Monday, May 7, 2018

Sir Arthur's Campaign in the Peninsula, 1809, Part 1

On Sunday April 29th, 2018, we ran another "Campaign in a Day" event using Snappy Nappy by Russ Lockwood, at The Portal gaming space, in Manchester, CT. Thanks to the management and staff for once again allowing us to commandeer the miniatures room and its sixteen 4 x 6 foot tables.

Overview of the tables in the spacious Miniatures Room at The Portal, mid game, looking right. Note how many tables have action of some kind going on!

The same looking to the left. Note the generous supply of doughnuts and coffee to fuel the warriors!
The sixteen tables were set up in about 90 minutes. The terrain is more functional than beautiful given the amount required, although some guys did a great job with their tables, as we will see!

The Theater Map (from "Malcom's Maps" - ideal for this sort of thing!)

Orders of Btatle,  at 1 Infantry unit  = 1300 men, 1 Cavalry unit  = 300 men, 1 Artillery unit = 16 guns)


Portuguese (Beresford, Silviera), including LLL: half start at  Ponte de Sol  (Table H) uinder Silviera, half at Estramoz (Table E) under Beresford.
20 stands Line, 6 stands Cacadores, 12 stands Cavalry, 4 stands Artillery

British (Wellesley) :  Lisbon (Table L)
2 stands Guard, 2 stands KGL etc, 10 stands Line, 4 stands Light Dragoons/Hussars, 2 stands Dragoon Guards, 3 stands 6# Artillery. (Wellesley commands the British and Portuguese forces)

Royal Navy: 8 ships start in Lisbon Harbor
** Special Rules
1) Each ship may transport 1 stand of Allied troops from one harbor to another harbor (anchor symbol) on the map. Transport time variable. 
2) Both harbors must be unoccupied by any French troops (no opposed landings!)
3) Ships do not affect land combat in any way.

Venegas: (Starts off to South and/or East of Table V)
10 stands Line Infantry, 2 stands Light Infantry, 6 stands Militia infantry, 6 stands Line cavalry, 2 stands 6# Artillery

Cuesta:  Estremadura (off board at Zafra, links to tables E and G)
12 stands Infantry, 4 stands Light Infantry, 6 stands Militia infantry, 10 stands Cavalry (at least half Cazadores/Hussars), 1 stand  12# Artillery,. 1 stand 6# Artillery

LaRomana/Cienfuego Galicia/Asturias  Oviedo, Table Z (off board, can enter B, P)
12 stands Line Infantry, 4 stands Grenadiers, 6 stands Militia infantry, 4 cavalry, 2 stands 6# Artillery

**Spanish Special Rules
1) Spanish troops may retreat off table (as a group)  into "impassable" mountains", or entirely off the main areas. If they do so, they may not return for at least 30 minutes of game time, BUT all damaged stands will automatically be fully rallied.
2) Spanish troops have no central command.
3) Although Wellesey doesn't know it, Cuesta seeks appointment as Generalissimo of the Spanish forces, and suspect Wellesey of ambitions of his own in that regard. Therefore, he will usually reject any proposals that Wellesey makes to him and insist on his own plan instead. (Known to Cuesta player only). If he sees a chance for Glory he will embrace it, trying to distinguish himself to pressure the central Junta into appointing him Generalissimo!

Can start on any of tables P, C, D, F, P, R, T, V
** Special rules
1) No points are scored for eliminating Guerrillas
2) Guerrillas may always retreat off board into "impassable" mountains.
3) If French dispatches traverse an area with Guerillas deployed (umpires call), there is a 5% chance per Guerrilla stand along the route that the dispatch will be captured, and both never delivered and also delivered to Don Julio Sanchez.
4) Guerrillas are expected to act as spies and report their findings to Allied players as they see fit.This includes possibly forwarding copies of captured dispatches!
5) Eliminated Guerrillas will "re-spawn" in 30 minutes on any table(s) in Spain that are free of French troops (including Gendarmes) If none are free, they may re-spawn in off table areas of Spain (NOT Portugal, which is tables A, E, H, L, O, and S).

