Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Talavera 1809 Afternoon attack

After the previous two warm up games there was a good turnout on Saturday 14th January 2017 for the first all day game of the year at NBHW. The main afternoon assault by the French at the Battle of Talavera July 28th 1809.

Effects on units from the previously played morning attack were applied and forces set up. Once again Black Powder were the rules used, at 2/3rd distances. One exception to this was the ranges for artillery. After setting up the table and positioning the artillery in their historical locations it was discovered that at 2/3rd distances they couldn't hit areas they did historically, so we used full distance range measurements for the cannons.

The French players decided to use their artillery to batter the British troops and this they did for some time. Two British battalions were forced from the field with crippling losses before the order came that the battalions had better lie down under the fierce French bombardment. This reduced casualties as the French cannon roared on.
The French awaited the movement of Maubourg's 1st Dragoon Division to the left flank which was then to attack and defeat the Spanish. The Spanish were not helping their preparedness for the coming attack as one brigade went off to the right and another edged to the left, seeking the comfort of the redoubt and it’s artillery it seemed. This left a huge hole in their lines, it just begged for the French cavalry to arrive and break in.

Finally after a withering artillery barrage
the French Divisions advance.
The British move forward to the Portina to greet them.

After a lunch break was taken the French battalions of Villatte’s 3rd Division of 1 Corps surged forward to the Portina stream, Lapisse’s battalions of the 2nd Division endeavoured to keep up alongside in support. On the left the French cavalry drew up and charged. This attack was initially successful, the Spanish cavalry (understrength due to a lack of suitable figures) and nearby infantry were driven in. British light dragoons of Cotton's Brigade were thrown in to hold the French horse but were also defeated and thrown back. However the tiring French cavalry were beaten off by the Spanish foot around the Redoubt and withdrew, so close to achieving their aim.

Units of Bassecourt's Spanish 5th Infantry Division
await Ruffin's French Division on the allied left flank.

On the left of the allied line the Spanish of Bassecourt's 5th Infantry Division and Albuquerque's 2nd Cavalry division held Ruffin's battle weary 1st Division of 1 Corps in check.
Opposite the redoubt the 3rd Division of 4 Corps, made up of Confederation of the Rhine units, commanded by Leval seemed hesitant to leave the protection of the olive groves, leaving the 1st and 2nd divisions of 4 Corps to advance in support of 1 Corps to their right.

A warm welcome for the French columns.
The British right wing reposition behind the Spanish, just in case,
while the light dragoons head off to try and deal with the
rampaging French dragoons.

At this point, all along the Portina, the French advance that had set off with great élan was stalled as the British volleys poured into the French columns as they struggled to clear the stream. Casualties mounted among the French battalions as the British fire discipline told, despite the French artillery targeting British formations where they could. A battalion of the 48th Foot from Hill's 2nd Division was lost to this artillery fire as it moved to secure the British left. This position was the one worry for the British command as the British heavy cavalry brigade under General Fane repeatedly failed to come up in support. Despite these anxieties, British volleys won the day as the French, unable to come to grips, grudgingly withdrew.

An Anglo-Spanish win, after defeat the last time the battle was played, but a win for all those who paticipated.


  1. I remember when we played Talavera Victor's artillery was the deciding factor, and virtually had the game won for the French before we had managed to successfully pull back from the initial deployment. It makes me wonder what may have resulted if Victor had been a bit more patient and allowed another hour's worth of bombardment.

  2. I was playing on the allied side and we were taking some damage from Victor's artillery before we remembered the "lie down" rule option with a Doh! moment.
    The biggest change we made this time as the British was to advance and contest the Portina stream crossing directly rather than sitting back on the slope and letting the French come to us.