Sunday, August 16, 2015

The Battle of Salamanca
Several gentlemen friends of mine and I spent Saturday at Grand Adventure Comics in Murfreesboro TN (a very nice hobby shop for gamers and highly recommended for a visit!) to re-create part of the Spanish Peninsular campaign of the Napoleonic Wars using 28mm Miniatures and our favorite rules for the period, BLACK POWDER, by Warlord Games
The Battle of Salamanca saw an Anglo-Portuguese army under the Duke of Wellington defeat Marshal Auguste Marmont's French forces among the hills around Arapiles, south of Salamanca, Spain on 22 July 1812 during the Peninsular War.  The French, who only saw a part of the Allied army due to the reverse slope positions favored by Wellington, thought the enemy was retreating and extended their forces out to their left flank in an attempt to encircle and destroy the remaining rear guard.  Wellington, seeing this maneuver through his telescope while having lunch, is reported to have said "By God that will do!" and launched his forces into full attack to destroy the French who were strung out on the move and not prepared to receive him.
I had found this scenario map, with orders of battle and victory conditions for the decisive sector of the battle, on the internet somewhere and my friend Rick Ashby hosted the game.

As I portrayed the French brigade commander Bonnet with my forces positioned on the major objective hill the Greater Arapiles, I knew I'd be in for a hot time!  Here's how the battle unfolded from my perspective.
My Brigade is a fairly typical Peninsular War French force of 3 battalions of Ligne, one battalion of Legere, and a 6pd Field Piece.  French Commander Marmont begins the battle at my position to order me and my buddy Tom Burgess, playing the role of Sarrut to my right, to attack and take the Lesser Arapiles hill objective away from the British.  He then rides off to the French left flank to lead the effort there. 

Tom and I begin the battle in Assault Columns with our Voltiguer skirmishers screening the units and our artillery set to fire.  As we both immediately blow our first command roll, our brigades hold their position and firing our cannon at the British Guardsmen on top of the Lesser Arapiles is all we get to do.  "Merde!"
"By God that will do!"  The Allied forces have no such problems with their command rolls and here they come!  It's starting off looking as if history will repeat itself.

But no, Wellington, that will NOT do, and on the second turn my brave French infantrymen move out in line to meet the enemy in the fields between the hilltop objectives.  The Legere battalion, sharpshooters all, goes into skirmish formation and occupies the edge of the woods to my right.

TIREZ!  The entire French army opens fire upon the enemy all down the line, concentrating fire on units we've identified as Guardsmen.  Putting early casualties on these shock troops will pay off for us later in the battle.

Making it through our closing fire, the enemy comes on into the initial contact.  Fight's on! 

First decisive advantage to the enemy!  One of my three Ligne battalion flees the field in ignominy and the other retreats behind my reserve battalion.  "I never mind men running away as long as they come back."  The enemy has blown open the approach to the objective hill that I occupy, the Greater Arapile, and moves up to threaten my artillery.

To steal another of Welly's quotes, "Put every gun to them sir."  We grimly hold on to the shoulders of the penetration and begin to concentrate skirmish and line battalion fire and close range artillery canister to pound the enemy units threatening our position.

When I say grimly, I say GRIMLY!  A fresh British line battalion charges my advanced Ligne battalion already disordered from the initial assault and, miraculously, my boys not only hold their position but force the enemy battalion back behind his line in disorder.  La' Gloire to the Infantry of the Ligne!  :)

Colonel Gordon is NOT amused.  "Bad beans, Wellington!"

The enemy, who begin to feel their right flank threatened by the French cavalry and infantry assault on that flank, desperately feed more troops into our kill zone to try to finish us off and be able to turn to face the threat to their right.  The early wounds we gave to these enemy units begin to pay off as, sometimes with 5 or 6 excess wounds on them past their stamina point, they begin to fail their morale tests and flee the field under our concentrated fire.

Rick even sends the Cavalry Brigade's horse artillery over our way to add their 6pdr's fire to the slaughter!
The enemy army, with all of its cavalry and most of its infantry units destroyed, has no choice but to capitulate and are marched to the French prisoner of war camps at Verdun.

Our gallant foes Ken, Shawn, and Duane.
The heroes of the French army at Salamanca!  Tom, Dan, Rick and me. 


  1. A French victory at Salamanca is quite an accomplishment. Looks like it was a hard fought action!

  2. It was a great fight! Some key die rolls went our way. :)