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26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mr. Digby on Mon Nov 16, 2015 7:42 pm



The Spanish Position.

Key:

1 - Redoubt #1, most northern defence (divided into two parts by the road).
2 - Redoubt #2 covering Asparn village (divided into two parts by the road).
3 - Redoubt #3 covering the far right flank.
4 - Redoubt #4 between Asparn and the Pass (divided into two parts by the road).
5 - Redoubt #5, a large work that protects the right rear of #2 and supports the left flank of #3.
6 - Redoubt #6 that covers the far right flank and the rear of Redoubts #3 and #5.
7 - Redoubt #7 that is sited right in the pass itself between two impassable woods.

AG - Areizaga Division, Girón Brigade.
AM - Areizaga Division, Mendoza Brigade.
AS - Areizaga Division, Schramm Brigade.
A - Areizaga Division, Artillery.

CR - Coupigny Division, Ricardos Brigade.
CGi - Coupigny Division, Girón Brigade.
CGu - Coupigny Division, Gulas Brigade.
C - Coupigny Division, Artillery.

LA - Lapeña Division, Abarca Brigade.
LU - Lapeña Division, Ulloa Brigade.

J - Jones Division.
LC - Las Casas Division (Cavalry).

The French assault up the Pass of Somosierra was that kind of event about which poets will write, musicians compose and artists paint. Soldiers of this battle will tell their tales of triumph, tragedy, fear and excitement for years to come in taverns and fine houses. The Frenchmen were unstoppable and stormed the Spanish works with elan and daring. Once they had broken through the first redoubt nothing seemed able to stop them. Possibly a weakness of the Spanish defence was to divide the responsibility of holding the line into a left and right flank. The Spanish left flank was Coupigny's 2nd division and it held responsibility for redoubt Nos.1 and 2 (at the foot of the hill and at the village of Asparn respectively) but could do little about the belt of woods on the extreme west side of the valley through which French tirailleurs scampered like mountain goats. The main road was held as stoutly as it could be and redoubt No.2 saw some tough fighting before it was captured. On the right Areizaga's 1st division was responsible for redoubt Nos.3 (far right) and 5 (behind and to the right rear of No.2). At the top of the pass Lapeña's 4th division occupied redoubt Nos.4 and 7 (astride the road south of Asparn and at the top of the pass respectively) and No.6 (to the extreme right rear covering the rear of redoubts 3 and 5).

Fatally the junction line of the Spanish 1st and 2nd divisions was where the French pressure was greatest and on the French left forces were sent against redoubt No.3 to prevent Areizaga's men from assisting the other flank or influencing the fight for the road. Areizaga failed to hold redoubt No.5 at all, the 4 Swiss battalions posted there appear to have fallen back before hardly defending it. Possibly by this point so many Spanish units were falling back that the men's resolve failed them entirely.

Napoleon and Marechal Victor grasped the essential point of the attack and urged their tired men directly up the road to seize the pass and close off the Spaniards escape route. Two squadrons of the Polish Light Horse and one squadron of Guard Chasseurs a Cheval contributed to the destruction of the Spanish centre at the critical moment - Lapeña personally got one battalion of the Murcia Regiment into square inside redoubt No.7 only for the men to flee as the Chasseurs charged them. Not even Spanish squares would stand firm amid the chaos of smoke, screams, running men and thundering horses. High up on the slopes 18 cannon of 4th division were deployed but these only fired a handful of shots before a charge by the French cavalry caused the gunners to limber up their cannon and flee for their lives. On the Spanish right in redoubt No.6 Capitán Longila's battery of 6 12-pound guns was captured where they stood having hardly fired at all. Their exit track to the pass was sealed by the French occupying redoubt No.7. Two whole battalions of grenadiers positioned in the same redoubt became prisoners as well.

When the collapse came it was sudden and complete, Spaniards fleeing in disorder over the pass and scrambling across the tree covered rocky slopes to either flank, casting aside muskets, packs and anything else that slowed them down.

General Coupigny was wounded badly in the thigh by a musket ball and carried away from the battle in agony on an artillery caisson (Pepe's avatar was killed in game and he respawned in the far south). General of Brigade Pedro Girón of Areizaga's division was killed in action, falling under a hail of sword blows and bayonet thrusts as he led the defence of redoubt No.3 (Jeff's avatar was killed in game as well).

