Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Battle of El Burrito, 22nd July 1812......

This 28mm Peninsula War game was  played at the SESWC club night the day before our big refight of Polotsk.  The scenario was devised by John Glass. It was a hypothetical alternative action – The Battle of El Burrito, 22nd July 1812 - based on the Battle of Salamanca.  John’s very thorough briefing note is given at the end of this article.

John Perkin supplied the British forces with John Glass supplying their Spanish allies. I supplied the French forces. Dave Cooper took the French overall command with myself supporting him.

John Perkin's British painted by PioneerPainting
The game involved the French division of General Foy crossing a river and whilst partly across realising that they faced a superior Anglo-Spanish force on the far bank with a further British force coming up pursuing them. Total forces involved were 3 British infantry brigades, 2 Spanish infantry brigades, and 2 British cavalry brigades against the French with 3 infantry brigades and 2 cavalry brigades.

French infantry in the bridgehead

The French side decided to push forward to break thru the British facing them whilst one of their brigades secured the flanking village of La Pocilga .

There were 2 highlights of the game. Firstly the complete failure of my newly based French Line Lancer brigade who acting as vanguard of the French attack were swept from the field by John Perkins’ British Dragoons. Secondly the defence of the village of La Pocilga by John Glass’ Spanish battalion that broke 3 of the 4 battalions of the French brigade who tried to storm the village.

Lancer brigade advancing to disaster

Another attack goes in on La Pocilga

Given these failures and the approaching British pursuit the French side called it a day and ordered their troops to disperse to avoid capture.

Lessons from the game:
Capturing built up areas in Black Powder can be very difficult so limit the number of areas assigned that status
Remember that in Black Powder infantry do support cavalry in HtoH actions
Spanish guerillas sniping at the French attack columns

The Player Briefing - The Battle of El Burrito, 22nd July 1812

Following the capture by the British and Portuguese of Badajoz and Ciudad Rodrigo, Wellington marches his army into Spain. Marshal Marmont’s “Army of Portugal” lies across his path between Toros and Tordesillas, to the east of Salamanca. The armies are of much the same size. Marmont, under pressure from Joseph Napoleon, is set to attack Wellington.

On 15th July Marmont starts his offensive against Wellington’s right. Wellington, caught off guard, falls back on Salamanca. On 16th July Wellington intercepts a letter from Joseph to Marmont stating that he will be marching to join Marmont with 13,000 men. Cafferelli, another French general, with a force of cavalry and guns, is also due to join Marmont.

The two opposing armies march on Salamanca, crossing the River Tormes on 21st July. Wellington is resolved to avoid any action other than under the most advantageous of circumstances. Marmont is anxious not to engage in full battle, but is constrained to fight ‘some sort’ of engagement.

On 22nd July Marmont thinks he has the right opportunity. Dust clouds beyond the hills to the south of Salamanca suggest that Wellington is retreating. British troops can be seen in the hills opposite the French positions: Marmont assumes this is a rearguard.

Marmont sees his opportunity: he can engage a small force and achieve success, thereby satisfying the demands of his commander, King Joseph.

Although Wellington has sent his heavy baggage on the road to Ciudad Rodrigo, not a rear guard but his entire army still lies concealed in the hills before the French.

French troops advance and fighting commences around the chapel of Nostra Señora de la Peña. Assuming that two divisions is all he faces, Marmont resolves to engage these troops while his army marches off to the left and comes in behind the British, cutting them off from the rest of Wellington’s army, which he takes to be retreating in the distant dust clouds.

Marmont now compounds his mistake: he sends Foy with a reinforced infantry division, plus a cavalry division, back north to cross the Rio Algabete to outflank the British left, with further orders to assault Salamanca itself.

During the course of the day, Wellington moves his hidden divisions into positions facing south. By 2pm Wellington has spotted the nature of Marmont’s moves around his flanks. The French divisions are marching along the Allied front, dangerously strung out and exposing their flanks.

A messenger from Francisco Espoz y Mina, a Guerrilla leader based in the nearby pueblo of La Pocilga, arrives in Wellington’s camp and informs him of Foy’s movements. Wellington is quick to react and sends an under-strength Spanish and British infantry division and a cavalry division ‘pruned’ from his army to intercept him.

With half his troops over the Algabete, Foy receives a dispatch: the battle to the south is not going well, and there are British troops pursuing him: he soon realises he’s caught in a trap.

Late in the afternoon the two forces clash under the walls of the pueblos of La Pocilga and El Burrito …


  1. Bill, this was always going to be a tough nut for the French to crack. To be fair, I think I placed the small village too close to the bridge, forcing the French to attack it: it was only meant to be nuisance value, not a brigade killer...

    Will maybe have a look at doing Barossa sometime in the near future.

    Cheers, John.

  2. Good write up bill and some nice pics there too.

    Would have perhaps been nice to see more pics of the Brits but that's me being picky really.


  3. Bill,

    this was always going to be a tough nut for the French to crack. To be fair, I think I positioned the small village too close to the bridge: it was only ever meant to provide nuisance value, not a brigade killer.

    Must have a look at doing Barossa in the near future.

    Cheers, John.

  4. Bill,

    this was always going to be a tough nut for the French to crack. To be fair, I set the small village up too close to the bridge. It was only meant to be of nuisance value, not a brigade kiler...

    Must have a look at doing Barossa sometime in the near future.



  5. Looks like Blogger ate my post during it's 'frenzy' over the last couple of days then :O))))


  6. Having been on the recieving end of the British Dragoons victory over the French lancers - I can see for my own personal taste that ATPD modifications are in order. While i can see Cavalry supporting an Infantry melee - I do not see Infantry supporting a Cavalry Melee especially given movement capabilities in the rules. Especially because without the infantry "add-in" the british dragoons lost the melee. Easy set of rules that need some American tweaking to make sense. Same goes for Skirmishers or skirmishing battalions - Skirmishers evade, but skirmishing battalions do not.