Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Battle of Vilafranca OOBs

Finally I've had a little spare time to prepare the OOBs for the upcoming battle of Vilafranca, produced as a result of an unexpected advance of a Spanish army from Tarragona along the road leading to Barcelona city. On their way, they've met a larger than expected Catalan force in the nearby of Vilafranca town. Penedès county is a large plain, intensely cultivated --mainly vineyards, along with peach and cherry trees on higher ground. Terrain prominent features are to be scarce: a small river (Foix r.) runs across the Spanish deployment area, while a parallel stream crosses the Catalan line. Both have some riparian forest along. A steep hill lies behind the Catalan right flank, and little else.

C-in-C: General Castillo (+0)
Dragoons Regiment IV
Dragoons Regiment V
Burgos IR (1 battalion)
Toledo IR 1st battalion
Toledo IR 2nd battalion
Carmona IR (1 battalion)
Light Battery
Field Battery
trained/conscript
trained/conscript
trained
trained
trained
trained
trained
trained
50% strong
5/6 strong
7/9 strong
5/9 strong
6/9 strong
8/9 strong
100% strong
100% strong

C-in-C: General Basset (+1)
Cav. General Nebot (+0)
Nebot's Cavalry
Moragues' Dragoons
Badia's Volunteer Sqdn.
Hussars Squadron
St. Narcissus IR
St. Eulàlia IR
Molins' Mountain Fusiliers
St. Vincent F. Mtn. Fusiliers
Sometent of Vilafranca
Light Battery
veteran
trained/conscript
regular militia (=conscript?)
trained
veteran
trained
trained
trained
irregular militia
trained
100% strong
3/6 strong
1/6 strong
2/6 strong
100% strong
100% strong
100% strong
8/9 strong
100% strong
100% strong

Saturday, March 26, 2011

New promotions

Barcelona, 7th September 1713

The Catalan Army Headquarters have just published a decree acknowledging the acceptance of General Josep Moragues offer for leading the Dragoons Regiment No. 4 as Colonel & Owner; and thereafter paying for those supplies and salaries due to that glorious Horse unit, most sadly deprived from their former Colonel Pere de Brichfeus who died in battle -God rest his soul. All current officers and NCOs in the Regiment have been confirmed by General Moragues.

A second decree issued on this same day consists of a listing of commissions affecting several units in the Army and Sea Fusiliers (=Marines) Corps; most outstanding among these, some Lieutenant Colonel promotions that were still pending: Domènec Monistrol in MFR2 Torres', Josep Ortiz in MFR5 St. Vincent Ferrer, Manuel Silvestre in MFR6 Muñoz's, Francesc Puig i Sorribes in MFR11 Town of Berga, and Pau de Thoar in SFR1 Our Lady of Carme.

[Some delay in resolution of this 8th turn is expectable, due to we shall not be able to game the battle of Vilafranca until next April 8-9 weekend; in the meanwhile, allow us to set up-to-date some pending administrative issues, such this one above; or to acknowledge you about events related to our main characters -as it will be read soon]

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Blocked

Tarragona countryside, 6th September 1713

After their successful escape from Miravet castle, the rescue team lead by Barceló along with the released Aragonese troopers headed to Tarragona city. Once there, however, they found that instead of a single battalion, now a complete Two Crowns army was surrounding the city. All accesses into Tarragona were now much better monitored, so that they would have no chance to pass unnoticed.

Discouraged, the group retreated back a few miles and sought refuge in a deserted masia farmhouse, not far from Reus town, that would be a good hiding place where they could go unnoticed while the wounded got recovered. In case they were detected, the old building stone walls would make a good defense. Once installed, they quickly organized a few foraging teams, while Canals was dispatched to discretely slip into the streets of the neighboring town of Reus, with the aim of collecting as many pieces of information as possible to help them make a decision.

Canals came back two days later: -Bad news, guys. Spaniards are pressing the Austrian garrison to evacuate Tarragona at the shortest term. Eventually, they've taken over all gates and accesses, placing check points from which they're throroughly checking every trader and peasant getting in and out of town.

-They're in some kind of hurry, then. I bet that Two Crowns' troops will be entering in the city and taking full control over it, even before Imperials can start embarking -Barceló answered thoughtfully.

-However, there might be still a chance for us -Canals replied-. I've been told that Imperials are deliberately extending their stay to allow time for a delayed regiment to arrive in town...

