Junot’s advance guard marched ceremoniously into Amiera Grande. The morning was already hot. The trails dry dirt under the hooves of the horses raised clouds of dust that could be seen for miles. The ocean in the distance provide little breeze to cool the men in their uniforms.
Junot wanted to achieve two things, fight early in the morning before the weather became unbearable for his men and two surprise the British. The unsufferable summer heat however was not going to aid the element of surprise.
The typically slow, bureaucratic English were still floundering about looking for horses and donkeys, according to his reports. Indeed the challenge was significant. The first magazines would need to be established. With approximately 10 days supplies for 10,000 men. The logistics of supplying upwards of 50,000 men once both the British and Portuguese forces were considered is staggering. [See up coming post on logistics in the Napoleonic era during this campaign]
This fool Wellesley likely spent more time reporting to London, and its various offices than he did commanding his callous, un couth redcoats! Thought Junot.
His men would take them from the west! The excitement at this thought caused the pain in his head to flare to almost blindingly unbearable levels. He dropped back into his campaign chair, and worried about the instructions he had given Loison, and De Laborde. The hamlet of Ameria would need to be his refuge today. Travel would prove difficult once again.
Loison would threaten either the North of Vimeiro or press deep onwards to the Port, his role was to convince the Britsh the meant to attack their supply lines.
Junots train marches continues its march thru Ameira Grande and onwards, whilst Loison moves along the road to the junction which provides a choice of directions – directly west to Vimeiro or NW to Ventosa.
The columns of infantry marched by the 6 Pelton, 2 columns abreast. The drummers march in front of the troops behind the Chef. To the left side the Adjutant Major stepped along exactly 2 paces to one side of his men. The heat was telling upon the men already despite the early hour.
One of the Captains spoke to his sergeant major. ” The men march well today, despite the heat!” The hard bitten sergeant major replied without taking his eyes of a particularly annoying malcontent “Well Sir a first time for everything, the shit pool of France is with us. I suspect they have marched off the vin rouge from last night and now are dreaming of tonight” He barked at the privates “Keep your tempo you lazy bastards” he roared ” The Charleville musket on your soulder is worth more than your life” He continues. The Captain rolled hie eyes and wiped his brow, continuing the march along with his men.
The British Camp
Wellesley was writing a strongly worded letter to suppoerters in England when he received the disturbing news.The French were not coming along his pre supposed axis of approach. He was out of position. Inwardly he reviewed his options. The letter could wait.
He must finish this battle before the buffoon Burrard arrived. He was however unsure as to how this battle might play out. But if as he thought Junot might feint to Ventosa or the Port he could counter and counter attack! But who to rely on for this?
Before issuing new orders to his troops based upon scout reports that had hastily arrived, he stepped from his command tent and looked at the cloud of dust on the horizon for himself. He turned to his aide, one of the few he could give a direct order to in his ‘campaign office’ “What are the dispositions of Hill? When can he muster his men and be on the move?”
Before an answer could be uttered, ” never mind, I rode the trail yesterday he will take quiet some time. Let us do the following…..”
He decisively elects to form 3 temporary divisions. The first lead by Ferguson and is comprised of the 20th Light, Anstruthers and Fanes brigades. They are ordered out of Vimeiro!
[Roll: Roll 51 on the 4 Column (of the orders table)=d4 delay 4]
His Order Reads “Ferguson, Do take a moment to observe the cloud of dust yon. Take 20th Light, Anstruther and Fanes Brigades move north of Vimeiro towards Ventosa just near the orchards. Set your self accordingly and use those orchards for some shade. Then give them all hell at close range. Do not attack, absorb them then await my signal”
Crawford forms the 2nd Division with 2/3/4/. He takes up locations in Vimeriro replacing Fergusons forces, he takes guns along with him for good measure.
” I don’t believe it, Wellesley has gone mad in this bloody heat…where is my coat?” muttered Rowland.
Surely the French are not coming from where he says! “Orderly…Orderly, Lad step to, tell the Nor’umberland and East Norfolk to prepare to march, at the bloody double, and convene the officers!”
His thin lips pursed under his long nose, pausing he reconsiders Wellesleys orders. ” Oh and send the Acland a note letting him know I shall need him with me at the hieights above Vimeiro post haste. We shall have need no doubt of his Queens Royal and East Devons’ .” He added.
Hill, [drops his current orders and fail initiative to issue his own orders, Wellesely allocates him 1,8,5 + Arty. Hills forces are sent new orders to move around to the West of Vimeriro.]
[Arrives: 0830 R56 C6 = A accepted]
The Portuguese forces lead by Trente and the Cav D move to Marceria under in person orders from Wellesley. ” Send these bloody useless, expensive fools to Marceria” Says Wellesley. “Get Trente out of my sight and out of harms way. His men need a lot more training before we put them under the French bayonets.” He passes the orders to an aide for delivery. ” Take a local, and do watch the road down across the stream it is treacherous” Wellesley adds.
26th Chasseurs, lead by Digeon chaffed to do well. Always slighted by the Hussars, Digeon was determined to have glory on this day. Already the horse were hot, he could see his horses saddle sweat accumlating
[R63 3C=A The Chasseurs are tasked with moving to Ventosa and then occupying the high ground 26.21] the fork in the road west of Ventosa. Ensuring the area was free of British troops. Digeon adjusted his shako and absent mindedly pulled at the madder red cuffs and the green sweat stained collar of his Dolman, all of the Italians in this unit had packed their pelisse due to the heat and left them at the depot following behind them. Digeon ordered the progression and he and his men trotted out towards Ventosa.
