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.


  1. Thanks! I also enjoy reading your battle reports and great photos. I just joined your Napoleonic yahoo group and can't wait to get approval. Thanks again...

  2. Hi Capt Bill

    Thanks for your kind comments.

    I have just approved your membership of Campaigns of Napoleon Forum, and you should have received the email by now. I hope that you enjoy the forum, and that you post and post often!

    I am really enjoying the forum, it has been full on since it started just last week. 85 members and nearly 300 postings in just one week.

    But the blog will remain my first priority, and my first joy.

    Hope you will continue to visit both




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