Monday 31 July 2017

Battle of Valmaseda 1808. Game at NBHW.

Friday night (21st) at NBHW saw the club's ever growing number of Spanish Napoleonic figures take to the field with a game based on the Battle of Valmaseda in 1808. Black Powder was the ruleset used and I will be uploading the army list to my scenerio section soon. The AAR follows with some historical notes after.

Valmaseda 1808 AAR

A notable Spanish victory in 1808 and despite a much more forceful French advance on this occasion the Spanish army of Blake did well enough to garner some credit from this re fight.

Spanish rear guard await their fate / spring trap

The Spanish rear guard, the Asturian Division of General Acevedo, which had got separated from Blake’s army, was attempting to hold off General Villatte’s 3rd Division of Marshal Victor's Corps as Blake rushed forward to effect a relief and attempt to turn the tables on the isolated French division.

Blake's divisions advance to close the trap

The Spanish commanders all led their divisions forward with great purpose, despite often moving tardily due to the fiendish Black Powder commander SR rules. Meanwhile General Acevedo did a great job falling back on these supports despite losing two or three battalions in the face of great odds. One of the lost Spanish Battalions fighting to the last on the left wing in order to buy time for the rest of Acevedo 's command.

The Spanish advance (just pretend some aren't Dutch/ Belgians)

¡Señor, aquellos que parecen ser cañones franceses por delante!

General Martinengo’s cavalry, the Reina Dragoons of the 2nd Division, only rolled enough to deploy smartly before the French artillery on their flank, General Ruffin’s late arriving 1st Division, before the latter then predictably unlimbered and destroyed the brightly attired Spanish horse. Nearby Spanish infantry was driven in by the French 96th Line Regiment of General Barrois’ brigade. However General Carbajal then threw in the combined grenadiers of his 4th Division at the flank of this French column and checked its advance.

Ruffin arrives

As Victor's troops came forward the Spanish line took shape and General Figueroa’s 1st Division who had found moving forward difficult, to say the least, finally let fly with their cannon; to no effect!

The Spanish consolidate their lines

At this stage, sadly time had beaten us and the umpire called the game as a success for the Spanish but at greater cost than in the historical action. Thanks to the umpire and all those who contributed the troops. It was splendid indeed to see some 23 battalions of Spanish infantry in a game, just a few flags now needed.

Victory Conditions:

  • The French commanders had been tasked with breaking the Asturian Division for a minor victory and any second Spanish division for a major victory.
  • The Spanish had to rescue the majority of the Asturian Division or drive the French from the field for a major victory.

Historical Note:

  • The Battle of Valmaseda took place on 5 November 1808, during Lieutenant-General Blake's retreat from superior French armies in Cantabria. Reinforced by veteran regular infantry from General La Romana's Division of the North, Blake suddenly turned on his pursuers to rescue a trapped detachment and defeated a division of General Victor's army at Valmaseda.
  • Ruffin’s division took no part in the actual battle as they failed to march to the sound of the guns and remained to the south.
  • Once the French realised they had stumbled into a trap they formed square and fought their way back out of the encirclement
  • The French lost 300 men dead or wounded plus another 300 captured along with the divisional baggage.
  • The Spanish lost 50 dead or wounded.

More details at:

Tuesday 25 July 2017

British Cavalry Brigade commander.

So I am near to completing my second division, Campbell's 4th,  for the British at Talavera and found myself needing a few brigade commander figures for this as well as my brigade of light dragoons and forthcoming half  brigade of heavy dragoons.  The next problem was the uniform.

During the early years of the Peninsular War brigades were often commanded by colonels and they would have worn their regimental uniforms, easy. Then we come to the generals, Brigadier and Major varieties. Now some generals did their own thing, Picton of course and most images and figures of Cotton and other cavalry generals for Waterloo show them in serious "bling" for want of a better word, but what uniforms did the cavalry brigade commanders wear earlier in the war?

After some research I discovered that generals swapped between infantry and cavalry commands quite often early in the war, one year commanding an infantry brigade and the next one of cavalry, so this lead me to believe that cavalry generals would be in the same uniforms as infantry ones. A few questions on some forums gave answers that seemed to agree. No reference books I have showed anything specifically for cavalry generals until the 1815 grandiose affairs.

With this in mind I set off again looking for a mounted British officer in a suitably cavalry like pose, i.e. sword waving.
I have previously used Warlord's mounted British colonels (not correctly uniformed as colonels), Front Rank and Elite figures so was looking for something different. Remembering that Perry had started expanding their range into the earlier periods of the war I went there and found these.

BH 106 Colonels in bicornes ( Worldwide 1808-13)

The chap in the centre looked exactly like what I was looking for to command my light dragoons (actually to represent Cotton in his pre Hussar styled uniforms). The figure on the left will do for the heavies and the right hand one for the last infantry brigade commander I need.

To make them into general uniforms some minor work would be needed. The button and lace on the cuffs would need to filed off as generals uniforms didn't have these but instead had varying numbers of gold lace chevrons on the lower sleeve and coat tails. The epaulettes were fine as the right shoulder aiguillette illustrated below wasn't introduced until the 1812 changes.

Rank distinctions.
Book containing previous picture.

So after a bit of work I finally have my version of General Stapleton Cotton, brigade commander of the 14th and 16th Light Dragoons at Talavera 1809.

General Stapleton Cotton 1809 or is it?


Typically after feedback, I now find the very image I needed when I started this search and it shows Cotton in a Hussar style uniform in the Peninsular, another image of General Stewart, Adjutant General to Wellesley, of the same period seems to confirm the style of light cavalry Generals uniform, so back to the drawing board it is then. The first attempt may become the Heavy Brigade general.

Another bit of online shopping, Front Rank this time and.....

So try again, General Stapleton Cotton.

Leading his brigade of the 14th and 16th Light Dragoons.