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Friday, January 13, 2012

NSWC Campaigns-1809

THE 1809 PENINSULAR CAMPAIGN

This campaign was being played in 25mm using WRG rules with a few modifications for simultaneous movement.

For the French, British and Portuguese armies the only forces involved are those owned by the players, as for the Spanish it is based on the forces available to the Spanish at the time with a little artistic licence. Don McIntyre is at the moment providing the bulk of the Spanish units with a growing number coming from Robert Horspool (as I paint more of his Front Rank units so more will be his). Any extra units painted by any player or for any player arrive in a reinforcement town and are then marched to their command.

We started the campaign as of 1 May 1809 with the French controlling Northern Portugal, Northern Spain, and Central Spain (we have ignored Eastern Spain). The Anglo-Portuguese under Sir Arthur Wellesley controls all Portugal south of the Douro and the fortress of Almeida and Elvas. The Spanish control Southern Spain and also have an Army in the North-West and have the fortresses of Cuidad Rodrigo and Badajoz.

The campaign opened with an advance by the Anglo-Portuguese army against the French in Northern Portugal, this resulted in a number of small actions at Amarante 8th May 1809 (British Victory) and Villa Real 12 May 1809 (French Victory) and at least two major battles at Oporto 12 May 1809 (British Victory) and Vila de Ledra 17 May 1809 (French Victory). The result was that the French VII and VIII Corps of the Army of Portugal have been forced to leave Portugal, which allows the Anglo-Portuguese to move against the French forces laying siege to Cuidad Rodrigo.
Spanish Ferdinand VII Horse Grenadiers

Meanwhile the Spanish Army of Estremadura, with the support of the British 4th Division advanced on the French II Corps at Merida (French Victory) fighting a battle on the 15th May 1809. The Spanish Army of La Mancha advanced to Toledo in order to move onto Madrid however, this army was stopped by the French I Corps at Almonacid de Toledo on the 22nd May 1809 (French Victory). The Spanish Army of Galicia advanced from Leon towards Valladolid to cut the French main supply route, the French Army of the North concentrated and fought the Spanish at Medina de Rio Seco on the 25th May 1809 (French Victory).

On the 28th May 1809 the Army of Portugal managed to make one breech in the walls of Ciudad Rodrigo.  Marshal Massena decided to attempt a storming of the breech.  The storming was assigned to two brigades of the IV Corps with support of a third brigade and the corps field artillery plus two batteries of siege artillery.   After 4 hours of fighting the Spanish governor decided to withdraw from the main walls and then to leave Cuidad Rodrigo.  As the IV Corps only had one brigade left attempting to watch the remainder of the fortress walls, the Spanish managed to slip out of the fortress to the south on an unguarded road.  In the end the Army of Portugal had taken one of the two fortresses it needed to captured in order to invade Northern Portugal.

Sir Arthur Wellesley after hearing the besieging guns fall silent and then receive word that Ciudad Rodrigo had fallen decided to advance from Guarda to the lost fortress.  In the process of his advance the Anglo-Portuguese Reserve Corps under Beresford forced the French watching the Guarda road to withdraw beyond Ciudad Rodrigo (after placing a garrison in the town and quickly filling at least half of the trenches and battery positions and partly repairing the breech.  This French withdrawal from the Guarda road also forced the withdrawal of the forces watching the Almedia road or they could have been cut off by the English.

Marshal Massena assembled his army and advanced towards Sir Arthur.   This advance forced Sir Arthur to withdraw from Ciudad Rodrigo and take up a position at Fuentes d'Onoro.  Massena advanced to Fuentes d'Onoro and attacked the British on the 6th June 1809.  Two divisions of French cavalry and one and half divisions of infantry supported by most of the artillery attacked Fuentes d'Onoro which was being defended by the Light Division and with 7th Division in support to the right.   Three French cavalry divisions & one and half infantry divisions advanced on the British centre being held by Picton's 3rd Division, the British cavalry and Portuguese Loyal Lusitanian Legion, these forces where behind the ridge crest with only their artillery forward.  On the French right the Marshal sent one division of cavalry and the remaining one and half divisions on a small front against a Spanish division.   The Anglo-Portuguese-Spanish forces were beaten and forced to retreat towards Viseu.

Also on the 6th June General Hill with the 1st Corps gave battle to the French at Benevente and lost.  The 1st Corps moved south via Mirandela, Rinhovelo and Espinho to Almeida, attacking the French beseiging the fortress on the 19th June.  This battle resulted in another defeat for General Hill with the loss of almost all his corps artillery.  The 1st Corps retreated to Pinhao and rested.   The 1st Corps adavnced towwards Almeida again on the 24th June and arrived on the 27th June finding the French had failed to take the fortress and had been forced to retreat by the advances of Sir Arthur and the Reserve Corps.  The Reserve Corps caught the French in its withdrawal from Almeida at Aldea del Obispo inflicting some loss upon the French.
Sir Arthur withdraw his forces south via Aldeia Vicosa, Pornos de Algodres and Sao Miguel do Outeiro to Bussaco arriving on the evening of the 9th June.   Sir Arthur had his forces take up defensive positions on the 10th June to give battle to Marshal Massena again.  However, the French did not show apart from light cavalry. The Anglo-Portuguese army waited at Bussaco until the morning of the 14th June 1809 at which point Sir Arthur decided to advance again towards Fuentes d'Orono arriving on the afternoon of the 17th June and finding the French ready for battle.   One the 19th June Sir Arthur attacked the French at Fuentes d'Orono for the second time and this time he was blessed with victory.

The campaign moved onto 1810.


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