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TURN 4 - Late July 1808

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TURN 4 - Late July 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Mon Aug 18, 2014 2:30 pm

Rumblings in London!

There is news that His Most Britannic Majesty's government is making moves to send military assistance to her beleaguered ally, Portugal. Since last November when General Junot's corps invaded the country and the royal family and government officials fled to south America, Portugal has been under the protection of France in order that "the Continental Trade System might fairly be maintained and enforced." Portugal had been trading with England in breach of Napoleon's rule that no European nation shall conduct seaborne trade with powers outside of continental Europe without express permission from Paris. The failure of Portugal to comply with this ruling led to her borders being violated last winter. Since the uprising in May in Madrid there have been similar riots and disturbances but on a localised level, most notably at Oporto where a rebel military force has secured the port and at Elvas where a Portuguese garrison has refused to surrender. At the border fortress of Almeria a French garrison has been trapped by a third Portuguese force of about a brigade in strength and almost all of General Junot's troops are tied down policing the capital and immediate outlying towns, the richest and most politically powerful area of the country.

A fleet is gathered in the English Channel under the command of Admiral Cotton. There are rumours this force is the escort to a large convoy whose destination is the West Indies.

Collapse of Commisary Arrangements in Andalucia.

Andalucia, the breadbasket of Spain has seen far more men flocking to join the ranks than any other province. The situation at Cadiz, Seville and the camp at Gibraltar has become so serious that there is nothing with which to arm, equipe and clothe the eager volunteers, nor enough officers to lead them.

General Castanos' army has grown so bloated that the supply system has broken down, divisions of this force lay scattered across half of southern Spain, unable to march for want of shoes and bread. News from the Junta of Seville is that Castanos' Army of Andalucia will operate with whatever divisions it currently has and new-raised regiments and corps will be held back in a second line army that will not conduct military operations unless Andalucia's borders are violated.

A proposed plan to allocate a division of troops to the Army of Murcia has been fiercely rejected by the Junta. In Andalucia lies Spain's chief port and dockyard as well as her second capital city, Seville. All new raised units, when they are fit to march, eat and shoot will remain as a reserve to form, what the Junta are calling, a new "Army of the Centre".

Battlefield Chaos. Inept Officers? A Tactical Rethink.

Letters and reports filtering back from officers who have already experienced battle with the French are causing concern at the various provincial Junta council chambers. While some of the newly enrolled volunteer officers do not know what they are saying, there are reports from more senior men, of noble birth and many years in their trade whose opinions need to be taken carefully. These are not Bonapartists or defeatists but men of note.

It is reported that the huge "tercios" and other large corps, some of which number in excess of 800 men are proving too unwieldy to function at a tactical level. They take too long to ploy and deploy and control of such numbers is beyond many officers. In cases where panic spreads among the soldiers of a corps, the whole body can withdraw and 800 men be denied their general in moments.

The Juntas have taken a rare step of agreeing a new tactical arrangement to deploy large units in two 'wings' made up of the 1st and 2nd musketeer companies in the right (senior) wing and the 3rd and 4th companies in the junior wing. Battalions of approximately 400 to 500 men is the intended tactical unit. This change has met with immediate and hearty support from many junior and middle ranked officers since it has caused the number of brigades (on paper at least) to inflate rapidly, all of which require brigade officers, their staffs, advisors, map makers, aides, engineers, and messengers. A whole host of nobles have come forward, many retired, and some without commands on half-pay for many years. Now granted new commands, the officer corps is said to be enthused with this new "expansion" of the corps in the army. Promotions and appointments are being sent hither and thither from the desks of Junta clerks faster than the printer's ink can dry.

An unexpected confusion from this change is in the commisary department, or what there is of it. Overnight many new brigades have come into being and supply traynes needs be made ready to feed and arm these units. Already lacking oxen and mules, the supply machinery is on the verge of collapse.

