Friday, 19 February 2016

2/63e Regiment de Ligne

1/63e Regiment de Ligne

The 63e Regiment de Ligne made its début in the Peninsular War in January 1808 when the regiment provided a battalion as part of the 2nd Provisional Ligne Regiment in Marshal Moncey's French Corps d'observation des Cotes de l'Ocean. The corps crossed the border into Spain on the 8th January in the wake of Dupont's 2nd Corps d'Observation de la Gironde as the two forces surreptitiously took control of the main road from Bayonne to Burgos and Valladolid in preparation for a move on Madrid.

French Corps d'observation des Cotes de l'Ocean, l January l808  - Source Oman
Commanding Officer: Marechal Moncey
Chief of Staff: General de brigade Harispe
lst Division: General de division Musnier
lst Brigade: General de brigade Brun
2nd Provisional Ligne Regiment
24th Line Infantry Regiment (l)(6/548)
34th Line Infantry Regiment (l)(9/48l)
44th Line Infantry Regiment (l)(l0/570)
63rd Line Infantry Regiment (l)(8/480)

The activities of Moncey's Corps were covered in my post on the 2/45e Ligne, see the link below.

Post Dos de Mayo and Bailen and Napoleon's reorganisation of his army in preparation for his second invasion of Spain this time without any pretence of anything other than occupation of the country and usurpation of the Spanish throne by his brother Joseph; the three battalions of the 63e Ligne found themselves part of Marshal Victor's I Corps d'Armee, in General de Division Villatte's 3rd Division, brigaded with the 27e Legere under General de Brigade Pacthod.

General de Brigade Michel-Marie Pacthod
French Army in Spain, 15th November 1808 - Source Oman
I Corps: Maréchal Victor
3rd Division: Général de division Villatte
Brigade: Général de brigade Pacthod
27th Légère Regiment (3)(50/1,527)
63rd Line Regiment (3)(44/1,246)
Brigade: Général de brigade Puthoc
94th Line Regiment (3)(54/1,627)
95th Line Regiment (3)(47/1,428)
7/1st Foot Artillery
6/8th Foot Artillery
8th Artillery Artisan Company

The regiment was in action on the 10th-11th November at the Battle of Espinosa when Spanish General Blake and his 25,000 strong Spanish army was turned out of its position above the town by Lapisse's flank attack causing the Spanish to loose half their force in the retreat despite only suffering about 3,000 casualties in the battle.

Victor's Corps was in the vanguard of Napoleon's army that forced its way through the Somosierra pass and into Madrid with the 1st and 3rd Divisions destined to support King Joseph's hold on the city as the Emperor set off in pursuit of Sir John Moore and his British army as it retreated into Galicia and its snow clad mountains.

The 63e Ligne would next see action at the Battle of Ucles on the 30th November 1808 as Victor turned his depleted corps on the growing threat of the re-organising Spanish Army of the Centre under the Duke of Infantado with 20,000 men around Cuenca, south east of Madrid.

Victor was able to surprise the vanguard of Infantado's army under General Venegas at Ucles, with both forces totalling about 13,500 men.

Whilst Latour Maubourg's dragoon division pinned the Spanish centre supported by Pacthod's brigade, the Spanish line was turned by Puthod's and later Ruffin's brigades causing the Spanish to lose 1,000 men killed and nearly 6,000 captured along with four guns.

With the threat to Madrid from Infantado's force neutralised, Victor turned his attention to the next one, that of General Cuesta's Army of Estremadura, hovering south of the River Tagus close to Badajoz.

The two armies came to grips on the 28th March 1809 outside the town of Medellin on the River Guadiana.

General Villatte's division held the centre of the French line with Ruffin's troops in reserve. The French cavalry under Generals Latour Maubourg  and Lasalle held the flanks between the Rivers Guadiana and Ortigo.

The two lines advanced on each other with both French and Spanish cavalry being repulsed by the others infantry in failed charge attempts. Eventually the Spanish cavalry lived up to its reputation of fleeing at the critical moment leaving the Spanish infantry line to be rolled up by Lasalle's cavalry.

The Spanish lost nearly 8,000 men with a further 2,000 captured along with thirty guns from a force of 24,000 men.

