Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Back home, perhaps

Monte-Cristo, 16th August 1713

After having finished re-reading his own report for King Charles, written with a copy to the General Deputation as usual, the Marquis of Vilana wearily sighed. Under other circumstances, he should have had more than enough reasons to feel satisfied with the work done so far, but as a matter of fact he was overwhelmed by an overall fatigue feeling, as well as a certainty that the hardest work was yet to begin.

During his few weeks stay in Monte Cristo, Vilana had managed to unequivocally reaffirm mutual loyalty between the Principality and the Empire, and had secured the unconditional support of the Whig faction of the British Parliament. True that none of both commitments could be translated into direct military aid to the Principality, but crucially confirmed that the old alliances were still alive and would continue acting on their behalf in the international sphere, and this was a real success.

But more importantly, he had managed to open doors to an eventual separate peace with France, which in turn could open wide the path to a definitive European peace. Further, all this had been achieved in spite of his Spanish rival, legate Marquis of Ordoño, whose diplomatic initiatives had proved to be completely ineffective so far. This was a promising sign of a progressive diplomatic isolation of Spain until they consented to an agreed solution of the Catalan Case.

True there was nothing certain about France beyond a statement of intent, so that all remained pending future negotiations -which he presaged difficult and full of obstacles. Not surprisingly, since the distant time when the Catalan counties seceded from the Carolingian Kingdom about XIth Century, France had become a perpetual and relentless enemy for their Nation. Vilana was fully aware the first barrier to overcome would be the atavistic distrust of his own naturals toward France, whom they’d never expect anything good from.

If negotiations with France failed, their only lasting hope would rely on an eventual change of mind of Queen Anne, allowing the Whig party reprisal of power in Britain. By such, Franco-Spanish fear of an English rentrée in war would then become the Principality’s safest conduct to the so long awaited liberty. But that would mean trusting to fortune -always so capricious and unpredictable...

Vilana then took the short note Lord William of Beerstein had delivered to him that morning, acknowledging him about the immediate plans of His Majesty the King & Caesar about the Principality. He had been suggested to come in Vienna too, and certainly he'd be happy in attending to the meeting... in other circumstances. But now it was clear to him that he still had a role to perform in Catalonia in the meanwhile, because not all the fronts in this war were external.

It was clear to him. He would come back in the Principality and face the Parliament's reaction to the French proposals... as well as to eventual news coming from Vienna.

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

A Regulation Uniform for High Commanders

We've already started preparing our first miniature battle in this game. There isn't a certain date yet, although December 8th seems the most likely one. As posted a few days ago at Emperor vs Elector main site, the scenario we'll be gaming by ourselves is the so-called Battle of Ponts, in the confidence that perhaps someone else in the EvE community will feel curious enough to give a try to our second battle (that one we've called Battle of El Bruc), in a proxy gamed battle. Happily if so happened, we'd be able to resume normal activity at this weblog before Christmas.

In the meanwhile, our storyboards will have to be slowed down a bit; and those I finally post will have to be more timeless than usual, unrelated to the campaign itself -for this is to be temporarily halted until we know battle results.

However, this doesn't mean any kind of activity stop at this weblog -fortunately, there is still a lot of job to be done yet, for completing our beloved Imagi-Nation's architecture!! So that... here you are a first delivery of such kind of background work you seldom find the time to ready up... I've completed a few uniform templates else and have posted them at my weblog Army Page as usual. These new templates are:
  • Hussars Independent Squadron
  • Army High Command (oh yes, I WANT THEM properly uniformed too)
  • Navy High Command (not to be less than their on-land counterparts)
Only this latter one is entirely fictional, for as a matter of fact there is no historical record on any Catalan Navy uniform. Otherwise, Hussars and Generals uniforms are based on actually described uniforms, although with some degree of added musings -like those waistcoats and turnbacks in a colour related to the Arm the officer belongs to, and so... Albeit somewhat adapted by myself, the originals of all these plates must be credited to Not By Appointment (millions of thanks David!). Wish you enjoy them.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Preparing for battle

