alxeu

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I am interested.
 

Seelmeister

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Sorry I am late!

Fantastic update, as always. I love the more battle centric AAR's that MoTE can provide.

You're doing a heckuva job.

No where near as late as I've been with recent updates, so don't worry about it! Welcome, delighted to see new readers and comments.

This is a nice AAR indeed, really like the focus on Etienne specifically. I will wait for more chapters eagerly and then more AARs! ;)

Thanks Derahan, great to see you here!

I am interested.

Thank you, and welcome!

I've started work on the next update, and it will be a slightly different focus compared to the rest. Since I started this AAR I'd had the intention of writing a few updates which focused on just one large battle, but I've not really had game events pan out that way. Thanks to Wellington, that wait is over...

I should have Chapter 14 finished early next week, so stay tuned for the Battle of Ponferrada!
 
Last edited:

Seelmeister

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Chapter 14 - The Battle of Ponferrada​

The main British force, some 28,000 men, occupied the depot town of Gijon on the northern Spanish coast. Sir James Henry Craig’s defeated forces fled in the direction of Wellington’s army, but the Iron Duke had already begun to move his men to evade the French advance. By the 2nd June, the British had arrived in Santadar, and Etienne ordered the Cavalerie to begin their pursuit. To the general’s frustration, Wellington again gave them the slip, and by the time the French arrived at Santandar the British had already returned to Gijon.

It seemed that the British were well prepared for their rapid march, and after linking up with the defeated remnants of Craig’s force they proceeded further west, to the port of Oviedo. Etienne and the Cavalerie made hast across the northern Spanish forests, this time opting for the southern route through Leon in a bid to pin down the faster British army and force them to the field of battle.

x074.jpg

By the 26 June, Etienne had made his camp just outside the town of Astorga, and Wellington was known to be nearby, with just under 35,000 men in the dense forests to the west. Etienne ordered the Cavalerie to make hast to Vigo, currently occupied by the British, in the hope that threatening the depot and ports that supplied Wellington’s men would force the battle. On the 2nd July, in the forests of Ponferrada, Wellington broke cover and attacked.

kffa.jpg

The British army was comprised of a mix of line infantry and light infantry, supported by a relatively small number of dragoons. The army lacked any artillery of note – explaining the rapid movement across Spain. On sighting the British, Klein ordered an immediate massed bombardment. The fury of the French guns was great, but the dense woodland took much of the sting out of their lethal payload, and British casualties were light indeed. Wellington, better appreciating the lie of the land, ordered his dragoons to conduct lightening raids on the French flanks. These surgical raids did not cause a large number of casualties, but the inability of the French to adequately guard against them spread unease through the flanks. Sir Thomas Graham, one of the British flank commanders, deployed his own dragoons, but here the French light infantry made raiding far more difficult, and very few broke through.

Etienne was frustrated, he would have loved to use his artillery and guards in an open field, but the forest rendered all but skirmishing combat ineffective. Carteaux, also impatient, ordered his dragoons to harry the British, and a number of running battles ensued between the rival cavalry units.

Etienne ordered the light infantry to assume advanced positions, and the effectiveness of the raiding by the British was reduced greatly, although the toll was heavy on the French sharpshooters who lost almost a quarter of their strength in just over two hours of combat.

Over the night of the 2nd both sides seemed to settle into an uneasy balance, with small raiding parties being the only action undertaken. Not used to being so restricted, the French command grew impatient, and early on the morning of the 3rd Klein formed his infantry into attack columns, and marched deep into the woodland.

The line infantry encountered British snipers, using the lethal long ranged rifles, and suffered heavily in the advance. There appeared no opportunity to hit back at this foe who assaulted and then melted away into the terrain. However, after hours of bloody effort, the British were finally forced into less densely forested land.

Klein was jubilant, and ordered his line infantry into their square formations. Musket fire was poured into the now visible British positions, who returned fire at an impressive rate. French guards rushed to the field, and soon started to make their presence known as they forced the British back, and into an ever narrower area of the field.

British Cavalry attempted a full charge against the French flanks, which bought some temporary relief to the beleaguered British infantry, but after almost two days of waiting the French were finally settling into their more familiar rhythm. Artillery pieces had cleared the woods, and began to make good their earlier paralysis by pounding the British. French light infantry, although under strength, were deployed as screens on the flanks and forced the British riflemen back into the main body, where they were subject to the intense bombardment and the regimented musket fire of the lines.

w4a8.jpg

For three hours, the British suffered under this onslaught, but soon the evening sun was dipping, and the impeding darkness brought a lull to proceedings. The British were forced to withdraw to the high ground to their rear, which although defensible in the dark, would leave them heavily exposed to the French fire during the daylight hours. Etienne, although recognising the tiredness of the men, ordered frequent French patrols to ensure that the British could not slip away.

Before dawn, Etienne was woken by pandemonium in the camp. British line infantry had evaded his patrols, and formed in advanced positions during the early hours of the morning. Fire was pouring into the French camp, and Etienne and his generals scrambled out of bed to maintain order and organise a response. The French casualties were heavy indeed, but soon their superior numbers began to tell and the British infantry were forced back to their camp.