Below the pass Felix Jones' 3rd division was in reserve. Castaños ordered him forwards but his men arrived just as the Spanish centre crumbled and his men merely added traffic to the already crowded road as troops and units tumbled back down the hill.

Castaños army was saved from total destruction by the presence of Luis de las Casas' 9th Cavalry Division made up mostly of regular horse and dragoon regiments. These 2,500 troopers guarded the lower slopes and let the river of refugees flow past them. In the afternoon French light cavalry came up to the pass and were posted to face las Casas but daylight had faded and fighting died down, the Spanish retreating into the night and the victorious French gathering up many thousands of prisoners, mostly from Areizaga's division that had been trapped on the east side of the pass. A few battalions of Coupigny's division also became prisoners.

General Areizaga was captured and both his surviving brigade commanders, Mendoza and Schramm, also. In a cruel twist of fortunes the four Swiss battalions of the regiments Preux and Wimpffen surrendered in a body, General Schramm at their head. These infantry had been taken into French service in late 1807 when the French invaded Spain for the first time and they served last summer in the corps of General Dupont. They had returned to Spanish service when Dupont surrendered the remnants of his corps north of Toledo in October. Now Schramm once again offered his sword to the French and it seems likely these regiments will enter the service of France for a second time, these foreign soldiers having been mercenaries for many years. It is most unlikely any Spaniard will serve France and the rest of the 4,500 prisoners taken this day will no doubt be sent to Burgos fortress.

The Army of Andalucia has been struck a severe blow; like a heavy wound in battle this injury may prove mortal. 1st division is all but destroyed, 2nd division and 4th have each lost a battery of guns and both these formations have also lost units taken prisoner. Jones' 3rd division is intact but his is the least competent of the four and his artillery drivers have joined the stampede along the road to Madrid. The battered brigades of 4th division and the cavalry are about the only coherent formations. The army has fled to Madrid throwing the city into a frightful panic. It is unlikely that Castaños will be able to rally his men even there, such is the fevered mood in the capital.

I took too many screenshots to upload them all individually so I have zipped them into an archive and uploaded them to my Dropbox.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/i4r6pfk7z803sfl/03%20Somosierra%20Early%20Mar%2009.rar?dl=0

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"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: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  skelos on Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:08 pm

Great battle summary and screenshots!

Thanks,
Tom W.
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Uncle Billy on Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:14 pm

There are some nice pictures in there Martin.

the 4 Swiss battalions posted there appear to have fallen back before hardly defending it. Possibly by this point so many Spanish units were falling back that the men's resolve failed them entirely.
These units were in redoubt 5 and were holding back Tom, keeping him from advancing along side me. I sent 2 fresh line battalions along with a skirmish unit to clear out the obstacle. A mere touch of the bayonet sent these red coated traitors flying. If it were up to me, I'd welcome them back into the army with a noose. Twisted Evil

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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mark87 on Mon Nov 16, 2015 8:21 pm

Hmm, perhaps Palmer but I didn't say win the battle, in regards to casualties, I said get to the top of the pass. If you had been able to deploy even 3 or 4 more battalions initially Kevin would not have been able to take that first redoubt as quickly and without the need to exhaust most of his division. If that fight, aided by skirmishers, is a little stiffer we don't take the pass with 20 minutes to spare.

It's funny, we have differing perspectives-I understand we have fabulous troops but for awhile we had suffered approximately 1,000 casualties and inflicted about 2,800-3,000 and we were stalling in front of that third redoubt. We were all terribly concerned that we could not breach the line in time. Kevin was exhausted, Sean fell victim to the river monster and was only really engaging his first brigade-the Guard was put into action to try and push the thing through.

If you had been able to keep Kevin's skirmishers back or do some damage to them he wouldn't have had enough ump for the final push. The guard cavalry only broke through because I was watching Kevin shoot up the Spanish line formations with his skirmishers for 30 minutes or so and I saw a couple Spanish battalions falling back-so I knew they were on the edge of breaking. When they broke they broke like dominos!