Total 102 Infantry stands, 38 Cavalry styands, 13 Artillery stands + Guerrillas and Pontooniers.

Portuguese:  Cacadores Veteran (6+),  Line Seasoned (7+), Cavalry  Seasoned (7+), Artillery Veteran (6+)
British: Guards Guard (4+), KGL etc Elite (5+), Line Veteran (6+), Lt Dragoons Veteran (6+), Dragoon Guards Elite (5+), Artillery Elite (5+)
Spanish  Militia Militia (9+), Line Conscript (8+). Lights/Grenadiers  Seasoned (7+), Artillery Seasoned 7+, Garochistas Militia 9+, Line cavalry Seasoned 7+, all other cavalry conscript 8+
Guerrillas: Militia (9+)


1st Corps, Victor: Merida Ttable G)
2 Legere, 10 Line, 2 stands Hussar, 2 Artillery

2nd Corps, Soult:  Oporto and Villa Real (Table O)
2 Legere, 10 Line, 4 2nd rate Line (Foreign/G de P), 2 stands Chasseurs, 2 stands Hussars, 2 stands Dragoons, 3 stands Artillery

4th Corps Sebastiani:  Ciudad Real  (Table R)
4  stands Poles, 2 stands CoR. 8 stands Line, 2 stands Polish Uhlans, 2 stands Chasseurs, 2 stand Artillery

5th Corps, Mortier:  Valladoid (Table B)

2 stands Legere, 10 stands Line, 2 stands Chasseurs, 2 stands Artillery

6th Corps, Ney:  in Galicia (Table X, will need to issue orders for which direction to move in, can go to Table O or P)
2 stands Legere, 10 stands Line, 2 stands Chasseurs, 2 stands Hussars, 2 stands Artillery

Cavalry Reserve, Latour Mauborg:  Toledo (Table M)
14 stands Dragoons, 2 stands Chasseurs, 2 stands Hussars, 2 stands Horse Artillery

Army Reserve, King Joseph/Marshal Jourdan : Madrid  (Table M)
2 stands Royal Guards, 6 stands Line, 1 stand Artillery
** Joseph is nominal command of the French, but his orders are treated as non binding by French leaders, who may plan among themselves without necessarily involving him. Joseph also commands the Gendarmes.

Gendarmes 6 stands- may start on any or all of tables: B, C, D, F, G, M, P, R, T,
** Special Rules
1) Gendarmes may be deployed as single stands to suppress Guerrilla activity
2) Gendarmes suffer no penalty for lack of command.
3) Gendarmes do count as troops on the table for the purpose of enemy movement, and do cost Victory Points if lost.
4) Gendarmes present on a table will negate the effect of Guerillas on French communications  for up to 2 stands of Guerrillas per stand of Gendarme
5) Gendarmes may not enter Portugal (Tables A, E, H, L, O, and S)

Toatal: 76 Infantry stands, 36 Cavalry stands,  14 Artillery stands, + Gendarmes and Pontooniers

Legere, Poles, Guard, Gendarmes - Elite (5+), Line Veteran 6+, CoR etc Seasoned (7+), Artillery Elite 5+, Hussars and Polish Uhlans Elite 5+, Chasseurs and Dragoons Veteran 6+

The umpire's Table map, which shows how the tables relate to one another and the overall Theater map. Table X and the unlabeled table, both in Galiza,  existed only on paper. Note the mountains all over, and the three East- West river valleys that channel movement into three corridors.

British/Portuguese Briefing:

After Sir John Moore's grueling winter retreat from the Peninsula, culminating in the evacuation at Corunna (at the cost of Sir John's life) in January of 1809, Sir Arthur had to face a commission investigating the Convention of Cintra. Once cleared, he has advocated strongly for the return of British troops to the Peninsula to defend Portugal and support the Spanish rebellion against French rule.  Marshal Soult has occupied the second city of the Kingdom, Oporto. However, the French appear to have overextended themselves. His Majesty's government has tasked you to expel the French from Portugal, and, if possible defeat them and take Madrid, which would be a fatal blow to French Prestige. However, Lisbon must not in any event not be lost to the French!

