Sunday, 15 March 2015

Battle of Barossa 5th March 1811

The charge of the 28th (North Gloucestershire) Regiment against the 2nd Battalion, 54th Ligne
 David Rowlands.

Every now and then, it's fun to recreate a battle close to the centenary of the actual engagement, and so it was that we had the chance to fight out a very famous battle fought two hundred and four years ago this month, the Battle of Barossa or sometimes referred to as the Battle of Chiclana; fought between General Graham, leading the British contingent of an Anglo-Spanish army marching along the coast road to raise the siege of Cadiz, and Marshal Victor at the the head of his Corps who was conducting the siege.

David Rowland’s great picture that heads the post, brilliantly captures the close up, sometimes desperate nature of the fighting, where the first French Eagle was captured by British troops in the Peninsular War.

The Map of Barossa, shows the British counterattack against French forces on and around Barossa Hill

General Sir Thomas Graham
Marshal Claude Victor Perrin - Marshal Victor
Recent photos of the battlefield today show it dominated by a golf course stretching down to the azure blue Mediterranean Sea, so I don't feel so bad having my game fought out on my unrelenting green Games Workshop mat, with Barossa Hill looking like the 18th hole.

General Graham, using the hand of God, makes his first moves towards Leval's division
I am a confirmed C&GII Napoleonic player, but am in search of a paper based set of rules that allow me to quickly put a game together for a club meeting and are easily mastered to allow for gaps in playing them due to my preference to C&G. Thus I inflicted the first play test of James Purky's one sheet "Der Alte Fritz Rules for 18th Century Warfare".

There are aspects of the d10 stats for firing, melee and morale that are attractive and easily adaptable, but I needed to see how they play under "combat conditions". There are aspects that don't fit with Napoleonics  that needed changing, such as the troop classifactions, lack of tests to charge and respond to charges, no additions for Generals being with a unit. Things I tagged on.

Duncan's ten gun British artillery brigade dominated precedings
The final thing was an army morale system to cause a natural break point, so I simply tacked on the Army Morale from Sam Mustafa's Maurice, that ended up giving us a nail bitter of a finish.

The last piece of the jigsaw was to grab a ready to go scenario set up for the battle, as I haven't researched this battle and it's orbats for my own scenario, so I grabbed a copy of Dave Brown General de Brigade Scenarios with Barrosa.

General Graham (centre) oversees the deployment of Wheatley's brigade, with Dilke's and the Guards behind
Our game pretty much followed the historical battle with the two British brigades preceded by their light battalions, tackling the respective divisions of Laval and Ruffin.

General Wheatley leads the 87th, 67th and 28th foot forward as Browne leads the Light battalion into the woods
The British artillery under Dilkes is listed in the scenario as being ten 9lbr guns which when firing counter battery at the French 6lbr foot battery on Barossa Hill, quickly shot up one of the French gun teams, causing an army morale loss from fifteen to thirteen points, with the British starting on twelve.

Barnard's Light battalion attacks the French under Ruffin on Barossa Hill
The light troops of both armies were soon facing off, with the 95th Rifles and Guards light companies soon driving in the voltigeur screen on the hill, but Brown'e light battalion getting the worst of the battle in the woods and being driven back behind the supports of Wheatley's brigade.

95th Rifles start to bring the French under fire

The skirmish battle is taken up in the woods
The two formed bodies of troops closed on each other and with both sides artillery in support, bases of troops were starting to be removed from the table, with both side's army morale into single figures.

Wheatley deploys his brigade to contest the advance of Leval's Division
The Guards on Barossa Hill met furious resistance from the combined grenadiers and 9me Legere, with the 95th Rifles dealing with the 24me and 96me Ligne as they tried to flank the Guard line.

The Guards under Dilke's attack Barossa Hill
In the open ground near to the woods, Wheatly's brigade were locked in a battle of attrition with Leval's division and his leading battalions, and although able to inflict damaging losses on the first units, were suffering from attritional hits from the follow up units supported by their dominant voltigeurs.

An overview of the battlefield from behind Leval's Division
With army morale at six points each, the British grabbed the initiative and brought Duncan's artillery to face Leval's troops delivering a telling bombardment, taking out a battalion of the 54me Ligne and severely battering its sister battalion. The resultant army morale loss left the French teetering on three points and the British on six points.

The 2/87th deployed in line with the 67th and 28th guarding their right flank

The French on Barossa Hill used the cover of the ridge line to avoid the attentions of the 95th Rifles
The game was finely balanced as the fates chose to swing events in a different direction and the French grabbed the initiative on the next two turns. This enabled the voltigeurs of Leval's division to close in on and decimate Duncan's gun crews and dropping two points off British army morale.

The battle for Barossa Hill at its height
The 95th Rifles and Guards were desperately clinging on to the slopes of Barossa Hill, with neither side able to get a decisive hold, and thus it was that in turn 10 with the KGL Hussars and French 1st Dragoons appearing on their respective table edges; Wheatly's brigade collapsed taking the British morale to zero and ending our game with Barossa Hill still contested but with a minor victory to the French forcing the remaining British troops to fall back on the Spanish at Cadiz.

The British guns dominated their French counterparts reducing them to the single team replying to their fire
The rule set certainly has possibilities for use with Napoleonics. We didn't like the initiative system of opting to fire or move first in given phases and I will change that together with the troop gradings and use of Generals. The Maurice addition worked very well and with a few additional special events could add to that component.

I am looking forward to playing this battle using Carnage & Glory, but with action focused on the Talavera campaign, and Massena's invasion of Portugal to do, Barossa is away away yet, so yesterdays game made a nice little test run.


  1. Outstanding batrep - great presentation of a good looking game.

  2. I notice that you are displaying my painting of the 28th Foot at Barrosa.
    I would be very grateful if you would alter the credit (in the first paragraph)from the incorrect 'David Pentland' to 'David Rowlands.'
    Thank you.
    David Rowlands

    1. Paragraph amended and apologies David for the error. Your artwork is truly amazing.


  3. I found this when looking for a map of Barossa as I am waiting for a book on this battle which hopefully will tell me whether the four French batteries were all 6lb. Good blog. July 2022 is when we will have this game as the venue for a large board needs to be prepared. Just have to mock up some Spanish as no-one has any figures (surprise!). Greetings from Mutford in Suffolk.