A couple of campaign turns saw Vidal and I shifting troops about the map in anticipation of another battle. This wasn't long in coming as I had decided that I needed to retake Gelsa. To do this, I had combined two Battlegroups into one 4-point Battlegroup. This, I hoped, would be enough to push Vidal's 1-point Battlegroup back across the river. We ran through the unit selection procedure and was I in for a shock. Unfortunately, a 4:1 advantage in Battlegroup size does not necessarily translate into a 4:1 number advantage on the battlefield. More times than not, there will be a significant advantage for the larger group but there are always anomalies. Of this I was fully aware... I just didn't need it to happen here.
The opposing forces turned out to be fairly close in size... 17 French to 15 British. And Vidal's force received the benefit of an extra Level III Big Man. Oh Boy! This wasn't gonna be as easy as I first thought.
The scenario was to be a Fighting Withdrawal and because of the importance of this river crossing (smack in the middle of the river defense lines), all post-battle effects would be doubled (this was the result of an effects card I drew as part of the French unit selection procedure). Six points of support went to the French, as the attackers, and three to the British. I chose an Exploring Officer, as this allowed me to deploy an extra Fixed Secondary Deployment Point, and deploy from my DPs an extra 3 inches. Force Morales both came out at 9. I mentioned casually that it might be a quick game with both forces starting at 9 (we had no idea how accurate that would prove to be!).
[note: most of my photos of the game came out out-of-focus... probably the wine Vidal was plying me with]
I was feeling fairly confident and after Vidal immediately deployed a unit of Portuguese cacadores in the small wooded area on my right flank, I plonked out a small two-group formation of French Ligne. The intention was to blast the cacadores with an initial volley at close range and cause some Force Morale checks. Alas, the result was quite disappointing and the cacadores maintained their position.
Across the field, Vidal chuckled softly as he deployed three (yes, three!) groups of 95th rifles and two of British light infantry, manning the hedges along the road. The former are the bane of my existence in this campaign and seeing all three appear at once was quite a blow to my personal morale. They loosed a few volleys at my French line infantry facing the cacadores and promptly wounded the formation commander. Force Morale dropped to 8.
Meanwhile, Spanish dragoons appeared on the scene, led by a Level III Big Man! Wait... what? They trundled toward the French infantry, waiting for an opportunity. And the opportunity came quickly. Because the French had loosed its first volley, subsequent firing would be uncontrolled and they proceeded to send a second fire at the cacadores. This, of course, left them unloaded and it was at this point the Spanish cavalry surged forward at the gallop and slammed into the weakened French (the infantry formation had taken a number of hits from the British rifles). The infantry group contacted by the Spanish cavalry promptly folded and fled. Force Morale was down to 4 and little had yet been accomplished. I deemed it prudent to withdraw in the face of such a solid defensive position and the game was called.
And so Gesla was held by the British... but not for long! Turns 9 & 10 of the first campaign year saw the French move back at Gesla and this time, facing superior odds, the British opted to retreat back across the river. Thus, the 1812 campaigning season is over with neither French nor British holding enough Victory Points to end the campaign. So, on to 1813...