Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Tarragona Campaign Summary

Strategic Map for the Tarragona Campaign


This campaign is part of the larger 1813 Campaign. It covers the period 14 May to 7 June 1813 and the fighting in eastern Spain between Fourth French Army and the Spanish. It has been done as a separate blog in order to keep all of the relevant reports together and to avoid making the main campaign blog too long and complicated.

If you want to read about the main campaign it can be found at:

Summary of the Campaign

Wellington is commander in chief of the British, Portuguese and Spanish armies. He has concentrated the British and Portuguese army at Salamanca, ready for the main effort against Burgos to clear the French from all of Spain.

He is anxious that the Marshal Suchet in eastern Spain should not send support to Marshal Soult at Burgos, and to this end has tasked the Spanish armies in eastern Spain to create a diversion to occupy Suchet.

The French occupy the coastal area from the French border to Barcelona to Tarragona.
Captain-General Copons commands all Spanish troops in eastern Spain. He orders the occupation of Lerida to draw French troops into the mountains west of the coast. Whilst they are so engaged, he moves to take Tarragona.

The French garrison deploy at Rues to protect the city and their lines of supply to Barcelona. The French hold Rues, but are unable to defeat the two Spanish armies and retire into Tarragona.

Having entered Lerida to the west, the French become aware of the threat to Tarragona and immediately march through the mountains to raise the siege. The Spanish attempt to stop them at Prades but are defeated and the siege of Tarragona raised.

By now all three French corps are concentrated near Tarragona, and Suchet is determined to destroy the Spanish. His first attempt is at Cambrils, where he attempts to stop them from retreating south to the safety of the river Ebro. He fails, but he cuts off half of the Spanish army.

He allows the Spanish to unite in order to defeat the entire army and this results in the second battle of Cambrils. The French win an inconclusive victory, but the Spanish are allowed to retire behind the river Ebro.

By now there is considerable disruption to the French lines of communication back to France, and Suchet has to take one corps back to Barcelona to reopen them.

The Spanish are quick to take advantage, and again move west of the river Ebro.

At the end of the campaign the French still hold Barcelona, Lerida and Tarragona. However the Spanish have isolated all three centres and disrupt all communications between them.

Captain-General Cupons has achieved his campaign objective of preventing Marshal Suchet from sending any support to Marshal Soult at Burgos. And at the end of the campaign the Spanish occupy more ground than at the start.

Thursday, 6 August 2009

Second Battle of Cambrils - 28 May 1813

Tactical Map 26 May 1813

Cambrils is a small village on the military road from Tortosa to Tarragona. It is the most direct road from Reus to the river Ebro at Vandellos.

Captain-General Copons has concentrated his four armies at Cambrils in an attempt to destroy the isolated 4th French corps. Having failed to do so he is now intending to retreat to Vandellos and recross the river Ebro.

Marchal Suchet had gathered his three corps at Reus and is determined to engage and destroy the Spanish armies before they can recross the river Ebro.


Photo 1 - table at start of game – Spanish left and French right

Top is road to Prades

Left is road to Vandellos

Right is road to Reus

Map squares

E10, F10, G10

E11, F11, G11

E12, F12, G12

Spanish must hold for 12 moves (one day) to allow 3rd Army to arrive

French must destroy Spanish before they can retreat to Vandellos

3rd Spanish army arrives top left of photo move one in column of march

Photo 2 – Spanish left

2nd Spanish army started the battle deployed around the village which was the Spanish left, one brigade is in the village (buildings have been removed). 3rd Army is arriving on the road nearest the camera, with orders to move to Cambrils

Photo 3 – Spanish centre

1st Army hold Cambrils and have deployed in front to protect the Vandellos road on which they intend to retreat at nightfall.

Photo 4 – Spanish right

4th Army are deployed behind the village to hold the right flank. The light infantry are holding the village and are under attack from the French, so the village buildings have been removed to allow the fight to be resolved.

Photo 5 – French left

5th corps approach infantry are about to assault the village (buildings have been removed), more infantry is moving to the left to engage the square, cavalry and one infantry brigade in reserve.

Photo 6 – French centre

15th Polish corps have the most difficult task, because all of the Spanish artillery are in position to cover any approach to Cambrils. The Poles deploy outside of artillery range.

