The British army, under the Duke of Wellington, have moved methodically toward their ultimate objective - Madrid. After having blunted the French attack at the Battle of Andujar, the British and their allies are in good spirits at the height of campaign season.
Hoping to press the advantage, Wellington has stolen a march on the French, but to no avail. The Spanish allied contingent is once again tardy, resulting in a delay that allowed the French to gain a position between the army and Madrid. While this is the homeland of the Spanish allies, Wellington has not managed to gain much advantage from the numerous bands of guerrillas nipping at the French army's heels. Compounding the situation are the bad maps the army is saddled with - little more than sketches, really.
As dawn approaches on the morning of May 17, muffled sounds of drums and marching feet are noticed in the distance, beyond a wooded river...
Marshall Lannes is not pleased. The Emperor personally selected him to clean this mess up, and this is the army he is saddled with? The fiber of the army seems adequate - event though the army doesn't seem to possess outstanding quality units - they have shown that they fight well enough. The officer corps on the other hand...how could this be? Had the climate softened their wits? They would never have lasted in their postings if they were under the watchful eye of their Emperor.
Having barely arrived to the theater in time, Lannes whipped the army into motion in just enough time to block Wellington's ragtag army near Talavera. Lannes felt as if he was preparing for battle as a blind man - the army had only a limited number of maps - bad ones - how could that be tolerated?
Lannes had learned through the years of hard fought battlefield experience, an army that marches to the sound of guns could usually overpower an enemy, if not through skill at least through numbers. The English army was so different from what he was used to fighting. A seemingly endless number of guerrillas and light troops pestered his army. No matter how much he tried to get a clear view of what the battlefield held for positioning his army, his scouts were scattered and reported back with limited, almost useless information.
However, Lannes had received reports that Wellington had positioned his army across the shallow river to his front. No doubt he was intimidated by Lannes' reputation...
So, before the battle, Brent - as the campaign master - had per-determined the modifiers for both army's Fate and Command Decision dice - and those results were woven into the narratives above! Very creative! Excellent work! Dovetailed with the rules system too...many of the words in the above are from the F & CD tables!
So, fresh of a rather brutal loss to the Allies, the French army was brought to battle in a surprisingly wooded area along a waterway. Delayed en-route to the battle, no doubt by the poor maps which plague both armies, the Light Brigade of the allied army was absent as the allies deployed aggressively in the woodline with English and Portuguese troops and artillery - a fine defensive position upon which they hoped the French would bleed themselves further.
Behind this line, more English and the Spanish deployed on the hillock, with cavalry screening the flank.
Opposing this, the French lines prepared to assault the enemy in the woodline. The best-rated French commander lead the attack, launching his troops into the Portuguese following an effective bombardment...and pretty quickly, the defensive line began to crumble. Both batteries were out of action and the Portuguese were fleeing. The flank of the remaining English seemed in jeopardy!
At the same time, the English and Spanish on the hillock sallied forth, but did not move to the center, rather they swung wide and smashed into the large bulge of woods on the French left. Here they met some successes - driving into the woods and drawing the French there into a fierce attrition battle.
On the other extreme of the field, the opposing horsemen lined each other up, with the French aggressively crossing the waterway. This movement was not well looked upon by the French commander!
Just as the French were about to completely smash the remaining defenders in the woods, the leader of the assault was unhorsed! (Editor's note: I seem to get a commander killed in each engagement, and usually at a really bad time...to the endless delight of my gaming friends! Quite funny really!). The general - being hit rather grotesquely just below his left knee - was heard to tell his weeping orderly to "stop crying, you'll have one less boot to polish now!" By the time a new leader got things reorganized, the opportunity had slipped by.
The British Light Brigade, marching to the sounds of the guns, had now arrived. But, they did something unexpected! They did not reinforce the crumbling center, as we French expected - they arrogantly and expertly advanced upon the French cavalry! A big volley doing good damage to my Dragoons...the French commander, reminding me of the folly of my maneuverings with the cavalry was not pleased! If fate, or my own foolish determination, had willed me to stay there and engage the infantry, we could have lost the battle and the flank. Luckily, I was able to extract the horsemen and prepare a battery to cover them. There was no further trouble on this flank - and my cavalry commander no doubt avoided arrest!
The game ended soon thereafter, with the English being out of Army Morale (having given us 3 additional points from their losses) and failing the test. The French had loss less than half of the Army Morale Points it had.
So, in terms of the battle, it was a solid French victory in my eyes - but perhaps the Army Morale losses for the English will factor more largely in the final battle?
Here are some pics...
|Before the onslaught!|
|The defense begins to give way!|
|Chris and Greg tangle in the woods|
|Right fine gentlemen, this lot|
|Breakthrough! And a downed General!|
|Smart looking lines in this assault!|
|French cavalry withdraws|
|Attrition rules in the bloody woods!|