Monday 22 February 2021

18th Century Mini Campaign - The Raid on Vestisle Part 6: The Battle of Abrantes - the denouement

 Without further ado I will pick up where I left off from Raid on Vestisle Part 5 as so many supporters here and on Fife and Drum Forum expressed their keenness to find out how the story of our mini-campaign ends. In fact I can't fully conclude it in this post as there is too much to tell but I will wrap up the wargames table top action for the Battle of Abrantes.

So we resumed after lunch but I was in for a bit of a shock as both Graham's had to go early. Graham C of course had responsibility for half the French army but faced a very long drive up most of England back to Redcar. We all thanked him for being a wonderful guest and Guy complimented him on his tactical skill and excellent dice rolling all morning which had helped keep Dillon in check!  But what to do - as clearly Guy could not work all those units and finish the game in time?  Only one answer - I had to give up my tea making role and actually do some work.   Personally if I've organised the game I'm much happier seeing how both sides cope, and offering hopefully helpful decisions and steerage as umpire so, gentle reader. you will have to bear with me now. Not enough time to take plenty of photos just when needed, scrappy notes based on briefings from players in between moves, forgetting to write down what some key units achieved.......Anyway, let's press on.

11th August 1756: 0720 - Fortunes equal out along the battle line

I got off to a good start as, in the Jacobite camp, Simon Fraser Master of Lovatt, rolled a double move for all the clan battalions which was ideal as I could surge most of them out of the gate in one turn. The MacDonalds relished this and hared off after the retreating Campbells, cutting them completely to pieces in the woods!  Not without loss though, now getting to 5 Hits and retreating back to recover, job done!

Jacobites surge out of the camp entrance. Montgomery's loyal Scots can only continue their retreat over Bellune Hill covered by a light battery and the reserve field battery from Von Brunck's Hanoverian corps - looking likely to soon be overwhelmed.

Close up shows the large MacDonald clan battalion getting the better of the Government Campbells

The two Hanoverian battalions formed a solid red wall which, for the moment, would stop any access by the clansmen to the British main line along the road to Abrantes and behind them much damage was being done. It was time for Dillon to move forward with von Aststadt's German and British Light cavalry brigade and the fast moving force bore down on Lauzun's light battery and surrounded it; the survivors were captured and the cavalry turned to outflank the remainder of Lauzun's small force (no pic sorry, too busy trying to sort out my own mess!)

In the big cavalry melee at the French left centre there was mutual destruction - one of Von Trump's German cuirassiers for the Royal Allemand cavalry regiment (or is the Royal Carabineers - these units have got a bit mixed!)

Mutual dispersion of German and French cavalry on the Bellune - Abrantes road

Out on the French right De Muy was organising something of a counter attack. On the Cime D'Abrantes one of the facing German musketeer battalions was destroyed by the elite French units. However, on the Cime de Cassatte Berard's two cavalry regiments pressed on with their efforts and came unstuck under flanking fire from the Jagers. The Dragoons were destroyed and the Cuirassiers forced to retreat.

In this overall view of the Cassatte Valley Berard's cavalry brigade can be seen making a hasty retreat leaving the Jagers and Finckelstein Dragoons in control of the Cime de Cassatte ridge

A closer view shows the French Guards and artillery are able to dominate the valley at the moment and Major General von Pannewitz is scrambling to make good the hole in his line caused by the demise of one musketeer battalion.  The latter is scurrying back to the relative safety of the newly arrived 4 battalion strong Grenadier brigade under Colonel Maxwell and the Marquis of Granby seems to be trying to rally them.

0740 - Complete Jacobite success but French left flank collapses

The surge of the Highlanders continued but not against the Hanoverian line on the main table. Instead the Camerons proceeded at speed towards Bellune Hill and attacked the Hanoverian artillery battery. Surprisingly the dice outcome dictated the battery got away and was not overwhelmed, nevertheless the fate of this flank was looking sealed now. 

