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TURN 9 - Early October 1808

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TURN 9 - Early October 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:30 pm

All of Spain Celebrates! Madrid Freed! Bells Ring Out! King Joseph Flees to Zaragosa! Entire Corps of General Dupont is Captured Near Sesena! Another Battlefield Victory for Spain at Gerona! Napoleon Arrives at Bayonne! A New French Offensive to Come?

October has seen a clear drop in temperatures on high ground and some contrary seas and winds, especially in the Bay of Biscay and off the Portuguese coast. Rainfall over the mountains has caused many rivers to rise.

Madrid! Joseph Flees! Dupont Made Prisoner! Spies Executed!

Around Madrid however the French have finally faced a very dry reality. The lack of troops to hold the line of the Tagus saw this river barrier breached in several places by aggressive Spanish armies and the cry on many lips was "Where is Murat? The Marechal has fled!" Many consider Murat's strategic movement of Moncey's corps to attack Zaragosa as a vehicle by which he signed his own passport out of the trap around Madrid leaving King Joseph to narrowly escape capture by hours and loyal General Dupont to fall into the enemy's clutches.

Marechal Murat has now left Spain having taken himself off on "sick leave". His many critics are having a field day at his expense though from Imperial Headquarters there is no comment.

The situation around the capital reached its climactic finale in early October. Multiple Spanish forces advanced from the west, north-west, south-east and south towards the glittering spires of the city while a determined fragment of Dupont's corps held out in the Alcazar in Toledo. Just south of the city, on the 6th, General Dupont, at the head of 6,000 men and eight guns, was surrounded by Spanish troops and after a day of negotiations was forced to surrender unconditionally. Several cannon complete with horse teams and ammunition wagons were handed over and two carts of colours and eagles were sent triumphantly to Seville by General Castaños as evidence of his victory.

General Cuesta was the first to enter the city from the north on the 7th while cavalry from General Villava's corps appeared in the southern districts later the same day. The riotous populace went wild with joy and there was an orgy of celebration from the bells of the greatest church to happy dancing in the lowliest peasant quarter.

King Joseph, Gen. Grouchy and the Royal Court had made a most fortuitous escape only the day before, with the king went a long trayne of heavily laden wagons carrying many treasures, works of art, sculptures and vast stacks of administration papers. Troops of one of Villava's divisions attempted to disrupt the Royal Retreat near La Poveda but Gen. Grouchy's powerful cavalry escort brushed them aside and the column pushed resolutely on along the Zaragosa road. Elsewhere Gen. San Juan of the Army of Granada attempted a blocking position further north at Alcala but on his arrival he learned that his prize had already slipped by. The most recent reports place the withdrawing French column near Aviza and there is so much disruption from celebrating citizens that the Spanish armies cannot move; many officers have abandoned their units and joined the merry-making while multitudes of military supply carts stand idle, their drivers sampling local delights in tavernas and night-houses! Spanish army administration in the region of the capital has temporarily collapsed.

There have been darker events as well, in some parts of the city the property of pro-Bonapartists; houses, shops and industries have been looted and put to the torch while there have been multiple hangings of pro-French sympathisers. In one especially shocking incident a powerful and well-known nobleman, Manual de Vargas y Fernandez, Conde de Aguilar was set upon by a mob when it was shouted that he was a spy. Men waved sheets of paper and among the gentleman's correspondence were letters from King Joseph's court instructing the Conde to lie to Spanish General Blake about his political intentions. The man was feeding the Army of Galicia false information about French troop strengths and locations and had insinuated himself into Gen. Blake's trust such that the command of a Spanish army division had been offered to him! The poor man was hanged in the square from a tree by the baying crowd and his body left to dangle there a week, with a card around its neck proclaiming "TRAITOR!"

A small party of French troops are holding out in the Arsenal de Monteleon. General de Brigade Lavasseur and two battalions of the Marines of the Guard, about 800 men in all, have barricaded themselves inside. There is fresh water in a deep well in the grounds and apparently plenty of food in the storehouses.

A determined brigade of French are also holding out in the Alcazar citadel in Toledo. They are the last remnant of Dupont's corps whose commander has bluntly refused to obey Dupont's order to surrender with the rest of his men.

Portugal. Where are These English?