Lanuza then asked: -Are they Bagni regiment? -Canals nodded, so that Lanuza quietly continued: -That makes sense, because they were scattered in the Pyrenees valleys. It would be hard for the Colonel to gather all them at a single place in a short time...

-They are now close to Panadella Heights. They might arrive in here in about 8-10 days, I guess.

-Then let's wait here for them. It might be not so difficult to get intermixed in their ranks and pass through Spanish checkpoints unnoticed, if their Colonel does agree... -Lanuza concluded.

Old Albesa said nothing to this, but his face openly broke into a grimace. He addressed a significant glance at Barceló, who understood and nodded.

[Although strictly following The Rescue RPG storyboard, this scene has not been roleplayed, actually. Situation and actions were discussed by the Game master and players during an Internet chat]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

A last chance for offensive

Spanish HQ at Lleida, 6th September 1713

After the announcement of Marshal Berwick about re-taking control over the French regiments ceded to Spain, Duke of Popoli's headquarters leeway had become dangerously narrow. Although the French wouldn't take over all their regiments at once but according to a progressive plan instead, the Spaniards had been warned not to compromise in offensive operations any of thir remaining French units. This had left Duke of Popoli with almost half the forces initially at his disposal, losing any chance of keeping any more the offensive. He had no other chance that waiting for reinforcements to arrive from Spain, giving the least possible ground in the meanwhile.

Rather coolly, Duke of Popoli realized the tide was about to turn and prepared his forces for assuming a defending role, issuing the necessary orders to give back the minimum ground to the likely more aggressive Catalan columns. By the North, siege operations on Balaguer increased intensity with the purpose to subdue the rebel city before they might be relieved by Marquis de Poal forces. In order to prevent an eventual lightning advance of that daring Catalan commander, Duke of Popoli ordered an interposition force to be placed a couple of leagues ahead of the siege cordon, consisting of two Foot battalions (one of them, French) and two Dragoons regiments. He was confident that Balaguer would fall into Spanish hands before that line defence was probed by the Catalan, however.

General Vallejo felt himself in a not that uncomfortable situation with his 4 Infantry battalions, 2 regiments of Cavalry and 1 of Dragoons in higher ground at Panadella plains, so that he decided to keep positions, wait and see. True that most of the infantry under his command were French, but if he wisely managed to keep a defensive attitude, Berwick would show no inconvenience at allowing him using French troops to repulse any eventual Catalan attack on that front.

Cunningly, General Areizaga left all his French regiments in front of Tarragona city, while daringly launching an offensive with all his Spanish troops against the neighbouring town of Vilafranca, where an army had begun gathering. That was likely their last oportunity to keep some offensive chances before winter fell upon them, so that he made the bid. However, he couldn't know the Catalan headquarters had just ordered that position to be reinforced and put under command of dreadful General Basset, who was already waiting for them...

A major clash in the plentiful vineyards of Penedès County was about to happen.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Probing

First line, 6th September 1713

While the messenger dispatched by General Villarroel was furiously riding towards the hidden valleys of Pyrenees range, the various Catalan field commanders began movements of their own, without statically waiting for orders from Barcelona. Agility was a key factor in their desperate battle against a so overhelmingly superior enemy, and those sagacious men wouldn't waste the slightest opportunity to hamper Philip V's men.

This way, as soon as Marquis de Poal learned that the Spanish Army Group North had withdrawn a considerable amount of forces to reinforce the siege of Balaguer, he gathered most of the garrison troops in Cardona castle and advanced to meet the Two Crowns troops left at the crossroads of Ponts, in an audacious probing manoeuvre. In a similar way, after noticing that the Spanish Army Group Center had also refused contact and retreated slightly, General Bellver reduced the forces under his command, sending IR 5 Santa Eulàlia in Vilafranca town.

Their arrival in Vilafranca coincided with that one of General Basset, who then dispatched CR 2 Saint George towards the neighboring seaport of Vilanova, under command of General De Ramon. Both Vilafranca and Vilanova municipalities expressed their commitment to the cause of Emperor Charles and mobilized their respective sometent local militiae, setting them at the disposal of Catalan generals. Now they were finally able to establish a solid line of defense before Barcelona, and Basset committed himself to the job of fortifying some picked places with unparalleled efficiency.

