|General Sir John Moore, mortally wounded in the hour of victory at the Battle of Corunna|
|The map illustrates the initial set up, with points A and B being arrival points for British reserve and flank marching units. The game was scaled to one inch to 50 paces on a six by four foot table.|
The actual battle was pretty much over by 16.00, with the French driven back to their start lines as the dark winter evening set in, but with Sir John Moore mortally wounded and carried back by members of the 42nd Royal Highlanders, to die later that evening, knowing that the army was saved and the French beaten.
So our two modern day commanders were posed the challenge, "could the do better than either Sir John Moore or Marshal Nicolas Soult?" That is could the French take and control the heights above Elvina by turn 9, (16.00), or would the British prevent this and thus ensure their withdrawal to safety. The definition of control being, having more good order units on the Monte Mero Heights than the enemy at game end, with good order being identified as being able to advance on or charge the enemy.
|Sir John Moore, aka Wills|
|Marchal Nicolas Jean de Dieu Soult, Duc de Dalmatie, aka Tom|
|The 50th (West Kent's) Foot look on in support of Bentick's Light battalion as it enters the outskirts of Elvina|
|With minimal British artillery available, Elvina would act as a formidable strong point on the British right flank|
|General de Division Julien Augustin Joseph Mermet|
|General de Brigade Auguste de Caulaincourt|
|The dragoons and horse artillery of General Lahoussaye's division advance on the left bank of the Monelos River|
|The four battalions of the 122nd Ligne under General Joseph Gaulois advancing on Elvina|
|General de Brigade Joseph-Yves Manigault-Gaulois|
With the resistance in Elvina looking likely to be a "very hard nut to crack", Marshal Soult, conscious of the time constraints placed upon him, started to immediately recalculate.
|The battalions of the 47th Ligne under General Simon Lefebvre (wounded in the battle) advance with the four battalions of the 31st Legere to their right under General Antoine Jardon|
|The French foot artillery of twelve medium cannon would be busy firing from the Penesquedo Ridge|
|General Jardon (105) leads his Legere into the valley|
|The French advance on a seemingly empty ridge|
However in the best tradition of the Royal Artillery (All my family were Gunners) the first French battalion to charge their bastion was met by a blast of close range canister as the 50 man detachment stood to their guns and saw off this first attack.
|With their skirmish line to the fore, the 31st Legere beat out the Pas de Charge|
|The 50th foot move into Elvina to support the Light Bobs in their struggle with the 122nd Ligne|
|The dragoons and horse artillery on the French left flank find the terrain hard going for mounted units and make slow progress|
|The Royal Artillery lend their support to the defenders in Elvina|
The 31st Legere, considered themselves as the point of this French spear tip and were a cut above their colleagues in the Ligne battalions. They also had a few tricks up their sleeve when it came to dealing with the Rostbeefs hiding behind their ridge line.
|General de Brigade Henri- Antoine Jardon.|
|The 31st Legere begin the climb onto the British ridge|
|The Light Bobs repulse both initial attacks by the French but take casualties in the process|
|Hand to Hand fighting in Elvina as General de Division Mermet looks on, and French artillery deploy|
|The French force looks unstoppable as General Mermet oversees his disposition|
|Major General Coote Mannigham|
|As the French battalions crest the ridge they encounter more brigade light bobs thrown forward in open order|
It was at this point that the experience of our French commander (Tom) and lack of experience of our British commander (Will) came into play, and as Dad, I felt compelled to offer Will some advice. The French Legere in particular were well spaced and approached the British position with great care, resisting the temptation to drive off the British Light Bobs with an ill judged charge, knowing they would simply evade back behind their supports and the French would get a close range surprise volley for their trouble.
|The Royal Artillery (top right) throw back the first assault on their position, being without limbers they must fight in position|
|Another French attack goes in against the Elvina garrison|
|Marshal Soult (101), left foreground, encourages the 2/122nd Ligne to support the advance up the slope ahead|
|The French are still uncertain as to exactly where the British brigades are positioned and in what strength.|
|Bentick's brigade light battalion pull out from Elvina badly shaken after their struggle in the town, leaving the 50th Foot to continue the struggle alone|
I told you that Legere regiment was well spaced, and that Tom is learning and getting better with every game we play.
|The French encounter a line of Redcoats as the irresistible force meets the immovable object|
|General Coote Manningham (503) encourages the 1/26th (Cameron's) Foot, supported by the 3/1st (Royal Scots) as the first crashing volleys ring out|
|The 1/4th (King's Own) Foot, encouraged by Sir John Moore, advance to support the Royal Artillery gunners resisting bravely to their front|
|Major General Lord William Bentinck|
|Lieutenant General Sir David Baird|
|The French guns batter the 50th foot in Elvina|
|General de Division Armand Lebrun de La Houssaye|
|The 17th and 18th Dragoons search the banks of the Monelos for a ford to lend their support to the attack|
|Tom having fought the British in previous encounters changes the 31st Legere into Order Mix as he engages Manningham's brigade on the heights.|
|And still the gunners fight on|
|The fight on the ridge develops into a fire fight as the French resist the initial urge to charge in and look to degrade the British line before closing - but would it work?|
|The British lines firm and steady start to shoot fast and accurately as the French battalions start to wilt under the barrage|
|French columns feel out the flank of Manningham's brigade to support the musketry battle. General Jardon (105) joins his lead battalion as does General Manningham opposite.|
|Still the dragoons search for that elusive ford, as the horse guns try to lend a hand|
|Major General Sir Henry Warde|
|The last thing the French needed to see was General Warde and the two battalions of the First Guards deploy onto the heights|
|Sir John Moore is unable to prevent Bentinck's Light Battalion from leaving the battle|
|The French Horse Guns start to find targets, but the range is long|
|Suddenly the French Legere in the centre break , was this the beginning of the end?|
|"The Guards will advance"|
|The French gunners kept at it all afternoon as the snow began to fall|
|Major General The Hon. Sir Edward Paget|
|General Paget leads on General Disney's brigade suffering skirmish fire from French Dragoons as they advance in line to support the British right flank. The time is 15.00|
|The battalions of the 31st Legere falling back and trying to regroup in the valley|
|Sir John Moore and his staff act as a back stop as they look to keep their men in the fight|
These moves by the commanders often meant them having to attach to units in the front line and running the risk of ending up a casualty themselves, and it was in the penultimate turn, Marshal Soult was seen to fall from his horse under the muskets of the 42nd Highlanders, badly wounded by a ball in the shoulder, forcing him from the field of battle.
|Marshal Soult encourages his men for one more attack just before falling badly wounded having been shot in the arm|
|Sir John Moore was everywhere along his lines in the final stages of the battle|
The game at an end it was time to count the cost and tally up the points.
|And then it was all over, the French fell back, exhausted, the British looked on with equal fatigue, but they held the ridge with eight steady units to six in their favour|
The battle had gone right to the wire and both armies were exhausted, but on the final count of steady units still on the Monte Mero Heights at game end, the British had it by an advantage of two units.
|A really good game that was too close to call right to the end|
W denotes No Advance
R denotes Halt or Retire
Y denotes Routing
D denotes Dispersed or removed from the field
So the British Leopard was able to withdraw back to "Blighty" to be re-equipped and sent to it's destruction in the Walcheren debacle. However Sir Arthur Wellesley will be back in 2014, ready to avenge Sir John Moore and his army at the Battle of Oporto and his famous crossing of the Douro.
This game is dedicated to and in memory of Fergus "Gus" Murchie