Setting: Gavilan Hill, Conception, Chile; 5 May 1817
Ordonez attempted to defeat Las Heras’s 1,300 patriots before O’Higgins could join with his Chilean forces (Manly, 2008). After leaving Talcaluano the royalists headed for the rebel redoubt on Gavilan Hill (northwest of Concepcion) in two columns. Colonel Morgado had 600 men and two field pieces on the Penco road whereas Ordonez approached from Chepe with 800 and three guns.
Nine royalist gun-boats opened fire on the insurgents within Conception at 0645 hours (Manly, 2008). Ordonez arrived at the insurgent lines first and immediately assaulted Las Heras’s left flank. Ordonez’s column was decimated storming the rebel lines. Morgado arrived an hour and a half later and launched his own attack but with no more success. When the advance guard of O’Higgins army arrived on the field, two Chilean companies, the royalists abandoned the assault and retreated behind the Talchuano trenches. They royalists lost 118 killed, 80 wounded, four guns, and 200 muskets. Patriot casualties were six dead and 62 injured. O’Higgins arrived by nightfall and assumed command over the siege operations, which were to last seven months (Fletcher, 2005).
The published map is at a scale of 1″ on table is 10 yards in reality. This makes a table that is 12′ x 8′ but for Liberators HOTT you only need a table that is 3’x2′ for small bases and 6’x4′ for Big Bases. The map is for a 6’x4′ table; just shrink it to 1/4 size for a game with small bases.
Patriot Player (Defending)
Deploys first and takes second turn.
Defend Gavilan Hill, and hence Conception behind, by destroying the Royalist force.
Patriot Order of Battle
- Commander: Col. Las Heras
- 1 x Infantry (Cazadores of Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment)
- 3 x Infantry (Argentine 11th Infantry Regiment)
- 1 x Infantry (Chilean 1st Infantry Battalion; Chilean Compania de San Fernando)
- 1 x Hero (Commander of 3rd Squadron, Argentine Horse Grenadiers)
- 3 x Cavalry (3rd Squadron, Argentine Horse Grenadiers)
- 1 x Cavalry (Chilean Dragoons)
- 2 x Artillery (4 x 4lbrs; 2 x 32lbr howitzers)
Deploys first within the blue box on the map.
Reinforcements arrive at 1000 hours:
- 1 x Infantry (Argentine 7th Infantry Regiment)
Royalist Player (Attacking)
Deploys second and takes first turn.
Destroy the Patriot force defending Gavilan Hill, opening access to Conception beyond.
Forces Available – Ordonez’s Column
All troops start off table and enter at the designated times and places. The first Royalist column – Ordonez’s Column – arrives near Chepe Hill on the first turn.
Royalist Order of Battle – Ordonez’s Column
- Col. Ordonez – nominal overall commander
- 3 x Infantry (Conception Battalion)
- 3 x Cavalry or 1 x Infantry (Chillan Dragoons) *
- 1 x Artillery (2 x 4lbrs; 1 x 3lbr
* The Chillan Dragoons skirmished on foot at Maipo so I give the option here. They are either mounted or dismounted for the entire battle.
Reinforcements – Morgado’s Column
The second Royalist column – Morgado’s Column – arrives at the designated point on map on a die roll during initiative phase: arrive on 1 on a 1d6.
Royalist Order of Battle – Morgado’s Column
- Col. Morgado
- 1 x Infantry (Ad Hoc Infantry Battalion)
- 4 x Cavalry (Frontier Dragoons)
- 1 x Artillery (2 x 4lbrs)
Reinforcements – Martinez’s Column
The third Royalist column – Martinez’s Column – arrives at 1000 hours from the Bio Bio River:
Royalist Order of Battle – Martinez’s Column
- Col. Martinez
- 1 x Infantry (Los Angeles Infantry)
- 1 x Mob (Indians on foot with assorted weapons)
- 1 x Artillery
Note: I’ve rounded up on all units within Column Martinez to aid game balance.
