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.

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