If the French could destroy the bridge and then cede the field while 50% or more of the British force was still on the wrong side of the river, the Brits would need to spend an entire campaign turn negotiating passage (i.e. repairing the bridge or finding an alternate crossing). Not only would this slow down the overall British advance up the valley, the French would have more opportunities to return more wounded to the force for turn 4.
Capitaine Forchette started with a rather depleted main force...
With 8 support points, the French were able to add an Engineer group (with Level I Big Man) to take on the bridge demolition, and bump up Sergent Denis Cuillère to a Level II Big Man for the battle. The plan was simple... destroy the bridge and scuttle away as quickly as possible (and cause as much damage as possible to the Brits as possible in the meantime).
As with Turn 1, the Chance Card draw for the French was less than advantageous...
"You have identified a spy and he has challenged you to a duel. You fight with -1d6 to your attacks, as you attempt to only wound the spy. The spy duels with 4d6. He is subdued when reduced to 1d6. If the spy dies, roll on the BTH table as if you’ve lost a Level III leader."
Forchette immediately recognized the futility of such a heroic gesture (not really in his nature anyway) and refused the duel. His men, already holding him in low esteem, witnessed this cowardly (but admittedly pragmatic) act. The French Force Morale dropped by one to eight before the battle had even started. With luck and and solid plan, I hoped this would have little overall effect.
Captain Kentmere's force was little changed from the first battle and to this (after rolling for 16 support points) was joined by a light artillery piece (and Level I Big Man), a Moveable DP, a Marksman (of course), and a Level I Big Man to command the Guerrilleros. The British would start with a Force Morale of 11.
But just as Kentmere was about to have his force make the final approach to the river, a Lady’s maid had arrived and begged him for assistance. The maid's Lady, it seemed, had been captured by brigands (probably a polite euphemism for "the French") and was being held close by. Kentmere was required to attempt to rescue the lady. He would need to find her and escort her off his main table edge. Scanning the table, it seemed the logical place to look was the small farmstead on the far side of the river. But Kentmere would need to get across the river first!
Vidal decided on an uncomplicated Attack & Defend scenario, which gave the French, as defenders, eight inches of breastworks (because I had added the engineer group to my force). I plopped it down on the only raised ground on the field with a clear field of view over the bridge and its approaches. I judged that with such a small force, I would need it. For the British Primary DP, Vidal chose a position "straight up the gut" in preparation for an assault on the bridge. Otherwise, the river was cross-able but with severe difficulty.
The French immediately deploy to defend the bridge and move to occupy the breastworks on the hill. In response, The redcoat behemoth deploys in column to advance on the bridge with the artillery set to support.
The ever pesky rifles deploy on the British right flank to take on whatever moves into the French breastworks. The French refuse to deploy into the redoubt as a target for the rifles (they've seen the damage that can be wrought by the green devils) and decide instead to wait behind the hill to see how the battle would develop.
The Lady can be seen in the farmyard, beside the French Primary DP. The British commander would need to fight his way across the river to find her.
The French engineers arrive and begin to set the fuse on the gunpowder barrels (note: the bridge should actually be wooden but we use what we have). Side note... I forgot to add the engineer Big Man's chit to the bag for the first couple of French phases...doh! So they arrived a little later than hoped for but... well, better late than never!
But the British are inching closer to the bridge to begin their final assault. This is gonna hurt, especially as the French have only one group guarding the bridge. It would be a race to have the engineers finish their work before the hammer fell. On the approach, the Brits have taken some hits from the French voltigeurs (off-screen to the bottom left).
The 95th Rifles, seeing no targets in the breastworks, have begun to move to the opposite flank to harass the French voltigeurs (the artillery has already been doing this, to little effect). Meanwhile the engineers continue their preparations to blow the bridge.
The bridge blows in the face of the British column (shades of Elliot Gould in A Bridge Too Far, no?). Now it would be a race to see if the French could exit the field before the British could get the majority of their force across the river. This would be made harder by reduced movement rates while in the river and that all formations are broken when making such moves.
The British left stunned by the explosion. This just became far more difficult!
The French begin racing off the field. The voltigeurs have been left behind as rearguard (off-screen to the bottom right). And it seems the lady has been left behind in their haste.
And the British vainly trying to push across the difficult terrain along the river.
So, in stark contrast to the first battle, the French plan actually went to....ummmm, plan. The bridge has been destroyed and although the British retain the campaign initiative, the next battle north of the river will be in Turn 4 (and not Turn 3). This will give the French an opportunity to get some of their wounded back into the main force. As an added bonus, the engineer group and Big Man will remain with the French main force!
For the British, a bit of a mixed blessing. Although they've taken very light casualties so far, they have been delayed. On the plus side, the Guerillero Big Man has decided that he has nothing better to do and has decided to join the main force permanently. The artillery Big Man also remains with Captain Kentmere's headquarters but the gun and crew have been recalled.
And what of the Lady? The French force had disappeared before the Lady had even regained her hearing after the bridge explosion (in truth, Capitaine Forchette could have dragged her along with his force but in his excitement over the bridge demolition and the subsequent retreat, he totally forgot the Lady's presence). She will remain with Kentmere's force and provide some solace for the wounded.