Archive for the ‘Napoleonic Wars’ Category

The Battle of Lapua – 14th July 1808   Leave a comment

Alexander I of Russia

The Battle of Lupua was fought during The Finnish War, a war fought within the greater conflict of The Napoleonic Wars between Russia and Sweden.

Following the signing of the Treaty of Tilsit which brought peace between France and Russia, Alexander was obliged to join The Continental System, Napoleon’s blockade and military aggression towards Great Britain. Consequently, Russia and Britain went to to war in 1807. Considering the locations of both these two nations, it was apparent that any military action would be limited to naval engagements which prompted Russia to ask Sweden to ensure the Baltic sea channel was closed to British shipping. King Gustav of Sweden was slow to reply; he detested the French and was secretly making an alliance with Britain in hope of support against his archenemy, Denmark.

Gustav IV Adolf King of Sweden

Russia and Sweden had a long standing rivalry from previous wars and Alexander seized the opportunity to declare war on Gustav on the basis he was not following the Tilsit treaty and could not be trusted. In reality Alexander saw the opportunity to take “Finland” and by doing so, push the Swedish army hundreds of miles back away from its current close proximity to his capital, Saint Petersburg.

On February 21st 1808 the Russian army crossed the border into southern Finland and hostilities began. Sweden was in an awkward position, as it also feared an attack from Denmark, meaning it had to spread its army to potentially defend both fronts. Over the next few months Russia made advances north and west, capturing the lower half of Finland until the summer when Swedish counter attacks put the Russians, for a while, on the defensive. One of the first of these counter-attacks came on the 14th July 1808 near the small town of Lapua in western Finland.

Swedish Major-General Count Carl Johan Adlercreutz with an army made up largely of Finnish regiments numbering 4,700 men and 18 cannon, marched south to attack a hastily fortified position held by a 4,000 strong Russian force led by Major-General Nikolay Rajevski. After initial exchanges of musketry by skirmishers on both sides, the main Swedish army began to emerge from the heavily wooded approach road around 4pm and it immediately began to deploy for an attack.

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of Lapua – 14th July 1808

ORDERS OF BATTLE – using a man/figure ratio of 20:1

Russian Army

Maj.General Rajevski – Commander-in Chief – Experienced, veteran, hesitant, respected leader

5th Brigade

23rd Jaeger Regiment (440 men) – 22 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Kaluga Infantry Regiment (480 men) -24 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Artillery battery (6 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

14th Brigade

2 x Battalions of the Petrov Infantry Regiment (2 x 480 men) 2 x 24 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Kaluga Infantry Regiment [one company] (120) – 6 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Artillery battery (5 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

21st Brigade

2 x Battalions of the Veliki Infantry Regiment (2 x 480 men) 2 x 24 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

2 x Battalions of the 26th Jaeger Regiment (1 x 480 men, 1 x 240 men ) 1 x 24 figures, 1 x 12 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Artillery battery (5 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

Artillery battery (3 guns) – 1model – experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

Artillery battery (3 guns) – 1model – experienced, trained, howitzer

Cavalry Units

Cossacks (40 men) – 2 figures – light horse, open order, veteran, elite, lance, carbine, pistols, sabre

Grodno Hussars (2 x 80 men) 2 x 4 figures – light horse, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

Swedish Army

Maj.General Adlercreutz – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, poor tactician, respected leader

2nd Brigade

Pori Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (440 men) 22 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Pori Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (380 men) 19 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Pori Infantry Regiment 3rd battalion (380 men) 19 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

5th Finnish Artillery – (6 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

4th Brigade

Savo Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (240 men) 12 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Savo Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (240 men) 12 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Savo Infantry Regiment 3rd battalion (240 men) 12 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

2 x Battalions of the Savo Jaeger Regiment (2 x 160 men) 2 x 8 figures, – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Karelian Jaegers (240 men) – 12 figures – experienced, well trained, excellent morale, musket

Karelian Dragoons (80 men) – 4 figures – heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

Savo Artillery (8 guns) – 3 models – experienced, good morale, 1 x 3lb, 1 x 6lb, 1 x howitzer

ARRIVING IN MARCH COLUMN FROM ROAD TOP RIGHT

3rd Brigade

Hame Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (320 men) – 16 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Hame Infantry Regiment 2nd battalion (220 men) – 11 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Hame Infantry Regiment Jaeger battalion (380 men) – 19 figures – experienced, elite, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Infantry Regiment 1st battalion (220 men) – 11 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Infantry Regiment Jaeger battalion (160 men) – 8 figures – experienced, elite, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Dragoons (80 men) – 4 figures – heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

2nd Finnish Artillery – (6 guns) – 2 models – experienced, trained, 6lb cannon

1st Brigade

Turku Infantry Regiment – (380 men) – 19 figures – experienced, well trained, good morale, musket

Uusimaa Dragoons (80 men) – 4 figures – heavy cavalry, veteran, elite, carbine, pistols, sabre

1st Finnish Artillery – (3 guns) – 1 model – experienced, trained, 3lb cannon

Russian skirmishers engage the advancing Swedes through the woods

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As Adlercreutz’s army emerged from their advance along the approaching road, he deployed them immediately choosing to attack south against the main Russian defences, maybe missing an opportunity to thrust straight ahead at the Russian left flank and outflank the main force which sat behind hastily constructed barricades of logs and ditches.

