Friday, April 29, 2011

What's next?

Spanish HQ at Lleida, 12th September 1713

Duke of Popoli had remained silent for a long while, with his eyes fixed on the large campaign map. Then he suddenly turned towards the aide-de-camp discretely behind him:

-Tell me, how far are the reinforcements?

-One or two leagues south of Tortosa city, Sire. They're about. -the man promptly responded.

-...And His Majesty's Spanish Guard?

-Likely arriving in Saragossa this week, Sire. -he answered again.

The Spanish Guard... and their commander, Lord Guillem Ramon IX de Montcada, 6th Marquis of Aitona. "That damned half-Catalan...", he thought to himself, "even more dangerous, if possible, than those facing to us arms at hand...".

In spite his long time away from the Court at Madrid, Duke of Popoli was by no means unaware of the significant influence achieved by the Marquis, thanks to his rank as the most powerful Catalan nobleman in King Philip's service. To his mind, His Majesty would have most likely placed a bid on that influent man to replace him in command, if he showed himself incapable of achieving any war's positive result at the shortest possible while.

-Hum... -Duke of Popoli breathed intensely before talking again: -Now listen to me: this is the plan...

Monday, April 25, 2011

Turning tide

Barcelona, 11th September 1713

On the last campaign week, Philip d'Anjou's Army has suffered a couple of significant setbacks, that are seriously menacing to become a turning point to His projected pacification of Catalonia. The joint effect of French inhibition and accumulated losses at hands of the stubborn army lead by General Villarroel have turned Two Crowns' initial 3-to-1 superiority into a force no more than equal to that of their enemy. In spite of the brutal retaliations policy performed by King Philip's generals so far, news of the sound defeat of a Spanish Army at Vilafranca town are quickly spreading all through the Principality, causing many citizens to gradually lose their fear of retaliations in the following days... therefore, local population unrest is likely to become again a key factor in a close future.

This 8th turn has been closed by checking again health of Queen Anne of Britain and Queen Maire-Louise of Spain. Dice rolls have determined that both are in good wealth condition, so that no diplomatic changes are expectable from Britain in the next week, and the Princess des Ursins is still enjoying a key role in the Spanish court -so that she still has some chance to change King Philip's stubborn mind on her own profit; for no doubt she's been tempted by the recent proposal of Eugene of Savoy at Rastatt, about a principality for her in Limburg in exchange for Catalan Liberties...

On the Catalan side, the turn is coming over with some additional good news: first of all, in Majorca island, Colonel Corradó has already completed conscription for a new Infantry Regiment, which has been put under protection of Our Lady of Lluc by being given Her name.

Besides, the enlistment posts set by some English prominent whig personalities at Rotterdam have already fructified in two complete new Infantry Regiments: the Irish IR12 Saint Patrick and the English IR13 Queen Catherine. A third regiment is still being built, mainly consisting of Scottish subjects. Once completed, it is expected to be given the name of IR14 Alban Legion.

Not the happiest days at Madrid currently, I'd say.

[Apologies for my long silence. I've been mad busy lately with a self-employment idea, as explained some days ago.]

Friday, April 15, 2011

Berwick's letter

Castellciutat fortress, 10th September 1713

-Please wait here -General Moragues said in surly tone.

Restless and fearful, the French soldier obeyed. He had no idea about the content of the message his own superior had entrusted him to carry to the Catalan fortress of Castellciutat. But after having delivered the message to General Moragues, his angry reaction made the poor man start fearing for his life.

Moragues called his officers around him. Still looking with suspicion at the French messenger, he reported:

-General Tserclaes de Tilly is acknowledging us he has assumed command of all French-native troops who were under service of the Spanish Army Group North so far, and asks on behalf of His Majesty King Louis XIV for our permission to cross these lands toward France.

Moragues officers frowned too. Their hostile glances converged on the French messenger, who paled.

-I can't believe him -one said.

-I'm persuaded this is just a trick. -another said -I guess their aim is to arrive here undisturbed, and then to put our fort under siege.

Then a garrison soldier broke suddenly into the room: -General, Sir! Sir, a messenger has just arrived from Barcelona. He's come galloping with a personal message from General Villarroel for you, Sir.

The man was then lead into the room. He was dirty like a fox and looked exhausted. Moragues promptly told him: -Take a breath and relax, boy. What news are you bringing?