There is still no news of British armies crossing the border and observers in Lisbon claim the British politicians and the Junta Central are haggling over details of how many peacocks Seville is to supply for each British division, or some other convoluted nonsense. Many in high circles are becoming unhappy at the delays and it's claimed the men of the Junta are getting nervous due to this lack of progress. In the past Juntas have been toppled by disillusioned citizens!

Nevertheless an English merchant vessel, the 'Mercator', has docked in Cadiz to land ashore eight six-pound cannon and a number of limbers and caissons. There were also several crates of muskets packed in greased paper and many rolls of cloth for uniforms. It seems the English supplies are now finally beginning to arrive.

In the port of Barcelona as well, there was evidence of co-operation between English ship captains and officials of the Junta: two companies of Spanish artillery sent from their Reserve Army of Andalucía and carried on the English traders 'John O'Gaunt' and 'Restormel Castle' disembarked and prepared to join the Army of Cataluña, which lacks many cannon. 'Bellona', 74 and 'Thetis', 38 lay in the roadstead as escort to this small convoy.

Sevilla! Artillery Production Increases!

The Spanish have only one cannon foundry in their whole country and it is at Seville. Here they cast cannon based on the system of Monsieur Gribeauval, the plans for these being given over when France and Spain enjoyed happier relations. The foundry and carpentry workshops are working at maximum capacity in the need to supply more guns to the armies. Cannon, however, are not the real issue - they are easy to make - it is trained gunners and engineers the Spanish lack.

Battle Near Gerona! French Driven Back!

The Cataluña campaign continues! French attempt to approach Gerona fails!

A major action took place on the 9th when a powerful corps of French advanced south after capturing Rosas. Gen. Gouvion Saint-Cyr was in command and he cleverly found a ford several miles downriver of the small town of Murcia with the intent of pinning the Spanish under Gen. Vives in place with a frontal demonstration across the Puente de Rosas while rolling up his right flank from the south. Unbeknownst to the French, however, the Army of Valencia under Capitan-General Llamas had arrived to support the Catalans only a day or two earlier and with this additional force, and after a prolonged and violent battle, part of which involved ferocious mêlées and bayonet rushes in the streets of the town, the French were driven back over the river with heavy loss.

Saint-Cyr has retreated to Rosas, falling back on his additional line-of-communication brigades. Llamas and Vives remain near Gerona, patching up their battered army.

Burgos, Verdier Trapped?

At Burgos, the critical city-fortress on the shortest route of march from Bayonne to Madrid, the French Gen. Verdier has withdrawn his corps inside the fortifications in the face of the much more numerous Galician Army of Gen. Blake. Blake may have five divisions but his troops have yet to fight a battle of any size and are still green; he also lacks cavalry. Verdier's cavalry division did not enter the city but fell back along the Miranda road, with Blake's much smaller mounted contingent attempting to pursue but the stronger French cavalry force easily halted this push at Galmonal.

The question commentators ask is, who will save Verdier?

March and Counter-march in the Upper Ebro Valley.

At Espinosa and San Milan Gen. Acevedo remains observing Miranda, his cavalry pushing down the roads to let their officers espy the town through their field glasses. In that town news has reached us that Marechal Bessieres has gone back to France under a cloud of mistrust from no lesser person than the Emperor himself because of his failure to take Zaragosa, the loss of Pampluna and the defeat at Calahorra. In his place Marechal Soult, Duc d'Istria has arrived, bringing with him a number of new formations and sending back to France those troops considered not of front-line quality. A major reorganisation of the troops at Miranda del Ebro has taken place and Soult now leads the newly designated II Corps, a much more powerful entity than the battered force Bessieres left behind.

La Romana on the March!

From Santander Gen. La Romana has advanced his fresh new 'Division del Norte' to Castro Urdilaes and from that place is preparing to move again to support Acevedo. Other elements of Acevedo's army occupy Santander and Bilbao.

Bayonne!

On the border no less a person than Emperor Napoleon has been seen riding forth to the heights above Irun where he has set up a forward headquarters with tents, map tables, a stables for messengers mounts and a host of other impedimenta appropriate to such a powerful person. Nearby the Chasseurs a Cheval de la Garde police the area in their splendid cherry red uniforms, maintaining a tight security for their commander.

