that King Joseph himself had led his Royal Guard Corps from Sesena to this critical position in a forced march. His guard infantry and cavalry, lacking any artillery, chose to attack and hurled the Spanish back in complete confusion, capturing all their artillery. It is reported that the defeated Spanish have gone back all the way to Talavera, possibly further to lick their wounds. The battle was not without serious consequences however as His Majesty was unhorsed and injured while seeking safety inside a square of his Fusilier-Chasseurs of the Garde. It was thought some Spanish hussars had even captured him at one point but his aides and some guardsmen fought the Spanish off and recovered the royal personage. The King was much bruised and battered and it is feared he has an injury to his shoulder. Following the victory, he was transferred to the royal carriage and his army escorted him back to Madrid. The Royal Guards are likely to remain in the capital for a while, at least until His Majesty recovers.

    At Tarancon and Aranjuez, two other Spanish armies attempted to push across the Tagus to threaten Madrid. Marshal Murat, having amassed a single powerful army comprising two corps plus a newly organised reserve cavalry corps that amounts to 50,000 men and 100 guns, deployed this mighty force against General Castanos, whose army was making for the crossing of the Rio Jarama at Sesena. A battle of feint and maneuver resulted and Castanos was lucky to get his troops away back over the Tagus with minor losses, although many supply and ammunition carts had to be abandoned. Most significant, one of his cavalry generals, General de Brigada Carrillo de Albornoz was badly wounded in the action and is unlikely to fight again.

    On hearing the news of Castanos' retrograde move, Gen Villava commanding the Army of Murcia got cold feet and hastily drew his army back over the Tagus as well, even though his forward cavalry screen had got to La Poveda barely 15 miles from Madrid!

    The Army of Andalucia has been obliged to withdraw in some disorder and has gone back south at least as far as Madridejos. Murat's army is presently at Sesena.

    Paris.

    News from the Tuileries is that Emperor Napoleon himself is furious with how the war is being managed in Spain. It's been announced by unofficial sources that he is preparing to ride south personally to assess the conflicting messages of successes his subordinates keep sending against the actual lack of any useful income from his latest acquisition and constant reports of more cities lost.

    Sevilla.

    The Junta Central has been established here, in what is being accorded as the temporary capital of Spain. The Junta Central is still dependent on its wishes being put into action by various Junta Provinciales, some of whom are not reliable. However as the richest region of Spain and having her principal entrepôt, the Seville Junta can command some authority. A proclamation has been issued announcing the present political position in absence of a monarch and the establishment of the Army of the Centre and the Army of the Right have both been formally announced, commanded by General Castanos and General Llamas respectively. It is expected that a further new formation, the Army of the Left, will be announced shortly though who its commanding officer will be is not yet clear.

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.
    The following user(s) said Thank You: Jack ONeill, RebBugler

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    6 years 11 months ago #15 by Saddletank

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  • The list of Controlled/Loyal Settlements in the main rules (Rule 2.4) has been updated for the end of August 1808:

    kriegsspiel.forumotion.net/t714-campaign-rules#6411

    As you can see the French control fewer than 10 Spanish settlements. The result for late August is therefore a completely failing campaign for the French.

    For anyone who hasn't seen the strategic map yet:

    www.atomic-album.com/showPic.php/22426/Spain-Rivers-Huge.jpg

    Big Hint to the French: You guys gotta get out there and capture and hold towns! :woohoo:

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.

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    6 years 11 months ago - 6 years 11 months ago #16 by redcoat

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  • tank. very nice work on the vids of your campaign. i have never wanted to play mp,having done so in the past on other games and being put off completely!
    having watched this though it is seriously tempting to give it a go,which shows how much i enjoyed the vid.
    so, well done and thanks for reigniting my interest in the game. cheers
    Last edit: 6 years 11 months ago by redcoat.

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    6 years 11 months ago - 6 years 11 months ago #17 by Martin James

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  • Saddletank's campaign is being played by members of the kriegsspiel group.

    We aim to put present folks with the real dilemmas faced by historical generals. So all our games are played using HITS and couriers. As well as the current Peninsular campaign battles, we also play scenarios, where both sides have individual briefings, with various historical objectives. We play various periods using different SOW mods, but mostly Napoleonic and ACW.

    We aim to play in a very friendly spirit, and try to be supportive rather than critical when things go wrong (as they frequently do using HITS and couriers :) ).

    Our games are not to everyone's taste. They tend not to appeal to very competitive gamers for example.

    But if the above sounds good to you, then you will probably enjoy our games! All are welcome. If you are interested, send Saddletank or myself a PM. Alternatively you can find us at kriegsspiel.forumotion.net/

    Regards

    Martin
    Last edit: 6 years 11 months ago by Martin James. Reason: typo

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    6 years 11 months ago #18 by redcoat

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  • many thanks sir! i have to reinstall the base game as my previous hard drive threw all its toys out the pram. so,once ive done that and got my head back in the game i will be in contact. cheers

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    6 years 11 months ago - 6 years 11 months ago #19 by Saddletank

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  • Hi Redcoat. I remember we talked before a long time ago and you were jaded by bad experiences in other MP games. I've had the same, not in any of the SoW Mp groups but in other games where people played in silly ways, didn't use historical tactics and trash-talked constantly like children.

    Our games tend to be pretty friendly and gentlemanly and with lots of humour in the post-battle discussions. Sometimes players can hang around for 10 - 15 minutes or more chatting about a game and what went wrong and what didn't, usually in a light-hearted tone. As Martin says above we are not a competitive group and the spirit in which we play has come out strongly in the Peninsular Campaign where one set of players is the Spanish whose army was simply terrible in the early months of the war. I have created a set of master OOBs for both sides and with the disparity in quality the SoW engine lets modders build-in the French won many early battles. The Spanish keep bouncing back however and are slowly improving, so its a measure of how our players are that they can put up with so many defeats in a row yet keep enjoying the games. As the reports above mention, even though they are losing many battles, the Spanish are actually winning the campaign.

    We played a battle tonight which saw probably the most decisive Spanish victory of the war so far, not just in balance of losses but in the strategically advantageous position the Spanish now find themselves in.

    I'll try to get a video of today's game up on here during the week.

    We always like to meet new players and you'll be made very welcome to our group. The campaign always needs more commanders as well.

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.
    Last edit: 6 years 11 months ago by Saddletank.

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    6 years 11 months ago #20 by redcoat

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  • hi tank.
    yep, much the same experience here. it wasnt so much that the bad stuff happened directly to me,it was listening to it happen to other people!
    i just ended up thinking that life was too short to spend my gametime listening to foulmouthed children screaming at each other.
    your exellent vids have definatly persuade me that it may be worth a try,so once ive reinstalled i will be in touch. cheers

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    6 years 11 months ago #21 by alessillo

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  • Hi Saddletank, I have a question for you, how is the campaign played? In which way do the players move their troops on the map? Do you use Vassal or something similar?

    Thanks

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    6 years 11 months ago #22 by Leffe7

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  • Essentially the campaign is being played PBC :laugh: (Play by Courier). You send a message to Saddletank with your orders and he will come up with results, reports and events which demand a decision.

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    6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #23 by Saddletank

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  • Sorry Alessillo, I missed your post. It's a PBEM campaign. All players have a copy of the master map and a set of rules which govern move distances per turn (each turn is 2 weeks), supply, sieges, investing fortified places and so on. I created the starting OOBs from historical strengths and then I add in additional forces as they arrived historically such as the British landings in Portugal in August 1808, La Romana's Division of the North arriving in Santander in October and so on. The players are then free to alter their OOBs if they need to, splitting off or amalgamating divisions for particular tasks and leaving brigades and so on as garrisons. I announce when a turn is over and then send out the updated sitreps and OOBs to their controlling players - this is usually a corps per player in the French army and a Provincial Army sized command for the Spanish (e.g. Army of Extremadura, Army of Valencia, etc). The players then e-mail me back what they wish their commands to do and I move them on the map in accordance with the map rules and report back what they discover en-route or at their destination. The players also write each other letters as e-mails via me. This gives people scope for role-playing and meta-gaming if they want to - we have had some pretty amusing side plots along the way.

    When two opposing forces meet and neither chooses to decline battle (or one cannot and is forced to fight) I create an SoW scenario from the two OOBs and we play an MP game. I use Hays' Campaign Casualty Carryover Tool to adjudicate losses and men returned from being wounded or straggling, adjust the master OOBs and off we go again.

    Its pretty simple to administrate and has generated some very interesting battles.

    As I said a few posts above, there's always map command slots open for anyone who would like to join.

    ======================================================================================

    Events in early September 1808:

    Success for the French near Madrid! Toledo Retaken! Castanos and Belvedere Fall Back! Stalemate near Burgos! Spanish Victories at Calahorra and Gerona! English Secure Lisbon!

    Action Around Madrid. Spanish Supine. French Advances.

    We can report that in recent weeks the French have acted on their earlier triumphs near Madrid and have pushed a strong force comprising parts of General Dupont's corps to Toledo. The Spanish investing the Alcazar fell back over the bridges south-west of the city and Dupont proceeded to mark his presence in the city by ordering the arrest and summary trial of several senior pro-Borbon partisans. The city's population is cowed by these severe acts and all is peaceful again in the old capital of Castila Nueva.

    The Conde de Belvedere withdrew his two divisions south-west and his cavalry is watching the city from the left bank of the Tagus; his encampments are clearly visible to the patrolling French light cavalry at night. His troops were no match for Dupont's veterans. Part of Belvedere's army is licking it's wounds near Talavera and making no offensive moves.

    South of Madrid there is no news of Castanos' Andalucian army. It too is thought to be in a state of disorder and is recovering from its rough handling on the Tagus near Aranjuez last month.

    At Zancara and Montalbo there has been action between a combined arms force under General Grouchy and the Army of Murcia commanded by Villava. Grouchy pushed aggressively south-east to drive the Spanish further from the critical region around the capital but he came up against a large force, well-motivated and in a strong position. After two days of probing and aggressive skirmishing Villava counterattacked, his three divisions, after receiving reinforcements, comprising over 20,000 with 20 guns. Grouchy's Corps was obliged to quickly fall back, though the veteran cavalry general withdrew with skill losing only an insignificant number of casualties while slowing the Spanish advance to a snail's motion. By mid-month his 3,000 infantry, 2,000 heavy cavalry and 12 guns were across the Tagus again near Tarancon. Villava followed up with his cavalry, his 850 horsemen occupying Ucles while his main body remained on the Rio Giguela.

    Unrest in the Capital. Wild Rumours of Cuesta's Army!

