Friday, June 10, 2011

Salamanca (British Attack on French Right) - 22 July 1812 - Part 1

Packenham's Third Division* crashing into Thomiere's troops
(image stolen from Wikipedia where it is not credited, I think it might be a Caton-Woodville)

The night before last was games night at the Kinch household. The study is beginning to look a little more comfortable and Donogh and two of Mrs Kinchs cousins came to play a few games of Command & Colours: Napoleonics. We played the first Salamanca scenario (the French left) first, though you'll be seeing that on Land War in Asia, I had to make sure that Donogh had left the building before starting the second battle so that he didn't pip me to the post with pictures - the dastard!

Salamanca is one of the Duke of Wellington's finest battles - there are any number of excellent accounts out there, but in brief Wellington had pushed into central Spain only to be confronted by Marmont superior force. The Duke began to pull back towards Portugal while Marmont tried to cut him off from his base.

Brother against brother, facing each other across the Pela Garcia River
Behold Ned, like a bespectacled eagle, poised to strike
(Click to embiggen)

The shadow boxing continued for weeks with each side trying to find a weakness. Mark Urban's "The Man Who Broke Napoleon's Codes" gives a fine account of this phase of the campaign. Eventually after a great deal of hard marching, Marmont over extended himself and the Duke counter-attacked. Apparently, this flash of insight came to him while he was eating a chicken leg, whereupon he gave a whoop, threw it down and launched his attack.

A chicken leg,
very similar to one carried by the Duke of Wellington at the battle of Salamanca

Sadly history does not record that exact method of preparation of the chicken leg, whether it was boiled, fried or roasted, breaded or unbreaded? As a consequence, no corresponding dish of Chicken Salamanca has survived to vie with Chicken Marengo upon the checked table cloth of battle.

Surely, all those with a passion for history can join with me in mourning this culinary defeat wrenched from the very jaws of victory.

Hat Chasseurs confront Italeri Hussars
(Click to embiggen)
The 18th Light Dragoons (Hussars) move forward on the British right in an attempt to pin the French left in square. Sadly they ran in a storm of dice from the French lights who stood their ground and wiped them out in a statistically unlikely volley.

Strelets Crimean Highlanders face Hat Chasseurs,
supported by Hat Young Guard (painted as line infantry)
(Click to embiggen)

Buoyed by their success the French lights advance to take on the British Grenadier Guards. In this case represented by the 92nd Highlanders. I thought it would be difficult for new players to distinguish between the Guards and the Line Infantry, so the Highlanders stepped into the breach. There's almost certainly a McFarlane in there, I'd recognise that sporran anywhere.

More Hat Young Guard in the French centre, supporting Zvesda French Foot Artillery
The British a hodge bodge of Hat Light Infantry, Strelets Crimean Infantry
and Revell knock-offs
(Click to embiggen)

More bodies pile up on the British right as the Guards drive off the French lights with musketry. Ten dice with no retreats rolled punished the unsupported French advance, as the Rangers, the 4th and the rest of the British line supported by gunfire push across the river against the weakened French centre. Knowing that this led by a distinctly windy fellow by the name of Foy, William believed his redcoats would have little difficulty in seeing off the frog eaters.

The high tide of the British advance,
the redcoats capture the French guns, but only temporarily
(Click to embiggen)

The Duke (aka William) looking rather pensive as the French counter-attack drives his men back across the river, whole but not unbloodied
(Click to embiggen)

And we'll come to the end of this particular battle in another post. Good night all.

*I suspect the chaps in bear skins are meant to be fusiliers, though to my knowledge they only wore these on home service.


  1. Sounds and looks like a splendid evening of gaming. Now since this is Napoleonics, I feel compelled to point out that you appear to have a picture of a "left" leg there where of course, according to the latest (unpublished) evidence, he was eating a "right" leg....

    Now the fusiliers, not only did they where their bearskins on parades and in prints but from the 60's until the '80's they wore them in many a hard fought wargame as well.

    Macfarlanes in the 93rd? the 42nd would be more likely but it is possible, especially given that volley!

    Those Hat Chasseurs are awfully nice figures.

    I like the prints on the wall as well.

  2. Ah yes, my apologies. How long was the bricole exactly?

    Is there a schism between the 93rd and the 42nd? I wasn't aware. I think I'll leave my fusiliers in shakos for the time being, it would get too confusing else.

    The prints are up to get them off the floor, though I hope to wash the walls relatively soon and stick up a shelf or two. So many books in boxes. It's unnatural.

  3. Hi CK,

    I believe the Duke tossed the chicken leg back over his shoulder, Henry the 8th style...:-)

    Great report thus far and I am eagerly awaiting part 2!

    All the best,


  4. Thanks Dave for that important piece of evidence.

  5. I have heard that the frog legs go well with the Merlot.

    I like to see the 1/72s in action after painting them these past two months.

  6. Came over from Asia to find out more, good work sir.