Photo 7 – French right

4th corps move down from the heights to deploy in the plain opposite the Spanish left flank They are about to assault the village, so the building has been removed. The French artillery and infantry have already received casualties as they approach.

Photo 8 – French right

The Spanish hold the centre of the village (buildings removed), so only one French brigade can engage them. The French are on Engage orders, so they can only skirmish in the village, not launch an all out attack. You can see by the dice that French casualties are mounting.

Photo 9 – French centre

Faced by so much Spanish artillery the Polish corps commander has ordered his troops to halt and await developments on the flank. He is still within artillery range and will continue to receive casualties.

Photo 10 – Spanish right – The Crisis

French infantry have entered the village (buildings removed) on Engage orders. They lose the exchange of skirmish fire and are Shaken. Even worse the French column is also Shaken after a brief exchange of fire with the square. Both sides are taking heavy casualties, but the Spanish are holding firm.

Photo 11 – Spanish right – the end

During the Spanish move they continue the fight in the village (buildings removed), but fail to rout the Shaken French. Outside it is a different matter. The Spanish square forms line, advances and fires on the Shaken French column, who break and run. Their comrades in the village also break and cause their supports to rout. Three of the four French infantry brigades are now in rout.


With the loss of his left flank, Marshal Suchet has no option but to call off the attack. During the night the Spanish withdraw and cross the river Ebro at Vandellos. The French have failed in their objective and this was a Spanish strategic victory.


The 1,2,,4 Spanish and 4,5,15 French are placed on the table as blinds

Maximum blind for each corps is 4

At start both sides roll 1D6

Loser rolls again to place one corps on table

Winner rolls to place one corps on table

Repeat until all corps are on the table.

Special rules for Spanish

Corps commander must be in base contact with brigade to issue orders

Tuesday, 28 July 2009

Battle of Cambrils - 26 May 1813


Tactical Map 26 May 1813

Cambrils is a small village on the military road from Tortosa to Tarragona. It is the most direct road from Reus to the river Ebro at Vandellos.

1st and 4th Spanish armies are making a dash for Vandellos to avoid the wrath of Suchet.

4th Corps has been ordered to move south from Prades, take Cambrils and cut the Spanish escape route.


Photo 1 - table at start of game. 4th Spanish approach Cambrils

Top of table is north.

Right is the road to Reus

Left is road to Vandellos

Top is road to Prades

Map squares

D10, E10, F10

D11, E11, F11

D12, E12, F12

Spanish objective (Jan) is to get both armies off road left

French objective (Paul) is to take Cambrils and stop them

5th French Corps (Paul) enter in column of march on Prades road (top)

4th Spanish Army (Jan) approaching Cambrils in column of march

1st Spanish Army (Jan) enters on Reus road (right) behind 4th Army


Photo 2 – French start to deploy behind cavalry screen

4th Spanish started the game approaching Cambrils in a long column of march. 1st Spanish were behind them, but off the table.

French moved first and immediately sent forward their light cavalry to make 4th Spanish deploy and block the road. This would mean that the remainder of the French would be slow to deploy as they would have to pay pips for each move

Photo 2 is the position at the end of move 3. 4th Spanish have failed to move at all due to the Poor Card. 1st Spanish have moved around them to prevent the French from attacking the vulnerable column.

Photo 3 – 4th Spanish are moving behind Cambrils to secure the road to Vandellos

4th Spanish finally get to move, and roll a 6. They are more than 16” from the nearest French so they can make multiple moves. They use all of their movement to pass behind Cambrils to reach the Vandellos road. They can now either make a dash for the river, or deploy to hold this vital road.

Photo 4 – 1st Spanish rout

4th Spanish halt and deploy along Vandellos road. They open fire on the approaching French and cause casualties in the leading infantry brigade.

French artillery fire on Spanish dragoons and rout them. Supporting infantry all have to test morale. They already have casualties from Prades and each break and rout in turn.

Photo 5 – All Spanish rout

With 1st Spanish in rout the French redeploy to engage 4th Spanish. Hussar brigade move forward, Spanish artillery open fire but miss. Hussars declare opportunity charge on flank of infantry column, make morale and rout infantry. Two further brigades join them in rout and the remainder of 4th Spanish are shaken.

At this critical point Marshal Suchet arrives on the battlefield. He can see at a glance that the Spanish are on the point of complete rout, but he orders 4th corps to halt and not pursue.


