Thursday, 15 April 2010

Albuera re-fight 2010 - Part 2

9-10am The re-deployments continue,

By the end of the last hour a German officer attached to the Spanish caught a glimpse in the fading sunlight of glinting bayonets on the high ground to the south-west. This was the men of General Girard's Division advancing to the fords on the Chicapierna brook. Crossing with them were the Dragoons of General Bron's command, the Vistula Lancers, the 2nd and 10th Hussars and two horse batteries with more to follow. In a frenzy of activity General Beresford positioned himself at this point to witness these events unfolding as the men of all three Spanish divisions began to wheel in slow motion towards their right to gain the southern heights before the French could re-form and take them. The situation became one of frantic action to put in motion the entire Spanish army. Meanwhile the British 2nd Division of General Stewart was set in motion and ordered off the heights to the north to double time it to the rear of the Spanish position. However, they would not make it in time to face the French first, this honour would go to the Spanish first.

By 9am the flank movements of General Girard, and all of his supports began to cross the river, at this point in the battle the forces on both sides of the battlefield were to follow historical orders as closely as possible. What you will see in this hour's play is the carrying out of those orders). We kept the sequence of events close to the original historical orders of the real battle from 8am to 10am. The reason for this was to ensure the battle would be set to replicate the real battle up to the point of Girard's main attack on the south flank. From 10am onwards all orders and command control would revert to player control.

In the following photos can be seen the French flanking movement of all three arms as they snake across the fords and form up behind the high ground to the south and astride the Spanish positions.

The following photos show the French forces now straddling the Spanish position as they stretch out across the open ground of the south extreme of the battlefield. The Vistula Lanciers, 2nd Hussars and the Dragoons of General Bron can be seen galloping towards the left flank to take up position almost behind the Spanish who can now be seen wheeling to face. General Girard's forward regiments of Infantry continue to stream across the river rapidly to form up on the other side, voltiguer companies out in front to cover this delicate operation.

In this picture the Spanish troops of General Zayas can be seen after their right wheel and are now heading directly for the high ground about 500yds north of the French positions. This division had several Guard and veteran units who were very well trained and drilled so carrying out this manoeuvre for them was relatively easier than it would have been about 6-8 months earlier. Amongst these troops can be seen the lone Spanish battery of Miranda, it was critical they gain the heights fast.

This photo shows General Zayas's division arriving at their destination with the forward units taking position atop the crest to await the French advance. Miranda's battery is now almost in position to begin firing on the advancing French. This angle is deceptive at many of the French troops arriving are actually further south and about to arrive on the field.

The following picture shows the advance of General Werle's Brigade still on the eastern bank of the Chicapierna brook, this formation will probably not arrive for at least an hour after the first attack goes in. Meanwhile, General Gazan's Brigade is much closer and about to appear to the south not long after Girard launches his assault on the Spanish positions.

Meanwhile, the Portuguese dragoons of General Otway's command make an appearance on the far northern flank of the Allied positions in response to the success of the French attack on Albuera. In this picture can also be seen a Brigade of Portuguese Infantry under General Campbell also advancing towards Albuera in support of the hard pressed KGL light btlns.

This photo is taken from another angle showing the Portuguese Infantry advance down from the heights towards Albuera. It also shows the British under Genral Stewart and their positions prior to the order to right turn and double time it towrds the Spanish positions to the south. In the distance can be seen General Werle's French columns heading south while the Spanish army also heads in this direction. Also, due to the appearance of General Otway's dragoons the French troops under Genral Godinot have decided to withdraw back over the bridges to the relative safety of the river line. This was the purpose of the French attacks on this position anway, to pin the allied left flank in position and draw them away from the main attack to the south.

In this picture the entire Spanish army can now bee seen completely deployed by 10am and ready to fight the French attacks. The formation comprises of two lines of defense, the first line facing south comprises the Spanish 5th Brigade of General Mourgeon under General Zayas while on his left is two Brigades of the divisions of General's Ballesteros and Lardizabal. The rest of the army stands in reserve behind the main line ready to advance into action when called. Miranda's Spanish foot battery is now unlimbered on the heights about to bombard the advancing French.

This photo is a close-up of General Zayas's first line of defense, General Mourgeon's 5th Brigade consisting of the foot battery, 2nd & 4th btlns of the Real Guardias de Espans, de Irlanda regiment, Veteranos de la Patria and a Zapadore coy. To their front is the Campo Meyer light infantry regiment of General Lardizabal's division. In the real battle they pushed forward to the Albuera river to defend the crossing points but here they were ordered to take position ahead of Zayas. This decision may prove a crucial one in defeating the French voltiguer advance next hour...

In this image the Spanish second reserve line is more clearer showing General Zayas's 2nd line and the troops of General de Espana's which are part of the Spanish 5th army under General Zayas's command.

This picture shows the deployment positions of the allied cavalry comprising the British Dragoon brigade of General Lumley on the left, the 5th army Spanish cavalry brigade of General de Villemur in the centre and Genral Loy's 4th army cavalry brigade on the right of picture. Sadly there are many "ring-ins" here because we simply did not have the time to paint these up for the battle but its how they fight, not how they look that is important...

Stewart's 2nd Division

Once the French were detected moving down from the heights Beresford ordered general Stewart to march his entire division south. These men, comprising three brigades of infantry under general's Colborne, Houghton and Abercrombe had to act quickly to the changing situation. In order to speed up the process the btlns were ordered to stay in two rank deep formation and each man was ordered to make a right turn and march off effectively turning the entire division into one long snaking thin column of march with Colborne leading. To quicken the pace even more the division was ordered to double time it to the south.

You would be hard pressed to find a set of rules that shows figure frontages for such a narrow frontage as just two men so we have placed the btlns in typical single company frontages for simplicity's sake. To show how they turned left again once they faced the French we will revert to line formation first to show it, (provided that is what the British player intends to do of course). In the following two pictures can be seen the begining of this advance order from two different angles to gain perspective.

The French Positions

The following two pictures show the forming up positions of General Girard's Division in attack formation poised ready to strike directly at General Zayas's Spanish division. In the foreground are the voltiguer companies and to their right is the two combined Grenadier btlns in line formation who are ready to drive towards the right of the position directly at brigades of General Lardizabal and General Ballesteros.

The next picture shows the final positions of the French cavalry formations on the extreme left flank opposite their counter-parts on the allied right flank. These regiments although numerous were also severely understrength as we found out and maybe contributed to explain why their impact in the battle was so minor against the inferior allied cavalry.

This image is taken from the rear of the French flanking position looking north. It shows clearly the width of the deployment areas of the French and what they can see in front of hem. General Gazan's Division is still off field at this point but closing in fast from the south east. Also of note is the position taken up by the two French horse batteries who caused such devestation to the allied forces in the real battle. It is hoped they will do the same here.

The final two images here show two different angles taken of the battle array of the Spanish positions showing their battle line ready to receive the French onslaught. The commanders of both sides are now poised ready to take control of the action and either change history or repeat it here...


Anonymous said...

I've been looking forward to this battle report to see how your Napoleonic rules play out.

Is there any chance we might get some more descriptions tying in the images with what happens playing through some of the game mechanics?

Shane Devries said...

Hi Mark,

For sure, I will try to relate the flow of the battle to the mechanics that are used so that you can see how the system tells the story.

Gunfreak said...

Yay, took almost a year but finnaly some updates on your blog.
Great read, looking forward to more.