Finally, General Manuel Desvalls dispatched from their rear positions in Manresa city an Infantry battalion and a regiment of dragoons to Cardona, with the aim to strengthen the first line hold by his brother, Marquis de Poal.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Military Deputy is back

Barcelona, 5th September 1713

General Villarroel, commander in chief of the Catalan Army, had been recently acknowledged about the imminent arrival of the column lead by the Military Deputy, who had suffered a severe defeat at Tivissa about one month ago. However, when he left the map room some later, an unusual smile was drawn on his face. He had been thinking of a way to prevent General Basset from staying at Barcelona when the Military Deputy came into the city –for the impetuous Valencian commander, who had expressed bitter criticisms at the Military Deputy performance, risked to provoke an altercation if meeting the politician. The Spanish surprising withdrawal of their closest to Barcelona column back to Tarragona had given General Villarroel an unexpected chance to avoid this to happen.

When he met a couple of members of the Added Officers Company, he told to one of them: -Send a meesenger to the Military Deputy, asking him to lead his men in to Montjuïc castle. I'll be meeting him in a short while.

And then to the other one: -Search for General Basset, please. I want him at the Military Academy right now.

When General Villarroel finally arrived in the Military Academy, there was a high expectation all around the rooms –for a General Headquarters meeting wasn't that usual there. The engineers still attending the Academy had been thoroughly employed in improving the city walls and bastions so far, because this one had been considered as a highest priority mission; therefore, many of them paled when General Villarroel started his speech with these words:

-Gentlemen, we should discard any possibility of relieving Tarragona by now. We'll have to establish a different defence line, at a closer to Barcelona point. The enemy must not keep their progression beyond Penedès Plains. It must be built a fortress there, one allowing us to control the main road. A fortress capable of being supplied from sea.

-This must be a priority to all us. General Basset, you are in charge of the Artillery & Engineers Corps. Take the best men and resources you need and head for Vilafranca town with no delay.

General Basset was so astonished than his face showed an odd rictus. For an instant, it seemed he would object the decision. However, that was an order and he was a soldier, so he shut up and assented.

-It would be needed large calibre cannons... -one of the engineers started.

-We'll be getting them from here and there, if necessary. There isn't ever a second to lose.

Then a messenger came in the room: -It has arrived a courier from Perpignan, Sire. He's bringing a message for you from Duke of Berwick.

Expectation arose exponentially among the attendees. General Villarroel read the mesage several times before standing in silence for a while. With a wide smile on face again, he then told to the messenger: -This letter must be delivered to General Moragues in Castellciutat fortress. As soon as possible. Hurry up!

Saturday, March 12, 2011

A new week

Barcelona, 4th September 1713

The week couldn't start with better news for the Catalans. On Monday's evening, the small squadron formed by the "Santa Eulàlia" warship and the "Sant Elm" felucca entered in harbour carrying a small Spanish galley captured some hours before close to Tarragona shores --a bergantin class one, of those with one single mast and some 10-12 oars each side. This capture provoked an unexpected problem to the Catalan authorities, for such kind of galleys were manned by the fighting crew themselves. As all of that particular galley crew were Spanish soldiers, some 30 men who were accordingly imprisoned at Montjuïc castle, Barcelona authorities had no replacement crews at hand for the ship, so they had no other choice than keeping it anchored in port until a solution was found.

The day before, a xebec flying Catalan flag hurriedly sought refuge in Sant Feliu de Guíxols harbour. It happened to be "Estel" --the ship used by the Marquis de Vilana diplomat retinue in Monte-Cristo. At their return back home, they had been fruitlessly pursued by a big Spanish galley. The xebec captain had managed to dodge the enemy ship and bow her to a friendly port. However, some confusion arose after it was known that Marquis de Vilana himself was not in the ship --but he had secretly stood in Monte-Cristo instead...

As for military operations, it had become clear that the Spanish Army wouldn't be in the best shape to keep their offensive for a long while, due to some evident kind of disagreement with their French allies; therefore, a growing degree of optimism soon spread among the population. The only remaining causes of concern among the Catalan Headquarters were now the fate of Balaguer city --whose defenders were close to exhaustion-- and the provisions for a garrison relief at Tarragona --where the Imperial troops currently holding the town were about to be withdran in Naples. When this happened, Spanish troops would take control of the city --such eventuality would mean that the Spanish fleet would have available the largest port in the Principality south of Barcelona. A so advanced navy post had the Catalan headquarters heavily worried, because they feared an eventual supremacy of the Spanish Armada in the Balearic Sea.

