Monday 15 July 2024

The Battle of Barbastro, 2 June 1837, First Carlist War.

Saturday took us to sunny Spain in June 1837, with a game set during the First Carlist War 1833-1840. Conrad brought his considerable collection of 28mm figures to refight Barbastro. You may recall that he has recently had a wargamer’s guide on the war published by Helion. My review can be found through this link: and one of the chapters in the book is the Barbastro scenario we were about to play.

There were just the four of us, Conrad and John playing the ‘liberal’ Christinos while Nick and I played the ultra conservative ultra  Catholic Carlists under the late king’s brother Don Carlos. Click on for a summary of the war. 

The Carlists were on their famed Royal Expedition, and had to hold their position against the attacking  Christinos which, outnumbered in cavalry and with no artillery, was going to be an interesting exercise. The attackers’ cavalry and infantry was better quality, including a battalion of Royal Guard and the French Foreign Legion. The miniatures were mainly from the fabulously tempting Perry range, but other manufacturers featured as well (I think including Lancashire Games). Now, on to battle!

Vast hoards of Christina’s on the right surge towards the Carlists.

Six battalions of Conrad’s finest including the French Foreign Legion supported by cavalry and artillery face our right flank.

Facing that lot were a mere four battalions of Carlists.

The Christino centre under John

Our gallant CinC and his bodyguard.

The enemy flank starts moving. Well, the cavalry anyway  as the infantry failed to get moving.

At the end of Turn 1 not much was happening. 

The Carlist right, poised to take on the Isabellino assault.

We shifted most of our cavalry from the centre over to the right wing.

Once the enemy was in range we charged down the hill! Bugger all this storing nonsense.

We hit the Spanish Royal Guard and actually broke them! Woopee!

Conrad’s cavalry come racing up the hill.

In the centre and our left the enemy were advancing slowly towards us.

The Isabellino centre trudging towards our centre held by Nick.

The enemy suffered some reverses and some units were pushed back due to musketry off the hill.

Our left wing.

Conrad’s brigade was on the verge of breaking……

Some furious bayonet and cavalry charges confused the issue even more than it was already. 

The Carlist left (on the right) still holding strong against the Isabellino attack.

Some of the Carlist battalions on our left.

The Isabellino centre

 Unruffled Carlists

Even less ruffled Carlists

The fight continued on our left. My infantry were almost broken, as indeed were Conrad’s, and my cavalry shattered.

A battalion of Carlists vainly try to hold up the Legion. They managed for a couple of turns but in the end they broke.

Even a last ditch attempt by the CinCs bodyguard failed to break the enemy square.

The centre

More of the centre…….

The Isabellino cavalry in the centre never got going. Not their fault as Nick kept shooting them.

The final melee on our right. Honours even but it was the end for this flank.

At least the enemy were stuck in square.

Run away!

This was a thoroughly enjoyable battle and I hope not  the last time we get to play a Carlist game here at the Burrow. Black Powder worked fine although we may need a few more period specific tweaks. 

Thanks to Conrad for the troops and John and Nick for playing. It was actually quite a relaxing day and we finished by mid afternoon.

Conrad is taking this game to Claymore next month so if you go, look out for it. 

Friday 12 July 2024

1813 Campaign - the Battle of Mittenwalde

The latest battle in our 1813 campaign was played here on Wednesday . The allied Army of the North under Bernadottte had been covering the southern approaches to Berlin and had moved to chase off an advancing French force.  Bernadotte followed up then halted as the French turned to fight. It was pretty clear that more French troops were on the way; we suspected Napoleon himself was also close by. 

Richard and I played the Allies, on the le3ft of the picture above. Shaun was Oudinot (?), supported by Nigel. Conrad was on the way with Paul and Jim  but his carriage threw a wheel so they missed the game waiting for an army of serfs to courier the correct replacement from St. Petersburg.

Richard (Bernadotte) attacked the enemy right with the bulk of his forces, made up of Russians and Swedes. The Prussian III and IV Corps in the centre and right also advanced to pin the French centre and left. 

Richard’s attack almost (so very nearly) rolled up the French flank before the enemy reserve cavalry corps and Napoleon arrived to stem the rot. The Allied attacks in the centre and right faltered and with the arrival of a somewhat delayed French corps the decision was taken to disengage, which was accomplished skilfully without further loss. It was a French victory of sorts but a costly one. Here are a few photos of the game which hopefully give an impression of how the battle developed. The armies are all 15mm from John and Nigel’s collections. The rules used were Snappy Nappy, which I actually quite took to as they worked rather well with this big game. The size of the battlefield (13' x 6') meant that there was plenty of room for manoeuvre with these large 15mm armies.

Prussian IV Corps lurking behind the river. 

Prussian II Corps in the centre

The French left. 
This is the allied left. A Russian cavalry corps, Russian infantry and lots of guns.

Hidden by the wood is a brigade of English/Hanoverians and their famous Rocket Troop. Then there's a big gap before the mass of the allied army over on the extreme left. 
II Corps in the centre advance. 

The French got cocky and advanced their artillery too far, and both batteries were ridden over by the Prussian cavalry.
IV Corps (all Landwehr) cross the river.
Several spirited attacks by the Prussian II Corps failed to dislodge the Bavarians from the village.

The French cavalry came to try and rescue their guns. They didn't manage that but did cause some losses on our mainly conscript cavalry. The second French battery was overrun at this point, failing rot cause a single hit as they were ridden over by my cossacks.

Walmoden's reserve corps of Hanoverian Landwehr and a lone English battalion in the centre/left.

The Swedish Livregimentkurassier. Very pretty they are but after a brief success were driven from the field.

The full weight of Richard's attack can be seen in the distance. The French losses were heavy, especially among their guns, but they just about held on even though several units were shattered.

Most of the allied cavalry on the right had been driven back by the French heavy cavalry.  The Prussian Landwehr were somewhat rattled.

A very tardy Marshal Victor arrives a turn late on the French left. Time for the allies to withdraw.

The allies execute a perfect withdrawal and pull back towards Berlin.

Well, what a tremendous game. The allies oh so nearly beat the French right wing before their massive numerical superiority could begin to tell. Losses in campaign terms were quite heavy for the allies and proportionally  much heavier for the French. Having given them a bloody nose and a slap in the face it was time for Bernadotte to lead a masterful disengagement and withdrawal over the Spree towards Berlin. The French were too battered or too far away to prevent this. Ok, it was technically a French victory if one follows the usual convention, but we (the allies) can afford the losses while the French must husband their troops as best they can.

It is now time for the allies to make their Turn 2 of the Autumn phase of the campaign.