Without a word, the soldier opened his bag and handed a letter to Moragues. It bore the Catalan Headquarters seal, a double-headed eagle holding Emperor Charles' Coat of Arms as King of Aragon. Moragues tore the envelope and eagerly began reading. As he did, his face started reflecting a growing surprise. After all, he informed his officers, in a genuine tone of perplexity:

-Our Barcelona HQ have sent us a letter handwritten and signed by Marshal Berwick. He is requesting permission to evacuate French troops at the Peninsula through roads currently controlled by us, and gives all kinds of guarantees that there will be no incidents during the evacuation. General Villarroel prays us to give them free rein to pass through our defences with no disturbance.

Deep silence.

-Apparently, it seems true after all -Moragues suddenly murmured. -Gentlemen, France is unwilling to keep waging war against us. They are leaving Catalonia.

A chaotic chorus of exclamations of joy seconded Moragues' words, who turned to an aide and said: -Please, get ensured these two men are having warm water, good food and wine -pointing at both messengers-. And a comfortable bed to rest.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Balaguer capitulation

Balaguer, 9th September 1713

After 5 complete weeks of siege, Balaguer town has surrendered to the Spanish forces under General Bracamonte's command. Despite the walls sorrounding the town had resisted quite well besiegers' bombardments so far, casualties, disease and desertion had reduced the local Coronela citizen militia to less than a shadow of its former strength. With the perspective of an enemy assault and plunder in sight at a very short term, the municipality authorities wisely decided to send a messenger in enemy lines, asking for capitulation terms.

General Bracamonte quickly understood he had to ease the town releasing, by refraining himself from imposing unacceptable conditions, so that he accepted to respect lives and properties. Hurried by the likely menace of a Catalan counter-attack lead by the fearsome Marquis de Poal, Bracamonte also conformed not to take any retaliation on the militia leaders or definitely disbanding the unit. Nevertheless, he required all weapons in town to be surrendered to him, as well as the Coronela battalion flags. In exchange, the municipality was granted the flags would not be taken away from Balaguer, but just guarded under arrest at his army headquarters.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

After battle

Vilafranca del Penedès, 8th September 1713

At yesterday's battle last stages, my gaming mate Jordi and I considered -and our friend Pere, who watched the battle all through, also agreed- , that according to the ruleset used (CF&EO) the Spanish second-in-command wouldn't have been able at first to realize what was happening to their own right wing, because he was leading the Spanish Horse regiments attempt to envelop the Catalans by the left. He wouldn't have any chance to until he was forced to ride back in pursue of some of his men -who fleed after being repulsed by a Mountain Fusiliers battalion entrenched in the stream riparian forest.

By then, deprived of orders from their already captured C-in-C, half the Spanish Infantry had become engaged in a ruthless series of musketry volleys against St. Narcissus and St. Eulàlia IRs. Put face to a larger enemy foot line, who also happened to be more effective thanks to their adopted English firing tactics, we thought it likely that colonels would have soon wisely started a slow retreat, still facing the enemy. This would have given the Second-in-command (an "ad-hoc" promoted officer, in fact) the chance to take the situation reigns and order a south-west withdrawal and by this to save the remnants of his Army.

Spanish artillerymen would have fleed southwards instead, following the road to Tarragona, therefore being easily chased by Nebot's horse troopers. In the meanwhile, the combined Hussars/Dragoons squadrons would have seriously harrassed the withdrawal of the Spanish rightmost foot batallion, thus killing or capturing some of them.

In the end, General Basset would have achieved the Catalan soundest victory so far, reporting some substantial captures: most significant, General Castillo marquis of Villadarias himself, an entire enemy battalion along with all their flags (4 out of Burgos IR's initial 7 figures), the equivalent of a company from Toledo IR 2nd battalion (that is, 1 miniature) and 2 complete artillery batteries. Catalan losses were neglectable (no one miniature at all).

Crushing victory

Vilafranca del Penedès, 8th September 1713

[I'd swear my overall strategy leading the Spanish Army wasn't that bad at all, and that no major tactic errors have occured in its development... Nevertheless, my army has been literally crushed by the Catalans lead by my gaming mate Jordi this morning. I'm still trying to digest it ;) ]

News just arrived in Barcelona from Vilafranca del Penedès town state that a crushing victory has been obtained this morning by the Catalan Army under brilliant command of General Basset, with the Spanish Army Group South complete defeat as a result. The Spanish Army, who were unaware of the reinforcements received by the Catalans during their march towards Vilafranca, have confidently deployed along the northernmost Foix river banks, with all their cavalry forming their left wing, while their right one was left to their artilleries. Between both wings, Carmona, Toledo (2 bat.) and Burgos regiments formed a loose line. Centre and right wing had been given orders to advance close to the enemy and hold the line afterwards, while left wing was given order to cross Llitrà stream and attack the enemy line from the flank. Well, the Catalans had deployed behind the stream, which is wide and deep enough to act as a trench, besides of having a riparian forest all along, so that he Spaniards could not see them.

