Thursday, November 11, 2010

Battle of Salamanca (Los Aripiles)

After much painting, modeling and time, I finally got around to playing this scenario at home. I had played it at a local game shop with very similar set up with the British clearly winning the day and mirroring the real battle in so many ways. In this scenario, I am using a modified version of Fire and Fury. I enjoy these rules as they are simple and allow for various sized units and formations. In this scenario, I made unit sizes a generic average, but managed to keep the numbers of actual combatants to correct numbers. British infantry unit brigades being 8 stands and French 10.

For game play simplicity, I decided to split both cavalry sides into one division of heavy and one of light. The British do have a slight superiority, as what was historically true with 18 stands to the French's 16. Using small cavalry units would be silly as they would simply be swatted away like flies. Combining them into "divisions" made game play easier and wasn't far off the mark from how they were grouped in the real battle.

I modified the rules for fallen leaders to include leaders up to 3 inches away. This would increase the likely hood of generals biting the bullet, unlike most other rule sets. Since my version uses two 6-sided dice, I modified the chart to accommodate all the rolls. No out of ammunition rules are used and commanders could be hit on a natural roll of an 11 or 12. I also decided to add an extra stand lost to each melee result on the chart to assist in game play not needing to take 6 hours to complete. The basic objective for the French was to hold ground for 8 turns in which it would be a minor victory as the British would call off the attack once it was clear it had failed.

Given my number of painted genuine French units is a bit short, some Italians, Poles and Germans are used to fill the places of exclusively French formations at this battle. If you see the 2nd Nassau regiment, understand it is being played as just a normal French brigade.

For the village of Los Aripiles, I had decided that no more 4 skirmish stands would be permitted to enter at a time. Whole brigades in the village seemed unrealistic and I did not want this place to become a drain to suck men away from more significant positions. I also did not choose to use limbers in this battle due to the fact I was one short for each side and that the playing area would have been even more difficult to play on. Even so, I still think the board looks great, even if I can't master the use of photography and provide up close action.

Turn 1

Pack's independent Portuguese brigade makes a run toward the Greater Aripile. It will take them the rest of their movement and half of next turn to climb the rough hillside and take the heights. Brennier's 1st Brigade moves on to the heights along with a couple of batteries of artillery.

Thomieres' 7th Division along with Curto's Light Cavalry Division continue to move west in march column. Packenham's 3rd Division moves forward at full speed to intercept. The British heavy cavalry are moving up to join in.

In the center, Clausel's 2nd Division deploys skirmishers to engage some men detached from Spencer's 1st Division deployed within the village of Los Aripiles. The resulting skirmish fire was ineffective on both sides.

Turn 2

Pack's Portuguese Brigade moves up onto the ridge and charges the 1st Brigade of Brennier's Division. The exchange of fire caused each brigade to lose a stand and become disordered. The ensuing combat was decisive and resulted in 3 stands lost to Pack's brigade and routed back off the hill. The French then deploy their batteries on top the uncontested hill.

Spencer's 1st Division moves to threaten Foy's 1st Division and Boyer's Dragoon Division. Foy in turn charges Spencer and is repulsed with the loss of 2 stands to and both leading brigades disordered.

Cole's 4th Division, 3rd Brigade moves forward to skirmish with the 2nd Brigade of Clausel's Division. The exchange was ineffective for both sides. Clausel's 1st Brigade's skirmishers attack the 2 detached stands from Spencer's 1st Division and managed to wipe them out and take the village of Los Aripiles.

Ferey's 3rd Division moves back north to come to the aide of Foy's 1st Division. Sarrut's 4th Division comes to the edge of the woods behind the Greater Aripile.

To the west, Packenham and Thomieres are closer to being engaged. Thomiers forms his men into a defensive position on a small ridge. Curto's cavalrymen form up and the artillery is deployed.

Turn 3

Spencer's 1st Brigade recovers from disorder and charges Foy's 2nd Brigade. The Light Division expands their frontage so that both brigades can charge together while Spencer's 2nd Brigade supports the Light Division. The resulting charge had a desperate struggle where both brigades loss 2 stands and the second roll gave the French brigade another two stand loss, effectively putting it out of action by being spent.

The British artillery fire from the Lesser Aripile manages to silence a French battery on top the Greater Aripile.

Curto's Light Cavalry Division reposition themselves to permit the accompanying horse artillery battery a better view of the enemy. The artillery fire from the guns did nothing to slow Packenham's inevitable advance.

Cole's 4th Division, 3rd Brigade, charges Clausel's 2nd Brigade and loses a stand from shooting as it closes from combined fire of artillery and musketry. The French brigade is pushed back, rallies and then charges and receives a desperate struggle roll, then inflicts a further two stand loss on Cole's 3rd Brigade and pushing them back. This effectively shattered this brigade as it made them spent.