Etienne, furious at the underhand tactics of the British, ordered his guard regiments to form up for an all-out assault. Cavalry and light infantry would attempt to surround the British, while the finest of the French army, supported by a heavy bombardment, would attack the British directly.

The British, seeing the approach of the French, launched cavalry charges to attempt to disrupt the advance, but they were repulsed with heavy casualties. By midday, the French were in position, and their artillery opened up with a huge salvo. The British had attempted to fortify their hill as best they could; digging shallow trenches and building basic walls for shelter, but these were obliterated by the incessant French fire. Having been unable to participate in the first stages of the battle, the French gunners were sitting on three days’ worth of shells, and seemed determined to drop them all on the British that afternoon.

fd3j.jpg

Etienne, along with Klein and Carteaux, oversaw the guards and line infantry separate into three attack columns, and sent them streaming up toward the British positions, even as the shells continued to fall. In such a confined space, volley fire was at first lethal, but soon even the attackers did not have the space to remain in formation. The battle for the high ground deteriorated into individual hand to hand fighting, with both sides suffering dearly.

As the French continued to batter the main British positions, Wellington withdrew the bulk of his force down the north face of the hill, fighting a path through the French cavalry. Klein deployed several units of the French line to attempt to slow the escape, but the brave defenders of the hill had bought enough time. By early evening, Wellington had slipped away, and the battle for Ponferrada was over.

Etienne had forced the British back, but the cost had been heavy. Just under 14,000 British were killed from the forest to the hill, while French casualties were actually slightly higher owing to the effectiveness of the British raids, 14,200. The Cavalerie d’Italie was reduced to just 30,000 men, not much more than half her full strength, but the Duke of Wellington had withdrawn with just 20,000 fighting fit men.

pnzc.jpg
 

DensleyBlair

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Considering your losses compared to Wellesley's, he certainly put up a good fight. Relatively, of course, you suffered less – but what are a few small details, eh? ;)

Good to see another update – and my sincerest contrafibularities on your ACA placing! :)
 

Seelmeister

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Wewt! Can't wait!

Hopefully I didn't keep you waiting too long :)

Considering your losses compared to Wellesley's, he certainly put up a good fight. Relatively, of course, you suffered less – but what are a few small details, eh? ;)

Good to see another update – and my sincerest contrafibularities on your ACA placing! :)

Thank you Densley, your political immersion in A Biography of Great Men is showing there - that's a decent amount of spin you're putting on the result! Etienne is from the old school - they killed more of his men than he did of their's, and so he will not be satisfied until he forces the Duke to the field again.
 

Derahan

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Those British must have been really annoying. I mean, they were like the harassment force that you would never want to face. Annoying indeed but I'm glad that you managed to defeat them. :)

And you link to the chapter in your ToC needs to bee changed a little since it is not working in its current state. ;)
 

Seelmeister

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Those British must have been really annoying. I mean, they were like the harassment force that you would never want to face. Annoying indeed but I'm glad that you managed to defeat them. :)

And you link to the chapter in your ToC needs to bee changed a little since it is not working in its current state. ;)

Thank for the heads up about the table of contents D, I'll have a look at that next time I'm at my desktop - it's likely that the issue is caused by me making changes on my phone!

The British did well hovering in the forests, I'm assuming they have the fast March idea already ad I just couldn't get close to them when they fled. I'll ha e to accept that rough terrain as the price for engaging with them at all!
 

MiltonS

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Good to see another update – and my sincerest contrafibularities on your ACA placing! :)
After being convinced by these forums and Paradox in general that I needed to watch Blackadder, I'm delighted to report I get the above reference, and now understand your location (truly, I thought of you when I watched that episode). Before now, it has merely been a most confusing series of things that appeared to be references, but of which I was unaware.


Hopefully I didn't keep you waiting too long :)

Not at all. This really is one of my favorites; the narrative style, combined with superior writing skills, makes this the AAR to read.
 

GreatUberGeek

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Subbed, though I am very late. :)
 

Zorro

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I've nominated you for the weekly AAR showcase, this AAR deserves it.

I really enjoy how you follow around one general and you get a sense how his career progresses. I regret that I jumped onboard so late.
 

Stuyvesant

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That's the closest run battle I've seen in a long time. I believe Etienne has faced defeat before (though my memories are a bit hazy), and this is still a victory, since Wellington had to cede the field - but in the intensity of fighting, the drawn-out nature of the battle, and the fact that the absolute casualty numbers were even... in all those things, this was basically a draw.

Of course, Etienne still has 30,000 men under his command and there are an additional 30,000 French troops just a ways to the north. Wellesley will need all his skills (and then some) to extricate himself from this mess. And I'm lead to believe that Etienne is in no mood to let the Brits slip away again...
 

Seelmeister

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That's the closest run battle I've seen in a long time. I believe Etienne has faced defeat before (though my memories are a bit hazy), and this is still a victory, since Wellington had to cede the field - but in the intensity of fighting, the drawn-out nature of the battle, and the fact that the absolute casualty numbers were even... in all those things, this was basically a draw.