You can expect cooperation from the Spanish. However, past experience suggests that Spanish words are often more  convincing than Spanish actions!

Spanish Briefing:

 After Napoleon tricked both the King and his son into abdicating in May of 1808. the resistance to French rule of our country has been led by regional Juntas in each of the historic provinces of Spain, coordinated (more in theory than in fact) by the Central Junta. To date, that body has declined to name any one Spanish officer as commander in Chief, or Generalissimo. While we are all united in our hatred of the French invaders, none of us are under obligation to obey orders from anyone (except Zayas must obey Cuesta). 

While we are happy to have the assistance of the British (and to a lesser degree, their Portuguese lackeys), it must be recognized that they are more interested in freeing Portugal and tying down French troops than liberating our country. They aren't even good Catholics! Thus we must keep our own interests in mind as well when we cooperate with them. While we have been able to defeat the French when they are cut off or isolated (was not our victory at Bailen glorious?),  bitter experience has taught us that we cannot successfully battle the French without a significant advantage in numbers. Certainly, if we could recover Madrid, that would be an achievement that would send shock waves as far as Paris, London, Moscow and Vienna!

Still, each of our regional Juntas have instructed us that it is important to preserve at least a core of experienced troops to keep the flames of rebellion against the hated French burning in our respective provinces. It is often better to melt into the mountains with the remnants of our forces, than to fight to the death and be eliminated completely!

French Briefing:

Alas, my fellow soldiers of the Emperor, after chasing Moore's British army to the very sea at the start of this year, , the Emperor has taken the cream of the army and is leading them to glory along the Danube, whilst we are left in this miserable country where there is never enough food, and always a peasant turned Guerrilla waiting to slit your throat. The Emperor has directed that we reconquer Portugal, but after Marshal Soult seized Oporto, our troops were just stretched too thin to be able to do both that and maintain some semblance of control over the Spanish countryside. Still, if we could take Lisbon, it would surely mean honors and riches for us all. Failing that we must keep Madrid from falling at all costs, and seek to crush the British forces in particular, so as to discourage further meddling by the "God-damns" and their Sepoy General. 

 Of course, killing Spaniards is almost as fun as it is easy... but they never seem to stay beaten for long, and will usually melt away into the mountains rather than risking total defeat. Still, in sufficient numbers they can fall upon and defeat isolated forces, as the unfortunate General  Junot found out at Bailen. 

King Joseph and his military adviser, Marshal Jourdan, are nominally in command of all French forces in the Penisnula. However, the poor roads and guerrillas make communication difficult, so their directives, which are liable to out of date as soon as they are written,  may be treated as non binding. 

 Table D

Very busy Table B, with Avila in front of "Lonely Mountain"... and FVrtench Gendarmes marching towards Madrid. 

Table P, with La Romana's troops on the march.

Latour Mauborg's (Michael) cavalry on the move on table T,  heading towards Talavera. The cavalry are moving so quickly they are just a blur!  :-)

Table F, empty at the moment.  

Table A; the large fortress is Almeida, on the Portuguese side of the border. The orientation of the tables with regard to the room and one another is (deliberately) random. .

Portuguese troops under Beresford (Marty) on Table H.

Table M (for Madrid) ; King Joseph (Jim) is determined not to let his Capitol fall into Spanish hands !

Table C, with the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo in the foreground.  Guerrillas (Brian) skirmishing with Mortier (Caleb) and Gazan (Daniel).

Sebastiani's Corps (Phil)  on the move on Table R, moving through Puebla de Don Rodrigo.

Table V, with Allied troops "coming around the Mountain" to Villahermosa. 

Silviera (Karl) and his Portuguese moving past the fortress of Badajoz on table E.The fortress appears to be occupied by a large body of Spaniards. 