    Pamphlets and posters have been circulated around Madrid issued by General Cuesta. These have been pasted up in many public places and read as follows:

    "Proud Bulls of Madrid and the Sierra da Guadarrama.
    You are hungry and injured but I feel your Rage and know of your Great Power.
    The Fat 'Matador' of France is a vile imposter, who shows you no respect and hides behind a Cape of lies and deceit.
    He now stumbles behind the walls of our Rightful King's House. Can you smell his fear?

    Today, your brothers of Castile and Leon march to your aid.
    Your destiny is now in your hands. Rise up!
    Arm yourselves and revolt on the sounds of Spanish Cannon.
    We will uncloak this lame fool and impale his soft belly on your sharp horns!

    Viva España!!

    Teniente General Gregorio García de la Cuesta y Fernández de Celis, Duque de Valladolid"

    In some areas of the city there have been wild rumours and extreme unrest; gangs and crowds have gathered and many youths run amok waving Borbon flags and paintings of Ferdinand VII. One night an especially noisy crowd burned an effigy of King Joseph in one of the principal plazas. In other areas, most notably the wealthier districts, the mood has been even more jittery but with less activity. The nobles and intelligensia appear frightened and unable to judge these outbursts. They remain behind their shuttered doors while the working people and tradesmen are more apt to start anti-French acts such as daubing slogans on walls near the Royal Guard barracks. Nonetheless, despite these serious signs of unrest it cannot be said that Madrid is yet in revolt; it is though a cauldron of a strong and volatile mixture, bubbling on a hot fire of Ferdinandist propaganda.

    There is also talk of Spanish agents and spies in the city, "Cuesta le está mirando!" goes the cry. Mothers tell their children, "General Cuesta knows what we all do, so be good." Unconfirmed reports from travellers on the road say a huge Spanish army has closed up as near at Villalba only 30 miles from the city! Civilians talk of 40,000 men!

    In the French controlled areas and barracks the situation is tense. Marshal Murat drew General Ruby's old corps out of the city at the beginning of the month, for unknown purposes. This has left only the King's Royal Guard Corps to keep the peace which it is only just managing to do. However the superb battlefield reputation of these soldiers is enough to disperse any crowds or gangs upon mention of them approaching.

    Nonetheless His Majesty's closest advisers are counselling that His Majesty withdraws to Burgos as soon as he is well enough to travel.

    Burgos. All is quiet. Communications to the Capital Still Cut.

    The French maintain an easy hold on this fine fortress and it's crucial road network. General Verdier's corps is disposed along the line of the Rio Carrion to the west watching General Blake's Army of Galicia. Verdier has 15,000 troops, Blake 22,000 but Blake must attack to break his enemy's position. There is talk coming from Santiago and Vigo however that recently large reserve forces have been released for operations and now march east under Blake's orders. How soon before they arrive at the Carrion position? How soon before Blake unleashes his lions?

    It's known that part of Verdier's corps is made up of regiments from the exceptional Polish Vistula Legion and Blake is rumoured to be nervous about these famous troops, having heard how badly the Russians have suffered at their hands.

    South of the fortress the news is not good. In August it was thought that pro-Borbon bandits were active in the mountains and had cut the road to Aranda but more recent news claims that Spanish army cavalry is in the region and one regiment of dragoons has been mentioned that belongs to Cuesta's army. Swiss infantry belonging to Marechal Bessieres' command garrison Aranda. Their patrols have skirmished with the Spanish cavalry about 15 miles north of the town but they cannot break through the enemy line and escort couriers past. Madrid remains cut off from Burgos.

    Action in the Ebro Valley and near Espinosa. Palafox Victorious! Bessieres Defeated! Spanish Rejoicing!

    A major clash of arms has taken place at Calahorra a few miles west of Tudela. Three divisions of Marechal Bessieres' corps were in pursuit of parts of Palafox's Army of Aragon in a move to drive the Spanish back from Miranda and force it to battle. However it appears this may have been a clever plan by the Spanish commander as additional troops were called out of Zaragosa's garrison and when the Spanish turned to make a stand on the only good ground they could find, Bessieres' troops attacked against greater numbers than they anticipated and were comprehensively thrown back. Despite having more and better cavalry the French infantry was woefully outnumbered. Palafox's shaky infantry having been beaten in July was not confident but all they had to do was hold a ridge and resist the powerful cavalry attacks. Some units broke but there were enough reserves to fill the gaps in the line and by early afternoon the French withdrew back up the highway towards Miranda having suffered the crucial loss of two complete artillery batteries in this battle. Reports indicate that the French fielded 8,000 infantry in two divisions and 2,500 cavalry with 30 guns. The Spanish army was approximately 15,000 infantry and 1,000 poor quality cavalry also with 30 guns.

    The result of this battle opens up several possibilities for Spanish operations in the north.

    Cataluna; Cat, Mouse and Rat.

    The fortified port of Rosas' garrison is close to starvation and collapse. The commander, Colonel O'Donnel, has sent out a negotiator under flag of truce. The situation agreed with the besieging forces is that the citadel will surrender if no relief force arrives by the end of September. The defenders are still bravely holding their lines though; rats they may be but cornered they will fight.

    At Gerona the second French siege has been lifted! Church bells rang with jubilation as the Franco-Italian force commanded by General Reille was obliged to abandon it's siege lines and fall back north toward Rosas. This retrograde move caught many by surprise. Reille sent one of his Italian divisions north to Figueras early in the month when he lost communications with that fortress at the beginning of September. His supplies were not getting through. The Italians of General Lechi secured the road between Rosas and Figueras after skirmishing with a strong force of guerillas who they drove away from the main highway. With Lechi's division absent however, and facing 16,000 Catalan troops moving bullishly north from Hostalrich, Reille took the decision to concentrate his corps at Rosas, reduce that place first, then return to the offensive. The cat has retreated to his den.

    Gerona may only have been given a brief respite but the insurgents and regular army wagon trains are moving into the city. General Vives may establish a stronger garrison there as well, but he now holds the line of the Rio Ter in strength and has contact with active guerilla bands on the north bank. The mouse for now is free to play.

    A strong reserve force of Spanish troops has arrived at Balaguer, south west of Tarragona. It is known that Capitan-General Llamas is commanding this army but it isn't clear if this is a Valencian force or another part of the Army of the Right.

    The Asturias

    General Acevedo has spent the past weeks getting his straggling army back in order but this is a slow process due to the poor mountain region it is now in. As September draws on the first white caps of winter cover the loftiest peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains. A weak division of Spaniards has conducted a cautious reconaissance along the hill road to Espinosa and found it empty of French but it's thought that Acevedo does not have a strong enough force at his disposal to take advantage of the absence of the enemy in the region.

    Other parts of his army cower in Santander, morale is low among many Asturian units after their shock retreat in August rattled many nerves.

    A Backstop Defence of Irun and Bayonne is Made!

    Part of Marechal Bessieres' corps has been ordered to make a forced march to Irun and the division arrived at the town during the second week in September. Irun is strongly held but lacks a cavalry force to patrol towards Pampluna.

    The commander of the garrison of San Sebastian was ordered to send some of his troops to Irun but refused! He claimed he did not have enough men of sufficient quality to keep the port secure if he sent some units away. It would seem that the French garrisons in the Pyrenees are at a threadbare level.

    Lisbon.

    The army of Sir John Moore has landed at the quays and has marched inland to a newly laid-out camp north of the city where the scurillous redcoats are being drilled and acclimatised to this foreign heat. Sir John is training his men in the rocky barren hills west of Alhandra teaching them improved light infantry tactics.

    Sir Arthur Wellesley is dealing with correspondence regarding a force of Spanish prisoners he has found in Lisbon, and overseeing the march of General Junot's surrendered French to the port and aboard English transports. Two cavalry probes have been ordered however, one north towards Coimbra and Oporto and one east towards the Spanish border at Castello Branco.

    In Lisbon Portuguese units are now arriving and being allocated to camps and compounds. More men are being recruited and English sergeants can be heard yelling at the men, drilling them into shape. New uniforms are arriving on cargo vessels as well as crates of muskets and barrels of powder.

    No apparent progress has been made yet on the Portuguese cavalry and artillery which are the two weakest branches of their army.

    All Quiet in Seville. Why is the Junta not Acting?

    Given the power it now wields the Central Junta has been remarkably inactive in September. It confirmed the appointments of General Llamas and General Castanos to the command of the new Armies of the Right and Centre respectively but has apparently made no more effort in establishing the components and commander of the Army of the Left, nor of issuing any high-level instructions for the conduct of the war. Are the Junta members content to pocket high salaries and do nothing?

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.
    Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by Saddletank.

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    6 years 9 months ago - 6 years 9 months ago #24 by Saddletank

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  • Events in late September 1808:

    A Period of Fortunes Mixed for Both Armies! Battlefield Defeats for France but Fortresses Captured! A Second French Army Massing in the Pyrenees? Two Missing Forces Found! British Establish Position in Portugal. Junta Releases Reserves! A Shipment of British Muskets and Cannon Lands at Cadiz!

    The end of the month of September sees temperatures beginning to cool and the first drifts of white lacing the highest sierras between Madrid and Burgos, and above Calatayud and in the Pyrenees. The harvest is in, the grapes trodden, the olives pressed. In the farmlands of Spain and in the merchants' counting houses life goes on, or at least those not dragged into the turmoil of war attempt to continue to make a living, but recent weeks have witnessed some important developments and changes, on the field of battle, in the siege lines and at a higher level of strategy. It would seem the war will not be over this year. By late summer with the French position at Madrid now very precarious and a lost battle on the Ebro, commentators were saying that surely the French would withdraw from Spain. It is now plain to the most reluctant strategists that this is a country clearly in a situation of a mass uprising, military and civil, and not at all the victim of a few rebellious elements as the Emperor first suspected.

    Defeat in Cataluña! Rosas Falls!

    A party of riders came forth on thin ponies from the gates of the battered and smoking citadel near the port, both white and Spanish flags held aloft. General Reille and his staff met with the Spanish envoys. There followed a full day's discussion at the general's headquarters, a roofless taverna on the north edge of town. By nightfall the French had their way and Colonel Pedro O'Daly, the Spanish garrison commander, was forced to surrender his fortress and troops unconditionally. No relief force had arrived to give succour to the gallant defenders at the end of the month as had been agreed, and with food and fresh water almost at an end and lacking powder, ball and even a doctor to care for his many wounded, O'Daly signed the articles of surrender. Rosas has fallen! The defenders marched out, colours held high but the men (and women!) thin, filthy and ragged. They had done all that they could. It was seen that the lines of French infantry that formed an honour guard to the prisoners was also made up of men tired, dirty and exhausted from this long and most bitter siege.

