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TURN 7 - Early September 1808

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TURN 7 - Early September 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Nov 01, 2014 6:48 pm

Success for the French near Madrid! Toledo Retaken! Castanos and Belvedere Fall Back! Stalemate near Burgos! Spanish Victories at Calahorra and Gerona! English Secure Lisbon!

Action Around Madrid. Spanish Supine. French Advances.

We can report that in recent weeks the French have acted on their earlier triumphs near Madrid and have pushed a strong force comprising parts of General Dupont's corps to Toledo. The Spanish investing the Alcazar fell back over the bridges south-west of the city and Dupont proceeded to mark his presence in the city by ordering the arrest and summary trial of several senior pro-Borbon partisans. The city's population is cowed by these severe acts and all is peaceful again in the old capital of Castila Nueva.

The Conde de Belvedere withdrew his two divisions south-west and his cavalry is watching the city from the left bank of the Tagus; his encampments are clearly visible to the patrolling French light cavalry at night. His troops were no match for Dupont's veterans. Part of Belvedere's army is licking it's wounds near Talavera and making no offensive moves.

South of Madrid there is no news of Castanos' Andalucian army. It too is thought to be in a state of disorder and is recovering from its rough handling on the Tagus near Aranjuez last month.

At Zancara and Montalbo there has been action between a combined arms force under General Grouchy and the Army of Murcia commanded by Villava. Grouchy pushed aggressively south-east to drive the Spanish further from the critical region around the capital but he came up against a large force, well-motivated and in a strong position. After two days of probing and aggressive skirmishing Villava counterattacked, his three divisions, after receiving reinforcements, comprising over 20,000 with 20 guns. Grouchy's Corps was obliged to quickly fall back, though the veteran cavalry general withdrew with skill losing only an insignificant number of casualties while slowing the Spanish advance to a snail's motion. By mid-month his 3,000 infantry, 2,000 heavy cavalry and 12 guns were across the Tagus again near Tarancon. Villava followed up with his cavalry, his 850 horsemen occupying Ucles while his main body remained on the Rio Giguela.

Unrest in the Capital. Wild Rumours of Cuesta's Army!

Pamphlets and posters have been circulated around Madrid issued by General Cuesta. These have been pasted up in many public places and read as follows:

"Proud Bulls of Madrid and the Sierra da Guadarrama.
You are hungry and injured but I feel your Rage and know of your Great Power.
The Fat 'Matador' of France is a vile imposter, who shows you no respect and hides behind a Cape of lies and deceit.
He now stumbles behind the walls of our Rightful King's House. Can you smell his fear?

Today, your brothers of Castile and Leon march to your aid.
Your destiny is now in your hands. Rise up!
Arm yourselves and revolt on the sounds of Spanish Cannon.
We will uncloak this lame fool and impale his soft belly on your sharp horns!

Viva España!!

Teniente General Gregorio García de la Cuesta y Fernández de Celis, Duque de Valladolid"

In some areas of the city there have been wild rumours and extreme unrest; gangs and crowds have gathered and many youths run amok waving Borbon flags and paintings of Ferdinand VII. One night an especially noisy crowd burned an effigy of King Joseph in one of the principal plazas. In other areas, most notably the wealthier districts, the mood has been even more jittery but with less activity. The nobles and intelligensia appear frightened and unable to judge these outbursts. They remain behind their shuttered doors while the working people and tradesmen are more apt to start anti-French acts such as daubing slogans on walls near the Royal Guard barracks. Nonetheless, despite these serious signs of unrest it cannot be said that Madrid is yet in revolt; it is though a cauldron of a strong and volatile mixture, bubbling on a hot fire of Ferdinandist propaganda.

There is also talk of Spanish agents and spies in the city, "Cuesta le está mirando!" goes the cry. Mothers tell their children, "General Cuesta knows what we all do, so be good." Unconfirmed reports from travellers on the road say a huge Spanish army has closed up as near at Villalba only 30 miles from the city! Civilians talk of 40,000 men!

