Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Salamanca (French Right) - 22 July 1812 - Part One

 Light Dragoons at Salamanca
(image stolen from British Battles, has the look of a Simkin I reckon)

I have a passing interest in historical fencing, not Olympic fencing, and when I had the leisure to do so I did quite a bit. It is probably the closest thing to an interest in sport that I've ever managed to sustain. I've practiced a little sabre in the French style and some Italian rapier using the Nicolette Giganti system. As viewers of Game of Thrones well know the first rules of fencing is "Stick them with the pointy end".  This is something Giganti is an advocate of, there isn't a single engagement that I recall that doesn't end with attempting to put your point through your opponents head.

The famous Japanese duellist Miyamoto Musashi was also quite clear on the point, writing (I'm quoting from memory here) in the Book of Five Rings, "Excellence in fencing is to be admired, but never underestimate the importance of stabbing your opponent in his face."

What has this got to do with the battle of Salamanca, you may ask? 

There comes a point in many a fencing engagement, often at the beginning, when both men regard each other and are unsure how to proceed. A killing blow typically comes as the result of a counter-attack, but the chap who attacks also dictates the pace of the engagement. A weaker practitioner may win, if he attacks suddenly and doesn't allow the stronger man to bring his superior skill to bear. What is certain is that he will lose if he remains entirely on the defensive. This can lead, particularly when both combatants are evenly matched, to a prolonged period where both chaps give each other the fish eye until one of them has a momentary slip of concentration. Then the other fellow kills him.

Salamanca is a bit like that. Wellington had advanced into Spain at the head of his army. Marmont blocked him and grew stronger as Wellington advanced. Marmont was falling back on his supply lines and Wellington is lengthening his. The two armies marched and countermarched for weeks sometimes on a few hundred yards apart, until eventually Marmont made a mistake and allowed part of his army to be isolated and crushed. 

You can find the scenario here

 The Field of Battle

Mrs Kinch's Uncle Westprog was visting from Arizona and I thought it was about time we played some Napoleonics. Uncle Westprog took the British, while I broke a habit and played the French.We played the second Salamanca scenario, which consisted of a British assault over the river Pela Gracia. Uncle Westprog hadn't played Command & Colours Napoleonics before, but he soon got the hang of things.

 Sneaky British Rifles scurrying into the Chapel 

These are Revell British Rifles painted as the 60th Royal Americans by Mark Bevis

Shooting up the Legione Irlandaise, who move forward to push them out

But the Irishmen clear them with the bayonet

These are Revell British Rifles painted as the 60th Royal Americans by Mark Bevis

The Legione Irlandaise are Zvesda French Light Infantry painted by Mark Bevis

...and open fire on the British line, forming up in the centre

The British Line are the Connaught rangers and the 28th Foot, both HAT Peninsular British, Newline Horse Artillery in support. The HAT figures were painted by Mark Bevis and myself, while the gunners were done by Fernando Enterprises. 

Meanwhile, a rush of blood to the head has landed the Hussars of Conflans in a spot of bother

The British heavies on the right are the Fourth Royal Irish Dragoon Guards, who sadly did not have a good Peninsula, they were painted by Mark Bevis. The Hussars of Conflans are Zvesda Russian Hussars given a fictional paint scheme.

Surrounded as they are by the Drogheda Cossacks, a battery of Royal Horse Artillery and two squadrons of the Royal Irish Dragoon Guards

The Drogheda Cossacks are ESCI Crimean British Light Dragoons painted by Mark Bevis.

Meanwhile, with more redcoats forming up in the centre, the greatcoated legions of French infantry prepare to receive them 

HAT French Young Guard with additions by SHQ painted by me. Gun crew are Zvesda French Foot Artillery painted by me.

The redcoats struggle across the river, taking fire from the Legione Irlandaise in the chapel, the Connaught Rangers move forward to take the place by storm

House by Italeri, painted by Boomer. 

The 22ieme Ligne and the 62ieme Ligne move forward to support the Hussars who are about to prove that they are not blackguards

The 62ieme are more French Young Guard who do rather well as line infantry I think. The 22ieme are Ykreol figures, not recommended. They are without doubt some of the ugliest figures in my collection.

Uncle Westprog looking pensive

As the battle stands at present, the French have beaten back the British thrust on the right, but with the redcoat juggernaut beginning to splash across the river will the French centre hold?


  1. Conrad,
    You are so lucky to have a gamer in your extended family! Most of mine think that I am simply some old eccentric professorial type. That you put out a wonderful game for him to enjoy is simply marvelous!

    1. It's rather good alright. There are quite a few wargames on Mrs Kinchs side.

  2. COnrad,

    A "cracking" game as you might say! Love the look of the layout and those 1/72 plastics. Nice brushwork there. Must ask, though. . . Since the Hussars de Conflans are part of your French forces, have you thought about adding a figure to represent the Brigadier Girarde?

    Best Regards,


    1. I have considered it - though the question is how to portray him? As a dashing lieutenant, senior captain at Saragossa, or a brigadier at Waterloo?

  3. Hi CK,

    Ah Salamanca! Any chicken drumsticks tossed in any direction?

    The figures look really nice and 20mm for Napoleonics seems just right - well it did for me back in 1970-something-or-other!

    I am very impressed with the Hussars of Conflans - have you a personality figure for the good Brigadier?

    All the best,


    PS I like the hexed cloth as well - home grown or a purchase?

  4. No chicken drumsticks I'm afraid, but we did do justice to the cheese board. A figure of the brigadier is a work in progress and the mat is a five inch hottz mat.

  5. Bravo Conrad,
    and good for you both to get in a good game.