    It has been learned that in the dark of night, two nights ago, a party of cutters and longboats from a small British squadron offshore came in to extricate their company of red-coated marines. Also taken off were several weak companies of Spanish regular infantry which the Royal Navy convoyed to Barcelona. It is thought a new infantry brigade may be raised around this cadre of experienced veterans. O'Daly refused to leave, his place was at the head of his citizen army; he surrendered with the rest of them.

    General Reille is known to be reorganising his corps, placing a garrison into Rosas, his engineers are commencing repairs and the Frenchman looks now to the south once again and the fatter prize of Gerona which beckons.

    Defending the south bank of the Rio Ter at Gerona, General Vives' Catalan troops are ready. With the powerful fortress behind them restocked with grain and wheat, its arsenal again filled with powder barrels, Vives' troops are rested and well-supplied. A significant clash of arms at some point along the Ter seems inevitable.

    At Figueras all is quiet for now, the running fights and skirmishes of earlier with bands of miquelets have abated and the French supply road is again open. However the "voleurs noirs" or black vagabonds as the French name the mountain fighters, are always nearby and a new leader has risen in their ranks. He is known only by a sinister title, "El Medico" (The Doctor) and his force of ruffians and cut-throats is said to number over 2,500. His men are operating north of Vich and west of Gerona, sealing all the mountain tracks to any French patrols and helping (or forcing?) the mountain villagers to hide their foodstuffs and draft animals to prevent the enemy using them.

    Barcelona! A Lost Army Found! New Support for Vives' Catalans!

    Capitán-General Llamas of Valencia has not been heard from for many weeks. Its now clear what the new Spanish strategy in the east is; The Army of the Right has been divided into two independent wings. The Valencians have marched up the Mediterranean coast and arrived in Barcelona to support and work with Vives' Army of Cataluña. On the 27th of the month a powerful body of cavalry, three brigades strong and over 1,500 men, jingled and clattered into the lines of the Army of Cataluña at Gerona, bringing much needed mounted support for the Catalans who have always lacked a strong mounted arm.

    General Llamas has taken up overall command. The Spanish host in Cataluña is said to now number more than 40,000, though as always part of Vives' force is irregular Catalan light infantry, somatenes and miquelets who cannot stand up to enemy cavalry or close order infantry in open terrain.

    Madrid! French Collapse Imminent! Armies of Murcia and Granada Advance!

    In the centre position where the fortunes of the war are most critical, the division of the Army of the Right to two wings has given General Villava of the Murcian's fresh strength and support. Llamas has sent north a reserve formation that was recruiting in south-east Andalucia and calling it The Army of Granada has placed it under General Villava's command. The Murcian commander lost no time and with his new strength pushed aggressively north, recovering lost ground and retaking Tarancon in mid-month. With Grouchy's cavalry corps being too weak to hold ground opposite him, Villava then swept on north-westwards and by the end of September he had made the line of the Rio Jarama and two days later pushed across to capture Sesena. The Army of Granada meanwhile operated on his right and pushed up the La Poveda road. By the end of the month a cavalry unit captured La Poveda and infantry were only 15 miles behind.

    Spanish troops are now only ten miles from Madrid!

    Great and Bloody Battle at Aranjuez! Dupont Retreats!

    The carelessness of General Belvedere in not blocking the road running south-east out of Toledo could have resulted in the destruction of the entire Army of Andalucia, Spain's most powerful force. General Dupont, with daring and cunning, saw the gap and exploited it with a lightning march, the kind of which only French troops are said to be able. His corps pushed through Almonacid and cut the Manzanares road behind Castaños, south of Ocaña. Castaños' army had marched up that very road only a few days prior and were now deployed north of Aranjuez holding the line of the Tagus, expecting to face an attack from the north. Instead, discovering his supply lines cut, Castaños was obliged to face his tired men about and attack south. Dupont had just time to take up a strong position on a high ridge near the village of Scarnafigi when his small corps was assailed in force by three Spanish divisions. The French fought tenaciously and drove back the division of General Areizaga with heavy loss but was then hit in flank and rear by the troops of Coupigny and Lapeña. After several hours of brutal fighting in which no quarter was asked or given, the French were obliged to break out of the encirclement and retreat pell-mell westwards across country. Their losses in artillery and baggage were especially heavy. Castaños has claimed a great victory. The Central Junta has bestowed on him the title of "Marques de Aranjuez" in gratitude and recognition.

    Late in the month General Dupont's troops retreated back across the Tagus at Toledo, returning to their earlier positions, much weakened. Again the sleepy Conde de Belvedere did nothing to stop the French column, though his cavalry screen watched it go past.

    There have been more reports of civil disturbances in Madrid. With the news of the battle at Scarnafigi church bells have been rung. Courtiers and Francophile nobles have been packing their baggage and wagons and urging King Joseph to leave. If he delays his departure he may not get away!

    Portugal. Seville.

    The British Plenipotentiary, Mr John Hookham-Frere has established a legation in the city and entered into correspondence with the Junta Central on the details of allowing British troops to enter Spain. Much is apparently being discussed including possible training of Spanish troops, British supplies of muskets, cannon and cloth for uniforms as well as the release of some Spanish troops held prisoner in Lisbon by General Junot.

    As to military movements it's understood that Sir John Moore has ordered elements of his corps to march towards the border with Spain and 'supervise' the final removal of elements of French garrisons belonging to Junot's corps. Sir Arthur Wellesley remains in Lisbon, meeting Portuguese politicians and ladies as well as talking with Hookham-Frere. His troops continue to drill outside the city, eager to get at "them d--m Frenchies!"

    That Cunning Old Dog Cuesta Surfaces!

    Despite his advancing years and waistline, it seems the tactical finesse displayed on the Adajo and at Valladolid (!) has not deserted him. Cuesta's army has appeared north-west of Madrid at Villalba, only 35 miles from Madrid and 20 from Montenebro where the French line of communications with Burgos runs. The riots in Madrid have been linked to pamphlets he ordered distributed and its said his spies in the city know the menu of the King's breakfasts before the royal chef! For now Cuesta seems content to let the pot simmer, but no doubt when it reaches the boil he will strike!

    Burgos!

    Near this great fortress General Baron Verdier has withdrawn his corps from the line of the Rio Carrion back to a position under the guns of the city. This move has allowed him to shorten the line he is holding and send a cavalry brigade towards Aranda. On the mountain road the French met, not with irregulars, but with several troops of Spanish regular dragoons! The cavalry are part of Cuesta's command and were driven off with ease, scrambling back towards Valladolid. Finally the communications between Burgos and Madrid are reopened. Baron Verdier has busied himself with strengthening the Burgos garrison and supervising the bringing in of more supplies.

    On the Rio Carrion Spanish General Blake observed the French retrograde move but contented himself with following it up with only cavalry patrols for now. The Spanish mounted screen remains in contact with their French opposite numbers and these scouting groups have been 'playing at war' with each other now for so many weeks that fraternisation has begun with the men exchanging brandy, tobacco and other small gifts. French officers come into Spanish tents at night to gamble at cards and dice and the next night the noblemen of the Galician army do likewise.

    Santander. Romana Arrives!

    A British squadron escorting a large number of heavily-laden transports has come to anchor off the port. Small vessels have ploughed to and fro between the harbourmaster's residence and the English flagship and news is breaking that a great coup has been won in Denmark. As part of her treaty obligations to her erstwhile ally, Spain sent to aid French arms an Army of the North under Teniente General Pedro Caro y Sureda, 3° Marqués de La Romana. Napoleon used the Spanish troops to occupy and garrison Hamburg and later areas of Denmark, releasing French troops for field service. When Romana got news of the uprising in Spain he opened talks with English agents and after several months a plan was hatched to spirit away the Spaniards from Danish soil aboard a Royal Navy squadron. part of the plan faltered and two infantry regiments and a cavalry regiment either refused to co-operate with the English or were restrained by local French commanders. Nonetheless a division of infantry and a division of cavalry with several artillery batteries were taken on ship and whisked to freedom, surely one of the more daring operations of these wars.

    en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Evacuation_of_the_La_Romana_Division

    The Pyrenees Theatre. Blow and Counter-Blow,

    The French continue to occupy Miranda del Ebro in some strength. The army of General Acevedo has cautiously moved its forward elements back to San Milan and his light cavalry are watching the town from the north-west but no pressure is being applied. At Bilbao Spanish troops have re-entered the city though again, their movements are tentative and unsure, as that of a mouse coming from his hole and concerned where the house cat is hiding, waiting to pounce.

    The corps of Maréchal Bessieres holds Miranda and has refitted and restocked its troops from the supply depot there.

    The self-styled Capitán-General of Aragon, Palafox, after his brilliant victory over the corps of Maréchal Bessieres at Calahorra has been moving cautiously towards Miranda and has occupied Logrono, driving back a brigade of French dragoons. The news of Calahorra has rejuvenated Spanish fortunes in this theatre and at Pampluna fresh Spanish troops are being raised.

    A Second Missing Army Found! Shock at Zaragosa! Murat's Surprise!

    In a carefully planned lightning march Maréchals Murat and Moncey have led a corps d'armee over the Sierra de Guadarrama via Alcala and Calatayud to descend in a surprise move on Zaragosa! The Spanish appear to have been caught completely by surprise and with no forces outside the city Moncey's corps quickly invested the place, sending an immediate demand for surrender. This was brusquely refused but its thought the strength of the garrison may be critically low after General Palafox ordered a division of miquelets to march out to Tudela and join the battle of Calahorra at the beginning of the month. If true, the timing of that move could be critical in whether or not Zaragosa can hold out. The French are considering storming the place at once, an operation likely to be very bloody, but probably successful!

    Emperor Napoleon Furious! A Second French Army Marches!

    News has just arrived from France that the Emperor himself, deeply agitated at the contrary news and reports from Maréchal Murat, and learning of the gravity of the situation around Madrid and in the Ebro Valley, has ridden south and brought the bulk of the Grande Armeé with him! Already assembling near Bayonne there are reports of four army corps under Maréchals Victor, Mortier, Léfèbvre and Ney. Maréchals Berthier and Soult are also with the army as is Général de division St. Cyr. A terrible and perfect storm is about to rage across the Pyrenees.

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.
    Last edit: 6 years 9 months ago by Saddletank.

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    6 years 9 months ago #25 by Saddletank

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  • Events of early October 1808.

    All of Spain Celebrates! Madrid Freed! Bells Ring Out! King Joseph Flees to Zaragosa! Entire Corps of General Dupont is Captured Near Sesena! Another Battlefield Victory for Spain at Gerona! Napoleon Arrives at Bayonne! A New French Offensive to Come?