However, under Dillon's confident command, von Brunck's infantry and artillery and von Aststadt's light cavalry were working well together. They had got rid of the French Marines and Lauzun's artillery and now turned on the Lauzun Hussars and hit the flank of the Grenadiers de Lauzun. who had not had time to turn, although Von Aststadt was killed as the Grenadiers went down fighting. The Hussars were destroyed by the 15th Light Dragoons but the Comte de Lauzun proved miraculously (!) and heroically to survive the onslaught even though he had now lost all the elements of his brigade. The 15th swept on and hit the flank of the Gendarmerie a Cheval (in red so I think it's them). Joubarbe's last cavalry regiment seemed to get dispersed in the rush of horses towards the rear.  I claim I was not incompetent in charge of these remnants of Graham's flank, merely totally outnumbered!

Grenadiers and Hussars hit in the flank

and the 15th Light Dragoons cut right through to the Gendarmerie too

The main cavalry melee continued - The Mousquetaires regiment fighting von Trump's second Cuirassier regiment, and this resulted in the retreat of the Germans and of the Mousquetaires, and a vacant space where the action had been! 

A wider view of the same action

From left: Work done the 15th Light Dragoons over-reached and are fleeing back to safety. Only Lt General Barbier and the opposing Britisih staff officers occupy the deadly ground. Royal dragoons by the wood with Mousquetaires falling back into a rabble of French infantry. British battery which had been causing horrible damage to Battenburg's infantry. Favert's brigade and Marines now guarding the bridgehead with Joubarbes' cavalry having fallen right back towards Abrantes

Apart from the isolated Highlanders the main French line now could only anchor its left flank on the bridge across the Ruisseau de Veste.

In the centre British cannon and musket fire was making it very hot for the French infantry round the farm but up on the Abrantes Ridge the French were holding up well maintaining an odd shaped line along the contours. The German musketeers of von Pannewitz were having difficulty making any headway up the valley as Guy had continually extended his line to the right, with the strong elite infantry brigade now completely blocking any route to Abrantes harbour and beach.  But Ken was resolute and totally cool as usual, the cream of his army was as yet unengaged - Maxwell's Grenadiers and the elite Dragoon Guards brigade (which was now on the table on the Cime de Cassatte), and he still had a 5 battalion Hessian brigade in reserve just off the table down the valley.

This set of photographs gives a tour westwards along the French lines.

German musketeer battalions are falling back onto Maxwell's Grenadiers. Note that Abrantes city suburbs are now empty of troops

A nice close up of Guy's beautiful French Garde Francaise

Elite French and mercenary infantry, reinforced by the line battalions from Abrantes make a sturdy looking line across the approaches to the harbour.

On the Cime de Cassatte Finckenstein's Dragoons are now backed up by Sir Holland Parker's 3rd Dragoon Guards and 2nd North British Dragoons

The Compte de Berard has brought his remaining Dragoon regiment to strengthen the extreme right flank behind the Morliere Legion units which are facing multiple enemy units of skirmishing Jager and Freikorps.

A good view back towards Abrantes city with the Grenadiers  and Dragoons de la Morliere in the foreground

Time to return to the British sailors who had infiltrated Abrantes City during the night. Kindly look back to Part 5 if you need a reminder of their mission. Captain Cochrane RN had been thinking hard how to tackle the all-embrasing orders received from the Duke of Marlborough the previous evening....... He had waited till the town square and its environs were completely vacated of French troops, and there was a battle raging outside so he was not about to wait any further till Marlborough's target time of 11 am. Out of sight of the single battalion of Abrantes Citizen's Militia packed into the western gatehouse and suburb he sent one company of sailors to the stone bastion on the harbour, carrying kegs of gunpowder.....around 8 am there was a massive explosion from there which temporarily stunned and distracted the French VIPs and citizen soldiers in Abrantes, and gladdened the hearts of Marlborough's officers as they saw the resulting pall of smoke over the harbour..........

0800 - Complete British success on their right flank but attacks blunted everywhere else: fate of the French VIPs

The artillery fire at  Montgomery's on Bellune Hill  caused the the loyal Scots to have 5 Hits and they retreated even further - off the playing surface; only the light battery was remaining of this flank guard. Earl Marishal William Keith's small Jacobite Army was now firmly in control of Bellune Hill and the area around the fortified camp and would soon be free to infiltrate through the woods around the Hanoverian right flank. Meanwhile his small cavalry force was pinning the Hanoverian  musketeers on the road.

