Friday, 29 December 2017

Peninsular project part 11 Rolica what if

One of the great things i enjoy about Wargaming is researching battles and campaigns, for table top battles. This allows you to study all the aspects of a moment in military history, be it for a club game, or as in my case a solo project.
One aspect in wargaming is to play and follow the historical time lines of a particular campaign, but to also be able look a bit deeper into the possibility's of what might have happened is also a great challenge to play out on the table top. What if say, General Loisons divisions had arrived at Rolica during the battle on the 17th August 1808. Wellesly certainly thought it was a possibility, as he manoeuvred his troops to trap General Delaborde. Delaborde himself had hopes that Loison would make an appearance as he skillfully withdrew his forces before a much larger enemy. So taking the opportunity to fight out a what if battle is always an interesting table top battle. So part 11 of my project will feature a what if battle of Rolica, were General Loison marches to the sound of the guns and onto the battle field.
The forces of the British and Portuguese are the same in our first historical battle, but a quick recap would see the allies having the following.

Centre column under General :
5th    Foot Regiment
9th    Foot Regiment
29th  Foot Regiment
95th  Rifles
Artillery battery

Left column under general Ferguson
6th    Foot Regiment
32nd Foot Regiment
60th  Rifles
Portuguese cavalry attachment
Artillery battery

Right column under general Trant
12th Foot Regiment
21st  Foot Regiment
Portuguese cavalry attachment

Reserve 4 Foot battalions

The British plan is to advance on Delabord's position on the ridge line above the village of Rolica in a pincer movement with the flank columns of Freguson and Trant to close in on the French and hopefully cutting off their line of retreat. The Portuguese are to advance on the town, while Ferguson is to advance on the French left.
In the event of French reinforcement, the flanks are to hold them till the reserves come to their aid.

The French plan is to hold the ridge line once Loison's division in on the move, Delaborde is to move on the British centre's flank. pinning it letting Loison's division to finish them off.

 The battle field the French position top right of the picture on the ridge. The town of Rolica is just below the ridge.

General Delaborde would again have the following forces at his disposal.  
Commanding General Delaborde
1st Brigade command Brenier
2nd light infantry
4th light infantry
2 battalions 70th line infantry
4th Swiss infantry (2 companies)
26th Chasseur A Cheval
Artillery 8 field guns

For the game I am going to give General Loison the same units he had at Evora (see part 6 of the project)
Commanding General Losion
1st Brigade command Solignac
12th light infantry
15th light infantry
58th line infantry
2nd Brigade command Charlot
2 battalions 86th line infantry
2 battalions reserve Grenadiers
1st Hanoverian Legion
4th Dragoons
5th Dragoons
Artillery 5 field guns

General Loison division is set to appear on the Bombarral to Rolica road, and on General Ferguson left flank. Losion's activation card will be on the top of the deck (all others having been shuffled) This will insure his command moves first in turn one.

For this game I will be using saber sovringn and shako rules by Chris Walton. These are a nice and easy set of rules with plenty of flavour, for the Napoleonic period. each brigade of both armies have a unique command card giving a bit of character to the brigade. I have added a little to the rules to allow me to play them solo but the main rules have not changed.

The set up of the battle Delaborde has taken his position on the ridge line behind the village. The Portuguese can be seen below the village Wellesley is in command in the centre and Ferguson in with the left flank.

Things are going well for the British Delaborde appears to be pinned on his ridge behind Rolica. That was until a galloper came riding up to Wellesley with the news that general Loison's division is moving on his left flank.

Loison's division appears on the British left flank.

Loison continues his advance hoping to link up with Belaborde. Wellesley calls up the reserves, orders the Portuguese to press home their advance on Rolica, in the hope this will occupy Delaborde giving his reserves time to advance.

A wider view of Loison's advance on the British position.

The Portuguese advance on the village of Rolica.

General view of the battle field end of turn 2

Portuguese and British artillery pound away at the French, The French artillery fire from the ridge line. More French appear on the British left flank. General advance of troops on both sides.

