First Victories – Vimeiro AAR part 2

First Victories – Vimeiro AAR part 2

Terry Doherty’s three-part AAR of the Vimeiro scenario from Glory and Empire: First Victories continues. If you missed it you should check out part 1 first before continuing with this article.

9:40 AM Turn

The French win the initiative receiving two orders while the British receive one. It seems the French will get a chance to try and disrupt Ferguson, before he can get his brigade in order. Margaron’s Cavalry and Delaborde’s 1st Division receive attack orders. The French will go first to take advantage of the state of Ferguson’s Brigade.

The British player has a choice to make. He can give Ferguson a reserve order allowing them to pull back through Bowes’ line to avoid the cavalry charges that are certainly coming or he can stay put and receive the charge hoping for good dice. The situation has not changed from last turn and if Ferguson pull’s back he risks disordering both his brigade and Bowes’ brigade as they conduct the passage of lines. He could give a reserve order to Bowes’s and he could move forward, but that runs the same risks as Ferguson pulling back. A third alternative is to give Bowes an attack order so that if Ferguson’s brigade is defeated Bowes’ can potentially attack any enemy forces that are now in disorder. Cavalry will just run away, so the best course of action is probably for Bowes to get a reserve order for him to open some lanes for Ferguson’s brigade to retreat through should they suffer a reverse. This will best preserve order in his brigade.

The French have only 4/1 Dragoons to rally and they fail. The French have no British units in range yet and the British decide to conserve their ammo so there is no Fire Combat for the French half of the turn. On to movement.

Loison and Kellermann continue on their march to their holding positions. Brenier’s Brigade of Delaborde’s Division deploys his first line into full skirmish order and advances on Nigtentall to soften him up for an attack.

Figure 6: Turn 4

Thomières’ Brigade of Delaborde’s Division moves forward a little in Grand Column and then begins deploying to his left using the Direct Route method. With his Normal MA he does not have enough MP to complete the evolution so he is marked with an Evolution in Progress (EIP) marker. He must complete his evolution, before taking any other action. If the British had more cavalry and an attack order, Thomières would be quite vulnerable. He could have force marched to complete the evolution, but it’s useful to show what happens when they don’t have enough MP remaining to complete an evolution.

Now for the more exciting part with the cavalry who have an attack order. Weiss adjusts his to his left making 4/26 Chasseurs à Cheval his directing unit and moves his LOB forward to get into charge position. 4/256 CaC and 4/3 Dragoons are both marked with Charge markers indicating their intent to charge. 4/1 Dragoons cannot be marked with a Charge marker, because they are still in disorder. 4/1 Dragoons force marches to keep up. They are required to try and keep up with the directing unit and force marching was the only way. As a result they must take a disorder check for force marching at the end of their move and a 00 is a failure.

They become even more disordered than they already were and enter the shaken state falling back a hex. That completes Weiss’ move until the Charge Phase. Theron’s cavalry brigade, behind Weiss‘, decides to form Double LOB to form a narrower formation, before moving forward into the smaller gap between Ventosa and the scrub further down the north slope of the ridge. This allows them to move through the gap more easily and helps create some space in case Weiss’ men have to suddenly retreat. Forming Double LOB is an Easy Evolution so no evolution check is required.

In the Reserve Segment, Bowes also forms Double LOB to create some retreat routes for Ferguson’s men to help prevent Bowes Brigade from being disordered by any such retreat.

Now for the French Close Combat Segment. They have two charges to resolve. At this point, the charging cavalry are leaving the Grand Tactical Formation and at the end of the turn the GTF will likely be completely dissolved requiring reforming on subsequent turns.

We’ll start with 4/3 Dragoons and as soon as they begin to move the two British units of Ferguson’s Brigade that are not in disorder, 1/40 Foot, attempt to form square. Forming square is a disorder check with some modifiers. The right hex of 1/40 gets Wellesley’s morale modifier as a benefit and since the French cavalry are still 3 hexes away the morale modifier for distance is 0. The right unit fails with a roll of 06 and the left unit passes with a 61.

4/3 Dragoons continues their charge entering 2704, 2603 and 2503, declaring 1/71 B the target of the charge. 1/71 B now takes its Defender MC. They roll a 78, passing easily even with a few negative modifiers. Now they conduct their defensive fire with a FS of 7 (3 base, +2 for well directed fire for passing their MC, +1 for cavalry, +1 because the cavalry is in column). A roll of 46 is a M–15, which becomes a M–35 because its defensive fire. The French pass on a roll of 78 and now we got to Cold Steel. The Dragoons have +2 base, +3 for charging 3 hexes and +1 for their leader for a net +6. 1/71 B has a base of 0 and –1 for disorder for a net –1. The British roll a 9 modified to 8 and the French roll a 2 modified to 8, which is a tie meaning the defender wins. The French lose two morale levels causing them to become shaken and they fall back a hex and get two spent markers for their trouble. Missed it by that much.

