02 November 2019

Napoleonic Peninsula War Campaign: Part 2

Our Napoleonic campaign continues directly after the morning's skirmish and subsequent French lank attack on the British column - see here for details:

The French Commander, now informed of the morning's engagements by dispatch couriers and his own scouts, roused his main body to advance upon the British force.  The 10 miles or so would be covered in sufficient time to anticipate contact with the enemy shortly after lunch.

From a campaign perspective, we really wanted this game to be about the main forces and seeing the clash of firing line vs attack column. Accordingly, I removed the light forces from the battle - the British riflemen providing flank and rear guard protection from the French who had attacked earlier and subsequently withdrawn to the west.

Noting the dispositions of the forces post the morning battle, I directed the starting positions of the adversaries, commencing approx 2-3 feet apart and with each side occupying key buildings with light forces at game start - again this was to aid the development of the main fight.
The tightly packed French attack column forms up for the assault on the British thin red line
Le pas de Charge!
The British formed up with an extended line of British Regulars with Spanish guerrillas on their flank.  The Light Dragoons, so handy in the morning's engagement, stood past the Spanish on the far right wing as a forward Reserve.

The French formed up with an assault column supported by a regular unit in line and a number of light troops deployed to annoy the British and prevent them from concentrating their fire on the column. Oh yes, they also had a nasty looking 9 pdr cannon in support!

With the field set, the French began their advance, accompanied by the opening salvoes of the cannon which were rather impressively effective. You could see the British Commander get a bit nervous about the prospect of a protracted bombardment.
Clever French geometery kept the gun in action while the infantry advance
in the centre, supported by French light forces on the flanks (not shown)

Rapidly advancing using the "pais de charge" special ability and with a skirmisher
screen in place, the French attack column was very menacing!
Meanwhile, the British line is starting to thin under cannonade and sustained musket fire from the supporting French units
And at this stage the French attack started to slow - a couple of officer casualties, coupled with a lack of command flags, saw the cannon unable to fire and an inability to push the attack column forwards (though it did absorb a staggering amount of British firepower in the meantime, without significant effect).  Nevertheless, other French elements were pushing up and the British line was under heavy pressure.
Things getting very ugly for the British centre - a French breakthrough is imminent!
On the British left, the other Line Company manoeuvred into a good position to pour fire into the flank of the French attack column. The game was now on a knife edge - each activation important and a few early tiffin cards titling tilting the balance each way in turn. It made each card draw very exciting (and thus I forgot to take a lot of pictures!)
French dragoons attack the British left to protect the attack column from Flanking fire.
While tactically sound, this charge was ultimately very costly for the French
The British were doing well on the flanks but about to cave in the centre - indeed, the centre Line formation was faltering and had started to withdraw with over 50% casualties.  But British successes on the flanks had the overall French Force morale dropping fast, and then...

...from out of nowhere young Lieutenant Overbight shows up with his Light Dragoons- they had loitered way out on the British right flank, unengaged and forgotten in the bigger action. With masterful timing they streaked across the field, taking the supporting French line infantry in the flank and destroyed it. French force morale faltered and despite the attack column remaining intact, the French General was obliged to call it a day and fall back.

A fantastic game that went down to the wire and could have gone either way at any time. One of the best games of Sharp's Practice we have had!  Part of the end of day campaign moderator's report to the British Commander was the following:

The sun has set on an action filled day. As your servants clear away the remnants of your roast beef and yorkshire pudding in your tent, you reflect upon the day. Sipping at a good claret, the moment is marred only by the groans and occasional scream from the hospital tent. You make a mental note to have the Chief of Staff ensure the surgeons relocate further out of earshot tomorrow, and then turn back to the situation map.

Today saw three engagements, commencing with your screening elements under Lieutenant Rotter being pushed back by an enemy light force superior in number. That enemy force, mostly comprised of Voltiguers with some mounted Dragoons in support, then attacked your right flank mid morning and attempted to sack your baggage train, but the rapid redeployment of your main body swept them aside. Notably, young Overbight’s Dragoons performed most gallantly – perhaps there is more to that young man than just Daddy’s deep pockets.

The real action started when the French appeared in the afternoon from the North, forming up into their trademark attack column which advanced with flanking elements and the support of a 9 pdr. The latter’s opening salvos were a portent to a difficult afternoon but soon fell silent as the French infantry closed.  A vigorous engagement followed, with volleys crashing out in both directions and the fields were spattered with blood. In the end though, it was young Overbight’s charge onto the enemy’s western flank that caused them to waver and then withdraw to the North. You make another mental note to file for a brevet Captaincy for Overbight – he has well earned it this day.

Campaign wise, the French have now chosen to retire and consolidate in a new position to start a new follow-on campaign narrative.


  1. A cracking good report on what was a really engaging game. I won't lie, I really thought the French would break my line for a while there. The ability to pour some flank fire onto the column and the spectacular Fisticuffs of the Light Dragoons turned the tide for me.
    Thanks to Gavin for hosting again too.

  2. "Huzzah!" for the gallant Lieutenant Overbight and his dashing dragoons!

    Great report and pics :)

  3. Glad to see this kind of splendid report...and glad to see these courageous French dragoons in action!