Today saw the second play of the Vimeiro scenario with the changes outlined in my previous post looking to tweak the objectives to drive a better game.
Vimeiro - Part Two, Scenario Tweaks
Well if the game we played today is any guide to a better play balance then I think we have got an interesting scenario with enough variability to give it replay value.
|The initial set up and plan|
In addition Tom and I took time to think through the options for the French and quickly concluded that the flank march gave the best opportunity of unhinging the British defence as it, if being able to get up on the Eastern ridge, would negate the reverse slope benefits and give a great chance of grabbing Ventosa Farm, before the British could reinforce it. Given that this attack would take time to develop it was important to pin and engage the British units near Vimiero and if possible grab the town by assault. It was decided to use the grenadiers supported by a pre bombardment of the town by the French foot artillery once the defenders were softened up and to coordinate both attacks to help stretch the defences. The secondary attack on Vimiero Hill would help to to stop forces on that side supporting the defence of Vimiero and, if cavalry could get around it, stop reinforcements reaching the town in time
|General Loison's lead battalions approach Vimiero Hill|
|As the French forces deploy before Vimiero, just the British artillery is visible to them|
|As the British guns open fire Kellermann's grenadiers are observered approaching Toledo|
|General Kellermann oversees the combined grenadier battalions as they enter Toledo and make good use of its cover|
|Loison's infantry, led off by General Solignac's brigade, prepare to advance on Vimiero Hill|
|Anstruther's light bobs and artillery greet the French advance on Toledo|
This allowed the French to maintain their foot hold on the hill allowing their follow up brigade to approach practically unmolested.
|The French attack towards Vimiero Hill (top right) develops whilst the grenadiers in Toledo (far left) seem happy to pause.|
The French seemed as amazed as the British that Vimiero was in their hands, but there was no time for an analysis of what had just happened as the fighting on both flanks intensified.
|Anstruther's Light Battalion observe the French in Toledo|
The Rifles already fatigued after seeing off the first attack let off a ragged volley at the 32me and 82me Ligne that failed to stop their momentum. With that the Rifles fell back off the hill exposing the flank of their comrades in the 60th Rifles.
|The French artillery (top left) prepares to bombard Vimiero and its defenders. Nightingale's Light Battalion occupy the vinyards on the approach to the town|
|Hill's brigade occupies Ventosa Farm|
With these multiple events happening almost simultaneously it seemed the British line was threatened on all points and where the final reserves went would be critical.
|French cavalry (1st Provisional Chasseurs and the 5th Provisional Dragoons) lend their support to the attack on Vimiero Hill|
|The French guns start fires in Vimiero as the infantry of Thomiers brigade await the order to advance|
It was now that we saw the depth of the C&G system as it dealt with the flurry of orders emanating from Sir Arthur's HQ. The couriers are limited in number, with eight available to Sir Arthur, one of them managed to get lost so another was sent in his stead. On arrival at General Anstruther's HQ it was found that the General was resting and could not be disturbed at that time. The new orders would have to wait. "Cest la geurre!!"
|The French find the defenders (Fane's Brigade, 95th, 60th Rifles, 50th Foot) on Vimiero Hill set up and ready, but the line is stretched without a reserve!|
|The 50th Foot present arms as the columns approach|
In their rear the British had at least the comfort of seeing General Crawford's brigade descend the Western Ridge and approach the outskirts of Vimiero.
|Delaborde's flank attack arrives in the right place at the right time and his horse guns open fire on Ventosa Farm as the 4th Provisional Dragoons prepare to advance|
|Hill redeploys his brigade to meet the new threat as Taylor's cavalry move into the valley in support|
|More defenders deploy around Ventosa|
As the French horse artillery and skirmishers attempted to degrade the British infantry defence in the farm complex, the cavalry moved off the ridge looking to cut the hamlet off from any support and fall upon wavering defenders in its outskirts.
|As Vimiero burns the grenadiers make their attack|
|As the fight develops in Vimiero, Wellesley (extreme right) is forced to bring up reserves to help the defence|
|Brigadier Crauford moves his brigade forward to support either Vimiero Hill or the town as needed|
|The fighting in Vimiero is close up and personal as the 91st Highlanders await the call for support|
|Close combat in the flames|
|The French occupy Vimiero, as the Highlanders deploy to make ready to rest it back|
|I told you that line lacked a reserve! French persistence on Vimiero Hill finally forces the 95th Rifles to fall back exposing the flank of the 60th Rifles, with unit 111 the 3/32me Ligne gaining honours for this battle|
|British brigades move over the ridge to choke off support for the French in Vimiero|
|The 20th Light Dragoons are driven off leaving Hill's brigade to defend Ventosa as best they can|
|Colonel Taylor urges the Portuguese to charge but they refuse and remain halted|
It was time to stop with people needing to get home and thus our game ended. The French were in an excellent position around Ventosa and with a their forces occupying Vimiero, threatening Vimero Hill but tiring it was certainly a very creditable performance.
|Delaborde prepares to assault Ventosa with ample cavalry support|
As you will see from the casualty lists for both sides the French were on the receiving end, not surprisingly, having to attack. However the level of casualties only gave a minor victory to the British which shifts the French objective victory one level down to cause the game to be, inconclusive, that is a draw, but better than the historical result.
[W] denotes no advance
[R] denotes halt/retire
[Y] denotes rout
[D] denotes dispersed
The result was certainly better than Junot achieved on the day and the French will have to seek terms and be forced to evacuate Portugal but, given the result, taking even more loot back with them than the last time.
This was a very interesting game with the "tweaked" objectives causing both sides to fight this battle differently than the first. The French game plan worked like clockwork and the British were forced to respond to the French attacks as they developed in intensity. The French force, especially around Vimiero was tiring rapidly and it is a moot point whether they would have been able to see off a British counter attack, however with Anstruther not responding to his attack orders, would Crauford's brigade have been enough to retake Vimiero in time? All in all I was thinking of leaving the game set up to play out one more turn to decide the out come, but given that all the original players would not be involved I rather like to leave this one hanging for posterity with both sides being able to say, "yes but what if".
Many thanks to Tom, Chas, Clive and Jack (The French) and Steve M, Nathan, and Ian (The British), for a great day's fun. A game to definitely savour in the years to come.
So that concludes the Rolica/Vimiero series of games. The full set or army lists and orbats together with the scenario briefing and unit labels will be available in my downloads section. With Christmas looming and Sir Arthur's recall to answer for the Treaty of Sintra, we turn our attention to Sir John Moore's Corunna campaign and the saving of the Spanish Insurrection against Napoleon himself. I aim to play this game over the Christmas holiday and then start the new year focusing on the events and battles after Sir Arthur's return in 1809, the Oporto and Talavera campaigns.