He did however send the 2nd Brigade to face the left flank, but then ordered them to halt their advance until the 4th Brigade could deploy to their left to give them support, the result was the 2nd Brigade took quite heavy casualties from Russian artillery and Jaegers while awaiting the order to advance again.

The Swedish 4th Brigade also faced heavy fire, but they did manage to cause some chaos in the Russian ranks when their artillery fire managed to set the hamlet in the Russian lines on fire. Russian wounded had been placed in the buildings and number burnt to death before they could be rescued.

Meanwhile, on the left, the Swedish 2nd Brigade couldn’t stand waiting and taking casualties any longer and without waiting for orders they launched a charge against the Russian defenders in front of them. Traversing the makeshift barricades, they went in at the bayonet and overwhelmed the defenders sending them running and leaving the Russian left flank exposed.

The Pori infantry regiment had distinguished itself, but was now quite exhausted from casualties under fire and then hand to hand combat. As they momentarily rested their supporting 3rd and 1st Brigades began to emerge and form up at the rear.

Sensing numbers were going against him, Rajevski ordered a general retreat while he still had control of his army. They made an organised withdrawal with cavalry covering their departure.

In actual fact the overall numbers were very similar, 4,700 Swedes to 4,000 Russians, the latter having the advantage of the crude barricades, a better defence or maybe even a Russian victory could have been achieved by a more determined commander.

WARGAMING THE BATTLE

As Napoleonic era battles go, this is quite a small one, so should be an easy project to recreate. The table is relatively flat with the exception of the right edge, where most of the trees are too. The river should be impassible apart from at the bridge.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of the River Coa – 24th July 1810   Leave a comment

The British Light Division defending the bridge over the River Coa – image painted by Christa Hook

In the 1810 Napoleon had a new master plan for an attempted third invasion of Portugal that would finally defeat the British and Portuguese armies, hopefully sending Sir Arthur Wellesley, the future titled Duke of Wellington, back to England as a defeated and spent force. Marshal Andre Massena was therefore given command of a new army of 65,000 men to carry out this campaign.

The River Coa is unusual for Portugal in that it runs north to south, almost parallel with the Portugal/Spanish border, albeit a few miles inside Portugal, as opposed to an east to west route which most rivers in that country flow. For Wellesley it offered a natural barrier that would be an obstacle to the French advance and consequently he sent out written orders to his officers that he wanted all British and Portuguese units to be pulled back to the west of the river so as to form a defence.

Brigadier General Robert Craufurd, a stubborn, moody commander, prone to outbursts of fowl language when angered, and also a strict disciplinarian, was in command of the British Light Division, approximately 5,000 men made up of three British and two Portuguese light regiments of infantry, including the famous 95th (Rifles), as well as two light cavalry units and a handful of artillery guns. Despite receiving Wellesley’s instructions to pull back across the Coa River, he decided, for whatever reason, to ignore them and kept his forces on the east side of the river. Maybe he considered the French to be too far away to be a threat, or maybe he sought personal glory by seemingly standing up to the enemy, either way, he was shocked that just two days after receiving Wellesley’s orders the entire French VI Corps, over 20,000 men led by Marshal Ney appeared, advancing on his position.

The speed of Ney’s advance swept past a small British picquet unit and quickly threatened Cruafurd’s main force, leaving him no option but to attempt a fighting retreat as his men retreated across the only bridge in the vicinity, over the otherwise impassable Coa River.

Suggested initial set up for The Battle of the River Coa

Wargaming Notes

The area, as can be seen from our map, was a hilly, craggy region with limited routes that units can advance through without severe disorganisation. The river itself needs to be classed as an impassable obstacle, unless crossing at the bridge.

The British had a very small picquet force of about 40 men and one cannon at a windmill on high ground (marked on our map); it’s your choice whether to field this force or not as the French totally disregarded it, simply rushing past in their pursuit of catching the main British force.

As with previous recent articles, we are listing the suggested army lists by regiments to be fielded rather than actual figures to be used as we appreciate that because of the sheer number of differing Napoleonic rules currently played this seems the easier way for players to translate this information to their preferred set.

ORDERS OF BATTLE

British Army

Brig.General Robert Craufurd -Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, respected leader.

1st Brigade

Lt-Colonel Sydney Beckwith – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

1/43rd Regiment of Foot – Experienced, veteran, good morale, musket

1/95th (1/2 battalion) Regiment of Foot (Rifles) – Experienced, veteran, elite, rifle

3rd Portuguese Cacadores – Experienced, well trained, steady morale, musket

2nd Brigade

Lt.Colonel Robert Barclay – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

1/52nd Regiment of Foot – Experienced, veteran, good morale, musket

1/95th (1/2 battalion) Regiment of Foot (Rifles) – Experienced, veteran, elite, rifle

1st Portuguese Cacadores – Experienced, well trained, steady morale, musket

Cavalry Brigade

Brig-General George Anson – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

14th Light Dragoons (3 Squadrons) – Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, good morale, carbine, sabre

16th Light Dragoons (2 Squadrons) – Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, good morale, carbine, sabre

1st King’s German Legion Hussars (4 Squadrons) – Experienced, veteran, elite, carbine, sabre

Chestnut Troop Royal Horse Artillery (6 guns) – Experienced, veteran, elite, 6lb cannon

French Army

Marshal Michael Ney – Commander-in-Chief – Experienced, veteran, impetuous, inspiarational leader

2nd Division

Maj.General Julien Merment – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, respected leader

25th Line Infantry (2 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

27th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

50th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

59th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

3rd Division

Maj. General Louis Loison – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

66th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, veteran excellent morale, well trained, musket