    October has seen a clear drop in temperatures on high ground and some contrary seas and winds, especially in the Bay of Biscay and off the Portuguese coast. Rainfall over the mountains has caused many rivers to rise.

    Madrid! Joseph Flees! Dupont Made Prisoner! Spies Executed!

    Around Madrid however the French have finally faced a very dry reality. The lack of troops to hold the line of the Tagus saw this river barrier breached in several places by aggressive Spanish armies and the cry on many lips was "Where is Murat? The Marechal has fled!" Many consider Murat's strategic movement of Moncey's corps to attack Zaragosa as a vehicle by which he signed his own passport out of the trap around Madrid leaving King Joseph to narrowly escape capture by hours and loyal General Dupont to fall into the enemy's clutches.

    Marechal Murat has now left Spain having taken himself off on "sick leave". His many critics are having a field day at his expense though from Imperial Headquarters there is no comment.

    The situation around the capital reached its climactic finale in early October. Multiple Spanish forces advanced from the west, north-west, south-east and south towards the glittering spires of the city while a determined fragment of Dupont's corps held out in the Alcazar in Toledo. Just south of the city, on the 6th, General Dupont, at the head of 6,000 men and eight guns, was surrounded by Spanish troops and after a day of negotiations was forced to surrender unconditionally. Several cannon complete with horse teams and ammunition wagons were handed over and two carts of colours and eagles were sent triumphantly to Seville by General Castaños as evidence of his victory.

    General Cuesta was the first to enter the city from the north on the 7th while cavalry from General Villava's corps appeared in the southern districts later the same day. The riotous populace went wild with joy and there was an orgy of celebration from the bells of the greatest church to happy dancing in the lowliest peasant quarter.

    King Joseph, Gen. Grouchy and the Royal Court had made a most fortuitous escape only the day before, with the king went a long trayne of heavily laden wagons carrying many treasures, works of art, sculptures and vast stacks of administration papers. Troops of one of Villava's divisions attempted to disrupt the Royal Retreat near La Poveda but Gen. Grouchy's powerful cavalry escort brushed them aside and the column pushed resolutely on along the Zaragosa road. Elsewhere Gen. San Juan of the Army of Granada attempted a blocking position further north at Alcala but on his arrival he learned that his prize had already slipped by. The most recent reports place the withdrawing French column near Aviza and there is so much disruption from celebrating citizens that the Spanish armies cannot move; many officers have abandoned their units and joined the merry-making while multitudes of military supply carts stand idle, their drivers sampling local delights in tavernas and night-houses! Spanish army administration in the region of the capital has temporarily collapsed.

    There have been darker events as well, in some parts of the city the property of pro-Bonapartists; houses, shops and industries have been looted and put to the torch while there have been multiple hangings of pro-French sympathisers. In one especially shocking incident a powerful and well-known nobleman, Manual de Vargas y Fernandez, Conde de Aguilar was set upon by a mob when it was shouted that he was a spy. Men waved sheets of paper and among the gentleman's correspondence were letters from King Joseph's court instructing the Conde to lie to Spanish General Blake about his political intentions. The man was feeding the Army of Galicia false information about French troop strengths and locations and had insinuated himself into Gen. Blake's trust such that the command of a Spanish army division had been offered to him! The poor man was hanged in the square from a tree by the baying crowd and his body left to dangle there a week, with a card around its neck proclaiming "TRAITOR!"

    A small party of French troops are holding out in the Arsenal de Monteleon. General de Brigade Lavasseur and two battalions of the Marines of the Guard, about 800 men in all, have barricaded themselves inside. There is fresh water in a deep well in the grounds and apparently plenty of food in the storehouses.

    A determined brigade of French are also holding out in the Alcazar citadel in Toledo. They are the last remnant of Dupont's corps whose commander has bluntly refused to obey Dupont's order to surrender with the rest of his men.

    Portugal. Where are These English?

    There is still no news of British armies crossing the border and observers in Lisbon claim the British politicians and the Junta Central are haggling over details of how many peacocks Seville is to supply for each British division, or some other convoluted nonsense. Many in high circles are becoming unhappy at the delays and it's claimed the men of the Junta are getting nervous due to this lack of progress. In the past Juntas have been toppled by disillusioned citizens!

    Nevertheless an English merchant vessel, the 'Mercator', has docked in Cadiz to land ashore eight six-pound cannon and a number of limbers and caissons. There were also several crates of muskets packed in greased paper and many rolls of cloth for uniforms. It seems the English supplies are now finally beginning to arrive.

    In the port of Barcelona as well, there was evidence of co-operation between English ship captains and officials of the Junta: two companies of Spanish artillery sent from their Reserve Army of Andalucía and carried on the English traders 'John O'Gaunt' and 'Restormel Castle' disembarked and prepared to join the Army of Cataluña, which lacks many cannon. 'Bellona', 74 and 'Thetis', 38 lay in the roadstead as escort to this small convoy.

    Sevilla! Artillery Production Increases!

    The Spanish have only one cannon foundry in their whole country and it is at Seville. Here they cast cannon based on the system of Monsieur Gribeauval, the plans for these being given over when France and Spain enjoyed happier relations. The foundry and carpentry workshops are working at maximum capacity in the need to supply more guns to the armies. Cannon, however, are not the real issue - they are easy to make - it is trained gunners and engineers the Spanish lack.

    Battle Near Gerona! French Driven Back!

    The Cataluña campaign continues! French attempt to approach Gerona fails!

    A major action took place on the 9th when a powerful corps of French advanced south after capturing Rosas. Gen. Gouvion Saint-Cyr was in command and he cleverly found a ford several miles downriver of the small town of Murcia with the intent of pinning the Spanish under Gen. Vives in place with a frontal demonstration across the Puente de Rosas while rolling up his right flank from the south. Unbeknownst to the French, however, the Army of Valencia under Capitan-General Llamas had arrived to support the Catalans only a day or two earlier and with this additional force, and after a prolonged and violent battle, part of which involved ferocious mêlées and bayonet rushes in the streets of the town, the French were driven back over the river with heavy loss.

    Saint-Cyr has retreated to Rosas, falling back on his additional line-of-communication brigades. Llamas and Vives remain near Gerona, patching up their battered army.

    Burgos, Verdier Trapped?

    At Burgos, the critical city-fortress on the shortest route of march from Bayonne to Madrid, the French Gen. Verdier has withdrawn his corps inside the fortifications in the face of the much more numerous Galician Army of Gen. Blake. Blake may have five divisions but his troops have yet to fight a battle of any size and are still green; he also lacks cavalry. Verdier's cavalry division did not enter the city but fell back along the Miranda road, with Blake's much smaller mounted contingent attempting to pursue but the stronger French cavalry force easily halted this push at Galmonal.

    The question commentators ask is, who will save Verdier?

    March and Counter-march in the Upper Ebro Valley.

    At Espinosa and San Milan Gen. Acevedo remains observing Miranda, his cavalry pushing down the roads to let their officers espy the town through their field glasses. In that town news has reached us that Marechal Bessieres has gone back to France under a cloud of mistrust from no lesser person than the Emperor himself because of his failure to take Zaragosa, the loss of Pampluna and the defeat at Calahorra. In his place Marechal Soult, Duc d'Istria has arrived, bringing with him a number of new formations and sending back to France those troops considered not of front-line quality. A major reorganisation of the troops at Miranda del Ebro has taken place and Soult now leads the newly designated II Corps, a much more powerful entity than the battered force Bessieres left behind.

    La Romana on the March!

    From Santander Gen. La Romana has advanced his fresh new 'Division del Norte' to Castro Urdilaes and from that place is preparing to move again to support Acevedo. Other elements of Acevedo's army occupy Santander and Bilbao.

    Bayonne!

    On the border no less a person than Emperor Napoleon has been seen riding forth to the heights above Irun where he has set up a forward headquarters with tents, map tables, a stables for messengers mounts and a host of other impedimenta appropriate to such a powerful person. Nearby the Chasseurs a Cheval de la Garde police the area in their splendid cherry red uniforms, maintaining a tight security for their commander.

    Around Bayonne it is said that no less than three corps d'armee lie encamped - the 1st under Marechal Victor, the 5th under Marechal Mortier and the 6th under the famous Duc de Elchingen, Marechal Ney. Several divisions of dragoons are already ahead and patrolling the roads to San Sebastian and Vitoria. It seems only a matter of weeks - or even days - before this powerful host is set in motion - but to what end? Will the Emperor retake Madrid, seek to engage and destroy the various Spanish armies, or will he dispose his corps and divisions so that he can capture as many cities as possible, to suppress the Spanish rebellion? It is impossible to divine his strategy.

    Latest News! Stop Press! Shocking Events at Zaragosa! City Falls to a Violent Assault!

    News has just reached us that the corps of Marechal Moncey has attacked Zaragosa! The French demanded the surrender of the city when they arrived there at the very end of September. One day was given for the garrison commander and political leaders of the city to accept their terms of unconditional surrender. When no response was offered and the Borbon flag remained flying above the walls, the French made secret plans for an immediate attack. Over several days they watched the walls for weak points and then deployed the bulk of their artillery at the west perimeter, opening a heavy bombardment. Three days later there was a surprise dawn assault from the east, an unexpected quarter. The French leading assault companies of engineers and grenadiers suffered terrible losses but nothing could quench their élan and men scrambled over the walls and the heaps of dead and dying to break into the city. The most dreadful hand to hand fighting erupted, men stabbing, lunging and even biting at each other in an animal-like frenzy of mutual hatred. Such awful scenes have never before been seen in modern warfare! Is this a sign of the worsening standards of behaviour between these two implacable enemies?

    The garrison commander, Mariscal de Campo de Marques de Obispo had far too few men to defend each strong-point that demanded to be held. He struck his sword against a cannon barrel and cursed General Palafox for removing the Miquelets Division from the city last month. Without those men Obispo couldn't hold the line everywhere. The French suffered very heavy losses, some observers report around 1 man in 5, amounting to nearly 3,500 killed, wounded and missing. The defenders however were overwhelmed. 1,200 of the garrison fell or were wounded, along with more than 4,000 citizens who took up arms to defend their homes. People even crawled onto roofs to hurl stones and tiles down on the heads of the attackers as their columns charged along the narrow streets.

    It was a dreadful spectacle, the acts of cruelty and violence on both sides defy description, churches and other religious houses seemed to be especially targeted by the French soldiers, some perhaps in search of loot, some perhaps in search of more despicable pleasures.

    The fighting lasted over a week until it became clear to the defenders that further resistance would only cause more suffering. General Obispo is numbered among the slain as well as his chief artillery commander Capitan Tranco. On the 10th the Mayor surrendered the city. An orgy of looting and destruction followed and the French forces were not placed back under discipline and control until the 14th by which time more rich houses had been reduced to ashes and the supply depot of the Army of Aragon had been consumed by flames.