The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
Mr. Digby

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Re: TURN 4 - Late July 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Aug 31, 2014 6:00 pm

Corps that pass in the Night. Two Weeks of Confusion. Bold Moves and Missed Opportunities

The motions of the armies in Nuevo Castilla south of Madrid has caused a great deal of head-scratching and idle speculation among the citizenry and long candle-lit night meetings at the various headquarters. Earlier in the month reports claimed that General Castanos and his Army of Andalucia was marching rapidly on Madrid, his scouts even reached Ocana. However in the last fortnight his troops have vanished into thin air like a genie
from a bottle. The French are patrolling furiously with light cavalry to all points of the compass south of a line drawn from west to east through the capital. Castanos has baffled the French high command by a sudden halt of his northward move and a retreat - but to places unknown.

Right now the towns of Manzanares and Villarta de San Juan are still full of Spanish units and officers but there is an air about these places if not of downright relaxation then of anticipation. Something big is surely happening, everyone asserts, but none seems to know what. Is there to be an attack on Madrid or was Castanos' move merely a clever feint to bring French attention to the south while other Spanish armies are on the march elsewhere?

The high command is not saying, and this silence gives detractors free rein to claim they do not know! Is the Army of Andalucia led by wolves or sheep? Castanos and his entourage have been reported at Madridejos, Villarta, Consuegra and Mora. Some even say he was seen in Toledo! A crude graffiti is becoming popular, painted on walls in Aranjuez and Ocana: "Castaños estuvo aquí".

In Madrid there are all manner of base rumours flying from mouth to mouth and from fashionable dinner table to fashionable dinner table: the King and Marshal Murat are at loggerheads! People are saying that Murat claims His Majesty's court is rife with Spanish spies! The upper classes in the capital are becoming jittery and prone to waves of panic. No-one knows where the Spanish are, only that they are close.

What is known is that the corps of Marechal Moncey has returned victorious from Old Castille, the battle honour of 'Valladolid' embroidered on their flags and their knapsacks bulging with looted Castillian supplies. Moncey is said to be in conference with Murat, planning his next victory.

His Majesty meanwhile is said to have grown tired of bickering with his generals from the royal bedchamber. The most recent rumour is that King Joseph is to take the field at the head of the Guardia Reale and the royal troops are mustering to march... where? South is the assumption but the King has not been pleased to inform his people.

The confusion of which army was marching where was underlined late in July by a spectacular and daring push by the Army of Murcia which advanced in bullish manner up the Ocana road from Villarta. Pressing back French hussar patrols, Ocana was secured and garrisoned then General Villava suprised everyone by swinging east along a secondary route to Ucles, where his corps arrived at the end of the month. This move may have been intended to circle around behind the Frenchman Dupont whose corps it has been revealed, was stationed at Montalbo. The wily Dupont was no slouch however and sensing danger in the nick of time his men scuttled back through Ucles no more than 48 hours aheard of Villava's men, pulling in their patrols and stopping north of the Tagus while leaving a strong rearguard of cavalry and horsed artillery at Tarancon. The exact location of Dupont's corps once again is a mystery but it is thought to be on the road at some point, or points, between Tarancon and Madrid, though a wide flank manouver up the Henares valley is not being ruled out by some armchair strategists.

Supporting elements of the Army of Murcia are said to have occupied Atalayuclas and further forces are moving north in support from San Clemente.

All Quiet in Valencia. Llamas Licks his Wounds. Important Command Changes?

The Army of General Llamas is still reported to be somewhat disabled and resting at Contreras, though these reports are now quite old. Certainly no local travellers in other parts of Valencia report otherwise.

It is said that Gen. Llamas recently rode to Valencia to discuss matters of great import with the Provincial Junta there. Rumours are that a promotion is being offered if the general will take on additional responsibilities. Council officials mention "The Army of the Right" which would seem to be a higher organisation with the good Llamas at it's head. The "Vanquished of Atalyuclas" however has his enemies and some senior nobles are saying it is not right to award a defeated man with promotion. On the other hand the Junta's view appears to be that Llamas has experience first hand of battling the French and knows their tactics, making him the ideal choice.

Extremadura Awakens! Belvedere Shows his Hand!

At last, news from the south-western provinces has revealed that after a long spell of rest and reorganisation Conde de Belevedere is on the march. His army has arrived in Almaraz and there is talk of it pressing onwards up the Tagus valley. "Talavera!" cry some of the troops while for other the call is "Toledo!".

The Leon-Castilian Plain. March and Countermarch.

