Battle of Evora 1808

The Battle of Évora (July 29, 1808) faced a French marching division under GD Louis Henri Loison against a combined Portuguese-Spanish force led by GenLt. Francisco de Paula Leite de Sousa, recently appointed by the newly created Portuguese Junta. Encountering General Leite’s smaller division outside Évora, the French easily brushed them aside and went on to storm the city, which was held by poorly armed townsmen and militia, supported by some of the retiring regulars. The French butchered the Portuguese defenders and brutally sacked the town, then marched to Elvas. That sums up the Evora 1808 battle situation but there was more occurring in the Portuguese heartland and later near Lisbon to complete the Evora story.

By the spring of 1808, GD Junot’s position in Portugal was relatively secure. He had been reinforced by 4,000 troops which more than replaced the men who died during the hard marches of the invasion. Of the three French-allied Spanish divisions that had supported GD Junot’s invasion, General Solano’s Spanish troops had returned to Andalusia. However, General Caraffa Spanish stayed in the Lisbon area with 7,000 Spaniards and General Belesta occupied Porto (Oporto) with 6,000 more Spanish. Portugal remained quiet because her army was totally disbanded or integrated into the new French Portuguese Legion sent away from Portugal to fight for Napoleon, her ruling class had mostly fled to Brazil with the Royal family, and her civil authorities submitted too readily to the French military yoke.

Because Portugal’s ports were closed by the British blockade, her wines could no longer be sold to England nor could her goods be traded to Brazil. Casks of port and wine barrels stacked up around the docks or warehouses. The French tried to assist, putting 10,000 persons to work in the arsenal and shipyard, but Lisbon soon filled with large numbers of unemployed people who thronged the streets begging. A communication dispatch from Napoleon arrived in May ordering Junot to send 4,000 troops to Ciudad Rodrigo to support Marshal Jean-Baptiste Bessières in the north of Spain, and 8,000 more to link up with GD Pierre Dupont de l’Étang in Andalusia. Seems these were the last Imperial instructions to reach Portugal from Paris or Napoleon.

The Spanish Dos de Mayo uprising against the French completely altered the situation. When news of the revolt reached Porto on June 6th, Spanish General Belesta seized as prisoners the governor of the city GD François Jean Baptiste Quesnel, his staff, and his 30-man cavalry escort. The Spanish general assembled the city of Porto’s leadership and urged them to form a junta government to resist the French occupation. Loyally obeying the orders of the new northern Galician Junta, General Belesta marched his corps (division) away to join the northern Spanish armies. For a week, after the Spanish troops left, Porto’s young Junta leaders did nothing. Some even sent secret letters to GD Junot, professing their loyalty to the French occupation force, or like the French empowered military governor, took down the Portuguese national flag flying from the Porto citadel. But nearby, finding the French occupation forces gone or marched away, Trás-os-Montes province rose in revolt between June 9 and 12. At the city of Bragança, retired Portuguese General Manuel Jorge Gomes de Sepúlveda was selected as the regional revolt commander, while Colonel Francisco Silveira was chosen to lead the (re)forming Portuguese battalions at Vila Real, having been disbanded when the French took control in 1807.

General Sepulveda and Portugal revolt 1808.

Informed of General Belesta’s actions then defection on June 9, GD Junot planned to disarm General Caraffa’s Spanish division in central Portugal, before they could join the Spanish or Portuguese armed revolt. Sent orders to arrive at GD Junot’s headquarters, the Spanish general was placed in military custody. Caraffa’s troops were either directed to appear at French military reviews or to shift garrison positions. While marching to carry out these orders, they were encircled without warning by French troops and made prisoners of war. Only the Reina Light Cavalry Regiment, when its colonel disregarded his instructions, escaped northward to Porto. Detachments of the Murcia and Valencia Infantry Regiments also got away, fleeing eastward to the spanish city of Badajoz. But GD Junot caught the vast majority Caraffa’s 6,000 soldiers and put them aboard prison hulks in Lisbon’s harbor. French officers in charge of the forts had orders to sink the vessels if the prisoners tried to escape. The Spaniards were only released after the signing of the Convention of Cintra.