In the French controlled areas and barracks the situation is tense. Marshal Murat drew General Ruby's old corps out of the city at the beginning of the month, for unknown purposes. This has left only the King's Royal Guard Corps to keep the peace which it is only just managing to do. However the superb battlefield reputation of these soldiers is enough to disperse any crowds or gangs upon mention of them approaching.

Nonetheless His Majesty's closest advisers are counselling that His Majesty withdraws to Burgos as soon as he is well enough to travel.

Burgos. All is quiet. Communications to the Capital Still Cut.

The French maintain an easy hold on this fine fortress and it's crucial road network. General Verdier's corps is disposed along the line of the Rio Carrion to the west watching General Blake's Army of Galicia. Verdier has 15,000 troops, Blake 22,000 but Blake must attack to break his enemy's position. There is talk coming from Santiago and Vigo however that recently large reserve forces have been released for operations and now march east under Blake's orders. How soon before they arrive at the Carrion position? How soon before Blake unleashes his lions?

It's known that part of Verdier's corps is made up of regiments from the exceptional Polish Vistula Legion and Blake is rumoured to be nervous about these famous troops, having heard how badly the Russians have suffered at their hands.

South of the fortress the news is not good. In August it was thought that pro-Borbon bandits were active in the mountains and had cut the road to Aranda but more recent news claims that Spanish army cavalry is in the region and one regiment of dragoons has been mentioned that belongs to Cuesta's army. Swiss infantry belonging to Marechal Bessieres' command garrison Aranda. Their patrols have skirmished with the Spanish cavalry about 15 miles north of the town but they cannot break through the enemy line and escort couriers past. Madrid remains cut off from Burgos.

Action in the Ebro Valley and near Espinosa. Palafox Victorious! Bessieres Defeated! Spanish Rejoicing!

A major clash of arms has taken place at Calahorra a few miles west of Tudela. Three divisions of Marechal Bessieres' corps were in pursuit of parts of Palafox's Army of Aragon in a move to drive the Spanish back from Miranda and force it to battle. However it appears this may have been a clever plan by the Spanish commander as additional troops were called out of Zaragosa's garrison and when the Spanish turned to make a stand on the only good ground they could find, Bessieres' troops attacked against greater numbers than they anticipated and were comprehensively thrown back. Despite having more and better cavalry the French infantry was woefully outnumbered. Palafox's shaky infantry having been beaten in July was not confident but all they had to do was hold a ridge and resist the powerful cavalry attacks. Some units broke but there were enough reserves to fill the gaps in the line and by early afternoon the French withdrew back up the highway towards Miranda having suffered the crucial loss of two complete artillery batteries in this battle. Reports indicate that the French fielded 8,000 infantry in two divisions and 2,500 cavalry with 30 guns. The Spanish army was approximately 15,000 infantry and 1,000 poor quality cavalry also with 30 guns.

The result of this battle opens up several possibilities for Spanish operations in the north.

Cataluna; Cat, Mouse and Rat.

The fortified port of Rosas' garrison is close to starvation and collapse. The commander, Colonel O'Donnel, has sent out a negotiator under flag of truce. The situation agreed with the besieging forces is that the citadel will surrender if no relief force arrives by the end of September. The defenders are still bravely holding their lines though; rats they may be but cornered they will fight.

At Gerona the second French siege has been lifted! Church bells rang with jubilation as the Franco-Italian force commanded by General Reille was obliged to abandon it's siege lines and fall back north toward Rosas. This retrograde move caught many by surprise. Reille sent one of his Italian divisions north to Figueras early in the month when he lost communications with that fortress at the beginning of September. His supplies were not getting through. The Italians of General Lechi secured the road between Rosas and Figueras after skirmishing with a strong force of guerillas who they drove away from the main highway. With Lechi's division absent however, and facing 16,000 Catalan troops moving bullishly north from Hostalrich, Reille took the decision to concentrate his corps at Rosas, reduce that place first, then return to the offensive. The cat has retreated to his den.