Above and below: two views of the final situation in front of the Jacobite Camp around 0820

Lacking any proper notes, having got caught up as player/umpire in the excitement of what was obviously the last move we had time for, I will have to let a selection of my photographs do most of the talking.

Starting at the western end Ken removed his skirmishing Jagers to each side and moved all the cavalry forward to the crest of the Cime de Cassatte looking down into the valley that separated them from the Legion de la Morliere charge....or not?  All of a sudden the French lines were not looking so connected and Granby and von Pannewitz sensed that now might be a good time to edge the German musketeers forward with close artillery support to soften them up for his cavalry.......

Close up view behind the Dragoon Guard and Prussian Dragoon brigades - would you attack those Morlieres with artillery support on the hill too?

Across the Cassatte Valley Maxwell's four strong Grenadier battalions made a solid foundation for the musketeers and Ken moved one forward one with very close support from artillery and Jagers to engage the Irish battalion which formed the hinge of the French position on the Cime d'Abrantes. Chevalier de Muy was commanding there in person (below).

The red marker next to the Irish suggests a British success here and they will have to retreat. But there is a line battalion directly behind to prevent any gap occurring.

Unfortunately for Ken his forward Musketeer regiment fell foul of volley fire from two French battalions and had to retreat, suggesting cracking open that line would be a hard slog

A lot was happening around the farm just South of Abrantes too. The Mousquetaires have formed a neat column and are retreating to reform in the rear. Elsewhere the French appear to be standing firm and blocking any access to Abrantes. In the distance by the woods Lt General de Barbier was earning his newly-won "Dashing" status. In my rules I allow C in C's or designated Lieutenant General commanders the opportunity to forego commanding any thing else and leading one unit that turn by upgrading its quality. Barbier found himself next to the only French cavalry regiment still capable of achieving anything. - The Royal Dragoons. So the already "superior" Guard Cavalry were easy to direct in a charge against the flank of the nearby British field artillery battery and cause the juxtaposed line battalion to turn to protect the flank of the brigade. The battery had to retreat and this threat to Anstruther's brigade was to be just one misfortune this turn, as seen in the photo below........

This shows that one of the front line battalions - the 12th Foot had come off badly from French artillery and volley fire and broke. Worse, Guy got two General casualty dice in succession - Lt General Lord George Sackville, 2 ic to Marlborough, was the first victim, and the second was the anonymous "dithering" replacement that the rules allow!

Not a single French unit remains between the Jacobite camp and the Veste river bridge

Dillon thoughtfully took this photo of me during the 0800 Move so I could not deny who it was getting all those former troops of Graham's into trouble!

And what of the British sailors?  I find it hard to believe but I was so preoccupied I didn't take a single photo from now on, sorry......

I had to ask Guy what he was going to do about that explosion on the Harbour and he said he wanted to send the Citizens' Militia to investigate. "The whole battalion?", I asked. "Yes, I want to make sure" he replied in a very determined manner, knowing that was where Dumonnaie had quietly stored the Government's gold.  So it was that all the battalion vacated the table top and went off to the harbour bastion battery.  That of course left no troops whatsoever anywhere near the Hotel de Ville, which was the location of all the French VIPs watching the battle from its upper windows. Happy coincidence then that the Hotel de Ville had been the first on the priority list of places for Cochrane's matelots to search.  Suddenly out of nowhere (in fact the buildings surrounding the town square) three companies  of sailors (about 12 figures) covered all the entrances to the Town Hall. Since there were, in scale, over 200 sailors fighting and detaining  about a dozen French, Scottish and Vestislian officials and servants, there was no doubt about the outcome and we sort of role-played what might happen next.

Taking stock at game's end

It was now nearly 6pm after two days wargaming and we clearly had some kind of result. Bonnie Prince Charlie, The Duke of Vestisle, and Chevalier Dumonnaie were all prisoners at the mercy of the Royal Navy. The Jacobites could no longer win since they had no Stuart would-be monarch to claim the English throne.  That was the clearest denouement of this particular drama, but as a wargame who had won the battle or indeed the mini-campaign?

