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.

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