82nd Line Infantry (2 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

32nd Line Infantry (1 battalion) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

20th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

The Hanoverian Legion (2 battalions) – experienced, average morale, trained, musket

Legion du Midi (1 battalion) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

1st Division (present but never made contact)

Maj.General Jean Marchand – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, respected leader

76th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

39th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

69th Line Infantry (3 battalions) – experienced, good morale, well trained, musket

6th Light Infantry (2 battalions) – experienced, excellent morale, well trained, musket

Cavalry

Brig-General Auguste Lamotte – Sub-Commander – Experienced, veteran, inspirational leader

3rd Hussar Regiment (3 squadrons) – Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, elite, carbine, sword

15th Chasseurs a Cheval Regiment (3 squadrons) -Light cavalry, experienced, veteran, elite, carbine, sword

15th Dragoon Regiment (4 Squadrons) – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, dragoon musket, sword

25th Dragoon Regiment (4 Squadrons) – Heavy cavalry, experienced, veteran, dragoon musket, sword

Foot Artillery (4 batteries of 6 guns) – Experienced, veteran, good morale, 8lb cannon

Horde Artillery (2 batteries of 6 guns) – Experienced, veteran, excellent morale, 8lb cannon

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The French advance was swift, so much so that they completely ignored the small British picquet force left isolated on high ground as they raced to catch the main British army. The 95th (Rifles) stepped forward to initially cover the retreat hoping their longer range and more accurate Baker guns would slow the French. In response the French firstly opened up with artillery on the Green Jackets, and then Voltigeurs closed to start an exchange of fire, before sensing their superior numbers, the Voltigeurs launched a bayonet charge, forcing the (5th to pull back.

The Rifles woes were increased when the small Portuguese garrison of Almeida mistook their dark uniforms for French soldiers and began a long range artillery bombardment on them, causing even more tension in the ranks.

The French cavalry advanced to attack the British 43rd Regiment, though they were slowed and disorganised by the undulating terrain by the time they reached their target. However other French infantry units were able to mange the broken terrain better than the horsemen, and soon Craufurd could see his only line of retreat being threatened . He ordered an immediate withdrawal across the bridge, the cavalry crossing first as the infantry followed along the road behind. A supply wagon overturned in their haste which for a while blocked the British escape, and to cover the incident the 43rd Regiment was ordered to take up a defensive line along the rivers edge south east of the bridge to give covering fire.

Miraculously holding back the French advance through determined fire assisted by difficult terrain, the British and Portuguese began to pass through the bottleneck bridge and get to the west side of the Coa from where they gave volleys of fire to hold back the French advance log enough for the 43rd to make their escape across the bridge too.

Pursuing the British, the French 66th Regiment attempted to storm the bridge but were forced back by the intense musketry pored at them from the other side of the river. A force of amalgamated elite French light infantry then attempted to take the bridge, now covered with the bodies of the dead and dying, but again were beaten back.

Ney opted instead to secure his position by attacking the town of Almeida; but Craufurd, shaken by his narrow escape, decided to withdraw his men under cover of darkness, leaving both the town and the bridge to the mercy of the French.

The bridge today.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Arroyo Molinos – 28th October 1811   Leave a comment

General Rowland Hill, Allied Commander at Arroyo Molinos

In October 1811 the battle lines between French and British forces lay roughly along the Spanish-Portuguese border. Marshal Marmont’s Army of Portugal had retreated to the north-west of Spain, while Marshal Soult and the Army of the South were occupied in Andalusia. Between these two armies, in the central border region of Estremadura, was D’Erlon with a Corps sized force attempting to maintain lines of communication between the other two field armies. As part of this exercise he instructed General Jean-Baptiste Girard with his division, to occupy a gap in the line between the River Tagus and River Guadaina. After clearing the area of Spanish guerillas so his men could forage without attack, Girard took up position in Caceres.

To the west lay Wellington’s army, preparing for it’s attack into Spain and it’s forthcoming assault on Badajoz. Wellington had been cautious as ever and watching Soult’s army with great interest to to gauge whether he was planning on moving north to reinforce Badajoz or maybe attack the Allied army in the field. As the weather began to turn more inclement and the autumn rains started, he decided that Soult was not about to move towards him, and called on General Hill leave the main army with an enlarged division size force to attack Girard in Estremadura. With two brigades of British Infantry, a British Cavalry Brigade, a Portuguese Infantry Brigade and joined by Spanish cavalry, Hill set off east in search of Girard. As he marched into Spain the weather became increasingly worse, with driving icy rain and heavy winds, but after several days march he reached the town of Alburquerque where his men began a day’s rest. Quite soon though Hill received news via Spanish intelligence; Girard was only 50km (32 miles) away at Caceres and his force resting up in the bad weather. Without delay Hill reassembled his force and began a three day march through the storms, arriving in the neighbouring village of Malpartida, only to then be told that Girard and his men had now left Caceres and was on the move south towards Arroyo Molinos. Marching another 28 miles in driving rain, Hill reached Arroyo Molinos in the darkness of the night on the 27th. He ordered his to rest best they could in the dark and with no lights or camp fires. It would be a tiring and miserable night for the Allies.

Meanwhile Girard had his men were in the village, taking cover from the storm and unaware of the danger building around their positions. Only their pickets had to brace themselves against the weather, and by the direction of the wind coming at them it meant they had turned their backs on the man road where Hill had advanced from, allowing the British-Allied army to advance within one mile unobserved.

