Action at the crossroads at San Felipe

An after action report of a small Napoleonic game using Black Powder rules. A French advance guard bumps into a small Spanish holding force, backed by a few battalions of British who are marching to support them.

Spanish

Three battalions of regular infantry, three militia battalions, three partisan bands and two batteries.

British

Two light infantry battalions, a battalion of rifles (split into two Tiny units and one Small) and a regiment of Light Dragoons.

French

Three brigades of infantry, one battery, two cavalry regiments.

Set Up

San Felipe

The Spanish started in possession of the hacienda and the village of San Felipe.  They had a strong position on the left behind the stone walls that lined the road. One guerrilla band occupied the hacienda and armed priests started at the church. The final guerrilla band was hidden from the French. Two British rifle companies started on the board – one with the hidden guerrilla unit and one in the hamlet north of the crossroads.

San Felipe Initial Dispositions

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Armed Monks stand ready to defend their church and relics from the Godless French.
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San Felipe is held by the Real Compania Irlandesa.
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Spanish regular infantry and artillery await the French onslaught.
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Spanish Initial deployment. Figures at the back are just pretending to be on the board.
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French enter the board in column of march.

TURN 2 San Felipe Initial Turn 2

By the second turn the French had shaken out of march formation and ordered their cavalry to move forward. The French commander was hoping to route the Spanish regulars with a well directed cavalry charge but failed his command roll (twice). The hidden guerrilla unit and the two rifle companies opened fire on the advancing  French and caused a few casualties.  The Swiss regiment was directed to the north to clear the hill of the annoying guerrillas.

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Finally get to use one of my casualty bases. Rifle fire from the hills.
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Ignoring casualties the French force the Rifles from the hamlet. They fall back rather than engage in a fight they wont win.
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Deploying skirmishers, the Swiss advance.

TURN 4

San Felipe Initial Turn 4

The French advance was very slow. A lot of failed command rolls meant little forward movement. With the cavalry refusing to move, and getting disordered by Spanish artillery fire, the attack on San Felipe was left to the infantry. Meanwhile the British reinforcements arrived to bolster the defences.

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French Chasseurs take casualties from Spanish Artillery fire.
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The 85th march across the ford to help their Spanish allies.
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16th Light Dragoons advance.
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Spanish Guerrillas and a company of Rifles fall back across the ridge.

TURN 6

San Felipe Initial Turn 6

By the end of turn six the French had pushed the Spanish from San Felipe village but failed to take the hacienda. Their attack on the Spanish regulars was halted, even though they did manage to destroy one Spanish artillery battery.  A Spanish counter attack to retake the village failed.  The British Light dragoons charged and broke two French columns.

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French columns charge.
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Spanish pull back behind their steady British allies.
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British cavalry “Charge at Everything”
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Real Compania Irlandesa try to take back San Felipe.
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And are broken.
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After the Spanish retired to the second rank the French tried to take on the British line. Casualties were heavy on both sides but the French column was routed.
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The French cavalry that stood idly by all day without achieving anything finally managed to get a result – forcing the British into square.

Final Positions

San Felipe Final

The game ended with the French falling back. The French contemplated an attack on the Spanish militia with the largely untouched veteran Swiss brigade which would probably have succeeded but given that the other two brigades had suffered serious reversals, discretion was seen as the better part of valour. The French cavalry was totally ineffective. Constantly being disordered by artillery and small arms fire from guerrillas in the hacienda and a string of failed command rolls meant  it was unable to support the infantry when required. When they had finally overcome their disorder and were ready to move, the British infantry had replaced the Spanish in the front line and that was pretty much all she wrote. A clear victory to the Spanish and British.

Some thoughts on the mechanics of the game.  To be honest I thought that the Spanish infantry would take casualties and flee (Albion Triumphant has the regular infantry rated Wavering/Unreliable.  The militia infantry was marginally better with just the Wavering special rule). However, despite taking casualties they made all their morale checks and only lost one battalion in the fighting around the village.

I was not sure about the skirmishing rules. Either I missed something or just didn’t understand them. With veteran Swiss advancing I wanted the guerrillas and rifles opposing them to fall back fighting. If a command is given to “fall back one move and fire”, is that all the skirmish bases firing? I ruled that retreating half could fire. Not sure if that was correct but it seemed to work.

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9 thoughts on “Action at the crossroads at San Felipe”

    1. And nice also that WordPress seems to recognise me again – especially the night before you undoubtedly flog us in the RWC (although hope springs eternal). Lawrence

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  1. Thank Brian, I am particularly interested at the moment in how Black Powder works for the smaller games – I think it was a mistake on their part to give an impression that this is (only) a big table big scale system. On a rulebook that thick, an entire chapter could have been given over to ‘the smaller game’.

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