Friday, May 24, 2013

Battle in the snow (2)

El Bruc, 8th December 1713

A few minutes before, the relentless artillery bombardment ordered by Marquis of Aitona had finally opened the first breach in Catalan trenches. And now, a sudden series of explosions in the enemy right wing hills indicated that one of the two Catalan light batteries had been blown into pieces.

--Gentlemen, let's start the assault! --The Marquis then triumphantly told to his officers.

Short time later, all three Spanish brigades began moving. The Marquis of Aitona himself commanded the right wing, consisting of two battalions of the Reales Guardias Españolas (Foot Guards), followed by the McAuliff Irishmen and supported by two squadrons of the Reales Guardias a Caballo (Horse Guards). Meanwhile, the artillery continued to methodically tamp the Catalan defenses, thus opening a second breach --at the sector defended by the Fiona McGregor's girls, to be precise.

When they had already advanced half the distance, a full regiment of Miquelets suddenly appeared from their hiding place behind a hill, to the Spanish right flank. "Now I understand why these bastards showed so few forces at this flank!" --the Marquis muttered angrily. Indeed, the Catalans had kept visible there only two small contingents of miquelets and volunteers so far. This new regiment was posing a serious threat to their whole right flank. The reneging Marquis then ordered the Horse Guards to dislodge that newly arrived enemy, while his foremost Foot battalions maneuvered for facing the rest of Catalan forces in the hills, who encouraged by the Miquelets had also begun to move. Such orders would unavoidably delay the final assault, but he could not risk a flank attack capable of ruining his battle plan.

The Marquis also realized that their own siege guns were now in silence. "But, why aren't they shooting? What is doing this Torremayor plodder, why isn't he ordering new targets?" --Having achieved their starting targets, the Spanish batteries were patiently awaiting for new orders to be delivered. For some unknown reason, General Torremayor was apparently absent.

Deployed on the ridge top, the Miquelets were in a privileged position with regard to the Spanish Horse Guards, who had to move uphill for reaching to them. Indeed, when the first squadron closed up enough for starting a charge, it was stopped short by a deadly musket volley making them to fall back in disorder. This circumstance however allowed the second squadron to charge in turn. The mounted impact was devastating, and the Miquelets broke ranks closely pursued by the Horse Guards, who caused a horrible carnage amongst them. Unfortunately, by pursuing the enemy they lost contact with the main army [and left the table].

The hills completely fell into Spanish hands after a regiment of Dragoons arose from behind the Catalan flank, sweeping in a few minutes the amalgamated fusiliers force defending the area. That sector of the battle was virtually won. Nevertheless, the starting plan timing had been delayed significantly, so that the weak sun of December had already begun its descent toward the horizon.

Marquis of Aitona was still striving for his brigade to resume the appropriate direction and alignment, when he realized that, in the distance, the Spanish left flank had also stopped and maneuvered sideways. "Hum, General Bracamonte likely wants to conquer the enemy artillery hill" --he thought at first. But then, next to the destroyed enemy batteries, he also perceived on top of the hill an enemy Horse regiment fully deployed and prepared to charge downhill. "Hussars? What the Hell are those Hussars doing up there?"


Phil said...

Great report, pictures are very nice, and the map too!

Elizabeth J. Neal said...
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