Wednesday, 4 April 2012

The battle by the abbey at the river le Grande Baguette

Some time ago (all to long…) A friend and I played a Black Powder game in the Napoleonic era.

Thanks to Das ultra kaninchen ( for writing this lovely story. So I can repost it here.

"Senior Major Twinklebottom!" The yell boomed out across the camp, causing Nigel Twinklebottom to trip a step. Behind him as he turned, he caught sight of Colonel Rumpston as he made his way through the throng of soldiers, strapped up in his parade uniform as always, never minding the men who shuffled out of his way as he stalked forward. "Senior Major Twinklebottom!" He yelled again, "Step up lad, I have an asignment for you!"

And so it was two hours later, and Senior Major Twinklebottom found himself marching his most recent command toward a french position. Aparantly the french had advanced and taken the abbey at the river le Grande Baguette. A river, it would turn out, that was little more than an ankle-deep stream, sadly the hill had left the french in a position to engage the British flanks, and so Senior Major Twinklebottom had been sent to root them up and send them running.

To his left, he had Captain Fimplewhimple commanding two company of Scots, and a company of the 21st regiment of Dragoons, and to his right, Lieutenant Sproutybeard was advancing with his fierce husars, field artillery and another two company of Scots.

"Runner," he said, motioning a mounted adjutant over "Signal for the men to advance." Turning his attention to the field of battle as the man nodded and turned to ride off. Beyond he could see the french lines forming atop the ridge, siding the wheat fields and the towering spires of the monastery. Their infantry was busy turning their cannons to face the advancing foe, most of the french lines being concealed behind shrubberies and the monastery building. Luckily, they'd be well out of cannon ball shot as they marched across the field.

The battle commenced with some confusion as, it turned out, the officer heading the dragoons had ridden off to empty his bladder, and so the left flank cavalery ended up straggling behind as the infatry set off marching.

Across the stream the french skirmishers advanced to take up position amoungst the few trees stood by the banks of the stream, while the infantry in the fields set off in a light march, thinking to fire on the british as they tried to cross the stream.

 Meanwhile the battle line finaly started to take shape. Three companies of scots had made their way up to the banks of the stream, while the dragoons had caught up on the left flank. And on the right, the husars had started their flanking maneuvre. The Artillery, sadly, had trailed helplessly behind. The crew, bereft of limber and horses, were forced to push and drag the cumbersome piece across the ungangly terrain. They would have to make do without, Twinklebottom decided. They couldn't affort to let the french bring in reinforcements to strengthen their positions.

The french themselves weren't idle either, calling up a company of the old guard to protect their artilery from the advancing scots.

It was time to form line, and with a wave of his hand, Twinklebottom signaled the order. All across the field, the companies started to spread and form rank. The center company taking head on the skirmishers in the forest and unleashing a murdering salvoe into their numbers, while the right flank took up position to protect them from any flanking actions. The left flank marching straight at the french lines and bringing their muskets to beat as soon as they made it clear of the waters.

The skirmishers were crippled, but the line didn't as much as waver as the british bullets raked into their lines. Killing a few, but doing little to break their morale. Instead the brave scots recieved a shattering return of fire, leaving their ranks in disaray, while the artillery rounds slammed into their ranks. But in spite of all that mayhem, the line didn't break, to Twinklebottom's great relief.

On the other flank, the french remained oddly passive. Tucked away behind the monastery as they were.

The scots unleashed a second salvoe into the french ranks, and this time the skirmishers were reduced to little more than a handful of men. The few able to flee, did so, in the ungracefull manner of the french, and those unable to retreat found themselves cut down by british bullets.

Seeing the skirmishers take to the run, the right flank company redressed ranks and turned to cut the french line in two, marching down behind the old guard to fire at their rear. Their fire, along with the return salvoe from the scots by the stream, caused enough confusion and panic amoung the french lines to leave the Voltiguers in disarray. It seemed the battle was going very much in Senior Major Twinklebottom's favour!

Seeing the threat of having their main lines out flanked, the french quickly ordered the old guard to step back, hurrying to turn to face this new threat, but the confusion caused by the ammounting smoke and noise caused them to act too late. And while the french dragoons rode forth to form a reserve behind the line infantry, the scots seized the chance to start off at a run, rounding the monastery to charge the infantry there behind. Along the rest of the line the battle raged on as fierce as ever, with the center company marching up to assist the battered scots on the left flank.

Fighting was fierce, with men falling on either side, and it was now that the husars saw their chance. With a great cheer they drew their sabres and charged forth. Smashing into the french and utterly shattering their morale. Like one man the company turned and fled, and in the frenzy the husars stormed forth, catching the cannon manning the hill behind as they struggled to bring their gun to bear.

Seeing their left flank shattered, the french quickly started to withdraw from battle, many of them losing heart and throwing their rifles, leaving the field of battle in a great dissaray. The commanding artillery officer puting his pistol to his head rather than facing capture by english hand.

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