On June 16th, the rebellion spread to the south, when the Portuguese town of Olhão in Algarve province rose against the French. On the 18th, the citizens of Faro followed suit. The French governor of Algarve, GB Antoine Maurin was seized in his sick-bed and, together with 70 French soldiers, bundled on board a British warship as military prisoners, some noted, to save their lives. Colonel Jean-Pierre Maransin gathered the one battalion each of the Légion du Midi and the 26th Line Infantry Regiment that served as the garrison of Algarve. With these 1,200 men, GB Maransin withdrew to Mértola. The local insurgent mobs did not pursue but no doubt claimed their victory and toasted with the excess wine.

Interior courtyard of the Museu Militar de Lisboa, the former Portuguese Royal Arsenal site. Well worth a visit if in Lisbon. there are halls of equipment, cannon, portraits, and research documents covering many eras.

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Peiper’s Charge – Bulge 1944

This Flames of War (FOW) “Peiper’s Charge” scenario originally came out as an old FOW forum .pdf format scenario during Battlefront’s Battle of the Bulge themed supplements (Nuts and Devil’s Charge) era. Fortunately WR saved a copy of the scenario since it wasn’t included in the converged Watch on the Rhine – Bulge set hardcover book editions (Ardennes Offensive and Battle of the Bulge) compilation.

Peiper’s Charge represents a FOW scaled down German panzer attack led by SS Obersturrmbannfuhrer Jochen Peiper, along narrow Ardennes forest roadways, seeking to gain the Meuse River crossing, during the winter Battle of the Bulge offensive.

The scenario itself is a lengthy three table sector format all linked together by the table 6×4* short ends. Peiper and his platoons enter at one short table edge and have to fight and maneuver across all three table lengths to exit the opposite short edge for scenario victory. During his progress he encounters American blocking forces, armored rifle and rifle platoons, engineers, paratroopers, and various tank platoons, all with the winter forest lurking nearby, with the Americans tasked to slow and finally stop his forward progress for American victory.

The northern attack shows Peiper’s advance (red dotted line map center). Wikipedia map.

The book to read up on the historical event.

The original complete “Peiper’s Charge” .pdf format scenario came from Battlefront’s former forum. The .pdf scenario file contains the background story and the complete available platoon forces. There are several minor omissions or clarifications to note in the scenario commentary which WR found:  Peipers-Charge-Scenario

1. For Tables One and Two, the trigger point for Table Three American reserve early release is after the conclusion of turn eight (Table One) and turn sixteen (Table Two). On the scenario map notes for Table One it has only six turns listed to exit Table One, should be “eight” instead.

2. Objective “B” should be located on the roadway exit for Table Two and not across the river per scenario map. Objective “C” is one of the Objective “B” markers.

3. Some of the American platoons are not listed on the deployment map but are written as starting on the tabletop. WR has typed / updated the American platoons on the scenario map shaded locations as needed.

The entire scenario three table set up is played lengthwise for each table. Note the three tables are placed lengthwise and can be separated to three independent tables or played as one long

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Battle of Gefrees July 1809

Another small battle from the Franco-Austrian 1809 campaign. The battle of Gefrees occurred in southern modern Germany, near Bayreuth, and basically in the same location where the French started their 1806 campaign marches into 1806 Prussian territory, leading up to the battle of initial Battle of Saalfeld, then Jena and Auerstadt.