    Marechal Moncey is victorious but in its damaged state the city cannot yet be used as a place of supply. With Madrid fallen the French are out of supply.

    On 15th October Spanish cavalry of General Palafox's army was reported across the Jalon river near Mallen. The Spanish too lack enough military supplies to advance, unless they can use the grain warehouses at Pampluna.

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.

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    6 years 9 months ago #26 by Saddletank

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  • Today we are fighting a large MP game from the campaign, a corps-level action at the French-held town of Miranda del Ebro. We have 13 players signed up so far.

    We are starting at 20:00 GMT and all are welcome. Please get into our teamspeak channel at least 30 mins before hand so we can make sure you have the right mods installed and activated. The map is one of Garnier's random 5-mile maps and its been modded to add some defensive fortifications and some buildings ('strongpoints') of the KS groups own design.

    We use HITS (with a 2yd or first-person POV) and couriers with no verbal comms, but teamspeak is used to get the game setup and any admin chat needed in-game. Therefore a mic and TS installed is needed.

    It would be great to see you there.

    kriegsspiel.forumotion.net/t1328-16-battle-of-miranda-26th-october-1808#12092

    HITS & Couriers - a different and realistic way to play SoW MP.

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    6 years 6 months ago #27 by Saddletank

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  • Events of Late October 1808

    A Perfect Storm Builds Over the Pyrenees! French Armies led by the Emperor Himself Enter Spain! Pampluna Invested! Bilbao Falls! Vitoria Occupied by Fresh Divisions! Victory at Miranda! Spanish Armies Reel back! Ebro Valley Theatre Uncertain!

    Our headlines of late October all reflect the new plans of the mighty Napoleon and his resolve to see the chaotic situation facing French arms in the Peninsular reversed and restored. A strong body of several corps has apparently fanned out with lightning speed from Bayonne, crossing the Bidassoa at Irun and moving west, south and south east. Corps d'Armee have moved west along the coast road, offering extra support and garrison troops to their forces at San Sebastian and then brushing aside weak resistance from Spanish troops at Bilbao, occupying that place and pushing further west to Castro Urdilaes. Ragged Spanish volunteer hussars have fallen back before this mighty host and sent word west to Santander and south to General Acevedo at Espinosa where the news was greeted with trepidation as his defeated Asturian army retreated from its defeat at Miranda. Off the Biscay coast English sloops and frigates scud along offshore under a press of wind from the early winter gales, their officers reporting back the activity they can observe along the main coast road.

    A vast English fleet is reported to be off Santander. Are the British putting in a garrison there? Landing an army? Or do they put ashore supplies to help Acevedo's beaten army?

    The city of Vitoria has seen several divisions of French marching in and setting up temporary encampments. Notable citizens have reported Marechal Victor, Duc de Belluno is in command here now.

    At Pampluna another corps of French, this one led, it's claimed, by Marechal Mortier, Duc de Treviso has arrived at the city and thrown a powerful cordon around it. Mortier has pushed a strong body of cavalry south from the city and these have come up against a force of Spanish infantry and artillery moving north from Tudela. Quite how strong the Spanish and French forces are is not clear, but each may be a division. Palafox's Army of Aragon is still unaccounted for. Cavalry from it were reported outside Zaragosa mid-month but these withdrew back west the way they had come. Its clear that the middle Ebro valley is still under Spanish control but the French now appear to have taken or surrounded all the principal settlemenmts of teh region - Miranda, Vitoria, Pampluna, Zaragosa so from where Palafox is drawing supplies is unknown.

    At Zaragosa Marechal Moncey's corps has not moved. His men are reportedly applying the bootheel and the flat of their swords with vigor to the city's populace, demanding they bring in their crops and stores from outlying villages and contribute to a supply depot to replace the one burned in the siege. Given just a few weeks more it is likely that Moncey's troops will be able to draw supplies from the city, resuming offensive operations.

    Cataluna! All is Quiet! What are the Protagonists Planning? Why Doesn't Llamas Attack?

    General Llamas won a great victory for Spain near Gerona a month ago but his army has fallen into an apparent state of lethargy, remaining along the banks of the Rio Ter content to send out cavalry patrols towards Rosas to observe the French there. Perhaps losses at the Battle of Murcia were greater than was first thought? As to the French, General St-Cyr is reorganising his corps and has made provision to fall back into both fortresses of Rosas and Figueras if he is attacked by greater numbers. St-Cyr looks daily to the north over the high mountain passes for reinforcements coming from Perpignan - but each day none arrive.

    Toledo! Siege Continues! Both sides Bleed from Attrition!

    In the great Alcazar citadel high above the ancient and holy city of Toledo, several brigades of French from the former corps of General Dupont doggedly hold out, refusing all calls to surrender. The men are dispirited and feel betrayed and abandoned but a few fanatical republican officers are holding the garrison together. They have some food and a good well of sweet water inside the strong building but when will help come? Even the most committed Bonapartists among them now beleive it may be only a matter of time before the inevitable starvation sets in. Losses are mounting from daily skirmishes and sniping that goes on along the walls and perimeter.

    The duty of investing the Alcazar is an unpleasant task for those outside as well. General Conde de Belvedere's Extremaduran army is keeping watch, waiting to starve the defenders out. Disease among his men is reduced now that the hot weather is over for the year but soon rain, cold and storm winds will bring a different kind of suffering. Each side in this filthy and miserable siege have endured losses of over 10 percent already, perhaps as high as 15 percent among effectives.

    The grim siege goes on.

    Madrid! Artillery park of Monteleon Stormed! Bloody Assault! Terrible Slaughter! In Other News Spanish Armies Reorganise and Collect Supplies! Soon a new March will Commence!

    Three battalions of French guard marines under the command of General de Brigade Levasseur have held out in the fortified buildings of the Monteleon Arsenal all month. In late October, however several assaults conducted by elements of the Armies of Extremadura and Andalucia forced their way, by means of bloody hand-to-hand fighting, into the compounds of the artillery park and captured the place grimly and slowly, building by building. No quarter was asked or given and the losses were awful on both sides. The French however had only about 1,200 defenders. The Spanish genertals had an unlimited supply of men angry and eager to get at their hated enemy. Finally after a week of almost continuous fighting the French, only a handful in number, and exhausted, bvarricaded themselves into the Chapel of Armouries in the centre of the small fortress-like arsenal. Asked to give themselves up, they refused and in one of the most barbaric events this war has yet seen, the Spanish hurled barrels of oil through the chapel windows, and sacks of cotton and straw, then set the place alight...

    Monteleon Artillery Park has fallen. Madrid is finally secure, but at what price can human honour still hold its head up in this dreadful war?

    More news from Madrid advises that the Spanish armies that captured the city at the beginning of the month have undergone reorganisation. Several new regiments are said to be forming from enthusiastic volnteers and some regiments have partly made good their losses suffered in recent campaigning. There have been agreements between the several generals present across provincial army boundaries over the priority of supply routes and Cuesta's Army of Castile is already on the march back into Leon-Castile. Formations from the Army of the Right have marched out eastwards to destinations unknown while the Army of the Centre is surely to go north. Some claim Zaragosa will be it's target, others suggest Burgos. Still more people think a route over the mountains unmarked on any map can be taken with the aid of local guides to bring the famed Castanos down onto the French host at Miranda del Ebro!

    Cadiz and Sevilla! The Junta Awakes!

    English supplies have begun to trickle into Cadiz and paid for by Spanish gold, new regiments are forming in the fortress-city with the emphasis on cavalry squadrons and artillery companies, although lack of good horses and trained gunners is a hindrance. Nonetheless the Junta seems at last to be working towards getting new units to its field armies, though of what quality these units are is questionable.

    Lisbon! Spanish Prisoners Released! Girón y Ahumada joins General Wellesley! Hookham-Frere Unwell?

    El Mariscal de Campo Pedro Morejón Girón y Ahumada is a nobleman who commanded a division of Spanish troops that invaded Portugal in 1807 as part of the then existing alliance between Spain and France in support of Napoleon's Continental System, a plan to close all European mainland ports to British trade. When, a few months later, France turned on its erstwhile ally and invaded Spain, Girón y Ahumada's corps was disarmed by General Junot's troops and made prisoner on hulks in Lisbon harbour.

    After several months of negotiations it was agreed that the British would release this fine body of Spanish soldiers, re-equip them and send them to fight alongside one of their own corps. Thus, Lt-Gen Wellesley's English army is now graced by a Spanish division and the combined farce is reported to be headed east from Abrantes.

    For personal health reasons Mr Hookham-Frere took to a Royal Navy sloop in Lisbon roadstead during the late summer and autumn, possibly to enjoy the fresh sea airs. Rumours that Girón y Ahumada had challenged Hookham-Frere to a duel over the long time it was taking to get his men freed cannot be authenticated by British diplomatic sources. Hookham-Frere is however said to be "well again" and no longer "suffering fits of the apoplexy" now that the Spanish have gone from Lisbon.

    British on the March! Ciudad Rodrigo Celebrates!

    A column of fine-looking red-coated infantry has arrived at the Spanish border fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo where the allied troops have been greeted with joy and feasting by the rotund and many-chinned garrison commander General de Brigada Gregorio González. The English are commanded by the famous light infantryman Lt-Gen Sir John Moore and while the British quartermasters offered Gonzalez some English beer which seemed dark and sour to the Spanish palette, the garrison responded by offering bottles of Rioja and meals of cooked rice. The scurrilous English soldiers thought this looked like "boiled maggots" but tucked in nonetheless and this new dish has become a favourite of the British troops.

    Sir John apparently has orders to continue east and a brigade of smart-dressed and finely-horsed British cavalry has already reached Salamanca.

    Burgos!

    There is no resolution in sight to the long siege of this place. French General Verdier remains within the powerful fortress with his corps and the far stronger Spanish Army of the Left under Capitan-General Blake is keeping every approach road well-guarded. Several messages intended for the garrison and some notes sent out by spies have been intercepted. Losses from attrition on both sides are rising however but Blake's loses are being replaced by formations of the Army of Castilla which have begun arriving from Valladolid and placed under his command. Blake however keeps a nervous eye always towards...

    Miranda!

    A terrible and bloody battle has been fought in and around this town on 26th October. The Army of the Asturias commanded by Capitan-General Acevedo attacked the place vigorously and with a powerful and dramatic cavalry charge against the newly-reconstituted corps of Marechal Bessieres, now under the command of the Duc d'Istria, Marechal Soult.