The points tally on the day was to provide part of the answer but the post battle discussion and particularly a few email exchanges in the following days showed that there was much honour to be claimed on both sides and deep implications for some of the occurrences in our little slice of alternative history.

Much more to discuss in the next and final part of "Raid on Vestisle"........

Wednesday 17 February 2021

18th Century Mini Campaign - The Raid on Vestisle Part 5: The Battle of Abrantes - the first hour

Apologies to regular readers for my lack of blogging; I can only blame Lockdown inertia combined with an increasingly dodgy rural broadband service as so many neighbours seem to call on the bandwidth with home working, home study by zoom or just plain streaming films and TV. This post tries to catch up on our alternative history mini-campaign in the Summer of 2019 and, if you wish to, you can read the previous post (Evening and overnight deployment) and from that back track through whole mini-campaign.

Failing that here is a Very Quick Recap:

August 1756 - A British corps-sized force under the Duke of Marlborough has invaded the French island of Vestisle with the aim of disrupting a large gathering of Jacobites who are training, under French auspices, to try another attempt under "Bonnie" Prince Charlie on the English throne. A big battle (Bellune Hill) has taken place across the middle of Vestisle island from around 1200 midday to 1420 in which an outnumbered French and Jacobite army has just about held off Marlborough's corps but had to give up vital ground. Both sides suffered fairly horrible localised casualties and, according to my campaign rules, needed to pull back at least one map square (500 metres) apart to recover. During the evening of my actual wargaming weekend (10-11 August 2019) the 5 players and I worked out the arrival of significant reinforcements on the island for both sides and how to deploy them on the evening of 10th August 1756, overnight, and up to dawn (0600) on 11th August.

Time did not allow formal maps to be made so the best I can offer is a couple of nice photo views at the start of the day and a photo of the magnetic counters on my campaign map. Blue are the French and Jacobites and Red the British, Hanoverians and Hessians. We had to use both the 12 x 6 foot main table and the 4 x 3 foot smaller one in the room upstairs.

The main table: Hanoverian infantry in foreground with British and Hanoverian infantry and cavalry forming a strong flank. They are facing a very weak French holding force; there are some reinforcements approaching from the road on the right. Beyond these the British are massing for an attack on Abrantes town though left flank forces are a bit tardy. French infantry have formed a main line of defence and a very strong French elite cavalry corps is swinging round the town to help fill the very gappy left centre.

The players, from left: British - Ken Marshall and Dillon Browne; French - Guy Barlow, Graham Ward and Graham Cummings (Graham W. opted not to play today as he had to get back off to London  earlier than planned)

The smaller table with a corner of the Jacobite camp from which the clan battalions intend to counter attack along with the Grenadiers coming from Bellune town.  The loyal Scots facing from Bellune Hill are hoping to keep them bottled up.

The magnetic map with approximate positions of campaign "units" mostly brigades or independent battalions or regiments. If you wish to identify them further the F and B numbers correspond to units in the Orders of Battle which can be found here

Before we could start, and as we cleared away the breakfast things, I had to tackle Guy about the exact positions of his "characters"and a key unit in the city. We have met some of them before but Prince Charles Edward Stuart was an obvious target for the British raid, and Guy had acted throughout the mini campaign like his historical French counterparts and treated Charlie as a dispensable liability. The only trouble was that Charlie was now accompanied by a bigger group, some of whom mattered, and Guy decided they would all be sheltering in the Town Hall (Hotel de Ville):

Prince Charles Edward Stuart

Laird Jamie Fraser of Lallybroch (military adviser) - 

Donald Mactavish (Charlie's manservant and fixer)

Le Duc de Vestisle

Le Chevalier Dumonnaie (Chief Secretary of the Treasury in Paris)

Madame Florence Dumonnaie (wife of the Chevalier and "admirer" of Charlie)

sundry servants 

Charlie's dalliance with Madame Dumonnaie the previous day over "lunch" in "Le Canard Malpropre" tavern had created a certain bond which I guess encouraged Guy not to separate out his characters even though he had the chance. It was significant that the chaos in Abrantes caused by the British landing had allowed Charlie to volunteer his, er,... sword, to protect her while her husband had checked that the Government gold was safe in the casemate of the stone bastion at Abrantes harbour. 

