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Monday, December 11, 2023

Vimeiro 1808 - The Assault

 Vimeiro 1808 - Recreated in a basement 4125 miles away.  

I first saw this kind of gaming presented in grainy black and white pictures within the pages of the Airfix guide "Napoleonic Wargaming" by Bruce Quarrie.  46 years after first opening that book I am finally able to stage a good sized game.  This one is a remotely managed battles with the Generals in the UK and New Zealand.

The French Attack column of two Battalions with additional companies from the Legion Hanovrienne playing the part of the Swiss, coming down the main road leading to Vimeiro.

Voltigeurs encountering British rifles for the first time...

...and British Shrapnel.  Vimeiro was the first time the French were subjected to the new Shrapnel shells.

A battery of British 9 pounders flays the approaching columns.

The Marksmen of the 95th take their toll of the approaching Voltigeurs as well.

Just to the South the first column, a second column of two battalions approaches the larger hill just south-east of Vimeiro.  Though the casualties are light, the Southern column is shaken by the shrapnel and grinds to a halt in the face of the exploding shells.

Behind the village all is confusion

Seeing the approaching columns, the British prepare to defend the village itself should the initial line along the hills collapse.

To the North the lead battalion of the French column has deployed into line, while the French Battery of 8 pounders pours canister into the British line atop the smaller Northern hill.

To the South the second French battalion remains unbroken and storms the heights of the larger Sothern hill, just as a strong line of British infantry crests the ridge.

A regiment of French dragoons has made its way along a small track through rough terrain and formed a supported line just to the east of the larger Southern hill.

All the while battalions of the French Grenadier reserve are making their way into attack positions.

Two more battalions of French Grenadiers approaching Vimeiro along a protected stream valley.

The assault develops.

The lead French Column in the North is able to approach within yards of a British Battery before being shaken by the ferocity of the fire.

Though taking heavy casualties, the approaching column forced the British fire to be directed at that threat, and unable to respond to fire from the French battalion to their front in line as well as a battery of canon and the remnants of the Legion Hanovrienne.

To the South the British pour fire into the approaching column, which was made less effective as they had only just cleared the ridge.

All the while the French cavalry is waiting to spring into action...

And that is where we must leave it for now.  The balance of battle is on a knife's edge!

End of Turn 6 update with positions:

A hand drawn map with old Risk pieces serves as a reference for unit positions throughout the game for the players.  It also allowed me to manage movement of hidden units.

A birds-eye view of the central portion of the battlefield showing the French first and second waves.

The French Dragoons Breakthrough!

The 16th French Dragoons, taking advantage of the open small hill vacated by the routing British 1/50th, were able to approach the British line under cover and turn on the flank of the 2/58th, hitting them while the infantry were still in line and sending them streaming to the rear.  The rout of the 1/50 and 2/58th created a large gap in the center of the British defensive line.

The 1/69th re-formed and ready to advance back into the fray.  With the 1/71st light Highland infantry the only remaining enemy in sight and forced into square by the French Dragoons, the 1/69th may have an easier time getting up Vimeiro Hill!

French Dragoons stream through the gap in the British line preparing to cut down green jackets and artillerymen at will.

To the right of the dragoons, the British Gordons have formed square only to be charged by French infantry, the 1/39th streaming over the small Vimeiro hill as well.

On the extreme right of the British line, the 1/71st have also formed square and will face death from artillery fire as they are exposed on the crest of the hill.

In front of Vimeiro the 2/42nd has formed line and is about to unleash death in the form of a British volley on the unwitting Grenadiers daring a frontal assault.

On the extreme left of the British line, where the 1/23rd and 9th Light Dragoons are retreating, an unlikely hero has emerged for the British.  Portuguese Dragoons have charged into the midst of a French battalion of Grenadiers, hoping to provide much needed breathing room for the British 1/23 and 9th Light Dragoons to rally.

The Gordons let off a volley on the approaching 1/39th.

The Black Watch, arrayed in Line delivers a crushing volley to a battalion of charging French Grenadiers and the front ranks disappear!

The Elan of the charging French battalions is high and both assaulting battalions charge home despite the heavy casualties.  Here the 1/39th assault the Gordon's but are repulsed with heavy loses.

The Grenadiers are down to half strength but will not be denied a chance of revenge against the skirted devils of the British Black Watch Highlanders!

To the South of Vimeiro the 16th Dragoons have broken through and are devastating the retreating 1/50th and have ridden down several companies of green jacketed riflemen, as well as fleeing artillerymen.

The second round of melee in front of Vimeiro will be crucial; the Black Watch is shaken, but far outnumber the French Grenadiers.  The Grenadiers are veteran soldiers to a man and are determined, but the outcome is balanced on a knife's edge, it may be down to the roll of the dice.

The Portuguese Dragoons had a legitimate chance to blow through a battalion of French Grenadiers who they had surprised in column and broken into, but the courage of the Portuguese cavalrymen quailed at the staunch resistance of the brave Grenadiers and they fled the field in ignominy much reduced in number.

The Conclusion

The Black Watch streams back through Vimeiro after being defeated by the attacking Grenadiers, but were able to inflict so many casualties on the Grenadiers that they too fell back.

What's this?  Another British regiment crosses the bridge behind Vimeiro, sent by Daddy Hill from the heights overlooking Vimeiro to ease the pressure.

The remaining three battalions of Grenadiers push forward.

In front of Vimeiro one of the battalions of Grenadiers has penetrated to the very gates of Vimeiro, just as the Gordons are manning the village. 

To the rear, the remnants of the 39th and 69th regiments are gathering again for another push, their bellies fortified with strong wine from their regiments Cantiniere. 

An overhead view of Vimeiro showing the black watch retreat as the Gordons move in just in the nick of time.

The reinforcing regiment of British infantry is forced back across the bridge by the rampaging French Dragoons, loose behind the main British line, but the Dragoons are taking fire from all sides as they seek a way out.

The women of Vimeiro imploring the 42nd to come to their aid.

The critical assault!

French Dragoons still a menace behind the British lines!

And suddenly it was over!

The French assault on Vimeiro failed and the Grenadiers were routed with heavy casualties by the stalwart Gordons.  The British 9th light Dragoons made a suicidal charge and crashed into the remaining French Grenadiers, sacrificing their lives to buy time for the British to rally.  The French Dragoons virtually ceased to exist as they began taking fire from all sides, and suddenly it became apparent that the village could not be taken.

An uneasy truce was declared, the dead were buried and the wounded helped to the rear leaving the two armies facing each other.  The French had taken the high ground, but lacked the strength to take the village and more British reinforcements were on the way.

The remnants of the French army stare down into the village, before suing for peace and making the long trip back home to France aboard the ships of the Royal Navy, but that is another story...

Many thanks to the commanding generals, Rob, Mark, Mathew, Aly, Pete and Ian, for a wonderfully engaging battle and a great excuse to take the figures out of the display case and put them to work.  Y'all are the best!