Wednesday, August 21, 2019

General Du Corp: Vitoria - Pt 1: Gazan's rear guard

The annual GdC game dropped in Vancouver recently and I was again fortunate enough to attend. Doug (dots of paint blog) hosted a great looking game with multiple commands for the gamers who traveled as far as Portland to attend. Due to some late drop outs the under studies needed to take over, so the role of "Spanish, British, and Portugese" will be played by "Prussians and Russians". As traditional, Doug set up a historical battle, left some details in the dark, and watched to see how closely to history we would, or would not, end up.

Vitoria sees a large collection of French hiding behind a hook of a river turn. Joseph Bonaparte, monarch of Spain (imposed) fails to offer much in the way of direction until the army starts collapsing, and only then will begin to withdraw his baggage train of valuable. Massive guerilla activity means the Allies don't have a clue where the hammer is about to fall, so the french (myself and Kevin) end up setting up blind.

That's a sizeable baggage train to evacuate as our primary objective
In the picture above, we see North is to the left. In the bottom we have Cole/Colesky ready to cross the river against Gazan. Behind Gazan is D'Erlonfacing a northern crossing. Further in the distance is Rielle (positioned between two other crossings), and furthest is Joseph....too busy partying in the Royal way to do anything until a corp fails a morale check.

We questioned Doug as to whether we could immediately begin a tactical withdrawal, or if we needed to hold fast for a certain period of time. He indicated the former. The set up location of Gazan (the largest command) was hanging in the wind with all the crossings. Rielle was obviously needed to secure the road for the baggage train (threatened by 2 crossings), and there was a nice pinch in the river with a hill for a spirited defense if we fell back.

PART 1: Gazan's rear defense
Gazan sets up with an aggressive cannon and cavalry rearguard to make pursuit more difficult while the other half of his command is ready to advance to the rear. Similar preparations for a Eastward shift are true for all commands. In a holy crap moment, the Prussians deploy on top of Gazans troops.
Where the crap did they come from?!?!
Von Hill/Hill's prussians are probably almost as upset as the french. Over the first hour and a half of the day the cavalry spends itself murdering cannon batteries, forcing infantry into square, and forcing von Hill to have sharp words with his commanders to get the offensive back under way (a failed "HOLD" morale check). The knife fighting range, and very narrow frontage was a steep challenge for Hill and he did a very credible job in not losing more troops to such an aggressive attack by heavy cavalry.

Colesky proves himself to be a sharp practitioner of combined arms, and manages a few times in the game to force troops into square with a cavalry threat, and then murder them with an infantry charge. In GdC movement ranges are quite short so this is actually a very impressive achievement in my mind. His rapid advance grinds down Gazan's lines between the two towns, and isolates some troops caught west of Aronez on the hill (caught forward by a limited offensive to catch out the 'Russian" horse artillery) and threaten some flanks.

 It doesn't take long to see Gazans line turn into a fairly thin one. While a large chunk of troops has marched to the second line of defense his heavy losses mean that his corp morale is a bit brittle. Gazan continually throws well on his morale checks which is a bit of a mixed blessing......Joseph Bonaparte won't stop his party until somebody falls back in disarray.

To further salt the wound, von Picton (played by Chris) activated early (he needed some target roll to start his own offense) and rolls in fast against Gazan. Poorly artillery placement (the guns are on the wrong side of town) sees them unable to withdraw and complicates a withdrawal of the thin blue line. These men are dead but don't realize it yet.

We see D'Erlons corp has managed to effect a solid withdrawal behind our hill line designated as the second line of defense, screened by a solid double line of troops. A cannon near the eastern/right town ends up exacting a cruel toll on Pictons troops as they advance.

Bottom right corner we can see the 1/2 dozen brigades that Gazan has brought to the second line of defense but with little morale they look a lot more impressive than they will probably function.


  1. Great Report
    Most times I see a batrep from this period, it just looks like two massively impressive armies smashing together. This time, your descriptions and pics worked together to actually show me the story unfold.

    1. Oh man, I am so happy to hear this. High praise indeed. I totally agree with your critique about a lot of batreps....looks great but hard to follow. I try and closely curate which of my many pictures I take I post so it can convey what's going on. Humorously Doug, the organizer, prodded me via email to get this post up as he can 'know what happened'.

  2. Great stuff so far DaveB. I look forward to the conclusion.

    1. I suspect it'll take 3 parts to avoid an overly long post.