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A journey in miniature through the Age of Reason.Timurilankhttp://www.blogger.com/profile/12856114016218310524noreply@blogger.comBlogger295125
Updated: 54 min 54 sec ago

Scenario - March 10-11, the Portuguese at Chaves

October 18, 2018 - 10:16

Historical Background Convinced that La Romana would pose no further obstacle to his invasion plans, Soult marched his forces south across the frontier of Portugal. To face the French alone, Silveira sought a defensible position near the frontier and sent a detachment forward (line regiment and peasants) to menace the flank of the French advance to gain time. Since the cavalry of Franceschi together with the infantry of Heudelet were still pursuing La Romana to the east, the Portuguese detachment fell on Soult’s main body with Lahoussaye’s Dragoons and Delaborde’s division leading. The detachment were easily beaten and sent scrambling back toward the main body which Silveira had now positioned at San Pedro, a league south of Chaves. The location was ideally suited as the ground between the river and mountains narrows to offer a compact area from which to defend. [1]
Soult halted at Monterey to allow his rearguard and convoy of sick to close up with the main body and by March 10, he resumed his advance. Making use of the roads paralleling the Tamega River, Franceschi’s light horse and Heudelet’s division leave La Romana to march down the eastern side while Caulaincourt’s brigade of dragoons and Delaborde’s infantry marched down the western side of the Tamega. Hearing of Soult’s approach, Silveira gathered all his forces to the position at San Pedro. This order was not well received by the masses of militia and Ordenanza as they did not want to abandon the town of Chaves to the French. A mixed force of the Chaves regiment (12thLine), militia and Ordenanza remained behind, under the command of Migelhaes Pizarro, to defend the dilapidated town. The 3,000 man force were further aided by 1,200 armed civilians resolved to defend their town.
A reconnaissance of the village and Silveira’s position at San Pedro, Soult surmised if Silveira could be driven off from his position at San Pedro, the defenders of Chaves would have no further choice than to surrender. The following morning, Delaborde and Lahoussaye attacked the San Pedro position forcing Silveira to give ground and retreat to Vila Real. Despite their patriotic resistance Pizarro was forced to surrender Chaves on the 12thof March. [2]

LocationThe town of Chaves did include many a number of medieval and 17th century fortifications. However, since their construction, the state of the battlements is described as dilapidated. Encircling the town should not have posed a problem for Soult as the as the ground surrounding Chaves is relatively open, but hilly. The position held by Silveira is most likely astride the junction of the N103 and A24. This is a league distance from Chaves and offers Silveira two exit routes; it is high enough to overlook the town of Chaves.
Google Maps Terrain 
ForcesFrench forces have encircled the town of Chaves and players have an option to do the siege on a separate table, but our focus in on the conflict between Delaborde and Silveira.  The Portuguesedefenders of Chaves muster 500 troops (1st line), 2,000 militia and 1,200 armed citizens. At San Pedro, Silveira has approximately 9,000 troops of which 2,800 are regular troops, 2,500 militia, 50 cavalry and the remainder Ordenanza.

ObjectivesThe French must rout Silveira from his position at San Pedro. A quick victory would hasten a surrender of Chaves, whereas stout resistance until nightfall would only strengthen the resolve of the defenders of Chaves to continue their resistance.  The Portuguese must hold their position at San Pedro until nightfall. This would give the partisans an option to work their ‘miracles’ during the night.

Footnotes:[1] C. Oman, History of the Peninsula War, volume II, p. 224[2] ibid, p.226
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Portugal 1808/09 - the Gallery

October 13, 2018 - 14:48
This page will be updated as new additions to this project are complete. The first offerings are insurgents for either the Portuguese or Spanish armies and based for DBA-HX3 variant. 

The InsurrectionThe figures are Old Glory 15s and the majority are Tyrolean guerrillas with some minor modifications. Painted in characteristic Iberian fashion they do the job as the insurrection.
Photo one, in the background are insurrectionist or Ordenanza with a few Blue Moon civilians mixed in. In front are the hastily raised ‘militia’ of Chaves Braga and Oporto and villages of the region. These will play a prominent role in the defence of Oporto.  

Photo two show more insurrectionist but in skirmish formation. 'Los Malditos' are the two hounds in the background on the lookout for a 'tasty little Frenchman'. 

Photo three has three elements of irregular cavalry supporting Spanish guerrilla activity. Commanders for the insurrectionist are in the foreground with Blue Moon figures added to give each an unusual identity – I particularly like the female figure gesticulating in that ‘we need to talk’ manner.

