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.

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