Gerona may only have been given a brief respite but the insurgents and regular army wagon trains are moving into the city. General Vives may establish a stronger garrison there as well, but he now holds the line of the Rio Ter in strength and has contact with active guerilla bands on the north bank. The mouse for now is free to play.

A strong reserve force of Spanish troops has arrived at Balaguer, south west of Tarragona. It is known that Capitan-General Llamas is commanding this army but it isn't clear if this is a Valencian force or another part of the Army of the Right.

The Asturias

General Acevedo has spent the past weeks getting his straggling army back in order but this is a slow process due to the poor mountain region it is now in. As September draws on the first white caps of winter cover the loftiest peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains. A weak division of Spaniards has conducted a cautious reconaissance along the hill road to Espinosa and found it empty of French but it's thought that Acevedo does not have a strong enough force at his disposal to take advantage of the absence of the enemy in the region.

Other parts of his army cower in Santander, morale is low among many Asturian units after their shock retreat in August rattled many nerves.

A Backstop Defence of Irun and Bayonne is Made!

Part of Marechal Bessieres' corps has been ordered to make a forced march to Irun and the division arrived at the town during the second week in September. Irun is strongly held but lacks a cavalry force to patrol towards Pampluna.

The commander of the garrison of San Sebastian was ordered to send some of his troops to Irun but refused! He claimed he did not have enough men of sufficient quality to keep the port secure if he sent some units away. It would seem that the French garrisons in the Pyrenees are at a threadbare level.

Lisbon.

The army of Sir John Moore has landed at the quays and has marched inland to a newly laid-out camp north of the city where the scurillous redcoats are being drilled and acclimatised to this foreign heat. Sir John is training his men in the rocky barren hills west of Alhandra teaching them improved light infantry tactics.

Sir Arthur Wellesley is dealing with correspondence regarding a force of Spanish prisoners he has found in Lisbon, and overseeing the march of General Junot's surrendered French to the port and aboard English transports. Two cavalry probes have been ordered however, one north towards Coimbra and Oporto and one east towards the Spanish border at Castello Branco.

In Lisbon Portuguese units are now arriving and being allocated to camps and compounds. More men are being recruited and English sergeants can be heard yelling at the men, drilling them into shape. New uniforms are arriving on cargo vessels as well as crates of muskets and barrels of powder.

No apparent progress has been made yet on the Portuguese cavalry and artillery which are the two weakest branches of their army.

All Quiet in Seville. Why is the Junta not Acting?

Given the power it now wields the Central Junta has been remarkably inactive in September. It confirmed the appointments of General Llamas and General Castanos to the command of the new Armies of the Right and Centre respectively but has apparently made no more effort in establishing the components and commander of the Army of the Left, nor of issuing any high-level instructions for the conduct of the war. Are the Junta members content to pocket high salaries and do nothing?


Last edited by Mr. Digby on Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:24 pm; edited 2 times in total

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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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Re: TURN 7 - Early September 1808

Post  Iberalc on Sun Nov 02, 2014 4:33 pm

Some of these Señoritos from the Junta Central even think theay are not properly paid and get succulent profits selling army stores and exceptions for the army, so that wealthy people won't have to join the fight against our invader. Corruption is a plague.
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Re: TURN 7 - Early September 1808

Post  Martin on Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:05 pm

Excellent flavour in these turn reports, Diggers. It's a very efficient and enjoyable way of keeping us all up to date in a general sense.

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Re: TURN 7 - Early September 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Sun Nov 02, 2014 8:32 pm

I couldn't do it any other way. Privately sent reports different for each of the 20 or so players would make my brain fry.

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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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Re: TURN 7 - Early September 1808

Post  Uncle Billy on Sun Nov 02, 2014 9:08 pm

Digby wrote:would make my brain fry
Hannibal Lecter would approve. affraid

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Re: TURN 7 - Early September 1808

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