On the morning of the 28th Girard had his men fall in ready to continue their march south, and they began to assemble on the south side of the village. It was at this point that Hill’s army, now in three columns came into sight, advancing towards the village from the north, before diverging in an attempt to surround the French.

 
 

Suggested initial set-up for the Battle of Arroyo Molinos

ORDERS OF BATTLE – Using a suggested figure/man ratio of 1:50

BRITISH/ALLIED ARMY

General Rowland Hill – Commander-in-Chief – veteran, good tactician, inspirational leader

First Column

92nd Gordon Highlanders (600 men) – 12 figures – veteran, elite morale, musket

34th Cumberland Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – veteran, well trained, disciplined, musket

71st Highland Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – veteran, elite morale, musket

50th (Queens Own) Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – veteran, well trained, disciplined, musket

6 x 6lb artillery guns and crew – 2 models – veteran, well trained, disciplined

Second Column

28th {North Gloucestershire) Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – veteran, well trained, disciplined, musket

9th (East Norfolk) Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – experienced, well trained, steady, musket

24th (Warwicks) Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – experienced, well trained, steady, musket

4th Portuguese Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – experienced, trained, steady, musket

6th Portuguese Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – experienced, trained, steady, musket

10th Portuguese Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – experienced, trained, steady, musket

18th Portuguese Regiment (600 men) – 12 figures – experienced, trained, steady, musket

Third Column

2nd King’s German Legion Hussars (400 men) – 8 figures – open order light cavalry, experienced, well trained, disciplined, sword, carbine

9th & 13th Light Dragons (600 men) – 12 figures – light cavalry, experienced, well trained, disciplined, sword, carbine

Independent Units

2 x Spanish Cavalry Regiments ( 2 x 300 men) 2 x 6 figures – close order heavy cavalry, experienced, trained, brittle morale, sword, carbine

FRENCH ARMY

General Jean-Baptiste Girard – Commander-in Chief – experienced, cautious, respected by men

1st Brigade

34th Ligne Regiment in 3 battalions (2400 men) – 40 figures – experienced, trained, steady, musket

40th Ligne Regiment in 3 battalions (2400 men) – 40 figures – experienced, trained, steady, musket

3 x assorted artillery guns and crew – 1 model 6pdr – experienced, trained, steady

2nd Brigade

27th Chasseurs A Cheval (300 men) – 6 figures – open order light cavalry. veteran, elite, disciplined, sword, carbine

10th Hussars (300 men) – 6 figures – open order light cavalry. veteran, elite, disciplined, sword carbine

20th Dragoons (400 men) – 8 figures – close order heavy cavalry, experienced, well trained, steady, sword, carbine

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

As the British in the first column began to swarm through and around the village, Girard ordered his men to form squares and his cavalry to protect his southern route. The French infantry formed two giant squares, but this was a tactic used against cavalry, not infantry. The Two Highland regiments reaching the south side of the village fired volleys into the massed ranks, but worse was to come when the British artillery set up outside the village and fired grape shot into their ranks.

Meanwhile it was the Spanish cavalry who rode fastest to reach the most southerly point and block the road the French hoped to exit by. Girard ordered his cavalry to “own the road” at whatever cost and his Dragoons charged into the Spanish ranks. Despite their nervous disposition the Spaniards fought hard, so hard the Chasseurs A Cheval also moved forward to bolster the French attack, it looked like the Spanish would break when into the French flank charged the 2nd KGL Hussars and 9th Light Dragoons. Fighting was desperate, the French in a frenzy to keep the road in their control but the larger numbers of British and Spanish cavalry began to sway the fight. The French cavalry commander, General Bron, was said to have shot dead two British troopers as they charged down on him, but then surrendered to the British Light Dragoon trumpeter, presumably hoping he wouldn’t be ready to kill him. 200 French cavalry surrendered with even more killed.

Seeing his orginal exit route now blocked, Girard, now wounded himself, ordered his infantry into a fighting retreat south, and then around the Sierra De Montanchez, but as they reached the bend around the mountain range, they found the British and Spanish cavalry had beaten them to it. Not only that, but behind them now came charging British infantry in pursuit with their bayonets at the ready. In desperation Girard and some men scrambled up the face of the Sierra De Montanchez, leaving over 1,500 men behind who quickly surrendered to the British.

Spanish cavalry and guerillas pursued the fleeing French for over thirty miles, killing the vast majority. Girard though escaped, he would recover from his wounds and escape and serve Napoleon right through to the 100 Days Campaign, where he would be mortally wounded at Ligny, dying a few days later.

WARGAMING THE BATTLE

We have opted for the 1:50 ratio for the current trend of few figures, but those with established collections at 1:20 ratio would look very impressive.

It may be interesting also to rearrange the French at the start into columns as they must have been immediately before forming squares, then the French commander decide for himself ha would be his best opening move.

Victrix 28mm Napoleonics, great figures to start the period with.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Majadhonda – 11th August 1812   Leave a comment

After the French Army of Portugal’s heavy defeat at Salamanca in late July, it began to meander it’s way back east, taking a wide berth across the the top of Madrid. To the south of Madrid, and initially unaware of the French defeat at Salamanca, was Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon’s brother and newly installed King of Spain. He had a an army of 16,000 men with him and on hearing of the defeat decided to make a dash to Madrid, but when he realised Wellington was still stationary he positioned himself west of the city in his path.

