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.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Death on Sea

Bay of Biscay, 29th November 1713

It had happened a couple of times last week, before arriving to this point: a small two-masted ship flying an unknown ensign sailed surreptitiously from Bayonne and tried to delve onto the Bay of Biscay waters avoiding the fierce vigilance of Spanish warships –in alert following some confidential informations from Paris.

Every time, the brigantine had been discovered halfway from Fisterra, and then she had hurriedly fleed back to Bayonne with the ships of His Majesty closely pursuing her. And every time again, she had always managed to escape, forcing the way at gunpoint if needed. So far.

So far, but no longer. For this time he, Captain Menéndez in El Ferrol Fleet of His Majesty Philip V, had been smarter than the escapee brigantine crewmen, had blocked their wind and delivered to them a deadly full volley at close range. Now the ship was dying in flames while his own crew hanged all around in boats, seeking survivors.

Well, in fact they were seeking just one survivor, no more. A part from her, all the rest of eventual castaways were neglectable. Captain Menéndez thoughts were suddenly interrupted by loud voices: --Captain Sir! Here, Sir! We've found her!

--Is she alive? --the captain asked.

--By no means, Captain Sir! ...Damned if anybody could survive to this... --the sailor answered, looking at the pityful, horribly mutilated remains of who had been undoubtedly a young noblewoman. The broken corpse rocked shapelessly in the waves, so disgusting at the sight that no one had yet dared to hoist her aboard.