Talavera Dawn Attack Game One
Talavera Dawn Attack Game Two
Yesterday was a day of firsts and what turned out to be a great day's wargaming. In fact one I would describe as one of the most enjoyable games I have ever played. The company and banter was first class, the game played in a great spirit that pushed the scenario to its limits, and a game that seemed to model the events of over two hundred years ago very well.
It was a first in terms of the most figures from the new Napoleonic collection in action on the table in one game, with practically half of the two opposing armies going at it and a true test of C&G's ability to manage this size of game and indeed the potential to run the full thing next year.
We knew we would need a full day of gaming to see what this scenario could offer and we may need to take even longer for the full afternoon battle, so this would be an important test.
|Map to illustrate the set up for the Dawn Attack scenario|
It is probably worth saying that we are not looking to design a nicely balanced game. The reality is that real battles don't tend to be like that and so we have to make our victory conditions measure how well our table top commanders have performed against their historical predecessors and try as much as possible to present some of the key issues that they had to deal with.
So some gamers might not choose to attack the British line with less than half of the French infantry on the table, but in reality that is what happened and we have tested that scenario in the previous two games. This game was set up to test the alternative scenario that sees General Villatte wholly committed to supporting General Ruffin and thus having the British line facing the force of two of the three infantry divisions in Marshal Victor's I Corp, plus the massed light cavalry and artillery of the French army as a whole.
In the final draft of this scenario the French attack plan will be selected randomly and only known to the French commander/s and then only when a decision is required from General Villatte and his command. Thus General Ruffin should be leading the attack on the British line not sure with what French total force will be involved and with the British totally unaware of French force commitment. In our test game, the British were aware that they would be facing a full out attack and that must be born in mind as that uncertainty about what the French are up to is another important aspect that will keep this scenario fresh and interesting, particularly if played in a linked up manner as part of a mini-campaign.
To test a game like this you need to employ the services of the 'A' Team and it was nice to see that the players presented themselves in full dress uniform for the forthcoming clash of titans.
Both sets of players are now veterans using C&G seeing service in the Vimeiro and Oporto Campaigns and that experience was clear to see in the way the two armies were wielded yesterday.
So, introducing our commanders who were carefully picked for the attributes they would bring to their respective roles, we had Marshal Victor played by Chas, better known to his friends as "Mad Dog". A very seasoned, aggressive commander, perfect for the role and ably supported by an equally aggressive General of Division Ruffin, played by Will who popped back from University to take part in this final scenario play test.
The French Command Team
|Frrench Commander Claude Victor-Perrin, Duc de Belluno, Marshal of France, a.k.a. Chas|
|General de Division Francois Amable Ruffin, a.k.a. Will|
The British Command Team
The British army fielded a no less experienced command team very aware of the strength and solidity of the army they commanded and confident in their ability to see off, yet again, the French coming on in the old familiar way. Vince took the role of Sir Arthur Wellesley ,"Old Hooky", bringing his phlegmatic, cool under pressure, skill set.
He was likewise ably supported by a general always able to get the best from his men, and a commander who can always be expected to produce the unexpected, General Rowland Hill, played by Steve M.
|British Commander Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley, better known in social circles as Vince|
Sir Arthur Wellesley, the youngest Lieutenant General in the British army and the "Wunderkind" of his generation. Aloof and with friends in high places, he is the very model of a Tory Peer. Preferring to keep his distance from the lower ranks, the soldiers have come to respect his abilities on the field of battle and the French commanders who have faced him are learning a new respect for the so called "Sepoy General".
|Major General Rowland (Daddy) Hill, loved by the men, a.k.a Steve M.|
The Dawn Attack - Talavera 0500
If you have followed the progress of this scenario in the preceding games, you will be familiar with the set up of the two armies glowering at each other across the valley of the Portina stream and the picture below of the French army from the British lines illustrates the set up at 0500 with the firing of the French signal gun that announced the commencement of a forty-five minute bombardment by the massed French artillery.
|05.00 and a single signal gun announces the start of the French attack|
New orders were quickly dispatched to French commanders and within half an hour the rapid beat of the "Pas de Charge" or "Old Trousers" in British circles, could be heard echoing across the valley from French lines, announcing the advance of the French infantry columns.