    After losing the town initially to a strong column of assaulting horse and foot, Soult recovered his position and counterattacked, driving the Spanish back and keeping his important supply depot near the town safe. Spanish losses are said to be heavy though they did retreat in good order, however the fine cavalry division of General de Brigada José O’Donnell is thought to have been almost destroyed in the biggest cavalry charge of the war. The Spanish are said to have lost 13 squadrons in the battle, while the French lost 2. Infantry casualties were 2,500 Spanish to 1,500 French, a third of these falling on the garrison brigade of the town, mostly made up of Portuguese and Irish emigres. The Portuguese are said to have fought ferociously and defended their barricades and breastworks against all attacks with a spirit and tenacity bordering on fanaticism. There is still great emnity it seems, between some Portuguese and Spanish soldiers, a hatred long and historical.

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    6 years 6 months ago - 6 years 1 month ago #28 by Saddletank

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  • Events of Early November 1808:

    Winter Weather Approaches! Snow and Rain in the Highlands. Heavy Rain in Low-lying Regions Turns Roads to Mud! Armies Continue to March and Fight in Appalling Conditions!

    Cataluña

    All is quiet in north-east Spain. The well-stocked citadel of Gerona has been hastily repaired with fresh stonework gleaming atop the buttresses and bastions of the main walls and new outlying forts dug on Santa Maria Hill that dominates the town. The strong forts of Capuchins and Monjuich are packed with eager volunteers to withstand any siege.

    General Vives and his Army of Cataluña awaits any enemy attack along the line of the Ter. This time his cavalry and light infantry patrols have ensured that no bridge or ford is unguarded. How will Saint-Cyr assault the city now? None can comment and the French general keeps his own counsel.

    The Ter is swollen by early rains and frequent storms dampen the defenders but they are ready.

    Across the Pyrenees a great deal of activity at Perpignan is reported. Are fresh invaders on their way?

    Lerida and Mequinenza

    A ragged and near-starving column of what were once troops has arrived at the small lowland township of Mequinenza. The worn and filthy uniforms and faded flags announce this is - or was - a Spanish army but for now the men can only rest and bind their wounds and need food badly. This is a column of Palafox's Army of Aragon, cut off from all supply sources in the middle Ebro valley and forced to flee across country, abandoning all its baggage. The once-proud General Casa Solano, one of the architects of the victory at Calahorra is reduced to riding a mule and his guns are pulled by his men, their oxen having been slaughtered for food.

    The Division of Casa Solano was welcomed at Lerida but the formation will need a good deal of rest before it can attempt military operations again.

    Saragossa

    "Sire, all is complete! The chief quartermaster announces the stores are ready, the buildings and compound are secure and the first provisions have been issued to the men - bread, bacon, potatoes, onions, wine, ball and powder. Some new uniforms have been procured from textile mills in the city and the corps is ready to march!"

    "Excellent."

    Marechal Moncey, Duc de Conegliano saluted the ADC and calling for his horse, mounted up outside his headquarters - what had once been the mayor's villa in a fashionable street off the Place d'Arms in the centre of Zaragosa.

    The marechal turned to his entourage.

    "You have your orders gentlemen, let us hide within Zaragossa's walls no longer. This fetid hole of Catholics disgusts me. I wish to stay not a minute longer among their beads and incense and mystic nonesense! We march!"

    In Zaragossa the destroyed Spanish supply depot that was lost in the recent storming of the city has been rebuilt at the cost of Spanish blood, farm produce and toil. Leading his men like a demon, Marechal Moncey had the place rebuilt and restocked as well as the battered walls of the medieval town repaired. Now his corps is at last ready to resume operations.

    However as he rode his horse towards the main gate a first flurry of snow filled the air. Pulling up the collar of his heavy riding coat, the Duc de Conegliano considered carefully the merits of marching. Zaragosa at least offered excellent winter quarters...

    Calatayud

    The upland Aragonese town nestles in a steep valley against a curve of the Rio Jalon as that river tumbles from the north flank of the Iberian Chain of mountains. Down in the natural hollow of land is a micro climate of sheltered warm air. In this comfortable place the troops of General de Division Grouchy had been occupying defensive posts for many weeks. To Grouchy's surprise, two battalions of Swiss infantry arrived at his outposts towards mid-November. Their officers proclaimed these were battalions of the 2nd and 4th Swiss regiments that had until recently formed the garrisons of Somosierra and Aranda. One had come from General Dupont's old corps and the other was from General Verdier's corps. With news cut off from both north and south and being aware that Madrid had fallen and Burgos was invested, the commanders of the two battalions agreed to march out east over the Aviza pass. Their journey had been long and arduous and several times they had been forced to hide in caves and groves of sparse pine trees to avoid Spanish cavalry patrols on the mountain roads.

    General Grouchy welcomed the officers and brave men of the two battalions into his small ad-hoc corps. The news was good - food and ammunition wagons had just arrived from Zaragosa for the first time in six weeks and his troops were back in supply. The Swiss were fed and rested and both formations added to Grouchy's defence.

    These events came not a moment too soon as within a day or two of the Swiss arrivals Spanish cavalry were seen in growing numbers on the high ground to the west, south and east of the town! It was thought that at least a brigade of horsemen were operating in each direction and the enemy had clearly arrived via both the Madrid and Cuenca roads. Grouchy knew that behind cavalry patrols, more would always come. He readied his troops for defence.

    Up in the hills the Spanish horsemen watched, their officers carefully counting tents and campfires through their spyglasses. Soon couriers were sent off south to report the information.

    Madrid!

    At last all is peaceful in the city. The damaged Artillery Park is being rebuilt and restocked and troops drill and train in the main plazas. There has been an outbreak of police work in the city and several pro-Bonapartist rings and gangs have been broken up, their members hanged for treason or imprisoned as befits their part in these anti-Borbon cells. It seemed most of the Bonapartists fled with King Joseph and now that Capitan-General Castanos 'rules' Madrid those few not captured and exposed have gone deep underground, their activities supressed.

    The Army of Andalucia remains at Madrid training and re-equipping, daily more recruits flock to the colours although the recruiting machinery to assimilate large numbers of new soldiers is not up to the task. Already the arsenals are out of muskets and the few hundred serviceable pieces taken from the Monteleon defenders were quickly handed out.

    South-east of the capital Spanish armies march away towards Murcia and Valencia for destinations unknown, but to the north and north-east of the city, dusty and damp columns of troops converge on only one place - Burgos!

    Toledo

    The siege here proceeds slowly and is a grim affair. The once beautiful and imposing Alcazar is now filthy, badly damaged and pitted with bullet pocks and the scrapes and holes of cannon shot. Several times the flag post flying the French colours has been shot away but each time it is raised again. The defenders know not when they are beaten.

    The streets around the Alcazar are a war zone with rubble, timbers, roof tiles and dead animals filling the streets. The proud heart of Toledo is bleeding. Priests, escorted by Spanish soldiers, have gone into the two or three closest churches to the Alcazar and emptied them of priceless relics, chalices, crucifixes, paintings and other goods but the damage to some buildings is terrible. The ancient stained glass cannot be removed and daily French cannon shots shatter more 1,000 year old irreplacable panels.

    Several blocks around the siege area have been emptied of civilians and the besiegers brigades occupy the houses, tavernas, shops and factories using them as kitchens, barracks and storehouses.

    Earthen, timber and stone barricades have been erected across streets and from behind these artillery pour shots into the great building above the city.

    Still the Alcazar stands high above, defiant and almost innocent in the smoke and blood that trails around its shoulders and drips at it's feet.

    On the 11th of the month there was great surprise and delight as a column of very smart, very clean and beautifully mounted horsemen arrived along the road from Talavera. General Conde de Belvedere's men had never seen such magnificent animals, each as black as night and gleaming with good health, powerful and beautiful. Some of the hungrier Spanish troops saw them as so many tender juicy steaks!

    The commander of the cavalry entered Belvedere's headquarters and introduced himself with a flourish and bow as Lieutenant-Colonel Sir Charles William Vane Stewart, a Scot in the British Army. He commanded the cavalry brigade attached to Lord Wellesley's 'Army of Portugal' and his 700 troopers of His Majesty's 18th Light Dragoon regiment had orders to pass through Toledo, conduct military liaison with the Army of Extremadura and then ride on to Madrid and seek an audience with the famous Capitan-General Castanos.

    Stewart advised, through a Spanish interpreter has had with him, that Lord Wellesley's army was on the road from Portugal and had crossed the border and was rapidly marching east. Wellesley had 20,000 men with him and 40 guns including Mariscal de Campo Pedro Morejón Girón y Ahumada's Spanish division which was being held prisoner in Lisbon by the French but had been released and re-equipped by Senor Hookham-Frere and the Commander of the Portuguese Army, Sir William Carr Beresford.

    Stewart rested his men for one day and then took his leave on the road north to Madrid.

    As his fine brigade rode out, behind him the dull boom of artillery shots resumed.

    Burgos!

    Here too the grim task of siege and counter siege goes on. Men dig and burrow like ants, men snipe and scout and patrol, sleep, eat and die. It is a terrible form of warfare. It does not respect rank or birth, nor age or gender. Inside the citadel the townsfolk suffer greatly from starvation and other unspeakable privations at the hands of the definat garrison. General Verdier's men have taken all that is edible for themselves and the citizens of the place are reduced to eating cats, dogs and vermin. How much longer must this man-made hell be endured? How much longer can Verdier's corps hold out? His men are ragged and hungry but at least they have shelter - those parts of it they have not burned as firewood to keep warm!

    Outside in the hills above Galmonal and the city, General Blake's Spanish army suffers worse. here there is even less to eat and less for shelter but at least daily supply wagons rumble in along the road from Leon and the men are finaly receiving blankets, new hats and some shoes all stamped with British manufacturers army marks.

    All eyes watch to the north-east, towards Miranda. The failed attack of the Army of the Asturias means Napoleon must surely now come south this way and drive Blake away. But can he? Has even the Master of Europe enough skill and men to take this place? Daily and weekly General Blake's force grows stronger as contingents of other Spanish armies arrive, rested and well-fed, from Madrid. Soon an army like no other yet seen in Spain will be prosecuting the siege at Burgos. How great an army must press against it to drive it away? Surely a battle of titanic proportions must occur!

    In the North! Santander, Reynosa, Miranda, Bilbao!