Wellington, wanting to ensure his men were properly supplied at all times to maintain discipline, delayed his pursuit until his wagon trains caught up and were able to reequip his men with ammunition and rations. By the time he set off he had two choices, to pursue the mauled French Army of Portugal to the north or to capture the capital city. He decided to send a smaller force north to keep the French moving away while his main army would advance on Madrid. Joseph Bonaparte opted to pull back to the city and it was on the 11th August that the vanguard of Wellington’s army ran into the rearguard of Joseph’s army which had been ordered to delay the advancing British-Portuguese army.

Suggested starting positions for the Battle of Majadhonda

ORDERS OF BATTLE – we usually provide a numbers of men to models comparison, but as there are so many different Napoleonic rules out there with vastly differing unit sizes we are simply going to list units for you to select your own preferred unit size.

FRENCH ARMY

General de Division Anne-Francois-Charles Trelliard (Overall commander of French forces at the battle) – excellent leader, inspiring, veteran

4 regiments of line dragoons – heavy cavalry, well trained, veteran, sword and dragoon muskets

(13th, 18th, 19th & 22nd dragoon regiments)

General de Brigade Guiseppe Frederico Palombibi – excellent leader, reliable, veteran

1 Regiment of Italiene Napoleone Dragoons – heavy cavalry, trained, steady, sword and dragoon muskets

1 Regiment of Westphalian Cheveau-legers – light cavalry, well trained, steady, sword

General de Brigade Chasse – experienced leader, reliable, veteran

1 Battalion of 2nd Nassau Infantry – trained, experienced, musket

1 Battalion of Spanish La Mancha Infantry – trained, unsteady, musket

2 8lb artillery cannon and crew – trained, experienced, steady

BRITISH-PORTUGUESE ARMY

Brigadier General Benjamin D’Urban (overall Allied commander at the battle) – experienced leader, veteran

3 Regiments of Portuguese Dragoons – Light cavalry, trained, unsteady, unreliable, sword, dragoon carbine

(1st, 11th & 12th Portuguese Dragoons)

2 6lb artillery cannon and crew – trained, experienced, unsteady

Colonel de Joncquieres – excellent leader, inspiring, veteran

2 Regiments of King’s German Legion Heavy Dragoons – Heavy cavalry, well trained, veteran, sword and dragoon muskets

(1st & 2nd KGL Dragoons)

Colonel Colin Halkett

2 Battalions KGL Lights – Regular infantry, skirmish trained, veteran, disciplined, muskets

(1st & 2nd Light Battalions KGL)

2 6lb artillery cannon and crew – trained, experienced, disciplined

Major-General Ponsonby – experienced, inspiring leader, veteran

3 Regiments of British Heavy Dragoons – heavy cavalry, well trained, veteran, sword & dragoon muskets

(5th Dragoon Guards, 3rd & 4th Heavy Dragoons)

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Wellington’s advance guard arrived at the village of Las Rozas on the morning of the 11th August, the KGL troops dismounted to rest in the village while a few scouts were sent forward with the Portuguese dragoons and four artillery pieces following them in support should trouble be sighted.

Meanwhile, and unaware of the British in Las Rozas, Trelliard’s men were entering Majadhonda, as they appeared on the far side of the village they spotted the scouts and behind them, the Portuguese and immediately began to attack.

The first line of four dragoon regiments charged across the plain while D’Urlon attempted to get his Portuguese dragoons to counter-charge. Instead, they turned and fled, abandoning the cannon which were overrun by the French. As the fleeing dragoons reached Las Rozas they galloped into the heart of the village where they attempted to rally in the market square.

The sound of the approaching horses and pistol fire had alerted the KGL units in the village who hurriedly mounted a defense, with infantry fire from the buildings and the cannon quickly positioned supported by dismounted dragoons, blocking entry to the French.

Other KGL dragoons were remounting in the square and with the rallied Portuguese made a counter charge out of Las Rozas and chased the French back towards Majadhonda, this time to be stopped by the Nassau and Spanish infantry who had now formed up with artillery across the road. Their volleys and cannon fire stopped the KGL and Portuguese dragoons, the latter once again fleeing back to Las Rozas while the KGL attempted a more structured fighting withdrawal, as the French dragoons exchanged musket fire from the saddle with them.

Finally as the KGL dragoons had almost been beaten back to Las Rozas, Major-General Ponsonby appeared with his three British heavy dragoon regiments, they had been following the advance guard along the road and had cantered forward when hearing cannon fire. The fresh British cavalry charged in to the French and Italian dragoons, with the now exhausted KGL dragoons attempting to join in. The melee was furious and intense with the French initially holding their ground until it became apparent that more British troops would soon be arriving behind Ponsonby, at which point the French withdrew, passing through Majadhonda and catching up with the main army as it pulled back to Madrid.

Although the British ultimately captured the battlefield, Trelliard had succeeded in delaying their advance for precious time allowing the main French army to distance itself from Wellington’s force.

Wellington praised his KGL men for such gallant fighting, while the Portuguese were rated as unreliable and under orders to only ever be used if alongside British cavalry who could show them how to fight.