On the Catalan side, 15th August 1713

Nevertheless, the Catalans managed to anticipate and successfully counter the Two Crowns' armies moves, either by reinforcing their own columns or by seeking a favourable position to meet the upcoming clash. Such was the case of the Marquis of Poal at North, who selected an area with a pronounced bending of Segre river amidst steep hills, close to Ponts town, to deploy his army and calmly wait for the enemy to arrive. He only had at hand two Infantry battalions (the General Deputation IR and Colonel Mitjans' IR), besides of the sometent or local militia of Seu d'Urgell and his own St. James Dragoons Regiment to counter General Bracamonte's forces, but he enjoyed better position and artillery superiority. Would it be enough to resist the Two Crowns' upcoming assault?

In the meanwhile, General Bellver's column was reinforced by two Infantry battalions coming from Barcelona, so that their foot strength became at pair with that of the Spanish General Vallejo forces. The lack of Catalan Horse the Spanish Hadquarters were confident to meet was solved thanks to the arrival in time of General Nebot along with his own veteran Cuirassiers regiment. The Catalan High Command breathed with relief when their scouts reported the final disbalance of forces between both armies had been reduced to a minimum -or, in some features, was to favour them...

Finally, the Catalan rearguard started a chain series of moves whose aim was to respond to eventual troubles at the vanguard "hot points", as well as trying to persuade local authorities to mobilize their militiae. In this partiular matter results were widely unsatisfactory, however: no civilian help was found among the towns still indecisive: the gallows tithe policy of Philip V had started to break the resistance will of civilian population, who were getting increasingly terrified at the menace of bloody retaliations. Even the widely popular General Moragues was unable to convince Manresa authorities to take side and raise their city militia.

The Catalan strategic moves had been clever and full of sense, but their chances of success were literally hanging by a thread.

[At this moment, we have at hand two possible battle scenarios, both of which with an acceptable -albeit small for usual WSS wargaming standards- number of troops on both sides. We're going to name these with the main towns' name at every hex, so that the northern scenario will henceforth be called Battle of Ponts, while the other one is to be given the name of Battle of El Bruc. We're already analyzing the first one with the aim to game it by ourselves, while it's possible that for the second one we're going to appeal for volunteers to proxy gaming it -in order not to delay for too long turn resolution]

Thursday, November 18, 2010

A decisive blow

On the Two Crowns' side, 15th August 1713

Such was the aim of the Spanish Headquarters, at taking the initiative before the Catalans were able to react to their defeat at Tivissa. Taking advantage of their enemies' temporary unsteadiness, the Duke of Popoli's staff designed an audacious double blow, intended to definitely break the backbone of the Catalan Army. This had to consist in a simultaneous frontal attack against the two major concentrations of enemy troops detected so far. A dense screen of Mountain Fusiliers had prevented them to find out with precision their exact numbers, but it was clear they would outnumber the enemy at both attack points.

Thus, following urgently delivered directions, General Bracamonte in the North put all his troops on the march northwards, searching contact with the Marquis of Poal column. By then, the army under his direct command consisted of the French Beauvoisis, Sanzay and Blaisois IRs, the Swissmen of Castellas IR, and the 2nd battalion of Segovia IR; they were accompanied by a "botifler" (*) Mountain Fusiliers battalion, two regiments of Dragoons and a light battery. According to his provisions, they were outnumbering the enemy by 2 to 1 -except maybe for the artillery, because most of his own pieces were at that time being employed in the siege of Balaguer.

At the same time, General Vallejo's column left Igualada town through the intrincate gulleys countryside leading to the imposing, solitary range of Montserrat -the Catalans' sacred mountain-, in whose whereabouts he was certain to meet the men of General Bellver. Under his command he had two battalions of La Couronne IR, the Spaniards of Marina IR and the Dillon Irish Regiment, supported by Órdenes Line Cavalry and a Dragoons regiment, and followed by two artillery batteries. On his side, he wasn't so confident of outnumbering the Catalans, although he had been informed about a total lack of Horse in the enemy lines. Just for case, he sent word to General velasco in Montblanc for joining them with his two Line Cavalry regiments. Velasco's headquarters were a bit far away from his own location, but he decided it was worth the trial to call for them -for, if they were able to come in time, the Horse supremacy of his Army would allow them an easy victory.