    The battered and demoralised Spanish army of General Acevedo once again fell back along familiar tracks into their mountain fastnesses. Th etrails to reynosa were familiar ground but each time his men passed this way it was after a defeat and the place and inhospitable terrain lowered his men's mood even furher. This time his retreat was not to be so easy. Behind Acevedo none other that the Bravest of the Brave, Marechal Ney, Duc de Elchingen, was designing the pursuit. The weather and rocky ground conspired to oblige both armies to forsake teh use of cavalry and artillery; Acevedo sent his on ahead, Ney ordered his left behind. The race to Reynosa became one of infantry columns and skirmish parties, with the cruel acts of this tragic performance played out amid harsh ravines, tumbling streams, small upland farms and ungrateful ridgelines. All the time rain and sleet stung the faces of the soldiers and despite the entreaties of their officers some succummbed to the need to curl up under some rock to snatch a few minutes sleep...

    By the middle of the month the leading French division of Legrange had reached and secured Reynosa, though the men were exhausted. North from there Acevedo's broken army scattered down over the pass and reached the coast road some 45 miles west of Santander. Lagrange also noted a mountain track running south from Reynosa that probably entered the valley of the Rio Carrion towards Saldanha.

    At Santander it is now known that a powerful corps of English troops have been landed ashore and are garrisoning the city and setting up defensive positions to the east. Lieutenant-General Sir David Baird is in command and he has much experience in fighting in the rugged uplands of India. A student of Sir John Moore, Baird knows the value of well-trained light infantry and it's rumoured he has a strong corps of green jacketed riflemen in his divisions.

    For the last two weeks or more British light cavalry have been disputing the coast road east of the city with French dragoons commanded by General de Division Latour-Maubourg. Sir John Slade's fine hussars have experienced a shock at finding the Spanish countryside so inhospitable. They were told it was a country of plains, wheat fields and vineyards, yet this god-forsaken landscape may as well be the moon! The terrain is quite unsuited to any mounted operations and even artillery is limited to the area of the coast road itself. Latour-Maubourg brought up guns and light infantry and by mid-month his voltigeurs had pressed in part of teh British skirmish line and were in view of parts of the port. It seems however that the English are here to stay and determined to hold their ground. Th eFrench have slackened off their assaults and are now content to conduct offensive patrols and try to capture prisoners to interrogate.

    At Bilbao more French columns wend their way westwards. Reservist formations are arriving to take up garrison duty to release brigades from Ney's VI Corps for service at the front. It is reported that Ney is also sending his dragoon brigades to do garrison duty in order to release more of his infantry for combat in these rugged coastal hills.

    At Miranda His Majesty the Emperor has arrived with his famous guard and a large escort of courtiers, ADCs, advisors and other interested parties, including many fine ladies and gentlemen. The court of an Emperor cannot move around Europe quietly! Many French troops are now gathered at Miranda. His Majesty presided at a special ceremony to award the Lt-Colonel of the Portuguese Legion with a title and a pension of 500 livres for his gallant defence of the town in the recent battle.

    Now Napoleon's gaze must surely be turned towards Burgos. At night in his headquarters the lamplight burns brightly and ADCs frequently come and go clutching leather despatch cases. All is being planned...

    Portugal

    In Lisbon several Portuguese regiments newly resplendent in blue uniforms provided by the British, drill and train. Daily outside the city in the hills to the north towards Torres Vadres the rattle of musketry can be heard as the men master their new weapons. Here and there companies, battalions and brigades attend field camps and are taught to skirmish, forage, draw maps and keep their weapons and uniforms clean.

    Sir William Carr Beresford has been appointed to the rank of Lt-General in the Portuguese army and is overseeing recruiting and training of the small but promising force. He has not made many public comments but we are aware that he beleives the Portuguese army units will be ready for service by the late spring, and possibly before.

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    Last edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Saddletank.
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    6 years 1 month ago - 6 years 1 month ago #29 by Saddletank

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  • Events of Late November 1808:

    Winter Weather Strikes in the Mountains! Snow in the Highlands. Rain in Low-lying Regions Turns Roads to Mud. Several Armies Enter Winter Quarters but Others Continue to March. Napoleon Does Not Rest!

    Cataluña.


    This region of Spain remains quiet. A few contacts are being made by French and Spanish cavalry patrols south of Rosas but there appears to be no other events of note and the armies remain at rest, licking their wounds. There are reports that General Junot, Duc d'Abrantes who commanded the ill-fated corps that occupied Lisbon last year has been seen in Perpignan. It's known that his men were transported back to Rochefort as part of the dubious Convention of Cintra signed with the British following the battle of Vimerio and it is possible that his corps, newly rebuilt, has already marched south.

    The harsh weather has done nothing to lessen the activity of the miquelets bands who are active in the eastern Pyrenees. North of Gerona is their country; "bandit territory" and hardly a French messenger can ride or a forage party go out without drawing attention from the brigands in the mountains. The constant petite-guerre of dealing with these bloodthirsty cut-throats is showing in the tired and harassed faces of some French officers and their men.

    The Armies of Cataluna and Valencia remain in barracks with only small patrols being sent out. It's known that General Llamas has written to the Junta complaining of several of his infantry regiments being weak in numbers. The Junta's response is not known.

    Lerida! Enemies Watch Each Other at the Rio Cinca!

    This small fortress is well stocked with supplies and has a confident garrison. This is as well since French cavalry patrols have been sighted across the Rio Cinca at Mequinensa and Monzon. A Spanish brigade of cavalry that had ridden west to observe Zaragossa has been withdrawn to west of Lerida and these men plus a weak division of Spaniards with newly supplied artillery are watching the French across the tumbling swollen waters of the Cinca.

    Saragossa. Royal Action at Last!

    Like a beehive poked with a stick, all is bustling activity in the city as Marechal Moncey sends out many cavalry units on patrols and strengthens his minor garrisons to the south and east.

    What is newsworthy is that King Joseph is in the city and has made plans to rejoin his brother. His Majesty intends to depart the city in December and journey to Miranda. His Royal Guards and a whole corps of cavalry are said to be travelling with him. His baggage trayne includes many wagons of state documents, archives and paraphernalia of the Madrid government with officials, courtiers and fine ladies in splendid carriages. The miquelets know of the planned march already it seems but with such a powerful escort it is not thought there will be any unfortunate events on the road through Tudela and Logrono.

    Calatayud! Deadlock in the Hills!

    A strong French garrison, warm in the Tavernas and grain houses converted to barracks, continues to hold this place. In the hills south of the town freezing cold Spanish cavalrymen huddle under British army blankets and riding cloaks as they sit astride their small wiry ponies and keep watch over the enemy garrison. There has been no significant activity here by either side.

    Toledo! When will this Hellish Siege End?

    The cold of winter has brought a new element of misery for the defenders and attackers alike. However it has been noted by General Conde de Belvedere's men encircling the Alcazar that French activity has recently dwindled and it is possible that the defenders are nearing the limits of their endurance. For now the cannons are silent and rest under canvas awnings as the attackers send small patrols of Cacadores close to the foot of the damaged building to bring back news of the garrison's will to continue.

    Valladolid! The British Arrive!

    The city has special reason to rejoice! Last summer it suffered frightful deprivations after the fateful battle there as the French army ransacked and destroyed the Spanish grain warehouses. However these have been rebuilt and restocked by General Cuesta's tireless and enthusiastic men. This task had been completed just in time to celebrate the arrival of a British army into the city commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, the famed light infantryman. A curiously attired body of sharpshooters dressed all in dark green, wearing black cross-belts and with dark green plumes atop their hats led the English column. These, the Spanish learned, are the famous 95th Regiment which carries not muskets but rifled firearms, each able to shoot a fowl from its flight at 100 paces, or a French officer from his horse at 200!

    A column of smart light cavalrymen and a powerful artillery train accompanies Sir John's troops.

    The English officer has already exchanged letters with leading Spanish generals in the region but how and where his corps is to be employed alongside his allies is not known.

    Burgos! Siege Lifted! General Verdier's Corps Saved! Bonaparte Arrives!

    With the news that a strong screen of French light cavalry was pressing down the road from Miranda, a blocking force of Spanish at Gamonal was withdrawn. Behind the French horsemen bodies of fleet-footed voltigeurs and horse artillery batteries supported the advancing screen. Locals advised General Blake that 40,000 Frenchmen were coming led by the hated "Corsican Dwarf" himself, and the Spanish commander had no choice but to lift the siege and withdraw his army west. The strong Spanish Army of the Left has gone away along the road to Carrion and Leon, though a few cavalry remain in the rear in contact with the French at the fortress.

    The French force did indeed comprise a mighty host and Napoleon himself entered the beleaguered city to hoarse cheers and weak exclamations of "Vive l'Empereur!" from the starving garrison. What His Imperial Majesty found there would crush the heart of any lesser man - vast mass graves of thousands of citizens of the city, the dead lying in the streets, inert and frozen under quiet and respectful dustings of frost; the soldiers of the garrison, once a proud army corps are reduced to less than 9,000 men, none of them fit for combat. All the artillery draft horses were eaten long ago and many men were driven to boiling their own leather straps and eating vermin from the gutters to stay alive.

    Nonetheless, Napoleon was met at the foot of the steps of the parlement building, used by the garrison as their headquarters, by General Verdier. Somehow the general had got a clean uniform and though he was thin and pale, he saluted to his Emperor with pride.

    "Sire," he smiled, "I present to you the IV Corps - and the city of Burgos!"

    Napoleon was visibly pleased that the city and fortress had been so stoutly defended.

    It is quite clear however that the Army of Madrid has arrived not a moment too soon - two more weeks would have seen the surrender of the city, that seems certain.

    However all is not well. In the hills above the fortress the local bandits are already active watching the marching columns, counting flags, officers and the bright glistening cannon barrels. The miquelets send off runners south and west to send news of what they can observe.

    To the south-west of the city along the Valladolid highway there is contact between French light cavalry and British and Spanish horsemen. They are said to have a forward base at Venta del Pozo with supporting formations at Duenas.

    Has Napoleon arrived just in time to be brought to battle?

    Asturias and the Cantabrian Hills! Santander and Reynosa!

    General Acevedo's Army of the Asturias has reached the coast road west of Santander and north of Reynosa and is resting, licking its wounds. Supply traynes are finally arriving from Oviedo and the most badly wounded and sick have been sent there on carts. However to the south, down a mountain road that runs to the coast from Reynosa, French light cavalry are already approaching and watch their enemy from the coastal hills.

    At Reynosa itself it is reported that Marechal Ney is assembling a powerful force. The Marechal has met with some difficulties this high in the mountains and has experienced some skirmishes with the local irregular troops that are styled "guerilleros" or "guerillas". The name of one; "El Profesor" (the teacher) is heard again and again as the man to fear in these wind-blasted valleys.