The British left flank prepare themselves for the French assault.

The French are moving fast to catch the British before they can reinforce their left.

The Portuguese are ready to take Rolica.

Fergusons brigade moves up to hold the left, British light dragoons are the first of the reserves to appear on the table. meanwhile the French are starting to press on Freguson.
Delaborde sends his light troops and the Swiss to hold up the Portuguese advance, while he moves his troops onto the British centre.

Wellesley looks nervously for his reserves ("Humbugged by God")

Delaborde moves his troops from the ridge onto the centre to add his weight to the fight.

The combined grenadier battalions move upon Fergusons line, will the British fire power be enough to stop them.

The 2 battalions of combined grenadiers are about to make their presents felt.

General view of the battle at the end of turn 5

To Wellesley's relief the British reserves move onto the table. The cavalry eye each other up, as the Portuguese continue to battle their way into Rolica.

Much to Wellesley's relief the British reserves are on the table.

The cavalry move in and charge home.

A view of the battle from the left flank.

The Portuguese are making head way in Rolica as they slowly force the French back. The grenadiers are slowed then stopped by the combined fire from 3 British battalions. The cavalry clash its an even fight so far.

The Portuguese are in Rolica

The cavalry clash on the left.
General view of the battle at the end of turn 7

The French cavalry are pushed back some how, and the light dragoons give chase riding over the unfortunate French light infantry. The French grenadiers withdraw from the exposed position.
The Portuguese take control of Rolica, but are just about spent.

The Portuguese have taken Rolica.
The British left looking a bit more healthy than it did a few turns ago.

A relieved looking general Ferguson.

The British light dragoons over run the light infantry.

The French are not done yet, the centre of the British start to buckle under pressure from the French.

The British centre under extreme pressure, can it hold.

The French cavalry and grenadiers rally and re-organise.
The Portuguese press on and advance our of Rolica.

With Ferguson's flank secure and bolstered up with the reserves. Ferguson orders the advance. The Portuguese make one last push and advance out of Rolica , and onto Delabode's flank.
Time is running out for the French.

The British left move forwards.
The Portuguese move onto the French flanks.
The centre might just be saved.

Well i'm going to leave the game there. The British centre has some how held on. More to do with the French flanks coming under pressure, rather than the centre it's self.  The Portuguese fought a battle taking Rolica and then advancing out onto Delabode's flank.  Ferguson had a heart attack when he sore the French division moving in on him, but he held his nerve and his ground long enough for the reserves to come up. The Sheree weight of numbers told in the end, once the British left had stabilised the French success in the centre would have found them surrounded. So the battle ended with the French falling back, and the exhausted British and Portuguese were only to happy to let them.
General view of the battle at the end of the game a British victory but at what cost.

Another great battle in the series The French almost pulled of a great surprise as always thank you for taking the time to read my blog. my next part will be the last in the series with the final battle of the campaign the battle of Vimeiro.

Monday, 1 May 2017

Peninsular project part 10 The battle of Rolica

I've had a bit of a brake from the Peninsular what with work and life in general so its been a while since I posted anything. So following on from part 9 of the project, I thought  it would be good to have a quick look at the forces involved in the re-fight of the battle of Rolica. Then a bit of a recap of the set up.

The British
Commander General Nightingall

29th regiment of foot

5th regiment of foot

9th regiment of foot

95th rifles

British Field artillery

The French

Commander General Delaborde

commander of the infantry general Brenier

2nd light infantry battalion

4th light infantry battalion

1st battalion 70th line infantry

2nd battalion 70th line infantry

4th Swiss line infantry only 2 companies

French Field artillery

26th Chasseur a Cheval  

The battle starts with the British in column on the main road at point A. The French have withdrawn to their second position on the ridge line. The British have 15 turns to brake thought the French holding the ridge. On turn 15 the two flank columns make an appearance on at point E and F at which point the French must start to withdraw from their position even if the main assault from the centre columns has failed to drive them from their position. As you can see the British will win the battle its a question weather the French can cause the main assault to stall and clam a tactical if not a morel victory, and make the British pay a high price for the ridge line.
The battle sketch of the battle the main British can be seen in the valley, The 29th can be seen charging up one of the narrow ravines 

For the Battle i will be trying out the Sharpe practise 2 rules, I'm not going to give a blow by blow round by round account of the battle, but more of a narrative which the Sharpe Practise rules cover so well. 
so with colours blazing like the sun, onwards we go.

