Albuera – A scenario for Black Powder
This is the scenario that was used for a re-fight of Albuera at Albancih 2015 on the terrain boards described in a separate post:
On 4th May the British under General Beresford besieged Badajoz with a small army of around 20,000 British and Portuguese. Marshal Soult had just finished putting down a rising in Andalusia and had gathered together a French army of ~25,000 with which to raise the siege. Having tricked the British into thinking he was preparing defensive positions he marched as quickly as possible towards Badajoz with the intention of defeating the Spanish army under Blake and Beresford’s British/Portuguese in detail.
Beresford learned that Marshal Soult had set out to relieve the fortress. He therefore decided that it would be better to meet this threat in the field, raised the siege and arranged to join with a Spanish army under General Jochim Blake at the semi-deserted village of La Albuera.
The scene was set for a pivotal battle in which Soult’s magnificent flank attack and sweeping cavalry charges by the Vistula Lancers were defeated by stubborn, brave British and Spanish soldiers standing their ground despite the odds.
This is a fairly large battle and the scenario as written/used was based on representing 800 men as a Battalion /400 cavalry as a regiment /8 guns as a battery, but you could alter this as needed to suit what you have available. The strength of each Battalion / Regiment / battery is given in the attached files to help you do this. Note that we made some adjustments to suit the scenario for example the two Battalions of Kings German Legion are represented by one large Battalion but we could have equally decided to represent them as two small Battalions. Also, arguably French light infantry should be treated exactly the same as line infantry, however, we like the difference…When you play it you can do it your way :).
The scenario starts before Soult’s flank attack and gives the French player the option of entering from directly in front of Albuera and attacking as Beresford expected.
Deployment maps and OOB are given in the attached files, play sheets are included to make life easier…
There are some ‘special rules’ to cover interpretations of the terrain. Note that these are partly based on the terrain boards we used depending on how you choose to represent the battlefield you might want to changes/ignore some of these. In particular it would probably be better to extend the battlefield beyond what we represented to show the start of the wooded area North of Albuera and the rickety bridge thus avoiding the entry requirements for Hamilton. An additional scenario rule that potentially allows the bridge to be used might add a bit of flavour and may mean the Allied player deploys Collins to watch this flank as he did historically.
The Battle As We Played It At Albanich 2015
Some things in the photos that might need a little explanation…we use four 30mm x 30mm stands of 6 figs to represent an Infantry Battalion. Skirmishers (when deployed) are represented by an additional ‘skirmisher base’ that has a frontage of 60mm and 3 figs occasionally we will leave the skirmisher base on the table but move it to the rear of the battalion if they are not deployed, it depends on how much confusion there is at the time and what we think looks better at that point in time.
For light infantry we have an additional two skirmisher bases, sometimes modelled with 4 figs, when the entire Battalion adopts open order we deploy both of the skirmisher bases and remove two of the close order bases. To help us keep track of what is where…we tend to keep the four bases in base to base contact.
Cavalry Regiments are depicted using six 30mm x 30mm bases of 2 figs, that we like to field in two ranks to represent a Regiment in successive lines.
Initial Allied deployment:
Spanish on the left…
British in the centre and Hamilton’s Portuguese on the right.
Portuguese cavalry watching the river crossing.
Godinot’s division enters and begins to cross the bridge over the River Albuera. The 27th Chasseurs a Cheval and 4th Spanish Chasseurs à Cheval lead the way and guard the open ground to allow artillery to deploy in a forward position but receive the unwelcome attention of the KGL firing from the buildings of La Albuera . The long snake of infantry trudge along behind…
Meanwhile, to the South Latour-Maubourg’s cavalry division moves to seize the high ground on the open plain.
Godinot deploys light infantry to support his artillery but a surprise attack from the rash British cavalry sweep them from the field. The cavalry are then badly mauled and retreat back to the British camp where they spend the rest of the battle tending their blown mounts and injured troopers (missing photos due to the high level of excitement…). A gaping hole opens in the French front as their infantry desperately try to get over the bridge (repeated failed command rolls/blunders). British light troops (rifles) come forward to harass the deployed French artillery while the line infantry behind them struggles to get organised. (many failed command rolls…). A few Battalions (Werle) have made it to the high ground to the left of the artillery but the collapse of Godinot on their right and the long delay of Gazan to come into the action has made it impossible for them to attack.
On the French left flank… The cavalry division has entered and deployed in an orderly fashion in preparation to launch a sweeping attack on the weak Spanish flank of the Allied army. Another (Girard?) infantry division enters and moves to occupy the high ground to support the attack. It is looking like an unstoppable force is about to be unleashed and the Spanish commander is feeling decidedly nervous. His infantry even more so as they refuse to obey commands.
The French cavalry division sweeps down on the Spanish army… charging ahead of their supporting infantry that are still in March column
But the Spanish cavalry puts up a bravely counter charges (!) and despite heavy Spanish losses and the French successfully taking the high ground they have suffered greatly and the attack grinds to a halt (as the French desperately try to overcome disorder and rally key regiments to stop the division becoming broken…).
But the French cavalry attack opened the way for Werle to attack in the centre! The Spanish are teetering on the very brink of collapse but refuse to run and against the odds they hold back the surging French infantry inflicting casualties and sowing disorder in the French line.
Girard’s French infantry are struggling to keep pace with the ferocious cavalry attack and can’t deploy quickly enough to press home the fleeting advantage…(more failed command rolls, only getting the single free move for being in column of march).
Finally the British and Portuguese get into order and begin to advance on the French column that is struggling to get across the bridge and ford. Godinot’s division is on the brink of being broken as a Portuguese hammer approaches…
And that was as far as we got…always the way when trying to have a game at a show with so many shiny items on stands to browse rather than playing the game. It was fun though, even though I was umpiring rather than playing.
Dean and Bob were the French commanders of the day and they had a spectacular run of bad command rolls with entire divisions sitting stationary for turn after turn, except the French cavalry attack which surged forward at break-neck speed. The luck was not much better for Nigel, Brian (Spanish + British) and Chris (British + Portuguese) but at least it actually meant we had a game of it rather than them surging forward and crushing Godinot/Werle at the ford.
As usual Black Powder provides a nail biting game even if we didn’t get to a conclusion. It was looking very bad for the left flank of each army!