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Sunday, October 11, 2020

Rolica 1808 - Collapse! - The Battle Concludes

 Fortune is a fickle mistress, and in the final hours of the battle she abandoned the General de Brigade of the French force for the greener fields of Britain.  General Antoine Maucune (playing the role historically assumed by Delaborde) attempted to rally what was left of the French 39e, only to be carried away, along with the remnants of the Chasseurs, and was not seen again.  While the French sought vainly to rally their troops all along the battle line, only the Hanoverians remained as a formed battalion, but as they charged out of the woods to meet the threat of the 92nd Highlanders they were meet with the unexpected crash of musketry and the thundering boom of artillery...

 

While the French struggled to rally, the British, with the aid of General Howard, rallied the 42nd highlanders and rushed 6 guns of the Royal Horse Artillery into position.  The guns were perfectly sighted along the road, directed right into the flank of the charging Hanoverians.

From this bird's eye view of the field, the sheer size of the 92nd Battalion can be seen on the lower left, in contrast to the smaller Hanoverian battalion, bravely forming in the woods.  The disorganized 6e Legere, failing two sequential rally roles, has retreated into the area just inside the curve of the road, while a great arc of British skirmishers has begun to encircle the French forces.  On the bottom right can be seen the 71st Highlanders attempting to position themselves to be the anvil, on which the stroke of the 92nd will fall.

The Hanoverians, sensing the trap, charge out of the woods hoping to take the 92nd by surprise, but in so doing are exposed along the road in open ground to the raking fire of British canon.  As the Hanoverians charge, the British dragoons cautiously advance up the gully, hoping to cut off any chance of French retreat.  The charge of the Hanoverians is halted by the fire of the canons and British skirmishers lining the trees.  The 92nd charges home into the confused ranks of the Hanoverians (That's a fancy way of saying the British won the initiative for the turn and the Hanoverians took significant casualties as they counter charged.  This was a crucial risk for the French, they had to win the charge initiative and then lady luck had to favor their combat dice, neither happened, quite the opposite actually, with the 92nd rolling 6s for each of their combat dice!). 
 

The Hanoverians retreat from the crushing attack of the Gordons, right into the ranks of the 6e legere who are trying to reform while facing the enemy.

The 92nd pursues the defeated Hanoverians, spurred on by the hatred of the loyalist French who sided with their hated enemy instead of the true crown prince of Hanover, King George III of Great Britain!  The Hanoverians literally evaporate under the pressure of the pursuit and scarce a soldier escapes.  The reckless pursuit lands the Gordons right into the waiting arms of the 6e Legere.


The 6e legere, while the pride of Napoleons army, have lost nearly half their strength in the fight and have just watched the horrifying slaughter of their comrades from Hanover.  It is just to much for the exhausted legere and they rout after a brief combat with the elated Highlanders.  The Gordons are unstoppable at this point and pursue the routing Frenchmen, decimating their ranks.

Only a thin line of skirmishers from the 2nd Battalion of the 6e Legere remains to protect the French troops routing from the field.

Realizing the necessity of saving the guns, the French artillery limbers and makes a mad dash for the road before the hated British Dragoon can deploy.

On the French left the story is the same as detached voltigeurs from the 39e Ligne form a firing line to protect the artillery and remaining two companies of the 39e from utter destruction.

Lt. Colonel John Cameron, rightly leads the victorious 92nd Gordon Highlanders past the pitiful cries of the wounded from the 6e legere onto the top of the Rolica ridge.

What is left of the 6e Legere's skirmishers sent to face the overwhelming attack of the 5/60 are taken prisoner.

Similarly, the last of the combined skirmishers from the Hanoverians and 6e Legere's 1er Battalion are squeezed between the Gordons and the advancing 71st Highlanders, as well as the remnants of the valiant British light troops who opposed them, and taken prisoner.  Fortunately for them, their stay in the prison hulks of the British Navy will be brief, as they will be sent back to France at the conclusion of the battle of Vimiero as a condition of the Convention of Cintra.

The Valiant 58th held their ground throughout the battle, tying down French resources that were needed on the French Right.  Their sacrifice was great both in the number of casualties, but also in the loss of their valiant Lt. Colonel Buckby, who was shot through the heart.  A fitting wound as the severe casualties of the 58th had already broken his heart.

The field of Battle from the French perspective.  Control of the road in ten turns was the victory condition of the scenario, and despite the severe casualties endured by the French, it was not enough to prevent the British Dragoons from reaching the top of the ridge and claiming possession of the road.  Victory belonged to Wellington and the brave, and costly assault up the ridge.

The remnants of the French force trying to slip away.  Fortunately the dragoons are in march column and exhausted after the difficult ride up the narrow track of the gully, giving the French a fighting chance of organizing a fighting retreat, but it is by no means guaranteed they will reach the safety of Zambugeira.