|The French guns seek out likely targets as their smoke and a quickly descending mist blots out the British line|
|The French columns close on the British line shielded by the poor visibility due to the morning mist|
This attack was different in its scale, to others experienced so far, as the volume of French skirmishers made it difficult for their British opposite numbers to keep all of them away from the British line beyond. The poor visibility allowed the French to infiltrate the lines and in turn prevented the British screen to take full advantage of the range of their rifle companies to play similarly of the advancing French columns.
|With the threat of Will's advance in the northern valley developing, British heavy cavalry move off in their direction over the Cerro, centre top left.|
If you want to see the effects of poor visibility on a Napoleonic battlefield, check out the pictures from this year's Waterloo re-enactment with the audience struggling to see anything through all that black powder smoke. That was on a clear sunny day, so you can imagine the issues early morning mist would add.
|The arrival of so many French troops in front of the British line at one time was awe inspiring and appeared unstoppable.|
|The 27e Legere and 63e Ligne of General Cassagne's brigade cross the Portina. The 94e Ligne and 95e Ligne of General Puthod's brigade are echeloned back to their left.|
|First contact as the voltigeur screen of Cassagne's brigade emerges from the mist|
Both sides braced themselves as the British command issued their fire orders and awaited the results. The fire when it came was strong but not devastating. The French commanders look stunned for a moment, but quickly recovered from their surprise and equally quickly issued orders to charge in.
The next half an hour of battle saw a "Montgomery" style crumbling attack as the weight of numbers and continual charges pushed the British line back beyond their supports, leaving several of their battalions shaken and badly disorganised. The French onslaught caught two of the three British artillery batteries unlimbered and now without support and they were quickly overcome.
Many French battalions had suffered in the fight and the skirmish battle and it became unclear which side had the advantage, although the French were still, in the main, advancing and able to issue charge orders if with a declining number of units.
|The first exchanges of canister and skirmish fire as the two sides clash|
The British had a problem on the Cerro de Medellin as the rapid advance and attack of both French divisions had prevented them from completing a double line of battalions out to their extreme left flank. Their only remedy had been to order General Fane's heavy cavalry to move in that direction to try and impede General Ruffin's advance.
|With the range closing between columns and lines, the skirmish screens fall back|
|Fire! The British line steps forward and unleashes its first volley|
|The yellow marker is a small counter indicating a charge carry through position for the French infantry as the intensity of close up battle takes effect|
|Amid the smoke of battle and the shrieks and cries from the dying and wounded, General de Brigade Meunier leads from the front|
|The pressure builds along the front as the both sides commit more troops to the fight|
|The sprinkling of casualties and a flowering of red markers (indicating units on halt or retire reactions) along the front indicate which way the tide of battle is turning|
To counter the serious threat the British light dragoons posed, the French brought up General Merlin's light cavalry and two squadrons of the 14th Light Dragoons were met in the charge by two squadrons of the Vistula Lancers, with the lancers getting the best of it losing eight of their number but inflicting eleven casualties on the 14th Light Dragoons and pushing them back.
|The British were reaping their fair share of coloured markers as the British heavy cavalry draw near forcing French troops into square|
|Sir Arthur Wellesley right and General Hill left busy stabilising the defence of the Cerro de Medellin|
|Marshal Victor amid the ranks of the 24e Ligne encourages his men forward, for France and the Emperor|
|As the mist finally clears it reveals General Villatte's division in retreat and disarray among the British on the Cerro de Medellin|
|With two squares of the 9e Legere to their front, Fane's heavy cavalry grudgingly give ground as they come under increasing French fire.|
|Game end and General Villatte's Division have been repulsed|
|Game end and the British are struggling to maintain a hold on the Cerro de Medellin|
When the other factors were put into C&G the result reversed to, as I had correctly assessed, a Minor French Victory, which would sit well in a linked game scenario for the French and clearly illustrated that the scenario has plenty to offer both camps based on the previous games.
The game from a viewers perspective was a feast for the eye and roller-coaster in terms of the swings in fortune throughout, causing all of us to be unsure of who had it in the bag. The French attack took full advantage of the visibility, which finally lifted to a clear day with a light rain on turn ten, by using it to get their skirmish line into the face of the British defence. This approach clearly unsettled the forward British battalions causing them to under perform at the crunch moment. When this was coupled with the multiple targets presented that split their poorer firing "the writing was on the wall" and the French attack was in the ascendancy.
