The Bridge at Trabazos
Long story short; I have been tasked to provide the battle narrative for an ongoing Napoleonic campaign - in other words, play out the battles with miniatures.
The Anglo-Portuguese commander wants the bridge destroyed, the French commander expects to deploy north of the town getting there via the bridge over the Druro River as part of a larger Peninsular War fictional battle.
Not really having the ‘proper’ troops for this engagement, I went small scale by using my ~40mm Flintloque figures to play out this portion of the battle as a very minor skirmish.
I gave the French two fine “companies” of infantry to approach the bridge while the British Engineers prepare to blow it up. Each turn the Engineers roll a d6 until 16 is reached and it will be wired for detonation (and upon a die roll, of course!)
Defending the Engineers are a ‘company’ of the 9th Foot of the 5th Division. While a veteran regiment, the Captain is a martinet hated by the ranks. (a bad roll for his ‘personality’) Alone in an isolated village away from the army commanded by an officer who had no idea what he was doing, with the temptation for loot and discovery of drink it was too much for the soldiers who, despite the efforts of their sergeant, left their post by degrees. However the captain, excited by his first meeting of the Napoleon’s army (he had purchased his position and had absolutely no military experience), did not realize about the desertions.
|The 'martinet' of the 9th. Note the sergeant with the halberd to the left of the officer already turned around to chase after the would be looters. |
However some defence of the town came from a small band of Guerrillas defending their homes who were of sterner stuff and fired upon the first company of French halting them and mortally wounding their officer. This confident action (rolling 12(!) for activation) and subsequent roll of 6, activated a small contingent of Portuguese.
|Early in the action showing the French. The 9th Foot is across the river, the British Engineers on the bridge.|
Meanwhile, as the French advanced, the 9th’s Captain marvelled at the French Colonel’s uniform and his flowing hair astride his charger galloping on the bridge in the glory of war. “Fire!” he yelled. The loud percussion he expected was met with silence.
“Now, sir?” was the only sound. The single trooper left with him looked up from his knelling position in a questioning frown.
The Guerrillas switched focus to the stagnant first company to the company lead by the mounted officer, but these French did not react to the resulting casualties. Ensconced behind a shielding wall, the raw soldiers of Portuguese remained in place and unwilling to engage in gunfire. But the large Engineer sergeant, a huge Irishman, declared to the oncoming French officer, “You be not stopping us you Froggie bastard!” and using a rusted shovel as a club, engaged with the Frenchman. Seeing the following French soldiers, he looked over his shoulder and exclaimed, “Work faster!” to his fellow engineers.(my dice rolls were good but still 1 short!)
|The Engineer sergeant on the bridge|
Alas, his heroism was in vain, the horse evaded the shovel and a well-placed sabre met his brains. A following French soldier toppled an engineer into the water below and another used his hanger blade to cut the cords to the barrels of artillery powder suspended under the bridge. The Guerrillas and Portuguese then melted away.
Of course this story will never make it into the history books. All that may indeed be mentioned is…the French IV Corps, 1st Division crossed over the Druro and deployed north of Trabazos….
|Actually my "Calabrese Legion" troops. Converted from Flintloque figures into something resembling the proper Napoleonic War troops..sort of... Full of 'character' they are. ~40mm scale (ish). So outrageously cartoonish as to be cute.|