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"Talavera - Dawn Attack Scenario, Game Three" Topic


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1,109 hits since 23 Nov 2015
©1994-2017 Bill Armintrout
Comments or corrections?

carojon Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2015 6:28 a.m. PST

Hi all,
This weekend we completed the third and final play-test of this scenario that looked at the battle it is thought Marshal Victor had intended had his orders been carried through.

picture

The game saw twenty one battalions of French infantry committed to the assault plus three brigades of light cavalry and the combined artillery of the French army. A truly major clash eclipsed only by the full afternoon assault yet to be played.

If you would like to see how things turned out then just follow the link to JJ's

link

Jonathan

C M DODSON23 Nov 2015 7:37 a.m. PST

Hello, I love the imposed heads on your friends, very imaginative. A splendid set of pictures illustrating all your hard work on this project.

It is nice, if I may be permitted to say so, to see artillery limbers etc involved at the front line. I feel that they are normally ignored, when in reality they were a huge obstacle to troop movements. Mark Adkin covers this well and if you stand at Mercers battery position at Waterloo you begin to wonder where it all fitted and how did anyone get around it.

Excellent.

Chris

carojon Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2015 8:18 a.m. PST

Hi Chris, thank you. Well it was the biggest game we have done after Oporto so I thought it would be fun to compliment those taking part and have the players looking a little like the metal chaps on the table.

Thanks for noting the artillery limbers. I, like you, think it is an important aspect to model and had it first drawn to my attention years ago by the late great Peter Gilder who produced an amazing picture of all the limbers and ammunition wagons drawn up behind the gun line and just posed the question if we should be able to happily line our toys up behind our model guns without taking some notice of all these impedimenta.

In response to the idea we tend to park limbers behind gun models to partly reflect a truer footprint, unless the guns are set up positionally when as you will see some limbers are parked up further back, which caused the British a few problems in this game.

Thanks for your comment
JJ

GamesPoet Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2015 9:21 a.m. PST

Congrats on the results of your efforts with this project!

carojon Supporting Member of TMP23 Nov 2015 10:42 a.m. PST

Thanks GP, the reading, painting and preparation is fun, but at heart I am a wargamer and there is nothing better than getting together with friends and moving the toys about on the table.
cheers
JJ

Oh Bugger Inactive Member23 Nov 2015 11:02 a.m. PST

Congrats indeed what a splendid game.

Navy Fower Wun Seven23 Nov 2015 11:05 p.m. PST

Splendid game; splendid write up – very well done Sir!

Eclipsing Binaries24 Nov 2015 3:06 a.m. PST

Now that's why you went to all that work. That is one damn fine looking game table! A MASSIVE "Well Done"!!

carojon Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2015 8:57 a.m. PST

Thanks Chaps, glad you enjoyed the read. We had a lot of fun playing with the toys.
JJ

marshalGreg24 Nov 2015 12:24 p.m. PST

Very Nice Scenario JJ!
Can you elaborate on the French players logic behind how they proceeded with their attack?
I am surprised they did not wait for the mist to rise or bring their guns up.
Why Villatte did not assault with reserves and never attempted to form line?
Seem to me the only time I was to make the mistake of assault in column with battalions that close together, they falter/halted and one would attempt to form line an crash into the other, making a bad situation much more worse!

MG

carojon Supporting Member of TMP24 Nov 2015 5:07 p.m. PST

Thanks MG
Good questions, and I'll try and give you the best answers I can on the basis that I wasn't privy to the French commanders battle plans, with both sets of players given the scenario briefs and allowed to develop their plans accordingly within the design concepts outlined in my write up.

Firstly the two divisional commanders had been given orders to attack the Cerro with the objectives of taking the ground indicated on the map. As in the actual engagement, and dare I say in most engagements, they were not given licence to decide when or what to attack only the freedom to determine how the objectives would be achieved, as the commanders on the ground. Therefore when the signal gun fired at 05:00 they like their historical counterparts were following their orders, making the best plans they could for the task at hand.

The French division under Villatte did indeed attack with reserve columns supporting with the two (first and second) battalions up and the third following as detailed in the primary sources from the battle and with Puthod's brigade echeloned back as illustrated in the pictures from the game, designed to allow the brigades to mutually support and reinforce success as it presented.

Given the poor visibility, dropping from 400 to 200 paces during the French advance, the luxury of determining the opportune time to form line, given also that the brigades of Stuart and Tilson were behind the crest line and thus out of site, presented the French with the common problem they encountered in most actions vs a British line, namely knowing where it was. By the time they had discovered it they were already on top of it under fire and forced to close with the enemy, which due to the effectiveness of their voltigeur screen they did with great elan.

As you will know French line fire vs British lines does not have a good track record, Maida being a classic example, and C&G models that very well reducing the effectiveness for the third rank vs a two rank system and I cannot fault the French command from following the doctrine that French veterans of Austerlitz Eylau and Friedland would have expected, namely to assault in column in the expectation that the British lines would break just like every other continental foe had done. None of Victor's commanders, including Victor himself, had fought the British.

I don't think one can fault the French commanders when on seeing the ragged volleys issued from some very shaken front line British battalions that they attempted to 'reinforce success' by throwing in extra columns to shake the brigades as a whole, which indeed they did. If you look at the stats of those British units in poor order you will see that their casualties are relatively light. Indeed if you were to ask the British commanders about their thoughts at the time they were very concerned that the units falling back in disorder would unsettle the brigades in reserve.

This is not to say that none of the French units formed line. Some in fact did in the face of the British volley fire they received out of desperation to restore their situation through reaction tests. There is much debate about the reluctance of commanders to allow their columns to shake out into line because of the difficulty of getting men in a fire fight to go forward – Albuera being a classic example.

With the infantry battle in full sway the French introduced close artillery support preferring to use their more mobile horse gun batteries of which there were two, together with their light cavalry, limited in their effect due to the limited opportunities to deploy and the risks of close range attention from the still very active British light infantry and riflemen. You can see the French guns moving in in the pictures. It is a common error to think that simply putting more stuff in would help and the use of additional French guns dragged across the Portina would fall into that thinking. There simply was no more room in the inn.

Your query about why the French columns were so closely packed together could be equally asked of D'Erlon at Waterloo, in fact soldiers in his ranks recorded those very thoughts. As then the French smelled success with British units failing to fire effectively and recoiling 150 paces in the face of French charges (it was Bijlandts brigade in the historical example), which encouraged Villatte to put more men into the fray, bringing more French musketry to play and it nearly worked on one flank, and worked very well on the other.

The stats record this as a minor victory, but on the standards of the day that counted lost guns and prisoners alongside Colours and Eagles taken this would count as good victory, and not at all hard to write up to quote the Duke, with 12 British cannon and nearly 700 prisoners in the bag, plus the taking of the Cerro de Medellin summit and with Victor having the twelve fresh battalions of Lapisse's Division and Latour Maubourg's Dragoon division ready to consolidate the position.

All in all I think it was, from an impartial observers perspective, a creditable performance on both sides and yes there were errors, but c'est la guerre.

I hope that helps
JJ

marshalGreg24 Nov 2015 6:12 p.m. PST

Great Job JJ explaining as to some of the whys!
Thanks
MG

Old Peculiar21 Dec 2015 7:08 a.m. PST

Although I agree that limbers look good on field, you have to be careful in terms of scale, if you start placing models behind the units the resultant congestion is far greater than in real life.

Thanks for the report though and the eye candy!

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