Accounts for the action on the Gefrees battlefield are sparse in number.  WR favorite go to source is the excellent 1809 Thunder on the Danube three-volume series written by John Gill. These books are a great source for the well-known and documented battles, and more importantly to WR, the more obscure battles fought during this campaign. but for the Battle of Gefrees, fought on July 8th and just before the signed armistice, the details are lacking for a detailed scenario. The background in Gill’s volume III book (Wagram & Znaim), has the story starting on page 290 with the sub-title of “Thunder in Bayreuth” section and reads up to page 299, before covering the Black Duke’s post armistice march to the Hanoverian coast. Specifically on mid page 297, there is a single paragraph on the Gefree battle…. per Gill a small skirmishing action it seems, ended with a violent thunderstorm of rain. So another well written source is needed and quickly found in the old First Empire magazine. The Battle of Gefrees First Empire (FE) magazine article by John (Jack) Gill appeared in issue #12 and covers in detail the short southern Germany (Bayreuth region) campaign and the battle. It is surprising that the book 1809 Thunder on the Danube has limited storyline compared to the same author’s FE article on this engagement. WR’s tabletop scenario is based upon this old FE article.

The old FE magazine article found on the internet as a .pdf file:  Gefrees 1809 Empire #12

The Danube theater wide situation at the start of July has the Battle of Wargarm (July 5th & 6th) forthcoming and the converging French Armies of Germany, Italy, and Dalmatia in general pursuit of the retiring Austrians. During the pursuit the engagement at Hollabrunn (July 9th) and the final major Battle of Znaim, fought on July 10th into the 11th occurs, leading to the signed campaign ending armistice during the evening of 11th (effective July 12th).

King Jerome

FML Kienmayer

GD Junot

        

Back in the rear area of Bavarian Bayreuth, Austrian Bohemia, and southern Saxony, the French and Austrians, along with their Germanic state allies, march and fight several smaller engagements during early July. In particular the confrontation of FML Kienmayer and his two French opponents; GD Junot and King Jerome of Westphalia, is the subject of this blog article. The Battle of Gefrees came from Archduke’s Charles’s earlier strategic plans after the Battle of Aspern-Essling. Archduke Charles desired peripheral theaters for limited operations to discomfort the French across the Danube river at Vienna and threaten the French line of communication back to France. With the Italian, Tyrol, and Polish theaters closing down at that time, only the Bohemian border with Saxony remained open for Austrian offensive action. The Saxon border frontier was open to Austrian military advance being ill defended, the possibility possible of sparking anti-french uprising (especially after the von Schill’s ride and raid), and reduction of the Confederation of the Rhine military efforts against Austria.

In May, the future Austrian grand military effort for this Saxon border raid adventure was limited to depot troops, the local landwehr formations, and several line detachments. Two small divisions slowly formed under the command of GM Carl Friedrich Freiherr Am Ende around Theresienstadt (8,600 and 10 cannon), up river from Dresden, and FML Paul Radivojevich (4,400 and 4 cannon) to advance on French held Bavarian Bayreuth from Eger. The French rear area and realms of the German allies had equally an odd mixture of units and formations, mostly newly raised recruits, depot, and provisional troops. The stalwart Marshal Francois Kellermann used his skill to form a Reserve Corps based around Hanau. Further north the new Kingdom of Westphalia, with their new army regiments, and the occasional Dutch, Saxon, Danes, and even Portuguese units, forming the French 10th Corps under King Jerome.

June 10th, the regional campaign starts, sees GM Am Ende cross the Saxon border and quickly control Dresden with his Brunswick and Hesse-Kassel small Frei corps allies joining him. Further northwestern marching towards Leipzig quickly ends with the cautious and indecisive GM Am Ende, a true Austrian commander, when faced by the energetic Saxon local commander von Thielmann. Oberst von Thielmann, soon joined by the marching Saxon-Polish command of GM von Dyherrn’s return from Poland, falls back before the Austrian torpid advance till joined by King Jerome’s 10th Corps at Leipzig (June 23rd). The combined Saxon and Westphalian forces immediately advanced on Dresden, with GM Am Ende quickly retreating across the Austrian border post-haste before their advance. Meanwhile, FML Radivojevich has crossed the Eger area border and occupies Bayreuth, while sending raiding groups towards Bamberg and Nuremberg. By the end of June, these raiding groups are forced to retire by the gathering French Reserve Corps under Marshal Kellermann at Hanau, soon to be commanded by GD Junot.