British Heavy Dragoons by Perry Miniatures

This is a relatively small battle with only 2,000 – 2,500 men on each side and would lend itself to skirmish rules as well as standard rules like Black Powder.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle of Lundy’s Lane – 25th July 1814   Leave a comment

Brigadier General Winfield Scott is severely wounded at Lundy’s Lane

At the beginning of July 1814 the US military launched an offensive across the Niagara River, capturing Fort Erie, they then proceeded north. The overall plan of the US was to try and capture major cities in Canada in hope of using them as bargaining chips with the British to get them to stop attacking US shipping and encouraging the native American Indian tribes to raid US settlers. Defeating the British at the Battle of Chippawa on the 5th July, the Americans continued to push back the British with flank marches threatening to cut the British off from their rear supply bases until finally the British withdrew to Fort George on the shores of Lake Ontario. Here the British were safe from attack as a number of British warships patrolled the lake and were able to give heavy artillery support to the fort if required, The Americans didn’t have the guns to take on the navy vessels so took up base at Queenston, a few mile south of Fort George. It wasn’t long however before Canadian Militia with native Canadian Indians, loyal to the British, began harassing and raiding the American base and supply lines, which then forced them to then fall back to secure their lines of supply and communication. As soon as the Americans withdrew, the British under the command of Major General Phineas Riall and Lt.General Gordon Drummond advanced to Lundy’s Lane, a few miles north of Chippawa, and here on the evening of 25th July the US army and British met.

 

Initial suggested deployment for the Battle of Lundy’s Lane

ORDERS OF BATTLE

Using a 1 to 25 figure ratio

BRITISH ARMY

Major General Phineas Riall – Commander In Chief – veteran, skilled

Lieutenant General Sir Gordon Drummond – Sub-Commander – veteran, excellent

Royal Scots Battalion (340 men) – 14 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

Glengarry Light Infantry (450 men) – 18 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

Assorted Light Infantry (240 men) – 10 figures, veteran, solid, smoothbore musket

41st Infantry (340 men) – 14 figures – veteran, solid, smoothbore musket

89th Infantry (500 men) – 20 figures – veteran, solid, smoothbore musket

Royal Artillery (24lbs and Rocket teams) – 2 gun models & 2 rocket models – veteran, elite

ADDITIONAL BRITISH FORCES ARRIVING DURING THE GAME

Native Militia (340 men) – 14 figures – tribal warriors, musket and tomahawks

8th Infantry (340 men) – 14 figures – veteran, solid, smoothbore musket

Canadian Militia (500 men) – 20 figures – trained, militia, smoothbore musket

19th Light & Canadian Dragoons (150 men) – 6 figures – light cavalry, veteran, elite, sabre

103/104th Infantry (480 men) – 20 figures – veteran, solid, smoothbore musket

Royal Artillery (6lb guns) – 2 models – veteran, solid

AMERICAN ARMY

Major General Jacob Brown – Commander In Chief – veteran, skilled

Brigadier General Winfield Scott – Sub Commander – veteran, excellent, inspired

SCOTT’S BRIGADE

9th US Regular Infantry (320 men) – 14 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

11th US Regular Infantry (340 men) – 14 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

22nd US Regular Infantry (320 men) – 14 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

25th US Regular Infantry (340 men) – 14 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

US Artillery (6lb guns) – 3 models – veteran, elite

ADDITIONAL US FORCES ARRIVING DURING THE GAME

PORTER’S BRIGADE

New York Militia & Dismounted Dragoons (380 men) – 15 figures – trained, militia, smoothbore musket

5th Pennsylvanian Volunteers (340 men) – 14 figures – trained, militia, smoothbore musket

RIPLEY’S BRIGADE

21st US Regular Infantry (415 men) – 16 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

23rd US Regular Infantry (340 men) – 14 figures – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

US Artillery (12lb guns) – 2 models – veteran, elite

2nd Light & New York Dragoons (150 men) – 6 figures – light cavalry, veteran. elite, sabre

ADDITIONAL WARGAMING NOTES

Both Orders Of Battle have troops for initial deployment and then additional troops arriving during the game, our suggestion would be that sufficient games turns are allowed to take place that represent approximately an hour of time elapsed ( whichever rules you choose to use) before these additional troops begin to arrive from their respective table edges. They should arrive in column but may then move to deploy immediately they are the table if desired.

 

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The battle began late in the day at around 6pm when the US 1st Brigade led by Brig.Gen Winfield Scott emerged from the heavily wooded lower ground. The British began to hard pound them with their massive 24lb guns and inflicted heavy casualties, despite this Scott’s brigade advanced, with the him ordering one unit, the US 25th, to swing out to the right in a flanking move and try and capture the Lundy Lane crossroads. Scott’s men succeeded in pushing back the British, who in the centre pulled back the infantry, leaving their artillery in a forward and exposed position. Meanwhile on the US right flank the 25th made good ground and came across a number of British wounded making their way to rear positions, including the British C-in-C, Phineas Riall, whom they captured and took prisoner.

Despite these gains Scott’s troops were suffering heavy casualties and were struggling to maintain the momentum, when as dusk fell the remainder of the army arrived, Porter’s & Ripley’s Brigades as well as cavalry and more artillery with the C-in-C Jacob Brown. Seeing the situation they immediately deployed for battle and took over the front line allowing Scott’s men to pull back to the second line as a reserve and in some hope of relief from their intense fighting. Seizing the moment the fresh US infantry in the front line rapidly advanced to the British positions and poured murderous musket fire into the exposed Royal Artillery guns that were forming an over extended front, they then charged the survivors of the volley with bayonets and captured the British guns intact.

