C & C Napoleonics: Battle of Vimeiro
On August 20th, 1808 Sir Harry Burrard arrived off of Port Novo, Portugal aboard HMS Brazen. The newly appointed senior commander of the Army of Portugal sent messages ashore for Lord Wellesley, the current commander, who met him aboard Brazen to discuss the transfer of command. It was determined that in the morning Burrard would assume command but until then he would sleep aboard ship.
The French had plans too and on the morning of August 21, 1808 they attacked the British positions at the sleepy village of Vimeiro before the British transfer of command was complete....
The battle of Vimeiro is probably my favorite battle of the Napoleonic war. The 95th Rifles (think Sharpe) are present and so is Wellington. The French forces are cavalry heavy with a minimal component of British cavalry which makes for a nice contrast in tactics. The French commander General Junot attempts a wide flanking maneuver with two of his more experienced divisions which Wellington meets and turns in a climactic battle on his left flank.
Vimeiro is a good, early example of Wellington's tactics and battlefield leadership. His tactical positioning in and around Vimiero is spot on and as was his habit, he personally scouted each of these positions the day before the battle. He also hides his men behind the the prominent ridges north and west of the town as he did famously at Waterloo. The French general Junot, like Bonaparte, in 1814 is fooled by this and splits his force in three thinking he was before a smaller force.
And finally, and for me most interesting, the fact that Burrard was not in command because he chose to sleep aboard ship and that Wellington was, is in my opinion one of the greatest accidents of history during the Napoleonic Wars.
Prior to the Portugal campaign Wellington was highly regarded for his service in India but it is his defeat of Junot at Vimeiro that propels his career forward and ultimately to the fields of Belgium and the battlefield of Waterloo. Had Burrard been more aggressive in taking command or had he arrived one day earlier, the Portugal campaign might have ended very differently.
About the Game:
This is a modified version of C&C, where in an effort to expand the size of the map, I have removed the board and the plain terrain hexes and only added interesting terrain features to a tabletop. I've also doubled the number of units involved compared to the C&C scenario. The placement of my troops on the map is based on Rene Chartrand's Osprey Campaign Title of Vimeiro 1808 which I highly recommend as a good primer for the battle.
C&C I am learning is card driven. The ebb and flow of the battle is dictated by the command card you play each turn. Skilled commanders like Wellesley have a greater number of cards from which to choose, but each side may only play one card per turn.
So my battle begins with the French probing the British flank around the ford. Anstruther's men know their business and turn them back with heavy losses. In the center, the French attack comes off disjointed from the cards I play and consists of one advancing regiment and artillery fire that takes a toll on the 95th Rifles and the 50th Foot of Fane's brigade.
|Junot counters the 20th with a cavalry charge of 2 regiments of Dragoons The 20th suffers heavy losses and is driven back towards the ford.|
I am really enjoying C&C Napoleonics and can't wait to fight another battle.