Wellesley and the British near Lisbon, oj Table L. Some of the British are re-embarking on ships, heading for ???

Soult and his subordinate, Lapisse, heading South from Oporto on Table ).

General Cuesta (Vic)  runs into Marshal Victor (Mark) near Merida on Table G. Note the imposing mountains Mark made for this table!

Guerrillas spring ambushes on Latour Mauborg's Cavalry moving through Talavera (Table T) in Road column - an automatic loss of 2 Morale levels for the French! 

However, the cavalry soon react and ride down the insurgents, pausing only briefly to regroup.... 

Spanish forces of Venegas (James) on the move. 

Polish troops, part of Sebastiani's Corps on table F, moving from Caceres towards the Deployment Zone (Grey felt) leading to Membrio.

 Milhaud's cavalry moving Westward through Meda, under the shadow of Almeida (Table A).

Sebastiani's French run into Bresford's Portuguese, commencing the Battle of Membrio. 

King Joseph is comfortably settled in Madrid, writing missives to his (supposed) subordinates. 

Don Julian Sanchez and a handful of Guerrillas control the fortress of Ciudad Rodrigo. 

Silviera's Portuguese hold he fortress of Badajoz. 

Marshal Soult's Corps moves south from Oporto.

Marshal Victor tries to disengage from Cuesta's large but raw forces at Merida. 

Milhaud's cavalry moving on Table D. Where did the Spanish go?

Wellesley moves North from Table L (Lisbon)  at the exact same time as Soult moves South from Table O (Oporto). An opposed initiative die roll decides that  it is the French who enter onto Table L, rather than the British onto Table O. 4 units of British troops, having embarked upon British ships last turn, see the incoming French and promptly disem,bark again at Lisbon harbor. 

The opening phase of the Battle of Membrio between Sebastiani and Beresford. The first two turns were run synchronously, as we usually do. After that, each table moves at its own speed. 


  1. These campaigns in a day always look like such great fun.

  2. Very intresting, splendid tables all around!

    1. Thanks, Phil. The terrain standards are modest, but with 16 tables and the need to set them up quickly, we take what we can get. I hope to up the presentation level a bit for the Historicon game in July.

  3. Wow, that is quite an accomplishment.

    1. I couldn't do it without a core of players, and the help of James, Greg, Mark and others!

  4. That is an amazing piece of planning - 16 tables give a wonderful amount of playing space! I admire the work that has gone into organising this. I am sure that everyone enjoyed themselves.
    Best wishes,

    1. Thanks, Jason. They are a lot of fun to play out.

  5. Very impressive! A logistical triumph which also looks like great fun!
    Best Iain

    1. Thanks, Iain. At this point we have a lot of experience running these events, which helps, plus many helping hands as well!

  6. Amazing again! Great that you are able to have so many active players!

    1. While you can do one of these with as few as 8 players, more definitely enhances the experience!

  7. This looks terrific, and I can't wait to see what Cuesta gets up to.

    1. Thanks, Lawrence; hopefully I will be able to post the next part soon.

  8. Now that seriously appeals to my idea of wargaming. Looks like great fun and I will have to look into those maps. As you say Peter, ideal for campaigns.

    1. Although a lot of work, these are great events! I highly recommend the maps - a reasonable level of detail for this sort of thing. Not the same level detail on the Warplan maps for sure, though, of course!

  9. This looks like a great time. I am envious that such things can take place, but so far away from where I live!

    1. We need to get you and Jon to come to Historicon some year. Lancaster is actually a good starting place for a Civil War tour - on to Gettysburg, Antietam, Harper's Ferry, the Shenandoah and the Blue ridge mountains, new Market, etc.

  10. I’m always envious of these campaigns and the games and players that you get immersed in Peter. They always look so well run and very enjoyable.

    1. Thanks, Carlo! If you can round up at least 8 players and a site that can handle at least 6 - 8 tables, you could do one yourself!

  11. Where do I find "Malcom's Maps"? Looks like an useful one for Peninsular.

    1. The maps, covering all of Europe and more, can be found at: