I went to last Saturday's club meeting with Vince in tow to show him how it's done. After this lesson, I'm not sure if he'll thank me!
I'd accepted a challenge from Ian KH to meet his 1/72nd French on the field of battle with my Anglo-Portuguese forces. I'd gone for an infantry-heavy force with only one full strength light cavalry regiment and a smaller heavy cavalry reserve. It turned out Ian had gone with not only two full strength cavalry regiments, but also two small light cavalry units, which turned out to be a real fly in the ointment. Still, if I played my cards right, I could defend against his cavalry and fight an infantry battle to secure a draw, if not a victory. That was my plan, anyway.
Ian won the initiative roll and immediately took the ridge. Most unsporting of him; ridges are British property, I say! My skirmish line was countered by his small cavalry units, forcing them to the right of the building on the ridge summit, where they skirmished with their French counterparts. My skirmishers defeated their opposition and then peppered the nearest formations, adding disorders to their ranks.
I thought I'd be clever and counter Ian's iddy-biddy cavalry with my heavy dragoons in the centre. This had the desired effect and certainly slowed the centre of his line, which formed squares to counter the threat, but at a cost of keeping my only cavalry reserve committed early in the game. His light infantry brigade on my right flank steadily advanced and his main cavalry force on my left kept my lone full strength cavalry regiment mesmerised like a cobra confronted by a pair of mongooses (...mongeese?).
After I'd scared his central Dutch brigade into square I didn't have an artillery battery or infantry regiment close enough to exploit the opportunity. I then made a rash decision to break my defensive line and sent the 50th Foot forward to engage the squares. Unfortunately I didn't get the sequencing of this advance quite right and left the infantry exposed after I'd moved my cavalry first, thus preventing them from taking the opportunity charge in support of the infantry when Ian's cavalry inevitably took their own opportunity charge. Hence the lemur's wisdom at the top of the report! Still, that was no biggie, as the infantry were only forced to retreat and would later return to the fray.
What was a biggie, and what I hadn't even considered, was that Ian would split his cavalry force on my left and send his dragoons angling into the flank of my infantry line, rather than keep them all concentrated on my own cavalry. Why I didn't see this is beyond me; really it was the obvious thing to do and left me high and dry: if I formed square I'd be at the mercy of his artillery and infantry which had held their attention, and if I moved backwards into cover I'd chance causing an opportunity charge. In the end I chose another (and probably the worst) option; do nothing.
Why I did that was because I intended to fire into the dragoons' flanks with the horse battery. In another flubbing of sequencing, I moved the cavalry before I turned the artillery in preparation to fire. Of course, Ian took the opportunity charge, and as I'd already moved my cavalry I couldn't counter-charge in support! D'OH!! Listen to the lemur (I think I'll have to put it on a t-shirt)! The lancers charged, wiped out my horse battery, and careered into my stationary light dragoons, ending in a draw (which I didn't deserve for such a bone-headed move). Having staked everything on the artillery flanking fire forcing the dragoons to retire, my infantry were now in deep doo-doo!
My heavy dragoons spanked Ian's chasseurs in an opportunity charge, but after that last hurrah it was all downhill. The dragoons charged my line of highlanders who tried to form square and failed due to the narrow distance in between them. They would have been better off standing and firing because they would have emptied at least one saddle which would have affected the pre-melee check. Anyhow, I am the King of Wishful Thinking (see below*). The highlanders were caught milling about after failing to form square and were sent packing. The French dragoons went slicing into my line dealing death to everything in their path. Ian's infantry then came down off the ridge to put the finishing touches to my discombobulation and, for good measure, launched an assault on my right.
|The Anglo-Portuguese under starters' orders|
|The Franco-Allies make the first move|
|French, Dutch and Swiss|
|The Swiss brigade...|
|....and the Dutch|
|The French cavalry make their move, with the lancers leading|
|I formed a defensive line with the Portuguese in reserve.|
|Light dragoons and horse guns protect the left flank|
|"Hold fast, boys!"|
|The thin red line supported by the donkey wallopers of the 4th Dragoons|
|The Dutch come on in echelon to support the French light infantry on my right.|
|Skirmish line advances|
|Cavalry standoff on my left flank. The guns couldn't hit a thing that day.|
|Ian throws out his own skirmish line.|
|My dragoons advance, throwing out a vedette, which causes a halt to Ian's advance in the centre.|
|The 50th Foot advance across the farmland to threaten the squared up Dutchmen.|
|Ian's chasseurs advance to threaten the dragoons' flank and my advancing infantry.|
|After putting the dragoons in echelon, I then stupidly advanced the infantry into Ian's opportunity charge range, not allowing my dragoons to support their advance.|
LISTEN TO THE LEMUR!
|The 50th retreat beyond the line, while the Portuguese cover them.|
|The 1st Provisional Regiment advance out into the farmland to take the 50th's place.|
|The 6th Dragoons awaiting developments|
|Back on the left, the 92nd suddenly realise how much danger they're in. If they go into square now....|
|....they've still got all that infantry ahead of them, not to mention the battery of guns to their front.|
|In the second Listen to the Lemur moment, I caused the charge on my guns after moving my cavalry.|
|Guns wiped out, cavalry charged while standing still....|
|...ends in a retire, which I had no right to expect!|
|In their last hurrah, my dragoons take an opportunity charge as Ian's chasseurs try to be cheeky.|
|Unfortunately, they went battlemad and came a cropper against the Dutch square on top of the ridge.|
|Now the wheels fall off! The highlanders are caught after failing to form square. Note to self; Shoot the buggers, next time!|
|Being the tough nuts they are, they retreat, rather than break, though they've taken casualties and copped disorders.|
|The dragoons then crash into the artillery...|
|...and then into the Portuguese column!|
|A nice big gap for Ian to exploit!|
|His survivng small detachment of hussars then punish my blown dragoons with a flank charge.|
|The highlanders recover, but it's too late!|
|The Dutch give the coup-de-grace to the dragoons|
|The Swiss advance off the ridge...|
|...and crash into my disordered line, shrugging off the flank fire to put an end to resistance in the centre.|
|On the right flank, the French light infantry charge, punching through the Buffs, despite some heavy fire.|
*Aaah, the early '90's; back in the day when mullets and bike shorts were cool!