4/26 CaC’s charge is then resolved. They are targeting 1/71 A Foot. Same deal as before. They move forward three hexes and make contact. The British pass their MC again and blast away at 4/26 with a FS of 8 resulting in a 1M–15. 4/26 loses a step and fails its resulting MC, becoming shaken and falling back a hex getting two spent markers. So much for the cavalry charges so far. On to the British half of the turn.

Figure 7: Turn 5 French Move

The British have a number of units to rally. All pass except for one unit in Bowes’ Brigade. The crisis has passed.

For the fire segment there are quite a few targets for the British now. Most will be FS 0 shots against skirmishers and results in only 3/2 B Légèr being disordered. Graham’s Battery of the 3rd Brigade fires round shot at point blank range, but misses. They git a little bounce through into the line behind, but that shot goes long too. That is what we call desultory fire.

Figure 8: Turn 5 French Charges

Around Vimeiro Hill all remains quiet. Craufurd moves into position to deploy. Trant gets his raw Portuguese troops out of road column and some confusion results. Acland deploys to his left using the direct route and upon completion of his evolution his troops form line. They pass both their evolution check and their disorder checks for changing formation. Bowes cannot move, because he moved during the Reserve Segment of the French turn. Nightengall also remains in place. Ferguson’s Brigade forms square and only one unit messes up its maneuver right under the glaring eye of Wellesley.

The British have no attacks to mount so that’s it for turn 5.

10:00 AM Turn

Figure 9: Turn 5 British Move

The French win the initiative again, but since the British are largely set, they will let the British go first in the hope of a double turn. The French again get two orders and the British get one. The British will give Ferguson a reserve order just in case the French try and attack their squares with infantry. The French award attack orders to Delaborde and to Margaron once again.

The British do their rallies and move on to fire combat. The British have the same shots as last time and manage to disorder a couple more French units in full skirmish order. The French have no artillery deployed yet for return fire.

During their movement, Craufurd deploys and Trant moves into position for his deployment. The Portuguese are limited to using the processional method for deployment so they march parallel to their line of deployment. Craufurd fails his evolution check and several of his units are disordered. The British train moves off towards Maciera and the remainder of the British infantry remain in their current positions. The army is almost fully deployed. That ends the British turn.

During French rally 4/26 CaC, 4/1 Dragoons recover from shaken. One spent marker is removed from those units that charged. A légèr unit recovers from disorder. The French skirmishers now get to fire on the Nightengall’s infantry and artillery. The unfortunate 29th Foot is disordered.

Weiss pulls back and manages to reform his GTF on the hill about where he started. Theron remains in place, because there is no point in charging the squares. Thomières completes his evolution and fails his evolution check. The Swise and part of 1/86 Ligne fall into disorder. Brenier’s second line deploys into line formation to prepare for attack and to better weather the artillery coming their way. Loison and Kellermann move forward. No attacks launched this turn since little opportunities arose. The French are hoping to get the double turn so they can attack Ferguson’s squares.

10:20 AM Turn

The British win the initiative and receive two orders. The French receive one order. The British decide to go first. The French place an attack order on Delaborde. The British place attack orders on Acland and Nightengall.

The British fair poorly in their rally rolls. British fire is equally ineffective. For French return artillery fire, Delaborde unlimbered a battery last turn to blast Ferguson’s squares. They have an FS of 4 +2 for Delaborde and +1 for Square. They cause a step loss and a morale check which the British fail and become disordered. The bounce through causes no damage.

The British make no dramatic moves and simply tweak their positions a little. Craufurd forms his battalions into line formation. Acland shuffles forward a tad and Ferguson opens a hole in the center of the British line for the 20th Light Dragoons to squeeze into.

Now for the French turn. The French have average results in rallying troops and the cavalry horses recover their wind. During fire combat Delaborde’s battery fires at Ferguson’s squares and causes 36 Foot to become shaken. Bounce through causes a step loss in 1/32 Foot. Otherwise, French skirmish fire is ineffective. British counter battery fire is ineffective.

During French movement, Loison deploys his troops. Solignac’s Brigade deploys into Double LOB, while Charlot deploys his two battalion to cover the gap between Solignac and Brenier. Kellermann’s Reserve moves up behind Charlot. Meanwhile in Delaborde’s area, Brenier stays put hoping to get some advantage from skirmishing. The dDragoons remain in place waiting for an opening against the British squares. Thomières’ Brigade makes a change of front by marching out, and fails their evolution check with a roll of 0.

Figure 10: Turn 6 Move

Clearly they need some more drill practice to flub such a simple maneuver. They are now poised to hit the British squares hard. A double turn would be handy.