Besides, Burgos and Carmona IRs were ordered to descend from Montblanc to Tarragona, in order to closely watch the Imperial withdrawal process and preventing any Catalan attempt to force their entrance into the old city. And, last but not least, they perhaps might have a chance to intercept the retreating Military Deputy's column. Only the victorious army of Tivissa was excused from any advance, so leaving them a while to rest after battle and recompose their ranks.

If everything went as expected, the Catalan insurgence would be given a couple of simultaneous deadly blows, and their foolish dreams put to a definitive end.

[* "Botifler": Catalan word for a Two Crowns' collaborationist]

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Fiona

Barcelona, 14th August 1713

That morning, a crowd had gathered at the port of Barcelona to follow the anchorage maneuver of a just arrived light frigate fleeing flag of the Order of Malta. Once finished the ship captain's process with the port authorities, the only descending passenger was a beautiful young lady, who was dressed in a long vest of military appearance, the same color as the English infantry uniform -a colour quite well-known in Catalonia, after 6 years of uninterrupted British contribution to the defense of the Principality, and such circumstance naturally increased the initial public expectation. The young woman gently broke through the crowd, until she found an officer of the Stillness Company, whom she addressed to in a nearly perfect Catalan language, with just a slight British accent: -I must meet Lady Elisenda Folc de Cardona, Countess of Prades. Would you mind to let me know her address? I'm bringing to her an urgent message from Vienna.

-Er... at... at Montcada Street, milady. -Overwhelmed, the policeman offered himself to accompany the lady to the given address. After hearing the brief conversation, excitement among people grew almost explosively, and news spread all around the city as a burning powder trail.

At her late-Gothic palace in the luxurious Montcada Street, Lady Elisenda was nervously pacing up and down her deskroom. Just a short time before, she had been to the Army Headquarters, where she had hold a bitter discussion with General Villarroel. On hearing news of the abuses committed by King Philip's troops in Tivissa town, the young lady had got enraged (Tivissa was precisely the head town of her County of Prades). She had planned to select the fifty most resolute women in her Regiment, and lead them in a horse ride towards the ravaged county, to somehow relieve the population and the prisoners taken by the Spaniards. However, she had been prohibited doing so by General Villarroel himself: -By no means. I will not authorize your suicide, Milady! -No matter how influential she might be, General Villarroel was the supreme military authority, and she had no other chance than bending to his will.

Then a secretary interrupted the broodings she was committed to: -Milady, a foreign lady has requested the mercy of meeting you right now.

Lady Elisenda received the woman in the tea room. She got immediately curious at the appearance of the girl, whose stylish suit was clearly reminiscent of a military costume. She happened to see a similar expression in the glance of her guest, and then Lady Elisenda recalled she was wearing a quite similar dress -albeit hers was in the colors of her Daughters of Minerva Regiment -royal blue with violet facings. An unconscious bond of empathy between both girls had been established.

-Tell me, who are you and where are you coming from? -Lady Elisenda asked.

-Milady, my name is Fiona McGregor and I'm coming from Vienna. I've been commissioned by His Majesty Emperor and King Charles for delivering to you an urgent message from Him -and then lady Elisenda was shown an envelop. It was stamped with the Imperial seal.

Surprised, Lady Elisenda took the visitor in the deskroom and ordered not to be disturbed under any concept. Once both women were alone, the countess opened the envelop. The letter was signed at hand by King Charles himself, and required her assistance to Vienna before the end of September, with no explanations beyond an enigmatic "matter of utmost importance to the becoming of the Catalan Nation and peace in Europe". Then she realized there was a second stamped envelop inside the first one, and she hurriedly opened it. There was another manuscript of Charles, whose content made Elisenda to draw a slightly melancholic smile at first. That second letter was shorter than the first one, but its content resulted to be far more revealing. After reading it, Lady Elisenda could not repress an exclamation:

-Oh Karl!! ...you shouldn't do this... Not me...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Some template updating

This weekend I've been updating some of the data on the Catalan/Galatan 1713 Army, in order to have the most templates and/or images on any of the units fighting the campaign. This way, I've been able to add a few templates else, those corresponding to the Coronela Citizen Militiae raised so far by their respective Municipalities (Barcelona, Mataró and Balaguer cities). Some of them are purely historical, others aren't. These units' uniforms and flags boardly follow the most common Catalan/Galatan military trends, albeit not so strictly as regular units; this is especially true regarding to Colonel and Regimental flags, whose designs are somehow different to the Ordnance established patterns.