Some of the resources needed to pull this off.  A big shout and thanks to Ian Spencer for his brilliantly simple and fun rules, Muskets and Marshals!  These are available as a free download on his blog for those interested: http://hintonhunt.blogspot.com/

Some morale tokens I created for the game inspired by Ian.  I took his template and altered the size so as to fit on 40x30mm Litko 3mm thick wooden bases, which made them easy to use for my fumbly fingers!

Most especially I want to thank Wellington Man of the Hinton Spieler fame (https://thehintonspieler.blogspot.com/), for his guidance, patience, and an unexpected friendship that developed from all the way across the world.  Through all of the hiccups with the map, miss-reads of the rules, and my struggle with accurate numbers, he was the most gentlemanly and delightful opponent.  Till next time WM!

As the Victor in this affair, he of course has the right to compose the victory dispatch.

Dispatch To Horse Guards


HRH the Prince Regent

Dear Prinny


An engagement took place near Rolica on the 17th of August against an enemy force under General Delaborde, who occupied a wooded slope just outside Columbeira. On encountering the French, your Royal Highness's Portuguese allies muttered something about 'making a strategic pincer movement' and then swiftly disappeared. The victory was thus secured entirely with the British forces under my command.

The infantry were victorious at every point, with the sole exception of the 42nd, who appear to have lost their way in the woods, only to re-emerge looking somewhat flustered and facing in the wrong direction. At no stage were my forces inconvenienced in any way, although the 58th had neglected to tie their shoelaces and were momentarily delayed.  Realizing his error, Lieutenant-Colonel Buckby quite correctly took the only honourable course and has been buried with full military honours. The victory would have been all the swifter had not General Delaborde been borne away by his fleeing cavalry while attempting to surrender.

It is my sad duty to report that the unimpeded progress of the infantry was unaided in any way by the Royal Artillery, who declined to advance, preferring to spend the engagement bowling over harmless trees. As I have said before and will no doubt say again, this disgraceful insubordination is only to be expected for as long as they remain under the exclusive control of that bumbling Poltroon, the Master General of the Ordnance.

I look forward to unwrapping my dukedom by return of post,

I am, etc.

Wellesley





14 comments:

  1. Wow when Lady Luck deserted you she took everything you owned with her - rarely seen a collapse so sudden and complete and I had thought you were doing well. Those pesky devils in skirts seem to have done for you - their powers appear almost supernatural, especially when they briefly transmogrified into the 42nd during the pursuit.

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    1. I could have pulled it off perhaps, but truthfully I was out-generalled. My rally rolls were extraordinarily bad and WMs combat rolls were excellent. But I had put myself in a position where I really had to win initiative and roll extraordinarily well, or WM extremely poorly, to have any real chance of stopping his juggernaut. We had a great discussion about strategy for the scenario, and I think it quite possible for the French to take the victory, though I might need to shorten the game back down to eight turns as originally planned.

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    2. She's not fickle at all, David! I'm just better looking, that's all.

      This was the most gloriously entertaining game I've had in years and I cannot thank you enough for inviting me over to take part. It's been huge pleasure. Thank you!

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    3. Now how am I supposed to dispute that! The pleasure was mine, and I must say an inspiration to keep this project going. I have already begun the work of finishing the board and river pieces as well as finalizing the upgrades on the few remaining troops that needed it for this scenario at least. So many more are waiting in the wings for Vimiero!

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  2. A stirring proper old school game.

    Thank the war correspondent for the excellent battle report!

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    1. Thanks Matt. I think the war correspondent spent as much time on this as the generals, but all in great fun!

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  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Jubilo. I had a magnificent jump start being able to use the figures that Richard Tennant so lovingly painted!

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  4. Excellent game and report. I would not be too down hearted as the result was not too disimiliar to the historical one.

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    1. In Truth Mark, I was quite pleased. The combat, fire and morale returns were all well within reason and the interactions appropriate. WM and I have discussed a few slight tweaks which I hope to run by Ian before I forget them. I was really worried about how all of the woods and steep slopes would affect the battle, but it actually enhanced the game and the Muskets and Marshals rules worked just fine in the difficult terrain.

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  5. A splendid and enjoyable looking game David...
    I look forward to seeing more...

    All the best. Aly

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    1. Thanks Aly. I was just reading Oman's treatment of Vimiero. Maybe by next Christmas...By the way, I hear WM is in receipt of a very special package from you. I was very close to asking myself, but figured that would be greedy after getting my hands on the Tennant figures!

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  6. An entertaining game and series of posts - well done to both of you! I'm still trying to work out how WM managed to win with the British, it can only be because Napoleon was not there!

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    1. Might have had something to do with the apparent lack of proper strategic management on the part of the French General. Just sayin....

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