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The Orkney Wargames Club meets

in Kirkwall on Thursday evenings.


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El Trayel, 1810

The Napoleonic Wars, Black Powder, 28mm

As I was away, this game is brought to you by Dougie Trail and Donald Adamson- a fictitious Peninsular encounter, with Dougie’s French stroming a hill held by Dona;d’s plucky British. The premise was that the British were retreating back to Portugal, with the French snapping at their heels. A reinforced British brigade, supported by cavalry, was ordered to fight a rearguard action, to buy time for the rest of the army to withdraw.donnap4Naturally, the British commander found a hill, with a nice rear slope near the village of El Trayel, and he deployed there. A couple of small woods to the British front also promised to break up and funnel any French attack. The trouble was, there was nothing to anchor the flanks on, so the cavalry would have to play their part in whatever battle developed. Still, it looked a good, stolid position, and the French would have problems dislodging them. What follows is a precis of Donald’s dramatic  battle report – which can be read in its entirety below.donnap14When the French appeared all they saw was a screen of riflemen on the ridge, and a Royal Horse Artillery battery. Unlike his historical French counterpart, Dougie was well-enough versed in British tactics to expect the bulk of the enemy brigade to be lurking on the reverse slope. therefore he devised a cunning plan – a pinning of the centre, coupled with a strong left hook, to attack the ridge on one flank, then roll up the defences from there. Dougie was hoping to recreate Leuthen. Unfortunately what transpired was more a re-run of Bussaco.donnap12While a small French brigade supported by a gun battery deployed facing the British line, the rest of the French army launched their flank attack, prompting the British to scramble to re-form their line. It was then that disaster struck – for the French. While trying to edge his screening brigade forward, Dougie rolled particularly low dice, and consequently the brigade surged forward, straight into the mouths of the British guns, and the waiting British infantry. They were struck by a whirlwind of fire, and they found themselves disordered and pinned down, with the units being shredded. To make things worse Dougie rolled particularly high dice for his flank attackers, so they failed to advance. This gave the British the breathing space they needed.donnap11To turn the tide the French commander launched a cavalry charge, and invariably the British light dragoons counter-charged, but were badly blooded by the French dragoons. On the other flank the hussars of both sides charged each other, and once again the French won the combat. However, in both cases the French casualties were so high that the cavalry was virtually a spent force. Back in the centre the French started to crumble and flee, while over on the British flank the defenders stood their ground, and eventually the French withdrew. It was a lively little game, and one where the fortune of war could have gone either way.donnap13


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