Junot then orders the rest of the Army (32/82nd and Artillery) to move to Ventosa, following slowly behind the scouting Cavalry.
Junot hopes this will draw the British away from Vimeiro when they see troops headed to Ventosa.
The Division lead by Maragon arrive and begin to move to a rise above Vimeiro where they have a good vantage point and [23.10] prepare the assault on Viemeiro with Kellermans forces once they arrive.
The British Camp:
Wellesley receives scouting reports that forces are indeed moving towards Ventosa, as well as Vimeiro. He sends the Portugues out further to cover his flank and the port, leaving the supply wagons to the protection of his own men.
[IP Order R22 C6=d5 (delay 5, roll 5 or more to release)]
Moving them further along in case Junot makes a dash for the Port and his precious little supplies, seems to be a smart move. Though he notes a smaller force approaching Vimeiro proper. The supplies must be protected he thought. His mind wandered to where he would find the thousands of carts he would need to move salted meat, spirits, ammunition and food stuffs.
[Ferguson rolls R6 and accepts his orders and forms up to move out.]
Crawford, is still making preparations to move, he refused to simply up stumps before his eggs were complete and that all important 2nd cup of Indian tea was drunk that Wellesley had been sharing. [r2 against a d5 = F Fail ]
Wellesley moves to Crawfords location to put a boot under his ass. the conversation cannot be repeated!
French move at a leisurely pace to Ventosa. The more dust they raise the larger the force appears and this will give Kellerman time to arrive and get into position. Kellerman comes on map and move directly to M Division location.
The British also begin moving into position, it is now a bit of race to to see if Crawford can assume Ferguson’s duties, before the body of French arrive at Vimeiro. The dust cloud approaching town grows in size.
[Random Event RE = Heat. Skip a turn. 10.30]
Junot orders Loison and his men to prepare to attack. With an [IP order that is accepted].
The 26th advance to flank and charge the line of British advancing Cavalry and Infantry!
The British 20th Light Dragoons see this maneuver [22.18-22.21] in a daring counter charge they sweep across the face of the stunned approaching French forces, riding right thru the French Skirmishers!
The 26th [checks to stand – 2> they roll R6.] They stand firm and turn to meet the charge. The 20th hoping to scare off the 26th realize that they will not be swayed so easily , heedless they carry thru the charge [2> R5].
[ The counter charge is a draw, both sides check for losses. Both side take 3M-1!]
The Chasseurs see the audacious approach of the British. “Sound the Charge” the Chassuers wheel , and head out at first at a trot, then gathering pace down the gentle slope. The harsh brilliant sun glistens off of their drawn sabers. Some use traditional backswords a more pointed weapon and preferred by the French cavalryman. The Italians like a la husarde, Its curved blade good for hacking at the enemy. Horses and men crash into one another, sabers clang, and flash in the hard light. The British Cavalry swords inflict ghastly wounds, but the French weapons kill in capable hands.
[The British drop down one level due to being B sized(smaller). The French therefore take 3 ‘step’ losses and the British 2.]
Both forces retreat from the brief fight and re group their blown horses.
Loison moves up from the fork in the road.
The British extend Skirmishers and and extend lines through the Orchards.
Back near Vimeiro, Crawford brings his arty into town and Nightingale extends his lines also.
The skirmishers and Artillery fire at Fergusons line to no effect.
D Div moves into position covering the Port route. The British establish a base of fire from Vimerio upon the French awaiting orders to attack. [Due to Leader Maragon being in the hex a M-1 is reduced to no effect.] This amounts to harassing fire.
The French all have their orders and proceed to engage the British.
[21.11 fires @ 18.10] An opening barrage from the hill inflicts a [m-1]
[23.20 ]Fanes Brigade, the 1/50th West Kent is shaken by the fire and re dress their ranks.
The 32/82 French Line engage, advancing in combat columns. Now the Captain orders the men to about 3 paces apart, they inch together. In their haste the 9th East Norfolk and 52nd Oxfordshire loose rounds early at over 100m out. The Queens Own 97th dutiful wait for the French to close to less than 75m. At this range the volume of fire is devastating, over 75% of their rounds find a mark. Close Combat [check to stand=Pass] ensues.
Anstruthers [extended line checks to stand against the advancing French] they hold. Brigadier Anstruther thought to himself that the Churchyard where they had ben situated afforded better cover and defence, but he was proud of his mens efforts to date in the Orchards.
He leant heavily on his pommel, looking down at his shaking arms…fatgued again he thought. He could gain no respite, no re charge in his sleep. nor could he eat in this dam heat. He spurred his horse forward, and continued about his business. He would die in Spain.
A vicious firefight ensues, rounds are exchanged at close range, neither side gains the upper hand. The French retreat back and reform their columns.
[Size:A French: roll 3+1 = 2M-1 ] [AA Brit: r5 2(1)*stragglers M-2*-2 morale]
- [we mess up sizes here as the extension reduces the overall size of the unit being attacked]
The 26th Ch now recovered, proceed from the outskirts of Ventosa and attack and force the British to form a square, and then break off. Loison & the 12/15 engage in close combat.
Read the conclusion on the 16th of June right here