Saturday, April 21, 2012

Battle of Gamonal November 10, 1808

The Battle of Gamonal was a small battle and amongst one of the opening battles during the outbreak of hostilities between the French and Spanish armies. Part of Marshal Soult's corps was sent to clear newly appointed General Belveder out of the area and occupy the village of Gamonal. Historically, the Spanish were pretty much cut down and beaten pretty decisively. This opened up the invasion of central Spain for the rest of Napoleon's armies to sweep over and occupy the country. We decided to refight the battle using Shako 2 in 15mm scale.
In this particular battle recreation, things didn't go well for the French. General Lasalle's cavalry made attempts to break lines of Spanish infantry, including many second rate units. The Spanish had the fortune of anchoring their right wing under Henestrosa between a small village and the forest in the center of the field. The cavalry were then forced to make frontal assaults. The Spanish chose not to form square and managed to repulse Lasalle's cavalrymen repeatedly and even breaking the brigade in the process. This left General Milhaud's heavier dragoons to deal with this flank.
The French infantry snaked down the river banks to attack the Spanish left flank under General Alos. The French found equal difficulty here in managing to be thrown back due to the inability to outflank the Spanish who had their left flank anchored to the river and their right into the same forest that General Henestrosa's men were anchored to. A spanish battery present here and half the division managed to be a Thermopylae of sorts in holding at bay the French for the entire 9 turns of the scenario. The Spanish light battalion here was pushed back, but rallied and continued on until the bitter end.
The French infantry columns moving down were managing to move up more in force but going to be unable to occupy the village by the conclusion of the 9th turn. General Milhaud's cavalry managed to break two Spanish infantry battalions and then the following turn, another. The Spanish cavalary tried to make a counter charge against some of these dragoons who broke through and were engaged with a Spanish infantry battalion. The dragoons with a much better rating and a better dice roll here, managed to beat destroy both units, forcing a moral check for General Henestrosa's division. The Spanish right wing fled after multiple glorious feat of arms, leaving Gamonal open unless General Alos could stop them.
General Alos' fully intact division did divert an infantry battalion and cavalry regiment that were held in reserve to stop General Milhaud's rampaging dragoons. Since the dragoons were unable to hold the village, at best they could hit the division of General Alos in the rear. The only cavalry regiment in this remaining division attacked General Milhaud's leading dragoon regiment and received a counter charge from the second regiment of French dragoons. The Spanish cavalry was routed off the field. The remaining French infantry General Rey, only two shot up battalions were going to be forced to take a moral test to see if they could stay because they were now less than 50% of their six battalion starting strength.

Being the end of the 9th turn, it didn't matter as the French could not take the village and the cavalry could do not much more than risk getting themselves routed since they did not have infantry support. In the end, we considered it a minor Spanish victory even though General Reynaud's brigade could come into action. The Spanish lasted the required 9 turns and managed to pull of a minor victory if for nothing more than routing so many French forces off the table. The refight of the historical battle may have gone different from the original battle, but it was still quite fun to relive a part of history using correct maps and an OOB.

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