Two Spanish armies are cut off from the safety of the river Ebro, but two more are secure behind the river barrier.

Marshal Suchet is aware that an attack on the strong river line could easily result in heavy French casualties. He has a “clever plan”. He will pin 1st and 4th Spanish armies on the west bank in the hope that Captain-General Copons will be tempted to cross to the west bank to rescue them.


Game played July 2009. Paul commanded the French. Jan commanded the Spanish.

There would be no blinds in this game.

Both sides enter the table with figures in column of march in the the march order written before start of game (to avoid reaction)

As long as the corps or army remained in one long column they could move 8” per turn for the cost of 1 pip. However if they deployed a single brigade, normal movement costs would apply.

4th Spanish army failed to move 3 moves out of 7, a good result as it portrayed the difficulty of Spanish command and control and their inability to react to changing circumstances.

On the other hand 1st Spanish army (with the Average commander) managed to place themselves between 4th Spanish and the French to allow them to deploy. However they paid a heavy price.

Tuesday, 21 July 2009

Battle of Prades - 24 May 1813

Tactical Map 24 May 1813

Prades is a small village in the mountains between Tortosa and Tarragona.

3rd Spanish Army are deployed to hold the village and stop French advance

1st Spanish Army are marching from Vals to support them

4th French Corps must break through to relieve garrison of Tarragona


Photo 1 - table at start of game.
3rd Spanish deployed in Prades

Top of table is north.

Top is road to Lerida

Right is road to Vals

Bottom is road to Tarragona

Map squares

D7, E7, F7

D8, E8, F8

D9, E9, F9

French game objective is to break through to Tarragona

4th French corps (Paul) enters on blind on Lerida road (top)

1st Spanish army (Jan) enters on blind west road (left side)

3nd Spanish army (Jan) is deployed in Prades (centre)


Photo 2 - French cavalry (hill right) have spotted 1 Spanish who have to deploy

The Spanish occupation of Prades dominates the pass out of the mountains, so the French move into the mountains to their left. They send their cavalry forward to spot the Spanish reinforcements.

1st Spanish manage to deploy before they are spotted, they are almost in position so it makes little difference. They send their heavy cavalry forward to try to spot the approaching French.

Photo 3 – The French have been spotted in column of march

As the head of the French column nears the front of the hill, the cavalry is moved to the left to allow them to deploy. Before they can do so the Spanish cavalry advance and spot them, forcing them to deploy in column of march. This is dangerous for the French, because they can not fight in this formation, and the enemy cavalry can Opportunity Charge them. It also means that it will take a long time to properly deploy and bring up the tail of the column.

The Spanish cavalry roll to Opportunity Charge, but fail to do so by rolling a 3 when a 4 is required. Having done their job of spotting the enemy, they withdraw to their own lines.

Photo 4 – Spanish complete their deployment, French struggle to do so

All movement on hills is at half move rate, so the French take four moves to bring up their infantry and deploy. The cavalry have to remain to protect the artillery until this is done. One brigade (right) is left in the pass in case 3rd Spanish come forward from Prades and threaten the French right flank. The corps commander is riding around like a madman trying to sort out his corps.

Photo 5 – French ready to engage Spanish, hussars move forward

It is almost dark by the time the French have reached the crest of the hill and deployed ready to engage. Their artillery opens fire and routs a square, this results in a second Spanish brigade being Shaken. The French hussars move forward ready to attack any Shaken target.

1st Spanish are now in a desperate position. They lost their artillery at Reus, and have nothing to reply to the French artillery. Many of their infantry are in square for protection against the advancing enemy hussars, however this makes them more vunerable to the French artillery.

Photo 6 – French cavalry about to rout Spanish 1st Army

As night fell the French hussars tested to Opportunity Charge the Shaken Spanish infantry in line. They made their morale and routed the Spanish, who took the other two Shaken brigades with them. The Spanish right flank had ceased to exist. The Spanish were lucky that it was now too late for the French to take advantage of the situation.


The Spanish have failed in their best opportunity, which was to stop 4th corps as it tried to exit from the mountains. However they could still fall back on Reus and again offer battle to maintain their siege of Tarragona


Game played July 2009.

Paul commanded the French.

Jan commanded the Spanish.