Anyway that is my perspective as French commander, it was a near run thing that looks lopsided because of the end-good fight by all.
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mark87 on Mon Nov 16, 2015 9:10 pm

Oh btw, artillery. The Spanish seemed to be targeting the our guns, which wasn't effective. artillery strikes all over our batteries. I had my guns to target infantry and they were doing good execution.
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Guest on Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:02 pm

I am sorry that I had to leave. I'm a fire fighter and when duty calls we must go.

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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mr. Digby on Mon Nov 16, 2015 11:20 pm

As commander of 4th division I let the AI battery commanders choose their targets. I thought in this situation the French columns would give us a longer butchers bill.


I was again frustrated by my artillery not shooting very much despite having apparently good LoS to French troops advancing out of Asparn.

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"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: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Iberalc on Tue Nov 17, 2015 4:30 pm

I wouldn't have said anything if I were not a 100% sure:

The squadron is off the road and in line. It charges too far from the road IMHO. It is almost 6 minutes between the start of the charge and the time it starts to move towards the road.

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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mark87 on Tue Nov 17, 2015 6:40 pm

I know exactly what you're talking about now and that was a third squadron that wasn't TCed that charged off the road. I did not see the amount of damage that little bugger did Shocked haha There was another incident at the last redoubt where a german squadron charged completely to the west. In this video, when I noticed one of my squadrons I thought was in reserve was running amuck, I sent a steady stream of couriers and they were dying so I rode over and had to tc the squadron to bring them under control.

They were given "defend" orders because I was TCing only two squadrons at a time. I'm not sure what you want me to do when my couriers weren't getting there (you can see them in your movie dying) and I had to ride over TC them and move them back (which is also captured in your movie).

Digby can assess the ramifications! Send the material to him, note that I attempted to fully comply with all rules and I even tried to play historical with the cavalry (such as only using my escort squadron for the first two hours of gameplay).

My apologies but with the mechanics of the game there will always be accidents. That's good video though (shows the Spanish dying haha). I'd recommend emailing Martin!
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Nov 17, 2015 7:47 pm

When you first mentioned it Pepe and I watched the replay I saw these squadrons active well off the road. The charge shown in your video was the one that collapsed my command and routed my guns. There have been significant additional casualties suffered by these cavalry due to horses falling or breaking legs on the bad terrain and riders killed or injured by being thrown.

I still feel as though the battle played out reasonably well and of course history tells us these cavalry did a great deal of harm in the real battle.

Finally now that Napoleon has added these Poles to his guard that is another regiment of excellent light cavalry that will bugger off with him when he leaves Spain! Twisted Evil

I agree with Mark that it is an excellent video and shows SoW KS gameplay really well. Not many other RTS games handle collapses of whole divisions like this! That Spanish general running round like a headless baboon and nearly being captured by the Poles is me BTW!

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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: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mark87 on Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:01 pm

Ha! I figured that they would leave, however my latest bulletin post is pulled straight from the history books http://www.napoleon-series.org/military/virtual/c_somosierra.html

How could I not appoint them to my Old Guard!??!
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mr. Digby on Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:03 pm

I love it when a plan comes together Razz

Any chance you could appoint all of Victor's Corps to the guard while you are in this genial mood?


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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: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Mark87 on Tue Nov 17, 2015 8:06 pm

No, but I may appoint Kevin Marechal and commander of the guard Very Happy
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  WJPalmer on Wed Nov 18, 2015 9:19 pm

Uncle Billy a/k/a Blake wrote: [re the 4 Swiss battalions fighting for Spain] ...  I sent 2 fresh line battalions along with a skirmish unit to clear out the obstacle. A mere touch of the bayonet sent these red coated traitors flying. If it were up to me, I'd welcome them back into the army with a noose.

Curious comment coming from a former Spanish general now in the employ of his Ogre-ness Bonaparte. One can only imagine the treatment our own good general Blake will receive as he returns to Spain at the head of a French corps. Suffice it to say, he will beg for the mercy of the noose before it is over. Twisted Evil
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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

Post  Uncle Billy on Thu Nov 19, 2015 2:04 pm

My dear general, I have found that the French have only come here to share their liberty and civility with this backward country. All they ask for in return, is peaceful cooperation and fair compensation for the effort. Really, is that asking so much for being helped into the 19th century?

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Re: 26. Battle of Somosierra - 6th March 1809

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