Saka Light Cavalry

Saka Light Cavalry

Friday, 19 October 2012

AAR Campo Mayor 25th March 1811

One area ASL wins hands down on normal wargames is the richness you tend to find in the scenario choice and victory conditions. For instance last night I won a game where my Italian infantry force had to gain victory points by a mix of getting troops over a bridge and killing Greek troops who were trying to prevent my escape. Every year over 100 scenarios are produced that give you a mix of nationalities, victory conditions and special rules for the situation. Last night it was ground snow, my latest league game involves falling snow. Rain, mud gusts of wind and indeed wind direction are all part of the mix that can be played out in ASL. It's not that all wargames rules do not cater for such things but so often it's x points across a table. Of course books are available of scenarios and we have scenarios on the net we could pull out but I think the average figure gamer is leary of such scenarios. So with this in mind I designed this scenario that breaks just about all the rules. I as the French was guaranteed to loose, the question was always by how much?
Campo Mayor was one of many minor battles or skirmishes that opportunities for a greater victory was lost. In this case General Long had a column of French infantry with baggage and guns  with only a light screen of Dragoons and Hussars to protect this cavalry mans dream of a target. Given that Long had on hand the 3rd Dragoon Guards, 4th Dragoons, 13th Light Dragoons and two regiments of Portuguese light cavalry he was well positioned to make a killing. Directly below is an account of our battle followed by what really happened.
Barry representing Long has to gain 25VP's for a total victory. 15VP's will be good for the papers back home, 5-14 will end in an unfortunate breach with Beresford his commanding officer and less than 5 and he will be cashiered! 
1VP for each French Cavalry unit routed (max of 2)
3VP for each baggage captured (max 2)
5VP for each gun (max 2)
5VP for each Infantry unit routed (max 4)
so 38 points possible.
My column only has to make it off the table to be safe. The British have two clear objectives at the start of the game,clear off the two weak French cavalry units and send at least one unit past the column to block off the escape. Barry grasped the former but failed to realise the need to get in front of my column.
I had inserted a few SSR to add flavour to the game. First of all Beresford and the foot arrive on a 10 on 2D6, clearly not something that should happen early. Second, given the British horse on the day having routed the French they continued to pursue leaving the French infantry and guns standing on the road. Due to this any horse unit that routed French horse would pursue off board except the Guard Dragoons who were better restrained in the action. Last up the Portuguese horse had to roll 4-6 to advance closer to the French once within a move of the French and needed a 5-6 to actually charge. Long could add one to the roll by joining the unit.
The guns and the baggage at the head of the column. Once the rear infantry unit is engaged in combat the columns speed dropped by a third, in the end a saving grace for the British. As expected my cavalry were soon put to flight despite one unit managing to almost last it's second round of combat. Both my units dropped two levels of cohesion which put paid to them in round two. Only one British regiment was lost as the other attacker was the Guards. Barry though had kept his other cavalry behind the attack so had lost time on the column as it was at this point out pacing the horse! Worse still for Barry his most forward cavalry attacked the rear infantry unit of the column that had gone into square. The Portuguese were taking it in turns to refuse to advance but the Light Dragoons after finishing off my square with some critically low rolls was finally trying to get in front of my column. He had taken a cohesion hit taking down the square but other than that OK to go.
As the Light Dragoons approached the head of my column on my left and the better of the two Portuguese advanced on the right supported by the Dragoon Guards I started to deploy the two forward infantry units and the rear gun. I was hoping the two waggons and the last gun would at least escape.
My rear unit was forced into square by the less enthusiastic Portuguese horse and for the next about four or five turns I would fire at them whilst they refused to charge me. I dropped them one level of cohesion so it was probably a good job they did not go in, even with Long joining the regiment to boost it's chances. Th only thing that frustrated Barry more was the lack of Beresford's presence. More than once Barry was to query why the number needed did not go down (little did he know that the LAST thing he needed was Berseford turning up).
The forward units started to take charges, the Dragoon Guards took three attacks before they finally cracked the square above. Meanwhile the brave Portuguese regiment passed close enough to be fired upon but to no effect. Both guns ended up in action and both caused distress for the British units fired upon but not enough to stop the Light Dragoons charging home and receiving it's second round of canister. More casualties but they took the guns to add to the waggons already captured. This left open another charge into the rear of the other gun and both were captured. The square broke under the Dragoon Guards and I was down to two infantry cut off from escape and a lone baggage off board.
Failing to do much in square I had come out of square hoping to send the Portuguese packing and possibly sneak off. Time though was called and Barry had the required points for a full victory and saved Long falling out with Beresford that would long term had grave effect for Long who whilst a most capable cavalry commander would be shipped back home prior to the end of the Peninsular campaign.
The real thing.
Long sent his Light Dragoons and some of the Dragoons against the French which in every case ended with the defeat of the French. The vast majority of the French taking to their heels quickly followed by the British who gave chase for the best part of ten miles. The French infantry seeing this and that the British still had cavalry in the field started to ground weapons in expectation of surrender. Long tough was having problems getting the Portuguese to close further with the French and the ground was such that he ha to make a long pass around to get in position to attack. He sent his best cavalry to take up position to block the French withdraw and unknown to him his pursuing cavalry had also captured the guns and some of the baggage.
At this point an Aide of Beresford had been sent to the blocking cavalry telling them to reposition back with the infantry and were not to engage the enemy. Next Long was also ordered to return with his out of position cavalry! The French infantry seeing this reformed and not only marched off but repossessed the majority of their guns and marched away to safety. Beresford then blamed Long for the whole affair and got him a reputation for being just another galloper. The repetition for being a hothead and argumentative subordinate was all Long's own doing.
So if Barry had rolled a 10 he would have seen his infantry arrive at a rather good position and then watch as one after another of his cavalry were taken out of his command and even possibly see guns reappear on the field under the French!
The scenario played out well, and could have gone either way. It was fun watching Barry curse his dice for failing to get the reinforcements, especially as he really did not need them. The square rules need some more work though. I want a better chance of fail when the enemy are as close as they were when I was passing the checks to form and the +3 to attacks whist in square is a bit much (these rules you want to roll low). Also the damage done by the horse was too high even taking into account Barry was rolling low so will add a + to attacking square not just remove the charge bonus. Fun game and for me proved you can have ASL live victory conditions in a miniatures game.


  1. Poor Long didn't have the dice issues of poor Barry!

  2. I enjoy reading your battle reports, thanks!

  3. Very cool game, and an interesting situation to play methinks.

  4. A great batrep Ian, a great idea for a game.

  5. I got the idea from a book I am reading, will have the review of the book later on, it's a great read.