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TURN 12 - Late November 1808

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TURN 12 - Late November 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Sat Feb 14, 2015 5:01 pm

Winter Weather Strikes in the Mountains! Snow in the Highlands. Rain in Low-lying Regions Turns Roads to Mud. Several Armies Enter Winter Quarters but Others Continue to March. Napoleon Does Not Rest!


This region of Spain remains quiet. A few contacts are being made by French and Spanish cavalry patrols south of Rosas but there appears to be no other events of note and the armies remain at rest, licking their wounds. There are reports that General Junot, Duc d'Abrantes who commanded the ill-fated corps that occupied Lisbon last year has been seen in Perpignan. It's known that his men were transported back to Rochefort as part of the dubious Convention of Cintra signed with the British following the battle of Vimerio and it is possible that his corps, newly rebuilt, has already marched south.

The harsh weather has done nothing to lessen the activity of the miquelets bands who are active in the eastern Pyrenees. North of Gerona is their country; "bandit territory" and hardly a French messenger can ride or a forage party go out without drawing attention from the brigands in the mountains. The constant petite-guerre of dealing with these bloodthirsty cut-throats is showing in the tired and harassed faces of some French officers and their men.

The Armies of Cataluna and Valencia remain in barracks with only small patrols being sent out. It's known that General Llamas has written to the Junta complaining of several of his infantry regiments being weak in numbers. The Junta's response is not known.

Lerida! Enemies Watch Each Other at the Rio Cinca!

This small fortress is well stocked with supplies and has a confident garrison. This is as well since French cavalry patrols have been sighted across the Rio Cinca at Mequinensa and Monzon. A Spanish brigade of cavalry that had ridden west to observe Zaragossa has been withdrawn to west of Lerida and these men plus a weak division of Spaniards with newly supplied artillery are watching the French across the tumbling swollen waters of the Cinca.

Saragossa. Royal Action at Last!

Like a beehive poked with a stick, all is bustling activity in the city as Marechal Moncey sends out many cavalry units on patrols and strengthens his minor garrisons to the south and east.

What is newsworthy is that King Joseph is in the city and has made plans to rejoin his brother. His Majesty intends to depart the city in December and journey to Miranda. His Royal Guards and a whole corps of cavalry are said to be travelling with him. His baggage trayne includes many wagons of state documents, archives and paraphernalia of the Madrid government with officials, courtiers and fine ladies in splendid carriages. The miquelets know of the planned march already it seems but with such a powerful escort it is not thought there will be any unfortunate events on the road through Tudela and Logrono.

Calatayud! Deadlock in the Hills!

A strong French garrison, warm in the Tavernas and grain houses converted to barracks, continues to hold this place. In the hills south of the town freezing cold Spanish cavalrymen huddle under British army blankets and riding cloaks as they sit astride their small wiry ponies and keep watch over the enemy garrison. There has been no significant activity here by either side.

Toledo! When will this Hellish Siege End?

The cold of winter has brought a new element of misery for the defenders and attackers alike. However it has been noted by General Conde de Belvedere's men encircling the Alcazar that French activity has recently dwindled and it is possible that the defenders are nearing the limits of their endurance. For now the cannons are silent and rest under canvas awnings as the attackers send small patrols of Cacadores close to the foot of the damaged building to bring back news of the garrison's will to continue.

Valladolid! The British Arrive!

The city has special reason to rejoice! Last summer it suffered frightful deprivations after the fateful battle there as the French army ransacked and destroyed the Spanish grain warehouses. However these have been rebuilt and restocked by General Cuesta's tireless and enthusiastic men. This task had been completed just in time to celebrate the arrival of a British army into the city commanded by Lieutenant-General Sir John Moore, the famed light infantryman. A curiously attired body of sharpshooters dressed all in dark green, wearing black cross-belts and with dark green plumes atop their hats led the English column. These, the Spanish learned, are the famous 95th Regiment which carries not muskets but rifled firearms, each able to shoot a fowl from its flight at 100 paces, or a French officer from his horse at 200!

A column of smart light cavalrymen and a powerful artillery train accompanies Sir John's troops.

The English officer has already exchanged letters with leading Spanish generals in the region but how and where his corps is to be employed alongside his allies is not known.

Burgos! Siege Lifted! General Verdier's Corps Saved! Bonaparte Arrives!

