Thursday, 20 June 2013

Vimeiro Hill - The Re-fight, Carnage & Glory II

Vimeiro Hill the re fight and this time it's serious!

Well not really, but now Tom and I feel we have a handle on how to get the best out of British Reverse Slope tactics, we decided to re fight Vimeiro Hill last played at the Legionary Show in Exeter earlier this year, see the post for 6th of May.

To stage our re fight we were joined by, my other son and Tom's younger brother, Will and, my old mate and neighbour, Steve, who played this scenario as the British commander at Exeter. So the next generation of wargamers would be taking the lead in this game supported by Steve and myself, otherwise known as the "Old and Bold".

The table set up and the forces arrayed
The picture above shows the layout for the scenario, with Vimiero Hill to the left and the cork woods nearest to camera. Top left is Vimiero itself with fields and vineyards along the road into town. The little scrub markers on Vimiero Hill show where the military crest is to allow the British to judge when their units are out of sight to French units on the low ground

Everything ready to go

British Order of Battle

French Order of Battle

We decided to fight this scenario following as closely as possible the original plans of the two commanders Junot and Wellesley.

So the brigades of Anstruther and Fane were set up on Vimiero Hill as per Wellesley's instructions. Likewise we adopted the entry points followed by Junot's brigades. To simulate Junot's separate attacks by his line infantry and reserve grenadiers, the French could not advance with the grenadiers until the line units were engaged in musket volleys of the main British line. In addition Acland's brigade would only activate and come on to the table if French units threatened to enter Vimiero town, simulating Wellesley's leaving the town un-garrisoned, and only entering it to protect his baggage after it became clear that the French were going to enter it also.

Sir Arthur Wellesley's force laid out by brigade

Junot's force

52nd and 43rd Light Infantry, part of Anstruther's brigade

French Foot and Horse artillery
For this game Tom was taking the role of Sir Arthur Wellesley and was keen to try out the tactics we practised in our training mission, see the 28th May post for details.

His brother Will, who has just surfaced from AS exams this summer and so has had less practice with C&GII, took the role of General Junot, supported by his able Aide de Camp, Steve who has played the system a few times previously as we got to grips with it.

Yours truly ran the laptop.

The view from the hill as the French advance is greeted by the Royal Artillery
So with the scenario set to run for twelve turns, the brigades of Charlot and Thomiere struck out across the valley floor set to throw the British Leopard back into the sea for the greater glory of the Emperor.

Thomiere and Charlot's brigades started the attack

Junot held the Combined Grenadiers back
As the French advanced in column the British guns played on them with Thomieres brigade taking the worst of it as Charlots columns had the cover of the woods on their approach.

Anstruther's Light Battalion screen the forward slope

The British guns played on the columns during the advance
With the British guns causing early casualties, Junot pushed both his foot and horse guns forward to counter battery the British gunners, with modest success.

Junot's guns reply to the British barrage

Thomiere's brigade swing off the road towards the hill

The Grenadiers in reserve await the order to advance
Eventually the two skirmish lines came to grips with the riflemen of Anstruther's light battalion able to inflict early casualties amongst the officers and NCOs of the 86me Ligne. The voltiguers unable to find the main British line, waiting patiently behind the ridge line, were forced to direct their fire back at the British light battalion in open order, to their front, with little effect.

This fire together with the casualties caused by the artillery on the approach took its toll and as the lead French column of the 2/86me marched up the slope and finally identified the 2/95th Rifles in line to their front, the order to charge was given.

Instead of a cheer the French unit started to give way and retired back down the slope. The 1/86me Ligne was shaken by their colleagues withdrawal and halted at the foot of the slope, protected from the artillery fire by the dead ground. General Thomieres was forced to join the 2/86me to re-establish their composure, and was eventually joined by Junot as well, to add his encouragement.

Thomiere's skirmish line contacts Antruther's Light Bobs
Meanwhile on the British right flank, General Charlot's troops were observed emerging from the light woods. Charlot was keen to re-order his men after their gruelling hike through the trees and set his skirmish line to screen his troops in the dead ground of the hill as they prepared to make their own assault.

Fane's Light Battalion face off against the approaching brigade of GDB Charlot

The French guns attempt to drive off their British opposition

Thomiere's battalions discover the British lines

The skirmish battle in full swing on the British right
With the British line contacted on their left Junot was free to support his attack with the Grenadiers and cavalry. The Grenadiers doubled across the valley, attempting to minimise their time under British artillery fire and to come up quickly to support Thomiere's and Charlot's men.

As the French columns close on the British lines, Wellesley calls forward his cavalry from reserve
General Wellesley remained calm as the French columns closed on his lines. With Thomieres brigade stalled on their left flank, General Anstruther was free to move his light battalion to the centre of the British line that was now most threatened by the approaching Grenadiers.

In addition the British gunners who were forced to retire behind the ridge due to the close range fire from the French guns, bravely came forward and resumed their fire as the French columns closed in.

As Thomiere's men fell back their place was taken by General Margaron's cavalry led forward by the 5me Provisional Dragoons. Wellesley was compelled to bring forward his own cavalry to counter the threat, sending the Portuguese to the opposite flank to threaten Charlot's columns, causing one of them to form square to protect the whole French line.

The French dress the ranks prior to moving up the slope
All was set for the final attack, with just two moves remaining to get a result.

The Grenadiers advanced in the centre supported by the artillery who prolonged their guns up the hill to fire in to the British lines. However the British line had stepped forward to the crest and with the French charging they masked their artillery who were in canister range. The British artillery had no such problem as they were now in the British line, and promptly shot up the French horse guns.

The 3me Grenadiers were met by a crashing volley at 25 paces from the 50th Foot, knocking down 250 of the bear-skinned warriors, and promptly counter-charging them, sent them packing.
The other battalions met similar but less crushing fire power all resulting in their retirement from the hill.

On the extreme French left the 3/82me Ligne attempted to charge the 52nd Light Infantry and took 130 casualties for their efforts forcing them back down the slope.

The52nd Light Infantry support the skirmish line 
The final attack was by the French Dragoons who charging forward attempted to ride down the 95th Rifles. Their charge was intercepted by the 20th Light Dragoons who fell back after a short melee. On attempting to follow through on to the 95th, the Dragoons fell back themselves and the Rifles in amongst the walls and broken ground atop Vimiero Hill were unmoved.

Junot's army was finished, with his Generals riding to and fro attempting to rally their shaken battalions.

The Orbat summaries tell the tale of the gauntlet the French army had run with a tired and broken force. In comparison the British are still very much a force in being.

With Charlots and Thomiere's brigades engaged, the Grenadiers and Dragoons join the assault
British Order of Battle at Game End

French Order of Battle at Game End

The Butchers Bill

Thanks to Tom, Will and Steve for a fun game. Will is keen to try and find the way to unlock a British reverse slope, so will probably be commanding French in the next game, exams permitting.

This scenario is available to download from the Scenario Links. If you play it let me know how you got on.


  1. An excellent after-action report. I've never been one for computer-moderated rules, but your post has me intrigued...

    1. Hi Mark, thank you.

      I would take some time to check C&GII out, they really play well, and allow the commanders to get on with commanding the troops. The fatigue effects that the system simulates are an aspect that paper based rules struggle to model without becoming cumbersome. This makes the role of fresh reserves able to take advantage of exhausted enemy forces key to turning a win into a rout.