As light fades, the US infantry charge the British artillery guns

British reinforcements began arriving on the field of battle, but in the fading light and confusion of the situation were immediately repelled by US forces, the situation for the British was now dire. Second in Command (now the commanding officer), Sir Gordon Drummond **(note he also fought at Alexandria in 1801 – see our previous Battles For Wargamers March 21st), in desperation rallied men and formed up into the most basic of battle lines and launched a counter attack, in response the Americans threw all they could back at them and stopped the recapture of the British guns. A second attack, the same plan as the first, was launched and again the Americans held the British back, though not without considerable casualties including Brig.Gen Scott who after committing his men again to the front line battle was severely wounded.

At midnight, Drummond, himself wounded in the neck by a musket shot, rounded up every man he could find to attack a third time. By now there was no longer any formed battalions or units, just simply soldiers of all regiments grouped together to fight. In what became a massive melee of bayonets and musket butts, the two sides again battled over the captured British guns, the Americans again forcing the British to pull back.

From a force of over 2,500 only 700 US soldiers were still now in fighting condition, and all of those were exhausted. Both Jacob Brown and Winfield Scott were wounded (Scott severely) and ammunition and water was running low, reluctantly Brown ordered the US army to withdraw.

The British, despite still having over 1,200 men capable of fighting were unable to pursue or follow up due to the exhaustion of their men too.

Historically the battle was seen as inconclusive, “a draw”, but was by all accounts one of the bloodiest and fiercely contested battles of the 1812 War and in Canadian history, which should make for it being a fantastic battle to re-fight in miniature.

The Battle of Alexandria – 21st March 1801   Leave a comment

Following Napoleon’s ill-fated campaign in Egypt and Syria in 1798/99 and his subsequent departure back to France, leaving his Armee d’Orient behind, the British decided the time was right to challenge the French on land and they sent an expeditionary force of around 21,000 men led by Sir Ralph Abercromby. This invasion force landed at Abukir on March 8th 1801 (see our Instagram post 08/03/2020 for information on this landing) and after fighting on the landing beaches and another engagement at Mandara on the 13th March, the British advanced on Alexandria. Here they met the main French force under the command of Jacques-Francois Menou. Having suffered casualties and stationing men in the line of communication behind him, Abercromby now fielded 14,000 infantry, 200 cavalry and 46 cannon. The French, 8,500 infantry, 1,400 cavalry and 46 cannon, although a smaller force on paper the French were all veterans of desert warfare. With the sea on one flank and Lake Abukir on the other, the British deployed their forces in readiness for the French attack.

Initial deployment of The Battle of Alexandria 21st March 1801

ORDERS OF BATTLE – we usually provide a numbers of men to models comparison, but as there are so many different Napoleonic rules out there with vastly differing unit sizes we are simply going to list units for you to select your own preferred unit size.

BRITISH ARMY

Sir Ralph Abercromby – Commander in Chief – excellent leader, inspired

Guards Division

1 Battalion Coldstream Guards – elite, smoothbore musket, well trained

1 Battalion 3rd Guards – elite, smoothbore musket, well trained

1 battery of cannon – trained, steady, 9lb guns

Coote’s division

3 Battalions – trained, steady, smoothbore musket,

Cradock division

4 Battalions – trained, steady, smoothbore musket

Cavan division

6 Battalions – trained, steady, smoothbore musket

1 battery of cannon – trained, steady, 9lb guns

Cavalry

3 squadrons light Dragoons – elite, sword, carbine, well trained

Doyle’s division

4 Battalions – trained, steady, smoothbore mushet

Stuart’s division

3 Battalions – trained, veteran. smoothbore musket

1 squadron light Dragoons – elite, sword, carbine, well trained

Abercromby’s command

3 Battalions – trained, steady, smoothbore musket

1 Battalion (42nd Scots) – elite, solid, smoothbore musket

1 Battalion (28th Gloucesters) – trained, solid, smoothbore musket

1 battery of cannon – trained, steady, 9lb guns

In the Sea

4 gunboats – trained, steady, 18lb guns

In the lake

3 Armed barges – trained, steady, 6lb guns

 

FRENCH ARMY

Jacques-Francois Menou – Commander-in-Chief – veteran, average leader

Lanusse division

4 Battalions – veteran, steady, smoothbore musket

1 battery of cannon -veteran, steady, 12lb guns

Rampon division

2 Battalions – veteran, steady, smoothbore musket

1 Battalion Grenadiers – veteran, elite, smoothbore musket

1 battery of cannon – veteran, steady, 12lb guns

Reynier division

5 Battalions – veteran, steady, smoothbore musket

1 battery of cannon – veteran, steady, 12lb guns

Cavalry division

2 squadrons chasseurs – veteran, elite, sword, carbine

4 squadrons hussars – veteran, elite, sword, carbine

4 squadrons dragoons, veteran, elite, sword, carbine

Bron division

2 squadrons chasseurs – veteran, elite, sword, carbine

2 squadrons hussars – veteran, elite. sword, carbine

2 squadrons dromedaries – veteran, guard, sword, carbines

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

The French made a full frontal assault on the British, with the three divisions advancing in column at speed, as they advanced Rampon’s 32nd and 26th battalions veered off to their left to reinforce the Lanusse division and make the main assault along the coastline and the ruins, The fighting here was particularly hard and Abercromby was forced to bring forward his reserves to hold the line. The forward unit was the 28th (North Gloucesters) who finding themselves surrounded by infantry to the front and dragoons to their rear, famously formed into two lines one forward and one rearward facing, fighting back their foes they became the only regiment in the British army to be given a second cap badge, to be worn on the back of their caps to show they could fight from both directions.