The start of July found FML Radivojevich back in Bayreuth and then compelled to retire on Bindloch on July 6th, the same time period days of the savage battle of Wargram. While GM Am Ende returned to Austrian territory, regrouping his command and remained camped across the Austrian border, FML Radivojevich soon had two separate French forces moving in his direction at the start of July. GD Jean-Andoche Junot, who recently taken the place of Kellermann in command of the Reserve Corps at Hanau, marched from Hanau to Wurzburg then towards Bamberg (July 5th). At Bamberg Junot is joined by GD Jean Delaroche with Bavarian depot battalion and two raw French provisional dragoon regiments coming north from Bavarian territory. With the enlarged, but untrained mounted arm available, GD Junot continues his advance against the worried FML Radivojevich, who quickly retreats towards Bindloch, as the French re-occupy Bayreuth.

FML Kienmayer rides to the rescue and arrives sometime during Am Ende’s early adventure into Saxony then retirement back to Austrian territory. Quickly he brought purpose to the enterprise and apprehensive about his forces being separated and facing superior enemy formations, he decides to exploit his central position to defeat each of the Franco-German corps in turn. Feeling the X Corps are overly enjoying their stay at pleasant Dresden, he saw Junot’s advance against FML Radivojevich as the immediate threat to his two corps. Dividing Am Ende’s command in half, he marches quickly westward toward Plauen, leaving the remainder under GM Am Ende to guard the border passes into Austria. Radivojevich’s ADC carrying messages for aid reach FML Kienmayer at Plausen (July 5th). Told to hold the Bindloch for as long as possible in reply notes, Kienmayer marches to Hof and aid of Radivojevich, leaving the Brunswick and Hessian troops at Plausen for the moment. Pressured by Junot’s advance, FML Radivojevich unknowing of FML Kienmayer’s response and actions, slowly retires to Gefrees. Under direct skirmishing with the French advance troops, Radivojevich holds Grefees position during the night of July 7th.

Gefrees and view of the surrounding countryside. (Wikipedia photo)

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Ludendorff Bridge Hollywood AAR

Previously WR reported on his basic Flames of War 20mm scale Ludendorff Bridge 1945 scenario played as the morning game at Gamex 2018. For the second or afternoon Flames of War (FOW) game scenario, the same terraced tabletop was used but the units and platoons involved had slight changes for both sides. These changes converted what the basic FOW Ludendorff scenario was, to what WR calls his “Hollywood movie” version, following what is seen in “The Bridge at Remagen” movie (1969). To save some writing, WR refers the reader to the previous Ludendorff Bridge – Remagen 1945 article for specific details on the scenario written at end of scenario write-up. For this Hollywood themed scenario, the following changes are made from the basic scenario; platoon addition or change, team attachments, and adjusted starting positions are listed:

For the German side:

  1. The German 2cm Flak36 platoon is exchanged out for a Reluctant Conscript 88mm Flak platoon of three 88mm A/A guns, their Cmd SMG team, and attached HMG team. all in entrenchment or gun pits. This 888mm Flak36 battery is positioned forward on the Erpeler Ley, till placed on the 3rd level mountain edge overlooking the entire scenario tabletop.
  2. The 2iC SMG team in company HQ is exchanged out for 2iC MG team starting in the same position per scenario notes.
  3. The sunken river barge is anchored (placed) on the opposite side of the bridge, in center of river, and about 3″ from bridge. Change out the sniper team for an independent trained HMG team, concealed and “gone to river” status.

For the Americans:

  1. Add Armored Mortar platoon (81mm mortar) to the reinforcements pool. This Confident Veteran platoon has Cmd Carbine team, M2 or M3 H/T with .50cal AAMG, and three M4a1 81mm H/T. Following the delayed Reserves rules, roll on turn three for possible arrival at zone 3 table edge.
  2. If the Pershing Heavy tank platoon is destroyed, starting on turn three or later, a replacement light tank platoon will arrive. Players agreement, either Confident Veteran  M24 Chaffee platoon (four tanks), or a M18 HellCat platoon (four tanks) without their TD rules applied… just a common tank platoon for scenario. Delayed Reserves rule applies again.
  3. The Engineer platoon has special Ludendorff Bridge rules to follow for repairing or clearing the bridge for vehicle passage.