With the news that a strong screen of French light cavalry was pressing down the road from Miranda, a blocking force of Spanish at Gamonal was withdrawn. Behind the French horsemen bodies of fleet-footed voltigeurs and horse artillery batteries supported the advancing screen. Locals advised General Blake that 40,000 Frenchmen were coming led by the hated "Corsican Dwarf" himself, and the Spanish commander had no choice but to lift the siege and withdraw his army west. The strong Spanish Army of the Left has gone away along the road to Carrion and Leon, though a few cavalry remain in the rear in contact with the French at the fortress.

The French force did indeed comprise a mighty host and Napoleon himself entered the beleaguered city to hoarse cheers and weak exclamations of "Vive l'Empereur!" from the starving garrison. What His Imperial Majesty found there would crush the heart of any lesser man - vast mass graves of thousands of citizens of the city, the dead lying in the streets, inert and frozen under quiet and respectful dustings of frost; the soldiers of the garrison, once a proud army corps are reduced to less than 9,000 men, none of them fit for combat. All the artillery draft horses were eaten long ago and many men were driven to boiling their own leather straps and eating vermin from the gutters to stay alive.

Nonetheless, Napoleon was met at the foot of the steps of the parlement building, used by the garrison as their headquarters, by General Verdier. Somehow the general had got a clean uniform and though he was thin and pale, he saluted to his Emperor with pride.

"Sire," he smiled, "I present to you the IV Corps - and the city of Burgos!"

Napoleon was visibly pleased that the city and fortress had been so stoutly defended.

It is quite clear however that the Army of Madrid has arrived not a moment too soon - two more weeks would have seen the surrender of the city, that seems certain.

However all is not well. In the hills above the fortress the local bandits are already active watching the marching columns, counting flags, officers and the bright glistening cannon barrels. The miquelets send off runners south and west to send news of what they can observe.

To the south-west of the city along the Valladolid highway there is contact between French light cavalry and British and Spanish horsemen. They are said to have a forward base at Venta del Pozo with supporting formations at Duenas.

Has Napoleon arrived just in time to be brought to battle?

Asturias and the Cantabrian Hills! Santander and Reynosa!

General Acevedo's Army of the Asturias has reached the coast road west of Santander and north of Reynosa and is resting, licking its wounds. Supply traynes are finally arriving from Oviedo and the most badly wounded and sick have been sent there on carts. However to the south, down a mountain road that runs to the coast from Reynosa, French light cavalry are already approaching and watch their enemy from the coastal hills.

At Reynosa itself it is reported that Marechal Ney is assembling a powerful force. The Marechal has met with some difficulties this high in the mountains and has experienced some skirmishes with the local irregular troops that are styled "guerilleros" or "guerillas". The name of one; "El Profesor" (the teacher) is heard again and again as the man to fear in these wind-blasted valleys.

From Reynosa mounted scouting parties have been sent down every road and hillside trail. Down on the plains of northern Leon lies the slumbering market town of Saldanha. A garrison of Spanish infantry holds the place and their commander was shocked one cold morning when his sentries shouted that enemy cavalry was approaching from the north! A brigade of French chasseurs has come down from the hills and cut off the town, cutting the Leon to Burgos road. The garrison still holds the town however.

The French cavalry commander was alerted to bad news a day later when he was told that his supply line back to Reynosa had been cut by bandit activity!

At Santander there is nothing to report. English and French cavalry picquets and skirmish parties glare at each other across the rugged hillsides and ravines. Neither side is making any move.


The siege continues without any sign of weakness on either side. The bad weather has meant that losses from disease and wounds have risen sharply and both the garrison and the besiegers are suffering severe losses. The defenders of the city appear to have a plentiful supply of men - it is as though an entire army defends the place. By contrast the attackers in their siege lines and trenches seem to be outnumbered considerably.

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 12 - Late November 1808

Post  Mr. Digby on Thu Feb 19, 2015 11:37 am

The French have secured a number of previously Spanish-controlled settlements this turn. They have now 12 settlements under control and connected by LoC to Bayonne or Perpignan. The campaign in late November was Moderately Successful for the French.

The list of controlled settlements in the rules has been updated.

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

Posts : 4933
Join date : 2012-02-14
Age : 58
Location : UK Midlands

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