The rules worked very well. The Spanish CinC had to miss his go 4 moves out of 11 due to the Poor Card. This meant he was unable to change the orders of 3rd Army and get them to attack the open flank of 4th French corps. Instead they sat in and around Prades and played little part in the battle.

Wednesday, 15 July 2009

Battle of Reus - 20 May 1813


Tactical Map 20 May 1813

Reus is a small town just north of Tarragona. It commands both the main military road along the east coast, and also the approach to the city of Tarragona.

5th French corps have taken position there to keep open their lines of communications between Tarragona and Barcelona and also to defend Tarragona itself.

1st and 2nd Spanish armies are determined to destroy the French before they can be reinforced.


Photo 1 - table at start of game

Top of table is north.

Left is road to Tortosa

Top is road to Lerida

Bottom is road to Tarragona

Map squares

F9, G9, H9

F10, G10, H10

F11, G11, H11

Game objective is to destroy the enemy

5th French corps (Paul) is deployed in and around Reus

1st Spanish army (Jan) enters on blind west road (left side)

2nd Spanish army (Jan) enters on blind on north road (top)


Photo 2 - French right. As 1st Spanish approach Reus, the French dragoons and two infantry brigades move forward to engage them The gun remains to cover the Spanish cavalry.

1st Spanish was commanded by the best Spanish commander. They approached the town in good order, with cavalry on their right flank to protect the infantry. They deployed their artillery under the protection of an infantry square.

The French changed their orders to Engage and sent their cavalry, supported by two infantry brigades, against 1st Spanish. The remainder held Reus. The dragoons drove the enemy gunners into the square and the infantry advanced to engage them.

Photo 3 - French right. Two French brigades hold the town, 2nd Spanish approach slowly

The French are content to hold Reus on this flank, and delay the Spanish advance.

2nd Spanish have a Poor commander, and he has missed a couple of moves due to the Poor card. The CinC has been busy riding from one to the other to change their orders as necessary, and was not available to give his move when the Poor Card was drawn.

Photo 4 - French left. The French and Spanish engage in firefight

The French approached the Spanish on Engage orders, so they could skirmish or firefight, but not attack with the bayonet. At the end of their move, only one brigade was within skirmish distance (4”). They inflicted one casualty on the Spanish, who made their morale. The French cavalry advanced on their right to hold the Spanish cavalry at bay.

The Spanish were on Hold orders, so they could not advance to engage the French. However when the Spanish CinC turn came, he changed their orders to Engage.

The French moved into firefight distance (2”). They were surprised that the Spanish held their own (due to very poor French dice roll).

When the Spanish turn came they continued the firefight. One of their brigades were in line, against a French column, so they had a slight advantage. However their luck ran out and they failed the firefight and received 3 casualties.

Photo 5 – French right. Spanish slowly approach Reus

The Spanish have been very slow to approach Reus, mainly due to missing a couple of moves due to the Poor Card. The French redeployed their artillery to cover this flank. However the Spanish never approached within long range.

Photo 6 – French left. Spanish break and rout, covered by infantry squares and cavalry

Both Spanish brigades involved in the fire fight lost their morale and routed, taking the artillery with them. The remaining infantry and cavalry made their morale, and were able to cover the rout.

This happened on move 11 of a total game of 12 moves. It was considered too late to nightfall to continue the game


Although defeated, the Spanish are still an effective fighting force. Only half of 1st army broke and ran. The remainder, and nightfall, prevented a French pursuit. 2nd army were not engaged at all.

The French had held Reus, but failed to break the whole Spanish army. Now that the Spanish were united on the battlefield they would be unable to hold Reus, and would have to retreat into Tarragona


Game played June 2009. Paul commanded the French. Jan commanded the Spanish.

We had a lot of problems making it possible for both the Spanish or French to win. We played three games, and each time the Spanish won. So we had to amend the rules. This is the first game to try them out.

The main rule changes are:

CinC can not issue orders direct to brigades

CinC can give his move to a Poor corps commander

He must be in base contact

It will take three Pips

The corps commander can then use the remaining Pips for his turn

Spanish corps commanders must be in base contact to issue orders to brigade

French corps commanders must be within 8” (no change)

We were very pleased with the new rules for the Spanish.

First it slowed the approach of the Poor commander

Second it made it more difficult to issue orders

Third it made it more difficult to pass command from CinC to commander

The result was a wargame which we felt reflected very well the historical difficulties experienced by Spanish commanders.