Thursday, February 28, 2013

Campaign Move 33

2000 29th August 1813

General Conroux has command 8th French corps at Aranda

He had suffered a dramatic defeat at Castrillo on 23rd August and had been forced to retreat to Aranda.   Fortunately the British had been slow to pursue, and this had allowed him to recover and replace his battle casualties.

He was well aware of the fighting to his north, and was particularly concerned when the fighting started at Burgos.   The loss of that city would leave him isolated from the main French army to the north, and open to attack from the north and west.

His orders were to hold Aranda which he did with his 7th division.   He sent his 15th division north to establish contact with 7th corps at Burgos.   They would be available to support Villante if required.  They would also provide a pivot should he be forced to abandon Aranda and retreat north.

During the late afternoon he received a report from Chasse that 7th corps had achieved a notable victory at Burgos.   His flank, and his communications with the main army, were both secure.

As night fell he received a despatch from Soult.   He was ordered to abandon Aranda and march north to join forces with 7th corps at Burgos.  

Monday, February 25, 2013

Campaign Move 32

1600 29th August 1813

Soult’s plan to recapture Pancorbo left both 7th and 8th French corps exposed to an allied attack.

This was unlikely to happen to 7th corps at Burgos, as 2nd allied corps would take at least 24 hours to recover from their defeat.

However further south 8th corps was in real danger at Aranda.  

General Cole’s 3rd allied corps was the strongest of the three corps.  It contained two Anglo-Portuguese divisions, including  Alten’s light division.

From the start of the campaign, Wellington had earmarked Cole to deal the decisive blow of the campaign.   The loss of Aranda would sever French communications between Bayonne and Madrid.   At a stroke it would contain the French to a narrow strip of northern Spain.

It would also position Wellington’s strongest corps on the flank of the remaining two French corps.   He could then advance against each in turn with over whelming strength from both the west and south.

Throughout the campaign Cole had preserved his command carefully.  His steady progress allowed him to halt and resupply when it suited him.  It also allowed the two allied corps to the north to take the brunt of the fighting.

He was now ready to strike at Aranda and destroy  8th corps.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Campaign Move 31

1200 29th August 1813

6th French corps is in a critical position having been forced to abandon their supply depot at Pancorbo and retreat north in disorder.

The battle at Pancorbo on 27th August had left both 6th French and 1st allied corps with heavy casualties, but the French were in a worse condition and had been forced to retreat to the north.

Most of the allied casualties had been in 1st British division.   Hill ordered them to halt and recover, and 2nd Spanish division to occupy Pancorbo.  

If 6th French corps were unable to retake Pancorbo before their supplies ran out, they would suffer casualties to attrition to add to their battle casualties.

The French victory at Burgos presented Soult with a slim chance to retake Pancorbo, establish communication with 6th corps and open the main supply route to France.

7th corps had suffered medium casualties at Burgos, and most of them in 6th division.   14th Westphalian division had very light casualties, and all of them in one infantry brigade.

The earlier run of allied victories had allowed Wellington’s corps commanders to achieve their campaign objectives, except at Burgos.   Soult could expect a small delay whilst Wellington issued new orders and the allied commanders reacted.   Any delay on his part could only make matters worse for the French

Soult decided to take a calculated risk.  If it worked he could reverse his earlier defeats.  If not he would have to abandon his hold on Spain.

He ordered Villante to hold Burgos with his weak 7th division.  

Soult would take command of 14th division and march north to strike at Pancorbo before Hill could concentrate his two divisions there.   It would take him two days to reach Pancorbo, and if either Hill or Graham attacked before he took Pancorbo he risked the loss of the whole French army in Spain.

Monday, February 18, 2013

Battle of Burgos – 28th August 1813

Tactical Map at start of battle
1st Spanish division have orders to advance and attack
2nd British division have orders to advance and attack
6th French division have orders to hold
14th Westphalian division have orders to hold
8 infantry brigade have orders to rejoin division

Table at start of battle
Road top left leads to Castillo
Road on right leads to Burgos
Both buildings are farms
Road bottom left is a minor farm track

7th French corps is deployed to hold the Burgos road
2nd Allied corps has orders to attack

General Graham with 2nd allied corps
1st Spanish division, on the left, is full strength
2nd British division, on the right, has 80 casualties

General Villante with 7th French corps
6th French division, on the right, has 120 casualties
14th Westphalian division, on the left, has 80 casualties, and one brigade in Burgos

Move 1 – 0800 to 0900 
Allied corps advance towards the hills with cavalry on flanks
French corps hold their position

Move 2 – 0900 to 1000
Allied corps advance through the hills
General Graham (far hill) moves to take command of the isolated British cavalry
6th French division (nearest camera) moves artillery to cover the nearest pass

Move 3 – 1000 to 1100
Allied corps continue to advance over the hills and through the passes
Spanish division move onto hills either side of the pass to avoid enemy artillery
French artillery is still out of range

Move 4 – 1100 to 1200
Graham moves to join British division and orders them to Engage
British advance into French artillery range.
French artillery fire on highland brigade and inflict 10% casualties

Move 5 – 1200 to 1300
8th Westphalian brigade arrives from Burgos and moves to join division
British artillery fire on nearest Westphalian brigade and inflict 10% casualties
Westphalian artillery fire on highland brigade and inflict 10% more casualties
Highlanders fail morale and rout
British gunners test morale for rout within 4”, fail and also rout
Portuguese brigade test morale for rout within 4”, fail and also rout
French chasseurs charge Spanish dragoons
Chasseurs lose melee and retire shaken with 20% casualties

Move 6 – 1300 to 1400
Villante orders the Westphalians to advance and engage the shaken British division
Westphalian lancers charge British dragoons who lose melee and retire shaken
Shaken French cavalry withdraw behind infantry square but fail to rally
French artillery inflict 20% casualties on nearest Spanish infantry who lose morale and rout
Spanish division continues to advance and engage French
British division have received orders to halt and hold their position

Move 7 – 1400 to 1500
British division attempt to rally routed brigades
Westphalian division moves forward to engage remaining British infantry on hill
Westphalian lancers rout British heavy dragoons
Spanish artillery unlimber on hill and open fire on French infantry
Remainder of Spanish division move forward on Engage orders

Move 8 – 1500 to 1600
British infantry on hill form line to meet Westphalian infantry
Westphalian infantry approach hill
Spanish infantry win initial skirmish fight with French infantry
French infantry advance, form line and volley fire Spanish infantry
Spanish infantry rout

Move 9 – 1600 to 1700
Graham orders his corps to break contact and retreat

Table at end of battle


The allies have lost 960 infantry casualties and 6 brigades in rout
The French have lost 80 cavalry and 480 infantry casualties and one brigade shaken

The first French victory of the campaign, and a most decisive one
Most casualties have been in 6th French division
14th Westphalian division has only suffered 80 casualties

Second Allied Corps have suffered a decisive defeat
Most casualties have been in 1st Spanish division
2nd British division has suffered light casualties
Four Spanish and two British brigades are in rout