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TURN 6 - Late August 1808

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TURN 6 - Late August 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Oct 11, 2014 1:01 pm

The French Campaign in the Balance! The Abyss of Defeat is Revealed but Murat Wins Significant Battles to Recover his Position! Madrid saved! Miranda Protected by Manouvers in the Mountains! Bessieres Triumphant! French fall back at Hostalrich. Palafox Consolidates gains in Ebro valley! Junot Defeated by the British in Portugal! Surrender Terms Signed!

The bloody and intense chess game of war marches on, pawns on both sides are lost, and for the Spanish some more significant pieces are taken. Operations in the last fortnight have again fallen into three distinct regions - around Madrid; around Burgos and Miranda del Ebro; and in Cataluna, north of Barcelona and at Gerona. Armed clashes at Navalcamero on the Talavera road west of the capital and at Sesena south of the city saw French triumphs and the Spanish armies approaching Madrid driven back but in Portugal a terrible and bloody battle has been fought north of Lisbon.

Portugal - Disaster Befalls French Arms! Most Curious Surrender Terms Signed!

General Junot, after some delays in getting his troops out of garrison and policing operations, massed the majority of his corps to face the British General Wellesley at a small and hitherto unknown coastal village named Vimerio, on 21st August. A most sanguine and brutal encounter followed, with the French assailing the British position in dense columns and with dragoons in support. The battle lasted four hours and at the end of the afternoon the French had pushed their enemy off his first two defended heights but had failed to take the main ridge. A line of unbroken red-coated defenders and cannon obstinately would not be pushed back further, despite their weaker cavalry being all but driven from the field. Junot had failed to force back his enemy, or cut his supply road and that night ordered a retirement to Lisbon.

The British infantry however took very heavy losses on their defensive hills and the 20th Light Dragoons have been sent home to England due to their grievous losses, turning over their mounts to a remount depot established in the capital.

More shocking news occurred several days later. Shortly after the battle two senior British officers came ashore from the fleet of Adm Cotton and assumed command. Lt-Genls. Sir Hew Dalrymple and Sir Harry Burrard opened negotiations for a ceasefire with General Junot and by the end of the month it was agreed that the French would surrender Portugal to the British. All their troops, including colours, arms and accoutrements would be taken by British transports out of Lisbon and conveyed to Rochefort. General Junot signed this agreement in conference with the two British commanders at the village of Cintra, agreeing to the clause not to bring his troops back into Portugal. It was noted that Monsieur Junot seemed very amicably disposed towards these terms.

The French have begun withdrawing towards Lisbon but the English Government is said to be furious at the news, with Parliament in uproar over the Royal Navy being used to carry armed French soldiers home, all at the cost of the taxpayers! Generals Dalrymple and Burrard have been recalled to London to answer questions.

In Lisbon, Gen Wellesley remains in command and a second British corps, led by Sir John Moore, the famed light infantry tactician, is waiting in transports in the roadstead to disembark.

The British have taken charge of Junot's supply depot in Lisbon and now have a secure base and port from which to sustain further operations. A call has been sent out by Mr. J. Hookham Frere, British plenipotentiary to Portugal for the armed forces of that nation to assemble at Lisbon.

Pyrenees Operations. French Ascendant. What of Palafox?

Responding cooly to the recent surprise news of the fall of Pampluna, Marshal Bessieres led his corps out of the mountains into Bilbao and then set a furious pace marching the men west along the coastal road. At the important road junction of Castro Urdilaes his columns swung south and by the end of the month Espinosa was occupied and French light cavalry moving north-west from Miranda met the Marshal's corps.

The Spanish army of Genl. Acevedo was nowhere to be seen! What had become of this phantom force? Cavalry patrols into the hills around the town revealed a hill road running west towards Reynosa some 80 miles into the rocky and treacherous Cantabrian Mountains. It seems Acevedo managed to get reports from his hussars at Bilbao in time to hurriedly draw his army out of the trap. His men are reported to be near Reynosa, starving and exhausted, with much baggage and many ammunition carts tipped off the narrow road in their need to get away, but his troops have escaped. A period of recovery and resupply must surely be needed and Bessieres has saved Miranda but his enemy is still out there, watching.

Santander is held by a couple of Spanish brigades, and the tired hussars of Coronel José Ortega, whose timely reports saved Acevedo's army.

At Miranda del Ebro a battered battalion of the Legion Irelandaise in French service has retired into the town from the direction of Logrono having been turned out of that village by aggressive light cavalry sent there by Gen. Palafox. Is the Army of Aragon going to attack Miranda? Or is this a feint and it is Irun that is vulnerable? Palafox's whereabouts are unknown. He certainly has not been seen at Zaragosa, Tudela or Pampluna in recent weeks.

Burgos.

General Verdier appears to have secured Burgos and is now holding the line of the Rio Carrion with the bulk of his corps at that place. Other French forces have been reported at the confluence of the Carrion and Pisuerga between Duenas and Villadrigo, watching the road that runs from Valladolid. The Army of Galicia, general Blake commanding, has moved east again and is now opposite Verdier's posts at Carrion. The Spanish appear to be there in force. Neither army appears willing to take the offensive, though containing the French near to Burgos suits the Spanish long-term strategy more that that of Marshal Bessieres.

Aranda. Communications cut!

French messengers have stopped getting through via the Somosierra to Aranda mountain road that runs between Madrid and Burgos. It's thought that guerilla bands are active now this far south and have cut the road. Murat's forces around the capital are now cut off from France! No communications are getting through.

Manouvering in Cataluna. Siege of Gerona Continues. Rosas Might Soon Fall?

The French under General Reille continue to tighten the noose in the Cataluna hills. The garrison of Rosas now lacks food as French cannon have been moved forward to threaten the harbour and English warships can no longer land supplies. The fall of the citadel is surely only a matter of time and the garrison is in a desperate state.