The French victory was to prove a hollow one as Victor, down to two infantry divisions, felt his army was to weak to push after Cuesta and over the Portuguese border despite the urgings from King Joseph in Madrid.

Holding his position at Caceres became untenable as with the country stripped of supplies and with little food coming from Madrid, his men began to starve forcing the French to move north into the Tagus valley and a rendezvous with the detached 2nd Division, before falling back to Talavera.

The 63e Ligne had enjoyed a string of successful battles since it entered Spain back in November the previous year, and with the move to Talavera they could only feel confident as they prepared to meet the Anglo-Spanish allies in July 1809.

My 2/63e Ligne are composed of figures from the AB range with the fanion from GMB flags.


  1. Yet another neat little unit - well painted JJ. Tell me, how do you avoid the "tedium demon" when painting/churning so many French line units? I can't see to paint any more but remember the "tedium demon" quite fondly in some respects. I just soldiered on with music in the background or thought about the regiment or deep subjects or just switched off - therapy! Maybe you listen to podcasts? I'd be keen to hear, best wishes as ever, Jeremy

  2. Another great post, and splendid paint job!

  3. Thanks Jeremy. That is a very good question, I'm sure, common to all of us who have wielded a brush in our time.

    I think the answer harks back to my post a few months ago about avoiding losing the painting mojo. This 24 battalion project has been the biggest one I have tackled, and I doubt I would have done it as a younger man, with a lesser skill set. I always knew the French Line infantry would be the biggest part of putting together a 1:30 Talavera game with all the individual units, so took the time time to plan carefully the construction timetable which built in smaller games that linked into the bigger game, thus giving me small projects to complete that we could play as part of the larger objective and those smaller games have acted as a way of rewarding myself for the work done.

    With most of the scenario play tests done (I just have a couple of more Pajar Vergar games planned) it is now just a case of focussing on getting the last twenty or so Franco-Spanish units in the tin and then it will be the "BIG ONE" and I can't wait, now that that possibility is in sight. There lies the drive behind the desire to paint.

    The hour and two hour painting sessions are built around my personal preference of painting in batches of tasks and colours and together with a very extensive collection of podcasts forms the basis of my habit that has developed over the last ten years or so. I now get very itchy fingers if I go away on holiday and haven't touched a brush for a couple of weeks, so I know the habit is well established, and a good habit is worth developing to generate the rewards.

    One aim of the blog has been to share the process and hopefully inspire those who want to get into a similar process to be able to produce the games they want to.

    Thamks for your comment and great question

    1. Many thanks for taking the time to reply so comprehensively, it seems you have all bases covered with this one! I'm impressed with your "long view" on this project. Do you have a "what next" vision? I suspect 2016 has seen a lot of 1815 armies collecting dust after the 2015 furore!
      Keep the reports coming, best wishes,

  4. Consider your intent to inspire successful!

    1. Hi Rupert, great to hear it.
      I was listening to one of my aforementioned podcasts this week bemoaning that nicely painted figures presented on appropriate terrain depressed the host of the show because he couldn't do the same thing. My thought was that he was right, because the thought expressed merely reinforced the approach to the hobby, which is sad.

      I prefer an approach that says if one person can do something then so can any other with a little application and desire. The process is made even easier if we all take a bit of time to share the learning and encourage others along the way. I say that, because that is how I have developed in the hobby, and am always grateful to some really nice and talented folks who have taken the time to help me along the way either personally or in their writing and illustrated top tips.

  5. Another cracking unit Jonathan and always enjoy the level of investigation you do!

    1. Hi Paul. Thank you. I have learnt so much about the various units in the three armies that took part in this campaign and battle during the process of putting these posts together.

      For me it is just another great aspect of the hobby that I really enjoy and it's great to hear that others find it interesting as well.

      I'm sure these regimental histories will inform my AAR's of the big game and will add a little extra colour to them.

  6. Thanks for the effort you have put in again Jonathan it is appreciated.
    Regards Gavin .

    1. Hey thanks Gavin, it's great to have people like yourself following the project. Only seven more French battalions to go and then it's Bassecourt's Regular Spanish infantry.