Thursday, October 22, 2009

History is written by he who has the Blog!

"History is written by he who has the blog!" or so said I as I slunk away from another defeat at the hands of the dreaded Carlists. Vidal and I got together with Ray Martin last night for our second Carlist Wars game using Sharp Practice rules. After my inability to capture some shiny stuff from the church in our last game, we decided to continue with the scenario and see if my Isabellino forces could catch up with the retreating Carlist force and still get their hands on the loot.

The beginning of the scenario saw the Isabellino force, commanded by Teniente Coronel Alfredo Salazar del Pene Grande, trudging along northern Spanish tracks, following the trail of the retreating Carlists. Approaching a small farmstead, Salazar's leading scouts detected a number of Carlists blocking passage along the trail. Salazar, realizing that the main Carlist force could be located at the farm, began to deploy his forces to flush them out. Salazar's force had changed somewhat since his last encounter, in particular losing his Marines. This unit was commanded by Teniente Primero Domingo Gutierrez-Enfermo, a perfectly vile young officer, universally detested by his men (and fellow officers in the army). Gutierrez-Enfermo had been lightly wounded in the last battle and Salazar took the opportunity to leave his entire unit behind to guard the lines of communication. Luckily, Salazar had accepted the arrival of two new units to his force, one of infantry and a small cavalry contingent (although the usefulness of the latter would be tested in the close terrain of northern Spain).

Isabellino Force
CinC: Teniente Coronel Alfredo Salazar del Pene Grande
2IC: Capitan Cesar Herrara del Estomago

Grenaderos Provinciales de la Guardia
Volontarios de Aragon
Regimento de la Princesa
grenaderos (skirmish)
cazadores (sirmish)
artilleria (1 gun) - commanded by Sargento Primero Eduardo Baldomero
caballeria de linea

Regimento de la Princesa moving froward in column to confront the dastardly rebels!

On the Carlist side of the field stood Coronel del Capo, a thoroughly ugly man with a face like a pig. Although his looks were dreadful, his men were thankful for his military talents and attention to their welfare and would follow him anywhere. Del Capo commanded the rearguard of the Carlist force and was tasked with keeping at bay the pursuing government forces.

Carlist Force
CinC: Coronel del Capo
2IC: Capitan Don Juarez

Navarrese infantry
Navarrese infantry
Vizcayan infantry

In Sharpe Practice terms, the named officers were Big Men (characters of influence), giving the Isabellinos three and the Carlists two. While the Isabellinos seem at first glance to have had advantages in numbers of units and Big Men, in practice it was not to be. The closeness of the terrain and the fact that Salazar's forces began the scenario in column on the trail confronted by hidden Carlist forces severely limited their numerical advantages. As well, the Big Men of the Isabellino force, although greater in number than their Carlist counterparts, were hampered by circumstances. The best Big Man was the artillery sargento but he was confined to activating (influencing) only his own men in the artillery unit. The others, Salazar and Herrara, although able to influence any unit in the force were cut of a decidedly lesser cloth than their opponents.

As Salazar's column approached the farm, his lead skirmishers scouted ahead and discovered a substantial Carlist blocking force. The Isabellino infantry columns began trying to deploy to either side of the road while the artillery unlimbered on the road in support. Unfortunately, Carlist skirmishers, backed by formed infantry, hampered their efforts. Constant musket fire at the deploying Isabellino columns caused serious disorder forcing Salazar to bring forward his cavalry in an attempt to push the Carlist infantry back on their heels and give the infantry a chance to shake themselves out into some sort of order. As the cavalry approached the Carlist infantry, Salazar placed himself at their head in anticipation of charging forward. Just as Salazar had unsheathed his sword and was about to order the charge, a volley crashed out from the Carlist line and he slumped in his saddle momentarily before falling to the ground severely wounded. The horsemen, seeing their beloved commander felled, rushed forward to wreak their revenge only to realize that without their commander's guidance, their efforts were to no avail. Saddles were emptied and the cavalry fell back in confusion, trying to drag their wounded commander along.

Isabellino cavalry preparing to charge! Salazar can be seen in the backgound riding forward hard to take personal command of the pretty horsemen. We've substituted Perry Miniatures French Napoleonic mounted commanders until we can get the proper Carlist Wars versions painted.

Back on the road, Sargento Primero Baldomero of the artillery had had his men promptly and smartly unlimber their sole artillery piece in anticipation of supporting the infantry's attack on the Carlist lines. It was with chagrin and utter amazement that the sargento discovered that although his small force was amply supplied with ammunition, the rammers necessary for loading and cleaning the gun were missing. As the infantry and cavalry action was swirling about him, Baldomero roundly and colourfully berated his men (and himself) for such a stupid omission. He had no choice but to quickly re-limber the gun and move away impotently, without having fired a single round!

A Carlist infantry officer encouraging and congratulating his men after repulsing the Isabellino cavalry charge.

Lacking Salazar's overall direction, the government forces soon degenerated into a confused and impotent mass. Capitan Herrara tried mightily to restore some semblance of order but his lack of appreciation of Salazar's overall goals (the two did not get along and Salazar had confided little to his subordinate) and his general detestation by the men hampered his efforts. He was soon forced to pull back his scrambled force in the face of continued pressure and relinquish the field.

So, a second Carlist victory! We're starting to get a better grasp of the rules, although a few mistakes were made (but nothing serious). It's clear how influential the Big Men can be with these rules. An excellent commander such as del Capo, a level IV commander, can have far-reaching influence and effect. Losing one's commander can have a serious effect and will make me think more carefully about when and where I have Big Men take a personal, hands-on role. Thanks again to Vidal and Ray for a thoroughly enjoyable evening, especially the beer (thanks Ray!) from a little-known local brewery in Cambridge, Ontario:Grand River Brewing. How can you go wrong drinking Russian Gun Imperial Stout?

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a fun game! Can you run Sharpes Practice down at migs sometime? I would love to give it a try.