Saturday, May 12, 2012

Battle of Valls - February 25, 1809

[Caption: Spanish on the left and French entering on the far right. Southern end looking north, with Castro's brigade on the left foreground.]

After the battles at Cardadeu and Molins Del Rey, the demoralized Spanish army withdrew to Tarragona to reorganize. The French went into cantonments as they too were weakened from the constant fighting. By February, the Spanish army had been drilled to the point where it could take the offensive. The Spanish moved north in two divisions, intending to catch the French and Italian forces in a dispersed manner.

Simultaneously, St. Cyr’s divisions marched south; driving Castro’s Spanish out of Igualada and capturing the Spanish magazines. Reding realized he had lost the opportunity to defeat the French in detail. Reding opted to join Castro and fall back on Tarragona. In a surprise move, the Spanish force marched through parts of the night, arriving northwest of Valls early on the morning of February 25th, where they were intercepted by St. Cyr with Souham’s 1st Division. Reding opted to cut through the opposing force.

[Caption: Spanish view from behind Saint Ellier's brigade across from Verge's brigade.]

Our game, using Shako II rules, began with historical OOB's, deployments and even outcome. The scenario was set for 12 turns and for the first 10 of the turns, the Spanish seemed to be in firm control of victory. The French were having problems getting close enough within the time allotted and to inflict enough losses to secure the Sierra Alta hill within the Spanish deployment zone. The French northern wing seemed to be completely inactive for the entire game and effectively did nothing and so a stand off occurred between the French and Spanish commander Saint Ellier's brigade.

[Caption: Spanish center showing portions of Irazano's brigade to the left and Castro's to the right. Fontane's brigade can be seen on the background on the left and Dumoulin's brigade on the right.]

By the 10th turn, the French finally managed some coordination to come up and attack. An aggressive chasseur a cheval cavalry unit made a rash attack on some second rate Spanish cavalry and wiped them out. The Spanish Maria Luisa Hussars charged the following phase and drove them back with some loss. The French infantry in the center under Mazzuchelli, managed to inflict heavy loss on Irazano's brigade, but were taking plenty of kills in the process. Castro's brigade was hit on the front and flank by Fontane and Dumoulin, respectively. Quite naturally with the Spanish flank unable to be anchored to any point, facing greater numbers and quality, it did not take long for this Spanish brigade to disintegrate and break.

The Spanish cavalry brigade under Casteldosorius, tried a rash attack on some French infantry crossing the stream and were bloodily repulsed and destroyed. With 2/3 of this brigade gone, they broke. By the end of turn 12, Irazano's brigade had suffered too many losses and became demoralized. The French managed to pull off a solid victory with troops on the Alta Sierra and the best wing of the Spanish army managed to walk away untouched, to fight another day.

I intended to have more pictures to document the turns, however my camera did not have its memory card and the internal memory only holds so much. With both sides having one artillery battery a piece, little action occurred until the last couple of turns when the French closed in. The scenario is under official development and perhaps one day will be released in a book with the other scenarios I have played and wrote about here.

1 comment:

  1. So sorry for the camera! The battle is interesting, and the pictures very nice.
    Good work!