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

The Brigade

Sutton, 3rd September 1713

The carriage had got along the paved road faster than recommendable, as if horses were about to runaway --but the man in the cabin barely noticed it, deeply absorbed as he was. Lord Pau Ignasi de Dalmases, Catalan Ambassador to London, was worried and depressed by the disturbing news he had just been delivered a few hours ago. According to an anonymous albeit well-informed reporter, King Philip V had started gathering his Army of Flanders in Dunkirk, with the purpose of repatriating it all in Spain. If such news were fatally confirmed, this would mean that not less than 18 regiments of Infantry, a still loose number of horse squadrons and the dreadful Walloon Guards might be freely used elsewhere --and unfortunately, "elsewhere" could only mean "Catalonia" in King Philip's mind...

Almost unnoticed to Lord Dalmases, the carriage stopped in front of a stately tavern, while the western sky started turning into fading crimson shades. They had arrived to The Silent Wolf tavern in Sutton by sunset, as agreed. Dalmases had been discretely summoned at that place by Sir Mitford Crowe, during a short conversation held the day before in a small property belonging to Lady Margaret Villiers. Intrigued by the secrecy around this meeting, Dalmases hurried to enter the tavern and take a look around. He could see Crowe sitting at a table discretely away, along with two men else: one of them was clad in a military uniform, while the other one was a quite younger man dressed in civilian clothes, although showing a conspicuously martial appearance too. Crowe recognized Dalmases instantly and invited him to join them.

Once the Catalan Ambassador had comfortably sit down, Sir Mitford Crowe saved any preliminaries and logged on straightly, as usual in him: -Milord, as you can easily imagine, the fraternity we share (the Whig Party, he means) inspires us to step beyond the treaties and obligations signed by our Sovereign, God bless Her. According to our own interpretation, the Treaty of Genoa I signed with your representatives on Her behalf still remains in force, even though circumstances are preventing Government to keep enforcing it. Therefore, a few men of honor in our fraternity have agreed gathering the amount of 10,000 pounds sterling, which should be enough to build a few regiments and provide for their subsistance for a whole year, even longer.

-I am aware that finance is not the only issue your Principality is facing, but also manpower -he continued-. Therefore, I guess you'd like to learn that in Netherlands a good number of British veterans would happily volunteer to join such regiments...

-That's very good news indeed -Dalmases quickly answered- but then, who would agree being committed for leading such brigade?

-You have them in front of you, Milord. Let me introduce you Colonel Keating, who is just arrived from Holland, and young Sir James Spencer, both of whom are anxiously willing to accept the commission. They will best inform you about the possibilities of recruiting some British regiments in the Netherlands and send them in Majorca island within a period not too long.

-As a matter of fact, Sirs -it was Keating who spoke now- I'd like to acknowledge you that we are in process of forming not two, but three complete regiments. The officers payrolls of two of them are about to be fulfilled.



Monday, March 07, 2011

What are we talking about?

We've been for several months showing you the development of our gaming campaign and posting one message after another letting you know about the moves of this column or that other as if everyone knew or was to easily imagine what forces are actually involved in this campaign; in spite of the fact that the hexed maps we were showing you in those messages didn't offer to you much else than isolated or piled up counters. So, I've suddenly discovered myself internally asking if any reader could actually understand what we've been talking about --in gaming terms, I mean.

This message is aimed to try and help you have an idea about the real dimension of the epic struggle we are re-playing --as well as the huge responsibility on our Catalan/Galatan player's shoulders! In order to help you get such general idea more easily, I've chosen to list our respective OrBats with relation to the map above, whose key symbols are:
  • Red "A": Principality of Catalonia, nuclear core of our Imagi-Nation --where the main part of drama is being played --"the battlefield", let's say.
  • Blue "B" & "C": Viceroyalties of Majorca and Sardinia, war-free so far, thanks to the Two Crowns' dramatic lack of naval forces. "Galatan rearguard", we might say.
  • Green "D" & "E": Former kingdoms of Aragon and Valencia, once belonging to the Galatan Commonwealth but now (1713) annexated to the Kingdom of Castile.
  • Yellow "F" & "G": Two Crowns' own areas. "Their rearguard", let's agree.
"A" - The defending force consists of 9 battalions of Line Infantry, 9 of Mountain Fusiliers, 4 regiments of Dragoons and 2 of Cavalry, besides of 11 battalions of citizen militia and a handful of volunteer units --mostly company-sized. The Spanish force under Duke of Popoli's command consists of 25 battalions of Line Infantry (13 of which, French), 1 of Mountain Fusiliers, 5 regiments of Dragoons and 3 of Cavalry. On their side, French forces directly controlled by Duke of Berwick are 7 battalions of Line Infantry and 3 regiments of Dragoons. Not to talk about artilleries --about a dozen batteries each Nation; light, medium and heavy.

