Fuentes D’Onoro 1811.
This weekend was to be our second foray into the Spanish peninsular! The French and the Allies were decided, the tactics discussed and the tiles laid out! Early on the first day the French under Marshal Massena began to probe the allied defensive line. We started the manoeuvreing on the first day of the battle, 3rd May.
The Kings German Legion manoeuvre into position.
The French pushed hard all along the Allied lines, they pressed the defenders of Fuentes d’Onoro ealt on but were repulsed with minor losses.
Troops of the Portuguese division form square to defend against Montbrun’s cavalry.
The British moving the Portuguese Divisions out to the far right of their lines to attempt to prevent a sweeping flank move by Montbruns cavalry, which appeared to be moving en-masse to turn the allied right flank.
Some of our Bavarian troops utilised as french allies within the divisions of french infantry.
Outnumbered significantly the Portuguese Cavalry brigade did far better than anyone expected, one regiment of them routing a French Hussar regiment and then a Polish Lancer regiment from the field in quick succession.
British infantry moving to support the flank of Fuentes D’Onoro.
All along the front the Allied infantry poured fire into the advancing columns of French infantry. One British battalion got caught by Dragoons in line and were cut down mercilessly!
The first assault against the village of fuentes d’Onoro, this brave attempt was thwarted.
The Battle began to intensify and the French charged the ridge with the Highlanders tenaciously hanging on, disputing every inch of ground. Three rounds of combat saw the French repulsed, but the Highlanders were shattered albeit at the cost of three battalions of French first class line infantry.
British infantry in the Allied defence line.
The French withdrew due to pressure on their flanks by an advance of the British line pouring volleys into the regrouping French infantry. The advance of the British infantry was stopped by the presence of another regiment of French Dragoons.
The exchange of fire was dramatic, this french battery of D’Erlon’s corps was severely hit by the Allied defence line.
The battle rolled back and forth for the rest of the afternoon. The casualties mounting on both sides.
British Light Dragoons moving out to support the pressure on the allied right flank.
Sunday morning, saw the French looking to wrest the ridge from the British by taking up a 36″ redeployment of their troops, essentially this meant that during the historical second day of the battle, the 4th May, the players would be allowed to reposition their troops up to 36″, this hopefully simulates the re-organisation of the divisions during the “quiet” day preceding the renewal of hostilities.
The light division deployed on the Sunday to stop the advance of the French Corps of Loison.
The British stuck to their ridge, redeploying some of their battered divisions to the rear while the remaining intact ones stayed put and steeled themselves for the next round.
Loisons corps, which had been kept in reserve during Saturday was sept out to the oposite of the Allied right. The die was cast and the game afoot.
Chasseurs du Po, lining out to exchange fire with the British Light Division.
The combined Grenadiers battalions in the french army drove foward toward Fuentes again, the British Line infantry opened up at long range and smashed the leading battalion with several volleys, two at long range, two more at effective and then one at short when the French charged! French columns from Drouets division driving either side of the village and encountering the supporting battalions, denying the holders of the vilage with support at a crucial moment. Credit to the troops of the combined Grenadiers, they got into the village, ejecting the defenders after the second round of combat.
The French immediately put a fresh Grenadier battalion into the village and braced themselves for the counter attack.
The lines of the Allied defence, a dash forward, followed by a quick wihdrawal to regain the safety of the allied ridge.
The Allied right saw the advance of Loison’s Corps and met it with the Light Division, Loison deployed his troops into line and exchanged volleys wth the redoubtable Craufurds boys, not too wise a decision you may think, but a brigade of French Light cavalry drew up on the right flank of the British rifles and appeared over a ridge in time to catch the green jackets in open order! The ensuing charge and volley at effective range emptied fifty percent of the saddles of the chasseurs, amazingly they thundered on, breaking through the rifles and on into the light infantry behind them cutting them down! They fell back after the breakthrough to regroup for another charge.
The light cavalry manoeuvred onto the flank of the Light Division and broke into a charge.
This galvanised Loison into pressing his attack, the British Light Division was made of stern stuff, they turned on the advancing French and gave ground gradually reaping a heavy toll.
Polish infantry advancing to assault the British line of defence across the river Dos Casas.
At the village of Fuentes, the British re-launched the assault with the best part of a division,storming down on to the grenadiers garrisoning it. The French managed two volleys before the Oxfordshire and Devonshire regiments crashed into them, the melee was bloody with a total of seven battalions on the British side and five on the French. The Grenadiers crumbled and fled from the village taking their supports with them.
All in all the British had held the line and the French had been badly mauled! Historically the deployment of the troops had been quite different, The result was the same, but the British had lost a few more of their choice troops than Wellington managed to lose, the British Guards took few casualties and really didn’t get involved being held as a reserve that never got used, the French guard cavalry under Bessieres/Lepic didn’t move out all game, which could have been a great disappointment to the french players, yet as it turned out remained somewhat historical.