This battle was during Marshal Victor’s invasion of Estremadura and to push into southern Spain in March 1809, and became one of the most costly Spanish defeats of the Peninsular War, as the Spanish Army came out to meet the French.
But with refights, it all depend on who's rolling the dice on the tabletop!
Marshal Victor had approximately 17,500 troops, while the Spanish under command of General Cuesta possessed about 23,000. However, Victor had a 50-30 advantage in guns and could also count on more cavalry than the Spanish, 4,500 to 3,000.
The scenario, played over 12 turns, has been taken from the excellent Fields of Glory by Chris Leach. The Divisions have fixed deployment zones but down to the players discretion for actual battle deployment.
For this battle I have doubled the size of the units (because I can), to 6 bases to a battalion, but the standard 3 bases for the second rate Infantry. All the French are Regular. The Spanish are a mix of Regular and Second rates, but all the Spanish Cavalry is SR. All troops are painted by me and from my collection.
The Counters used, are square 30mm for casualties, the wounded figures on pennies denotes staggers (Shaken) and any of the mdf markers will be explained. MDF markers from Charlie Foxtrot models.
The Spanish advancing into position
Henestrosa (1st Div)
Del Parque (2nd Div)
Trias (3rd Div), and General Cuestra on left
Portago (4th Div)
Alberquerque (5th Div)
Lasalle (3rd Div)
Villatte (1st Div)
Latour-Maubourg (2nd Div)
Ruffin Reserve 4th Div) - Off table, can arrive any turn, after turn 2. I elected for turn 5.
Turns 1 & 2: The Spanish advanced deployed in lines and the French in their columns.
The columns march into a hail of shot!
Skirmishers on both sides were ineffective in the early stages.
Turn 3: The French third Division's Dragoons on the right of the line crashes a Line which failed to form hasty square.
and a French battalion charge the unit next to it!
In the center the fist Division charge in hoping to get through the volley fire st close range.
The French left saw the first cavalry clash between the Spanish 5th Div and the French 3rd Div.
The first unit to break was from the French 1st Div, artillery and then close range Musketry.
Then a column from the same Division.
Melee, The French Chasseurs double the Spanish 2nd Rate Cavalry's score, to destroy them with 5 kills.
Then crash into a Spanish line which failed to form Hasty square, which was broken in Melee pursuit phase.
A French Infantry battalion of the 1st Div is broken in Melee, it's not all going the way of the French.
French Dragoons break the Spanish Infantry unit and then recalls back to reform.
Turn 4: the Artillery breaks another French unit from 1st Div, which will cause a Divisional command test at the end of the turn.
In the Melee phase, the French 3rd Division loses an infantry unit.
French 1st Div, in the center loses another unit and one falls back due to losing a melee.
The French had some success in melee, there was a Spanish unit where the single figure is. The French 2nd Div lost another unit as well.
But mostly the dice were against them. Another unit gone, this time from Latour-Maubourg's 2nd Division.
The second unit of Latour-Maubourg's 2nd Division to break. A Divisional Morale at the end of turn was due.
In the Command phase, Villatte's 2nd Division failed morale, rolled a 1 and had lost over 50% of it's units. The biggest division of the French, was the 2nd division which was now broken.
This left a large gap for the Spanish to exploit, unless Ruffin arrived in tome to save the day for the french!
The French 2nd Div on the Right flank passed their divisional command test due to losses of third losses.
As did the French 1st Div. French losses at the end of turn 4.
Turn 5: From this moment on, the French line began to collapse.
At the end of turn 5, Latour-Maubourg's 2nd Division broke.
The Spanish center reorganised for the onslaught from Ruffin who was now marching up the center.
Ruffin arrives on the battlefield, but is it too late.
The French 3rd Div, desperately trying to make their cavalry count, but were down to three units and could not afford to lose another.
The Chasseurs of French 3rd Div Charged and outscored to break a Spanish square, but was in turn broken by the artillery of all things. The Chasseurs had already received 3 kills and a draw in the melee caused a kill on both units which took the Chasseurs to the FMR (Frontal Morale Rating) and broke them.
The Hussars faired no better and were broken by a square.
The French 3rd Division failed their Divisional Morale and broke.
At this point the Spanish 5th Division took their first morale of the game and passed. Spanish losses end of turn 5.
There were two turns of manouvering with a bit of ineffective artillery
Turn 8: Ruffin tried to cover as much ground as he could but Victor could see total annihilation of his army if he did not jave some luck go his way.
The Spanish were tightening the net!
Turn 9: Two of Ruffin's units broke from artillery and musketry.
Another unit lost melee and fell back.
Ruffin failed morale and the Division became de-moralised and Victor thought it best to leave the field to the victorious Spanish.
Conclusion: Completely changed around from what really happened.
What really happened:
Cuesta lost quite badly and was almost killed himself. He lost 10,000 men, killed or captured, lost 30 guns and Victor only lost 1,000 Frenchmen.
My thanks to Mark to played a stoic Spanish commander and even a newly painted unit of Irish kicked butt.