A Peninsular War Skirmish

A report by Neil Worthington

This is an account of a Napoleonic Peninsular War 28mm skirmish game played in Kidderminster on Easter Monday 2019. We used the Too Fat Lardies “Sharp Practice” rules, playing the “Attack on an Objective” scenario found on page 75 of the rulebook. The objective for the British force (100 points, all regulars) was a fortified tower in the centre of the enemy’s defensive zone. The French force (90 points) was a mixture of French and Spanish regulars plus, somewhat inaccurately, Spanish militia and guerrillas. The British also fielded a six pounder gun but neither side thought it necessary to deploy mounted troops. The French Commander-in-Chief was Ian, ably assisted by Andy W and Andy R, while Andy S was the British leader, Nick and Clive his junior officers. Bryan was the referee and Neil W played the parts of cookhouse orderly and war correspondent.

The French and Spanish forces deploy, move forward and open fire

Following the dictum that attack is the best form of defence, the French and Spanish forces deployed centrally and voltigeurs and guerrillas moved forward rapidly to close the range. There was some discomfort for the French commander when three of his infantrymen, hearing of the presence of some remarkably attractive ladies in a nearby establishment, left the line to investigate. They were soon rounded up and returned to their unit. The British, also deploying centrally, began a general advance, Highlanders in the centre, light troops to the left and right. As the Highlanders moved forward slowly over a ploughed field, the first shots were exchanged with the guerrilla skirmishers, the Scottish infantry suffering casualties. An officer, rushing forward to encourage his men was accidentally shot in the backside (a sort of British loss of face) and, as a result, his effectiveness was reduced for the rest of the game. Over on the right wing, British light infantry probing forward came under heavy fire and a group of 95th Riflemen were forced to move back and seek cover.

The Highlanders and British light infantry try to make progress against heavy fire

The steady advance of the Highlanders and their accurate musketry forced the French voltigeurs to move back and shift position to the right. The brave Scotsmen were now coming under fire from the Spanish militia but this had little initial effect. On the British left their light infantry was now involved in a duel with French grognards directly opposing them and suffered significant levels of shock as fire was exchanged. At this point the British forces achieved their first major success as a group of guerrillas was forced to withdraw after coming under sustained fire from the six pounder, resulting in a loss of French force morale. 

The battle now developed into an attritional musketry contest with the British forces finding it very hard to make progress. Effective fire from the French and Spanish infantry put pressure on the British all along the line, compelling the light forces on the right to withdraw and one group of Highlanders to fall back due to heavy losses.

The Scottish infantry withdraw after suffering serious casualties

The British commander now ordered the artillery piece to be manhandled forward in an attempt find a target but to no effect. The fire from the increasingly confident Spanish militia proved to be surprisingly deadly and, with support from the voltigeurs, forced the Scots to retire yet again. Shortly afterwards, after further casualties, one group of Highlanders broke and ran, with consequent effects on force morale. On the British left, the opposing forces traded blows until the British officer was wounded, effectively removing him from the game. As force morale declined to a dangerous level, the British Commander in Chief decided that the objective was not to be taken that day and began his withdrawal from the field.

 A fine, fun game, played in great spirit and enjoyed by everybody who took part.