Monday, January 21, 2013

Standing against the odds

Prades Range, 30th November 1713

Current weekly turn had resulted in only one fighting, quite a small one taking place behind the Spanish lines. The Catalan Saint Eulàlia regiment of the Line had sought refuge in Prades Range after the defeat of Montblanc. Isolated from the rest of the Catalan Army, they foraged in the mountains for a while and tried not to attract the enemy attention until new orders or some relief arrived. However, the Spanish HQ had got increasingly concerned by the presence of a full enemy battalion after their main lines, so that soon two full regiments were dispatched to Prades mountains to drive the Catalans out.

This way, on November 30th two Dragoons squadrons and a battalion of botifler Miquelets spotted Saint Eulalia men and converged upon them from two different directions. The Catalans had no other choice than fighting for their lives, so the regiment formed in two-companies' ranks and waited.

Not surprisingly, the Dragoons arrived first. Both Squadrons deployed side by side, and started advancing, one to the left, the other to the right. They were reasonably confident that the Catalans would move only cautiously, for fear to be taken from the flank by the Miquelets.

Contrarily to Spanish expectations, the Catalan capable Colonel ordered his regiment to march toward the enemy at full speed and engage them, leaving only a couple of companies in reserve for if the Miquelets.

The Spanish right wing commander chose to make his troopers dismount and stand --and this proved to be a fatal error. After a first devastating volley from close range, that whole Spanish wing weavered and started breaking into pieces. Although a little late, the Miquelets finally entered the battlefield, but the Catalan commander had chosen a favourable terrain, so that their movement got severely hampered by woods and hilly ground, thus making it impossible to get the Catalans by surprise.

Even when the miquelets were able to introduce the first companies in the battlefield, the Catalan first line had already taken the field and formed face to them --with their reserve companies rapidly coming in aid. On his side, the Spanish left Squadron had performed better and were about to take the opposing foot line by two sides. But they soon realized they wouldn't be able to turn the odds alone and spared themselves the risks of a perhaps successful but hardly useful charge.

Happy enough to have survived the engagement, the Catalans didn't push anymore and allowed the enemy to disengage. The day ended with an unexpected draw.

3 comments:

Archduke Piccolo said...

A stirring little action in a backwater of the campaign. It seems elsewhere that the Catalans were never able to get in a one-two strike that I suggested some time ago might have been feasible.

Spanish too quick, or the Catalans not quick enough... or just not possible?
Cheers,\
Ion

Soldadets said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Soldadets said...

Our what-if campaign has allowed the Catalan command to deploy all around the countryside fast enough to fill most of the gaps left by the Imperial retreat --unlike real History.

In real History, the Catalan command chose to entrench most of its Line Regiments behind the walls of Barcelona.

This was partially due to the Catalan strategical option for resisting inside the City, while Imperial and Catalan legates explored to exhaustion a honourable solution in the time lapse between Utrecht and Rastatt --a not so unlikely solution, as recent Historical and Documentary research has demonstrated.

But it was also due to the well coordinated Spanish plan of occupation, that prevented the Catalans to deploy in the strongholds left behind by the Imperials.

However, unlike commonly believed (thanks to the data obscuring task intensely performed by Spanish authorities after victory), there were several ranged albeit small battles in the countryside, involving up to 3,000 men per side. Those rare times the Catalans managed to involve not only Mountain Fusiliers and peasant militiae, but some contingents of Line Infantry and Cavalry too, they prevailed and mastered the battlefield. In this respect, our what-if small fighting is not that far from historical chances.