The other choice for Guy was how to dispose of the Abrantes Citizen's Militia in battalion strength which had assembled on the Saturday, and Le Duc de Vestisle had instructed to defend the city.  I'm not sure whether it was the inscrutability of his profession or just the "morning after the night before" and several bottles of excellent Malbec.......but Guy was adamant the whole lot should defend the West Gatehouse area of the decaying city walls. This was despite my subtle Games Mastery attempts to suggest that putting all his eggs in one basket might not be wise.  You see, I already knew what the instructions were from Ken for Captain Cochane's companies of sailors who had successfully infiltrated the city during the night and Guy had left some other key points unguarded.

These elements were to prove of great significance later. Here is the text of hand written orders I got from Ken the evening before:

"To Captain Cochrane RN, from The Duke of Marlborough

Thank you for your report and intelligence on future operations.

I intend to seize Abrantes on the 11th. Although I cannot provide an accurate time I expect to be in a position to attack around 11 am. 

If you are successful in infiltrating the town your primary tasks are to send companies to:

  • Silence the bastion battery and search and secure it
  • Search the Hotel de Ville
  • Search the Town Inn cellar
  • If you can locate the Duc de Vestisle and capture him to use as a bargaining chip even better
  • Target the South and West perimeter walls and residences with gunpowder from 11am which may ease our attack" (by distracting French troops? CG)

As GM it was my task to interpret this as Captain Cochrane and it was a tall order with the remaining companies of sailors and would have to be done incrementally. Ken had thought well ahead and assembled Cochrane's little corps to include a mixture of Scots, Gaelic and French speakers so I determined that during the night they blagged their way to infiltrate carefully round the town square and await the passing  through of the French infantry on the morrow. More on that later.

At dawn there were a lot of French infantry in Abrantes City awaiting the passing of the Elite Cavalry corps so they could emerge

Another important point to decide was what would be the start time of our on-table manoeuvres?  As it "dawned" on each team that 6 am would not see the newly arrived troops far from their night bivouacs it became a kind of mental race in their minds to visualise how far the enemy would get if we opted for say 8 am to try for formal battle lines. Rather than play a metaphorical game of scissors, paper, stone it was mutually decided that we would set up as at 6 am and let normal game play determine the outcome of forming up positions.  So the initial photos give an idea of how scrappy this appeared to the protagonists, especially the Allies who still had several brigades off table.

The now "Dashing" Lt General de Barbier stands by the French mercenary Battenburg brigade holding the farm and ground immediately in front of Abrantes

French, Irish, Swiss and Scots Elite infantry continue the French line westwards with Legion de la Morliere Dragoons, Grenadiers and Fusiliers holding the extreme right flank

The French left flank (on this table) is held thinly by Lauzun Hussars, Marines, Lauzun light artillery and Grenadiers and the only regiment of Jubarbe's cavalry surviving from the Battle of Bellune Hill. They have their backs to the uncrossable Ruisseau de Veste

Facing them the massed ranks of the "victors" of Bellune Hill. Three battalions of Hanoverian infantry remained in good condition after their clash with the Highlanders, then four battalions of British infantry. These are backed by a Light Cavalry brigade and three regiments of British Dragoons and Dragoon Guards who expect to crash through the gap opposite

A brigade of five British battalions holds the Allied centre across the Cime d'Abrantes ridge, and beyond Schwarz's Hanoverian Jagers are advancing up the Cassatte Valley. In the far distance (using the window cill!) the first of Ken's reinforcements - German Light infantry and cavalry

0600 11th August 1756 - Opening Movements

The French Grenadiers and Bellune Militia came out of Bellune town on the extreme right flank of the Loyal Scots. The battalion of Frasers came down the slope of Bellune Hill to try to block them and exchanged fire. This was the start of the small "private" game between Dillon as the Loyal Scots and Graham Cummings commanding his beloved Jacobites currently still in the camp. (Below)

We decided to run both tables concurrently in case of spillover and so Dillon and Graham carried on with their respective Hanoverian and French troops on the main table too. The mass of Hanoverian and British troops advanced while Graham kept Lauzun's Legion and the other meagre units well back awaiting the column of reinforcements which had now become visible out of the morning mist across the river. Although he brought the Hussars more centrally to help meet the big cavalry threat.