Besides, I've added photos of another Line Infantry regiment, that one with the official name of IR7 Saint Narcissus -whose popular nickname is German Infantry. As most of my Catalan/Galatan WSS Army units, it has been built using mainly Dixon minis. Except for IR11 Our Lady of Sorrows -a regiment which in our campaign is still in formation process, all the templates depicted on the Army page correspond to units already in service. There are some templates still undone -those of the Hussar Squadrons and Volunteer Miquelets, although they'll be hopefully following in a short time.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Converging to the plains

All around the Principality, 13th August 1713

Following the strict orders issued by Count of Wallis the week before, the various imperial garrisons of the Principality started marching towards Tarragona city, leaving empty the fortresses hitherto held by them. Thus, Hamilton's Dragoons from Vic town converged into a single column with the Geschwind IR at Sabadell, and came to the whereabouts of Llobregat river, where they crossed with no incidences with a Catalan column heading north. Likewise, O'Dwyer's IR the left Manresa with the intention to converge with the above, but along the way they ran into the large camp of General Bellver's Catalan army, who invited the Imperials to spend the night encamped close to them -an invitation they wouldn't refuse.

These two columns were in good times and running through an area still not ravaged by war, so they marched in a loose column, without too much haste or precautions. This was not, however, the case of Bagni's IR, who from their solitary position amidst the Pyrenees valleys had a long and difficult march, full of risks due to their proximity to frontline. Therefore, this column had to march as if in campaign, with detached forwards explorers and moving in parallel columns separated more than usual, with all their flags permanently flying.

[By the end of our 4th campaign turn, the Catalans have a second xebec at their disposal in the port of Barcelona, but France has already 3 galleys and 1 privateer in Perpignan, and Spain has 2 galleys in Peníscola (a few miles south to Tortosa, out of the map). The female Infantry Regiment funded by Lady Elisenda is ready to pass inspection and become operative for the Catalans, while the Two Crowns have a newly arrived infantry battalion, belonging to the Spanish IR3 Savoy. Our next posts will count as to our 5th turn, from 14th to 20th August 1713]

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

It

Pratdip (close to Tivissa), 12th August 1713

They had been deprived long ago of the scented breezes of the forest, the stimulating fresh dew at dawn, the exciting emotion of hunting and the smell of terror of the prey, and the pleasure of still throbbing flesh; expelled long time ago from the warm surface of earth, they had been forced to restlessly slumbering for over a hundred years, stuffed to the most unfathomable dark depths of the many caves that water had been digging, with the corrosive persistence of countless centuries, inside the bowels of the Tivissa limestone mountains, and had been confined to lead a miserable life feeding on whitish worms and soft bellied, blind insects; thus corrupting with the manure of their infect lives the groundwaters flooding galleries and potholes.

They had been exiled there for over a century ago, stalked and engulfed without compassion by the miserable Human creatures, who were unable to understand the wild beauty of their violent, cruel lifestyle, and saw them as servants of the Evil One. And maybe it's true they had been His servers, but neither Evil nor any of his unclean lackeys had been ever in their defense, nor had either gone to rescue them from their scary imprisonment, so abandoning them to their fate for the rest of the centuries.

Those few who had tried to escape from their abominable captivity had disappeared with no trace, swallowed up by treacherous potholes, or perhaps drowned in troubled waters, or possibly eviscerated by a farmer's lucky gunshot. So they had almost resigned to keep living their bad life inside rotted cavities in the corrupt limestone mass, exiled forever from the world of the living.