At Ciudad Rodrigo part of the Spanish garrison has departed the citadel and moved via Salamanca to Zamora. Moving carefully in search of garrisons or stronger forces Marshal Moncey might have left behind, these troops secured both these places, the French having withdrawn only a week or so before. Spanish law has been restored and stories of French extortion, high taxes and comandeered animals and wagons are rife.

The wounded Cuesta, with his wounded Army of Castilla has slunk away from Leon westward, to recover it is said, or to seek fresh supply sources to feed his men. The Army of Castilla is currently avoiding all contact with the enemy and headed west and south in ragged lines of hungry men.

Leon, Saldanha and Carrion however have seen Spanish forces tramping eastward, the banner of the Army of Galicia held high. In Valladolid a cavalry brigade of General Blake's army stopped a few days to restore order and arrange for the remnants of the looted army supply depot to be handed out to the poor before it was boots and saddles again and the men rode east towards Burgos, applauded by the townsfolk.

Burgos, Burgos. All Eyes are on Burgos!

This citadel is the target of General Joyes y Blake's huge army, said to be 25,000 strong. With three divisions advancing along the Leon road and cavalry meeting them from Valladolid it looked as though a siege or investment was certain. Within the fortress however was General Verdier, a bitter and determined victor of many revolutionary actions. He had at hand two cavalry brigades, one of them comprising the superb Chevau-Legers Polonaise and with one brigade he guarded the Aranda road, preventing the Spanish cavalry from Valladolid cutting that communications route, while with the other he rode out of the city and for several days played a delaying series of skirmishing games with the Spaniards, who lacked any cavalry on this front, buying time for reinforcements to arrive.

Towards the last week of the month said reinforcements did arrive, a mixed division of French and foreign troops under the Portuguese loyalist general, Freire de Andrade and a day later another powerful division under the firey General Lefebvre-Desnouettes marched down the Miranda road. This formation contained a number of battalions of the famed Vistula Legion.

With troops now amounting to 10,000 men, Verdier's forces have taken up positions before Burgos. The two armies are in close contact but neither is pressing to engage.

Miranda del Ebro, a Tale of Efficient Frenchmen!

Following up his unexpected victory at San Milan, General Acevedo led his Army of Asturias south-east to this place. Here, from a position of high ground, Acevedo observed several strong French formations around the town in encampments, counting four brigades and three artillery batteries. Knowing Miranda was a key position on the enemy supply route into Spain he planned to attack, to draw the enemy into a running fight back up the valley and occupy the French for as long as he could so that as few troops as posible could pass by to the south-west towards Burgos.

The plan never took off. An advance was made and a skirmish developed at the town's western edge but the local French brigade and division commanders, showing resourcefulness and initiative for which they have become well-known, occupied the town with enough troops to keep a serious attack at bay while they passed their other brigades behind the town and on down the Burgos road.

After two days of inconclusive fighting with minimal losses to both sides, more French formations came down the Vitoria road, two more brigades, freshly committed to the Spanish theatre. These two passed unhindered beyond the frustrated reach of Acevedo. At month's end the old enemy of the Spaniard, General Mouton returned back up the Burgos road with his division, battered but eager for revenge. With Mouton slipping skilfully into a defensive posture in the town, the other brigades earmarked to continue on south-westwards pulled out, reorganised and set off the next day.

Acevedo was able to count a full French corps passing through Miranda; 3 divisions comprising 2 brigades each and each with a battery of cannon. There was no cavalry to be seen however. Mouton has learned the details of the Spanish force from the present garrison commander - 2 divisions each of 3 brigades and a battery, with one of those divisions having those two annoying squadrons of lancers in place of one of its infantry brigades.

Acevedo's men are at least beginning to learn a soldiers craft and his volunteer troops are now more sure of themselves.

The month drew to a close with Mouton and Acevedo in deadlock staring each other down as they had done at San Milan. Who would blink first?

Zaragosa Free! Siege Lifted!

In a surprising turn of events the French corps of Marshal Bessieres which has been investing the city this last three to four weeks has decamped and marched away! The citizens of the city were shocked and stunned. The French withdrew the way they had come, towards Tudela. Captain-General Palafox lost no time in completing the recovery of his broken army, handing out fresh supplies now being brought in by pack mule from irregular forces in the hills, and soon the line of the Rio Jalon at Alagon was taken up again, scouts going south towards Calatayud and east to Lerida to open up communications with other Spanish armies.