Around Bayonne it is said that no less than three corps d'armee lie encamped - the 1st under Marechal Victor, the 5th under Marechal Mortier and the 6th under the famous Duc de Elchingen, Marechal Ney. Several divisions of dragoons are already ahead and patrolling the roads to San Sebastian and Vitoria. It seems only a matter of weeks - or even days - before this powerful host is set in motion - but to what end? Will the Emperor retake Madrid, seek to engage and destroy the various Spanish armies, or will he dispose his corps and divisions so that he can capture as many cities as possible, to suppress the Spanish rebellion? It is impossible to divine his strategy.

Latest News! Stop Press! Shocking Events at Zaragosa! City Falls to a Violent Assault!

News has just reached us that the corps of Marechal Moncey has attacked Zaragosa! The French demanded the surrender of the city when they arrived there at the very end of September. One day was given for the garrison commander and political leaders of the city to accept their terms of unconditional surrender. When no response was offered and the Borbon flag remained flying above the walls, the French made secret plans for an immediate attack. Over several days they watched the walls for weak points and then deployed the bulk of their artillery at the west perimeter, opening a heavy bombardment. Three days later there was a surprise dawn assault from the east, an unexpected quarter. The French leading assault companies of engineers and grenadiers suffered terrible losses but nothing could quench their élan and men scrambled over the walls and the heaps of dead and dying to break into the city. The most dreadful hand to hand fighting erupted, men stabbing, lunging and even biting at each other in an animal-like frenzy of mutual hatred. Such awful scenes have never before been seen in modern warfare! Is this a sign of the worsening standards of behaviour between these two implacable enemies?

The garrison commander, Mariscal de Campo de Marques de Obispo had far too few men to defend each strong-point that demanded to be held. He struck his sword against a cannon barrel and cursed General Palafox for removing the Miquelets Division from the city last month. Without those men Obispo couldn't hold the line everywhere. The French suffered very heavy losses, some observers report around 1 man in 5, amounting to nearly 3,500 killed, wounded and missing. The defenders however were overwhelmed. 1,200 of the garrison fell or were wounded, along with more than 4,000 citizens who took up arms to defend their homes. People even crawled onto roofs to hurl stones and tiles down on the heads of the attackers as their columns charged along the narrow streets.

It was a dreadful spectacle, the acts of cruelty and violence on both sides defy description, churches and other religious houses seemed to be especially targeted by the French soldiers, some perhaps in search of loot, some perhaps in search of more despicable pleasures.

The fighting lasted over a week until it became clear to the defenders that further resistance would only cause more suffering. General Obispo is numbered among the slain as well as his chief artillery commander Capitan Tranco. On the 10th the Mayor surrendered the city. An orgy of looting and destruction followed and the French forces were not placed back under discipline and control until the 14th by which time more rich houses had been reduced to ashes and the supply depot of the Army of Aragon had been consumed by flames.

Marechal Moncey is victorious but in its damaged state the city cannot yet be used as a place of supply. With Madrid fallen the French are out of supply.

On 15th October Spanish cavalry of General Palafox's army was reported across the Jalon river near Mallen. The Spanish too lack enough military supplies to advance, unless they can use the grain warehouses at Pampluna.


Last edited by Mr. Digby on Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:40 pm; edited 6 times 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
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Mr. Digby

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Re: TURN 9 - Early October 1808

Post  Ike on Mon Dec 15, 2014 9:46 pm

Thank you, Mr. Digby. And a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you and to all of our friends here and around the world. As Dickens had Tiny Tim say, "God bless us, every one!". santa
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Ike

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Re: TURN 9 - Early October 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Dec 18, 2014 10:37 pm

First post updated.

Turn 10 - late October is going to open in a low-key manner as I don't wish to clog up people's holiday/new year socialising and family-time with MP games and e-mails with me whining for you to send back your orders! So the turn will open and I'll send out updated OOBs and sitreps but you can respond in your own time. I will officially start to seek orders from you and other letters, etc on 2nd January 2015.

I'll be sending out the OOBs and any specific sitreps before Xmas, but no rush to respond.

_________________
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 9 - Early October 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Dec 20, 2014 4:11 pm

Section 2.4 of the rules has been updated to reflect the present status of settlements controlled:

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

The French are down to only five Spanish/Portuguese settlements controlled and in communications with France. They hold four more but these are cut off. The result for campaign turn 9 ending in mid-October is therefore... French campaign 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
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Posts : 4912
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Location : UK Midlands

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Re: TURN 9 - Early October 1808

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