Remember WR adjusted the map squares to be 15″ wide and 12″ deep for his tabletop since he uses 20mm scale miniatures and basing.

Faced by the deadly 88mm AA Flak36 battery, the American have to target the hated cannon with their armor main guns, those same 90mm, 76mm, and 75mm tank cannon, to blast apart the German tank killing battery. So thoughtful planning the movement and fire control is paramount for the 1st turn. No double timing with the Shermans….. they will be pulped. Even the Pershing platoon needs to keep their distance to upgrade their armor factor by one… 10 to at long-range 11 vs, the 13 AT rating of the 88mm cannon. The Sherman crews just leave the turret and hull hatches open…. 88mm shells will come and go (7 to at long-range 8 vs. 13) against their armor hulls. This of course leaves the 3.7cm Flak 38 gun pit cannon complete alone for the start of the scenario…. all eight of them as they eye the American infantry. A different game mechanic situation is already in place. Much discussion at the lunch break between the scenario games…. let’s now see what the teams actually do on the tabletop. Continue reading

Ludendorff Bridge AAR

This past Memorial Day weekend WR attended the regional Strategicon Gamex convention based near the Los Angeles Airport or LAX (Hilton hotel). Joined by his son Daniel as GM, the scenario for the convention was the much awaited Ludendorff Bridge at Remagen 1945 Flames of War (FOW) MRB Ver3.0 project. Details for the FOW scenario, hints and notes, and the preparation of 20mm (1/72) miniatures / terrain have been covered in previous articles links below.

Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario, including the basic and “Hollywood movie” scenario versions: Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) March 1945 and the Ludendorff Bridge Preparation.

Scenario map 12″x12″ square grid. WR’s version uses 20mm scale miniatures so WR enlarges width by 25% or 15″ wide by 12″ depth.

Table terrain setup clearly shows the Ludendorff Bridge, the Rhine River, the barge, the Erpeler Ley mountain, and railroad ramps with stonework arches leading to the tunnel portal position.

The starting American set up: Pictured below, the Pershing heavy tank platoon, the leading Armoured Rifle platoon (without transport), the Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, and the defending VolksGrenadier platoon guarding the RR ramp leading to the bridge.

Starting American positions with the Co. HQ CinC, 2iC teams, the Armored Rifle platoon, and the Pershing heavy tank platoon. Also pictured the defending VolksGrenadier platoon at bridge ramp.

The defending German starting position: The 2cm Flak36 gun pit battery up on the Erleper Ley mountain, the Flak38 3.7cm battery along the riverbank, and a portion of the Volks Artillery battery lower right corner seen. Not pictured below, behind the Erleper Ley mountain at tunnel portal, is the German Co. HQ CinC and 2iC teams, plus the VolksSturm platoon.

The German starting defensive positions…. the flak 2cm battery on Erpeler Ley, the Flak 3.7cm battery on riverbank, and the Volks Artillery battery lower right of photo.

WR refers the reader to the Ludendorff Bridge (Remagen) scenario and note links about the terrain modeled on the tabletop. Continue reading

Battle of Arronches 1801 AAR

Several months ago WR wrote up some background material on the War of the Oranges (Guerra de las Naranjas) during 1801, fought between the invading Spanish army and the defending Portuguese as the main players. Secondary French forces, along with a small French emigrate (English) contingent, marching in the respective rear areas just to add flavor to the proceedings. Later on WR wrote up an enlarged historical scenario engagement between the Spanish and Portuguese armies based upon an action fought near the old town of Arronches in Portugal. That scenario now has seen light to the miniature tabletop and the following After Action Report (AAR) is presented to report the miniatures engagement.

