Friday, December 6, 2013


Action at Rueda
This week’s game was a fictional action set in Spain in 1812 during the retreat from Burgos played using Black Powder.  There were 8 players at the game which was played on a 14ft by 5ft table.   Here is the briefing for the players.  The terrain was provided by Hugh Wilson, the troops were from the collections of Dave O'Brien, Donald Adamson, Angus Konstam and myself.  I provided the scenario and we used my Napoleonic Black Powder house rules. 

2nd British Brigade along the hill line - in the distance the Burgos to-Salamanca Highway
Spain 29 October 1812
Following the failure of the siege of Burgos Wellingon’s army is retiring towards Salamanca in the face of the combination of the Armies of the North and Portugal.

A French flanking force is known to be advancing parallel to the British line of retreat to their south.  Due to this a Division of the British force has been deployed at the vital road junction of Rueda to cover the retreat of the British Armies slow moving transport and the weary rear-guard. 

British Briefing
The troops of the Army of Portugal are now advancing on Rueda from the south.  The Army of Portugal is to the north beyond the River Duero and the bridges along the river are held by allied troops.  A detachment of the Black Brunswickers hold the historic bridge at Tordesillas.  The British objective is to cover the retreat of the valuable transport column and the approaching brigades of the rearguard.

British Army
1st British Brigade
4 Infantry Btns, Foot gun
2nd British Brigade
4 Infantry Btns, Rifle det, Foot gun
3RD British Brigade
3 Infantry Btns, Foot gun
1st British Cavalry Brigade
2 Lt Drag Regts, Horse gun

4th British Brigade
3 Infantry Btns, Foot gun
2nd British Cavalry Brigade
2 Dragoon Regts
3rd British Cavalry Brigade
2 Lt Drag Regts, Horse gun

Supply columns
And various debris…..

Massed French assaults on the hill line
French Briefing
The troops of the Army of Portugal are advancing on Rueda from the south.  The Army of Portugal is to the north beyond the River Duero but are due to attack the bridge at Tordesillas this morning and then plan to advance on Rueda.  The French objective is to cut the line of withdrawal of the British army and secure the capture of the supply train and the rearguard.

French Army of Portugal 
1st French Brigade 
4 French Btn, Foot gun
2nd French Brigade 
3 French Btn, Foot gun
3rd French Brigade 
3 French Btn, Foot gun
French Cav Brigade 
2 Dragoon regts, Horse gun
French Lt Cav Brigade 
2 ChaCH regts, Horse gun

French Army of the North
1st French Allied Brigade 
Neufchatel Btn, 2 Polish Btn, Saxon/Italian Btn, Foot gun
2nd French Allied Brigade 
4 Bavarian Btn, Foot gun
French Allied Lt Cav Brigade 
2 Bavarian ChaCH regts, Horse gun

On the 2nd to 4th move a Brunswick messenger arrives for the British CinC…….
The stalemate to the north along the River Duero was broken early on 29 October when a party of 50 naked French soldiers swam the river at Tordesillas with their weapons on a raft.  Upon reaching the far bank, they took up their guns and routed the Brunswick defenders of the bridge.  The troops of the Army of the North have crossed the river and are now marching on Rueda along the road from Tordesillas.

How the game played
The British deployed 2 brigades facing the advance of the Army of Portugal.  The 2nd held the line of the large low hill and the 1st was deployed just south of the Salamanca highway.   The 3rd brigade was deployed north of the highway covering the line of the Rueda stream in case something went wrong at Tordesillas.  The light cavalry brigade was deployed on open ground north of the highway.  See map below.

The French started with 2 infantry brigades of the Army of Portugal deployed on the south table edge and could bring on another Brigade of that army each turn if it passed it’s command roll.  From turn 2 -– The French were lucky – the Army of the North started to arrive at the rate of 1 brigade a turn if it passed it’s command roll.

The Army of Portugal rapidly engaged the 2nd British brigade defending the hill line but the steady fire of the British infantry broke several battalions as they charged into combat.  The French were forced to commit their 3rd infantry brigade to this action whilst their dragoon brigade moving very rapidly tried to flank the British right wing.  Two French battalions charged the British central battalion which held them but it was then charged in the flank by another French battalion.  Flanked and outnumbered the British battalion heroically held them for another turn before finally dissolving. 

One versus three- the heroes hang on for another turn
The 2 Dragoon regiments charged the rifle detachment covering the 2nd Brigades right flank and riflemen though the losers bravely held their ground.  In the 2nd round of this melee the Riflemen gave way but only retired.  True hearts of oak!  It took a flank attack by a French infantry battalion to wipe out the riflemen.  By the time this struggle had ended it had cost the French 6 battalions to break the hill line. 

The weakened Army of Portugal did not attempt any serious action against the 1st Brigade.  Their commander was heard to mutter into his ginger beer "One day the French will just sweep over a hill... but not yet! (Sob!)"

The first element of the Army of the North to arrive was the mixed foreign brigade which tried to rush the bridge over the Rueda stream.  The first Polish battalion on the bridge was broken as it tried to charge the defending battery.  (It was the Poles time in action!)  Continuing British fire then disordered the following attackers for several turns.  The Bavarian Brigade arrived and engaged the eastern flank of the 3rd Brigade.   The Poles crossed over the swampy terrain and broke 2 British battalions.  Eventually the Saxon battalion got across the bridge, routed the artillery and charged the rear of the covering British battalion and broke it – all this done without a single casualty.  This wiped out the 3rd Brigade.

Bavarians reorganised after crossing the stream
So far one British supply column had crossed the table along the Salamanca Highway and the 4th Brigade had arrived on the table along the highway.  This brigade moved to face the advance of the Bavarian Brigade and their supporting cavalry brigade from the stream.  The British Light Cavalry Brigade had been held back as a reserve and moved to cover the right flank of the newly arrived 4th Brigade.  The Bavarians tried a bayonet attack on the British line but the first battalion that got into contact broke and its 2 supports retired behind their cavalry.   However by this time the 1st French Allied Brigade after capturing the bridge had moved quickly unnoticed along the west side of the table and occupied the Salamanca Highway.

4th Brigade has driven of the Bavarian infantry
The game ended at this point.  The French had gained a strategic victory by cutting the highway but the British had seriously weakened the Army of Portugal.  The heroes of the day were the 2nd Brigade British infantry on the hill, their riflemen and the Saxon infantry battalion.

More photos and descriptions on flickr at:


  1. Looks like a very good game Bill - always appreciate your ideas and maps and orders of battle. Gives me another game to play here in the states. Maybe at the next convention I go too? Cheers David VFW

  2. Another lovely looking game Bill!


  3. Looks like an awesome game. Thanks for the nice pics and the excellent AAR. I enjoyed reading it very much.