In the village of Los Airipiles, Leith's 5th Division, 3rd Brigade, detaches skirmishers that attack the village. The defenders put up a valiant struggle and inflict a 2 stand loss on the attackers and retain control. Bonnet's 8th Division proceeds to march west to assist Thomieres' 7th Division. Sarrut's 4th Division pushes out of the woods and into the small valley behind the Greater Aripile.

The break through from Spencer's 2nd Brigade hit Foy's 1st Brigade but this time Spencer's 2nd Brigade suffers the loss of 2 more stands and is routed (represented by the dark green coated KGL troops). Foy is a bit closer to receiving support from Ferey's 3rd Division.

Packenham's 3rd Division as well as the heavy and light cavalry brigades are formed up for a massive coordinated attack.

Turn 4

The allies' west wing makes the much anticipated charge. The allied light cavalry suffers 2 lost stands from Thomieres' 2nd Brigade during shooting and 2 more during the failed combat and were pushed back beyond musketry range. Thomiers's 1st Brigade suffers 1 lost stand from Packenham's 2nd Brigade during shooting, but throw the chargers back with no further loss.

The allied heavy cavalry slam into a battery of artillery on the flank. The artillerymen fail to hit the enemy during normal shooting, but manage through a desperate struggle roll to kill two stands and are themselves eliminated in the process.

The end results.

Cole's 3rd Brigade does not rally but does hold ground. Cole's 2nd Brigade advances through the 3rd Brigade to prevent their annihilation. Pack's Portuguese fall back onto the lower summit of the Lesser Aripile. Leith's 5th Division, 3rd Brigade, detach 2 more stands to assist in the assault on the village. The new assault fails and attackers suffer an additional 2 stand loss and are driven back.

Thomieres' brigades charge down the ridge into the 2nd Brigade and light cavalry. Thomieres' brigades are successful and manage to push Packenham's 2nd Brigade back and inflicting 2 lost stands and the disordered light cavalry rolls horribly and is wiped out to the stand during the combat.

De Espagna and Bradford's brigades advance to try and stem Bonnet's 8th Division as they move west toward Thomieres. Leith's 5th Division moves up to counter Clausel and Maucune's division from getting closer to Los Aripiles. The Anglo-Spanish batteries open fire on Maucune's 2nd Brigade that had advanced to assist Bonnet's Division, inflicting the loss of a stand.

Ferey's 3rd Division marches in range of Spencer's 1st Division, threatening their flank. Boyer's Dragoons Division moves up to apply pressure to the Light Division. The French deploy a 3rd battery on top the Greater Aripile.

Turn 5

Packenham's Division rallies. 2nd and 3rd Brigades charge Thomiers' 2nd Brigade and Packenham's 3rd Brigade moves left to cover the gap left by the surprising demise of the Light Cavalry Division. The allied Heavy Cavalry Brigade was barely able to rally and had to spend it's turn refacing towards the 7th Division. In the process, they turn their backs on the upcoming but distant 8th Division.

De Espagna and Bradford's men expand their frontage to prepare a charge against the westward moving Bonnet.

The Light Division charges Boyer's Dragoons, inflicts a loss of 2 stands and drives them back through Foy's 1st Division. Pack's Brigade was disordered from shooting and holds ground, but does not rally. Clinton's 6th and Hope's 7th Division being held in reserve behind Los Aripiles are beginning to move forward. As seen in the photo, Cole's 4th Division, 2nd Brigade lose an additional two stands from combined musketry and artillery. British counter battery fire damaged and drove off a battery between Bonnet's division and the Greater Aripile.

More men are detached for work in the assault on Los Aripiles. The allied assault had some success and eliminated 2 stands of the defenders and pushed them to the edge of the village.

Thomieres' 1st Brigade managed to inflict the loss of a stand upon approaching Packenham's 1st Brigade, then 3 more in the ensuing combat. The routed men were pushed past the deployed battery, leaving it wide open.

As seen a few pictures back, Ferey's 3rd Division made it to assist Foy. Spencer's 1st Brigade suffers a loss of a stand during the French approach from musketry and artillery.

Bonnet's 8th Division does not wait for De Espagna and Bradford to attack and charge. The charge into De Espagna was repulsed with no loss, but Bradford's men managed to roll a deperate struggle roll inflicting and suffering a 2 stand loss and then failed the subsequent roll and lost 2 additional stands and retreated beyond musketry range.

The 8th Division's artillery unlimbers for a flank shot against the allied heavy cavalry. Clausel's 1st Brigade recalls skirmishers that were pushed out of Los Aripiles. The 4th Division belonging to Sarrut moves off west.

Spencer's lead brigade was pushed back.

