Monday, 3 January 2011

Peninsular break: the battle of Gévora

The Peninsular War was never one of my favourite wargaming periods. There are two reasons for it: (1) the irregular performance of the Spanish armies of the era and (2) the small size of the battles of the Peninsular War, not easily played with Napoleon's Battles, a grand-tactical ruleset. Notwithstanding, I did re-fought in the past the battles of Talavera (1809), La Albuera (1811), Fuentes de Oñoro (1811), Salamanca (1812) and Vitoria (the northern combats and the main battle, this being the last time I played the Peninsular War (back in march 2007).
However, we are now immersed in the middle of bicentennial of the Peninsular War and now I own a ruleset, Lasalle, that allows to fight small-size combats, like were most of the Peninsular War, so I have decided to try again that period, and I have chosen a minor Spanish-French combat: the battle of Gévora.
The Battle of the Gévora (Gebora, Gevora) occurred on 19 February 1811, near Badajoz, Spain, where an outnumbered French force routed and nearly destroyed the Spanish Army of Extremadura.
Soult led part of l’Armée du Midi from Andalucía into Extremadura and laid siege to the fortress town of Badajoz. It was a Soult’s diversionary operation to help extricate Massena’s army from his impasse in front of the Lines of Torres Vedras. A Spanish Army (with a small contingent of Portuguese cavalry) under La Romana was sent to raise the siege, but La Romana died unexpectedly and the command of this force was entrusted to Mendizábal, that arrived to Badajoz and ignored the Wellington’s advice and failed to entrench his army.
Soult sent a small force (7,000 men and 12 guns) that attacked and routed the larger Mendizábal force (12,000 men and 17 guns) inflicting 1,000 casualties and taking 4,000 prisoners for a loss of only 400 men. The victory allowed Soult to concentrate on his assault of Badajoz, which fell to the French on 11 March and remained in French hands until the following year.
The map is taken from the Limpscombe book, and I am working on the OOB's using Limpscombe, Oman and Thompson books.

- Cust, Edward (1863) 'Annals of the wars of the nineteenth century',
Volume 3
- Lipscombe Nick (2010), 'The Peninsular War Atlas', Osprey
- Oman, Charles (1911), 'A History of the Peninsular War: Volume IV', Greenhill Books 2004
- Queipo de Llano y Ruiz de Saravia, José María, Conde de Toreno (1835), 'Historia del levantamiento, guerra y revolucion de España,
Volumen 4'
- Thiers, Adolphe (1854) 'Histoire du consultat et de l'empire faisant suite à l'histoire de la révolution française,
Volume 7'
- Thompson, Mark S. (2002), 'The Fatal Hill', Mark Thompson Publishing

There is also a great web site (in Spanish) devoted to the sieges of Badajoz during 1811 and 1812: Badajoz 1811-1812.

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