Friday, June 15, 2012

The Battle of Vimeiro (21st August 1808) Part one

This battle was played some weeks ago, before I was overcome by a blogging lethargy that has left me bizarrely unenthused with the whole project. However, nothing overcomes a lack of writing like applying the seat of the pants to a chair and waiting until inspiration strikes.

The battle of Vimeiro as you all very well know, took place in 1808 during Wellington's first outing to the Iberian peninsula. Wellington or Wellsley as he was known at the time, arrived in Portugal and beat the French at the battles of Rolica and Vimeiro. He was then superceded by Generals Dalrymple and Burrard, who concluded a peace which while it cleared the French out of Portugal, was so politically disasterous that of the three British commanders that signed it, only Wellsley ever held high command again.

But enough of that.

The strategic situation was as follows, the British forces had recently arrived in Portugal at Mondego Bay near Lisbon. Wellington had had been tasked with kicking the French out of Portugal and was had been eying the seat of the pants of Jean-Andoche Junot as a likely spot for a boot.

Wellington had fought a battle with the French under Delaborde four days previously at Rolica in one of those strange engagements that neither side could be said to have lost. The British took the French position, but the French had retired in good order. Not bad for a Sepoy General who had not commanded an army against the French in battle before, but one does not break the aura of Gallic invincibility by pushing half your number of Frenchmen off a hill. The positions were now reversed, Wellington was on the defensive awaiting reinforcements (and supercession by a more senior officer) and Junot was eager to shatter his force before it could consolidate. 

This wasn't the first time we'd played this battle, but it was the first time Krisztian had joined us, though he mysteriously appears to have dodged all the photographs.

The French opened the ball with characteristic ferocity, a full throated bayonet charge straight into the heart of the British line.
Which was promptly shot down after some muttering from the British staff.
"What the hell does he think he's playing at?"
Meanwhile on the French right, the Line infantry begin to advance
...and the cavalry in the centre charge! But fail to make much of an impression.
While the "thin red streak tipped with steel" drives the Chasseurs back in disorder.
General Solignae moves up to join the front line.
Meanwhile in the French centre, all is not well. The 13ieme Cuirassiers have been driven back and the 60th American have skirmished forward, picking off a few of the 22ieme Ligne. There was back slapping all around from the British.
But they spoke too soon, a powerful cavalry charge backed up by the weakened 22ieme Ligne wiped out the over confident riflemen and swept the 4th Foot who unwisely tried to take the charge in line from the ridge. Though the Frenchmen were 2-1 down, the 4th were barely hanging on and even if they managed to form square on the following turn, there was a better than even chance that they would be ridden down.

But it was not to be, a counter attack by British Light Dragoons supported by their Portuguese brethren, put paid to the over extended French cavalry. "Good Lord," muttered the British IC, "I do believe they've been stealing our tactical manuals."

On the French left, General Solignae spurred his men to great efforts, taking the village of Ventosa despite tough British opposition.


  1. intresting Battle Rep as always. Do you use Command and Colours rules?


  2. Great looking game Conrad the write up is very informative too!