This worked really well for Ruffin's division up against a single line of defenders who couldn't get a respite from the continual French attacks, but to the south, Villatte's division hit a slight wall when it came up against Donkin's and Tilson's brigades in behind the two KGL brigades who together effectively snuffed out their attacks and indeed were counter-attacking towards the end, hoping to put the light cavalry in to "seal the deal".
A fantastic day that will live long in the memory and thank you to Will, Chas, Vince and Steve for making it one to remember and to Nigel Marsh the designer of C&GII for a great set of rules that enables a large game like this to flow seamlessly.
What follows is the Game summary together with the "butcher's bill" for both sides which has some new improvements in the information provided to gamers and I have included a little explanatory example below so you can see what they all refer to. The honours ratings (number in brackets) now show, which is a very useful system to show which units over performed in the game above what would have been expected.
Talavera Dawn Attack, As of Game Turn: 10
[D] Denotes dispersed
[Y] Denotes In rout
[R] Denotes halted in disorder, in retirement or retreat
[W] Denotes no advance unless accompanied by officer
Example Leader/Unit Stats.
ID Number: General Officer: Condition of Officer: Quality: Command Range
501] Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley - Active A [1500 paces]
ID : Unit Title: Losses/Strength: Unit Quality: Formation Status: (Honour Rating) Morale/Fatigue
 3rd Dragoon Guards B 5/ 268 C+ Formed ( 1) Good Acceptable
British Army -Talavera Dawn Attack, As of Game Turn: 10
Army Sir Arthur Wellesley
 Lieutenant General Sir Arthur Wellesley - Active A [1500 paces]
[D]  Eliott's Brigade 151/ 0 C D'persed Broken Tiring
[D]  Rettberg's Brigade 144/ 0 C D'persed Poor Acceptable
 Heyse's Brigade 17/ 132 [ 6] C Formed ( 3) Average Acceptable
Division William Payne - Defend
 Lieutenant General William Payne - Active C+ [725 paces]
Brigade Henry Fane - Defend
 Brigadier General Henry Fane - Active B- [400 paces]
 3rd Dragoon Guards A 0/ 255 C+ Formed Good Fresh
 3rd Dragoon Guards B 5/ 268 C+ Formed ( 1) Good Acceptable
 4th Dragoons A 5/ 274 C Formed ( 1) Good Fresh
 4th Dragoons B 0/ 271 C Formed Good Fresh
Brigade Stapleton Cotton - Defend
 Brigadier General Stapleton Cotton - Active B+ [500 paces]
 14th Light Dragoons A 11/ 229 C [sk] Formed ( 5) Average Tiring
 14th Light Dragoons B 0/ 229 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 16th Light Dragoons A 0/ 253 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 16th Light Dragoons B 0/ 271 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
Brigade George Anson - Defend
 Brigadier General George Anson - Active B- [400 paces]
 23rd Light Dragoons A 0/ 229 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 23rd Light Dragoons B 0/ 224 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 1st Light Dragoons KGL A 0/ 220 C+ [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 1st Light Dragoons KGL B 0/ 228 C+ [sk] Formed Good Fresh
Division John Coape Sherbrooke - Defend
 Lieutenant General John Coape Sherbrooke - Active B- [800 paces]
Brigade Ernest Baron Langwerth - Defend
 Brigadier General Ernest Baron Langwerth - Active B- [350 paces]
 1st KGL Line Battalion 16/ 528 C- [sk] Formed ( 5) Good Acceptable
[W]  2nd KGL Line Battalion 5/ 605 C- [sk] Formed ( 7) Average Tired
[R]  Langwerth's Bde. Light Bn. 33/ 201 C [sk] Shaken Broken Tired
Brigade Sigismund Baron Low - Defend [No Advance]
 Brigadier General Sigismund Baron Low - Active C+ [450 paces]