    From Reynosa mounted scouting parties have been sent down every road and hillside trail. Down on the plains of northern Leon lies the slumbering market town of Saldanha. A garrison of Spanish infantry holds the place and their commander was shocked one cold morning when his sentries shouted that enemy cavalry was approaching from the north! A brigade of French chasseurs has come down from the hills and cut off the town, cutting the Leon to Burgos road. The garrison still holds the town however.

    The French cavalry commander was alerted to bad news a day later when he was told that his supply line back to Reynosa had been cut by bandit activity!

    At Santander there is nothing to report. English and French cavalry picquets and skirmish parties glare at each other across the rugged hillsides and ravines. Neither side is making any move.

    Pampluna!

    The siege continues without any sign of weakness on either side. The bad weather has meant that losses from disease and wounds have risen sharply and both the garrison and the besiegers are suffering severe losses. The defenders of the city appear to have a plentiful supply of men - it is as though an entire army defends the place. By contrast the attackers in their siege lines and trenches seem to be outnumbered considerably.

    ===================================================

    Note: Map of Spain

    The French have secured a number of previously Spanish-controlled settlements this turn. They have now 12 settlements under control and connected by LoC to Bayonne or Perpignan. The campaign in late November was Moderately Successful for the French.

    The list of controlled settlements in the rules has been updated.

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    Last edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Saddletank.

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    6 years 1 month ago - 6 years 1 month ago #30 by Saddletank

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  • Birthdate: 06 Sep 1959
  • Events of Early December 1808:

    Cold Weather Worsens, Especially in the Mountains! Rain Lessens in Lowlands but Sleet and Cold Fronts Increase. War in Terrible Conditions Grinds Brutally Onward. French Advance in Leon-Castile! Battle Outside Pamplona! Alcazar Capitulates!

    Confused Fighting and Spanish Retreat from Pampluna!


    The siege was broken on the 9th when General Palafox's army made a desperate attempt to break out. The troops had been on half rations for two weeks already and shortages of powder and ball meant that each man carried no more than twenty rounds. The roads were seas of mud and the cold was an enemy that cut deeper than any opponents knife. General Palafox decided to make a run to the east and try to reach Lerida although his lieutenants told him no artillery could be taken. Nonetheless at one o'clock on Friday the fortress artillery began firing again after days of silence, sending French sentries scurrying for cover as the Spanish gunners burned through their dwindling supplies of powder. An hour later, with just three hours of daylight available a column of Spanish troops erupted from the city's east gate. Marechal Mortier had been forewarned of suspicious activity in the city and had shifted two brigades eastwards but despite this the Spanish advanced desperately across the two bridges that secured the east side of the city and up a steep ridge to drive aside the cavalry division of General Treilard. Palafox's force was pursued by the dragoons of General Kellermann and several guns were captured but the Spanish slipped away into the surrounding forests and growing dusk.

    It is thought that Mortier will send troops in pursuit of the enemy who is now without guns, transport or supplies and faces a long gruelling march in the mountains past the Rio Aragon.

    At Pamplona the garrison left behind was reduced to about 4,000 men, half of these armed citizens and in the battle the fortress artillery had fired off two-thirds of its remaining ammunition. The city's people are starving and burning anything to keep warm. The collapse of resistance cannot now be long.

    Some French units returned to draw the tight grip of investment back around the city.

    Cataluña.

    At Lerida a tired and hungry Spanish division remains in the fortress. French cavalry have now pushed across the Cinca and are scouting just outside artillery range of the walls. At Monzon more French cavalry control a minor crossing there. Communications are possible across the Monzon bridge but it is too small a route and too flimsy a structure to permit armies to negotiate it. In the hills around Monzon the guerilleros draw closer to the French cavalry picquets and losses from skirmishing are occurring on both sides.

    At Gerona the church bells rang out alarms and the Spanish troops tumbled from their barracks and tented camps in the parks and avenues. Forming up they marched in some panic and confusion out of the city to take up designated positions along the right bank of the Ter. The news was that the French were attacking again! Almost a week of confused marches and counter marches to different points of defence along the river valley resulted before it became clear that the enemy had only intended to advance quickly as far as the river and push back over it the Spanish cavalry brigades that had been watching Rosas. General Vives was given a rude reminder of how quickly the French can move when they wish to and for the remainder of the early part of December the Spanish troops shivered in wet cold bivouacs along the valley floor opposite their French counterparts while the cavalry of both sides aggressively parried and skirmished.

    St Cyr's troopers have not found any unguarded crossings. Even the boats and wine barges have been drawn to the south bank preventing the French from shipping even a company of light infantry over.

    There is news that Junot's VIII Corps is now on the march from Perpignan, his columns moved out at the beginning of the month. His destination is not known.

    Saragossa. King Joseph Departs!

    The royal cavalcade has left the city and taken the main highway up the valley towards Tudela. A powerful escort guards the king and his court. Miquelets can be seen watching the long column but they cannot strike it due to the swarms of cavalry that patrol the flanks.

    Fall of the Alcazar! French Surrender!

    After almost three months of bloody deadlock the least unwell surviving senior officer of the French garrison, Général de Brigade Louis Cassagne, responded to a letter demanding surrender sent by the Conde de Belvedere, asking only that his officers be allowed to retain their swords and his men their colours. Belvedere granted the request of the officers but insisted that colours must be given up, along with all military arms and supplies. The well in the Alcazar must not be contaminated. Nearing the end of possible resistance, Cassagne agreed. On the 15th of December a weary but proud escort party of Spanish soldiers lined the long street winding down from the high rock in the centre of Toledo and the defeated garrison marched out. Many were appalled at the condition of the French, hundreds were so thin their bones were visible in their faces and hands. Many were sick, carried on carts and pannequins. Despite their hatred of their enemy, several women wept at this pitiful sight. The few officers had cleaned their threadbare uniforms and though no horses were left, a few were provided by Belvedere to Cassagne and his other brigade commanders. Cassgne saluted and declined.

    "I will go on foot, as do my brave soldiers. Thank you Monsieur for this sign of respect. Even in the darkest moments of war the warmth in men's hearts still has strength."

    With that, Cassagne and his 2,900 men were led into captivity.

    Behind them they left a filthy ruin, a shell of a palace filled with rubble, the central courtyard lined with rows of bodies covered in sheets. There was no place to bury the dead inside the citadel. The flagstaff was broken and so a Spanish Borbon flag was hung from the bent weather vane of the bell tower. Toledo's church bells rang out the victory, though it has been a costly one with many Spanish dead and most of the Army of Extremadura tied down in the siege since October.

    Duenas and Torquemada. Cuesta avoids a French Trap!

    General Cuesta's army was camped at Venta del Pozo where it had arrived to assist General Blake's army in the siege of Burgos. Spanish cavalry with some German cavalry in British pay were operating nearer the city. When Blake retreated, Cuesta, ever the blustering and bold fellow, remained, but news early in the month that Napoleon's army was marching west along the Leon highway and making no secret of an intent to chase Blake's Galicians worried Cuesta who saw his left flank exposed. In some hurry the Spanish retreated, first to Torquemada and then over the rivers Pisuerga and Carrion to Duenas. Marechal Soult's II Corps, with an enormous reserve artillery train, possibly taken from the fortress arsenal (the watching miquelets suggested), followed Cuesta, snapping at the heels of the retreating Allied cavalry.

    Cuesta fell back over the Carrion in some haste and his tired army took up a post behind General Moore's English. The Spanish had withdrawn not a day too early for as they made their way west strong French light cavalry forces, including Chasseurs a Cheval of the Guard and Polish Chevau-Leger swept down from the north overland from the direction of Carrion village itself. Cuesta had narrowly escaped being cut off and surrounded, surely the destruction of his army was the French object. Not so fortunate were the German cavalry of Sir John Moore's army which received no order to fall back and were skirmishing with the advancing horsemen of Soult's corps when the northern French fell on their flank. A confused and whirling cavalry skirmish began with the Germans commanded by Lt-Col Frederick von Arentschilde attempting to cut their way out. The running fight lasted all the way back to Duenas bridge where Sir John sent across part of Major-General Edward Paget's brigade with several companies of the 95th Rifles and a battalion of the 52nd Oxfordshire Light Infantry forming a bridgehead supported by British guns on the far bank. Eventually the German Light Dragoons got back across, the 52nd, in square, retiring back to the bridge behind them. The Germans lost 80 or 90 men, half of them prisoners. It was a sharp shock to Sir John, a soldier can never be complacent with the Master of Europe as your opponent.

    Napoleon himself arrived on the field an hour or two after with his Imperial Guard and Marechal Victor's I Corps. The French army deployed for battle the next day and the 10th December saw the French and Anglo-Spanish troops standing to arms while French cavalry scouted for a way across the river or around the Allied position. Tensions were high but although the cannons were trained on the opposing forces, no battle occurred.

    The following day part of the French force decamped and returned north back the way they had come. On the right bank of the Rio Carrion, Spanish cavalry patrolled north, observing the French. Soult's II Corps remained east of Duenas observing Moore and Cuesta and blocking the road to Burgos.

    Carrion! Blake in Retreat!

    The Army of Galicia fell back along the main road to Leon across the Rio Carrion. On reaching Saldanha the Spanish cavalry encountered French light cavalry deep in their rear area, cutting their supply road and surrounding the small garrison of the town! As Blake's army fell back, the French were driven off north along a minor road that follows the steep-sided Carrion valley towards Reynosa, Blake has reopened his supply road but has had to give up 75 miles of Leon-Castile in the process.

    Cantabria! Santander and Reynosa!

    General Acevedo's Army of the Asturias has fallen back west from the village of Torrelavega, 45 miles west of Santander. Acevedo has gone back towards Oviedo under threat of French attack from Reynosa.

    At Santander the British corps of Sir David Baird marched out of the city and drove back the skirmish lines of General Latour-Maubourg's force holding Castro Urdilaes. The British occupied the village and road junction cutting the enemy supply road between Bilbao and Espinosa. Latour-Maubourg fell back towards Bilbao with his 5,000 infantry, 1,500 cavalry and 30 guns. Supporting troops are holding Bilbao.

    In the mountains near Reynosa Marechal Ney has been dealing with Spanish irregulars in the rugged hills and valleys by increasing his garrisons and putting in place a system of LoC escort units of dragoons. His cavalry under General Bicquilley returned from Saldanha after the first week of the month. The Reynosa-Saldanha road is swarming with "el banditos".

    Lisbon

    Notices have been issued requesting able-bodied males over the age of fifteen and part-time soldiers of the Ordenanza (militia) to report for duty as labourers on a major building project. Lieutenant-General Beresford is overseeing this work. It is likely however that this distraction may compromise the pace at which the regular Portuguese army is being disbanded, reconstructed and retrained by British officers.

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    Last edit: 6 years 1 month ago by Saddletank.

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