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Scenario - March 6, a rear guard action at la Trepa.

October 10, 2018 - 09:59

Soult in Northern Portugal
PrefaceSoult’s failure to cross the Minho River on the 16thwas due to insufficient preparation and knowledge of the region known as ‘Entre Douro et Minho’’. News of the French setback to cross the Minho River reached La Romana and a march in the direction of Orense would seem to indicate a return to Galicia to await better weather conditions.  Based on that assumption La Romana held his position at Monterey and continued further the rebuilding of his force while supporting the guerrilla activity in the region, {1}
Soult’s true plans became apparent as his army turned south to approach Monterey and the Portuguese frontier.  With only 9,000 troops under his command, La Romana had considered confronting Soult but with the support of Silveira and his Portuguese. Reaching no agreement with Silveira, La Romana began his march eastward leaving a rear guard under the command of General Mahy. This force was caught by the French near La Trepa and a desperate action took place against a light cavalry force commanded by Franceschi. [2]
LocationUsing satellite mapping to locate Monterey, we can trace two routes heading eastward toward A. Gudiña, La Romana’s first major town en route to Galicia. The more southern of the two, we find La Trepa at the base of a mountain range. The exact location of the conflict is not certain, but one can gauge from the area our game board should reflect a mountainous area flanked by a road running east to west. The western half of the board should be open narrowing as one moves east. Somewhere between, the Spanish rear guard should make their deployment with the French entering at its western side.
Forces Soult’s light cavalry brigade (Franceschi).
Spanish rear guard comprises of seven infantry regiments under General Mahy. The seven Spanish corps were Segovia (Mil), Zamora (nr.7), Barcelona (Lt.), Majorca (nr.17), Orense (Mil), Betanzos (Mil) and Aragon (nr.25 or Lt.); none were more than 200 bayonet strong, The infantry regiment followed by a number indicate regular line troops, Mil are militia or conscript under the rules and Lt. are skirmishers. [3]
ObjectivesFrench need only destroy two units to cause demoralisation, which will send the Spanish rear guard in flight. Further Spanish casualties will accrue a decisive French victory. Spanish must exit the field moving west. The loss of two units will bring the rear guard to a state of demoralisation, the game continues until the entire command has left the board.
Footnotes: 1. Oman, History of the Peninsular War, Volume II, p.1862. ibid, p. 1903. ibid, p. 194
Sources:The Napoleon Series , 3rd Marquis of laRomana,Military History Encyclopedia on the Web/MarshalSoult’s invasion of Portugal 1809

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Portugal 1808/09 - determining a scenario

October 2, 2018 - 09:59

Which scenarios?Reviewing the timeline of Soult’s invasion of Portugal to the capture of Oporto, there are a number of key events that would make interesting scenarios, yet how best to treat them is another question to ask. One option is to create a campaign starting with Soult’s crossing the frontier and ending with his entrance into Oporto on the 29th of March. This has a certain appeal but requires a considerable amount of time to design as well as the commitment of players to maintain game momentum. A better option is to select four or more conflicts highlighting the march to Oporto and play them as separate scenarios. This would avoid a long term commitment from players and allow the rotation of the role of attacker – defender.
From the timeline I gleaned the following as possible candidates and you will note some events take place after Soult’s entrance into Oporto.
March 4, La Romana’s rear guard action at la Trepa.March 10-11, the Portuguese defence of Chaves. March 20, the Battle of Braga. March 29, the Battle of Oporto.March/April, the capture of Vigo by the British and Spanish.March/April, the uprising in Galicia.April, the combat at Amarante and the defence of the Tamega River by the Portuguese.

Northern PortugalTo gain a better understanding of the situation confronting Soult one must also look at the geographical region the invasion had to negotiate through. This is well covered in volume III of Oman’s classic work detailing the military geography of Northern Portugal, but I will highlight a few key items.
One, maps available to Soult in January of 1809 most likely held the bare minimum of information i.e., the great Spanish rivers (Douro, Tagus and Guadiana) and smaller rivers emptying into the Atlantic. The major rivers divide Portugal into four significant regions.Two, of these four, the northern most, Entre Douro et Minho, is described as mountainous with few roads serviceable for heavy transport. Three, to reach Oporto on the date set by the Emperor, Soult would campaign in the middle of the winter season and if the Portuguese did not contest his advance, the weather surely would. Four, the ability to ‘live off the land’ would be severely disadvantaged as the region offers scarce resources forcing the French to transport its supply.
One could conclude Soult was dealt a ‘bad hand’ but the Emperor was aware of the urgency for Soult with support from Victor to seize Lisbon from the British. After the consolidation of Soult’s corps and Ney’s forces securing Galicia, Soult began his march south. Victor was not to move into Portugal until Soult was ready for the final phase, the march on Lisbon.

