Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Campaign Move 27

2000 27th August 1813

After a hard days fighting General Leval was forced to retreat east.

Leval had deployed his two divisions, less one brigade in Pancorbo, just west of the town.  

General Hill attacked at first light with 1st British division.  However he had to halt for four hours to await the arrival of 2nd Spanish division.   During this period he had to endure artillery fire from the French guns which had a longer range than his own.

By lunchtime General Giron was in position, and Hill ordered both of his divisions to attack.

The British had suffered casualties during the morning, and were unable to press home their attack on 3rd French division.   Both divisions suffered heavy casualties, and the British withdrew as night approached.

Giron’s division were to provide the surprise of the day.   The Spanish advanced in column of attack against 16th Italian division.   The latter were short of one brigade, but were better quality troops. 

Giron ordered his lancer brigade to charge the Italian hussars, and the resulting melee ended in an unexpected Spanish victory.    The Italian artillery was posted on their right flank, to support 3rd French division.   The Spanish attack was aimed at their left flank.   The loss of their cavalry forced the infantry to form square against the enemy lancers.

As evening approached the Spanish infantry closed with the Italian squares.   Hill ordered Giron to attack rather than engage.   This meant that the Spanish infantry charged and broke the squares.

Leval ordered a general retreat towards Pancorbo.   Only nightfall saved his broken Italian division from destruction.   The loss of four hours in the morning, waiting for the Spanish to arrive, robbed Hill of total victory.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Campaign Move 26

1600 27th August 1813

Whilst the fighting continues at Pancorbo, further south Graham is approaching Burgos.

He was not aware that Hill was intending to attack Pancorbo, and the sound of battle to the north has made him anxious about his left flank.

Graham is faced with a difficult decision.   The road to Burgos is through broken terrain, which will delay his approach and make deployment difficult. 

Villante has deployed his corps just west of Burgos.   He was also taken by surprise by the allied attack on Pancorbo, and is even more concerned about his communications to France.    However the approach of Graham has pinned him to Burgos.   He is deployed in the clear ground just west of the city and is confident that he can hold the allies should they attack.

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Campaign Move 25

1200 27th August 1813

Leval has deployed his corps just east of Pancorbo to defend the vital military road from Burgos to Bayonne. 

Both of his divisions are short of one infantry brigade.   He has ordered 11th brigade to garrison Pancorbo, and a second brigade is non operational due to battle casualties.   Both of his cavalry brigades have been detached to recce towards Aguillar.

Hill is aware of the French deployment.   He has spent three days recovering from the battle of Aguillar, where he defeated Leval.   He is determined to follow up his earlier victory and take Pancorbo.  If he can do so he will have severed the French main communications with France.

His has opted to attack with one division behind the other.   This will mean that 1st British division will have to advance against two French divisions on their own.   It will be mid morning before 2nd Spanish division will reach the field of battle.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Campaign Move 24

2000 26th August 1813

The northern Spanish guerrilla band have recovered from their earlier brush with the French garrison of Pancorbo.  They have collected supplies from the scattered villages and pressed into service a number of farmers to replace those lost to attrition. 

They have received reports of the French defeat at Aguillar, and have seen the chaos and confusion of the French retreat to Pancorbo.   Now is an ideal time to take advantage of the French reverse.

They march east to the main military road from Bayonne to Burgos and occupy a small village just north of Pancorbo.  

The first supply train from France falls easily into their hands, and there is much celebration as they help themselves to the supplies.

Once more the major French supply has been cut.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Campaign Move 23

1600 26 August 1813

The desperate situation is starting to become apparent to Marshal Soult at his headquarters in Burgos castle.

Over the past 48 hours the whole of the French forward position has fallen apart.   One after another each of his three corps commanders confirm defeat and retreat.   He has issued urgent orders for a concentration along the line Pancorbo to Aranda, and can now only hope that the Allies will allow him time to disengage, retreat and reform.   He considers Wellington to be a cautious general, and is confident that he will halt and regroup before moving west again.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Campaign Move 22

1200 26th August 1813

It is fortunate for the French that the allied commanders prefer to consolidate their recent victories, rather than pursue the retreating enemy.

All three commanders have taken their objectives, and have suffered casualties in the process.    All are running low on supplies.   It is not surprising that they opt to rest and resupply rather than undertake a risky pursuit.

This strategy has allowed the three French corps to break contact and retreat to the east.