10:40 AM Turn

The British win the initiative. Each side receives one order. The British will go first to deny the French a double turn and to get a chance to rally some troops. The French place on attack order on Delaborde again and the British place a reserver order on Bowes Brigade. Ferguson’s Brigade is mostly out of command, because his directing unit got forced back out of line.

Figure 11: Turn 7 Move

The British succeed in rallying quite a few units getting them back into order. There is a lot of skirmishing in the fire segment and some artillery fire. Skirmisher on skirmisher fire was largely ineffective as expected, though the British did shake part of 3/2 Léger. The British battery on Vimeiro took careful aim at Loison’s approaching troops and destroyed 12/3 artillerie à pied (foot artillery). French return artillery fire inflicts a step loss on 36 Foot with shell fire, but their round shot goes high and completely misses the choice targets in square.

During the movement segment, Trant’s Portuguese from Line of Battle in battalion columns. Ferguson’s out of command squares pull back into command and then get out of square into line. Everyone else stays put.

Now for the French half of the turn. Rally goes so so for the French, but importantly some of Delaborde’s troops and the cavalry rally. French skirmish fire is ineffective, but Delabordes battery inflicts a second step loss on 1/32 Foot B. Shell fire shakes 1/36 Foot and they stagger back causing Wellesley to back away with them. The British mostly hold their fire for return artillery fire, because they are shots against skirmishers or long range fire and the British do not carry a lot of ammo.

For the movement segment, Delaborde launches his assault on Ferguson’s Brigade. Thomières’ Brigade beats the pas de charge, forms line and moves forward. The French use the column method. As such, it is better if they declare their assault in column, otherwise, they suffer a negative modifier. However, the goal of being in column is to cross the beaten zone as quickly as possible and deploy into line when just outside of musket range. This is what I do with them here. However, they risk becoming disordered from the formation change and they must pass a disorder check. One of the four units assaulting failed its disorder check. The French got a little lucky. As they enter the ZOC of the British units with skirmishers out they take some reaction fire from the skirmishers.

However, when the left most unit of Thomières’ Brigade advances, the 20th Light Dragoons decide to reaction charge. When determining if units should react I am using the Solo Assistant for the purposes of the AAR. Just flip over an action card and check the reaction dClose Combat Aftermath part of the card. SA is very handy for avoiding prejudging a situation. Anyway, the 20th Light Dragoons, along with the Portuguese cavalry stacked with them, charge forward against 2/86 Ligne. 2/86 Ligne’s skirmishers give the cavalry a parting shot causing the cavalry to disorder, before retreating to the safety of the formed unit behind them. 2/86 cannot form square, because they triggered the reaction charge. So they must fight it out in line. They pass their defender MC and then get a high dice roll inflicting a step loss on 20th Light Dragoons. 20th LD fails its subsequent morale check and then drop two morale levels causing them to break. They flee to the rear 6 hexes. 2/86 Ligne’s movement is complete for the turn. At least the charge of the 20th LD broke up Thomières’ grand tactical formation.

Delaborde’s guns then prolong forward. Margaron’s cavalry moves up to prepare to exploit any opportunities.

Brenier’s Brigade also decides to assault in order to pin Nightengall’s Brigade while Thomières’ Brigade and the cavalry destroy Ferguson’s Brigade. The SeD units file to the side and the units line charge forward. This time they do not start in column. They do not have to pass a disorder check, but they will have an additional –10 during close combat for not doing it by the book. They take reaction fire from Nightengall’s skirmishers and artillery as the enter their ZOCs. Two of the four units disorder from this fire.

Figure 12: Turn 8 Charge

Loison’s Division deploys its remaining artillery and the reserve artillery to bombard Vimeiro hill. Solignac’s skirmishers move forward to begin wearing down the troops on Vimeiro hill. Charlot’s Brigade and Kellermann’s Reserve remain as a link between the two wings of the army.

The British gave Bowes a reserve order. He can now react to French moves. He forms into a single line of battle and puts out his skirmishers to shore up the gap in Ferguson’s line.

Now onto assaults. I’m not going to go through logging the details of every assault. We’ll just do the highlights. The general procedure is: attacker MC, defender MC, defender fire and attacker fire. Effective fire and good morale will win the day. On the right, 1/86 Ligne pushes back 1/71’s left wing. However, the remainder of Thomières’ troops break from withering British musketry. Brenier’s assaults fare no better with the units assaulting the guns becoming shaken from the well served guns of Nightengall’s artillery. 2/70 Ligne loses two steps from British musketry and the rest of the battalion breaks for the rear. A most unexpected development.

Figure 13: Turn 8 Move

Zac Belado
Author: Zac Belado

Zac is a wargamer from Edmonton, Alberta Canada. When not trying to figure out a new set of rules or cut the corners on counters he is busy building websites.