Something had changed recently, however. They could perceive it in the rarefied atmosphere of the caves, in subtle changes in taste of the water blindly running across galleries. Something important had happened over there, on the surface, something great and exciting to their predators' instincts, that their incomprehensibly sensitive olfactory captured with certainty, making them relive forgotten emotions and pleasures of extreme violence. They could clearly sniff it and their snouts trembled anticipating the pleasure of blood -lots of blood. So that an irresistible force came to push them up, running frantically from gallery to gallery, joining as they converged in a huge pack, as they were centuries ago during their hunting parties in the woods; they ceaselessly gained speed, their tongues hanging and panting of rage and desire, their glowing eyes wide open in folly, their huge tusks grimly shining in the dark as an omen of death and terror.

And finally, a last gap lead them back to the surface, anxiously gasping, sniffing with relish the almost forgotten scents of the night in the woods. Pushed by an atavistic force, they started howling all at once with a sharp, penetrating and horrifying howl, that could not be confused with any other beast. They had returned to the land of the living, and their howls proclaimed from the rooftops they were no longer servers of anyone -nor even the Evil One. Henceforth, they would be the real Evil.

Dip's howl. It was back.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

The politician

Barcelona, 11th August 1713

When General Prado left the Viceroyalty Palace, he still had the choleric words of General Villarroel resounding in the ears. "The Military Deputy is a true inept!", he had exclaimed, enraged. The Catalan commander-in-chief was furious with the politician, under whose command a whole column had been literally crushed at Tivissa the day before; and the fact that Villarroel's own regiment had gone so badly had contributed by no means to calm him down.

The Tivissa setback had arrived in Barcelona city like a lightning, and a general unrest for the bad news could be perceived in the air. He had already heard by chance some disturbing conversations around Santa Maria del Mar church early in the morning, such as "when General Basset comes back home, some things will have to be fixed in the General Deputation", "it's intolerable to have a King so far away; if the Deputation's President had even a little guts, he'd already have proclaimed a Republic", and so. He was upset for the course of events in the city, and feared some kind of political storm. "Civilians shouldn't interfere so much in the affairs of war", he thought.

General Prado had been entrusted to meet at harbour General Basset, whose successful naval expedition was about to anchor, and to lead him to Palace before he was addressed by the politicians presumably gathering to meet him too. "Maybe Villarroel is also aware of the unrest", he believed. Once at harbour, he watched a group of councilmen and priests already gathered and waiting for the fleet to arrive. Prado decided to avoid them and went straight to a sergeant of the Coronela (=city Militia) in charge the port guard, who was visibly disoriented due to his unability to understand the ships' signal flags. He couldn't either, but he recognized a pilot in the nearby and called him:

-What are they saying?

-They've taken prisoners, Sire.

General Prado then quickly ordered the sergeant to vacate the docks, while cursing to himself the presence of so many councilors in the nearby, who were nominally superiors to the Coronela militiamen and might interfere with him at any moment; so that he wisely chose to let them stay in the vicinity. -It should be compulsory to have an adequate command port... -he unconsciously muttered in a too loud voice.

One of the councilors who heard him, a lawyer called Rafael de Casanova, approached to Prado and politely said: -You've organized a quite successful raid, it seems...

-It was a surprise action -he simply answered-. We've been in advantage so far, because there are few enemy ships in these waters yet, but things will not be going so easy after the Imperials are completely evacuated and the English fleet withdraws to Minorca.

-Certainly things won't be going so easy from now on; I guess you're already aware of the events at Montblanc and Tivissa, and this is only a start, don't you agree?... I'm afraid that, if we wish to maintain a sustainable war effort, we'll have to ensure protection to our trade. We need a powerful fleet, Sir, to keep enemy warships and corsairs at bay. Some tradesmen have already started to re-arm their ships...

-Yes I know -Prado answered, while wondering what was up in the councilor's mind.

-...but these ships would require a military force aboard to be effective, don't you believe?

General Prado stared to Casanova in silence, expectantly.

-Well, I've been commisioned to let you know there are plans to raise a Sea Fusiliers regiment, for garrisoning the fleet and ports... and it's believed you should be their Field Colonel.

-Great, but where are you drawing the men from? You know there's a deep manpower shortage, we can hardly complete the numbers for a projected regiment...