Disaster in Cataluna. Duhesme to be Recalled to Paris?

This unlucky French corps is teetering on the brink of complete collapse. The part of the force holding Barcelona is but 2,000 to 3,000 men, now trapped there by three divisions of Spaniards under Captain-General Palacio after the shock result at Ordal Cross.

Duhesme's other division (if the ragged remains can be termed such) has been investing Gerona since early June. Disease and the constant and aggravating attacks by irregular Spanish mountain soldiers has taken a severe toll on General Lechi's Italian troops. Sickness is within the city as well and General Laguna's defending division is also withering away. When Laguna was given news of the approach of a fresh French division under General Reille from the north he took the opportunity to order a sally as his last chance to do so before the city was invested by more numerous enemies still.

Unknown to Laguna, Duhesme had sent a siege train up the coast road from Barcelona whose escort had fought off an attack by one of Palacio's divisions.

Laguna attacked out of his lines on the morning of 26th July and to the surprise of the Spaniards the Italians in their siege works fell back and scattered away down the road to Hostalrich. The battle was short but bloody. It is said that about 10 percent of the Spaniards were casualties or missing, while near 15 percent of Lechi's men likewise failed to rally at the end of the day. The cause it seems was the broken supply line that Lechi was using to Barcelona. Palacio's investment of that place was critical to the outcome of this action.

Lechi's division, comprising not much more than a brigade now, has arrived in Hostalrich. There it met the siege train and its escort from Barcelona, but this force is out of supply and cannot conduct offensive operations.

At the end of July a fresh French division, commanded by General Pino approached Gerona from the north.

Pino too lacks a siege train. He has not invested the city yet but is holding the north bank of the Rio Ter and blocking the coast road. Laguna's weak division is a few miles west of the fortress on a secondary road that runs to Vich and Manresa. This is guerilla country and the hills swarm with miquelets.

Upset in Madrid. A French General Disobeying Orders? Murat Furious!

A curious turn of events is playing out in the capital. General Ruby was the city's garrison commander, an officer of Marshal Moncey's corps. News is that he refused a direct order from Marshal Murat and when the marshal sent an officer to remove him from duty, Ruby had the colonel escorted from his headquarters! There is intrigue at court as Ruby was heard to have gone the very next day to the private chambers of His Majesty and been in a meeting with the King behind closed doors for more than two hours. Rumours fly about senior members of the King's court being untrustworthy, having pro-Borbon views, but how this bears on a French officer refusing to do his duty isn't clear. Two days later an arrest warrant for Ruby arrived from Marshal Murat's HQ. He was to be tried before a court martial but Ruby is now apparently claiming he is no longer an officer of the French army but has taken up a command in the King's royal troops - a Spanish military post!

Peace in the Mountains.

The hill country around Cuenca and Poyatos has seen nothing of war. The sleepy villages and hill towns go about their business unmolested by passing soldiery. However towards the end of July travellers from this region mention Spanish light cavalry squadrons on patrol along this mountain road. From which army they come the local people cannot say.

Last edited by Mr. Digby on Mon Sep 01, 2014 12:10 am; edited 1 time in total

The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
Mr. Digby

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Re: TURN 4 - Late July 1808

Post  Martin on Sun Aug 31, 2014 11:31 pm

Excellent stuff, Diggers.

Martin (J)


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Re: TURN 4 - Late July 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Sep 04, 2014 1:55 am

According to my calculations using the rules, the late July turn saw the French occupation of Spain failing.

The other Martin - Charles Reille, le dernier Maréchal de France.

"Any hussar who has not got himself killed by the age of 30 is a jackass." - Antoine Charles Louis Lasalle, commander of Napoleon's light cavalry, killed in battle at Wagram 6 July 1809, aged 34.

"I had forgotten there was an objective." - Generallieutenant Mikhail Borozdin I
Mr. Digby

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Re: TURN 4 - Late July 1808

Post  Ike on Thu Sep 04, 2014 2:46 am

Not surprising. Revolting peasants!

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Re: TURN 4 - Late July 1808

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