At Gerona the Italian troops of General Pino have spent the last two weeks adjusting their entrenchments and slowly moving saps forward in preparation of an assault though the besiegers still lack a siege train. There is news that one is being got ready at Perpignan and could be moved over the mountains by October. The defenders are now suffering greatly and the attempts by the miquelets to bring food into the city at night are patchy at best.

South of Gerona a minor Spanish victory is being claimed as the dispirited remains of the corps of Genl. Duhesme have retreated north towards Gerona, abandoning the siege train that left Barcelona. The wagons and gun carriages were burned and the engineers and horse teams fell back with the whole force being covered by General Reille's cavalry division commanded by Gen. Hubert which has now appeared in strength in this region.

The Army of Cataluna of General Vives followed up this retreat and occupied the village of Hostalrich but apart from some undestroyed siege equipment and the cannon barrels themselves, there was nothing left of the artillery trayne to be secured. Reille, with Hubert's cavalry, a brigade of Pino's division and the battered division of General Lechi, is now emplaced on a ridge blocking the route to Gerona.

Reille has about 8,500 to 9,000 infantry, 2,500 cavalry and some 18 guns in his defensive position. At Hostalrich Vives has about 16,000 infantry, 800 cavalry and 20 cannon.

Movement in Valencia? Or a New Spanish Army?

News has been trickling out of the reorganisation of the Spanish armies under the direction of the Junta Central at Seville but most recently a large force is reported by locals to be marching up the Mediterranean coast. It is currently at Saguntum and pushing north. It's thought this could be part of the Valencian Army, or a reserve that has been mobilised and released.

Madrid.

All eyes are on the capital as the dangerous chess game there is played out amid much tension and with high stakes. The Spanish under General Belvedere are besieging the Alcazar in Toledo and under cover of this force have passed cavalry brigades through the town to Anover and northwards towards the capital itself. A further large force of Spanish troops waits in Toledo. Some say these are more divisions belonging to Belevdere's army while other commentators suggest they are part of Castanos' army. Castanos himself was seen in the city recently, making a proclamation to the citizens to be strong, to resist and to await the day when the hated French would be driven out for good.

Battles have occurred in late August that have swung the game markedly in the French favour. At Navalcamero on the road to Talavera, two divisions of the Conde de Belvedere's army attacked where it was thought only a French light cavalry brigade was holding the village. It transpired that King Joseph himself had led his Royal Guard Corps from Sesena to this critical position in a forced march. His guard infantry and cavalry, lacking any artillery, chose to attack and hurled the Spanish back in complete confusion, capturing all their artillery. It is reported that the defeated Spanish have gone back all the way to Talavera, possibly further to lick their wounds. The battle was not without serious consequences however as His Majesty was unhorsed and injured while seeking safety inside a square of his Fusilier-Chasseurs of the Garde. It was thought some Spanish hussars had even captured him at one point but his aides and some guardsmen fought the Spanish off and recovered the royal personage. The King was much bruised and battered and it is feared he has an injury to his shoulder. Following the victory, he was transferred to the royal carriage and his army escorted him back to Madrid. The Royal Guards are likely to remain in the capital for a while, at least until His Majesty recovers.

At Tarancon and Aranjuez, two other Spanish armies attempted to push across the Tagus to threaten Madrid. Marshal Murat, having amassed a single powerful army comprising two corps plus a newly organised reserve cavalry corps that amounts to 50,000 men and 100 guns, deployed this mighty force against General Castanos, whose army was making for the crossing of the Rio Jarama at Sesena. A battle of feint and maneuver resulted and Castanos was lucky to get his troops away back over the Tagus with minor losses, although many supply and ammunition carts had to be abandoned. Most significant, one of his cavalry generals, General de Brigada Carrillo de Albornoz was badly wounded in the action and is unlikely to fight again.

On hearing the news of Castanos' retrograde move, Gen Villava commanding the Army of Murcia got cold feet and hastily drew his army back over the Tagus as well, even though his forward cavalry screen had got to La Poveda barely 15 miles from Madrid!

The Army of Andalucia has been obliged to withdraw in some disorder and has gone back south at least as far as Madridejos. Murat's army is presently at Sesena.

Paris.

News from the Tuileries is that Emperor Napoleon himself is furious with how the war is being managed in Spain. It's been announced by unofficial sources that he is preparing to ride south personally to assess the conflicting messages of successes his subordinates keep sending against the actual lack of any useful income from his latest acquisition and constant reports of more cities lost.

Sevilla.

The Junta Central has been established here, in what is being accorded as the temporary capital of Spain. The Junta Central is still dependent on its wishes being put into action by various Junta Provinciales, some of whom are not reliable. However as the richest region of Spain and having her principal entrepôt, the Seville Junta can command some authority. A proclamation has been issued announcing the present political position in absence of a monarch and the establishment of the Army of the Centre and the Army of the Right have both been formally announced, commanded by General Castanos and General Llamas respectively. It is expected that a further new formation, the Army of the Left, will be announced shortly though who its commanding officer will be is not yet clear.

_________________
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
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Mr. Digby

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Re: TURN 6 - Late August 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Oct 23, 2014 8:50 pm

I have updated the list of Controlled/Loyal Settlements in the main rules (Rule 2.4):

http://forum.kriegsspiel.org.uk/t714-campaign-rules#6411

As you can see, at the end of August the French controlled fewer than 10 Spanish settlements. The result for late August is therefore a completely failing campaign for the French.

Big Hint: You guys in blue gotta get out there and capture and hold towns! king

_________________
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
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Mr. Digby

Posts : 4912
Join date : 2012-02-14
Age : 58
Location : UK Midlands

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