[R]  5th KGL Line Battalion 97/ 452 C- [sk] Shaken Broken Exhausted
 7th KGL Line Battalion 75/ 426 C- [sk] Formed ( 4) Average Acceptable
 Low's Bde. Light Bn. 4/ 113 C [sk] Disorder Average Fresh
Division Rowland Hill - Defend
 Major General Rowland Hill - Active B- [950 paces]
Brigade Christopher Tilson - Defend
 Brigadier General Christopher Tilson - Active C+ [350 paces]
[R]  1/3rd Foot 47/ 624 C+ [sk] Shaken Poor Acceptable
 2/48th Foot 9/ 501 C- [sk] Formed ( 3) Good Fresh
 2/66th Foot 4/ 469 C- [sk] Formed ( 5) Good Tiring
[R]  Tilson's Bde. Light Bn. 11/ 226 C [sk] Disorder Average Acceptable
Brigade Richard Stewart - Defend [Retire]
 Brigadier General Richard Stewart - Active B [450 paces]
 29th Foot 119/ 419 C+ [sk] Disorder Good Tired
[R]  1/48th Foot 26/ 700 C- [sk] Shaken Poor Exhausted
[D]  1st Battalion of Detachments 246/ 302 C- [sk] D'persed Broken Exhausted
 Stuart's Bde. Light Bn. 5/ 197 C [sk] Formed ( 4) Average Fresh
Brigade Rufane Donkin - Defend
 Colonel Rufane Donkin - Active B- [350 paces]
 2/87th Foot 0/ 539 C- [sk] Formed Average Fresh
 1/88th Foot 0/ 539 C- [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 5/60th Rifles 5/ 215 B- [sk] Formed ( 5) Good Fresh
 Donkin's Bde. Light Bn. 4/ 171 C [sk] Formed ( 4) Good Fresh
706/ 7227 Bayonets
21/ 2951 Sabres
312/ 132 Artillerists
12/ 6 Cannon
1039/ 10310 Total of all arms
22 Standards present
|British Stand Out Performers - 2/66th Berkshire Regiment of Foot|
|British Stand Out Performers - 1st King's German Legion Line Infantry Regiment|
French Army - Talavera Dawn Attack, As of Game Turn: 10
Corps Claude-Victor Perrin
 Marechal d'Empire Claude-Victor Perrin - Active B- [1300 paces]
 6/8me Artillerie a Pied 0/ 193 [ 8] C Formed ( 1) Good Fresh
 2/6me Artillerie a Cheval 3/ 153 [ 6] B- Formed ( 1) Good Fresh
 1/8me Artillerie a Pied 0/ 195 [ 8] C Formed ( 1) Good Fresh
Division Francois Amable Ruffin - Attack
 General de Division Francois Amable Ruffin - Active D+ [650 paces]
 4/8me Artillerie a Pied 0/ 209 [ 8] C+ Formed Good Fresh
Brigade Claude-Marie Meunier - Attack
 General de Brigade Claude-Marie Meunier - Active B- [400 paces]
 1/9me Regiment de Legere 0/ 467 C [sk] Formed ( 3) Good Acceptable
 2/9me Regiment de Legere 29/ 468 C [sk] Formed ( 3) Good Fresh
 3/9me Regiment de Legere 3/ 488 C- [sk] Formed ( 7) Good Acceptable
 1/24me Regiment de Ligne 59/ 413 C [sk] Formed ( 8) Good Tiring
 2/24me Regiment de Ligne 86/ 385 C [sk] Formed ( 2) Average Fresh
 3/24me Regiment de Ligne 14/ 483 C- [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 9me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 9/ 299 C [sk] Formed ( 2) Good Acceptable
 24me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 43/ 265 C [sk] Formed ( 4) Average Tiring
Brigade Pierre Barrois - Attack [Retire]
 General de Brigade Pierre Barrois - Severely wounded B [450 paces]
[R] [ 199] 1/96me Regiment de Ligne. 94/ 419 C [sk] Shaken Broken Exhausted
[R] [ 200] 2/96me Regiment de Ligne. 87/ 420 C [sk] Shaken Broken Tired
 3/96me Regiment de Ligne. 0/ 476 C- [sk] Formed ( 2) Average Fresh
 96me Regt. Voltiguer Bn. 4/ 284 C [sk] Formed ( 4) Average Fresh
Division Eugene Villatte - Attack
 General de Division Eugene Villatte - Active B [875 paces]
 2/8me Artillerie a Pied 0/ 198 [ 8] C+ Formed Good Fresh
Brigade Baron Louis-Victorin Cassagne - Attack [Retire]
 General de Brigade Baron Louis-Victorin Cassagne - Active C+ [400 paces]
 1/27me Regiment de Legere 41/ 383 C [sk] Formed ( 2) Average Fresh
[R]  2/27me Regiment de Legere 74/ 335 C [sk] Shaken Broken Tired
[Y]  3/27me Regiment de Legere 151/ 277 C- [sk] Rout Broken Tired