The British centre advances 

The French hold the ridge

main view of the battle 

 The British advancing on the French. The French open up with their artillery, luckily for the British the French gunners are not at their best.

The 29th reach the base of the ridge and roll to see if they charge head long up the ravine, or wait for the rest                                     of the British. With a wild cheer the 29th rush up the narrow track                                       ( brave or crazy ill let you decide )

The British artillery are in range and start to fire at the French, but the shots land short or fly over the heads of the French who are on the reverse slope of the ridge. " know there's an idea"

The 29th make slow work as they clamber up the narrow track, and the voltigeurs of the 4th light infantry are about to make things even more difficult for them.

The 4th light infantry skirmishers start to pepper the 29th as they struggle on up the hill.

lower down the slope the two units of the 95th move up on either flank of the 29th.

Grasshoppers and voltigeurs fight it out on the slopes.

Somehow the 29th are making progress up the hill despite being shot at by the 4th light's skirmishers .

The 70th line lead by general Brenier move up to hold the ridge line against the rapidly approaching 29th.

The 95th rifles are also making good progress and the 9th lead by general Nightingall and the 5th regiment of foot are behind the other group of 95th rifles.

general view of the battle the British are making slow progress the 9th regiment with the 95th are making their way up the track on the left. The 5th and another company of 95th are moving up on the right.

The British artillery continue to fire at the French missing each time.

The French artillery fire and inflict some casualties on the 9th regiment of foot but not enough to stop them.

The ridge line is a blaze of musket fire as the British stumble there way up the slopes.
The 29th come under increasing pressure from the 2 battalions of 70th line infantry and start to crumble.

Both the two units of the 95th start getting the upper hand and push forwards on the flanks of the 29th.

The Swiss take one look at the 95th and the 9th following them, and decided its time to leave and neatly file off the table. leaving the guns exposed and forced to withdraw.

The 26th  chasseur come to the rescue and charge the 95th and the 9th as they reach the ridge line, sending them falling back.

Its turn 10 and the British are on the ridge, but not all is going well. The 29th are hanging in there by a thread, the 9th and a unit of 95th are sheltering in a wood on the left, and the 5th and the other unit of 95th have reached the ridge line but are engaged in a musket duel with the 2nd light infantry on the far right.

As casualties start to mount on both sides the British have to brake through the French line.

 The 29th after fighting up the ravines and fighting two battalions of French, finely brake and fall back down the ridge.

The 5th foot decide that a musket fight will not win the day and charge the 2nd light, the 2nd fire a volley at the advancing red coats but they keep coming.

on the other flank the 9th and 95th advance again once the French cavalry withdraw, the 70th swing round to cover this flank.

The 95th rifles start to pepper the 70th as the 9th move up to join the fire fight.

A monumental fire fight blazes along the French right flank.

Slowly the 9th and 95th start to withdraw under pressure from the French, the 5th having broken the French light find themselves facing the French infantry with cavalry on there flank also start to withdraw before the are surrounded.

Well its turn 15 and the game ends with the two British flanking columns about to appear to a scene of total
 scene of chaos. The French still hold the ridge line, but they are shattered having held off the first British assault. general Delaborde gave the order to withdraw, and the French units retire with there heads held high.

Wow what a fight, the rules worked well, an interesting game with the French fighting off the British, and claiming a tactical victory. The British fought hard but in the end the French just held their ground.  Well that's it for the moment. Next time I'm going to have a go at a what if battle of Rolica. what will happen when general Loison, appears on the battle field stay tuned till next time thanks for reading .