-Our correspondents in the Islands are able to provide you the necessary contacts, they know about men who gladly would accept joining the enterprise if lead by a prestigious commander, like you. General Villarroel is aware if this project -he quickly continued- and would agree; however, the final decision is entirely up to you, of course.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wolves howl

Tarragona, 10th August 1713

It happened little after noon. There was an air of simple happiness in the Perelló's humble cubicle that day, because Granny Teresa had perceived her first payment in money after having healed the disease of a councilman, and she had decided to allow her young ones a somewhat more appetizing meal. Thanks to this, they had on table their first meat since their arrival in Tarragona city, and such circumstance seemed to predict the arrival of better times.

Young Mireia was the happiest of all, no doubt. Ever hungry as she was, she started devouring her partridge portion just after sitting at table, amidst small grunts of satisfaction.

-Mireia, you should be a bit more polite at table -gently scolded by her mother.

-Yes I should, Mum -she glady admitted with full mouth, albeit persisted dredging with genuine delight.

The girl was plainly comical with that small trickle running down her cheek, and all three women started laughing eagerly. Then it happened: Mireia suddenly stopped laughing and stared to somewhere beyond with open wide eyes, her face rigidly frozen in a stupor expression first, then full of terror. Mireia then abruptly stood up and bent on her belly, in a sharp moan of acute pain.

The girl fell down, still holding her belly with open hands, as if suddenly hurt by a knife, in a mix of painful breathing and moaning. Alarmed, her relatives gently took her to their common bed and stood for a few minutes close by her, professionally checking their younger, but could see no obvious symptoms. After a while, Mireia shaked violently and gave a loud scream of genuine terror, as if trying to escape from some invisible threat closing to her. And then she fell again, her hands around the throat, all consciousness lost.

Mireia remained unconscious for several hours, under a permanent care of her deeply worried relatives. When she finally came back to life, her expression was plenty of grief and mourning. She simply said:

-Albert is dead, Mum. He's dead, as all those who accompanied him.

-Dear, don't be silly. You don't know, you can't -old Teresa answered in the firmest voice she could, vainly trying to hide her own deep unrest and doubts.

-Yes I do know -she sharply replied, her eyes in tears-. I've been shot and tailed along with him.

That night, both women heard her younger quietly crying all night through.

That night too, all Tarragona city's inhabitants could clearly hear an unusually dense, mourning choir of wolves howling, as if the hugest pack ever, an entire army of these beasts had gathered around the city. Howling all night through.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

Defeat at Tivissa

Tivissa, 10th August 1713

After the assaulting Two Crowns' first line failed in their attempt to gain the battered defences of Tivissa before their own left wing broke under the pressure of the Catalan outflanking reinforcements, the Spanish commander-in-chief General Areizaga drastically changed strategy and ordered the rest of his Infantry to withdraw beyond enemy musketry range, to afterwards trigger a violent artillery fire that took the town defenders entirely by suprise. Already heavily battered after three weeks of restless fight, the peasant militia disintigrated and the Mountain Fusiliers were reduced to a mere handful of demoralized men, unable to resist any further assault.

At their endangered left wing, all Spanish generals rushed to first line accompanied by a light artillery battery, whose support was key to help them holding the line. Experienced as Generals Ulloa and Castillo were, they fully showed their capabilities at successfully co-ordinating their demoralized infantry in a series of deadly musketry and canister volleys that decimated the Catalan infantry ranks, which nevertheless resisted the hell of fire the time enough to cause a number of casualties to the enemy -General Ulloa himself among them-, before breaking under the combined pressure of Anjou and Guipuzcoa regiments. On the Catalan far right flank, the Sant Miquel Dragoons bravely resisted the combined attack of two enemy mounted regiments at first but, after realizing all the rest of the Catalan Army had been smashed or was routing, had no other chance than breaking off and starting a dramatic withdrawal, with the enemy cavalry in pursue.