To read the actual scenario design and notes, the forces and units involved, and the battlefield terrain detail, WR refers the reader to the Arronches 1801 article posted on Wargamerabbit:  Battle of Arronches 1801

The scenario starting positions has the Portuguese in army confusion and disarray, surprised by the “fast marching” Spanish advance guard division’s arrival during the mid morning siesta period of the Portuguese army. Only the formed Portuguese now “rearguard” (titled the Advance Guard command) and their cavalry brigade are ready to confront the Spanish army while their main infantry division breaks camp and forms their battalions to march. Not a good way to start a miniature scenario, even the Portuguese HQ starts the scenario with their line of communication towards Portalegre threatened by the Spanish Advance Guard’s division arrival. For the reader’s note, since WR has no 1790 era painted Portuguese, he will use his 1790 Reicharmee as stand in’s for the scenario play.

The Arronches battlefield. The town is off to the left. The Spanish are arriving on the central road. The Portuguese cavalry brigade and escorted wagon train further up the road, across the bridge.

Scenario map. Each square is 12″ or 600 yards.Map legend at right.

View from the west. Clearly the Portuguese 2nd Division is strung out leaving Arronches, heading towards the Portalegre road which has the cavalry brigade and train. Spanish upper right corner. Portuguese “rearguard” and HQ positioned in Arronches.

View from the north. The 2nd Division, cavalry brigade, trains, seen on the battlefield in their starting positions. WR still has to place various “camp and civilians” around the 2nd Division to reflect its “in camp status”.

The eastern table view to complete the 360′ viewing of the terrain and miniature command starting positions, using the wooden block movement system. Dry Caia riverbed clearly marking the battlefield with orange groves across the open fields.

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Battles of Nola 216-214 BC

Catching up with the two month backlog of WR gaming activities. At the end of YR 2017, on the last gaming saturday of December, WR drove south to join several friends for a Clash of Arms (COE) 28mm ancients game. David our host had designed a Roman-Carthaginian 214-216 BC battle based from the Hannibal campaigns around the roman city of Nola.

First a little background before the COE game scenario report posted below. Digging about on the internet we found Nola was one of the oldest cities of Campania, its coinage bearing the name Nuvlana. Generally thought as been founded by the Ausones, who were certainly occupying the city by c. 560 BC. During the Roman invasion of Naples in 328 BC, Nola was probably occupied by the Oscans in alliance with the Samnite allies, from which the Romans took the city in 311 BC, during the Samnite War. Later, Nola and nearby Capua rivaled each other as “cities of luxury” south of Rome during the years of peace before the arrival of Hannibal and his army.

The historical city of Nola was the site of the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd Battles of Nola during Hannibal‘s invasion of Italy amid the Second Punic War. On two occasions (215 and 214 BC), it was defended by Consul Marcellus and his roman army. After the departure of Hannibal from Italy, the city returned to their business trade pursuits. Falling to treason, the Samnites controlled the city during the Social War. They held it until their ally Gaius Marius was defeated by Lucius Cornelius Sulla, who subjugated it with the rest of Samnium in 80 BC. It was stormed by Spartacus and his army of slaves during his failed slave revolt to worsen their lot a decade later. Though a relative backwater city by now in history, Nola retained its status as a municipium, its own institutions, and the use of the Oscan language during this period of Roman history. It was divided into pagi, the names of some of which are still preserved to this present day: Pagus Agrifanus, Capriculanus, Lanitanus for examples.

Campaign map for 216 – 214 BC (.doc):  Nola map

Many people think Hannibal’s won all his battles and suffered his only defeat at the battle of Zama near Carthage. That is false. Hannibal himself was held in 3 inconclusive battles outside the city walls of Nola during the 2nd Punic War Italian campaign. All were tactical stalemates, somewhat uncommon for the Punic warfare period, but allowed Republican Rome to regain its momentum against the recent Carthaginian victory on the bloody battlefield of Cannae. Continue reading