Scenario Special Rules
Use my Liberators HOTT Rules including “Straight HOTT” and these recommended house rules:
- Better artillery
- Infantry column
- Infantry square
- Dead hordes are dead
- Attachable Generals – if you need them
In addition the following rules apply to this scenario.
Figure to Men Ratio and Order of Battle
I have changed the figure to man ratio to match the ground scale (1″ = 50 paces for small bases; 1″ = 25 paces for Big Bases). The figure to man ratio is now:
- Shooters / infantry (200 men per element)
- Riders / cavalry (75 men per element)
- Hordes / mob / ill-trained and/or ill-equipped levy whether mounted or on foot (200 men per element)
- Artillery for artillery (2 cannon)
At the normal figure to man ratio for Liberators Quick Play Rules the units are infantry battalions (200-800 men), cavalry squadrons (70-200 men) and artillery batteries (4-8 guns). At the reduced scale of this scenario the units are now infantry divisions (one or two companies), cavalry companies, and gun sections (2-3 guns).
I’ve revised the order of battle to reflect these changes and to correct a couple of typos in the original.
The Royalist column commanders – Colonels Ordonez, Morgado and Martinez – can only influence troops in their own column. They rally their own routed units. None of them, including Ordonez, can influence or rally units from other columns.
Separating Companies from Units
Stands, and groups of stands, can be separated from the parent unit as per standard rules. For example, the grenadier, 2nd, 3rd (only 40 men) and 4th companies of the Argentine 11th Infantry Regiment operated away from the main body at various times during the real battle.
As per John’s scenario… Patriots deploy first. Battle begins at 0700 hours. Royalists deploy second and have initiative on first turn.
Although the map has a redoubt on Gavilan Hill John Fletcher notes that it was little more than a sentry post so I have ignored it for game purposes.
The Patriots on Gavilan Hill are trying to stop the Royalist columns from reaching Conception.
Either army wins if it forces the enemy to abandon the field and has not itself abandoned the field.
The Patriot army abandons the field if, at the end of a turn, half of its units have routed.
A Royalist column abandons the field if, at the end of a turn, half of its units have routed. The Royalists army abandons the field if two columns have abandoned the field.
A routed unit that subsequently rallies still counts as routed for these purposes.
The battle is a bit one sided. The Royalists don’t have numerical superiority and to make it worse they arrive in a dispersed manner. When they do arrive they have to advance in the face of alerted defenders armed with cannon. It wasn’t pretty historically and it isn’t going to be pretty as a game.
The balance all depends on two factors:
- The potency of the cannon in terms of range and killing power
- How fast the Royalists can advance, hence how long they are in killing range
Rules where the Royalist troops move quickly across the table, and don’t take undue casualties in the process from cannon fire, will work better as a “balanced” game.
In the interests of balance I have also increased the Royalist potency. There are several options in how to do this, for example:
- Improve the morale of the Ad Hoc Infantry Battalion. This unit was formed from a mixed bag of survivors from Chacabuco that had spent some weeks at sea attempting to flee to Peru. John Fletcher lowers their morale as a consequence, from 5 to 7 (which is worse). If you follow John’s lead using Liberators HOTT you might rate this unit as Mob. But in the interests of game balance you could make them normal morale for regulars i.e. Infantry
- Increase the size of the Ad Hoc Infantry Battalion say from 150 to 500 men. This is artificial but helps balance. In Liberators HOTT this would increase them from one to two or three stands
- Make all Royalist commands a bit stronger relative to their numbers and give them all an extra stand, presumably the biggest unit
- Increase the size of the Indians on foot with assorted weapons. Admittedly these are ill-armed and arrive late in the battle so are unlikely to have a big effect.
- Give the Royalists three generals, and associated bonuses, and the Patriots only one.
Fletcher, J, (n.d.) The Battle of Gavilan – May 5, 1817. Grenadier Productions. [Available on-line at Liberators 1810-1830 Yahoo Discussion Forum in the Files page.]