Friday, July 8, 2016

Battle of Talavera - session report

We played the Battle of Talavera on Friday, July 1, 2016.  It was an evenly matched battle:  neither side thought they had any chance of victory!

The battle opened with both sides shifting troops, especially cavalry, to the west.

French and British opening moves.
The French started to shift Victor's I Corps and the 1st Dragoon Division to the west to cross the brook.  The British countered by shifting their cavalry division to the west (British left) as well so they'd be able to hit the French forces as they crossed the brook.

French opening moves on their left.
On their left the French shifted IV Corps to engage both the Spanish fieldworks and the British infantry divisions holding the banks of the brook.  The IV Corps is not a strong formation, and assaulting both the Spanish and the British would be the undoing of IV Corps later in the battle.

The 2nd Dragoon Division shifts toward the middle of the battlefield.

The Spanish cavalry shifts west.
In reaction to the move of the 2nd Dragoon Division and the French massing in the west the Spanish cavalry brigades race to the west as the well.

Spanish moves on the Allied left.
Half of the Spanish Vanguard Division starts shifting to the center of the battlefield, and a Spanish brigade advances out of the fieldworks.  The Spanish are thinking they can turn the French flank and pressure the French to respond.  The Spanish commander -- who has a poor command radius and many units to command - moves near the fieldworks so that additional Spanish brigades may advance from the fieldworks.  There are also a pair of 12-pound batteries in the fieldworks that need to be moved more toward the center of the battlefield.

After a series of sharp skirmishes on the west side of the battlefield the British cavalry division is very worn down, and the French have made it across the brook, but are bloodied.  The French then press en masse across the brook with the bulk of the I Corps.

Positions in mid-morning.
The battle ends just past mid-day after a massive cavalry battle between the British cavalry division and the 1st Dragoon division.  The French cavalry are nearly destroyed, and while the British are worn, they hold the field.  The French I Corps assaults the Cerro de Medellin, but fails, beaten back by a combination of Spanish cavalry and the British 1st Division.

At this point the time is 1:00pm and the Madrid Garrison has arrived on the battlefield.  However, the cream of the French army has been lost, and the French decide to withdraw.

For his success Arthur Wellesley is made the Duke of Wellington.

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Battle of Talavera - initial deployments

Below, a view looking west from over Talavera.  The Tagus River is in the foreground, and occupies one small corner of the battlefield.  A bridge goes over the river, leading east.  The Portina Brook empties into the Tagus, running west to east across most of the battlefield.  The Spanish army is in the foreground on both sides of the brook; the British are to the top left of the photo; and, the French are to the top right.

Below, the Spanish army positions at the start of the battle.  The Vanguard division is in the top right.  Three infantry divisions are in fieldworks north of the brook (on the French side of the stream).  Two more infantry divisions are behind them, south of the brook.  Two cavalry divisions sit south of the infantry.  It is a large force, but the troops are poor quality, and there is only a single Commander (in game terms) to control this unwieldy force.

Below, British positions at the start of the battle.  Three divisions hold the center of the field, two just south of the brook.  Wellesley is near the road so that he can maximize the use of the 2-for-1 road bonus when measuring command radius.

Below, British positions at the start of the battle.  Hill's division occupies the Cerro de Medellin, which will be a key fixture in the battle to come.  Payne's cavalry division lies south of the Cerro de Medellin.  This is the extreme left (west) of the Allied line of battle.

Below, French positions.  On the extreme French left (east) sits Milhaud's dragoon division.  The ground does not favor them with woods, orchards, the town of Talavera, and the fieldworks in front of them.

Below, French positions.  Just to the right of Milhaud is Sebastiani's IV Corps.  This is a relatively small corps, and contains only a single French infantry division.  The brigades are large, but one is green.  A small cavalry unit, and some German and Polish infantry round out the corps.  The French Leader (Jospeh/Jourdan) is right-center.  There is no road in this part of the battlefield to help facilitate command.

Below, French positions.  At the extreme French right is an additional dragoon division along with Victor's I Corps.  Victor's Corps is the fist of the French army and contains the best and largest divisions.

Not shown on the map are the Madrid Garrison.  They lie north of the battlefield and may enter play sometime mid-day.

Monday, July 4, 2016

Battle of Talavera - prelude

Rather than using the Napoleon's Battles scenario booklet for the order of battle and map, I used a handful of different resources.

The main order of battle came from Wikipedia.

I used a couple of sources for the map.  One is this interesting blog from Rafeal Pardo.  And another was this page from the British Battles web site.

I used an article from Wargames Illustrated, March 2005 (Number 210) to guide the level of experience for each of the brigades and batteries.

The final result became the order of battle I used.  You can find a Google Sheet with ready-to-use labels here.  A sample from the OOB is off to the left:  These are the labels for the British First Infantry Division under Sherbrooke.  It consists of three Units of Infantry, a Commander, and a battery of six-pound foot artillery.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Version 0.5 of the rules released!

The setting for the version 0.5 update of the rules was Talavera.  This version has a slight updated to combat resolution which makes outcomes more "push" rather than "destroy."  In brief, whoever scores the lower number of HITS in a combat is considered the loser, and both sides lose that number of stands.  (There is always a one-stand minimum loss, unless both players fail to score a single HIT.) The difference between the number of HITS is used to calculate a retreat distance.  Each difference creates 6" of retreat.

For example, if I score two HITS and my opponent scores five HITS, we'll each lose two stands (the lower of the two numbers), and as the player who scored fewer hits, I will have lost the combat.  The different in the number of HITS is three (five minus two), and so I will retreat 18" away from the enemy (3 x 6").

If a player is forced to retreat through other Units, they receive a Fatigue marker.  If a Unit is forced to retreat through impassable terrain or off of the table, it is eliminated.

You can find a link to this latest version of the rules at the Rules page.  Link is at the bottom of the blog, or you can find them here.