Sunday, January 12, 2014

Battle of Talavera 1809(2) Part I

For our refight of Talavera we reconstructed much of the battlefield north of the town itself.  The old, medieval walls would anchor the flank of the allied force, up to the gap between the Cerro de Medillin and Sierra de Segurilla.  The Portina stream is just cosmetic and after some thought I decided against a special rule for the 23rd LD finding a ravine if they charged.

The allies were made to deploy first to represent the apparently abysmal work by the Spanish and British cavalry that led to the surprise attacks and near embarrassment of Wellington the day and night before our engagement.  They chose a historical deployment.  The French, commanded by Marechal Jourdan rather than the questionable Joseph Bonaparte, were then allowed to plan and deploy.  The starting positions from North to South from the allied POV.

The city of Talavera itself, with the great bridge spanning the Tagus River.

As we began the first grand tactical movement, the allies stood fast except on the flanks.  On the left Cotton and Anson's light cavalry brigades took a deep breath and started off to intercept the mass of French infantry and cavalry that appeared to be bearing down on them.  However, Marechal Victor, in his eagerness to lead Ruffin's division forward neglected to send clear orders and the division under Lapisse didn't step off with the rest of the army.  On the right, de la Cuesta sent the vanguard division ahead to attack into the olive groves next to Talavera.  There they found the "German Division" under Laval opposing them.

 Sebastiani's division moved forward to hit the union of the British and Spanish forces.

The 16th Light Dragoons covered  themselves with glory this day.  Beating both French cavalry and infantry battalions.  While grievously damaged, they held their morale and were eventually extricated back into friendly lines.

Zaya's division closed but had a sudden bout of inactivity and could only prepare themselves to receive the enemy, should they emerge from behind the olive grove enclosures.

Sebastiani's division neatly formed line from column and advanced slightly while their voltigeurs kept up an annoying fire against the lines.  They then advanced and drove back a battalion of British guards and a crack line battalion.  No amateurs these; the French assailants were the famous 32e Ligne.

Back on the left, the French infantry stalled in fear of the rampaging British cavalry and a fierce duel developed for the Cerro de Medillin.  A bagpipe band played loudly to stiffen British resolve.
In time, the aggressive de la Cuesta could stand it no more.  Placing himself at the head of Portago's division and moved to attack.  If the British guards were to be driven back, then Spanish bayonets much drive the invaders from Spain!  Their courage bolstered by the fact that a French charge in line against the British had utterly failed and routed.

Comforted by the knowledge that right behind him were the divisions of Albuquerque and heavy brigade of Fane.  However, things are getting thin on the Cerro de Medillin.

Looking south on the table we see a fierce struggle tapering to stalemate.

I can sometimes be accused of painting a rosier picture than the tabletop would indicate.  But I truly believe this one can go either way.  The "thin red line" on our left is getting very thin and one must think that numbers will prevail there.  However, by weighting so heavily on that side, we have chances in the center and right.  We will finish the battle today (Sunday) with a report to follow.

Vive el Rey!


  1. Looks like a great game, pictures are the city of Talavera...and Vive La Cuesta!

  2. God save Ireland. There are eagles to be had.

  3. Looks like an excellent game with some aggressive moves by the Spanish. Until the next report.