donderdag 3 januari 2019

Portugal 1808/09 – rear guard at La Trepa

Details of the location, troop strength and historical background can be found at the link below. Briefly, La Romana’s rear guard, commanded by General Mahy, comprised of seven under strength Spanish units, were caught near the village of La Trepa by a light cavalry force led by Franceschi. In the ensuing skirmish the rear guard was severely mauled.  

La Trepa, in Galicia, can be found on the N525 roadway leading north from Monterey. The valley gradually narrows north of La Trepa and for our tests we have positioned a number of difficult hill paralleling the road and narrowing to a point north of the village. As per deployment rules, the Spanish start 6BW from the French point of entrance (base line) as the French cavalry are off table; this  was done as the board is 80cm x 80cm.

In the first test General Mahy split his force in two groups with one marching ahead while a second formed a skirmish line to cover their withdrawal. Each group would then re leave the other in turn continually marching further north. The French arrive and immediately attack with the lead formation while others move to extend the line to either side of the road. The Spanish line hold their ground and covering fire from the hills give them time to withdraw toward the village. Renewing their pursuit, the French reach the Spanish infantry and cut them to pieces. This unnverved the militia that had formed line on either side of the road as they face other French cavalry in turn. Franceschi leading his Chasseurs destroy a unit of militia sending the remaining troops into panic (demoralization). The French pursuit is hampered by the close confines of the village giving Mahy an opportunity to reform his remaining into line allowing the rest to flee. Franceschi breaks off pursuit as further movement north in the narrow valley would be hazardous and so was content with the captured standards and destroying half the rear guard. 

French cavalry catch up with La Romana’s rear guard.

Spanish withdraw to a second position to hold off a second attack.

Despite further losses, the Spanish continue their retreat. 

A second test, prompted a revised Spanish deployment; skirmishers were positioned closer to the Spanish column so as to give better covering fire. As the Spanish column continued their march militia and regular units formed a second line just south of the village At this moment, the French enter the board with a bit less élan (low pip score). They made up for this on the succeeding bound to assault the regular units defending to front and those positioned on the hill slopes. To their surprise, the Chasseurs on the left were badly mauled and both fights on the hill slopes were repulsed. The Spanish regulars demonstrated a cool determination and moved back toward a second position. Here, the French cavalry renewed their assault eventually destroying a unit of militia.  Despite this, the Spanish continued their retreat threading through the village and along the hill slopes. A last desperate attack by French cavalry caught Spanish regulars just north of the village cutting them to pieces. The game ended with Mahy salvaging half of his command while the French counted a quarter of their strength as casualties.

Spanish deployment is slightly revised.

French vigorously attack but lose one of their number.

Spanish are holding their ground.

The stubborn resistance by Spanish line save the remainder of the rear guard.

General Mahy must withdraw his entire command off board (north) to achieve a victory. Knowing this the French player must quickly destroy two units of Spanish to bring the remainder in a state of demoralization. Reaching this point, the French should be able to destroy the remainder of the command with ease. Yet, from the tests it is possible for the Spanish to give the French a beating by concentrating their fire on an individual unit. This scenario does require skill to pull off a retreat while  holding an enemy at bay; an excellent exercise for the command of the Light Division at Fuentes de Onoro.

You can review the background history and troops involved at the following link.

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