Of course, Etienne still has 30,000 men under his command and there are an additional 30,000 French troops just a ways to the north. Wellesley will need all his skills (and then some) to extricate himself from this mess. And I'm lead to believe that Etienne is in no mood to let the Brits slip away again...

I agree? There were a few close battles before but nothing like Ponferrada. I'm not sure there has been an outright defeat - this was probably closest. The British, outnumbered, managed to kill slightly more French men, so in terms of efficiency it was a British victory.

The location of the next battle will be key - another organised British defence could result in stalemate, but an open battle will allow Etienne to make use of his advantage in artillery, cavalry, guards and overall numbers. However, currently 20,000 short of a full complement - the Cavalerie are bruised.

I've nominated you for the weekly AAR showcase, this AAR deserves it.

I really enjoy how you follow around one general and you get a sense how his career progresses. I regret that I jumped onboard so late.

Thank you very much, and a warm welcome to the AAR. I am greatly honoured to be nominated for this award, and will celebrate with the next update soon.

Subbed, though I am very late. :)

Welcome GreatUberGeek, great to see another AARlander colleague here!

After being convinced by these forums and Paradox in general that I needed to watch Blackadder, I'm delighted to report I get the above reference, and now understand your location (truly, I thought of you when I watched that episode). Before now, it has merely been a most confusing series of things that appeared to be references, but of which I was unaware.

Not at all. This really is one of my favorites; the narrative style, combined with superior writing skills, makes this the AAR to read.

Thank you very much for the kind words. Glad you are enjoying Blackadder - it's a fantastic programme.

I'm working on the next update, will hopefully have something for you all tonight or tomorrow.
 

volksmarschall

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An AAR on Etienne Jacques MacDonald, made famous for his actions at Wagram particularly compared with "the braggart Bernadotte!" He saved Napoleon from what could have been a second and more catestrophc defeat at the hands of the Archduke Karl! Hmmm, I should read this just because you'll give him more attention than RF Delderfield's work, "Napoleon's Marshals" (not to say he didn't do a good job covering the Napoleonic Era Marshals though, I find MacDonald to be fascinating - especially reading his diary about his return to Scotland after the war!)
 

volksmarschall

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This is rollicking stuff, sorry to have jumped onboard so late. Frankly I was hardly aware MotE even existed but I'm glad Zorro highlighted you with the Showcase; I'm thoroughly enjoying myself.

I agree. MotE subforum however doesn't seem to be accessible unless you are a registered member and logged-in. Which I find interesting and to be quite a shame really. I've managed to get through "Dealing with the Archduke" thus far since being made aware of this AAR through the Weekly Showcase!

It's been a very pleasant read thus far. I think I shouldn't have written this game off when I came out since it only spanned 1805-1820?
 

Seelmeister

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An AAR on Etienne Jacques MacDonald, made famous for his actions at Wagram particularly compared with "the braggart Bernadotte!" He saved Napoleon from what could have been a second and more catestrophc defeat at the hands of the Archduke Karl! Hmmm, I should read this just because you'll give him more attention than RF Delderfield's work, "Napoleon's Marshals" (not to say he didn't do a good job covering the Napoleonic Era Marshals though, I find MacDonald to be fascinating - especially reading his diary about his return to Scotland after the war!)

I've not read much history of the Napoleonic Wars, but when I do get round to some more reading I'll be sure to steer clear of "Napoleon's Marshals"! What I did find interesting is that for the first part of Napoleon's reign, Etienne was fairly isolated - he was known to ha e supported a rival of Napoleon's. It was only later in the wars that he returned to prominence, but you're quite right to mention Wagram - it seems that once he returned Etienne quickly reboot the relationship with the Emperor. In this alternative story, Etienne's star has risen further, and being perceived as a rival in his own right may limit the possibility of any rapprochement.

This is rollicking stuff, sorry to have jumped onboard so late. Frankly I was hardly aware MotE even existed but I'm glad Zorro highlighted you with the Showcase; I'm thoroughly enjoying myself.

Welcome, and thank you for the kind words! It's great to see comments from new readers at any time :)

I agree. MotE subforum however doesn't seem to be accessible unless you are a registered member and logged-in. Which I find interesting and to be quite a shame really. I've managed to get through "Dealing with the Archduke" thus far since being made aware of this AAR through the Weekly Showcase!

It's been a very pleasant read thus far. I think I shouldn't have written this game off when I came out since it only spanned 1805-1820?

I've personally enjoyed MotE - it is on a smaller scale than the main franchises, but for its low price I've had a good number of hours enjoyment. It's also a bit of a test to play - my PC is showing it's ages but the smaller map means performance is fantastic!


Thank you, and welcome!

Just a short update, I am working on the next chapter but I've realised that my imageshack account will very shortly force me to upgrade, and as I don't plan to this means all images will vanish (I assume). I've finished downloading all the images and in the process of moving to a new host, so this has delayed my writing slightly. Nevertheless, I hope to be finished with the tedium of moving photos soon.