"B" - The defending force is still being built. There is one Line Infantry battalion and one "Marines" battalion, both at different stages of conscription process. Oh, and one battery already completed and deployed.

"C" - Defence being built too. A Line Infantry battalion is already garrisoning the island, while a second "Marines" battalion is being formed. And another battery else.

"D" - The attacker is keeping here an occupation force of 12 Infantry battalions, besides of a still unknown number of Horse units. Not under Duke of Popoli's command yet.

"E" - Two Infantry battalions and a still unknown number of Horse units are garrisoning this area. Under terms of the Utrecht Treaty, 11 supplementary Infantry battalions have just been disembarked from Sicily --with a more than likely new destination...

"F" - Duke of Berwick holds a supplementary force close to the border, consisting of 6 Infantry battalions, 1 of Mountain Fusiliers and 2 Dragoons regiments, besides of a handful of batteries. Happily inactive, I'd say.

"G" - The rest of the Spanish Army consists of 48 battalions of Line Infantry scattered all along the Peninsula and a still unknown number of units of other types, besides of the dreadful Spanish Guards (3 battalions, 2 of which are already on their way to Catalonia).

Out of map - Spain still holds 18 Infantry battalions in Flanders and 2 in Lombardy, all of which are to be withdrawn before year's end, according to the Utrecht Treaty terms. Oh, not to say about the Walloon Guards, numbering two or three battalions else. On their side, French forces in France, Flanders, Italy and Rhineland might be close to 100 Infantry battalions (easy to understand how desperately are Galatans seeking a separate peace with King Louis, then!!)

Although not scientifically accurate, global forces balance and OOBs are intended to be quite approximate to "the real thing". As for the Catalan and Spanish ones, we're trying them to be the closest possible to History, in general terms. I must admit that, after all this work, I'm every day more amazed at wondering how did our grand-grand-grandfathers do to resist a so huge tide for over 14 months!

Tuesday, March 01, 2011

Sea Fusiliers Corps

Barcelona, 2nd September 1713

It has been published an Army Headquarters decree ratified by the General Deputation, approving the creation of a new Military Corps under superior command of General Francisco Prado. That new Corps is to be known thereafter as Sea Fusiliers Corps and shall belong to the Navy –although sharing internal structure & organization with Line Infantry. Their uniform shall always be red, and their King's Colours are to be white as for Infantry, albeit with the image of Our Lady of Carme on their obverse instead of that of Our Lady of Conception.

It has also been approved the formation of the 1st Sea Fusiliers Regiment, wearing the name of Our Lady of Carme and under funding of the Traders Guild of Alghero town. It will show sky blue distinctions, and General Prado himself is appointed as its Field Colonel.

It has been published too an agreement for the formation of the 11th Line Infantry Regiment from the local militia of Cardona town. It will be known as Saint Raymond Nonnatus and is to be funded by the Duchy of Cardona treasury –currently administered by the General Deputation. The new regiment will show red orange distinctions. Sir Josep Galceran de Pinós i Rocabertí, marquis of Barberà, is appointed as its Field Colonel with assistance of Sir Ermenter Tarroja as Lieutenant Colonel.

Moreover, it has been approved the formation of three new Mountain Fusiliers Regiments from the respective local militiae. These will be MFR 9 County of Urgell under command of Colonel Francesc Carreu; MFR 10 County of Cerdanya under command of Colonel Joan de Llinàs; and MFR 11 Town of Berga under command of Colonel Joan B. Cortada.

In order to fill the vacancy left by Sir Joan Llinàs at IR 7 Saint Narcissus, it has been promoted Sir Johannes Wahrelst as the new Lieutenant Colonel of that regiment.

Besides, volunteers are asked for promotion to Lieutenant Colonel of the following units: SFR 1, and MFR 2, 5, 6, 7, 9, 10 & 11. Finally, it has also been asked for individuals or Institutions willing to volunteer for providing the necessary funds for the maintenance of DR 4 in replacement of its former Colonel Owner, Sir Pere de Brichfeus, who was sadly died while leading a brave charge against the enemy at Piera Plains.