The 42nd (Black Watch) advanced to support the forward units and captured a French standard which was then fiercely contested by French dragoons. It was at this point that Sir Ralph Abercromby found himself isolated from his men and several French dragoons charged in to him. Fighting courageously he fought them back with his sword until support arrived to save him, but not before he was dealt a critical wound that he would die of a week later.

In other sectors of the battle, the Guards easily maintained their position on the high ground and fought back the French assault, To the left, the French cavalry and dromedaries were repulsed by steady musket fire before making contact,

By 8:30pm the battle began to wane, the French weary and disheartened began to withdraw back to the city. The British had proven themselves as a new force to be reckoned with; despite the veteran experience of the French, the British had succeeded in achieving extremely fast and consistent volley fire to hold their line. It would be a characteristic that would put fear in the French for the next fifteen years.

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars

The Battle Of Lodi 10th May 1796 – (the creation of The Little Corporal)   Leave a comment

The storming of the bridge at Lodi

We have chosen this battle as our FIRST battle for wargamers for extra special reasons; it is said that after this battle Napoleon’s leadership inspired his men so much that they then adopted for him the term of endearment “The Little Corporal”; admiring he had risen through the ranks to greatness and then during the battle he personally positioned and aimed cannon, a role usually done by artillery corporals.

The Battle of Lodi was a fighting rearguard action by the Austrians against the French Revolutionary forces led by General Napoleon Bonaparte.

Despite numerical superiority, the French found it a hard fight as the Austrians commanded a strong defensive position. From a wargame perspective the outcome is far from certain and it results in a tense game.

We deliberately do not list battles for particular rules but rather give a general advice for you, the wargamer, to “adopt, adapt and improve” to your own personal choice of rules.

Working on a scale of 1:50 men with advice on morale etc

FRENCH FORCES

C in C – Napoleon Bonaparte (inspired/tactical genius)

Infantry Regular Division (12,000 men) – 240 figures fielded as regiments/brigades (regulars/trained)

Elite Infantry Light Infantry – Carabiniers (3000 men) – 60 figures fielded as regiments/battalions (elite/disciplined/light infantry)

Cavalry – Hussars and Dragoons (2000 men) – 50 figures fielded as two units (elite/disciplined)

Artillery – (30 guns) – represented by five artillery models

AUSTRIAN FORCES

C in C – Sebbottendorf (good)

Infantry (6000 men) – 120 figures fielded as regiments/battalions (regulars/trained)

Cavalry (1000 men) – 4 figures as lancers – 6 figures as hussars – 10 figures as dragoons (Kingdom of Naples cavalry)

Artillery – (14 guns) – represented by two artillery models

The battle layout as it was

The battlefield table should consist of a river running from edge to opposite edge with a narrow bridge spanning the banks. On the French side there should be a small walled town/village.

The French (excluding cavalry) should initially deploy within the town/village. Austrians should deploy on the opposite river bank. French cavalry should arrive on the Austrian side from the Northedge of the table after 2 game turns plus the result of 1 D6 roll.

THE BATTLE AS IT HAPPENED

Napoleon’s army was aiming to capture Milan from the Austrians, therefore it was necessary to cross the river Adda on a 170-yard-long wooden bridge at Lodi, in defense of which Beaulieu had left a rear guard of some 12,000 men and 14 cannon.

Bonaparte decided to storm the bridge, even though the Austrian guns completely dominated it. He sent a cavalry contingent up the river to cross and then sweep down on the Austrian right flank. He formed his grenadiers into columns in the shelter of the city walls and gave them an inspirational speech. Then, to the cries of “Vive la République,” they stormed the bridge. This attack faltered, but generals André Masséna and Louis- Alexandre Berthier soon led another attack across the bridge. In light of the heavy Austrian fusillade on the bridge, many French troops jumped off and opened fire from the shallow part of the river. A counterattack by the Austrians was foiled as French cavalry arrived just as more French infantry attacked the bridge.

The cavalry sabered the enemy gun crews and routed the Austrian forces, which left behind their artillery, several hundred dead, and almost 2,000 prisoners.

Bonaparte was a whirlwind of action. Observing from close range and from a church tower, he took personal charge of every detail. He even positioned the cannon along the river, earning for himself the sobriquet “the little corporal” for doing work normally assigned to a soldier of that rank. Bonaparte’s strength lay not just in his military skills but in emotional leadership, something that had not been particularly necessary in his previous engagements. He had inspired his men to undertake the rather daunting task of running across a bridge into concentrated Austrian fire.

The Austrian retreat from Lodi opened the road to Milan and gave the French troops new confidence. Lodi was far more important than simply a battle that opened the way to Milan. Beyond its somewhat limited military significance, the battle created a change in Bonaparte’s attitude toward his future: He now knew he was a leader. In exile at St. Helena he wrote that it was at Lodi that he first saw himself as able to achieve great things.

Lodi also had an important effect on Bonaparte’s troops. It was there that they first observed him in action and finally gained complete confidence in him. It was the beginning of the special relationship between Bonaparte and his men; indeed, Lodi marked the beginning of their personal devotion to him that would last some twenty years.

The Battle of Lodi was not just a milestone in the meteoric career of Napoleon Bonaparte but all in the French rank were Massena, Berthier and Lannes – all future Marshalls of Imperial France.

INSPIRED? QUOTE “lodi” in our online store and until the 10th September get 25% off French and Austrian Napoleonic figures – minimum spend £50 (may not be used in addition to other offers)

Posted 13/09/2021 by The Little Corporal in Napoleonic Wars