The battlefield from the Catalan side. Vilafranca town at the left, and Llitrà stream running along Catalan line.

Spanish deployment, with C-in-C General Castillo at its very center.

Catalan response moves consist of advancing their own Horse units, under order of capturing the enemuy cannons and holding the road bridge.

Jordi at his role as General Basset.

Catalan combined hussards/dragoons squadrons deploy face to Burgos IR; behind them, General Nebot and his own Heavy Horse regiment.

Catalan charge "à l'outrance" routs the enemy infantry. The entire Spanish right is in danger.

The enemy is pushed to Foix river bank; as this feature is impassable and they're successfully pursued, they've got no other chance than surrendering... along with their flags and the Spanish C-in-C General Castillo!!

Meanwhile, both centres close to each other at musketry range and start delivering deadly volleys to each other.

After the loss of their C-in-C, the Spanish lines gradually starts disintegrating (view from the Catalan side)...
Quite a critical defeat for the Spanish side, that will result in serious political consequences!!

Friday, April 08, 2011

Re-inventing yourself

Quite a lot of days passed since my last post, I admit. My most sincere apologies to those readers who were following the dramatic birth story of my Imagi-Nation, as well as to my gaming mate Jordi and expectating proxy gamers for such a long silence. However, sometimes there comes a moment in everyone's life when you are suddenly put face to an unknown roads crossing and you must choose one way -you have no other choice. Listen, here at home I've been a computer programmer in a Savings Bank for nearly 25 years, and now I know that I won't keep any longer my job. Some of you perhaps have been lately aware on the international markets pressure over the Spanish government for overall banking and labour market reforms to be endeavoured. OK, my own regional Savings Bank is joining to another three regional Saving Banks to form one single Bank -with unified headquarters at Madrid. Computing services are to be outsourced, so that all people in the respective Computing departments are to lose our jobs. No more than 18 months until all our databases are transferred to the outsourcing company, and then it will be over.

At my current age, with half my life spent at the very same working place, extremely specialized at a computing mode only worth in banking systems (COBOL programming, yes old good COBOL!!), I know I'll be unable to find a similar job anymore. As a matter of fact, it's even highly unlikely that no one wills employing a 50-years-old man for anything... even less, if thinking of our 40% youth unemployment rate, or an overall 20% ratio!!

So that... I'm in the crossroads, and I've chosen the risky way. I'm planning to build a wargaming-related firm -sorry I cannot explain to you anything yet, I'm still in the process of checking its viability. After 20 years of wargaming as a hobby, what else might I enterprise with some of a decent mastering, a part of my COBOL and HP UNIX knowledge?

So that now you know why I've been somehow absent of this lovely community. I've been mad busy contacting sculptors, corporate image companies, concept artists, hobby shops and so...

Re-inventing yourself, I was told. I was compelled to once before, nearly 30 years ago, when after graduating in Biology had to spend a whole year fruitless seeking for a job as a Biologist... Fruitless, for there were no jobs for Biologists in Spain 30 years ago, so that I finally para-graduated in computer programming at Honeywell Bull Barcelona -and thanks to them I soon succeded in finding a job.

I had to re-invent myself once, so... let's try it again. Only that 30 years older.

Friday, April 01, 2011

King Philip gives up the crown

Madrid, 1st April 1714

According to still unverified news spread by a high rank Spanish officer captured yesterday near Guadalajara, Philip d'Anjou would have abandoned his Royal Palace at Madrid after having abdicated. Along with the remnants of his army, soundly defeated at Calatayud last week, the Bourbon claimant to the throne(s) of Spain would have hurriedly started a general withdrawal to the Portuguese border.

Rumours have arisen about a possible political asylum granted to Him by Portugal, with the only condition that the former Spanish king agreed to get exiled in Goa.

"A too tropical climate for a Bourbon king, I'm afraid" a British officer commented to General Nebot, "We're fairly persuaded His Former Majesty would greet a somewhat colder climate", he continued before ending with an enygmatic "Did you ever hear about Saint Helen island?".

[Happy Fool's Day to you all!]