Dated: July 5, 2008.
A new battle report. Bailen, 19 July 1808 in 1/32
At the start of the Spanish revolt against Bonaparte, the Swiss field marshal in Spanish service, Reding, gave the French a severe blow at the battle of Bailen, by capturing an army of 3 divisions.
There were multiple reasons for the French defeat, one was because the force consisted mainly of conscripts and depot battalions brought together in "regiments provisoires". The main reason however was the poor judgment of the situation by the French CIC General Dupont. He stayed immobile to long with his main force while a Spanish army started maneuvering based on an ambitious but very dangerous plan. The Spanish divided their force to encircle Dupont. These divided forcers could have been easily defeated by Dupont, but he made the same error, by, in his turn, dividing his force. He send one division (General Vedel) and part of his cavalry to secure the line of communication. However, instead of waiting at Bailen, Vedel continued. One of the Spanish forces slipped between the divided French and took position at Bailen and the heights surrounding it. The Spanish army consisted of a some very good regular regiments but had also a number of militia battalions.
Three players on the French side Ronny (vanguard and rearguard), Patrick (CIC, with direct controle of the dragoons, the Garde de Paris and the Swiss brigade) and Geert the light cavalry brigade and an infantry brigade), three on the Spanish, one was my eldest son Fabian, whom I helped and replaced later in the game, on the left flank, Siegfried (son of Patrick) in the centre and Kristof, my godchild, on the right.
The game begins with the French vanguard - a provisional regiment of 3 battalions coming on table. The French side of the table is covered by olive trees, the Spanish side is a ridge. The skirmishes, supported by long range light artillery fire) closed in on the militia on the Spanish left. The poor militia shooting and the fact skirmishes are not easy to hit rendered the skirmishes invulnerable for the militia musketry. Overconfident the skirmishes came to close, within charge range, and of course the militia charged, catching one stand (2 figures) and pursuing the next turn. Meanwhile, with counter battery fire, the French lost 1/3 of their light battery reducing their effective range to 40cm. The militia on their turn were charged by the provisional regiments, leading to one militia battalion destroyed and the other with losses driven back to the ridge, but with losses among the French officers.. On their turn, the provisional regiment was charged by the Spanish Bourbon cavalry regiment, and driven back into the cover of the olive trees.
In the meanwhile Geert had come onto the table and turned behind the cover of the threes to the Spanish right, where the light cavalry brigade collided with the Spanish cavalry. The outnumbered Spanish were after a couple of turns halved and driven back to the ridge. Also here, the French officers and generals did undergo heavy losses, rendering the remaining light cavalry virtually immobile.
More to the centre Patrick advanced with two battalions of the Garde de Paris, supported by a regiment of dragoons. Cannonry and skirmish fire from the hill stop the advance of one of the battalions, but the other one continued and charged the Texas regiment of Kristof, pushing it with losses to a hasty retreat. A supporting veteran regiment of Siegfried was forced to leave the table.
A critical moment for the Spanish. With still French reinforcements coming on the table, the defense line broken and a veteran regiment lost, it didn't look good. Siegfried was furiously blaming Kristof for his unlucky dicing, not helping to keep heads cool. Then the dragoons charged the central battery, it was a carnage. 3 out of 4 artillery figures were lost, but the dragoon unit was against al odds annihilated. The danger of a major line disruption was parried, a key moment.
The Garde de Paris regiment was now isolated on the crest surrounded by enemy units. The Texas regiment rallied, and advance towards the crest, and were charge again by the Garde de Paris downhill, again receiving losses, but the attached officer of the Garde De Paris fell and they retreated up the crest. Heavy musketry doomed their fate. Two battalions of provisional troops hadn't been able to come to support the Garde de Paris, stopped by heavy skirmish and artillery fire from the high hill on the right(Zumacar Grande). Together with this attack on the Spanish right, an advance of two Swiss regiments in the center began. These regiments - Reding and de Preux - were former in Spanish service regiments pressed into French service. An impetuous advance of a unit by Siegfried (Irlanda Regt), forced me to follow with… a Swiss regiment (another Reding). The Swiss regiments didn't fire or charged each other
And the advance was stalled, one of these regiments in French service driven back to the olive trees by Siegfrieds Irlanda regiment. By now the rearguard : Marine guards, a gathered grenadier unit, and a Swiss regiment n°4 (not a pressed regiment, and original in French service) .
I used my last reserve unit to close the gap behind the advanced units to face a new treat coming from the right : the two remaining French dragoon units prepared for a decisive charge. On the Spanish left, the Boubon cavalry regiments was charged by part of a provisional cuirassiers regiment, the latter being dispuresed but inflicting aditional losses . Being halved, the Bourbon regiment started to fall back the next turns.
In the center the Marine Guards started a firefight - being outnumbered - they could not win. More to the right the Swiss regiment n°4 and the grenadiers started to advance. By now, I had created a killing ground for them. Musketry from my Walloon Guard regiment, the reding regiment and artillery fire took their toll. Also on the Spanish right, the dragoons suffered heavy from the artillery and skirmishing from Kristof's unit on the Zumacar Grande. The de Preux regiments saw the French cause was lost and changed side, sealing the fate for the French.
The result of the game came close to the historical outcome : uncoordinated attacks towards different targets spreading the striking power. In the game, the French players had officers in abundance, leading to a too extensive use of attaching them, making them vulnerable. Too many of them fell rendering units immobile that could have tipped the balance. The game lasted 4 hours, more than usual, because it took the French a long time to deploy after entering the table.
I was really exhausted afterwards, due to the weeks of preparations and the tension of fight itself.
Swiss vs. Swiss
Irlanda vs. Reding
de Preux joins Spanish side
Dragoons and Swiss de Preux
Garde de Paris
All is lost
Walloon Guards and retreating militia
Reserves closing the gap
Overview, advance Garde de Paris
Skirmishes from the Zumacar
Many thanks to Mr. Donvil
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