Thursday, February 23, 2012

Urban fight AAR

Lleida, 2nd week of October 1713

News have just arrived from the civilian revolt in Lleida town burst a couple of weeks ago, just before the heavy rains episode [a game actually played today, under form of a fast & furious skirmish following Sacre Bleu! ruleset. Tabletop shows a somewhat chaotic collection of scenery pieces, this is due to I've had to gather all buildings I had in stock, with disregard of period and culture!]

At the image above, it can be seen the battlefield, the dense urban net of Lleida downtown laying between Seu Vella hill (background) and Segre river (foreground). North is at right, South at left. Control of the town is key to the Spanish supply line running along the Madrid-Barcelona road (Barcelona is on the viewer's side, let's say).

The big building at right is intended to be Paeria City Hall where insurgents have installed their headquarters. The Spanish starting points are two, the big church at left (representing the Seu Nova cathedral just built by Philip V) and the bridge over Segre river --where the road linking to Barcelona starts. There have been defined 4 target points, each one marked by a flying flag --2 Spanish, 2 Catalan. These represent both their respective starting areas and targets to be controlled by the enemy for winning the fight.

Picture above shows the Catalan deployment area as seen from Seu Vella hill, before their deployment: 17 peasants armed with a variety of weapons (muskets, pistols, swords) lead by a blunderbuss armed priest, and a squad of more disciplined militiamen, under command of a sergeant (7 men). A regular captain is in charge of the insurgent force.

And those are the starting points of the Spanish force, just after deployment. It consisted of 1 captain, 2 sergeants and 16 musketeers split in three separate groups: 5 men lead by a sergeant were defending the bridge barricade, 8 men and the second sergeant at left were the main shock force, while the captain followed by 3 men acted as a mobile reserve.

Things weren't that bad to the insurgents at first. They launched an offensive along the two main streets using two balanced groups of some 9-10 men each, leaving only a small detachment of militiamen behind. They not only managed to cross through he deadly fire from the bridge barricade, but inflicted some losses to its defenders and anihilated the Spanish reserve --including their captain!

After a dense exchange of musket fire however, their main column was contacted by the enemy. The following hand-to-hand fight was fatal to the insurgents, in spite of the highly skilled at sword girl with them, or the dreadful blunderbuss of the priest. That was the battle turning point.

Sensing they had lost any chances of winning by attacking, the Catalan captain ordered withdrawal of the other peasant column, who were sent to defensive positions under command of the sergeant, while the militia took their positions. The group defeated at hand-to-hand combat also withdrew, and then the Spaniards counter-attacked.

They didn't counter-charge at first though, but engaged the Catalans instead in a series of deadly volleys, until one of their defence lines went weak enough --the rightmost one in the picture. And then, yes they charged by the bayonet!

The Catalan sergeant gallantly standing the charge --and dying.

At this point, it became clear that the rebellion had failed to control Lleida downtown, they were far from anihilated but had been confined to the Paeria City Hall whereabouts. So that we've declared game over, assigning victory to the Spanish side --albeit by so narrow a margin that it couldn't be considered a decisive one. How will the Spaniards do to smash their remnants during the current turn? Can they, actually?


tidders said...

great little skirmish game - nice report

-- Allan

Archduke Piccolo said...

These small actions - especially in an urban setting - can have a brisk ferocity all of their own, can't they?

Nice layout, too. Interesting buildings.

Soldadets said...

As you said Ion, such kind of settings are so ferocious that you must unavoidably abstract tabletop fighting results, and figure yourself thse are merely symbolic of the 'actual' fighting we were trying to represent.

In the 'real' campaign, the garrison was formed by a full infantry battalion, while the armed insurgents were a similar number.

After the tabletop gaming results, we have supposed the global battle result to have been a costly, non-decisive garrison victory.

By this, insurgents have been kept at bay and confined to the neighbourhood the closer to Paeria City Hall after an extremely bloody street fight, with 30% casualties on the peasant side and 10% on the Spaniards' one.

Lleida city keeps being controlled by its Spanish garrison, and therefore the Spanish army supply lines are still intact --but there still exists an open rebellion focus.

Quite a complicated situation, don't you believe?

Soldadets said...

About buildings...

My apologies for such a chaotic layout, sincerely.

I've had no other chance than mixing my collection of 'pessebre' Catalan traditional Nativity buildings (those so evidently made of cork sheets) up with some WWII Eastern Front russian farms, as well as those other explicitly build for my Imagi-Nation's eventual layouts (such as the Roman-Gothic transitional church where the Spanish starting positions were located, or the still unfinished late-Gothic palace representing the City Hall itself).

Time to come, my specifically Imagi-National layout will grow enough not to need such odd mixtures :S

Mosqueter Vidal said...

Hello, Lluís.
I have two brief notes for you:
-First. The Paeria Palace (Lleida's city hall) is placed at the left from the bridge.
-Second. The church, placed at the left from the bridge, may be Saint Lawrence's Parish. New cathedral's construction began in 1760, aprox.
After all, these geographic mistakes not change skirmish's aftermath.
Don't worry, I was born in Lleida... ;-)

Soldadets said...

I was fully aware of both features, Mosqueter Vidal. After much seeking historical maps of Lleida town between 1707 and 1814, in the end I had to give up historical accuracy in favour of playability. Terrain features were re-arranged in a non-real way, in order to avoid the insurgents starting with the enemy at both sides.