ScenariosIn the weeks ahead I will post a number of scenarios so club members can become acquainted with the history surrounding the battles. These are rough drafts but supply enough information to play test each. In between the research and writing, the painting of figures will continue as I have two orders of miniatures that will be arriving soon.
  Marshal Soult’s Invasion of Portugal, 1809History of the Peninsular War, C. Oman, vol. II

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Portugal 1808/09 - a timeline

September 25, 2018 - 10:12
TimelineSoult in Northern Portugal 1809
January 16    Battle of Corunna.  British complete their evacuation two days later.January 19     Governor Alcedo formerly surrenders Corunna to Soult. January 26     The naval fortress of Ferrol also surrenders to Soult. January 28     New instructions from the Emperor extends Soult’s deadline to capture Oporto by 4 days.
February 2     French cavalry reach the Portuguese border.February 8     Ney reaches Galicia to take over Corunna and Ferrol. Soult moves his army south.February 16    With the main body between Tuy and Vigo, Soult attempts a crossing of the Minho R. Failing to cross, Soult heads 50 miles east to cross upstream at Orense.February 20    La Romana in close proximity to Orense, Soult moves his baggage and heavy guns to Tuy before moving toward Orense. This, Soult discovers is undefended and remains there for nine days to collect his troops.  
March 4                 Soult leaves Orense to march on La Romana’s headquarters at Monterey.  Intending to support the Portuguese forces under Silveira, La Romana slips away but rear guard is caught at La Trepa. Soult now confronted four separate Portuguese forces; at Chaves under General Silveira, a second guarding the Minho under General Botilho, a third force at Braga under General Freire and a fourth group at Oporto.March 10-11   A third of Silveira’s force refuse to leave Chaves and are besieged. The defenders surrendered leaving Silveira to retreat south toward Villa Real.  March 14       Soult leaves Chaves to march west to cross the mountains and move into the Cavado valley. March 17       Clearing the mountain passes, the French advance guard makes contact with the Portuguese army defending Braga.March 20       Battle of Braga ended in a crushing defeat of the Portuguese forces losing 4,000 of its 25,000 troops. March 25-26   Crossing the River Avé, Soult outflanks Portuguese resistance forcing them back to Oporto.March 27       The French approach Oporto which is defended by 30,000 troops.March 29       Battle of Oporto ends with the defeat of the Portuguese forces and its capture. Soult remains in Oporto to restore his communication with Ney and his support; General Lapisse at Salamanca and Marshal Victor at Badajoz. Soult divides his army into four sections; the garrison at Oporto, a force south of the Douro to watch the retreating Portuguese, Heudelet’s division left at Braga moved north to Tuy and Vigo to restore communication  with Ney and a smaller force commanded by Loison was sent east to make contact with Lapisse.                                News did reach Soult; despite the victory at Medellin Victor did not have the strength to attack Badajoz, Lapisse was kept occupied by Sir Robert Wilson and thus could not reach the Portuguese border, Heudelet discovers the British and Spanish have retaken Vigo and Ney was held down by an uprising throughout Galicia.                               April (?)            Portuguese guerrillas retake Braga and Heudelet is ordered to return and retake and garrison Braga as well as Viana and Barcelos. General Silveira rebuilds his army after his defeat at Chaves and moves to Amarante to defend the east bank of the Tamega River. This move blocks Loison’s effort to reach Lapisse. April 12                 Loison first attempt to force the Tamega River. April 18                 Loison is reinforced and with 6,500 men makes a second attempt to cross and is rebuffed. April 22                 Sir Arthur Wellesley lands in Lisbon.
May 2          With additional troops, Loison succeeds and crossed the Tamega River routing Silveira’s forces.  

The division of Soult’s forces to restore lines of communications; Oporto, 1 ½ Divisions and two brigades of cavalry. One division of infantry and one brigade of cavalry screened Oporto south of the Douro. Heudelet’s division was ordered north and Loison commanded one brigade of dragoons and one brigade of infantry. 
Source:Military Encyclopedia on the Web/Marshal Soult’s Invasion of Portugal, 1809 History of the Peninsular War, C. Oman, vol. II. 
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