Turn 6

Pack's Portuguese Brigade roll badly and quit the field. Spencer's leading brigade charges Ferey's leading brigade. The Light Division decides to charge Foy's 1st Brigade in hopes of driving them from the field.

Leith's 5th Division goes on the offensive and its 1st and 2nd Brigades charge into some Brigades of Clausel's 2nd Division 1st Brigade and Maucune's 5th Division. The charge failed to do much and each side had a brigade pushed back a few inches.

During the defensive and offensive fire phase, the French managed to hit the allied heavy cavalry in front and back and cause the loss of 2 stands in each phase, thus bringing the cavalry to the spent strength when it completed its charge into combat. Thomieres 2nd Brigade was charged by both the heavy cavalry and 2nd Brigade of Packenahm's 3rd Division. The result was minor, forced the French brigade to fall back through and behind the horse artillery battery. Curto's Light Cavalry Division was charged by Packensham's 3rd Brigade and managed to inflict the loss of 2 stands on the attackers, quite surprisingly.

The major drama of this side was the remnants of Packenham's 1st brigade rallied and moved up and attached themselves to the foot battery of artillery. The exchange of fire between both of these units was insignificant (even at canister range, oddly enough) and Thomieres 1st Brigade was able to charge and eliminate the 3rd Division's 1st Brigade, capture the artillery battery and cause the only leader casualty of the game by grievously wound Packenham.

The combined Anglo-Spanish artillery managed to damage and silence a battery assigned to Maucune's 5th Division. British artillery on top the Lesser Aripile managed to silence the heavy battery on top the Greater Aripile. The French pull up a previously silenced battery to the top of the Greater Aripile.

Bradford's Portuguese Brigade did not rally but did manage to hold ground in disorder. De Espagna's Spanish Brigade was hit by both brigades of Bonnet's 8th Division. The remnants of Bradford's Portuguese along with De Espagna managed to inflict the loss of a stand and disorder the 1st Brigade of Bonnet's Division. Despite the fact that De Espagna's Spanish Brigade was outnumbered more than 2 to 1, they managed to only be pushed back and suffered no losses.

To the upper right in this picture, you can see where Clausel's 1st Brigade and Maucune's 2nd Brigade engaged with Leith's 1st and 2nd brigades. Maucune's men manage to push Leith's 1st Brigade back to the ridge beside Los Aripiles with no loss. Clausel's 1st Brigade was able to inflict the loss of 2 stands on Leith's 2nd Brigade and push them to the gates of Los Aripiles.

Clausel's 2nd Brigade charged into the shaken 2nd Brigade of Cole's 4th Division. After a desperate struggle roll and inflicting 2 stand losses from both sides, a second resolution roll resulted in Cole's 2nd Brigade collapsing after being reduced to one stand. The follow up break through charge hit the spent 3rd Brigade of Cole's division. Fortunately for Wellington, this brigade only fell back to the muzzle of their own battery directly behind them and did not shatter.

Spencer's 1st Division, 1st Brigade suffered the loss of another stand from artillery fire. The charge from the 2nd Brigade of Ferey's 3rd Division was bloodless and the French fell back outside of musketry range. The Light Division charged Foy's 2nd Brigade and took the loss of a stand during shooting and were likewise, thrown back beyond musketry range.

The remnants of Cole's 4th Division.

The final view from the allied center.

Conclusion: the allies suffered badly and the game was called after 6 turns only. The previous time the game was played, the French lasted about 6 turns and were basically demoralized. This particular game seemed to have gone completely different from expectations. I for one was surprised at how limited the fallen leaders had been. The previous battle had seen 4 or 5 such casualties, this game only 1. Increasing the casualties done during melee seemed to greatly speed up game play and make combats more decisive.

Artillery in this game was typically sporadic on how it performed. French artillery did quite poorly given how many batteries were present. 10 batteries should have been plenty but several were damaged or silenced for portions of the game. The terrain was a contributing factor to the artillery being limited in value. The secondary reason was the proximity of the forces in limiting what could actually be a target when it wasn't blocked.

Overall, a very fun game that didn't take long to play and would have resulted in a complete reversal of Wellington's offensive plans in Spain. It is likely without any cavalry to speak of left intact, a speedy withdraw into Portugal would be in order.

Artillery_____1 captured______1 captured & 3 damaged
Leaders_______1 wounded_______-

Given these disparities in casualties, it didn't seem realistic to continue the game. The plan of Wellington was a carefully timed, methodical attack and ultimately when Packenham's Division along with the cavalry failed to break Thomieres and Curto, then the support gained from turning the flank went out the window. Adding the fact Packenham's Division was shattered and the cavalry effectively obliterated in a surprising failure, the planned offensive was no longer practical.