Friday, December 10, 2010

News from the battlefield

Cardona fortress, 18th August 1713

Early in the morning, General Manuel Desvalls was intensely watching the horizon from the ramparts of Cardona, the fortress under his command. A few miles west, his brother Antoni Desvalls, Marquis de Poal, would likely be fighting against the Two Crowns force that had penetrated into the Segre river high valley. According to his own accounts, both armies would already have clashed around Ponts town.

The Spanish troops lead by General Bracamonte almost doubled those of his brother, and their superiority in light troops would probably have prevented any ambush attempt, so Manuel feared the Catalan army would have been pitched in a battle in open field ... Outnumbered and with no tactical advantage as they were, the Catalans risked a complete disaster, and the lack of news from his brother was a really bad omen.

Suddenly, General Desvalls sighted on the west road a man riding at full speed. When the rider got closer to the fortress, Desvalls could distinguish he was clad in the uniform of his brother Antoni's Dragoons Regiment.

-Open gates!!! Open way for that man!!! -Desvalls shouted, as he rushed in the fortress courtyard.

-What news are you bringing? -He hurriedly asked to the soldier, who was exhausted and dirty.

-Yesterday, Sire; we faced the enemy yesterday. A ranged battle lasting not less than four hours. Their Dragoons attacked us by both flanks at once, with the aim of destroying our artillery and surrounding us ... They launched several assaults, once and once again, but they were rejected with heavy losses.

-Ah good, and what about the centre?

-They took the entire width of the half dry river bed to move their infantry along it, an entire brigade of four regiments, Sire. It was a dreadful sight to look at that formation, half a mile wide. However, those braves of the General Deputation IR were able to hold them back for a long while too, with the single help of my own Dragoons Regiment. Enemy assaults were countered with intense musketry volleys, just as we had been taught by the English, so that their entire first line fell back with lots of casualties. But in the end, they managed to regroup and launch a co-ordinated assault driving our line back.

-And...?

-And your brother decided not to risk any more, Sire, so that he ordered withdrawal. We had to leave battlefield to the enemy, but our army withdrew in complete order after having suffered not even a single casualty, while theirs are counted by dozens... Unfortunately, we had to leave the cannons on the field. They are on the march to Cardona, Sire.

Desvalls sighed with relief, and friendly tapped the soldier shoulder: -cannons can be replaced, unlike good soldiers. Congratulations, my boy. Go inside, you'll find warm water, hot meal and a good bed.

[The battle of Ponts was fought last Wednesday, using Close Fire & European Order (CFEO) rules. It was a really funny and exciting experience. A chronicle and photos to follow shortly!]

8 comments:

Bluebear Jeff said...

Now see if you can sell the enemy a few more "victories" at a similar price.


-- Jeff

Jordi said...

I think that Felipists generals are doubting about El Bruc. Perhaps they would prefer waiting for south column.

Salvador said...

Hurrah!
Hail the brave fellows of the General Deputation Regiment! (Now I feel proud, Msr. Vilalta and Msr. Jordi...)
Hope this is just the start of the bourbion bleeding...

Soldadets said...

Jeff, in this battle I lead the Two Crowns army, and I must admit that Jordi took a wise decision when deciding to withdraw... true that their Artillery fell into Two Crowns' hands, but all their men could orderly withdraw after having suffered no casualties...

I guess the Catalan soldiers went back to their headquarters with the feeling of having won the battle, in spite of having left the battlefield to their enemy.

It must have been immensely frustrating for the Two Crowns soldiers, who have had to see dozen of their comrades fallen by an ever elusive enemy -a deceived victory for them, I mean.

Soldadets said...

upsss... please read 'dozens' for 'dozen' :S

abdul666 said...

A Galatan victory, even if the Two Crowns kept the field. Morale is of uttermost importance in war, and having pinned the enemy without suffering a single casualty, the Galatans had the upper hand.

Men are precious, even irreplaceable for a little country facing Major Powers; guns *can* be replaced - between you and us, a matter of time to smuggle some, a seizure of an 'ethically unjustifiable' shipment to a warlike vile country from that totally unscrupulous arms trader and financier, Basil Zaharoff.

Soldadets said...

Jean-Louis:

I believe so, too. After the smashing defeat at Tivissa, Galatan/Catalan soldiers and civilians needed a battle result giving them a renewed faith in their victory chances.

However, the loss of two batteries is a somewhat disturbing event. By 1713 most Nations involved in this war were pretty close to bankrupcy and ruin, and I guess that Catalonia/Galatea would be not less exhausted.

Under such circumstances, the loss of such a precious material might be very costly to replace... Future imagi-national financial issues are starting to worry me nearly as much as the 'real' ones.

According to my estimations, the General Deputation might be economically asphyxiated by the first months of 1714, so that the defence effort would henceforth fall entirely in hands of Barcelona's Municipality and wealthy traders. It also might mark the imminence of a heavy political crisis.

What a heavy burden, this Imagi-nation's survival! :(

abdul666 said...

Sympathetic -if official neutral and uninvolved- can be 'generous' (i.e. sell war material at fair press, delaying & / or spreading the payment without extorting exorbitant interests...
And if a sympathetic -if official neutral and uninvolved- statelet happens to have *seized* a cargo of guns and other military material, and being peaceful has no need for most of this free seizure, it may ask only for the cost of smugglering through a third party neutral and respectful convoy...