The reinforcing French brigade can only cross the ruisseau via the bridge which limited Graham's tactical options
Further West towards Abrantes Ken shepherded his main Allied line brigades facing the town while bringing up reinforcements on the left flank especially light troops on the extreme left. Guy began to match this on his right flank by extending his line with the Legion de la Morliere and newly arrived sailors. However, the main excitement was to see the magnificent French Guard Cavalry corps advancing along the road towards Bellune with the intention of filling the gap on the French left centre and matching the opposing Allied Heavy Cavalry. (Photo below)

French cavalry come up from the Abrantes Harbour area to reinforce Morliere on the right flank (whose Grenadiers have bravely advanced along the Cime de Cassatte). The Abrantes Citizens' Militia can be seen in the foreground trying to defend the western walls and suburb

0620 - Consolidation of the French lines/success for Jacobite cannon

The French Guard/Elite Cavalry had reached the critical left-centre gap and deployed into 5 regimental lines  with Jubarbe's remaining regiment; but in front of them Lauzun was fully engaged. The Lauzun Grenadiers and light battery inflicted significant casualties on Pitt's leading battalion and broke it. In return one of Hardenburg's Hanoverian battalions scored 3 hits on the French Marines. Elliott's and von Trump's Allied  heavy cavalry were sizing themselves up now for a more difficult fight than they had expected. In addition Favert's French infantry brigade in reserve was beginning to cross the bridge.  More French reserves were able to begin deploying too as the infantry brigade began to emerge from the South gate of the City.

General view over the main table during Move 2

Unit 25 is the 23rd Fusiliers, broken by fire from the Lauzun Grenadiers and light gun. Five large regiments of British and Hanoverian heavy cavalry mass beyond Pitt's British infantry

South and West of Abrantes City the French Guard/Elite infantry  and Berard's Cavalry brigade formed a line across the top of the Cassatte valley making an imposing obstacle for the British and German advance. Out on the French right Morliere's Grenadiers attacked Schwarz's Hanoverian Jagers in an attempt to avoid being surrounded.

A French brigade (St Germain's) emerges from Abrantes City's southern gate

The Grenadiers de la Morliere are looking increasing exposed as foot and mounted Jagers circle around this flank

From the Jacobite camp the two field gun batteries concentrated on the Loyal Scot's Light battery and Graham scored high and got 3 hits on it. On the extreme flank Fraser's Scots came off worse under musketry from French Grenadiers and Bellune Militia. (2 photos below)

0640: French hold at Left Centre and start of Jacobite counter attack

Unfortunately for Guy and Graham this turn the brigade of 5 large French Guard cavalry regiments rolled a 1 for command initiative and were limited to just changing formation. This left Major General Elliott's cavalry free to attack, but Joubarbe's single regiment held them at bay; both sides suffered 4 hits and had to retreat.

Joubarbe's single regiment tries to hold Elliott's cavalry brigade.....
........and forced the front regiment back, but also had to retreat itself

Lauzun's Grenadiers and artillery continued to hold back Pitt's British infantry for the moment but Hardenburg's Hanoverians were virtually free to choose how to manoeuvre in the open area to their front. Ken clearly was worried about the proximity of the Jacobite camp to his flank and angled the two end regiments along the road facing Bellune town and away from Lauzun's troops - as seen in this general view below.

More Allies now advanced up the Cassatte Valley towards Abrantes - a brigade of German musketeers in three lines. On their left flank Stengel's brigade of Prussian heavy cavalry now arrived on the table. On the French right flank the Comte de la Morliere consolidated his line under the delaying attack by his Grenadiers but at the cost of them now having suffered 4 hits and were forced to retreat back to his lines.

By the Farm it can be seen that one of Battenburg's regiments is in retreat. The Elite cavalry have all changed to two ranks lacking orders to advance at the moment and St Germain's French infantry begin to deploy out of Abrantes.
The German brigade advances up the Cassatte Valley and those Grenadiers de la Morliere have held back the tide for a while

On the French left flank things looked a bit better as Fraser's Loyal Scots broke under concentrated volley fire  leaving the Bellune Militia and Grenadiers free to begin reclaiming Bellune Hill. Campbell's Loyal Scots moved confidently forward to try to block the gate of the Jacobite camp having recognised their arch enemies, the MacDonalds, as the front defensive unit there. But the MacDonalds were keen to charge and opened the chevaux de frise gates in readiness........