[R]  1/63me Regiment de Ligne 37/ 395 C [sk] Disorder Poor Tiring
 2/63me Regiment de Ligne 5/ 406 C [sk] Formed ( 6) Good Acceptable
[R]  3/63me Regiment de Ligne 34/ 388 C- [sk] Shaken Broken Tired
 27me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 3/ 258 C [sk] Formed ( 3) Average Acceptable
 63me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 5/ 256 C [sk] Formed ( 5) Poor Tired
Brigade Jacques Puthod - Attack [No Advance]
 General de Brigade Jacques Puthod - Active C [350 paces]
 1/94me Regiment de Ligne 15/ 399 C [sk] Formed (11) Ex'lent Tiring
[R]  2/94me Regiment de Ligne 130/ 304 C [sk] Shaken Broken Fresh
 3/94me Regiment de Ligne 0/ 441 C- [sk] Formed Good Fresh
[Y]  1/95me Regiment de Ligne 159/ 288 C [sk] Rout Broken Exhausted
[R]  2/95me Regiment de Ligne 61/ 386 C [sk] Shaken Broken Acceptable
[R]  3/95me Regiment de Ligne 154/ 265 C- [sk] Shaken Broken Tired
 94me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 2/ 249 C [sk] Formed ( 1) Average Fresh
 95me Regt. Voltigeur Bn. 16/ 234 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
Brigade Louis Carriere, Baron Beaumont - Attack
 General de Brigade Louis Carriere, Baron Beaumont - Active C+ [400 paces]
 1/3me Artillerie a Cheval 0/ 144 [ 6] B- Formed Ex'lent Fresh
 2me Regiment de Hussards A 0/ 228 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 2me Regiment de Hussards B 0/ 243 C Formed Good Fresh
 5me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval A 0/ 259 C Formed Good Fresh
 5me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval B 0/ 255 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
Division Antoine Christophe Merlin - Attack
 General de Brigade Antoine Christophe Merlin - Active C- [725 paces]
Brigade Jean Baptiste Alexandre Strolz - Attack
 Colonel Jean Baptiste Alexandre Strolz - Active D+ [300 paces]
 10me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval 0/ 327 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 26me Regt. Chasseur a Cheval 0/ 216 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
Division Francois-Leon Ormancey - Attack
 Colonel Francois-Leon Ormancey - Active C- [650 paces]
 1st Vistula Legion Lancers A 8/ 216 C [sk] Formed ( 5) Good Tiring
 1st Vistula Legion Lancers B 0/ 206 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
 Westplalian Light Horse 0/ 210 C [sk] Formed Good Fresh
1315/ 10131 Bayonets
8/ 2160 Sabres
3/ 1092 Artillerists
0/ 44 Cannon
1326/ 13383 Total of all arms
7 Standards present
|French Stand Out Performers - Vistula Lancer Regiment|
Like General Ruffin's continual attacks on the Cerro de Medellin forced back General Hill's troops successfully unhinging the British defence.
|French Stand Out Performers - General Francois Ruffin's Division|
Talavera Dawn Attack - Final Result
Minor victory for the French Army
As of Game Turn: 10
The British Army has suffered losses of:
[11%] 1341 men of all arms
incl.[ 6%] 687 prisoners of all arms
[12%] 1008 bayonets
[0%] 21 sabres
[70%] 312 artillerists
12 cannon[s] lost
Honours:  2nd KGL Line Battalion
The French Army has suffered losses of:
[12%] 1891 men of all arms
incl.[1%] 195 prisoners of all arms
[16%] 1880 bayonets
[0%] 8 sabres
[0%] 3 artillerists
Honours:  1/94me Regiment de Ligne
Losses include 1 General[s]:
 Pierre Barrois - Severely wounded
That's all the testing done for the Dawn Attack and I now know what the final scenario should look like. It's now on to an additional scenario I want to create for C&G which focusses on the German Division's attack on the Pajar de Vergara, which I will play through as I complete the forces for the full afternoon attack.