Monday, March 11, 2013

Campaign Move 37

1200 31st August 1813

At first light General Leval advanced against the isolated 2nd Spanish division at Pancorbo.

Leval ordered his 16th Italian division to pin the Spanish, whilst his 3rd French division would move to prevent 1st British division joining the Spanish at Pancorbo.

The attack came as a complete surprise to General Hill.   He had not anticipated that Leval could recover from his casualties at the first battle of Pancorbo so quickly, much less that he would initiate an attack.

1st British division had suffered heavy casualties at first Pancorbo, and were still recovering.   Three of their four infantry brigades had 20% casualties and were not really battle ready.  Despite this Hill ordered them to march east to support the Spanish.

He was also unaware that Marshal Soult was approaching Pancorbo along the Burgos road with 14th Westphalian division.   The hills to the south west of Pancorbo hid the Westphalians from the British.   It also hid the British from the Westphalians.

As a consequence the morning hours of the battle were very confused.  

3rd French division blocked the British from reaching Pancorbo.

Hill rode to join the Spanish in Pancorbo, and was informed of the Westphalian approach.   The Spanish division was about to be attacked from the north and south, and by odds of at least two to one.  Hill immediately ordered the Spanish to abandon Pancorbo and retreat along the Aguillar road.

It was now a race against time.   The Spanish were deployed in and around Pancorbo, and all facing north.   It would take some hours to withdraw through the town along the Aguillar road, during which time the Spanish would have to hold both the Italian and Westphalian divisions at bay.

Little support could be expected from the British.  With their brittle infantry brigades they would be fortunate to hold their ground long enough for the Spanish to join them.   Were just one brigade to break and run it was highly likely that they would be immediately joined by the other weak brigades.

All would now depend on luck and timing.

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