"Dillon, I'm really sorry that I'm rolling so many 5s this morning....."

Fraser's  battalion has dispersed and Montgomery's Scots move forward to try to stem the flow of Grenadiers towards Bellune Hill

MacDonalds confront Campbells at the camp gateway

Stocktaking - 3 great shots of the participants during Move Three as they all have dilemmas to solve:

0700 - Multiple setbacks for the Allies
At the Jacobite camp gateway the deadly clash between old enemies resulted in victory for Clan MacDonald, and the Campbells were repulsed back to the woods. Montgomery's fared even worse against the Grenadiers, losing 5 Hits which forced them right back up Bellune Hill, but they were not quite "done for" with our local amendments for large units.

French Grenadiers and Militia follow the retreating Montgomery battalion while maintaining a good line

The Campbells retreat back to the woods though the MacDonalds have also had to retreat temporarily from the gateway

That convinced Dillon even more that he needed to close the road to Abrantes with his two battalions of Hanoverians on the main table. But beyond them Graham's aggressive tactics were making things hot for the Allies. Lauzun's Hussars were able to attack the Hanoverian Guards in the flank and although they received flanking fire from the 21st Foot they broke the Guards but also had to retreat with 4 Hits.  In turn Lauzun's Grenadiers broke the 21st Foot with musketry.

Above and below: Hanoverians block the road to a Jacobite resurgence and British Foot and Hanoverian Guards fall foul of the Lauzun Hussars and Grenadiers

On the left of this action Dillon had not been slow to exploit the previous turn's discomfiture to the French heavy cavalry and Major General Elliot launched the Imber Dragoons against the French Royal Carabineers. This resulted in a reverse for the Allied cavalry and the Carabineers pursued to crash into the Feifeld Dragoons behind them. This proved one melee too far for the Carabineers who now had 6 Hits and even though a large unit, were broken, but Feifeld also had to retreat. So now all Elliott's cavalry regiments had met with reverses and the Abrantes roadline was still hotly contested.

Above and below: two viewpoints of the central cavalry clash. The French formation and Superior status gave them victory in the first round, the Imber Dragoons (in red) were forced back and the Carabineers charge on to meet the Feifeld Dragoons (in blue)

In and around the Cassatte Valley large forces were amassing on both sides and a firefight breaking out on the Abrantes Ridge. Morliere had brought back his Grenadiers to the main line which now extended to the far flank anchored by a battalion of sailors.  Guy, as the French C in C, Le Duc de Richelieu, continued his tactic of making small scale attacks to wrong foot the Duke of Marlborough while bringing up reinforcements from Abrantes City. This time it was the Comte de Berard with a heavy cavalry brigade which filled the open ground to the French front. Marlborough (Ken) brought forward Von Pannewitz's  German Mercenary brigade of five smart looking battalions and behind them an Allied Grenadier brigade was to form the next line. Their left flank was to be protected by the large regiment of the Finckenstein Dragoons.

St Germain's Brigade  continues to come out of Abrantes one battalion at a time

At the moment it is looking like a neat standoff at the head of the valley but up on the near ridge fire fights are breaking out

Above and Below: The order is disrupted as Berard's cavalry attack the clusters of German Jagers and force them off the shoulder of Cassatte Ridge. Finckenstein Dragoons are behind the Jagers and two battalions of Allied Grenadiers in the valley foreground

Just before the lunch break Graham (as both the Comte de Lauzun and the Duc de Orlean) seems to be relishing the good position his forces are in despite the apparently overwhelming enemy numbers. Favert's infantry brigade is now coming across the bridge and deploying

It was now 0720 game time and we had done four very full Moves. It was also time for lunch so we called a temporary halt and that is a good place to finish this post.

Next time (very soon I hope) - the concluding moves in the battle of Abrantes and the fate of the French VIPs...........