Sunday, June 19, 2011

BP Peninsular War...Battle of the Gebora 1811

This weeks 28mm Napoleonic game AWI game that I arranged at the SESWC was based on the Peninsula War Battle of the Gebora fought on 19 February 1811. The game was a further test of an amended turn sequence which has been proposed in the & Blenheim rule modifications by Ian Hopping available on the Yahoo BP Forum.  

Militant priest blesses the Spanish line

The Setup
The game was fought across an 8ft by 6ft table. We used the standard movement and ranges given in the rules not the 66% version that we have used in many of our previous games. The terrain was assumed to be generally open but dominated by a long ridge on which the Spanish army deployed

I made the French command 8 for this game whilst the Spanish were initially 6 rising to 7 after the first turn. John Glass supported by Hugh Wilson commanded the Spanish Army bulked out by a Portugese Brigade provided by Angus Konstam. Dougie Trail supported by myself and Brian Philips commanded the French. The French and Portuguese were rated as per the standard BP Napoleonic troop ratings, the Spanish were all rated as unreliable, their infantry and cavalry had reduced hand to hand and morale values and in addition their cavalry had reduced stamina.

French engage Spanish and Portuguese skirmishers

Historical Background
In a bid to help extricate Marshal André Masséna's army from its position in Portugal—mired in front of Lisbon's defensive Lines of Torres Vedras—Marshal Jean Soult led part of the French Armée du Midi (Army of the South) from Andalusia into the neighbouring Spanish region of Extremadura and laid siege to the important fortress town of Badajoz. Viscount Wellington and the Spanish Captain-General Pedro Caro de La Romana sent a large Spanish army to raise the siege. La Romana, however, died before the army could depart, and command fell to General Gabriel Mendizabal. Supported by a small force of Portuguese cavalry, the Spaniards reached the town in early February 1811.

Having reinforced Badajoz, leaving behind a 7,000-strong garrison, Mendizabal’s field army's 9,000 infantry settled on the heights of San Cristóbal while the 3,000 horse encamped behind them on the plains of the Caya.

Soult, however, largely ignored the Spanish army for the next few days, concentrating instead on building up his siege lines and battering Badajoz. Heavy rains also flooded both the Guadiana and Gebora rivers, rendering them impassable, so that between 11–18 February, the French were only able to shell the southern end of the Spanish line, pushing the Spaniards further away from Badajoz and the protection of the San Cristóbal fort.

2nd Hussars restore their reputation

French Briefing

By the afternoon of 18 February, the rains had abated, and lower water levels made the Gebora river fordable again. That evening, Soult sent a force under Marshal Mortier's command to the north bank of the Guadiana river across a flying bridge. Joined by more cavalry regiments under Latour-Maubourg, the French were now ready to ford the Gebora to attack the Spanish lines at dawn on 19 February.
There is heavy fog on the morning of the 19th as Mortier orders the attack to begin. A cavalry brigade can be committed to a flank march on the French right flank.

French Army of the South

Infantry brigade
3 battalions of Infantry and 1 gun

Infantry brigade
3 battalions of Infantry and 1 gun

Infantry brigade
3 battalions of Infantry and 1 gun

Light Cavalry brigade
2 Lt Cavalry Regiments and 1 horse gun

Cavalry brigade
2 Dragoon Regiments and 1 horse gun

Spanish Briefing

The army is deployed defensively along the heights of San Cristóbal with the cavalry brigade deployed in reserve behind them on the plains of the Caya. There is heavy fog on the morning of the 19th as men of the infantry outposts along the Gebora run back into the camp reporting that massed French troops are crossing the river. Arriba Espana!

Army of Estremadura

Spanish brigade
4 battalions of Infantry and 1 gun

Spanish brigade
3 battalions of Infantry and 1 gun

1 detachment of Guerillos Small Sk

Portuguese brigade
4 battalions of infantry and 1 gun
1 detachment of Lusatian Legion Small Sk

Cavalry Brigade
2 regiments of Spanish cavalry classed as light

How the game played

The Spanish deployed as directed in a line along the ridge with their cavalry in reserve on the road to Portugal. The French committed their infantry in the centre and right - banking on a flank march by the Dragoon brigade to unhinge the Spanish line. The light cavalry brigade was deployed to cover their open left flank.

Dragoons ride to the rescue

The French attacked with their centre and right infantry brigades with the left brigade slightly echeloned in reserve. The attack was not a success and they quickly lost 4 battalions to the determined Spanish resistance. The flank march of the Dragoons was diced for and they would not arrive until the 5th turn. On The French left flank their light cavalry brigade charged the Spanish cavalry - the outmatched Spanish Dragoons forced the Chasseurs a Cheval to retire and swept forward into the 2nd Hussars. The melee was drawn and both units became shaken. The Dragoons retired back and the Hussars held. Next turn the Spanish lancers charged the halted shaken 2nd Hussars who amazingly broke them at once!

Dragoons strike home on surprised Spanish left wing

Eventually the flank marching dragoons arrived behind the Spanish left flank and their attack and a renewed attack by the French infantry broke 6 Spanish units in two turns. Amazingly poor Spanish break test dice rolls saved the day for the French and turned what looked like a near disaster into a notable victory.

The game played well and everyone agreed that the revised turn sequence was a promising development.

Northern ridge swept free of Spanish troops


  1. Great game. Some very nice looking French cavalry.

  2. Bill, nice report as usual. Those pesky Dragoons saved the day for you...



  3. Love your Battle reports Bill especially when you show long table shots and provide orders of battle so I can refight them over here Across The Pond, Sorry i missed these battles they look like they were fun. - David

  4. OK so the Spanish Lancers had no infantry support and the French dragoons flank marched aand caught two battalions of Spanish infantry and the Spanish guns in the rear? Oh that had to hurt. - David C.

  5. Any idea what the Spanish regiments were?

    1. Spanish regiments, based on the orbats for the Battle of Bailén in 1808:
      1st Irlanda (pale blue jackets)
      1st Reina (white jackets)
      Tejas (dark blue jackets)
      Jaen militia (brown jackets)
      Granada levies (mixed lot)
      1st/2nd bttns 3rd Swiss (ex French army deserters!)
      Numancia dragoons (yellow jackets)
      Garrochista irregular lancers (green jackets)