Saturday, 4 March 2017

The Battle of Talavera, 1809

This scenario appears in the Volley and Bayonet Road to Glory rulebook, and I've been looking forward to trying it out for quite a while. Getting all the troops and terrain done has taken some effort but I've finally got everything together and managed to round up some folks who were keen to try it out.

Also I read Sharpe's Eagle recently so I was keen to have a go 😅

In this game, I played the French. The victory conditions are that the French have to capture the Allied line of communication- the roads leading from Talavera off the board edge. The Allies win if they stop the French.



28 July, 1809 - The British army under Sir Arthur Wellesley advanced into Spain to aid their allies against the French invaders. Unfortunately, cooperation between the British and Spanish armies proved difficult, with the generals having different ideas about how to conduct the war.

The allies managed to corner an outnumbered French army under General Victor near the town of Talavera, but the Spanish General Cuesta refused to fight (as it was Sunday) and the French were able to escape.

The following day, the Spanish set off in pursuit of the French without the British, Wellesley still annoyed with Cuesta. Meanwhile, Victor was able to link up with Marshal Jourdan's army. Seriously outnumbered, the Spanish turned around and retreated back to Talavera to rejoin the British.

Thus the scene was set for a desperate defence at Talavera, the French having the advantage in numbers, but the allies having a prepared defensive position.

Historically, Talavera was a bloody but decisive victory for the Allies. It was lauded as a great achievement by the British government who awarded Wellesley the title of Viscount Wellington in recognition of his accomplishment.

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The Battlefield: On the far left is the River Tagus, which is impassable to all troops. The city of Talavera sits alongside surrounded by orchards and vineyards. The walled vineyards provide some defensive bonuses for troops, and the redoubt was constructed by the allies in the days leading up to the battle to provide an additional defensive position. 

On the far right of the board, the Portina stream has marshy banks (green felt) which disorder troops crossing it, providing a serious barrier to movement. 

The woods on the brown base are 'forest', which is impedes movement more than 'orchards'.


View of the town.


The walled gardens and the allied defensive line.


Deployment: The Spanish army held the town of Talavera and the defensive positions up to the edge of the redoubt, with the British taking the left end of the allied line along the stream edge and holding the hill. 


The Spanish army, preparing to hold like a rock. The garden walls I made from foam card, the gabion defensive line is resin pieces from www.timecastmodels.co.uk. I was quite impressed with how they came out.

The command stand in the middle of this picture (with the infantry figure saluting) is General Cuesta.



The Spanish troops holding the city.


The British troops holding the heights of the Medellin.

The command stand with two figures on the left of this pic is Wellesley, with his trademark blue coat.


French cavalry screening the Spaniards.


The French advance, I Corps in the foreground with IV Corps arriving as reinforcements on the first turn.

The command stand in the middle of this picture, next to the Hussars, is General Victor.


The view from the British commanders position on the Medellin. 


The French advance, with a dragoon unit on the right crossing the marshes to screen the British on the far end of the line. Meanwhile I brought up as much artillery as I could fit on the heights of the Cascajal, to try and blast a hole in the British line.


Guns, lots of guns.


The French artillery barrage is immediately effective, clearing out an entire brigade within just a couple of turns.




As IV Corps starts to catch up with the French front line, the traffic jam begins...


The British defense starts to push back a few French units. Fresh troops pour in to fill the holes in the line.


With a gap in the British line, the French move in to attempt a breakthrough.





The British counter-attack with the KGL infantry and the Heavy Dragoons charging in. 


The Spanish Hussars have a go against the defended French flank. The cavalry break through the infantry line, who retreat through the artillery formations causing mass disorder.


Breaking through the French light cavalry, the British dragoons smash into the French infantry. But in a brilliant show of moxie, the French hold and the heavy cavalry routs off the battlefield.


The next wave of Frenchman charge in, with the French dragoons catching the flank of the Spanish cavalry and wiping them out. 

The French infantry charge the redoubt, but the Spanish defense proves too strong and pushes them back.



The British line is starting to look shaky, the centre held by the remaining cavalry.


The Spanish cavalry crosses the stream to push back the French Dragoons, bringing some additional artillery with them. 





The French infantry cross the stream to bring the battle to the British Guards.


The French are still trying to push through in the centre of the allies line, but waves of Spanish cavalry keep getting in the way.


British 1st Division in a very lonely spot, with lots of Frenchmen ready to cross the water.


The French start making some progress, but more Spanish cavalry is coming up from the rear.


The Spanish infantry start moving out of the town to shore up the defenses in the centre of the allied line.


1st Division is running of of men, and most of the allied cavalry is exhausted, but there's not much French cavalry left to try and break through them so the French are relying on muskets and artillery fire to try and clear a path to the LOC.


Waves of Frenchmen keep coming but at this point most of the lead divisions are exhausted. The French dragoons cross the stream again (which disorders them) and attempt a charge, but it's general stalemate. 

I actually ran out of battery on my phone at this point and didn't get any more pictures, but this was basically the situation at the end of the game. In the next turn, the leading brigade of French troops charged the Spanish provisional infantry that are visible in the top left corner of this image, but in an awesome display of bravado the Spaniards defeated the Frenchmen who ran off in total rout.

As night fell, the valley was littered with the bodies of dead allied soldiers but the French just couldn't reach the road.

Victory for the Allies!



9 comments:

  1. Great report, I enjoyed reading it.

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    1. Thanks Keith, it was a lot of fun to play with both sides having the upper hand at times. We all agreed it was a close battle which always makes a fun game.

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  2. Wow excellent battle report sir! Ive always wanted to play the Talavera game from the rulebook! Well done.

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    1. Thanks Steven, yeah I've been very keen to try it out for quite a while now, so I was glad that I finally managed to organise it.

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  3. Outstanding set up Frank. Really engaging report too. Well done all round.

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  4. Thanks Simeon, glad you enjoyed it!

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  5. A wonderful game!! As a fan of V&B I have also played the battle of Talavera and it was a victory for the Allies. I really cant see how the French would ever win this battle... pics here: https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10208185170408467&set=gm.1197120580302169&type=3&theater

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    1. Hey Mltiadis, thanks for your comments. I'm glad you enjoyed it. I agree, it's a tough mission for the French.

      For some reason I couldn't follow your link? Got an error.

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  6. some more pics of our Talavera version using V&B https://www.facebook.com/groups/1140755029272058/search/?query=Talavera

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