Retreat from Gerona    
  19 August 1808   scale: 1:50, weather = fine, start: 8am, dark: 8pm, time scale: 1 game turn = 30 min
     
 

Background:
Duhesme had taken possession of the city of Barcelona in February and was tasked by Napoleon to keep control over Catalonia, the Spanish province closest to Mediterranean France. When Spain erupted in revolt in May, Duhesme was ordered to detach troops to quell what Napoleon assumed were small and isolated outbreaks of discontent. It soon became obvious that the whole region was up in arms however, and while these somatenes or guerilla fighters were unsupported by regular troops and possessed more enthusiasm than discipline, they proved formidable opponents in the rugged terrain of the coastal province, and forced all detachments to return to their base in Barcelona. Nevertheless, Duhesme set out to subdue the town of Gerona on his line of communications with France. The first attempt having failed, he tried again in July when he was reinforced by general Reille, at the head of yet another heterogenous collection of depot conscripts and allied formations of dubious quality. But by then the somatenes were reinforced by the majority of the Spanish regular units that had been stationed on the Balearic islands, the news of Baylen had filtered through and in a bold move the garrison of Gerona from within, and the relieving force from the rear, on 16 August attacked Reille's besieging division and drove him from his position. Duhesme did not stir from his position on the other side of the town and the next day retraced his steps to Barcelona. He re-entered the city on 20 August after an exhausting and demoralising retreat. And so, with the debacle at Baylen, the defeat of Junot in Portugal to come in a few days' time and the evacuation from Madrid of King Joseph Bonaparte, Napoleon's first invasion of the Iberian Peninsula had floundered. It would take a properly trained army to subdue Spain and Portugal.

Game Notes:
This scenario represents the many confrontations between the French and the Spanish insurgents aided by the British navy where possible. While the French usually brushed the Spanish makeshift forces aside with consumate ease, the struggle in Catalonia was carried on with unequalled fierceness and a large degree of success. The scenario aims to give a taste of the varied circumstances in which the guerilla struggle was fought. The retreat's environment: The coastal road: this can be negotiated in column of march, and is practicable for the artillery and wagons. Influence of the peasants: the coastal road was destroyed in several places, forcing Duhesme to drag his artillery and wagons around the obstructions and across the difficult hill-side. Roll a D% for each movement section. A score of 10-20% indicates that a stretch of 25mm (1") of road is destroyed. The British navy: The coastal road runs within range of the British frigate 'the Imperieuse', which can count 18 guns firing at a range measured from the table's edge. Flank fire never applies and there is no bonus for British artillery firing at a range measured from the table's edge. Flank fire never applies and there is no bonus for British artillery firing or firing at column. The somatenes: these count as mob who can skirmish. French artillery: this cannot unlimber. Army breaking point: this does not apply as there is nowhere to go for defeated troops but with the column. Spent French units: these stay with the column but can not take any offensive or defensive action. Spent stands that are contacted by somatenes are destroyed. Spent somatenes units: these flee from the batle and vanish into the hillside.

Objectives:
French: move across the table with as many men as possible. Destroying the somatenes will constitute a victory. Losing half their stands or more, including wagons and artillery, but not generals, is a defeat. Anything in between is an arse kicking.
British: attempt to destroy Duhesme's column.

Historical outcome:
Disastrous retreat for the French, but reached their destination

 
     
 
FRENCH ARMY uses French system Initiative 0
                    Army
  troop men sub bn status training stands + 1st  skir- Breaking
  type   units art?   class factors fire? mish? Point
C-in-C: Gnl de Div Duhesme poor, cautious
1st Division
Gnl de Div Chabran competent, bold
Gnl de Brigade Goulas
7th Ligne C/O 1550 2   veteran A 10/7/4   all 4
16th Ligne C/O 700 1   veteran A 5/4/2   all 2
Foot artillery FA 6x8pdrs     veteran   2/1     1
N/A
Gnl de Brigade Nicolas
2nd Ligne C/O 600 1   trained B 4/3/2   2 2
37th Ligne C/O 600 1   trained B 4/3/2   2 2
56th Ligne C/O 850 1   trained B 6/5/3   3 3
93rd Ligne C/O 700 1   trained B 54/2   3 2
Foot artillery FA 6x8pdrs     veteran   2/1     1
N/A
Cavalry Brigade Bessieres competent, bold
3rd provisional cuirassiers HCC 300     conscr B 4/-/3     3
3rd provisional chasseurs a cheval LC 300     conscr B 4/-/3     2
N/A
Gnl de Brigade Milosewitz competent, bold
1 Italian battalion C/O 650 1   conscr B 4/-/3   2 3
1 Italian battalion C/O 650 1   conscr B 4/-/3   2 3
N/A
Wagon train: this consists of 4 stands of wagons.
 
     
 
 
     
 
Spanish guerillas Initiative 5
                    Army
  troop men sub bn status   stands + 1st  skir- Breaking
  type   units art?     factors fire? mish? Point
C-in-C: Milans superior, bold
leader 1 competent, bold
leader 2 competent, bold
leader 3 competent, bold
1st Tercio Mob/S/O 1000 1   conscr   6/5/4   all  
2nd Tercio Mob/S/O 1000 1   conscr   6/5/4   all  
3rd Tercio Mob/S/O 1000 1   conscr   6/5/4   all  
4th Tercio Mob/S/O 1000 1   conscr   6/5/4   all  
British frigate 'Imperieuse' Artillery 18x12 pdr         6/5/4/3/2/1      
 
 
 
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