On the Catalan side, losses were terrible: The Ebro Riverside Mountain Fusiliers Regiment had been literally anihilated, for the handful of captured survivors were summarily executed on the field. The Aragon Dragoons lost all their standards and a few men tried to escape and join their Sant Miquel Catalan comrades, but were pursued and captured -Major Ramon Lanuza among them. These unfortunate spared their lives though, due to nominally belonging to an Imperial unit. Those civilians that hadn't fled before were subject to diezmo de horca, as stated by Philip d'Anjou's orders.

Long after sunset, a handful of exhausted men lead by the Military Deputy descended from the Tivissa range to a close distance of the Mediterranean shores. Their enemy had ceased pursuit long ago, but a deep fright compelled them to keep fleeing in the dark for a while. They were the remnants of IR3 Concepció Infantry and DR2 Sant Miquel Dragoons. They had managed to keep their flags, but had been reduced to no more than 200 infantrymen and 300 troopers. Nobody else managed to escape from the trap.

Friday, November 05, 2010

Montblanc town falls

Montblanc, 8-10th August 1713

In the meanwhile, not far from the town of Tivissa where the first major battle in the campaign was being fought, the Two Crowns troops under General Velasco command started a third assault attempt to the town of Montblanc, whose only garrison were the local pesant militia. General Velasco had just been delivered a second infantry battalion as reinforcement, so that his troops were now outnumbering the exhausted defenders by an overhelming 8:1.

As easily imaginable, this time the defenders were overrun with little effort, so that in a few hours the Two Crowns' troops had reduced all resistance to zero. After defeat it was time for retaliations on the defenders, and King Philip's orders were pretty precise at this respect, so that General Velasco accordingly ordered all local authorities to be executed, as well as diezmo de horca practised among the civilian population, with no distinction of age or sex. This time however, General Velasco took good care all the culprits to be assisted by Hispannic military priests "como Dios manda". After gallows' tithe, the once beautiful town of Montblanc was sacked for 2 days and set on fire.

The road to Tarragona city was now open to the Two Crowns' armies.

Wednesday, November 03, 2010

The Battle of Tivissa

Tivissa, 10th August 1713

On the first days of this week, the Catalan column lead by the Military Deputy of the Principality had left their encampment face to the walls of Tarragona city, and started a swift march towards the mountain range to the west, following the road leading to Ebro river -and eventually to the besieged town of Tivissa. On their way, the small army found a regiment of Spanish Dragoons, who withdrew at the sight of a numerically superior enemy. Although not the brightiest military leader in the Catalan Army, the Deputy understood he had a best chance to force their way towards the town under siege, and ordered his troops to start a restless pursuit on the enemy Dragoons, who at every occasion refused contact and evaded.

This way, the Military Deputy's force was able to get in sight of Tivissa town in a few days. After a quick glance to the besieging forces from a safe distance, it took to him no more than a couple of minutes to decide an attack plan. As a matter of fact, this was quite simple, because they had little chances of prevailing if performing some kind of more elaborate strategy. Therefore, the Catalan Dragoons of Sant Miquel Regiment irrupted as a lightning into the battlefield just after the pursued enemy cavalry, who nearly had no time to dismount and prepare a defence line. The veteran infantrymen of Concepció Regiment appeared shortly after the Dragoons, already formed in line and dangerously close to musket fire distance of the Spanish left wing.

Their first volley, whose deadly effect was exponentially increased by their threatening position behind the enemy rear, had a devastating effect on the Two Crowns' lines. Exultant for the unexpected arrival of reinforcement, the town defenders also performed a co-ordinated volley on the assaulting enemy battalions, whose ranks were decimated by a hell of bullets and canister. The front ranks of the three most advanced Bourbon battalions broke out and fled away face to the deadly hell falling upon them.

However, the Spanish army was far from demoralizing yet, because a fast maneuvre of a battalion of the French Régiment d'Anjou allowed filling the left wing gap, while a second Dragoons regiment -held in reserve so far- started an outflanking maneuvre on the Catalan column right wing. Soon, the whole battle line got covered by a dense powder cloud...

[The first "big" battle of our campaign is being played by e-mail, because we haven't miniatures enough yet; and this is a quite slow procedure, so that we'll be lasting a little bit to solve it... More news on the battle development & aftermath to come very soon]