The Battle of Bailen, which resulted in the surrounding and surrender of General Dupont and 13 000 troops, is considered the first significant loss by the French army during the Napoleonic Wars. It “caused a sensation throughout Europe, and its repercussions, together with Junot’s defeat at Vimeiro persuaded Napoleon of the need for his personal intervention in the Peninsula’ (Chandler 1979).
I put together our scenario of the battle in September 2010, but we did not play it until May 2012. The forces present were determined based on a conversion of 600–800 soldiers present per battalion on the tabletop and 400–600 troopers per cavalry unit on the tabletop. The game lasts for fourteen, thirty-minute turns (07:30–14:00).
The game ends at the end of the 14:00 turn, or if the French army exits the table, or if all of the divisions of one side or the other are broken. Victory points are awarded to each side at the conclusion of the battle. The Spanish side receives two victory points for each broken French “division” and four points if the French baggage train is captured. The French side receives two victory points for each unbroken French “division” that exits the eastern edge of the table within 60 cm of Bailén and four points if the French baggage train exits in the same manner. Victory is determined by the differential in the number of victory points for each side.
There were Swiss units present on both sides during this battle. As with their historical counterparts, the ‘Spanish-Swiss’ troops of Schramm's brigade of Dupont’s army will surrender to the Spanish on a modified die roll of ‘0’ if within 22.5 cm (9”) of any Spanish infantry unit. The die roll is reduced by one for each kill suffered by the infantry units of Schramm’s brigade (only).
We played the game twice, firstly using the Polemos General de Division rules and the second time using Shako_ANF. In both battles Julian and I took the French and Mark the Spanish.
First version using Polemos General de Division rules
(22nd ANF game, played 13th May 2012)
We randomly allocated the quality of generals by dice rolls. Spanish: Reding decisive, Coupigny and La Peña plodding. French: Schramm capable, Chabert decisive, Pannetier decisive, Dupré capable, Privé capable.
The eastern end of the table looking north along the Cerro Valentin with Coupigny's division in foreground and Reding's in the distance. Bailén is at right.
Looking west from the Spanish position, Bailén in the foreground, French army in the distance.
From the western end of the table, French baggage just visible at left-hand foreground, with Dupré's light cavalry ahead of it. Trees in centre (representing the olive grove!) with Pannetier moving through and Privé to the right. In the distance Schramm and Chabert are in position to attack the Spanish.
Second version using Shako ANF rules
(23rd ANF game, played 2nd June 2012)
The 2/4th Reserve Infantry from Chabert's brigade attacked the second line of Reding's position and forced back the Spanish 3rd Swiss infantry in Reding's brigade. The 4th Swiss (French) were broken after taking further casualties... from skirmisher fire!
Turn 10 12:00: The last Walloon battalion was broken by 2/Garde de Paris supported by the Garde Marins (no photo). Piré's 2nd Provisional Dragoons charged a square of Coupigny's division and retreated. From the west, La Peña's troops arrived in the command phase!
As expected, this was a tough gig for the French player, irrespective of the rules used, but it was by no means a certainty for the Spanish player. The best hope for the French is to win it early. The second version enabled us to drive hard at Reding's defences and, as the closing photos show, thanks to Chabert's brigade and then the support of Pannetier and Piré's cavalry, his position on the Cerro Valentin had been driven through. This was not enough though as the 'net' of Coupigny's and La Peña's troops was closing around the French when the Schramm's Swiss decided not to continue the fight against their brothers.
It became evident in the second version of the game that it was impossible for the French baggage to make it off the table within the allotted time, even if it had been able to move at full rate every turn. The scenario designer had not done the calculations properly! Fortunately it did not make a difference to the outcome, but it does reinforce that, ya gotta check them scenarios carefully and it always to do a play-test! :)
Chandler DG (1979) Dictionary of the Napoleonic Wars. MacMillan Publishing Co., New York. p. 39.
Jackson AC (2001-2004) The Battle of Bailén, 19th July 1808. http://www.peninsularwar.org/bailen.htm
Tsao V (n.d.) Bailen scenario July 19, 1808. http://lefeusacre.co.uk/scenarios/Bailen.html
Wargames Society (2008) BailenAnniversary http://ilovewargameing.fr.yuku.com/topic/1880